Accessibility navigation

“Open jaws of this monster-tyranny”: abolitionism, resistance, and slave-hunting canines

Smith, B. L. (2022) “Open jaws of this monster-tyranny”: abolitionism, resistance, and slave-hunting canines. American Nineteenth Century History, 23 (1). pp. 61-92. ISSN 1743-7903

Text (Open Access) - Published Version
· Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.
· Please see our End User Agreement before downloading.


It is advisable to refer to the publisher's version if you intend to cite from this work. See Guidance on citing.

To link to this item DOI: 10.1080/14664658.2022.2077611


This article focuses on the weaponization of canines by enslavers in the antebellum American South and the manner in which abolitionists used reports of canine attacks in their fight against slavery. Using descriptions and images of canine attacks to demonstrate the brutality of the slave system, abolitionists mobilized and swayed public opinion by appealing to audiences' familial empathy, religious ethos, and shared sense of physical pain. Following the slave-hunting canine trope as it evolved to reflect the changing socio-political and cultural developments of the mid-nineteenth century, this article views the Compromise of 1850 as an inflection point, after which enslaved persons were no longer depicted as victims being attacked by dogs, but rather, as empowered survivors defending themselves and their families against the canines.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Humanities > History
ID Code:105552
Uncontrolled Keywords:History
Publisher:Informa UK Limited


Downloads per month over past year

University Staff: Request a correction | Centaur Editors: Update this record

Page navigation