Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Abbeville Summer School: “Northern Anti-Slavery Agitation




Saint Christopher Conference Center, Johns Island, S.C.

June 10-15, 2008

TOPIC. What motivated Northern Anti-Slavery agitation? Was it a moral determination to emancipate the African population and to work for its gradual incorporation into American society as social and political equals? Since this captures our own moral outlook, we are tempted to read those inclinations into the anti-slavery language we find in history books.

But that is not at all how James DeWolff thought of the matter. DeWolff was an anti-slavery Senator from Rhode Island, who opposed admitting Missouri as a slave State. He had been a world class slave trader before the trade was outlawed in 1808. His family company ran over 80 voyages to Africa and sold slaves throughout the western hemisphere. De Wolff never had an Amazing Grace conversion. But if his anti-slavery position had no moral content what was its meaning?

The Abbeville Institute Summer School will explore the main Northern anti-slavery critiques as they appeared in the Philadelphia Convention, the Louisiana Purchase, New England nullification of the war of 1812, the Abolition Petitions, the Missouri Compromise, Uncle Toms Cabin, and the agitation over allowing slavery in the West. The question to be discussed is to what extent did this agitation have as its object a moral concern to emancipate and incorporate the African population into the American polity and to what extent did it display quite different motives and objectives?

PLACE. Saint Christopher Conference Center which is on the beach in a beautiful palmetto grove an hour from Charleston, S.C. where we will visit for a day.

COST AND SCHOLARSHIPS. Single occupancy, three meals a day, and tuition is $900 a person. Double occupancy is $800 a person. Full and partial scholarships are available to college and graduate students who are encouraged to apply. Space is limited.

INQUIRIES. Send to Abbeville Institute, 478 Burlington Rd. N.E., Atlanta, Ga., 30307; phone (404) 377-0484, or

Note: The Abbeville Institute is not affiliated with the SCV, but often addresses scholarly subjects which might be of interest to SCV members.