Abolition

Freedmen’s Bureau

The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands, often referred to as the Freedmen’s Bureau, was established in the War Department by an act of March 3, 1865. The Bureau supervised all relief and educational activities relating to refugees and freedmen, including issuing rations, clothing and medicine.

The Bureau also assumed custody of confiscated lands or property in the former Confederate States, border states, District of Columbia, and Indian Territory. The bureau records were created or maintained by bureau headquarters, the assistant commissioners and the state superintendents of education and included personnel records and a variety of standard reports concerning bureau programs and conditions in the states.

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

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