When one thinks of slavery, they may consider chains holding captives, beaten into submission, and forced to work indefinitely for no money. The other thing that often comes to mind? Stereotypical African slaves, shipped to America in the seventeenth century. The kind of slavery that was outlawed by the 18th amendment, nearly a century and a half ago. As author of Modern Slavery: The Secret World of 27 Million People, Kevin Bales, states, the stereotypes surrounding slavery often confuse and blur the reality of slavery. Although slavery surely consists of physical chains, beatings, and forced labor, there is much more depth to the issue, making slavery much more complex today than ever before.
Slavery played an overwhelming role throughout the history of the United States. The riches created by the unpaid labor of African Americans helped to guarantee the country’s industrial revolution and succeeding economic strength. Yet, that wealth created incredible political power for slaveholders and their representatives. African American slaves brought with them many languages, cultures and values, which helped shaped America and it’s exceptional cultural and natural environment. Continuing a brutally cruel system, African slaves developed a profound commitment to liberty and became a living testament to the powerful ideal of freedom.
As a struggling country, America’s south discovered slavery as a way to gain financial stability. Except, slavery grew into much more than a need for money. It became a social thing and also a controversial topic among politicians, especially with the emergence of abolitionism. Even after slavery, it became a great learning opportunity to ensure that it never happens again.
During the 19th century the religious revival led to a corresponding social reform that would transform the American Society. Reformers led various campaigns including a campaign to close all public places such as shops and taverns on Sundays. The religious revival also led to the Abolition movement, which aimed to eliminate slavery in America. During the time up until the Civil war abolitionists would try to influence both society and politics using ways some of which were similar to those of political parties. The relationship between abolitionists, their ideals and politics was key in reforming national policy related to slavery. Though President Lincoln was opposed to slavery he was not an abolitionist. However despite this Lincoln was strongly influenced by their ideas and they often made their way into his own writings. By agitating against slavery both in and out of politics they were able to change the opinion of a public that had previously rejected them.
The United States of America is known for its claims of democracy, equality, and freedom for all of it’s citizens. These claims are the foundation of America’s independence and essentially its entire history. But “claims” are simply all they were in history. While many achieved equal democracy and freedom, the African-American population of the US was exempt from these “inalienable rights” and heavily oppressed by society. The cruelty of slavery and oppression as a whole reached its peak in the 19th century bringing upon the abolitionist movement, which eventually aided in the historic removal of slavery and the continued fight for equal right of citizenship for African-Americans. Of the many abolitionists who fought for equality in the 19th century, Angelina Grimke, Frederick Douglass, and Harriett Jacobs stand out as some of the most influential writers and orators of that time. Angelina Grimke was a white southern woman, who abandoned the south with her sister to denounce slavery and began to primarily focus on persuading white women to use what rights they had to act against slavery. Frederick Douglass was one of the most famous abolitionists in United States history. He used his literary expertise as well as his incredible first hand experience as a slave to publicly expose and condemn the evils of slavery. Lastly, but certainly not least, Harriet Jacobs was one of history’s most recognizable African-American writers due to her slave narrative “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl”, where she exposed the wide array of perverted evils that occurred on plantations and destroyed the lives of many young girls and people in general. Each of these abolitionists were incredibly influential in their own ways but sh...
Ripley, C. Peter. The Black Abolitionist Papers. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1991. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost). Web. 15 Oct. 2013.
The abolishment of slavery, no matter what country it took place in, was a significant turning point in world history. Due to this it has become the discussion of much scholarly debate. There are three historians to highlight that provide key points to why slavery needed to be abolished and the significance of it. David Brion Davis, C.L.R. James, and Orlando Patterson all share similar and differing viewpoints for why slavery needed to be discontinued. This is important to discuss so we as humans who are building a society do not make the same mistakes again as we continue to learn from our past. Whether they are social, economic, or moral wrongdoings we can take a step in the right direction towards avoiding them by observing and contemplating what has occurred before us. This is why reading these historians’ accounts are so important. The three historians David Brion Davis, C.L.R. James, and Orlando Patterson show why slavery could not be sustained and why it was necessary to rid ourselves of it.
History is taught and perceived in different ways throughout the country, however historians and teachers play a major role in how history is understood. My history teacher made me understand that the African-American slaves suffered adversity in different manners but never explained how their efforts led to a revolution in America. This gap has been filled by David Roediger in his book Seizing freedom where he reminds us of what we have missed in our prominent and scholarly accounts of emancipation and what we might gain by revisiting an era when “profound and unimaginable changes exploded” across the country(p.9). In reference to WEB Du Bois analysis of Civil war as workers strike, David Roediger accounts for the upsurge and
In the 1850’s the abolition movement was successful in ensuring that at least part of their message reached mainstream politics. Historian Herbert Aphtheke argued that there existed three major philosophies amongst abolitionist; moral suasion moral suasion with political action and finally, resistance through physical action . While abolitionist such as William Lloyd Garrison exercised the philosophy of moral suasion, others such as Frederick Douglas and Gerrit Smith shifted their thinking to include all three philosophies. Meetings were held of the National Negro Conventions centred on the burning question; how can anyone use moral suasion and the political system to bring an end to slavery?
In William Drayton’s “The South Vindicated from the Treason and Fanaticism of the Northern Abolitionists,” he states, “The constitution was adopted; the union was established; the world looked on it with admiration; yet it did not prohibit domestic slavery.”12 Slavery was no longer a vital necessity in many nations, thus, making the Abolitionists claim that the United States should do away with the vile institution. In “The Philosophy of the Abolition Movement,” by Wendell Phillips, he states, “What is the denunciation with which we are charged? It is endeavoring, in our faltering human speech, to declare the enormity of the sin of making merchandise of men. – of separating husband and wife, - taking the infant from its mother, and selling