Slavery and the Making of America

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Between 1500 and 1870, nearly 400,000 African men, women and children were brought to America as slaves. Only half made it, and of the survivors over age 12 who did, most were immediately put to work in fields from sunrise to sunset. The African leaders who sold them earned about 50 pounds for each person, the equivalent of $1 trillion in today’s dollars.

Jim and Lois Horton will discuss the history of slavery in America when they deliver the Hartman Hotz lecture on “Slavery and the Making of America” at 1 p.m. Monday, Sept. 25 in Giffels Auditorium, Old Main, University of Arkansas.

“The history of slavery is central to the history of the United States, to the foundation of its economic, political and social systems, and to the values that shaped its culture,” said Jim Horton. “It is the story of the nation’s great contradiction between its stated beliefs and its reality.”

The Hortons co-authored Slavery and the Making of America, the companion book for the WNET PBS series of the same name which aired in February of 2005.

Horton said that recent scholarship has created a much more complete picture of American slavery than ever before.

“We know that slavery changed over its 250 years in America, that it originally existed in all of the British North American colonies and that it had a different impact on men than on women. Enslaved people themselves have given us compelling accounts of their experiences, their creative efforts to maintain their families and their dignity and their struggles to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds to gain freedom.”

Although slavery was abolished more than a century ago, Horton said, the racism it created persists.

“Americans’ attempt to reconcile their self-image as a people dedicated to human liberty and equality with their tolerance of and dependence on human slavery remains with us today. The legacy of America’s most un-American institution continues to shape American society in the 21st century.”

Lois Horton received her doctorate from Brandeis University. She is a professor of history at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., where she is also on the faculties of cultural studies, women's studies and the honors program. Her work on African American communities, race, gender and social change has been published in the U.S. and Europe, and she has lectured extensively in the U.S., Europe and Asia.

In fall 2003, she was the Fulbright Distinguished John Adams Professor of American History at the University of Amsterdam. She is on the advisory boards of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati and the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Antislavery at Yale University. She and James Horton were historical advisors for The History Channel series “Ten Days That Unexpectedly Changed America,” which won an Emmy for best nonfiction TV series in 2006.

Her many books include Hard Road to Freedom, In Hope of Liberty and Black Bostonians, coauthored with James Oliver Horton.

James Oliver Horton is the Benjamin Banneker Professor of American studies and history at George Washington University and Historian Emeritus of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. He received his doctorate in history from Brandeis University in 1973. He was Senior Fulbright Professor of American Studies at the University of Munich in Germany from 1988 to 1989 and in 1991 assisted the German government in developing American studies programs in the former East Germany. He was awarded the John Adams Distinguished Fulbright Chair in American History at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands for the fall semester of 2003.

Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt appointed him to serve on the National Park System Advisory Board, and in 1996, he was elected board chair. He has also served as historical advisor to several museums in the United States and abroad, including the Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tenn., and the New York Historical Society. He has appeared in and been historical consultant to numerous film and video productions aired on ABC, PBS, the Discovery Channels, C-Span and the History Channel.

From 1998 to 2000 Professor Horton worked with the White House Millennium Council, acting as historical expert for then first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton. He traveled with the first lady's “Save American Treasures” bus tour of historic places in the summer of 1998 and accompanied her on a tour of historic sites in Boston in the winter of 1998. In fall 2000, President William Jefferson Clinton appointed him to serve on the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission.

He is the author of 10 books and the editor of the 12-volume The Landmarks of American History published by Oxford University Press.

The University of Arkansas Hartman Hotz Lectures in Law and Liberal Arts were established by Dr. and Mrs. Palmer Hotz of Foster City, Calif., to honor the memory of his brother, Hartman Hotz. Hartman Hotz was a graduate in history from the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences. After graduating from Yale University Law School, he joined the faculty of the University of Arkansas School of Law, where he made significant contributions to the study of law.

Many distinguished speakers have participated in this lecture series, among them Chief Justice Warren Burger, G. Edward White, Shirley Abbott, Daisy Bates, Thomas Grisso, George Fletcher and George McGovern.



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