In this major contribution to our understanding of slavery in the early republic, University of South Carolina history chair Lacy Ford illuminates the white South's twisted and tortured efforts to justify slavery, focusing on the period from the drafting of the federal constitution in 1787 through the age of Andrew Jackson.
"Rarely has anyone heard this case made with the force and detail that Lacy K. Ford ... has pulled together in his important new work.... Those seeking the slaves' perspective won't find much here, as the author readily notes up front, but there's arguably no single better book for anyone wishing to explore the mind-set that kept them in chains."—Charleston Post & Courier
"Ford's study is a quick and enjoyable read. Students especially will welcome the way he sets up his argument in each section and then summarizes neatly at the end of each chapter.... This should remain the definitive work for years to come on why white Southerners ultimately declined to deliver themselves from the evils of slavery."—Georgia Historical Quarterly
"That southern white views on the slavery question varied across space and changed over time may not appear to be news, yet through depth, detail and focus, Ford's comprehensive study forges a fresh path. Crosscutting along geographical lines, separating the upper and lower South, Ford follows a chronological trail between 1787 and 1840 as he focuses on the evolution of white attitudes and slaveholder ideology over time.... As upper South advocates of whitening the region instigated a demographic reconfiguration of slavery, for example, selling their slaves to the lower South, the lower South's ideological restructuring replaced coercion with paternalism. Ford's monumental book delineates a twisted and tortured intellectual history; signs of his mastery of previous scholarship and his immersion in fresh primary sources abound."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)