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The Reckoning by Robin Blackburn
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The Reckoning

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The Reckoning by Robin Blackburn
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Feb 20, 2024 | ISBN 9781804293416

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“Tremendously impressive, the result of a lifetime of learning. Historical writing at its best”
—Marcus Rediker, author of The Slave Ship

“By concluding his decades-long project on New World slavery, and by drawing the attention of British readers to an often-neglected aspect of that history, Blackburn has fittingly capped a lifetime of scholarship.”
—Michael Taylor, Literary Review

Table Of Contents

Introduction: Why the ‘Second Slavery’?
Patterns of the ‘First Slavery’
Slavery’s Survivors: The American South, Brazil, Cuba
Distinctiveness of the Second Slavery
Industry, Finance and Slavery
Fortifications of the Second Slavery

Part One: Westwards Expansion 

I Pioneers of the Second Slavery
Contested Origins of the United States 
The US Constitution and Slavery
An Abolition Moment?
The Northwest Ordinance and Militia Act 
From the Haitian Revolution to the Louisiana Purchase
Birth of the White Man’s Republic 
Indian Removal and the German Coast Revolt
The Price of Compromise
The Missouri Controversy 
A Choice for Slavery 

II The Making of the Hispano-Cuban Elite
A Cuban Miracle?
Cuba as a ‘Society with Slaves’
The British in Havana 
The Hispano-Cuban Reconquest of Florida
The Great Slave Revolt in St Domingue
The Plantation Surge 
Cuba as a Slave Society
The Colonial Pact 
A Model Colony?

III Brazil: Independence, Monarchy, Slavery and Citizenship
Patterns of Race and Slavery
Mercantilism’s End and a New Slave Trade Boom
Stirrings of Independence and Anti-slavery 
The Last Days of Colonial Brazil
Adherence to the Emperor 
Liberty, Pacification and Terror in Bahia 
Pedro’s Setbacks and Abdication 
The Regency and the Slave Trade
Brazil and Backwardness 
Romanticism and ‘Natural History’
Power Was Everything
Brazil Ends the Slave Trade

IV Life and Toil on the Slave Plantation
Racial Capitalism and the Chattel Principle
A Multitude of Tasks
‘Vigilance Without Punishment is an Illusion’
The Productivity of Gang Labour
The Slaveholder as Colonist and Potentate 
Natural Economy and the Reproduction of the Slave Population

V Slaveholder Capitalism, Credit and Westwards Expansion
Slaveholders and Modernity 
Dimensions of the Plantation Boom
Slavery Away from the Plantations
Credit is King?
Mechanization and its Limits
The Special Case of Sugar Processing
Accounting for Slavery
Planters Ride the Business Cycle
Slave Dealers Become Sugar Lords
How Cotton Paid for Empire

Part Two: Why the Slaveowners Lost 

VI. War, Peace and Slavery, 1815-60
Mechanics of the Congress System
Conservative Reaction and Bourgeois Advance
The Vienna Congress and the Slave Trade
Latin America, Britain and the Monroe Doctrine 
A Congress of the Americas?
The Fate of Cuba
Brazil, Britain and the Upshot of 1850 
The Diplomacy of Bullies 
Filibustering in Texas and Cuba
Mutations of the Peace

VII. Anti-Slavery and the Origins of the Civil War
Anti-Slavery and the Northern Milieu
The Appeal and the Liberator 
The American Anti-Slavery Society
‘A Shock as of an Earthquake’: Pro-Slavery Overreaches
Splits over Women’s Rights 
The Whig and Liberty parties 
The Role of Frederick Douglass
Political Abolitionism, Free Soil and the Wilmot Proviso 
Militant Anti-slavery
The Dynamics of the Sectional Conflict
The Fugitive Slave Law and Underground Railroad 
Bleeding Kansas 
The Rise of the Republican Party
The Slave Power and the Dred Scott Decision 
John Brown’s Body
The Last Cords of Union Break
The Meaning of Secession: A Slaveholders’ Revolt

VIII. Emancipation and Reconstruction in North America
War for the Union
Novelty of the US Civil War
Lincoln Discovers that Patriotism Is Not Enough
The Emancipation Proclamation 
Emancipation from Above and Below
The Defeat of the Confederacy
Presidential Reconstruction and the Radical Challenge
The Radical Programme: Confiscation and Black Suffrage
The Rise and Fall of Radical Reconstruction in the South
The North and Radical Reconstruction
Blacks and Whites in the New South
A Second Revolution?

IX. The Ending of Slavery in Cuba
Cuba and Isabelline Spain   
Puerto Rican Comparisons 
Tepid Abolitionism of the Cuban Middle Class
Spain’s Politics of Attraction
Crisis of the Isabelline Regime
Abolitionism and the Priorities of Imperialist Diplomacy
The Moret Law 
The ‘Lottery of Princes’  
The Republic of Dukes
Bourbon Restoration and the Triumph of the Rentier
The Pact of Zanjón
Slavery Ends at Last
The United States Seizes Control 

X. Brazil: The Last Emancipation
Slavery’s Place in the Imperial Order 
Repercussions of the Atlantic Slave Trade Ban 
The War with Paraguay 
Crabwise Advance of Emancipationism 
The Rio Branco Law of 1871
The Political Economy of Freedom
Church and State
The Social Profile of Brazilian Abolitionism
Republicanism and Positivism
The Abolitionist Offensive, 1880-4
The Final Assault on Slavery   
Ordered Freedom
‘A Tattered and Ridiculous Liberty’

Epilogue: Legacies of Slavery and Abolition


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