The Hidden History of Emancipation

Among the revolutionary events that transformed the nineteenth-century world, none was so dramatic in its human consequences as the abolition of chattel slavery. Slavery and emancipation have always been central questions for American historians and much of the best historical work of the 1960s and 1970s concentrated on the South’s …

Get a Lawyer!

Until recently, the history of American law has been centered in law schools and written by and for lawyers. Apart from an interest in constitutional cases, American historians have tended to avoid the field: their feelings of inadequacy in dealing with technical legal doctrine and procedure are surpassed only by …

Founding Father Tom

Of the men who made the American Revolution, none had a more remarkable career, or a more peculiar fate, than Thomas Paine. While his friends George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, and his ideological antagonist John Adams, came from middle- and upper-class families long established on American soil, Paine’s origins lay …

Battle Over the Revolution

As everyone must know by now, the bicentennial of American independence is fast approaching. But what kind of revolution will we be commemorating in 1976? The axiom that each generation rewrites history in its own image has certainly proven true of the American Revolution.[^1] Earlier in this century, “progressive historians” …

Is This History Necessary?

All the books under review deal largely with the experience of American blacks or women, and all are the products of commercial publishers who sense a new market. Not merely—perhaps not even primarily—a market among young readers interested in history, but among teachers and librarians who want children to read …

Black Conspiracies

Nothing in the study of American slavery is more ironic than the extent to which analysis of that institution has had to depend on white sources. Slaves themselves left few if any written records, and historians have been only partially successful in reconstructing the slave experience from folklore and oral …

Slave Masters, Women & Northern Nationalists

What a historian looks for in the past is often shaped by his concerns in the present. This is particularly true when he is confronting an event which involves great and unresolved questions of national life. The American Civil War is a classic case in point, and the new books …

In Search of Black History

Theodore Draper sets himself what can only be described as a formidable task in his new book The Rediscovery of Black Nationalism—a historical survey and assessment of black nationalism in America, in fewer than 200 pages. In the deft style to which readers of his books have become accustomed, Draper …