Best U.S. Abolition of Slavery History Books
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1. Caste: A Brief History of Racism, Sexism, Classism, Ageism, Homophobia, Religious Intolerance, Xenophobia, and Reasons for Hope
Author: by University Press
Published at: Independently published (July 4, 2020)
University Press returns with another short and captivating book a brief history of caste, bias, and discrimination. We have inherited a world full of humans who have been healed and hurt by other humans. There was a time, in an age before this one, when ignorance was forgivable.
But that time has passed. Now is not the time for the enlightened to sneer at the brutes. Sneering hurts people. And hurt people hurt people.No. Now is the time for healing. And healing begins with introspection and a recognition of our own caste, our own biases, and our own discrimination.
And introspection begins with a glimpse of the past. This short book peels back the veil and provides a brief glimpse into the history of seven virulent and persistent human biases a glimpse that you can read in about an hour.
2. Thaddeus Stevens: Civil War Revolutionary, Fighter for Racial Justice
Author: by Bruce Levine
Published at: Simon & Schuster (March 2, 2021)
The definitive biography of one of the 19th century’s greatest statesmen, encompassing his decades-long fight against slavery, his key role in the Union war effort, and his postwar struggle to bring racial justice to America. Thaddeus Stevens was among the first to see the Civil War as an opportunity for a second American revolutiona chance to remake the country as a true multiracial democracy.
One of the foremost abolitionists in Congress in the years leading up to the war, he was a leader of the young Republican Party’s radical wing, fighting for anti-slavery and anti-racist policies long before party colleagues like Abraham Lincoln endorsed them.
It was he, for instance, who urged Lincoln early on to free those enslaved throughout the US and to welcome black men into the Union’s armies. During the Reconstruction era following the Civil War, Stevens demanded equal civil and political rights for black Americans, rights eventually embodied in the 14th and 15th amendments.
3. Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln
Author: by Doris Kearns Goodwin
Published at: Simon & Schuster (September 26, 2006)
Winner of the Lincoln Prize Acclaimed historian Doris Kearns Goodwin illuminates Lincoln’s political genius in this highly original work, as the one-term congressman and prairie lawyer rises from obscurity to prevail over three gifted rivals of national reputation to become president.
On May 18, 1860, William H.Seward, Salmon P. Chase, Edward Bates, and Abraham Lincoln waited in their hometowns for the results from the Republican National Convention in Chicago. When Lincoln emerged as the victor, his rivals were dismayed and angry. Throughout the turbulent 1850s, each had energetically sought the presidency as the conflict over slavery was leading inexorably to secession and civil war.
That Lincoln succeeded, Goodwin demonstrates, was the result of a character that had been forged by experiences that raised him above his more privileged and accomplished rivals. He won because he possessed an extraordinary ability to put himself in the place of other men, to experience what they were feeling, to understand their motives and desires.
4. Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom
Author: by David W. Blight
Published at: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (January 7, 2020)
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in History* Extraordinarya great American biography (The New Yorker) of the most important African-American of the nineteenth century: Frederick Douglass, the escaped slave who became the greatest orator of his day and one of the leading abolitionists and writers of the era.
As a young man Frederick Douglass (18181895) escaped from slavery in Baltimore, Maryland. He was fortunate to have been taught to read by his slave owner mistress, and he would go on to become one of the major literary figures of his time.
His very existence gave the lie to slave owners: with dignity and great intelligence he bore witness to the brutality of slavery. Initially mentored by William Lloyd Garrison, Douglass spoke widely, using his own story to condemn slavery. By the Civil War, Douglass had become the most famed and widely travelled orator in the nation.
In his unique and eloquent voice, written and spoken, Douglass was a fierce critic of the United States as well as a radical patriot. After the war he sometimes argued politically with younger African Americans, but he never forsook either the Republican party or the cause of black civil and political rights.
5. The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism
Author: by Edward E Baptist
Published at: Basic Books; Reprint edition (October 25, 2016)
A groundbreaking history demonstrating that America’s economic supremacy was built on the backs of slaves Americans tend to cast slavery as a pre-modern institution – the nation’s original sin, perhaps, but isolated in time and divorced from America’s later success.
But to do so robs the millions who suffered in bondage of their full legacy. As historian Edward E. Baptist reveals in The Half Has Never Been Told, the expansion of slavery in the first eight decades after American independence drove the evolution and modernization of the United States.
In the span of a single lifetime, the South grew from a narrow coastal strip of worn-out tobacco plantations to a continental cotton empire, and the United States grew into a modern, industrial, and capitalist economy. Told through intimate slave narratives, plantation records, newspapers, and the words of politicians, entrepreneurs, and escaped slaves, The Half Has Never Been Told offers a radical new interpretation of American history.
Author: by David Herbert Donald
Published at: Simon & Schuster; 1st edition (November 5, 1996)
A masterful work by Pulitzer Prizewinning author David Herbert Donald, Lincoln is a stunning portrait of Abraham Lincoln’s life and presidency. Donald brilliantly depicts Lincoln’s gradual ascent from humble beginnings in rural Kentucky to the ever-expanding political circles in Illinois, and finally to the presidency of a country divided by civil war.
