By Robert Fanuzzi

Echoes of Thomas Paine and Enlightenment inspiration resonate through the abolitionist stream and within the efforts of its leaders to create an anti-slavery analyzing public. In Abolition's Public Sphere Robert Fanuzzi significantly examines the writings of William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass, Henry David Thoreau, and Sarah and Angelina Grimke and their huge abolition exposure campaign-pamphlets, newspapers, petitions, and public gatherings-geared to an viewers of white male voters, unfastened black noncitizens, girls, and the enslaved. together with provocative readings of Thoreau's Walden and of the symbolic house of Boston's Faneuil corridor, Abolition's Public Sphere demonstrates how abolitionist public discourse sought to reenact eighteenth-century eventualities of revolution and democracy within the antebellum period. Fanuzzi illustrates how the dissemination of abolitionist tracts served to create an "imaginary public" that promoted and provoked the dialogue of slavery. notwithstanding, by means of embracing Enlightenment abstractions of liberty, cause, and growth, Fanuzzi argues, abolitionist approach brought aesthetic issues that challenged political associations of the general public sphere and winning notions of citizenship. Insightful and thought-provoking, Abolition's Public Sphere questions common models of abolitionist heritage and, within the method, our figuring out of democracy itself. Robert Fanuzzi is an affiliate professor of English at St. John's college, big apple.

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This aspect might well be the one historical idiom of eighteenth-century political discourse that the New England abolitionists did not retrieve with their characteristic ironic, strategic XXXII – INTRODUCTION awareness. On the contrary, their conviction in the inevitable progress of their movement helps to identity their political project as a true product of the Enlightenment. In order to chart the alternative course laid out by Douglass, I want to spend the remainder of this introductory essay uncovering the Enlightenment narrative of modernity that lay beneath the anachronisms and disjunctions of the abolitionists’ historical comparisons.

They found a way out from the abolitionists’ public sphere, adopting a critical position that displaced them from a historical representation of the people and situated them squarely in the present moment. The fact that this position kept Thoreau from afWliating himself with the abolition movement in any other way than to adopt the cause and persona of the fugitive slave is signiWcant in itself, for it meant that he did not intend for his individualized acts of resistance to compose either the traces of citizenship or to reassemble the faculty of civic action.

The stated intention of the famous 1798 statute was to prevent “the publication of false, scandalous and malicious matter against the government,” which, under the tenets of libel law, constituted, “false, scandalous, and malicious THE SEDITION OF NONRESISTANCE – 15 attempts to deprive the good people of the United States,”37 but even after a Republican administration came to power and Jefferson cancelled the Alien and Sedition Acts, libel prosecution continued to put the burden of protecting and upholding the government on the opposition press.

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