Tag Archives: abolitionists
Liberatorog

A Moment in the Decades Long Battle Against American Slavery

When looking back at important social justice movements, it is very easy to lose sight of the duration of the movement.  Our eyes jump to key events like the passage of the 14th and 19th amendments ending slaving and guaranteeing women the right to vote, or passage of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938 that put largely ended mass child labor in the United States, and we sometimes forget that each of those key moments were the result of generations long efforts by people standing up to injustice and cruelty.

Women were fighting for voting rights before the Civil War ended in 1865, but a federal guarantee of that right did not come to pass until 55 years later in 1920.  There were people speaking out against the institution of slavery in the American colonies before the Revolutionary War. (See Timeline of Events Relating to the End of Slavery)

This meeting report on resolutions passed by the West Newbury Anti-Slavery Society  was printed in the September 24, 1841 issue of The Liberator. I was over 24 more years before the United States banned slavery with the ratification of the 13th Amendment on December 6, 1865.

One thing we can take from this is the knowledge that while change rarely happens quickly, it does happen if the people confronting injustice do not give up hope and never stop fighting.

William Lloyd Garrison’s The Liberator was a weekly abolitionist newspaper published in Boston. The paper held true to the founder’s ideals. Garrison was a journalistic crusader who advocated the immediate emancipation of all slaves and gained a national reputation for being one of the most radical of American abolitionists.

WEST NEWBURY, Sept. 6, 1841.

Brother. Garrison:

Agreeably to a vote passed at the annual meeting of the West Newbury Anti-Slavery Society, the following preamble and resolutions, offered by A.P. Jaques, at the last quarterly meeting, and, subsequently, unanimously adopted, are now offered for publication in the Liberator: (more…)


Cherokee-Classroom

Stop Teaching That Boy! [Georgia in 1832]

This appeared in the April 7, 1832 issue of The Liberator. In addition to its own original articles calling for the immediate abolition of slavery in the United States, William Lloyd Garrison, it’s editor and publisher, often included short stories about slavery from all around the country like the one shown here:

An Interesting Case

With cheeks burning with shame for our country, we copy the following paragraph form the Cherokee Phoenix of the 16th inst:

On last Tuesday, a company of the Georgia Guard visited a school in this place under the care of Miss (Sophia) Sawyer, a missionary under the American Board. It had been understood by then that she had been giving instruction to a little black boy, and teaching him to read the Bible.

Miss Sawyer was warned, by a Sergeant who commanded the Guard, to forthwith desist from teaching the black boy. It appears that at the last sitting of the Legislature of Georgia, an act was passed making it unlawful for any person to give instruction to any black person in the State, under the penalty of a fine of not less than $1000 nor exceeding $5000, and imprisonment until the fine is paid, for every such offence.

Whether Miss Sawyer had ever heard of the existence of such a law, before she took the boy into school, we are not able to say; but it is very likely she never had. She was promised to be arraigned at the next Superior Court in the newly formed county called ‘Cherokee,’ on the fourth Monday of this month, provided she persists in teaching the boy.

A young lady is teaching a poor little black boy to read the bible— the word of him who spoke as never man spoke— and she is forthwith visited by a ruffian Guard, with bayonets fixed, and ordered to desist. This, too, in a land of freedom!— in a country where the Guard has no legal right to remain an hour.

William Lloyd Garrison’s The Liberator was a weekly abolitionist newspaper published in Boston. The paper held true to the founder’s ideals. Garrison was a journalistic crusader who advocated the immediate emancipation of all slaves and gained a national reputation for being one of the most radical of American abolitionists.
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A Look Inside - Reminiscences of Levi Coffin

A Look Inside: Reminiscences of Levi Coffin

The full title of Coffin’s book is REMINISCENCES OF LEVI COFFIN, THE REPUTED PRESIDENT OF THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD (BEING A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE LABORS OF A LIFETIME IN BEHALF OF THE SLAVE, WITH THE STORIES OF NUMEROUS FUGITIVES, WHO GAINED THEIR FREEDOM THROUGH HIS INSTRUMENTALITY, AND MANY OTHER INCIDENTS.) It was published by the Western Tract Society in 1876.

Accessible Archives subscribers can find this fully searchable 712-page book in part VII of our Civil War collectionAbraham Lincoln Library Abolitionist Books.

Preface

I have been solicited for many years to write a history of my anti-slavery labors and underground railroad experiences, and although I had kept a diary the most of my life, it was without any prospect of ever putting it into book form. I had no desire to appear before the public as an author, having no claim to literary merit.

What I had done I believed was simply a Christian duty and not for the purpose of being seen of men, or for notoriety, which I have never sought. But I was continually urged by my friends to engage in the work, believing that it would be interesting to the rising generation; but being so fully occupied with other duties, I seemed to find no time that I could devote to this work, so that it was put off from year to year. I also often received letters from different parts of the country, desiring me to write the history of my life and labors in the anti-slavery cause, reminding me that the most of my co-laborers had passed away, and that I must soon follow, and that these stirring anti-slavery times in which I lived and labored were a part of the history of our country, which should not be lost.

