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"Thoughtful, suggestive and highly readable."—New York Times Book Review In the American Revolution, Virginians were the most eloquent spokesmen for freedom and quality. George Washington led the Americans in battle against British oppression. Thomas Jefferson led them in declaring independence. Virginians drafted not only the Declaration but also the Constitution and the Bill of Rights; they were elected to the presidency of the United States under that Constitution for thirty-two of the first thirty-six years of its existence. They were all slaveholders. In the new preface Edmund S. Morgan writes: "Human relations among us still suffer from the former enslavement of a large portion of our predecessors. The freedom of the free, the growth of freedom experienced in the American Revolution depended more than we like to admit on the enslavement of more than 20 percent of us at that time. How republican freedom came to be supported, at least in large part, by its opposite, slavery, is the subject of this book. American Slavery, American Freedom is a study of the tragic contradiction at the core of America. Morgan finds the keys to this central paradox, "the marriage of slavery and freedom," in the people and the politics of the state that was both the birthplace of the Revolution and the largest slaveholding state in the country.
Chronicles the history of America's pursuit of liberty, tracing the struggles among freed slaves, union organizers, women rights advocates, and other groups to widen freedom's promise
"Thoughtful, suggestive and highly readable." New York Times Book Review"
In American Slavery, Irish Freedom, Angela F. Murphy examines the interactions among abolitionists, Irish nationalists, and American citizens as the issues of slavery and abolition complicated the first transatlantic movement for Irish independence. For Irish Americans, the call of Old World loyalties, perceived duties of American citizenship, and regional devotions collided as the slavery issue intertwined with their efforts on behalf of their homeland. By looking at the makeup and rhetoric of the American repeal associations, the pressures on Irish Americans applied by both abolitionists and American nativists, and the domestic and transatlantic political situation that helped to define the repealers' response to antislavery appeals, Murphy investigates and explains why many Irish Americans did not support abolitionism.
A Self-Evident Lie explores and underscores the fear and complex meaning of "slavery" to northerners before the Civil War. Many northerners asked: If slavery was the beneficent and paternalistic institution that southerners claimed, could it not be applied with equal morality to whites as well as blacks? Republicans repeatedly expressed concern that proslavery arguments were not inherently racial. Irrespective of race, anyone could fall victim to the argument that they were "inferior," that they would be better off enslaved, that their enslavement served the interests of society, or that their subjugation was justified by history and religion. In trenchant and graceful prose, Jeremy Tewell argues that some Republicans, most notably Abraham Lincoln, held that the only effective safeguard of individual liberty was universal liberty, as expressed in the Declaration of Independence. As long as Americans believed that "all men" were endowed with inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, everyone's liberty would be self-evident, regardless of circumstance. Conversely, the justifications meant to exclude a segment of society from the rights of man worked to destroy the self-evidence of those very rights. Therefore, by failing to repudiate slavery--thus rejecting the universality of human liberty--northerners made themselves vulnerable to proslavery rationales, especially when they happened to occupy a position of political, social, or economic weakness. Black skin had been stigmatized as a badge of servitude, but there was nothing to guarantee that white skin would always serve as an unimpeachable badge of freedom. This was a major theme in Lincoln's campaign against Stephen A. Douglas and was a key argument against the use of popular sovereignty as the method for determining slavery's status in the territories. According to Tewell, Lincoln's greatest challenge was to convince northern audiences that simple indifference to slavery was itself inimical to the liberty of whites. A Self-Evident Lie will intrigue anyone interested in issues related to Lincoln, slavery and antislavery, the Civil War, and American intellectual history.
In American Taxation, American Slavery,Robin Einhorn shows the deep, broad, and continuous influence of slavery on America’s fear and loathing of taxes. From the earliest colonial times right up to the Civil War, slaveholding elites feared strong and democratic government as a threat to the institution of slavery. Einhorn reveals how the heated battles over taxation, the power to tax, and the distribution of tax burdens were rooted not in debates over personal liberty but rather in the rights of slaveholders to hold human beings as property. Along the way, she exposes the antidemocratic origins of the enduringly popular Jeffersonian rhetoric about weak government, showing that state governments were actually more democratic—and stronger—where most people were free. A strikingly original look at the role of slavery in the making of the United States, American Taxation, American Slavery will prove essential to anyone interested in the history of American government and politics. “For those seeking to understand complex and ever-changing systems of taxation, their relationship to local and national politics, and how the state and local systems were shaped by the ‘peculiar institution,’ this seminal and innovative investigation will provide many answers.”—Loren Schweninger, American Historical Review “[Einhorn] tells what might have been a complicated story in an engaging and accessible manner. It is her contention that slavery and the reaction to it to a great extent shaped the kind of nation we are today, because it shaped the kind of tax policies we constructed to fund the kind of government we got. . . . Required reading for anyone who ponders the impact of slavery on our lives today.”—James Srodes, Washington Times
In this previously untold story of African American self-education, Heather Andrea Williams moves across time to examine African Americans' relationship to literacy during slavery, during the Civil War, and in the first decades of freedom. Self-Taught traces the historical antecedents to freedpeople's intense desire to become literate and demonstrates how the visions of enslaved African Americans emerged into plans and action once slavery ended. Enslaved people, Williams contends, placed great value in the practical power of literacy, whether it was to enable them to read the Bible for themselves or to keep informed of the abolition movement and later the progress of the Civil War. Some slaves devised creative and subversive means to acquire literacy, and when slavery ended, they became the first teachers of other freedpeople. Soon overwhelmed by the demands for education, they called on northern missionaries to come to their aid. Williams argues that by teaching, building schools, supporting teachers, resisting violence, and claiming education as a civil right, African Americans transformed the face of education in the South to the great benefit of both black and white southerners.

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