(Source: Harvard University Press)
Harvard University Press will publish a book on the debate concerning slavery at the founding of the American Republic later this month. The book is available as from the 13th August.
ABOUT THE BOOK
A radical reconstruction of the founders’ debate over slavery and the Constitution, by the best-selling, award-winning author of The Rise of American Democracy.
Americans revere the Constitution even as they argue fiercely over its original toleration of slavery. Some historians have charged that slaveholders actually enshrined human bondage at the nation’s founding. The acclaimed political historian Sean Wilentz shares the dismay but sees the Constitution and slavery differently. Although the proslavery side won important concessions, he asserts, antislavery impulses also influenced the framers’ work. Far from covering up a crime against humanity, the Constitution restricted slavery’s legitimacy under the new national government. In time, that limitation would open the way for the creation of an antislavery politics that led to Southern secession, the Civil War, and Emancipation.
Wilentz’s controversial and timely reconsideration upends orthodox views of the Constitution. He describes the document as a tortured paradox that abided slavery without legitimizing it. This paradox lay behind the great political battles that fractured the nation over the next seventy years. As Southern Fire-eaters invented a proslavery version of the Constitution, antislavery advocates, including Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, proclaimed antislavery versions based on the framers’ refusal to validate what they called “property in man.”
No Property in Man invites fresh debate about the political and legal struggles over slavery that began during the Revolution and concluded with the Confederacy’s defeat. It drives straight to the heart of the most contentious and enduring issue in all of American history.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sean Wilentz is George Henry Davis 1886 Professor of American History at Princeton University. He is the author of numerous books on American history and politics, including The Rise of American Democracy, which won the Bancroft Prize and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and The Politicians and the Egalitarians, chosen as Best History Book of the Year by Kirkus and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Wilentz’s writings on American music have earned him two Grammy nominations and two Deems-Taylor-ASCAP awards.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
A Note on Terminology
1. Slavery, Property, and Emancipation in Revolutionary America
2. The Federal Convention and the Curse of Heaven
3. Slavery, Antislavery, and the Struggle for Ratification
4. To the Missouri Crisis
5. Antislavery, the Constitution, and the Coming of the Civil War
More information here