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The Deslondes Uprising of 1811—in which several hundred Louisiana slaves rose up and launched attacks along the Mississippi River—provoked an especially brutal response from the local militias and state government. In a pitched battle that lasted several days, slave forces under rebel leader Charles Deslandes (Deslondes) (1780–1811) engaged an armed militia assembled under the order of Governor William C. Claiborne. The slaveholders eventually subdued the rebels and sentenced the ringleaders to death. Deslandes and his comrades were executed, mutilated, and displayed as a warning to other slaves. In the act signed by Claiborne below, a bounty is placed on the remaining fugitives.

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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 ...

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John Gilmore

Politician, born in Jamaica into a family of wealthy plantation owners. Sent to England in 1723, he was educated at Westminster School and Oxford. He later studied medicine at Leiden in Holland, but broke off his course there when the death of his father obliged him to return to Jamaica in 1735. When his elder brother died in 1737, he inherited most of the family properties and continued to add to them by inheritance and purchase over the next 30 years. At the time of his death he was sole owner of thirteen sugar plantations in Jamaica, together with other real estate and about 3,000 slaves.

In 1737William Beckford became a member of the Jamaican House of Assembly, but by 1744 he had left Jamaica for Britain where he settled in London as a West India merchant selling the produce of his own estates ...

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John Gilmore

Writer, art collector, and owner of plantations in Jamaica. He was the son of William Beckford, on whose death in 1770 he inherited an enormous fortune. This came under his control when he attained his majority in 1781 and for many years enabled him to travel extensively in Europe, to fund his enthusiasm for building Fonthill Abbey in Wiltshire as a Gothic extravaganza to house himself and the books, pictures, and works of art that he collected on a prodigious scale. In the 1790s his income was estimated at well over £100,000 a year, and in 1809 the poet Lord Byron hailed him as ‘England's wealthiest son’. From the 1820s the income from his Jamaican estates declined significantly, and he was forced to sell Fonthill and major parts of his collections. Beckford is remembered as the author of the novel Vathek an Orientalist fantasy published in ...

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H.R. Costello

Previously known as Cato, or James Cato (b. 1750), black crewman on Nelson's flagship, the Victory. Brown was originally known as Cato, following the common practice of slave owners of giving slaves Roman or Greek names. Brown is thought to have been a black Loyalist, a slave siding with the British during the American War of Independence. Living in Nova Scotia, he was of mixed parentage, his mother reputed to be a member of the prominent Liverpool merchant Gough family.

Cato left Nova Scotia, running away to sea while still a child, ironically serving on ships involved in the slave trade, and assuming the name James Cato. He later joined the Royal Navy and changed his name again, to James Brown, serving on one of the most famous ships of all time, Nelson's flagship Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 When ...

Article

Chad Morgan

Calhoun did more than anyone else to chart the Slave South's increasingly defiant course from the 1830s onward; the trajectory of his career closely mirrors that of his region. Born into a family of ardent patriots and Revolutionary War veterans, Calhoun's early nationalism steadily gave way to the need to construct ever-moreelaborate defenses of the South's slave society. Ironically, in doing more than perhaps any other individual to set the stage for the Civil War, this “father of secession” and unapologetic slaveholder became a great practical force in the bringing about of Emancipation.

John Caldwell Calhoun was born just outside the town of Abbeville in the South Carolina Upcountry. After studying at Yale and then the Litchfield Law School, Calhoun began his meteoric rise to political prominence with a promising stint in the South Carolina state legislature. In 1811 he married his cousin Floride Bonneau Colhoun [sic a Lowcountry ...

Article

Denise R. Shaw

In August 1845, shortly after the publication of his first autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, the author boarded the steamship Cambria of the Cunard Line for Great Britain. The voyage served a dual purpose for Frederick Douglass. First, he was embarking on a speaking tour during which he would gain financial and moral support for the antislavery movement. Second, and perhaps just as important, the trip would get Douglass out of the country, as the publication of his Narrative would not only bring attention to the horrors of slavery but would also garner the attention of slave catchers bent on reenslaving Douglass.

