Celebrating our 105th season!

Woodman Speaker Series: The Economics of Slavery

Woodman Speaker Series Presents

“Cotton Is King”: Capitalism, Slavery, and the Economic Ties between North and South

The Woodman Speaker Series returns this April with a lecture by Aaron Chin, in which he explores forms of capitalism in the North and South leading up to the Civil War–and the North’s unspoken exploitation of the system of chattel slavery.

Hosted at the Woodman House, the lecture will take place on Wednesday, April 17 at 7pm. Members enjoy free admission and the non-member rate is $5.

When one thinks of slavery before the Civil War, the antebellum South often comes to mind. While the North was busy building factories and creating a capitalist society, the South, with its sprawling plantations and agrarian focus, seemed a far cry from its Northern counterpart. For many years, historians asserted that Southern slavery could not possibly be the same thing as Northern capitalism.This has changed. In recent years, historians have come to emphasize the capitalistic nature of slavery, asserting that the South was, in fact, every bit as committed to capitalism as the North. Further, the North profited economically from the expansion of Southern slavery. New England factory workers spun slave-grown cotton into clothing as Northern merchants extended credit to their Southern business partners. The industrialization of the Northeast relied upon the raw materials produced by the enslaved in the South.

This talk will review how historians have come to see antebellum slavery as capitalism and how economically connected the North – particularly New England – was to it.

Aaron Chin is a PhD student in History at the University of New Hampshire. Originally from Tennessee, he graduated from Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee with a Bachelor of Arts in History with a double major in Classical and Medieval Humanities. After graduating with a master’s degree in History from the University of New Hampshire, he returned to pursue a PhD in American History. Aaron studies the history of capitalism during the nineteenth century in the United States.

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Woodman House

Built in 1818 as the residence of Charles and Annie Woodman, The Woodman House today is a unique example of an authentic 20th-century museum. It now houses the Natural History and Veteran Memorial sections and contains extensive and well-preserved collections of local area interest.

The War Memorial Museum The top floor of the Woodman House houses an extensive collection of Civil War artifacts and memorabilia, as well as other collections from wars in which local citizens participated.

Among the many items of interest, one of the ten known “Napoleon” Civil War cannons, complete with its original caisson. Batteries of these guns stopped Pickett’s famous charge at Gettysburg.

Birds & Butterflies The Museum’s first curator, Melville J. Smith, created a series of wonderful dioramas to showcase the Museum’s excellent collection of birds. Shore and land birds in their natural settings and several specimens of Arctic Owls are displayed. An additional room is devoted to dioramas of tropical birds.

Several wall-mounted displays show off a beautiful assortment of jewel-toned moths, butterflies, and insects from nearby locales and the tropics.

Rocks and More Rocks An excellent mineral collection which includes nearly 1300 outstanding specimens. There are hundreds of fossils, collections of area rocks, and displays of dynamic geology.

Native American Artifacts A large display of Native American artifacts includes pieces from the Madbury Culture that lived in this area three to six thousand years ago, as well as the famous Red Paint Culture of nearby Maine. Interesting Incan items from South America are also on display.

Mammals & Marine Life  The museum’s first-floor gallery houses a large display of mammals and marine life with emphasis on the wildlife of New England. Included in the exhibit is a mounted specimen of the last cougar killed in New Hampshire — in nearby Lee in 1853, as well as a 10-foot polar bear killed by a Dover man near the Siberian coast in 1969. If sharks fascinate you, don’t miss the museum’s Marine Room where you can see a blue shark caught off the coast of Ogunquit Maine, or visually feast on a 27-pound lobster, a large green turtle, or a man-killing bivalve clam found off the Australian coast.

Snakes & Turtles A collection of snakes and turtles and a cabinet filled with botanical oddities are also housed in this section.

Childhood Gallery If you’re a doll lover, former or current Boy or Girl Scout, or if you simply want to show your children how kids used to entertain themselves, please visit our childhood room.

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