Race, Slavery, and Liberalism in Nineteenth-Century American Literature

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Cambridge University Press, Aug 17, 2006 - Literary Criticism
Moving boldly between literary analysis and political theory, contemporary and antebellum US culture, Arthur Riss invites readers to rethink prevailing accounts of the relationship between slavery, liberalism, and literary representation. Situating Nathaniel Hawthorne, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Frederick Douglass at the center of antebellum debates over the person-hood of the slave, this 2006 book examines how a nation dedicated to the proposition that 'all men are created equal' formulates arguments both for and against race-based slavery. This revisionary argument promises to be unsettling for literary critics, political philosophers, historians of US slavery, as well as those interested in the link between literature and human rights.

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Page 193 - But if the negro is a man, is it not to that extent a total destruction of self-government to say that he too shall not govern himself ? When the white man governs himself, that is self-government; but when he governs himself and also governs another man, that is more than selfgovernment— that is despotism. If the negro is a man, why then my ancient faith teaches me that "all men are created equal...
Page 191 - For one, I am opposed to negro citizenship in any and every form. I believe this government was made on the white basis. I believe it was made by white men, for the benefit of white men and their posterity forever...
Page 186 - SLAVERY is so vile and miserable an estate of man, and so directly opposite to the generous temper and courage of our nation, that it is hardly to be* conceived that an " Englishman," much less a " gentleman,
Page 234 - Whoever visits some estates there, and witnesses the goodhumored indulgence of some masters and mistresses, and the affectionate loyalty of some slaves, might be tempted to dream the oft-fabled poetic legend of a patriarchal institution, and all that ; but over and above the scene there broods a portentous shadow, — the shadow of law.

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