For more than three decades race relations have been at the forefront of historical research in America. These new essays on race and slavery—some by highly regarded, award-winning veterans in the field and others by talented newcomers—point in fresh directions. They address specific areas of contention even as together they survey important questions across four centuries of social, cultural, and political history.
Looking at the institution itself, Robert McColley reconsiders the origins of black slavery in America, while William W. Freehling presents a striking interpretation of the Denmark Vesey slave conspiracy of 1822. In the political arena, William E. Gienapp and Stephen E. Maizlish assess the power of race and slave issues in, respectively, the Republican and Democratic parties of the 1850s.
For the Civil War and Reconstruction eras, Reid Mitchell profiles the consciousness of the average Confederate soldier, while Leon F. Litwack explores the tasks facing freed slaves. Arthur Zilversmit switches the perspective to Washington with a reevaluation of Grant's commitments to the freedmen.
Essays on the twentieth century focus on the South. James Oakes traces the rising fortunes of the supposedly vanquished planter class as it entered this century. Moving to more recent times, John G. Sproat looks at the role of South Carolina's white moderates during the struggle over segregation in the late 1950s and early 1960s and their failure at Orangeburg in 1968. Finally, Joel Williamson assesses what the loss of slavery has meant to southern culture in the 120 years since the end of the Civil War.
A wide-ranging yet cohesive exploration, New Perspectives on Race and Slavery in America takes on added significance as a volume that honors Kenneth M. Stampp, the mentor of all the authors and long considered one of the great modern pioneers in the history of slavery and the Civil War.