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ISSN: 1094-902X
Volume 3, Number 2 (Spring 2000)

Black Theodicy:
African Americans and Nationalism in the Antebellum North

Patrick Rael, Bowdoin College

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©2000 Patrick Rael.  Any archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text
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Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, "Let my people go, that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness."

Exodus 5:1

Princes shall come forth from Egypt; Ethiopia shall soon stretch forth her hands to God.

Psalms 68:31

And by your descendants shall all the nations of the earth bless themselves, because you have obeyed my voice.

Genesis 2:18



In the four decades before the Civil War, the North witnessed the flowering of a tradition of public protest by African-American community leaders which continues to inform the freedom struggle. From Martin Luther King's concern with the content of our characters to Stokely Carmichael's call for Black Power -- from King's dream that America could become a promised land for people of African descent to, paradoxically, the Nation of Islam's millenarian expectation of the imminent inversion of the racial hierarchy, the tradition formulated in the antebellum North has served as the seedbed for a century and a half of black public protest thought.

Where did this tradition come from? What were its sources and origins? We know that much of the tradition was preoccupied with the spiritual: from its concern with individual morality and personal character to its preoccupation with national redemption and millennial destiny antebellum black protest manifested deep roots in religious belief. This essay explores the religious components of the public protest thought formulated by free African Americans in the antebellum North. In particular, it discusses the significance for black identity and black autonomy -- essentially, the core components of black nationalism -- of a protest thought crafted in the modernizing public world of the expanding urban North. In the process, it hopes to challenge the conceptual paradigms scholars have employed in judging the origins, efficacy, and implications of this tradition.


The Problem: Historians and the "Un-fortunate Fall" Thesis


Historians have long debated the efficacy of this body of thought. Beginning in the late 1950s and continuing into the 1980s, historians argued that black protest thought mimicked the social and political values of the white America black leaders found themselves in. This "integrationist" position tended to view black protest thought as an echo of ideas deeply rooted in the American political tradition, the most important of which were the universalism of the American Revolution and the expectation of the neutrality of the state towards specific social groups implicit in that concept. (1)  Drawn from intellectual history, the integrationist approach comported easily with contemporary theories of cultural "assimilation" built upon the history of the experience of European immigrants -- which lauded the process by which those from other shores came to adopt the values, beliefs, and cultural styles of something assumed to be an American "core" or "dominant" culture. (2)  Consistent with such a view, these scholars tended to laud black leaders for their healthy and functional reliance on and assimilation of American values.

This view held sway until the late 1960s, when a generation of scholars raised on Black Power and sympathetic with demands for African-American political autonomy began to challenge it. (3)  Seeking antebellum antecedents for modern-day racial radicalism, this "radical" scholarship challenged the earlier school's contention that antebellum black protest thought aspired healthily to middle-class virtues. Some in this school sought black nationalist forerunners whose rejection of strategies of integration was thought to reflect a the cultural and ideological autonomy required for effective resistance. (4)   Yet it also became clear that the crafters of the antebellum black protest tradition did not as a whole fit the model of the late twentieth-century race radical. (5)  Too many African-American leaders seemed to have embraced middle-class strategies and outlooks which undermined the goals of freedom and equality. (6)  The black bourgeoisie had either (in reductionist versions) "sold out" black workers and the poor in exchange for class privilege, (7) or had fallen victim to an ideologically hegemonic process by which it had absorbed bourgeois values (assumed to be "white") which could neither explain black problems nor serve black interests. (8)

A final, more recent strain of "revisionist" work has sought to counter claims made by antebellum black nationalism and its chroniclers. For these scholars, the limitations of writing history so deeply concerned with prototypes for modern ideologies recalls Eric Hobsbawm's dicta that "no serious historian of nations and nationalism can be a committed political nationalist." (9)   Recent scholarship on the origins of black nationalism has illuminated the relationship between the brand of nationalism forged in the United States in the first half of the nineteenth century and that posited by African-American public figures in the North, challenging both the working-class bases and ideological autonomy of the nationalism forged by African Americans before the Civil War.

For one, it has challenged the folk bases of the nationalism forged by African Americans before the Civil War. Wilson Moses in particular offers an important revision in noting that "pan-Africanism and black nationalism had absolutely nothing to do with an affinity to mass folk culture during the nineteenth century." (10)  We might amend this by pointing out that there was no logical inconsistency in a nationalism constructed by elites and spread to the masses: elites' main reservation with the masses was rooted in differences in class cultural style, and not in a vision of nationalism which was first and foremost elitist; antebellum black nationalism ultimately aspired, as do all nationalisms, to enlist the masses. But the point is well taken. Twentieth-century blacks nationalism's claims notwithstanding, black nationalism emerged not out of folk experience, but, like all other nineteenth-century romantic ethnic nationalisms, out of a black urban intelligentsia. (11)  Second, as the product of a free, largely northern black intelligentsia, black nationalism did not depend primarily on unassimilated mindsets often considered to be as "separate" from white America as the independent political state it envisioned; instead, it owed a great ideological debt to the milieu which produced those nationalisms. As David Waldstreicher writes, "the outspoken nationalism of these Northern and Southern blacks drew less on recognized and preserved Africanisms than on the national popular political culture that pervaded American public life at this time." (12)

Religion presents a special case for this thesis. African-American spiritual belief has often been considered an important component of the antebellum black nationalism at the center of these struggles. As an element of culture, religious practice has frequently been considered a measure of black cultural and ideological autonomy. Sterling Stuckey, for instance, equates a "proto-nationalist consciousness" with a "slave consciousness" which in turn was "grounded in a continuing awareness of the fundamentals of African faith." The drama in Stuckey's account derives from bourgeois black leaders' growing awareness of the importance of African culture to their emerging nationalism. While many recent studies have closely attended to elements of cultural hybridity in black resistance, (13) there has been a constant undercurrent which valorizes cultural resources for resistance developed in autonomy from Anglo-America. (14)  Stuckey thus argues that Henry Highland Garnet and David Walker both believed that "freedom for blacks is harmony with one's ancestry, or it is nothing at all." (15)

Meanwhile, scholars in the revisionist camp have also pointed out that black nationalism appropriated American nationalism's historical narrative of chosenness. In their version of John Winthrop's vision of America as a "city on a hill" standing as a shining example of godly rule to the world, the consummation of God's will in America was yet to come. The theology has become known as the doctrine of the Fortunate Fall, (16) and went like this: though the Revolution had brought that vision close to fulfillment, it had left crucial work undone. Slavery still existed as a foul blot on what was otherwise the most perfect form of government the world had ever seen. Possessed of free will, man might sin, but God could always bring good out of evil. From this, it followed that God would still seek to perfect the world through the agency of his new chosen people, blacks. In the case of slavery, the enslavement of Africans would become the mechanism for Christianizing benighted Africa and obliterating the curse of slavery. Cleansed of national sin, the nation would finally fulfill the divine vision. Africa would benefit, too: through the agency of black American missionaries, "Ethiopia" would soon "stretch forth her hands to God." Should the nation fail to heed the word of God, it faced His wrath. And should the Pharaohs of North America refuse to let God's people go, some planned to embark on their own Exodus, to a black Canaan which would once and for all establish the truly free society God originally had intended for the United States. (17)

The points of affinity between black and American nationalism contained in this view strike many in the revisionist camp as a conundrum. How, after all, could a philosophy rooted in calls for separation from America have derived from quintessentially American ideology? Was there not a huge contradiction between the particularist concerns of black nationalism and its hope to redeem the nation by fulfilling its vision of universal human liberty? (18)  These problems are significant, for they speak directly to the efficacy and merits of this early form of black nationalism -- what George Frederickson has suggestively labeled "Ethiopianism," based on the oft-cited reference to the re-emergence of that place in Psalms. Wilson Moses considers this ideology "unfortunate, and misguided" evidence of the close ideological ties binding black and white Americas. Influenced by "the expansionist rhetoric of American Protestantism," black nationalists also appropriated elements of an American religion which was "militant, crusading, self-righteous, and violent." As a result, their "commitment to the "civilization" and "redemption"of Africa revealed little in the way of an appreciation for traditional African customs." (19)  According to Tunde Adeleke, black nationalists instead "borrowed copiously from Eurocentric nationalism" in ways which reinforced "the European depiction of Africa as primitive." (20)  The result was, in the words of another, a "confused black nationalism" riddled with "contradictions" and "paradox." (21)  Especially in its religious mode of Ethiopianism, this black nationalism seems to offer little continuing basis for effective protest. Its messianism seems hopelessly archaic. Worse yet, its ideological shortcomings persist into the present day, in the exclusivity, chauvinism, and intolerance of late twentieth-century black nationalists such as Louis Farrakhan.

We might call this interpretation the Unfortunate Fall thesis, a riff on the antebellum prototype. Ethiopianism posited that enslavement brought Christianity to Africans, and that those Africans would in turn redeem their ancestral continent and purify the land of their exile, the United States. God would thus bring good out of evil; the fall of African into the clutches of slaveholders would be mended by the good fortune of falling under the blessings of Christian civilization. The revisionist scholarship's anti-theodicy suggests that enslavement in America inculcated in African-descended people not the ideology of their liberation, but a hegemonic Eurocentrism which contaminated their well-meaning efforts to unite all people of African descent under a single standard. Overwhelmingly influenced by America's ethnocentric measures of civilization, they could approach the rest of the diaspora with at best paternalism and at worst contempt. Impeded by the values of a hostile culture assumed to be "white," antebellum black nationalists in the end hampered rather than advanced the Pan-African project.

