Ta-Nehisi Coates’ blog at The Atlantic is always good for debate and discussion. Today, he posts some interesting thoughts on Edmund Morgan’s American Slavery, American Freedom.
Morgan’s basic contention, one which I increasingly find convincing, is that American slavery made American freedom possible. Thus, it is an understatement–and perhaps even a falsehood–to cast slavery, as Condoleeza Rice has, as the “birth defect” of American freedom. The term “birth defect” conveys the notion of other possibilities and unfortunate accidents. But Morgan would argue slavery didn’t just happen as a byproduct, it was the steward. Put differently, slavery is America’s midwife, not it’s birth defect.