Date of Award

Summer 1956

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts




The period from 1824 to 1865 was a most critical one in the history of the United States. It was during those years that issues of great magnitude arose. After a period of discussion, views crystallized and finally became fundamental beliefs in the minds of the people of both the North and tho South. The result of those beliefs culminated in the Civil war. Tho issues were concerned chiefly with the question or states' rights, tho protective tariff, and, last but not least, with that of African slavery.

In Virginia, which had been the first of tho English colonies in America, and whore much had boon contributed to the formation of the American government, those years were ones of great import. The people of the state were intensely interested in the problems which confronted the country and, as others, Virginians reached certain basic beliefs concerning these problems.

The crystallization of views into firm beliefs can be attributed in no small measure to the writings or the time. The literature of an age is closely interwoven with the history then boing unfolded, and momentous issues always find a prominent place in the novels, essays, and other forms or literary expression. Men of letters, through their writings, are potent factors in shaping the beliefs of readers.Those authors also render a valuable contribution in their review and interpretation or history of the past which has a definite relationship on the issues under discussion.

One issue in which Virginians were keenly interested, and in which they had great stakes, was that of African slavery. The contributions of Virginia's literary sons on this subject are oft times overlooked. Their views influenced the thinking of many Virginians.

The purposes or this study are:

  1. to select some of the leading pro-slavery and anti-slavory writers of the period,
  2. to determine which view they set forth in specific works,
  3. to point out certain similarities in the views of writers on each side of the slavery question,
  4. to point out the differences in views between the pro-slavery and anti-slavory writers

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