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THE POLITICAL WORLDS OF SLAVERY AND FREEDOM

THE POLITICAL WORLDS OF SLAVERY AND FREEDOM

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4.5

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LISTEN TO AUTHOR INTERVIEW:
http://www.hup.harvard.edu/audio/HAHPOL.mp3

"We tend to think of the history of slavery in the United States in terms of bright lines separating North and South, slave and free, pre- and post-Emancipation. But this view, says Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Steven Hahn, vastly oversimplifies a complex and labile situation. Building a case against the received understanding, Hahn argues passionately in the lectures that make up this collection that the boundaries of slavery were indistinct. There were slaves and owners in the North--he reproduces an 1851 notice warning the "Colored People of Boston" to 'Keep a Sharp Look Out' for 'Kidnappers and Slave Catchers'--and communities of free blacks and escaped slaves even in the South, as well as a patchwork of laws and practices that reigned west of the ever mobile frontier and elsewhere outside the country's borders. Furthermore, the perception of enslaved blacks as a powerless and inchoate mass, passive recipients of their emancipation, is belied by evidence of organized action on such a scale that Hahn considers it tantamount to a great slave rebellion unrecognized because of white America's paternalistic myopia then and since, an intriguing proposition that is bound to stir controversy within academia and beyond."
--Amanda Heller, Boston Globe
LISTEN TO AUTHOR INTERVIEW:
http://www.hup.harvard.edu/audio/HAHPOL.mp3

"We tend to think of the history of slavery in the United States in terms of bright lines separating North and South, slave and free, pre- and post-Emancipation. But this view, says Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Steven Hahn, vastly oversimplifies a complex and labile situation. Building a case against the received understanding, Hahn argues passionately in the lectures that make up this collection that the boundaries of slavery were indistinct. There were slaves and owners in the North--he reproduces an 1851 notice warning the "Colored People of Boston" to 'Keep a Sharp Look Out' for 'Kidnappers and Slave Catchers'--and communities of free blacks and escaped slaves even in the South, as well as a patchwork of laws and practices that reigned west of the ever mobile frontier and elsewhere outside the country's borders. Furthermore, the perception of enslaved blacks as a powerless and inchoate mass, passive recipients of their emancipation, is belied by evidence of organized action on such a scale that Hahn considers it tantamount to a great slave rebellion unrecognized because of white America's paternalistic myopia then and since, an intriguing proposition that is bound to stir controversy within academia and beyond."
--Amanda Heller, Boston Globe

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Publish date: Mar 31, 2009
Added to Scribd: Jun 12, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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09/07/2013

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The Political Worlds ofSlavery and Freedom
Steven Hahn
H a r va rd U n ive r s i t y P re s s
Cambridge, Massachusetts, and London, England
2009
 
Copyright © 2009 by Steven Hahn
 a l l r i g h t s r e s e r v e d
Printed in the United States of America 
 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Hahn, Steven, 1951–The political worlds of slavery and freedom / Steven Hahn.p. cm.—(Nathan I. Huggins lectures)Includes bibliographical references and index.ISBN 978-0-674-03296-5 (alk. paper)1. Slavery—Political aspects—United States—History.2. Slaves—Emancipation—United States. 3. Slave insurrections—United States—History—19th century. 4. African Americans—Politics and government—19th century. 5. African Americans—Politics and government—20th century. 6. Political participation—United States—History—19th century. 7. Political participation—United States—History—20th century. 8. Garvey, Marcus, 1887–1940.9. Universal Negro Improvement Association. 10. Blacknationalism—United States—History—20th century. I. Title.E449.H15 2009306.3
620973—dc22 2008036470

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bruchu_1 reviewed this
Rated 4/5
Subaltern perspectives In this short essay-driven book, Steven Hahn attempts to debunk several myths about how the Civil War and African-American history is written about and remembered by the collective consciousness of the American public.The books is divided into three sections. First, Hahn attempts to locate the institution of slavery within the national development of the United States but also in the broader context of European colonization in the western hemisphere. This contextualization helps to nuance our understanding of how slavery developed and adapted given the changing circumstances especially in comparison with the only slave revolution ever recorded in history in Saint Dominique.The second section develops from the first, and boils down to Hahn's argument that the Civil War should be thought of as a slave rebellion with revolutionary undertones. Hahn argues that traditional historiography has largely suppressed the "agency" of slaves in order to mythologize the narrative to one of the Union North emancipating the slaves. Notwithstanding this obvious paternalism of whites in the North, African-Americans themselves tended to accept this version of history because they preferred to be portrayed as patriotic Americans who sought to live the ideals of American liberty -- rather than a vengeful pack of insurrectionists seeking to overthrow the system.Finally, Hahn turns his attention to Garvyism -- the post-WWI political mass movement which capitalized on ideas of self-determination, anti-colonialism, and pan-Africanism. While much of Garvyism has focused on Marcus Garvey the man, Hahn instead chooses to focus on the followers of the movement, why they joined, what their motivations were, and how it came to influence much later movements like Black Power and the Panthers of the 70s. Again, Hahn attempts to show why much of the African-American experience has tended to emphasize the ideas and influence of W.E.B. Dubois and Martin Luther King, rather than Marcus Garvey or Malcolm X.Ultimately, this short book is more about the writing of history and the politics of history more than the actual history itself. Still, Hahn forces us to challenge our own preconceptions of the history we are taught and the supposed facts. I highly recommend this book for anyone who is a student of history.
DRH added this note
The link to the audio interview is this one: http://www.hup.harvard.edu/news/audio...
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