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Alonford James Robinson

Proslavery arguments were not prevalent in the United States until an organized movement against slavery emerged in the late eighteenth century. Commonly referred to as the antislavery movement, abolitionism was a loose confederation of religious and political organizations that arose in defiance of the international system of slavery. The movement did not gain national credibility and acclaim until the late 1830s.

Often associated with the antislavery movement, Abolitionism differed in both the degree and methods of its antislavery activities. While antislavery advocates pushed for the gradual eradication of slavery, abolitionists called for its immediate and unconditional end. Organizations such as the American Anti-Slavery Society and newspapers such as The Liberator were prominent features of the American abolitionist movement. Emerging at the beginning of the nineteenth century, antiabolitionism was a hostile and often violent response to the abolitionist movement. As abolitionism grew, so too did antiabolitionism.

Several features of abolitionist rhetoric ...

Article

Brian D. Behnken

On 11 September 1851 in Christiana, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, a violent confrontation broke out between proslavery and antislavery forces. Commonly referred to as the Christiana Riot, the encounter had its roots in the escape of four slaves—Noah Buley, Nelson Ford, George Hammond, and Joshua Hammond—from the Maryland plantation owned by Edward Gorsuch. Although Gorsuch reputedly was a good master, the slaves fled across the state line to Pennsylvania on 6 November 1849 after Gorsuch learned that they were stealing wheat from the plantation's storehouse. A resident of Christiana informed him a short time later that his slaves were taking refuge in the small town.

In Lancaster County the escaped slaves plunged into a volatile world of white slave catchers and armed black defenders Many Pennsylvanians were weary of slaves escaping from Maryland Whites from Lancaster County formed a vigilante group to apprehend runaways around ...

Article

Christopher Bates

The Emancipation Proclamation was issued by President Abraham Lincoln on 1 January 1863. Although it did not immediately free any slaves, it redefined the Union's military goals, and a war that had been undertaken strictly to reunite the country was transformed into a war of liberation. From 1863 onward, it was clear to both Northerners and Southerners that a Union victory would mean the permanent abolition of slavery.

The proclamation was months, if not years, in the making. Abolitionists had been pressuring the government to end slavery on moral grounds since the 1830s; they were joined in the 1850s by the Free-Soilers, who were concerned about the impact slavery was having on free laborers. The presidents of the 1850s—Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce, and James Buchanan turned a deaf ear to antislavery protests however for all were southern sympathizers and had no interest in curtailing the ...

Article

Nick Nesbitt

Victor Hugues was the son of a baker from Marseilles, France. At the age of twelve, he joined his uncle in Saint-Domingue (now Haiti) at the height of that island's colonial prosperity. After sailing the Caribbean as a corsair in search of English ships, in 1784 Hugues settled in Port-au-Prince, where he opened a bakery. In 1788, when the French King Louis XVI convened the Estates General in Versailles in an attempt to defuse rising antimonarchical sentiment, Hugues was elected and returned to France to represent the petit blancs, or white shop owners and traders. Hugues also became embroiled in the conflict between petits blancs and a mulatto class striving for legal recognition: in February 1791 Port-au-Prince was burned by armed members of the mulatto class, and Hugues, by his own estimation, lost seven-eighths of his worldly goods.

When the French monarchy was overthrown in ...

Article

Stephen Vincent

In early autumn 1843Frederick Douglass found himself at the center of a life threatening riot Douglass and two fellow abolitionists had come to Pendleton Indiana as part of a six month six state One Hundred Conventions speaking tour sponsored by the New England Anti Slavery Society Confronted by vocal opponents of antislavery at their scheduled meeting on 15 September the abolitionists agreed to a second open air debate the following day The ensuing debate began with heated words that quickly devolved into physical threats Despite the abolitionists pleas for restraint and nonviolent discussion a crowd of thirty whites descended on the speakers platform and rioting broke out Douglass sensing danger to William White a white colleague grabbed a heavy piece of wood to ward off White s attackers Enraged by the sight of an armed black man the mob turned on Douglass as cries of kill the nigger ...

Primary Source

The Texas and New Mexico Act was only part of the broader Compromise of 1850. Vast new territories in the West were entering the Union and the delicate balance between slave- and free state was threatened. Daniel Webster, John Calhoun, and Stephen Douglas all worked to bring the 1850 Compromise together, but it was seventy-year-old Henry Clay, the author of the 1820 Missouri Compromise, who again was instrumental in forestalling the inevitable clash over slavery.

The Texas and New Mexico Act of the Compromise dealt with the entrance of Texas into the Union While the compromise allowed Texas into the Union as a slave state it redefined that state s borders and created the territory of New Mexico which later became the states of New Mexico Arizona Utah and Nevada Further any states created out of the New Mexico Territory would be allowed to resolve for themselves the issue of ...