Newman, Richard S. The Transformation of Abolitionism: Fighting Slavery in the Early Republic. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2001. Ibidem KW: US; 18th; 19th; Slavery; Abolitionism; Pennsylvania v. Massachusetts
Ibidem Annotation: Newman looks at the development of abolitionism in the US, primarily through its two major groups Pennsylvania Abolition Society and Massachusetts abolitionists. Newman argues that the PAS was more prone to attacking slavery through personal contact and legal treatises; where, Massachussetts abolitionists were more prone to written works and outright objections. As such he argues that the era was a period of transition between the PAS style to that of the Massachussets. Political, religious, and etc. changes allowed this transformation. NOTES:
Richard Newman is a professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology. He has written quite a bit on abolitionism in the United States, particularly around the Revolutionary Era. Intent: What is the intent of the work
The intent of this work is to provide a gap between 1790s and 1830s study of abolitionism. Thesis: What is the main argument
Newman argues that deferential abolitionism through petitions and court-cases (practiced by Pennsylvania Society for the Abolition of Slavery) gave way to mass culture and the Garrisonian brand of immediatist abolition in the 1830s. This change was caused by fracturing caused by black activism and the issue of colonization. Historiography: What is it dealing with? What is it using?
Mainly primary sources. It is gapping two major schools of abolitionism 1790s and 1830s brand. Strengths and Weaknesses
The main argument is both a strength and a weakness. On the one hand you have an eclipse of PAS by Garrisonians. Yet they did not come from the same grouping. Garrisonians seemed to spring from the black activist tradition. Other than that it is a strong organizational account of antebellum abolitionism and its changes. OUTLINE:
In “the Preface,” Richard Newman really does not get into too much other than sources of funding, people that helped, and the general vision that led to this book. Change of abolition over time. PAS strategies differed from later periods. In “Introduction: Abolitionist Transformations,” Richard Newman discusses the importance of the transition between PAS and MAS. While PAS abolitionism remained grounded in deference, MAS more for mass mobilization. Garrison tends to be the benchmark for American abolitionism. Abolitionists tend to be understood in these post-1830s terms. Those that study early abolitionism stop at 1800, even DBD stops at Missouri Compromise. Era between Revolution and 1830, one of great change. “Profound changes in American political culture and social life influenced abolition’s transformation in the 1820s and early 1830s, from the advent of revivalism and egalitarian political theories to the rising prominence of free black and female activists.” (Newman:2) This book does not get into religion too much because pulls away from change over time. Also, Pennsylvania and Massachussetts are representative here. This whole process strained relations between 1st and 2nd generations.
Pennsylvania Abolition Society (PAS) and Massachusetts Abolition Society (MAS which became American Antislavery Society). PAS set tone of abolition before 1830s. PAS held that government and legal representation should attack (gradually) institution of slavery. Particularly using petitioning and legal aid to African Americans (Newman:5). Represented free blacks and fugitives in court cases. PAS representative of world view operating rational and dispassionate.
Massachusetts for immediate emancipation. Therefore needed to mobilize the masses. Lecturing, pamphleteering, organizing. “Massachusetts abolitionists provoked citizens’ outrage by publishing gripping accounts of bondage and emotional slavery narratives.” (Newman:7) PAS deplored this new move.
What facilitated this change: religion; revivalism; democracy (becoming respected); individualism; “Female reformers forged newly prominent roles for themselves in the public sphere by pushing for temperance, educational, and religious reform in cities and towns throughout the North.” (Newman:11) This also allowed a certain degree of class and race to cross lines. Women and African Americans able to exert force. African Americans able to exert autonomy. “Abolitionism became the first social movement to so completely transform itself.” (Newman:15) In “Chapter 1: Republican Strategies: The Pennsylvania Abolitionist Society,” Richard Newman discusses the development of the PAS and its particular brand of abolitionism through government. 1775 Pennsylvania Society for the Abolition of Slavery (PAS) formed in Philadelphia’s Sun Tavern. “Elite patronage, refined legal and political strategy, and careful tactics guided the group’s work for over fifty years.” (Newman:16)
Quaker belief that all people equal. By 1750, Quaker slaveholders had to relinquish slaves or religion. John Woolman, Anthony Benezet, Benjamin Lay, Warner Mifflin, and John Parrish. Most favored private emancipation. Quakers did not have coherent plan for the US though. 1784 NYMS joined establishing schools, working on ending trade, aided in laws. NYMS tended to agitate a bit more around NY, NJ, and at sea. First generation believed that they would slowly defeat slavery. Founding a society allowed coordinated effort (Newman:20). This also allowed cross nation connection to William Wilberforce, Granville Sharpe, General Lafayette. PAS used its standing to penetrate legal proceedings.
