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menuAmerican Social History Project  ·    Center for Media and Learning

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

We found 59 items that match your search

A Free Black Woman Writes to Imprisoned John Brown

In October 1859, a militant white abolitionist named John Brown led a small band of black and white anti-slavery fighters in a bold assault on the federal arsenal at Harper's Ferry, West Virginia. Their goal was to capture a large store of weapons, [...]

Item Type: Diary/Letter
Boston Abolitionists Warn of Slave Catchers

In 1850, Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Act, which required police officers everywhere in the country to capture escaped slaves and return them to their owners. Anyone who was caught helping escaped slaves could also be arrested and face large [...]

A Woodcut Depicts Nat Turner's Rebellion

The event known as Nat Turner's Rebellion was the largest slave uprising in the antebellum South. Beginning in the early morning hours of August 21, 1831, Turner, a literate slave who claimed to be guided by religious visions, led a group of slaves [...]

Item Type: Poster/Print
Frederick Douglass Declares There Is "No Progress Without Struggle"

Frederick Douglass was an escaped slave, a leader of the anti-slavery movement in the North, editor of the abolitionist newspaper The North Star and, after the Civil War, a diplomat for the U.S. government. This excerpt is from an address on West [...]

Item Type: Speech
The Dred Scott Decision "Cannot Stand"

Frederick Douglass was an escaped slave and leader of the anti-slavery movement in the North. This excerpt is from an address he delivered to the Anniversary of the American Abolition Society held in New York, May 14, 1857.

A Congressman "Pleads the Case of White Men"

In 1847, Representative David Wilmot of Pennsylvania made a speech (excerpted below) to the House of Representatives in which he proposed a legislative amendment that would ban slavery from any territory acquired as a result of the war with Mexico. [...]

Item Type: Speech
"The Slave Mother"

This poem describes a scene where a woman, a slave, is being separated from her child by force. Francis Ellen Watkins Harper was an abolitionist and a free black woman author, teacher, and orator, who used her literary talent to fight for the [...]

Item Type: Fiction/Poetry
Democrats Outline their 1856 Party Platform

In an attempt to settle sectional conflicts about the expansion of slavery, Congress passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854. The act stated that the residents of Kansas and Nebraska, rather than the federal government, would determine the legality [...]

"Many Thousand Go"

Both the author and original date of "Many Thousand Go" are unknown, as is usually the case with slave songs. It was first published in a collection entitled Slave Songs of the United States (New York: A. Simpson & Co., 1867). The compilers of [...]

Item Type: Music/Song
Chief Justice Taney's Majority Opinion in Dred Scott v. Sanford

In Dred Scott v. Sanford, Supreme Court judges considered two key questions: did the citizenship rights guaranteed by the Constitution apply to African-Americans, and could Congress prohibit slavery in new states? The first excerpt below addresses [...]