American capitalism was built on the backs of slaves and the slave economy — and not just in the South. Some of these practices are still with us.
Historian Calvin Schermerhorn explains how slavery built America without returning virtually any of the gains to the enslaved people — or their descendants. He also describes how racial inequality is part of our national DNA and why it persists.
Schermerhorn is a professor of history in ASU’s School of Historical, Philosophical, and Religious Studies, and the author of four books on the history of slavery in the U.S., including “Unrequited Toil: A History of United States Slavery.
Photo: A family of enslaved black Americans in a field in Georgia, circa 1850. Source: New York Historical Society/Wikimedia Commons