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Sat, 19 Mar



West of Slavery: The Southern Dream of a Transcontinental Empire

The struggle over slavery played out on a transcontinental stage. Kevin Waite shows that The Old South can be found in unexpected places, far beyond the region’s cotton fields and sugar plantations.

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West of Slavery: The Southern Dream of a Transcontinental Empire
West of Slavery: The Southern Dream of a Transcontinental Empire

Time & Location

19 Mar 2022, 13:00 – 16:00 GMT

London, Great Scotland Yard, London SW1A 2HJ, UK

About the Event

Beginning in the 1840s, Southern slaveholders launched a series of campaigns to extend their political power across the American West. They passed slave codes in New Mexico and Utah, sponsored separatist movements in Southern California and Arizona, orchestrated a territorial purchase from Mexico, monopolized patronage networks to empower proslavery allies, and even killed antislavery rivals. California, despite its constitutional prohibition on slavery, was the linchpin of their western program. Until the eve of the Civil War, white Southerners controlled the political fortunes of California, with a powerful base of support in Los Angeles. During the war years, large parts of the Far Southwest remained in the thrall of slaveholders. Even after the collapse of slavery, California continued to mimic many of the white supremacist strategies of the South, with its own version of the Ku Klux Klan. Kevin Waite brings to light what contemporaries recognized but historians have described only in part.

About the speaker

Kevin Waite is an assistant professor of history at Durham University in the UK and the author of West of Slavery: The Southern Dream of a Transcontinental Empire (University of North Carolina Press, 2021).  West of Slavery  was recently named a finalist for the Lincoln Prize and was chosen as one of the '11 books that shape the way we think about California'  by the University of California Press’s online journal, Boom .  He's currently writing a history of the life and times of Biddy Mason, a Georgia slave turned California real estate entrepreneur. That work is funded by a Collaborative Research Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, which he co-directs with Sarah Barringer Gordon (UPenn). Kevin’s writing has appeared in The Atlantic, National Geographic, The Los Angeles Times, Slate, The New Republic, and The Washington Post.



    This ticket is for people attending the meeting in person at the Civil Service club. Space is limited, so while we will admit 'walk-ins' if possible, anyone not purchasing a ticket in advance may be turned away if the venue is full. Tea, coffee and biscuits are included. Also includes access to the CSC bar before and after the event.

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    This is a hybrid physical and online event (via Zoom). A small fee is charged for online access to hybrid events to cover costs. Zoom attendees cannot participate in the raffle. The online link will be sent to you on your email receipt.

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    We welcome voluntary donations to enable us to continue our education and conservation projects on both sides of the Atlantic.

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