Date of Award

Fall 12-16-2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. David Sehat

Second Advisor

Dr. Wendy Venet


Theodore Parker was one of the leading intellectuals and militant abolitionists of the antebellum era who has been largely overlooked by modern scholars. He was a leading Transcendentalist intellectual and was also one of the most militant leaders of the abolitionist movement. Despite his fervent abolitionism, his writings reveal an attitude that today we would call racist or white supremacist. Some scholars have argued that Parker's motivation for abolishing slavery was to redeem the Anglo-Saxon race from the sin of slavery. I will dispute this claim and explore Parker's true understanding of race. How he could both believe in the supremacy of the white race, and at the same time, militantly oppose African slavery. Parker was influenced by the racial "science" of his era which supported the superiority of the Caucasian race. Conversely he also believed that everyone, including African slaves, had human dignity.