ABOLITIONIST LITERATURE

By Terry Wang, Samarth Desai, and Ankith Reddy

The Legacy of Frederick Douglass, by Ankith Reddy

Resume of Introduction

  • Douglass witnessed the cruelty of his slave master towards his friends and family when he was first a slave, but rose to prominence as an influential abolitionist writer after he escaped slavery, and was able to influence white abolitionists such as William Lloyd Garrison through his oratorical style.

  • Ever since Douglass was a slave, he was motivated to learn how to read and write. Even though he was once caught, he continued to secretly learn how to write to plan his escape and then spread his knowledge of his experience to help the anti-slavery movement

  • Along with the anti-slavery movement, Frederick Douglass also participated in the suffrage movement as he believed in equality for everyone, and used the constitution to his advantage by saying that pro-slavery sentiment was not mentioned in the constitution whatsoever.

  • His most important speech given, “What to the slave to the 4th of July?”, attacked the hypocrisy in North America through his effective use of emotional and logical appeal. This became the turning point in his career as an abolitionist

  • Douglass was unique in that he was not afraid to express his own beliefs on the anti-slavery movement, which was primarily because of his education in writing and reading

  • Douglass recorded his experiences thoroughly and melodramatically to influence his audience, which consisted mainly of other abolitionists.

  • Douglass wanted to escape recapture by his former master by sailing to England. During his time in England, Douglass sparked more anti-slavery sentiment through his speeches

  • Douglass was stripped of wealth by his master, and was forced to work in a shipyard, with horrible conditions.

  • Douglass taught many other slaves how to read and write in order to transform them into abolitionists who could further help the anti-slavery cause

  • During the Civil War, Douglass advocated for black education in order to teach black children about the anti-slavery movement and emancipation

Citations

Citations

Uncle Tom's Cabin, BY Terry Wang

Biography

Harriet Beecher Stowe was born in 1811 in the northern state of Connecticut, growing up in a family of ministers and priests. After moving to Ohio in Harriet began writing short stories to earn money for her family and joined the city’s intelligentsia. Once the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act was passed, Harriet started to write a book that would become one the of most important pieces of literature of the 19th century. In 1852, Harriet published Uncle Tom’s Cabin, a story of slaves and the horrors of slavery and slave catchers. After the success of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet continued to write moral stories and poems, and died in 1896.


Summary

Uncle Tom’s Cabin was an instant bestseller, selling hundreds of thousands in North America alone, and even more abroad . It told the story of a noble slave Tom and his family, and another group of escaped slaves attempting to save their family. Uncle Tom’s Cabin ends with both groups escaping slavery, but one,Tom, escaped through death by the hands of his master. The novel created this image of slavery as unjust and showed how white men would do atrocities because of the institution known as slavery. It further showed the how an honorable man, Tom, who kept to his faith, could be so brutally punished by other humans due to slavery.


Importance

Uncle Tom’s Cabin sparked new discussion of the slavery issue, by bringing a personal account of slavery to the public. This novel touched at the emotions of the people, and showed how families and human beings were being persecuted under the institution of slavery. Although banned in the South, it reinvigorated the abolitionist movement, with many praising it as helping bring the issue of slavery to the public eye, something which speeches and newspaper articles failed to deliver. Many politicians, at home and abroad, used the book to support their position, and succeeded in turning many to the cause of abolition. It also served to increase tensions between the South and North, and was one of the factors in setting up the divide between these two regions.


Citations

http://www.librarycompany.org/women/portraits/stowe.htm

https://www.harrietbeecherstowecenter.org/utc/impact.shtml

http://www.ushistory.org/us/28d.asp

https://www.harrietbeecherstowecenter.org/utc/

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12 Years a Slave, by Samarth of the Desai

Biography

Solomon Northup was born a free african american in New York in the year 1808. His father was also a freed slave and his mother was also a free colored woman. As a violinist, Solomon worked as a traveling musician, but when he traveled to Washington D.C. for his job, he was kidnapped. For 12 years he worked as a slave in Louisiana. It wasn’t until he met a Canadian on the plantation who helped get Solomon’s plight back to New York. As a result Solomon was once again freed and shortly afterwards he wrote his famous autobiography “Twelve Years a Slave”. Furthermore Solomon worked as a speaker who delivered more than two dozens of speeches arguing against slavery. However, his book had the greatest effect on the abolitionist movement.


Summary

Twelve Years a Slave details the story of Solomon Northup, a freeman from New York who was wrongly kidnapped and moved to Louisiana where he worked as a slave for 12 years facing countless cruelties. Twelve Years a Slave had a huge impact on the abolitionist movement due to its immense detail regarding slave life; everything from what they ate and their relationship between master and slave was included. It was also powerful because it provided a unique perspective. Since he was born a free man his autobiography provides a unique view compared to other slave narratives. This also made the autobiography more relatable in a sense since most readers were most likely free people to begin with. Due to the combination of a more relatable author as well as the immense detail of his book, “Twelve Years a Slave” proved to be immensely critical to the abolitionist movement. The book was indeed so popular, that it sold three times as many copies as Frederick Douglass’s narrative.


Inspiration

Solomon Northup wrote this book in order to get his anti-slavery movement to the public. Furthermore due to his unique perspective of previously being a freeman before becoming a slave he believed that his story would prove much more relatable than other slave narratives of the past. Additionally his book helped to find and press charges against the two men that had originally kidnapped him. Although that wasn’t Solomon’s intention, it certainly was a nice bonus.



Importance

This narrative, much like Uncle Tom’s Cabin,brought the horror of slavery to the public eye. More and more were people first hand seeing how slavery was affecting other humans. Before, all people has were newspapers, or articles detailing how mistreated other slaves were, but never were the people shown a first hand account, of a real, genuine, human being kidnapped and degraded to less than human. This helped the abolitionist movement in the North, and many ordinary people flocked to these movements, while the South further tried to stifle narratives like these. Thus, the north and south became further divided, and along with other events and narratives, the divide would only become greater.


Citations

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/11/06/the-passion-of-solomon-northup/?_r=1

http://www.britannica.com/biography/Solomon-Northup

http://docsouth.unc.edu/fpn/northup/menu.html

A Simple Conclusion By The Dream Team

Abolitionist writers and other authors of literature painted a realistic and cruel picture of slavery in America. By writing these widely available books free Americans saw the injustices that occurred within their nation. These horrifying accounts jumpstarted the abolition movement, as many people wanted to end the evil actions of American politics. For example, Douglass was forced to witness the horrid punishment of his friends and brethren by his slave master. Accounts such as this dramatically changed the view of American politics because it caused more people to support the anti-slavery cause and shifted the views of the government towards a more anti-slavery sentiment during the Civil War. However, not only did Douglass’s speeches and accounts reveal the injustices in American politics, but changed societal views on slavery. “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” for example, represented the slave as a noble and loyal man, and represented the white master as a “cruel monster.” This strengthened the divide between the northern and southern views on slavery as the North sided more with Douglass’s beliefs and ideologies on slavery whereas the South completely ignored them. Douglass’s speeches also changed American values from apathy to consideration of equality between races. In “What to the slave is the 4th of July?”, Douglass acknowledged the achievements of the Americans, but told them that it was they who were victorious, and not the slaves. This changed American values because it caused more people to consider the treatment of slaves and how they should be viewed in society as humans. Overall, Douglass and other abolitionist writers changed the American identity by introducing the concept of equality into the anti-slavery movement.