Jefferson Davis’s Lesser-Known Nemesis

Henry Stuart Foote and the Confederate President Supported Slavery—But Loathed One Another

On Christmas morning, 1847, six important men assembled at a large boarding house in Washington, D.C., ostensibly for casual, after-breakfast conversation. In the parlance of the era, it was a “mixed” group, of four Southerners and two Northerners. All served in the United States Senate or the House of Representatives, and because of the climate of the times, they had much to discuss. The United States was about to win the Mexican War, and in the process wrest away from its Southern neighbor a massive tract of land, laying the …

How the ‘Yellow House’ Helped Make Washington, D.C., a Slavery Capital | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

How the Yellow House Helped Make Washington, D.C., a Slavery Capital

The Notorious Jail Lent Institutional Support to Slavery Throughout the South

Washington, D.C., was a capital not just of the United States, but of slavery, serving as a major depot in the domestic slave trade. In the District, enslaved men, women, …

A Poem That Would Not Let Me Go | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

A Poem That Would Not Let Me Go

When I Found Multiple Truths in the Work of 18th-Century Poet Phillis Wheatley, She Became Some Kind of Kin

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I do not remember how old I was when my grandmother showed me Phillis Wheatley’s poetry. Ten, maybe 11? Young enough that my hands were open to everything she put …

The 60,000-Strong Jamaican Uprising That Changed the Very Nature of Revolt | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

The Uprising of 60,000 Jamaicans That Changed the Very Nature of Revolt

Just Months After the Groundbreaking 1831 Rebellion, the British Empire Abolished Slavery

In the summer of 1831, a select group of enslaved people in northwest Jamaica began murmuring to each other about “the business.”

To mention the fledgling enterprise in the presence …

The ‘Ferociously Contested’ Story of How Blackness Became a Legal Identity | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

The ‘Ferociously Contested’ Story of How Blackness Became a Legal Identity

In Cuba, Virginia, and Louisiana, Colonial Laws Defining ‘Freedom’ Still Affected the Status of Citizens Centuries Later

How did Africans become “blacks” in the Americas?

Those who were forced into the ships of the infamous slave trade probably thought of themselves using ethnic and territorial terms that …