2010 PhD - History - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Keene State College
Mentor: Dr. Funso Afolayan, Department of History
The Role of Blacks in the British and American Abolitionist Movements
This study will examine the role of blacks in the British and American abolitionist movements, from the years 1760-1807. These years are significant because 1760 is when the tradition of African-American literature began, the slave trade ended in both countries in 1807, and there has not been a lot of literature produced concerning the roles of blacks during this period.
There were a number of justifications for slavery in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Among these were economic, biblical, and philosophical. The philosophical paradigm was probably the most prevalent, and claimed that blacks did not have the ability to reason, thus they were only fit for slavery. To counter this popular idea and fight the institution of slavery, a number of blacks in the eighteenth century began to produce literature in the forms of poems, essays, and narratives to show that they did have the ability to reason and were civilized. Were it not for the efforts of these individuals, people like Jupiter Hammon, Phillis Wheatley, Olaudah Equiano, and Benjamin Banneker, the movement to end the slave trade would have been greatly hindered and probably would have taken much longer than it did, both in Great Britain and the United States.
A wide variety of sources will be employed for this project, ranging from contemporary slave narratives, letters, diaries, and autobiographies, to secondary sources on the literature of the period and on the abolitionist movements in both countries, as well as sources on slave uprisings in the Atlantic world.