1619

1619

Jamestown and the Forging of American Democracy

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Grand Central Pub
An extraordinary year in which American democracy and American slavery emerged hand in hand

Along the banks of the James River, Virginia, during an oppressively hot spell in the middle of summer 1619, two events occurred within a few weeks of each other that would profoundly shape the course of history. In the newly built church at Jamestown, the General Assembly--the first gathering of a representative governing body in America--came together. A few weeks later, a battered privateer entered the Chesapeake Bay carrying the first African slaves to land on mainland English America.

In 1619, historian James Horn sheds new light on the year that gave birth to the great paradox of our nation: slavery in the midst of freedom. This portentous year marked both the origin of the most important political development in American history, the rise of democracy, and the emergence of what would in time become one of the nation's greatest challenges: the corrosive legacy of racial inequality that has afflicted America since its beginning.


Baker & Taylor
"1619 offers a new interpretation of the significance of Jamestown in the long trajectory of American history. Jamestown, the cradle of American democracy, also saw the birth of our nation's greatest challenge: the corrosive legacy of slavery and racism that have deepened and entrenched stark inequalities in our society. After running Jamestown under martial law from 1610-1616, the Virginia Company turned toward representative government in an effort to provide settlers with more control over their own affairs and more incentive to invest further in the colony. In late July 1619, the newly-formed General Assembly gathered to introduce "just Laws for the happy guiding and governing of the people." It was the first legislature in America, and history has cast it as the foundation of American freedom and democracy. From that moment on, propertied white colonists became accustomed to freedoms that would have been unthinkable in England. But those very freedoms also permitted the wholesale and largely unchecked exploitation of poor white laborers and non-European peoples. More than nine-tenths of all those arriving in Virginia at this time were brought in some form of servitude or labor contract. This is a pattern we recognize all too well in modern American society-opportunities are not shared, inequality is rampant, racism is systemic. We would like to think these are problems that can be solved by expanding representative democracy; Jamestown teaches us, instead, that these are problems have long been created and encouraged by American democracy. Casting a skeptical eye on deeply-cherished myths, 1619 will be essential reading for anyone struggling to understand the paradox of American freedom."--Provided by publisher.

Baker
& Taylor

A historian, shedding new light on the year that gave birth to both freedom and American slavery, touches upon the rise of democracy and the emergence of what would become one of the nation’s greatest challenges—racial inequality. 20,000 first printing.

ISBN: 9780465064694

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