The Peculiar Institution

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The Peculiar Institution: Slavery in the Ante-Bellum South
By: Kenneth M. Stamp
Published by Vintage Books of New York

The book The Peculiar Institution takes an in-depth look at slavery in America from the beginning. The author tells the story after doing a lot of research of how the entire south operated with slavery and in the individual states. The author uses a lot of examples from actual plantations and uses a lot of statistics to tell the story of the south. The author’s thesis statement throughout this book is stated in the title of the book that tells that slavery is a peculiar institution, which also means that it is a very interesting form of service. There are many strange events that not only led up to slavery but that also happened while it occured.

Slavery is a very strange and complex thing when you look at it as a whole. Over the past few yeas, the subject of slavery in the South has really appealed to me. This started when I traveled to Ghana, Africa along with Togo and Benin. While there, I got to tour some of the largest slave trade forts in the Dahomey kingdom. The entire time I was there I continued to ask myself how something like this could have existed for so long of a time in our history. I believe that the author is trying to point out the very strange and interesting point about slavery.

Although I knew that there were smaller plantations, I didn’t know that the large plantations weren’t very common. The author tells that the smaller plantations were most common with many farmers owning about three slaves and working the land themselves. One aspect I never even thought of was that the mega plantations were often divided into several smaller ones because of the travel time it took slaves to walk from their quarters to the fields to be planted. This would severely cut down on production and makes sense why smaller plantations were more common.

It is also very interesting that so many slave owners allowed their “bondsmen”...
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