Browsing "Emancipation"

Expecting Unending Federal Interference

In no way was the North a monolithic unit against the American South during the War, and many the Northern Democratic party criticized Lincoln’s policy’s though at the risk of imprisonment. Though the abolition of slavery was a noble effort, they saw free government as more precious.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Expecting Unending Federal Interference

“[“Samuel “Sunset”] . . . Cox concluded once again that the purpose of the war was being perverted; the Union soldiers had been deceived, for “they never went into a crusade for abolition.” He pronounced [The Freedman’s Bureau] bill “sweeping and revolutionary” in its effect since “it begins a policy for this Federal Government of limited and express powers, so latitudinarian that the whole system is changed” into a centralized, unitary government, operating “by edict and bayonet, by sham election and juggling proclamation.” [He said] The way to peace was to “restore the Union through compromise” not by “military governors for rebellious provinces.”

As reports reached Washington that Southerners were freeing their slaves for use in the army, it was clear that the end of slavery would not be a bar to negotiations for a restored Union. So on January 21, 1865, as Cox recorded later, “I fully intended . . . to cast my vote for the amendment.” He had explained his position at length several weeks earlier.

Conceding the power to amend the Constitution to abolish slavery . . . Cox preferred to leave the question “to the States individually.” He had urged a policy of non-intervention by the government in the slave question ever since “I first came to this Congress.” Slavery “is to me the most repugnant of all human institutions,” but the principle of “self-government” by the States over their own affairs “was even more precious than the end of human bondage,” for, if the federal government could intervene in this matter, then federal interference could be expected in all domestic matters.

Most important of all, however, was the Union. If peace with Union could be achieved “by the abolition of slavery, I would vote for it.” But if abolition “is an obstacle in the way of restoring the Union,” as Cox felt it was at the moment . . . then he would vote against it.”

(“Sunset” Cox, Irrepressible Democrat, David Lindsey, Wayne State University Press, 1959, pp. 91-94)

 

Jun 21, 2015 - Emancipation    No Comments

Proclamations to Incite Slave Revolt

Lincoln’s emancipation proclamation of 1863 to incite race war was patterned after Lord Dunmore’s of November, 1775, and Vice Admiral Cochrane’s of April, 1814. In Lincoln’s case, the edict freed no slaves in territory under Northern military control and assumed he was in a position of authority in States which had left the old Union.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Proclamations to Incite Slave Revolt

“War with Great Britain brought unexpected trouble to the planters of coastal Georgia, many of whom had strong family and commercial ties to the British Empire. No doubt [the planters’] blood boiled when [they] read the April 2, 1814 proclamation of Vice Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane, who commanded “His Majesty’s Ships upon the North American Station.”

The admiral promised that unhappy settlers, meaning the slaves of the Southern States, would be welcome aboard British vessels, freed from bondage, and sent to British possessions in North America and the West Indies, “where they will meet with all due encouragement.”

Pierce Butler was reminded of the similar pronouncement issued by the Earl of Dunmore [Royal Governor of Virginia] during the Revolution. In his mind it was, once again, a dangerous emancipation proclamation that might lead to violent insurrection . . . Admiral Cochrane’s proclamation was much more realistic than Lord Dunmore’s. The Revolution had altered the British position in that the loss of the American colonies removed six hundred thousand slaves from the empire. In 1814, it was not Great Britain who was the greatest slaveholding nation in the world. With slavery no longer the economic force it had been, abolitionists came to the forefront in England and were better able to argue their cause.

The pleasant quiet [along the Georgia coast] ended abruptly on January 10, 1815, when an expeditionary force of Royal Colonial Marines landed on Cumberland, the southernmost of Georgia’s barrier islands. Unaware that Andrew Jackson had repulsed the British at New Orleans . . . . [Admiral] Sir George Cockburn . . . directed the landing in Georgia. It was he who put the torch to public buildings in Washington . . . and who had conducted the vindictive raids on Chesapeake Bay. Following the ruthless burning of Washington, a citizen of Pughstown, Virginia, offered a reward of five hundred dollars for each of Admiral Cockburn’s ears – “on delivery.”

