You SHOULD….Read The Slave’s Cause: A History of Abolition by Manisha Sinha

At the risk of gross self-promotion, I would recommend my book The Slave’s Cause: A History of Abolition (Yale University Press, 2016). When I researched and wrote the book over a period of ten years, I could hardly have anticipated how much it spoke to contemporary issues. The book, which expands the chronology of abolition from the classical pre-Civil War period back to the colonial era, reimagines abolition as a radical, interracial movement in which the enslaved themselves played a central role. It argues that abolition was one of the first social movements to systematically develop the concept of human rights at a time when slaveholders and their allies dominated the American state. Many current activists against mass incarceration, for immigrant rights and the sanctuary movement, Black Lives Matter, and Occupy Wall Street can learn from the diverse tactics and ideologies espoused by abolitionists since their concerns were first articulated by them. The book shows how abolitionists developed transnational networks of protest and overlapped with contemporary radical movements such as women’s rights, pacifism, utopian socialism, the rights of labor, immigrants, and Native Americans. They, especially the more radical Garrisonian wing of the movement, also presciently fought against capital punishment and the criminalization of blackness.


To learn more listen:


Interview, The Diane Rehm Show, NPR,


Interview in Ben Franklin’s World: A Podcast About Early American History, Episode 142, Manisha Sinha, A History of Abolition,


Interview with Sam Seder, The Majority Report,


Interview, The Marc Steiner Show,