Defining Liberty: The Slavery & Abolition Debate in Nineteenth Century American Print Culture

News item published on: 2013-09-11 14:56:00

An exhibit in Cook Library, Defining Liberty: The Slavery & Abolition Debate in Nineteenth-Century American Print Culture, reveals different arguments on slavery during the Civil War era. Throughout the nineteenth century, authors in both free and slave states published books and pamphlets about the institution of slavery.

In the aftermath of the American Revolution, abolitionist writers from the North and South called for the immediate emancipation of slaves. Their works argued that slavery was not acceptable in a modern, republican, Christian society. Pro-slavery publications justified slave labor by using biblical references to slavery in the Old and New Testaments. Other pro-slavery authors bolstered their arguments for keeping and expanding slavery in the United States with antebellum scientific rhetoric and historical references.

This exhibit displays nineteenth-century pamphlets and books on slavery housed in McCain Library’s Special Collections and Rare Books Division. Four sections of the exhibit reveal the religious, political, and scientific justifications for the pro-slavery and abolition ideologies of the Civil War era.

The exhibit is on display in the first floor lobby of Cook Library and will be available until October 2, 2013. If you have questions about the exhibit, contact Jennifer Brannock at or 601.266.4347.