This examination of nineteenth-century journalism explores the specific actions and practices of the publications that provided a true picture of slavery to the general public. From Boston's strident <i>Liberator</i> to Frederick Douglass' <i>North Star</i>, the decades before the Civil War saw more than forty newspapers founded with the specific aim of promoting emancipation. Not only did these sheets provide a platform for discourse, but they also gave slavery a face for a wider audience. The reach of the abolitionist press only grew as the fiery publications became objects of controversy and targets of violence in both South and North. These works kept the issue of slavery in the public eye even as mainstream publications took up the call for emancipation, as the nation went to war, up to the end of slavery. Their legacy has endured, as dedicated reform writers and editors continue to view the press as a vital tool in the fight for equality.
The abolition of the slave trade is normally understood to be the singular achievement of eighteenth-century British liberalism. Abolitionism and Imperialism in Britain, Africa, and the Atlantic expands both the temporal and the geographic framework in which the history of abolitionism is conceived. Abolitionism was a theater in which a variety of actors—slaves, African rulers, Caribbean planters, working-class radicals, British evangelicals, African political entrepreneurs—played a part. The Atlantic was an echo chamber, in which abolitionist symbols, ideas, and evidence were generated from a variety of vantage points. These essays highlight the range of political and moral projects in which the advocates of abolitionism were engaged, and in so doing it joins together geographies that are normally studied in isolation.
Where empires are often understood to involve the government of one people over another, Abolitionism and Imperialism shows that British values were formed, debated, and remade in the space of empire. Africans were not simply objects of British liberals’ benevolence. They played an active role in shaping, and extending, the values that Britain now regards as part of its national character. This book is therefore a contribution to the larger scholarship about the nature of modern empires.
Contributors: Christopher Leslie Brown, Seymour Drescher, Jonathon Glassman, Boyd Hilton, Robin Law, Phillip D. Morgan, Derek R. Peterson, John K. Thornton
The abolitionists of the mid-nineteenth century have long been painted in extremes--vilified as reckless zealots who provoked the catastrophic bloodletting of the Civil War, or praised as daring and courageous reformers who hastened the end of slavery. But Andrew Delbanco sees abolitionists in a different light, as the embodiment of a driving force in American history: the recurrent impulse of an adamant minority to rid the world of outrageous evil.
Delbanco imparts to the reader a sense of what it meant to be a thoughtful citizen in nineteenth-century America, appalled by slavery yet aware of the fragility of the republic and the high cost of radical action. In this light, we can better understand why the fiery vision of the "abolitionist imagination" alarmed such contemporary witnesses as Herman Melville and Nathaniel Hawthorne even as they sympathized with the cause. The story of the abolitionists thus becomes both a stirring tale of moral fervor and a cautionary tale of ideological certitude. And it raises the question of when the demand for purifying action is cogent and honorable, and when it is fanatic and irresponsible.
Delbanco's work is placed in conversation with responses from literary scholars and historians. These provocative essays bring the past into urgent dialogue with the present, dissecting the power and legacies of a determined movement to bring America's reality into conformity with American ideals.
Before the Civil War, slaveholders made themselves into the most powerful, most deeply rooted, and best organized private interest group within the United States. Not only did slavery represent the national economy's second largest capital investment, exceeded only by investment in real estate, but guarantees of its perpetuation were studded throughout the U.S. Constitution. The vast majority of white Americans, in North and South, accepted the institution, and pro-slavery presidents and congressmen consistently promoted its interests. In Abolitionist Politics and the Coming of the Civil War, James Brewer Stewart explains how a small group of radical activists, the abolitionist movement, played a pivotal role in turning American politics against this formidable system. He examines what influence the movement had in creating the political crises that led to civil war and evaluates the extent to which a small number of zealous reformers made a truly significant political difference when demanding that their nation face up to its most excruciating moral problem. In making these assessments, Stewart addresses a series of more specific questions: What were the abolitionists actually up against when seeking the overthrow of slavery and white supremacy? What motivated and sustained them during their long and difficult struggles? What larger historical contexts (religious, social, economic, cultural, and political) influenced their choices and determined their behavior? What roles did extraordinary leaders play in shaping the movement, and what were the contributions of abolitionism's unheralded "foot soldiers"? What factors ultimately determined, for better or worse, the abolitionists' impact on American politics and the realization of their equalitarian goals?
In 1792, nearly 1,200 freed American slaves crossed the Atlantic and established themselves in Freetown, West Africa, a community dedicated to anti-slavery and opposed to the African chieftain hierarchy that was tied to slavery. Thus began an unprecedented movement with critical long-term effects on the evolution of social, religious, and political institutions in modern Africa.
Lamin Sanneh's engrossing book narrates the story of freed slaves who led efforts to abolish the slave trade by attacking its base operation: the capture and sale of people by African chiefs. Sanneh's protagonists set out to establish in West Africa colonies founded on equal rights and opportunity for personal enterprise, communities that would be havens for ex-slaves and an example to the rest of Africa. Among the most striking of these leaders is the Nigerian Samuel Ajayi Crowther, a recaptured slave who joined a colony in Sierra Leone and subsequently established satellite communities in Nigeria. The ex-slave repatriates brought with them an evangelical Christianity that encouraged individual spirituality--a revolutionary vision in a land where European missionaries had long assumed they could Christianize the whole society by converting chiefs and rulers.
Tracking this potent African American anti-slavery and democratizing movement through the nineteenth century, Lamin Sanneh draws a clear picture of the religious grounding of its conflict with the traditional chieftain authorities. His study recounts a crucial development in the history of West Africa.
In the decades before the Civil War, the small number of slaves who managed to escape bondage almost always made their way northward along the secret routes and safe havens known as the Underground Railroad. Offering a new perspective on this standard narrative, Matthew Clavin recovers the story of fugitive slaves who sought freedom by—paradoxically—sojourning deeper into the American South toward an unlikely destination: the small seaport of Pensacola, Florida.
Geographically and culturally, across decades of rule by a succession of powers—Spain, Great Britain, and the United States—Pensacola occupied an isolated position on the margins of antebellum Southern society. Yet as neighboring Gulf Coast seaports like New Orleans experienced rapid population growth and economic development based on racial slavery, Pensacola became known for something else: as an enclave of diverse, free peoples of European, African, and Native American descent. Farmers, laborers, mechanics, soldiers, and sailors learned to cooperate across racial lines and possessed no vested interest in maintaining slavery or white supremacy. Clavin examines how Pensacola’s reputation as a gateway to freedom grew in the minds of slaves and slaveowners, and how it became a beacon for fugitives who found northern routes to liberation inaccessible.
The interracial resistance to slavery that thrived in Pensacola in the years before the Civil War, Clavin contends, would play a role in demolishing the foundations of Southern slavery when that fateful conflict arrived.
Abolitionist, women's rights activist, and social reformer, Angelina Grimké (1805-79) was among the first women in American history to seize the public stage in pursuit of radical social reform. "I will lift up my voice like a trumpet," she proclaimed, "and show this people their transgressions." And when she did lift her voice in public, on behalf of the public, she found that, in creating herself, she might transform the world. In the process, Grimké crossed the wires of race, gender, and power, and produced explosions that lit up the world of antebellum reform. Among the most remarkable features of Angelina Grimké's rhetorical career was her ability to stage public contests for the soul of America—bringing opposing ideas together to give them voice, depth, and range to create new and more compelling visions of social change. Angelina Grimké: Rhetoric, Identity, and the Radical Imagination is the first full-length study to explore the rhetorical legacy of this most unusual advocate for human rights. Stephen Browne examines her epistolary and oratorical art and argues that rhetoric gave Grimké a means to fashion not only her message but her very identity as a moral force.
The first biographical account of the life of James Gillespie Birney in more than fifty years, this fabulously insightful history illuminates and elevates an all-but-forgotten figure whose political career contributed mightily to the American political fabric. Birney was a southern-born politician at the heart of the antislavery movement, with two southern-born sons who were major generals involved in key Union Army activities, including the leadership of the black troops. The interaction of the Birneys with historical figures (Abraham Lincoln, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Henry Clay) highlights the significance of the family’s activities in politics and war. D. Laurence Rogers offers a unique historiography of the abolition movement, the Civil War, and Reconstruction through the experiences of one family navigating momentous developments from the founding of the Republic until the late 19th century.
Published in Boston in 1833, Lydia Maria Child's Appeal provided the abolitionist movement with its first full-scale analysis of race and slavery. Indeed, so comprehensive was its scope, surveying the institution from historical, political, economic, legal, racial, and moral perspectives, that no other antislavery writer ever attempted to duplicate Child's achievement. The Appeal not only denounced slavery in the South but condemned racial prejudice in the free North and refuted racist ideology as a whole.
