Department or Program



In the seven decades between the ratification of the Constitution and the beginning of the Civil War, approximately one million enslaved African Americans were forcibly relocated from the Upper South to the Deep South in an effort to feed the growing American King Cotton dynasty. This enormous internal migration – known as the Second Middle Passage – devastated existing slave communities by eliciting the separation of families on a level not seen since the original movement of Africans from their home continent to the Americas. This study explores the ways in which black literary intellectualism, specifically as it developed in the aftermath of the revolutionary republicanism of the American War for Independence, aided slave community formation and reconstruction in light of the inevitable social trauma caused by a looming domestic movement of this magnitude. Against the backdrop of tepid antislavery rhetoric on the part of eighteenth-century whites, early African American intellectuals appropriated the language of Christianity in order to grant themselves agency and credibility, as well as to establish a common ground on which speak politically about their own humanity. The development of benevolent aid societies, fraternal institutions, and manumission associations following the revolutionary era reified this emerging literary tradition by echoing, on the ground, the principles which would ultimately enable free blacks and slaves alike to form the secular cultural values necessary for community construction.

Level of Access

Restricted: Embargoed [Open Access After Expiration]

First Advisor

Hall, Joseph

Date of Graduation


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Number of Pages


Components of Thesis

1 PDF file


Available to all on Monday, May 20, 2024