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click to enlarge Arnebeck, Bob. SLAVE LABOR IN THE CAPITAL: Building Washington's Iconic Federal Landmarks. NEW copy, trade paperback. (Charleston: The History Press, 2014). 6x9. 63 illustrations. 192 pages.

~~ In 1791, President George Washington appointed a commission to build the future capital of the nation. The commission found paying masters of faraway Maryland plantations sixty dollars a year for their slaves made it easier to keep wages low for free workers who flocked to the city. In 1798, half of the two hundred workers building the two most iconic Washington landmarks, the Capitol and the White House, were slaves. They moved stones for Scottish masons and sawed lumber for Irish carpenters. They cut trees and baked bricks. These unschooled young black men left no memoirs. Based on his research in the commissioners' records, author Bob Arnebeck describes their world of dawn to dusk work, salt pork and corn bread, white scorn and a kind nurse and the moments when everything depended on their skills.


click to enlarge Cruson, Daniel. THE RICHMOND SLAVE TRADE: The Economic Backbone of the Old Dominion. NEW copy, trade paperback. (Charleston: The History Press, 2012). 6x9. Over 25 images. 128 pages.

~~ Richmond’s 15th Street was known as Wall Street in antebellum times, and like its New York counterpart, it was a center of commerce. But the business done here was unspeakable and the scene heart wrenching. With over sixty-nine slave dealers and auction houses, the Wall Street area saw tens of millions of dollars and countless human lives change hands, fueling the southern economy. Local historian and author Jack Trammell traces the history of the city’s slave trade, from the origins of African slavery in Virginia to its destruction at the end of the Civil War. Stories of seedy slave speculators and corrupt traders are placed alongside detailed accounts of the economic, political and cultural impact of a system representing the most immense, concentrated human suffering in our nation’s history.


click to enlarge Cruson, Daniel. JAMES ISLAND: Stories from Slave Descendants. NEW copy, trade paperback. (Charleston: The History Press, 2007). 7x10. Over 40 images. 224 pages.

~~ For over 60 years, Eugene Frazier compiled narrative interviews with slaves, slave descendants and descendants of plantation owners from James Island, near Charleston. Those interviews offer a singular perspective on the African American experience in James Island, from 130 years of slavery to the early days of integration, and they are published here for the first time.


click to enlarge Cruson, Daniel. THE SLAVES OF CENTRAL FAIRFIELD COUNTY: The Journey from Slave to Freeman in Nineteenth-Century Connecticut. NEW copy, trade paperback. (Charleston: The History Press, 2007). 6x9. 16 images. 128 pages.

~~ While the details of Northern antislavery activity are well known, the other side of history is neglected: the enslavement, mistreatment and subjugation of African Americans who lived and toiled in Northern states. In this groundbreaking book on the slaves of Fairfield County, historian Cruson reveals the harsh reality of slavery in the North.


Essah, Patience, A HOUSE DIVIDED: Slavery and Emancipation in Delaware, 1838-1865. NEW copy, hardcover with dust jacket. (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1996). Map, Tables, Notes, Index, 216 pages.

~~~ Delaware stood outside the primary streams of New World emancipation. Despite slavery's virtual demise in that state during the antebellum years and Delaware's staunch Unionism during the Civil War itself, the state failed to ratify the Thirteenth Amendment, which prohibits slavery, until 1901. Patience Essah takes the reader of A House Divided through the introduction, evolution, demise, and final abolition of slavery in Delaware. In unraveling the enigma of how and why tiny Delaware abstained from the abolition mandated in northern states after the American Revolution, resisted the movement toward abolition in border states during the Civil War, and stubbornly opposed ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment, she offers fresh insight into the history of slavery, race, and racialism in America. The citizens of Delaware voluntarily freed over 90 percent of their slaves, yet they declined Lincoln's 1862 offer of compensation for emancipation, and the legislature persistently foiled all attempts to mandate emancipation. Those arguing against emancipation expressed fears that it inadvertently would alter the delicate balance of political power in the state. What Essah has found at the base of the Delaware paradox is a political discourse stalemated by instrumental appeals to racialism. In showing the persistence of slavery in Delaware, she raises questions about postslavery race relations. Her analysis is vital to an understanding of the African-American experience.


click to enlarge Geffkin, Rick. STORIES OF SLAVERY IN NEW JERSEY. NEW copy, trade paperback. (Charleston: The History Press, 2007). 6x9. 89 illustrations. 208 pages.

~~ Dutch and English settlers brought the first enslaved people to New Jersey in the seventeenth century. By the time of the Revolutionary War, slavery was an established practice on labor-intensive farms throughout what became known as the Garden State. The progenitor of the influential Morris family, Lewis Morris, brought Barbadian slaves to toil on his estate of Tinton Manor in Monmouth County. “Colonel Tye,” an escaped slave from Shrewsbury, joined the British “Ethiopian Regiment” during the Revolutionary War and led raids throughout the towns and villages near his former home. Charles Reeves and Hannah Van Clief married soon after their emancipation in 1850 and became prominent citizens of Lincroft, as did their next four generations. Author Rick Geffken reveals stories from New Jersey’s dark history of slavery.


Goldstone, Lawrence, DARK BARGAIN: Slavery, Profits and the Struggle for the Constitution. NEW copy, hardcover with dust jacket. (Walker & Co.). 230 pages.

