Fugitive nation: Contagious democracies in American literature of the early national period, 1793-1838
AuthorDoolen, Andrew Vincent
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractFugitive Nation: Contagious Democracies in American Literature of the Early National Period, 1793-1838 takes aim at the legislative gag-order on racial issues during the early national period. The gag-order suppressed national discussions of slavery and racial injustice until abolitionism rose in the 1830s, and its legacy continues today to impair our historical understanding of this deeply conflicted period of the American past. In order to restore this "fugitive" history, Fugitive Nation reconstructs a historical memory by uncovering the erstwhile silent record of race relations during the early national period, while demonstrating how this history of racial injustice is at the root of a liberal democratic tradition in American Letters. Thus, my study traces the ideological connections among disparate national narratives, from the more literary works of Charles Brockden Brown and James Fenimore Cooper, to the more popular and partisan documents circulating in the early national period. Magazines, congressional and society records, personal narratives, and documentary histories, such as cross-cultural accounts of the 1793 yellow fever epidemic and the annual reports of the American Colonization Society, provide a fuller understanding of the different roles race played in the nation's transformation from colony to state, even as they provide richly nuanced readings of early American literary works. Ultimately, Fugitive Nation corrects the fallacy of the "Great Contradiction"---that racial hierarchies were somehow inconsistent with a liberal Democracy---by demonstrating that America grew out of, and actually required, an increasingly punitive and divisive system of race relations.
Degree ProgramGraduate College