Puritan Spirits in the Abolitionist Imagination

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Kenyon Gradert
American Beginnings, 1500-1900
  • Chicago: 
    University of Chicago Press
    , January
     256 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.


Kenyon Gradert investigates how the nineteenth-century abolitionist movement-whether iconic figures of it like Ralph Waldo Emerson and William Lloyd Garrison or lesser-known writers and orators-drew on aspects of American Puritanism in shaping its political persona. From this angle, we can see a movement usually identified with liberal Protestantism in a radically new light; it also recasts our understanding of puritanism, often seen as a conservative force, little interested in worldly rebellion of the sort the abolitionists championed. As Gradert writes, 'By reimagining a pervasive narrative of Puritan origins, abolitionists urged the nation to war with its original sin.'

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Kenyon Gradert is assistant professor of English at Samford University.


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