RESEARCH

Antislavery and American Salvation  

Ben Wright's book manuscript is under contract for publication in the “Antislavery, Abolition and the Atlantic World” series with Louisiana State University Press. This manuscript uncovers how religious Americans engaged in antislavery movements from the late eighteenth century through the 1840s. Historians of American antislavery have long focused on a small coterie of elite activists. Wright demonstrates how shifting understandings of religious conversion and religious purification both motivated and limited American antislavery action. Focusing on these popular theologies offers lessons on how religion leads some Americans to confront problems of racial injustice while leading others to increased ambivalence. Archival research for this project was made possible by generous grants from the Andrew W. Mellon foundation, Massachusetts Historical Society, Library Company of Philadelphia, Historical Society of Pennsylavnia, Virginia Historical Society, Quaker Collection at Haverford College, Filson Library, Clements Library at the University of Michigan, and the American Antiquarian Society. 

The American Yawp 

Ben Wright, along with Joseph L. Locke, is co-editor of The American Yawpa free and online, collaboratively built American history textbook. Wright has directed the work of over three hundred historians in producing this open educational resource which is now under review with Stanford University Press. 

Apocalypse and the Millennium in the American Civil War Era 

Ben Wright and Zachary W. Dresser co-edited this 2013 anthology published by LSU Press. In the Civil War era, Americans nearly unanimously accepted that humans battled in a cosmic contest between good and evil and that God was directing history toward its end. The concept of God’s Providence and of millennialism—Christian anticipations of the end of the world—dominated religious thought in the nineteenth century. During the tumultuous years immediately prior to, during, and after the war, these ideas took on a greater importance as Americans struggled with the unprecedented destruction and promise of the period. 

The Abolition Seminar 

Richard S. Newman and Ben Wright designed this interactive K-12 teaching resource based on Richard S. Newman's National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminar for School Teachers hosted by the Library Company of Philadelphia.