Growing opposition to slavery

6 June 2017

During the late 1700s to mid 1800s, a growing opposition to slavery was taking place in the United States. This growing opposition was visible in the ways people were beginning to speak out against slavery through abolitionist movements, along with some aspects of the Wilmot Proviso. People’s consciences were also stirred by the novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Many people during this time span were slowly beginning to come to the understanding that slavery was morally wrong.

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Abolitionists such as Frederick Douglass, a former slave himself, and William Lloyd Garrison were beginning to speak out against slavery during this time period. The abolitionists of this time period, white and black, were slowly but steadily gaining support, mostly in the Northern region. In his “Declaration of Sentiments of the American Anti-Slavery Society’, Garrison stated that, “We shall organize Anti-Slavery Societies, if possible, in every city, town, and village of our land. Other abolitionists gained attention to their cause by publishing newspapers and holding anti slavery conventions. Yet another abolitionist, Theodore Parker, published a poster one year after the Fugitive Slave Act was established, an act that declared all runaway slaves were, upon capture, to be returned to their master, that warned runaway slaves of the dangers of watchmen and police looking for them. These small acts done by the abolitionists of that time period slowly began to influence other white peoples’ views on slavery.

In 1846, David Wilmot, a Democratic representative from Pennsylvania, proposed that Congress ban slavery from all lands acquired in the war with Mexico. This proposal came to be known as the Wilmot Proviso. The Wilmot Proviso, also known as the “White Man’s Proviso”, gained support by those who were anti slavery along with other Northerners who wanted to preserve the West for free labor. However, the support from the Southern slave states defeated the Wilmot proviso, leaving the decision as to whether the West should be slave territory or free land up for discussion.

Eventually the doctrine of popular sovereignty was established, which decided that the people of the given territory should resolve the issue of slavery in he territory themselves by popular vote. These series of events shows not only the growing sympathy of the North towards slavery but also the unsureness of Congress whether to abolish slavery or stabilize free territory because of the growing realization that slavery was wrong. The novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, or Life among the Lowly, also brought much attention to the anti slavery movement.

The novel, written by Harriet Beecher Stowe, a Northerner who had never set foot on a plantation, told bout the trials and terrors in the life of a slave on a Southern plantation. The novel sparked much support in the abolitionist movement and was accepted as truth among the Northerners. According to an advertisement from 1859 for Uncle Tom’s Cabin, it was still considered “the greatest book of the age” seven years after its publication in 1852. This tear Jerking novel caused many people to come to the realization that slavery was morally wrong.

Thanks to the publications, conventions, and lectures done by the abolitionists of he time, more attention was brought to the anti slavery movement, intluencing many peoples’ views. The controversy over the territory gained from the American-Mexican war also showed a growing realization that slavery was wrong. The novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, also showed opposition to slavery because it was accepted as truth among the North. Although slavery was still accepted and often times welcomed during the late 1700s to mid 1800s, more people were beginning to see the immorality behind the cruel treatment of slaves.

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