An abolitionist was a person
who wanted to do away with slavery. In the 1830's abolitionists
began to speak out in public.
In 1831 a Boston,
Massachusetts newspaper called The Liberator was
published. The editor was an abolitionist named William Lloyd
Garrison. Garrison used the newspaper to tell Congress and the
world that slavery must be abolished. Many people agreed with
Garrison. In 1833 Garrison and others formed the National
Antislavery Society which published books and papers about
Remember the Fugitive Slave Law
from the Missouri Compromise of 1820. This law stated that "free"
states, those states which did not allow slaves, must return
escaping slaves to their owners. Abolitionists did not obey this
Sojourner Truth was a
slave who was freed in 1827. She began lecturing about the
issue of slavery. Truth was a forceful speaker. Many people
listened to her causes. President Abraham Lincoln chose her to
be a counselor to the freedmen in Washington.
Another group that helped slaves was the
Underground Railroad. This was a chain of homes and farms
where escaped slaves could go for help. The chain of safe
houses ran to Canada where the slaves could be free.
Many free ex-slaves took part in the
Underground Railroad. Harriet Tubman guided more than 300
slaves along the Underground Railroad.
Frederick Douglass was
born a slave. He taught himself to read and write. He ran away
from his master. Douglass wrote and told of his life as a
slave and gave lectures to groups of abolitionists.
Henry "Box" Brown mailed
himself from Richmond to the home of an abolitionist in
Philadelphia. Later he became free.
Another person who helped
Americans become aware of the life of a slave was Harriet
Beecher Stowe. She lived in Hartford, Connecticut. Stowe's
father was an abolitionist. She visited a plantation in
Kentucky. There she learned about slavery. Stowe wrote a book
about the cruelty of slavery called Uncle Tom's Cabin.
This book was published in 1852. It became a best-seller in
the north. The book was banned in the southern states. Later
it was made into a play.
In Uncle Tom's Cabin there was
a cruel slave owner named Simon Legree. He mistreated all the slaves
on his plantation. Most of all he mistreated Little Eva. She was a
young black slave and Uncle Tom was an older slave. Tom tried to be
nice to Legree. The nicer he was the more he was punished. Legree
whipped and finally killed old Uncle Tom.
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