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The American conflict over slavery reached a turning point in the early 1840s when three leading abolitionists presented provocative speeches that, for the first time, addressed the slaves directly rather than aiming rebukes at white owners. By forthrightly embracing the slaves as allies and exhorting them to take action, these three addresses pointed toward a more inclusive and aggressive antislavery effort.

These addresses were particularly frightening to white slaveholders who were significantly in the minority of the population in some parts of low country Georgia and South Carolina. The Rise of Aggressive Abolitionism includes the full text of each address, as well as related documents, and presents a detailed study of their historical context, the reactions they provoked, and their lasting impact on U.S. history.

Stanley Harrold, professor of history at South Carolina State University, is the author of Subversives: Antislavery Community in Washington, D.C., 1828-1865 and The Abolitionists and the South, 1831-1861.

"Harrold examines abolitionist speeches aimed directly at slaves during the pivotal decade of the 1840s. . . . Deserves much praise and a wide readership."—American Historical Review

"When policymaking guides truly are creative and astute, they can be very important works that have a substantial impact. The Sheriff is such a book, and it is to be hoped that it receives much attention in the U.S. policymaking community."—Comparative Strategy

"Harrold's insightful analysis and provocative arguments will force historians to reexamine the essential nature of the struggle to end slavery between 1840 and the Civil War."—Journal of American History Offers scholars yet another vantage point from which

"Explores the tactical shift in the 1840s that ensured abolitionists a controversial place on the national stage. . . . Harrold's analysis is thorough and engaging throughout."—Southern Historian

Publication Date



The University Press of Kentucky

Place of Publication

Lexington, KY






Abolitionists, Antislavery movements, Slavery


United States History

The Rise of Aggressive Abolitionism: Addresses to the Slaves
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