Donald goes beyond biography, illuminating the gradual development of Lincoln’s character, chronicling his tremendous capacity for evolution and growth, thus illustrating what made it possible for a man so inexperienced and so unprepared for the presidency to become a great moral leader.
In the most troubled of times, here was a man who led the country out of slavery and preserved a shattered Unionin short, one of the greatest presidents this country has ever seen.
7. They Were Her Property
Author: by Stephanie E Jones-Rogers
Published at: Yale University Press; Illustrated edition (January 7, 2020)
Winner of Lapidus Center for the Historical Analysis of Transatlantic Slavery 2020 Harriet Tubman PrizeWinner of the Los Angeles Times 2019 Book Prize in HistoryWinner of the Southern Association for Women’s Historians 2020 Julia Cherry Spruill Prize for the best book in southern women’s historyWinner of the Southern Historical Association 2020 Charles S.
Sydnor Award for the best book in southern history published in an odd-numbered yearWinner of the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic 2020 Best Book PrizeWinner of the Organization of American Historians 2020 Merle Curti Social History Award for the best book in American social history A bold and searing investigation into the role of white women in the American slave economy”Compelling.”-Renee Graham, Boston Globe “Stunning.”-Rebecca Onion, Slate “Makes a vital contribution to our understanding of our past and present.”-Parul Sehgal, New York Times Bridging women’s history, the history of the South, and African American history, this book makes a bold argument about the role of white women in American slavery.
8. The Zealot and the Emancipator: John Brown, Abraham Lincoln, and the Struggle for American Freedom
Author: by H. W. Brands
Published at: Doubleday; Illustrated edition (October 6, 2020)
Gifted storyteller and bestselling historian H.W. Brands narrates the epic struggle over slavery as embodied by John Brown and Abraham Lincolntwo men moved to radically different acts to confront our nation’s gravest sin. John Brown was a charismatic and deeply religious man who heard the God of the Old Testament speaking to him, telling him to destroy slavery by any means.
When Congress opened Kansas territory to slavery in 1854, Brown raised a band of followers to wage war. His men tore pro-slavery settlers from their homes and hacked them to death with broadswords. Three years later, Brown and his men assaulted the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia, hoping to arm slaves with weapons for a race war that would cleanse the nation of slavery.
Brown’s violence pointed ambitious Illinois lawyer and former officeholder Abraham Lincoln toward a different solution to slavery: politics. Lincoln spoke cautiously and dreamed big, plotting his path back to Washington and perhaps to the White House. Yet his caution could not protect him from the vortex of violence Brown had set in motion.
9. The Broken Heart of America: St. Louis and the Violent History of the United States
Author: by Walter Johnson
Published at: Basic Books; Illustrated edition (April 14, 2020)
A searing portrait of the racial dynamics that lie inescapably at the heart of our nation, told through the turbulent history of the city of St. Louis. From Lewis and Clark’s 1804 expedition to the 2014 uprising in Ferguson, American history has been made in St. Louis.
And as Walter Johnson shows in this searing book, the city exemplifies how imperialism, racism, and capitalism have persistently entwined to corrupt the nation’s past. St. Louis was a staging post for Indian removal and imperial expansion, and its wealth grew on the backs of its poor black residents, from slavery through redlining and urban renewal.
But it was once also America’s most radical city, home to anti-capitalist immigrants, the Civil War’s first general emancipation, and the nation’s first general strike – a legacy of resistance that endures. A blistering history of a city’s rise and decline, The Broken Heart of America will forever change how we think about the United States.
10. Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom
Author: by Catherine Clinton
Published at: Back Bay Books; Reprint edition (January 5, 2005)
The definitive biography of one of the most courageous women in American history “reveals Harriet Tubman to be even more remarkable than her legend” (Newsday). Celebrated for her exploits as a conductor on the Underground Railroad, Harriet Tubman has entered history as one of nineteenth-century America’s most enduring and important figures.
But just who was this remarkable woman? To John Brown, leader of the Harper’s Ferry slave uprising, she was General Tubman. For the many slaves she led north to freedom, she was Moses. To the slaveholders who sought her capture, she was a thief and a trickster.
To abolitionists, she was a prophet. Now, in a biography widely praised for its impeccable research and its compelling narrative, Harriet Tubman is revealed for the first time as a singular and complex character, a woman who defied simple categorization.”A thrilling reading experience.
It expands outward from Tubman’s individual story to give a sweeping, historical vision of slavery.” -NPR’s Fresh Air
11. The Second Founding: How the Civil War and Reconstruction Remade the Constitution
Author: by Eric Foner
Published at: W. W. Norton & Company; 1st edition (August 11, 2020)
Gripping and essential. Jesse Wegman, New York TimesAn authoritative history by the preeminent scholar of the Civil War era, The Second Founding traces the arc of the three foundational Reconstruction amendments from their origins in antebellum activism and adoption amidst intense postwar politics to their virtual nullification by narrow Supreme Court decisions and Jim Crow state laws.
