In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

BOOK REVIEWS347 abolitionism. Likewise, he concludes that a social and ideological context conducive to the proliferation of both abolitionism and religious nonconformity (especially Methodism among the artisan class), not simply evangelicalism , contributed to the emergence of popular movement for emancipation. In this well-crafted study based on extensive research in secondary sources as well as newspapers and pamphlet literature, Drescher sheds new light on the Somerset Case and the ending of slavery in Britain; the relationship between metropolitan reformers and planters, slaves and the clergy in the West Indies; and the distinctiveness of British antislavery mobilization within the European context. He is especially persuasive in arguing that support among artisans in Manchester and other northern industrial cities was essential to the success of the abolitionists' petitions campaigns. Yet the author does not adequately explain why workingclass radicals in London and otherareas of southern England were generally hostile toward the abolitionists. More important, while this work represents a needed corrective to the more strident claims of the hegemonic theorists, Drescher leaves unanswered important questions that Davis and others have raised: To what degree did workers actually direct the course of the antislavery cause? Did middle class groups in any way control and manipulate the multi-class antislavery constituency that Drescher describes? Why did many abolitionists focus their attacks on slavery rather than on the wage labor system? In all, Drescher's study will significantly influence the course of the historical debate on British abolitionism and hopefully will encourage students of both the British and American antislavery movements to devote much-needed attention to the rank and file members. Hugh Davis Southern Connecticut State University Philadelphia's Black Elite: Activism, Accommodation, and the Struggle forAutonomy, 1787-1848. By Julie Winch. (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1988. Pp. x, 240. $34.95.) Philadelphia 's Black Elite examines the political and quasi-political activities of the self-selected leadership of the nation's most influential black community from the postrevolutionary era to the mid-nineteenth century. Unlike most studies of Northern antebellum activists, this book begins over forty years before the founding of William Lloyd Garrison's American Anti-Slavery Association in 1833. Philadelphia blacks organized the Free African Society, a nondenominational religious and mutual relief group, within a decade of the passage of the Pennsylvania gradual abolition act 348civil war history ( 1 780), and soon thereafter formed a Masonic lodge and several separate churches. Julie Winch argues persuasively that black ministers and officers ofthese organizations assumed leadership ofthe black community because they were articulate and because the city's white elite called upon them to be intermediaries when wider black support was needed, as in the yellow fever epidemic of 1793. After describing the emergence of the black elite, Winch traces debates over emigration to Sierra Leone, Liberia, Haiti, Canada, and Trinidad, relationships with white abolitionists, rifts over what direction the 1830s convention movement should take (nonracial moral reform or race conscious efforts to end discrimination), and consensus by 1848 to demand suffrage. Two overarching concepts inform the author's discussion but are not demonstrated adequately. First, she suggests that such self-appointed leaders as James Forten, Richard Allen, Absolem Jones, and Robert Purvis retained authority only as long as they served "the best interests of less articulate blacks" (168). While this makes sense on an intuitive level, Winch found only one instance in which the larger black community had a definite influence on an elite position—when in 1817 Philadelphia blacks rejected outright the plan ofthe American Colonization Society (ACS) for emigration to Liberia. Forten and others, hoping to establish trade with the African settlements, had cooperated with Paul Cuffe in his Sierra Leone venture and had corresponded with associates of the ACS as well. When black Philadelphians made their will known, the elite quicklyjoined them in denouncing the ACS. Except for this incident the author found little evidence of interaction between the black community and its elite. Second, Winch argues that the fratricidal disputes of the 1830s resulted from the fact that the "leadership was not a tightly knit clique" and thus "too many able men and women aspired to the limited positions of influence available " (168). The author clearly knows her...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 347-348
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.