One of the most powerful weapons of the Anolitionisdt Movement was literasture. The great vmajority of the improtant works were American or British. We are combining our assessment because both countries were English speaking and works created in either country were circulated in both. The onky basuic difference is that after indepoendence, America began to divide between a free North and slave South. Abilitionist was first a minority evebn radical view. The degree of free speech in both countries, however gave the abolitionist the possibility of arguing their case. Of course in the early phase of the struggle against slavery, Americas still 13 sepatste English colonies. Literacy was reltivelhigg on both sides of the Atlantic, in part because of the Protestasnt foundaton, so there was a subantial reading pubkic. There werre a wide range of literary types. We see books books, journals, pamphlets, and newspapers. Anolitionist authors wrote in mny different styles and conved their ideas from a a rane of prrspoectives. Chistin ideals were a major influence in much of the writing--the idea that . as a major this genre of writing relied on the Christian faith, primarily that God ceated all humans in his divine image. The more secular Enligtement idals of human equality can also be noted. We see prose, poetry, and lyrical verse. Most of the Abolitionist work of course was the material for adilts. There were, however, some works aimed at children. The best known was a little book of poetry written by English Quaker abolitionist novelist and poet, Amelia Alderson Opie--"The Black Man's Lameent; or, How to make Sugar" (1826). It was a call to political action that advocated the pleasures of sweets--a tough sell to children. The Abolitionits managed to win their casse in England (1833). It was a courageouds ct and ended their dominabce as aarty. The abolitionist movement faced an even more difficult fight in America. Emancipation in Britain required a simple majority vote in Parliament. This was not thecase in America. Abolitionist arguments were, however, changing minds. Opinions gradually changed and more states abolished slavery. Slavery brole the Whig Partty in Amnerica as the country splinteres on sectional divides. The single greatest piece of Abolitionisst literature was Uncle Tom's Cabin by Hariet Beecher Stowe (1852). It not only helped make anti-slavery an increasingly main-stream opinion and this comvinced mny Siutheners that there as no place for them in the Union. It lid the basis for slvery. President Koncoln described Stiowe as 'the little lady who started the Civil War. The planters who led sucession made a huge mistake. The Federal Constitution confers great authoruty to the states. Within the Union, emancipation was impossible, only sucession made emncipation possible. .
Most of the Abolitionist work of course was the material for adilts. There were, however, some works aimed at children. The best known was a little book of poetry written by English Quaker abolitionist novelist and poet, Amelia Alderson Opie--"The Black Man's Lameent; or, How to make Sugar" (1826). It was a call to political action that advocated the pleasures of sweets--a tough sell to children. The opening illustration seen here shows two British children a petition to abolish the slave trade. A chauned slave is recognizable as Wedgewood’s icomic abolitionist image of a supplicant slave, but here instead of kneeling, he stands and reaches out to the children. TYhe poem begins: "Come, listen to my plaintive ditty,/ Ye tender hearts, and children dear!/ And, should it move souls to pity,/ Oh! try to end the griefs you hear./ There is a beauteous plant, that grows/ In western India's sultry clime, /
Which makes, alas! the Black man's woes, /
And also makes the White man's crime.."
The most important ante-bellum (pre-War work) asbolitionist publication was Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852). there was extensive literature on slavery, but all pale in importance to Stowe's book. Stowe was virtually unknown when she wrote the book. Her sister-in-law encouraged her to "write something that would make this whole nationfeel wjat an accursed thing slavery is." Harriet was was influenced by the experiences of two teenage Maryland slave girls, Emily and Mary Edmonson, who were rescued from being sold as 'fancy girls' to New Orleans bordellos. She completed her work (1851) and it was published the next year. It was an immediate successes. It electrified northern audiences. State authorities in the South prevented its distribution. There were 0.3 million copies sold in America that first year. Pirated copies were sold in Europe. The story of Eliza , Topsy, Uncle Tom, and Simon Legree electrified northern readers and theatergoers, affecting northern attitudes toward slavery. While a melodramatic account, it is arguably the single most important book in American history. The abolitionist movement existed before her book, but it was an often criticised movemnent, seen as imporal or even treasonous by many in the North. The book had the impact of legitmizing the movement. Abolitionists were still a minority in the Nort, but they were no longer an out-cast minority. And slavery and slave owners was increasingly see as imoral, even among northerners who were not abolitionists. Thus whoile the book did not create a great demand for abolition in the North, it did generate increased support in the South for secessiion from a Union which increasingly viewed slave owners as immoral. And Stowe's book appeared just as the anti-slavery Whigs and Democrats were beginnning to form the new Republican Party. Stowe wrote many more books, including Dred, A Tale of the Great Dismal Swamp (1856). But it was her first book for which she is chiefly remembered. When President Lincoln met Stowe, he remarked, "So you are the little lady who started this great war." (1863)
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