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209 Notes Introduction 1. Melba J. Boyd, Discarded Legacy: Politics and Poetics in the Life of Frances E. W. Harper, 1825–1911 (Detroit, Mich.: Wayne State University Press, 1994), 114. This speech was one of many in which Harper emphasized what she viewed as the convergence of interests among nineteenth-century Americans, as explained in Shirley Wilson Logan’s ‘‘We Are Coming’’: The Persuasive Discourse of Nineteenth-Century Black Women (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1999), 57–60. 2. Bettye J. Gardner, ‘‘William Watkins: Antebellum Black Teacher and Writer,’’ Negro History Bulletin 39, no. 6 (1976): 623–24; C. Peter Ripley, ed., The Black Abolitionist Papers (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1991) (hereafter BAP ), 3:96–97 n. 6. Note: In general, when I cite editorial information from The Black Abolitionist Papers, as I do here, citations are to the books; when I cite the documents, I cite the microfilm version by reel and frame number. 3. This use of the term ‘‘movement’’ is intended to challenge the historiographic hegemony that the movement among white, middle-class women during the same period has enjoyed, obscuring our view of the nineteenth century’s multiple movements . The invocation of the term ‘‘movement’’ is not merely descriptive but also strategic. The work of shaping our understandings of the nineteenth-century women ’s movement began just weeks after the 1848 women’s rights convention at Seneca Falls, New York; participants pronounced the gathering the beginning of a ‘‘movement ,’’ even though they could not know what might follow that event. For those who came together in 1848, the term was at best an aspirational claim to a political 210 Notes to Pages 4–5 status yet to be realized. To label the early women’s conventions a movement was to elevate them to a standing on par with existing reform movements, such as antislavery and temperance, which were already acknowledged to be important in public life. Use of the term ‘‘movement’’ also conveyed a set of underlying strategies, signaling that some women intended to follow the lead of temperance and antislavery activists by using conventions, petitions, mass meetings, and the printing press to make their case to the public. By the 1890s, leaders of this movement used the writing of history to make the case for a singular women’s movement. The multivolume History of Woman Su√rage asserted this view and left little room for alternate understandings . Mid-twentieth-century women’s historians picked up on this impressive, though incomplete history, further reifying the perspective that Stanton, Anthony, Gage, and Harper actively promoted. 4. The debate among African Americans was part of a more widespread woman question debate in the United States. Some scholars have suggested that the American and British debates were parts of a single discussion emanating from one community of letters. See the introduction to Elizabeth K. Helsinger, Robin L. Sheets, and William Veeder, eds., Defining Voices, 1837–1883, vol. 1 of The Woman Question: Society and Literature in Britain and America, 1837–1883 (New York: Garland Publishing, 1983), xiii. Helsinger et al. date the advent of the ‘‘Victorian Woman Question’’ to 1837, arguing that concern with distinctive concepts including ‘‘woman’s mission,’’ ‘‘woman’s sphere,’’ and ‘‘woman’s influence’’ ally the debates of the 1830s with those of the 1880s, rather than with the debates of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Bibliographer Dennis Norlin asserts that the phrase ‘‘the Woman Question ’’ appeared in print for the first time in October 1866 in an Atlantic Monthly article by F. Sheldon titled ‘‘Various Aspects of the Woman Question.’’ See Dennis A. Norlin, ‘‘The Term ‘the Woman Question’ in Late-Nineteenth-Century Social Discourse ,’’ Bulletin of Bibliography 49, no. 3 (September 1992): 179–93. 5. To capture an African American public culture, this study relies upon the records of African American institutions, including those of various Methodist and Baptist organizations, the ‘‘colored’’ convention movement, fraternal orders, literary and historical societies, mutual aid organizations, and the press. 6. African American activists debated whether their institutions should be bounded by race. Some groups, such as the American Moral Reform Society of the mid-1830s, rejected all ‘‘distinctions of color or complexion.’’ See Howard H. Bell, ‘‘The American Moral Reform Society, 1836–1841,’’ Journal of Negro Education 27, no. 1 (Winter 1958): 34–40. 7. Most recently, John Stau√er’s The Black Hearts of Men: Radical Abolitionists and the Transformation of Race (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2001...


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