Gentlemen of Property and Standing: Anti-abolition Mobs in Jacksonian America

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Oxford University Press, 1970 - Abolitionists - 196 pages
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"A generation before the Civil War, riots flared up in many Northern cities. In New York, Boston, Utica, and Cincinnati mobs broke up anti-slavery meetings, tormented free blacks, and razed the Negro quarters; and in Alton, Illinois, the newspaper editor Elijah Lovejoy was slain. What motivated these zealous northern anti-abolitionists? Who were they, and why were they so hostile to antislavery movements? Judiciously applying modern social science methods to the newspaper accounts, court records, and correspondence of the time, Mr. Richards reconstitutes these mobs, examines the pattern of their action, and defines the structure of prejudice in the antebellum North. His book leads to a radical revision of ideas about the Jacksonian era and, in its insight into mob psychology, it has extraordinary relevance to public disorders in America today. Until the early 1830s most activity on behalf of Negro slaves centered on returning them to Africa. In 1831, however, William Lloyd Garrison established a frankly abolitionist organization which opposed ideas of African colonization; and many respectable people both in the North and the South--doctors, lawyers, merchants and bankers, judges and congressmen--began to be terrified of the effect the abolitionists presumably would have on the Negroes. Mr. Richards's investigation proves conclusively that while the riots of the 1830s often appeared to be spontaneous, they usually involved planning and organization, and depended for their support in every major case on the leading citizens of the communities involved--the 'gentlemen of property and standing, ' as Garrison characterized those who opposed his abolitionist goals. They rioted not only to save the Union from disruption and civil war, but to protect their social dominance in Northern society and to reassert traditional values. In addition to its value as a study of northern anti-abolitionism, the book reveals many links between racism and violence in American society, and indicates why violence may be the hallmark of one decade and die away in another."--Dust jacket flaps.

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Types of Mobs
What Manner of Men Were They?

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