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Wendell Phillips

Liberty's Hero

James Brewer Stewart

Publication Year: 1998

Throughout the Civil War era, no other white American spoke more powerfully against slavery and for the ideals of racial democracy than did Wendell Phillips. Nationally famous as “abolition’s golden trumpet,” Phillips became the North’s most widely hailed public lecturer, even though he espoused ideas most regarded as deeply threatening—the abolition of slavery, equality among races and classes, and women's rights. James Brewer Stewart’s study resolves this seeming paradox by showing how Phillips came to possess such extraordinary rhetorical gifts, how he used them to shape the politics of his times, and how he rooted them in his upbringing, marriage, and personal relationships.

Published by: Louisiana State University Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-11

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Preface and Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xiii

Recent scholarship on the abolitionists has minimized their importance in shaping the issues of their age. Seen as piously removed from partisan affairs, the abolitionists are said to have had an only marginal impact in the North-South political conflict. Perceived as Victorian paternalists, they are declared...

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ONE: The Aristocrats' Child

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pp. 1-18

The new, brick, Federal-style home, set on Beacon Hill at the corner of Walnut and Beacon streets, gave testimony to its owner's prestige. Its tall lower windows hinted at much taller ceilings within. The home stood a full three stories tall amid its spacious grounds and looked high over the rolling greens...

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TWO: The Studies of a Young Apollo

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pp. 19-35

During the 18203 Harvard's administrators strove with a new diligence to prepare their students to enter the Brahmin elite. The wealthy families connected with Boston's economic boom began to underwrite new faculty chairs and the expansion of Harvard's physical facilities, and they sat in increasing numbers...

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THREE: Career Despair and Marriage of Hope

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pp. 36-53

As Wendell Phillips began the study of law, he looked on his choice as the least unattractive of surprisingly few alternatives. Family traditions did not permit him to follow Lothrop Motley and Edmund Quincy as they became gentlemanly writers, living on family wealth. Phillips felt no attraction to the ministry either...

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FOUR: The Second Wendell Phillips

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pp. 54-75

A considerable portion of the interest from his father's holdings had begun coming to Wendell Phillips when he reached the age of twenty-one, and he knew that when his mother died he would receive a large share of the family estate. Furthermore, the Greene family fortune nearly matched John...

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FIVE: Europe and Essex Street

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pp. 76-96

Ann Phillips remained in good health, "looking nicely," for the first year of their marriage. She and Wendell lived in Boston during the fall and winter of 1838 and spent the summer at the Phillipses' seaside estate in Nahant, near Lynn. Ann delighted in her husband's growth as an abolitionist, remarking that she had...

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SIX: Race, Class, and New England Abolitionists

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pp. 97-116

Three weeks after returning from Europe in the summer of 1841, Wendell Phillips became happily engaged in civil disobedience, joining abolitionists in New York, Philadelphia, and Boston to resist segregation in the transportation systems. He told gatherings of abolitionists about the freedom he had witnessed blacks enjoying...

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SEVEN: Disunionism and Politics

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pp. 117-145

In May, 1842, Lydia Maria Child wrote to Wendell Phillips from New York City announcing that she wished to resign as editor of the National Anti-Slavery Standard, the official newspaper of the American Anti-Slavery Society. "Taste, principle and philosophy," she explained, no longer permitted...

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EIGHT: Whigs and Slave Hunters

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pp. 146-176

In March, 1850, Wendell Phillips consigned his senator to the lowest circle of hell: "If, in the lowest deep, there be a lower deep for profligate statesmen, let all former apostates stand aside and leave it vacant. Hell, from beneath, is moved for thee at thy coming."1 Thus did Phillips greet Daniel Webster's famous Seventh of March...

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NINE: The Orator and the Insurrectionist

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pp. 177-208

"I regard you as providentially raised up to be the James Otis of the new revolution," wrote William Lloyd Garrison to Phillips in 1857. The year before, Thomas Wentworth Higginson had also offered him the same challenging thought: "Some prophetic character must emerge as the new crisis culminates. . . . Your life has been merely preliminary...

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TEN: Citizen Wendell Phillips

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pp. 209-242

Sounds of competing voices rose from northern lecture halls as the 1860 elections neared, for in Boston and throughout the North, three great organizations contested for the future of the Union. The Democratic party had finally succumbed to sectional rupture. Northern Democrats backed Stephen A. Douglas and popular...

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ELEVEN: Reconstruction, Capitalism, and the Franchise

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pp. 243-269

On December 4, 1863, members of the American Anti-Slavery Society convened in Philadelphia to mark three decades of activity. It was a time to reflect and celebrate. Garrison presided, and Samuel J. May, J. Miller McKim, and other veterans made speeches in which they cast their thoughts back to the 1830s, when they had been young...

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TWELVE: Nationality

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pp. 270-295

During the crucial congressional elections of 1866, Wendell Phillips noted two unusual developments. First, the president of the United States publicly denounced him as a traitor, and then, even as Andrew Johnson cried from the platform, "why not hang Thaddeus Stevens and Wendell Phillips ?" the Workingman's party...

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THIRTEEN: The Eclipse of Republicanism

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pp. 296-319

"I am happy to tell you that Wendell Phillips has been handsomely snubbed at the election last week," Edmund Quincy gossiped to Richard D. Webb in November, 1870. Quincy, retired, had come to scorn Phillips, who he felt had degraded himself and thrown aside the last vestiges of his vaunted independence by running...

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FOURTEEN: The Travail and Solace of History

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pp. 320-335

In July, 1878, Wendell Phillips sent apologies to Elizabeth Gay, informing her that he could not comply with her request to help underwrite a new temperance journal. "Crippled by the times so as to be struggling to pay debts, I have no right to send you anything," he told her. "If I could, I would. . . . But we just live nowadays...


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pp. 337-347


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pp. 349-356

E-ISBN-13: 9780807141397
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807123188

Page Count: 356
Publication Year: 1998