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Chapter 4 takes a more panoramic view of the place of the popular politician in the broader culture of consumerism and celebrity which had been developing since the second half of the eighteenth century. It looks at the range of media by which popular politicians’ names and reputations were spread, including visual images and material objects. The chapter argues that such objects helped to connect popular politicians with simplified political narratives which became a central part of their public image. The second half of the chapter uses the anti-slavery movement as a case study of how engagement with this commercialised culture shaped the movement in the 1840s and 1850s, focusing on the careers of African-American abolitionists such as Frederick Douglass, Moses Roper and Henry ‘Box’ Brown, as well as the abolitionist author Harriet Beecher Stowe.

Celebrities, heroes and champions

Popular politicians in the age of reform, 1810–67


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