But One Race: The Life of Robert Purvis

But One Race: The Life of Robert Purvis

State University of New York Press
January 2007
293 pages
Hardcover ISBN10: 0-7914-7007-5; ISBN13: 978-0-7914-7007-7
Paperback ISBN13: 978-0-7914-7008-4

Margaret Hope Bacon (1921-2011)

Biography of famous black abolitionist and voting rights advocate, Robert Purvis.

Born in South Carolina to a wealthy white father and mixed race mother, Robert Purvis (1810–1898) was one of the nineteenth century’s leading black abolitionists and orators. In this first biography of Purvis, Margaret Hope Bacon uses his eloquent and often fierce speeches to provide a glimpse into the life of a passionate and distinguished man, intimately involved with a wide range of major reform movements, including abolition, civil rights, Underground Railroad activism, women’s rights, Irish Home Rule, Native American rights, and prison reform. Citing his role in developing the Philadelphia Vigilant Committee, an all black organization that helped escaped slaves secure passage to the North, the New York Times described Purvis at the time of his death as the president of the Underground Railroad. Voicing his opposition to a decision by the state of Pennsylvania to disenfranchise black voters in 1838, Purvis declared “there is but one race, the human race.” But One Race is the dramatic story of one of the most important figures of his time.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Ancestral Chart of the Purvis Family
  • Introduction
  • 1. Of Southern Birth
  • 2. The City of Brotherly Love
  • 3. Present at the Beginning
  • 4. World Traveler
  • 5. “We are Not Intruders Here”
  • 6. To Aid the Fleeing Slave
  • 7. A Time of Loss
  • 8. Gentleman Farmer
  • 9. “This Wicked Law”
  • 10. “Are We Not Men?”
  • 11. “A Proud Day for the Colored Man”
  • 12. “Equality of Rights for All”
  • 13. The Freedmen’s Savings Bank
  • 14. “We are To the Manner Born”
  • 15. “His Magnificent Record”
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index

Read the first chapter here.

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