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Opposition to Slavery (1800-1833) Abolitionism and Revolts
The Country in Turmoil The U.S. in the 1820’s had undergone several changes that impacted society greatly. Southern slaveholders began pushing into Texas and other Mexican territories. The Old Northwest developed into commercial farming. The Erie Canal and other new forms of transportation linked the nation. The factory system expanded and immigration rose. The rich began heavily influencing politics. All this led to Americans fearing change and looking for a scapegoat.
Political Paranoia The “corrupt bargain,” which cheated Jackson out of the presidency in 1825, led to the formation of the Democratic party and the election of Jackson as president in 1829. Democrats: 1) Favored states rights and protected slavery. 2) Sought to permanently establish slavery as an institution that could not be abolished. 3) Supported the expansion of slavery into new regions. 4) Demanded the removal of Indians. 5)Supported patriarchy (exclusion of women). 6) Believed God & nature had designed blacks for slavery. Whigs became the party that countered these ideals. They were conservatives that valued Christian morality and believed in an active National government. Northern Whigs in particular, being influenced by Evangelican values, supported the rights of blacks and Native Americans.
The Second Great Awakening The Second Great Awakening was a reformist movement in the early 1800’s, and was a religious movement to establish moral order in a turbulent America. This movement particularly shaped the black churches and led to Jones and Allen creating separate churches along with others. Charles Grandison Finney preached that ALL men and women could become faithful Christians and be saved. This movement took a particularly different shape amongst the Evangelicals.
The Benevolent Empire • The Evangelical movements during the Second Great Awakening emphasized a “practical Christianity,” and pushed for action. • They believed you had to save others to really be saved, and that their job was to fight sin and save souls. • This led to the rise of voluntary associations such as temperance movements, prison reform, health and education reform, women’s rights, and self-improvement societies. • Out of this movement, Abolitionism became a focal point.
Abolitionism Begins in America Two movements began during the Revolutionary Era and lasted up into the Civil War era; 1) Southern: led by slaves and freed blacks. 2) Northern: led by whites and freed blacks. The Northern abolitionism was dominated by Quakers in particular, but the revolutionary ideals of the revolutions in the U.S., France, and Haiti, caused more whites to join this movement. There were, however, limits to the Northern abolitionist cause: 1) Blacks and whites worked separately. 2) Abolitionism proceeded gradually to protect the rights of slaveholders. 3) White abolitionists did not advocate for equal rights. 4) Early abolitionists didn’t seek abolition in the south. The Second Great Awakening and Benevolent Empire, as well as the growth of black institutions led to a more biracial and wide-ranging antislavery movements.
From Gabriel to Denmark Vesey Rebellion in the south only tightened the restrictions on both free and enslaved blacks, as well as increased the fear and paranoia of southerners. In 1822, Denmark Vesey, a freed slaves, sought to begin a rebellion on the 33rd anniversary of the Storming of the Bastille. He was a devote Methodist that used religion and revolutionary ideals to plot the rebellion. Due to a change in date, and the information being leaked by a house servant, 131 suspects were arrested and Vesey with 34 others was hanged.
The American Colonization Society The American Colonization Society grew out of the fear and distrust of a free African American class. The ACS had a two-part agenda: 1) Gradual abolition in the U.S. 2) Send emancipated slaves and free blacks to Liberia. They hoped that slave owners would be more likely to emancipate slaves if they felt that this would not increase the free black population. The movement although popular, did not take into account the moral and practical objections that blacks would have to this idea.
Black Nationalism and Colonization Initially, black leaders saw the positive side of colonization. Prince Hall had originally argued for colonization, and Paul Cuffe became a champion for the ACS effort. The argument that appealed most to black leaders was the fact that white prejudice would never allow for black people to enjoy full citizenship, equal protection under the law, and economic success in the U.S. African Americans also viewed colonization as an opportunity to bring Christianity to Africa. This was due to the belief in a Benevolent Empire. In 1815, Paul Cuffe took 34 free blacks to Sierra Leone, and later the AME Bishop Daniel Coker led 86 more colonists to this region in 1817. By 1838, 2,500 African American colonists had relocated to Sierra Leone, and by 1860 there were 10,000.
Black Opposition to Colonization The ACS and the idea of colonization became heavily criticized around the mid-1820’s. Samuel Cornish and John Russworm, publishers of the Freedom’s Journal in NY argued for independent black action against slavery through self-improvement, education, and other reforms. They also argued that the ACS was misleading and led to southern states requiring free blacks to leave or be enslaved. The biggest argument made by anti-colonization supporters was that blacks in the U.S. were Americans, not Africans. And they viewed the movement as more of a proslavery effort. “Do they think to drive us from our country and homes, after having enriched it with our blood and tears?” – David Walker
Black Abolitionist Women Women of this time period were extremely restricted, and found that churches and benevolent activities were the only area they could take action. Even here they were seen as secondary to men. Women such as Charlotte Forten and Maria W. Stewart worked to found the 2nd women’s antislavery society in Philadelphia in 1833. Salem, MA was the first society to be formed. In order to be a part of these female societies, the women had to be “respectable” members of society. Women in the lower or poorer class practiced a more practical form of abolition such as harboring slaves or saving money to purchase their families or their own freedom.
The Baltimore Alliance The larger black opponents to the ACS were William Watkins, Jacob Greener, and Hezekiah Grice in Baltimore. They worked with Benjamin Lundy on the anti-slavery newspaper The Genius of Universal Emancipation. These men influenced the young white abolitionist, William Llyod Garrison. He would become one of the most influential white abolitionists in history and go on to publish The Liberator. Garrison became increasingly radical and argued for the immediate, not gradual, emancipation of slaves. He was also convinced that the ACS was wrong in their presumptions of what African Americans needed.
David Walker’s Appeal • Walker furiously attacked slavery and advocated for the use of violence by slaves to gain their freedom. • The Appeal shaped abolitionism in 3 ways: • Shaped the tone of other abolitionist towards immediate emancipation. • Inspired militant black abolitionism. • Caused fear in the South which would later cause the Southern leaders to make demands that would lead to the Civil War.
Nat Turner In 1831, Nat Turner became the first African American slave to initiate a large-scale uprising since Deslondes had done so in Louisiana in 1811. He was a religious leader amongst the slaves in Northampton County, VA and began having visions that made him believe that God had intended for him to lead his people through violence. He led a band of 60-70 slaves on August 21, 1831 through the plantations, killing 57 men, women, and children. Turner and 17 others were hanged for insurrection and treason, and more than 100 other slaves throughout VA and NC were killed due to paranoia. The American society was horrified by these events, and this ultimately led to a commitment from abolitionists for a peaceful struggle against slavery. At the same time, Turner was admired by antislavery groups for his sacrifice.
Conclusions • Northern efforts towards anti-slavery were influenced by the Second Great Awakening and Benevolent Empire. • The black church, the Bible, and elements of the African religion helped inspire slave revolutionaries. • Each group inspired one another with their struggle, both violent and intellectual. • Abolitionists focus turned to immediate and uncompensated emancipation. • HW: Actively Read Ch.9