- Slides: 14
United States v. The Amistad (1841) John Quincy Adams defended the African captives
EQ: Were abolitionists responsible reformers or irresponsible agitators?
Abolitionists’ arguments, goals and methods…
Narrative and Testimony of Sarah M. Grimke • Read answer: – Why was she impelled to take action? – How would you feel if you saw these things?
Sept. 2, 1839, front page of The Emancipator
William Lloyd Garrison – The Liberator (1831) • Read answer: – What does he advocate? – Addressed specifically to South? • Represents view of abolitionists – How is this different than beliefs of anti-slavery proponents? slavery as a "positive good” slavery as a “necessary evil” anti-slavery abolitionists
Methods • • • Unity – formed groups Assistance to runaway slaves Publications, speeches Denounced churches Denied Bible Publicly burned copies of Constitution
Criticism of abolitionists…
Daniel Webster (1850) • “Then sir, there are those abolition societies of which I am unwilling to speak, but in regard to which I have very clear notions and opinions. I do not think them useful. I think their operations for the last twenty years have produced nothing good or valuable. • At the same time, I know thousands of them are good and honest men; perfectly well-meaning men. They have excited feelings; they think they must do something for the cause of liberty. And in their sphere of action, they do not see what else they can do than to contribute to an abolition press, or an abolition society, or to pay an abolition lecturer…
(continued) • …I cannot but see what mischiefs their inference with the South has produced. • …what was the result? The bonds of slaves were bound more firmly than before; their rivets more strongly fastened. Public opinion, which in Virginia had begun to be exhibited against slavery, and was opening out for the discussion of the question, drew back and shut itself up in its castle. ” • Result of abolitionist action?
A Proslavery New Yorker • “I care not what people of the North think, for I am now a regular Southerner…And men, like the abolitionist…[who go] about meddling with other peoples’ affairs…[should] pay attention to his own affairs, and let his neighbor alone. As long as those professed to be Christians, are…by their influence…producing discord and discontent – rebellion, insurrection and division, it [emancipation] will never take place. If these matters are going to be [agitated it will]…lead to the separation of the Union…” • Effect of abolitionists?
Accused of precipitating the Civil War • Response by Frederick Douglass – “The abolitionists of this country have been charged with bringing on the war between the North and South, and in one sense this is true. Had there been no anti-slavery agitation at the North, they would have been no active antislavery anywhere to resist the demands of the Slave Power at the South, and where there is no resistance there can be no war…”
EQ: Were abolitionists responsible reformers or irresponsible agitators? Debate!
Discussion Qs: • Were abolitionists right in principle but wrong in method? • Is militancy an effective way to bring change? • Should abolitionists have compromised? • Most effective was to achieve social change today?