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Skidmore College
First-Year Experience

Scribner Seminar Program
Course Description

A Pact with the Devil: The Lasting Impact of Slavery on American Government and Culture

Instructor(s): David Cohen, Management and Business

On the Fourth of July, 1854, abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison burned a copy of the US Constitution while damning it as a "covenant with death, and an agreement with hell."  According to Garrison, the Constitution is a “pact with the devil” because the price of the Constitution was accepting slavery.  In this course, we will investigate the profound and lasting implications of this pact.  The federal government has been remarkably successful and American culture is reshaping the globe, yet both American government and culture have been profoundly shaped by slavery. Using critical thinking skills, we will analyze and attempt as a class to answer the implicit question Garrison is asking us: is the Constitution worth the price paid for it?


Course Offered: