Moral Capital: Foundations of British Abolitionism / Edition 1

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Overview

Brown challenges prevailing scholarly arguments that locate the roots of British abolitionism in economic determinism and bourgeois humanitarianism. Brown instead connects the movement to changing ideas of empire in Britain at the time, particularly the anxiety spurred by the American Revolution. The first emancipation schemes were dependent on efforts to strengthen the role of the imperial state in an era of weakening overseas authority. Brown shows that the movement derived its power by combining the pursuit of high ideals with a profound yearning for moral worth.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Brown's meticulous and lucid analysis of the self-regarding, self-interested, and self-validating impulse in British abolitionism presents a much more nuanced and compelling argument than we have seen before."--New West Indian Guide

"Brown's Moral Capital is remarkable in . . . managing to say something genuinely new about a subject that has been discussed and written about for two centuries; and that . . . is no small achievement."--Times Literary Supplement

"A crucial intervention in our understanding of the international pressures that led to . . . the term 'British anti-slavery'. . . . . This meditation on the vastly complex social and iintellectual origins of British anti-slavery activism takes us back to basics, and asks radical questions that historians of the Atlantic diaspora will now need to ponder."-American Historical Review

"A provocative rereading of the origins of late eighteenth-century British antislavery. Beautifully written and elegantly paced. . . . [Brown's] is an outstanding contribution to an enormous and critical historiography."--Journal of American History

"An impressive array of primary sources. . . . Capturing the complexity of abolitionism's development . . . A significant study that sheds new light."--The Journal of Religion

"Elegant and persuasive. . . . Effectively reframe[s] our traditional portraits of antislavery as humanitarian reform more generally at the turn of the eighteenth century."--William and Mary Quarterly

"A comprehensive and encyclopedic analysis of early British abolitionism that will be standard reading for all interested in the subject."--Journal of the Early Republic

"This is a carefully crafted study that will be widely appreciated by historians of slavery, imperial history, the American Revolution and eighteenth-century British domestic politics."--Patterns of Prejudice

"A major reassessment of a movement that has usually been studied from a much more limited perspective."--Itinerario

"In what is likely to become a landmark study in the history of British abolitionism, Brown provides a nuanced and compelling interpretation of its roots. . . . This outstanding and timely study will have a broad impact. Essential."--Choice

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Christopher Leslie Brown is associate professor of history at Rutgers University and coeditor of Arming Slaves: From Classical Times to the Modern Age.
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Table of Contents

Ch. 1 Antislavery without abolitionism 33
Ch. 2 The politics of slavery in the years of crisis 105
Ch. 3 Granville Sharp and the obligations of empire 155
Ch. 4 British concepts of emancipation in the age of the American revolution 209
Ch. 5 Africa, Africans, and the idea of abolition 259
Ch. 6 British evangelicals and Caribbean slavery after the American war 333
Ch. 7 The society of friends and the antislavery identity 391
Epilogue : moral capital 451
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