(Major Butler’s Legacy, Five Generations of a Slaveholding Family, Malcolm Bell, Jr., UGA Press, 1987, pp. 170-171)

Republicans Instilled Lessons of Hatred and Hostility

Acclaimed historian Dr. Clyde Wilson has written that the Republican party was solely responsible for carrying out the bloodiest war in American history against the American South, to destroy self-government. In South Carolina, a Republican-rigged postwar convention erected a corrupt political regime kept in power by Northern bayonets, carpetbaggers and freedmen.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Republicans Instilling Lessons of Hatred and Hostility

“When the war came to an end, and the Southern States lay prostrate at the feet of their conqueror, they experienced the bitterest consequences of the humiliation of defeat. There were no revengeful prosecutions (a few judicial murders in the flush of the victory excepted). The Congress devoted itself to the work of reconstruction . . . on the principle of equal rights to all men . . . there seemed to be no reason why the States should not proceed harmoniously in the career of peaceful progress.

But there was an element in the population which rendered such a principle fatal to all peaceful progress. In many of the States, and in South Carolina particularly, a majority of the people had been slaves. All these were suddenly elevated to the rank of citizens. Were this all, even then there might have been hope.

The slaves had always lived well with their masters, bore no resentment for past injuries, and if they were let alone in their own mutual relations, the two races might, and doubtless would have harmonized and soon discovered the art of living together in peace. But this was not to be.

With the progress of Northern arms grew up an institution founded ostensibly, perhaps really, for the protection of the rights of the newly emancipated slaves. This institution, known as the Freedmen’s Bureau, became for the time the ruling power in the State. It interfered in all the concerns of whites and blacks, its officers were generally men who not only had no love for the South, but who made it their mission to foster in the minds of the blacks a bitter hatred and mistrust of the whites.

They were, on all occasions, the champions of the Negroes rights, and never failed to instruct them that it was to the Republicans that they were indebted for all the rights which they enjoyed. In the train of the Bureau came the schoolmistresses who instilled into the minds of their pupils the same lessons of hatred and hostility.

The consequence was, that though the personal relations between the races were friendly, though the blacks invariably addressed themselves to the whites as to true friends for all offices of love and kindness, of which they stood in need, they would never listen to them, if the latter wished to talk about politics.

This feeling was intensified by the introduction of the Union League, a secret society, the members of which were solemnly bound never to vote for any but a Republican. By such means, the Negro presented a solid phalanx of Radicalism . . . a new business arose and prospered in Columbia, a sort of political brokerage by which men contracted with speculators to buy the votes of members when they were interested in the passage of any measure. Here was a corruptible Legislature under the influence of men utterly corrupt.

In South Carolina . . . Society was divided into the conquered whites, who were destined to satisfy the voracious appetites of the carpetbagger, and the needy and ignorant Negro, directed by his hungry teachers. The whites had no rights which they were bound to respect; if they paid the enormous taxes which were levied upon him, the Negro was satisfied; he had done all that it was necessary for him to do in the degenerate State.”

(Last Chapter of Reconstruction in South Carolina, Professor F.A. Porcher, Southern Historical Society Papers, Volume XIII, pp. 76-79)

Freedmen Fleeing Northern Race Prejudice

To quell the fears of Northerners who feared emancipated slaves flooding their way in search of employment and wages, Northern leaders began advancing interesting theories. Giving the freedmen political control of the defeated South would “drain the northern Negroes back to the South” as they fled the race prejudice common in the North. Lincoln and other Republicans advanced ideas of colonization; Grant as president gave serious thought to deporting freedmen to Haiti.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Freedmen Fleeing Northern Race Prejudice

“As the war for the union began to take on the character of a war for freedom, northern attitudes toward the Negro paradoxically began to harden rather than soften. This hardening process was especially prominent in the northwestern or middle western States where the old fear of Negro invasion was intensified by apprehensions that once the millions of slaves below the Ohio River were freed they would push northward – this time by the thousands and tens of thousands, perhaps in mass exodus, instead of in driblets of one or two who came furtively as fugitive slaves.

