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document image of flier for "No Union with Slaveholders Broadside"

Chapter 02

Anti-Slavery in Black & White

In the 1820s African American and white abolitionists began working together to pressure Americans to confront the brutal realities of slavery. Alarmed by the rapid expansion of slavery beyond the Mississippi River, they forged new and unexpected relationships that defied the color line building the abolitionist movement. They carried their concerns to the public arena, declaring freedom for all. They marketed their movement including creating abolitionist papers, publications, logos and promotional products. Within the movement the end of slavery was the call of the day, yet tension regarding Black equality was also present.

As the abolitionist movement gained momentum its successes sparked violent anti-abolitionist backlash, and racism soaked into popular culture, political campaigns, and scientific thought. The result was that no American could avoid the issue of slavery and race.

Photograph of Frederick Douglass in a gold frame

Section IAnti-Slavery to Effect Change

Some Black and white people formed alliances as they fought against enslavement and racism, pushing the nation to live up to its ideals.

Illustration of the anti-slavery Almanac for 1840

American Anti-Slavery Almanac, 1840

Anti-Slavery: To Effect Change

Illustration of the anti-slavery Almanac for 1840

American Anti-Slavery Almanac, 1840

Between 1820 and 1861 abolitionists changed America. They were few in number, had little access to political power, and did not always share common beliefs about the future of African Americans. Their tactics also varied. The American Anti-Slavery Society publicized the horrors of slavery. The radical abolitionists reached for political power and endorsed antislavery candidates, Black and white. Others, such as Harriet Tubman and John Brown, took direct action.

I can but die for expressing my sentiments . . . for I am a true born American; your blood flows in my veins, and your spirit fires my breast.

Maria Stewart, 1832

Map of the Hydrographical Basin of the Upper Mississippi River stained with David Hoyts blood

Hoyt’s Bloodstained Map, 1856

David Hoyt and Bleeding Kansas

Map of the Hydrographical Basin of the Upper Mississippi River stained with David Hoyts blood

Hoyt’s Bloodstained Map, 1856

David Hoyt, a free-soil advocate who fought against the spread of slavery, was shot and killed in Kansas during a dispute with a proslavery mob. This blood-stained map was reportedly in his breast pocket when he died. With so much political, moral, and economic power at stake, many Americans risked their lives over slavery before the Civil War.

A letter, handwritten in black ink on white paper, offering the condolences of James F. Legate to the parents of David Hoyt on the occasion of Hoyt's death. The letter is written in brown ink on a single sheet of white paper, folded to make four pages. The correspondence begins on the first page with [Leominster Sept 13/56 / Dear Sir] and concludes on the third page with [Ever wishing to be remem- / bered kindly as his friend most sincerely / I am Yours / James F. Legate].

Letter to Hoyt’s Parents

A letter, handwritten in black ink on white paper, offering the condolences of James F. Legate to the parents of David Hoyt on the occasion of Hoyt's death. The letter is written in brown ink on a single sheet of white paper, folded to make four pages. The correspondence begins on the first page with [Leominster Sept 13/56 / Dear Sir] and concludes on the third page with [Ever wishing to be remem- / bered kindly as his friend most sincerely / I am Yours / James F. Legate].

Letter to Hoyt’s Parents

Many Americans risked their lives opposing the spread of slavery. The Free Soil Party, formed in 1848, included abolitionists and non-abolitionists who understood the political, economic, and moral power at stake. Their motto was "Free Soil, Free Speech, Free Labor, Free Men." David Hoyt, a free soil advocate, was killed in Kansas during a dispute with a proslavery mob in 1856. In this letter to Hoyt’s grieving parents, fellow abolitionist James F. Legate wrote, "he died that Libirty might come to the oppressed people of Kansas."

Mourn not my friends his untimely fate, for he was a willing sacrifice on the Alter of Freedom.

James F. Legate, Letter to David Hoyt's Parents, 1856

Daguerreotype image of John Brown in gold and brown frame

John Brown, by African American daguerreotypist Augustus Washington

John Brown and Abolition Without Compromise

Daguerreotype image of John Brown in gold and brown frame

John Brown, by African American daguerreotypist Augustus Washington

A radical abolitionist, John Brown supported Black people’s willingness to rise up in armed insurrection and pushed white Americans to overcome slavery. He advocated violence to end slavery, leading guerilla antislavery forces in Kansas. In 1859 he organized an armed slave rebellion at Harpers Ferry, in present-day West Virginia. He even wrote a constitution that protected African American rights. A white man, Brown lived in an African American community established by abolitionist Gerrit Smith.

