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Slavery and Politics in the Early American Republic Hardcover – October 30, 2006

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Editorial Reviews


Slavery and Politics in the Early American Republic is based on extensive research, broad in scope, clearly organized, and well written. Mason has made a significant contribution to the history of the Early Republic and of American slavery.--Georgia Historical Quarterly


Mason has written an important book that is essential reading for anyone interested in the politics of slavery and sectionalism in the United States.--The Journal of American History

|Extensive and persuasive. . . . Adds rich and valuable texture to our understanding of early national politics and the Missouri Crisis.--William and Mary Quarterly

|Slavery and Politics in the Early American Republic is an indispensable introduction to understanding the period of slavery agitation that we all know about, as it reveals a preceding ferment in the political world of which we have known very little.--History Book Club, William C. Davis

|Mason unapologetically restores politics to the center stage. . . . [He] has a mastery of the secondary literature. . . . This is a bird's-eye view that leaves plenty of scope for future researchers.--Register of the Kentucky Historical Society

|Mason's historical argument is a powerful one. . . . In a revisionist vein, it shows how the 1808-1820 years were not really the lull before the antebellum storm.--American Historical Review

|Mason has done an excellent job of assembling and presenting a wealth of evidence in a clear, coherent fashion.--Indiana Magazine of History

|After reading this interesting book, few historians can deny that slavery was an important, indeed integral, component of the politics of the early American republic.--Civil War History

|[Mason] backs his claims with solid scholarship and a careful use of his sources. Scholars and general readers alike will profit from this book.--Choice

|Mason's important study significantly enriches our understanding of how conflicts over the problem of slavery shaped the politics of the early republic. It deserves a wide readership and our ongoing scholarly reflection.--James Brewer Stewart, Macalester College

|Mason's provocative study belongs in the front rank of a new literature on slavery in the early federal republic.--H-SHEAR

|[A] careful and complex depiction of the variety of ways in which slavery entered the politics of the period. . . . A major contribution to our understanding of the significant role the institution of slavery had in the politics of the early republic.--Journal of the Early Republic

|This well-crafted monograph . . . revises our understanding of the early national debates over slavery. . . . Scholars of slavery and early national politics will want to read Mason's work.--Journal of Southern History

|Mason's particular contribution is to argue, persuasively, that during the decade or so preceding the Missouri crisis, politicians and clergymen from every region developed and refined their views of slavery and public policy--laying the foundation for the incandescent conflicts of 1820 and 1821 and foreshadowing the full-blown sectional polemics of the 1840s and 1950s. . . . His analysis of the pervasiveness and complexities of slavery debates is fresh and reveals the nuances of partisan manipulation and belief.--Journal of Interdisciplinary History

|[Slavery and Politics in the Early American Republic] fills a gap in our understanding of the political development of slavery. Its arguments are well supported with lively anecdotes and persuasive evidence. . . . This valuable book should nonetheless attract a wide and diverse readership.--Journal of Illinois History

|Elegantly written . . . benefit[s] from copious research.--New England Quarterly

|Well written, thought provoking, and historiographically ramifying, this volume is an important piece of scholarship. Mason's analysis is based not only on exhaustive primary research but also on a wide-ranging synthesis of secondary works, making the book valuable to both the scholar and the student of slavery politics.--Richard S. Newman, Rochester Institute of Technology

|Scholars and general readers alike will profit from this book. . . . Recommended.--CHOICE

|The more traditional view holds that slavery became a polarizing issue in US political life as late as 1819. . . . Mason, in a tightly reasoned and well-written exploration of the period, provides ample evidence that the issue of slavery had ever been a topic about which Americans argued.--Virginia Quarterly Review


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press; 1st edition (October 30, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807830496
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807830499
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,929,964 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By D. D. LeDu on February 3, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
This is a valuable book that delves into the politics of slavery between the end of the transatlantic slave trade in 1808 and the Missouri Compromise (1820) - a period in which such politics is normally considered to be in abeyance. Author Mathew Mason makes it clear that the politics of slavery underwent a transformation, but did not disappear from the political scene.

Slavery is a blight on the American experience, but one which should be considered in context. After all, it was one thing for a Britisher to campaign against British slavery that occurred far from the home island, or for a West Indies islander to do so while in the midst of slave discontent that threatened his existence. It was altogether another thing for an American who was closely exposed to slavery while maintaining effective, supreme control over those in slavery to become an abolitionist.

I consider the fact that early America never truly countenanced slavery as a universally accepted, permanent feature of a "democratic" society to be admirable, a trait that illustrates the true goodliness of our government and people. That this belief led to a bloody civil war and the eventual end of slavery in some ways compensates for the evil of slavery's initial introduction and general acceptance.

Slavery was a complicated institution, unreasonably simplified in today's discussions that divide everything into universal rights and wrongs. My own introduction to this fact started with a study that found that the sailors who manned slave ships suffered a slightly greater death rate than did the slaves they transported. The explanation (that slave ship owners valued the cargo greater than the sailors) was somehow unsettling to me.
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