when they shared with promoters of scientific racism a nearly similar standard of civilization and a restricted application of Christianity" (152). For instance, when intellectuals such as New York physician James McCune Smith, who receives central billing in the chapter, used science to refute white claims of racial dominance, they tended to do so in a way that reified the idea of essential racial differences. African American activists' response to this rhetorical dilemma illustrates Roberts's thesis nicely. Instead of abandoning hope, reformers added racism to the list of obstacles that God would resolve in the millennium and took heart that, as opponents of prejudice, "northern blacks were divinely ordained to protect the republic from itself " (165). Ultimately, Roberts affirms much of what recent scholars have concluded about northern black activists. In an elegant historiographical section in the introduction, she acknowledges the long shadow cast by Patrick Rael's Black Identity and Black Protest in the Antebellum North (2002), out of which she never quite escapes. Since Richard Allen and Frederick Douglass are such important figures in Roberts's work, it is also difficult to avoid comparisons with Richard S. Newman's Freedom's Prophet (2008) or David W. Blight's Frederick Douglass'
The Journal of the Civil War Era – University of North Carolina Press
Published: Aug 29, 2012