Abolitionist Literature

By Karen Lin, Amanda Fry, Althea Musakasa, and Ansh Shah

The Legacy of Frederick Douglass

  • Published Douglass Monthly (1858-1868), a paper that discussed social reform and abolition

  • July 1848 participated in the first feminist convention at Seneca Falls, which held great responsibility for the passing of the motion to support female suffrage.

  • Served as U.S. Marshall of the district of Columbia during Rutherford B Hayes’ administration.

  • Appointed as the District of Columbia Recorder of Deeds by James Garfield

  • Benjamin Harrison appointed him as the U.S. Minister to Haiti. (1889)

  • 1845 He published his 1st autobiography narrative of The Narrative of The Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave

  • Part of the Black Union soldiers for Am. 54th Massachusetts volunteers

  • 1st African American nominated as Vice President as Victoria Woodhull's running mate of the Equal Rights Party ticket (1872). This was the first time an African American appeared on a Presidential Ballot

  • Gave the speech “The meaning of July Fourth for the negro “ July 5th 1852 in Rochester.

  • Wrote two other autobiographies, My Bondage and My Freedom (1855) and The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (1881)






Uncle Tom's Cabin

1. Biography

Harriet Beecher Stowe was born in Litchfield, Connecticut in 1811 into an extremely religious family. Later, Harriet used her education and family morals to write around 30 novels in her lifetime and a variety of letters and articles; however, she is most well known for her novel "Uncle Tom's Cabin". Uncle Tom's cabin reached millions of people and energized abolitionists in north while angering thousands in the south. Stowe also had an active role in Civil War literature after her success with Uncle Tom’s Cabin. With her literature, Stowe was able to show the people of America the realistic nature of the institute of slavery.

2. Book Cover


3. Summary

Uncle Tom’s Cabin revolves around three related slaves resold from previously “kinder” owners - Uncle Tom, Eliza and her son, Harry. The latter two escape slave traders Haley and Loker for a period of time while simultaneously, Uncle Tom resigns to St. Clare’s plantation. Two years later, Uncle Tom is resold by St. Clare’s vicious wife to a more cruel master where his defiance towards the slave owners reaches its peak and he finds solace in other slaves Eva and Cassy. Finally, all the slaves decide to escape from their horrid conditions and thus the family is reunited on their road to freedom and independence. This story provides a powerful and emotional insight on horrors of separation of slave families and the continuous will to be free from slavery.

4. Importance

Uncle Tom’s Cabin was incredibly important in inspiring American values because it helped enlighten millions of people into the horrors of what was occurring in the south. It put a sense of sympathy and reflection in the people of the north and in turn increased abolitionism in the region while it concurrently angered the people of the south who found it an attack on their traditional and economic ways. A great divide separated the beliefs of the American North and South and the literature is believed to have directly contributed to the start of the Civil War.

5. Bibliography




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Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Ann Jacobs

1. Biography

Harriet Jacobs was born into slavery and was taught to read, write, and sew by her mother’s mistress. Jacobs married a free white man named Sawyer. Through wills and legal documents, Harriet and her children because the property of a man named Norcom. Norcom served as a physically and sexually abusive master, so Jacobs planned her escape. She hid in her grandmother's attic for seven years. She escaped to Philadelphia in 1842, and made her way to New York by 1845. Jacobs made friends in the north and become part of the anti-slave society and spoke to audiences in rochester to help support their cause. She began writing her memoirs in 1852 and published Incidents in the life of a Slave Girl, under the pseudonym “Linda Brent”. The book was published in 1861.

2. Summary

Jacobs memoir was important because it was the first slave narrative to openly discuss sexual abuse endured by slave women. The topic was even difficult for abolitionists to confront. Her book gave her fame, which she used to gain awareness and money for black refugees. She never stopped working to improve the conditions for blacks.

3. Inspiration

Jacobs greatest influence in escaping her domestic abuse was to become free from her master. She said it was “unbearable”, and fled from the situation, temporarily leaving her children behind.was greatly influenced by her friends to write her book. They encouraged her to write about even the most difficult parts of her enslavement - the sexual abuse she endured.

4. Importance

Jacobs pulled on the heart-strings of the abolitionists. Her courage to speak out about her situation caused abolitionists re-evaluate their treatments of freed slaves. They began to care more about the individual and realize the real hardships that slaves, and slave women is particular, endured. Her book brought attention to the cause and Jacobs started and joined several committees to help the cause so that the abolitionist movement gained momentum.

5. Bibliography



Conclusion Paragraph

Bringing changes to American values, politics, and society, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Beecher Stowe and Harriet Ann Jacobs, brought attention to the inhumane nature of slavery, the division of North and South, and intrinsic morals on humanity through their influential pieces of literature during the mid 1800s. Frederick Douglass took the knowledge he had acquired and used it as a way to appeal to the people in the effort to abolish slavery through his works of literature, occupying major roles in politics as well as publishing well known papers.Harriet Beecher Stowe showcases the struggles of slaves during a tumult time were separation of slave families were common calling for a reflection on the morals of American society. And finally, the works of Harriet Ann Jacobs brought to light the inner abuses of the master slave relation and called to action to relate American values to American slaves as well.