Dr. Ernest Freeberg (PhD, 1995), Professor and Department Head in the History Department at the University of Tennessee Knoxville, recently published A Traitor to His Species: Henry Bergh and the Birth of the Animal Rights Movement with Basic Books. Freeberg has authored three award-winning books. Read a summary of his newest below.
In Gilded Age America, people and animals lived cheek-by-jowl in streets that were dirty and dangerous to man and beast alike. As more people squeezed into crowded cities, their need for animals only grew—for energy and food, companionship and entertainment. At the same time, animals came to be associated with filth and disease and were often subject to cruel treatment and the worst abuses of human exploitation. The industrial city brought suffering, but it also inspired a compassion for animals that fueled a controversial anti-cruelty movement.
In A TRAITOR TO HIS SPECIES: Henry Bergh and the Birth of the Animal Rights Movement (Basic Books; September 22, 2020), award-winning historian Ernest Freeberg tells the fascinating story of the eccentric aristocrat who launched a then-shocking campaign to bring rights to animals. In 1866, Henry Bergh founded New York’s American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the nation’s first animal welfare organization, and successfully promoted an anticruelty law that paved the way for similar legislation across the country. Bergh and his corps of badge-wielding agents staged dramatic arrests and put abusers on trial, provoking public debate about our obligation to other species.