Tag Archives: Slavery
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…)


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Martin Van Buren and Slavery

This appeared in the March 11, 1837 issue of The Colored American newspaper.

The following extracts from President Van Buren’s inaugural address, present his views and designs, in regard to the question of Slavery:

“The last, perhaps the greatest, of the prominent sources of discord and disaster supposed to lurk in our political condition, was the institution of domestic slavery.”

“Perceiving, before my election, the deep interest this subject was beginning to excite, I believed it a solemn duty fully to make known my sentiments in regard to it”

“I then declared that, if the desire of those of my countrymen who were favorable to my election, was gratified, I must go into the Presidential Chair the inflexible and uncompromising opponent of every attempt, on the part of Congress, to abolish Slavery in the District of Columbia, against the wishes of the slaveholding States, and also, with a determination equally decided, to resist the slightest interference with it in the States where it exists.”
“It now only remains to add that no bill conflicting with these views, can ever receive my constitutional sanction.”

This item, and others like it, can be found in Accessible Archive’s African American Newspapers Collection. This enormous collection of African American newspapers contains a wealth of information about cultural life and history during the 1800s and is rich with first-hand reports of the major events and issues of the day.
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Slavery as an Educational Power

Slavery as an Educational Power

The National Anti-Slavery Standard was established in 1840 by the husband and wife team of Lydia and David Child, who both were affirmed abolitionists as well as recognized successful writers (Lydia Child was the author of the poem “over the river and through the woods”). Using the motto “Without Concealment–Without Compromise” the Standard sought to extend the rights of slaves across the country. It implied not only suffrage rights for colored males, but also advocated suffrage for women. With perhaps the exception of William Lloyd Garrison’s Liberator, also published by the Society, the Standard was the most influential voice for abolition leading up to the Civil War.

Slavery as an Educational Power

The slaveholders are ever seeking to cover the wickedness of their system by the pretense that it has a tendency to elevate the African from barbarism to the plane of civilization and Christianity. The President of the Republic of Liberia appears to take a different view of the matter. With every opportunity to form a correct judgment, he says, in his last message to the Legislature:

“My fear and anxieties for the last five or six years have been that the moral, intellectual and industrial training of a majority of the immigrants who may arrive here from the United States, as well as that of our posterity, bred and born in this country, will not keep pace with the advancement of the aborigines in those elements of individual and national greatness . In order to show that these fears and anxieties are not unfounded, I have only to state what is pretty generally known in Liberia, that there are thousands of natives, living within the jurisdiction of this Republic, who are intellectually in advance of at least one-half of the immigrants that arrive here annually from the United States”

This is very important testimony. President Benson proceeds to recommend that the Legislature look into the matter, and satisfy themselves whether the emigrants from the United States or the aboriginal inhabitants of the Republic have contributed most, in proportion to their numbers, to the wealth of the nation and the resources of the government.

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.
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Fugative Slave Act 1850

The Manstealing Law Explained

The Fugitive Slave Law or Fugitive Slave Act was passed by the United States Congress on September 18, 1850, as part of the Compromise of 1850 between Southern slave-holding interests and Northern Free-Soilers.

This was one of the most controversial elements of the 1850 compromise and heightened Northern fears of a “slave power conspiracy”. It required that all escaped slaves were, upon capture, to be returned to their masters and that officials and citizens of free states had to cooperate in this law. Abolitionists nicknamed it the “Bloodhound Law” for the dogs that were used to track down runaway slaves.

In Frederick Douglass’ newspaper, The North Star, the editors referred to use of the law as “Manstealing” in reference to the Bible verse, Exodus 21:16 that reads: And he that stealeth a man, and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death.

An April 24, 1851 poster warning the "colored people of Boston" about policemen acting as slave catchers.

An April 24, 1851 poster warning the “colored people of Boston” about policemen acting as slave catchers.

We copy from the Lowell American the following abstract:

It is necessary that the people shall be acquainted with the kidnapping law recently enacted by Congress, and as we cannot keep in type the entire law, we have made a brief but correct synopsis of it. Here it is:

But in the first place let us give Daniel Webster’s endorsement of the bill. The following is from his speech of the 7th of March, 1850:

“Every member of every Northern Legislature is bound by oath to support the Constitution of the United States; and this article of the Constitution which says to these States that they shall deliver up fugitive slaves is as binding an honor and in conscience as any other article; and no man fulfils his duty, under his oath, in any State Legislature who sets himself to work to find excuses, evasions, escapes from his constitutional duty. My friend at the head of the Judiciary Committee has a bill upon the subject now before the Senate, with some amendments to it which have been offered. I propose to support that bill with all proper authority and provisions in it, to the fullest extent – to the fullest extent.”

Now here is the substance of the “Bill”:

Duties of Commissioners.
Commissioners who have been or shall be appointed by the Circuit Courts of the United States, are authorized and required to exercise and discharge all the powers and duties conferred by this act. – Sec. 1.

Appointment of Commissioners.
The Superior Court of each organized Territory shall have the same power to appoint Commissioners as the Circuit Court of the U.S., and the commissioners appointed by these Superior courts are to possess the powers conferred upon those appointed by the Circuit Courts. – Sec . 2.

This item, and others like it, can be found in Accessible Archive’s African American Newspapers Collection. This enormous collection of African American newspapers contains a wealth of information about cultural life and history during the 1800s and is rich with first-hand reports of the major events and issues of the day.
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Northern Opposition to the Underground Railroad

The Underground Railroad consisted of a collection of secret routes and safe houses used by 19th-century enslaved American people to escape to free states and Canada with the aid of abolitionists and allies who were sympathetic to their cause.

Several earlier (pre-Revolutionary War) routes existed for getting slaves away, but the network now generally known as the Underground Railroad was formed in the early 19th century, and reached its height between 1850 and 1860. One estimate suggests that by 1850, 100,000 slaves had escaped via the “Railroad”.

Following Union victory in the Civil War, on December 6, 1865, the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution outlawed slavery. After its passage, in some cases the Underground Railroad operated in the opposite direction, as fugitives returned to the United States.

There were people opposed to the work done by these people as you can see in this article reprinted in the National Anti-Slavery Standard in 1858.

THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD

From The Syracuse Courier:

“Several prominent citizens of New York are soon to be exposed as “freight agents” on the Underground Railroad. Perhaps it may leak out that some of the “conductors” reside in this city.” — Washington Union

This announcement of the Washington Union should appear under the head of “Important if true.” We are at a loss to conceive how it has been possible, thus far, for the U. S. authorities in this vicinity, or those civil magistrates of the State of New York who have taken up the oath to support the Constitution of the State of New York, and to discharge the duties of their respective offices to the best of their ability, to ignore the flagrant outrages upon the Constitution and Laws of the United States which are not only perpetrated, but publicly applauded by prominent citizens of Syracuse.

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.
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