To advance their cause, 18th and 19th century opponents of slavery employed every available literary form: fiction and poetry, essay and autobiography, sermons, pamphlets, speeches, hymns ... even children's literature.
Historian James G. Basker examines these early abolitionist writings in a discussion of his new book American Antislavery Writings: Colonial Beginnings to Emancipationon Tuesday, April 2, 2013, at 6 p.m. at the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St.
Basker's is the first anthology to take the full measure of a body of writing that spanned nearly 200 years and embraced writers black and white, male and female.
During the colonial era thinkers like Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, and Phillis Wheatley composed original, even revolutionary, refutations of slavery.
In the 19th century the anti-slavery movement became even more varied with the impassioned rhetoric of Frederick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison; the fiction of Harriet Beecher Stowe (Uncle Tom's Cabin) and Louisa May Alcott; memoirs of former slaves; protest poems by John Greenleaf Whittier, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Lydia Sigourney; anonymous editorials, and speeches by statesmen like Charles Sumner and Abraham Lincoln.
Basker is the Richard Gilder Professor of Literary History at Barnard College and president of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History . Among his books are Amazing Grace: An Anthology of Poems about Slavery  and Early American Abolitionists.
Major funding for programs at the Kansas City Public Library is provided by a generous grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.
Admission is free. A 6 p.m. reception precedes the event. RSVP at kclibrary.org or call 816.701.3407. Free parking is available at the Library District Parking Garage at 10th & Baltimore.