Declaration of the Anti-Slavery Convention, 1833
The abolitionist movement took shape in 1833, when William Lloyd Garrison, Arthur and Lewis Tappan, and others formed the American Anti-Slavery Society in Philadelphia. The group issued this manifesto announcing the reasons for formation of the society and enumerating its goals. The broadside includes the names of delegates from ten states, to the Anti-Slavery Convention.
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Illustrations of the Anti-Slavery Almanac
Each year the American Anti-Slavery Society distributed an almanac containing poems, drawings, essays, and other abolitionist material. This broadside groups together illustrations of the horrors of slavery that were used in the 1840 edition.
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Frederick Douglass's North Star
From 1847 to 1863, escaped slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass (1817-1895) published the North Star with the aid of money and a press provided by British philanthropists. The paper was published in Rochester, New York. Douglass's goals were to "abolish slavery in all its forms and aspects, advocate UNIVERSAL EMANCIPATION, exalt the standard of public morality, and promote the moral and intellectual improvement of the COLORED PEOPLE, and hasten the day of FREEDOM to the Three Millions of our enslaved fellow countrymen." The paper also advanced women's rights, a cause that Douglass had championed since his participation in the first women's rights convention of 1848. Douglass also published another abolitionist paper, the Frederick Douglass Paper.
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Fugitive Slave Anthony Burns
This broadside shows Anthony Burns, whose arrest and trial under the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 touched off riots and protests by abolitionists and citizens of Boston in the spring of 1854. A bust portrait of the twenty-four-year-old Burns is surrounded by scenes from his life. These include the sale of the young Burns at auction, his escape from Richmond, Virginia, his arrest in Boston, his trial, and his departure from Boston escorted by armed marshals, to be returned to slavery in Virginia. The Burns case became a rallying point for opponents of slavery, who produced this broadside to remember his unjust treatment.
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Publications of Frederick Douglass
Frederick Douglass (1817-1895) was born a slave, but escaped North to freedom in 1838. He became a celebrated abolitionist speaker, and his speeches were widely circulated in print. Douglass used his lecture fees to aid fugitive slaves and headed the Rochester station of the underground railroad. One of the speeches in this pamphlet was delivered at a celebration of the anniversary of the abolition of slavery in the West Indies on August 1, 1834. Before emancipation in the United States, West Indian emancipation day was widely celebrated by opponents of slavery. In the second speech, Douglass denounces the controversial Dred Scott decision of March 6, 1857, in which the Supreme Court, under Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, denied Scott's claim that he was free because he had been taken into free territory and declared that no black could be a citizen under the Constitution.
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Wendell Phillips Speaks Against the Fugitive Slave Law
The illustration is from a popular nineteenth-century publication. It shows reformer Wendell Phillips (1811-1884) addressing an April 11,1851 meeting to protest the case of Thomas Sims, a fugitive slave being tried in Boston. A fiery and persuasive orator, Phillips was a member of the Boston Committee of Vigilance that tried to prevent Sims from being returned to slavery. The attempts failed and on April 13, United States marshals marched Sims to a ship that returned him to Savannah, where he was publicly whipped.
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Copy of Uncle Tom's Cabin Owned by Noted Abolitionists
In 1903, women's rights activist Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906) gave her personal book collection to the Library of Congress. Before sending the books, Miss Anthony inscribed many of the volumes. Her notations explain that this copy of Uncle Tom's Cabin was originally given to well-known anti-slavery and women's rights advocate Lydia Mott by her friend William Topp, a tailor and black abolitionist from Albany, New York. In 1874, Miss Mott gave the book to Miss Anthony. Published in 1852, Uncle Tom's Cabin sold 300,000 copies in its first year and intensified significantly the polarization of abolitionist and anti-abolitionist sentiment that contributed to the Civil War.
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Film versions of Uncle Tom's Cabin
Uncle Tom's Cabin was often produced as a play and later as a film, and many people who did not read the book saw it dramatized. Although white actors usually played the parts in blackface, some productions starred African-American actors and singers. At least seven silent versions had been made by 1927, and a black actor, Sam Lucas, first played the title role on film in 1914. This title card, used in theater lobbies to advertise the film, is from a rare issue of a thirty-minute silent film originally released by Vitagraph Studio in 1910. Directed by J. Stuart Blackton, a noted director of the period, this version featured Maurice Costello, Clara Kimball Young, and Norma Talmadge, all of whom became major stars.
Title card for “Uncle Tom's Cabin,” ca. 1910 H.A Molzon Company Motion Picture, Broadcast, and Recorded Sound Division, Library of Congress (53.1)
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The large woodcut image of a slave in chains was originally adopted as the seal of the Society for the Abolition of Slavery in England in the 1780s and appeared on medallions made by Josiah Wedgwood as early as 1787. A popular image, it often appeared in anti-slavery publications. On this broadside of 1837, the image is coupled with "Our Countrymen in Chains," a famous poem by Quaker author John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892). Among his many anti-slavery publications was an entire volume, Poems Written During the Progress of the Abolition Cause in the United States (1837). In 1833 Whittier acted as secretary of the Anti- Slavery Convention at Philadelphia and was one of the committee that drafted its declaration of principles.
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Susan B. Anthony Attacks Slavery
Susan B. Anthony, a powerful speaker and writer, campaigned for temperance and abolition as well as women's rights. Like many suffragettes, she saw parallels between the lack of rights and opportunities for women and the bondage of slavery. When the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution granted the vote to black males, Anthony fought unsuccessfully to have women included. In this speech from 1859, Miss Anthony urged her audience to "make the slave's case our own." She further entreated, "Let us feel that it is ourselves and our kith and our kin who are despoiled of our inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, that it is our own backs that are bared to the slave-driver's lash… that it is our own children, that are ruthlessly torn from our yearning mother hearts."
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