American Studies Professor Earns Major Award for Essay on Slavery

Robert Colby honored by Society of Civil War Historians.

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Dr. Robert Colby
Dr. Robert Colby

An essay on slavery and the Confederate economy by Christopher Newport University professor Robert Colby has been honored by the Society of Civil War Historians.

Colby, a postdoctoral fellow and visiting assistant professor in the Department of Leadership and American Studies, received the Anthony E. Kaye Memorial Essay Award for “’Negroes Will Bear Fabulous Prices:’ The Economics of Wartime Slave Commerce and Visions of the Confederate Future.”

The biennial award honors the late Tony Kaye, a pioneering scholar of slavery who helped found The Journal of the Civil War Era.

Colby’s essay explores the purchase of enslaved people by Confederates during the Civil War as a means of weathering the economic crisis the war created, as well as a way of investing in a perpetuated institution of slavery.

“I’m grateful and honored to receive this award. Tony Kaye was not only an outstanding scholar, but a generous friend to others studying slavery and the Civil War era,” Colby said. “I hope my essay contributes to a deeper understanding of the aspirations Confederates held for their independent nation, as well as the ways in which they used enslaved people to pursue these goals.”

Colby earned his PhD from the University of North Carolina. He teaches courses in American studies at Christopher Newport while pursuing research in slave trading, capitalism, the Civil War and emancipation.

Colby will receive the Anthony E. Kaye Memorial Essay Award from the Society of Civil War Historians at its annual conference next year.

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