Even in Death They Still Can’t Get It Right

Union County Marker

This past week Mattie Rice, who was a descendant of Weary Clyburn passed away. Over the past few year I wrote extensively about the Sons of Confederate Veterans’ and United Daughters of the Confederacy’s efforts to distort the history of Clyburn.

Continue reading “Even in Death They Still Can’t Get It Right”

Baptist Describes a New Orleans Slave Auction

The following description of a slave auction in New Orleans comes from Edward Baptist’s new book, The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism.

The moment was here, the one that made trees fall, cotton bales strain against their ropes, filled the stores with goods, sailed paper across oceans and back again, made the world believe. (p. 94)

This book is fascinating not so much in terms of its central thesis, but in the way that Baptist crafts his narrative. It is at times dizzying and confusing as he illustrates the speed at which this country expanded on the backs of slaves and the interconnectedness of everything that went on domestically and internationally to make it happen. What a ride.

Edward Baptist on Slavery, the Civil War and American Capitalism

My copy of Edward Baptist’s new book, The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism, arrived and I’ve managed to finish the first chapter. The book is incredibly well written and thought provoking. Baptist places the spread of slavery at the center of the expansion of capitalism from the period immediately following the Revolution through the nineteenth century. Contrary to popular opinion, slavery was not antithetical to American capitalism, but its driving force. No, Baptist is not the first historian to suggest this, but it is likely that this particular book will enjoy a wider readership given its publication by a popular press and the recent controversy surrounding a review that appeared in The EconomistContinue reading “Edward Baptist on Slavery, the Civil War and American Capitalism”

A Victory For the Good Guys

Last week I shared the news that the iconic image of Andrew and Silas Chandler had been donated to the Library of Congress. Over the weekend The Washington Post picked up the story. The title of the article makes it perfectly clear that the image does not show two men going off to war voluntarily. What it depicts is one of the many horrors of slavery.

Chandler, Washington PostThe title of the Post article is a clear victory over the self-serving agendas of certain heritage groups such as the Sons of Confederate Veterans and United Daughters of the Confederacy and a broader unwillingness and/or inability to engage in the most basic historical research. Continue reading “A Victory For the Good Guys”

“The Lingering Stain of Slavery”

Slavery

As the illuminating map generated by that study shows, children born in some regions—Salt Lake City and San Jose, Calif., for example—have a reasonable shot of moving up the social ladder. By contrast, many parts of the former Confederacy, it seems, are now the places where the American dream goes to die.

Why is that true? At first blush, you might guess race could explain the variation. When the study’s authors crunched the data, they found that the larger the black population in any given county, the lower the overall social mobility. But there was more to the story than blacks unable to break the cycle of poverty. In a passing comment, Chetty and his co-authors observed that “both blacks and whites living in areas with large African-American populations have lower rates of upward income mobility.” Far from being divergent, the fates of poor blacks and poor whites in these regions are curiously, inextricably, intertwined.

Click here for the rest of the article.