The Stolen Wealth of Slavery: A Case for Reparations (Hardcover)
Amazon's Best History Book of the Month for February 2024
This groundbreaking book tracks the massive wealth amassed from slavery from pre-Civil War to today, showing how our modern economy was built on the backs of enslaved Black people—and lays out a clear argument for reparations that shows exactly what was stolen, who stole it, and to whom it is owed.
In this timely, powerful, investigative history, The Stolen Wealth of Slavery, Emmy Award-nominated journalist David Montero follows the trail of the massive wealth amassed by Northern corporations throughout America’s history of enslavement. It has long been maintained by many that the North wasn’t complicit in the horrors of slavery. The truth, however, is that large Northern banks—including well-known institutions like Citibank, Bank of New York, and Bank of America—were critical to the financing of slavery; that they saw their fortunes rise dramatically from their involvement in the business of enslavement; and that white business leaders and their surrounding communities created enormous wealth from the enslavement and abuse of Black bodies.
The Stolen Wealth of Slavery grapples with facts that will be a revelation to many: Most white Southern enslavers were not rich—many were barely making ends meet—with Northern businesses benefitting the most from bondage-based profits. And some of the very Northerners who would be considered pro-Union during the Civil War were in fact anti-abolition, seeing the institution of slavery as being in their best financial interests, and only supporting the Union once they realized doing so would be good for business. It is a myth that the wealth generated from slavery vanished after the war. Rather, it helped finance the industrialization of the country, and became part of the bedrock of the growth of modern corporations, helping to transform America into a global economic behemoth.
In this remarkable book, Montero elegantly and meticulously details rampant Northern investment in slavery. He showcases exactly what was stolen, who stole it, and to whom it is owed, calling for corporate reparations as he details contemporary movements to hold companies accountable for past atrocities.
David Montero is a journalist and producer. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Nation, Harvard Business Review, and more. He is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships. His first book was Kickback: Exposing the Global Corporate Bribery Network.
Michael Eric Dyson (Foreword) is Distinguished University Professor of African American and Diaspora Studies at Vanderbilt University and author of 25 books, including 7 New York Times bestsellers, among them Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America.
“The common story is of the sins of the South in holding people in bondage, but the story Montero tells is of how the entire country was complicit during enslavement and how fortunes built on enslavement persist.” —Library Journal
"A sharp account of the massive wealth extracted from enslaved people in America....An expert history and defense of the reparations movement that will hopefully persuade detractors....Perhaps this book, featuring a foreword by Michael Eric Dyson, can invigorate the movement."—Kirkus Reviews
“The appeal, and persuasion, and, really, the moral elegance of what Montero offers is that he names the names of individuals and corporations that made their wealth off of Black muscle and acknowledges the pioneering work of Black folk, especially Black women, in the fight for reparation. It is all so remarkable, so powerful, and so eloquently stated.” —New York Times bestselling author Michael Eric Dyson
“David Montero has crafted a meticulously researched work that traces how American financial institutions during their early years benefitted greatly from the transatlantic slave trade. An eye-opening read that will leave your perspective on US history forever changed.”—New York Times bestselling author Karen Abbott
“David Montero’s The Stolen Wealth of Slavery is a thoughtful and illuminating account of how Wall Street financiers laundered the wealth generated from slavery to build the corporations and banks we know today. This timely book is a powerful indictment of systemic racism and an urgent reminder of the enormous debt owed to Black Americans.”—Keisha N. Blain, coeditor of Four Hundred Souls
“What sets The Stolen Wealth of Slavery apart from other texts is the rare perspective it provides on the roles banking, money laundering, and wealth creation played in nation building, implicating some of today's most influential global financial institutions. The book sheds light on the vast amount of capital that laid the foundation for Wall Street as we know it today.”
—Waverly Duck, urban sociologist and author of Tacit Racism and No Way Out