GRE Reading Comprehension: JiJing 352-GRE阅读机经352篇 - T5W9LQ5Y75E44WLCK

In his recent book, Louis Gerteis argues that nineteenth-century Northern reformers in the United States attacked slavery in the South by invoking the values of a utilitarian political economy: proper public policy requires government to endorse anything that gives all people the opportunity to maximize their individual pleasure and their material gain. Social good, according to this thinking, is achieved when individuals are free to pursue their self-interests. Gerteis argues that, since slavery in the South precluded individual autonomy and the free pursuit of material gain, major Northern reformers opposed it as early as the 1830s. In making this argument, Gerteis offers the most persuasive formulation to date of the Growth of a Dissenting Minority interpretation, which argues that a slow but steady evolution of abroad-based Northern antislavery coalition culminated in the presidential victory of the antislavery Lincoln in 1860. This interpretive framework, which once dominated antislavery historiography, had been discounted by historians for two basic reasons. First, it tended to homogenize the political diversity of Northern reformers; Northern reformers differed significantly among themselves and belonged to diverse political parties. Second, it seemed incompatible with emerging scholarship on the slaveholding Sourth, which held that Northern abolitionists of the 1830s did not succeed in mobilizing Northern public opinion and paving the way for Lincoln in 1860. Instead, Southern slaveholders misconstrued abolitionist views of the 1830s as mainstream rather than marginal Northern public opinion, and castigated Northerners generally for opposing slavery. In this view, it was the castigation by Southerners that gradually caused widespread antislavery feeling throughout the North. Gerteis revives the Growth interpretation by asserting that, rather than Southern attitudes, the unified commitment of Northern reformers to utilitarian values served to galvanize popular political support for abolitionism. However, unlike earlier proponents of the Growth interpretation, Gerteis does not reduce the Northern reformers to a homogeneous group or try to argue that the reformers' shared views undermined their differing party loyalties. Members of the two major political parties still attacked each other for ideological differences. Nevertheless, Gerteis argues, these disparate party affiliations did not diminish the actuality of reformer unity, most prominent in the 1830s. At this time, Northern reformers, such as William Lloyd Garrison and Samuel Chase, portrayed the framers of the United States Constitution as proponents of individual autonomy and capitalist values. This vision of the founders served as a basis for asserting that freedom was a national moral imperative, and that the United Sates Constitution was an antislavery document. Gerteis differs from traditional adherents of the Growth framework by asserting that the basic elements in the antislavery coalition were firmly in place and accepted by all elements in the Northern reform community as early as the late 1830s.