In three conceptually wide-ranging and provocative essays, the authors assess the meaning of freedom for enslaved and free Americans in the decades before and after the Civil War. They ask important and challenging questions: How did slaves and freedpeople respond to the promise and reality of emancipation? How committed were white southerners to the principle of racial subjugation? And in what ways can we best interpret the actions of enslaved and free Americans during slavery and Reconstruction? Collectively, these essays offer fresh approaches to questions of local political power, the determinants of individual choices, and the discourse that shaped and defined the history of black freedom.
Written by three prominent historians of the period, Slavery’s Ghost forces readers to think critically about the way we study the past, the depth of racial prejudice, and how African Americans won and lost their freedom in nineteenth-century America.
The contributors cast new light upon questions that have framed the study of slavery in the Americas for decades. The book investigates such topics as the illegal slave trade in Cuba, the Creole slave revolt in the U.S., and the debate between pro- and antislavery factions over the interstate slave trade in the South. Together, the authors offer fresh and provocative insights into the interrelations of capitalism, sovereignty, and slavery.