“The men who came together to found the independent United States,” writes Edmund S. Morgan, “either held slaves or were willing to join hands with those who did.” George Washington, hero of the Revolution, was the master of several hundred slaves. Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, owned more than two hundred men, women, and children while eloquently defending the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. In this classic work, Edmund S. Morgan investigates the bond between slavery and freedom that lies at the very heart of our nation. Through a meticulous history of Virginia, from its earliest settlement through the seventeenth century boom in tobacco, the gradual replacement of servitude with slavery, and the rise of republican ideology, Morgan reveals the deep and interlocking relationship between these seemingly contradictory ideas. Winner of the 1976 Francis Parkman Prize from the Society of American Historians, American Slavery, American Freedom is now available in an exclusive HBC edition with a new introduction from Eric Foner.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Edmund S. Morgan is Sterling Professor of History Emeritus at Yale University. He is the author of Inventing the People: The Rise of Popular Sovereignty in England and America, winner of the Bancroft Prize, and, most recently, of the best-selling Benjamin Franklin. Morgan was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2000.
From our staff historian:
This book impacts our understanding of American history because Morgan examines the early development of the colony of Virginia, while paying special attention to how ideas about racial slavery developed along side ideas about freedom. This work shines important light on the construction of race and how it operated in America.
Question to think about while reading:
How could American slavery operate alongside American freedom?