The American Crucible

The American Crucible:Slavery, Emancipation and Human Rights

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

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” and set the scene for great acts of emancipation in Haiti in 1804, in the United States in the 1860s and Brazil in the 1880s. Blackburn argues that the anti-slavery movement helped forge the political and social ideals we live by today.


  • A marvelous book—insightful and stimulating.

    Stanley Engerman, University of Rochester
  • This is a richly scholarly book ... an important contribution to our understanding of the shaping of the modern world.

    James WalvinBBC History Magazine
  • Poses a challenge for the political future as well as a bold reappraisal of the historical past.

    Stephen HoweIndependent