W. E. B. Du Bois, Black Agency and the Slaves' Civil War

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This article reviews the historical literature on slave self-activity during the US Civil War, taking account of recent developments in historiography. Attempting to move beyond the debate between those who argue for 'slave self-emancipation' and others who emphasize the role of high politics, this article suggests that while slaves played a central role in re-directing the war into an assault on slavery, there were severe constraints on their activity as well. Northern military advances played a critical role in opening up the Confederate South to slave self-assertion.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)48-68
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Socialist Review
Issue number100
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2016


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