Joshua Rothman chairs the history department at the University of Alabama, where he is also a professor of history specializing in nineteenth-century America and the history of race and slavery. He is the author of Notorious in the Neighborhood: Sex and Families across the Color Line in Virginia, 1787–1861 (2003); Reforming America, 1815–1860 (2009); and Flush Times and Fever Dreams: A Story of Capitalism and Slavery in the Age of Jackson (2012), which won the Gulf South Historical Association's Michael Thomason Book Award and the Southern Historical Association's Frank L. and Harriet C. Owsley Prize. His forthcoming book, The Ledger and the Chain: How Domestic Slave Traders Shaped America, will be published in 2021.
The expansion of the cotton South in the antebellum United States was central to the expansion of slavery and the development of American capitalism. This lecture traces the growth of the cotton South between 1800 and 1865; explains its significance for the lives of the enslaved, white, and Native peoples; and discusses how it helps us understand the interplay between slavery and capitalism in early American history.