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Amistad © 2009 The Abolitionist Movement Start
Amistad © 2009 Background 1829-1850 was when the Abolitionist Movement in the United States achieved its greatest influence. Abolitionists sought to end slavery through non-violent means by utilizing persuasion of the public and by electing anti-slavery candidates to public office. Although the abolitionists did not succeed in carrying out their program, they forced slavery into the forefront of American political debate. Without the abolitionists, it is unlikely the Republican Party, which opposed slavery in the territories, would have elected Abraham Lincoln president in 1860. End
Amistad © 2009 The Missouri Compromise In 1818 the Missouri territory applied for statehood as a slave state. At the time there were eleven slave states and eleven free states, so the United States Senate was equally divided between slave and free states. One congressman asked, “How long will the desire for wealth render us blind to the sin of holding both the bodies and souls of our fellow men in chains?” However, the debate centered on the political advantage of either side’s winning a majority in the Senate. Kentucky Congressman Henry Clay arranged the Missouri Compromise in 1820, which allowed Missouri to become a slave state and Maine to become a free state. This preserved the balance of slave and free state representatives in the Senate. The Missouri Compromise also extended a line west from Missouri’s southern border that divided any future territories into slave or free areas, depending on whether they fell north or south of that line. End
Amistad © 2009 David Walker’s Appeal In 1829, David Walker, an escaped slave working in Boston, published An Appeal in Four Articles, attacking slavery as a moral evil and calling on Africans to fight back. Walker advocated violence in resisting slavery: “They want us for their slaves, and think nothing of murdering us... therefore, if there is an attempt made by us, kill or be killed... and believe this, that it is no more harm for you to kill a man who is trying to kill you, than it is for you to take a drink of water when thirsty." Walker argued Africans deserved to be seen as both human beings and Americans: “America is more our country than it is the whites – we have enriched it with our blood and tears.” The Appeal frightened Northern opponents of slavery as well as slave owners because it embraced violence. A few months after the Appeal’s publication, Walker was found dead in his shop. It was suspected he had been murdered. His writing, nonetheless, paved the way for the Abolitionist Movement. End David Walker’s Appeal
Amistad © 2009 The Liberator Partly spurred by David Walker, William Lloyd Garrison of Massachusetts began publishing an anti-slavery newspaper, The Liberator, in 1831. This is generally seen as the formal beginning of the Abolitionist Movement. A devout Christian, Garrison considered slavery a mortal sin with no economic or political justification. In 1833 he brought together Quakers, evangelical Christians opposed to slavery, and fellow abolitionists from New England to form the American Anti- Slavery Society. They pressed for an immediate end to slavery and the establishment of equal rights for free blacks. They differed from Walker, however, in refusing to advocate violence to end slavery. End William Lloyd Garrison
Amistad © 2009 American Anti-Slavery Society Arthur and Lewis Tappan, Lucretia Coffin Mott, Theodore Weld, Lydia Maria Child, James Forten, and Robert Purvis all became leaders of the American Anti- Slavery Society. Membership in this organization spread quickly throughout the Northern states. By 1838, the Society had 1,350 affiliates and 250,000 members. Society members gave speeches, sent abolitionist petitions to the United States Congress, and mailed abolitionist propaganda into the South. Two of the most prominent African- American speakers associated with the early Abolitionist Movement were Frederick Douglass and Henry Highland Garnet. End A program from the 29th anniversary of the AASS
Amistad © 2009 Frederick Douglass An escaped slave, Frederick Douglass used his talents as a writer and orator to bring attention to the issue of slavery. Although he accepted the abolitionist injunction against violence, his speeches to white audiences tended to be blunt. In Rochester, New York, on July 4, 1852, he asked, “Why am I called upon to speak here to- day? What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us?” Douglass published his own anti-slavery newspaper, North Star. During the Civil War he served as a special adviser to President Lincoln and fought for the adoption of Constitutional amendments that guaranteed voting rights and other civil liberties to African Americans. He also assisted in recruiting African Americans for the United States Army. End
