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.
Abolitionists have been painted in extremes—vilified as reckless zealots who provoked the bloodletting of the Civil War, or praised as daring reformers who hastened the end of slavery. Delbanco sees them as the embodiment of a driving force in American history: the recurrent impulse of an adamant minority to rid the world of outrageous evil.
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?
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.
A vastly informative and rare early-American pioneer autobiography rescued from obscurity.
In this remarkable memoir, Daniel Parker (1781–1861) recorded both the details of everyday life and the extraordinary historical events he witnessed west of the Appalachian Mountains between 1790 and 1840. Once a humble traveling salesman for a line of newly invented clothes washing machines, he became an outspoken advocate for abolition and education. With his wife and son, he founded Clermont Academy, a racially integrated, coeducational secondary school—the first of its kind in Ohio.
However, Parker’s real vocation was as a self-ordained, itinerant preacher of his own brand of universal salvation. Raised by Presbyterian parents, he experienced a dramatic conversion to the Halcyon Church, an alternative, millenarian religious movement led by the enigmatic prophet Abel Sarjent, in 1803. After parting ways with the Halcyonists, he continued his own biblical and theological studies, arriving at the universalist conclusions that he would eventually preach throughout the Ohio River Valley.
David Torbett has transcribed Parker’s manuscript and publishes it here for the first time, together with an introduction, epilogue, bibliography, and extensive notes that enrich and contextualize this rare pioneer autobiography.
The Black Butterfly focuses on the slavery writings of three of Brazil’s literary giants—Machado de Assis, Castro Alves, and Euclides da Cunha. These authors wrote in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, as Brazil moved into and then through the 1888 abolition of slavery. Assis was Brazil’s most experimental novelist; Alves was a Romantic poet with passionate liberationist politics, popularly known as “the poet of the slaves”; and da Cunha is known for the masterpiece Os Sertões (The Backlands), a work of genius that remains strangely neglected in the scholarship of transatlantic slavery.
Wood finds that all three writers responded to the memory of slavery in ways that departed from their counterparts in Europe and North America, where emancipation has typically been depicted as a moment of closure. He ends by setting up a wider literary context for his core authors by introducing a comparative study of their great literary abolitionist predecessors Luís Gonzaga Pinto da Gama and Joaquim Nabuco. The Black Butterfly is a revolutionary text that insists Brazilian culture has always refused a clean break between slavery and its aftermath. Brazilian slavery thus emerges as a living legacy subject to continual renegotiation and reinvention.
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.
Enlightenment thinkers such as Rousseau and Montesquieu are best known for their humanist theories and liberating influence on Western civilization. But as renowned French intellectual Louis Sala-Molins shows, Enlightenment discourses and scholars were also complicit in the Atlantic slave trade, becoming instruments of oppression and inequality.
Translated into English for the first time, Dark Side of the Light scrutinizes Condorcet’s Reflections on NegroSlavery and the works of Montesquieu, Rousseau, and Diderot side by side with the Code Noir (the royal document that codified the rules of French Caribbean slavery) in order to uncover attempts to uphold the humanist project of the Enlightenment while simultaneously justifying slavery. Wielding the pen of both the ironist and the moralist, Sala-Molins demonstrates the flawed nature of these attempts and the reasons given for this denial of rights, from the imperatives of public order to the incomplete humanity of the slave (and thus the need for his progressive humanization through slavery), to the economic prosperity that depended on his labor. At the same time, Sala-Molins uses the techniques of literature to give equal weight to the perspective of the “barefooted, the starving, and the slaves” through expository prose and scenes between slave and philosopher, giving moral agency and flesh-and-blood dimensions to issues most often treated as abstractions.
Both an urgent critique and a measured analysis, Dark Side of the Light reveals the moral paradoxes of Enlightenment philosophies and their world-changing consequences.
Louis Sala-Molins is a moral and political philosopher and emeritus professor at the University of Toulouse. He is the author of many books, including Le Code Noir, ou Le calvaire de Canaan and L’Afrique aux Amériques.
John Conteh-Morgan is associate professor of French and Francophone, African-American, and African studies at Ohio State University. He is the author of Theatre and Drama in Francophone Africa: A Critical Introduction.
