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"This is a striking and important book. James K. Polk tried to keep his activities as a slaveowner and absentee planter separate from his public life as a politician and, eventually, president. William Dusinberre brings the two sides of Polk's career together again. He has done more than anyone else to examine the lives of Polk's slaves, and reveals often-disturbing evidence about the harshness of their conditions. He also shows how Polk's perspectives as a planter shaped his administration's expansionist policies. This will be essential reading for all interested in the debate on slavery and the origins of the Civil War."-Christopher Clark, University of Warwick
"Slavemaster President is a powerful combination of careful research, clear prose, and controlled passion. At the core of the book is a meticulous reconstruction of James Knox Polk's cotton plantation. But Dusinberre is after much bigger analytical fish than a single case study would suggest: he uses Polk as a launching pad for a full-scale reinterpretation of the antebellum South. In so doing, he reintegrates the social and political history of southern slave society, bringing us closer than ever to understanding precisely how the politics of slavery led ultimately to Civil War."—James Oakes, The Graduate Center, City University of New York
"No other study that I can think of juxtaposes so revealingly the personal experiences of the enslaved with those of their enslaver, or the career of a slaveholder with the leadership of a president. By bringing to life the world of the enslaved people for whom James K. Polk was responsible even as Polk himself became responsible for slavery's westward expansion, Dusinberre presents a truly original synthesis of biography and social history that challenges us to reexamine the politics of the sectional conflict."—James Brewer Stewart, Macalester College
Posted April 11, 2005
my grandmother claims descendecy from james k.polk who father henry jet a slave in NC.to this day many passed for whit he had mulatto slave mistresses. martha ricks on NC
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