To plead our own cause: African Americans in Massachusetts and the making of the antislavery movement, 1630-1835 Public Deposited

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  • March 21, 2019
  • Cameron, Christopher Alain
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of History
  • This dissertation explores the development of slavery in Massachusetts, including the influence of Puritan religious ideology on the institution, and the rise of an antislavery movement among enslaved and free blacks. It further examines the importance of Christianity to slave life during the eighteenth century and examines African Americans' contributions to the intellectual milieu of the American Revolution. The black abolitionist movement was based in part on the appropriation and transformation of Puritan discourse and whites' political rhetoric directed against Britain into a discourse of abolitionism. Religion was always central to black abolitionists, both in shaping their language and in cementing them into a community of activists that was able to influence both white and black abolitionists throughout the country. While this community of activists was situated in Massachusetts, they were very much intertwined within the larger Atlantic community, as developments such as the English abolitionist and colonization movements, along with the Haitian Revolution, were central to their own struggle. Thus, I explore the importance of African American activists in Massachusetts to the creation of the antislavery movement within their own country and the ways in which developments throughout the Atlantic World influenced the people who initiated organized abolitionism in America. Overall, this dissertation demonstrates that the story of black abolitionism from the eighteenth to the nineteenth century is one of continuity rather than radical change, as the rhetoric, ideas, and strategies of activists after 1830 were heavily shaped by those of their predecessors in the 1700s.
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Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • "... in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the Department of History."
  • Williams, Heather Andrea
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Place of publication
  • Chapel Hill, NC
  • Open access

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