The American Experience: abolishing slavery

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The American Experience: ABOLISHING SLAVERY

History 105 (W)

DePauw University—Spring 2014

Monday, Wednesday, Friday, 1:40-p.m.-2:40 p.m.

Asbury Hall 204
Instructor: David Gellman

Office Hours: Harrison 233

Mondays 10 a.m.-11 a.m., Thursdays 2:15 p.m.-3:15 p.m.,

Fridays, 11-12 a.m., 2:45-3:45 p.m.,

and by appointment

Phone Number: 658-6273 (office)

653-9553 (home, until 10 p.m.)


Description: The struggle to abolish slavery was one of the longest and most important chapters in U.S. history. This course emphasizes efforts to end slavery from the Revolutionary era through the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865. Major topics include: the origins of antislavery ideology; the gradual demise of slavery in the North; the rise of the nineteenth-century movement for immediate abolition; varieties of slave resistance; and the final destruction of African-American chattel slavery during the Civil War. In order, to appreciate the challenge abolitionism faced and the conflict antislavery advocates fueled, we will spend considerable time studying the slavery system in the nineteenth-century U.S. In addition, we will contemplate what the abolition of slavery failed to accomplish and the relevance of the abolitionist experience to the fight against slavery in the world today. While we will draw on a variety of source materials, we will place at the center of our unfolding narrative biographies of the complicated, courageous women and men who helped to redefine the meaning of freedom in a nation deeply invested in African-American bondage. 
Required Readings: Available from Eli’s Books in the town square or from on-line vendors. Additional readings are available via the web, Moodle course documents, e-reserves, and Roy O. West Library databases.
David Batstone, Not for Sale: The Return of the Global Slave Trade—And How We Can Fight It.

Walter Johnson, River of Dark Dreams: Slavery and Empire in the Cotton Kingdom.

Richard S. Newman, Freedom's Prophet: Bishop Richard Allen, the AME Church, and the Black Founding Fathers.

Solomon Northrop, Twelve Years A Slave.

James Oakes, The Radical and the Republican: Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, and the Triumph of Antislavery Politics.

Marcus Rediker, The Amistad Rebellion: An Atlantic Odyssey of Slavery and Freedom.

Kathryn Kish Sklar, Women’s Rights Emerges within the Antislavery Movement, 1830- 1870: A Brief History with Documents.

*James Brewer Stewart, William Lloyd Garrison and the Challenge of Emancipation.

If you can think it, you can say it; and if you can say it, you can write it.

--Tom Gerety, a former college president

Meeting Course Objectives: This course emphasizes class discussion and writing. Thus, completion of all reading and writing assignments, full attendance, and participation by each student in every meeting are essential to its success. Although I will lecture on occasion, my primary role will be to provoke conversation. Students should regularly challenge the assertions of the readings, of the instructor, and of each other. Thus, we will achieve the course's major objectives:
• To discover antislavery goals, movements, and arguments in all their permutations;

• To assess the successes and failures of various antislavery efforts;

• To consider what sustained abolitionists and advocates of racial equality in the face of intense, sustained hostility;

• To understand the nature of U.S. slavery and its role in national and world economy;

• To learn how to interpret primary documents effectively and construct our own narratives based on these documents;

• To respond constructively to unresolved debates amongst historians and synthesize diverse historical approaches;

• To write with increased sophistication, grace, and clarity.
We will devote class time to each of these goals. Achieving the final objective listed above is essential to receiving “W” certification at the end of the course. Students will be given ample opportunity to demonstrate the necessary competence and improvement.

Writing Assignments: Students will write five graded papers over the course of the semester. The papers will ask students to respond directly to the reading on the syllabus, with an emphasis on developing concise, well-documented arguments. Essays must adhere to the prescribed length. All papers should be typed, double-spaced, with one inch margins, and 12-point font. Title pages and endnote pages do not count as part of the page total. All citations should be gathered at the end of the paper on a separate page from the text.
Students should feel free to discuss assignments with each other and the instructor in preparation for writing the papers. You, however, must write the papers in your own words. In all your writing, you must acknowledge debts to the written work of others and provide precise, properly formatted endnotes to all quotations, paraphrases, and data. All endnote citations should follow the Chicago Manual of Style format. Guides to this format can be found on the W-center website, as well as in readily available style manuals by Charles Lipson, Diana Hacker, and Kate Turabian. Mastery of citation format is a prerequisite for receiving your W certification.
All students should refer to the DePauw University Student Handbook for the high standards of academic integrity to be upheld throughout this course, online at (pages 59-63).

Evaluation: All graded writing assignments will be evaluated on five criteria: 1) introduction & thesis, 2) evidence; 3) organization; 4) mechanics: and 5) citation. Students will receive their “W” certification by demonstrating improvement--leading to competence--in each of these areas of their writing.
The paper assignments are weighted toward the final grade in the course as follows:
Paper #1 4 pages 10%

Paper #2 4 pages 10%

Paper #3 5 pages 20%

Paper #4 5 pages 20%

Paper #5 6 pages 20%
Students may rewrite either Paper #1 or #2 for a new grade. Students receiving a C+ or lower on one or both of these papers must rewrite one of them. For everyone else, a rewrite is optional. These rewrites may be submitted any time up to March 14.
Students receiving a C+ or lower on Paper #3 must rewrite that paper, with the new grade and the original grade being averaged together. For everyone else, a rewrite is optional. The last day to hand in this rewrite is April 9.
The remaining 20% of the course grade will be based on class participation. When evaluating class participation, I will emphasize the quality of your engagement with the topics and your fellow students rather than merely gauging the quantity of participation. Students who miss more than three classes during the course of the semester can expect to see their class participation lowered significantly.
Meeting with the Instructor: Students are encouraged to meet with me to discuss papers, drafts, and course materials as often as they wish. Each student is required to do so, in order to discuss your writing, at least once before and at least once after spring break.