The prospect of Negro immigration, Negro neighbors, and Negro competition filled the whites with alarm, and their spokesmen voiced their fears with great candor. “There is,” [Illinois Senator] Lyman Trumbull told the Senate, in April, 1862, “a very great aversion in the West – I know it to be so in my State – against having free Negroes come among us.”

And about the same time [Senator] John Sherman, who was to give his name to the Radical Reconstruction Act five years later, told Congress that in Ohio “we do not like negroes. We do not disguise our dislike. As my friend from Indiana [Congressman Joseph A. Wright] said yesterday, the whole people of the northwestern States are, for reasons correct or not, opposed to having many Negroes among them and the principle or prejudice has been engrafted in the legislation of nearly all the northwestern States.”

So powerful was this anti-Negro feeling that it almost overwhelmed antislavery feeling and seriously imperiled the passage of various confiscation and emancipation laws designed to free the slave. To combat the opposition Republican leaders such as George W. Julian of Indiana, Albert G. Riddle of Ohio, and Salmon P. Chase advanced the theory that emancipation would actually solve northern race problems.

Instead of starting a mass migration of freedmen northward, they argued, the abolition of slavery would not only put a stop to the entry of fugitive slaves but would drain the northern Negroes back to the South. Once slavery [was] ended, the Negro would flee northern race prejudice and return to his natural environment and the congenial climate of the South.

One tentative answer of the Republican party to the northern fear of Negro invasion, however, was deportation of the freedmen and colonization abroad . . . the powerful backing of President Lincoln and the support of western Republicans, Congress overcame [any] opposition. Lincoln was committed to colonization not only as a solution to the race problem but as a means of allaying northern opposition to emancipation and fears of Negro exodus.

(Seeds of Failure in Radical Race Policy, C. Vann Woodward, New Frontiers of the American Reconstruction, Harold M. Hyman, editor, pp. 126-129)

Lincoln's Party of White Supremacy

The freedmen did not receive the franchise because of their political maturity and judgment as the clear intent was to simply keep the Republican party in power. The Republican party’s Union League organization taught the Southern black man to hate his white neighbor, and to vote for Northern men whose own States had initiated Jim Crow laws. An excellent source for Northern antebellum racial views is “North of Slavery: The Negro in the Free States, 1790-1860,” Leon Litwack, Chicago, 1961.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Lincoln’s Party of White Supremacy

“The Republican leaders were quite aware in 1865 that the issue of Negro status and rights was closely connected with the two other great issues of Reconstruction – who should reconstruct the South and who should govern the country. They were increasingly conscious that in order to reconstruct the South along the lines they planned they would require the support and the votes of the freedmen.

And it was apparent to some that once the reconstructed States were restored to the Union the Republicans would need the votes of the freedmen to retain control over the national government. While they could agree on this much, they were far from agreeing on the status, the rights, the equality, or the future of the Negro.

The fact was that the constituency on which the Republican congressmen relied in the North lived in a race-conscious, segregated society devoted to the doctrine on white supremacy and Negro inferiority.

“In virtually every phase of existence,” writes Leon Litwack with regard to the North in 1860, “Negroes found themselves systematically separated from whites. They were either excluded from railway cars, omnibuses, stagecoaches, and steamboats and assigned to special “Jim Crow” sections; they sat, when permitted, in secluded and remote corners of theaters and lecture halls; they could not enter most hotels, restaurants and resorts, except as servants; they prayed in “Negro pews” in the white churches . . . Moreover, they were often educated in segregated schools, punished in segregated prisons, nursed in segregated hospitals, and buried in segregated cemeteries.”

