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Looking to “the Successful Example of a Sister State”: Philadelphia’s Influence on New Jersey Abolitionism, 1793 to 1809

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dc.contributor.advisor Krippner, John, and Gliserman, Nicholas Roth, Sarah 2017-09-01T13:42:30Z 2017-09-01T13:42:30Z 2017
dc.description.abstract The story of abolitionism in New Jersey paralleled that of Pennsylvania during the first century of European settlement in the Delaware Valley. United by their Quaker populations and geographic proximity, the abolition movements of the two colonies overlapped and developed together. Although the Pennsylvania movement is often highlighted, perhaps due to its later prominence in the mid-nineteenth century during an era of more radical abolitionism, it is important to study New Jersey’s initially equal role in the abolition movement, and the difficulties New Jersey abolitionism faced due to its deep ties with Pennsylvania. In 1793 New Jersey members of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society (PAS) formed a parallel group in New Jersey, the New Jersey Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery (NJSPAS). Committed to furthering the cause of abolition and seeking to improve the lives of free African Americans, the New Jersey Society followed the tried-and-true methods of its neighboring society, the PAS, which had been aiding freed and enslaved men and women in Pennsylvania since 1775. The NJSPAS pursued strategies that had proven effective within Pennsylvania by prioritizing education efforts, pushing for legislative change, and aiding in cases of wrongful enslavement. Despite the success of these strategies across the river in Pennsylvania, New Jersey abolitionists failed to consider New Jersey’s local differences, a mistake that drastically impeded their cause. These differences in New Jersey, namely the state’s internal division, a powerful fear of slave revolt in the state, and the branch-based, dispersed nature of the society led to fading interest within the group and to its eventual end. The NJSPAS is therefore an example of what can happen when political borders do not align with cultural ones, of the need to acknowledge and incorporate local differences into regional and national movements, and of the difficulties faced by abolitionists in general during the early years of the United States. Although short-lived and relatively ineffective, the NJSPS provides a glimpse into a complex movement that crossed political borders and fought hard for an end to slavery decades before the Civil War permanently ended the institution in the United States.
dc.description.sponsorship Haverford College. Department of History
dc.language.iso en_US en
dc.title Looking to “the Successful Example of a Sister State”: Philadelphia’s Influence on New Jersey Abolitionism, 1793 to 1809
dc.type Thesis en
dc.rights.access Tri-College Users Only

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