The Problem of Democracy in the Age of Slavery
Garrisonian Abolitionists and Transatlantic Reform
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: LSU Press
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The problem of democracy in the age of slavery : Garrisonian abolitionists and transat-ISBN 978-0-8071-5018-4 (cloth : alk. paper) â ISBN 978-0-8071-5019-1 (pdf) â ISBN 978-0-8071-5020-7 (epub) â ISBN 978-0-8071-5021-4 (mobi) 1. Antislavery movementsâUnited StatesâHistoryâ19th century. 2. SlaveryâPolitical aspectsâUnited StatesâHis-toryâ19th century. 3. DemocracyâPhilosophy. 4. Garrison, William Lloyd, 1805â1879. ...
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...9. The Civil War and the Rupturing of Transatlantic Abolitionism, 10. Reconstruction and the Rupturing of Garrisonian Abolitionism, ...
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This book began as a dissertation at Johns Hopkins University under the direction of Ronald G. Walters and Dorothy Ross. I could not have asked for better guides into the worlds of abolitionism, American cultural and intellectual history, and academic life.Today it is impossible for me to return to Ronâs scholarship on the antislav-ery movement without noticing countless ways in which his thinking has in-formed my own; it would be just as impossible to calculate his influence on these pagesânot to mention the many, many drafts that came before them. Dorothyâs ...
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On April 14, 1865, hours before Abraham Lincoln sat down for the last time at Fordâs Theater in Washington, D.C., the famous abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison sat down for the first time in Charleston, South Carolina. More than three decades before, Garrison had founded the Boston Libera-tor, a newspaper dedicated to universal, immediate slave emancipation. In 1833, he helped found the American Anti-Slavery Society (AASS), a group devoted to the same goal. And by the time he went to Charleston, Garrison had served as the societyâs president for over twenty years. Only in the last few, however, had ...
PART I: ORIGINS
1. The Education of William Lloyd Garrison, 1818–1833
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On July 5, 1824, William Lloyd Garrisonâthen an eighteen-year-old journal-ist with Federalist inclinations in politics and Romantic tastes in poetryâ delivered a patriotic oration in Newburyport, Massachusetts. It did not sound at all like the speech of a future Constitution-burner. On the con-trary, like most Fourth of July orators, Garrison described the United States âgov-ernment [as] the most enlightened, the most liberal, and the most virtuous on earth.â The American Revolution was âthe pole-star of attraction,âthe splendid, immaculate guide,âto all other nations, in their career after freedom.â In view ...
2. The Troublous Ocean of Transatlantic Abolitionism, 1833–1840
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Garrisonâs first time crossing the Atlantic Ocean shared one thing with all his future crossings: sea-sickness. On May 1, 1833, his New Yorkâtoâ Liverpool packet ship had not even cleared the bay before Garrisonâs stomach was âvanquishedâ by âa petty tumult among the waves!â Thirteen years later, after five more crossings of âthe restless deep,â Garrison confessed that âI shall never get reconciled to the ocean. Though I am fond of agitation, it Garrison nevertheless saw his first Atlantic crossing as âprovidential,â nau-sea aside. He spent several mornings discussing Parliamentâs West Indian eman-...
3. Conflict and Continuity in Transatlantic Abolitionism, 1840–1854
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The 1840s proved to be an even more active decade of transatlantic abo-litionist networking than the previous one, but the decade opened with setbacks. Nathaniel Paulâthe black abolitionist who had battled coloni-zationism in England from 1832 to 1836âdied in 1839. Then, in January 1840, Charles Follen was killed in a steamship accident off the coast of New York, depriving abolitionists of a promising link to European liberals and uncon-Meanwhile, even as the ocean took Follen to his rest, abolitionistsâ transatlan-tic networks were being battered by intense, internecine quarrels over religion, ...
PART II: IDEAS
4. The Problem of Public Opinion
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Between 1830 and 1854, Garrisonians were transformed from unknown Americans into an infamous, tightly knit movement with dense connec-tions to European reformers. But Garrisonians remained a diverse lot: no single theology or socioeconomic marker united all members of the AASS, who sometimes struggled to keep their community intact. Garrisonians gener-ally could draw on at least two commonalities, however: a hope that nonviolent agitation would change society in the future, and a set of experiences that made them feel embattled in the present. From these two group traits emerged a third: ...
