9 episodes

With the help of acclaimed historians and writers, Rebecca Onion and Jamelle Bouie explore the history of American slavery and examine how the institution came to shape our country’s politics, economy, and culture. (This series was originally published in 2015, thanks to the support of Slate Plus.)

The History of American Slavery Slate Podcasts

    • History
    • 3.8 • 413 Ratings

With the help of acclaimed historians and writers, Rebecca Onion and Jamelle Bouie explore the history of American slavery and examine how the institution came to shape our country’s politics, economy, and culture. (This series was originally published in 2015, thanks to the support of Slate Plus.)

    1: The Terrible Transformation

    1: The Terrible Transformation

    This episode was originally released in 2015.
    Slavery in America started out pretty bad in the 17th century. White colonists made it way, way worse in the 18th. What made this “terrible transformation” possible? In Episode 1 of the History of American Slavery, hosts Rebecca Onion and Jamelle Bouie explore how hereditary, race-based slavery took shape in colonial America. They begin their discussion by remembering the life of Anthony Johnson (1600?–70).
    This series was made possible by Slate Plus members. To support more work like this at Slate, sign up for Slate Plus now.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 42 min
    2: Inside the Slave Ship

    2: Inside the Slave Ship

    This episode was originally released in 2015.
    In episode 2 of the History of American Slavery, hosts Rebecca Onion and Jamelle Bouie explore the shape of slavery during the late 18th century. They talk about the heyday of the trans-Atlantic slave trade and the birth of the British abolitionist movement. They begin their discussion by remembering the remarkable life of Olaudah Equiano, 1745?–1797.
    See this episode's complete show notes.
    This series was made possible by Slate Plus members. To support more work like this at Slate, sign up for Slate Plus now.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 48 min
    3: The Hypocrisy of America’s Revolution

    3: The Hypocrisy of America’s Revolution

    This episode was originally released in 2015.
    In Episode 3 of the History of American Slavery, hosts Rebecca Onion and Jamelle Bouie explore the shape of slavery during America’s Revolutionary War. They discuss how the enlightenment ideas that helped found our government both inhibited and encouraged the spread of American slavery. They also talk about the divergent ways the early Northern and Southern states handled slavery in their courts. And they begin their conversation by remembering the life of Elizabeth Freeman (1742?-1829), an enslaved servant whose victory in one of the first “freedom suits” helped lead to the abolition of slavery in Massachusetts.
    See this episode's complete show notes.
    This series was made possible by Slate Plus members. To support more work like this at Slate, sign up for Slate Plus now.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 49 min
    4: The Family Life of Enslaved People

    4: The Family Life of Enslaved People

    This episode was originally released in 2015.
    In Episode 4 of the History of American Slavery, hosts Rebecca Onion and Jamelle Bouie explore the shape of family life on the slave plantations of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. They make a case study of one famous plantation, Monticello, the Virginia estate owned by Thomas Jefferson. Then they take a closer look at how slavery tore families apart, and the emotional history of that trauma. They begin their conversation by remembering the life of Joseph Fossett (1780–1858), a Monticello blacksmith. Upon Jefferson’s death, his last will and testament granted freedom to Fossett, but not to Fossett’s family. It would be 10 years before Joseph could reunite with his wife and 10 children.
    See this episode's complete show notes.
    This series was made possible by Slate Plus members. To support more work like this at Slate, sign up for Slate Plus now.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 57 min
    5: What Happened When Slaves Rebelled

    5: What Happened When Slaves Rebelled

    This episode was originally released in 2015.
    In Episode 5 of the History of American Slavery, hosts Rebecca Onion and Jamelle Bouie explore the slave rebellions—both real and imagined—that unfolded during the settlement of the 19th-century American frontier. They discuss the largest slave insurgency in American history, Louisiana’s 1811 German Coast rebellion. And then they explore an imagined slave revolt in Mississippi and the heady, boom-time conditions that led Mississippi slaveholders into panic and hysteria. Jamelle and Rebecca begin Episode 5 by remembering the life of Charles Deslondes (unknown–1811), a leader of the German Coast uprising.
    See this episode's complete show notes.
    This series was made possible by Slate Plus members. To support more work like this at Slate, sign up for Slate Plus now.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 49 min
    6: When Cotton Became King

    6: When Cotton Became King

    This episode was originally released in 2015.
    In Episode 6 of the History of American Slavery, hosts Rebecca Onion and Jamelle Bouie explore the rise of the antebellum cotton economy in the early decades of the 19th century. They discuss how the growth of the cotton industry transformed the American system of slavery and the lives of enslaved people. And they discuss slavery’s relationship with the development of modern American capitalism. They begin the episode by discussing the life of Charles Ball, who wrote about his experience working on a cotton plantation in his autobiography, Slavery in the United States: A Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Charles Ball.
    See this episode's complete show notes.
    This series was made possible by Slate Plus members. To support more work like this at Slate, sign up for Slate Plus now.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 46 min

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5
413 Ratings

413 Ratings

Himnish Jindal ,

Good but random laughing

It is a good show but I am confused why they are randomly laughing when discussing such a serious topic

jenowerh ,

Not my favorite

Maybe factually accurate, but centered on White POV. Africans didn’t “emerge” as a labor force, enslavers identified Africans as their preferred labor source, for example. When history is told from Black POV, there is an opportunity for empathy by the listener.

dOlPhInS4M ,

Thought it would be good

However 20 minutes in, the let’s just call it “their New Environment” was the first pause, the second was finding this humorous. And yep you guessed it, I won’t press play to finish…and I must go research the idea that these were STOLEN PEOPLE, yet they somehow found themselves with the same freedoms as their counterparts? HOW? That defeats the purpose of stealing them in the first place.

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