Subversives: Antislavery Community in Washington, D. C., 1828-1865 / Edition 1

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Overview

While many scholars have examined the slavery disputes in the halls of Congress, Subversives is the first history of practical abolitionism in the streets, homes, and places of business of the nation's capital. Historian Stanley Harrold looks beyond resolutions, platforms, and debates to describe how desperate African Americans-both free and slave-and sympathetic whites engaged in a dangerous day-to-day campaign to drive the "peculiar institution" out of Washington D.C., and the Chesapeake region.

That slavery was both vulnerable and vicious in Washington is at the heart of Harrold's study. As economic changes caused slavery's decline in the Chesapeake and masters dismembered slave families by selling them South, local African Americans sought and received the support of a small number of whites eager to strike a blow against slavery in a strategic and very symbolic setting. Together they formed a subversive community that flourished in and about the city from the late 1820s through the mid-1860's. Risking beatings, mob violence, imprisonment, and death, these men and women distributed abolitionist literature, purchased the freedom of slaves, sued to prevent families from being separated, and aided escape efforts.

Harrold overcomes the secrecy inherent in Washington's antislavery community to document its formation and activities with remarkable detail and perception. He shows how slaveholders and their sympathizers fought to reinforce their hold on a system under attack and how the dissidents raised a radical challenge to the existing social order simply by engaging in interracial cooperation.

Stanley Harrold, professor of history at South Carolina State University in Orangeburg, is the author of American Abolitionists, among other books.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807128381
  • Publisher: Longleaf Services
  • Publication date: 12/28/2002
  • Series: Antislavery, Abolition, and Atlantic World Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 300
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Stanley Harrold, is the author of American Abolitionists and The Abolitionists and the South, among other books, and a professor of history at South Carolina State University in Orangeburg.

LSU Press

Stanley Harrold, is the author of American Abolitionists and The Abolitionists and the South, among other books, and a professor of history at South Carolina State University in Orangeburg.

LSU Press

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Table of Contents

Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Abbreviations Used in Notes
Introduction: Slavery and Its Opponents at a Vulnerable Point 1
1 Chesapeake Origins 13
2 Elements of a Biracial Antislavery Community 36
3 Charles T. Torrey, Thomas Smallwood, and the Underground Railroad 64
4 The Bureau of Humanity and the Sectional Struggle 94
5 The Pearl Fugitives and the Subversives 116
6 Subversives in 1850: Persistence, Change, Limits 146
7 Myrtilla Miner's School: Education, Feminism, Biracialism 174
8 The Weems Family and the Antislavery Network 203
9 Transformation and Disintegration 225
Conclusion: The Significance of Subversive Biracialism 253
Essay on Sources 259
Index 271
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