In Chained to History, Steven J. Brady places slavery at the center of the story of America's place in the world in the years prior to the calamitous Civil War. Beginning with the immediate aftermath of the War of the American Revolution, Brady follows the military, economic, and moral lines of the diplomatic challenges of attempting to manage, on the global stage, the actuality of human servitude in a country dedicated to human freedom. Chained to History shows how slavery was interwoven with America's foreign relations and affected policy controversies ranging from trade to extradition treaties to military alliances.
Brady highlights the limitations placed on American policymakers who, working in an international context increasingly supportive of abolition, were severely constrained regarding the formulation and execution of preferred policy. Policymakers were bound to the slave interest based in the Democratic Party and the tortured state of domestic politics bore heavily on the conduct of foreign affairs. As international powers not only abolished the slave trade but banned human servitude as such, the American position became untenable.
From the Age of Revolutions through the American Civil War, slavery was a constant factor in shaping US relations with the Atlantic World and beyond. Chained to History addresses this critical topic in its complete scope and shows the immoral practice of human bondage to have informed how the United States re-entered the community of nations after 1865.
Steven J. Brady is Assistant Professor in the Department of History at The George Washington University. He is author of Eisenhower and Adenauer.