Why did it take so long to end slavery in the United States, and what did it mean that the nation existed eighty-eight years as a "house divided against itself," as Abraham Lincoln put it? The decline of slavery throughout the Atlantic world was a protracted affair, says Patrick Rael, but no other nation endured anything like the United States.Read more...
Why did it take so long to end slavery in the United States, and what did it mean that the nation existed eighty-eight years as a "house divided against itself," as Abraham Lincoln put it? The decline of slavery throughout the Atlantic world was a protracted affair, says Patrick Rael, but no other nation endured anything like the United States. Here the process took from 1777, when Vermont wrote slavery out of its state constitution, to 1865, when the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery nationwide.
Rael immerses readers in the mix of social, geographic, economic, and political factors that shaped this unique American experience. He not only takes a far longer view of slavery's demise than do those who date it to the rise of abolitionism in 1831, he also places it in a broader Atlantic context. We see how slavery ended variously by consent or force across time and place and how views on slavery evolved differently between the centers of European power and their colonial peripheries--some of which would become power centers themselves.
Rael shows how African Americans played the central role in ending slavery in the United States. Fueled by new Revolutionary ideals of self-rule and universal equality--and on their own or alongside abolitionists--both slaves and free blacks slowly turned American opinion against the slave interests in the South. Secession followed, and then began the national bloodbath that would demand slavery's complete destruction.
- ISBN-13: 9780820348391
- ISBN-10: 0820348392
- Publisher: University of Georgia Press
- Publish Date: August 2015
- Page Count: 416
- Dimensions: 9.02 x 5.91 x 0.78 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.35 pounds
Series: Race in the Atlantic World
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-06-08
- Reviewer: Staff
The U.S. took “far longer” to abolish slavery than did any other New World society, asserts Bowdoin College historian Rael as he examines this process through a temporally long and spatially broad framework in this meticulously researched study. The 88 years of the title signal the beginning and end points of the American struggle against slavery, from 1777, when “Vermont wrote slavery out of its constitution,” to 1865, when Congress ratified the 13th Amendment, abolishing the practice in perpetuity. Rael emphasizes the extent to which the American experience was unique and what it shared with other slaveholding societies of the Americas. While some elements of this story, particularly the rise of popular abolitionism in the 1830s, are likely to be familiar, Rael illuminates the revolutionary and early national context from which these events arose, showing how the new nation struggled to “preserve the privileges of racial caste... in a land where all men were alleged to have been created equal.” By examining forms of pro- and anti-slavery activism from multiple perspectives, and by focusing attention on the slaves as well as those who advocated on their behalf, Rael adds detail and nuance to a story with which readers might have believed themselves already well acquainted. Illus. (Aug.)