The American Crucible: Slavery, Emancipation and Human Rights

Regular price $ 29.95

by Robin Blackburn

Verso Books

08/03/2013, paperback

SKU: 9781781681060


How slavery shaped the market economy and abolitionists gave us our ideals

The American Crucible furnishes a vivid and authoritative history of the rise and fall of slavery in the Americas. For over three centuries enslavement promoted the rise of capitalism in the Atlantic world. The New World became the crucible for a succession of fateful experiments in colonization, silver mining, plantation agriculture, racial enslavement, colonial rebellion, slave witness and slave resistance. Slave produce raised up empires, fostered new cultures of consumption and financed the breakthrough to an industrial order.

Not until the stirrings of a revolutionary age in the 1780s was there the first public challenge to the ‘peculiar institution’. An anti-slavery alliance then set the scene for great acts of emancipation in Haiti in 1804, Britain in 1833–8, the United States in the 1860s, and Cuba and Brazil in the 1880s. In The American Crucible, Robin Blackburn argues that the anti-slavery movement forged many of the ideals we live by today.


“Robin Blackburn has provided one of the most commanding and wide-ranging examinations of Atlantic abolitionism in years.” – 2012 Frederick Douglass Book Prize Committee

“The finest one-volume history of the rise and fall of modern slavery.” – Eric Foner, The Nation

About the Author:

Robin Blackburn teaches at the New School in New York and the University of Essex in the UK. He is the author of many books, including The Making of New World SlaveryThe Overthrow of Colonial SlaveryAge ShockBanking on Death, and The American Crucible.