Kevin Vrevich is a PhD candidate specializing in the history of the United States to 1877. His dissertation, tentatively entitled “Rhode Island and the Democratization of New England Abolitionism, 1760-1840,” investigates the origins and evolution of abolitionism in Providence, Rhode Island and its surrounding communities in Massachusetts and Connecticut. It is the first history to track American abolitionism in a single locality from its beginnings within the Quaker community before the American Revolution through the emergence and peak of antebellum, immediate abolition in the 1830s. It offers conclusive insights as to how the antislavery of the 1790s influenced that of the 1830s, how much the two eras were connected, the influence of industrialization and urbanization on membership and antislavery activism, the work of women to radicalize American abolitionism, and how abolitionism developed in New England to make the region the center of abolitionist activity by the 1830s. Rhode Island offers an ideal place to examine these questions as it served as a center for the American slave trade, the American Industrial Revolution, New England Quakerism, antislavery in early republican New England, and as an early focus for abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison given his in-laws connections to the greater Rhode Island anti-slavery network.
Vrevich is also the author of “Mr. Ely’s Amendment: Massachusetts Federalists and the Politicization of Slave Representation,” (American Nineteenth Century History, 2018). The article traces Massachusetts Federalists’ efforts to construct their party around opposition to the three-fifths compromise. Their repeated attempts to pass a constitutional amendment eliminating the three-fifths clause, though unsuccessful, connected the idea of slave representation with Southern domination in New England politics in the antebellum era.