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The Reckoning offers the first rounded account of the rise and fall of the Second Slavery - largescale plantation slavery in nineteenth-century Brazil, Cuba and the US South. Robin Blackburn shows how a fusion of industrial capitalism and transatlantic war and revolution turbo-charged racial oppression and the westwards expansion of the United States.
Blackburn identifies the new territories, new victims and new battle cries of the Second Slavery. He emphasises the role of financial credit in the spread of plantation agriculture, traces the connections between slavery and the US Civil War, and asks why Brazil threw off Portuguese rule whereas Cuba became one of imperial Spain's final outposts.
The Second Slavery faced a fearful reckoning in the 1860s and after when the supposedly invincible Slave Power was defied by extraordinary cross-class, international and interracial alliances. Blackburn narrates the abolitionists' difficult victory over the enslavers, while documenting the racial backlash which brought on Jim Crow and cheated the freedmen and freedwomen of the fruits of their struggle."