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ERIC Number: EJ757213
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Mar-9
Pages: 1
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0009-5982
The Evil that Americans Did
Smith, John David
Chronicle of Higher Education, v53 n27 pB9 Mar 2007
Slavery's unequivocal evil lies at the heart of debates over apologizing for America's "peculiar institution" and awarding reparations. In The Problem of Evil: Slavery, Freedom, and the Ambiguities of American Reform, a provocative collection of original essays, the editors Steven Mintz and John Stauffer, along with 23 contributors, admonish scholars to place moral questions in general, but especially American slavery and its legacy, at the center of their work. "Slavery," writes Mintz, a professor of history at the University of Houston, "is a historical evil that the United States has never properly acknowledged or atoned for." Nor have historians grappled with those issues. Stanley L. Engerman, a professor of economics and history at the University of Rochester, and David Eltis, a professor of history at Emory University, find it noteworthy "how little scholarly effort has been expended on explaining how and why evil has been redefined over time, and how much academic work assumes that the values that hold today are somehow unchanging and universal." The contributors to Mintz and Stauffer's excellent collection largely sidestep defining and comparing degrees of evil, but they nevertheless remind everyone of slavery's timelessness and the ubiquity of moral wrongs. Focusing on evil enables people to see, if not feel, the wicked acts that persons inflict on one another.
Chronicle of Higher Education. 1255 23rd Street NW Suite 700, Washington, DC 20037. Tel: 800-728-2803; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United States