Archive for November 27th, 2018

New Book: “Frederick Douglass and Scotland, 1846: Living an Antislavery Life,” by Alasdair Pettinger (Edinburgh University Press)

Frederick Douglass and Scotland, 1846

Living an Antislavery Life

Alasdair Pettinger

The first full-length study of Frederick Douglass’ visit to Scotland in 1846

Frederick Douglass (1818–95) was not the only fugitive from American slavery to visit Scotland before the Civil War, but he was the best known and his impact was far-reaching. This book shows that addressing crowded halls from Ayr to Aberdeen, he gained the confidence, mastered the skills and fashioned the distinctive voice that transformed him as a campaigner. It tells how Douglass challenged the Free Church over its ties with the Southern plantocracy; how he exploited his knowledge of Walter Scott and Robert Burns to brilliant effect; and how he asserted control over his own image at a time when racial science and blackface minstrel shows were beginning to shape his audiences’ perceptions. He arrived as a subordinate envoy of white abolitionists, legally still enslaved. He returned home as a free man ready to embark on a new stage of his career, as editor and proprietor of his own newspaper and a leader in his own right.

Key Features:

  • Reveals fresh information about, and deepens our understanding of, a major 19th-century intellectual at a crucial stage in his political and professional development
  • Subjects Douglass’ speeches and letters to close readings and situates them in the immediate context of their delivery and composition
  • Demonstrates the extent to which Douglass was closely acquainted with Scottish literature, history and current affairs
  • Enhances our knowledge of Douglass as a performer, his ability to read audiences, and how he moved and influenced them

List of Figures

Part I: The Voyage
1. ‘Throw Him Overboard’
2. The Making of a Fugitive
3. ‘Put Them in Irons’
Part II: Dark, Polluted Gold
4. Electric Speed
5. That Ticklish Possession
6. The Free Church Responds
7. The Price of Freedom
8. The Genealogy of Money
9. Gilded Cages
Part III: Douglass, Scott and Burns
10. ‘One of Scotland’s Many Famous Names’
11. A Wild Proposition
12. New Relations and Duties
13. A Visit to Ayr
14. The Coward Slave and the Poor Negro Driver
15. Crooked Paths
16.The Sons and Daughters of Old Scotia
Part IV: Measuring Heads, Reading Faces
17. Breakfast with Combe
18. The Physiological Century
19. Travelling Phrenologically
20. A Glut of Ethiopians
21. Douglass on Stage
22. The Suit and the Engraving
Part V: The Voyage Home
23. A Disconnected Farewell
24. Cabin 72
25. Never Again
Part VI: The Affinity Scot
26. Recitals of Blood
27. Choosing Ancestors
28. Remembering Douglass
29. Out of My Place


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“The Book I Did Not Write,” Leigh Fought, Paris, 12 Oct 2018 [Video]

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