Seeking the One Great Remedy
Francis George Shaw and Nineteenth-Century Reform

By Lorien Foote

“Brings not only Shaw to life, but also the history of New England business and kinship networks, the world of antebellum reformers,… the history of black soldiers during the Civil War, and the drive for social justice in the Reconstruction era”

Joan Waugh, author of Unsentimental Reformer: The Life of Josephine Shaw Lowelle

A radical abolitionist and early feminist, Francis George Shaw (1809–1882) was a prominent figure in American reform and intellectual circles for five decades. He rejected capitalism in favor of a popular utopian socialist movement; during the Civil War and Reconstruction, he applied his radical principles to the Northern war effort and to freedmen's organizations.

A partnership with Henry George in the late 1870s provided an international audience for Shaw's alternative vision of society. Seeking the One Great Remedy is the biography of this remarkable and influential man. In compelling detail, author Lorien Foote depicts the many aspects and exploits of the Shaw family. Their activities provide a perspective on the course of American reform that calls into question previous interpretations of the reform movement of this period.

Francis George Shaw is perhaps best known as the father of Robert Gould Shaw, subject of the movie Glory. Francis and his wife, Sarah Blake Shaw, achieved considerable notoriety for their activities, including their effort to shape public opinion during the Civil War. Turning the tragic death of their son into a public relations and propaganda triumph, they altered Northern opinion about the war and shaped a historical perception of the famous Massachusetts Fifty-fourth that continues today.

Seeking the One Great Remedy argues that social radicalism was pervasive among elite reformers before and after the Civil War and finds in the dramatic story of Francis George Shaw a model of that cause.

An assistant professor of history at the University of Central Arkansas, Lorien Foote teaches courses on the Civil War and Reconstruction, nineteenth-century American history, and American military history.

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Related Subjects

History · American History · Literary Studies · Biography · American Civil War · 19th century



Retail price: $49.95, S.
Release date: Oct. 2003
248 pages · 6 × 9 in.
Rights: World