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Abolitionists Books

Leon F. Litwack, North of Slavery: the Negro in the Free States, 1790-1860 (1961)

A renowned history professor and author, Leon Litwack attests to the level and extent of anti-black discrimination and segregation that existed in the American North.

Nell Irvin Painter, Sojourner Truth: A Life, a Symbol (1996)

This is both a compelling biography and a larger social history of the nineteenth century. Truth was a true abolitionist, but Painter's book also explores the myth that developed around her charismatic presence during her own lifetime.

Benjamin Quarles, Black Abolitionists (1969)

A noteworthy reminder of the significant role that black people themselves played in the abolitionist movement. Examines reformist tracts, narratives, and records from anti-slavery societies.

Leonard L. Richards, The Slave Power: The Free North and Southern Domination, 1780-1860 (2000)

A well-researched, eminently readable and straightforward explanation of antebellum politics and how they led up to the northern belief in a "Slave Power" conspiracy. An excellent book.

Leonard L. Richards, Gentlemen of Property and Standing": Anti-Abolition Mobs in Jacksonian America (1970)

A good complement to the Litwack book, offering a focused examination of anti-abolitionist sentiment in the North, with a discussion of its causes, context, and useful statistics.

David Brion Davis, The Problem of Slavery in The Age of Revolution, 1770-1823 (1975)

A sequel to his Pulitzer Prize-winning The Problem of Slavery in Western Culture, Davis seeks to analyze the context and ramifications of "a profound transformation in moral perception...within the white enslaving culture," but with references to black responses, notably in regard to St. Domingue and its influence on whites' perceptions of slavery. This book takes the cultural and ideological setting established in the previous work and seeks to explore its translation into social action. Davis begins the period where he initially left off, amidst the "ideals and aspirations" of the American and French Revolutions, and ends with the culmination of those Enlightenment ideals in the Latin American wars for independence and the Missouri Compromise in the U.S., the death knell to its Founding Fathers' hopes for "imminent extinction" and the beginnings of "a conflict of new dimensions."

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