Portrait of George Washington bathed in light while his enslaved personal servant, William Lee, is behind him in the shadows.

George and Martha Washington Enslaved 300 People. Let’s Start With Their Names

The man who supposedly never told a lie figured out how to stretch the truth when it came to human bondage.
Photograph of a teacher standing in an historic cemetery.

Slavery Existed in Illinois, but Schools Don’t Always Teach That History

An Illinois high school teacher explains how his state complicates the binary of “free states” and “slave states.”

Slavery in the President's Neighborhood

Many people think of the White House as a symbol of democracy, but it also embodies America’s complicated past.
Painting by Titus Kaphar entitled "Page 4 of Jefferson’s ‘Farm Book"

How Proslavery Was the Constitution?

A review of a book by Sean Wilentz's "No Property in Man," which argues that the document is full of anti-slavery language.
Enslaved people being baptized.

'Christian Slavery: Conversion and Race in the Protestant Atlantic World'

A Q&A with author Katharine Gerbner about "Protestant Supremacy."
Lithograph of Thomas Jefferson

Hero or Villain, Both and Neither: Appraising Thomas Jefferson, 200 Years Later

A Pulitzer historian assesses what we are to make of UVA’s founder, 200 years hence.

My Great-Grandfather, the Nigerian Slave-Trader

White traders couldn’t have loaded their ships without help from Africans like my great-grandfather.

Story of Paris Hill Man Connects Maine to ‘Complexities’ of Slave Trade

Torn from his family in Africa, Pedro Tovookan Parris spent the last years of his short life in rural Maine.

Beyond the Middle Passage

Intra-American trafficking magnified slavery’s impact.

How Antebellum Christians Justified Slavery

In the minds of some Southern Protestants, slavery had been divinely sanctioned.

Enslaved People and Divorce in the African Diaspora

Restoring agency to enslaved people means acknowledging not only that they created marriages, but that they ended them, too.

Dred Scott Strains the Mystic Chords

Dred Scott was an opportunity to settle what the South had previously been unable to achieve either legislatively or judicially.

On Prejudice

An 18th-century creole slaveholder invented the idea of 'racial prejudice’ to defend diversity among a slaveowning elite.

Slavery and the American University

Determined researchers are finally drawing the lines between higher education and America's original sin.
Painting of a slave auction.

Teaching Hard History

A new study suggests that high school students lack a basic knowledge of the role slavery played in shaping the United States.
"Slave Ship" painting (1840) by J M W Turner. Courtesy the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Does Locke’s Entanglement With Slavery Undermine His Philosophy?

John Locke took part in administering the slave-owning colonies. Does that make him, and liberalism itself, hypocritical?

American Slavery: Separating Fact From Myth

Before we can face slavery, learn about it and acknowledge its significance to American history, we must dispel the myths surrounding it.

The Echoes of America's 'Faithful Slave' Trope in Lola's Story

How Alex Tizon’s essay echoes a trope with deep roots in American history

Why There Was a Civil War

Some issues aren’t amenable to deal making; some principles don’t lend themselves to compromise.

Hunting Down Runaway Slaves: The Cruel Ads of Andrew Jackson and the 'Master Class'

A historian collecting runaway slave ads describes them as “the tweets of the master class.”