Study Guide

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter Slavery

By Seth Grahame-Smith

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We're going to go out on a limb and say that slavery is wrong. This may be super obvious to us now (note to self: water is wet), but in the 19th century this was an open question, with pro-slavery people and abolitionists arguing, debating, and sometimes shooting or beating each other up over it. (And though we don't see a lot of it in this book, the slaves weren't just watching this fight; they were fighting, running away, and publishing incredibly influential memoirs.) Though slavery by itself is a serious issue for Abe, it's also tightly wound up with the issue of vampirism, which is also a Big Deal for the guy. And that raises a question. Does the connection between vampires and slavery in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter illuminate one or the other? Do we see slavery differently because of this association?

Questions About Slavery

  1. What arguments are made for slavery in this book? Not every character is an abolitionist, so how do we think of these pro-slavery advocates like Jefferson Davis and Ward Hill Lamon? Are any of them at all convincing (we hope not)?
  2. What role do slaves, ex-slaves, and free people of color play in this conflict in this book? How many black characters are named? 
  3. Where does Abe observe slavery and how do those experiences differ? For instance, is it different for Abe to see slaves moving on the Cumberland Trail vs. slaves being sold in New Orleans? How does Abe react to these observations?
  4. Slavery is tightly linked to vampirism (and we think vampirism is a pretty fitting symbol for slavery), but are there any ways that linking the two doesn't work out? Does that connection seem weird in any way? Does it illuminate anything about slavery or vampirism?

Chew on This

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter presents slavery not just as something historical, but as a way of thinking about the world (as an unequal place) that continues to this day.

By associating slavery with vampires, this book oversimplifies a majorly complex issue, and does a disservice to the countless slaves who suffered at the hands of real, moral humans—not monsters.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter Slavery Study Group

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