Jeff Forret, "William’s Gang: A Notorious Slave Trader and his Cargo of Black Convicts" (Cambridge UP, 2020)


Jeff Forret is the author of William’s Gang: A Notorious Slave Trader and his Cargo of Black Convicts, published by Cambridge University Press in 2020. William’s Gang explores the career of prominent slave trader William H. Williams, whose operation was based in Washington D.C. His infamous Yellow House slave pin was a major stop in the domestic slave trade. Forret examines Williams’s life as a slave trader, and particularly the legal troubles he found himself in when he was accused of trying to sell twenty-seven enslaved convicts, from Virginia, in Louisiana. The myriad of courtroom battles Williams went through are placed alongside the larger history of slavery and the slave trade in the Antebellum Period, as Forret explores issues of slave criminality, southern law, and the U.S. economy.

Dr. Forret is a Professor of History at Lamar University.

Derek Litvak is a Ph.D. student in the department of history at the University of Maryland.

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Derek Litvak

Derek Litvak is a PhD candidate at the University of Maryland—College Park. His dissertation, "The Specter of Black Citizens: Race, Slavery, and Citizenship in the Early United States," examines how citizenship was used to both bolster the institution of slavery and exclude Black Americans from the body politic.

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