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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

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 That compromise, which the United States Congress repealed in 1854 protected slavery in newly created states south of the 36°30 parallel and banned ...

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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 ...

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It was not until 1839 that the Roman Catholic Church issued its first official condemnation of the practice of slavery. Written by Pope Gregory XVI and titled In Supremo Apostolatus Fatigo the letter implored Christians to respect the rights of Indians Negroes or other men of this sort Still many leaders of the Church in the United States defended the practice as both a part of natural law and a means to convert Africans to Christianity The sermon reproduced below was delivered by Augustin Verot in St Augustine Florida on the eve of the Civil War Verot the Vicar Apostolic of Florida echoes the official sentiments of the Church prior to Gregory s edict that the institution is sanctioned by God and that it is the duty of slaveholders to make the system more humane Interestingly Verot mentions the 1839 encyclical but seems to interpret it as merely prohibiting ...

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By the winter of 1861 Jefferson Davis was ready if reluctantly to forswear his loyalty to the United States of America With the secession of his native Mississippi Davis stood before the assembled United States Senate to announce his resignation on 21 January As in the case of Robert E Lee whom Davis would not long after appoint military commander of the armies of the Confederacy fidelity to his home state overwhelmed further obligation to the national union or even to personal principle Davis had argued against Mississippi s secession only conceding when it was clear that the move was inevitable Though Davis supported secession only to the extent that loyalty to his home state obliged him in his farewell remarks he tied his resignation from the Senate to Mississippi s separation from the federal union by first announcing the state s withdrawal He suggested that both were justified in ...

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The paranoia regarding slave revolts that Southern plantation owners shared in the antebellum period reached new heights once the Civil War finally began. As Union forces advanced on the South, slaves had new opportunities to flee their masters and find protection. Thus, the thorny question of how to distribute manpower, and what to do with the slaves left behind, came up repeatedly. In a letter to Confederate Secretary of War L. P. Walker, an “educated Georgian” named John Cheatham suggests recruiting the slaves as solders; that way, Cheatham reasons, they will not be inclined to rise up against their masters. The inherent paradox of employing enslaved blacks as Confederate soldiers is evident in Cheatham’s claim that, while the slaves may “ransack portions of the country [and] kill numbers of our inhabitants,” many would happily fight for the Southern cause “if they had a chance.”

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In the petition to Confederate General Hugh W. Mercer excerpted below, the planter Robert Q. Mallard estimates that a staggering 20,000 slaves had escaped from Liberty County, Georgia, all seeking refuge from the advancing Union lines. Requesting more attention to this issue, Mallard lists his grievances in a style similar to that found in the Declaration of Independence, accusing the slaves not only of insubordination, but of espionage, sabotage, and treason. But the greatest threat posed by this slave resistance, Mallard writes, is the enticement to further disobedience for the slaves who have been left behind. “It is indeed a monstrous evil that we suffer,” he laments. Two years later, William Tecumseh Sherman—with the aid of escaped slaves—marched the Union army through the same county on his way to Atlanta.