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New Book Examines Sex and Politics in Antebellum America


       On the eve of the Civil War, America was in the midst of a social revolution. For the first time in history, gender roles were at the forefront of politics. It was a radical shift in political thinking that would change the face of American government forever.

      Chelmsford resident and UMass Lowell Prof. of History Michael Pierson examines these landmark ideologies in his new book, Free Hearts and Free Homes: Gender and American Antislavery Politics.

      "In 1840, Republican and Anti-Slavery parties were pushing for progress, endorsing women's rights," explains Pierson. "Democrats were fighting to preserve a patriarchal world and a country under male rule."

      According to Dr. Julie Roy Jeffrey, prof. of History at Goucher College, Pierson's book smashes the notion that politics is merely party candidates and legislative issues.

      "This book will appeal to anyone interested in antebellum America as well as those who are seeking new ways of thinking about politics and party loyalty."

      Pierson sees his book as having a clear relevance to today's society, despite being set more than 160 years ago.

      "During this era, we saw the feminist movement begin to take root," says Pierson. "Yet two centuries later, we're still dealing with these very same issues."

      Published by the University of North Carolina Press, Free Hearts and Free Homes: Gender and American Antislavery Politics was released this past summer and is available on

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