Abolitionist Politics

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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 Not only did slavery represent the national economy's second largest capital investment, exceeded only by investment in real estate, but guarantees of its perpetuation were studded throughout the U.S. Constitution. The vast majority of white Americans, both North and South, accepted the institution, and pro-slavery presidents and congressmen consistently promoted its interests.

In Abolitionist Politics and the Coming of the Civil War, James Brewer Stewart explains how a small group of radical activists, the abolitionist movement, played a pivotal role in turning American politics against this formidable system. He examines what influence the movement had in creating the political crises that led to civil war and evaluates the extent to which a small number of zealous reformers made a truly significant political difference when demanding that their nation face up to its most excruciating moral problem.

About the Author:
James Brewer Stewart is James Wallace Professor of History at Macalester College and author of Holy Warriors: Abolitionists and American Slavery and other works on the history of abolitionism

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Editorial Reviews

Midwest Book Review
Abolitionist Politics and the Coming of the Civil War is a complete and comprehensive examination of America's early years and its politics regarding slavery . . . A story of how even the smallest minority can set events in motion [Stewart's book] is highly recommended for both American history and black studies collections alike.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781558496354
  • Publisher: University of Massachusetts Press
  • Publication date: 2/6/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 236
  • Sales rank: 1,428,896
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface     ix
Acknowledgments     xiii
Narratives     1
From Moral Suasion to Political Confrontation: American Abolitionists and the Problem of Resistance, 1831-1861     3
Contexts     33
Modernizing "Difference": The Political Meanings of Color in the Free States, 1776-1840     35
Commitments     59
The Roberts Case, the Easton Family, and the Dynamics of the Abolitionist Movement in Massachusetts, 1776-1870: (co-authored with George R. Price)     61
William Lloyd Garrison, Wendell Phillips, and the Symmetry of Autobiography: Charisma and the Character of Abolitionist Leadership     89
Consequences     111
Joshua Giddings, Antislavery Violence, and the Politics of Congressional Honor     113
The Orator and the Insurrectionist     139
The New Haven Negro College and the Dynamics of Race in New England, 1776-1870     172
Reconsidering the Abolitionists in an Age of Fundamentalist Politics     203
Index     227
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