“History Made to Order”: Public Letter by Carter G. Woodson, “The Father of Black History,” Correcting a White Historian of Slavery and Abolition.

A sustained critique of “the bias which permeates the so-called histories of our time”


Written by “The Father of Black History”, this public letter by Carter G. Woodson makes a sustained critique of a controversial white historian of slavery and abolition.

The letter was first published in Woodson’s The Journal of Negro History and then separately-printed here to reach a wider audience, beyond Woodson’s usual subscribers.

Woodson offers blunt and devastating criticism of an article on slavery and abolition entitled “Horrors Made to Order,” written by Geoffrey Dell Eaton (1894–1930) and published in the February 1927 issue of McNaught’s Monthly. Eaton was a controversial figure, even from his days as a student at the University of Michigan when his writings and pot-stirring attracted the attention of H.L. Mencken and poet Robert Frost.¹

The opening lines of Woodson’s 12-page letter give a sense of his fury and indignation:

“The most flagrant errors which you made in your paper are an exaggeration of the number of slaves who had to return from persecution in the North to yield to slavery in the South… You are unfortunate in failing to understand that slavery differed from period to period in this country… Your misuse of facts becomes decidedly astounding when one reads that 40,000 free Negroes owned nearly 100,000 slaves… You are wrong on your estimate of Southern sentiment in behalf of abolition after the rise of the cotton kingdom… Your contention that the South would have probably granted civic rights to the Negroes and would have liberated the slaves, if it had not been for the insurrections like that of Nat Turner, cannot be proved… The statement as to the benevolent aspect of slavery is a self-refutable contention…”

Woodson’s critique demonstrates his stature as both a respected historian of Black America and a publisher of record for those whose history remained untold or, perhaps worse, distorted.


Description: “History Made to Order”: Public Letter by Carter G. Woodson, “The Father of Black History,” Correcting a White Historian of Slavery and Abolition.

[Washington, D.C., 1927]. pp330–341 [i.e., 12 pages]. “Reprinted from The Journal of Negro History, Vol. XII, No. 2, April, 1927.” 8vo. Self-wrappers, as issued. Near Fine.

[3731944]

Note. 1. Sheehy et al., eds. The Letters of Robert Frost, Volume 2 1920-1928 (Cambridge, Mass., 2016), pp522–523.


Price: $125.00