~~~ On September 17, 1787, at the State House in Philadelphia, thirty-nine men from twelve states, after months of often bitter debate, signed America's Constitution. Yet very few of the delegates, at the start, had had any intention of creating a nation that would last. Most were driven more by pragmatic, regional interests than by idealistic vision. No issue was of greater concern to the delegates than that of slavery. Goldstone chronicles the forging of the Constitution through the prism of the crucial compromises made by men consumed with the needs of the slave economy. As the daily debates and backroom conferences in inns and taverns stretched through July and August of that hot summer - and as the philosophical leadership of James Madison waned - Goldstone clearly reveals how tenuous the document was, and how an agreement between unlikely collaborators - John Rutledge of South Carolina, and Roger Sherman and Oliver Ellsworth of Connecticut - got the delegates past their most difficult point. Dark Bargain recounts an event as dramatic and compelling as any in our nation's history.


click to enlarge Griffin, Larry J. SLAVERY IN WILKES COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA. NEW copy, trade paperback. (Charleston: The History Press, 2017). 6x9. 89 illustrations. 208 pages.

~~ Slavery is a tragic chapter in the history of Wilkes County with a lasting legacy. Prominent businessmen and celebrated civic leaders, like General William Lenoir and William Pitt Waugh, were among the county's largest slaveholders. Judith Williams Barber endured forty-five years of slavery and garnered respect from both white and black residents. Her story is linked to free person of color and noted landowner Henderson Waugh, whose illustrious, slaveholding white father connected the two families—one slave and the other free. Author Larry Griffin takes readers on an emotional journey to separate fact from myth as he chronicles the history of slavery in Wilkes County.


click to enlarge Redford, Dorothy Spruill GENERATIONS OF SOMERSET PLACE: From Slavery to Freedom. NEW copy, trade paperback. (Charleston: The History Press, 2017). 6x9. 89 illustrations. 208 pages.

~~ When the institution of slavery ended in 1865, Somerset Place was the third largest plantation in North Carolina. Located in the rural northeastern part of the state, Somerset was cumulatively home to more than 800 enslaved blacks and four generations of a planter family. During the 80 years that Somerset was an active plantation, hundreds of acres were farmed for rice, corn, oats, wheat, peas, beans, and flax. Today, Somerset Place is preserved as a state historic site offering a realistic view of what it was like for the slaves and freemen who once lived and worked on the plantation, once one of the Upper South's most prosperous enterprises.


Wiethoff, William E., A PECULIAR HUMANISM: The Judicial Advocacy of Slavery in High Courts of the Old South, 1820-1850. NEW copy, hardcover with dust jacket. (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1996). Extensive notes, Works Consulted, Index, 247 pages.

~~~ In early nineteenth-century America, and especially in the Old South, the use of oratory appealed to legal professionals - judges as well as advocates. Consistent with the humanism proclaimed in classical and neoclassical works, appellate judges perceived their civic duties to demand oratorical skill as well as legal expertise. In A Peculiar Humanism, William E. Wiethoff assesses the judicial use of oratory in reviewing slave cases and the struggle to fashion a humanist jurisprudence on slavery despite the customary restraints placed on judicial advocacy. Drawing attention to a neglected intersection of law and letters, Wiethoff analyzes the proslavery discourse embedded in antebellum judicial opinions by examining the public addresses, judicial narratives, and private papers of sixty-nine appellate judges. Wiethoff documents the judges' familiarity with the humanist tradition and surveys their attempts to equate humanism with self-interest and humanity with the desire for peace, prosperity, and the conservation of property. Yet as Wiethoff clearly demonstrates, in their struggle to obey humanist ideals, the judges articulated a humanism that was peculiarly suited to preserving existing social structures and affirming the beliefs and values of the ruling class. In Wiethoff's critical examination of judicial oratory and narrative, the discursive artifacts created by judicial advocates of slavery attest historically to the limits of law. By contrasting the judges' proslavery appeals in a variety of cases in the upper and deep South, Wiethoff shows how context shaped the judges' perceptions, priorities, and arguments. An outstanding contribution to the literature on law and slavery, A Peculiar Humanism testifies to the character of the legal profession in the Old South and serves as an index of the beliefs and attitudes that coexisted with legal decision making.
~~~ Currently in print at $40.