Freedom

James Walvin,

Freedom
 
 
In this timely and readable new work, Walvin focuses not on abolitionism or the brutality of slavery, but the resistance of the enslaved themselves—from sabotage and absconding to full-blown uprisings—and its impact in overthrowing slavery. Following Columbus's landfall, slavery became a critical institution across the New World. It had seismic consequences for Africa while leading to the transformation of the Americas and to the material enrichment of the West. It was also largely unquestioned.Yet within seventy-five years slavery vanished from the Americas: it declined and collapsed by a complexity of forces that, to this day, remains disputed, but there is no doubting that it was in large part defeated by those it had enslaved. Slavery itself came in many shapes and sizes. It is perhaps best remembered on plantations, but slavery varied enormously by crop (sugar, tobacco, rice, coffee, cotton), and there was enslaved labor on ships and docks, in factories and the frontier, as well domestically. But if all these millions of diverse, enslaved people had one thing in common it was a universal detestation of their bondage. The end of slavery and the triumph of black freedom constitutes an extraordinary historical upheaval, one which still resonates throughout the world today.


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