Photo of Jefferson Davis

The Southern Slaveholders Dreamed of a Slaveholding Empire

Antebellum slaveholders weren't content with an economic and social system based on trafficking in human flesh in the South alone.

The Dark Underbelly of Jefferson Davis's Camels

How the U.S. Army's antebellum camel experimentation paved the way for the illicit trafficking of enslaved Africans.

The North Tried Compromise. The South Chose War.

The South's insistence upon protecting and spreading slavery caused the Civil War.
U.S. soldiers in the Civil War.

Expanding the Slaveocracy

The international ambitions of the US slaveholding class and the abolitionist movement that brought them down.

When Slaveholders Ran America

Before the Civil War, many Southern leaders hoped to expand slavery even beyond the nation's borders.

These Maps Reveal How Slavery Expanded Across the United States

As the hunger for more farmland stretched west, so too did the demand for enslaved labor.

Where Kansas Bled

How can one place represent the complexity of the Civil War’s beginnings?
Painting of Thomas Cooper.

Thomas Cooper: Harbinger of Proslavery Thought and the Coming Civil War

To understand the proslavery defense of the 1850s, one must reckon with the proslavery Malthusianism articulated by Cooper in the 1820s.
Cover of "Freedom's Dominion: A Saga of White Resistance To Federal Power"

The Little Man’s Big Friends

A new book seeks to explain why many Americans, especially but not exclusively in the South, have understood freedom as an entitlement for white people.

When the House Needed Two Months and 133 Votes to Elect a Speaker

Kevin McCarthy's struggling bid to win the speakership has nothing on the epic 1856 contest that pitted abolitionists against proslavery members of Congress.
Henry Arthur McArdle’s The Battle of San Jacinto (1895), depicting the final battle of the Texas Revolution of 1836.

The Long American Counter-Revolution

Historian Gerald Horne has developed a grand theory of U.S. history as a series of devastating backlashes to progress—right down to the present day.
A street with a sign above it reading "Welcome to San Bernardino."

California's Never-Ending Secessionist Movement — and its Grim Ties To Slavery in the State

San Bernardino County may explore seceding from California. Many of the earliest separatists wanted to transform Southern California into a slave state.
Illustration of Abraham Lincoln getting ready to give a speech.

Re-imagining the Great Emancipator

How shall a generation know its story, if it will know no other?
Photograph of Sam Chamberlain

Crossing the Blood Meridian: Cormac McCarthy and American History

McCarthy imagined a vast border region where colonial empires clashed, tribes went to war, and bounty hunters roamed.

More Than 1,700 Congressmen Once Enslaved Black People. This is Who They Were.

The Washington Post has compiled the first database of slaveholding members of Congress by examining thousands of census records and historical documents.
A bronze statue of Civil War soldiers on horseback, in front of the U.S. Capitol building.

How Twitter Explains the Civil War (and Vice Versa)

The proliferation of antebellum print is analogous to our own tectonic shifts in how people communicate and what they communicate about.
‘Flight of Lord Dunmore’; postcard, 1907.

The Paradox of the American Revolution

Recent books by Woody Holton and Alan Taylor offer fresh perspectives on early US history but overstate the importance of white supremacy as its driving force.
Antiquated image of two Indigenous people, against the backdrop of a settlement.

What Slavery Looked Like in the West

Tens of thousands of Indigenous people labored in bondage across the western United States in the 1800s.
Painting of Lincoln and his cabinet by M.S. Carpenter, 1863.

Did the Constitution Pave the Way to Emancipation?

In his new book, The Crooked Path to Abolition, James Oakes argues that the Constitution was an antislavery document.
Image of John C. Calhoun

How Slavery Haunts Today’s Big Debates About Federal Spending

John C. Calhoun knew what a strong federal government might do.