Locke and Blake: A Conversation across the Eighteenth Century

By Wayne Glausser | Go to book overview

Chapter 4
Slavery

Locke condemnation of slavery in the Second Treatise and, more generally, the liberal principles of his political theory gave eighteenth- and nineteenth- century abolitionists a valuable philosophical resource. However, every modern scholar who takes him seriously has had to confront an embarrassing fact: Locke actually participated in the slave trade. Blake's antislavery resolve offers no comparable surprise. He became friends with John Gabriel Stedman and helped illustrate his book critical of slavery; in his own works he consistently deplored slavery. But even Blake's work fails to shake off some of the surrounding effects of empire. In each case the topic of slavery poses some difficult questions for interpreters. How can we explain Locke's apparent inconsistency? To what extent can a stable antislavery reading of Blake be undermined by analysis of cultural codes?


THREE APPROACHES TO LOCKE AND THE SLAVE TRADE

Interpreters of Locke have responded to his involvement with the slave trade in three different ways. A first group treats it as an unfortunate but minor lapse in the public conduct of a man deservedly known for adherence to liberal principles. Locke's conduct here, according to this first mode of explanation, constitutes a deviation from his theory. A second group would agree that his participation in slave trading seems to contradict his basic principles; but instead of merely dismissing his conduct as a deviation from theory, these interpreters draw out of Locke's writings an elaborate, unworthy justification of the kind of slavery in which he participated. For this second group, then, Locke did manage to accommodate theory to practice, but only by an embarrassingly tortured logic. A third group concludes that Locke's accommodation of slavery does not proceed from the violation or torture of his basic theories. Instead, these interpreters argue, his treatment of slavery should be seen as

-62-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Locke and Blake: A Conversation across the Eighteenth Century
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Chapter 1 from Caricature to Conversation 1
  • Chapter 2 Mothers, the Matrix, and Marriage 13
  • Chapter 3 Two English Physicians 43
  • Chapter 4 Slavery 62
  • Chapter 5 Seditious Plots 92
  • Chapter 6 Possessions 121
  • Chapter 7 Printing 141
  • Chapter 8 Epitaphs 163
  • Notes 166
  • Bibliography 183
  • Index 191
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 206

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.