Not Even Past has published many feature articles, book and film reviews, and podcasts on slavery in the American South, brought together on this page. Approaching this topic from different angles, this body of work provides an overview of key issues important for anyone wanting to understand slavery and its lasting legacy.
The Urban world made by slaves in the US South and the Atlantic.
Savannah is a prime location for understanding the centrality of slavery and race to the national and world economy, and the importance of the city to southern landscapes and the southern economy.
December 31, 1862 fell on a Wednesda, and that night members of Savannah’s First African Baptist Church held their traditional New Year’s Eve “watch meeting.” Each year members of the congregation gathered on this night to welcome the new year and to ask for God’s blessing on the city’s African-American community. Such “watch meetings” or “watch night” services were held all over the country, linking African Americans in Savannah with communities in Richmond, New York, Boston and elsewhere. After a year and a half of a bloody civil war, the community in Savannah consisted of about 10,000 enslaved men and women, 1,000 free people of color, and several hundred enslaved workers brought from all over the state of Georgia to dig trenches and otherwise toil at the direction of Confederate military authorities.
On March 21, 1861, Alexander Stephens, the vice president of the Confederate States of America, delivered an extemporaneous speech to an enthusiastic crowd in Savannah, Georgia. Stephens declared that new nation had been created in order to refute the idea enshrined in the Declaration of Independence that “All men are created equal.” According to Stephens, “Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner-stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and moral condition.”