Amistad © 2009 Henry Highland Garnet Henry Highland Garnet escaped from slavery in Maryland and later graduated from Oneida Institute. A minister, Garnet became interested in the Abolition Movement and the Temperance Movement. In 1843, frustrated with the lack of abolitionist progress and influenced by Walker’s Appeal, he broke ranks with the American Anti-Slavery Society. His “Address to the Slaves of the United States of America” called for “War to the Knife” to end slavery. Garnet said, “You had far better all die — die immediately, than live [like] slaves.” Garrison, Douglass, and other abolitionists disowned Garnet; but he remained a powerful voice for active resistance to slavery. During the Civil War Garnet helped to recruit black troops; and in Washington, D.C., he established a school for the children of escaped slaves. End
Amistad © 2009 The Underground Railroad While abolitionists did not advocate violence, they did support the Underground Railroad, which helped fugitive slaves to escape to the North and to Canada. Slave owners could not stamp out the Underground Railroad because it was not an organization run by a single person or a group. It was a loose, cooperative network of individuals who worked together for a common goal. Between 1840-1860 an estimated 20,000 slaves escaped via this network. Code words helped the slaves to understand the process and kept the Underground Railroad secret. guides were “conductors” escaped slaves were “cargo” routes were “tracks” safe houses were “stations” One of the most prominent “conductors” was Harriet Tubman, who led hundreds of slaves to freedom. Map of the Underground Railroad routes End
Amistad © 2009 Uncle Tom’s Cabin Harriet Beecher Stowe, sister of abolitionist Henry Ward Beecher, published Uncle Tom’s Cabin in 1852. An entertaining novel that condemned slavery, Uncle Tom’s Cabin sold more than 300,000 copies in the United States and helped to energize resistance to slavery. Images of the evil slave owner Simon Legree and the innocent Eliza as she attempted to escape over an ice-filled river made slavery seem real to a generation of American readers. A legend even developed that Abraham Lincoln greeted Harriet Beecher Stowe in 1862 with the words, “So you’re the little woman who wrote the book that started this Great War!” End
Amistad © 2009 Violence Leading to the Civil War By the 1850s abolition lost ground to anti- slavery advocates who believed, as did Walker and Garnet, that a war would be necessary to end slavery. John Brown, who led his sons and other followers to murder slave-owners in Kansas, believed God had given him a mission to end slavery. In 1859 Brown organized a raid on the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia. Like Gabriel Prosser he intended to steal weapons and to spark a massive slave uprising. Brown’s plans, however, were unrealistic; and the government quickly suppressed this insurrection. Arrested and later executed, Brown became a folk hero for anti-slavery advocates. End John Brown
Amistad © 2009 The Civil War Many, if not most, Americans in the North saw the Civil War as being fought to keep the Union together rather than to end slavery. Several slave states, including Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri, remained loyal to the Union; President Lincoln needed their support for the war effort. As a result, Lincoln moved slowly on slavery, stopping several of his generals who attempted to free slaves who fell under their control in 1861-1862. At the same time, however, he encouraged Congress to pass laws declaring the slaves of owners in rebellion against the Union to be “contraband of war” and subject to seizure by the government. Lincoln also felt he needed to wait for a Union battlefield victory before moving against slavery so he would be seen as acting from strength, not desperation. End
Amistad © 2009 Emancipation Proclamation Following the Union victory at the Battle of Antietam in September 1862, Lincoln wrote the Emancipation Proclamation, which was to take effect in January 1863 if the war were not ended. Lincoln presented the Proclamation as a means to undermine the Southern war effort by threatening the existence of slavery instead of a statement of abolitionist principles. In order to maintain Union support in the border states, the Emancipation Proclamation only freed slaves in those states in active rebellion. Many slaves had to wait for freedom until the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865. Nonetheless, the Emancipation Proclamation had major effects on the war. European nations that had already abolished slavery became more friendly to the United States. The Proclamation also made it possible to recruit African- American soldiers. The Emancipation Proclamation changed the Civil War into a war for human freedom. This had always been the abolitionists’ dream. End
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