Angry Abolitionist Critical Essays

Jules Archer


(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

As a book that explores the issue of freedom for African Americans, Angry Abolitionist is important reading for young people. Its discussion of the development of the antislavery movement is an essential aid in understanding the nature of the oppression that African-American people endured, as well as white involvement in opposing that oppression. Archer recognizes the faith and courage of many men and women as a force that can bring change, as well as the power of the principled person to be a moving force. The book also suggests how easy it is for potential reformers to bow to public opinion and to avoid dangerous confrontations; it is difficult to criticize or attack the policies of one’s own government, to insist on improving conditions for the many when such improvement threatens the comfort and profit of the powerful.

This biography shows that many others besides Garrison gave themselves to the cause of abolition, such as the Reverend Elijah Lovejoy, who was murdered by a mob in Alton, Illinois. It recounts the physical abuse met by Frederick Douglass on a speaking tour in Pennsylvania and tells of many others “mobbed and martyred” for daring to speak against the slave system. Garrison himself barely escaped a lynching on the Boston Common on October 21, 1835, and the mob’s attack and his hair-breadth escape are recounted vividly. (The complicity of the Boston Establishment in this dangerous mob opposition may revise that reader’s notion that this city was always the “Cradle of Liberty.”) The North’s interest in maintaining slavery and in appeasing the South is well...

(The entire section is 662 words.)