Chip Taylor Communications

Subject: History

Europe and America in the Modern Age Series

Stanford University Professors James Sheehan and David Kennedy present in-depth lectures on the concept of liberalism as a theoretical framework for examining the interrelationships between the histories of Europe and America. Produced by the Stanford University Channel. Programs available on 20 individual Click for more

8. Slavery and Sentiment in American Abolitionism

08. Slavery and Sentiment in American Abolitionism

In her 1852 novel Uncle Tom's Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe succeeds in awakening the American public to the evils of slavery in a way that no one before her was able to do. Prominent 19th-century American abolitionists, who argued that slavery was an "unjust egregious moral outrage," an unreasonable social order, or an economically constraining business practice, went essentially unread or unheeded. Yet Stowe's "realistic novel," with its contrary characterizations, its morally uncorrupted female perspective, and its demonstration of the deleterious impact of slavery on the family, proved unusually effective in reaching an audience ripe for an anti-slavery harvest. In this program Professor David Kennedy provides the background for understanding America's moral sluggishness in addressing the issue of slavery. He explains how slavery in America was an historically "peculiar" phenomenon, in that it flourished in the plantation economy of the deep south at the same time that the rest of America restricted its practice. By portraying the deleterious impact of slavery on the institution of the family, Stowe appealed to all Americans who feared the disruption of their own "domestic tranquility and emotional security." Kennedy concludes the program by asking viewers to consider whether modern day social activists could expect to rally an American public by appealing to the same ideals of family and womanhood that Stowe did. 99/10DE SCA 57 min.

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