Synopses & Reviews
Challenging traditional histories of abolition, this book shifts the focus away from the East to show how the women of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin helped build a vibrant antislavery movement in the Old Northwest.
Stacey Robertson argues that the environment of the Old Northwest--with its own complicated history of slavery and racism--created a uniquely collaborative and flexible approach to abolitionism. Western women helped build this local focus through their unusual and occasionally transgressive activities. They plunged into Liberty Party politics, vociferously supported a Quaker-led boycott of slave goods, and tirelessly aided fugitives and free blacks in their communities. Western women worked closely with male abolitionists, belying the notion of separate spheres that characterized abolitionism in the East. The contested history of race relations in the West also affected the development of abolitionism in the region, necessitating a pragmatic bent in their activities. Female antislavery societies focused on eliminating racist laws, aiding fugitive slaves, and building and sustaining schools for blacks. This approach required that abolitionists of all stripes work together, and women proved especially adept at such cooperation.
"This book...sheds light on two critical issues in U.S. history. It adds valuable information to our conceptualization of the abolition movement, and it also demonstrates the pre-Civil War foundation of women's activism in the Old Northwest."
-American Historical Review
"Robertson's exhaustively researched and engagingly written work offers both a challenge to scholars of abolition and an opportunity to those interested in the history of the Old Northwest."
-Journal of Illinois History
"An important addition to the historiography of American abolitionism. . . .A substantive work of scholarship that enriches our understanding of the western women who participated in the antebellum abolitionist struggle."
-The Journal of American History
"This book makes an important contribution to the understanding of women's participation in antebellum abolition. . . .Highly recommended. All levels/libraries."
"Robertson has created a rich and detailed narrative of women in the abolitionist movement in parts of the midwest."--
-The Annals of Iowa
"A valuable addition to our understanding of abolitionism and women's history."
-Journal of Southern History
About the Author
Stacey Robertson is the Oglesby Professor of American Heritage at Bradley University. She is author of Parker Pillsbury: Radical Abolitionist, Male Feminist.