Unit 7 - activities - guided readings - secondary - abolitionist movement
Although some Americans had criticized African slavery for many years, the
thirty years before the Civil War saw the growth of more active abolitionist and antislavery organizations. Two men provided the foundation for the organized crusade against slavery: David Walker and William Lloyd Garrison.
A free black from North Carolina, Walker opened a used-clothing store in
Boston during the 1820s and published Walker’s Appeal
in 1829. “America is more our country, than it is the whites — we have enriched it with our blood and tears,” Walker said. “Had you not rather be killed than to be a slave to a tyrant, who takes the life of your mother, wife, and dear little children?” Walker’s Appeal
drew national attention; several Southern states banned the booklet, and some politicians called for the author‟s death. In September 1830, passersby found David Walker dead in his shop. They suspected murder, but nothing was proven.
Walker‟s ideas survived. In 1844 Henry Highland Garnet, an escaped slave
and ordained minister, called for “War to the knife,” urging slaves, “Let your motto be „resistance‟!” John Brown killed slaveholders in Kansas during the 1850s, and in 1859 led an unsuccessful raid on Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, hoping to spark a slave insurrection.
William Lloyd Garrison, however, championed the idea of nonviolent
political change based on “moral persuasion.” A Massachusetts newspaperman, Garrison believed Christianity declared slavery to be a great moral evil, and economic or political conditions could not justify it. After 1831 he became nationally famous by publishing his own abolitionist newspaper, The Liberator
. In his first issue Garrison set the tone he would follow throughout his career: “I will be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice. . I will not equivocate — I will not excuse — I will not retreat a single inch — AND I WILL BE HEARD.” In 1844 Garrison publicly burned a copy of the United States Constitution. As the document burned, he denounced it as “a Covenant with Death, an Agreement with Hell.”
Garrison did not advocate violence; nonetheless, his efforts attracted people
across the North to the abolitionist cause. Sarah and Angelina Grimké, daughters of the Chief Justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court became abolitionists, as did author Theodore Dwight Weld and escaped slave Frederick Douglass. By the mid-1850s abolitionist sentiments inspired tens of thousands of Americans to join
the newly formed Republican Party. In 1860 they helped to elect President Abraham Lincoln, who wrote the Emancipation Proclamation and enlisted 200,000 African Americans to fight in the Civil War.
1. What was David Walker‟s background?
2. What was the name of William Lloyd Garrison‟s abolitionist newspaper?
3. How did Walker and Garrison differ in their approaches to ending slavery?
4. Who were some of Garrison‟s best-known abolitionist followers?
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