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The Abolitionist Legacy Paperback – February 1, 1976

ISBN-13: 978-0691100395 ISBN-10: 069110039X Edition: With a New preface by the author

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

These volumes, published in 1975 and 1964, respectively, chronicle the abolitionist movement from before the Civil War to the part it played in the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. LJ's reviewer found The Abolitionist Legacy an "ably researched, well-written book" (LJ 12/15/75).
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"The Abolitionist Legacy shows many of the same graces as its predecessor: wide-ranging and careful research, a strong sense of story line, an eye for good quotations, unyielding sympathy for those who devoted their lives to uplifting the freedmen."--Reviews in American History

"In addition to discussing the complex blend of egalitarianism and paternalism in the thought of white proponents of black advancement, McPherson offers suggestions of the intricate mixture of racial consciousness, individual ambition, and racial romanticism that continues to fuel modern black separatism."--Political Science Quarterly

"Must surely be assigned an important place in the literature of the history of ideas and of race relations in the United States."--The Times Literary Supplement
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Product Details

  • Series: Princeton Paperbacks
  • Paperback: 456 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; With a New preface by the author edition (February 1, 1976)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 069110039X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691100395
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #460,393 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author


James M. McPherson is the George Henry Davis '86 Professor of History Emeritus at Princeton University. He has published numerous volumes on the Civil War, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Battle Cry of Freedom, Crossroads of Freedom (which was a New York Times bestseller), Abraham Lincoln and the Second American Revolution, and For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War, which won the Lincoln Prize.

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#37 in Books > History
#37 in Books > History

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By R. Albin TOP 500 REVIEWER on September 12, 2011
Format: Paperback
This is the second volume of a pair of books devoted to a systematic narrative and analysis of the abolitionist movement. McPherson's focus is the white abolitionists though there is some information about black abolitionists. This book traces the experience of the abolitionists during Reconstruction, its destruction in the late 1870s, and events leading up to the founding of the NAACP. McPherson provides both narrative and an effort at quantification by measuring attitudes to a variety of issues in a group of militant pre-war abolitionists and their descendents.

McPherson is particularly concerned with rebutting the idea that abolitionists lost interest in black rights after the Civil War. Not surprisingly, this is a complex story. Indeed, some abolitionist figures did fall away. The experience of Reconstruction, which like much of Gilded Age America, was characterized by quite a bit of political corruption in Southern states, alienated some former abolitionists. Others became more committed to genteel political reform (mugwumpism), which others were attracted by the idea of pursuing alliances with "moderate" paternalistic southern whites. MacPherson shows, however, that a core majority of pre-war abolitionists remained committed strongly to ideals of black political and social equality, providing considerable support for Reconstruction policies. As they were before the Civil War, this core remained an important and militant fringe movement in American life.

After the withdrawal of Federal troops from the South, many of these individuals remained outspoken advocates for black rights.
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By Daniel F. Schultz on September 13, 2014
Format: Paperback
Great book with fascinating coverage of an increasingly important research area.
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