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University of South Carolina Press

The Slaveholders' Dilemma

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In The Slaveholders' Dilemma, Eugene D. Genovese explores the efforts of American slaveholders to reconcile the intellectual dilemma in which they found themselves as supporters of freedom but defenders of slavery. In the American South slaveholders perceived themselves as thoroughly modern, moral men who protected human progress against the perversions of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution. Surprisingly, they also accepted the widespread idea that freedom generated the economic, social, and moral progress they embraced as their own cause. Nonetheless, they continued to defend slavery. In this compact but densely argued volume, Genovese rehearses the central arguments that would define the latter portion of his career, thus offering a window not only into the mind of the master class but also the mind of one of the most important scholars of the American South.

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