Through a sustained analysis of Harriet Beecher Stowe's second antislavery novel, Dred (1856), this essay argues for the reevaluation of Stowe's political and moral priorities and values. Focusing on the novel's examination of interest, the essay shows how Stowe challenges one of the basic tenets of American liberalism, namely that interests erode, rather than sustain, communities. The novel puts forward this critique by exploring the dangers of enthusiasm, which Stowe associates variously with alcohol, excessive religious emotion, and intellectual individualism. Despite its bleak outlook, Dred advances a positive position, represented by Millie, an older black woman who devotes the end of her life to rescuing orphaned children from poverty. Millie's commitment to and defense of principles associated with republicanism establishes her moral and political excellence, particularly in comparison with the novel's male characters, but the essay concludes by considering the larger implications of replacing the idealized figure of the Republican Mother with a figure dubbed the Republican Mammy.
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Elizabeth Duquette; The Republican Mammy? Imagining Civic Engagement in Dred. American Literature 1 March 2008; 80 (1): 1–28. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00029831-2007-060
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