Unless otherwise indicated, all OI books are distributed by The University of North Carolina Press.

Standard-Bearers of Equality

America’s First Abolition Movement

Paul Polgar

Cloth: 978-1-4696-5393-8 ($39.95)

Copyright 2019
University of North Carolina Press

A Prize-Winning Book

  • Finalist, Harriet Tubman Book Prize, Lapidus Center for the Historical Analysis of Transatlantic Slavery (2020)


"This is the best book on the first wave of abolition in the early American Republic, period. Through meticulous research and careful analysis, Paul Polgar challenges long-standing generalizations and misreadings of what he calls 'first movement abolitionism.' A long-awaited and valuable reassessment of revolutionary abolitionism, this book will endure."

--Manisha Sinha, University of Connecticut

"Standard-Bearers of Equality recovers a decades-long struggle by black and white activists to overcome slavery and racial injustice in the age of the American Revolution and to enshrine a fuller sense of equality in American culture and politics. It makes a vital contribution to the history of the founding era and delivers a much-needed rebuke to dangerously ethnonationalist visions of American culture."

--James Sidbury

"Tying together scholarship on race, religion, and Revolutionary ideology, Paul Polgar maps out the ideologies, cross-racial alliances, transatlantic connections, and evolving strategies of small, committed groups of African Americans, Quakers, and fellow travelers who set out to rid the nation of slavery and racial prejudice in the early days of the Republic. In Polgar's hands, these activists emerge as surprisingly optimistic in the face of the forces arrayed against them, if also doggedly pragmatic, proving worthy precursors to the antebellum movement of William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass."

--Leigh Fought