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Books > History > Americas > United States > Civil War > Abolition > 0520077792
  1. The Antislavery Debate: Capitalism and Abolitionism as a Problem in Historical Interpretation
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  2. The Antislavery Debate: Capitalism and Abolitionism as a Problem in Historical Interpretation

    Delivery: 10-20 Working Days
    Customer Ratings (2 reviews)
    Price R841.00

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This volume brings together one of the most provocative debates among historians in recent years. The center of controversy is the emergence of the antislavery movement in the United States and Britain and the relation of capitalism to this development.

The essays delve beyond these issues, however, to raise a deeper question of historical interpretation: What are the relations between consciousness, moral action, and social change? The debate illustrates that concepts common in historical practice are not so stable as we have thought them to be. It is about concepts as much as evidence, about the need for clarity in using the tools of contemporary historical practice.

The participating historians are scholars of great distinction. Beginning with an essay published in the American Historical Review (AHR), Thomas L. Haskell challenged the interpretive framework of David Brion Davis's celebrated study, The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Revolution. The AHR subsequently published responses by Davis and by John Ashworth, as well as a rejoinder by Haskell. The AHR essays and the relevant portions of Davis's book are reprinted here. In addition, there are two new essays by Davis and Ashworth and a general consideration of the subject by Thomas Bender.

This is a highly disciplined, insightful presentation of a major controversy in historical interpretation that will expand the debate into new realms.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Dennis R. Hidalgo
Thomas Bender, ed. The Antislavery Debate
What can a historian do when there is not enough empirical evidence to produce a quantitative and comprehensively thesis for a social historical problem that defies psychological scrutiny? David Brion Davis opted for an answer that satisfies cynic assumptions with circumstantial evidences. Davis argues that the strength of abolitionism in early industrial Britain derived from its susceptibility to the needs of the dominant political elite. It was particularly influenced by this new bourgeoisie capitalist class' modes of industrial discipline. Antislavery main, and unconscious, purpose was to desensitize English society to the newer forms of oppression evident in the increasing wage labor. His context of conceptual reference appears to flow from Marxism and Freudian thought: the rise of an oppressing bourgeoisie driven by its hidden and selfish Id. To Thomas Haskell this idea of unconscious "self-deception" and... Read more
In discussing the personal opinions / change in opinion on slavery, I am puzzled how few, if any, historian looked at the Virginia manumission records. These are on line, and some of the records approach boiler plate truly reflecting opinion. For example:

Wills &C. 1784-87, 390-1, September 25, 1787, To all Christian People to whom these presents shall come, Greeting Know Ye that I George Corbin. . . for divers good Causes and Considerations me hereunto moving but more Especially from Motives of Humanity, Justice, and Policy, and as it is Repugnant to Christianity and even common Honesty to live in Ease and affluence by the Labour of those whom fraud and Violence have Reduced to Slavery; (altho' sanctifyed by General consent, and supported by the law of the Land) Have, and by these presents do manumit and set free.........

These are at both the Virginia records and at Utah State University: [...]

I find these records substantiate Haskell's thesis... Read more
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