Source: Title page vignette in James Field Stanfield's Observations on a Guinea Voyage (London: Printed by James Phillips, George-Yard, Lombard-Street, 1788).

Presented By:

The McNeil Center for Early American Studies

The Library Company of Philadelphia

The Rochester Institute of Technology

Temple University

With Support From:

The Albert M. Greenfield Foundation


Rittenhouse Foundation.

The Center for Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania

The Department of History, University of Pennsylvania

The Latin American and Latino Studies Program, University of Pennsylvania


Conference Description

The year 2008 marks the bicentennial of two important events in the history of slavery and freedom in the Atlantic World: the official end of the overseas slave trade in the United States (following the passage of statutes in the U.S. and Great Britain the previous year) and the maturation of Pennsylvania's gradual abolition law -- the world's first emancipation statute. These two events offer an exciting opportunity for reflection on the broader theme of black freedom struggles in the Atlantic world during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

Source: Folded plate in Carl Bernhard Wadstrom's An Essay on Colonization: Particularly Applied to the Western Coast of Africa, with Some Free Thoughts on Cultivation and Commerce; also Brief Descriptions of the Colonies already Formed, or Attempted, in Africa, Including those of Sierra Leone and Bulama (London: Printed for the author, by Darton and Harvey, Gracechurch-Street. And sold by G. Nicol, No. 58, Pall-Mall; W. Faden, corner of St. Martin's Lane, Strand; J. Stockdale, No. 191, Piccadilly; J. Edwards, No. 78, Pall-Mall; E. [sic] & J. Egerton, No. 32, Charing-Cross; J. Debrett, No. 179, Piccadilly; J. Johnson, No. 72, St. Paul's Church-Yard; and C. Dilly, No. 22, Poultry, MDCCXCIV [1794-1795]).This major international conference will bring together scholars of slavery and abolition for extended discussion of a range of themes relating to black freedom movements in both the United States and atlantic world. Steven Hahn, Pulitzer Prize winning author of A Nation Under Our Feet, will serve as the conference's keynote speaker. Plenary sessions feature Richard Blackett, Laurent Dubois, Gary Nash, Cassandra Pybus, Sue Peabody, and Manisha Sinha.

The conference will also bring together forty scholars for panel discussion of pre-circulated papers. Among many other issues, conference participants will examine maroonage, emancipation and rebellion; the meaning of the Haitian Revolution in Atlantic World politics and society; war and emancipation in different national and imperial contexts; the prospect and peril of interracial activism in and beyond the United States; black emigration movements and the migrations of people of color to different locales in the Atlantic basin; legal cultures in pre- and post-emancipation societies; the gendered meanings of emancipation; the politics of emancipation through time and space; and the technologies of freedom (including printed discourse) throughout the Atlantic world.

A Library Company exhibition, "Black Founders: The Free Black Community in the Early Republic," will accompany the conference. In addition, selected conference essays will be published in a volume appearing in the University of Georgia Press series entitled "Race in the Atlantic World, 1700-1900."


Program Committee

Richard S. Newman,
Rochester Institute of Technology;
Joanne Melish,
University of Kentucky;
Christopher L. Brown,
Columbia University;
Daniel K. Richter,
the University of Pennsylvania;
John C. Van Horne,
The Library Company of Philadelphia.

Contact Information

For more information, please contact or:

Atlantic Emancipations
McNeil Center for Early American Studies
University of Pennsylvania
3355 Woodland Walk
Philadelphia, PA 19104-4531

Above: Plan and sections of a slave-ship ; Representation of an insurrection on board a slave-ship. Click Here for full description.

Above left:Title page vignette in James Field Stanfield's Observations on a Guinea Voyage (London: Printed by James Phillips, George-Yard, Lombard-Street, 1788). Click Here for full description.