Defending Slavery

Slavery Defended coverSlavery Defended: The Views of the Old South
McKitrick (Ed.)

Submitter: We are going through a massive weeding project at our small academic library, and this title came up (thankfully in the titles to be weeded!). Now, granted, I wasn’t alive in the 1960s, but I would have hoped a title like this would have been problematic even then. The judgment call in the title is completely unnecessary – the collection of essays could easily have been called Views of Slavery in the Old South and conveyed the same information. Now, however, the phrasing of the title is not merely problematic but downright offensive, particularly to our students and faculty of color. I’m glad we’re getting it out of the building! As for the content, someone actually wrote an epic-length poem called “The Hireling and the Slave”, which is excerpted (my mind is still blown that 11 pages is just an excerpt) in this volume. I scanned a sample.

Holly: It may have value to historical researchers, but the title is definitely pretty awful!

Slavery Defended excerpt

Slavery Defended excerpt

Slavery Defended excerpt

Slavery Defended excerpt


  1. What the what? In New Orleans the city is taking down Calhoun as a street name and replacing it with Father Louis J. Twomey. Yes. and yes the yes. Twomey, who died in 1969, was a Jesuit brother and social justice organizer who pushed for racial equality and workers rights while an official at Loyola University. Among his accomplishments was publishing an influential monthly newsletter that wedded Catholic theology with calls for racial justice and founding the university’s Institute of Industrial Relations, now known as the Twomey Center for Peace Through Justice.

    Find the other street renamings here:

    Seems New Orleans is finally admitting its love of its musicians. Amen.

    1. That sounds great! Here in Nashville, they *finally* removed the bust of Confederate general/founder of the KKK Nathan Bedford Forrest. Way too late, but at least it’s finally gone.

  2. You know… I don’t think the title is that bad. The book certainly has no place in the average library, even the average academic library, but I feel like the subtitle makes clear that slavery is defended by the authors included, not in general.

  3. I’m wondering if the editor secretly (or not so) sympathized with the cause.

    Either that or he was going for a “hot take” to get attention for his book.

    The Civil Rights Movement was happening well before 1963, which is the year of the March on Washington and “I Have A Dream”.

    Anyway, good job finally getting rid of it.

  4. I’m amazed to see this today, because just this morning I saw this book for the first time in my life. Once a week I sort books that have been donated to the public library for the booksale (the entire acquisitions budget comes from that) and today we had a box of books that had clearly belonged to someone doing serious academic research into the history of American slavery. This one was in the mix.

  5. Has anything really changed? There’s still plenty of slavery all over the world. 🙁

  6. It’s certainly a keeper for an historical archive. Maybe for a university with a specific American history faculty. But not a public library, or even a small academic collection.

  7. No doubt this one has to go. I try to tell myself when I find a book like this in the library that “good natured” people at the time were using it to view the opposition’s view point in order to build a strong case.

  8. That argument on page 80 is so twisted! “There will be no suffering of the laboring class, because we won’t have a laboring class. Just a bunch of rich dudes and their property and since property can’t suffer, voila, no suffering! I am a genius!”


    1. Take a look at the man’s Wikipedian biography. If he hadn’t gotten into “politics” almost certainly his scientific work would earn him high place today.

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