The differences between Frederick Douglass and Martin Delany have
historically been reduced to a simple binary pronouncement:
assimilationist versus separatist. Now Robert S. Levine restores
the relationship of these two important nineteenth-century African
American writers to its original complexity. He explores their
debates over issues like abolitionism, emigration, and nationalism,
illuminating each man's influence on the other's political vision.
He also examines Delany and Douglass's debates in relation to their
own writings and to the work of Harriet Beecher Stowe. Though each
saw himself as the single best representative of his race, Douglass
has been accorded that role by history--while Delany, according to
Levine, has suffered a fate typical of the black separatist:
marginalization. In restoring Delany to his place in literary and
cultural history, Levine makes possible a fuller understanding of
the politics of antebellum African American leadership.