Slavery, Abolition, and “Socialism” in the U.S. Congress

Personalities AE  6Ever since Richard Hofstadter called John C. Calhoun the “Marx of the Master Class,” at least, American historians have pondered the relationship between the pro-slavery critique of Northern wage labor and later left-wing critiques of capitalism. One of Calhoun’s great themes, as Hofstadter noted, was the inevitable “conflict between labor and capital,” a conflict that threatened to overwhelm the “free institutions” of the North. Continue reading

The Week in Early American History

TWEAHThe biggest early-America news in popular culture this week may be the film adaptation of 12 Years a Slave, which will enter wide release in the US on November 1. In an interview with Terry Gross, director Steve McQueen says he wants Solomon Northup’s story to enter public consciousness the way Anne Frank’s diary has. David Blight discussed it with Terry Gross and recommended 12 Years a Slave as “a very good corrective” to ordinary Hollywood treatments of slavery. In the New Yorker, Annette Gordon-Reed uses the film to discuss some of the opportunities and problems slave narratives present to historians. At Grandland, Wesley Morris describes how the film “presents savagery in civil terms.”

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