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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.
|Abbreviations Used in Notes|
|Introduction: Slavery and Its Opponents at a Vulnerable Point||1|
|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|