Joseph Evans Snodgrass: Border State Abolitionist

Carey, Brycchan and Geoffrey Plank, eds., Quakers and Abolition (Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2014)

This book is a collection of fifteen essays that examine Quaker antislavery sentiment between 1658 and 1890. The essays, written by authors of varying religious, national, and disciplinary backgrounds, demonstrate that Quakers often disagreed with one another about the larger antislavery movement and, in some cases, about the validity of the institution of slavery itself. This book is important because it connects Joseph Evans Snodgrass to the kindapping of Thomas Mitchell. Snodgrass went to the Baltimore train station to meet Mitchell and his suspected kidnappers.

Harrold, Stanley, The Abolitionists and the South, 1831-1861 (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1995)

This book describes the antislavery movement in the United States in the decades leading up to the Civil War. Harrold shifts the focus away from abolitionism in the North, drawing attention to antislavery activism in the South. He pays particular attention to the Border States. This book describes Snodgrass’ involvement in the antislavery movement. Harrold considers Snodgrass as one of the abolitionists whose actions in the South have not received enough recognition.

Harrold, Stanley, Border War: Fighting Over Slavery Before the Civil War (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010)

This book describes the transformation that Joseph Snodgrass oversaw at his newspaper Baltimore Saturday Visitor. It began as a literary journal, but it gradually became a platform from which he advocated for abolition and black rights. His tone and approach were somewhat moderate, but given his residence in a border state where the war over slavery and freedom was raging for quite a few years before the formal declaration of the Civil War, this seems hardly surprising.

Snodgrass, Joseph Evans, “The Childless Mother,” American Antislavery Writings: Colonial Beginnings to Emancipation (Des Moines: Library of America, 2012)

This book is a collection of stories and essays that detail the history of the antislavery movement in the United States. It includes a number of essays by Joseph Evans Snodgrass. His work, “The Childless Mother,” first appeared in The Liberty Bell in 1847. It is a work of fiction that tells the story of a mother and her child. The mother was a free black woman who did not have her papers in order and so could do nothing when a man accused her of being his chattel and forced her into slavery. The story pre-dates Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and demonstrates the fact that abolitionists like Snodgrass had long used fiction and melodrama as a way to win sympathy for the plight of enslaved people.

Adapted from Annotated Bibliography by Gregory Williams

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