Abolition

William Lloyd Garrison

William Lloyd Garrison

William Lloyd Garrison

In the very first issue of his anti-slavery newspaper, the Liberator, William Lloyd Garrison stated, “I do not wish to think, or speak, or write, with moderation. . . . I am in earnest — I will not equivocate — I will not excuse — I will not retreat a single inch — AND I WILL BE HEARD.” And Garrison was heard. For more than three decades, from the first issue of his weekly paper in 1831, until after the end of the Civil War in 1865 when the last issue was published, Garrison spoke out eloquently and passionately against slavery and for the rights of America’s black inhabitants.

The son of a merchant sailing master, William Lloyd Garrison was born in Newburyport, Massachusetts, in 1805. Due in large measure to the Embargo Act, which Congress had passed in 1807, the Garrison family fell on hard times while William was still young. In 1808 William’s father deserted the family, forcing them to scrounge for food from more prosperous families and forcing William to work, selling homemade molasses candy and delivering wood.

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Slavery declared unlawful in British Empire

The struggle for the emancipation of slaves throughout the British Empire was known as the abolitionist movement. Protests against slavery date back to the 18th century, in which Enlightenment thinkers and religious groups like the Quakers highlighted the inhumane nature of the slave trade.

In Britain, the cause of the abolitionist movement was taken up by William Wilberforce, who started the Committee for the Abolition of the Slave Trade in 1787. Although Wilberforce succeeded in having the buying and selling of slaves abolished throughout the British Empire in 1807, there was no prohibitation against the ownership of slaves already purchased before this time.

It was only by 1833, with the passing of the Slavery Abolition Act, that the purchase, sale and ownership of slaves became illegal throughout the British Empire. On 1 August 1834, the practice of slavery in its entirety was abolished, and was replaced by the four year apprenticeship of slaves. This was to enable slave owners to retain their workforce and for slaves to learn a trade
Although the Cape was a British colony in 1834, the emancipation of slaves in South Africa had been delayed until 1 December 1834. The abolition of slavery has often been listed as one of the reasons for the Great Trek.

In many Caribbean countries, which formed part of the British Empire, 1 August is called Emancipation Day and is celebrated as a public holiday.

Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth fought for the desegregation of public transportation in Washington, DC during the Civil War. She refused to face the indignities of Jim Crow segregation on street cars and had the Jim Crow car removed from the Washington D. C. system. Sojourner Truth brought a local street to a standstill when a driver refused her passage.

With the support of the crowd she forced the driver to carry her. During her legendary life, she challenged injustice wherever she saw it. She was an ab litionist, women’s rights activist and preacher. Born into slavery (as Isabella Baumfree) in upstate New York, Sojourner Truth obtained her freedom and moved to New York City. There she began to work with organizations designed to assist women. She later became a traveling preacher and quickly developed a reputation as a powerful speaker. Continue reading

Martin R. Delany

Martin R. Delany

b. May 6, 1812, Charles Town, Va., U.S.–d. Jan. 24, 1885, Xenia, Ohio), U.S. black Abolitionist, physician, and editor in the pre-Civil War period; his espousal of black nationalism and racial pride anticipated expressions of such views a century later.

In search of quality education for their children, the Delanys moved to Pennsylvania when Martin was a child. At 19, while studying nights at a Negro church, he worked days in Pittsburgh. Embarking on a course of militant opposition to slavery, he became involved in several racial improvement groups. Under the tutelage of two sympathetic physicians he achieved competence as a doctor’s assistant as well as in dental care, working in this capacity in the South and Southwest (1839).  Continue reading

David Walker

(b. Sept. 28, 1785, Wilmington, N.C., U.S.–d. June 28, 1830, Boston, Mass.), black American Abolitionist whose pamphlet Appeal . . . to the Colored Citizens of the World . . . (1829), urging slaves to fight for their freedom, was one of the most radical documents of the antislavery movement.

Born of a slave father and a free mother, Walker grew up free, obtained an education, and traveled throughout the country. Settling in Boston, he became involved in the Abolitionist movement (see abolitionism) and was a frequent contributor to Freedom’s Journal, an anti-slavery weekly. Sometime in the 1820s he opened a secondhand clothing store on the Boston waterfront. Through this business he could purchase clothes taken from sailors in barter for drink, and then resell them to seamen about to embark. In the copious pockets of these garments, he concealed copies of his Appeal, which he reasoned would reach Southern ports and pass through the hands of other used-clothes dealers who would know what to do with them. He also used sympathetic black seamen to distribute pamphlets directly.

When the smuggled pamphlets began to appear in the South, the states reacted with legislation prohibiting circulation of Abolitionist literature and forbidding slaves to learn to read and write. Warned that his life was in danger, Walker refused to flee to Canada. His body was found soon afterward near his shop, and many believed he had been poisoned.

His Appeal for a slave revolt, widely reprinted after his death, was accepted by a small minority of Abolitionists, but most antislavery leaders and free blacks rejected his call for violence at the time.

His only son, Edwin G. Walker, was elected to the Massachusetts legislature in 1866.

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