This view contains much of merit. Foremost, it begins to challenge the claims black nationalism itself tends to make about its own origins, and thus offers a better vantage from which to study this important phenomenon. Yet despite the fact that the revisionist camp rightly critiques the radical scholarship for its teleological biases and political blinders, it leaves crucial premises of the black nationalist position intact -- namely a vision of culture rooted in the essentializing rhetoric of racial property. The Unfortunate Fall thesis posits the incoherence of antebellum black nationalism on the basis that its proponents sought political separation through the values and ideology of the oppressor society -- a move which violates the modern scholarship's unstated equation of cultural autonomy with effective resistance.

There was nothing at all "ironic" or surprising in black nationalism's close relation to American nationalism, however. For good reason, antebellum black nationalists did not understand their employment of Anglo-American tropes, typologies, and values as somehow inimical to their interests as an oppressed race. Though there were severe limits to employing the ideology of oppressors in the service of liberation, these were not limits antebellum black spokespersons were capable of foreseeing. Only by understanding the ideological context of black protest in the antebellum North can the nationalism forged there emerge as coherent and rational. Once revealed in this light, the study of antebellum black nationalism may begin to expose premises of essentializing racialism in even the revisionist scholarship which clutter modern thinking on the topic, and which have for too long gone uncontested. (22)

From the time of the Revolution, and particularly from the late 1820s, free black elites in the North first set forth the interests of African Americans in public rhetoric. This group encompassed a wide array of leaders: newspaper editors, churchmen, the women and men who led black literary societies, "professional" fugitive slaves and antislavery activists, lecturers, pamphleteers, and local community elites -- all those sufficiently well-resourced to have left their thoughts in the historical record. These black thinkers by and large embraced American nationalism's premise of chosenness, though they took their assumptions down radically different pathways. Many agreed that America had been destined to fulfill a special role in world history and God's plan. For them, though, slavery constituted a blight on the divine plan which urgently required explanation, and much of their religious thinking revolved around this enterprise.


The Ultimate Design of God


Black spokespersons' efforts to grapple with the inconsistency of slavery existing in a chosen land yielded ideas which would be considered quite alien to modern black nationalism, yet which formed the core premises of much of black protest thought. Recounting the ancient history of slavery, seminal black historian J.W.C. Pennington presented the institution of slavery as not inherently or necessarily evil. He suggested that many slaves in the ancient world had held favored status, and were blessed by humane treatment. Those in ancient Athens, he contended, enjoyed rights to free speech and to the fruits of their own labor. These nominal slaves suffered little of the "caprice and passion" imposed on those in Southern bondage. (23)   In some interpretations, the slave trade actually figured as an agent of beneficence. According to African colonizationist Edward Blyden, the slave trade accompanied two great advances in "the history of human improvement": the invention of the printing press and the "discovery" of America. Originally a boon for Blyden's benighted people, it "dragged Africa, rather tardy in the march of nations," into an age of civilization and improvement. At this point, Europeans' "glorious design of civilizing poor benighted Africa" offset the forced deportation of Africans from their homeland. As in the ancient form of slavery Pennington lauded, Europeans in the trade's early days regarded the care of their slaves as a solemn oath; they "felt bound to instruct them, and, in every way, to ameliorate their condition." The relation between European and African at this stage of the trade resembled that of "guardian and protégé" rather than master and slave. (24)

Black thinkers thus constructed the first prop of the Fortunate Fall doctrine: as practiced in an enlightened or beneficent past, the evils of enslavement might have been mitigated considerably by its moral dictate that masters "civilize" their slaves. Like so many previous chosen people, however, Europe and America lost God's favor through a fatal betrayal of divine law. David Walker, the militant clothing merchant and pamphleteer, believed that Jesus had "handed a dispensation," or special favor, to Europeans which explained their world ascendancy; Europeans had, however, "made merchanidse of us," and thus violated their covenant. (25)  Others similarly suggested that it was the peculiar form of American slavery which violated the will of God. According to those like Blyden, "the virulent features of the trade were not developed until the enormous gains which were found to result from the toil of the African." At that point, when the profit motive began to displace the civilizing imperative, "unutterable cruelties" resulted. (26)  What had originally been a salutary institution which benefitted Africans by bringing them into the pale of western civilization degenerated into an inhuman exercise in tyranny opposed to the will of God. Nathaniel Paul echoed Thomas Jefferson's argument in the draft of the Declaration of Independence: had not European nations have habituated Americans to "the absurd luxuries of life," Paul argued, "the spirit of pure republicanism" which existed in the breasts of the patriots of the American Revolution would have ensured that slavery never would have gained a foothold in the nation. (27)  In thus displacing responsibility for American slavery by foisting it onto the backs of the European colonizers who introduced the slave trade, Paul (and Jefferson) salvaged a core of America which might be set right.

In these conceptions, the story of modern American slavery echoed a tradition of Christian millennialism with roots in the Old Testament story of God's covenant with the children of Abraham, their descent into Egyptian bondage, and their subsequent deliverance by God. The triumphalist elements of this narrative never strayed far from the cautionary tales it contained. Black thinkers found inspiration not simply in their oft-noted use of Exodus, but in the New Testament's description of the relationship between God and the Israelites, which frequently bordered on anti-Semitic. Typical of this approach, Episcopal clergyman William Douglass lectured that the Israelites had been under God's "special guidance, government and protection: they were favored above all other nations with the means of religious instruction, temporal security and prosperity." When they "groaned under the Egyptian yoke, God delivered them with a high hand and with an out-stretched arm." Yet throughout their history they remained a "rebellious and stiff-necked people." When at last the Jews strayed from divine will by putting Jesus to death, God's justice "was signally executed upon the Jewish nation" -- Jerusalem fell brutally to the Romans during Jewish War of the first century CE. (28)  J. W. Loguen, a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Zion (AMEZ) Church, offered a similar interpretation. Israel had been God's chosen nation, but the pharisee Caiaphas "gave up his church and country to be murdered when he gave up Jesus to be murdered." God passed on his grace to the new-formed Christian church. The lesson: "when a church ceases to honor its Lord by a life devoted to his uses--when it is a covering for selfish and worldly aims, it has like the Jewish Church . . . lost his life." The implications were clear: just as God passed on his grace to Christendom in the wake of Jewish apostasy, so too He would abandoned the Christian church and the American nation for betraying divine will in maliciously enslaving Africans. (29)

The story of enslavement in America, then, replicated the original fall from God's grace. As a type of this archetypal Eden tale, enslavement posed a problem which had confronted Judeo-Christian theology since its inception. Christianity posited a supremely powerful deity who was also supremely benevolent. How could such a god permit evil and suffering to exist? It is not difficult to understand the poignancy of such questions among African-descended people, who had been subjected to far more than their fair share of misfortune. As racial theorist J.W. Lewis wrote: "It is a question in the mind of many, why an infinite God can allow such a violation of human rights, and so much physical suffering, and so much blood-stained soil." The stakes here were terribly high: nothing less than faith in Christianity lay on the line. If Lewis could believe that God could "by an act of arbitrary power despise his own work," it would obliterate in his mind "all love and reverence to that God as a good being." (30)  The solution was that God was all powerful, yet chose not to exercise his power completely. Men were permitted to perpetrate evil; God worked more subtly to redeem the world. Nathaniel Paul put these words in the mouth of God: "It is my sovereign prerogative to bring good out of evil, and cause the wrath of man to praise me." Consequently, "what was in itself evil and vicious, was permitted to carry along with it some circumstance of palliation." (31)   In this case, palliation appeared in the guide of Christianity and civilization. According to another, when God "suffered the first swarthy man to be inveighed, entrapped, and stolen from Africa," he "overruled the evil intentions of men for the benefit of mankind, by placing us in the midst of the path of progress." (32)  Although "Almighty God has not permitted us to remain in the land of our forefathers," he allowed Africans "to behold those best and noblest of his gifts to man" -- namely, religious and civil liberty. African Americans owed their enjoyment of American life, limited though it was, "to that curse, the bitter scourge of Africa" -- "slavery has been your curse, but it shall become your rejoicing." (33)

Yet a question remained: had He waited so long for the hour of their deliverance? The answer drew upon the notion of free will in much the way Puritan theodicy did. Human virtue -- the capacity to honor God -- lay in free will; obedience without moral choice was meaningless. God had the power to enforce his law, yet chose not to interfere with man's exercise of his free will so that man might honor God through his choice of virtue. According to Loguen, the Christian nation "was free to obey God according to its own mind." (34)  According to William Douglass, God forbore punishment on sinners as a sign of his infinite mercy. He granted them time that they "may be suitably affected, and so be led to repentance and salvation." (35)  Blacks' misfortune, then, did not at all signify their abandonment by God. To the contrary, it served as the means of their redemption. Edward Blyden theorized that before the coming of the millennium "one of the most ancient and powerful states must pass through a series of unprecedented calamities." From the ashes of this thus-purified people "must spring forth the germ of the chosen people," whose regeneration would herald "the redemption and delivery of Africa." (36)   Frances Ellen Watkins, a teacher, poet, and author from Philadelphia, explained black suffering with like logic: "Adversity, to the race, has been a training school." (37)

