In one form or another, slavery has existed throughout the world for millennia. It helped to change the world, and the world transformed the institution. In the 1450s, when Europeans from the small corner of the globe least enmeshed in the institution first interacted with peoples of other continents, they created, in the Americas, the most dynamic, productive, and exploitative system of coerced labor in human history. Three centuries later these same intercontinental actions produced a movement that successfully challenged the institution at the peak of its dynamism. Within another century a new surge of European expansion constructed Old World empires under the banner of antislavery. However, twentieth-century Europe itself was inundated by a new system of slavery, larger and more deadly than its earlier system of New World slavery. This book examines these dramatic expansions and contractions of the institution of slavery and the impact of violence, economics, and civil society in the ebb and flow of slavery and antislavery during the last five centuries.
Seymour Drescher is University Professor of History and Sociology at the University of Pittsburgh. He has taught at Harvard University and was Distinguished Professor at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Dr Drescher has also been a Fulbright Scholar, an NEH Fellow, and a Guggenheim Fellow, and he was both a Fellow and the inaugural Secretary of the European Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Among his many works on slavery and abolition are Capitalism and Antislavery (1986); From Slavery to Freedom (1999); and The Mighty Experiment (2002), which was awarded the Frederick Douglass Book Prize by the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition in 2003. He has also co-edited a number of books, including A Historical Guide to World Slavery (1998) and Slavery (2001).
Part I. Extension: 1. A perennial institution; 2. Expanding slavery; 3. Extension and tension; 4. Border skirmishes; Part II. Crisis: 5. Age of American revolution 1770s-1820s; 6. Franco-American revolutions 1780s-1820s; 7. Latin American revolutions 1810s-1820s; 8. Abolitionism without revolution: Great Britain 1770s-1820s; Part III. Contraction: 9. British emancipation; 10. From colonial emancipation to global abolition; 11. The end of slavery: Anglo-America; 12. Abolishing New World slavery: Latin America; 13. Constructing Old World slavery: 1870s-1920s; Part IV. Reversion: 14. Inversion in Europe; 15. Afterword.