Ninety-three per cent of the 225,000 Northern Negroes in 1860 lived in States that denied them the ballot, and 7 per cent lived in the five New England States that permitted them to vote. Ohio and New York had discriminatory qualifications that practically eliminated Negro voting.

Ohio denied them poor relief, and most States of the old Northwest had laws carrying penalties against Negroes settling in those States. Everywhere in the free States the Negro met with barriers to job opportunities, and in most places he encountered severe limitations to the protection of his life, liberty and property.

[Many Republican leaders], like Senator Lyman Trumbull of Illinois, the close friend of Lincoln, found no difficulty in reconciling antislavery with anti-Negro views. “We, the Republican party,” said Senator Trumbull in 1858,” are the white man’s party. We are for free white men, and for making white labor respectable and honorable, which it can never be when negro slave labor is brought into competition with it.” [And] William H. Seward, who in 1860 described the American Negro as “a foreign and feeble element like the Indians, incapable of assimilation”; [and], Senator Henry Wilson of Massachusetts, who firmly disavowed any belief “in the mental or intellectual equality of the African race with this proud and domineering race of ours.”

(Seeds of Failure in Radical Race Policy, C. Vann Woodward, New Frontiers of the American Reconstruction, Harold M. Hyman, editor, pp. 125-12”

 

Enticing Substitute Soldiers for New England

The use of slaves as substitute soldiers for New England’s white citizens in the Revolution was duplicated during the War Between the States. As Northern governors feared election disaster should a federal draft be imposed, they gathered captured slaves in the South to be enlisted and counted against State troop quotas demanded by Lincoln. Like the Connecticut bill below, the Confederate Congress passed a bill providing for black soldiers in early 1865, but only after the owners themselves emancipated them.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Enticing Substitute Soldiers for New England

“The exigencies of war had moved both Connecticut and Rhode Island in the direction of emancipation, and both States considered enlisting slaves in order to relieve wartime troop shortages. In Connecticut, although an actual enlistment bill presented in the spring of 1777 failed to be enacted, the legislature passed a bill that fall allowing slave owners to free healthy slaves and indemnifying from financial responsibility.

Slave owners used the provisions of this bill to entice their slaves to serve as substitutes for them in the Continental Army in exchange for their freedom, and several hundred took advantage of the opportunity. In 1778 Rhode Island actually implemented an enlistment act that offered State-financed compensated emancipation: slaves were offered manumission and soldiers’ benefits in exchange for their enlistment, and slave owners were compensated by the State up to 120 [Pounds] for each enlisted slave.

There was considerable opposition to this law; in fact, with fewer than a hundred slaves actually emancipated under its provisions . . . In 1779 and again in 1780, bills for gradual emancipation failed to pass the Connecticut legislature. In 1779, Rhode Island did ban the sale of Rhode Island slaves out of State, but no further efforts to engage the slavery issue were made during the war.

In 1783 a fresh campaign to end slavery and the slave trade was mounted in Rhode Island by Moses Brown, Quaker convert and exasperated brother of wealthy slave traders Nicholas and John Brown. He produced countless anti-slavery articles and pamphlets . . . But with the American slave trade centered in Rhode Island and slavers forming the nucleus of Newport society, in February 1784 the legislature defeated this abolition bill; it passed another that stood silent on the issue of the slave trade but did provide for gradual emancipation.”

