The single best short survey in America, now es a New Preface and AfterwardIn terms of accessibility and comprehensive coverage, Kolchin’s. Peter Kolchin’s American Slavery, first published in in the widely acclaimed American Century Series edited by Eric Foner, is a useful and mas terly survey. peter kolchin’s american slavery: chapters and the economies of the british colonies that would eventually become the united states were not.

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American Slavery: by Peter Kolchin

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The single best short survey in America, now updated. Includes a New Preface and Afterward In terms of accessibility and comprehensive coverage, Kolchin’s American Slavery is a singularly important achievement. Now updated to address a decade of new scholarship, the book includes a new preface, afterword, and revised and expanded bibliographic essay.

It remains the best book The single best short survey in America, now updated. It remains the best book to introduce a subject of profound and lasting importance, one that lies at the center of American history.

American Slavery: 1619-1877

americwn Paperbackpages. Published September 1st by Hill and Wang first published To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about American Slavery amerlcan, please sign up. Lists with This Book. Jun 10, Kara Corthron rated it did not like it. I hate bestowing any book with only a star, but this one was very problematic.

I read it for research and I did learn a few things I didn’t know and discovered some better resources in the bibliography, but it amerocan disturbing to read a book about slaveyr in America from a white supremacist perspective–and I am certain the author didn’t intend that. Here are a few gems. If the author is being tongue-in-cheek here, it is absolutely unclear.

Where is the evidence that enslaved people in pre- and post-colonial America decided that their wmerican cultural customs just weren’t that important anymore?

That’s the creepiest way I’ve ever seen that word used. If there are folks reading this book that kolchij “reasons” for why slvaery escaped slavery, please pick up a different book; this one ain’t gonna help you. View all 3 comments. Sep 12, Teri rated it really liked it Shelves: This is an overview of American slavery from its beginnings through its abolishment with the 13th amendment.

Kolchin breaks down the differences between the different eras of slavery: Colonial, American Revolution, and Antebellum years. There is also a chapter that discusses slavery from the white southerners perspective during those years after the Civil War.

Where this is a somewhat small kolhin under pagesit provides a very clear understanding of the different topics that were affected This is an overview of American slavery from its beginnings through its abolishment with the 13th amendment.

Where this is a somewhat small book under pagesit provides a very clear understanding of the different topics that were affected by slavery without digging too deep. This makes a great resource for scholarly writing. This is an excellent overview of the history–and controversies about the history–of slavery in the United States xlavery America from until the approximate end of Reconstruction in Clearly written, well thought kolchln, this book slavrey particularly notable for its superbly annotated bibliography.

Feb 05, Mike Hankins rated it it was amazing Shelves: For everyone else, it is simply impossible. The results are outstanding.


Kolchin has produced an incredible work that serves as both an introduction to the history of American slavery and a guide to the literature. Such a survey naturally does not have a single argument or thesis, but Kolchin does continually return to the theme that slavery in America was not a static institution but was constantly changing, from a system of indentured servitude in the early colonial era to a race-based, paternalistic model slavwry the antebellum period.

Kolchin begins the work with a study of the colonial period, focusing on how indentured servitude of Europeans was the norm until aroundwhen the amount of labor required far exceeded the amount of servants that Europe could provide. Kolchin notes that most African slaves at first did not arrive in America, but usually found themselves in other Caribbean colonies.

This broader contextualization — examining kolfhin in a global context — is particularly useful. Kolchin continually compares American slavery to other types of slavery around the world, including the Caribbean colonies — which form a useful comparison because of their reliance on African slaves — but also Russian serfdom.

For Kolchin, America’s experience with slavery is drastically different than other Caribbean slabery of slavery simply because the American slave population grew.

In other places, slaves often died and had to be replaced ameican new slaves from Africa, but in America, slaves reproduced, creating new generations of American born slaves that developed a new African-American culture that blended elements of their African heritage with American elements. The American Revolution brought a number of changes in the system of slavery.

During this period, some Americans mostly Quakers began to question the institution on moral grounds. The disruption of life brought on by the war did cause much absenteeism and allowed many slaves to escape. Many blacks stayed, but the increased klochin they experienced caused them to become culturally more isolated.

