BOOK: Oakes on End of Slavery in the U.S.

Freedom National

James Oakes. Freedom National: The Destruction of Slavery in the United States, 1861-1865. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2012.


Via W. W. Norton:

Freedom National is a groundbreaking history of emancipation that joins the political initiatives of Lincoln and the Republicans in Congress with the courageous actions of Union soldiers and runaway slaves in the South. It shatters the widespread conviction that the Civil War was first and foremost a war to restore the Union and only gradually, when it became a military necessity, a war to end slavery. These two aims—”Liberty and Union, one and inseparable”—were intertwined in Republican policy from the very start of the war.

By summer 1861 the federal government invoked military authority to begin freeing slaves, immediately and without slaveholder compensation, as they fled to Union lines in the disloyal South. In the loyal Border States the Republicans tried coaxing officials into gradual abolition with promises of compensation and the colonization abroad of freed blacks. James Oakes shows that Lincoln’s landmark 1863 proclamation marked neither the beginning nor the end of emancipation: it triggered a more aggressive phase of military emancipation, sending Union soldiers onto plantations to entice slaves away and enlist the men in the army. But slavery proved deeply entrenched, with slaveholders determined to re-enslave freedmen left behind the shifting Union lines. Lincoln feared that the war could end in Union victory with slavery still intact. The Thirteenth Amendment that so succinctly abolished slavery was no formality: it was the final act in a saga of immense war, social upheaval, and determined political leadership…

Freedom National won the 2013  Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize.

EDITED: Fradera and Schmidt-Nowara on Slavery in Spain’s Atlantic Empire

Josep Maria Fradera and Christopher Schmidt-Nowara, eds. Slavery and Antislavery in Spain’s Atlantic Empire. New York: Berghahn Books, 2013.

Continue reading “EDITED: Fradera and Schmidt-Nowara on Slavery in Spain’s Atlantic Empire”

EDITED: Medard, Derat, Vernet and Ballarin on Slavery in East Africa and the Indian Ocean

Henri Medard, Marie-Laure Derat, Thomas Vernet, and Marie Pierre Ballarin, eds. Traites et esclavages en Afrique orientale et dans l’océan Indien. Paris: Karthala, 2013.

Aucune région au monde n’a connu une histoire aussi longue de la traite et de l’esclavage que l’Afrique orientale et l’océan Indien. Très loin des modèles simplificateurs du complexe atlantique, les sociétés de l’océan Indien ont éprouvé des modalités de traites et des situations serviles très diverses, où tous les systèmes esclavagistes européens, orientaux et africains se mêlent. Les Africains et les Malgaches sont majoritaires parmi les esclaves mais ils côtoient des compagnons d’infortune d’origines géographiques extrêmement variées, et en particulier des Asiatiques. Les esclaves sont redistribués et vendus aux quatre coins de l’océan Indien mais aussi vers l’Atlantique, alors que se développent en Afrique de façon croissante les logiques serviles qui connaissent leur apothéose à Zanzibar au XIXe siècle.

Cet ouvrage complète magistralement une historiographie qui demeure largement dominée par les études sur l’Atlantique. Par le biais d’une approche globale, océanique comme continentale, il renouvelle en profondeur les questions de la traite et de l’esclavage ainsi que de leurs mutations complexes du XVe au XXIe siècle dans l’espace de l’Afrique orientale et de l’océan Indien. Il offre ainsi au public francophone une approche novatrice et percutante à partir d’études de cas originales et fouillées menées par les meilleurs spécialistes de ces questions.

Edmund S. Morgan Dies at 97


Edmund S. Morgan, author of American Slavery, American Freedom: The Ordeal of Colonial Virginia died yesterday at the age of 97.

From NYTimes:

Professor Morgan’s book “The Puritan Dilemma: The Story of John Winthrop” (1958) was for decades one of the most widely assigned texts in survey courses on American history. His “Visible Saints: The History of a Puritan Idea” (1963) showed his unmatched talent for mining primary sources to illuminate an important concept, in this case the change in understanding among New Englanders of what it meant to be the member of a church.

Professor Morgan later became intrigued by colonial Virginia, a slaveholding society that produced some of America’s most sophisticated theoreticians of human freedom. This paradox was the subject of “American Slavery, American Freedom: The Ordeal of Colonial Virginia” (1975), which won the Francis Parkman Prize in 1976. “Inventing the People: The Rise of Popular Sovereignty in England and America” (1988) won the Bancroft Prize in American History in 1989…

The Organization of American Historians issued a statement on Facebook:

We are saddened to report the death of Edmund S. Morgan. Morgan taught at Yale University for much of his career, and served as president of the OAH from 1971-1972. He received the Distinguished Service Award from OAH in 1998…

A review and rereading of American Slavery, American Freedom by Kathleen Brown is available in the 2001 issue of the Commonplace.

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