US economy

Episode 2: The Economy That Slavery Built

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The institution of slavery turned a poor, fledgling nation into a financial powerhouse, and the cotton plantation was America’s first big business. Behind the system, and built into it, was the whip.

This episode includes scenes of graphic violence.

On today’s episode:

  • Matthew Desmond, a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine and the author of “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City.”

  • Jesmyn Ward, the author of the novel “Sing, Unburied, Sing.”

  • Nikole Hannah-Jones, who writes for The Times Magazine.

Background reading:

  • “As the large slave-labor camps grew increasingly efficient, enslaved black people became America’s first modern workers,” Matthew Desmond writes.

  • The “1619” audio series is part of The 1619 Project, a major initiative from The Times observing the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. Read more from the project here.

Tune in, and tell us what you think. Email us at Follow Nikole Hannah-Jones on Twitter: @nhannahjones.


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