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26 the Abolition and Free Soil Movements

slavery, anti-slavery, cotton, emancipation, south, england, slave, quakers and north

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26. THE ABOLITION AND FREE SOIL MOVEMENTS. The first important and concerted movement in America for giving freedom to the slave began with Quakers. Their persistent opposition to human slavery arose from the nature of their doctrines. Even before the American Revolution, individual Quakers like John Woolman of Philadelphia raised their voices in favor of emancipation. The emphasis placed upon the rights of man, in the Revolutionary struggle also strengthened the sentiment in favor of emancipation in all the colonies. As this period drew to a close, no stronger condemnation of slavery was uttered than by Thomas Jefferson, himself a sliveholder, in his famous book called 'Notes on Virginia.' A similar arraignment of the institution was made by George Mason of Virginia, in the Constitutional Convention of 1787. About this time the Northern States were taking steps which ultimately freed them from slavery. New England and Pennsylvania led the way in this movement. The first anti slavery society in America was formed in Philadelphia in 1780. Benjamin Franklin be came one of its members. But this form of opposition was not confined to the Northern States, for both Maryland and Virginia organized anti-slavery societies. The movement in the South, however, did not reach the point of emancipation by State action. The institu tion of slavery had become firmly riveted on the South, because of climatic and industrial conditions, and the problem of emancipation, therefore, was vastly more difficult than at the North.

In Washington's administration a new and powerful factor was introduced into the problem by the invention of the cotton gin. This machine so cheapened the preparation of cotton for the market that the raising of cotton be came the dominant industry of the lower South. The North profited from this new era of cotton development by building cotton factories and in competing with England for the raw cotton of the slaveholding States. Both an American and European demand were placed upon the South for the extension of cotton production. The price of slaves also rose, and the domestic slave trade so increased that the supply seemed to be abundant, al though, when the African slave trade was abolished in 1808, many persons had hoped that the result would be the gradual decay of slavery. But they were mistaken. The new industrial and commercial foothold obtained by the institution gave it more favor than before in the eyes of both the North and South. Only the Quakers kept up any serious attack upon it during the first 25 years under the Constitu tion.

Opposition to slavery had been based, thus far, on all sorts of grounds, and had been car ried on in a very moderate and decorous fashion. The Quakers, although attacking the system on moral grounds, did so in a manner comporting with their reputation for moderation. The pro

longed and exciting struggle over the admission of Missouri (1819-21), however, turned atten tion upon the slavery question in a more iqtense way than ever before. Benjamin Lundy a Quaker, who had already been working to en courage slaveholders to emancipate their slaves, now founded the first important. anti-slavery paper, the Genius of Universal Emancipation (1821). He published editions of his paper in Ohio, Tennessee and Maryland. In 1829 Lundy called to his aid young William Lloyd Garrison who became the most fiery and radical of all the early abolitionists. His hard-hitting blows fell upon a New England slave dealer for carry ing a cargo of slaves from Baltimore to New Orleans. Garrison was soon in jail, from which he was released by a stranger paying his fine. He now returned to New England and founded in Boston (1831) the most famous of all aboli tion papers, The Liberator. With the aid of a few friends he founded the New England Anti-slavery Society in 1832 with the avowed object of endeavoring "by all means sanctioned by law, humanity, and religion to effect the abolition of slavery in the United States.° Similar organizations sprang up in other North ern States, and another anti-slavery paper, The Emancipator, was launched in New York City, under the patronage of Arthur Tappan, a philanthropist. These were small beginnings. Only a few men in any community were courageous enough to stem the tide of public disapproval. In 1833 a little group of men and women, gathered from 10 States, met in Phila delphia to establish the American Anti-slavery Society. Among them were Garrison, Samuel J. May, John G. Whittier, William Goodell, Lewis Tappan and Lucretia Mott. In that city not a man was found willing to serve as chair man. For safety they met behind locked and guarded doors and labored at their task through out the day without venturing to hold an even ing session or to be seen on the streets in search of a mid-day lunch. A declaration of principles was issued which showed the unalterable deter mination of the abolitionists to carry on the agitation against slavery until every slave in America was liberated. Public sentiment was to be aroused by public speakers traveling about the country, by sermons from the pulpit, by appeals from the press wherever possible and by a wider circulation of anti-slavery tracts and periodicals. Headquarters of the new so ciety were set up in New York with Arthur Tappan as president, and with the Emancipator, Goodell editor, as their organ. Immediate emancipation was their cry and uncompromis ing hostilities to slavery their creed. In a few years hundreds of anti-slavery societies had sprung up and more than 500,000 anti-slavery documents been distributed.

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