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