The Irrepressible Conflict: The Slavery Debate in Antebellum America | Newberry

The Irrepressible Conflict: The Slavery Debate in Antebellum America

Thursday, April 17, 2014
(This program continues for multiple sessions)
Thursdays, April 17 – May 15 (Class will not meet April 24th)

5:45 – 7:45 pm

Led by Joseph Harrington
Note: The schedule for this class has changed.

How could a nation “conceived in liberty” advance human slavery as the country expanded? Why were calls to abolish the “peculiar institution” considered so extreme, repugnant, and immoral in themselves? We will discuss the arguments used to attack and defend slavery as the United States moved inexorably toward bloody conflict over the issue. Please read pages 3-80 of Against Slavery for the first session.

Joseph Harrington holds a master’s degree in history from the University of Connecticut. He has led numerous Newberry Library seminars.

Materials List
Note: Due to the limited availability of these texts, please remember to call the Newberry Bookstore in advance at (312) 255-3520.


  • Lowance, Mason, ed., Against Slavery: An Abolitionist Reader; ISBN 0-14-043758-4
  • Faust, Drew Gilpin, ed., The Ideology of Slavery: Proslavery Thought in the Antebellum South, 1830-1860; ISBN: 978-0-8071-0892-5


  • Stampp, Kenneth M.; The Peculiar Institution: Slavery in the Ante-Bellum South; ISBN: 0-679-72307-2
  • The instructor will provide a booklet with photocopies and printouts (produced at instructor’s expense) of chronologies, selections from documents, and slide exhibits.

Readings for the First Session:

  • Please read Against Slavery, page 3-80, in preparation for the first class.

This class is part of the Newberry’s Adult Education Seminars Program.

Cost and Registration Information 

Four sessions, $180.
Register Online.