Cover: The Black Hearts of Men: Radical Abolitionists and the Transformation of Race, from Harvard University PressCover: The Black Hearts of Men in PAPERBACK

The Black Hearts of Men

Radical Abolitionists and the Transformation of Race

Product Details


Print on Demand

$35.00 • £30.95 • €31.95

ISBN 9780674013674

Publication Date: 03/30/2004

Academic Trade

384 pages

6 x 9 inches

16 halftones


Add to Cart

Educators: Request an Exam Copy (Learn more)

Media Requests:

Related Subjects

The Black Hearts of Men is a story of politics, religion, sin, guilt, passion, murder and expiation. It begins in innocence and good intentions and ends in bloodshed and madness… Stauffer knows what he has with this remarkable story. He deftly outlines the thinking of his subjects, and is especially good at showing the links between their religious beliefs and their politics.—Barry Gewen, The New York Times Book Review

The Black Hearts of Men is a richly interdisciplinary study, examining portraiture, literature, religion, intellectual biography, and the wider social and cultural context provided by antebellum America… Many avenues for further scholarship are suggested by this discussion… Stauffer does capture the potential for revolutionary change in the antebellum United States embodied in the radical abolitionists, and culminating in the state violence of the civil war. The work provides useful intellectual/political biographies of the key actors for the period of study, suggesting that their methods, motivations, and self-image were far from simple.—Fionnghuala Sweeney, History

Stauffer intertwines the antislavery activities of Frederick Douglas, James McCune Smith, John Brown, and Gerrit Smith. These four men…were deeply religious reformers who first sought to utilize peaceful means to end slavery and promote racial integration in antebellum America. Failing to achieve these objectives, they adopted a militant position by organizing the Radical Abolition Party endorsing violence, justifying their actions in the name of righteousness… The book expands our knowledge of the changing nature of antislavery and antebellum reform as the nation approached the Civil War.—L.B. Gimelli, Choice

Stauffer examines the small group of friends and colleagues who gave the abolitionist movement its focus and voice… Stauffer charts their collective efforts to convert their compatriots to the abolitionist cause, which led, he writes, to both successes and failures: the effort to emancipate slaves led eventually to war, he observes, but also in a ‘century of horrible racism and racial oppression following the war [that] stemmed in part from the savage violence that brought slavery to an end’… A welcome addition to the historical literature.Kirkus Reviews

More than an engaging history of antislavery, this volume, with its abundant use of primary sources, restores James McCune Smith and Gerrit Smith to their historical positions as preeminent radical abolitionists and pioneer fighters against racism. Highly recommended for academic and public libraries.—Charles L. Lumpkins, Library Journal

Stauffer offers an account of these four lives joined for a historical moment by ‘their vision of a sacred, sin-free, and pluralist society, as well as by their willingness to use violence to effect it.’ Stauffer shows how the four worked together on temperance and feminist issues, party building, and other political work along with their antislavery activities, exploring the practical and ideological glue that held them together. A splendidly illustrated excursion into the American fascination with daguerreotype shows the four using that form to further their public image… [The Black Hearts of Men] offers an intense look at the mechanics of freedom.Publishers Weekly

Recent News

Black lives matter. Black voices matter. A statement from HUP »

From Our Blog

Jacket: Iron and Blood: A Military History of the German-Speaking Peoples since 1500, by Peter Wilson, from Harvard University Press

A Lesson in German Military History with Peter Wilson

In his landmark book Iron and Blood: A Military History of the German-Speaking Peoples since 1500, acclaimed historian Peter H. Wilson offers a masterful reappraisal of German militarism and warfighting over the last five centuries, leading to the rise of Prussia and the world wars. Below, Wilson answers our questions about this complex history,