Book Talk: The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism

Here’s Edward Baptist, Assistant Professor of History at Cornell University, discussing the results of the research he did for his book, The Half Has Never Been Told. It really seems as though he has a ton of support for his thesis. This is a really good presentation that opens our eyes to a lot of information we’ve not known before.

The video’s description reads, “Why is it so important to revisit the history of slavery in America, nearly 150 years after it ended? In The Half Has Never Been Told (Basic Books, Sept., 2014), historian Edward Baptist argues that slavery was at the heart of the development of early 19th-century capitalism. By 1850, American slaves were worth $1.3 billion, one-fifth of the nation’s wealth. And slavery not only enriched the South but also drove the industrial boom in the North, eventually leading to the modernization of the United States. His book includes intimate slave narratives, plantation records, newspapers, and the words of politicians, entrepreneurs, and escaped slaves, presenting a powerful new interpretation of American history. Baptist’s extensive research and insights recognize the full legacy of the millions who suffered in bondage. It forces us to remember the violence at the root of supremacy, but it also reveals a culture that sustains America’s dreams of freedom. This event is hosted by Olin Library.”


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