Creating the Culture of Reform in Antebellum America
Publication Year: 2006
Published by: University of Georgia Press
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Quite a few people made important contributions to this book. The content of individual chapters has been strongly influenced by feedback I received from the members of the Rochester University Social Historian (RUSH) draft group. The members of this group gave careful and thoughtful comments on the introduction and the chapter on Garrison and Douglass. I presented a version...
List of Abbreviations
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INTRODUCTION: Discursive Democracy and the Culture of Reform
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Antebellum social reform movements, especially antislavery and women's rights, shaped public discourse in ways that still define the manner in which Americans deal with divisive issues. The relationships that these reform movements created not only redefined Americans' understanding of citizenship and equality; they also created a culture of reform through which people debated moral and ethical...
CHAPTER ONE: Religious Pluralism and the Origins of the Culture of Reform
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During the three decades between Henry Ware's election to the Hollis Chair of Divinity at Harvard in 1805 and the disestablishment of Congregationalism in Massachusetts, the New England ministry underwent a transformation metaphoric of broader trends toward pluralism in antebellum society. Movements that would restructure the role of the church in American society were...
CHAPTER TWO: Sincerity and Publicity in the Grimké-Beecher Debate
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As the legitimization of the minister's authority diffused into the realm of critical public discourse, the types of authority Americans saw in womanhood were also beginning to find purchase in the public sphere. Even as Jacksonian Americans were assembling the scaffolding of antebellum domesticity, American women were defining two important pathways into critical discourse. Working...
CHAPTER THREE: Garrison, Douglass, and the Problem of Politics
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Frederick Douglass's fight with the slave breaker Covey was clearly an act of liberatory self-assertion. But as Frank Kirkland points out, it is also a parable of recognition, a story that demonstrates Douglass's ability to compel a white man to recognize him as an equal, at least in terms of brute force.1 After defeating Covey, Douglass puzzled over his master's response and wondered why Covey did...
CHAPTER FOUR: Emerson's Self-Reliance as a Theory of Community
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When Emerson remarks in his 1841 essay "Man the Reformer," "What is a man born for but to be a Reformer," he is only half thinking about reform associations and organized movements (CW 1:156). More directly he is considering the processes and forces that transform selves and communities. In this early essay on the emerging culture of reform, he speaks in self-reflexive terms and argues that...
EPILOGUE: Sincerity and Pluralism in Critical Conversation
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The emphasis that early reformers placed on the right of access to public discourse also says much about ambiguities in the relationship of liberalism to discursive democracy. One reason that Frederick Douglass accepted the advantages of political antislavery and that the women's rights movement chose the path indicated by Angelina Grimké is that advocates of civil and equal rights...
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Page Count: 280
Publication Year: 2006