(Disowning Slavery, Gradual Emancipation and Race in New England, 1780-1860, Joanne Pope Melish, Cornell University Press, 1998, pp. 67-68)

England's Slave Trade Guilt

The English colonial system and a need for large labor forces to cultivate land and generate products for the benefit of the British Empire was behind the importation of slaves to North America, and fueling the transatlantic slave trade were the Muslim kings of Africa’s Gulf of Guinea who readily sold their subjects to European traders.  Slavery in Africa was a widespread institution and existed in the Sudan, Senegambia, Upper Gambia and along the Niger River. The New England abolitionists could have adopted Wilberforce’s peaceful campaign to eradicate slavery, and repaid humanity for the sins of their own slave trading fathers.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

England’s Slave Trade Guilt

(Speech in the House of Commons by William Wilberforce, 12 May, 1789)

“When we consider the vastness of the continent of Africa; when we reflect how all other countries have some centuries past been advancing in happiness and civilization; when we think how in this same period all improvement in Africa has been defeated in her intercourse with Britain;

[W]hen we reflect that it is we ourselves that have degraded them to that wretched brutishness and barbarity which we now plead as the justification of our guilt; how the slave trade has enslaved their minds, blackened their character . . . What a mortification must we feel at having so long neglected to think of our guilt, or attempt any reparation!

It seems, indeed, as if we had determined to forbear from all interference [with slavery] until the measure of our folly and wickedness was so full and complete; until the impolicy which eventually belongs to vice was become so plain and glaring that not an individual in the country should refuse to join in the abolition; it seems as if we had waited until the persons most interested should be tired out with the folly and nefariousness of the trade, and should unite in petitioning against it.

Let us then make such amends as we can for the mischiefs we have done to the unhappy continent; let us recollect what Europe itself was no longer ago than three or four centuries.

What if I should be able to show this House [of Commons] that in a civilized part of Europe, in the time of Henry VII, there were people who actually sold their own children?  What if I should tell them that England itself was that country?  What if I should point out to them that the very place where this inhuman traffic was carried on was the city of Bristol?

Ireland at that time used to drive a considerable trade in slaves with these neighboring barbarians; but the great plague having infested the country, the Irish were struck with a panic, suspected (I am sure very properly) that the plague was a punishment sent from heaven for the sin of the slave trade, and therefore abolished it.

All I ask, therefore, of the people of Bristol is, that they would become as civilized now as Irishmen were four hundred years ago.  Let us put an end at once to this inhuman traffic – let us stop this effusion of human blood.”

(The World’s Famous Orations, William Jennings Bryan, editor, Funk and Wagnalls, 1906, pp. 66-68)

Lincoln's Instrument of Subjugation

Lincoln was not the first to invoke an emancipation of slaves in the South for the purpose of carrying off his enemy’s agricultural labor and inciting a bloody race war – Virginia’s Royal Governor Lord Dunmore did this in 1775 and Rear Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane the same in 1814. As enlistments for his war machine had virtually ceased after the carnage of 1862, Lincoln saw more blue-clad troops in slaves carried off from their Southern plantation homes.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Lincoln’s Instrument of Subjugation

“Lincoln had laid aside his [emancipation] proclamation waiting for a victory. He waited two months, meanwhile giving out public statements based on his previous noncommittal attitude [regarding African slavery]; then on September 22, after Lee’s invasion had been foiled at [Sharpsburg], he issued the preliminary proclamation.

That this proclamation was far from an abolition document is shown by a careful reading of its provisions. The President began by reiterating that the purpose of the war was the restoration of the Union and reaffirming his intention still to labor for compensated emancipation. He then declared that on January 1, 1863, slaves in rebellious States should be “then, thenceforward, and forever free” . . .

The proclamation was not expressive of any general antislavery policy. On January 1, 1863, the definitive proclamation was issued, its chief provision being that in regions then designated as “in rebellion,” (with certain notable exceptions) all slaves were declared free. [But] the stereotyped picture of the emancipator suddenly striking the shackles from millions of slaves by a stroke of the presidential pen is altogether inaccurate.

The whole State of Tennessee was omitted [from the proclamation]; none of the Union slave States was included; and there were important exceptions as to portions of Virginia and Louisiana, those being portions within Union military lines. In fact freedom was decreed only in regions then under Confederate control.

