Debating Slavery: Economy and Society in the Antebellum American South

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Cambridge University Press, Dec 10, 1998 - History - 117 pages
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Even while slavery existed, Americans debated slavery. Was it a profitable and healthy institution? If so, for whom? The abolition of slavery in 1865 did not end this debate. Similar questions concerning the profitability of slavery, its impact on masters, slaves, and nonslaveowners still inform modern historical debates. Is the slave South best characterized as a capitalist society? Or did its dogged adherence to non-wage labor render it precapitalist? Today, southern slavery is among the most hotly disputed topics in writing on American history. With the use of illustrative material and a critical bibliography, Dr Smith outlines the main contours of this complex debate, summarizes the contending viewpoints, and at the same time weighs up the relative importance, strengths and weaknesses of the various competing interpretations. This book introduces an important topic in American history in a manner which is accessible to students and undergraduates taking courses in American history.
  

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Contents

The contours of a debate
1
Slaveholders and plantations
15
Yeomen and nonslaveowners
31
Slaves
42
The profitability of slavery as a business
60
The profitability of slavery as a system
71
New directions toward consensus
87
Bibliography
95
Index
113
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About the author (1998)

Mark M. Smith is Carolina Distinguished Professor of History at the University of South Carolina. He is author or editor of six previous books, including "Listening to Nineteenth-Century America" (from the University of North Carolina Press) and "Stono: Documenting and Interpreting a Slave Revolt".

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