How to Use the Past to Inform the Present
The Unpaid Labor Project is privileged to count some of the nation’s most prominent historians as friends and fellow travelers. One of those near and dear to our hearts is James Brewer Stewart. We met Jim in St. Paul, Minnesota in 2015, the year we launched the Project. He consulted with us on the Unpaid Labor Manifesto. He arranged for us to see the quarters of Dred and Harriet Scott at Fort Snelling after hours. He made introductions for us at the Historians Against Slavery conference at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio. He associated himself with us at the annual conferences of the Organization of American Historians and the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic. These are two of the nation’s premier associations of American historians. There is more but space is limited.
It would be difficult to overstate our appreciation for the enthusiasm, the credibility and the rigorous thought he has brought to our project. For us who are not professional historians but who use the historic research of those who are to make our case, the Jim Stewart’s of the world are invaluable.
It is our privilege to highlight him here and to commend his recent opinion editorial for your consideration. The op-ed is entitled “The Right Wing’s Toxic Forbears: Super Wealthy Secessionist Slaveholders”. Whatever one’s political persuasion may be he would do well to consider this scholarly attempt to enlighten the present in context of the past.
James Brewer Stewart is the Founder of Historians Against Slavery and James Wallace Professor of History Emeritus, Macalester College. He has published a dozen books on the history of the American antislavery movement, has appeared in several of the American Experience’s historical documentaries, is co editor for Louisiana University Press of a book series on “Abolition, Antislavery and the Atlantic World” and has spoken widely on college and university campuses on “Abolishing Slavery in Lincoln’s Time and Ours”.