THE RECOVERED ARCHIVAL JUVENILE ANTEBELLUM literature (alphabet books, poetry, short fiction, and “conversations”) that constitutes this anthology reveals that nineteenth-century women who opposed slavery created a literary space and public forum for their views through the seemingly nonthreatening genre of children’s literature. Historians and literary critics of children’s literature, women’s biography, literary and political history, the history of the book, as well as African American history and literature have overlooked these texts where women claimed a political voice during a conflicted cultural moment (De Rosa 1–5). This anthology restores that voice to domestic abolitionists like Elizabeth Margaret Chandler, Eliza Lee Cabot Follen, Ann Preston [Cousin Ann], Hannah and Mary Townsend, Jane Elizabeth (Hitchcock) Jones, and others who supplement and complicate the history of women’s literary production.
Nineteenth-century American women lacked safe public platforms from which to voice their abolitionist views. Whenever they spoke publicly or published their concerns about slavery, they risked or received criticism for transgressing their gender roles. Lydia Maria Child experienced financial ruin and social ostracization when she published An Appeal in Favor of That Class of American Called Africans (Roberts 354; see also Bardes and Gossett Declarations, 41). Sarah Jane Clarke Lippincott lost her position as Godey’s Lady’s Book editorial associate when she wrote antislavery articles for The National Era (Gray 364; Born 305). Jane Grey Swisshelm “was attacked … because she dared to comment directly on politics, a topic perceived to be the domain of men only” (Okker 16). The Grimké sisters and Jane Elizabeth (Hitchcock) Jones encountered critical public receptions and mob violence when they spoke publicly