Sympathetic violence: Maria Stewart's antebellum vision of African American resistance

Christina Henderson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Between 1832 and 1833, William Lloyd Garrison's abolitionist newspaper, The Liberator, printed three lectures, one book excerpt, and one letter by Maria W. Stewart. One of the first African American women to lecture before a mixed-gender audience, Stewart passionately and publicly advocated for both racial and gender equality. This article explores the ways in which Stewart deployed elements from the black jeremiad tradition used by black nationalists such as David Walker, on the one hand, and from the discourse of women abolitionists who wrote for The Liberator's "Ladies' Department," on the other hand. In her works in The Liberator, Stewart incorporated and reshaped elements from each of these traditions to create a distinctive rationale for resistance against slavery and prejudice.As a liminal figure situated between black nationalists and predominantly white women abolitionists, Stewart gives contemporary scholars a glimpse of the ways that these larger movements inflected one another. Drawing from the rhetorical strategies of each group, she created moments of paradoxical collaboration. By grounding violent resistance in an ethic of Christian sympathy and kindness, Stewart partnered with black nationalists and white abolitionists, crafting a unique model of love-inspired, but potentially violent, resistance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)52-75
Number of pages24
JournalMELUS
Volume38
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Literature and Literary Theory

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