The View from the Bottom Rail
Davidson and Lytle pose an interesting question about racial and class perceptions in their chapter entitled "The View from the Bottom Rail." Seeking to demonstrate that our understanding of what it meant to be a slave is far from complete, they ask the reader to consider context, expectation, and caste in order to arrive at a more complete understanding of the "peculiar institution." This social history attempts to supplement, and perhaps even refashion, our understanding of slavery.
One of the first elements of their analysis is to focus on nontraditional subjects. Historians have so oft…
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