Myth, Reality and the Underground Railroad

Thanks, Norberto, for sharing this article. Kytle and Geissert make a terrific comparison between the Anti-slavery memorialists and the “Lost Cause” ideologues, and warn us about how easy is to fall into the “End of History” (not a term they used) mentality: “a mythos of accomplished glory, a history of emancipation completed.”

El Imperio de Calibán

Myth, Reality and the Underground Railroad

New York Times      February 27, 2015

disunion45On Feb. 24, 1865, William Lloyd Garrison, the editor of the antislavery weekly The Liberator, published an odd column – odd, because the piece, written by the New York minister Thomas Jefferson Sawyer, had already appeared in the paper, less than a year before. But Garrison believed that the article’s point – about collective memory, and collective forgetting – was an important one, and with the war’s end in sight, he wanted to make sure his readers saw it.

“It is a very curious fact in the history of public opinion,” Sawyer wrote, “that the mass of people who never think or act with early reformers gradually come to persuade themselves, as the reformation goes on and grows popular, that they were always of that party, or at least sympathized with its spirit. … Twenty years…

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About Dennis R. Hidalgo
I am a historian of the Atlantic World. I am passionate about people, those alive in the present and those who left little trace of their past.

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