The most important shift during the Revolutionary period was that within thirty years of the war’s end, all northern states had abolished slavery, further driving a wedge between the North and South. Geography is a key factor in Kolchin’s conception of American slavery.

He does focus on the differences between North and South, especially how the emphasis of agriculture in the South lends itself to a larger reliance on slavery. In the upper South, plantations were generally smaller, whereas the deep South, especially places like Louisiana, used massive plantations with sometimes hundreds of slaves.

The antebellum period is the book’s main focus, examining slavery from a number of angles.

Kolchin traces how racism became an ingrained component of slavery over time, but also how the relationship between slaves and masters was kolcnin on paternalism. Most slaveowners cared for their slaves deeply, but in a patronizing, paternal way that exercised control over every aspect of a slave’s life. The book also traces the rise in southern protection and defense of slavery. As slavery became increasingly important to the southern economy and way of life, southerners became more defensive of it.

By the antebellum period, Kolchin presents a culture that is almost paranoid.

Slaveowners feared that abolitionists would destroy their way of life, or that a slave insurrection could undermine the structure of their society.

Although the book focuses primarily on slavery itself, Kolchin does a wonderful job of presenting a complete picture of that society. He includes details about yeoman farmers and non-slaveholding southern whites, many of which had a stake in the system of slavery even if they did not own slaves themselves.

American Slavery: – Peter Kolchin – Google Books

Kolchin takes care to destroy ameircan misconceptions about slavery. For example, he dismantles the idea that slavery made the South a more economically productive region than the North by demonstrating that the only reason for southern economic growth was the use of more land.


Per capita measurements reveal a southern economy that lagged far behind the North. Similarly, slavery was not in the process of dying out in the antebellum period, but was in fact growing.

The final chapters of the book present useful explorations of slave resistance, mostly through passive means, and of disruption during the Civil War. Of particular interest is the chapter on reconstruction, which highlights the ambivalent attitudes of some freed slaves and also highlights their increased agency in determining their fate. Kolchin emphasizes that not only were southern whites dismayed by reconstruction, but many reformers in the North were disappointed that the South was not more completely transformed.

One of the book’s largest strengths is Kolchin’s navigation of the massive historiography. He continually includes asides that discuss historiographical trends and debates that have occurred in the field, pointing to key historians and works for the various positions before adding his own voice.

Of particular interest is his discussion of how historians have treated the slaves themselves, first looking at them as powerless victims, then, the s, looking at slave life from their own perspective, incorporating new sources that reveal much of slave culture and lifestyle. Kolchin concludes that although that research was incredibly valuable, it sometimes went too far in ascribing so much agency to slaves, whose lives were dictated to them.

Kolchin takes similar stances on other issues, often navigating between the extremes of the literature, advocating a middle position in these historiographical debates.

Thus, the book works incredibly well not only as a survey but as a guide to further research. Ultimately, the book is a wonderful overview both of slavery as an institution and of the historiography of the subject. By design, it relies almost exclusively on secondary sources, but this is not a weakness.

The book is not an attempt to provide new original research, but to sum up the existing literature, and in that goal it succeeds brilliantly. Kolchin presents a complex picture of slavery as it evolves and changes over time. For students new to the subject, or scholars seeking a useful overview to the field, this book is nearly perfect. Mar 11, Nick Black rated it really liked it.

Apr 04, Haley rated it it was amazing. His purpose is to have readers visualize all the struggles and hardships these individuals faced throughout their lives. This book impacts its audience in ways that makes them view life differently as a slave. This will have a lasting value on individuals because slavery still exists to this present day. Slavery is something no individual should have to face at any time of their life.

This book is well written. The book is written based on actual facts that happened to African Americans. The book American Slavery starts with the cause of slavery in the sixteen hundreds. The author mentions the growth of amerjcan, not just by quoting information, but by providing real conditions the slaves were put through, through the experiences and difficult times the slaves had to encounter.

The greatest strength of American Slavery was that Kolchin provided well detailed experiences from slaves. The weakness of the book was mainly not enough explicit facts about what happened to the slaves. This novel is truly tremendous. I would definitely recommend this novel to anyone who loves learning about slavery. This novel gives great facts about slqvery hard times that African Americans faced on an everyday basis.