Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




During the Age of Revolution, abolitionist ideas interacted with notions of liberty, independence, and equality. Although slavery often served as a metaphor, in opposition to freedom, it also had tangible meanings for the enslaved. This study traces the development of revolutionary beliefs that connected reformers and abolitionists across the Atlantic world, as well as the rise of conservative ideologies that divided them. Democratic politics, religious enthusiasm, and abolitionism converged in the late eighteenth century, with significant implications for antislavery efforts. The French Revolution, in particular, represented the culmination of radical Enlightenment ideals and emboldened democrats in the United States, contributing to transatlantic cooperation on the issue of abolition. Social conservatives, in response to Jacobin terror in France and fears of spreading religious infidelity, expressed concerns over political extremism, which included abolitionism. Anti-Jacobinism divided the nascent antislavery movement, pushing some towards moderation and others to abandon the cause altogether in the interest of maintaining a fragile Jeffersonian coalition. Understanding the political and cultural responses to the transatlantic radicalism of the period is therefore crucial to comprehending the trajectory of the American abolitionist movement.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.