Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Dr. David Sehat
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.
Kelley, Jim, "The Paradox of Theodore Parker: Transcendentalist, Abolitionist, and White Supremacist." Thesis, Georgia State University, 2015.