Child's treatise anticipated twentieth-century inquiries into the African origins of European and American culture as well as current arguments against school and job discrimination based on race.
This new edition--the first oriented toward the classroom--is enhanced by Carolyn L. Karcher's illuminating introduction. Included is a chronology of Child's life and a list of books for further reading.
Eighteenth-century antislavery writers attacked the slave trade as "barbaric traffic"--a practice that would corrupt the mien and manners of Anglo-American culture to its core. Less concerned with slavery than with the slave trade in and of itself, these writings expressed a moral uncertainty about the nature of commercial capitalism. This is the argument Philip Gould advances in Barbaric Traffic. A major work of cultural criticism, the book constitutes a rethinking of the fundamental agenda of antislavery writing from pre-revolutionary America to the end of the British and American slave trades in 1808.
Studying the rhetoric of various antislavery genres--from pamphlets, poetry, and novels to slave narratives and the literature of disease--Gould exposes the close relation between antislavery writings and commercial capitalism. By distinguishing between good commerce, or the importing of commodities that refined manners, and bad commerce, like the slave trade, the literature offered both a critique and an outline of acceptable forms of commercial capitalism. A challenge to the premise that objections to the slave trade were rooted in modern laissez-faire capitalism, Gould's work revises--and expands--our understanding of antislavery literature as a form of cultural criticism in its own right.
At a time when slavery was spreading and the country was steeped in racism, two white men and two black men overcame social barriers and mistrust to form a unique alliance that sought nothing less than the end of all evil. Drawing on the largest extant bi-racial correspondence in the Civil War era, John Stauffer braids together these men's struggles to reconcile ideals of justice with the reality of slavery and oppression. Who could imagine that Gerrit Smith, one of the richest men in the country, would give away his wealth to the poor and ally himself with Frederick Douglass, an ex-slave? And why would James McCune Smith, the most educated black man in the country, link arms with John Brown, a bankrupt entrepreneur, along with the others? Distinguished by their interracial bonds, they shared a millennialist vision of a new world where everyone was free and equal.
As the nation headed toward armed conflict, these men waged their own war by establishing model interracial communities, forming a new political party, and embracing violence. Their revolutionary ethos bridged the divide between the sacred and the profane, black and white, masculine and feminine, and civilization and savagery that had long girded western culture. In so doing, it embraced a malleable and "black-hearted" self that was capable of violent revolt against a slaveholding nation, in order to usher in a kingdom of God on earth. In tracing the rise and fall of their prophetic vision and alliance, Stauffer reveals how radical reform helped propel the nation toward war even as it strove to vanquish slavery and preserve the peace.
We commonly think of the American Revolution as simply the war for independence from British colonial rule. But, of course, that independence actually applied to only a portion of the American population—African Americans would still be bound in slavery for nearly another century. Alan Gilbert asks us to rethink what we know about the Revolutionary War, to realize that while white Americans were fighting for their freedom, many black Americans were joining the British imperial forces to gain theirs. Further, a movement led by sailors—both black and white—pushed strongly for emancipation on the American side. There were actually two wars being waged at once: a political revolution for independence from Britain and a social revolution for emancipation and equality.
Gilbert presents persuasive evidence that slavery could have been abolished during the Revolution itself if either side had fully pursued the military advantage of freeing slaves and pressing them into combat, and his extensive research also reveals that free blacks on both sides played a crucial and underappreciated role in the actual fighting. Black Patriots and Loyalists contends that the struggle for emancipation was not only basic to the Revolution itself, but was a rousing force that would inspire freedom movements like the abolition societies of the North and the black loyalist pilgrimages for freedom in Nova Scotia and Sierra Leone.
By virtue of being both black and female in antebellum America, black women abolitionists confronted a particular set of tensions. Whether they supported the movement directly or indirectly, cooperated with whites or primarily with other blacks, worked in groups or independently, were well off financially or struggled to make ends meet, their lives reflected the complex dynamics of race, sex, and class. Against the background of slavery, constructing a life in "freedom" meant adopting many of the values of free white society, symbolized in part by male dominance and female subordination. In championing both their race and their sex, female black abolitionists found themselves caught between the sexism of the antislavery movement and the racism of the (white) women's movement. Throughout their writing, speeches, petitions, and participation in antislavery, and self-help organizations, these women established a pattern of black female activism--centered on community-building, political organizing, and forging a network of friendships with other activists--that served as a model for later generations of black women. Drawing on a wide array of previously untapped primary sources, Shirley Yee examines the activism of black women in the Northeast, the Midwest, and to some extent, California and Canada. The activists' experiences render heartbreakingly clear the pervasiveness of middle-class white values in antebellum America and the contradictions and ironies inherent in prevailing conceptions of "freedom"--Back cover.
In 1836, an enslaved six-year-old girl named Med was brought to Boston by a woman from New Orleans who claimed her as property. Learning of the girl's arrival in the city, the Boston Female Anti-Slavery Society (BFASS) waged a legal fight to secure her freedom and affirm the free soil of Massachusetts. While Chief Justice Lemuel Shaw ruled quite narrowly in the case that enslaved people brought to Massachusetts could not be held against their will, BFASS claimed a broad victory for the abolitionist cause, and Med was released to the care of a local institution. When she died two years later, celebration quickly turned to silence, and her story was soon forgotten. As a result, Commonwealth v. Aves is little known outside of legal scholarship. In this book, Karen Woods Weierman complicates Boston's identity as the birthplace of abolition and the cradle of liberty, and restores Med to her rightful place in antislavery history by situating her story in the context of other writings on slavery, childhood, and the law.
The image is terrible and familiar. A man sits, his face in profile, his torso exposed. His back is a breathtaking mass of scars, crisscrossing his body and baring the brutality of American slavery. Reproduced as a carte de visite, the image circulated widely throughout abolitionist networks and was featured in Harper's Weekly. Its undeniable power testified to the evils of slavery. But who was this man and how did this image come to be?
Bruce Laurie uncovers the people and events that created this seminal image, telling the tale of three men, two Yankee soldiers from western Massachusetts who were serving the Union Army in Louisiana and a man named Peter whose scarred back horrified all who saw it. The two soldiers were so shocked by what had been done to Peter, they sought to capture the image and document slavery's cruelty, the likes of which was all too common among those fleeing bondage in Louisiana. Meticulously researched and briskly told, this short volume unearths the story behind an iconic image.
The Dutch Atlantic interrogates the Dutch involvement in Atlantic slavery and assesses the historical consequences of this for contemporary European society.
Kwame Nimako and Glenn Willemsen show how the slave trade and slavery intertwined economic, social and cultural elements, including nation-state formation in the Netherlands and across Europe. They explore the mobilisation of European populations in the implementation of policies that facilitated Atlantic slavery and examine how European countries created and expanded laws that perpetuated colonisation.
Addressing key themes such as the incorporation of the formerly enslaved into post-slavery states and contemporary collective efforts to forget and/or remember slavery and its legacy in the Netherlands, this is an essential text for students of European history and postcolonial studies.
In 1872, there were more than 300,000 slaves in Cuba and Puerto Rico. Though the Spanish government had passed a law for gradual abolition in 1870, slaveowners, particularly in Cuba, clung tenaciously to their slaves as unfree labor was at the core of the colonial economies. Nonetheless, people throughout the Spanish empire fought to abolish slavery, including the Antillean and Spanish liberals and republicans who founded the Spanish Abolitionist Society in 1865. This book is an extensive study of the origins of the Abolitionist Society and its role in the destruction of Cuban and Puerto Rican slavery and the reshaping of colonial politics.
What was the relationship between rhetoric and slavery, and how did rhetoric fail as an alternative to violence, becoming instead its precursor?
Fanatical Schemes is a study of proslavery rhetoric in the 1830s. A common understanding of the antebellum slavery debate is that the increased stridency of abolitionists in the 1830s, particularly the abolitionist pamphlet campaign of 1835, provoked proslavery politicians into greater intransigence and inflammatory rhetoric. Patricia Roberts-Miller argues that, on the contrary, inflammatory rhetoric was inherent to proslavery ideology and predated any shift in abolitionist practices.
She examines novels, speeches, and defenses of slavery written after the pamphlet controversy to underscore the tenets of proslavery ideology and the qualities that made proslavery rhetoric effective. She also examines anti-abolitionist rhetoric in newspapers from the spring of 1835 and the history of slave codes (especially anti-literacy laws) to show that anti-abolitionism and extremist rhetoric long preceded more strident abolitionist activity in the 1830s.
