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Kenneth M. Stampp (1912–2009)

Teoksen The Peculiar Institution: Slavery in the Ante-Bellum South tekijä

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A native of Milwaukee, Kenneth Stampp received his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin in 1941 and then taught at the University of Arkansas and the University of Maryland. In 1945 he joined the faculty at the University of California at Berkeley, where he is currently Morrison Professor näytä lisää Emeritus of American History. Stampp has served as Harmsworth Professor at Oxford, Commonwealth Lecturer at the University of London, Fulbright Professor at the University of Munich, and visiting professor at Harvard University and Colgate University and Williams College. A past president of the Organization of American Historians, in 1993 he received the Lincoln Prize from the Lincoln and Soldiers Institute of Gettysburg College. Stampp touched off a revolution in the study of slavery with the publication of The Peculiar Institution (1956), which vigorously refutes the long-prevailing Dunning-Phillips interpretation and demolishes a host of myths about the master-slave relationship. His further works on the sectional conflict and its causes established him as a leading authority on that subject as well. (Bowker Author Biography) näytä vähemmän
Image credit: Guggenheim Fellowship


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Kanoninen nimi
Stampp, Kenneth M.
Virallinen nimi
Stampp, Kenneth Milton
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA
Oakland, California, USA
respiratory failure
Piedmont, California, USA
Milwaukee State Teachers College
University of Wisconsin-Madison (BA|1935|MA|1936|Ph.D|1942)
university professor
University of California, Berkeley
University of Maryland
University of Arkansas
Palkinnot ja kunnianosoitukset
American Historical Association's Award for Scholarly Distinction (1989)
Lincoln Prize (1993)
Lyhyt elämäkerta
His most well known publication is The Peculiar Institution, for which he is most remembered, and is "the starting point for modern studies of US slavery."



This book has been hanging around my library for a long time. It is a book of readings that I am sure was used for a lot of college classes. The readings are grouped under seven topics listed as possible causes of the war. After reading through the book my conclusion is that slavery and the maintaining of white supremacy were really the causes of the war. Slavery was the economic engine that made the South run after the invention of the cotton gin and also a social system justified by the belief in white supremacy. I think white supremacy was necessary to racial chattel slavery as a way to justify treating other human beings the way slaves were treated. It also gave the non-slaveholder a reason to support the system. No matter how poor and ignorant you were if you were white you were better than the African-American slaves. That gave the majority of the Southerners who didn't own slaves a very good reason to fight in the Civil War.
The articles vary from one-half of a page to five pages going from primary sources up to the time the book was written in 1959. They provide a very interesting look at the way attitudes to the Civil War changed over time. For example in an article from 1860 Alexander Stephens, the Vice-President of the Confederacy, makes it clear that slavery was the cause of the war. In an article he wrote in 1868 he has joined the supporters of the "Lost Cause" theory and says that the war was all about state-rights. One author writing in 1923 analyzed the effects of the subtropical climate on Anglo-Saxons and came up with the idea of "Tropic Nordics". They came from the Deep South and developed a towering race pride and an inclination to ride over racial groups considered to be inferior. All of the inmates are not in the asylum.
The articles I found most interesting focused on the cultural differences between the North and South. They reminded me of [The Mind of the Master Class] a fascinating book on Southern intellectual history I read some years ago. All of the articles point to the fact that there were real differences between the North and South and the Civil War was in some ways an inevitable conflict. The book sets out a wide variety of points of view and lends some credence to the idea that the Civil War isn't really over yet. I enjoyed reading it and would recommend it to anyone who has an interest in American history.
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wildbill | May 23, 2013 |
Stampp offers a view of Reconstruction that stands at odds with previous interpretations. Where previous historians (northern and southern) had criticized the Reconstruction era as one of excess and horrible corruption, Stampp points out that corruption was rampant among all political classes at the time.

He carefully outlines the plans of Lincoln, Johnson, and the radicals. Lincoln does not emerge as a hero, but as one who was largely indifferent to the plight of the freed slaves. Johnson appears as a pathetic figure who only wanted the planter class to kiss his feet. The radicals, in Stampp's interpretation, were politically astute, but many also had genuine concern for African Americans.

Lest one think that Stampp is a shill for the North, he criticizes them for abandoning Reconstruction before the task was completed.

Some of the language is a bit dated; he published the book in 1965. The constant use of the word "Negro" grates on the nerves after a while.

Overall, Stampp's work is worthy of consideration by anyone looking at a most controversial period of American history.
… (lisätietoja)
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w_bishop | 3 muuta kirja-arvostelua | May 8, 2012 |
I have read very little about this period in history and this book provided a good introduction to the factual and historical disputes of this era. It is well written and provides a surprising amount of information on the subject. One of the themes of the book is the ongoing dispute with earlier interpretations of what happened during the Reconstruction Era.
The first chapter discusses the writings of William A. Dunning and several other historians in the 1920's who characterized Reconstruction as "The Tragic Era". They saw radical reconstruction as a time of oppression of the South by the radical reconstructionists. The remainder of the book shows that what was termed oppression was primarily an unsuccessful attempt to get the Southerners to embrace the doctrine of racial equality. The fact that white supremacy triumphed in the South shows how little real oppression actually took place.
There were significant efforts, including the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, to guarantee political and social equality to the newly freed slaves. The failure to provide any meaningful economic assistance rendered the blacks powerless against the ante-bellum power structure who maintained their economic power. That and the lack of any national commitment to the idea of racial equality defeated the efforts of the radicals to bring about a meaningful "Second Revolution".
Andrew Johnson is portrayed as a man whose own weaknesses doomed his efforts to control the reconstruction process. He was an ineffective politician handicapped by personal feelings of insecurity that rivaled Richard Nixon's. Escaping impeachment by one vote he lost all political support for his policies.
I enjoyed this book as a good start on the conflicts that arose after the Civil War. The author does an excellent job of pointing out the errors in the factual portrayal and analysis of reconstruction by earlier historians. He makes it clear that the real tragedy of reconstruction was the inadequate effort to bring the freed slaves into the mainstream of American society. I look forward to more in depth reading of this critical time in American history.
… (lisätietoja)
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wildbill | 3 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Dec 25, 2011 |
This is a well research and almost incredible book about ante- bellum slavery. Many quotes from slaves, slaveowners, slave drivers. This is not the typical sterile history book about slavery. I've read a lot of history in my years and until I read this book, I'd never gotten a sense of what it really was like. An interesting sidelight is that the book was originally published in 1956. An excellent investment of one's time.
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cmaese | 2 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Aug 4, 2010 |



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