In the antebellum United States, African American and white reformers--women and men, free-born and formerly enslaved--joined together to fight the injustice of slavery. While they gave speeches, circulated petitions, and worked on the Underground Railroad, they also sang. Borrowing hymns, patriotic tunes, and popular melodies, they wrote lyrics for performance at conventions and rallies, using music to denounce slavery, describe its horrors, and appeal for its end.
This songbook presents a cross-section of the hundreds of antislavery songs written and performed between 1833 and 1863. Rebecca Edwards, a historian at Vassar College, provides an introduction and notes placing each song in context. Lyrics and musical scores are brought together—for the first time, in some cases—to facilitate performance, teaching, and historical study. Through this "irresistible music," readers and musicians are invited to explore the themes, leaders, and fortunes of the antislavery movement, from its early days of prayer and radical defiance through the Liberty Party, "Bleeding Kansas," and the earth-shaking arrival of Emancipation.
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