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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