But training for what? Of the forthcoming destruction of slavery few African-American Northerners had much doubt. Speaking at an anniversary celebration of the ending of the slave trade to America, one George Lawrence cautioned that "the time is fast approaching when the iron hand of oppression must cease to tyrannize over injured innocence." (38)  "The day of exact reckoning is approaching," warned another, "a day when, whether men will or no, the just measure shall be meted out to all, . . . and this our portion of it will not surely be forgotten." (39)  Their faith secure that the final days were nigh, blacks launched continual jeremiads directed to white Americans, illustrating the dangers of their recalcitrant stance towards slavery's abolition. Through these, they hoped to "touch the heart of the American nation," and warn those loyal to the slaveholding nation "of their follies and the fate of the great empires of antiquity." (40)   Pointing out that in the past God had "destroyed kings and princes, for their oppression of the poor slaves," (41) they charged white America: "you are verily guilty. . . . God will hold you responsible." (42)   According to William Douglass, a merciful God long "holds back the bolt," but "nothing but timely repentance can avert a national punishment." (43)  God had not "forgotten how to use His right hand for the deliverance of the poor and oppressed," said another, and "if tyrants have forgotten the history of the doings of that right hand in olden times, He is able to write a new one for their especial benefit." (44)  The means for delivering this judgement might be the slaves themselves, cautioned Ohio's H. Ford Douglass: "You must either free the slaves, or the slaves will free themselves. All history confirms the fact." (45)  David Walker launched the most strident attacks of all, warning white Americans "that unless you speedily alter your course, you and your Country are gone!!!!!! For God Almighty will tear up the very face of the earth!!! . . . Oh Americans! Americans!! I warn you in the name of the Lord, (whether you will hear, or forbear,) to repent and reform, or you are ruined!!!" (46)

Where exactly African Americans stood in relation to the coming millennium was a matter of some debate, but most black spokespersons assigned them a primary role. "The Providences of God have placed the Negro Race, before Europe and America, in the most commanding position," lectured Alexander Crummell, an Episcopal clergyman and advocate of African colonization. "From the sight of us, no nation, no statesmen, no ecclesiastics, and no ecclesiastical institution, can escape." (47)  God had ordained the present as the time when the people of Africa -- long dormant, long benighted -- would awaken from their national slumbers. The result would be the re-emergence of a black nation onto the world stage. "Long years of darkness, imbecility and slavery, have been our portion," a black national convention told its constituents, "but God hath appoint us unto restoration. For princes shall come out of Egypt, and Ethiopia shall soon stretch forth her hands unto God." (48)  David Walker believed "that God has something in reserve for us which . . . will repay us for all our suffering and miseries": blacks would soon "take a stand among the nations of the earth." (49)  The coming Parousia promised an end to blacks' persecutions. It would disperse "the dark clouds of ignorance and superstition;" (50)  "reason, virtue, kindness and liberty" would "rise in glory and triumph," while "prejudice and slavery be cast down to the lowest depths of oblivion." (51)   Alexander Crummell predicted that the world would soon behold "a manly, noble, and complete African nationality!" which would "falsify all the lying utterances of the speculative ethnographies and the pseudo-philosophies which have spawned from the press of modern days against us." (52) 

If these views of a divine history endowed with special meaning for blacks seemed tinged with the millennial, they were. Antebellum black nationalists postulated a history driven by the struggle between tyranny and liberty, slavery and freedom, God and Mammon. According to black abolitionist Hezekiah Douglass, "the struggle of the oppressed against the oppressor" was one which "every where marks the pages of ancient History," from the days of Babylon to America's own revolutionary struggle against Britain. (53)  "On earth's broad arena -- through Time's revolving cycles," lectured a black woman abolitionist, "this warfare has been continuous." (54)   This view of history comported easily with dominant political languages. When William Seward spoke of an "irrepressible conflict" between freedom and slavery, African-American thinkers easily picked up the refrain, infusing the statesman's secular millennialism with overt religious significance. (55)


Divine Instrumentalities for Divine Ends


Over the course of the period from the Revolution to the Civil War, the consensus on the actual agent of black redemption changed in important ways. Of course redemption ultimately stemmed from God, but man's role in the process was less clear. What exactly did God want of oppressed African Americans? Where did His will stop and theirs begin? Options ranged from early century admonitions for blacks to patiently await God's coming to pre-Civil War nationalists who suggested that blacks become active instruments of His will. The early view drew inspiration from Revolutionary-era African Americans like Jupiter Hammond, whose Address to the Negroes In the State of New York (1787) masters frequently read to their bondspersons. Drawing from the epistles of St. Paul, Hammond found "a plain command of God for us to obey our masters." Further, "we ought to do it cheerfully, and freely." (56)  Typical of black messianic interpretations of this perspective were the words of Robert Roberts, who authored a manual for African-American domestic servants some forty years after Hammond's sermon was first published. "It is much better to be the oppressed than to stand in the place of the oppressor," he instructed his readers, "for patience is very acceptable in the sight of God, and in due time will be rewarded, because God hath promised that it shall be so." (57)  Others tempered such difficult advice by at least clarifying the terms of salvation. Robert Alexander Young, an obscure black New Yorker who likely served as a popular preacher among the working class, penned a sermon prophesying the coming of a messiah -- a mulatto, to all appearances white -- who would be "ordained of God, to call together the black people as a nation in themselves." Young advised his fellows to bear their burdens patiently while waiting for this leader. (58)

In contrast to these working-class manifestations of black messianism, middle-class leaders deeply implicated in black political struggles envisioned African Americans themselves playing increasingly significant roles. (59)   As the crisis of the antebellum era deepened, and as a cadre of middle-class black leaders matured, black protest shifted its focus from God's agency to their own. In 1858, Peter H. Clark, a black activist from Cincinnati, declared that blacks had erred in thinking "that a political millennium was coming" -- that God would work his will any other way than through African Americans. Frustrated by decades of seemingly futile protest, and discouraged by the Republican Party's racist form of antislavery, Clark determined "never to petition for a right again." Instead, if he could "seize" his rights, he would do so. (60)  If African Americans could not wait on God to deliver them from without, they would have to work for their own redemption from within. This view was typified in the thought of Henry Highland Garnet, the New York minister, editor, and lecturer who issued a call to slave rebellion in 1843. Like Robert Roberts, Garnet believed that slaves were "duty bound to reverence and obey" God's commandments, but he differed radically from the Pauline approach of those like Roberts and Young. For him, God required the enslaved "to love him supremely." This meant completely rejecting servitude, regardless of the difficulties involved, for slavery opposed the will God and "hurls defiance in the face of Jehovah." The enslaved therefore had a "SOLEMN DUTY" to throw off their oppressors using "EVERY MEANS, BOTH MORAL, INTELLECTUAL, AND PHYSICAL THAT PROMISES SUCESS." (61)    Garnet had turned the tables on the Pauline theology masters sought to instil in the enslaved. God commanded slaves not to obey their masters, Garnet stated, but to seek their freedom. Garnet revolutionized the nation of black agency, at least rhetorically. The problem from black clerics was no longer one of justifying resistance in the face of a divine commandment to obey. Echoing Jefferson, Garnet argued that resistance to tyrants was obedience to God. The oppressed had a Christian duty to resist, actively and openly.

Increasingly, African-American spokespersons believed they were to play conspicuous and active roles in the impending Apocalyptic contest, thus shifting the locus of black protest from messianic deliverance to political revolution. James McCune Smith told his readers, "we live in the heroic age of our country, and the negro is the hero," (62) while Frances Ellen Watkins believed that blacks in America were to play "a conspicuous part in the great struggle of the latter day of the world's history." (63) In these final days, many considered blacks "Divine instrumentalities for Divine ends." (64)  It was here that black millennialism began its work of creating a political entity out of a diverse people. In essence, African Americans became the elect. As J.W. Loguen argued (once again bringing to bear a healthy dose of anti-Judaism), "the Christian Church to-day is in the state the Jewish Church was when it excommunicated its Lord. It is a dead carcass, dissolving as its essence is turned to uses." Just as the "Jewish church" had fallen from divine favor through disobedience, so had the Christians by sustaining slavery; just as God had passed his covenant from Jews to Christians, and then from the English to English settlers of America and their descendants, so too he would pass it from white Americans to African Americans. (65)  True to this form, Alexander Crummell placed blacks within a version of John Winthrop's "City of a Hill" speech well suited for the age of Romantic Nationalism: "There is one MORAL good we can do the world," he told a Liberian audience. "The world needs a higher type of true nationality than it now has: why should not we furnish it?" Why not, he asked, "make OURSELVES a precedent?" (66) 

This narrative of a unified people responding properly to their oppression by adhering to God's will promised a great reward for its suffering: a central place in history. For one, it placed great responsibilities on a people otherwise bereft of agency. As James McCune Smith wrote of "the negro": "the progress of mankind is intrusted to his keeping." (67)  Properly obedient to the will of God, African Americans could become, in the words of Loguen, "lights of the age, and saviors of the country -- monarchs of progress, in politics, in morals, and religion." (68)  The sense of meaning and purpose thus imparted was not to be scoffed at. Educator and former slave Austin Steward had once wondered "whether the black man would become extinct and his race die out" -- "whether they would wither in the presence of the enterprising Anglo-Saxon as have the natives of this country." But his faith had given him new hope: "Now I have no such wondering inquiring to make; being persuaded that the colored man has yet a prominent part to act in this highly-favored Republic." (69) 

African-American Northerners' growing trust in their divine election led to a fundamental reordering of their narrative. Paradoxically, as they embraced the sense of peoplehood proffered by Exodus, they departed from it in important ways. The Israelites had been delivered not by themselves, after all, by but the hand of God, working through the individual figure of Moses. This messianic component placed a supernatural intermediary between the oppressed and their deliverance, and thus inadvertently undermined their agency. Increasingly, blacks abandoned this style of messianism. They began to favor a more direct intervention in their salvation which marked an emerging awareness of their own political agency and the steady growth of a desire to fashion their own responses to oppression. In the 1820s, it was hoped that God would "elevate" blacks to the status of nation and thus redeem them; by the eve of the Civil War, blacks argued that their own self-elevation would redeem the nation, Africa, and indeed the world.

