In 1854 an escaped Virginia slave, Anthony Burns, was captured and brought to trial in Boston and Northerners were unable to ignore the unpleasantness of slavery anymore. This is the story of Burns' trial and of how, arising in abolitionist Boston just as the Kansas-Nebraska Act took effect, it revolutionized the moral and political climate in Massachusettes and sent waves through the nation. In a cultural analysis the author introduces the individuals who contended over the fate of the 20-year-old runaway slave, including Richard Henry Dana Jr., Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Bronson Alcott and Moncure Conway. The story is not only of desparate acts, but how ideas react to social change. The author links the Burns case to New England Transcendentalism, principally that of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Situated at a time when the Whig party was declining and the Republican arising, this book shows how the case of the fugitive slave brought the nation that much closer to the Civil War.
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(234mm x 156mm x 22mm)
Harvard University Press
Publisher: Harvard University Press
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