The consensus that was achieved by proslavery advocates, argues Roberts-Miller, was not just about slavery, nor even simply about race. It was also about manhood, honor, authority, education, and political action. In the end, proslavery activists worked to keep the realm of public discourse from being a place in which dominant points of view could be criticized--an achievement that was, paradoxically, both a rhetorical success and a tragedy.
"Shall a man be dragged back to Slavery from our Free Soil, without an open trial of his right to Liberty?" —Handbill circulated in Milwaukee on March 11, 1854
In Finding Freedom, Ruby West Jackson and Walter T. McDonald provide readers with the first narrative account of the life of Joshua Glover, the runaway slave who was famously broken out of jail by thousands of Wisconsin abolitionists in 1854. Employing original research, the authors chronicle Glover's days as a slave in St. Louis, his violent capture and thrilling escape in Milwaukee, his journey on the Underground Railroad, and his 33 years of freedom in rural Canada.
While Jackson and McDonald demonstrate how the catalytic "Glover incident" captured national attention—pitting the proud state of Wisconsin against the Supreme Court and adding fuel to the pre-Civil War fire—their primary focus is on the ordinary citizens, both black and white, with whom Joshua Glover interacted. A bittersweet story of bravery and compassion, Finding Freedom provides the first full picture of the man for whom so many fought, and around whom so much history was made.
This enlightening study employs the tools of archaeology to uncover a new historical perspective on the Underground Railroad. Unlike previous histories of the Underground Railroad, which have focused on frightened fugitive slaves and their benevolent abolitionist accomplices, Cheryl LaRoche focuses instead on free African American communities, the crucial help they provided to individuals fleeing slavery, and the terrain where those flights to freedom occurred.
This study foregrounds several small, rural hamlets on the treacherous southern edge of the free North in Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. LaRoche demonstrates how landscape features such as waterways, iron forges, and caves played a key role in the conduct and effectiveness of the Underground Railroad. Rich in oral histories, maps, memoirs, and archaeological investigations, this examination of the "geography of resistance" tells the new powerful and inspiring story of African Americans ensuring their own liberation in the midst of oppression.
People running from slavery made many hard journeys to find freedom—on steamboats and in carriages, across rivers and in hay-covered wagons. Some were shot at. Many were chased by slave catchers. Others hid in tunnels and secret rooms. But these troubles were worth it for the men, women, and children who eventually reached freedom. Freedom Train North tells the stories of fugitive slaves who found help in Wisconsin. Young readers (ages 7 to 12) will meet people like Joshua Glover, who was broken out of jail by a mob of freedom workers in Milwaukee, and Jacob Green, who escaped five times before he finally made it to freedom.
This compelling book also introduces stories of the strangers who hid fugitive slaves and helped them on their way, brave men and women who broke the law to do what was right. As both a historian and a storyteller, author Julia Pferdehirt shares these exciting and important stories of a dangerous time in Wisconsin’s past. Using manuscripts, letters, and artifacts from the period, as well as stories passed down from one generation to another, Pferdehirt takes us deep into our state’s past, challenging and inspiring us with accounts of courage and survival.
Freeing Charles recounts the life and epic rescue of captured fugitive slave Charles Nalle of Culpeper, Virginia, who was forcibly liberated by Harriet Tubman and others in Troy, New York, on April 27, 1860. Scott Christianson follows Nalle from his enslavement by the Hansborough family in Virginia through his escape by the Underground Railroad and his experiences in the North on the eve of the Civil War. This engaging narrative represents the first in-depth historical study of this crucial incident, one of the fiercest anti-slavery riots after Harpers Ferry. Christianson also presents a richly detailed look at slavery culture in antebellum Virginia and probes the deepest political and psychological aspects of this epic tale. His account underscores fundamental questions about racial inequality, the rule of law, civil disobedience, and violent resistance to slavery in the antebellum North and South. As seen in New York Times and on C-Span’s Book TV.
During the tumultuous decade before the Civil War, no issue was more divisive than the pursuit and return of fugitive slaves—a practice enforced under the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. When free Blacks and their abolitionist allies intervened, prosecutions and trials inevitably followed. These cases involved high legal, political, and—most of all—human drama, with runaways desperate for freedom, their defenders seeking recourse to a “higher law” and normally fair-minded judges (even some opposed to slavery) considering the disposition of human beings as property.
Fugitive Justice tells the stories of three of the most dramatic fugitive slave trials of the 1850s, bringing to vivid life the determination of the fugitives, the radical tactics of their rescuers, the brutal doggedness of the slavehunters, and the tortuous response of the federal courts. These cases underscore the crucial role that runaway slaves played in building the tensions that led to the Civil War, and they show us how “civil disobedience” developed as a legal defense. As they unfold we can also see how such trials—whether of rescuers or of the slaves themselves—helped build the northern anti-slavery movement, even as they pushed southern firebrands closer to secession.
How could something so evil be treated so routinely by just men? The answer says much about how deeply the institution of slavery had penetrated American life even in free states. Fugitive Justice powerfully illuminates this painful episode in American history, and its role in the nation’s inexorable march to war.
Before the Civil War, Northern, Southern, and Western political cultures crashed together on the middle border, where the Ohio, Mississippi, and Missouri Rivers meet. German Americans who settled in the region took an antislavery stance, asserting a liberal nationalist philosophy rooted in their revolutionary experience in Europe that emphasized individual rights and freedoms. By contextualizing German Americans in their European past and exploring their ideological formation in failed nationalist revolutions, Zachary Stuart Garrison adds nuance and complexity to their story.
Liberal German immigrants, having escaped the European aristocracy who undermined their revolution and the formation of a free nation, viewed slaveholders as a specter of European feudalism. During the antebellum years, many liberal German Americans feared slavery would inhibit westward progress, and so they embraced the Free Soil and Free Labor movements and the new Republican Party. Most joined the Union ranks during the Civil War.
After the war, in a region largely opposed to black citizenship and Radical Republican rule, German Americans were seen as dangerous outsiders. Facing a conservative resurgence, liberal German Republicans employed the same line of reasoning they had once used to justify emancipation: A united nation required the end of both federal occupation in the South and special protections for African Americans. Having played a role in securing the Union, Germans largely abandoned the freedmen and freedwomen. They adopted reconciliation in order to secure their place in the reunified nation. Garrison’s unique transnational perspective to the sectional crisis, the Civil War, and the postwar era complicates our understanding of German Americans on the middle border.
Few images of early America were more striking, and jarring, than that of slaves in the capital city of the world’s most important free republic. Black slaves served and sustained the legislators, bureaucrats, jurists, cabinet officials, military leaders, and even the presidents who lived and worked there. While slaves quietly kept the nation’s capital running smoothly, lawmakers debated the place of slavery in the nation, the status of slavery in the territories newly acquired from Mexico, and even the legality of the slave trade in itself.
This volume, with essays by some of the most distinguished historians in the nation, explores the twin issues of how slavery made life possible in the District of Columbia and how lawmakers in the district regulated slavery in the nation.
Contributors: David Brion Davis, Mary Beth Corrigan, A. Glenn Crothers, Jonathan Earle, Stanley Harrold, Mitch Kachun, Mary K. Ricks, James B. Stewart, Susan Zaeske, David Zarefsky
"A marvel of scholarship and artistry. The general reader will be fascinated to discover the vitality of the free black community that Langston moved and moved in." -- Joyce Appleby, University of California
"Provides the mirror in which to reflect Langston's brilliant, turbulent career, as well as the nation's ongoing struggle against racism. Life-and-times biography could be put to no better use." -- David W. Blight, Journal of American History
"One of the most thorough studies ever done of a nineteenth-century black American. [It] will be the standard." -- J. M. Matthews, Choice
"Breaks new and important ground in the field of African-American history. . . . [It] is both a social history of the period and the remarkable story of Langston's formative life and career as a free black Ohioan in pre-Civil War America." -- David C. Dennard, Journal of Southern History
"A sensitive biography of a black leader and a full-scale history of the society in which he matured and began his career." -- John B. Boles, American Historical Review
"The Cheeks have masterfully performed . . . their chief task--the transformation of autobiography into social history." -- Wilson J. Moses, Reviews in American History A volume in the series Blacks in the New World, edited by August Meier and John H. Bracey
A classic piece of Old Left scholarship made available to a new generation of students and activists
Bernard Mandel's classic study provides a concise overview of the relationship between organized abolitionism and the fledgling labor movement in the period before the Civil War. Mandel argues that slavery reinforced the powerlessness of white workers North and South, and the racial divisions that it upheld rendered effective labor solidarity impossible. Deep distrust between abolitionists and the working classes, however, compelled Northern workers to find their own way into the antislavery ranks.
