The Great Future of America and Africa, by Jacob Dewees
Five out of five stars
This book, published in 1854, is a snapshot of the mood of the United States over slavery as the country seemed inexorably moving towards a Civil War. Dewees is firmly opposed to slavery and he puts forward some relevant aspects of the debates and issues being raised and argued over regarding slavery that are rarely covered in modern discussions over the slave issue.
Dewees mentions the potential actions of the United States annexing more Mexican territory and fighting a war with Spain in order to acquire Cuba, both designed to increase the number of slave states. For it was clear to all that slavery was not viable in nearly all the western states, so the end result of the great compromises could not be continued. Those compromises were to admit two new states at a time, one free and the other slave in order to maintain the balance.
Dewees also spends significant time discussing the formation of the African country of Liberia, a nation formed for the sole purpose of providing a homeland for freed slaves from the Americas. He also mentions the prospect of reparations being paid to black people as well as the nations of Africa rising up to the status of great powers and seeking revenge for the abduction and subjugation of their people. Demographics in terms of the growing number of black people and what that would mean for political and economic power relationships is also considered. In a point that was not all that prescient, Dewees also discusses the potential of secession, and not just that of the southern states.
This book is a key item in the understanding of how opinions were developing and proposals for solutions to the presence of America’s “peculiar institution” were being articulated and discussed in the United States in the middle of the 1850’s.