By Nancy Spannaus

Nov. 20, 2023—As of today, both the softcover and e-book versions of my latest book, Defeating Slavery: Hamilton’s American System Showed the Way, are available for sale on The paperback, which runs to slightly over 400 pages, is priced at $21.99: to get it, click here. The e-book, priced at $14.99, can be purchased by clicking here.

Just as I did with Hamilton Versus Wall Street,  I have presented my thesis in a series of relatively compact chapters. The narrative begins with the development of slavery in the different British colonies on the North American continent, and increasingly highlights the opposition to the practice. I emphasize and document the persistent refusal of the British government to permit restrictions, much less the elimination, of either slavery or the trade.

The American drive to eliminate slavery grows with the revolutionary ferment, and makes substantial gains in the immediate post-war period. Hope for consolidating those gains, I argue, lay in the establishment of the agro-industrial economy proposed by incoming Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton’s economic system was antithetical to the slave system.

Much of the rest of the book centers on the battle around Hamilton’s system, which I call the American System of Economics, as well as the increasingly political conflict over the growth of the slave system. The severe blows delivered to the American System by the Jackson administration, virtually assured the necessity of the Civil War, I assert. Indeed, Congressman John Quincy Adams made just such an prediction in 1833.

The site of Hamilton’s Society for Useful Manufactures at Passaic Falls, New Jersey

It is my hope that many readers will gain a new perspective on our nation’s experience with slavery and on how to overcome its poisonous legacy, by looking at the political battle over that atrocity in connection with the battle over our economic system. To give a more vivid picture of the conflict, I have included 12 appendices. After a short summary of Alexander Hamilton’s anti-slavery credentials, the document collection is comprised of excerpts from anti-slavery pamphlets or other writings from the period of 1766 to 1833, which both reflected and shaped the thinking of a significant portion of the population at the time.

Some Initial Reviews

I have been honored to receive three preliminary endorsements for Defeating Slavery, which appear on the book’s back cover. The full statements from these reviewers appear on a new page on this blog, entitled New book—Defeating Slavery. The edited statements, as they appear on the back cover, read as follows:

“Nancy Spannaus demonstrates how the South’s slavocracy for decades used its grip on U.S. political power to stymie both a rising abolitionist movement and Alexander Hamilton’s comprehensive 1790s plans for nationwide economic modernization. … Sadly, more than a century and a half later, some wounds of these old battles still have not healed. That makes Defeating Slavery a timely read.” – Richard Sylla, author of Alexander Hamilton: The Illustrated Biography

“Impressively researched, Spannaus’s book offers a history of how slavery defined the early national debate, as well as insight into how the Jeffersonians and Jacksonians sabotaged Alexander Hamilton’s American System of economic development and derailed the antislavery path of the Founders. … This book is not to be missed.” – David J. Kent, author of Lincoln: The Fire of Genius

“Nancy Spannaus shows that Alexander Hamilton founded the City of Paterson NJ to launch his ambitious plan to begin transforming a rural agrarian economy based in slavery into a modern industrial economy based in freedom, promoting not discrimination against some but opportunities for all.” – Leonard Zax, city planner and a leader of the effort to create the Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park

Get a new perspective on America’s history with slavery.  Purchase Defeating Slavery on Amazon today.




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