William Lloyd Garrison (1805-1879), outstanding among the dedicated fighters for the abolition of slavery, was also an activist in other movements such as women's and civil rights and religious reform. Never tiring in battle, he was "irrepressible, uncompromising, and inflammatory." He antagonized many, including some of his fellow reformers. There were also many who loved and respected him. But he was never overlooked.
His letters, a source of the first magnitude, begin in 1822, when Garrison was seventeen, and end in 1879, the year of his death. They offer an insight into the mind and life of an outstanding figure in American history, a reformer-revolutionary who sought radical changes in the institutions of his day--in the relationship of the races, the rights of women, the nature and role of religion and religious institutions, and the relations between the state and its citizens; and who, perhaps more than any other single individual, was ultimately responsible for the emancipation of the slaves.
Garrison's letters are also, sui generis, important as the expression of a vigorous writer, whose letters reflect his strength of character and warm humanity, and who appears here not only as the journalist, the reformer, and the leader of men, but also as the loving husband and father, the devoted son and son-in-law, the staunch friend, and the formidable opponent.
Included in this well illustrated first volume are Garrison's letters from the earliest known--one to his mother during his apprenticeship--through the 1831 founding of his famous newspaper, The Liberator; the founding in 1832 and 1833 of the New England and the American Anti-Slavery Societies; his first trip to England to meet with British abolitionists; his courtship and marriage; and his being dragged through the streets of Boston by a mob out to tar and feather the British abolitionist George Thompson.
Abraham Lincoln’s Republican Party was the first party built on opposition to slavery to win on the national stage—but its victory was rooted in the earlier efforts of under-appreciated antislavery third parties. Liberty Power tells the story of how abolitionist activists built the most transformative third-party movement in American history and effectively reshaped political structures in the decades leading up to the Civil War.
As Corey M. Brooks explains, abolitionist trailblazers who organized first the Liberty Party and later the more moderate Free Soil Party confronted formidable opposition from a two-party system expressly constructed to suppress disputes over slavery. Identifying the Whigs and Democrats as the mainstays of the southern Slave Power’s national supremacy, savvy abolitionists insisted that only a party independent of slaveholder influence could wrest the federal government from its grip. A series of shrewd electoral, lobbying, and legislative tactics enabled these antislavery third parties to wield influence far beyond their numbers. In the process, these parties transformed the national political debate and laid the groundwork for the success of the Republican Party and the end of American slavery.
Lincoln and the Abolitionists
Stanley Harrold Southern Illinois University Press, 2018 Library of Congress E457.2.H35 2018 | Dewey Decimal 973.7092
Winner, ISHS Best of Illinois History Award, 2019
Abraham Lincoln has often been called the “Great Emancipator.” But he was not among those Americans who, decades before the Civil War, favored immediate emancipation of all slaves inside the United States. Those who did were the abolitionists—the men and women who sought freedom and equal rights for all African Americans. Stanley Harrold traces how, despite Lincoln’s political distance from abolitionists, they influenced his evolving political orientation before and during the Civil War.
While explaining how the abolitionist movement evolved, Harrold also clarifies Lincoln’s connections with and his separation from this often fiery group. For most of his life Lincoln regarded abolitionists as dangerous fanatics. Like many northerners during his time, Lincoln sought compromise with the white South regarding slavery, opposed abolitionist radicalism, and doubted that free black people could have a positive role in America. Yet, during the 1840s and 1850s, conservative northern Democrats as well as slaveholders branded Lincoln an abolitionist because of his sympathy toward black people and opposition to the expansion of slavery.
Lincoln’s election to the presidency and the onslaught of the Civil War led to a transformation of his relationship with abolitionists. Lincoln’s original priority as president had been to preserve the Union, not to destroy slavery. Nevertheless many factors—including contacts with abolitionists—led Lincoln to favor ending slavery. After Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 and raised black troops, many, though not all, abolitionists came to view him more favorably.
Providing insight into the stressful, evolving relationship between Lincoln and the abolitionists, and also into the complexities of northern politics, society, and culture during the Civil War era, this concise volume illuminates a central concern in Lincoln’s life and presidency.
Abraham Lincoln is chiefly remembered for two historic achievements: he freed the slaves, and he saved the Union. That Lincoln did these things is not controversial. What is controversial is the connection between the moral and constitutional aspects of these achievements. Lincoln refused to see pro-Union and antislavery principles as exclusive, and thus he would not uphold one set of principles to the exclusion of the other or allow one to serve in the other’s place.
Lincoln’s opponents of the time denied these connections. They felt obliged to take sides and to choose between morality and the law. In Lincoln’s Defense of Politics, Thomas E. Schneider examines six key figures from among the two groups that were Lincoln’s opponents: the states’ rights constitutionalists—Alexander H. Stephens, John C. Calhoun, and George Fitzhugh—and the abolitionists—Henry David Thoreau, William Lloyd Garrison, and Frederick Douglass.
Lincoln differed from both groups in his political attitude toward the question of slavery. He made it clear that he regarded his own approach as more comprehensive than the more narrowly focused constitutional and moral ones favored by his opponents. Schneider uses the men from each of these groups to illustrate the broad significance of the slavery question and to shed light upon the importance of political considerations in public decision making.
Secession and war deprived Abraham Lincoln of the opportunity to demonstrate to the South that while he was opposed to any further extension of slavery, he bore no feelings of ill will toward the southern people. Lincoln did not expect southerners to concur with his party’s view of slavery as morally wrong, but he called on them as “national men” to consider whether sectional harmony was likely to be restored on any basis other than the one proposed by the Republicans. Slavery, he believed, was the only thing that could threaten the integrity of the nation.
Lincoln’s Defense of Politics is not primarily a work of history but a consideration of historical alternatives on their merits. It addresses itself to a question of perennial interest and significance: what is the nature and value of politics? Political theorists as well as students and scholars of American political thought will find this work of particular importance.
Frederick Douglass’s fluid, changeable sense of his own life story is reflected in the many conflicting accounts he gave of key events and relationships during his journey from slavery to freedom. Nevertheless, when these differing self-presentations are put side by side and consideration is given individually to their rhetorical strategies and historical moment, what emerges is a fascinating collage of Robert S. Levine’s elusive subject. The Lives of Frederick Douglass is revisionist biography at its best, offering new perspectives on Douglass the social reformer, orator, and writer.
Out of print for a hundred years when it was reissued in 1960, The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (1845) has since become part of the canon of American literature and the primary lens through which scholars see Douglass’s life and work. Levine argues that the disproportionate attention paid to the Narrative has distorted Douglass’s larger autobiographical project. The Lives of Frederick Douglass focuses on a wide range of writings from the 1840s to the 1890s, particularly the neglected Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (1881, 1892), revised and expanded only three years before Douglass’s death. Levine provides fresh insights into Douglass’s relationships with John Brown, Abraham Lincoln, William Lloyd Garrison, and his former slave master Thomas Auld, and highlights Douglass’s evolving positions on race, violence, and nation. Levine’s portrait reveals that Douglass could be every bit as pragmatic as Lincoln—of whom he was sometimes fiercely critical—when it came to promoting his own work and goals.
Perhaps no event in American history arouses more impassioned debate than the abolition of slavery. Answers to basic questions about who ended slavery, how, and why remain fiercely contested more than a century and a half after the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment. In The Long Emancipation, Ira Berlin draws upon decades of study to offer a framework for understanding slavery’s demise in the United States. Freedom was not achieved in a moment, and emancipation was not an occasion but a near-century-long process—a shifting but persistent struggle that involved thousands of men and women.
“Ira Berlin ranks as one of the greatest living historians of slavery in the United States… The Long Emancipation offers a useful reminder that abolition was not the charitable work of respectable white people, or not mainly that. Instead, the demise of slavery was made possible by the constant discomfort inflicted on middle-class white society by black activists. And like the participants in today’s Black Lives Matter movement, Berlin has not forgotten that the history of slavery in the United States—especially the history of how slavery ended—is never far away when contemporary Americans debate whether their nation needs to change.” —Edward E. Baptist, New York Times Book Review
Before Black Lives Matter and Hamilton, there were abolitionist poets, who put pen to paper during an era when speaking out against slavery could mean risking your life. Indeed, William Lloyd Garrison was dragged through the streets by a Boston mob before a planned lecture, and publisher Elijah P. Lovejoy was fatally shot while defending his press from rioters. Since poetry formed a part of the cultural, political, and emotional lives of readers, it held remarkable persuasive power. Yet antislavery poems have been less studied than the activist editorials and novels of the time.
