Slavery and Southern History: The Work of Eugene Genovese

March 25, 2011
Genovese event poster

Was the Civil War (the War for Southern Independence) a civilizational struggle?  In the sectional struggle that cost more than 600,000 American lives was the wage-labor North or the slaveholding South the historical aberration?  Which side had the strongest case that they were fighting to uphold the values of the American Revolution?  If the defense of slavery precipitated southern secession, what did the majority of adult southern men and women, who were non-slaveholders, fight for?  In what sense was the Civil War (War for Southern Independence) a struggle over conflicting interpretations of the Bible and the meaning of Christian civilization?  Was the greatest conflict in United States history in essence a clash between capitalist and non-capitalist systems?  How did southern slave society differ from other slaveholding societies?  Did the master-slave relation foster a set of beliefs and values that put the antebellum South in, but not of, an expanding, globalizing capitalist system?  If the antebellum South existed as a modern, progressive slaveholding republic, what were the essentials of its worldview and its legacy for the United States?  Did the antebellum South generate a distinctive conservative tradition and what is the relevance of that tradition to current problems of liberty, justice, and limited government?

To discuss these questions so central to our national history, the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions is hosting a conference on the work of Eugene D. Genovese, one of the most influential historians of his generation and the foremost historian of slavery in the antebellum South.  Roll, Jordan, Roll:  The World the Slaves Made (1974), a monumental work of historical scholarship, remains the most penetrating study ever written of the master-slave relation in the Old South.  More recently, Genovese has authored and co-authored (with his late wife Elizabeth Fox-Genovese) a remarkable trilogy of books, The Mind of the Master Class (2005), Slavery in White and Black (2008), and Fatal Self-Deception (2011) that has sensitively and painstakingly reconstructed the political thought of southern slaveholders.  We are pleased to bring together a distinguished group of scholars to assess Dr. Genovese’s contributions to the study of slavery, conservative political thought, and American history.  The conference is cosponsored by the Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization and Princeton University’s Center for African American Studies.

Video:

Welcome by Robert P. George, Introduction by Robert L. Paquette, and Panel Discussion on Eugene Genovese on Religion and Slavery

Panel Discussion on Eugene Genovese on Slavery and the Master-Slave Relationship

Panel Discussion on Eugene Genovese on the Meaning of Southern Conservatism

Closing Dinner Remarks by Robert P. George

Location:

Aaron Burr 219

Cosponsored by:

  • Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization
  • Center for African American Studies, Princeton University

Photo Album:

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