[Marxism] Capitalism and slavery

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Aug 28 12:52:10 MDT 2014

The Half Has Never Been Told
Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism
By Edward E. Baptist

A sweeping, authoritative history of the expansion of slavery in 
America, showing how forced migrations radically altered the nation's 
economic, political, and cultural landscape.

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 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. Until the Civil War, Baptist explains, the most important 
American economic innovations were ways to make slavery ever more 
profitable. Through forced migration and torture, slave owners extracted 
continual increases in efficiency from enslaved African Americans. Thus 
the United States seized control of the world market for cotton, the key 
raw material of the Industrial Revolution, and became a wealthy nation 
with global influence.

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. It forces readers to reckon with the violence at the root of 
American supremacy, but also with the survival and resistance that 
brought about slavery's end—and created a culture that sustains 
America's deepest dreams of freedom.
Edward E. Baptist is an associate professor of history at Cornell 
University. Author of the award-winning Creating an Old South, he grew 
up in Durham, North Carolina. He lives in Ithaca, New York.


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