2015 HISTORY OF RECENT SOCIAL SCIENCE (HISRESS) ANNUAL MEETING Harvard University 6-7 June 2015 hisress.org This two-day conference will bring together researchers working on the history of post-World War II social science. It will provide a forum for the latest […]
The committee for the 2015 Conference of the Society for U.S. Intellectual History–Andrew Hartman (Illinois State University), Michael Kimmage (Catholic University), Claire Rydell (Stanford University), and Jonathan Wilson (Syracuse University)—is pleased to announce that the seventh annual S-USIH Conference will […]
The Society for U.S. Intellectual History announces its Annual Book Award for the best book in American intellectual history.The book should be a work of original scholarship. Books eligible for the 2015 award must be published in English in the […]
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Caleb McDaniel, The Problem of Democracy in the Age of Slavery: Garrisonian Abolitionists and Transatlantic Reform (Louisiana State University Press, 2013) 376 pages.
Review by Benjamin E. Park
Caleb McDaniel’s thoughtful and provocative book is a reclamation project of sorts: it seeks to restore William Lloyd Garrison and Wendell Phillips as serious democratic thinkers and devotees to America’s democratic experiment. Even more, it aims to place their democratic thought within an Atlantic framework while still emphasizing their domestic commitments. A central argument found in the book is an attempt to restore Garrison’s love of the American nation. Yes, he burned the Constitution; yes, he denounced the country’s leaders as hypocritical; yes, his newspaper’s masthead said his country was “the world.” Yet undergirding much of his abolitionist message was a firm belief that America possessed a special role and that slavery prohibited the country from accomplishing its destiny. Indeed, McDaniel explains, “Garrison’s idea that the United States should be a model for the world played an underappreciated role in spurring his abolitionism in the first place” (22). Even while he believed the current manifestation of the American government was corrupted, he maintained that the republican principles established at the nation’s founding were worthy of redemption.