By Robert Fanuzzi
Echoes of Thomas Paine and Enlightenment suggestion resonate during the abolitionist move and within the efforts of its leaders to create an anti-slavery studying public. In Abolition's Public Sphere Robert Fanuzzi seriously examines the writings of William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass, Henry David Thoreau, and Sarah and Angelina Grimke and their tremendous abolition exposure campaign-pamphlets, newspapers, petitions, and public gatherings-geared to an viewers of white male electorate, loose black noncitizens, ladies, 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, through embracing Enlightenment abstractions of liberty, cause, and development, Fanuzzi argues, abolitionist method 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 usual types of abolitionist heritage and, within the procedure, our figuring out of democracy itself. Robert Fanuzzi is an affiliate professor of English at St. John's college, long island.
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Additional info for Abolition's Public Sphere
Garrison’s advocacy of nonresistance in this sense presumed the freedom of a public sphere that did not exist in contemporary political culture, that belonged to the lore, so to speak, of liberal democracy. More speciWcally, it depended on the categorization of free speech and dissent under a lapsed, postrevolutionary standard of seditious libel in order to give the otherwise politically inert adherents to nonresistance the historic place of a revolutionary public. In breaking the link between the free discussion of abolition and any contemporary deWnition of political agency, nonresistance might 8 – THE SEDITION OF NONRESISTANCE well be considered a signal manifestation of the abolitionists’ imaginary public, an extension of their politics of anachronism.
As if to found these societies under the inWdel precepts of a disciple of Paine, he added, “I ask no church to grant me authority to speak . . ”10 Garrison’s connection with the Freethought movement, in other words, helped him to displace the stakes of the antislavery struggle from the political, social, and economic issues of the present day to the distant prospect of the Enlightenment. He also gained a particular historical reference for the abolitionists’ political initiatives, I will argue, nonresistance included, that linked the public sphere of abolitionist discussion to the social equality, iconoclastic criticism, and, ultimately, universal liberation that Paine and subsequent generations of his followers had foreseen in the progress of reason.
On the other hand, the abolitionists’ symbols and articles of publicity were exactly like “the lessons of repeated experience” that were said to convince the onlookers to otherwise contingent events that they were witnessing the signature events of the Enlightenment. These printed articles told of the past triumphs of a revolutionary people and served to remind the interested observers of a succeeding age that they too were in the midst of an epochal period of human liberation even when all indications were against them.
Abolition's Public Sphere by Robert Fanuzzi