Email this review


This book takes up a theme adumbrated in recent scholarship on abolitionism -- Negro participation in the antebellum anti-slavery movement. It is a circumstantial chronicle whose virtues rest with its scholarly data and its flavor of the times. Enough analysis is interpolated to keep the study from being a mere ""Three-Negroes-participated-in-the-first-meeting-of-the-American-Anti-Slavery-Association"" transcript. Professor Quarles accomplishes his main purpose: to show that there were numbers of dedicated, resourceful black people contributing to the cause, and that their efforts were bound up with equal-rights and self-improvement movements. The book covers the years between the Federalist period and the Civil War, when Northern freedmen were organizing, publishing, manning Underground Railroad links, agitating for temperance, fighting the Fugitive Slave Law. Not only classic heroes like Douglass but black clergymen, auxiliary women, delegates to England are resuscitated -- and also the mostly paternalistic white abolitionists, who mostly disbelieved in racial equality. Quarles touches on questions which students will pursue: the shift from anti-""colonization"" sentiment, the debates over integrated or all-black reform societies, the issue of pacifism. One hopes for a sequel on black abolitionists during the Civil War; meanwhile this is important, inspired pedantry with an eager audience.

Pub Date: April 10th, 1969
ISBN: 0306804255
Publisher: Oxford