A Cultural History of Afro-Atlantic Identity, 1774-1903
Publication Year: 2012
Published by: Baylor University Press
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Half Title Page, Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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Many colleagues, students, and friends have supported my work for Claiming Exodus. I acknowledge Gladys D. S. Lewis, my friend in the fray, as well as Carey C. Newman, my thoughtful, enthusiastic editor at Baylor University Press, along with Team Baylor, who were attentive to details at every step of the production process. I am especially grateful for my college friend Mitzi Smith, who connected me with Carey Newman at BUP. In the earliest stages of the project, John Ernest served as my careful...
List of Illustrations
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Introduction: From Egypt to Canaan, An Afro-Atlantic Journey
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In Sketches of My Life in the South, part I (1879), as Jacob Stroyer recalls how he obtained freedom, he recasts the history of African Americans as a type of Exodus experience, asserting that their liberation was effected by divine intervention. Like the enslaved Israelites who pleaded with God for relief from oppression, enslaved African Americans prayed for divine deliverance...
1. Exodus and the Politics of Liberty (1774–1800)
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Approximately three months after American colonists staged the Boston Tea Party, Phillis Wheatley inaugurated the Afro-Atlantic Exodus literary tradition when she penned her most blistering attack against slavery. The twenty-year-old had just completed a successful tour of England, where she had been feted as a celebrated poet. Upon her return to Boston, she obtained her freedom. In her letter to Samson occum, a Mohegan Indian...
2. Exodus as the Blueprint for Building Free Black Communities (1800–1840)
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In the first decade of the nineteenth century, England and America’s divergent approaches to slavery caused a significant shift in the development of Afro-Atlantic Exodus narratives. Abolitionists gained a major victory when both countries outlawed the transatlantic slave trade. Each nation developed different philosophies regarding its continued involvement with slavery, however. The United States further entrenched itself as a slave society...
3. Exodus in the Era of Manifest Destiny (1840–1861)
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By 1840 nearly two and one-half million African Americans suffered in slavery, while more than three hundred thousand free blacks languished under laws that severely restricted their liberty.1 African American leaders and their supporters maintained their demands for freedom, while the majority of white politicians remained invested in strengthening the national economy through Southern slavery, Northern industrialization, and westward expansion...
4. Exodus, the Civil War, and Reconstruction (1861–1877)
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During the early 1860s, the events leading to the outbreak of the Civil War compelled African American activists, white abolitionists, proslavery advocates, and white writers to develop distinct Exodus narratives to advance their disparate agendas for emancipating or subjugating African Americans. Economic policy disparities between the North and South, particularly taxation, continuing disagreement regarding states’ rights and slavery, and...
5. African Americans in the Nadir (1877–1900)
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The failure of Reconstruction thwarted black and white writers’ attempts to create new national Exodus narratives that would have developed a more perfect union for all American citizens. Reconstruction had ushered in an era of unparalleled economic, educational, political, and social gains that signaled the transformation of the United States into a promised land, particularly for its African American populace. Within a decade, however...
Afterword: The First Joshua Generation, Stranded on the Border of Canaan (1895–1903)
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Frederick Douglass’ death in 1895 precipitated a leadership crisis in the African American community. Approximately one year earlier, on the fiftieth anniversary of the day he was sold as a slave in Talbot County, Maryland, Douglass had penned a letter to his friend the Reverend Grimké. Reflecting on the dramatic changes that had occurred over his lifetime, Douglass mused, “I cannot believe that the Almighty power that has brought us so...
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Page Count: 190
Publication Year: 2012