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Elizabeth Fox-Genovese

Elizabeth Fox-Genovese is Eléanore Raoul Professor of Humanities at Emory University. She is the author of Within the Plantation Household: Black and White Women of the Old South and of Feminism Without Illusions: A Critique of Individualism.

Anti-Slavery Begins at Home

Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, 25 May 1995

Reflecting on the cultural consequences of the Civil War, the Southern literary critic, Lewis Simpson, wonders how Emerson, the quintessential New England intellectual, could have failed to understand that ‘in their progress as the representation of the idea of emancipation, Americans had become engaged in a bloody emancipation of a second American republic – a modern nation-state – from the political order that, with nostalgic affection, would come to be thought of as the “Old Republic”.’ Emerson had been a late convert to abolitionism and the passions that drove a determined group of his fellow New Englanders to prod the conscience of the Old Republic to live up to the professed goals of its founding document, the Declaration of Independence. But then, Emerson never did feel great kinship with vanguard abolitionists like William Lloyd Garrison, much less with aspiring literary women like Lydia Maria Child and Harriet Beecher Stowe, who brought the injustices of slavery home to ordinary American readers. When, in 1850, Emerson came to support anti-slavery, he did so more from reasons of abstract ethics than from humanitarian sentiment.’

Slavery and Class

James Oakes, 11 March 2010

In 1965 Eugene Genovese published his first book, The Political Economy of Slavery, a stunning reinterpretation of the antebellum South. Although he wrote as a Marxist, he revived the bourgeois...

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Theories of Slavery

Nicholas Guyatt, 4 October 2007

In 1659, during the last months of the Commonwealth, 72 slaves from Barbados managed to escape to London. They complained to Parliament that they had been living in ‘unsupportable...

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What’s wrong with rights?

Julia Annas, 15 August 1991

Most of the gains that women have made over the last decades have come about when women have taken a share of positions and opportunities hitherto reserved, by law or by custom, for men. And it...

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