Curiously, this shift stemmed from white Americans' racist desire to remove blacks from the republic. Spurred by the patronage of the American Colonization Society (acs), which was founded in 1816 to offer a solution to America's post-Revolutionary "race problem," black leaders first exhibited this redemptionist impulse towards Africa. The Society pioneered a moderate line on race, liberal in its day, intended to deal with the presence of slavery in a republican democracy. Their consciences pricked by the universalist logic of the Revolution, many whites (especially in the Upper South and mid-Atlantic) were troubled by slavery but unwilling to risk the social consequences of widespread emancipation. Slave or free, they reasoned, blacks simply lacked the virtues necessary to function in a self-governing republic. By offering to fund the removal of blacks to Africa once they had been freed, the Society hoped to circumvent this problem. This plan mollified all but the most fire-breathing Southern shareholders by offering a plan of emancipation which was gradual, compensated, and voluntary. The Society sold its program to the objects of its suspect beneficence by promising them a special place in history: it implanted the idea that black Americans might redeem Africa by bringing it the benefits of civilization and Christianity. Beyond suggesting once again the common ideological roots black nationalism shared with America, it is symbolic of the depths of black despair that this shallow attempt to rationalize the expulsion of black people from the continent appealed to a vocal minority of African Americans. Echoing important themes from the theodicy, Maryland blacks argued that God, in his providence, placed the benighted children of Africa in America, where they had been "elevated and blessed" in preparation for their final purpose, which has the redemption of Africa. (70)  "Ours is a great destiny," exalted Alexander Crummell. Through the agency of blacks, "the shades of ignorance and Superstition, that have so long settled upon the mind of Africa, shall be dispelled." (71)

By the Civil War several thousand African Americans -- a minuscule proportion of the four million in the nation -- had relocated to Liberia under the auspices of the ACS. While most blacks quickly intuited the Society's false concern for the plight of oppressed blacks, the encounter with colonization had served a vital function. Blacks in general rejected colonization and its rationale wholesale, but it had supplied them a logic they could use to argue for their inclusion in the American project. Their rejections to their removal took myriad forms, the most powerful of which argued that their purpose was to redeem not Africa, but America. Instead of intending for them a primary role in redeeming Africa, said one, "God may use them to save this nation from that abyss of ruin towards which its brutal pride and folly are driving it headlong." (72)  If, as the Colonization Society argued, blacks possessed a special redemptive power, why expend it in a way that avoided redeeming America? Argued Ohio blacks, "the amount of labor and self-sacrifice required to establish a home in a foreign land, would if exercised here, redeem our native land from the grasp of slavery." (73)  Instead of leaving for Africa, Samuel Cornish wrote, "we will stay and seek the purification of the whole lump." (74)  "Our work here," editorialized another, "is to purify the State, and purify Christianity from the foul blot which here rests upon them." (75)  It was, after all, America which God had intended as the site of the millennium. "On this continent," wrote one black commentator, "God intends . . . ultimately to bring men of every clime, and hue, and tongue, in one great harmony, to perfect the greater system of man's highest earthly government. Then shall be the reign of perfect peace." (76)

It would be misguided to suggest, as some have, that the debates between those who favored a return to Africa and those who rejected colonization reflected fundamental differences in culture and racial identity. (77)  Those who sought to colonize Africa and those who argued for the purification of the United States shared far more than what separated them. Patterns of pro-colonization sentiment were guided overwhelmingly by rhetorical exigency rather than cultural identity. This was evident in their response to the ACS. Blacks' public rhetoric early in the nineteenth century embraced Africa as a symbol of a national affiliation which lent them credibility in a world rapidly organizing itself around such allegiances. Reflecting the rise of nationalist consciousness, black leaders began inserting "African" into their institutional monikers as they gained a public voice. Among others, they founded the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the Free African Society of Boston, and the African Free School of New York. Just as such practices became widespread, however, the ACS rose, associating dangerous new connotations with these proclamations of African identity. If black people in America claimed that they were African, why not send them back to their homeland? Overwhelmingly rejecting African colonization, black Northerners erased "African" from the marbles of many of their institutions, and began calling themselves "colored" instead. (78)

Black leaders' general abstention from African colonization from the late 1820s through the 1840s responded not to a new, different sense of racial identity, but to the threat posed by a powerful national organization dedicated to exiling blacks from the land of their birth. Just as a desire to leave the nation for Africa did not necessarily signal the emergence of a separatist national identity, a desire to stay did not signify deeply "assimilated" mindsets. Frustration proved a far more likely determinant of colonizationist sentiment than the presence or lack of African cultural retentions. Lacking the nefarious rhetoric of the Society, blacks likely would have woven a return to African far more thoroughly into their public speech. As it was, it took several decades of disappointments to drive some, like Henry Highland Garnet and Martin R. Delaney, back into the colonizationist fold, and even then the truce between white and black colonizationists remained tenuous. More significantly than suggesting the site of redemption, the shared vision of a divinely-ordained mission united African Americans in a historical community of the oppressed.

But that mission had originally been inspired by the nefarious designs of the Colonization Society. African Americans themselves transformed the malevolent designs of the ACS into a high degree of political agency. The ACS had intended the redemption motif to channel black energies safely towards a foreign land. Because it considered black support necessary for its long-term success, the mission to redeem Africa (it was hoped) would activate African Americans themselves in public struggles over colonization. By endorsing and indeed sponsoring black supporters of colonization, it unwittingly legitimated their emerging public voices, albeit in the highly qualified realm of mass removal. African Americans embraced their new public roles, only to appropriate the ACS's salvific motifs and reapply them to the far more radical realm of the United States itself. Yet regardless of whether black activists wound up arguing for or against colonization, the crucial step towards blacks' direct and public roles in the redemptive mission -- wherever it was destined to occur -- had been taken.

Redemption motifs built among African Americans a sense of their unity as a historical and political force. This was something which could be assumed by no one in the antebellum era; it had to be grown and nurtured before it could flower among the masses. Religious black nationalism told its adherents not simply that they belonged to a nation, but how they ought to belong to it. Maintaining this unity required the subordination of individual wills to the greater project of group elevation. It meant thinking always of the interests of the race before the interests of the self. David Walker, for one, excoriated those blacks for "telling news and lies to our natural enemies, against each other." Perhaps he had in mind those African Americans who helped foil the slave revolutions contemplated by Denmark Verey and Gabriel Presser; maybe he thought of those African Americans who pursued their own profit at the expense of any person of African descent. "Respectable men" would never behave thus. His famous Appeal first and foremost reminded his readers that their very survival depended on inculcating national loyalty, "that unless you are united, keeping your tongues within your teeth, you will be afraid to trust your secrets to each other, and thus perpetuate our miseries." (79) 

Such discipline might in the end matter terribly. Anticipating truly Apocalyptic racial struggle, educator and newspaper columnist William J. Wilson wrote: "When the final day does come, as come it must, and should it be a hand-to-hand struggle, it may then be with the Anglo-African a question of numbers." Blacks' national strength may then mean "not merely the question of his liberty, but entire indemnity for the past, full security for the future, and the most perfect and fullest equality for all time to come." While waiting for that day, Wilson continued, "it behooves every one to be on the alert; to be on the watch-tower or in the drill, or measuring strength." (80)  Other leaders contributed to the objective of imparting a great urgency to the time between the present and the end. "Stand boldly up in your own national characteristics," Austin Steward urged, "band together in one indissoluble bond of brotherhood, to stand shoulder to shoulder in the coming conflict." (81)  As a people, wrote another, blacks needed to develop "undivided energy, determination or patriotism," for "where these traits are not found in individuals, they cannot be found in the community in which they live -- and where they cannot be found in the community, it is in vain they will be sought in the nation." (82)




Through their appropriation of America's idioms of romantic nationalism and evangelical millennialism, African Americans created themselves as a people. They adapted the nation's Exodus-inspired narrative of chosenness to their own position as an oppressed people in a land which otherwise resembled Canaan. This narrative helped explain their suffering, and imposed the national discipline necessary to mold them into a political force. That African American spokespersons would develop such a sense of their own distinct peoplehood from the ideological materials of their oppressors strikes much of the recent scholarship on antebellum black nationalism as a paradox. Prone to equate political with cultural nationalism, and effective resistance with cultural and ideological autonomy, this perspective raises three concerns.

First, it tends to conflate black leaders' class-bound talk of self-help with their rhetoric of Americanism. Too often, African Americans' petit-bourgeois desires for "elevation" are read as an uncritical acceptance of the nation as it stood or, worse, as a self-interested pursuit of their own economic well-being at the expense of their non-elite constituents. Black nationalism did indeed provide what Leonard Sweet calls the "creative thrust for black demands of American nationality," by which he means the rights accruing to American citizens and the economic benefits which derived from them. (83) 

But such statements too easily imply that black leaders' overwhelming concern was to be accepted at all costs into the American civic community, even at the price of racial unity. Black leaders sought American liberty not for its own sake but because of the "blessings" it conferred. They rightly understood -- it was all too apparent -- that inclusion in American life offered tangible benefits which would have been desired by any oppressed people. Rather than falling victim to a hegemonic process which led them to crave Americanization at the expense of their interests as a victimized race, black leaders rationally concluded that they were surrounded by others who enjoyed, by right, basic guarantees of civil liberties, citizenship responsibilities, and economic opportunities. In the ideological context of the antebellum North, access to the system -- either by inclusion in America or by the replication of the republic elsewhere as a black state -- seemed the only path out of their plight. It is true that black spokespersons' first concern was never championing the rights of the working classes. But the black nationalism of the antebellum period was not an instrument of class analysis at all, and never purported to be. In fact, nationalism's primary intra-group function was to elide class distinctions among African Americans in the interest of the higher priority of racial unity.

