A major contribution to our understanding of slavery in the early republic, Deliver Us from Evil illuminates the white South's twisted and tortured efforts to justify slavery, focusing on the period from the drafting of the federal constitution in 1787 through the age of Jackson. Drawing heavily on primary sources, including newspapers, government documents, legislative records, pamphlets, and speeches, Lacy Ford recaptures the varied and sometimes contradictory ideas and attitudes held by groups of white southerners as they debated the slavery question. He excels at conveying the political, intellectual, economic, and social thought of leading white southerners, vividly recreating the mental world of the varied actors. He also shows that there was not one antebellum South but many, and not one southern white mindset but several, with the debates over slavery in the upper South quite different in substance from those in the deep South. An ambitious, thought-provoking, and highly insightful book, Deliver Us from Evil is essential for anyone interested in the history of slavery in the United States.
For Lacy K. Ford, the division between the states of the upper South (Virginia along with the border slave states) and those of the lower South (South Carolina and the cotton-producing states to its south and west) best explains how white Southerners "understood their position with regard to slavery, and how they saw themselves as citizens of the United States right down to secession and Civil War"…Ford painstakingly unravels the divergent perspectives on slavery, making Deliver Us From Evil required reading for anyone interested in the development of Southern society.