Which Antebellum Abolitionist Are You?

As millions of Americans #resist, many feel moved to compare themselves to 19th-century abolitionists. Curious to find out your abolitionist personality? Tag yourself!

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: You feel for marginalized people. Truly, you do. In fact, you sometimes sit before your cozy fireplace all night, feeling bad about all the badness suffered by people you never met (and don’t want to meet). You give small amounts of money to GoFundMe accounts that cross your feed, and slightly larger donations to organizations that will help those people do whatever it is that they are doing. You might even include some #resistance themes in your own work, though they will be so subtle that no one will notice. Mostly, you just wish that everyone would be nice to one another so that you can go back to loving the America you created in your own imagination.

Angelina Grimké: You grew up in a family of proud Deplorables. Now you’re woke af. You write a lot of Medium posts. Your radical reading of the Bible means that your activism is inextricable from your Christianity. People who think all religion is a fraud nevertheless make your words go viral. You married someone who supports your activism. If you won the lottery, you would definitely found your own utopian community. You don’t go home for Thanksgiving.

William Lloyd Garrison: You have Opinions! Everyone must hear them! You will speak truth to the ignorant masses! Sometimes you even retweet actual marginalized people! As long as they do not challenge your worldview in any fundamental way! You know (and goddammit, you’re right) that you will get an outsized amount of credit for any success! Being loud is helpful! To a point! Maybe listen once in a while!

Frederick Douglass: You are the most patient person in the world. You have to be, to keep on working with these white people. Years ago, you thought they were your friends. It’s true that they helped you during a difficult time. But they didn’t like it when you started speaking your own mind. How dare you challenge their framing? Now you’re writing what you want, trying to speak to your own people, puzzled by the way powerful people and institutions want to honor you without actually listening to what you’re saying. Sometimes, you fantasize about smashing your laptop and buying an AK-47 instead. But no. You can influence people in high places. They may listen to you. You’re no optimist, but deep down, you do believe that you can change the world for the better (in small, non-linear increments) by speaking truth, writing truth, spreading truth.

John Brown: You will die for the resistance. Nay, you will ascend in a flame of glory, a veritable meteor, the burning herald! You are a sovereign citizen of God’s own republic. You obey only the highest laws, known to all those who seek Truth and Justice. You may be captured, you may be arrested, you may even be killed, but years, centuries hence, thousands will march in the streets singing your name. You’re not going to stick around for a lot of the nitty-gritty; others will do the hard work. You will inspire.

Harriet Beecher Stowe: Wouldn’t it be great if we could just #resist by changing our own hearts? I mean, not by actually valuing or centering marginalized people, but by organizing our own homes and lives around an ethic of #caring? You have 17,849 Instagram posts elaborating on this approach.

Harriet Tubman: You are here to liberate your people, whatever the cost. You aren’t looking for unnecessary trouble, but you’re packing heat just in case. I guess you’d write more and speak more, but you’re kind of busy with these liberation raids, KWIM? Maybe in a few decades. Right now, you’ve got a cellar full of undocumented people who need your help to reach safety. If “allies” really wanted to help, they could stop asking you for selfies and just buy some emergency supplies off your Amazon list.

Walt Whitman: Your heart is in the right place, but you don’t really have much of a plan. Your brother in the resistance got hurt, so you went to visit him and holy shit! There are a lot of hurting people out there! You will spend your last dollar to buy them oranges and magazines, but you kind of have to trip over them first. Like, you’ll do anything to help the person in front of you. But, maybe, you could think about whether that’s the best use of your time and talents? One thing, while I have your attention — declaring that you yourself embody all Americans and speak for all Americans is . . . problematic. Stick to writing about your own experiences — you’re actually pretty good, when you’re not, you know, appropriating.

Sojourner Truth: Your existence is resistance. Your politics are intersectional. Your fight started the day you were born and will last long after the current crisis has passed. Everyone who hears you speak is changed forever. You reward your Patreon patrons with exclusive selfies.

Harvard University: You have money, power, and a stated commitment to bettering the human condition. You could help the resistance a lot — if you actually wanted to. Instead, you hold back, trying to maintain cordial relationships with “both sides” while the world burns around you. After all, you believe in objectivity, rationality, and maturity. And when all this unpleasant squabbling is over, you can always use your $$$ to build a giant monument to yourself rather than using it to help anyone. Just be sure to leave your Confederate alumni off the memorial — it would raise embarrassing questions.

Crecy Stepto: You don’t know what white people are fighting about now, and you don’t much care. All you know is that you can probably make a break for it while they’re distracted. You get your daughter, your bundle of clothes, and GTFO. Your enslavers sold your husband years ago; he’s out there somewhere. You say a prayer that you might be able to find him, but, if you don’t, that it’s because he’s died fighting for the cause.

Charles Turner Torrey:You will not kill for the resistance, but you will die for it. You’re no Harriet Tubman (bless her name), but you can’t just sit around reading about the importance of resisting. Direct action, that’s the ticket. It’s ok if no one remembers you. Fame isn’t the point. In fact, no one even really knows what you look like, and that’s ok. The point is, you delivered hundreds of people to safety. That’s what matters. You’re gonna die alone in a jail cell, with nothing but the flame of righteousness to keep you warm. Solidarity.

Louis Agassiz: You don’t agree with the Deplorables. Not really. You’re much too well-credentialed for that But why do all these marginalized people have to be so . . . different? It’s not that you have anything against them, you just wish they’d remove themselves from your general vicinity. Wait! You’re really uncomfortable around them, which must mean that there’s something wrong with them! Maybe they’re, like, a different species. Better go write a scholarly tome to advance your TERF I mean polygenecist ideas.

Mary Bowser: You smile, you nod. You deliver tea to the Head Deplorable, and none of it is even poisoned, you swear! All day, you keep your eyes and ears open as generals, politicians, and businessmen come and go. They don’t even see you there, serving their food, cleaning up after them. At night, you pass crucial information to the resistance. You hope the intelligence is worth it, because this job is killing your soul.

Abraham Lincoln: You weren’t always the wokest activist on the block. In fact, you used to wish that these problems would all just go away. But you know now that that’s impossible, and you’re ready to get down to the hard work of change. Not pie-in-the-sky change, but real, achievable, pragmatic progress, nonetheless. You listen. You watch. You evolve. You use your position and your power to help. It’s never good enough for some people, but that’s ok. In fact, you appreciate the vanguard for pushing you in your own activism. You’re too cognizant of your own flaws to tag yourself here, but others will tag you once they realize what they’ve lost.