The class status of black leaders was more than a merely neutral factor in the formation of black protest thought. It is difficult to square charges of black leaders' class bias with concepts of group solidarity which were seated so deeply into the structure of their protest thought. African-American public spokespersons certainly constituted, relative to the mass of working-class blacks, an elite. Yet their genuine concern for the well-being of their people, and their incontrovertible faith in their unity and divinely ordained group purpose offset their admitted class chauvinism. Furthermore, resistance -- militant resistance based on a black political identity -- sprung first from middle-class black nationalism. It was Robert Alexander Young, the working-class preacher, who counseled patient endurance, and Henry Highland Garnet, the successful middle-class minister, editor, and lecturer, who argued for revolution. Leading lights of the previous generation such as Jupiter Hammond and Phyllis Wheatley -- the latter born in Africa -- contributed relatively little to the foundation of a black nation with a distinct political identity. Steeped in the patron-client social relations of the Revolutionary era, these figures lacked not acumen or will, but the combination of bourgeois society and romantic nationalism which spawned the ideas which came to form the core of a revolutionary black protest tradition.

Second, in understanding antebellum black nationalism as a paradox, the Unfortunate Fall thesis suggests a pathology in black thought rooted to leaders' hyper-developed concern for speaking to an intransigent society. It is too easily forgotten that in its day antebellum black nationalism seemed to offer a source of identity with important weight in public sphere debates over African Americans' place in the nation. Its capacity to invoke and appeal to potent tropes in American nationalism was indeed a most powerful asset in blacks' dialogue with a broader America. Black leaders' appeals to group solidarity took the form of common languages of nationalism not simply because those languages offered a potent source of group cohesion, but because nationalism carried widespread and increasingly valuable ideological currency in the Atlantic world. At the very least, nationalism gave African Americans the means not simply to become a people, but to become a people who could argue credibly for a fundamental transformation in the structure of the nation. It gave them the ideological tools necessary to discern the nature of the problem they faced and to proffer a solution -- at least as successfully as any antebellum American could have been hoped to. This was no trivial achievement: black nationalism permitted African-American leaders to reach over the chasm enslavement had created, and for the first time speak directly to the American public in a language it understood.

If antebellum black nationalism remained captive to a discourse of nationalism developed by blacks' oppressors, it was not utterly without value. Too often, evidence of "assimilation" among the oppressed is read as self-subverting victimization at the hands of ideological hegemony. Yet engagement with an oppressor society through a capacity to understand and manipulate its values may prove just as or even more valuable in the freedom struggle than a strong but culturally distinct protest tradition incapable of penetrating the discourse of the public sphere. Black nationalism derived from American nationalism, which in turned owed large debts to romantic European nationalism. That all nationalisms ultimately may trace their historical antecedents back to such sources does not necessarily undermine their efficacy, however. The efficacy of a nationalism is not, contra what cultural nationalisms themselves state, necessarily related to its degree of actual cultural distinctiveness. As some scholars have argued, this capacity to challenge power in order to play power's own game is true of oppositional nationalisms everywhere: historically, they have grown from an awareness of unequal development, and have made claims designed to rectify the perceived gap. Black nationalism's apparently contradictory stance toward America -- its separatist message which sought inclusion in American life -- may thus be restated without confusing implicit references to hegemonic American ideology: black nationalism offered a source of unity to a people seeking to share the benefits of the most progressive elements of the world economy and world political system.

A final shortcoming of the revisionist approach to black nationalism concerns the conceptual framework used to explore it. Wilson Moses correctly notes that black nationalism emerged first among "literate, urbanized blacks." He then views this as "evidence of the extent to which they had become acculturated in America." This elite "saw no contradiction between cultural assimilation and racial self-interest." (84)   The very use of these two words -- "acculturation" and "assimilation" -- invokes a suspect conceptual tool. This "community/culturalist paradigm," as Clarence Walker has called it (85), is frequently employed to describe meetings between an Anglo-American "core" culture and European immigrants or enslaved Africans. Because this approach understands culture as the exclusive purview of national entities, it concludes that it was thus impossible for blacks to embrace an oppositional nationalism through culture that was properly American. In such a view a functional black nationalism built on American nationalism can only appear as a paradox.

But this contention relies on a parochial view of culture which reinforces dangerous racialist premises. The key notion is that in participating in the discourses of romantic nationalism and evangelical millennialism African-American spokespersons were somehow operating under the aegis of a culture not originally or properly their own, one fundamentally opposed to their interests as an oppressed race. They had "assimilated," perhaps with an eye towards complete "integration." This describes nothing like the ideological climate in which Northern black elites formulated their responses to white supremacy. It is not that African-American leaders did not seek complete integration into their society (some did and some did not, depending on how integration is defined), it is that they did not see themselves as integrating into someone else's society. Notions like "assimilation" envision a cultural journey -- from a pre-contact to a post-contact state, from the cultural margins to a cultural core -- which most black leaders simply did not take.

The African-American ministers, editors, and activists who formulated the black public protest tradition did not see their dearly held cultural values as belonging to their oppressors. They claimed those values -- uplift, respectability, civilization, natural rights philosophy, republicanism, liberalism-- as their own. Indeed, they championed them, became bastions for their defense. In doing so, they did no violence to their own cultural heritage; they could not have, for such values were their own cultural heritage. Their sermons, lectures, and editorials had helped build those values, just as their labor had helped to build the North's farms and cities. Elements of American thought -- in this instance romantic nationalism, and particularly the jeremiad and Christian theodicy -- no more belonged to America than they did to the European societies which borrowed them from a long line of antecedents stretching back to first century Judea.

There were serious limitations to black spokespersons' manipulation of extant notions of nationalism, millennialism, and capitalism. In particular, African-American leaders shared with the bourgeois society around them standards of civility which impeded their appreciation of the cultural styles of the black non-elite, and which reinforced contemporary gender norms at the expense of African-American women. But the very appearance of these concepts among blacks did not of itself somehow denote a pathological cultural mis-appropriation. Rather, they signaled limitations under which all Americans operated in the antebellum North: deeply rooted notions of gender roles, a strong belief in the essential rationality of public sphere discourse, and a great faith in liberalism's promises to create the just society through the mechanisms of the market economy.

All students of African-American history know that this faith was ill-founded. Even the millennial victory of slavery consummated by the Civil War failed to banish Pharaoh from his old strongholds for long. Through the inexorable logic of their rhetoric, African-American leaders hoped to position white America so that it had only two ways to move: it could accede to reasonable demands rooted in America's cherished precepts, and thus strengthen and honor the national mission. Or white America could continue to deny blacks' freedom and equality, and thus risk hypocrisy and the betrayal of its founding principles. Alas, too many white Americans proved all-too-willing to sacrifice their democratic integrity on the altar of racial privilege. While black activism helped drive the nation to the civil war which abolished slavery, its rhetoric was insufficiently powerful to excise the attitudes which fostered the tragic failure of Reconstruction and its bloody aftermath. White supremacy's racial fantasies often served psychic needs too strong to yield the concessions necessary to bring America's promises to fruition.

©2000  Patrick Rael.  Any archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text in any medium requires the consent of the author.


Author's Biography

Patrick Rael is Assistant Professor of History at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine.  He received his Ph.D. in American History from the University of California, Berkeley in 1995.  He is co-editor (with Richard Newman and Philip Lapsansky) of Pamphlets of Protest: African-American Resistance in Print, from the Revolution to the Civil War (forthcoming from Routledge Press, Summer 2000), and has published on the subjects of slavery, abolitionism, the Civil War and Reconstruction, and the presentation of black history in film.  His first book, Colored Americans: Forging Black Protest in the Antebellum North, is under contract with the University of North Carolina Pres.  Rael's website may be accessed at

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1. These works tend to focus -- generally without criticism -- on black leaders' apparent reliance on ideas then current in America, especially middle-class values which stressed the ethic of individual moral uplift and the self-made economic man. August Meier, the earliest proponent of this position, wrote in 1963: "By the acquisition of wealth and morality -- attained largely by their own efforts -- Negroes would gain the respect of white men and thus be accorded their rights as citizens." Others echoed Meier, arguing that "virtually all black leaders" shared the "values and mores of white reformers of their era." They were "interested in neither protest nor nationalism," but instead believed that "the 'elevation' of the race depended on the 'self-improvement' of the individual." August Meier, Negro Thought in America, 1880-1915 (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1963; Ann Arbor: Ann Arbor Paperbacks, 1969), 42; Frederick Cooper, "Elevating the Race: The Social Thought of Black Leaders, 1827-50," American Quarterly 24:5 (December 1972), 604-25 (quoted 604, 605). Another classic statement of the position may be found in Leonard I. Sweet, Black Images of America, 1784-1870 (New York: Norton, 1976). Sweet stressed northern blacks' fundamental adoption of and faith in American values of self-improvement. The same faith in millennial progress through moral self-fulfillment that George Bancroft incorporated into his popular histories dominated black thought as well, he argued. Faith in these American notions was so complete that even nationalistic black leaders "asserted their identity as blacks and their identity as Americans. They did not see any contradiction between the two -- between being both black and American" (p. 6). [return to text]

