William Seward and Slavery’s Expansion in the Other Direction

Join the Seward House Museum for a fascinating lecture by author and Purdue University professor Robert E. May on his book discussing Lincoln and Douglas titled, Slavery, Race, and Conquest in the Tropics.

Slavery, Race, and Conquest in the Tropics challenges the way historians interpret the causes of the American Civil War. Using Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas’s famed rivalry as a prism, May shows that when Lincoln and fellow Republicans opposed slavery in the West, they did so partly from evidence that slaveholders, with Douglas’s assistance, planned to follow up successes in Kansas by bringing Cuba, Mexico, and Central America into the Union as slave states. A skeptic about “Manifest Destiny,” Lincoln opposed the war with Mexico, condemned Americans invading Latin America, and warned that Douglas’s “popular sovereignty” doctrine would unleash U.S. slaveholders throughout Latin America. This book internationalizes America’s showdown over slavery, shedding new light on the Lincoln-Douglas rivalry and Lincoln’s Civil War scheme to resettle freed slaves in the tropics.

By popular demand, historian Robert May makes his fourth return to Auburn for a fascinating new lecture on Seward’s efforts to fight slavery. Drawing on his book, Slavery, Race, and Conquest in the Tropics, May will discuss how Seward fought not only against the growth of the slave power in the U.S., but also southern visions of creating a vast slaveholding empire abroad.

An internationally recognized expert on U.S. nineteenth-century “filibustering” (illegal private military expeditions against foreign countries), Professor May has written four books and many articles about the subject. His book, Manifest Destiny’s Underworld (paper rpt.; University of North Carolina Press) was recognized as a “Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2003” and was published in a Spanish-language edition in 2011. Now retired and living in Olympia WA, Professor May played a significant role in university, college, and departmental honors programs while at Purdue. He remains an active scholar with his research and writing, public talks, op-eds, media appearances, and reviews of books and manuscripts for professional journals and presses. His most recent book is Yuletide in Dixie: Slavery, Christmas, and Public Memory.

Tickets: $10 for members, $15 for the general public


Sep 22 2022


7:00 pm - 8:00 pm



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Equal Rights Heritage Center


Seward House Museum

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