Slavery and Freedom: An Interpretation of the Old South

James Oakes, Author
James Oakes, Author Alfred A. Knopf $22.95 (246p) ISBN 978-0-394-53677-4
Reviewed on: 03/01/1990
Release date: 03/01/1990
In a rich, challenging set of interpretive essays, Oakes ( The Ruling Race ) views slavery in the Old South as a product of liberal capitalism, yet an institution wholly at odds with liberal concepts of freedom and society. He demonstrates how slavery hindered the growth of a class of independent small farmers; how the master-slave relationship affected the fabric of every other relationship in the South; how violence, sexual abuse, personal degradation and the breakup of families were basic components of the slave system. A historian at Northwestern University, Oakes shows that slave resistance during the Civil War fostered the Confederacy's internal collapse--a phenomenon slighted by most historians. The concluding chapter traces the postwar emergence of a new landlord-merchant class that wielded political power against landless Southerners, black and white. Oakes's rewarding synthesis strips away myths and misconceptions surrounding slavery and its aftermath. (Mar.)
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