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Subversives: Antislavery Community in Washington, D.C., 1828--1865

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While many scholars have examined the slavery disputes in the halls of Congress, Subversives is the first history of practical abolitionism in the streets, homes, and places of business of the nation's capital. Historian Stanley Harrold looks beyond resolutions, platforms, and debates to describe how desperate African Americans--both free and slave--and sympathetic whites While many scholars have examined the slavery disputes in the halls of Congress, Subversives is the first history of practical abolitionism in the streets, homes, and places of business of the nation's capital. Historian Stanley Harrold looks beyond resolutions, platforms, and debates to describe how desperate African Americans--both free and slave--and sympathetic whites engaged in a dangerous day-to-day campaign to drive the "peculiar institution" out of Washington, D.C., and the Chesapeake region. That slavery was both vulnerable and vicious in Washington is at the heart of Harrold's study. Northern and foreign visitors were outraged by its existence in the seat of American government. For the South, Washington was a vital stronghold at the section's border. As economic changes caused slavery's decline in the Chesapeake and masters dismembered slave families by selling them South, local African Americans sought and received the support of a small number of whites eager to strike a blow against slavery in a strategic and very symbolic setting. Together they formed a subversive community that flourished in and about the city from the late 1820s through the mid-1860s. Risking beatings, mob violence, imprisonment, and death, these men and women distributed abolitionist literature, purchased the freedom of slaves, sued to prevent families from being separated, and aided escape efforts. Harrold overcomes the secrecy inherent to Washington's antislavery community to document its formation and activities with remarkable detail and -perception. He shows how slaveholders and their sympathizers fought to reinforce their hold on a system under attack and how the dissidents raised a -radical challenge to the existing social order simply by -engaging in interracial cooperation. While some -subversives held power as politicians and journalists, most were obscure individuals. Black and white women played an important role. An illuminating study of a heretofore overlooked struggle, Subversives reveals a new dimension in resistance to slavery, nineteenth-century race relations, and the antebellum conflict over America's capital city.


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While many scholars have examined the slavery disputes in the halls of Congress, Subversives is the first history of practical abolitionism in the streets, homes, and places of business of the nation's capital. Historian Stanley Harrold looks beyond resolutions, platforms, and debates to describe how desperate African Americans--both free and slave--and sympathetic whites While many scholars have examined the slavery disputes in the halls of Congress, Subversives is the first history of practical abolitionism in the streets, homes, and places of business of the nation's capital. Historian Stanley Harrold looks beyond resolutions, platforms, and debates to describe how desperate African Americans--both free and slave--and sympathetic whites engaged in a dangerous day-to-day campaign to drive the "peculiar institution" out of Washington, D.C., and the Chesapeake region. That slavery was both vulnerable and vicious in Washington is at the heart of Harrold's study. Northern and foreign visitors were outraged by its existence in the seat of American government. For the South, Washington was a vital stronghold at the section's border. As economic changes caused slavery's decline in the Chesapeake and masters dismembered slave families by selling them South, local African Americans sought and received the support of a small number of whites eager to strike a blow against slavery in a strategic and very symbolic setting. Together they formed a subversive community that flourished in and about the city from the late 1820s through the mid-1860s. Risking beatings, mob violence, imprisonment, and death, these men and women distributed abolitionist literature, purchased the freedom of slaves, sued to prevent families from being separated, and aided escape efforts. Harrold overcomes the secrecy inherent to Washington's antislavery community to document its formation and activities with remarkable detail and -perception. He shows how slaveholders and their sympathizers fought to reinforce their hold on a system under attack and how the dissidents raised a -radical challenge to the existing social order simply by -engaging in interracial cooperation. While some -subversives held power as politicians and journalists, most were obscure individuals. Black and white women played an important role. An illuminating study of a heretofore overlooked struggle, Subversives reveals a new dimension in resistance to slavery, nineteenth-century race relations, and the antebellum conflict over America's capital city.

29 review for Subversives: Antislavery Community in Washington, D.C., 1828--1865

  1. 5 out of 5

    Shira

    Excellent and extensive work documenting cooperation in DC. Particularly: Free Negroes in the District of Columbia, 1790-1846 [WorldCat.org] quoting Cook's need "to be very particular to do nothing knowingly, that would in the least tend to disturb the public weal..." P. 41 of Harrold, Subversives, 2003 and "best known" Israel Bethel (split from white Ebenezer, 4th st.) minister. Mentioned with Mt. Zion Negro Church, 1814 in Georgetown (earliest Black church in DC) contrasted with cut ties to mother Excellent and extensive work documenting cooperation in DC. Particularly: Free Negroes in the District of Columbia, 1790-1846 [WorldCat.org] quoting Cook's need "to be very particular to do nothing knowingly, that would in the least tend to disturb the public weal..." P. 41 of Harrold, Subversives, 2003 and "best known" Israel Bethel (split from white Ebenezer, 4th st.) minister. Mentioned with Mt. Zion Negro Church, 1814 in Georgetown (earliest Black church in DC) contrasted with cut ties to mother denomination. Praised with Wesleyan Metropolitan AME Zion church aka African Wesleyan Society on D St, (S.E?) split under Abraham Cole. Began welcoming white abolitionists to their churches -P. 41, No Segregated Seating!! and American slavery, 1619-1877 (Libro, 1993) [WorldCat.org] worldcat.org Harrold (in "Subversives" LSU, 2003) uses Kolchin to claim that most Whites saw Black ppl as needing slavery to control.. found this in the bibliography of "Snow-storm in August : Washington City, Francis Scott Key, and the forgotten race riot of 1835", p. 4 Congressional spitting/coarse lang. <-slave-owners; Slave despair & falling #s=slavery vulnerable in DC. Defense of slaves in DC <->legitimate institutution. P.6: 1850 GA secede if DC slavery abol. MD manumissions <-$ ->darker skinned free ppl, seen as more threat than mulatos. P. 16 Judge Cranch, 1821 ruled William Coston grandfathered out of new $20 free Black good behaviour bond. Black-White Cooperation: Quakers Tyson (est. school) & Lundy (pub. Genius of Univ. Emancip.). Mary Billings, George Drinker & Joshua Leavitt (1834 slave pen tour), Charles Torrey & Elisha Tyson (1840s), John Needle & William Chaplin (1850), M. Miner & (Gtown) Maria Becraft. Snow, Cook, Bradley. 1836 Gag Rule. J.Q.Adams, Gates, Giddings, Leavitt & Weld, Child & Torrey. P. 37: Geog. vs. Relational Community ShiraDestinie Peace, MEOW Date: 6 August 12,014 H.E. Community MEOW Date 6.8.12,014H.e.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Joel Dickey

  3. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

  5. 4 out of 5

    Dave Blair

  6. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Gilmore

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    Michael Strode

  12. 5 out of 5

    Yasmin

  13. 5 out of 5

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    Nikhil P. Freeman

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  18. 5 out of 5

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  19. 4 out of 5

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  20. 5 out of 5

    Monica

  21. 5 out of 5

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    Mark Hamilton

  24. 4 out of 5

    Julia Schoeffler

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    Sia Fay

  26. 5 out of 5

    James Hill Welborn III

  27. 4 out of 5

    Khari

  28. 5 out of 5

    Timothy Brown

  29. 4 out of 5

    Paul

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