Abolitionist Politics and the Coming of the Civil War
Publication Year: 2008
Published by: University of Massachusetts Press
Table of Contents
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Before the Civil War, slaveholders made themselves into the most powerful, most deeply rooted, and best organized private interest group within the United States. There should be no surprise in this. Investment in slavery, in all of its financial manifestations, was exceeded only by investment in real estate. ...
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Part I : Narratives
Few historical narratives are as complex or as open to conflicting interpretation as those recounting the coming of the Civil War. Though agreeing on the major events is easy enough, disagreement inevitably arises when one asks how these events should be interpreted when determining who and what was responsible for causing that war. ...
From Moral Suasion to Political Confrontation American Abolitionists and the Problem of Resistance, 1831–1861
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In January 1863, as warfare raged between North and South, the great abolitionist orator Wendell Phillips addressed an enormous audience of over ten thousand in Brooklyn, New York. Just days earlier, President Abraham Lincoln, in his Emancipation Proclamation, had defined the destruction of slavery as the North’s new and overriding war aim. ...
Part II : Contexts
From its inception to its conclusion, the abolitionist movement constantly struggled with the pervasive and intractable problem of racial prejudice. Those difficulties were all the more complicated by the fact that racial prejudice expressed itself in new and disturbing ways as circumstances changed throughout the pre–Civil War years. ...
Modernizing “Difference”: The Political Meanings of Color in the Free States, 1776–1840
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As the decade of the 1830s opened, people living in the states “north of slavery” found themselves facing unprecedented dangers and opportunities that resulted from rapidly accumulating racial tensions. As crises multiplied, headlines of that time (even in generic form) conveyed their enormity and potential for violence—Nullification Spirit Sweeps...
The Roberts Case, the Easton Family, and the Dynamics of the Abolitionist Movement in Massachusetts, 1776–1870 (co-authored with George R. Price)
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As one of Boston’s most militant black abolitionists, Benjamin Roberts surprised no one when he filed a desegregation lawsuit against the city school committee in 1848. This familiar and important story ultimately set formidable precedents in the struggle for racial equality and in the history of American law. ...
William Lloyd Garrison, Wendell Phillips, and the Symmetry of Autobiography: Charisma and the Character of Abolitionist Leadership
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When explaining the motivations of America’s white abolitionists, many historians emphasize the importance of “grassroots” approaches. Yet, the problem of motivation can also be fruitfully investigated by considering the movement “from the top down,” in this instance by comparing the biographies of William Lloyd Garrison and Wendell Phillips. ...
Part IV : Consequences
Political historians who explain the coming of the Civil War see little reason to emphasize the importance of the abolitionists. In the epochal shattering of the nation’s systems of electoral politics and governance, they discern little if any influence being exerted by so small and marginalized a group. ...
Joshua Giddings, Antislavery Violence, and the Politics of Congressional Honor
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To historians of the American conflict over slavery, the censure and re-election of Congressman Joshua Giddings is a familiar but important story. In 1842 Giddings defied the House of Representatives’ “gag rule” by presenting resolutions that defended the right of slaves on ships in international waters to rise in bloody insurrection. ...
The Orator and the Insurrectionist
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“I regard you as providentially raised up to be the James Otis of the new revolution,” wrote William Lloyd Garrison to Wendell 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 to the work that is coming for you.”1 ...
The New Haven Negro College and the Dynamics of Race in New England, 1776–1870
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In 1831, a group of black and white abolitionists embarked on a path- breaking experiment: they would establish an academic institution devoted to educating young African Americans, and, most unprecedented, it would be funded by philanthropists of both races. Modeling their scheme on the manual labor schools already popular in Germany and England, the planners adopted a curriculum designed to help students...
Reconsidering the Abolitionists in an Age of Fundamentalist Politics
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The era we refer to as the “Jacksonian Era” or the “Era of the Market Revolution” can just as accurately be termed the “Era of Bible Politics.” As we know, people in the antebellum era quarreled incessantly over whether their nation ought to be refashioned as a “Christian Republic.” Should the lives of Americans and the mandates of their institutions accord with sacred scripture? ...
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Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2008