Edward Baptist And The Civil War

847 WordsJan 18, 20164 Pages
Few topics in American history garner the attention, and generate the level of raw emotion among the populace, as chattel slavery during the nineteenth century. However, despite the importance this peculiar institution played, and continues to play, in shaping American society, relatively few people understand its history at more than a elementary level. Edward Baptist attempts to change this fundamental deficiency in The Half Has Never Been Told. Structured as a narrative, it brilliantly describes how a collaboration between white citizens of southern and northern states worked together to secure the continuation of white domination long after the Civil War removed slavery’s physical chains. While the author’s writing style and methodology is a welcome departure from tradition, and his research is commendable, his insistence that his main arguments have never been told by professional historians is dubious. The Half Has Never Been Told covers a significant period of American history from the end of the American Revolution through the New Deal, although the fifty years preceding the U.S. Civil War understandably dominates most of the content. Baptist argues that profits from slave picked cotton during the seventy-five years following the American Revolution facilitated the United States’ economic boom and geographical expansion. Slavery produced cheap raw materials, primarily cotton, which allowed the northern states to undergo their own industrial revolution, and in so
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