2. This conception of the problem evolved in a context of sociological and historical thinking highly predisposed towards the model, pioneered by Chicago-school sociologists like Robert Park. The classic texts here are: Gunnar Myrdal, An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy (New York: London, Harper, and Brothers, 1944; reprint ed., New York: McGraw Hill, 1964); Oliver C. Cox, Caste, Class, and Race: A Study in Social Dynamics (1948; New York: Monthly Review Press, 1970); E. Franklin Frazier, The Negro Family in the United States (New York: Citadel Press, 1948), Black Bourgeoisie (New York: The Free Press, 1957; paperback ed., New York: Free Press Paperbacks, 1997), and The Negro Church in America (New York: Schocken Books, 1963); and Milton Gordon, Assimilation in American Life: The Role of Race, Religion, and National Origins (New York, 1964). Classic historical treatments include Oscar Handlin, Boston's Immigrants, 1790-1865: A Study in Acculturation (Cambridge, MA, 1941), The Uprooted: The Epic Story of the Great Migrations That Made the American People (1951), and Race and Nationality in American Life (1957); Nathan Glazer and Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Beyond the Melting Pot: The Negroes, Puerto Ricans, Jews, Italians, and Irish of New York City (Cambridge, MA, 1963). For recent approaches which still rely on some conception of the assimilation-separation paradigm, see Elliott R. Barkan, "Race, Religion, and Nationality in American Society: A Model of Ethnicity  From Contact to Assimilation," Journal of American Ethnic History 14:2 (Winter 1995), 38-75; Hope Landrine and Elizabeth A. Klonoff, African American Acculturation: Deconstructing Race and Reviving Culture (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 1996); Peter D. Salins, Assimilation, American Style (New York: Basic Books, 1997). [return to text]

3. Studies which discuss black separatism or black nationalism in the antebellum North include Howard Holman Bell, "The Negro Emigration Movement, 1849-1854: A Phase of Negro Nationalism," Phylon 20 (Summer 1959), 132-42; E.U. Essien-Udom, Black Nationalism: A Search for an Identity in America (Chicago, 1962); Hollis R. Lynch, "Pan-Negro Nationalism in the New World, Before 1862," Boston University Papers on Africa, vol. 2, African History (Boston, 1966), 149-79; BillMcAdoo, "Pre-Civil War Black Nationalism," Progressive Labor (June/July 1966); Theodore Draper, The Rediscovery of Black Nationalism (New York, 1970); Sterling Stuckey, ed., The Ideological Origins of Black Nationalism (Boston, 1972), 1-29; Rodney P. Carlisle, The Roots of Black Nationalism (Port Washington, NY, 1975); Miller, Search for a Black Nationality (Urbana, 1975); Alphonso Pinkney, Red, Black, and Green : Black Nationalism in the United States (Cambridge, 1976); James E. Turner, "Historical Dialectics of Black Nationalist Movements in America," Western Journal of Black Studies 1:3 (September 1977), 164-83; Raymond L. Hall, Black Separatism in the United States (Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 1978); George A. Levesque, "Interpreting Early Black Ideology: A Reappraisal of Historical Consensus," Journal of the Early Republic 1 (Fall 1981), 269-87; Bill McAdoo, Pre-Civil War Black Nationalism (New York, 1983); V.P. Franklin, Black Self-Determination: A Cultural History of the Faith of the Fathers (Wesport, CT, 1984) (republished as Black Self-determination: a Cultural History of African-American Resistance, 2nd ed. [New York, 1992]); Sterling Stuckey, Slave Culture: Nationalist Theory and the Foundations of Black America (New York, 1987); Kwando Mbiassi Kinshasa, Emigration vs. Assimilation: The Debate in the African American Press, 1827-1861 (Jefferson, NC, 1988); Gayle T. Tate, "Black Nationalism: An Angle of Vision," Western Journal of Black Studies 12:1 (1988), 40-48; Charles C. Herod and Agustina B. Herod, "Core Values, Myths, and Myth Systems in Afro-American National Consciousness," Canadian Review of Studies in Nationalism 17:1-2 (1990), 193-204; Gayle T. Tate, "Black Nationalism and Spiritual Redemption," Western Journal of Black Studies 15:4 (1991), 213-22; John T. McCartney, Black Power Ideologies: An Essay in African-American Political Thought (Philadelphia, 1992); Tunde Adeleke, UnAfrican Americans: Ninetenth-Century Black Nationalists and the Civilizing Mission (Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1998).

By no means do these works embody consensus. There are vast differences between, for example, Theodore Draper, who argues that nineteenth-century separatism constituted a "fantasy" solution to the problem of white supremacy, and Sterling Stuckey, who has vigorously sought to lend nineteenth-century black nationalism intellectual and theoretical credibility. Other differences may be found over the characterization of particular manifestations of black nationalism; McAdoo especially delights in such distinctions. Still other lines of cleavage may be found between those who focus primarily on rhetorical exigency in understanding how the black protest tradition was shaped (Robert Dick's Black Protest, which could be listed above, is emblematic), and more recent work (again, Stuckey offers the paradigm) which see black protest thought emerging from deeper structures rooted in culture.

What they all rely on is a model for black intellectual history which posits a distinction between integration" and "separation." As studies began exploring the nature of black agency in race relations, the tension folded into one between "accommodation" and "protest." Finally, as "culture" increasingly adumbrated analyses of resistance, the tension came often to be expressed in terms of "resistance" (often posed as black nationalism) vs. "assimilation." While these concepts are all clearly and importantly related, too many studies conflate and confuse crucial distinctions which must be made when studying the relationship between culture and resistance. These works tend to assert that nineteenth-century black nationalism constituted an instance of protest or resistance rooted in a desire to separate politically from the nation, and tantamount to an expression of distinct culture. That is, as black nationalist thinkers argued for "separation" from America (politically or physically), they simultaneously evinced a reliance -- a la the theorists of the black freedom movement in the second half of the twentieth century -- on frames of cultural reference outside a presumed "mainstream." [return to text]

4.  Various candidates for the title of first black nationalist are considered in the works cited previously, as well as in Hollis R. Lynch, Edward Wilmot Blyden: Pan-Negro Patriot, 1832-1912 (London: Oxford University Press, 1967); Kathleen O'Mara Wahle, "Alexander Crummell: Black Evangelist and Pan-Negro Nationalist," Phylon 29 (Winter 1968), 388-95; Victor Ullman, Martin R. Delany: The Beginnings of Black Nationalism (Boston: Beacon, 1971); Floyd , 310-19, "The Father of Black Nationalism: Another Contender," Civil War History (December 1971); Earl Ofari, Let Your Motto Be Resistance: the Life and Thought of Henry Highland Garnet (Boston: Beacon Press, 1972); Cyril E. Griffith, The African Dream: Martin R. Delany and the Emergence of Pan-African Thought (University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1975); Joel Schor, Henry Highland Garnet: A Voice of Black Radicalism in the Nineteenth Century (Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1977); Hollis R. Lynch, James Theodore Holly: Ante-Bellum Black Nationalist and Emigrationist (Los Angeles: Center for Afro-American Studies, 1977); Gregory U. Rigsby, Alexander Crummell: Pioneer in Nineteenth-Century Pan-African Thought (New York: Greenwood Press, 1987); Sterling Stuckey, "A Last Stern Struggle: Henry Highland Garnet and Liberation Theory," in Leon F. Litwack and August Meier, eds., Black Leaders of the Nineteenth Century (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1987), 129-47. See also the discussion in Sterling Stuckey, ed., The Ideological Origins of Black Nationalism (Boston: Beacon, 1972), 1-29. [return to text]

5. For an example of the over-determined, teleologically based search for prototypical black nationalism, see Sterling Stuckey's argument that "almost any form of advocacy of black control was revolutionary" in the antebellum context. Stuckey, ed., Ideological Origins of Black Nationalism, 2n. [return to text]

6. The trouble with such strategies seemed to be threefold: first, racial uplift ideology was, several scholars argue, simply ineffective. It did not seem, as it purported, to conquer racial prejudice or compel white Americans to yield blacks freedom and rights. Quite to the contrary, instances of individual success seemed more likely to engender hatred among whites. In her work on the antebellum black press, Frankie Hutton argued that black editors tended ignore the plight of non-elite blacks in favor of stories depicting the success of self-improvement efforts. "Did they really believe that they and their people could become accepted in America?" she wondered. Regarding black leaders' apparent faith in self-help, George Levesque asked why black spokespersons "would cling so tenaciously to a belief which their own lives and careers proved was utterly specious?" Were they not "incredibly naive in their understanding of how the racial dynamic impacted on their condition?" Emma Jones Lapsansky explained it thus, though with a note of exasperation: "The full import of the fact that the white community seemed to grow more hostile in proportion to the success of these goals seems to have been lost on these leaders." Frankie Hutton, The Early Black Press in America, 1827-1860 (Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1993), xii-xiii (see also Hutton, "Social Mobility in the Antebellum Black Press," Journal of Popular Culture 26:2 [Fall 1992], 71-84); George A. Levesque, "Interpreting Early Black Ideology: A Reappraisal of Historical Consensus," Journal of the Early Republic 1 (Fall 1981), 284, 271; Emma Jones Lapsansky, "Since They Got Those Separate Churches: Afro-Americans and Racism in Jacksonian Philadelphia." American Quarterly 321 (1980), 75. For yet another example of this approach, see R.J. Young, Antebellum Black Activists: Race, Gender, and Self (New York: Garland, 1996); and R.J. Young, "The Political Economy of Black Abolitionists," Afro-Americans in New York Life and History 18:1 (January 1994), 47-71.

