Stanley Elkins proposed a groundbreaking theory about the effect of oppression and totalitarianism on subject races, one that drew from multiple academic disciplines. James McPherson’s interpretation is more fact-based and less theoretical, drawing from anecdotal archival sources to develop an environment-centric picture of slavery in the Antebellum and Civil War periods. Ultimately, the success of African-Americans in all walks of life have tended to show that, as abolitionists argued, servility was a temporary product of the powerlessness of their situation in the plantation South.
Debating America’s Legacy of Slavery
James McPherson and Stanley Elkins represent two different approaches to the discipline of historical study and ...