Why They FledUnderground Railroad operator Sydney Howard Gay’s meticulous guestbook reveals how and why enslaved men and women risked everything to escape north.
End of the LineAfter Katrina, the second line became a symbol of New Orleans’ resilience. But the survival of the parades—and the neighborhoods the revelers called home—is far from assured.
“Good Breeders”During the antebellum period, enslaved women wielded their reproductive capital and fought off white encroachment on their sexual health.
What Happened Here?I’m a historian who knows almost nothing about the history of my town. I’m setting out to remedy that.
The Bittersweet Victory at Saint-DomingueThe 1791 Haitian Revolution secured black independence in the former French colony and sounded the death knell for the European slave trade. It also ensured the expansion of U.S. slavery.
What Happened When Slaves RebelledHistory of American Slavery, Episode 5: How the frontier was really settled, and the volatile conditions that ripened it for rebellion.
Double GenocideLithuania wants to erase its ugly history of Nazi collaboration—by accusing Jewish partisans who fought the Germans of war crimes.
The Unsung HemingsesHistorians have long objectified Sally Hemings, but the Hemings family’s experiences at Monticello offer a unique glimpse into the lives of “privileged” slaves.
The Landscape of Civil War CommemorationHow, when, and where the North and South memorialize the conflict.
“Richmond Reoccupied by Men Who Wore the Gray” In 1890, the former Confederate capital erected a monument to Robert E. Lee—and reasserted white supremacy.
The First Attack on Charleston’s AME ChurchIn 1822, white residents burned the predecessor to today’s church, fearing an insurrection by the city’s black majority.
Centuries of ViolenceFor black Americans, it is impossible to separate the massacre in Charleston from hundreds of years of vicious attacks on our churches and communities.
The Deadly History of “They’re Raping Our Women”Racists have long used rape to defend their worst racist violence.
To Do No Harm?History of American Slavery, Episode 7: What modern medicine gained from slavery, and how slaveholders sought to legitimize their ideology through science.
Picking Cotton Under the Pushing SystemBy the 19th century, systematic violence had become an economic necessity on America’s cotton frontier.
When Cotton Became KingHistory of American Slavery, Episode 6: The rise of the 19th-century cotton economy brings about a powerful and frightening turn for the worse.
Are We in the Midst of a New Civil Rights Era?How the year since Ferguson does—and doesn’t—resemble the midcentury movement.
A “Fus’ Rate Bargain”Accounts of slave appraisals in mid–19th-century Georgia demonstrate how enslaved people sought to keep their families intact as they navigated the auction block.
For More Than 100 Years, Historians Doubted the Autobiographies of SlavesHenry Louis Gates joins the Academy to discuss slave narratives—what they’ve taught us and why scholars used to ignore them.
Who Should Tell the Story of Slavery?Read a transcript of Henry Louis Gates’ appearance on the History of American Slavery, a Slate Academy.
The Family Life of Enslaved PeopleHistory of American Slavery, Episode 4: What happened when Thomas Jefferson and other slaveholders tore apart the families they owned.
The Confederate Flag Doesn’t Belong in a MuseumFinding the proper home for this symbol of oppression isn’t as simple as politicians keep saying it is.
What Was “Gradual Emancipation”?Even in the Northern states, slavery’s abolition arrived slowly after America’s Revolution.
Why White Terrorists Attack Black ChurchesSanctuaries like Charleston’s AME Church aren’t just places of worship—they’re political institutions that threaten white power.
A Living LandmarkCharleston’s Emanuel AME Church isn’t just a church. It is a historic symbol of black resistance to slavery and racism.