Slavery in America
Solomon Northup, Author of Twelve Years a Slave
The 1853 book by a free New Yorker who had been kidnapped into slavery shocked America in 1853. A major feature film based on the book brought the story to modern audiences.
The Dred Scott Decision
The 1857 Dred Scott decision on slavery and citizenship was highly controversial.
Letter From a Freedman to His Old Master
A letter from a former slave to the man who once owned him is legitimate and dates to 1865.
A collection of articles about Reconstruction, the controversial period following the Civil War in the American South.
Classic Slave Narratives
A handful of accounts written by former slaves have been hailed as classics of American writing. By telling their stories the authors helped galvanize the abolition movement in America.
Great Legislative Compromises Held the Union Together
Notable compromises in the 1800s delayed the Civil War by holding the Union together despite the critical issue of slavery. The Missouri Compromise, the Compromise of 1850, and 1854's Kansas-Nebraska Act essentially postponed the sectional split that eventually became the Civil War.
The Missouri Compromise
The crisis prompted in 1820 when Missouri sought to enter the Union as a slave state resulted in a great compromise which attempted to lessen the enormous tensions caused by slavery, the great divisive issue in early 19th century America.
The Compromise of 1850 Delayed the Civil War For a Decade
The Compromise of 1850 delayed the Civil War for a decade, and was the work of legislators who made a desperate effort to keep the Union from splitting over the critical issue of the time, slavery. Though the Compromise of 1850 did preserve the Union for a time, it was bound to be a temporary measure.
The Kansas-Nebraska Act
The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 was envisioned as a compromise over slavery, but it wound up inflaming passions on both sides of the issue and becoming a major stepping stone on the path to Civil War.
Importation of Slaves Outlawed by 1807 Act of Congress
The United States Constitution mandated that no law prohibiting the importation of slaves could be passed until 1808. And the US Congress and President Thomas Jefferson passed a law in early 1807 that would outlaw the trans-Atlantic slave trade on January 1, 1808.
Newly Discovered Slave Narratives Evoke a Tragic Past
The astonishing emergence and publication of two newly discovered slave narratives, as a book titled Slave No More by David W. Blight, are a dramatic reminder of the power of the autobiographies of escaped or freed slaves.
An interview with Scott E. Casper, author of Sarah Johnson's Mount Vernon
Read an interview with historian Scott Casper, who discovered a fascinating African-American community centered around Mount Vernon, famed estate of George Washington. His book Sarah Johnson's Mount Vernon, published in February 2008, presents a moving and historically important chronicle of the African-American presence at an iconic location.
Slavery and the Making of America
A very well organized and highly informative site at PBS about the role of slavery in early America, its eventual end, and its legacy.
Slaves and the Courts
The Library of Congress hosts a comprehensive online exhibit on the legal history of American slavery. Some noteworthy topics include the trial of escaped slave Anthony Burns, the libel case brought against William Lloyd Garrison, and the Dred Scott decision of the US Supreme Court.