W. Caleb McDaniel Reveals New Insight into Garrisonian Abolitionists

“W. Caleb McDaniel carefully captures the complex relationship between abolitionism and American democracy, but his research will also change the way we think about the tensions, both creative and destructive, wrought by international support for a national anti-slavery crusade.”—Richard Huzzey, author of Freedom Burning: Anti-Slavery and Empire in Victorian Britain

Baton Rouge—In The Problem of Democracy in the Age of Slavery, W. Caleb McDaniel sets forth a new interpretation of the Garrisonian abolitionists, stressing their deep ties to reformers and liberal thinkers in Great Britain and Europe. Between 1830 and 1870, American abolitionists led by Garrison developed extensive networks of friendship, correspondence, and intellectual exchange with a wide range of European reformers—Chartists, free trade advocates, Irish nationalists, and European revolutionaries. Garrison signaled the importance of these ties to his movement with the well-known cosmopolitan motto he printed on every issue of his famous newspaper, The Liberator: “Our Country is the World—Our Countrymen are All Mankind.” That motto serves as an impetus for McDaniel’s study, which shows that Garrison and his movement must be placed squarely within the context of transatlantic mid-nineteenth-century reform.

Garrisonians’ transatlantic activities reveal their deep patriotism, interest in using public opinion to affect American politics, and similarities to other antislavery groups. McDaniel argues for an image of Garrison’s band as politically savvy, intellectually sophisticated liberal reformers, all well informed about transatlantic debates regarding the problem of democracy.

W. Caleb McDaniel is assistant professor of history at Rice University.

May 6, 2013
360 pages, 6 x 9
Cloth $48.00s, ebook available
Slavery Studies