“Freedom in Their Hands is a Deadly Poison”: Print Culture, Legal Movements, and Slaveholding Resistance on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, 1850-61

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The goal of this thesis is twofold: to explain the rise of slaveholding anxiety in relation to the growing free black question, as well as to articulate how slaveholders sought to regain their power. I argue that slaveholders on the Eastern Shore politically organized around ideas and concepts produced in newspapers. Slaveholders utilized new ideas about race and the law to organize, and call upon the General Assembly to enact tougher sanctions on free black mobility. Newspapers are not only a means by which to quote mine, but they are also living, breathing, cultural organisms. They both reflect slaveholding anxieties, as well as play into them. They both record local news events, as well as conspicuously pair those local stories with similar stories from other counties, states, and nations.