5. The Problem of Nationalism
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Not all Garrisonians drew so directly from Tocqueville, but others echoed Phillipsâs ideas about democracy. Certainly Garrison agreed that âthere is nothing like agitation,â and that âwe have too little, instead of too much dissent among us.â âIf we had not innumerable facts to prove the general corruption of the times,â said the Liberator in 1846, âthe fear of free speech and free inquiry would prove it; for where the mind and tongue are fettered, either by imperial edicts, by statutory enactments, by the terrors of summary punish-ment, [or] by popular sentiment . . . it indicates an evil state of society.â1...
6. The Problem of Aristocracy
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Experience and reflection brought both Garrison and Phillips to stark con-clusions about the dangers of democratic government. Both men con-cluded, for different reasons, that agitation outside of political office was necessary to counteract those dangers. But neither man concluded that some other form of government would be better than democracy. As Phillips put it in 1859, democratic institutions, while ânot perfect,â were still âthe best Garrison agreed, though his commitment to democratic institutions can be harder to discern, both because of his belief that voting was a sin for him and be-...
7. The Problem of Influence
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By the mid-1840s, Garrisonians agreed with a growing number of antislav-ery northerners about the dangers posed by the Slave Power. As historian Leonard L. Richards notes, âhostility toward slave oligarchs . . . provided common groundâ for a wide range of peopleâincluding anti-expansion Whigs, antislavery Jacksonians, and political abolitionistsâprecisely because âmen and women could differ on scores of issues . . . and still lambaste the Garrisonians differed from other opponents of the Slave Power, however, in their steady refusal to vote or run for political office, even as others grew more ...
PART III: EVENTS
8. Transatlantic Revolutions and Reversals, 1848–1854
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For all their heady talk of Christian perfectionââone historian has notedâGarrison and âhis disciples were liberal nineteenth-century reformersâ who âwere not so very different from others of their kindâRichard Cob-den, John Bright, and Daniel OâConnell.â But most Americans at the time could only hear âtalk of Christian perfectionâ when they listened to Garrison and his allies. Even though Noyes himself criticized the AASS and the Non-Resistance Society as insufficiently âreligious,â and even though leading orators like Phillips never embraced non-resistance, many abolitionists continued to ...
9. The Civil War and the Rupturing of Transatlantic Abolitionism, 1854–1863
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At Framingham, Garrisonians still believed their primary role was to agi-tate, but the temptation to politics did not go away. Neither did their ques-tions about how to measure or deal with political influence. Even in the dark days of the Pierce administration, there were some antislavery men in Congress who raised those questions anew. Phillips ârejoice[d] beyond mea-sureâ when Gerrit Smith, a onetime foe, was elected to Congress in 1852, hail-ing it as âa striking sign of the times.â Likewise, when Hale chastised proslavery southerners during Congressional debates over welcoming Kossuth, Garrisoni-...
10. Reconstruction and the Rupturing of Garrisonian Abolitionism, 1863–1865
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Tensions between American and British Garrisonians eased slightly when Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 and Congress passed the Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery in 1865. After 1863, prominent European liberals in Britain and France also swelled the ranks of the Unionâs transatlantic allies. In an open letter published in England and re-published in the Liberator, John Stuart Mill now identified âthe prospects of the human raceâ with the Union cause. And in January 1865, the London Emancipa-tion Society, led by Thompsonâs son-in-law Chesson, presented a congratulatory ...
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On April 7, 1865, one week before Abraham Lincolnâs assassination and Garrisonâs visit to Fort Sumter, the Liberator published an excerpt from an essay by Mary Grew, one of the delegates excluded from the Worldâs Convention of 1840. Grew depicted the closing of the war as a moment of congratulation for abolitionists, whose long faith in agitation had finally been vindicated by âthe regenerated public opinion of the Northern States.â But their victory was also a matter of hope for the world, which had seen countless âup-heaved kingdoms and overturned thronesâ and âdestroyed nationsâ in recent ...
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BAA British and American Abolitionists: An Episode in Transatlantic Under-standing, ed. Clare Taylor. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, BPL Boston Public Library, Anti-Slavery Collection, Rare Books and Manu-CWJSM Robson, John M. The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill. 33 vols. To-Garrison and Garrison, Garrison, Wendell Phillips, and Francis Jackson Garrison. William ...
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Page Count: 376
Publication Year: 2013
Series Title: Antislavery, Abolition, and the Atlantic World