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The Slave's Cause
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The Slave's Cause
A History of Abolition
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"Traces the history of abolition from the 1600s to the 1860s . . . a valuable addition to our understanding of the role of race and racism in America."—Florida Courier Received historical wisdom...
"Traces the history of abolition from the 1600s to the 1860s . . . a valuable addition to our understanding of the role of race and racism in America."—Florida Courier Received historical wisdom...
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  • "Traces the history of abolition from the 1600s to the 1860s . . . a valuable addition to our understanding of the role of race and racism in America."—Florida Courier

    Received historical wisdom casts abolitionists as bourgeois, mostly white reformers burdened by racial paternalism and economic conservatism. Manisha Sinha overturns this image, broadening her scope beyond the antebellum period usually associated with abolitionism and recasting it as a radical social movement in which men and women, black and white, free and enslaved found common ground in causes ranging from feminism and utopian socialism to anti-imperialism and efforts to defend the rights of labor.

    Drawing on extensive archival research, including newly discovered letters and pamphlets, Sinha documents the influence of the Haitian Revolution and the centrality of slave resistance in shaping the ideology and tactics of abolition. This book is a comprehensive history of the abolition movement in a transnational context. It illustrates how the abolitionist vision ultimately linked the slave's cause to the struggle to redefine American democracy and human rights across the globe.

    "A full history of the men and women who truly made us free."—Ira Berlin, The New York Times Book Review

    "A stunning new history of abolitionism . . . [Sinha] plugs abolitionism back into the history of anticapitalist protest."—The Atlantic

    "Will deservedly take its place alongside the equally magisterial works of Ira Berlin on slavery and Eric Foner on the Reconstruction Era."—The Wall Street Journal

    "A powerfully unfamiliar look at the struggle to end slavery in the United States . . . as multifaceted as the movement it chronicles."—The Boston Globe

About the Author-

  • Manisha Sinha is Draper Chair in American History at the University of Connecticut, and is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, among several others.

Reviews-

  • Kirkus

    December 15, 2015
    Comprehensive survey of the abolitionist movement in Colonial and independent America. "The history of abolition begins with those who resisted slavery at its inception," writes Sinha (Univ. of Massachusetts; The Counterrevolution of Slavery: Politics and Ideology in Antebellum South Carolina, 2000) by way of opening, though one wonders if that resistance could not be traced farther back than 1721. She continues: trans-Atlantic slavery was an interracial affair, and without the resistance of African slaves themselves, the abolitionist movement in the dominant white society would not have taken hold. For instance, black abolitionists such as Paul Cuffe and John Marrant had traveled to Britain in order to build an "antislavery wall" of political opposition to a trade that had once flourished there. In this endeavor, they paved the way for William Lloyd Garrison, who, backed by largely unheralded black abolitionists such as Thomas Van Rensselaer and David Ruggles, was instrumental in building the second wave of abolitionism in the new republic. Interestingly, Sinha examines the cross strands of politics that sometimes united and sometimes divided the abolitionist movement as it grew: John Brown, for instance, is rightly considered a prime mover in the eventual demolishing of slavery in the United States, but his armed insurrectionary strategy (leading to modern, anachronistic efforts to "label Brown a terrorist") alienated pacifists in the cause. Leading abolitionists of the turbulent 1820s had the goal of "marrying abolition with feminism, communitarian, and workingmen's movements," to say nothing of temperance. Sinha's capable but stolid; one wishes that more of, say, Jill Lepore's or Doris Kearns Goodwin's spirit pervaded the proceedings, especially in recounting the tangled politics underlying the Lincoln administration's legislative accomplishments. Still, though it's no Team of Rivals, the book covers a great deal of ground well. Wide-ranging and admirably ambitious, to be read alongside Hugh Thomas' The Slave Trade (1997) and Eric Foner's The Fiery Trial (2010), among other recent books in the field.

    COPYRIGHT(2015) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    Starred review from February 1, 2016

    Sinha's book is a tour de force that surpasses all previous works in scope, scale, and scholarship. Sinha (history, Afro-American studies, Univ. of Massachusetts Amherst; The Counterrevolution of Slavery) has deeply mined primary sources from antislavery writers on both sides of the Atlantic to discover not only a vibrant transatlantic antislavery movement that, in various iterations, ran from the 18th century to slavery's legal end in the 19th century but also a persistent antislavery witness that encompassed other reforms, embraced both blacks and whites, and drew on women as much as men. She challenges popular notions of abolition that emphasize the efforts of whites by showing that black resistance was "the heart" of the abolitionist cause and that blacks were as much the authors and architects of antislavery ideas and institutions. Indeed, by Sinha's account, it is the symbiotic nature of abolition that gave it a strength and durability far beyond the numbers of people committed to the cause. VERDICT Sinha doesn't extend her story past the Emancipation Proclamation in 1865; that subject should be her next book, for as many abolitionists understood then, slavery was not dead until the racism and greed that sustained and profited from it were extinguished. In that regard, Sinha's powerful account speaks to the slave's cause today.--Randall M. Miller, St. Joseph's Univ., Philadelphia

    Copyright 2016 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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    Yale University Press (Ignition)
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