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| Curtis Hinsley, on: Growing up in an Abolitionist Household
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Curtis Hinsley, on: Growing up in an Abolitionist Household
Curtis Hinsley Q: What do you think growing up in an abolitionist household might have, what kind of seeds might that have planted, in Powell?

CH: Powell experienced the violent side of abolitionism, personally. He saw his father in science, as well as his own family and good friends, punished and persecuted, because of their beliefs, on the Illinois frontier and the Ohio frontier. He was not alone certainly in this. The 30 years before the Civil War were a time of radical abolitionism and reaction against radical abolitionism, radical defense of slavery, as a way of maintaining a racial difference or racial superiority, and economic system in the south. Powell, although later in his life, he did not ever express strongly what I would consider progressive attitudes toward racial issues, per se, where blacks were concerned. He certainly did where Indians were concerned. He did grow up in a time of, as I say, reform in American history that wasn't just racial reform, it was also temperance -- problems of drinking, problems of abandonment, of families -- reform in the institutions of the growing industrial society. I think that he was infused not only with beliefs that this could be a better country, but also with some experience of the price that individuals and families could pay, if they were very much out of line with the prevailing doctrines of their region.

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