Ambivalent Cosmopolites

Amanda B. Moniz

in From Empire to Humanity

Published in print August 2016 | ISBN: 9780190240356
Published online June 2016 | e-ISBN: 9780190240387 | DOI:
Ambivalent Cosmopolites

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  • History of the Americas
  • Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)


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Long-standing doubts about universal benevolence came to the fore as the French Revolutionary Wars and the Haitian Revolution destabilized the Atlantic world. Some activists had always contested the new trend by pursuing national and particularistic approaches. Now, many more criticized it and pressed for the primacy of national or local moral obligation. Yet in spite of the waning of cosmopolitan ideals, philanthropists across causes continued working with faraway colleagues. Most important, British, American, and European activists jointly undertook a campaign to eradicate smallpox. Vaccination activists built on the structures of the humane society cause but adapted the older movement’s person-by-drowning person approach to a global scale. With this undertaking, activists from the last Atlantic generation and their protégés together achieved a worldwide reach in beneficence. Paradoxically, they celebrated this accomplishment and the ongoing cooperation in other causes in nationalist tones.

Keywords: universal benevolence; French Revolution; reactionary; vaccination; Edward Jenner; Royal Jennerian Society; smallpox; humane societies

Chapter.  5483 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas ; Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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