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Historic Reenactment of the Lane Slavery Debates of 1834

Top Scholars to Reenact Historic Antislavery Debate, May 30-31

Yale's Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition will join with the Beecher House Society and top scholars from around the country to present a historic reenactment of the Lane Slavery Debates of 1834. The two-day event, featuring nationally-noted scholars and authors, will be presented at the Torrington Campus of the University of Connecticut on Friday and Saturday, May 30th and 31st, from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

In February 1834, the students and some of the faculty of Cincinnati's Lane Theological Seminary held the first major public debates to address the question, "Ought the people of the Slaveholding States to abolish Slavery immediately?" After eighteen evenings, they concluded that slavery was a sin, and that the policy of the American Colonization Society to send blacks to Africa was also wrong. As a result of this conclusion, the students began antislavery organizing and outreach work among the black population of Cincinnati. The school's trustees ordered the students to stop these activities, prompting them to walk out. The "Lane Rebels," as they came to be known, accepted the invitation to join the fledgling Oberlin College, transforming it into an interracial institution committed to the emancipation and education of people of color.

Since there is no transcript of the original 1834 debates, the reenactment will assemble eighteen eminent scholars, in period costume, each representing one of the original Lane students, to present his or her argument and engage in character in an authentic, spontaneous discussion. Participants will include Oberlin President Nancy Schrom Dye, Slaves in the Family author Edward Ball, and scholars from around the country.

This is the first of four events the Beecher House Society and the Gilder Lehrman Center are co-sponsoring with the Cincinnati Museum Center, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and Oberlin College. Future debates will be held in Cincinnati, Oberlin, and Berkeley, California.