But still, I deferred it until now, in the seventy-eighth year of my age. And although I feel the infirmities of that period of life fast gathering around me, I have gathered up my diaries, and other documents that had been preserved, and have written a book. In my own plain, simple style, I have endeavored to tell the stories without any exaggeration. Errors no doubt will appear, which I trust the indulgent reader will pardon, in consideration of my advanced age and feebleness. It is here proper also to acknowledge the valuable services of a kind friend, for aid received in preparing these pages for the press. I regret that I have been obliged to leave out many interesting stories and thrilling incidents, on account of swelling the size and cost of the book beyond what was agreed upon with the publishers.

Among the stories omitted is the account of the long imprisonment and sufferings of Calvin Fairbank, of Massachusetts, in the Kentucky penitentiary, for aiding fugitives, and of Richard Dillingham, of Ohio, who suffered and died in the penitentiary at Nashville, Tennessee, for a similar offense.

Part VII of our Civil War collection, Abraham Lincoln Library Abolitionist Books: Compiled by the Abraham Lincoln Memorial Library in Springfield, Illinois this unique collection brings together a disparate group of abolitionist era reference materials.
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Sentiments

Sentiments of Abolitionists (1832)

This piece on the positions held by abolitionists first appeared in the Hudson Observer & Telegraph and was reprinted to a national audience in William Lloyd Garrison’s newspaper, The Liberator, on December 1, 1832.

Garrison was a journalistic crusader who advocated the immediate emancipation of all slaves and gained a national reputation for being one of the most radical of American abolitionists. The Liberator denounced the Compromise of 1850, condemned the Kansas-Nebraska Act, damned the Dred Scott decision and hailed John Brown’s raid as “God’s method of dealing retribution upon the head of the tyrant.”

The slaveholders in the South demanded the end of the incendiary paper and the state of Georgia offered a $5,000 reward for Garrison’s capture. The Liberator was a mighty force from the beginning and became the most influential newspaper in the antebellum antislavery crusade.

After the end of the Civil War in December 1865, Garrison published his last issue of The Liberator, announcing “my vocation as an abolitionist is ended.”

Sentiments of Abolitionists

Abolitionism utters none of that foolishness which its opponents put in its mouth. It does not talk about ‘turning loose,’ ‘intermarrying,’ and all that sort of stuff. It is no such thing that the slaves ask. If they were fond of whitening, they have enough of it now, in all conscience. (more…)


When slave ships reached the Americas, the slaves were off-loaded and sold in slave markets, like the one pictured here in Atlanta (1860s).

The Slave-Market (1830-1860)

This is an excerpt Chapter IX of THE AMERICAN NATION: A HISTORY VOLUME 16; SLAVERY AND ABOLITION 1831–1841, one of the titles in our newest Civil War Collection – Part VII: Abraham Lincoln Library Abolitionist Books.

Part VII of our Civil War collection, Abraham Lincoln Library Abolitionist Books: Compiled by the Abraham Lincoln Memorial Library in Springfield, Illinois this unique collection brings together a disparate group of abolitionist era reference materials.

CHAPTER IX: THE SLAVE-MARKET (1830–1860)

With very small exceptions the negro slave was absolutely subject to sale at such times, to such persons, and on such terms as pleased his master. The ownership was as absolute as that of a horse or a watch. Although prosperous masters commonly did not sell slaves, the threat of being “sent down the river” for bad conduct was often realized; and able-bodied slaves who began to lose their vigor and vitality were sometimes sold because no longer profitable as work-hands; or at the death of a master, especially if the estate went to several heirs, among whom the proceeds had to be divided. There was always an undercurrent of feeling that to part with one’s slaves was ignoble; hence the most frequent reason for selling was simply that the master was obliged to realize, either to pay for something that he wanted to buy, or because he was in debt.

Was it true, as charged by the abolitionists, that slaves were bred in the border states for no other purpose than to sell them? Probably the truth was expressed by the Mississippian who said:

“A man might not raise a nigger with a well-considered plan to sell him eighteen years after he was born; he might never sell a nigger, but for all that, it was the readiness with which he could command a thousand dollars for every likely boy he had, if he should ever need it, that made him stay here and be bothered with taking care of a gang of niggers who barely earned enough to enable his family to live decently.”

In many cases slaves passed simply from vendor to purchaser like fancy stock, but the usual way was to attract buyers by advertisements. Within two weeks there appeared in the columns of sixty-four southern newspapers advertisements for the sale of forty-one hundred negroes, besides thirty lots to be sold at auction, as, for example:

PRIVATE SALES. Excellent Cook. Will be sold at private sale, a Woman, about 22 years of age, an excellent cook, (meat and pastry) Plain Washer, etc. She is sound and healthy and can make herself generally useful.

The slave-traders had no social reward for this useful service; a traveller in a steamer noticed “that the planters on board … shunned all intercourse with this dealer, as if they regarded his business as scarcely respectable.”

However despised, the business was profitable. The private sales involved no public exhibition of the merchandise, and in many cases showed some regard to the preference of the slaves. The public sales brought out the worst side of the whole system. The north was shocked by such grouping of human and brute merchandise as:

SHERIFF’S SALE. I will sell at Fairfield Court House, 2 Negroes, 2 Horses and I Jennet, I pair of Cart Wheels, I Bedstead, I Riding Saddle. Sheriff’s Office, Nov. 19, 1852.

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