Document Type



Fall 1986


Syracuse University Special Collections, antislavery, abolition, Gerrit Smith, Beriah Green




American Studies | History | United States History


The Gerrit Smith Papers in the manuscript collections of the George Arents Research Library at Syracuse University are an indispensable resource for scholars interested in American social reform. Given to the University in 1928 by Gerrit Smith Miller, a grandson, the col

lection reveals that the abolition of slavery dominated the Madison County philanthropist's reform interests from the mid-1830s to the Civil War. Of Gerrit Smith's numerous antislavery correspondents, including such prominent reformers as William Lloyd Garrison, Wendell Phillips, and Theodore Dwight Weld, none maintained a more regular and extensive epistolary relationship than Beriah Green, upstate New York's most radical and complex abolitionist. The Syracuse University collection contains 206 letters from Green to Smith, dated from 1834 through 1872. Smith's outgoing correspondence, partially recorded in two letter copybooks, is less extensive and therefore less helpful in revealing the dynamics of the Smith-Green relationship. Fortunately, Green's letters to Smith frequently make reference to Smith's missing correspondence. An examination of these letters, supplemented by other primary sources, makes possible an interesting case study of the partnership formed by two of upstate New York's most important antislavery crusaders.


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