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  • Print publication year: 2017
  • Online publication date: April 2017

Chapter 7 - US Slavery and Its Aftermath, 1804–2000

from Part II - Slavery
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The Cambridge World History of Slavery
  • Online ISBN: 9781139046176
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A very useful starting point is the recent collection of essays on slavery in the United States and Latin America: Paquette, Robert and Smith, Mark (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Slavery in the Americas (New York, 2010). This contains excellent essays on many countries and topics of interest and provides a basic guide to both the history and historiography of slavery in the Americas. A magisterial study of slavery in world history are the four volumes by David Brion Davis, culminating in his recent The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Emancipation (New York, 2014). The major book on the history of blacks in America from start to date is the ninth edition of John Hope Franklin and Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, From Slavery to Freedom: A History of Black Americans (New York, 2010).
Three classic works on US slavery published decades ago and demonstrating the changes in interpretation and in questions asked are: Phillips, Ulrich B., American Negro Slavery (New York, 1918); Kenneth Stampp, The Peculiar Institution: Slavery in the Ante-Bellum South (New York, 1956); and Eugene D. Genovese, Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made (New York, 1974). Each deals with a broad range of substantive issues, including the economics of slavery.
Key writings by slaves dealing with their experiences under slavery are those by Douglass, Frederick, particularly his third autobiography Life and Times of Frederick Douglass Written by Himself (Hartford, CT, 1882); Charles Ball, Fifty Years in Chains or the Life of an American Slave (New York, 1858); and Solomon Northup, Twelve Years a Slave (Auburn, NY, 1853). Important discussions of major topics in southern history and the history of slavery include: Lewis Cecil Gray, History of Agriculture in the Southern United States to 1860 (Washington, DC, 1933), on southern agriculture; Douglass C. North, The Economic Growth of the United States, 1790–1860 (Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1961), on international and interregional trade; Claudia Dale Goldin, Urban Slavery in the American South, 1820–1860: A Quantitative History (Chicago, IL, 1976), on urban slavery.
The current debate on the economics of slavery begins with the classic article by Conrad, Alfred H. and Meyer, John R., “The Economics of Slavery in the Ante Bellum South,” Journal of Political Economy, 66 (1958): 95130. A major work on various aspects of slavery as an economic institution was Robert William Fogel and Stanley L. Engerman, Time on the Cross: The Economics of American Negro Slavery, 2 vols. (Boston, MA, 1974), which became rather controversial and triggered numerous debates: see Paul A. David, Herbert G. Gutman, Richard Sutch, Peter Temin, and Gavin Wright, Reckoning with Slavery: A Critical Study in the Quantitative History of American Negro Slavery (New York, 1976); Herbert G. Gutman, Slavery and the Numbers Game: A Critique of Time on the Cross (Urbana, IL, 1975); and Gavin Wright, Slavery and American Economic Development (Baton Rouge, LA, 2006). In turn, it was defended by Robert Fogel, Without Consent or Contract: The Rise and Fall of American Slavery (New York, 1989).
For the end of slavery and its aftermath, see Higgs, Robert, Competition and Coercion: Blacks in the American Economy, 1865–1914 (Cambridge, 1977); and Roger L. Ransom and Richard Sutch, One Kind of Freedom: The Economic Consequences of Emancipation (Cambridge, 1977). For an excellent discussion of post-emancipation black economic developments, see Robert A. Margo, “Obama, Katrina and the Persistence of Racial Inequality,” Journal of Economic History, 76 (2016): 301–41.