SPECIAL to #ADPhD: Rael on “Lincoln’s Unfinished Work”

Lincoln, Official Poster

Lincoln, Official Poster

Lincoln’s Unfinished Work
Patrick Rael (Bowdoin College)
Special to African Diaspora, Ph.D.

Amidst the widespread discussions of Steven Spielberg’s recent film Lincoln, few have sought to place the film within its own tradition of Civil War films. There’s nothing new, of course, about focusing a film on the character of Abraham Lincoln, though it has been well over thirty years since a major television or film production took him seriously (Hal Holbrook in Sandburg’s Lincoln [1974]).

In the early days it was different. The American film industry grew around his figure. In The Birth of a Nation, D.W. Griffith’s ground-breaking, racist masterpiece of 1915, Lincoln appeared as a wizened and tolerant executive at war with the maniacal Radical Republicans, whose racial tolerance merely masked their desire for vengeance against the rebels. In Griffith’s film, Lincoln’s premature death unleashed the Radicals, necessitating the bloody turmoil of Reconstruction. In the form of the Ku Klux Klan, only the energized spirit of white supremacy could save white womanhood — and, indeed, Anglo-Saxon civilization — from the rampaging black beast.

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BOOK: Rael, et. al. on African-American Activism

Rael, Patrick, ed. African-American Activism before the Civil War: The Freedom Struggle in the Antebellum North. New edition. New York City, NY: Routledge, 2008.

From the Routledge website:

African-American Activism before the Civil War is the first collection of scholarship on the role of African Americans in the struggle for racial equality in the northern states before the Civil War. Many of these essays are already known as classics in the field, and others are well on their way to becoming definitive in a still-evolving field. Here, in one place for the first time, anchored by a comprehensive, analytical introduction discussing the historiography of antebellum black activism, the best scholarship on this crucial group of African American activists can finally be studied together.

Contents:

Chapter 1: “Emancipation of the Negro Abolitionist”, Leon Litwack

Chapter 2: “Black Power—The Debate in 1840″, Jane H. Pease, William H. Pease

Chapter 3: “Elevating the Race: The Social Thought of Black Leaders, 1827-1850″, Frederick Cooper

Chapter 4: “Black History’s Antebellum Origins”, Benjamin Quarles

Chapter 5: “Since They Got Those Separate Churches: Afro-Americans and Racism in Jacksonian Philadelphia”, Emma Jones Lapsansky

Chapter 6: “Interpreting Early Black Ideology: A Reappraisal of Historical Consensus”, George A. Levesque

Chapter 7: “Afro-American Identity: Reflections on the Pre-Civil War Era”, Ernest Allen, Jr.

Chapter 8: “Freedom’s Yoke: Gender Conventions among Antebellum Free Blacks,” James Oliver Horton

Chapter 9: “The Political Significance of Slave Resistance”, James Oakes

Chapter 10: “It was a Proud Day: African Americans, Festivals, and Parades in the North, 1741-1834″, Shane White

Chapter 11: “Ethiopia Shall Soon Stretch Forth Her Hands: Black Destiny in Nineteenth-Century America”, Albert Raboteau

Chapter 12: “The Emergence of Racial Modernity and the Rise of the White North, 1790-1840″, James Brewer Stewart

Chapter 13: “From Abolitionist Amalgamators to ‘Rulers of the Five Points’: The Discourse of Interracial Sex and Reform in Antebellum New York City,” Leslie M. Harris

Chapter 14: “The Redeemer Race and the Angry Saxon: Race, Gender, and White People in Antebellum Black Ethnology,” Mia Bay

Chapter 15: “The Market Revolution and Market Values in Antebellum Black Protest Thought”, Patrick Rael