Second, the individualist ethos seemed to elide the realities of an oppression rooted not just in the minds of particular whites, but in the core of a society increasingly oriented around free-market capitalism. As one scholar argued, black spokespersons failed to understand that African Americans' complete "inclusion in American society required fundamental change" -- not just among blacks themselves, but in "the entire political and class structure of American society." Lapsansky, " 'Since They Got Those Separate Churches,'" 77. See also Waldo Martin, Jr.'s study of Frederick Douglass, wherein Martin declared that the personal success ethic lay at the core of the thought of antebellum black America's foremost spokesman, and formed the bedrock on which rested his accomplishments as a leader. Douglass' faith in the liberal economic system and accompanying social theory precluded him, however, from understanding the "structural reality" of racial oppression, and hence of formulating an appropriate response. Waldo E. Martin, Jr., The Mind of Frederick Douglass (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1984), 281-82.

Finally, the result of this generally misguided policy was the alienation of the black non-elite from its self-proclaimed leadership. Steeped in bourgeois values antithetical to the social experience of the black working class, African-American spokespersons could not help but champion strategies which sundered them from those they claimed to represent. According to the foremost proponent of this position, integration-minded black leaders, by advocating the idea that "the improvement of one's economic position within the United States was the benchmark for success," alienated "an aspiring class of free blacks" who, lacking the resources to put its precepts into practice, could not fully accept "the values of American society." Kwando Mbiassi Kinshasa, Emigration vs. Assimilation: The Debate in the African American Press, 1827-1861 (Jefferson, NC: Macfarland, 1988), 23.

In addition to the works cited, see George M. Frederickson, Black Liberation: A Comparative History of Black Ideologies in the United States and South America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995), 25. Gary B. Nash confronts the issue of intr-racial differences in class culture with brief but considerable sensitivity in Forging Freedom: The Formation of Philadelphia's Black Community, 1720-1840 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1988), 219-23. [return to text]

7. The classic statements on this phenomenon more generally are E. Franklin Frazier, Black Bourgeoisie (New York: The Free Press, 1957; New York: Free Press Paperbacks, 1997); Nathan Hare, The Black Anglo-Saxons (New York: Marzini and Munsellm, 1965). [return to text]

8. Typical here is E.U. Essien-Udom's study of black nationalism, which castigates those antebellum black leaders who argued against developing a distinct black identity, advocating instead integration through the effacement of racial distinctions. "Ashamed of their African origins," Essien-Udom wrote, these middle-class leaders "had come to accept uncritically the white man's caricature of Africa as populated by comic-opera slaves." E.U. Essien-Udom, Black Nationalism: A Search for an Identity in America (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1962; reprint ed., New York: Dell, 1964), 33. See also Sterling Stuckey, who argued that these leaders' "use of the terms colored and brown" to describe the race "reflected a certain disdain on the part of some people of mixed ancestry for the majority of their people, a tendency to look askance at them on grounds of color and class." Stuckey, Slave Culture, 199. For more general takes on the workings of ideological hegemony among black elites, see Albert Memmi, The Colonizer and the Colonized, trans. Howard Greenfeld (New York: Orion Press, 1965); Cedric Robinson, Black Marxism: The Making of the Black Radical Tradition (London: Zed, 1983); Clovis E. Semmes, Cultural Hegemony and African-American Development (Westport, CN: Praeger, 1992).

My understanding of "hegemonic discourses" derives from several unrelated schools of thought, each of which posits an ideological context which both permits and constrains thought by providing the conceptual models and rhetorical tropes used in public speech. Thought at times vastly different, these works share a conception of ideology operating within bounded fields, care about the ways power is expressed through those bounds, and posit the ways ideology may operate independently of such reductionist categories as class interest. The ability to set forth and declare normative the parameters of such discourses is an expression of social power, as is the ability to challenge their hegemony. Much of this work builds upon the ideas of Antonio Gramsci, as in T.J. Jackson Lears, "The Concept of Cultural Hegemony: Problems and Possibilities and Possibilities," American Historical Review 90:3 (June 1985), 567-93. Others approached the idea through the quite different vehicle of the republican synthesis and its "modes of discourse." For a concise overview, see Daniel T. Rogers, "Republicanism: The Career of a Concept," Journal of American History 79:1 (June 1992), 11-38. For an important critique, see Isaac Kramnick, "The 'Great National Discussion': The Discourse of Politics in 1787," William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd ser. 45:1 (January 1988). In a context concerned with slavery and abolitionism, discussion has centered around the relationship between middle-class expansion and humanitarian sentiment. See, for example, David Brion Davis, The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Revolution, 1770-1823 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1975); Thomas Bender, ed., The Antislavery Debate: Capitalism and Abolitionism as a Problem in Historical Interpretation (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992). Ultimately, such issues have concerned a wide range of literary critics, cultural theorists, and left historians. For a suggestions of recent trends, see Gyan Prakash, "Subaltern Studies as Postcolonial Criticism," American Historical Review 99:5 (December 1994), 1475-90. [return to text]

9. E. J. Hobsbawm, Nations and Nationalism since 1780: Programme, Myth, Reality, 2d ed. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1991), 12. [return to text]

10. Wilson Jeremiah Moses, The Wings of Ethiopia: Studies in African-American Life and Letters (Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1990), 164. [return to text]

11. Tom Nairn, "Scotland and Europe," in Geoff Eley and Ronald Grigor Suny, eds., Becoming National: A Reader (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996), 85. Chris Dixon makes the point with reference to African Americans in "An Ambivalent Black Nationalism: Haiti, Africa, and Antebellum African-American Emigrationism," Australasian Journal of American Studies 10:2 (December 1991), 10. [return to text]

12. David Waldstreicher, In the Midst of Perpetual Fetes: The Making of American Nationalism, 1776-1820 (Chapel Hill: Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, 1997), 317. See also Clarence E. Walker, Deromanticizing Black History: Critical Essays and Reappraisals (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1991), 91. [return to text]

13.  Douglas Egerton, Gabriel's Rebellion (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1993); Paul Gilroy, The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993). [return to text]

14.  Michael A. Gomez, Exchanging Our Country Marks: The Transformation of African Identities in the Colonial and Antebellum South (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998); James Sidbury, Ploughshares into Swords: Race, Rebellion, and Identity in Gabriel's Virginia, 1730-1810 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997); Gwendolyn Midlo Hall, Africans in Colonial Louisiana: The Development of Afro-Creole Culture in the Eighteenth Century (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1992); Michael Mullin, Africa in America: Slave Acculturation in the American South and the British Caribbean, 1736-1831 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1992).  [return to text]

15.  Sterling Stuckey, Slave Culture: Nationalist Theory and the Foundations of Black America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987), 30, 186. [return to text]

16. Wilson Moses, "African Redemption and the Decline of the Fortunate Fall Doctrine," in the Wings of Ethiopia: Studies in African-American Life and Letters (Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1990), 141-58. [return to text]

17.  Albert J. Rabateau, "'Ethiopia Shall Soon Stretch Forth Her Hands': Black Destiny in Nineteenth-Century America," in A Fire in the Bones: Reflections on African-American Religious History (Boston: Beacon Press, 1995), 37-56.  For the fullest explication of antebellum African Americans' appropriation of the trope of Exodus, see Eddie S. Glaude, Jr., Exodus! Religion, Race, and Nation in Early Nineteenth-Century Black America (Chicago and London Chicago University Press, 2000). I am indebted to Professor Glaude for sharing with me his many insights on the topic. [return to text]

18. See George M. Frederickson, Black Liberation: A Comparative History of Black Ideologies in the United States and South Africa (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995), 69 for a version of this "paradox." [return to text]

19. Moses, Wings of Ethiopia, 142, 160, 161, 165. [return to text]

20. Tunde Adeleke, Unafrican Americans: Nineteenth-Century Black Nationalists and the Civilizing Mission (Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1998), 26. [return to text]

21. Dixon, "An Ambivalent Black Nationalism," 17, 19, 15. [return to text]

22. In what follows, my intention has not been to discuss the church as an institution so much as the theology propounded by those African Americans who considered themselves spokespersons for blacks as a whole. Some of these were clerics, others were not. It is evidence of the central role black churches played in building an autonomous community life among free blacks in the antebellum North that the earliest church sources devote much more of their time to questions of politics and structure than to explaining the meaning of suffering. This essay, as intellectual rather than church history, makes no claims regarding the denominational nature of any specific theology. [return to text]

23.  J.W.C. Pennington, "A Review of Slavery and the Slave Trade," Anglo-African Magazine 1:5 (March 1859), 94-96. [return to text]

24.  Edward W. Blyden, "A Chapter in the History of the African Slave Trade," Anglo-African Magazine 16 (June 1859), 179.[return to text]

25. David Walker, David Walker's Appeal to the Coloured Citizens of the World, but in Particular and Very Expressly, to Those of the United States of America, ed., Charles M. Wiltse (1829; reprint ed., New York: Hill and Wang, 1965), 35. [return to text]

26.  Blyden, "A Chapter in the History of the African Slave Trade," 179. [return to text]

27.  Nathaniel Paul, An Address, Delivered on the Celebration of the Abolition of Slavery, 7, 12. [return to text]

28.  William Douglass, "The Forbearance and Retributive Justice of God," in Sermons Preached in the African Protestant Episcopal Church of St. Thomas', Philadelphia (Philadelphia: King and Baird, 1854), 130. [return to text]

29.  Jarmain W. Loguen, The Rev. J.W. Loguen as a Slave and as a Freeman. A Narrative of Real Life (Syracuse: J.G.K. Truair & Co.), 1859. [return to text]

