Refugees on levee, April 17, 1897, photo by Carroll's Art Gallery

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Map Comparing Slave and Free States

This map compares statistics on free and slave states. Issued during the presidential election campaign of 1856, it pictures famous Western explorer John C. Fremont (1813-1890), the first presidential candidate of the Republican Party, and his running mate, William L. Dayton (1807-1864). The Republican Party had been created in 1854 by opponents of the Kansas-Nebraska Bill, which allowed for extension of slavery into free territory in the West. Despite gaining thirty-three percent of the popular vote, Frémont lost the election to James Buchanan (1791-1868). Four years later, however, the Republican Party succeeded in electing Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865).

Reynolds Political Map of the United States, designed to exhibit the comparative Area of the free and slave states New York and Chicago, 1856 Map Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress (56)

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Conflict between Trees of Slavery and Liberty

This map, entitled Historical Geography, portrays American history as a conflict between two opposing trees struggling to dominate the land. One was the tree of slavery, planted at Jamestown, Virginia, in 1619; the other, planted by the Pilgrims at Plymouth in 1620, was the tree of liberty. The text at the bottom of the map explains the allegory and associates the Republican Party with the liberty tree.

Historical Geography, by John F. Smith Chicago, 1888 Map Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress (57)

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Early Copy of The Liberator

William Lloyd Garrison (1805-1879) issued the first number of The Liberator on January 1, 1831. The radical tone of the paper was unprecedented because it labeled slave-holding a crime and called for immediate abolition. When the Nat Turner rebellion of August 1831 escalated Southern fears of slave uprisings, some Southern states passed laws making circulation of The Liberator a crime and called for prosecution of Garrison. Although he had detractors, Garrison quickly became a noted leader of the anti- slavery movement and helped launch the American Anti-Slavery Society in Philadelphia in 1833. Until he ceased publication in 1865, Garrison employed the Liberator to advance militant anti- slavery views. He especially opposed African colonization, as is shown in the article entitled "Emigration" in column one of this issue.

The Liberator, May 21, 1831, p. 1 Newspaper Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress (59)

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Abolitionist Song

Beginning in the 1840s, abolitionist societies used songs to stir up enthusiasm at their meetings. To make the songs easier to learn, new words were often set to familiar tunes. This 1841 song by William Lloyd Garrison has six stanzas set to the tune of "Auld Lang Syne."

“Song of the Abolitionist,” 1841 William Lloyd Garrison, Author Holograph Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (60)

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Abolition Celebration in Washington, D.C.

On April 19, 1866, the African-American citizens of Washington, D.C., celebrated the abolition of slavery. A procession of 4,000 to 5,000 people assembled at the White House, where they were addressed by President Andrew Johnson (1808-1875). Marching past 10,000 cheering spectators, the procession, led by two black regiments, proceeded up Pennsylvania Avenue to Franklin Square for religious services and speeches by prominent politicians. A sign on top of the speaker's platform read: "We have received our civil rights. Give us the right of suffrage and the work is done."

“Celebration of the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia by the colored people in Washington, April 19, 1866,” From Harper's Weekly, May 12, 1866, p. 300 Photomural from woodcut Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (62)

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Idealized Portrayal of John Brown

John Brown (1800-1859) was an abolitionist who took direct action to free slaves by force. Following his raid on the arsenal at Harpers Ferry, in mid-October 1859, he was convicted of treason, conspiracy, and murder. One of the most controversial abolitionists, Brown was regarded by some as a martyr and by others as a common assassin. Brown's dignified bearing in prison and at his trial moved many spectators. Ralph Waldo Emerson said that Brown's death would "make the gallows as glorious as the cross." This image shows a heroic Brown being adored by a slave mother and child as he walks to his execution on December 2, 1859.

John Brown, The Martyr New York: Currier and Ives, 1870 Prints and Photographs Division (127)

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Return to Abolition Influence of Prominent Abolitionists | Conflict of Abolition and Slavery