Abolition's Public Sphere by Robert Fanuzzi

By Robert Fanuzzi

Echoes of Thomas Paine and Enlightenment proposal resonate in the course of the abolitionist circulation and within the efforts of its leaders to create an anti-slavery analyzing public. In Abolition's Public Sphere Robert Fanuzzi severely examines the writings of William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass, Henry David Thoreau, and Sarah and Angelina Grimke and their vast abolition exposure campaign-pamphlets, newspapers, petitions, and public gatherings-geared to an viewers of white male voters, loose 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 situations 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 development, Fanuzzi argues, abolitionist method brought aesthetic matters that challenged political associations of the general public sphere and triumphing notions of citizenship. Insightful and thought-provoking, Abolition's Public Sphere questions normal models of abolitionist heritage and, within the strategy, our realizing of democracy itself. Robert Fanuzzi is an affiliate professor of English at St. John's collage, ny.

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He regarded every obstacle to the discussion of abolition—the spontaneous mob attacks, the prohibitive postal regulations, the resolutions of state legislatures, and ultimately a congressional ban on the reading of abolitionist petitions—in light of this historical narrative and appealed to the principles of nonresistance on this basis. Garrison’s advocacy of nonresistance in this sense presumed the freedom of a public sphere that did not exist in contemporary political culture, that belonged to the lore, so to speak, of liberal democracy.

50 We can infer these plans from Kant’s own articulation of a progressive Enlightenment, which, like Garrison’s, was strikingly candid about the untimeliness of its own conclusions. ” Writing during the unfolding saga of the French Revolution, Kant admitted that it if “a people’s revolution or constitutional reform were ultimately to fail,” its partisans would still retain their belief in the progress of democracy and the liberation of the oppressed. The key, he seemed to realize, was that they should have a belief to retain, which means they must have heard all this somewhere before: XXXIV – INTRODUCTION For the occurrence in question is too momentous, too intimately interwoven with the interests of humanity and too widespread in its inXuence upon all the parts of the world for nations not to be reminded of it when favorable circumstances present themselves, and to rise up and make renewed attempts of the same kind as before.

The egalitarianism of the abolitionists’ public sphere, I have previously argued, was intelligible as a political narrative that was all the more unsettling for being incongruous with its times. Why then did Garrison’s opponents fear the overthrow of constitutional government and the destruction of the social order at the very moment when he and his allies within the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society seemed to surrender the political objectives of their publicity campaign in favor of the possibility of collective political inaction?

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