Edward Rothstein on Charleston Slave Sites

  • Edward Rothstein, the museum critic for The New York Times (3-Mar-2011), discusses how Charleston, SC is beginning to confront its participation and role in the history of American slavery. Charleston was one of the main colonial ports of the 18th century, dealing in rice, indigo, and slaves. Among other sites, he looks at Drayton Hall, Middleton Place, and the Old Slave Mart Museum.
JDN | 12-Mar-2011

By attacking slavery more fiercely than ever before, Revolutionary Americans freed tens of thousands of slaves. But the Revolution’s libertarian and egalitarian message had perverse consequences. It forced those Southerners who chose to retain slavery to fall back on the alleged racial deficiencies of blacks as a justification for an institution that hitherto they had taken for granted and had never before needed to justify. The anti-slavery movement that arose out of the Revolution inadvertently produced racism in America.

Gordon S. Wood
Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789–1815 (2009)