"An arresting book that juxtaposes major and minor antebellum texts to develop its own democratic discourse. Michael Bennett writes with verve and brio, and offers some juicy surprises."—David Leverenz, University of Florida
Ever since the hallowed statement, "All men are created equal," was penned in the Declaration of Independence, it has become a historical tenet that freedom and equality were brought to American shores by the so-called Founding Fathers.
In this path-breaking study, Michael Bennett departs from tradition to argue that the democratic ideal of equality and the actual ways in which it has been practiced are grounded less in the fledgling government documents written by a handful of white men than in the actions and writings of the radical abolitionists of the nineteenth century. Bringing together key texts of both African American and European American authors, Democratic Discourses shows the important ways that abolitionist writing shaped a powerful counterculture within a slave-holding society. Bennett offers fresh new analysis through unusual pairings of authors, including Frederick Douglass with Henry David Thoreau, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper with Walt Whitman, and Margaret Fuller with Sojourner Truth. These rereadings avoid the tendency to view antebellum writing as a product primarily of either European American or African American influences and, instead, illustrate the interconnections of white and black literature in the creation and practice of democracy.
Drawing on discourses about race, the body, gender, economics, and aesthetics, this unique study encourages readers to reconsider the reality and roots of freedoms experienced in the United States today.
One of the most incredible stories in American history is that of Frederick Douglass, the man who escaped from slavery and rose to become one of the most celebrated and eloquent orators, writers, and public figures in the world. He first committed his story to writing in his 1845 autobiography Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. Over the course of his life, he would expand on his story considerably, writing two other autobiographies, My Bondage and My Freedom and Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, as well as innumerable newspaper articles and editorials and orations.
As valuable as these writings are in illuminating the man, the story Douglass told in 1845 has become rather too easy to tell, obscuring as much as it reveals. Less a living presence than an inspiring tale, Frederick Douglass remains relatively unknown even to many of those who celebrate his achievements. Douglass in His Own Time offers an introduction to Douglass the man by those who knew him. The book includes a broad range of writings, some intended for public viewing and some private correspondence, all of which contend with the force of Douglass’s tremendous power over the written and spoken word, his amazing presence before crowds, his ability to improvise, to entertain, to instruct, to inspire—indeed, to change lives through his eloquent appeals to righteous self-awareness and social justice. In approaching Douglass through the biographical sketches, memoirs, letters, editorials, and other articles about him, readers will encounter the complexity of a life lived on a very public stage, the story of an extraordinary black man in an insistently white world.
A well-known nineteenth-century abolitionist and former slave, William Wells Brown was a prolific writer and lecturer who captivated audiences with readings of his drama The Escape; or, a Leap for Freedom (1858). The first published play by an African American writer, The Escape explored the complexities of American culture at a time when tensions between North and South were about to explode into the Civil War. This new volume presents the first-edition text of Brown’s play and features an extensive introduction that establishes the work’s continuing significance.
The Escape centers on the attempted sexual violation of a slave and involves many characters of mixed race, through which Brown commented on such themes as moral decay, white racism, and black self-determination. Rich in action and faithful in dialect, it raises issues relating not only to race but also to gender by including concepts of black and white masculinity and the culture of southern white and enslaved women. It portrays a world in which slavery provided a convenient means of distinguishing between the white North and the white South, allowing northerners to express moral sentiments without recognizing or addressing the racial prejudice pervasive among whites in both regions.
John Ernest’s introductory essay balances the play's historical and literary contexts, including information on Brown and his career, as well as on slavery, abolitionism, and sectional politics. It also discusses the legends and realities of the Underground Railroad, examines the role of antebellum performance art—including blackface minstrelsy and stage versions of Uncle Tom's Cabin—in the construction of race and national identity, and provides an introduction to theories of identity as performance.
A century and a half after its initial appearance, The Escape remains essential reading for students of African American literature. Ernest's keen analysis of this classic play will enrich readers’ appreciation of both the drama itself and the era in which it appeared.
Although the northern Illinois chapters of the story of Susan “Sukey” Richardson’s escape from slavery on the Underground Railroad are documented, the part played by southern Illinois in that historic episode has remained obscure. Carol Pirtle changes that with her investigation into the 1843 suit Andrew Borders lodged against William Hayes, charging his neighbor with helping slaves from the Borders estate escape to Galesburg. In conjunction with her probe into the past, Pirtle also discovered the Hayes correspondence.
