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This book begins with a provocative paradox: George Fitzhugh of Virginia, one of the most eloquent defenders of Southern chattel slavery, appealed to a New York abolitionist for support. In a three part study, Cunliffe explores the context of chattel and wage slavery in Britain and the United States.
Marcus Cunliffe was professor of American Studies at the University of Sussex from 1965 to 1980, where the Sussex Cunliffe Centre is named in his honor. He was University Professor of the Humanities at George Washington University from 1980 until his death in 1990. His books include The Literature of the United States ; George Washington: Man and Monument ; The Nation Takes Shape, 1789-1837 ; Soldiers and Civilians: The Martial Spirit in America, 1775-1865 ; and American Presidents and the Presidency.