Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Hostname: page-component-77c89778f8-m42fx Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-07-19T04:07:47.320Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

1 - Anglo-American Poetry, the Transatlantic Slave Trade, and the Haitian Revolution in United States Poetry

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 January 2024

Brian Yothers
Affiliation:
St Louis University, Missouri
Get access

Summary

Although the first of John Greenleaf Whittier's poems in Poems Written during the Progress of the Abolition Question in the United States (1837) and in the collection of antislavery verse in his collected works assembled in 1888 is about William Lloyd Garrison, the editor of The Liberator and perhaps the United States’ most influential white abolitionist, the second, and much longer, poem in the portion of Whittier's collected works dedicated to antislavery poetry is devoted to the Haitian revolutionary Toussaint L’Ouverture. Especially given that Whittier was the most popular of antislavery poets from the 1830s to the 1850s in the United States, what Whittier's poem on Toussaint indicates is how crucial poetry about the Caribbean is for understanding the development and form of antislavery poetry in the nineteenth-century United States.

In this chapter I work across a range of transatlantic antislavery poetry as I examine the role that Haiti and the Caribbean played in the antislavery literary imagination. Beginning with poetry by William Cowper, Hannah More, and Ann Yearsley from the British side of the Atlantic and focusing particularly on James Montgomery's antislavery epic The West Indies, the chapter proceeds through representations of slavery in the Caribbean in the poetry of Philip Freneau and John Greenleaf Whittier and shows how crucial the history and representation of slavery in the Caribbean is to understanding the US antislavery movement. Appropriately, given the transatlantic context for much antislavery discourse, this chapter takes as its primary focus James Montgomery, a British poet who has largely been neglected in canonical accounts of British literature, even as the words of his most popular poems are more broadly familiar than many of the most revered examples of canonical British Romantic poetry. Montgomery is especially important because of the association of his work in The West Indies with the end of the slave trade in the British Empire, thus forming a bridge between late eighteenth-century British antislavery poetry and the efflorescence of antislavery poetry in the United States from the 1830s on.

James Montgomery's The West Indies: Slavery, Emancipation, Empire, and the Writing of History

James Montgomery is nearly forgotten as a poet, but his verse remains with us. Although his name is not immediately familiar from literature classrooms, he is the author of one of the most frequently sung Christmas carols in the English-speaking world, “Angels from the Realms of Glory.”

Type
Chapter
Information
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2023

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×