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E-Seminars: E-Seminar Detail

E-Seminars in This Series

E-Seminar 2
The Struggle for Freedom

E-Seminar 3
The Old South

E-Seminar 4
Abolitionism and Antislavery

E-Seminar 5
The Civil War

E-Seminar 6
The Meaning of Freedom

E-Seminar 7
Radical Reconstruction

E-Seminar 8
Retreat from Reconstruction

Slavery and Emancipation
A Series of Eight E-Seminars

Slavery and Emancipation
E-Seminar 1, The Origins of Slavery in the New World

Taught by: Eric Foner

E-Seminar Description
Nearly a century and a half after its abolition, slavery remains one of the central institutions defining American history, nationality, and citizenship. Its legacy and continued relevance are rooted in the larger questions it raises about us as a nation.

This is the first e-seminar in Slavery and Emancipation, an eight-part series taught by Columbia historian Eric Foner. After examining the origins and development of the transatlantic slave trade, Professor Foner focuses on the impact that slavery had on colonial America during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. He compares slavery in the Old and New World and demonstrates how it became more oppressive in the New; he explains how the underpinnings of the institutionalization of slavery in America included new racist attitudes and the increasing demand for labor on the plantations in the British colonies in North America during a period of high mortality. Also examined are some of the economic and legal instruments used to oppress and enslave Africans and their descendants and to perpetuate slavery for generations. Various colonial assemblies, for example, passed legislation that protected and expanded the rights of slaveholders; some excerpts from legal codes are provided in this e-seminar. Professor Foner also looks at the three different systems of slavery that emerged in the Chesapeake, the South, and the North, giving rise to a variety of black cultures and identity.

The theme that runs through this e-seminar and the entire series is the symbiotic but ironic relationship between freedom and slavery throughout American history. In this e-seminar Professor Foner discusses, for example, how white colonialists, as British subjects, demanded entitlements to an increasing number of rights and privileges while restricting those of the slaves living in their midst. How racism supported this contradiction is one of the themes Professor Foner explores.

E-Seminar Length:3-5 hours
Start Date:Anytime
Columbia Students, Faculty, Staff, and Alumni:FREE

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Note: Columbia students, faculty, staff, and alumni will need to use their University Network ID (UNI) to access e-seminars.

E-Seminar Objectives | Outline | Instructor's Background | Recommended Reading | Technical Requirements

E-Seminar Objectives
•    Describe how and why slavery took root in the British North American colonies and what role it played in their early development.

•    Discuss the role slavery played in the European settlement of the Western Hemisphere and its economic development.

•    Understand the major differences between slavery as it existed in Africa and the institution that developed in the New World.

•    Explain the transition from indentured servitude to slavery as the major labor system of colonial Virginia.

•    Discuss the three major systems of slavery, each associated with a particular region, in the eighteenth-century British colonies and evaluate the similarities and differences among those systems of slavery.

•    Compare the African American cultures that developed in each of those three regions.

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1. Introduction
2. Slavery in World History
3. The Triangular Trades
4. Slavery in the Americas
5. Laws and Statutes
6. Slavery and Empire
7. Systems of Slavery
8. African American Cultures
9. Slave Resistance
10. The Dream of Freedom

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Instructor's Background
Instructor's Background
Eric Foner, DeWitt Clinton Professor of History at Columbia University, received his Ph.D. in American history at Columbia under the supervision of Richard Hofstadter. He has taught as a visiting professor at Cambridge University, as Pitt Professor of American History and Institutions; at Moscow State University as Fulbright Lecturer in American History; and at Oxford University as Harmsworth Professor of American History.

Professor Foner's publications have concentrated on the intersections of intellectual, political, and social history and the history of American race relations. Among his books are Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men: The Ideology of the Republican Party before the Civil War (1970, 1971, 1995); Tom Paine and Revolutionary America (1976); Politics and Ideology in the Age of the Civil War (1980); Nothing but Freedom: Emancipation and Its Legacy (1983), and Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, 1863–1877 (1988, 2002), winner of the Bancroft Prize, Parkman Prize, Avery O. Craven Prize, Owsley Award, Lionel Trilling Prize, and the Los Angeles Times Book Award. He edited The New American History (1990, 1997) for the American Historical Association and, with John A. Garraty, The Reader's Companion to American History (1991). His most recent books are The Story of American Freedom (1998) and Who Owns History: Rethinking the Past in a Changing World(2002), a collection of his recent essays.

Professor Foner is curator of A House Divided: America in the Age of Lincoln, a historical exhibition that opened at the Chicago Historical Society in 1990, and of America's Reconstruction: People and Politics after the Civil War, a traveling exhibit first shown at the Virginia Historical Society in 1996. A winner of the Great Teacher Award from the Society of Columbia Graduates, Professor Foner is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the British Academy. He served in 1993–94 as President of the Organization of American Historians, and in 2000 as President of the American Historical Association.

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Recommended Reading
Berlin, Ira. Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America. Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1998.

Blackburn, Robin. The Making of New World Slavery: From the Baroque to the Modern, 1492–1800. London and New York: Verso, 1997.

Jordan, Winthrop D. White over Black: American Attitudes toward the Negro, 1550–1812. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1968.

Morgan, Phililp D. Slave Counterpoint: Black Culture in the Eighteenth-Century Chesapeake and Lowcountry. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998.

Wood, Betty. The Origins of American Slavery: Freedom and Bondage in the English Colonies. New York: Hill and Wang, 1997.

Wood, Peter H. Black Majority: Negroes in Colonial South Carolina from 1670 through the Stono Rebellion. New York: Norton, 1975.

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Technical Requirements
You will need to use a computer with Internet access to complete this course. We recommend the following minimum configurations:

Windows 95, 98, 2000, XP, or NT
64 MB of RAM (128 recommended)
Monitor: 800x600 resolution recommended
Connection: Internet service and 56K modem minimum
Browser: Internet Explorer 4 or above (Internet Explorer 5 strongly recommended) or Netscape 4.7 or above
Sound Card (if you can hear audio you have a sound card)
Plug-ins: RealPlayer 7 or later; Flash Player 5 or later; Acrobat Reader 5 or later
(all plug-ins are free)

MAC OS 8.6 or higher
64 MB of RAM (128 recommended)
Monitor: 800x600 resolution recommended
Connection: Internet service and 56K modem minimum
Browser: Internet Explorer 5 or above or Netscape 4.7 or above
Sound Card (if you can hear audio you have a sound card)
Plug-ins: RealPlayer 7 or later; Flash Player 5 or later; Acrobat Reader 5 or later
(all plug-ins are free)

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