We have seen how the slaves worked and lived on the plantations and how their labors deeply influenced the creation of a new “industrial” sector of the economy — the textile mills in New England. This week, let’s look at another key aspect of American society that slavery galvanized — anti-slavery sentiment and those who embraced and promoted such sentiment.
Context: Abolition was one response to the Great Transformation that rolled across the United States between 1828 and 1848. Coupled with the rise of Transcendentalism, reform of the prisons and sanatoriums, and the Second Great Awakening, abolition was one way that mostly middle-class reformers sought to combat the changes that industrialization created or, at the least, sped up.
The exhibition The African American Odyssey: A Quest for Full Citizenship, showcases the African American collections ofThe Library of Congress. Displaying more than 240 items, including books, government documents, manuscripts, maps, musical scores, plays, films, and recordings, the exhibit is the largest on black history ever held at the Library of Congress.
The Library’s materials, gathered over the two hundred years of its existence, tell the story of the African American experience through nine chronological periods.
For this discussion we will be looking at one section of this collection; the section is entitled: “Abolition, Anti-Slavery Movements, and the Rise of the Sectional Controversy.” It has two parts. The first is called Anti-Slavery Activists, and the second is Popular Anti-Slavery Sentiments.
Be sure to read BOTH parts of this section in completing this assignment.
The Task: After reading the textbook chapter and the documents for this week, please examine the website section that I describe above and its two parts. As always, set aside a chunk of free time, take a deep breath, and enter into this past world with a mind as open as the sky. Carry no preconceptions: you will be just fine however strange the feeling. Your goal in a survey course like this should be to understand the past first. Understanding earns you the right to judge — if you wish to do so.
As you examine this rich collection of primary documents, please begin to formulate your answers to the following questions and, at the end, post these to our Discussion board.
Bear these questions in mind during the exhibit. Then, when you’re done, return here and post your answers in our forum. Be sure to post your initial response – as ever — by Thursday of this week. Then, later in the week, respond critically to at least two (2) of the posts of your fellow students. .
- If you’ve read the Foner text, you know who the most famous anti-slavery activists were. List two less-than-famous activists found on this site, describe them briefly, and discuss the reasons for their activism. If you wish to learn more about them and their reasons, you have the web at your fingertips. Please use it and cite whatever you borrow.
- How was anti-slavery sentiment popularized at this time? Take two instances at minimum, describe each carefully, and describe what audience each item was targeted for. Be specific. Do you think that each piece of propaganda was effective? Why or why not?
- In what way does this collection build upon what you learned in Foner’s text? Be specific, elaborating on each source.
- After your critical (i.e. questioning) examination of the documents on this site, after clicking on photographs to learn more and following the many hyperlinks on this site, what still confuses or mystifies you? What shocked you? What made you pause. Yes, slavery was peculiarly brutal, but go deeper. Your response to this exhibit is as important as what you found there, so note it. If you were bored or indifferent, why was this so?
To access the Abolition Period of the African-American Odyssey, go HERE. ( http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/aaohtml/exhibit/aopart3.html)
-please cite the chapter I will be sending you within your answers. ex: (Foner, 400)
-please include QUESTION AND ANSWER and number it
-please read the website provided also and use that to answer the questions as well