In this Book

What was the relationship between rhetoric and slavery, and how did rhetoric fail as an alternative to violence, becoming instead its precursor?
Fanatical Schemes is a study of proslavery rhetoric in the 1830s. A common understanding of the antebellum slavery debate is that the increased stridency of abolitionists in the 1830s, particularly the abolitionist pamphlet campaign of 1835, provoked proslavery politicians into greater intransigence and inflammatory rhetoric. Patricia Roberts-Miller argues that, on the contrary, inflammatory rhetoric was inherent to proslavery ideology and predated any shift in abolitionist practices.
She examines novels, speeches, and defenses of slavery written after the pamphlet controversy to underscore the tenets of proslavery ideology and the qualities that made proslavery rhetoric effective. She also examines anti-abolitionist rhetoric in newspapers from the spring of 1835 and the history of slave codes (especially anti-literacy laws) to show that anti-abolitionism and extremist rhetoric long preceded more strident abolitionist activity in the 1830s.
The consensus that was achieved by proslavery advocates, argues Roberts-Miller, was not just about slavery, nor even simply about race. It was also about manhood, honor, authority, education, and political action. In the end, proslavery activists worked to keep the realm of public discourse from being a place in which dominant points of view could be criticized--an achievement that was, paradoxically, both a rhetorical success and a tragedy.

Table of Contents

  1. Contents
  2. pp. vii-vii
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Acknowledgments
  2. pp. ix-x
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Introduction: “Industrious in scattering the seeds of insurrection”
  2. pp. 1-17
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. 1. “Slavery shall not be discussed”: The Political Power of the Irrational Rhetor
  2. pp. 18-45
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. 2. “With firm, undaunted resolution”: The Rhetoric of Doom
  2. pp. 46-71
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. 3. “A deep conviction, settled on every bosom”: Alarmism, Conspiracy, and Unification
  2. pp. 72-102
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. 4. “For the sake of your wives, children and their posterity”: Manly Politics
  2. pp. 103-126
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. 5. “Careless of the Consequences”: Extended Defenses of Slavery
  2. pp. 127-158
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. 6. “Our laws to regulate slaves are entirely founded on terror”: The Political Theory of Slave Codes
  2. pp. 159-186
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. 7. “The Sweet Waters of Concord and Union”: Pro slavery Rhetoric in a Deliberative Setting
  2. pp. 187-210
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Conclusion: “Any rational plan”: The Responsibilities of Rhetoric
  2. pp. 211-237
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Notes
  2. pp. 239-257
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Works Cited
  2. pp. 259-274
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Index
  2. pp. 275-286
  3. restricted access Download |

Additional Information

Related ISBN
MARC Record
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.