Chapter

The Relevance of Giuseppe Mazzini’s Ideas of Insurgency to the American Slavery Crisis of the 1850s

Timothy M. Roberts

in Giuseppe Mazzini and the Globalization of Democratic Nationalism, 1830-1920

Published by British Academy

Published in print September 2008 | ISBN: 9780197264317
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734472 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5871/bacad/9780197264317.003.0016

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

The Relevance of Giuseppe Mazzini’s Ideas of Insurgency to the American Slavery Crisis of the 1850s

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This chapter discusses Mazzini's influence in the context of the slavery crisis of the 1850s in the United States. That decade, which saw a crisis erupt in Kansas over the question of whether slavery should be allowed to expand, ended dramatically at Harpers Ferry, Virginia, where the violent abolitionist John Brown led a doomed attempt to arm and liberate slaves. Mazzini studied, wrote about, and on occasion attempted to enact popular insurrection and guerilla warfare. His ideas became essential to Brown's ideology and actions, which precipitated the Civil War. The chapter suggests an under-appreciated aspect of Mazzini's influence in America, invites a reassessment of the American sectional crisis of the 1850s for its transatlantic dimensions, and proposes a sobering but important dimension to the historical path of the spread of democratic nationalism.

Keywords: United States; John Brown; slaves; American sectional crisis; democratic nationalism; Kansas

Chapter.  5431 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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