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4+ teosta 1,148 jäsentä 26 arvostelua

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Image credit: Edward E. Baptist

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Associated Works

Over the Threshold: Intimate Violence in Early America (1999) — Avustaja — 25 kappaletta

Merkitty avainsanalla


Cornell University



Slavery in America, History: On learning from and writing history (marraskuu 2014)


Not long ago I read Sven Beckert’s massive “Empire of Cotton: A Global History” and possibly it was a mistake to to read that volume ahead of “The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism,” by Edward E. Baptist.

I say mistake because the climax of Beckert’s book is the response of the British textile industry to the disruption of the American Civil War. The British were making massive profits on relatively cheap cotton flowing out of America. Demand was enormous. The slave-based supply coming from America was enormous.

So they attempted to recreate the American system elsewhere in the world. They tried in Egypt. They tried in Africa. They pushed into the hinterlands of India and China. Each time they failed. Sometimes it was the climate but more often than not they failed because they didn’t have leverage with the local population that American slavedrivers had in the Deep South.

And Edward Baptist explains why.

Not only did American planters buy and terrorize their slaves with brute force but they used the inexhaustible supply of slaves to continually push into virgin land previously occupied by native Americans, clear the land, plant more and more cotton, finance their ventures with land and slave-secured mortgages, and pushed their slaves to ever higher levels of productivity.

At their peak in the years leading up to the Civil War slaves picked up to a billion pounds of cotton. Slave merchants moved the blacks around the country at first in chain gangs and later on the early railroads.

Baptist’s genius in telling this story is mixing in personal accounts of families broken as slaves were moved from one owner to the next. Enslaving these people, flaying their backs, raping their women, breaking up families. At each step of the way as the slaves were grounded in their new homes their communities were shredded.

American institutions both financial and political were consistently twisted to support the planters’ drive west to the Mississippi and beyond. As capitalism spread so spread the republic. And when the planters ran into financial headwinds they simply absconded on their debts and took their slaves to Texas.

This is what brought the annexation of Texas and might have brought the annexation of Cuba as well had the North not run out of patience finally over Kansas.

The aftermath of the Civil War — had it been played out today — might result in billions of reparations for the economic profits stolen from the slaves. Instead it was Reconstruction and the isolation of blacks in American society.
… (lisätietoja)
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MylesKesten | 25 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Jan 23, 2024 |
Everyone should understand how the capitalist system emerged out of slavery as well as its continued pernicious effects. This book is a must-read particularly in today's political discourse that mainly consists of slogans and platitudes.
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dcvance | 25 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Dec 21, 2023 |
An interesting read on how slavery and the profit it produced were inextricably woven into almost all aspects of early American society. The author demonstrates that slavery wasn't merely a moral failing isolated to a few southern states, it was backbone of American commerce for decades, its implementation and survival were seen as necessary to making white men obscenely rich and indeed keeping the country financially solvent. The half has never been told is an appropriate title for this work, as most Americans (myself included) aren't fully aware of how ubiquitous and monstrous slavery was, nor how complicit the whole country was in its continuance.… (lisätietoja)
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Autolycus21 | 25 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Oct 10, 2023 |
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pollycallahan | 25 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Jul 1, 2023 |



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