Country of the Cursed and the Driven


Country of the Cursed and the Driven

Slavery and the Texas Borderlands

Paul Barba

Borderlands and Transcultural Studies Series

476 pages
7 maps, 2 tables, index


September 2023


$40.00 Add to Cart

December 2021


$65.00 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

December 2021


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eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

December 2021


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About the Book

2022 W. Turrentine Jackson Award Winner
2022 David J. Weber Prize Winner

In eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Texas—a hotly contested land where states wielded little to no real power—local alliances and controversies, face-to-face relationships, and kinship ties structured personal dynamics and cross-communal concerns alike. Country of the Cursed and the Driven brings readers into this world through a sweeping analysis of Hispanic, Comanche, and Anglo-American slaving regimes, illuminating how slaving violence, in its capacity to bolster and shatter families and entire communities, became both the foundation and the scourge, the panacea and the curse, of life in the borderlands.

As scholars have begun to assert more forcefully over the past two decades, slavery was much more diverse and widespread in North America than previously recognized, engulfing the lives of Native-, European-, and African-descended people across the continent, from the Atlantic to the Pacific and from Canada to Mexico. Paul Barba details the rise of Texas’s slaving regimes, spotlighting the ubiquitous, if uneven and evolving, influences of colonialism and anti-Blackness.

By weaving together and reframing traditionally disparate historical narratives, Country of the Cursed and the Driven challenges the common assumption that slavery was insignificant to the history of Texas prior to Anglo-American colonization, arguing instead that the slavery imported by Stephen F. Austin and his colonial followers in the 1820s found a comfortable home in the slavery-stained borderlands, where for decades Spanish colonists and their Comanche neighbors had already unleashed waves of slaving devastation.

Author Bio

Paul Barba is an associate professor of history at Bucknell University.


“Paul Barba’s new book engages [conversations about the history  of slavery and violence in Texas with] deep research, analytical precision, and an impassioned argument. . . . Unflinching.”—Paul Conrad, Journal of Southern History

"Barba's work provides a meaningful contribution to the literatures on Texas history and American slavery."—William S. Kiser, Western Historical Quarterly

"Country of the Cursed and the Driven is a welcome addition to the scholarship on the subject and a must-read for everyone interested in the history of the US borderlands."—Jorge E. Delgadillo Núñez, H-LatAm

"A thought-provoking book."—Alice Baumgartner, Hispanic American Historical Review

"Barba makes a forceful argument that challenges existing scholarship to not excuse kinship slavery as less inhumane than chattel slavery nor to divide them into different histories."—Noelle Buffo, Chronicles of Oklahoma

“Deeply researched and covering a vast chronology, Country of the Cursed and the Driven offers a powerful new interpretation of Texas history through a narrative centered on the enslavement of both Natives and peoples of African descent.”—Karl Jacoby, author of Shadows at Dawn: An Apache Massacre and the Violence of History

“Texas history is too often broken into Spanish, Comanche, Mexican, and Anglo eras. Paul Barba demonstrates that the trauma of slavery sewed all of these ragged pieces together like a suture. A dark, deep, compelling book.”—Brian DeLay, author of War of a Thousand Deserts

“This is a detailed, unrelenting history of how violence, especially slaving and slaveholding violence, shaped Texas. Paul Barba’s work provides excellent environmental and geopolitical contexts, especially in explaining the dynamics of Native intergroup relations within Texas and on the periphery.”—Alan Gallay, author of The Indian Slave Trade: The Rise of the English Empire in the American South, 1670–1717

“By focusing on the overlapping slaving practices of Anglo Americans, Comanches, and Hispanic society from the colonial to national periods, Country of the Cursed and the Driven provides a new lens for viewing the transformation of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. . . . It effectively brings together ethnic history through a borderlands framework while providing a comprehensive history of Texas.”—Todd W. Wahlstrom, author of The Southern Exodus to Mexico: Migration across the Borderlands after the American Civil War

“[In addition to] meticulous research, Barba shows that all too often historians separate Anglo, Hispanic, and Comanche histories when, in fact, the only way to truly understand any of these borderlands cultures is through their interconnectedness. His specificity regarding semantics is quite helpful, as is his knack for making readers think outside the box.”—Whitney Snow, Kansas History

Table of Contents

List of Maps and Tables
Introduction. "Cursed and Driven, Traded, as Slaves . . . O, What a Country"
Part I: Slave Raiders and Their Cycles of Violence, 1500s1760s
1. "Obliged to Punish and Conquer These Indians": Slavery and the Hispanic Path to Colonization in Texas, pre-1717
2. "Blinded by the Craving for Slaves": Slavery and the Quest for Spanish Dominion in Native Country, 1718–1760
3. "Reduced to Peace . . . by the Attacks of the Comanches": Slavery and the Comanche Emergence in the Texas Borderlands, 1706–1767
Part II: Strange and Violent Bedfellows, 1760s1836
4. "Companions on Campaign": The Spanish-Comanche Battle for Texas, 1760s–1820
5. "Honest People . . . from Hell Itself:" Anglo-American Colonization and the Rise of Chattel Slavery in Texas, 1800–1836
Part III: Violent Confluences in the Age of Anglo-Slaving Supremacy, 1836-1860
6. "De Overseer Shakes a Blacksnake Whip over Me": Consolidating an Anti-Black Colonial Regime, 1836–1860
7. "They Should Have Been Entirely Destroyed": Comanche Raiding, Slaving, and Trading in the Age of Anglo Colonial Ascendance, 1836–1860
Epilogue. "A Malady without Cure"


2022 WHA W. Turrentine Jackson Award for best first book on the history of the American West
2022 WHA David J. Weber Prize for the best book on Southwestern History

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