First published in 1967, Class Conflict, Slavery, and the United States Constitution was among the first studies to identify the importance of slavery to the founding of the American Republic. Provocative and powerful, this book offers explanations for the movements and motivations that underpinned the Revolution and the Early Republic. First, Staughton Lynd analyzes what motivated farm tenants and artisans during the period of the American Revolution. Second, he argues that slavery, and a willingness to compromise with slavery, were at the center of all political arrangements by the patriot leadership, including the United States Constitution. Third, he maintains that the historiography of the United States has adopted the mistaken perspective of Thomas Jefferson, who held that southern plantation owners were merely victimized agrarians. This new edition reproduces the original Preface by Edward P. Thompson and includes a new essay by Robin Einhorn that examines Lynd’s arguments in the context of forty years of subsequent scholarship.
Staughton Lynd received his BA from Harvard College and his MA and PhD from Columbia University. He taught at Spelman College and at Yale University. He is the author, editor, or co-editor of more than a dozen books and has published articles in journals including the Journal of American History, the William and Mary Quarterly, and the Political Science Quarterly.
Robin Einhorn is a professor of history at the University of California, Berkeley.
Preface; 1. Introduction; Part I. Class Conflict: 2. Who should rule at home? Dutchess County, New York, in the American Revolution; 3. The tenant rising at Livingston Manor, May 1777; 4. The mechanics in New York politics, 1774–1785; 5. A governing class on the defensive: the case of New York; Part II. Slavery: 6. On Turner, Beard, and slavery; 7. The abolitionist critique of the United States Constitution; 8. The compromise of 1787; Part III. The Economic Origins of Jeffersonian Historiography: 9. Abraham Yates's history of the movement for the United States Constitution; 10. Beard, Jefferson, and the tree of Liberty; Afterword Robin Einhorn.