Chapter

White Slavery, Abolition, and Coalition: Languages of Race, Class, and Gender

David R. Roediger

in Colored White

Published by University of California Press

Published in print January 2002 | ISBN: 9780520233416
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520930803 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520233416.003.0007
White Slavery, Abolition, and Coalition: Languages of Race, Class, and Gender

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This chapter focuses on the positions taken by African American abolitionists in response to the claims that slavery described the positions of antebellum workers and of white women. It argues that Frederick Douglass and other such abolitionists displayed considerable tactical flexibility in sorting through such claims and in considering possibilities of coalition. An attempt to survey and account for the various patterns of resistance and accommodation to the slavery metaphor by Douglass and other abolitionists is presented. The Douglass-Remond-Collins episode shows a broader tendency for Black abolitionists to criticize forcefully the extension of discourse regarding chattel slavery to other forms of economic oppression. The Black abolitionists most familiar with both systems, and the broader abolitionist movement that they profoundly shaped, could nurture some coalitions built on a rhetoric of shared “slavery,” but not one structured around the notion that white workers were literally slaves.

Keywords: white slavery; abolition; coalition; class; white women; Frederick Douglass; Black abolitionists; abolitionist movement; slavery metaphor; Douglass-Remond-Collins episode

Chapter.  7467 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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