One weekend this summer, I read a Wall Street Journal review of historian Joshua D. Rothman’s new book, “The Ledger and the Chain: How Domestic Slave Traders Shaped America.” I wanted to know more about this terrible period in U.S. history, and thought our readers would, also. So I emailed Rothman, and he agreed to write a story about the domestic slave trade for us. Turns out, I’m not the only one with a sketchy awareness of this history.

In his story, Rothman writes that while researching his book, he “learned that many Americans do not realize that a domestic slave trade existed in the U.S. at all. They did not appear to know that by the time slavery ended in 1865, more than 1 million enslaved people had been forcibly moved across state lines in their own country, or that hundreds of thousands more had been bought and sold within individual states.”

Rothman says this whitewashing of ugly history was no accident, “thanks largely to purposeful forgetting and to a propaganda campaign that began before the Civil War and continued long past its conclusion.”

A final note: This week marks the departure of editor Jeff Inglis from the politics desk. Jeff, who’s heading off to Northeastern University to be the managing editor at News@Northeastern, has helped lead our coverage over the last two years through his profound commitment to public service journalism and “small-d democracy.” He wrote a manifesto of sorts describing what we cover on this desk, which includes this:

“What we cover at The Conversation U.S. is not politics the way many Americans think of it – partisan bickering, horse-trading and he-said-she-said false equivalencies. Rather, we cover democracy: what government is and how it happens, why it was set up that way, and what the effects are for individual people, various demographic groups and the nation as a whole. We help readers understand what values and ideals Americans claim to uphold, the processes by which they seek to do that, and the results – including whether they actually uphold or instead undermine those values and ideals.”

There’s no better way to honor Jeff than to say we’re committed to exactly his vision of our work.

Naomi Schalit

Senior Editor, Politics + Society

A trade card with printed black type for the domestic slave traders Hill, Ware and Chrisp. Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

The brutal trade in enslaved people within the US has been largely whitewashed out of history

Joshua D. Rothman, University of Alabama

By the time slavery ended, over 1 million enslaved people had been forcibly moved in the domestic slave trade across state lines. Hundreds of thousands more were bought and sold within states.

The first reading of the Declaration of Independence in Boston, July 18, 1776. Tichnor Brothers Collection, Boston Public Library via Digital Commonwealth

As American independence rang, a sweeping lockdown and mass inoculations fought off a smallpox outbreak

Woody Holton, University of South Carolina

In the summer of 1776, Boston offered smallpox inoculation to everyone and required those who declined to leave town or stay in their homes.

Many people are using Bible verses to justify their stance against vaccine. David McNew/AFP via Getty Images

Cherry-picking the Bible and using verses out of context isn’t a practice confined to those opposed to vaccines – it has been done for centuries

John Fea, Messiah College

A historian of the Bible in American life explains how Bible verses are being picked out of context to make a case for the anti-vaxxer movement.