The Second Lane Debate: Voices from the Wilderness Surge Across the Nation

Stumpf, Erik
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In February and March 1834, students at the Lane Seminary in Cincinnati, Ohio held a series of debates over eighteen days that resulted in virtually the entire student body adopting the belief that the people of the southern United States needed to emancipate their slaves immediately. This thesis traced the next step for the young Lane abolitionists, one in which they put their new beliefs into action. This next step, termed by the author as the Second Lane Debates, took the local events into the forum of the national print media. The Second Lane Debates became a powerful forum for discussion of immediate emancipation through the means of moral suasion. The abolitionist press proved a willing partner in the Second Lane Debates by providing the Lane students with space in their papers as a pulpit to proclaim their views while simultaneously providing an example of people, several of whom owned slaves prior to the debates on campus, who converted to immediate emancipation through moral suasion.

By examining the print media discussion, the first two chapters of this thesis demonstrated the common ground of the abolitionists with those who did not espouse abolitionist ideas in terms of their backgrounds, their theology, their belief in the humanity of slaves as well as the need for those slaves to be free. The third chapter examined the debate that shook the Lane Seminary to its core by looking at the print media debate between colonizationists and abolitionists. This chapter showed the deep divide that the slavery issue created among even like-minded Americans as far back as 1834.

abolition, antebellum reform, Henry Stanton, Lane Debates, Lane Seminary, print media