Sources and Project Update

Free Produce

I thought I would include a project update and add a secondary source review for this week’s blog. I met with Dr. Quigley again this past Friday and had a very positive discussion about the project and potential tracts to explore. He suggested I subscribe to Accessible Archives which is a database for abolitionist newspapers. I joined this weekend. He also suggested that if images and descriptions of “white slaves” or “whiteness” were to few or difficult to find I could include descriptions of race into the study. this would allow me to potentially find more resources describing shades of whiteness or blackness in abolitionist publications. He also suggested I stick with the American abolition movement and see what I come up with before expanding my study to include the British abolitionists. Lastly, we discussed the possibility of doing a public history thesis. Given my career goals, image resources, and interest in connecting my study to the current antislavery movement a website seems like a good fit for me and the project. i plan on looking into this more in the next few weeks and speaking to Rose about her work.

Faulkner, Carol. “The Root of the Evil: Free Produce and Radical Antislavery, 1820–1860.” Journal of the Early Republic 27, no. 3 (2007): 377-405.
Carol Faulkner looks at the free produce movement and its effects on abolitionists and women and blacks involved in the antislavery campaign. Free produce was any grown item not associated in any way with slavery. Food, cotton, tobacco, etc. would be boycotted if they were produced by slavery. The movement divided abolitionists. Some rejected the movement but many women and black activists found the campaign appealing because they could immediately see the results of their efforts. Faulkner uses antislavery correspondence, meeting minutes, and various publication to explain the free produce movement and its effects on the larger abolitionist movement. She notes that in addition to women and blacks those who chose to boycott slave produced products were usually among the most radical and committed abolitionists. She argues the movement connected “female consumers and African Americans.” (404) This allowed for female and interracial organizing within the abolitionist movement and because of this free produce should not be ignored, or treated as a fringe movement, by abolitionist historians. For my research Faulkner’s sources base and her analysis and incorporation of the sources are important. I can look for correspondence and meeting minutes where debates over tactics were discussed. The connection of the free produce movement to women and African Americans also seems to be consistent with my study up to this point. The use of whiteness in antislavery literature also seems to be an understudied, and possibly ignored, tactic.