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date: 22 March 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter considers, through a biracial lens, some essential complexities of antebellum women’s reform. The emphasis is on antislavery and a socioreligious ethos based on the intersectionality of spiritual egalitarianism, civil liberty, and the jeremiad tradition. Black women’s double burden, slavery and race, automatically channeled them as reformers into more expansive visions than whites, already jeopardizing their privileged True Woman status. For disparate reasons, convergence of abolition and equal rights was not a calling that white reform women embraced monolithically. As “doers of the word,” some upheld apostolic tenets of Christian unity. Others chose what eventually became republican individualism and a “segregated sisterhood.” Nonetheless, women of both races were mainsprings in the ultimate success of antebellum reform, the training ground for future struggles for equal rights.

Keywords: socioreligious, egalitarianism, antislavery, biracial, civil liberty, sisterhood, prejudice, True Woman, reform, abolition

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