Photograph of John Brown Pike head

John Brown Pike Head

Photograph of John Brown Pike head

John Brown Pike Head

John Brown declared, "These men are all talk. What we need is action—action!" Brown ordered 1,000 pikes like this to start an armed slave rebellion. His attempted revolt in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, in 1859 terrified white southerners.

Black and white illustration of James McCune Smith

James McCune Smith

James McCune Smith and Human Equality

Black and white illustration of James McCune Smith

James McCune Smith

Born a free man in 1813, James McCune Smith became the first university-trained African American physician. Dr. Smith believed in the power of education. He lectured widely and wrote about citizenship, immigration, suffrage, and elevating the social condition of Black people. Smith used his medical knowledge to dismantle inaccurate scientific claims of African American inferiority. He knew that racial difference was the product of society, not biology. Smith published his rebuttals widely, even challenging Thomas Jefferson’s views on race. He also understood the importance of education in combating these misconceptions. He said, “I have striven to obtain education, at every sacrifice and every hazard, and to apply such education to the good of our common country.”

A daguerreotype of William Lloyd Garrison in a case. In the portrait, Garrison is wearing a suit and glasses and looking off to the left. The exterior of the case is black with gold trim. The interior has embossed red velvet on the left side and the photograph inside a gold oval frame on the right. The glass over the image is heavily scratched. Stamped into the bottom left corner of the frame: "CUTTING & TURNER / 10 TREMONT ROW". And in the bottom right corner: "AMBROTYPE. / PAT. JULY. 11-54"

Daguerreotype of William Lloyd Garrison

William Lloyd Garrison and Immediate Abolition

A daguerreotype of William Lloyd Garrison in a case. In the portrait, Garrison is wearing a suit and glasses and looking off to the left. The exterior of the case is black with gold trim. The interior has embossed red velvet on the left side and the photograph inside a gold oval frame on the right. The glass over the image is heavily scratched. Stamped into the bottom left corner of the frame: "CUTTING & TURNER / 10 TREMONT ROW". And in the bottom right corner: "AMBROTYPE. / PAT. JULY. 11-54"

Daguerreotype of William Lloyd Garrison

Garrison introduced many white Americans to abolitionism when he published "The Liberator" and organized the American Anti-Slavery Society. In the first issue of "The Liberator," Garrison wrote, “I am in earnest—I will not equivocate—I will not excuse—I will not retreat a single inch—AND I WILL BE HEARD.” A fierce advocate of immediate abolition, Garrison defied social custom and welcomed Black and white men and women into his organizations. This experience provided many fugitives from slavery with their first speaking and publishing opportunities and encouraged the women’s movement in the United States. Garrison refused to engage with formal politics, stating that the Constitution was a proslavery document.

An inscribed gold pocket watch presented to William Lloyd Garrison. The watch has a half hunter case, with spring hinged glass cover over the dial and a hinged gold lid over the back, protecting the inscription and winding square. The dial is painted white with roman numerals and fleur de lis shaped watch hands. There is a smaller 60-second dial partly obscuring the "VI" of the larger dial. The two hinged covers open via a button on the crown and bow, positioned above the "XII" of the dial. The engraved inscription on the back of the watch is decorative and reads [Presented by / GEORGE THOMPSON, M.P. / on behalf of him / self and others / to / WILLIAM LLOYD GARRISON, / intrepid and uncompromising / Friend of the Slave: / in commemoration of the / TWENTIETH ANNIVERSARY OF / THE LIBERATOR / Boston / January 1st, 1851] in several text sizes and fonts. Production and identification marks are stamped and scratched on the inside of the back cover.

William Lloyd Garrison’s Watch

Letter of introduction written by William Lloyd Garrison on March 29,1851  for Rev. Thomas H. Jones who fled Salem, MA for England after the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act. The letter consists of a bi-folded sheet with handwriting in black ink on one quadrant. The letter is dated [Boston, March 29, 1851] at the top right and begins [To the Friends of the hunted American Slave in England: - ]. The letter introduces [Thomas H. Jones, a Wesleyan preacher, and pastor of a colored church in the neighboring city of Salem, who carries with him a narrative of his life for sale.]. It ends with [May the God of the oppressed raise him up many friends abroad!] and is signed [Wm. Lloyd Garrison] in the bottom right corner. There are no inscriptions or markings on the verso.

Introduction Letter from William Lloyd Garrison, 1851

A carte-de-visite portrait of Sojourner Truth, showing the subject seated with a daguerreotype of her grandson, James Caldwell of Co. H, 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, on her lap. Truth wears a dot print dress, striped jacket, dark-colored apron, a light-colored shawl over her shoulders, and a light-colored cap. She looks straight at the camera. Her proper right hand sits at her waist and her proper left hand appears to point at the daguerrotype lying open on her lap. There are no inscriptions on the front. On the back is the inscription [Sojourner Truth] and an identification number.

Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth and Black Feminism

A carte-de-visite portrait of Sojourner Truth, showing the subject seated with a daguerreotype of her grandson, James Caldwell of Co. H, 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, on her lap. Truth wears a dot print dress, striped jacket, dark-colored apron, a light-colored shawl over her shoulders, and a light-colored cap. She looks straight at the camera. Her proper right hand sits at her waist and her proper left hand appears to point at the daguerrotype lying open on her lap. There are no inscriptions on the front. On the back is the inscription [Sojourner Truth] and an identification number.

Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth is most remembered for her speech at the Woman’s Rights Convention in 1851 when she spoke about Black womanhood. No one, she emphasized, could deny that she was a woman and Black. As an enslaved person, she was a Black woman. As a public speaker, she was a Black woman. As a worker facing a day of hard labor, she was a Black woman. To separate her womanhood from her racial experience was to diminish her and other African American women.

Truth preferred photographs to control her image rather than relying on artists. Her use of photography was also strategic; as she stated, “I sell the shadow to support the substance.” She refers to herself, a formerly enslaved woman, as representing the shadow of slavery, and she refers to the substance of her cause, the abolition of slavery.

Photograph of Frederick Douglass in a gold frame

Frederick Douglass, ca. 1850

Frederick Douglass and Political Leadership

Photograph of Frederick Douglass in a gold frame

Frederick Douglass, ca. 1850

Frederick Douglass is one of America’s greatest leaders for many reasons, including his intelligence, his mastery of the written and spoken word, and his political brilliance. He embraced the true meaning of democracy. When Douglass escaped slavery in 1838, he claimed his human right to freedom. When he became a renowned speaker, publisher, and writer, he went one step further by calling for full citizenship, equal rights, and voting rights for all. Frederick Douglass changed our nation, and his words continue to inspire.

Publishing Power: Fighting for Change

In 1847 Frederick Douglass, with the support of abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, established an uncompromising and independent political voice with the publication of "The North Star." The newspaper’s motto was, “Right is of no sex—truth is of no color.” The influential newspaper provided a national and international platform for organizing against slavery and for women’s rights.

Eventually, interpretive differences marked a major break between Douglass and Garrison. Douglass began to view the Constitution as an antislavery document, while Garrison believed it was proslavery. By 1851, Douglass partnered with abolitionist Gerrit Smith to merge with the Liberty Party Paper of Syracuse and form "Frederick Douglass’ Paper."

The September 8, 1848 issue of the North Star, an antislavery newspaper published in Rochester, New York by Frederick Douglass. The paper is printed with black text on yellowed newsprint. The masthead reads [THE NORTH STAR. / RIGHT IS OF NO SEX-TRUTH IS OF NO COLOR-GOD IS THE FATHER OF US ALL, AND ALL WE ARE BRETHREN. / ROCHESTER, N. Y., FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 8, 1848.] On the left side of the masthead is [FREDERICK DOUGLASS, / M. R. DELANY, / EDITORS / VOL. 1. NO. 37.] Printed on the right side of the masthead is [JOHN DICK, PUBLISHER / WHOLE NO.-37.]. The main text is organized into seven columns of small print. At the top of the column on the far left, above the publisher's notices and list of agents, is printed: [The object of the NORTH STAR will be to attack SLAVERY in all its forms and aspects; advocate UNIVERSAL EMANCIPATION; exalt the standard of PUBLIC MORALITY; promote the moral and intellectual improvement of the COLORED PEOPLE; and hasten the day of FREEDOM to the THREE MILLIONS of our ENSLAVED FELLOW COUNTRYMEN.] This issue contains several anti-slavery essays and letters, including a letter from Douglass to his previous enslaver Thomas Auld, titled [To My Old Master], as well as a critique of the Liberian colonization movement, news of the rebellion in Ireland, poetry, notices of anti-slavery society meetings around the region, and general advertisements.

The North Star, 1848

The July 28, 1854 issue of Frederick Douglass' Paper, a Rochester-based weekly newspaper published and edited by Frederick Douglass that centered on antislavery efforts and other social reform causes. The title [Frederick Douglass' Paper] is printed in large text across the top, just underneath the title are the issue details printed between two horizontal black lines: [Vol. VII, No. 32, ROCHESTER, N.Y. FRIDAY JULY 28, 1854., Whole Number 344]. The text of the paper is densely concentrated in seven vertical columns and there is both a vertical and horizontal crease through the center. An inscription of the name [Stephen Reeves] is written in black ink at the top right corner of the front page. The last page contains a large advertisement: "Call for a National Emigration Convention of Colored Men to be held in Cleveland Ohio" and is signed in print by Martin R. Delany.

Frederick Douglass’ Paper, 1854