Blog post

Robin Blackburn on the History of Slavery and Capitalism in the Americas

Robin Blackburn in conversation with Kevin Ochieng Okoth about his new work, The Reckoning: From the Second Slavery to Abolition, 1776-1888.

21 February 2024

Robin Blackburn on the History of Slavery and Capitalism in the Americas

How was slavery defeated in the Americas? In this interview Robin Blackburn discusses the key ideas and arguments in his new work, The Reckoning: From the Second Slavery to Abolition, 1776-1888. He is interviewed by Kevin Ochieng Okoth—a writer and researcher based in London, part of the Salvage Editorial Collective, and author of Red Africa: Reclaiming Revolutionary Black Politics.

The Reckoning traces the “Second Slavery” that surged in the US South, Cuba and Brazil after the Age of Revolution (1776–1848) destroyed the main slave regimes of the Caribbean. By 1860, more than 6 million captives of African descent toiled to produce the cotton, sugar and coffee craved by global consumers. Robin Blackburn highlights the role of abolitionism in driving Confederate slaveholders into the apparent escape-hatch of secession, and how racial oppression was later reconfigured by “Black Codes” and Jim Crow.

Robin Blackburn is the author of many works of history on slavery, including The Making of New World Slavery, The Overthrow of Colonial Slavery and The American Crucible. You can find all his work here.

The Reckoning: From the Second Slavery to Abolition, 1776-1888 is out now.

See also—Red Africa: Reclaiming Revolutionary Black Politics by Kevin Ochieng Okoth.

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[book-strip index="1" style="buy"]

The Reckoning
The Age of Revolution (1776–1848) destroyed the main slave regimes of the Caribbean but a ‘Second Slavery’ surged in the US South, Cuba and Brazil, powered by demand for plantation produce and a sy...
Red Africa
Red Africa makes the case for a revolutionary Black politics inspired by Marxist anticolonial struggles in Africa. Contemporary debates on Black radicalism and decolonisation have lost sight of the...
The Overthrow of Colonial Slavery
In 1770 a handful of European nations ruled the Americas, drawing from them a stream of products, both everyday and exotic. Some two and a half million black slaves, imprisoned in plantation coloni...
The Making of New World Slavery
The Making of New World Slavery argues that independent commerce, geared to burgeoning consumer markets, was the driving force behind the rise of plantation slavery. The baroque state sought—succes...
Paperback
The American Crucible
For over three centuries, slavery in the Americas fuelled the growth of capitalism. But the stirrings of a revolutionary age in the late eighteenth century challenged this “peculiar institution” an...
Paperback
An Unfinished Revolution

An Unfinished Revolution

Karl Marx and Abraham Lincoln exchanged letters at the end of the Civil War. Although they were divided by far more than the Atlantic Ocean, they agreed on the cause of “free labor” and the urgent ...
Banking on Death
Banking on Death offers a panoramic view of the history and future of pension provision. A work of unique scope, it traces the origins and development of the pension idea, from the days of the Fren...
Age Shock
Most countries face the future with an ageing population, yet most governments are cutting back on pensions and the care services needed by the elderly. Robin Blackburn exposes the perverse reasoni...

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