The Abolitionist Cause

The leaders and works that shaped a new American identity.

Fredrick Douglass- A Man with a Legacy

Fredrick Douglass, a revolutionary man with a desire to rid the United States of slavery, had accomplished many things during his lifetime. The following list details these stated accomplishment in further depth:

1) Despite any formal education, Douglass wrote three, complete autobiographies that describe his escape from slavery and later establishment as a social activist.

2) First African American to be nominated for the position of Vice President of the United States.

3) Following his return from Europe (where he attained sufficient monetary funds to purchase his legal freedom), Douglass produced a variety of successful newspaper publications in support of abolition.

4) He was the only male to attend the Seneca Falls Convention as a delegate in support of Women's Rights. Also partially responsible for the passing of a resolution proposed by Cady Stanton regarding the affirmation of the goals propagated for the suffrage cause after he spoke in favor for it.

5) Assumed many official positions in government of other countries, such as his position as the president of the Freedman's Savings Bank and as charge d' affaires for the Dominican Republic. He was later appointed minister-resident and consul-general to the Republic of Haiti (1889-1891).

6) For 16 years, Douglass edited an influential black newspaper and reached a level of infamy unprecedented by other blacks due to his acclaim as a persuasive speaker and writer.

7) Douglass was appointed as Marshal (1877-1881) and Recorder of Deeds (1881-1886) for the District of Columbia.

8) Served as advisor to President Abraham Lincoln regarding his decision to pass the Emancipation Proclamation and fate of the Union during the Civil War.

9) Achieved fame due to his prolific skills at oration and writing.

10) Fought for the adoption of amendments to the Constitution that would guarantee voting rights for men and women (of all races) alike.







Harriet Beecher Stowe was the daughter of a minister and moral reformer, and she studied at a female seminary where she later taught as well. In 1832 she moved with her family to Cinncinatti where she was greatly impacted by the exposure to the slaves being transported across the Ohio River. Stowe later married a professor of biblical literature, and then they moved to Maine where she wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin in response to the Fugitive Slave Act
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Uncle Tom's Cabin is the story of slaves escaping to freedom, and Stowe utilized many first-hand accounts in order to make the story realistic. The book was an unexpected bestseller, and it gave an inside look at slavery that had not been very present before.


Uncle Tom's Cabin brought into light the role of women's voices in society. Stowe was one of the first female abolitionist writer, and her book made people think about and call into question the practice of slavery.


William Hayden was a slave from Cincinnati, Ohio and was a key leader in expressing his views for freedom of the American slaves. He was a very religious man, and traveled all around the South educating the youth and spreading abolitionist values.


William Hayden was a former slave from Cincinnati, Ohio. He was a voice for the many slaves giving insight to Americans about what the slaves were experiencing since he had been a slave for 40 of the 60 years in his life. He was important to the abolitionist movement because he showed what blacks could achieve.


The motivation for William Hayden was freedom. He wanted the same for all blacks as the whites. He was always strong through his years as a slave and after and believed that blacks could do anything that whites could.


This importance of this narrative is quite extensive. Primarily, its importance is established by Hayes' account of his life as a slave, which provides insight into the brutalities and injustices that he had essentially faced while, simultaneously, being dehumanized. In the face of the abolitionist movement, which wanted to rid the country/world from slavery due to these accounted injustices, they propagators of this movement would be able to manipulate Hayes' experience (not in a negative connotation) for the sake of exposing these brutalities that real humans were facing and utilize it to garner support from citizens to help support the cause.

In Conclusion.....

The American political, ethical, and societal atmospheres were greatly changed (and challenged) by the dynamic thoughts and ideas propagated by members/works that comprised the Abolitionist movement in 3 primary ways. These ways ranged from calling into question existing societal structures and systems, forced reevaluation of "American" ethics and principles, and igniting the need for political reform in the foundation of American politics, the Constitution, to provide for the ever-changing needs of American life. Although Abolitionist ideas were originally not popular within white society (due to their support of the carefully formed social hierarchy which allowed them to reap the benefits from Black oppression), they challenged the existing societal structures and systems, provoking thought within American minds about the ethics of slavery: was it acceptable for the Negro race to be enslaved? For any race to be enslaved? To be dehumanized and faced with a brutal servitude that would force them to sacrifice their time for the sake of the White needs? Abolitionist writer and orator, Fredrick Douglass, was one of the many leaders of the Abolitionist movement to pose these questions to his audiences, forcing them to think a bit deeper about the roots of slavery and the question between right and wrong, and to which force they would allow to prevail in the American country. This challenge also led to the forced reevaluation of principles/ethics of American society. To claim that all people are truly born free and to each is guaranteed their respective pursuits of happiness and then blatantly contradict those principles within their own society was ironic to many, to say in the least. With slave narratives such as that of William Hayes, which exposed the brutalities and inhumanity of slave life, there was no way in which societies could, with validity, claim the (positive) ethical side of slavery. Publishing of these works therefore allowed for many people to further understand the abolitionist standpoint and ruminate over the principles that America should therefore provide for all its citizens, regardless of race. This furthered the need for change in the political sphere of American life, in specific regards to the proponents of the Constitution and the rights that it delegated to its citizens that abided by it. One man, Douglass, pushed for this change directly during the time that he served as an advisor to President Abraham Lincoln during one of the most tumultuous times of American History, in which, at Douglass' advising, took a preemptive measure toward changing the slavery dynamic in America by passing the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed all slaves in Confederate territories. Granted, at the time, it wasn't entirely successful, but mainly served as a precursor for further reform and amending to the Constitution and laws of the United States.