Singing for Equality

Hymns in the American Antislavery and Indian Rights Movements, 1640–1855


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About the Book

Before the American Civil War, men and women who imagined a multiracial American society (social visionaries) included Protestant sacred music in their speeches and writings. Music affirmed the humanity and equality of Indians, whites and blacks and validated blacks and Indians as Americans. In contrast to dominant voices of white racial privilege, social visionaries criticized republican hypocrisy and Christian hypocrisy. Many social visionaries wrote hymns, transcending racial lines and creating a sense of equality among singers and their audience. Singing and reading Protestant sacred music encouraged community formation that led to American human rights activism in the 19th and 20th centuries.

About the Author(s)

Cheryl C. Boots is a retired Boston University Humanities and American Studies faculty member living and writing in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. She continues racial justice work with community groups in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.

Bibliographic Details

Cheryl C. Boots
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 288
Bibliographic Info: 9 photos, appendix, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2013
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7259-8
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0336-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments  ix
Introduction: Recovering the Lost Soundtrack of American Social Visionaries  1
1. Seeing Children of God or Children of the Devil in Massachusetts Bay  11
2. Singing Nonconformist and Anglican Hymns in the 18th Century  26
3. Asserting Racial Equality with Sacred Verse in Early America  43
4. Debating Blacks’ and Indians’ Humanity in the Early Republic  66
5. Affirming the Humanity of Early-­Antebellum Blacks and Indians  79
6. Making Space for Indians in Early Antebellum Fiction, or Not  103
7. Struggling to Enlist Support for the Cherokee People  132
8. Legitimating Black Emancipation with Blacks’ Voices  153
9. Singing Communities and the American Anti-­Slavery Society  179
10. Making Space for Blacks in Late Antebellum American Fiction  203
Conclusion: Tracing the Legacy of Sacred Music and American Racial Equality  234
Appendix: Hymn Tunes Available Online  245
Chapter Notes  247
Bibliography  261
Index  266