30.  J.W. Lewis, "Essay on the Character and Condition of the African Race," in John W. Lewis, The Life, Labors, and Travels of Elder Charles Bowles, of the Free Will Baptist Denomination (Watertown: Ingalls and Stowell's Steam Press, 1852), 246, 230. [return to text]

31. Paul, An Address, Delivered on the Celebration of the Abolition of Slavery, 11, 8. [return to text]

32.  Theodore S. Wright, An Address to the 3,000 Colored Citizens of New York (New York, 1846), 18. [return to text]

33. Austin Steward, Twenty-Two Years a Slave, and Forty Years a Free Man: Embracing a Correspondence of Several Years (1856; reprint ed., New York: Negro Universities Press, 1969), 154, 156. See also James McCune Smith's statement that "the negro variety of mankind is placed within the pale of civilization, with the changes of becoming part and parcel thereof." James McCune Smith, "Civilization. Its Dependence on Physical Circumstances," Anglo-African Magazine 1:1 (January 1859), 17. [return to text]

34. Loguen, As a Slave and as a Free Man, 59. [return to text]

35.  Douglass, "The Forbearance and Retributive Justice of God," 131. [return to text]

36. Blyden, "History of the African Slave Trade," 178. [return to text]

37. Frances Ellen Watkins, "The Self-Redeeming Power of Colored Races of the World," Anglo-African Magazine 1:10 (October 1859), 314. [return to text]

38. George Lawrence, An Oration on the Abolition of the Slave Trade (New York 1813) in Herbert Aptheker, A Documentary History of the Negro People in America (New York: Citadel Press, 1968), I, 59. [return to text]

39.  Ethiop, "The Anglo-Saxon and the African Slave Trade," Anglo-African Magazine 1:9 (September 1859), 285-86. [return to text]

40. J. Holland Townsend, "Our Duty in the Conflict," Anglo-African Magazine 1:9 (September 1859), 292. [return to text]

41.  Richard Allen and Absalom Jones, A Narrative of the Proceedings of the Black People, During the Late Awful Calamity in Philadelphia in the Year 1793 and a Refutation of Some Censures, Thrown upon Them in Some Late Publications (London Reprinted, and Sold by Darton and Harvey, 1794), 20. [return to text]

42.  Colored American, March 18, 1837. [return to text]

43.  Douglass, "The Forbearance and Retributive Justice of God," 126, 127. [return to text]

44.  J.W.C. Pennington, "The Great Conflict Requires Great Faith," Anglo-African Magazine 1:11 (November 1859), 344. [return to text]

45.  "Speech of Hezekiah F. Douglass, at the Sixteenth Anniversary of West Indian Emancipation, at Cleveland, August 1, 1850," Anti-Slavery Bugle, August 31, 1850, in The Black Abolitionist Papers, 1830-1865, microfilm collection (Sanford, NC: Microfilming Corporation of America, 1981), reel 6, frame 560 (hereinafter cited as BAPC). [return to text]

46.  Walker, Appeal, 39-40. [return to text]

47. Alexander Crummell, The Man; the Hero; the Christian: A Eulogy on the Life and Character of Thomas Clarkson (New York: Eghert, Hovey & King, 1847), 73. [return to text]

48.  Proceedings of the National Convention of Colored People, and Their Friends, Held in Troy, N.Y., on the 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th October, 1847 (Troy, NY: J.C. Kneeling and Co., 1847), 22. [return to text]

49. David Walker, "Address Delivered Before the General Colored Association at Boston," Freedom's Journal, December 19, 1828. [return to text]

50.  Lawrence, An Oration on the Abolition of the Slave Trade, in Aptheker, ed., Documentary History of the Negro People, I, 59. [return to text]

51.  Minutes of the Fourth Annual Convention, for the Improvement of the Free People of Color, in the United States, Held by Adjournments in the Albury Church, New-York, from the 2d to the 12th of June Inclusive, 1834 (New York: The Convention, 1834), 6. [return to text]

52.  Alexander Crummell, The Duty of a Rising Christian State to Contribute to the World's Well-Being and Civilization (London: Wertheim and Macintosh, 1856), 19. [return to text]

53.  "Speech of Hezekiah F. Douglass, at the Sixteenth Anniversary of West India Emancipation, at Cleveland, August 1, 1850," Anti-Slavery Bugle, in BAPC 6:560. [return to text]

54.  Sara G. Staley, "Address of the Laddie's Anti-Slavery Society of Delaware, Ohio, 1856," Proceedings of the State Convention of Colored Men, Held in the City of Columbus, Ohio, in Aptheker, ed., Documentary History of the Negro People, I, 381. [return to text]

55.  See, for example, J. Holland Townsend, "Our Duty in the Conflict," Anglo-African Magazine 19 (September 1859), 291-92. [return to text]

56. Jupiter Hammon, An Address to the Negroes of the State of New York (New York: Carroll and Patterson, 1787), in Dorothy Porter, ed., Early Negro Writing, 1760-1837 (Baltimore: Black Classic Press, 1995), 316-17. [return to text]

57. Robert Roberts, The House Servant's Directory, or a Monitor for Private Families: Comprising Hints on the Arrangement and Performance of Servants Work. . . . (Boston: Munroe and Francis, 1827), xi. [return to text]

58.  Robert Alexander Young, The Ethiopian Manifesto, Issued in Defense of the Black Man's Rights in the Scale of Universal Human Freedom (New York: For the Author, 1829), in Sterling Stuckey, ed., The Ideological Origins of Black Nationalism (Boston: Beacon Press, 1972), 37-38. [return to text]

59. The Reverend Nathaniel Paul of New York City functioned as an intermediary between these two modes of millennialism. Paul believed that among the slaves would be found one "who shall take his brethren by the hand, and lead them forth from worse than Egyptian bondage, to the happy Canaan of civil and religious liberty." Such a man would also help Africa "take her place among the other nations of the earth," and usher in a time when "justice and equality shall be the governing principles that shall regulate the conduct of men of every nation." Paul, An Address, Delivered on the Celebration of the Abolition of Slavery, 22-23. [return to text]

60. Anti-Slavery Bugle, December 4, 1858, in BAPC 11:431-32. [return to text]

61. Henry Highland Garnet, "An Address to the Slaves of the United States of America" (1843), in Thomas R. Frazier, ed., Afro-American History: Primary Sources, 2nd ed. (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 1988), 106. [return to text]

62. James McCune Smith, "The German Invasion," Anglo-African Magazine 1:2 (February 1859), 48. See also Austin Steward: "The colored man has yet a prominent part to act in this highly-favored Republic." Steward, Twenty-Two Years a Slave, 239. [return to text]

63.  Watkins, "The Self-Redeeming Power of the Colored Races of the World," 315. [return to text]

64.  Loguen, As a Slave and as a Free Man, viii. [return to text]

65. Loguen, As a Slave and as a Free Man, 348-49. [return to text]

66. Crummell, Duty of a Rising Christian State, 24-25. [return to text]

67. James McCune Smith, "Civilization. Its Dependence on Physical Circumstances," Anglo African Magazine 1:1 (January 1859), 17. See also Theodore S. Wright: "The cause of our common race [humanity], is, in a manner, entrusted to our hands." Wright, An Address to the 3,000 Colored Citizens of New York, 18. [return to text]

68. Loguen, As a Slave and as a Free Man, ix-x. [return to text]

69. Steward, Twenty-Two Years a Slave, 239. [return to text]

70. "The Free Colored People's Convention," Baltimore Sun, July 29, 1852, in Philip S. Foner and George E. Walker, eds., Proceedings of the Black State Conventions, 1840-1865 (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1980), II, 45-46. [return to text]

71. Alexander Crummell, The Man; the Hero; the Christian: A Eulogy on the Life and Character of Thomas Clarkson (New York: Eghert, Hovey & King, 1847), 75. [return to text]

72. Proceedings of the Colored National Convention, Held in Rochester, July 6th, 7th and 8th, 1853 (Rochester: Frederick Douglass' Paper, 1853), 41. [return to text]

73. "Convention of Colored People for the State of Ohio," Anti-Slavery Bugle, December 4, 1858, in BAPC 11:431. [return to text]

74. Colored American, September 30, 1837. [return to text]

75. "Apology," Anglo-African Magazine 1:1 (January 1859), 4.  [return to text]

76. Ethiop, "The Anglo-African and the African Slave Trade," 286. [return to text]

77. Many of the works cited in note 3 argue the point explicitly or implicitly. For the clearest linkage of colonizationism with nationalist ideology, see Kwando Mbiassi Kinshasa, Emigration vs. Assimilation: The Debate in the African American Press, 1827-1861 (Jefferson, NC, 1988). [return to text]

78. For discussions of the "names" controversy, see Stuckey, Slave Culture, ch. 4; James O. Horton, Free People of Color: Inside the African American Community (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1993), ch. 7. [return to text]

79. Walker, Appeal, 11. [return to text]

80. Ethiop, "The Anglo-African and the African Slave Trade," 286. [return to text]

81. Steward, Twenty-Two Years a Slave, 332. [return to text]

82. J[ohn]. N. S[till].to Henry Bibb, February 3, 1852, Voice of the Fugitive, February 26, 1852, in BAPC, IV, 108-9. [return to text]

83.  Leonard I. Sweet, Black Images of America, 1784-1870 (New York: J.W. Norton, 1976), 5. [return to text]

84.  Moses, Wings of Ethiopia, 163. [return to text]

85.  Clarence E. Walker, Deromanticizing Black History: Critical Essays and Reappraisals (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1991), xi-xxvi. [return to text]

©2000  Patrick Rael.  Any archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text in any medium requires the consent of the author.