Book Talk: "This Vast Southern Empire: Slaveholders at the Helm of American Foreign Policy"
Matthew Karp (Princeton University) will discuss his book, This Vast Southern Empire: Slaveholders at the Helm of American Foreign Policy.
In the middle decades of the nineteenth century, the Atlantic world was torn between two hostile forces: a rising movement against slavery, and a plantation system that had grown larger and more productive than ever before. In this great struggle, the southern statesmen at the helm of the American government, from Andrew Jackson to John C. Calhoun, identified Great Britain as "the great Apostle of Emancipation," the most powerful and most dangerous ally of abolitionists and slaves from Virginia to Brazil. In response, these same leaders identified the United States as slavery's most powerful champion. Overcoming their traditional qualms about a strong central government, slaveholders worked to harness the power of the state to defend slavery at home and across the Western hemisphere. This Vast Southern Empire traces the course of these proslavery foreign policy efforts, from the triumphant annexation of Texas in 1845 to the disastrous decision to leave the Union and found the Confederate States of America in 1861.
This event is co-sponsored by the American Political History Seminar at IGS.