The Sweet Melody of Freedom

By: Zena K.

Music's Effects

"I am an Abolitionist!" The crowd chanted as they sang for the freedom of slaves. Around the 1830s and 1840s, the Abolitionist Movement began. It was a difficult fight for the liberty of slaves and many strategies helped lead this fight to victory. One of those strategies was music. Yes, music. Music was a powerful tool used. This tool swayed people's emotions and opinions on slavery and soon enough, more and more people were inspired to fight against slavery. So, this kind of music reminded Americans of their values and beliefs which lead to the continuation of democracy and social equality because, through music, it lead people to join the fight against slavery and create an equal society where everyone has equivalent liberty and freedom.

Music's Use

  • Music and songs used during the Abolitionist Movement were used as a powerful tool to fight.
  • Songs that were created were used as propaganda.
  • These songs were against slavery and slave trade and were used as a "weapon" to discourage cruel acts toward slaves and create equality.
  • People wanted to introduce these anti-slavery songs into popular culture to inspire people to join the fight with abolitionists.
  • Music made people emotional and rethink their opinions on slavery.
  • Songs were even used to entice slaves to escape and guided the slaves on ways to escape from their owners and finally obtain freedom.

Popular Songs During Abolitionist Movement:

"Get Off The Track"

  • The song "Get Off The Track" was written by the Hutchinson Family Singers.
  • This song was considered the "soundtrack" to Abolitionist Movement in the 1840s.
  • To the public, this song was very influential.
  • As a family, they became famous by joining the American Anti-slavery Society and inspiring many people through their works against slavery.
  • They traveled the country, sang at social meetings, and sold their sheet music which really helped change people's opinions.

"The Anti-Slavery Melodies"

  • "The Anti-Slavery Melodies" is a songbook that was assembled by Jarius Lincoln.
  • This songbook includes various artists with numerous, different songs that were against the cruelty of slavery.
  • It was published in 1843 on behalf of a local anti-slavery organization.
  • Although it was the second American abolitionist songbook, it impacted the anti-slavery cause greatly and effected many people.

Here is a song from the songbook called, "Spirit of Freedom, Awake":

"Spirit of Freedom, Awake"

"Song of the Abolitionist" (I am an Abolitionist!)

  • This popular song is written by the famous abolitionist, William Lloyd Garrison.
  • It is set to the tune of the song, "Auld Lange Syne".
  • This song mentioned important points about abolitionists' motives, ideas, and plans.
  • It also states within the song that liberty for everyone is the right thing to do.
  • The song mentions God, which was very important to most folks because, religion (especially Christianity) was popular and the mention of religion and how it is related to slavery was used a good persuasive tool.
  • Garrison himself was an abolitionist who was very passionate about the freedom of slaves and played a very important role during the Abolitionist Movement.
Song of the Abolitionist (I Am an Abolitionist) (1841)

Success of the Songs

  • Slavery hindered people from living a good and happy life, and music changed that all.
  • Together, artists, musicians, and just regular abolitionists had the power to change lives of slaves forever and create a better world for you and me.
  • This important movement in history (and how people used art to take a stand) created a huge mark on America.
  • Music and art defines each historical event which over all defines the history of humans.