Time for Conjuring, Time for Communism: Guinea” Sam Nightingale and Karl Marx in Civil War Missouri

Saturday, January 7, 2017: 9:10 AM
Room 601 (Colorado Convention Center)
Andrew Zimmerman, George Washington University
This talk focuses on a conjuror, "Guinea" Sam Nightingale, said to have been shot by cannon directly from Africa to Boonville, Missouri sometime in the 1850s. In Missouri, his political and intellectual life intersected with the revolutionary practices of German émigrés in ways that transformed the struggle against slavery in the United States, as well as subsequent international communism. Through Nightingale’s life and work, we can learn about the important role played in the American Civil War by two international revolutionary movements: the conjuring power of African American root doctors and the communism of German political exiles. Both conjure and communism, moreover, put forward a model of revolutionary change that differs sharply from the narratives of gradual national progress characteristic of liberalism, as well as much of the discipline of academic history.