The Press and Slavery in America, 1791-1859
The Melancholy Effect of Popular Excitement
This volume examines news accounts of five major slave rebellions or conspiracies: Gabriel Prosser's 1800 Virginia slave conspiracy; the 1811 Louisiana slave revolt; Denmark Vesey's 1822 slave conspiracy in Charleston, South Carolina; Nat Turner's 1831 Southampton County, Virginia, slave revolt; and John Brown's 1859 Harper's Ferry raid. Gabrial situates these stories within a historical and contextual framework that juxtaposes the transformation of the press into a powerful mass media with the growing politicaldivide over slavery, illustrating how two American cultures, both asserting claims to founding America, devolved into enemies over slavery.
What the nineteenth century press reveals in this book are discourses—ways of thinking and expression—that have retained resonance in contemporary race relations and American politics. They connect to ideas about the press and technology, changing journalistic practice, and, importantly, the destruction wrought by the dysfunction of the nation's political parties.
"Gabrial successfully shows how the news media of the 19th century shaped national and local understandings of slavery, racial ideologies, and resistance to human bondage by both black slaves and white and black abolitionists. This is an important book that crosses disciplinary boundaries, informing scholars of slavery and journalism about how their fields interacted."—Paul Finkelman, Ariel F. Sallows Visiting Professor of Human Rights Law, University of Saskatchewan College of Law and Senior Fellow, University of Pennsylvania Program on Democracy, Citizenship, and Constitutionalism
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