The Columbiad: Slavery, Imperialism and the Founding Fathers’ 'State of Fantasy'
The essay focuses on the discussion of slavery and emancipation between Atlas—the Guardian Genius of Africa—and Hesper—the Genius of America—in Joel Barlow’s epic poem The Columbiad (1807). The text shares Atlas’ words and describes slavery as an uncivil practice contrasting with the democratic principles of the new country. Nonetheless, the poem supports Hesper’s conviction that Africans’ exploitation is an essential tool to establish an American imperialistic “state of fantasy.” The paper tries to investigate this ideological paradox: Atlas’s dream of the Africans’ emancipation was engrained in the principles themselves of the Declaration of Independence; at the same time, Atlas’s aspiration had to be domesticated, if not repressed, by a Republic which aspired to turn itself into an Empire.
EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste
Enrico Botta "The Columbiad: Slavery, Imperialism and the Founding Fathers’ 'State of Fantasy'" in: Leonardo Buonomo and Elisabetta Vezzosi (edited by) "Discourses of Emancipation and the Boundaries of Freedom. Selected Papers from the 22nd AISNA Biennial International Conference", EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste, 2015, pp.119-127