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Johns Hopkins University Press


Readers familiar with Susanna Rowson as the author of Charlotte Temple (1791, 1794) do not think of her as an abolitionist. But in 1805 Rowson articulated an anti-slavery position in Universal Geography, a textbook addressed to schoolgirls such as those she herself taught at the Young Ladies Academy in Boston. Condemning those who viewed sugar and slavery as a winning equation that would make them rich, Rowson denounced the “purchase and sale of human beings,” and insisted that anyone “enlightened by reason and religion” would oppose the “horrid trade,” and see it as she did, as “a disgrace to humanity.”1 At other points in the text, she condemned both the slave drivers in the West Indies, who “exercise[d] the most unpardonable barbarity and tyranny” over “unresisting sufferers,” and North American slave owners, whose characters, she argued, registered the obvious negative effects of their immoral practice.2


Copyright © 2011 The Johns Hopkins University Press. This article first appeared in Studies in American Fiction 38:1&2 (2011), 163-184. Reprinted with permission by Johns Hopkins University Press.



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