Gone for Good: Slave Family Separation in the Slavery Debates Open Access

Meyer, Kathryn Ruth (2010)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/2227mq013?locale=en
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Abstract


Abstract
Gone for Good:
Slave Family Separation in the Slavery Debates
By Kathryn Meyer
America's devotion to family has always had a strong role in its culture. In the antebellum
era, the family became political as some abolitionists and slavery supporters began using the
separation of slave families in their debates. This thesis will demonstrate that when discussing
the separation of slave families, abolitionists and their supporters relied upon sentimental
imagery to evoke sympathy and empathy from their audience. The response by slavery
supporters was fragmented by multiple ideologies, sometimes contradicting itself. When
combined with the antebellum slave narratives which used first person accounts to gain
sympathy, the unified tactic of the abolitionists proved more convincing than the disunity of the
slavery supporters within the argument over the separation of slave families.
The first chapter of this thesis discusses how the abolition movement developed into its use of
empathy in the attack against slave owners. Quotes about the separation of slave families are
then analyzed to demonstrate the unified use of vivid imagery to gain support. The second
chapter examines the slave owners' response, exploring their multiple methods of countering the
attack. The final chapter considers family separation from the antebellum slave narrative
perspective. These ex-slaves argued for the abolishment of slavery with the techniques of the
abolitionists while simultaneously fighting back against the reasoning used by the slavery
supporters against the anti-slavery cause.

Table of Contents

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Introduction.............................................................................................................1

Chapter 1: The Abolitionists Perspective.......................................................................4

Chapter 2: The Slavery Supporters' Perspective...........................................................11

Chapter 3: The Slave Narratives................................................................................20

Conclusion..............................................................................................................31

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