Deliver Us from Evil: The Slavery Question in the Old South, Lacy K. Ford, Oxford University Press, 688 pages,$34.95.
"...through depth, detail and focus, Ford's comprehensive study forges a fresh path.... the historical detail is engrossing.... 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.... Ford's lucid prose and summary introductions illuminate the way. Lay readers will appreciate his guidance, and academic readers will find his revelations groundbreaking."
A major contribution to our understanding of slavery in the early republic, Deliver Us from Evil 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 Jackson. Drawing heavily on primary sources, including newspapers, government documents, legislative records, pamphlets, and speeches, Lacy Ford recaptures the varied and sometimes contradictory ideas and attitudes held by groups of white southerners as they debated the slavery question. He excels at conveying the political, intellectual, economic, and social thought of leading white southerners, vividly recreating the mental world of the varied actors. He also shows that there was not one antebellum South but many, and not one southern white mindset but several, with the debates over slavery in the upper South quite different in substance from those in the deep South. An ambitious, thought-provoking, and highly insightful book, Deliver Us from Evil is essential for anyone interested in the history of slavery in the United States.
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