The Inevitable Negro: Making Slavery History in Massachusetts, 1770--1863

Harvard University, 2007 - 340 sidor
Focusing on early national Massachusetts, this dissertation is about how Americans in the generations leading up to the Civil War understood the significance of the Revolution and how they sought to make that history matter. It traces how historical memory was implicated in three different forms of emancipation: the construction of a free national identity; the ending of chattel slavery; and the elevation to full citizenship of free people of color. Harnessing these political causes to Bay Staters' understanding of their local history (especially the legacies of the American Revolution) was crucial to the success of each of them. In moving from the particular context of early national Massachusetts toward a broader consideration of the politics of memory in American history, then, this dissertation contends that scholars ought to see historical narratives not merely as reflections of their political and social context, but also as interventions into the power struggles of their moment.

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