Books: Non-Fiction

The Slave’s Cause: A History of Abolition

Book – Non-fiction. By Manisha Sinha. 2017. 784 pages.
A groundbreaking history of abolition that recovers the largely forgotten role of African Americans in the long march toward emancipation from the American Revolution through the Civil War.

Time Periods: 19th Century, Reconstruction Period: 1865 - 1876
Themes: Reconstruction, Racism & Racial Identity, Slavery and Resistance

Received historical wisdom casts abolitionists as bourgeois, mostly white reformers burdened by racial paternalism and economic conservatism. Manisha Sinha overturns this image, broadening her scope beyond the antebellum period usually associated with abolitionism and recasting it as a radical social movement in which men and women, black and white, free and enslaved found common ground in causes ranging from feminism and utopian socialism to anti-imperialism and efforts to defend the rights of labor.

Drawing on extensive archival research, including newly discovered letters and pamphlets, Sinha documents the influence of the Haitian Revolution and the centrality of slave resistance in shaping the ideology and tactics of abolition. This book is a comprehensive new history of the abolition movement in a transnational context. It illustrates how the abolitionist vision ultimately linked the slave’s cause to the struggle to redefine American democracy and human rights across the globe. [Publisher’s description]

“In emphasizing abolitionism’s long historical trajectory, its international perspective, and its interracial character, Sinha situates her story firmly within the most up-to-date trends in historical writing; and with her extensive research and broad command of the era, she has produced a work of high originality and broad popular appeal.”—Eric Foner, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery

ISBN:9780300227116 | Published by Yale University Press