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The Government of the absolute majority instead of the Government of the people is but the Government of the strongest interests; and when not efficiently checked, it is the most tyrannical and oppressive that can be devised… John C. Calhoun

John C. Calhoun

John C. Calhoun

Deliver us from evil: the slavery question in the old South Oxford [England] ; New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2009 Lacy K. Ford Slavery Southern States History 18th/19th century Hardcover. 1st. ed. and printing. viii, 673 p.; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

A major contribution to our understanding of slavery in the early republic, Deliver Us from Evil illuminates the South’s efforts to grapple with slavery, focusing on the period from the drafting of the federal constitution in 1787 through the age of Jackson.

J.H. Hammond, Senator from South Carolina, Thirty-fifth Congress

J.H. Hammond, Senator from South Carolina, Thirty-fifth Congress

Drawing heavily on primary sources, including newspapers, government documents, legislative records, pamphlets, and speeches, Ford presents varied and sometimes contradictory ideas and attitudes held by groups of  southerners as they tried to justify economic necessity with democratic ideals. He excels at conveying the political, intellectual, economic, and social thought of leading southerners, vividly recreating the mental world of the varied actors and capturing the vigorous debates over slavery.

He also shows that there was not one antebellum South but many, and not one southern white mindset but several, with the debates over slavery in the upper South quite different in substance from those in the deep South. In the upper South, where tobacco had fallen into comparative decline by 1800, debate often centered on how the area might reduce its dependence on slave labor and rid itself of the peculiar institution, whether through gradual emancipation and colonization or the sale of slaves to the cotton South. During the same years, the lower South swirled into the vortex of the “cotton revolution,” and lost interest in emancipation, especially since the north was unwilling to allow the process to be gradual or to provide any compensation whatsoever.

Alexander H. Stephens, Representative from Georgia, Thirty-fifth Congress

Alexander H. Stephens, Representative from Georgia, Thirty-fifth Congress

An ambitious, thought-provoking, and highly insightful book, Deliver Us from Evil makes an important contribution to the history of slavery in the United States, shedding needed light on the white South’s struggle to reconcile the economic necessity of slavery with the rest of the nation that was willing to prosper from it but share no part of the burden in eliminating it.

Until the lands of America are appropriated by a few, population becomes dense, competition among laborers active, employment uncertain, and wages low, the personal liberty of all will continue to be a blessing. We have vast unsettled territories; population may cease to increase slowly, as in most countries, and many centuries may elapse before the question will be practically suggested, whether slavery to capital be preferable to slavery to human masters... George Fitzhugh

Until the lands of America are appropriated by a few, population becomes dense, competition among laborers active, employment uncertain, and wages low, the personal liberty of all will continue to be a blessing. We have vast unsettled territories; population may cease to increase slowly, as in most countries, and many centuries may elapse before the question will be practically suggested, whether slavery to capital be preferable to slavery to human masters… George Fitzhugh

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