Watch the recording of this event, embedded below:
In 1862, abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison summarized the Civil War: “There is a war because there was a Republican Party. There was a Republican Party because there was an Abolition Party. There was an Abolition Party because there was Slavery.” Garrison’s statement expresses the essential truths at the heart of LeeAnna Keith’s narrative, which introduces us to the idealistic Massachusetts preachers and philanthropists, rugged Midwestern politicians, and African American activists who collaborated to protect escaped slaves from their captors, create and defend black military regiments, and win the contest for the soul of their party. In the 1850s and 1860s, the Republican Party stood for a demanding ideal of racial justice—and insisted that the nation live up to it.
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