In Lyrical Liberators, Monica Pelaez draws on unprecedented archival research to recover these poems from the periodicals—Garrison’s Liberator, Frederick Douglass’s North Star, and six others—in which they originally appeared. The poems are arranged by theme over thirteen chapters, a number that represents the amendment that finally abolished slavery in 1865. The book collects and annotates works by critically acclaimed writers, commercially successful scribes, and minority voices including those of African Americans and women.
There is no other book like this. Sweeping in scope and passionate in its execution, Lyrical Liberators is indispensable for scholars and teachers of American literature and history, and stands as a testimony to the power of a free press in the face of injustice.
Winner of the Russell P. Strange Memorial Book Award
This sweeping narrative presents an original and compelling explanation for the triumph of the antislavery movement in the United States prior to the Civil War. Abraham Lincoln's election as the first antislavery president was hardly preordained. From the country's inception, Americans had struggled to define slavery's relationship to freedom. Most Northerners supported abolition in the North but condoned slavery in the South, while most Southerners denounced abolition and asserted slavery's compatibility with whites' freedom. On this massive political fault line hinged the fate of the nation.
Graham A. Peck meticulously traces the conflict over slavery in Illinois from the Northwest Ordinance in 1787 to Lincoln's defeat of his archrival Stephen A. Douglas in the 1860 election. Douglas's attempt in 1854 to persuade Northerners that slavery and freedom had equal national standing stirred a political earthquake that brought Lincoln to the White House. Yet Lincoln's framing of the antislavery movement as a conservative return to the country's founding principles masked what was in fact a radical and unprecedented antislavery nationalism. It justified slavery's destruction but triggered the Civil War.
Presenting pathbreaking interpretations of Lincoln, Douglas, and the Civil War's origins, Making an Antislavery Nation shows how battles over slavery paved the way for freedom's triumph in America.
The Moment Is Now: Carl Bernhard Wadström’s Revolutionary Voice on Human Trafficking and the Abolition of the African Slave Trade represents the efforts made by a wide variety of international scholars to give voice to the spirit of Swedish–British humanitarian cooperation that abolitionist and author Carl Bernhard Wadström (1746–99) started in London in the 1780s and '90s. Particularly focusing on Wadström’s often-overlooked life, work, and impact, this book demonstrates how the historical accounts and arguments related to the slavery issue can inform our modern understanding of human trafficking, racism, and systemic violence.
The Moment Is Now includes the proceedings of The International Carl Bernhard Wadström Conference on Human Rights and the Abolition of Slavery, which was held in London on June 2–4, 2015. Accessing source materials in different languages that were previously scattered throughout English, French, and Swedish archives, the scholars involved have been able to successfully investigate Wadström’s work and influence in such diverse areas as economics, science, abolitionism, travel writing, African colonial history, Swedenborgianism, philanthropy, utopianism, and human rights.
As its title makes clear, this book not only offers a glimpse into a significant moment in history but also serves as a call to action and a primer to be used in the here and now—a guide from which we can learn how to deal with those horrific forms of human oppression that Wadström and others like him sought to bring to an end.
The Moment Is Now is the twenty-second installment in the Swedenborg Studies scholarly series.
My Bondage and My Freedom
Frederick Douglass University of Illinois Press, 1988 Library of Congress E449.D738 1987 | Dewey Decimal 326.0924
This is the first annotated edition of a work Eric J. Sundquist has called "a classic text of the American Renaissance." As Henry Louis Gates, Jr., has pointed out, My Bondage and My Freedom has been largely ignored by critics, in part because it is longer and less accessible than Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass but also because it has not up to now been "read" by a sensitive critic. "The latter reason is paramount and urgently needed to be addressed, and William Andrews is just the person to introduce Douglass's second autobiography to our generation of readers. He has few peers in nineteenth-century black criticism."
During the 1850s and early 1860s, Iowa, the westernmost free state bordering a slave state, stood as a bulwark of antislavery sentiment while the decades-long struggle over slavery shifted westward. On its southern border lay Missouri, the northernmost slaveholding state. To its west was the Kansas-Nebraska Territory, where proslavery and antislavery militias battled. Missouri slaves fled to Iowa seeking freedom, finding opponents of slavery who risked their lives and livelihoods to help them, as well as bounty hunters who forced them back into bondage. When opponents of slavery streamed west across the state’s broad prairies to prevent slaveholders from dominating Kansas, Iowans fed, housed, and armed the antislavery settlers. Not a few young Iowa men also took up arms.
In Necessary Courage, historian Lowell J. Soike details long-forgotten stories of determined runaways and the courageous Iowans who acted as conductors on this most dangerous of railroads—the underground railroad. Alexander Clark, an African American businessman in Muscatine, hid a young fugitive in his house to protect him from slavecatchers while he fought for his freedom in the courts. While keeping antislavery newspapers fully apprised of the battle against human bondage in western Iowa, Elvira Gaston Platt drove a wagon full of fugitives to the next safe house under the noses of her proslavery neighbors. John Brown, fleeing across Iowa with a price on his head for the murders of proslavery Kansas settlers, relied on Iowans like Josiah Grinnell and William Penn Clarke to keep him, his men, and the twelve Missouri slaves they had liberated hidden from the authorities. Several young Iowans went on to fight alongside Brown at Harpers Ferry. These stories and many more are told here.
A suspenseful and often heartbreaking tale of desperation, courage, cunning, and betrayal, this book reveals the critical role that Iowans played in the struggle against slavery and the coming of the Civil War.
A radical reconstruction of the founders’ debate over slavery and the Constitution, by the best-selling, award-winning author ofThe Rise of American Democracy.
Americans revere the Constitution even as they argue fiercely over its original toleration of slavery. Some historians have charged that slaveholders actually enshrined human bondage at the nation’s founding. The acclaimed political historian Sean Wilentz shares the dismay but sees the Constitution and slavery differently. Although the proslavery side won important concessions, he asserts, antislavery impulses also influenced the framers’ work. Far from covering up a crime against humanity, the Constitution restricted slavery’s legitimacy under the new national government. In time, that limitation would open the way for the creation of an antislavery politics that led to Southern secession, the Civil War, and Emancipation.
Wilentz’s controversial and timely reconsideration upends orthodox views of the Constitution. He describes the document as a tortured paradox that abided slavery without legitimizing it. This paradox lay behind the great political battles that fractured the nation over the next seventy years. As Southern Fire-eaters invented a proslavery version of the Constitution, antislavery advocates, including Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, proclaimed antislavery versions based on the framers’ refusal to validate what they called “property in man.”
No Property in Man invites fresh debate about the political and legal struggles over slavery that began during the Revolution and concluded with the Confederacy’s defeat. It drives straight to the heart of the most contentious and enduring issue in all of American history.
How abolitionist businesses marshaled intense moral outrage over slavery to shape a new ethics of international commerce.
“East India Sugar Not Made By Slaves.” With these words on a sugar bowl, consumers of the early nineteenth century declared their power to change the global economy. Bronwen Everill examines how abolitionists from Europe to the United States to West Africa used new ideas of supply and demand, consumer credit, and branding to shape an argument for ethical capitalism.
Everill focuses on the everyday economy of the Atlantic world. Antislavery affected business operations, as companies in West Africa, including the British firm Macaulay & Babington and the American partnership of Brown & Ives, developed new tactics in order to make “legitimate” commerce pay. Everill explores how the dilemmas of conducting ethical commerce reshaped the larger moral discourse surrounding production and consumption, influencing how slavery and freedom came to be defined in the market economy. But ethical commerce was not without its ironies; the search for supplies of goods “not made by slaves”—including East India sugar—expanded the reach of colonial empires in the relentless pursuit of cheap but “free” labor.
Not Made by Slaves illuminates the early years of global consumer society, while placing the politics of antislavery firmly in the history of capitalism. It is also a stark reminder that the struggle to ensure fair trade and labor conditions continues.
Organizing Freedom is a riveting and significant social history of black emancipation activism in Indiana and Illinois during the Civil War era. By enlarging the definition of emancipation to include black activism, author Jennifer R. Harbour details the aggressive, tenacious defiance through which Midwestern African Americans—particularly black women—made freedom tangible for themselves.
Despite banning slavery, Illinois and Indiana share an antebellum history of severely restricting rights for free black people while protecting the rights of slaveholders. Nevertheless, as Harbour shows, black Americans settled there, and in a liminal space between legal slavery and true freedom, they focused on their main goals: creating institutions like churches, schools, and police watches; establishing citizenship rights; arguing against oppressive laws in public and in print; and, later, supporting their communities throughout the Civil War.
