Peter Kolchin, professor emeritus of history at the University of Delaware, is the author of First Freedom: The Responses of Alabama's Blacks to Emancipation and Reconstruction (1972); Unfree Labor: American Slavery and Russian Serfdom (1987); American Slavery, 1619-1877 (1993); and A Sphinx on the American Land: The Nineteenth-Century South in Comparative Perspective (2003). Winner of the Bancroft Prize, the OAH Avery O. Craven Award, and the Southern Historical Association's Charles Sydnor Award, he is currently completing a comparative study of emancipation and its aftermath in Russia and the American South, a sequel to Unfree Labor. In 2014, he served as the president of the Southern Historical Association.
In this lecture, Kolchin focuses on the emancipation of slaves in the southern United States, in broad comparative context. Because this emancipation came through Civil War, it produced changes that were in several ways unusually radical, even as these changes were partially undone by a racist reaction that was also unusually virulent.