"Blackburn also rejects the idea that emancipation arose from what he calls 'latent virtue,' a comforting notion sometimes invoked by American historians to excuse the founding fathers for lack of action against slavery on the grounds that their ideals set in motion the abolition process. High ideals alone did not abolish slavery. And while not neglecting slave agency, Blackburn argues that the concessions and customary rights wrested by slaves from their owners over a long period of day-to-day struggle did not pose a fundamental challenge to the system. Rather, he insists, emancipation emerged from specific historical circumstances—a nexus of slave resistance, ideological conflict and political crisis."
In The Nation, Eric Foner reviews Robin Blackburn's The American Crucible: Slavery, Emancipation and Human Rights.