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Download The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Revolution, 1770-1823 epub

by David Brion Davis

David Brion Davis's books on the history of slavery reflect some of the most distinguished and influential thinking on the subject to appear in the past generation.The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Revolution, the sequel to Davis's Pulitzer Prize-winningThe Problem of Slavery in Western Culture and the second volume of a proposed trilogy, is a truly monumental work of historical scholarship that first appeared in 1975 to critical acclaim both academic and literary. This reprint of that important work includes a new preface by the author, in which he situates the book's argument within the historiographic debates of the last two decades.
Download The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Revolution, 1770-1823 epub
ISBN: 0195128508
ISBN13: 978-0195128505
Category: Politics
Subcategory: Sociology
Author: David Brion Davis
Language: English
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA (February 22, 2019)
Pages: 592 pages
ePUB size: 1791 kb
FB2 size: 1754 kb
Rating: 4.6
Votes: 548
Other Formats: doc lrf txt mobi

I am not a professional historian, but as an immigrant I am very interested in U. S. history. I thought I knew something about the pre-Civil War era and the slavery problem at the root of it. Professor Davis has opened my eyes to how much I didn't know, and how much I didn't know I didn't know.
In an exhaustively, painstakingly researched trilogy, he traces first, the idea of slavery in ancient history, including what Plato and Aristotle had to say about it, and how they justified it, to the biblical texts, both in Old (are the blacks cursed as descendants of Ham, who made fun of his drunk, naked father Noah) and New Testament that appear to justify it, the evolution of the institution through Middle Ages philosophers (are the blacks condemned by original sin, were they redeemed by Christ?). to the discovery of America (Indians shouldn't be enslaved but is is permissible to enslave blacks instead), to Hume's, Locke's, Hobbes' ideas, and the comparisons between English, French and American slavery, all the way to right before the American Revolution when Rousseau's ideas about the 'noble savage' were applied to Indians but apparently not to blacks. This carries Davis through the first volume of the trilogy "The Problem of Slavery in the Western World'.
'The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Revolution' goes through the ages of Adam Smith and Utilitarianism, the abolition movement in Great Britain and the United States, the manumission of slaves who joined the English against the American in the Revolutionary War, the influence of the French Revolution on their policy toward their slaves in their Caribbean colonies, the revolution of the slaves and the creation of the republic of Haiti, and the abolitionist movement in the United States, which, rather than seek freedom for the slaves, sought their exile (or 'colonization') to Africa, Central America or Cuba, and the creation of Liberia by the United States following the model of England in creating Sierra Leone.
The documentation is exhaustive, and it is not surprising that the work has taken Professor Davis from 1996, when the first volume appeared, to 2014 when he finished the final volume; he uses books, pamphlets, journals, letters and even contemporary newspaper editorials to back his conclusion that slavery, with its dehumanization and animalization of the slave, changes both the slave and the master in ways that we are stiil experiencing in our own lives.
Meticulously researched, this third volume of Davis's trilogy on slavery is a compelling read. The deft use of sources and the power of the narrative carry the day. The stain of racism, even in those who opposed slavery, is hurtful. But we ignore these truths at our peril. It is chilling to read this book on a day when the Texas School Board enjoins history texts to state that slavery was not at the core of the Civil War.
Extraordinarily comprehensive, though the movement back and forth in time and from country to country made it hard to follow the various argument for and against slavery. My reading times of half an hour in the morning and half an hour in the evening likely contributed to my inability to integrate the parts into a whole.
If ever there were books that should be required reading, it's these three, which tear away the delusional veil we keep over our eyes, denying the continued impact of slavery.
This is book is a continuation of the subject matter in Davis’ previous book “The Problem of Slavery in Western Culture”. Although he summarizes the earlier book in the first chapters, I recommend you read that book first if at all possible in order to better appreciate the weight of prior history that opposed the abolitionists. The first book was not a quick read and neither is this one.
As I read it, a major thread that runs through the book is internal contradictions, for example:
-The philosophers of the Enlightenment developed the idea of individual liberty for which property rights were essential. But a slave was both an individual human and someone’s property.
- Quakers followed by other Protestant denominations initiated the abolitionist movement on the grounds that enslaving another human was a grievous sin. Yet in an age when biblical scriptures were taken literally there were a few passages that seemed to accept slavery and none hinted otherwise. In the ancient world slavery was just part of the social landscape.
Much of the book describes the British abolition movement, in particular the careers of Granville Sharp, William Wilberforce and William Pitt. My knowledge of British history is limited enough that though I recognize the names I had to take some detours to external sources to get a cleared picture. The emphasis is because during this period anti-slavery activity was more energetic than in America where the compromises made to achieve a ratified Constitution put the issues on hold for a couple of decades. Davis writes in some detail of the Parliamentary, legal and public relations battles that were fought before slavery was finally outlawed in the British Empire. At the same time, the British had geo-political issues (i.e., Napoleon) that took precedence over any other consideration.
I felt an area that deserved more attention was the world view and motives of the slave owners in the southern (Georgia and the Carolinas) colonies/states. Three out of thirteen former colonies forced the other ten into a constitutional compromise and set back American abolition for decades. Davis tells us relatively little about the principal actors on that side of the struggle. I suspect there is a concern that to understand is to sympathize. The author makes it clear that many, predominantly from the norther states, were well aware compromise and the disaster that would someday follow bur were unable to press for a resolution. Why?
The discussion regarding some revolutionary leaders (Washington, Jefferson, Madison and Patrick Henry) who continued to hold slaves after the revolution is inadequate. To understand why would probably require individual biographies but at the time and place there were non-trivial legal impediments in place that made manumission nearly impossible. Even if you merely inherited slaves the options were to keep them or to sell them, walk away and imagine you were guilt free.