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That demise came in two broad waves of reform—one gradual, largely peaceful, in areas with relatively few slaves; the other climaxing in a violent clash of sections resulting in the liberation of four million slaves.
A confluence of changing ideological currents, resistance by both slaves and their free allies black and whiteand political developments that were, at first, not directly related to slavery, brought about its end.
Its demise was also part of broader, Atlantic-wide movement, but developments outside the U. Other Enlightenment writers, especially in Scotland, condemned slavery on humanitarian grounds—that is, for its cruelty more than its violation of rights. At about the same time, a separate stream of antislavery thought sprang from adherents of certain religious denominations.
Writers such as the Quaker John Woolman became convinced that holding slaves was a serious sin; his concern for slaves spread first to other Quakers, and then beyond. By the s, much polite opinion in both Britain and British America had become at least nominally antislavery.
Still, even if antislavery ideas were in the air, not until the American Revolution was there any actual movement to outlaw slavery or emancipate slaves. The coming of war dramatically escalated the movement against slavery by involving the slaves themselves. Tens of thousands of slaves, from New York to Georgia, fled their owners, including slaves owned by Thomas Jefferson and George Washington.
In New Hampshire and Massachusetts, new state constitutions in the s effectively outlawed slavery. Pennsylvania became the first state to end slavery legislatively, freeing all children though only at the age of 28 born of slaves after March 1, This kind of post-natal emancipation preserving for owners much of their economic stake in slaveholding was copied by Connecticut and Rhode Island inNew York inand New Jersey inalthough there were still a few slaves in New Jersey as late as From Maryland to Georgia, though, slavery persisted.
Some state laws did make it easier for individual masters to emancipate, and thousands of slaves became free in Virginia and Maryland. Beyond this, though, moves to free slaves stalled.
One reason was economic—slavery was far more important to the rice and tobacco economies of the southern states than in the North.
Secondly, most whites in both the North and South could scarcely conceive of a society in which blacks and whites lived peacefully as equals.
In northern states, where the black population was small, this did not matter so much, but further south, where slaves formed one-third or even two-thirds in South Carolinawhites feared the consequences of a large, free, African-descendant population.
Most northern states also discriminated sharply against free African Americans. This division of the country into a slave section and a non-slave section was affirmed by the Constitution. The Constitution allowed for the ending of the Atlantic slave trade after 20 years—which was accomplished in It is perhaps most accurate to say that the authors of the Constitution put off a solution to the problem of slavery to a later day.
Certainly, any frankly antislavery clause would have prevented its ratification in Georgia and South Carolina. As the first wave of antislavery reform waned, slavery grew more entrenched in the southern states, especially after the perfection of a cotton gin in added another great staple crop based on slave labor.
Aftercotton and slavery moved together into the old southwest. A faint echo of earlier antislavery views appeared in the form of the American Colonization Society insupported by some as a way to make emancipation possible by sending former slaves to distant colonies.
The ACS, however, had virtually no impact on the number of slaves in the U. Not until the late s did a second great wave of antislavery reform grow. The most important ideological development was the Second Great Awakening, which led many thousands into evangelical Christian denominations.
As in the first wave of emancipation, the actions of African Americans were crucial. Meeting some of these free African Americans helped turn William Lloyd Garrison from a supporter of colonization into a crusader for an immediate end, not only of slavery, but of racial discrimination.
Some abolitionists adopted rather paternalist attitudes toward blacks, but others welcomed African Americans such as Frederick Douglass into their movement. Abolitionists formed societies, hired professional lecturers to spread the word, published and distributed hundreds of thousands of pamphlets, and collected tens of thousands of names on petitions to Congress.
Many of these activists were women, who were brought in large numbers into public debates. Nonetheless, abolitionists were a tiny and unpopular minority, and not just in the South; mobs attacked abolitionist meetings in northern cities and burned their meeting halls.
Elijah Lovejoy, an abolitionist editor in Illinois, was killed by a mob in Politicians denounced abolitionists as a threat to the Union, and the new Democratic and Whig parties, just being formed, tried to keep the entire subject of slavery out of political discourse.
Frustrated with a seeming lack of progress in their cause, some abolitionists, most famously John Brown later turned to violence. Southern resistance, however, helped to spread antislavery sentiment.
White southerners claimed that abolitionist agitation would do nothing but produce slave insurrections—like the one led by Nat Turner in Virginia inwhich took the lives of about 60 whites.Slavery, the Economy, and Society Even before the Constitution was ratified, however, states in the North were either abolishing slavery outright or passing laws providing for gradual emancipation.
The Northwest Ordinance of barred slavery from the new territories of that period, so rather quickly, slavery effectively existed only in the.
A confluence of changing ideological currents, resistance by both slaves and their free allies (black and white), and political developments that were, at first, not directly related to slavery, brought about its . Collection Overview. From Slavery to Freedom: The African-American Pamphlet Collection, presents pamphlets published from through Most pamphlets were written by African-American authors, though some were written by others on topics of particular importance in African-American history.
Slavery and Its Impact on Both Blacks and Whites Slavery and Its Impact on Both Blacks and Whites The institution of slavery was something that encompassed people of all ages, classes, and races during the 's.
Slavery was an institution that empowered whites and humiliated and weakened blacks in. From colonial times, African Americans arrived in large numbers as slaves and lived primarily on plantations in the South. In slave and free blacks together comprised about one-fifth of the U.S.
The institution of slavery was something that encompassed people of all ages, classes, and races during the ’s. Slavery was an institution that empowered whites and humiliated and weakened blacks in their struggle for freedom.