Today these amendments remain strong tools for achieving the American ideal of equality, if only we will take them up.
12. Frederick Douglass : Autobiographies : Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave / My Bondage and My Freedom / Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (Library of America)
Author: by Frederick Douglass
Published at: Library of America (February 1, 1994)
Henry Louis Gates, Jr. presents the only authoritative edition of all three autobiographies by the escaped slave who became a great American leader. Here in this Library of America volume are collected Frederick Douglass’s three autobiographical narratives, now recognized as classics of both American history and American literature.
Writing with the eloquence and fierce intelligence that made him a brilliantly effective spokesman for the abolition of slavery and equal rights, Douglass shapes an inspiring vision of self-realization in the face of monumental odds. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave (1845), published seven years after his escape, was written in part as a response to skeptics who refused to believe that so articulate an orator could ever have been a slave.
A powerfully compressed account of the cruelty and oppression of the Maryland plantation culture into which Douglass was born, it brought him to the forefront of the anti-slavery movement and drew thousands, black and white, to the cause. In My Bondage and My Freedom (1855), Douglass expands the account of his slave years.
13. The Crooked Path to Abolition: Abraham Lincoln and the Antislavery Constitution
Author: by James Oakes
Published at: W. W. Norton & Company (January 12, 2021)
An award-winning scholar uncovers the guiding principles of Lincoln’s antislavery strategies. The long and turning path to the abolition of American slavery has often been attributed to the equivocations and inconsistencies of antislavery leaders, including Lincoln himself. But James Oakes’s brilliant history of Lincoln’s antislavery strategies reveals a striking consistency and commitment extending over many years.
The linchpin of antislavery for Lincoln was the Constitution of the United States. Lincoln adopted the antislavery view that the Constitution made freedom the rule in the United States, slavery the exception. Where federal power prevailed, so did freedom. Where state power prevailed, that state determined the status of slavery, and the federal government could not interfere.
It would take state action to achieve the final abolition of American slavery. With this understanding, Lincoln and his antislavery allies used every tool available to undermine the institution. Wherever the Constitution empowered direct federal actionin the western territories, in the District of Columbia, over the slave tradethey intervened.
14. Noah's Curse: The Biblical Justification of American Slavery (Religion in America)
Author: by Stephen R. Haynes
Published at: Oxford University Press; 1st edition (February 3, 2007)
“A servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.” So reads Noah’s curse on his son Ham, and all his descendants, in Genesis 9:25. Over centuries of interpretation, Ham came to be identified as the ancestor of black Africans, and Noah’s curse to be seen as biblical justification for American slavery and segregation.
Examining the history of the American interpretation of Noah’s curse, this book begins with an overview of the prior history of the reception of this scripture and then turns to the distinctive and creative ways in which the curse was appropriated by American pro-slavery and pro-segregation interpreters.
15. The Life of Frederick Douglass: A Graphic Narrative of a Slave's Journey from Bondage to Freedom
Author: by David F. Walker
Published at: Ten Speed Press; Illustrated edition (January 8, 2019)
A graphic novel biography of the escaped slave, abolitionist, public speaker, and most photographed man of the nineteenth century, based on his autobiographical writings and speeches, spotlighting the key events and people that shaped the life of this great American.
Recently returned to the cultural spotlight, Frederick Douglass’s impact on American history is felt even in today’s current events. Comic book writer and filmmaker David F. Walker joins with the art team of Damon Smyth and Marissa Louise to bring the long, exciting, and influential life of Douglass to life in comic book form.
Taking you from Douglass’s life as a young slave through his forbidden education to his escape and growing prominence as a speaker, abolitionist, and influential cultural figure during the Civil War and beyond, The Life of Frederick Douglass presents a complete illustrated portrait of the man who stood up and spoke out for freedom and equality.
Along the way, special features provide additional background on the history of slavery in the United States, the development of photography (which would play a key role in the spread of Douglass’s image and influence), and the Civil War. Told from Douglass’s point of view and based on his own writings, The Life of Frederick Douglass provides an up-close-and-personal look at a history-making American who was larger than life.
16. The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family
Author: by Annette Gordon-Reed
Published at: W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition (September 8, 2009)
Winner of the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize: “[A] commanding and important book.” Jill Lepore, The New YorkerThis epic worknamed a best book of the year by the Washington Post, Time, the Los Angeles Times, Amazon, the San Francisco Chronicle, and a notable book by the New York Timestells the story of the Hemingses, whose close blood ties to our third president had been systematically expunged from American history until very recently.
Now, historian and legal scholar Annette Gordon-Reed traces the Hemings family from its origins in Virginia in the 1700s to the family’s dispersal after Jefferson’s death in 1826.37 illustrations