Prior to boarding the Cambria Douglass was notified by his traveling companion James N Buffum that he would not be able to board the ship as a cabin passenger but would be consigned to the steerage section or second class Douglass notes ...

Primary Source

The slaveholder Cotton Mather (1680–1723), a leading Puritan intellectual in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, was among the first to argue that slaves be converted to Christianity. Using his own home as a Sunday school and house of worship, Mather passionately rebutted common arguments that blacks were incapable of reasoning, or that they had no souls. He also advocated fairer treatment of slaves, declaring that it was God’s will that the institution be humane. However, Mather never went so far as to condemn slavery. In fact, he assured fellow slaveholders that converting the workforce would not lead to emancipation, and would instead make the slaves more productive. In addition, his Rules for the Society of Negroes (1693)—regulations intended for his congregation of slaves—lists disobedience and attempted escape among the most egregious sins against God and the community. Later, Mather would author The Negro Christianized 1706 which lays out the prescribed ...

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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 ...

Primary Source

Drafted on 1 March 1836 the Constitution of the Republic of Texas was the first organizing governmental document composed and adopted by non Mexicans to oversee the bueracracy of the newly independent territory Though slavery had at least officially all but vanished under Mexican rule the institution was still in practice in some parts of the territory in 1836 and when the new government was formed Texan politicians were eager to restore slavery to legal status To do so they inserted the general provision reproduced below into their new constitution Because of it African American slaves already in Texas now held in bondage were to remain slaves Likewise the provision held that the congress of the independent Republic of Texas would be powerless to create laws prohibiting the flow of new slaves into the territory nor would slaveholders be permitted to emancipate their slaves without congressional consent Likewise free blacks ...

Article

During the presidential campaign of 1860 in the United States, leading Southerners such as Governor William Henry Gist of South Carolina made clear that they would urge the South to secede if Abraham Lincoln and his antislavery Republican Party won the election. The secessionists were abetted by outgoing president James Buchanan, who, fearful of a civil war, stated that the federal government had no right to force a state to remain in the Union. Almost immediately after Lincoln won in November, several Southern legislatures began discussing secession.

In early December of 1860Senator John J. Crittenden of Kentucky proposed four resolutions and six amendments to the Constitution of the United States that, in effect, would have resurrected and expanded the Missouri Compromise of 1820. That compromise, which the United States Congress repealed in 1854 protected slavery in newly created states south of the 36°30 parallel and banned ...

Primary Source

The U.S. Supreme Court's 1856 determination in the case of Dred Scott v. Sandford sounded like a thunderclap throughout the entire country Radical Republicans in Congress and abolitionists throughout the North and South had long come to suspect pro slavery forces of conspiring to fashion a federal government that would upset the carefully maintained balance between slave and free states and allow the unfettered spread of the peculiar institution into every state and territory With the Court s decision Republicans felt they had all the proof they needed Not only had Chief Justice Roger Taney opined that Scott a slave who argued that time spent in the free states of Missouri and Illinois had emancipated him must legally remain a slave he went further to argue that black people were incapable of being citizens Taney s further ruminations on black people as an inferior class of beings who had ...

Article

Cecily Jones

Queen of England and patron of slave‐trading ventures.

1.Genesis of the British slave trade

2.Africans in Elizabethan England

3.Scapegoating ‘Blackamoors’

4.Attempts to expel Blacks

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 ...

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Diane L. Barnes

Proponents of ethnology, a pseudoscience popular in the mid-nineteenth century, claimed that races of people were, in fact, separate human species. Some southern proslavery advocates used the notion of ethnology to support the belief that as a separate species, individuals of African descent were an inferior race and perfectly suited for slavery, but only one major advocate of ethnology hailed from the southern states. Ethnology formed only a minor influence on racial thinking among the general populace, but it did gain support among the scientific community and some intellectuals.

