• "Almost Eliza": Genre, Racialization, and Reading Mary King as the Mixed-Race Heroine of William G. Allen's The American Prejudice Against Color

    Brigitte Fielder (see profile)
    Slavery, Race
    Item Type:
    The American Prejudice Against Color, Uncle Tom's Cabin, Interracial Marriage, William Allen, Mary King, Abolition, Genre
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    “In 1853, Mary King, the white daughter of abolitionists, was engaged to marry William G. Allen, the “Coloured Professor” of New York Central College at McGrawville.1 The engagement stirred their upstate New York community into a popular controversy, inciting letters of family disapproval, newspaper commentary, and mob violence leading to their forced, though temporary, separation. Alongside his personal account of their engagement and marriage, in The American Prejudice Against Color: An Authentic Narrative, Showing How Easily the Nation Got into an Uproar (1853), Allen also reprinted various letters and newspaper articles both in support of and in opposition to his and King’s marriage. This array of accounts show how Mary King’s white womanhood becomes a function of genre: in the various stories of her relation to Allen, King’s race and sexuality are constructed according to the practices of reading her as either the white damsel of the captivity narrative or the mixed-race heroine of abolitionist fiction….The writing and rewriting of the Allen-King relationship demonstrates how the racialization of characters within specific literary genres structures how living people are “read” according to similar processes of racialization.”
    Published as:
    Journal article    
    Last Updated:
    6 years ago
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