Rumors Among Slaves in Alabama – 1840

Perry County, Alabama
December 24, 1840

There has been considerable excitement in this State, in reference to disturbances among the black population. The impression is general among them that they are to be free, either after Christmas, or the 4th of March, at farthest.  Great numbers have been examined, but it is evident there is no organization among them—no concerted plans. Some say one thing, some another. One fellow testifies that Van Buren is in the region of Mongomery with 200,000 men to effect their deliverance. Another says, Queen Victoria is coming to Alabama with a British army to deliver them! So you see it is all “moonshine.”

Any “moonshine” report about “disturbances among the black population,” throws the Southern states into an agony of excitement and fear. The truth is, our slave-holding brethren are conscious of guilt in constraining the rights of their fellow men. They have but one principle of action in the case, and that is force, and they know that if ever any people were justified in appealing to it to win or to preserve their own liberty, the slaves of the South would be at this moment. The fear of just retribution (according to their own principles) is ever before their eyes.

National Anti-Slavery Standard was the official weekly newspaper of the American Anti-Slavery Society, an abolitionist society founded in 1833 by William Lloyd Garrison and Arthur Tappan to spread their movement across the nation with printed materials. Frederick Douglass was a key leader of this society and often addressed meetings at its New York City headquarters.

Image Details: Abernathy House (circa 1824) slave quarters, Tuscumbia, Alabama

All images included in blog posts are from either Accessible Archives collections or out of copyright public sources unless otherwise noted. Common sources include the Library of Congress, The Flickr Commons, Wikimedia Commons, and other public archives.

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