Pirtle documents Hayes’s involvement in the Illinois Underground Railroad through approximately two hundred letters received by Hayes from the early 1820s until his death in 1849. Many of these letters specifically corroborate his participation in the escape of slaves from the Borders estate. One such letter came from T. A. Jones in 1843: “You Dear Sir are to me an unknown friend, yet I believe you are a friend to the poor down trodden Slave. This is as good an introduction as I want from any man. My brother, our cause is a holy one.” Letters written by Galesburg residents show that several prominent citizens of that community also assisted in the affair, proving that Knox College administrators and trustees were active in the Underground Railroad.
Pirtle also includes excerpts from the trial transcript from the 1844 civil case against Hayes, which was tried in Pinckneyville, Illinois. She researched newspaper accounts of the event, most notably those in the Western Citizen and the Sparta Herald. Records of the Covenanter Presbyterian church of which Hayes was a member provide partial explanations of Hayes’s motives.
Telling the story of Hayes and his involvement with Susan Richardson and the Underground Railroad, Pirtle provides insight into the work of abolitionists in Illinois. Escape Betwixt Two Suns, in fact, is one of the few books to substantiate the legends of the Underground Railroad. She tells the story of a quiet man who made a difference, of a man deserving the accolades of a hero.
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.
Freedom's Champion: Elijah Lovejoy
Elijah Lovejoy. Revised by Paul Simon. Foreword by Clarence Page Southern Illinois University Press, 1994 Library of Congress F549.A4L72 1994 | Dewey Decimal 973.5092
In this revised edition of his earlier biography, Paul Simon provides an inspiring account of the life and work of Elijah Lovejoy, an avid abolitionist in the 1830s and the first martyr to freedom of the press in the United States.
Lovejoy was a native New Englander, the son of a Congregational minister. He came to the Midwest in 1827 in pursuit of a teaching career and succeeded in running his own school for two years in St. Louis. Teaching failed to challenge Lovejoy, however, so he bought a half interest in the St. Louis Times and became its editor. In 1832, after experiencing a religious conversion, he returned east to study for the ministry at Princeton Theological Seminary. After his graduation, Lovejoy was called back to St. Louis by a group of Christian businessmen to serve as the editor of a new religious newspaper, the Observer, promoting religion, morality, and education. It was through this forum that Lovejoy took an ever stronger stance against slavery.
In the slave state of Missouri, such a view was not onlyunpopular, but in the eyes of many, criminal. As a result, Lovejoy and his family suffered repeated persecution and acts of violence from angry mobs. In July 1836, in hopes of finding a more tolerant community in a "free" state, he moved both his printing press and his family across the Mississippi River to Alton, Illinois.
The move to Alton was a fateful one. Lovejoy’s press was dismantled and thrown into the river by a mob on the night of its arrival. Lovejoy ordered a new printing press, and it, too, was destroyed eleven months later. A determined and dedicated man, Lovejoy ordered a third press, and city officials took special precautions to ensure its safety after delivery. Nevertheless, an organized and angry mob rolled this third press, still in its crate, into the river exactly one month after Lovejoy’s second press had been destroyed. A fourth press, housed in a large stone warehouse and guarded by Lovejoy and his supporters, met the same fate but only after a drunken mob had killed Lovejoy himself. He was buried two days later, 9 November 1837, on his thirty-fifth birthday. No one was ever convicted of his murder.
Rather than suppressing the abolitionist movement, Lovejoy’s death caused an eruption of antislavery activity throughout the nation. At a protest meeting in Ohio, John Brown dedicated his life to fighting slavery, and Wendell Phillips emerged from a Lovejoy protest meeting in Boston to become a leader in the antislavery fight.
Simon defines Lovejoy’s fight as a struggle for human dignity and the oppressed. He distinguishes Lovejoy as a courageous and admirable individual and his story as an important and enduring one for both the cause of freedom for the slaves and the cause of freedom of the press.
