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Many Americans, including those in the North, were not opposed to slavery and saw no reason for the federal government to interfere with the expansion of slavery into western territories. After John Brown's attack on Harpers Ferry, people expressed [...]
To counter abolitionist attacks in the antebellum era, Southern slaveowners and politicians found it necessary to justify the institution--both morally and politically. On the moral front they argued that enslaved African Americans were inferior to [...]
Depending on where they stood on the slavery question, Americans viewed John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry as either a brilliant, if aborted, act of martyrdom for a noble cause, or a horrifying reminder of the potential for a slave uprising and an [...]
The Staunton Spectator, a Virginia newspaper, frequently used material printed in northern newspapers in order to defend the southern institution of slavery. In this, and many similar articles, it detailed the unfortunate circumstances that [...]
This call for unity was written in Ireland by Irish and American abolitionists in the summer of 1841. The petition was eventually signed by 60,000 Irish men and women. Catholic abolitionists in Ireland wanted their countrymen in America to draw [...]
From the nation's very inception, the existence of slavery stood in glaring contrast to the ideals of liberty and justice expressed in the preamble to the Constitution. The Constitution itself protected the institution of slavery (while never [...]
In this activity students read about slavery's effect on women from the perspectives of an enslaved woman and a plantation mistress. Then students create a dialogue between the two women.
Between 1936 and 1938, the Federal Writers Project conducted interviews with thousands of former slaves, part of a larger project to collect first-hand biographies of "ordinary" American people. The excerpts below are from two of those interviews, [...]
While the harsh punishments meted out under slavery meant instances of open resistance were rare, many slaves nonetheless defied their masters in day-to-day life. The following excerpts are from interviews with former slaves, conducted as part of [...]
Funerals were sad occasions in the slave quarters, but they gave African Americans a chance to confirm their community identity. They were often held at night, so that friends and family members from neighboring farms could attend.