Proslavery: A History of the Defense of Slavery in America, 1701-1840

Overview

Probing at the very core of the American political consciousness from the colonial period through the early republic, this thorough and unprecedented study by Larry E. Tise suggests that American proslavery thought, far from being an invention of the slave-holding South, had its origins in the crucible of conservative New England.

Proslavery rhetoric, Tise shows, came late to the South, where the heritage of Jefferson's ideals was strongest and where, as late as the 1830s, most ...

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Overview

Probing at the very core of the American political consciousness from the colonial period through the early republic, this thorough and unprecedented study by Larry E. Tise suggests that American proslavery thought, far from being an invention of the slave-holding South, had its origins in the crucible of conservative New England.

Proslavery rhetoric, Tise shows, came late to the South, where the heritage of Jefferson's ideals was strongest and where, as late as the 1830s, most slaveowners would have agreed that slavery was an evil to be removed as soon as possible. When the rhetoric did come, it was often in the portmanteau of ministers who moved south from New England, and it arrived as part of a full-blown ideology. When the South finally did embrace proslavery, the region was placed not at the periphery of American thought but in its mainstream.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Historians generally associate proslavery thought and rhetoric with the Old South, seeing it as the response of self-interested planters to the threats of abolitionism . . . Through extensive research, Tise makes a compelling case that the proslavery arguments of the Old South were neither unique nor stated with greater conviction than in other parts of the nation. He finds the roots of proslavery thought among New England's Federalists and conservative ministers, men who feared slave rebellion and doubted the wisdom of the libertarian ideology of the American Revolution . . . A clearly written, closely argued thesis built on thorough use of primary sources.”—Choice

"Tise here studies the 'proslavery ideology, a mode of thinking . . . and a system of symbols that expressed the social, cultural and moral values of a large portion of the American population' in the first half of the 19th century . . . Tise chronicles a constant stream of books, articles, pamphlets and sermons—his chapter on the growth of proslavery arguments by clergy, usually derived from narrow interpretations of Scripture, is illuminating—and builds to a remarkable and probably controversial exploration of the 'proslavery Republicanism,' which he sees as the full flowering of the conservative Federalist viewpoint that had only temporarily been defeated by America's founding fathers when they framed our Constitution.”—Publishers Weekly

"Tise challenges everything that has long been held sacred by historians of the proslavery movement. Moreover, he offers us not simply a revisionist but a revolutionary thesis. He has severed proslavery from slavery and found its home in the very place where others had detected the origins of abolitionism. Most significantly, Tise has redefined proslavery thought"—Kenneth S. Greenberg, American Historical Review

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Tise here studies the ``proslavery ideology,'' ``a mode of thinking . . . and a system of symbols that expressed the social, cultural and moral values of a large portion of the American population'' in the first half of the 19th century. In a sweeping examination of the point at which America's ``Revolutionary ideology'' was finally supplanted by an ascendant counterrevolutionary response to a rising tide of abolitionism, he documents his conviction that the defense of slaveryespecially after the so-called Missouri compromise and the public arguments against slavery by such voices as that of William Lloyd Garrison in Liberatorwas neither a sectional, nor a Southern, but a national phenomenon. Tise chronicles a constant stream of books, articles, pamphlets and sermonshis chapter on the growth of proslavery arguments by clergy, usually derived from narrow interpretations of Scripture, is illuminatingand builds to a remarkable and probably controversial exploration of the ``proslavery Republicanism,'' which he sees as the full flowering of the conservative Federalist viewpoint that had only temporarily been defeated by America's founding fathers when they framed our Constitution. Tise is director of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. Illustrations. (January)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780820323961
  • Publisher: University of Georgia Press
  • Publication date: 10/10/1990
  • Pages: 528
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.17 (d)

Meet the Author

Larry E. Tise, author or editor of several books on southern history, is director of the Benjamin Franklin Institute in Philadelphia.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations vii
List of Tables xi
Preface xiii
Part 1 The Mythology of Proslavery History
1. Beyond Racism and the "Positive Good" Argument 3
2. Origins of Proslavery in America, 1701-1808 12
3. Proslavery's "Neglected Period," 1808-1832 41
4. Proslavery Heritage of Britain and the West Indies, 1770-1833 75
5. The "Positive Good" Thesis and Proslavery Arguments in Britain and America, 1701-1861 97
6. American Defenders of Slavery, 1790-1865 124
Part 2 The Rise of Proslavery Ideology in America
7. Death of America's Revolutionary Ideology, 1776-1798 183
8. Launching the Conservative Counterrevolution, 1795-1816 204
9. The Conservative Proslavery Center, 1816-1865 238
10. Emergence of Proslavery Ideology in the North, 1831-1840 261
11. Proliferation of Conservative Ideas in the South, 1815-1835 286
12. Absence of a Southern Ideology for Proslavery, 1831-1835 308
13. The South Becomes Ideologized, 1835-1840 323
14. Proslavery Republicanism 347
Appendix 1 Proslavery Clergymen 363
Appendix 2 Proslavery Ideography Codebook 367
Notes 371
Bibliography 427
Illustration Credits 471
Index 475
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