Spring 2024

Slavery and Its Afterlives in the Northern United States

Listed in: Black Studies, as BLST-217  |  History, as HIST-217


Elizabeth Herbin-Triant (Section 01)


(Offered as HIST 217 [US/TC/TR/TS] and BLST 217 [US].) Many Americans think of the northern United States as removed from and antagonistic toward slavery. The truth is much more complicated. Slavery existed in the region for generations, and northerners continued to support and profit from slavery in the South and the Caribbean even after the institution came to an end in the North. For example, northerners produced and sold to enslavers the food, clothing, shackles, and other items that kept plantations in operation. This course explores northern racism and northern complicity with slavery in the antebellum period and considers the present-day legacies of this history. It grapples with topics such as how the economies of North and South tied the regions together, how wealth built through slavery and the slave trade was used to establish northern institutions of higher education, and how structures put in place during slavery have lived on after abolition. It also looks at northern abolitionism, examining how some northerners Black and white fought slavery and why this aspect of the region’s history has featured so much more prominently in historical memory than northern complicity with slavery. Students will investigate the North’s complicated relationships to slavery by working with primary and secondary sources, visiting historical materials related to Amherst College’s connections to slavery in the college archives, and going on a field trip.  Two meetings weekly.

Limited to 15 students. Professor Herbin-Triant. Sophomore Seminar. Spring semester.

How to handle overenrollment: First priority goes to sophomores. Second priority to Black Studies and History majors.

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: careful reading, engaged discussion, individual research, and analytical writing.

BLST 217 - LEC

Section 01
Tu 1:00 PM - 2:20 PM CONV 209
Th 1:00 PM - 2:20 PM CONV 209


2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Spring 2015, Spring 2024