Harbour’s sophisticated gendered analysis features black women as being central to the seeking of emancipated freedom. Her distinct focus on what military service meant for the families of black Civil War soldiers elucidates how black women navigated life at home without a male breadwinner at the same time they began a new, public practice of emancipation activism. During the tumult of war, Midwestern black women negotiated relationships with local, state, and federal entities through the practices of philanthropy, mutual aid, religiosity, and refugee and soldier relief.
This story of free black people shows how the ideal of equality often competed against reality in an imperfect nation. As they worked through the sluggish, incremental process to achieve abolition and emancipation, Midwestern black activists created a unique regional identity.
In The Powers of Dignity Nick Bromell unpacks Frederick Douglass's 1867 claim that he had “elaborated a political philosophy” from his own “slave experience.” Bromell shows that Douglass devised his philosophy because he found that antebellum Americans' liberal-republican understanding of democracy did not provide a sufficient principled basis on which to fight anti-Black racism. To remedy this deficiency, Douglass deployed insights from his distinctively Black experience and developed a Black philosophy of democracy. He began by contesting the founders' racist assumptions about humanity and advancing instead a more robust theory of “the human” as a collection of human “powers.” He asserted further that the conscious exercise of those powers is what confirms human dignity and that human rights and democracy come into being as ways to affirm and protect that dignity. Thus, by emphasizing the powers and the dignity of all citizens, deriving democratic rights from these, and promoting a remarkably activist, power-oriented model of citizenship, Douglass's Black political philosophy aimed to rectify two major failings of US democracy in his time and ours: its complacence and its racism.
In the mid-19th century, rhetoric surrounding slavery was permeated by violence. Slavery’s defenders often used brute force to suppress opponents, and even those abolitionists dedicated to pacifism drew upon visions of widespread destruction. Provocative Eloquence recounts how the theater, long an arena for heightened eloquence and physical contest, proved terribly relevant in the lead up to the Civil War. As antislavery speech and open conflict intertwined, the nation became a stage. The book brings together notions of intertextuality and interperformativity to understand how the confluence of oratorical and theatrical practices in the antebellum period reflected the conflict over slavery and deeply influenced the language that barely contained that conflict. The book draws on a wide range of work in performance studies, theater history, black performance theory, oratorical studies, and literature and law to provide a new narrative of the interaction of oratorical, theatrical, and literary histories of the nineteenth-century U.S.
The Puritans of popular memory are dour figures, characterized by humorless toil at best and witch trials at worst. “Puritan” is an insult reserved for prudes, prigs, or oppressors. Antebellum American abolitionists, however, would be shocked to hear this. They fervently embraced the idea that Puritans were in fact pioneers of revolutionary dissent and invoked their name and ideas as part of their antislavery crusade.
Puritan Spirits in the Abolitionist Imagination reveals how the leaders of the nineteenth-century abolitionist movement—from landmark figures like Ralph Waldo Emerson to scores of lesser-known writers and orators—drew upon the Puritan tradition to shape their politics and personae. In a striking instance of selective memory, reimagined aspects of Puritan history proved to be potent catalysts for abolitionist minds. Black writers lauded slave rebels as new Puritan soldiers, female antislavery militias in Kansas were cast as modern Pilgrims, and a direct lineage of radical democracy was traced from these early New Englanders through the American and French Revolutions to the abolitionist movement, deemed a “Second Reformation” by some. Kenyon Gradert recovers a striking influence on abolitionism and recasts our understanding of puritanism, often seen as a strictly conservative ideology, averse to the worldly rebellion demanded by abolitionists.
Quakers and Abolition
Edited by Brycchan Carey and Geoffrey Plank University of Illinois Press, 2014 Library of Congress E441.Q35 2014 | Dewey Decimal 326.08996073
This collection of fifteen insightful essays examines the complexity and diversity of Quaker antislavery attitudes across three centuries, from 1658 to 1890. Contributors from a range of disciplines, nations, and faith backgrounds show Quaker's beliefs to be far from monolithic. They often disagreed with one another and the larger antislavery movement about the morality of slaveholding and the best approach to abolition.
Not surprisingly, contributors explain, this complicated and evolving antislavery sensibility left behind an equally complicated legacy. While Quaker antislavery was a powerful contemporary influence in both the United States and Europe, present-day scholars pay little substantive attention to the subject. This volume faithfully seeks to correct that oversight, offering accessible yet provocative new insights on a key chapter of religious, political, and cultural history.
Contributors include Dee E. Andrews, Kristen Block, Brycchan Carey, Christopher Densmore, Andrew Diemer, J. William Frost, Thomas D. Hamm, Nancy A. Hewitt, Maurice Jackson, Anna Vaughan Kett, Emma Jones Lapsansky-Werner, Gary B. Nash, Geoffrey Plank, Ellen M. Ross, Marie-Jeanne Rossignol, James Emmett Ryan, and James Walvin.
Long ago dubbed the "Paradise of America," Northampton, Massachusetts, is also known as the home of visionaries—from the Reverend Jonathan Edwards, father of the First Great Awakening, to George W. Benson, brother-in-law of William Lloyd Garrison and a founder of the utopian Northampton Association for Education and Industry. During the mid-nineteenth century the town became a center of political abolitionism and a hub in the Underground Railroad. In this book, Bruce Laurie profiles five rebellious figures who launched Northampton's abolitionist movement—Sylvester Judd Jr., John Payson Williston, David Ruggles, Henry Sherwood Gere, and Erastus Hopkins. Through their individual stories he traces the evolution of the antislavery movement in western Massachusetts and links it to broader developments in economics, civil life, and political affairs.
Northampton's abolitionists were a heterodox group, yet most were intrepid devotees of democracy and racial equality, idealists who enjoyed genuine friendships and political alliances with African Americans. Several even took the bold step of hiring African Americans in their businesses. They avoided the doctrinal rivalries that sometimes troubled the antislavery movement in other places, skillfully steering clear of the xenophobic nativism that infected Massachusetts politics in the mid–1850s and divided the Republican Party at large. Although a prohibitionist faction disrupted the Northampton abolitionist movement for a time, the leaders prevailed on the strength of their personal prestige and political experience, making the seat of Hampshire County what one of them called an abolitionist "stronghold."
In 1858, Mary Millburn successfully made her escape from Norfolk, Virginia, to Philadelphia aboard an express steamship. Millburn's maritime route to freedom was far from uncommon. By the mid-nineteenth century, an increasing number of enslaved people had fled northward along the Atlantic seaboard. While scholarship on the Underground Railroad has focused almost exclusively on overland escape routes from the antebellum South, this groundbreaking volume expands our understanding of how freedom was achieved by sea and what the journey looked like for many African Americans.
With innovative scholarship and thorough research, Sailing to Freedom highlights little-known stories and describes the less-understood maritime side of the Underground Railroad, including the impact of African Americans' paid and unpaid waterfront labor. These ten essays reconsider and contextualize how escapes were managed along the East Coast, moving from the Carolinas, Virginia, and Maryland to safe harbor in northern cities such as Philadelphia, New York, New Bedford, and Boston.
In addition to the volume editor, contributors include David S. Cecelski, Elysa Engelman, Kathryn Grover, Megan Jeffreys, Cheryl Janifer LaRoche, Mirelle Luecke, Cassandra Newby-Alexander, Michael D. Thompson, and Len Travers.
Searching for Jim is the untold story of Sam Clemens and the world of slavery that produced him. Despite Clemens’s remarks to the contrary in his autobiography, slavery was very much a part of his life. Dempsey has uncovered a wealth of newspaper accounts and archival material revealing that Clemens’s life, from the ages of twelve to seventeen, was intertwined with the lives of the slaves around him.
During Sam’s earliest years, his father, John Marshall Clemens, had significant interaction with slaves. Newly discovered court records show the senior Clemens in his role as justice of the peace in Hannibal enforcing the slave ordinances. With the death of his father, young Sam was apprenticed to learn the printing and newspaper trade. It was in the newspaper that slaves were bought and sold, masters sought runaways, and life insurance was sold on slaves. Stories the young apprentice typeset helped Clemens learn to write in black dialect, a skill he would use throughout his writing, most notably in Huckleberry Finn.
Missourians at that time feared abolitionists across the border in Illinois and Iowa. Slave owners suspected every traveling salesman, itinerant preacher, or immigrant of being an abolition agent sent to steal slaves. This was the world in which Sam Clemens grew up. Dempsey also discusses the stories of Hannibal’s slaves: their treatment, condition, and escapes. He uncovers new information about the Underground Railroad, particularly about the role free blacks played in northeast Missouri.
