Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Ousmane Traoré

Reader 2

Daniel Livesay

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White missionaries shaped the development of social relations and the political economies of post-emancipation Anglo-American societies. They imbued their destinations with a particular logic of freedom, stemming from a shared language of evangelicalism, liberalism, and white supremacy. For missionaries in Sierra Leone, Jamaica, and the United States, freedom meant the ability to engage in Christian worship and market relations. Freedom from Christianity or freedom from the market, however, did not factor into the missionary idea of what freedom entailed. In the face of conflict with formerly enslaved people and a hostile planter class, missionaries ultimately abandoned egalitarian and optimistic visions of emancipation, shifting instead towards racial hierarchy and laissez-faire economics. This shift helps explain why the end of slavery ultimately took such a constrained form—why it gave rise to a form of racial caste embedded in capitalism in lieu of a new form of racial egalitarianism across the globe.