History Of Abolitionism Essay

Length: 2 pages Subject: Black Studies Type: Essay Paper: #50534764 Related Topics: Slavery, Economic History, Abolition Of Man, History
Excerpt from Essay :


Although slavery is widely regarded as one of the greatest evils in human history today, this was not as obvious during the early days, when abolitionists of this evil were in the minority. Indeed, many considered slavery as one of the essential factors of the American economy, and particularly so in the South where cotton and other plantations provided economic well-being to many landowners and business people across the country. Increasingly, however, the abolitionist movement gained momentum, with a rising number of people believing that slavery was a gross violation of human rights for economic gain. Increasingly, many became abolitionists, including Douglass, Garrison, Lovejoy, and Brown. While some offered subtle resistance in the form of harboring fugitive slaves and boycotting the trade in goods supported by slavery, others offered more direct and violent opposition, often losing their lives in the process.

Both Garrison and Douglass offer strong arguments against slavery and for taking action against it. At the start of Garrison's "No Compromise with the Evil of Slavery," he uses the wording of the American Constitution as the basis for his arguments. He argues that slavery does not agree with the idea that "all men are created equal." The reason for this is that, often, slaves were treated as less than human. This argument is supported by Douglass, who was a former slave himself. Douglass uses not only the Constitution, but common human decency, the principles of


Both men therefore use the idea of human rights, as spelled out by the Constitution of the country, to further their arguments against slavery as something evil and inhuman.

Attacks on abolitionists like Lovejoy, Garrison and Douglass were often both violent and fatal. It does not say much for the status of democracy and public debate during the time. During this time, slavery was such a widely accepted practice, that only a few regarded it as the violation of rights that it was. One might argue that this is the reason why public debate and democracy around this particular issue enjoyed such little popularity at the time. On the other hand, it is also true that today, even rules and laws that are commonly accepted can be debated in public. Issues of democracy are today constantly debated and modified according to the desires of the majority, along with considerations of basic human rights. Indeed, public debate is a vital component of American culture today and one that continuously influences the law and Constitution to include the rights of all human beings in the country.

At the time of his execution, John Brown's actions were regarded as heroic by some and insane by others. The lawyer defending him at his trial even tried to prove him insane. One of the major reasons for this opinion, I think, is that Brown so openly and violently rebelled against slavery, knowing that he could suffer as a result. Another reason is that many people at the time believed in slavery as a reliable source of the country's economy. They saw nothing wrong with it. For these people, somebody protesting so violently against it…

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