A two-week seminar for sixteen school teachers to study the history of the Underground Railroad and abolitionism.
The project director Graham Hodges (history, Colgate University) leads a two-week seminar that engages participants in an examination of "how ordinary Americans in the rural Northeast practiced freedom building" in the years from the Revolution to the Civil War. The seminar begins with an examination of colonial America and the impact that the Revolution had on slavery and understandings of freedom before turning to the rise of immediatism and antislavery activism in the nineteenth century. Participants consider the role that Frederick Douglass and women played in the abolition movement in the Northeast. Finally, they explore the violent sectionalism of the 1850s and the ways that abolitionism and the Underground Railroad operated in that context. In addition to reading and discussion, the group travels to sites in upstate New York connected to the history of abolitionism, including the homes of William Seward, Harriet Tubman, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and the graves of Austin Seward and Frederick Douglass. Stacey Robertson (Bradley University) leads the session on women in the abolition movement, noting connections between female activism and the rise of the women's rights movement; Stanley Harrold (South Carolina State University) leads discussions on the question of violence in the abolition movement and Underground Railroad. Readings include a mix of primary sources, such as antislavery tracts, runaway slave advertisements, autobiographies, and antislavery newspapers, as well as works by such scholars as Gary Nash, Richard Newman, Graham Hodges, Stacey Robertson, and Stanley Harrold.