In Glorying in Tribulation, Stetson presents a new dimension of Sojourner Truth's character. Much of the information regarding this oft-quoted African American woman is either the stuff of legend or is in dispute. This important new biography takes both legend and fact and sets them into a larger historical context. The authors utilize archival sources, and other forms of direct and indirect evidence to create a better understanding of Truth. We see her victories as well as her defeats--we see her as a real person. Truth comes alive in the pages of this book through her poignant, prophetic words and we realize that what she spoke of in the nineteenth century is just as relevant to us today. Glorying in Tribulation offers students, scholars, and teachers of American history and culture studies a comprehensive look and a new perspective on Truth's contribution to American history. It is a long-overdue, exciting interpretation of the meaning of Sojourner Truth's life.
John Brown’s Trial
Brian McGinty Harvard University Press, 2009 Library of Congress KF223.B765M34 2009 | Dewey Decimal 973.7116
Mixing idealism with violence, abolitionist John Brown cut a wide swath across the United States before winding up in Virginia, where he led an attack on the U.S. armory and arsenal at Harpers Ferry. Supported by a "provisional army" of 21 men, Brown hoped to rouse the slaves in Virginia to rebellion. But he was quickly captured and, after a short but stormy trial, hanged on December 2, 1859. Brian McGinty provides the first comprehensive account of the trial, which raised important questions about jurisdiction, judicial fairness, and the nature of treason under the American constitutional system.
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.
Frederick Douglass’s changeable sense of his own life story is reflected in his many conflicting accounts of events during his journey from slavery to freedom. Robert S. Levine creates a fascinating collage of this elusive subject—revisionist biography at its best, offering new perspectives on Douglass the social reformer, orator, and writer.
No study of women's history in the United States is complete without an account of Lucy Stone's role in the nineteenth-century drive for legal and political rights for women.This first fully documented biography of Stone describes her rapid rise to fame and power and her later attempt at an equitable mariage.
Lucy Stone was a Massachusetts newspaper editor, abolitionist, and charismatic orator for the women's rights movement in the last half of the nineteenth century. She was deeply involved in almost every reform issue of her time. Charles Sumner, Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, Julia Ward Howe, Horace Greeley, and Louisa May Alcott counted themselves among her friends. Through her public speaking and her newspaper, the Woman's Journal, Stone became the most widely admired woman's rights spokeswoman of her era. In the nineteenth century, Lucy Stone was a household name.
Kerr begins with Stone's early roots in a poor family in western Massachusetts. She eventually graduated from Oberlin College and then became a full-time public speaker for an anti-slavery society and for women's rights. Despite Stone's strident anti-marriage ideology, she eventually wed Henry Brown Blackwell, and had her first child at the age of thirty-nine.
Although Kerr tells us about Stone's public accomplishments, she emphasizes Stone's personal struggle for autonomy. "Lucy Stone (Only)" was Stone's trademark signature following her marriage. Her refusal to surrender her birth name was one example of her determination to retain her individuality in an era where a woman's right to a separate identity ended with marriage.
Of equal importance is Kerr's discussion of Stone's relationship with Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, as well as her revisionist treatment of the schism which eventually divided Stone from Stanton and Anthony. Stone urged legislators not to ignore the need for women's suffrage as they rushed to enfranchise black males. Stanton and Anthony dwelt only on the need for women's suffrage, at the expense of black suffrage. Women's historians, the general reader, and historians of the family will appreciate the story of Stone's attempt to balance the conflicting demands of career and family.
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.
Captured While Attempting to Smuggle Slaves to Freedom in 1844, the Only Man Branded in a Courtroom by a United States Marshal
Sailing around the Florida Keys in 1844, forty-five-year-old Jonathan Walker had a price on his head. On board the small boat he had built that winter in Alabama were seven fugitives from slavery. The Cape Cod sailor and abolitionist was wanted in Pensacola, Florida, for his crime: stealing slaves. The slaves’ owners had posted $100 each as reward money for their property and $1,000 for Walker’s apprehension. Only a day’s sail from their goal of freedom in British-controlled Bahamas, Walker and the slaves were stopped and seized by bounty hunters and taken to a Key West court. Ordered back to Pensacola for trial, Walker ended up spending a year in jail. He was fined and sentenced to stand in the pillory; in addition, he was to suffer a unique punishment in American history: while a packed courtroom watched, a United States marshal was ordered to use a hot branding iron to burn the letters SS, for “slave stealer,” into Walker’s right hand.