“The President has purposely made the proclamation inoperative [declared the New York World] in all places where we have gained a military footing which makes the slaves accessible. He has proclaimed emancipation only where he has notoriously no power to execute it. The exemption of the accessible parts of Louisiana, Tennessee and Virginia renders the proclamation not merely futile, but ridiculous.

The proclamation is issued as a war measure, as an instrument for the subjugation of the rebels. But that cannot be a means of military success which presupposes this same . . . success as the condition of its own existence . . . A war measure it clearly is not, inasmuch as the previous success of the war is the thing that can give it validity.”

“We show our sympathy with slavery, [Secretary of State William] Seward is reported to have said, “by emancipating slaves where we cannot reach them and holding them in bondage where we can set them free.”

The London Spectator declared (October 11, 1862): “The government liberates the enemy’s slaves as it would the enemy’s cattle, simply to weaken them in the . . . conflict . . . The principle is not that a human being cannot justify owning another, but that he cannot own him unless he is loyal to the United States.”

Earl Russell in England declared: “The Proclamation . . . appears to be of a very strange nature. It professes to emancipate all slaves in places where the United States authorities cannot exercise any jurisdiction . . . but it does not decree emancipation . . . in any States, or parts of States, occupied by federal troops . . . and where, therefore, emancipation . . . might have been carried into effect . . . There seems to be no declaration of a principle adverse to slavery in this proclamation.”

It will be noted that Lincoln justified his act as a measure of war. To uphold his view would be to maintain that the freeing of enemy slaves was a legitimate weapon of war to be wielded by the President . . . [and] in the new attitude toward slavery which the war produced [in the North] it was natural to find considerable support for the view that slavery was a legitimate target o the war power [of the President]; but it is a matter of plain history that prior to the Civil War the United States had emphatically denied the “belligerent right” of emancipation.

Indeed, John Quincy Adams, who has been credited by his grandson [Charles Francis Adams] with having originated the idea of the emancipation proclamation, declared officially while secretary of state in 1820 that “No such right [emancipation of slaves] is acknowledged as a Law of War by writers who admit any limitation.”

To Lincoln’s mind the war emergency justified things normally unconstitutional. “I felt that measures otherwise unconstitutional,” he said, “might become lawful by becoming indispensible to the preservation of the Constitution through the preservation of the nation.”

(The Civil War and Reconstruction, J.G. Randall, D.C. Heath and Company, 1937, pp. 489-493)

 

Emancipation in 1845 South Carolina

Always fearful of slave revolts as the black population steadily grew, and shaken by reality in the Nat Turner massacre of women and children, Southerners logically erected anti-emancipation laws to control slave populations. The constant agitation of slave revolt by Northern abolitionist fanatics, culminating in John Brown’s 1859 crime in Virginia, was an effective means to end even voluntary emancipation in the South. Peaceful emancipation initiatives from the North would have had a better effect and avoided war.

Bernhard THuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Emancipation Sentiment in 1845 South Carolina

“In 1840 there came up to the Court of Appeals the noted Carmille case. A slaveowner, Carmille, had died leaving a will which with reference to his slaves provided that they should be set free if possible . . . or conveyed in trust to certain trustees who would allow them to hire their time, paying only a nominal sum to the trustees.

This was unquestionably in conflict with the policy of the [South Carolina] statutes on the subject of emancipation. [A] court held that the will of the testator was not contrary to the principles of the act of 1820 and was not in violation of the State’s policy toward the Negro, and that the will ought to be carried out.

The decision . . . aroused the sentiment of the legislature and caused the passage of the sweeping act of 1841. The act of 1841 was intended apparently to close every avenue of approach to emancipation. These laws are always of course to be taken as a final indication of public sentiment. There was evidently a large class of persons who honestly desired to see a less severe policy pursued. Their views cannot be better expressed than in the clear and rugged style of Justice O’Neall. In 1845 he said:

“I think its policy [i.e., of the legislature against emancipation] so questionable that it ought to be repealed. A law, evaded as it is, and against which public sentiment, within and without the State, is so much arrayed, ought not to stand. It is better by far, that a wise and prudent system of emancipation, like that of 1800, should exist, rather than that unlicensed emancipation according to private arrangement should take place.

