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Author Archive: "Edward E. Baptist"

The Two Bodies of The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism

My new book, The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism, is the story of two bodies. The first body was the new kind of slavery that emerged in the young United States right after it achieved its independence from the British Empire. Although at the end of the American Revolution, slavery looked — to some observers — as if it would disappear along with the new states' colonial institutions, it did not. Instead enslavers like Revolutionary War hero Wade Hampton of South Carolina transformed the institution. Once those innovators learned how to produce cotton with slave labor, cotton fiber became the most important commodity of the Industrial Revolution. As world demand for cotton grew after 1790, enslavers began to move enslaved African Americans south and west by the thousands. The victims of these forced migrations were people like Charles Ball, a young Maryland man sold to a slave trader in 1805. The trader, who Ball eventually learned was named M'Giffin, chained Ball to 51 other people and then marched them all 400 miles to South Carolina.

That's where M'Giffin sold Charles ...

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