History of the Slave South

This course explores the relationship between slavery and democracy at the heart of American history. It is about the rise and fall of the slave South from the beginning of the seventeenth century to the end of the American Civil War.

About The Course

Within the United States, the pre-Civil War South was a distinct region of plantations, enslaved labor, and agricultural production for the export market. It was always part of a global economy, tied into networks of capital, labor, and commodity markets that spanned continents. The wealth of the slave South was absolutely central to the political and economic growth of the U.S. and its emergence as a continental empire in the nineteenth century, but ultimately that system had to be destroyed for the country to claim its place as a world power.

Why that was – why the U.S. experienced a brutal Civil War in the 1860s – is a matter of considerable contention among scholars and a central theme of the course. The history of the South is a crucial part of the story of the rise of the U.S. as a global power and it is particularly compelling because of its history as a slaveholding society, the wealthiest in the western world in 1860. This course is about the ethical and political questions that history necessarily poses about the relationship between slavery, capitalism, and democracy in U.S. and world history.  It is about the rise and fall of the slave South from the beginning of the seventeenth century to the end of the American Civil War.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Will I get a Statement of Accomplishment after completing this class?

    Upon successful completion of the requirements of the course, yes, you will receive a Statement of Accomplishment.

  • What resources will I need for this class? 
  • All you need is an Internet connection and the time to read, write, and discuss the history of the United States South.

  • How do I connect with the class on social media?

    You can follow this course on Twitter @SlaveSouthMOOC and on Facebook in the History of the Slave South Student Community.  





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Recommended Background

There are no prerequisites to take this course.