After 1808, when the importation of enslaved people into the United States was outlawed, human trading did not end, it simply changed focus. As wheat began to replace cotton as the Mid-Atlantic region’s principal crop, fewer workers were needed on the plantations of Maryland and Virginia, and owners sold off enslaved people they considered “excess” to the Southern states, where a cotton boom created a strong market for them.
By 1830, Washington, D.C. was one of two of the nation’s most important sites for the interstate slave trade, alongside Baltimore. In response, the abolitionist movement became particularly important in the region. Writers responded with an outpouring of poems, seen as a unique form of moral persuasion, on the subjects of slavery and abolition. For this reason, poems were almost always included in abolitionist lectures and church services.
Join poet and author Kim Roberts as she traces the abolitionist history of the region using the poetry of white women journalists, such as Grace Greenwood and Gail Hamilton; Black and white religious leaders including John Pierpont, John Sella Martin, and Henry McNeal Turner; and activists such as Charlotte Forten Grimké, Fanny Jackson Coppin, and Frederick Douglass.
Roberts’ book, By Broad Potomac’s Shore (University of Virginia Press) is available for purchase.
Book Sale Information
- Purchase your copy of By Broad Potomac's Shore by Kim Roberts here.
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