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Understanding the Complexity of Abolitionism and Anti-Slavery movements. Paradox:. Being Anti-Slavery did not necessarily make you a friend of the Slave. Americans opposed slavery for various reasons and used various methods in their opposition. Southerners Lamenting Slavery.

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Presentation Transcript
paradox
Paradox:
  • Being Anti-Slavery did not necessarily make you a friend of the Slave.
  • Americans opposed slavery for various reasons and used various methods in their opposition.
southerners lamenting slavery
Southerners Lamenting Slavery
  • In the early republic, even southerners questioned the future and morality of slavery (Like Washington)
  • Ideology of the revolution
  • Evangelical influence (Second Great Awakening) – blunted by 1820
  • Southern abolitionism dies out about 1830-1832. Virginia assembly meets to discuss prospect / Nat Turner’s rebellion.
abolition the political issue
Abolition the Political Issue
  • North vs. South in struggle for political mastery
  • “Political Abolitionism” – not so much opposed to slavery on moral grounds, but that the slave state voting bloc and 3/5’s Compromise puts South in driver’s seat.
  • Focused on stopping the spread of slavery.
  • Like “red state/blue state politics”
abolition politics as a labor issue
Abolition Politics as a Labor Issue
  • By 1840s, “Free Soil” movement emerges
  • White laboring classes (farmers, mechanics) who want to stop the spread of slavery
  • They don’t want to compete with unfree labor.
  • They don’t care about slavery where it already exists
the political threat posed by containing slavery
The political threat posed by containing slavery
  • The South feared abolition movements that threatened to stop the spread of slavery because such movements would inhibit the South’s ability to maintain a political parity with the North
  • In time, the South would become a political minority, and as such, subject to the whim of Northern will.
  • For the South to defend slavery politically, it HAD to expand.
the economic threat of containing slavery
The economic threat of containing slavery
  • Stopping slavery’s expansion eliminated (in theory) the market for future generations of slaves
abolition the moral issue
Abolition the Moral Issue
  • By far the most threatening because it challenges the persistence of slavery where it exists.
  • Far less common than “political abolitionism”
early moral abolition gradualism
Early Moral Abolition: Gradualism
  • Abolition within the conventions of a racist culture: Inability to see slaves as Americans.
  • Emphasis on resettlement, deportation
  • American Colonization Society
  • Liberia, “Monrovia”
  • Respect for southern property rights
  • Sensitive to racial attitudes of white Americans, North and South
  • Sensitive to preserving racial hierarchy
intellectual changes in the north perfectionism
Intellectual Changes in the North: “Perfectionism”
  • Transcendentalism and other “perfectionist” ideals take root, particularly in New England 1820s – 1830s
  • Belief in reform and “perfectability of mankind”
  • Temperance, anti-prostitution, and anti-slavery
  • Involvement of women in moral crusade
moral abolition immediatism
Moral Abolition: Immediatism
  • The rise of William Lloyd Garrison
  • Starts Liberator in 1831
  • Calls for the immediate end to slavery
  • Not only is slavery wrong, but slaveholders are immoral.
  • Enrages slaveholders
  • Enrages a lot of northerners too
  • A minority view for many years
garrison and southern conceptions of honor
Garrison and Southern Conceptions of Honor
  • Garrison made abolitionism a personal attack upon the honor of southerners by charging them with a unconscionable crime.
  • Undermines southern claims to honor and patriarchy
  • Immediatist abolition movement small but vocal.
  • Hardens defenses of slavery.
  • Encourages the development of pro-slavery rhetoric from southern intellectuals and clergy.
women and moral abolitionism
Women and Moral Abolitionism
  • As part of the antebellum period’s move toward moral improvement, women become involved in abolitionism.
  • Religious overtones
  • The fictional “Uncle Tom” character
  • The imperiling of white morality
northern women
Northern Women
  • Harriett Beecher Stowe and Uncle Tom’s Cabin
  • Representative of white northern women from elite backgrounds who take up the cause of abolition.
  • Both moral and emotional suasion
southern white women
Southern White Women
  • The Grimke Sisters of South Carolina
  • Become sought-after speakers
  • Credibility as beneficiaries of slave system
  • Focus: Slavery’s damage to white morality
the slave narrative
The Slave Narrative
  • Harriett Jacobs and Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
  • Shocking forcefulness
  • Narrative of sexual exploitation
imagery and abolitionism
Imagery and Abolitionism

Some images did not need to be fabricated:

Here an actual advertisement for the sale of slaves strikes most normal modern observers as inherently sinister.

imagery and the limits of white compassion tragic mulattas
Imagery and the limits of white compassion: “tragic mulattas”

Photograph of “nearly white” slave girl “auctioned” by Henry Ward Beecher to raise funds for abolitionist causes in Boston