By Robert Fanuzzi
Echoes of Thomas Paine and Enlightenment notion resonate through the abolitionist circulation and within the efforts of its leaders to create an anti-slavery studying public. In Abolition's Public Sphere Robert Fanuzzi severely examines the writings of William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass, Henry David Thoreau, and Sarah and Angelina Grimke and their great abolition exposure campaign-pamphlets, newspapers, petitions, and public gatherings-geared to an viewers of white male electorate, unfastened black noncitizens, girls, and the enslaved. together with provocative readings of Thoreau's Walden and of the symbolic house of Boston's Faneuil corridor, Abolition's Public Sphere demonstrates how abolitionist public discourse sought to reenact eighteenth-century situations of revolution and democracy within the antebellum period. Fanuzzi illustrates how the dissemination of abolitionist tracts served to create an "imaginary public" that promoted and provoked the dialogue of slavery. even though, by means of embracing Enlightenment abstractions of liberty, cause, and growth, Fanuzzi argues, abolitionist technique brought aesthetic issues that challenged political associations of the general public sphere and winning notions of citizenship. Insightful and thought-provoking, Abolition's Public Sphere questions ordinary types of abolitionist historical past and, within the approach, our knowing of democracy itself. Robert Fanuzzi is an affiliate professor of English at St. John's collage, manhattan.
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Extra resources for Abolition's Public Sphere
This aspect might well be the one historical idiom of eighteenth-century political discourse that the New England abolitionists did not retrieve with their characteristic ironic, strategic XXXII – INTRODUCTION awareness. On the contrary, their conviction in the inevitable progress of their movement helps to identity their political project as a true product of the Enlightenment. In order to chart the alternative course laid out by Douglass, I want to spend the remainder of this introductory essay uncovering the Enlightenment narrative of modernity that lay beneath the anachronisms and disjunctions of the abolitionists’ historical comparisons.
13 By invoking the law of seditious libel, the prosecuting attorney drew on the memory of past subversions and conjured still more parties to Kneeland’s crime—the dangerously “self-created” “democraticrepublican societies” of the 1790s and the emergent republican opposition press, both of which were held responsible for everything from jacobin collaboration to illicit conspiracies with secret European rationalist sects. 14 For his part, Kneeland recognized the charges as nothing more than leftover animus from another age, the repetition of “stale and often contradicted falsehoods about the ‘illuminati’” and “the lies about .
55 In this book, the critical Wgures who would parse the abolitionists’ language of past and future are also those who developed an aesthetic XXXVIII – INTRODUCTION vocabulary for halting their narrative of progress. Both Thoreau and Douglass (the latter speciWcally in his oratory) in this sense saw antislavery as it is, not as it was or as it was supposed to be. They found a way out from the abolitionists’ public sphere, adopting a critical position that displaced them from a historical representation of the people and situated them squarely in the present moment.
Abolition's Public Sphere by Robert Fanuzzi