Book on British Movement to End Slavery Wins Frederick Douglass PrizeNEW YORK
A major study on the British movement to end slavery is the 2003 first prize winner of the annual Frederick Douglass Book Prize, awarded by Yale University’s Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition. Second prize will go to an innovative book on slavery in the Southwest Borderlands.
The $25,000 annual award for the year’s best non-fiction book on slavery, resistance and/or abolition, is the most generous history prize in the field and considered one of the most respected and coveted of the major awards for the study of the Black experience.
Dr. Seymour Drescher, a professor of history at the University of Pittsburgh, will be awarded first prize and $20,000 for his book The Mighty Experiment: Free Labor Versus Slavery in British Emancipation (Oxford University Press). Drescher’s book explores the debate over slavery and free labor within Britain, focusing on the crucial role of scholars and politicians who were prominent there in the new field of social science. The abolition of slavery became, for them, an experiment that would test scientific principles, even while the actual move to abolish slavery proved, ironically, to be driven by politics rather than scientific research.
“Drescher’s remarkable book demonstrates a mastery of the new social science of the anti-slavery era, a command of the many and varied motivations of the leaders of the movement, and a comprehensive grasp of the decisive cause of its success. We are proud to honor him with this year’s prize for his thoroughly innovative, and much-needed study,” say Richard Gilder and Lewis E. Lehrman, the philanthropists who endow the Frederick Douglass Prize.
James F. Brooks will receive second prize and $5,000 for Captives and Cousins: Slavery, Kinshi, and Community in the Southwest Borderlands (University of North Carolina Press). Brooks’ work explores the origins and legacies of a flourishing captive exchange economy within and among American Indian and Euro-American communities throughout the Southwest Borderlands from the Spanish colonial era to the end of the 19th century. Brooks is a member of the research faculty and director of the SAR Press of the School of American Research in Santa Fe, N.M.
“Until James F. Brooks, virtually all historians of American slavery have ignored the Spanish Southwest — the region acquired by the U.S. in 1848, as a result of the Mexican War. Brooks portrays and analyzes forms of slavery and captivity among the Indians and Spanish that differed markedly from the Anglo-American bondage to the east. The books by both Drescher and Brooks will have a lasting impact on our understanding of New World slavery and its abolition,” says Dr. David Brion Davis, director of the Gilder Lehrman Center.
Two other books were singled out for honorable mention: In the Shadow of Slavery: African Americans in New York City, 1626-1863 by Leslie M. Harris (University of Chicago Press), a book dealing with, among other subjects, the African Burial Ground unearthed in Lower Manhattan in 1991; and Black Identity and Black Protest in the Antebellum North by Patrick Rael (University of North Carolina Press).
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