by James Brewer Stewart ‧ RELEASE DATE: Sept. 1, 1976
This compressed yet concrete overview examines the effect of Northern abolitionism, especially the militant ""immediatist"" variety, on the political, social, and religious development of the region. Beginning with certain pre-Revolutionary Quakers who combined entrepreneurial spirit with agitation against slavery, Stewart suggests that the abolitionist rank and file generally ""embodied occupational versatility, evangelical Protestantism, and rising status."" A somewhat oversimplified emphasis is placed on the Yankee backlash against Southern-based Jacksonianism as the basis for 1820s' abolitionism--which turned into ""romantic radicalism"" in the 1830s' and in turn provoked opposition from local New England elites. Stewart shows how grassroots mobilizations, often led by women, helped change the map of churches and political parties toward mid-century. Unlike those revisionist authors who merely dwell on white abolitionists' paternalism and racial prejudice, Stewart elaborates the commitment of many white abolitionists to full racial justice; describes the 1840s efforts against discrimination in the North; and suggests the positive, not simply elitist content of Wendell Phillips' invocation of the Puritan heritage. The book ends with a brief resume of the entry of abolitionism into the American mainstream in the 1850s, followed by the forced Civil War switch to a policy of emancipation. Stewart concludes that the abolitionists won ""an ambiguous victory. . . bound by the limits of their age""; yet this valuable synthesis actually delineates, above all, how the abolitionists unbound the political strictures of the century.
Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1976
Page Count: -
Publisher: Hill & Wang
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1976
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