PAS marked a transition from religion and philosophical to practical politics. Northern states broke up power through several gradual emancipation acts. PAS used petitions and legal work (Newman:25). PAS petitioned on everything from international trade to outlaw of slavery in DC in 1820. While black activism there, PAS funneled participation back into government plans. “the PAS condemned ‘overzealous’ abolitionist activity, including emotionalism, enthusiasm, or anything that smacked of fervent behavior.” (Newman:27) This strategy reflected their elite base. Legal team of elites enabled abolitionist moves. “The strategy and tactics of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society reflected a late-eighteenth-century, republican worldview.” (Newman:31) Yet PAS still viewed as meddlers by some. Some concerns over its elitest grouping. Almost all politicians of the time against PAS. MA and VA attempted to incorporate strategies with less effectiveness. PAS felt that government could prevent racial issue. In “Chapter 2: Deferential Petitioners: The Pennsylvania Abolitionist Society in State and Federal Government, 1790 - 1830,” Richard Newman discusses PAS’s very conservative petitioning through government. PAS first petition drew on sacred political protest. But focused on slavery rather than a list of grievances. At the same time conservative in abolition and language. List: stopping importation, domestic between North and South, westward, and outlaw slavery in DC. Petitions often sought to influence the elite of society. The PAS often affixed eminent men to its memorials. PAS remained vigilante on national and state level. Deferential politics very important overall to the movement here (Newman:44). Because of PAS efforts Pennsylvania became a beacon for blacks. This strategy proved controversial among Southerners. PAS backed away as warned that their movements might lead to disasterous consequences. PAS petition over DC coincided with large debates in 1820. DC debate galvanized all of these different abolitionists. While no formal gag-rule until 1830s, southerners stifled abolitionists petitions (Newman:57). Few PAS leaders supported more radical petitioning. Those interested in more radical forms had to go elsewhere, elite PAS and their constituency would not bend on their policies. In “Chapter 3: Creating Free Space: Blacks and Abolitionist Activism in Pennsylvania Courts, 1780s-1830s,” Richard Newman discusses how the PAS used to courts to emancipate through loopholes and technicalities rather than attacking the institution of slavery nationwide. 1836 PAS case of runaway Elizabeth to Supreme Court. “Legal strategies constitute one of the most important yet least studied aspects of early abolitionism.” (Newman:60) PAS integral in black freedom cases.
Pennsylvanians always used the courts. Following black complaints, PAS estabilished legal aid by 1790s. Pressured slaveholders by making it harder to recover slaves. In response to fugitive slave legislation, PAS created framework for challenge its legality. “Legal strategies and tactics imbued PAS activists with an inherently cautious attitude about fighting slavery.” (Newman:65) Lawyers tended to be divorced from their emotions.
Black activism supported the PAS. Cases revolved around men and women. PAS also helped to bargain slavery down to indentured servitude. Society did not really look to fight slavery in the South but exploit loopholes and technicalities in the system. This allowed improvement but solely within the laws (Newman:75). “African American leaders condemned the PAS’S racism in not embracing black activist tactics and in not admitting black members until the 1830s.” (Newman:83) This allowed for criticism for PAS to push further by second wave. In “Chapter 4: An Appeal to the Heart: The Black Protest Tradition and the Coming of Immediatism,” Richard Newman discusses the importances of African American abolitionism activism. He holds that these groups were the first to promote out and out equality and use of literary sources to related narratives of slavery. 1831 Garrison ironic in announcing that he will be heard on immediatism when black activism had been all about it since Revolution. Black activist did encourage Garrisonian’s to attack more. From 1790s to 1820s, African Americans developed a series of strategies and tactics. Communities often felt collective guilt for its continued practice (Newman:87).
Resistance began on ships. Social institutions good for battling slavery. In broader socio-political context these semi-autonomous black communities. PAS rejected black petitions to the federal government. “Even before the appearance of David Walker and William Lloyd Garrison, black abolitionists used words to mobilize public opinion.” (Newman:90) Clubs and societies often sponsored publications. These publications helped to give personalized view of slavery (Newman:92). “Emphasizing a strategy of moral confrontation and swift redress of racial grievances, and utilizing literary tactics such as pampleteering, African American reformers established a distinct protest tradition within the broader antislavery world.” (Newman:96) Blacks promoted a view of equality that put themselves on equal footing with whites in the US (Newman:97). Philly and Boston against the colonization movement particularly by the ACS and only ones to come out publically against them. Colonization debate forced black abolition groups to think about nationally organizing. With this black activists were able to project their agenda to the national stage by 1830 and inform larger abolitionist movements (Newman:106). In “Chapter 5: From Pennsylvania to Massachusetts, from Colonization to Immediatism: Race and the Overhaul of American Abolitionism,” Richard Newman discusses the development of Garrisonian NEASS led attack on slavery, largely pulling on ideas that black activists had been using for years. New England Anti-Slavery Society (NEASS) formed in 1832, as radical break from tradition. Immediate attack of slavery. Why did this over take PAS? Colonization movement did two things, made blacks an enduring problem and brought colonization to the forefront (Newman:108).
