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Who Abolished Slavery?

Slave Revolts and Abolitionism
A Debate with Joćo Pedro Marques

Edited by Seymour Drescher and Pieter C. Emmer

224 pages, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-84545-636-8 $39.95/£25.00 Hb Published (February 2010)

eISBN 978-1-84545-801-0 eBook

  Recommend to your Library

"These differing opinions and the fact that Marques is invited to add Part three, ‘Afterthoughts’, with which the book concludes, make for a lively and comprehensive debate which remains, however, open to further expansion and development"  ·  Ethnicity and Race in a Changing World

The past half-century has produced a mass of information regarding slave resistance, ranging from individual acts of disobedience to massive uprisings. Many of these acts of rebellion have been studied extensively, yet the ultimate goals of the insurgents remain open for discussion. Recently, several historians have suggested that slaves achieved their own freedom by resisting slavery, which counters the predominant argument that abolitionist pressure groups, parliamentarians, and the governmental and anti-governmental armies of the various slaveholding empires were the prime movers behind emancipation. Marques, one of the leading historians of slavery and abolition, argues that, in most cases, it is impossible to establish a direct relation between slaves’ uprisings and the emancipation laws that would be approved in the western countries. Following this presentation, his arguments are taken up by a dozen of the most outstanding historians in this field. In a concluding chapter, Marques responds briefly to their comments and evaluates the degree to which they challenge or enhance his view.

Seymour Drescher is Distinguished University Professor at the University of Pittsburgh. He served as the first Secretary for the European Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington D.C. (1984–85). Known for his studies on Alexis de Tocqueville and the history of slavery, his book, The Mighty Experiment (2002), was awarded the Frederick Douglass Prize. His most recent book, Abolition: A History of Slavery and Antislavery, is being published by Cambridge University Press.

Pieter C. Emmer was Professor of the history of the expansion of Europe and the related migration movements at University of Leiden. He was a visiting fellow at Churchill College, Cambridge, UK (1978-1979), at the Wissenschaftskolleg Berlin (2000-2001) and at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study, Wassenaar, The Netherlands (2002-2003).

João Pedro Marques has been a researcher at the IICT (Lisbon) since 1987. He obtained a PhD in History from the Universidade Nova de Lisboa, where he taught African History. He has published dozens of articles and several books on the subjects of slavery, abolition and other colonial issues, including The Sounds of Silence (Berghahn Books, 2006).

Series: Volume 8, European Expansion & Global Interaction

LC: HT1050 .W47 2010

BL: YC.2011.a.4647

BISAC: HIS000000 HISTORY/General; SOC007000 SOCIAL SCIENCE/Emigration & Immigration; HIS001000 HISTORY/Africa/General


Pieter C. Emmer and Seymour Drescher


Introduction: Slave Revolts and the Abolition of Slavery: An Overinterpretation
João Pedro Marques


Chapter 1. Africa and Abolitionism
John Thornton

Chapter 2. Who Abolished Slavery in the Dutch Caribbean?
Pieter C. Emmer

Chapter 3. Slave Resistance and Emancipation: The Case of Saint-Domingue
David Geggus

Chapter 4. Civilizing Insurgency. Two Variants of Slave Revolts in the Age of Revolution
Seymour Drescher

Chapter 5. The Wars of Independence, Slave Soldiers, and the Issue of Abolition in Spanish South America
Peter Blanchard

Chapter 6. Shipboard Slave Revolts and Abolition
David Eltis and Stanley L. Engerman

Chapter 7. Slave Resistance and Abolitionis: A Multifaceteted Issue
Olivier Pétré-Grenouilleau

Chapter 8. Slave Revolts and Abolitionism
David Brion Davis

Chapter 9. The Role of Slave Resistance in Slave Emancipation
Robin Blackburn

Chapter 10. Slave Revolts and the Abolition of Slavery: A Misinterpretation
Hilary Beckles


João Pedro Marques

Notes on Contributors
Bibliography from the Commentaries

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