Hinton Rowan Helper, The Impending Crisis of the South (1857)

The impending crisis of the South

The Impending Crisis of the South: Banned and burned in the South.

This book by Hinton Rowan Helper was second only to Uncle Tom's Cabin in its impact on the antislavery cause. It was one of the most controversial anti-slavery books ever written, both for its incendiary writing style and shocking ideas. Using census statistics to support his argument, Helper argued that slavery was holding back the South's economic growth, prosperity, and cultural development.

The book immediately became a bestseller, with over 150,000 copies sold between 1857 and 1861. It was banned and burned in the South, and some were jailed for possessing or circulating it. Several men were lynched, and Helper had to flee for his life to the North. In 1860, the Republican party reprinted a shorted version to use as campaign literature during Abraham Lincoln's successful campaign for president.

Clements Library copy of The Impending Crisis of the South