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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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3. Utopian Promise   



7. Slavery and
Freedom


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Lydia Maria Child - Selected Archive Items

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[1666] Anonymous, The Harpers Ferry Insurrection--The US Marines Storming the Engine House--Insurgents Firing Through Holes in the Doors (1859),
courtesy of the Library of Congress [LC-USZ62-126970].
This illustration from Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper depicts the end of John Brown's raid on the arsenal at Harpers Ferry.

[2773] Anonymous, Attack on the Insurgents at the Bridge by the Railroad Men (1859),
courtesy of the Library of Congress [LC-USZ62-90728].
This illustration from The Life, trial, and execution of Captain John Brown, known as "Old Brown of Ossawatomie" depicts Brown's raid on the arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia. Brown sought to overthrow slavery by armed slave revolt.

[3090] Harriet Powers, Pictorial quilt (c. 1895-98),
courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Many slave and freed women used quilts to record their histories. Some quilts communicated messages; for example, quilts using the color black are believed to have indicated a safe house on the Underground Railroad.

[3147] James Brown Marston, The Old State House [Boston] (1801),
courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society.
As the nineteenth century began, immigration, industrialization, and the advent of capitalism began to change American cities from barter economies to commercial ones (Gary Nash, The Urban Crucible). Boston became the stronghold for Unitarians, who were often associated with the new wealthy merchant class.

[3458] American Anti-Slavery Society of Philadelphia, Declaration of the Anti-Slavery Convention, 1833 (1833),
courtesy of the Library of Congress.
At this convention, sixty abolitionist leaders declared their dedication to fighting slavery through nonviolent means. Abolitionists hoped to win sympathizers by using quotations from the Bible to emphasize the conflict between slavery and Christianity. The woodprint by R. S. Gilbert illustrates Psalm 91.13, "Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder; the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet."

[6766] L. Schamer, Lydia Maria Child (1870),
courtesy of the Library of Congress [LC-USZ62-5535].
Child was a prominent abolitionist and women's rights advocate. Her first novel, Hobomok, about "the noblest savage," was written in the sentimental literary tradition. Child edited Harriet Jacobs's Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl.

[6949] Harriet Powers, Biblical quilt (c. 1886),
courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of American History.
Powers, a black woman from Athens, Georgia, made quilts depicting biblical scenes both before and after her emancipation. Both slaves and freed people used Christianity to interpret their hard circumstances and find hope.



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