Amanda Kleintop, an assistant professor of history at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, has been awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities for her continuing research.
The recently announced NEH grants will provide $22.2 million for 224 humanities projects nationwide. The grant awards support the preservation of historical collections, humanities exhibitions and documentaries, scholarly research, and curriculum projects.
Kleintop will use her summer stipend grant to complete additional research in the National Archives (pending their reopening) and use that material to edit her manuscript, "The Balance of Freedom: Abolishing Property Rights in Slaves during and after the Civil War." She will also complete an article based on this research.
Until the U.S. Civil War, stated Kleintop in her research summary, legal recognition of property rights in slaves enabled slaveholders, merchants and investors to buy and sell slaves on credit and to mortgage human beings. The U.S. government's decision to abolish slavery without reimbursing slave owners for the lost value of freed slaves threatened to send this system into chaos. The Balance of Freedom reveals that, after Confederate surrender, Americans reconciled the enormous emotional and political costs of a four-year war and generations of enslavement by contesting who should bear the financial burden of emancipation, estimated at about $13 trillion by today’s standards. It took exceptional circumstances in war and peace to abolish slavery and white southerners' claims that they should be able to profit from the value of people.