This article explores the thought of the black abolitionist William C. Nell and a literary and intellectual club that he led, Boston's Adelphic Union. It demonstrates that Nell and the Adelphic Union were in contact with New England Transcendentalists, exploring the consequences for their thought and activism. It argues that looking at Nell's abolitionism through the lens of his interaction with Transcendentalism helps us understand the roots of the Elevation impulse. The deep intellectual roots of the Elevation ideology demonstrate the ways black abolitionists engaged with canonical antebellum thought.


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