All Honor to Jefferson? : The Virginia Slavery Debates and the Positive Good Thesis
This book fills a long neglected hole in American history and political thought. The debate over emancipation in 1829-32, and the success of the pro-slave interests in these debates paved the way for the development of the positive good thesis that was articulated and popularized by John C. Calhoun. These debates were to become a bellweather for the union.
- Hardback | 264 pages
- 160 x 239 x 25mm | 531g
- 28 Feb 2008
- Lexington Books
- Lanham, MD, United States
Table of contents
Chapter 1 Acknowledgements Chapter 2 1 Introduction Chapter 3 2 Early Anti-Slavery Efforts Chapter 4 3 Jefferson, Virginia, and the Founders Chapter 5 4 The Tide Begins to Turn: The Virginia Consitutional Convention of 1829-1830 and the Attack on Natural Rights Chapter 6 5 Firebell in the Night: Natural Rights Abandoned Chapter 7 6 Toward Perpetual Slavery: The Virginia Slavery Debate of 1831-1832 Chapter 8 7 The Proslavery Argument Revisited: Thomas Roderick Dew and the Beginning of the Positive Good Thesis Chapter 9 8 Conclusion: Virginia and the Positive Good Thesis Chapter 10 Bibliography
This is a fine study. Root finds in the Virginia slavery debates a prelude to Calhoun's positive good theory of slavery. Of particular note is Root's solid understanding of political philosophy, a virtue usually missing in contemporary histories. In revealing the character of the defense of slavery in the young nation's most important state, Root sheds valuable light on the tragic decline of moral and political principle in antebellum America. -- Scot Zentner, professor of political science at California State University, San Bernandino Root provides an effective discussion of the arguments over slavery in Virginia. -- Phillip Hamilton Journal of American History, March 2009 Root's work is suggestive of the power of natural rights philosophy and its use (and abuse) by early republican Virginians. Southern Historical Association Root convincingly defends the honor of America's Founders on the vexed question of slavery. He shows that it was the abandonment of the founding principles, not their fulfillment, that led Virginia and the South to embrace the cause of slavery as a positive good. I have never read a more convincing treatment, backed up with detailed discussions of major politicians and writers, of this transformation of opinion in Virginia. Root captures well the sincerity of the anti-slavery men, their soul-wrenching agony and perplexity over what to do about it, and the final disgraceful capitulation of post-1830 Virginians to the forces, intellectual and practical, that demanded the rejection of the idea that all human beings have a natural right to liberty. -- Thomas West, professor of politics at the University of Dallas, senior fellow at the Claremont Institute, and author ofVindicating the Founde
About Erik S. Root
Erik S. Root is assistant professor of political science at West Liberty State College.