"Where Liberty is Not, There is my Country” —Nineteenth Century American Abolitionist Writings on India

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This thesis examines nineteenth century American abolitionist writings on India. My sources include abolitionist newspapers, primarily focusing on William Lloyd Garrison’s newspaper the Liberator, but also incorporating other abolitionist newspapers, such as the Friend of Man, the Principia, and the National Era and publications of individual abolitionists, like Lydia Maria Child’s The History of the Condition of Women, in Various Ages and Nations. By looking at their writings on Christian missionary activities in India, Indian women, and British rule in India, I argue that although many abolitionists Orientalized India, they at the same time found many parallels between Indian society and the US, which blurred the boundaries between the self and the Other. Although they did not develop a full criticism towards colonialism in the antebellum period, their criticism towards Empire matured by the early twentieth century. My scholarly intervention centers on acknowledging the hitherto unknown role of abolitionist writings on India in the intellectual history of American abolitionism and the US-India transnational history. By not fully engaging India, the scholarship on US-India relations and abolitionism misses a critical dimension of abolitionist movement’s intimate relationship with related causes of feminism, anti-clericalism, and anti-imperialism. Most importantly, this thesis demonstrates that abolitionist writings on India far exceeded Orientalism as the only frame of understanding.


Honors thesis






abolitionism, Nineteenth century, transnational history, South Asia



Qiu, Yue (2022). "Where Liberty is Not, There is my Country” —Nineteenth Century American Abolitionist Writings on India. Honors thesis, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/27089.

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