Abstract/Details

Excellence is the highest form of resistance: African American reformers in the pre -Civil War *North


2004 2004

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Abstract (summary)

This dissertation departs from current literature that treats moral reform as a conservative force in American history by focusing on the political intent of black reform activity. My overall goal is to dissociate black reform efforts from “middle-class” thinking by describing how free blacks in Philadelphia and New York City sought political change through moral improvement. In chapters on literary societies, educated ministers, Sunday schools and apprenticeships, I demonstrate the relationship between moral reform and political action. My premise is that lacking political rights and access to more direct means of protest, free blacks embraced moral reform to achieve racial advancement, refusing to accept their inferior status.

However, most historians do not regard moral reform as being a legitimate form of protest. In fact, antebellum black leaders often have been unfairly disparaged in the historical record for their nonviolent reform methods. This dissertation calls for a new paradigm that merges moral reform with violent “political” action without assigning worth to either approach. It ultimately reflects the need for historians to allow for less explicitly “political” forms of protest, especially among relatively powerless groups who were precluded from directly confronting authority. This dissertation also joins with a growing body of literature that questions the presumed conservatism of “middle-class” America. Since all social classes are historically constructed, they do not possess a predetermined or fixed politics.

Indexing (details)


Subject
Black history;
American history;
African Americans
Classification
0328: Black history
0337: American history
0325: African Americans
Identifier / keyword
Social sciences; African-American; Moral reform; North; Pre-Civil War; Reformers; Resistance
Title
Excellence is the highest form of resistance: African American reformers in the pre -Civil War *North
Author
Etienne, Germaine
Number of pages
191
Publication year
2004
Degree date
2004
School code
0118
Source
DAI-A 65/11, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
ISBN
9780496132256, 0496132253
Advisor
Sinha, Manisha
University/institution
University of Massachusetts Amherst
University location
United States -- Massachusetts
Degree
Ph.D.
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Language
English
Document type
Dissertation/Thesis
Dissertation/thesis number
3152692
ProQuest document ID
305176560
Copyright
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
http://search.proquest.com/docview/305176560
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