HIS 392 • The Rise of Anglo-American Anti-Slavery, 1763-1863
This course will examine a remarkable example of "human progress" (in the words of David Brion Davis) and also a fascinating historical literature. Readings will focus upon the diverse ways historians have explained the origins and motivations that inspired and energized the Anglo-American anti-slavery movement from its beginnings in the mid-18th-century until the end of American slavery in 1863. Since the publication of Capitalism and Slavery sixty years ago, anti-slavery has attracted an enormous amount of scholarly attention and sparked a lively debate. As a result, the subject has become one of the richest, most complex, and most rewarding subjects in all of modern historiography. One cause for such intense interest lies in the fact that anti-slavery speaks to or intersects with so many other key questions and forces of the period: (such as: capitalism, modernity, gender, race, subjectivity). Anti-slavery was a trans-Atlantic movement. Abolitionists on both sides of the Atlantic visited and corresponded with each other and shared ideas, literature, and information. Abolition was perhaps the first successful international reform movement in world history. The course will be based on weekly meetings to discus readings (generally a book plus several articles) that will be organized topically and chronologically to cover the most important (and interesting) aspects of the topic. Students will be required to write brief reviews of each week's reading, and also a larger historiographic paper upon a sub-topic of their own devising.
Readings will likely include the following: Eric Williams, Capitalism and Slavery, (1944). David Brion Davis, The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Revolution, 1770-1823, (1975). Robin Blackburn, The Overthrow of Colonial Slavery, 1776-1848, (1988). Christopher Brown, Moral Capital: The Foundations of British Abolitionism, (2006). David Turley, The Culture of English Anti-Slavery, 1780-1860, (1991). Thomas Bender, The Anti-Slavery Debate: Capitalism and Abolitionism as a Problem in Historical Interpretation, (1992). Richard Newman, The Transformation of American Abolitionism, Fighting Slavery in the Early Republic, (2002). Michael Pierson, Free Hearts and Free Homes: Gender and American Anti-Slavery Politics, (2003). John Stauffer, The Black Hearts of Men: Radical Abolitionists and the Transformation of Race, (2002). Allen Guelzo, Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in America, (2004).