This is an essay I wrote for my AP History class.
The abolitionists believed that the institution of slavery was a sin. Their strong feelings compelled them to take action through public speaking, the press, and violence. After failed attempts in the South, abolitionism rooted itself in the North, and struggles with peaceful battles made the reformers revert to militancy.
The common moral principle that abolitionists all agreed on was that slavery was a sin, and that it couldn’t continue in the United States any longer. This sin required repentance, and the South needed to acknowledge the unalienable rights of all of its citizens. Abolitionists all believed that this goal should be achieved as soon as possible, yet they knew it couldn’t be don’t at once. Such a quick change itself would be immoral because of the importance of stability. The journey towards abolishing slavery should start soon, but move gradually.
The activities of abolitionists were numerous. William Lloyd Garrison started the Liberator, a weekly newspaper dedicated to the abolition of Southern slavery, in 1831. A year later, he organized the New England Anti-Slavery Society, and later helped to create the organization on a national level. In 1839, Theodore Dwight Weld published “Slavery as It Is,” which was a compilation of Southern newspapers and court records. White people were not the only abolitionists, however. Prominent agents and orators such as Samuel Ringgold Ward, Lunsford Lane, Sojourner Truth, Charles Lenox Remond, and Frederick Douglass all contributed to the cause, too. David Walker, a free black American from North Carolina, wrote “Appeal to the Colored Citizens of the World”, which was an angry justification of violence. Henry H. Garnet likewise encouraged violence in a black convention in Buffalo. Others, such as Harriet Tubman, helped large amounts of blacks escape to the North.
The shift from South to North in the campaigning can be attributed to the stubbornness and the hatred the Southerners showed toward the presented cause. The manumission establishments were unsuccessful, and people in the North were more willing to listen to what these people had to say. Another change also took place during the campaigning. Things went from pacifist to military. This was because moral suasion wasn’t achieving its original goal. To eliminate the discrimination and prejudice in the South, more would have to be done than talk. Though the pacifists started the fight, it was the more aggressive that carried it out.
The abolitionists all shared the common principle that slavery was a sin, and that unalienable rights should be acknowledged for all living in the South. Numerous activities took place, involving opinionated writing, public speaking, and even violence. Throughout the campaigning, abolitionists moved to the North because of Southern lack of interest in their cause. Pacifism also changed to militancy when the point could be made no other way.