Prior to colonization, MA abolitionists against slavery in the abstract. Missouri Compromise scared MA people about power of the South. Colonization seen as a holy grail to get rid of slaves without offending South. Between 1817 and 1830, ACS popular in MA. MA divided over were blacks or slavery the problem (Newman:112). Garrison leads the attack on anticolonization. On the otherhand, PA at hotbed of colonization and anticolonization fighting. Moreover, the PAS never rebuked antiblack stereotypes of ACS (Newman:118). PAS divided over the idea of accepting black activists.
NEASS also pushed to revolutionize the public about black rights. In particularly they began to fight parts of Jim Crow in the North. Also contributed to by black and white women. Garrison held that “Abolition must become a virtual war on slavery.” (Newman:124) While some reformers still racist, there was a common view of enslaved men and women as last true patriots. Solution for imediatism was granting equality to blacks. This would deteriorate the slaveholding power. ACS and PAS unequipped to sanction a war on slavery (Newman:130). In “Chapter 6: The New Abolitionist Imperative: Mass Action Strategies,” Richard Newman discusses the way that mass action strategy changed the nature of abolition and slavery were pursued after the 1830s. Another important component to NEASS was mass action. They would use lecturers to push petitions to the masses. In 1830, Garrison came upon the idea of using petitions for mobilizing public sentiment. With Garrison, Samuel May, and Maria Weston push abolitionist mass strategy. NEASS spent most of its money on lecturers and dissemination of publications (Newman:137). NEASS allowed abolitionists to come from every sector of society. “Women saw themselves as potent activists.” (Newman:139)
Garrison held that this organization was not political and therefore would not form a divisive party. In the spirit of 76, MA reformers hoped that their sentiments would challenge politicians and slaveholders. NEASS often related their argument back to the Constitution (Newman:142). These abolitionists also used legal work and petitioning. Yet they did not mind circumventing the law. The petitions took a tone of compelling Congress to make changes. “After proving themselves as anitslavery organizers and activists, many of these women forecast their own ‘emancipation’.” (Newman:148) Gag rule showed that this voice could be circumvented. Abolitionists split over the response. Southerners realized that mass action had altered their existence. In “Chapter 7: A Whole Lot of Shoe Leather: Agents and the Impact of Grassroots Organizing in Massachusetts during the 1830s,” Richard Newman discusses the importance of the press and lecturers in the 1830s and 40s. Everyone recognized the importance of lecturers by 1830s. Local resistance the key, rather than mass conversion (Newman:153). “mobilize people in a republic and the republic would have to change its laws on slavery.” (Newman:154) Agents most important job remained forming local societies. Publications and itenerates found support even in the smallest countryside. Papers fought for control over abolitionism from lecturers, even condemning them. These itinerants helped to reshape abolitionism locally throughout the 1830s. In “Epilogue: The Struggle Continued,” Richard Newman discusses the importance of the shift in abolitionism. MAS allowed for greater participation in reform, although ultimately kept some participants from gaining voice. 1864 gave way to unity from factionalism. With emancipation, division if AASS should disband. Racism not changed. “Convinced that the first generation of abolitionists in Pennyslvania lacked the tactical key to ending bondage, second-wave reformers in Massachusetts burst onto the national scene in that decade predicting that their movement - racially integrated, media conscious, and grassroots oreinted - would solve the vexing problem of slavery, avert racial rebellion, and establish the basis for a society of equals in short order.” (Newman:177) Emancipation as sleight of hand. Black leaders were not content to be spoken for by white leaders. Blacks really pervasive in literature. “By integrating black and female reformers so explicitly with the cause, second-wave abolitionists created a higher barrier for themselves by constantly posing larger questions to the American people.” (Newman:182) Without Garrison women and blacks would not have been incorporated. “Few issues could simultaneously ignite so many overlapping debates in antebellum American political and social life.” (Newman:183)
Michael Pierson “Review: [untitled],” Law and History Review 22, 2 (Summer 2004), 436 - 438.
1775 Pennsylvania Society for the Abolition of Slavery and 1830 Garrisonians. PAS did petitions and legal treatises. New tactics rose in response to the Black Activism inside the ACS. Holds that too much emphasis on PAS being concerned with perserving the Union. Holds that this is also not one transformation but two distinct processes. David Brion Davis “Review: [untitled],” The American Historical Review 108, 2 (April 2003), 522 - 523.
Davis calls Newman, Freeman in the article. PAS (Union) vs. Garrisonian fragmentation. This book is important to understand early pragmatism of abolitionism. Newman avoids religion and comparisons with Great Britain. PAS tended to be deferential to the Constitution. Operated differently in that Britain had no opposition to abolition and US violent. Davis holds that cannot take Civil War or emancipation for granted. Joanne Pope Melish “Review: [untitled],” Journal of Interdisciplinary History 33, 4 (Spring 2003), 646 - 666.
Civil Rights - some complained that addressed segregation without racism. This book is a study of 1830s eclipsing 1790s through the PAS and the MAS. Blacks not a part of the PAS. Black activism turns into transformation. Many PAS get disenchanted with gradualism. NEASS against discrimination. For Newman the key issue was this discrimination. The PAS as emotional moralizers unable to get to the heart of this.