Slavery is one of the most intensively studied history aspect as far as the United States history is concerned. It should be noted that this aspect of the American history was ignored for quite a long time because it was thought to be a less important compared to those involved with conflict between classes and industrial interest among others.In his book, Eugene D. Genovese endeavors to highlight this neglect acknowledging the fact there is little or no substantial study into the American slaves and their history. This, he alludes to the failure of the historians and sociologists both blacks and whites, racists and antiracists. This histographical essay provides an integrated analysis of American slavery and their history
In the writing, he discredits historians such as Kenneth Stamp who did little to explore and acknowledge the autonomy of slaves with an exception of a few historians such as W. E. B. Du Bois and C. L. R. James who regard the slaves with respect(Genovese 106). Eugene emphasizes the fact that much of the study about slaves lean more on what was done to the slaves than what was the slaves did for themselves and how they did it. He affirms that historians ignored crucial aspects of studying slaves including their religion, entertainment, and songs and dances and generally their way of life as they struggled to survive. Eugene however acknowledges professor Vincent Harding who apparently seems to have drawn his inspiration from Du Bois to give a different and yet important perspective suggesting that the slaves had their own of taking up Christianity and forging it into a weapon of resistance(Genovese 110).
Notably, Eugene endeavors to identify the modern boom in slavery studies in the United States’ history recognizing the works of a few historians and their crucial contribution as far as the story of slavery in America is concerned. From his perspective, Eugene culture and religion to be one of the key issues that accurately takes precedence in explaining the history of slavery in America. Therefore, he compares slaves in America and those in Cuba and Brazil especially exploring the liberation of the slave force in America and the aforementioned countries(Genovese 112). He concedes the fact that while many historians write that the American slave system may have been the worst, slaves in America received the best treatment compared to those in Cuba, Brazil, and Jamaica given the fact that it was only in America where they were fed, clothed, housed, and worked in better conditions(Genovese 119). However, he agrees that many slaves in America endured violation of their lives by the whites who frequently violated African American women. He goes further to explain how the slaves lived amongst themselves explaining the role of men in the family as well as the complexities of the slaves families.
In conclusion, Eugene appreciates the works of certain historians including Du Bois who he considers to have important historical facts that highlights their lives. In connection, he mentions Vincent Harding and his anticipation on Herbert Gutman whose work will reveal the historical development of African Americans from slavery to World War 1. This, he hopes to discuss with Gutman. In other words, the author is trying to tell the readers that as time goes by, more studies about slavery in America will be done to reveal an in-depth analysis of slavery not only in America but also across the world.
Genovese, Eugene D. “Anerican Slaves and their History.” Genovese, Eugene D. n.d. 102-128.