Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Eric Yellin

Second Advisor

Robert Kenzer


I argue that American political discourse surrounding abolition and slavery, sectional politics and violent insurrection, coalesced in the 1840s. The merger of such ostensibly disconnected streams of thought began with the perception of a new political need, as abolitionists came to believe that southern plantation elites had constructed a hegemonic proslavery order. Their interpretation of northern consent to southern domination impelled a proliferation of abolitionist possibilities, possibilities that were intended to sever the connection between national politics and the peculiar institution. Initially disseminated by freed blacks but subsequently appropriated by northern whites, these possibilities crossed the color line and challenged the political status quo. They presented a route to sectional power through a practice of insurrectionary politics.