Synopses & Reviews
"Two law professors make slavery the motor driving the Revolutionary period in this provocative if not always convincing study. Southern colonists, they contend, feared that British court rulings against slavery in the motherland and newly assertive British claims of legislative supremacy over the colonies meant that Britain would restrict or abolish slavery in America; they therefore took the lead in pushing for outright independence and demanded assurances from Northern colonies that slavery would be protected in the new nation. Slavery also dominated the Constitutional Convention, which only succeeded, the authors argue, because of an informal grand compromise giving the South the three-fifths clause (counting slaves toward a state's House representation) in exchange for the Northwest Ordinance banning slavery north of the Ohio River and implicitly permitting it to the south. Blaming spotty records and backroom deal making, the authors often build their case on speculation, circumstantial evidence and interpretations of Revolutionary slogans about 'liberty' and 'property' as veiled references to slavery; they must often argue around documentary evidence showing Revolutionary leaders' preoccupation with other controversies that did not break down along North-South fault lines. Their reassessment of the centrality of slavery during the period is an intriguing one, but many historians will remain skeptical. Agent, Ronald Goldfarb. (Feb.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
This carefully documented, chilling history presents a radically different view of the profound role that slavery played in the founding of the republic, from the Declaration of Independence and the American Revolution through the creation of the Constitution. The book begins with a novel explanation about the impact slavery had on the founding of the republic. In 1772, a judge sitting in the High Court in London declared slavery so odious that it could not exist as common law and set the conditions which would consequently result in the freedom of the 15,000 slaves living in England at that time.