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Talking RevolutionEdward Rushton's Rebellious Poetics, 1782-1814$
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Franca Dellarosa

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781781381441

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781781381441.001.0001

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Washington, Rushton, Garrison, (and Paine)

Washington, Rushton, Garrison, (and Paine)

Following the Transatlantic Currents of History

(p.186) 7 Washington, Rushton, Garrison, (and Paine)
Talking Revolution

Franca Dellarosa

Liverpool University Press

This chapter engages in a thoroughgoing examination of a key document in Rushton’s corpus: the Expostulatory Letter to George Washington, on His Continuing to Be a Proprietor of Slaves (publ. 1797); the interest of the document per se, no less than the entangled history of its dissemination, make the Letter a compelling case study of transatlantic crossing and transmission of ideas, as well as of late eighteenth-century cultural practices, due to its circulation in a number of different print media. As a preliminary, the chapter discusses the circumstances of composition, giving conclusive evidence of the document’s historicity as an originally private manuscript. Close reading of the document reveals the extent to which the powerful rhetoric of the Liverpool writer’s indictment encapsulates many of the most fundamental issues underlying abolitionist and emerging transnational human rights discourse. At the same time, special attention is devoted to an investigation of the Letter’s enthralling American afterlife. The much shorter letter Rushton addressed to Thomas Paine on the same topic in the years preceding abolition is also discussed as evidence of Rushton’s enduring radical stance, founded on his plea for consistency in matters concerning the rights of man.

Keywords:   George Washington, Thomas Paine, abolitionist, print media, human rights discourse

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