The American school of ethnology which was not an institution but more an informal movement evolved from scientific principles set forth by Samuel George Morton a Philadelphia physician Having studied the internal cranial capacity of humans from various races and ethnic groups Morton rejected prevailing theories which held that environmental forces played the largest part in racial differentiation for example that ...

Article

Paul Finkelman

Article IV, section 2, clause 3 of the U.S. Constitution provided that “no person held to service or labour” in one state and who escaped to another state could be freed from that obligation, but instead had to be “delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due.” This provision, known as the fugitive slave clause, did not set out how this process was to be administered.

The clause was added to the U.S. Constitution late in the Constitutional Convention, with no serious debate over its meaning or implementation. It was first discussed in the context of the states' returning fugitive criminals. All the delegates agreed that the states should cooperate in capturing and returning fugitives from justice. On 28 August, while debating that provision, Pierce Butler and Charles Pinckney of South Carolina proposed that the Constitution require fugitive slaves and servants ...

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Paul Finkelman

The Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 was technically an amendment to the federal act of 1793 that regulated both criminal extradition and the return of fugitive slaves. The 1793 law never worked well, and almost immediately some southerners asked for a new law. By the mid-1840s editors and politicians throughout the South were demanding a new, more effective law. The key issue for southerners was an enforcement mechanism that would help them recover their fugitives and return home safely with them.

The 1793 law authorized all state judges and magistrates as well as all federal judges to issue certificates of removal to allow masters to take fugitive slaves back to the South However many northern jurists refused to cooperate with the implementation of the law Since there were very few federal judges at the time usually only one in a state slave owners had to rely on often uncooperative ...

Article

Before the American colonies won independence from Great Britain, several legislatures in Southern colonies passed laws providing for the return of runaway slaves. Under some of these laws, slaves who resisted arrest could be killed, and their owners would be reimbursed by the government. Other laws levied penalties against people who protected runaways and offered rewards to those who caught them. However, these laws had little effect outside the colonies that passed them, leaving those in other colonies free to harbor escaped slaves.

In 1787 the Congress of the Confederation passed the Northwest Ordinance which banned slavery from the Northwest Territory but allowed slaves who fled to the territory to be caught and returned to their owners However the ordinance did not require governments or settlers to cooperate in the capture and return of runaways Two years later the Constitution of the United States took effect with a ...

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David Dabydeen

Slave owner, instigator of the ‘coolie trade’, and father of the British prime minister William Ewart Gladstone (1809–98). Sir John Gladstone was a leading member of the West Indian Association of Liverpool, a group of plantation owners and merchants trading with the West Indies in slave‐produced commodities. He owned sugar estates in Jamaica and British Guiana and was a passionate opponent of abolition. In 1830, in a series of last‐ditch attempts to persuade the government not to end West Indian slavery, Gladstone (then a member of Parliament and spokesman for the West India interest) argued that slavery was normal in primitive societies, and that West Indian Blacks had peculiar constitutions, enabling them to work easily under a tropical sun. He held up the dreadful prospect of freed slaves slaughtering the smaller white populations.

In 1833 Gladstone was deputed by Liverpool's West Indian interest ...

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Erin D. Somerville

The first Englishman to transport African slaves across the Atlantic. The son of a sea merchant and Mayor of Plymouth, Hawkins inherited the family sea business after his father's death. After early voyages to the Canary Islands, he moved to London in 1560 to seek support for voyages to the West Indian colonies, then under tight Spanish control.

Hawkins's first slave trading voyage departed for the west coast of Africa in October 1562. Upon arrival in Upper Guinea, Hawkins raided Portuguese ships for African slaves and other merchandise. Three hundred slaves were brought to Hispaniola, where he illegally sold them to English planters. The financial gains of the expedition were so extensive that Queen Elizabeth I supported an equally profitable second voyage in 1564, which moved over 400 slaves from Sierra Leone. A third slaving voyage in 1567 also supported by the Queen was not as successful ...