What is there in the policy of South Carolina to forbid emancipation by an owner, of a faithful, honest, good slave? Have we anything to fear from such a liberal and humane course?

Until fanaticism and folly drove us from that position of the law our State had uniformly favored emancipation by owners, of their slave property, with such limitations and guards as rendered the free Negro not a dangerous, but a useful member of the community, however humble he may be. It is time we should return to it and say to all at home and abroad, we have nothing to fear from occasional emancipation.”

(Control of Slaves in South Carolina, H.M. Henry, PhD Dissertation Vanderbilt University, 1914, pp. 173-174)

Emancipation Regardless of the Consequences

Today’s progressive religion of empathy with oppressed peoples worldwide emulates that of the antebellum abolitionist, who expressed deep concern with people he had never met, could not understand, and whose world was alien to him. To salve their own guilt and difficult grasp of reality, the abolitionist fomented a bloody conflict which unleashed forces no one could control, and an oppressive result we live with today.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Emancipation Regardless of Consequences

“Most Northerners before the Civil War, and indeed many slaveholders, were “against” slavery.” The abolitionists recognized also that they must continually reinforce their own commitment to their cause. The frequent meetings and intra-group journals of any movement for change serve an indispensable function even when they repeatedly pass the same resolutions and proclaim familiar truths to the already committed.

The twin tasks of refreshing the commitment of abolitionists and of converting outsiders’ passive disapproval of slavery into active opposition differed only in emphasis, especially after the movement had grown from a handful of pioneers into a network of societies with thousands of members.

In propaganda aimed at both groups, the abolitionists relied heavily on the same arguments: among others, that slavery denied the humanity of the Negro and prevented the slave from having normal family relations and religious life, that the North shared the slaveowners’ guilt, that absolute power of one individual over another encourages atrocities, that slavery was responsible for the degraded condition of Northern free Negroes . . . ”

[William Lloyd Garrison] deliberately [pictured] himself in the place of the oppressed. On the first anniversary of his marriage, he wrote to his brother-in-law describing his happiness and extolling the institution of marriage; and he added, how horrible it would be if he and Helen were slaves and were separated by sale. All the more reason, then, to rededicate his life to the abolition of slavery.

This theme, which for convenience will be referred to as “empathy,” appears repeatedly in abolitionists’ private discourse and public propaganda, in exhortations among themselves to increase their zeal and in efforts to induce complacent whites to imagine themselves in the place of the slaves.

But the abolitionist movement comprised mainly white men and women, most of whom had never been in the South. The empathy theme can thus be seen, perhaps, as a substitute for direct involvement in the suffering that movement was dedicated to end. It appeared in other forms as well. When Abby Kelley Foster was asked how she could leave her baby with others, to travel the abolitionist lecture circuit, she replied, “For the sake of the mothers who are robbed of all their children.” Beriah Green . . . [said]: You can act as if you felt that you were bound with those who are in bonds, as if their cause was all your own . . .”

Abolitionist propaganda reiterated that Northern whites were in fact indirectly “bound with” the slaves. Paradoxically, the North was not only an accessory to the enslavement of the Negroes; it was at the same time a secondary victim of the slaveowners. With their strong religious motive for proclaiming the duty of emancipation regardless of the consequences, the abolitionists could not in good conscious appeal to the North solely or chiefly on the basis of interest.

The empathy theme enabled them in a remarkable way to combine interest with principle, for if a Northern white could be made to feel bound with the slave he would fight the slave power to defend himself, as Beriah Green suggested, as well as to exculpate himself. To free the slave would be to free himself of both guilt and bondage; the two motives would become one.”

(Means and Ends in American Abolitionism, Aileen S. Kraditor, Pantheon Books, 1967, pp. 235-238)