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menuAmerican Social History Project  ·    Center for Media and Learning

  • Historical Eras > Antebellum America (1816-1860) (x)
  • Theme > Slavery and Abolition (x)

We found 59 items that match your search

A Virginia Slave Puts His Writing Skills to Good Use

In this selection from an oral history interview, William L. Johnson, Jr., describes a fellow slave who resisted slavery by learning to read and write and in turn helped other slaves to resist. The interview was one of thousands conducted with [...]

Item Type: Oral History
A Slave Named Sukie Resists a Master's Advances

While slaves knew that they would face harsh punishments for acts of open resistance, many did so anyway. In this selection from an oral history interview, Fannie Berry describes a surprising act of defiance by a fellow slave, one that illustrates [...]

Item Type: Oral History
Selections from Alabama's Laws Governing Slaves

While slaveholders defended slavery as a benign system, this selection of laws, on the books in Alabama in 1833, suggest that slaves themselves were finding many ways to resist and escape it. Whites became particularly concerned about slave [...]

Pro-Slavery Pamphlet, circa 1860

Two pages from a proslavery tract published around 1860 present the contrasting fates of free and unfree labor. After decades of attack from abolitionists, in the 1850s slavery advocates defended plantation slavery as the most efficient and most [...]

Item Type: Poster/Print
A Former Slave Recalls "a Mournful Scene" in the New Orleans Slave Market

In 1841, Solomon Northup, a free African American living in New York, was kidnapped while visiting Washington, D.C., and sold into slavery. He spent the next twelve years working on plantations in Louisiana, finally attaining freedom in 1853. His [...]

Doing as They Can: Slave Life in the American South Viewer's Guide

This booklet is curriculum support for the American Social History Project's 30-minute documentary Doing as They Can: Slave Life in the American South. The viewer's guide contains background information on issues raised by the documentary as well [...]

Item Type: Viewer's Guide
A Historian Explains the Significance of the Fugitive Slave Act

Historian Eric Foner explains why the Fugitive Slave Act was such a divisive political act and a turning point in the sectional conflicts that had plagued American society during the antebellum era. Foner also describes the role of former slaves in [...]

Southern Newspapers Praise the Attack on Charles Sumner

On May 22, 1856 abolitionist Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts gave a fiery speech denouncing pro-slavery activists in the territory of Kansas and their supporters in the United States Congress. The next day, while Sumner sat defenseless at [...]

"Arrest of Stephen S. Hill"

As this newspaper announcement indicates, the status of slaves in California was unclear and fluid. Even though California was admitted as a free state to the Union in 1850, many southerners, claiming their stay was temporary, brought their slaves [...]

"Arrest of Stephen S. Hill" (with text supports)

As this newspaper announcement indicates, the status of slaves in California was unclear and fluid. Even though California was admitted as a free state to the Union in 1850, many southerners, claiming their stay was temporary, brought their slaves [...]