The American slavery debate occurred during a time of increasing connections among the continents and islands of the Atlantic Ocean: an area that includes Europe, the Caribbean, Central and South America, and Africa.  As such, it is useful and illuminating for historians to consider the ways in which contemporary individuals, events, and trends of the Atlantic region influenced this contentious and long-running dialogue.  The American Slavery Debate website is intended to support classroom teaching, faciliate primary source research, and encourage the development of new scholarship in the fields of American History, Atlantic History, and World History.  It is a work-in-process that will be expanded and revised over time as I continue my research and receive feedback from users.  Though it has not been formally peer reviewed, it does reflect the advice of professors from Berkeley, Columbia, and Stanford.

Website Author:  Andy Hammann, email: slaverydebatehammann@gmail.com
Sponsoring Institute:  Office of Resources for International and Area Studies at UC Berkeley (ORIAS)


The documents appear in either "pdf" or "doc" format and are downloadable for personal or classroom use.  Some of those in "doc" format contain mispellings and other errors that derive from the digitization process.  Please read them carefully and make modifications as necessary before distributing to students.


  • Overview:  a home page for each module
  • Library:  a categorized, chronological view of all module documents
  • Document Collections:  groups of documents organized by historical theme
  • Case Study:  a guided, in-depth look at one of the document collections
  • Bibliography:  an alphabetized list of all primary and secondary sources associated with a module
  • Biographies:  a link to http://www.reference.com/ to facilitate quick research on document authors 

British Antislavery Influence, 1770-1865

Total Documents (75+)

Module 1 focuses on efforts by British individuals and institutions to support the American antislavery movement and to promote antislavery sentiment in the United States.

Overview | Library | Document Collections | Case Study | Bibliography | Biographies

Black Emigration Movements - Foreign Support and Opposition, 1787-1865

Total Documents (145+)

Module 2 addresses the ways in which foreign individuals, institutions and governments influenced antebellum black emigration movements in the United States.  These controversial and recurrent mobilizations had great relevance to the ongoing slavery debate and, more broadly, to the unanswered and divisive questions regarding the future of the free black population in the United States.    The included documents focus on the influences coming from Great Britain's Sierra Leone colony, Haiti and Liberia and provide examples of negative American reactions to these influences.

Overview | Library | Document Collections | Case Study | Bibliography | Biographies

Revolution and Abolition in Haiti, 1791-1865

Total Documents (100+)

Module 3 documents the strong and persistent influence that the Haitian Revolution had on American attitudes toward slavery and, in specific, on American theories regarding the causes of black insurrection.  It also illustrates how the abolition of slavery in Haiti established an important case study that proslavery and antislavery advocates frequently referenced during the many years the United States grappled with the question of emancipation and the great uncertainty surrounding its potential aftermath.

Overview | Library | Document Collections | Case Study | Bibliography | Biographies