Carefully reconstructed from letters, newspaper articles, sermons, speeches, books, and court records, Searching for Jim offers a new perspective on Clemens’s writings, especially regarding his use of race in the portrayal of individual characters, their attitudes, and worldviews. This fascinating volume will be valuable to anyone trying to measure the extent to which Clemens transcended the slave culture he lived in during his formative years and the struggles he later faced in dealing with race and guilt. It will forever alter the way we view Sam Clemens, Hannibal, and Mark Twain.
A radical abolitionist and early feminist, Francis George Shaw (1809–1882) was a prominent figure in American reform and intellectual circles for five decades. He rejected capitalism in favor of a popular utopian socialist movement; during the Civil War and Reconstruction, he applied his radical principles to the Northern war effort and to freedmen’s organizations.
A partnership with Henry George in the late 1870s provided an international audience for Shaw’s alternative vision of society. Seeking the One Great Remedy is the biography of this remarkable and influential man. In compelling detail, author Lorien Foote depicts the many aspects and exploits of the Shaw family. Their activities provide a perspective on the course of American reform that calls into question previous interpretations of the reform movement of this period.
Francis George Shaw is perhaps best known as the father of Robert Gould Shaw, subject of the movie Glory. Francis and his wife, Sarah Blake Shaw, achieved considerable notoriety for their activities, including their effort to shape public opinion during the Civil War. Turning the tragic death of their son into a public relations and propaganda triumph, they altered Northern opinion about the war and shaped a historical perception of the famous Massachusetts Fifty-fourth that continues today.
Seeking the One Great Remedy argues that social radicalism was pervasive among elite reformers before and after the Civil War and finds in the dramatic story of Francis George Shaw a model of that cause.
Winner, 2018 AHA Bolton Prize (best book on Latin American History) Winner, 2018 AHA/CLAH Dean Prize (best book on Brazilian History)
Celso Thomas Castilho offers original perspectives on the political upheaval surrounding the process of slave emancipation in postcolonial Brazil. He shows how the abolition debates in Pernambuco transformed the practices of political citizenship and marked the first instance of a mass national political mobilization. In addition, he presents new findings on the scope and scale of the opposing abolitionist and sugar planters’ mobilizations in the Brazilian northeast. The book highlights the extensive interactions between enslaved and free people in the construction of abolitionism, and reveals how Brazil’s first social movement reinvented discourses about race and nation, leading to the passage of the abolition law in 1888. It also documents the previously ignored counter-mobilizations led by the landed elite, who saw the rise of abolitionism as a political contestation and threat to their livelihood.
Overall, this study illuminates how disputes over control of emancipation also entailed disputes over the boundaries of the political arena and connects the history of abolition to the history of Brazilian democracy. It offers fresh perspectives on Brazilian political history and on Brazil’s place within comparative discussions on slavery and emancipation.
In her concise history Slavery and Abolition in Pennsylvania, Beverly Tomek corrects the long-held notion that slavery in the North was “not so bad” as, or somehow “more humane” than, in the South due to the presence of abolitionists. While the Quaker presence focused on moral and practical opposition to bondage, slavery was ubiquitous. Nevertheless, Pennsylvania was the first state to pass an abolition law in the United States.
Slavery and Abolition in Pennsylvania traces this movement from its beginning to the years immediately following the American Civil War. Discussions of the complexities of the state’s antislavery movement illustrate how different groups of Pennsylvanians followed different paths in an effort to achieve their goal. Tomek also examines the backlash abolitionists and Black Americans faced. In addition, she considers the civil rights movement from the period of state reconstruction through the national reconstruction that occurred after the Civil War.
While the past few decades have shed light on enslavement and slavery in the South, much of the story of northern slavery remains hidden. Slavery and Abolition in Pennsylvania tells the full and inclusive story of this history, bringing the realities of slavery, abolition, and Pennsylvania's attempt to reconstruct its post-emancipation society.
From the eighteenth century on, appeals to listeners' and readers' feelings about the sufferings of slaves were a predominant strategy of abolitionism. This book argues that expressions of feeling in those texts did not just appeal to individual readers' inclinations to sympathy but rather were inherently political. The authors of these texts made arguments from the social and political ideologies that grounded their moral and social lives.
Levecq examines liberalism and republicanism, the main Anglo-American political ideologies of the period, in the antislavery texts of a range of African-American and Afro-British authors. Disclosing the political content hitherto unexamined in this kind of writing, she shows that while the overall story is one of increased liberalization of ideology on both sides of the Atlantic, the republican ideal persisted, particularly among black authors with transatlantic connections.
Demonstrating that such writers as Phillis Wheatley, Ignatius Sancho, Olaudah Equiano, Frederick Douglass, and Mary Prince were men and women of their times, Levecq provides valuable new insight into the ideological world of black Atlantic writers and puts them, for the first time, on modernity's political map.
In 1853, Eyre Crowe, a young British artist, visited a slave auction in Richmond, Virginia. Harrowed by what he witnessed, he captured the scene in sketches that he would later develop into a series of illustrations and paintings, including the culminating painting, Slaves Waiting for Sale, Richmond, Virginia.
This innovative book uses Crowe’s paintings to explore the texture of the slave trade in Richmond, Charleston, and New Orleans, the evolving iconography of abolitionist art, and the role of visual culture in the transatlantic world of abolitionism. Tracing Crowe’s trajectory from Richmond across the American South and back to London—where his paintings were exhibited just a few weeks after the start of the Civil War—Maurie D. McInnis illuminates not only how his abolitionist art was inspired and made, but also how it influenced the international public’s grasp of slavery in America. With almost 140 illustrations, Slaves Waiting for Sale brings a fresh perspective to the American slave trade and abolitionism as we enter the sesquicentennial of the Civil War.
In 1834 Harvard dropout Richard Henry Dana Jr. sailed to California as a common seaman. His account of the voyage, Two Years Before the Mast, quickly became an American classic. But literary acclaim could not erase the young lawyer’s memory of the brutal floggings he had witnessed aboard ship or undermine the vow he had made to combat injustice. In Slavish Shore, Jeffrey Amestoy tells the story of Dana’s unflagging determination to keep that vow in the face of nineteenth-century America’s most exclusive establishment: the Boston society in which he had been born and bred.
The drama of Dana’s life arises from the unresolved tension between the Brahmin he was expected to be on shore and the man he had become at sea. Dana’s sense of justice made him a lawyer who championed sailors and slaves, and his extraordinary advocacy put him at the center of some of the most consequential cases in American history: defending fugitive slave Anthony Burns, justifying President Lincoln’s war powers before the Supreme Court, and prosecuting Confederate president Jefferson Davis for treason. Yet Dana’s own promising political career remained unfulfilled as he struggled to reconcile his rigorous conscience with his restless spirit in public controversy and private life.
The first full-length biography of Dana in more than half a century, Slavish Shore reintroduces readers to one of America’s most zealous defenders of freedom and human dignity.
In September 1781, the captain of the British slave ship Zong ordered 133 slaves thrown overboard, enabling the ship’s owners to file an insurance claim for their lost “cargo.” Accounts of this horrific event quickly became a staple of abolitionist discourse on both sides of the Atlantic. Ian Baucom revisits, in unprecedented detail, the Zong atrocity, the ensuing court cases, reactions to the event and trials, and the business and social dealings of the Liverpool merchants who owned the ship. Drawing on the work of an astonishing array of literary and social theorists, including Walter Benjamin, Giovanni Arrighi, Jacques Derrida, and many others, he argues that the tragedy is central not only to the trans-Atlantic slave trade and the political and cultural archives of the black Atlantic but also to the history of modern capital and ethics. To apprehend the Zong tragedy, Baucom suggests, is not to come to terms with an isolated atrocity but to encounter a logic of violence key to the unfolding history of Atlantic modernity.
Baucom contends that the massacre and the trials that followed it bring to light an Atlantic cycle of capital accumulation based on speculative finance, an economic cycle that has not yet run its course. The extraordinarily abstract nature of today’s finance capital is the late-eighteenth-century system intensified. Yet, as Baucom highlights, since the late 1700s, this rapacious speculative culture has had detractors. He traces the emergence and development of a counter-discourse he calls melancholy realism through abolitionist and human-rights texts, British romantic poetry, Scottish moral philosophy, and the work of late-twentieth-century literary theorists. In revealing how the Zong tragedy resonates within contemporary financial systems and human-rights discourses, Baucom puts forth a deeply compelling, utterly original theory of history: one that insists that an eighteenth-century atrocity is not past but present within the future we now inhabit.