Walker survived his ordeal, spending much of his incarceration in isolation. Once released, he remained active in the antislavery movement even while he and his devoted wife Jane raised their nine children. His attempt to help form a new colony in Mexico for runaway American slaves also led to punishing experiences for Walker and one of his sons. Living later with his family in Plymouth, Massachusetts, in the years before the Civil War, Walker made room in his crowded house to shelter runaway slaves along the Underground Railroad. He participated in abolitionist lecture tours across the North where he would be urged to reveal his branded hand—made famous by John Greenleaf Whittier’s poem “The Branded Hand”—to astonished audiences. Too old to enlist in the Civil War, Walker instead headed to Virginia in the war’s final year to help educate African Americans fleeing Confederate forces. In The Man With the Branded Hand: The Life of Jonathan Walker, Abolitionist, distinguished journalist Alvin F. Oickle relates this entire remarkable story of a life devoted to the supposition that “all men are created equal.”
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."
No book more vividly explains the horror of American slavery and the emotional impetus behind the antislavery movement than Frederick Douglass’s Narrative. In an introductory essay, Robert B. Stepto reexamines the extraordinary life and achievement of a man who escaped from slavery to become a leading abolitionist and one of our most important writers. The John Harvard Library text reproduces the first edition, published in Boston in 1845.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
One of the first celebrity authors, Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811–1896) became famous almost overnight when Uncle Tom’s Cabin—which sold more than 300,000 copies in its first year of publication—appeared in 1852. Known by virtually all famous writers in the United States and many in England and regarded by many women writers as a role model because of her influence in the literary marketplace, Stowe herself was the subject of many books, articles, essays, and poems during her lifetime.
This volume brings together for the first time a range of primary materials about Stowe’s private and public life written by family members, friends, and fellow writers who knew or were influenced by her before and after Uncle Tom’s Cabin catapulted her to fame. Included are periodical articles by Fanny Fern and Charles Dudley Warner; biographical essays by Sarah Josepha Hale and Rose Terry Cooke; letters by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and Harriet Jacobs; recollections by Frederick Douglass, Annie Adams Fields, Isabella Beecher Hooker, and Charles Beecher; and poems by Paul Laurence Dunbar and John Greenleaf Whittier. An introduction at the beginning of each essay connects it to its historical and cultural context, explanatory notes provide information about people and places, and the book includes a detailed introduction and a chronology of Stowe’s life.
The thirty-eight recollections gathered in Stowe in Her Own Time form a biographical narrative designed to provide several perspectives on the famous author, sometimes in conflict and sometimes in agreement but always perceptive. The figure who emerges from this insightful, analytical collection is far more complex than the image she helped construct in her lifetime.
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.
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.
The Transformation of the Abolitionist Movement from Peaceful Demonstration to Radical Confrontation as Embodied in John Brown
Establishing himself as a fresh and important voice in the history of African American emancipation,William S. King provides a critical introduction to the lead-up to the Civil War. A skilled and judicious chronicler, King seamlessly weaves multiple and seemingly disparate threads, including early nineteenth-century Revivalism, the emergence of the Republic of Texas, the fugitive slave laws—and even the explosion of a cannon aboard the U.S.S. Princeton in 1844—to explain how the opposition to slavery in America changed from producing speeches and pamphlets to embracing the reality that slavery could be eradicated only through armed conflict. By tracing this transformation through the life of John Brown, King provides an entirely new assessment of this enigmatic figure who was characterized as a “mad man” in the wake of his butchering of proslavery settlers in Kansas and the inept raid on Harpers Ferry, Virginia. King puts these actions in context to explain the paradox of Brown’s legacy. On one hand he was vilified as an unstable threat to American democracy or a fanatical sideshow to the history of the Civil War, while on the other he was an inspiration to the oppressed, a man who garnered the indomitable Harriet Tubman’s commitment to the righteousness of his endeavor.
Elegantly written with a command of period sources, Till the Dark Angel Comes: Abolitionism and the Road to the Second American Revolution is the story of interracial opposition to slavery, the important debates among free blacks as to their future in America, and the arguments and compromises at the highest levels of government. Here we encounter many personalities of the time, some well known, such as Frederick Douglass,William Lloyd Garrison, and John C. Calhoun, and others less so, but no less important—Martin Delany, Henry Highland Garnet, and Elijah Lovejoy.