By Martha Schoolman
Traditional narratives of the interval prime as much as the Civil battle are normally framed in geographical phrases. The sectional descriptors of the North, South, and West, just like the wartime different types of Union, Confederacy, and border states, suggest little irrespective of a map of the us. In Abolitionist Geographies, Martha Schoolman contends that antislavery writers continually refused these common terms.
Through the idiom Schoolman names “abolitionist geography,” those writers in its place expressed their dissenting perspectives concerning the westward extension of slavery, the intensification of the inner slave exchange, and the passage of the Fugitive Slave legislations through beautiful to different anachronistic, partial, or fullyyt fictional north–south and east–west axes. Abolitionism’s West, for example, infrequently reached past the Mississippi River, yet its East regarded to Britain for ideological idea, its North habitually traversed the Canadian border, and its South usually spanned the geopolitical divide among the U.S. and the British Caribbean.
Schoolman lines this geography of dissent during the paintings of Martin Delany, Ralph Waldo Emerson, William Wells Brown, and Harriet Beecher Stowe, between others. Her booklet explores new relationships among New England transcendentalism and the British West Indies; African-American cosmopolitanism, Britain, and Haiti; sentimental fiction, Ohio, and Liberia; John Brown’s Appalachia and circum-Caribbean marronage. those connections let us see essentially for the 1st time abolitionist literature’s specific and intentional funding in geography as an idiom of political critique, by way of turns liberal and radical, sensible and utopian.
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Extra info for Abolitionist Geographies
EMERSON’S HEMISPHERE 39 Let him renounce everything which is not true to him, and put all his practices back on their fi rst thoughts, and do nothing for which he has not the whole world for his reason. If there are inconveniences, and what is called ruin in the way, because we have so enervated and maimed ourselves, yet it would be like dying of perfumes to sink in the effort to reattach the deeds of every day to the holy and mysterious recesses of life. (146) It is worth acknowledging that Emerson appears to have chosen a strange audience before which to make these claims.
I therefore interpret the underappreciated intersection of transcendentalism, abolitionism, and geography in Emerson’s writings of the early 1840s as characterized by a productively unreasonable commitment to 34 EMERSON’S HEMISPHERE unilateralism—to the theory that northerners can “abolish” slavery by withdrawing support from it, even though such a withdrawal may be both impossible and unlikely to offer short-term benefit for anyone but the antislavery northerner himself or herself. Though itself an arguable geographical fiction, such unilateralism should not be read as committed in any simple way to epistemological limitation.
As the Spanish Empire crumbled, the merchants 36 EMERSON’S HEMISPHERE shrewdly expanded their Caribbean routes to include all the ports of South America. With similar ingenuity, they augmented the already flourishing trade with Great Britain by creating American markets for British exports. Ships sailed regularly from New England ports not only to Charleston, Savannah, and New Orleans but also to Cuba, the West Indies, and St. Croix. On very short notice, an invalid could book passage and head South.
Abolitionist Geographies by Martha Schoolman