American Slavery and Its Impact

College of the Holy Cross

Edward O’Donnell is a professor of history at College of the Holy Cross. He is the author of several books, including Henry George and the Crisis of Inequality: Progress and Poverty in the Gilded Age. He frequently contributes op-eds to publications like Newsweek and The Huffington Post, and has been featured on PBS, the History Channel, the Discovery Channel, and C-SPAN. O’Donnell also has curated several major museum exhibits on American history and appeared in several historical documentaries. He currently hosts a history podcast, “In the Past Lane.”




In the late 18th century, the founders established the United States as a republic of liberty. But that same nation was the largest slaveholding society in the world. And slavery would only grow in size and importance in the 19th century. As it did, however, a small but dedicated abolitionist movement emerged, intent upon ending slavery and transforming the U.S. into a true republic of liberty. The ensuing struggle lasted decades, ending only when the Civil War brought about the abolition of slavery. But ending human bondage presented new challenges about race, equality, and justice that have never been fully resolved and which continue to impact American society up to the present.



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