Class and Assignment Schedule
I. Sewing Slavery and Seeds of Doubt in Colonial North America
Jan. 27 Introductions and Deep Background
Jan. 29 John Donoghue, “’Out of the Land of Bondage’: The English Revolution and the Atlantic Origins of Abolition,” American Historical Review 115 (2010): 943-974 [Roy O. West Library online resources].
Samuel Sewall, “The Selling of Joseph,”
Jan. 31 David B. Davis, The Problem of Slavery in Western Culture (Ithaca, 1966) 422-445, 483-493 [e-reserve].
John Woolman, The Journal of John Woolman and a Plea for the Poor, ed. Frederick B. Tolles (New York, 1961), 84-88 [moodle course documents].
Jupiter Hammon, “A Dialogue Entitled the Kind Master and the Dutiful Servant,” in American Antislavery Writings: Colonial Beginnings to Emancipation, ed. James G. Basker (New York, 2012), 89-93 [moodle course documents].
II. Atlantic Revolutions
Feb. 3 Jackson, Let This Voice Be Heard, 138-167 [e-reserve].
Lord Dunmore’s Proclamation and Virginia Assembly’s Response

[to read the documents themselves, click under documents in lower right corner of the initial page]

Declaration of Independence with edits, in Pauline Maier, American Scripture: Making the Declaration of Independence (New York, 1997), 236-241 [e-reserve].
Feb. 5 Eva Sheppard Wolf, Race and Liberty in the New Nation: Emancipation in Virginia from the Revolution to Nat Turner’s Rebellion (Baton Rouge, 2006), 53-62 [e-reserve].
Joanne Pope Melish, Disowning Slavery: Gradual Emancipation and “Race” in New England, 1780-1860 (Ithaca, N.Y., 1998), 64-76 [e-reserve].
David N. Gellman, Emancipating New York: The Politics of Slavery and Freedom, 1777-1827 (Baton Rouge, 2006), 152-186 [e-reserve].
Feb. 7 “Northwest Ordinance; July 13, 1787.”
“Constitution of the United States—1787.”
Paper #1 due at the beginning of class.
Feb. 10 Newman, Freedom’s Prophet, 1-52.

Feb. 12 Newman, Freedom’s Prophet, 53-127.

Feb. 14 Newman, Freedom’s Prophet, 128-182.
III. Taking Liberties
Feb. 17 Johnson, River of Dark Dreams, 18-45.
Newman, Freedom’s Prophet, 183-208.
Feb. 19 Newman, Freedom’s Prophet, 209-263.
Feb. 21 Stewart, Garrison, 1-39.
Newman, Freedom’s Prophet, 264-290.
Feb. 24 Paper #2 due at the beginning of class.
Constitution of the American Antislavery Society [moodle course documents]
Feb. 26 Stewart, Garrison, 40-74.
Sklar, Women’s Rights, 1-16, 77-83.
Feb. 28 Johnson, River of Dark Dreams, 46-125.
Mar. 3 Johnson, River of Dark Dreams, 126-208.
Mar. 5 Johnson, River of Dark Dreams, 209-279.
Mar. 6 Attend Horizon Lecture by Walter Johnson, Professor of History, Harvard University, Watson Forum, time tba.
IV. Into the Fire: Radical Abolitionism on Land and Sea
Mar.7 Sklar, Women’s Rights, 16-28, 84-110.
Stewart, Garrison, 75-97.
Mar. 10 Sklar, Women’s Rights, 28-47, 110-165.
Mar. 12 Sklar, Women’s Rights, 47-72, 165-170, 179-180.
Mar. 14 Stewart, Garrison, 98-119.
Rediker, Amistad Rebellion, 13-43.
Last day to hand in rewrite of Paper #1 or #2.
Mar. 17 Rediker, Amistad Rebellion, 43-121.
Mar. 19 Rediker, Amistad Rebellion, 122-183.
Mar. 21 Paper #3 due at the beginning of class.
Mar. 31 Rediker, Amistad Rebellion, 184-251.
Apr. 2 Stewart, Garrison, 120-145.
Johnson, River of Dark Dreams, 280-302.
V. Crisis
Apr. 4 Northrup, Twelve Years a Slave, chapters 1-11.
Apr. 7 Northrup, Twelve Years a Slave, chapters 12-22.
Apr. 9 Johnson, River of Dark Dreams, 303-365.
Last day to hand in rewrite of Paper #3
Apr. 11 Oakes, Radical and Republican, 1-85.
Apr. 14 Johnson, River of Dark Dreams, 366-420.
Apr. 16 Oakes, Radical and Republican, 87-132.
Apr. 18 Stewart, Garrison, 146-174.

VI. Free at Last

Apr. 21 Oakes, Radical and Republican, 133-171.
Apr. 22 (Tues.) Paper #4 due in my office by 4 p.m.
Apr. 23 Oakes, Radical and Republican, 173-208.

  1. Emancipation Proclamation; January 1, 1863

b) Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
Apr. 25 Oakes, Radical and Republican, 209-245.
Apr. 28 Stewart, Garrison, 175-201.
VII. Aftermath: Abolitionists in the Shadow of Emancipation
Apr. 30 Oakes, Radical and Republican, 247-288.
Sklar, Women’s Rights, 72-76, 191-204.
Newman, Freedom’s Prophet, 291-299.
VIII. Past as Prologue? Contemporary Slavery and the New Abolitionism
May 2 Batstone, Not for Sale, 1-87.
May 5 Batstone, Not for Sale, 89-182.
May 7 Batstone, Not for Sale, 183-276.
May 15 (Thurs.) Final Paper due in my office no later than 9 a.m.

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