Witness for Freedom: African American Voices on Race, Slavery, and Emancipation

By C. Peter Ripley; Roy E. Finkenbine et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 4
Black Abolitionists and the National Crisis

THE SLAVE POWER

Black abolitionists sought to convince the American public that slaveholding interests--the "slave power" --corrupted the South, caused racial prejudice in the North, and threatened American democracy. In the 1840s and 1850s, they witnessed slavery's growing influence on the federal government. The Fugitive Slave Law, the Kansas-Nebraska Act, the attempt to annex Cuba as a slave state, the movement to reopen the slave trade, and the Dred Scott decision all seemed to underscore the power of slaveholding interests at the national level. African Americans reacted with dismay, disbelief, and anger as the government policies upheld slavery and systematically eroded their civil rights. The federal government's conduct compelled African Americans to reassess antislavery tactics and goals and to question fundamental beliefs about the nation's institutions and democratic political principles.


56 SLAVERY--ITS EFFECTS UPON THE RIGHTS AND INTERESTS OF THE NORTH

Joseph C. Holly, a poet and antislavery lecturer, explored the political, economic, and moral costs of the federal government's "unhallowed

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Witness for Freedom: African American Voices on Race, Slavery, and Emancipation
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations xiii
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • Editorial Statement xvii
  • Chronology xxi
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter 1 - The Rise of Black Abolitionism 29
  • Chapter 2 - African Americans And the Antislavery Movement 69
  • Chapter 3 - Black Independence 121
  • Chapter 4 - Black Abolitionists and the National Crisis 170
  • Chapter 5 - Civil War 211
  • Glossary 263
  • Bibliographical Essay 279
  • Index 291
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