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Kyle Richardson Monday, December 7, 2009

Abolition - The Role of the Individual in Effecting Change

1. Explain both a moral and political rationale for abolition.

a. Coming from a moral perspective, citizens had many reasons to fight in the
abolitionist movement. The first major moral rationale was about more than just
morality; it was about religion. The fight for abolition coming from the Christian side was
strong because these Christians believed that it was a responsibility of the church to
correct societal wrongs. One part of society that was viewed as wrong was the
institution slavery. Christians viewed all people as equal in the eyes of God and felt that
all people should be equal in the eyes of each other as well. More moralistic and ethics
based approaches came from secular movements and their leaders who saw that
slavery brought unjust suffering upon other human beings and that it showed a lack of
equality, which that government had been founded upon.
b. Slavery was questioned not only from a moral view, but from an economic and
political view as well. Some politicians supported the abolitionist movement because
they saw it as being greatly unconstitutional. They believed that one of the goals of the
Constitution was to bring equality to all men, and this fit snuggly with the abolitionist
goals too. People were politically passionate when it came to slavery, and some even
created a new political party supporting the abolition of slaves. The Free Soil party saw
that the institution of slavery was corrupt and prevented a honest white man from
earning a honest wage. In midst of the Civil war, the political side of abolition was
apparent when it came to freeing contraband slaves and when Lincoln issued the
Emancipation Proclamation. Politicians who supported the Union favored abolition
because it would weaken the Confederacy and help to end the war.
2. Those reformers who were a part of the abolitionist movement also favored other
societal reforms. Those who called themselves reformers were composed a group of moral
and upstanding citizens who were possibly involved in church communities or a part of new
groups of thinkers. They took it upon themselves not only to right the wrong of slavery, but
to right the wrongs in education, prison, and voting. These people were in favor of an
overall change in society. Followers of these respective movements were influenced by
their leader’s values as well, and these leaders could have been proponents of more than
one cause.
3. The abolitionist used an arsenal of strategies and tactics to spread support for their
cause and see to it that slaves were freed. One of the most popular forms of sharing their
ideas was by using a flood of pamphlets that were spread throughout the country. They
educated people on their reasons for hating slavery and about why they wished to end it.
Novels and stories also helped to gain support for the abolitionist movement. These works
included books by the Grimke sisters and the infamous Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Lectures also
had a large affect on the opinion of slavery and helped to educate American students about
its savage nature. Organizations also sprung up around the country that facilitated the
movement against slavery and helped to rally supporters to action. A huge weapon used
by abolitionists against slavery was the Civil War itself. Abolitionists turned this war to
preserve the Union into a war against slavery, was gained supported not only for the North,
but for the abolitionists as well.

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