The Promethean personae of Byron’s antiheroes—including Byron’s own Promethean posture, which made him a transatlantic celebrity—proved enormously influential for Atlantic antislavery writing. Clinching the argument for a fully integrated historicization of the Romantic Age and the Age of Abolition, this chapter ventures both to read the fantastic ontology of a poem like Manfred in relation to nineteenth-century racial hierarchy and to account for explicit Byronic borrowings and stylizations in the work of Henry Highland Garnet, Harriet Beecher Stowe, the Brazilian abolitionist-poet Antônio Castro Alves, and others. In following the travel of Byron’s famous lines from Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage—“Hereditary bondsmen! Know ye not / Who would be free themselves must strike the blow?”—from the freedom struggle in modern Greece (in which Byron died) to the freedom struggle in plantation America and beyond, I trace the circuits—and important short-circuits—of nineteenth-century Atlantic radicalism.
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