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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-winning The 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.
Winner of several national awards including the 1967 Pulitzer Prize, this classic study by David Brion Davis has given new direction to the historical and sociological research of society's attitude towards slavery. Davis depicts the various ways different societies have responded to the intrinsic contradictions of slavery from antiquity to the early 1770's in order to establish the uniqueness of the abolitionists' response. While slavery has always caused considerable social and psychological tension, Western culture has associated it with certain religious and philosophical doctrines that gave it the highest sanction. The contradiction of slavery grew more profound when it became closely linked with American colonization, which had as its basic foundation the desire and opportunity to create a more perfect society. Davis provides a comparative analysis of slave systems in the Old World, a discussion of the early attitudes towards American slavery, and a detailed exploration of the early protests against Negro bondage, as well as the religious, literary, and philosophical developments that contributed to both sides in the controversies of the late eighteenth century. This exemplary introduction to the history of slavery in Western culture presents the traditions in thought and value that gave rise to the attitudes of both abolitionists and defenders of slavery in the late eighteenth century as well as the nineteenth century.
Winner of the 2014 National Book Critics Circle Award for General Nonfiction Shortlisted for the 2014 Cundill Prize in Historical Literature From the revered historian, the long-awaited conclusion of the magisterial history of slavery and emancipation in Western culture that has been nearly fifty years in the making. David Brion Davis is one of the foremost historians of the twentieth century, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the Bancroft Prize, and nearly every award given by the historical profession. Now, with The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Emancipation, Davis brings his staggeringly ambitious, prizewinning trilogy on slavery in Western culture to a close. Once again, Davis offers original and penetrating insights into what slavery and emancipation meant to Americans. He explores how the Haitian Revolution respectively terrified and inspired white and black Americans, hovering over the antislavery debates like a bloodstained ghost, and he offers a surprising analysis of the complex and misunderstood significance of colonization—the project to move freed slaves back to Africa—to members of both races and all political persuasions. He vividly portrays the dehumanizing impact of slavery, as well as the generally unrecognized importance of freed slaves to abolition. Most of all, Davis presents the age of emancipation as a model for reform and as probably the greatest landmark of willed moral progress in human history. This is a monumental and harrowing undertaking following the century of struggle, rebellion, and warfare that led to the eradication of slavery in the new world. An in-depth investigation, a rigorous colloquy of ideas, ranging from Frederick Douglass to Barack Obama, from British industrial “wage slavery” to the Chicago World’s Fair, The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Emancipation is a brilliant conclusion to one of the great works of American history. Above all, Davis captures how America wrestled with demons of its own making, and moved forward. From the Hardcover edition.
How was it possible for opponents of slavery to be so vocal in opposing the practice, when they were so accepting of the economic exploitation of workers in western factories - many of which were owned by prominent abolitionists? David Brion Davis's The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Revolution, 1770-1823, uses the critical thinking skill of analysis to break down the various arguments that were used to condemn one set of controversial practices, and examine those that were used to defend another. His study allows us to see clear differences in reasoning and to test the assumptions made by each argument in turn. The result is an eye-opening explanation that makes it clear exactly how contemporaries resolved this apparent dichotomy - one that allows us to judge whether the opponents of slavery were clear-eyed idealists, or simply deployers of arguments that pandered to their own base economic interests.
The author's lifetime of insight as the leading authority on slavery in the Western world is summed up in this compelling narrative that links together the profits of slavery, the pain of the enslaved, and the legacy of racism in a sweeping and compelling history of the institution of slavery in the United States. By the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Problem of Slavery in Western Culture.
"This book views slavery in a new light and underscores the human tragedy at the heart of the American story."--Jacket.
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