More than two centuries after his birth and almost a century and a half after his death, the legendary life and legacy of John Brown go marching on. Variously deemed martyr, madman, monster, terrorist, and saint, he remains one of the most controversial figures in America’s history. Brown’s actions in Kansas and in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, were major catalysts for the American Civil War, and continue today to evoke praise or condemnation.
Through the prisms of history, literature, psychology, criminal justice, oral history, African American studies, political science, film studies, and anthropology, Terrible Swift Sword offers insights not only into John Brown’s controversial character and motives but also into the nature of a troubled society before, during, and after the Civil War. The contributors discuss reasons why Brown’s contemporaries supported him, analyze Brown’s behavior and his depiction in literature, and examine the iconography and mythology surrounding him.
The interdisciplinary focus brought by editors Peggy A. Russo and Paul Finkelman makes this collection unique. Terrible Swift Sword: The Legacy of John Brown will appeal to a broad audience of readers interested in this turbulent moment in American history.
When Alisse Portnoy recovered petitions from the early 1830s that nearly 1,500 women sent to the U.S. Congress to protest the forced removal of Native Americans in the South, she found the first instance of women's national, collective political activism in American history. In this groundbreaking study, Portnoy links antebellum Indian removal debates with crucial, simultaneous debates about African Americans--abolition of slavery and African colonization--revealing ways European American women negotiated prohibitions to make their voices heard.
Situating the debates within contemporary, competing ideas about race, religion, and nation, Portnoy examines the means by which women argued for a "right to speak" on national policy. Women's participation in the debates was constrained not only by gender but also by how these women--and the men with whom they lived and worshipped--imagined Native and African Americans as the objects of their advocacy and by what they believed were the most benevolent ways to aid the oppressed groups.
Cogently argued and engagingly written, this is the first study to fully integrate women's, Native American, and African American rights debates.
How does political change take hold? In the 1850s, politicians and abolitionists despaired, complaining that the "North, the poor timid, mercenary, driveling North" offered no forceful opposition to the power of the slaveholding South. And yet, as John L. Brooke proves, the North did change. Inspired by brave fugitives who escaped slavery and the cultural craze that was Uncle Tom's Cabin, the North rose up to battle slavery, ultimately waging the bloody Civil War.
While Lincoln's alleged quip about the little woman who started the big war has been oft-repeated, scholars have not fully explained the dynamics between politics and culture in the decades leading up to 1861. Rather than simply viewing the events of the 1850s through the lens of party politics, "There Is a North" is the first book to explore how cultural action—including minstrelsy, theater, and popular literature—transformed public opinion and political structures. Taking the North's rallying cry as his title, Brooke shows how the course of history was forever changed.
Hero. Terrorist. Martyr. Madman. Thunderbolt: An American Tale tells the true story of Old John Brown: abolitionist, insurrectionist, and American legend.
As a young boy in nineteenth-century America, Captain John Brown swore to dedicate his life to the struggle against slavery. Years later, he and his sons have joined the fight in Kansas, the epicenter of the national debate over slavery. As the territory nears statehood, abolitionists and proslavery border ruffians clash in increasingly violent conflict across the territory. But John Brown has more in mind than border skirmishes. He aims to eliminate slavery from US soil once and for all—even if that means raiding a government armory in order to arm a national slave revolt. From the Pottawatomie Massacre to the Battle of Black Jack and the Battle of Osawatomie, this first installment in the story of the legendary John Brown traces the rise of the insurrection in stunning detail.
Gritty, gripping, and masterfully illustrated, Wilfred Santiago’s telling of John Brown’s tale pulls no punches as it unflinchingly recounts the epic struggle across pre–Civil War America. And while John Brown’s methods may be questionable, his story is unforgettable. After all, dying is part of the plan.
A Choice Academic Book of the Year: The Sweeping Story of the Men and Women Who Fought to End Slavery in America
Drawing on decades of research, and demonstrating remarkable command of a great range of primary sources, William S. King has written an important history of African Americans’ own contributions and points of crossracial cooperation to end slavery in America. Beginning with the civil war along the border of Kansas and Missouri, the author traces the life of John Brown and the personal support for his ideas from elite New England businessmen, intellectuals such as Emerson and Thoreau, and African Americans, including his confidant, Frederick Douglass, and Harriet Tubman. Throughout, King links events that contributed to the growing antipathy in the North toward slavery and the South’s concerns for its future, including Nat Turner’s insurrection, the Amistad affair, the Fugitive Slave law, the Kansas-Nebraska Act, and the Dred Scott decision. The author also effectively describes the debate within the African American community as to whether the U.S. Constitution was colorblind or if emigration was the right course for the future of blacks in America.
Following Brown’s execution after the failed raid on Harper’s Ferry in 1859, King shows how Brown’s vision that only a clash of arms would eradicate slavery was set into motion after the election of Abraham Lincoln. Once the Civil War erupted on the heels of Brown’s raid, the author relates how black leaders, white legislators, and military officers vigorously discussed the use of black manpower for the Union effort as well as plans for the liberation of the “veritable Africa” within the southern United States. Following the Emancipation Proclamation of January 1863, recruitment of black soldiers increased and by war’s end they made up nearly ten percent of the Union army, and contributed to many important victories. To Raise Up a Nation: John Brown, Frederick Douglass, and the Making of a Free Country is a sweeping history that explains how the destruction of American slavery was not directed primarily from the counsels of local and national government and military men, but rather through the grassroots efforts of extraordinary men and women. As King notes, the Lincoln administration ultimately armed black Americans, as John Brown had attempted to do, and their role was a vital part in the defeat of slavery.
The Mississippi River was a strategic priority for the Union army from the outset of the American Civil War. By controlling the Mississippi, the North’s military forces could effectively split the Confederacy in two and create economic and logistical havoc for Confederate supply lines that relied on river transportation. A number of battles were fought for control of the Mississippi, and ultimately the combination of Union troops supported by Federal gunboats and armored paddle steamers culminated in the surrender of Port Hudson in July 1863 and Union dominance over the Mississippi waterways.
The Battle of Memphis was one such fray waged for control of the Mississippi. It was a major victory for the Union, one that was over almost before it began because of luck and lessons the Union fleet learned at a hard-fought battle with the Confederate River Defense Fleet at Plum Point. Perhaps owing to its swift conclusion, the Battle of Memphis has not received the scholarly attention of other battles, such as Vicksburg and Forts Henry and Donelson. In To Retain Command of the Mississippi, Edward B. McCaul Jr. argues that the Battle of Memphis was pivotal in the Union’s efforts to control the Mississippi River. The Union command, by narrowly escaping defeat at Plum Point, learned invaluable lessons about the Confederate River Defense Fleet and masterfully enacted those lessons in decisively defeating the Confederate fleet at Memphis. With the Confederacy’s river forces severely crippled after the Battle of Memphis, the Union fleets pushed onward to eventual victory at Vicksburg.
McCaul brings this pivotal river battle back into the American Civil War discussion by highlighting the Union gains and Confederate losses that led up to the Battle of Memphis and maintaining that had the battle gone differently, Grant’s plans for taking Vicksburg would have been drastically altered
Edward B. McCaul Jr. is Assistant Dean for Curriculum and Assessment in the College of Engineering at The Ohio State University. He is the author of The Mechanical Fuze and the Advance of Artillery in the Civil War, and his articles have appeared in Military History, Vietnam, and Aviation History.
In 1767, two “princes” of a ruling family in the port of Old Calabar, on the slave coast of Africa, were ambushed and captured by English slavers. The princes, Little Ephraim Robin John and Ancona Robin Robin John, were themselves slave traders who were betrayed by African competitors—and so began their own extraordinary odyssey of enslavement. Their story, written in their own hand, survives as a rare firsthand account of the Atlantic slave experience.
Randy J. Sparks made the remarkable discovery of the princes’ correspondence and has managed to reconstruct their adventures from it. They were transported from the coast of Africa to Dominica, where they were sold to a French physician. By employing their considerable language and interpersonal skills, they cleverly negotiated several escapes that took them from the Caribbean to Virginia, and to England, but always ended in their being enslaved again. Finally, in England, they sued for, and remarkably won, their freedom. Eventually, they found their way back to Old Calabar and, evidence suggests, resumed their business of slave trading.
The Two Princes of Calabar offers a rare glimpse into the eighteenth-century Atlantic World and slave trade from an African perspective. It brings us into the trading communities along the coast of Africa and follows the regular movement of goods, people, and ideas across and around the Atlantic. It is an extraordinary tale of slaves’ relentless quest for freedom and their important role in the creation of the modern Atlantic World.