Skip to main content

tv   [untitled]    April 1, 2012 12:00am-12:30am EDT

12:00 am
makes a huge difference in our work with students, so i want to thank you all for coming today because by your being here we have been able to raise additional funds for our educational programs, and, tony, on behalf of all of us, a very small token of our appreciation. >> with a clod of hollowed dirt. >> exactly. >> stolen from? >> we hope you stay and stay, chat, have a bit more wine and conversation, buy a book and have it signed. thank you all for coming. >> thank you.
12:01 am
>> each week american history tv sits in on a lecture with one of the nation's college professors. you can watch the classes here every saturday at 8 p.m. and midnight eastern and sundays at 1 p.m. this week ohio state university history professor joan cashin looks at the abolitionist and women's rights movements and slavery in the early part of the 19th century. this class is from jeffersonian american. it is an hour and a half.
12:02 am
>> okay. well, last time we were talking about the american west, the far west, the settlement of the trans-mississippi and today we will switch and talk about the abolitionist movement. a reform movement that begins to gather steam in the 1830s. a movement that has as its goal the abolition of slavery. meaning the full, complete emancipation of all slaves. and this is different. this is different from earlier occasions of criticisms of slavery by other americans. there is always a few people here and there since the he revolution that would occasionally speak out against slavery, a quaker, for example, in new jersey in the 1820s wrote essays saying that gradual emancipation would probably be best, maybe state by state, but this is different.
12:03 am
this is a group of people who are calling for the absolute, full and complete end of slavery. every slave in the united states immediately. the people who are very active in this movement are often devout protestants, blacks and whites, men and women, people from all parts of the united states, but we must always remember this is a small number of people. this was never a mainstream movement. this was never a mass movement. students from our perspective today, when we look back at this, we would say, well, of course slavery should end. of course slavery should be abolished, all thinking adults today would agree on that. slavery is illegal everywhere now. the cast country to abolish slavery was saudi arabia which abolished slavery in 1962. 1962, not 1862.
12:04 am
it has been a long, hard struggle but it is illegal now everywhere. to say these things in the 1830s and 40s and 50s took a lot of courage. this took a lot of guts. this is not mainstream opinion. this is going against mainstream opinion. these people are at the cutting edge of reform. these people are in the vanguard of change. they're saying things that are quite controversial, that get a lot of criticism and opposition as we will see from all over the united states, not just from states with big slave populations which is what we might expect but even in free states, in states where slavery had been abolished during the revolution or soon after the revolution. there is still a lot of criticism. we must remember that the past is different from the present. we must remember that the whole
12:05 am
spectrum of political opinion is completely different from what it is today. many of the presidents are themselves slave owners, and the president of the united states in the 1830s was a very wealthy slave owner, andrew jackson, and we talked about that in an earlier lecture and jackson denounced abolitionists. he said they were dangerous, they were incendiaries, they were trying to harm the united states. they were trying to harm american society, so this is something that is a hard fight for abolitionists in this generation. the 19th century has been called by historians the century of emancipation because this fight takes place in many different societies and it is a hard fight everywhere. everywhere slave owners fight back. everywhere slave owners try to
12:06 am
counter these criticisms and try to preserve slavery. we'll be talking about that in a few minutes. the individuals that get caught up in the abolitionist movement and lead the movement are very interesting people. there have been lots of excellent biographies on the different historical figures and i think at this point we can quote a civil rights activist from the 1950s and 1960s about what kind of person would be involved in this movement, what kind of person would be leading it, and i would like to quote a nice phrase from andrew young who was a black political activist, a friend of martin luther king, with king when king was assassinated, later served as a congressman and mayor. he's had a long career in politics and reform. in his memoir he said the kind of people who were attracted to the civil rights movement of the 20th century were what he called creatively maladjusted.
12:07 am
they were creatively maladjusted meaning they were people that did not want to accept the status quo, who thought segregation was wrong, and they were creative about it. they wanted to change the status quo, and i think it is a very nice phrase, and i think it really applies in many respects to the abolitionist. now, let's talk about a few of the famous figures. one of the most famous was a newspaper editor in boston. his name was william lloyd garrison. william lloyd garrison was a native of massachusetts, a white man, from a working class background. his father had abandoned the family when he was quite young, and william had to go out to work. he started supporting himself when he was very young. he went into the printing business.
12:08 am
he was a printer, and he worked for several newspapers. he for a while worked for a paper in baltimore, and he saw slavery up close and personal when he was living in a slave state in the state of maryland, and he was horrified by what he saw. he went back to boston and decided that he was going to open his own newspaper and he was going to devote it completely to abolishing slavery, and the newspaper was called -- does anybody know? very good. "the liberator." good name. it is a good name for an anti-slavery newspaper, the liberator. he founded it in 1831. garrison did the whole thing himself. he wrote many of the articles. he did the actual printing of the paper. he distributed the paper. this is really his creation and the language in the liberator was very blunt, very direct. garrison doesn't hold anything back.
12:09 am
he said in his very first issue he said, and i quote, he said that i will be as harsh as truth, as uncompromising as justice, i will not retreat a single inch, i will be heard, and he said in the 1840s in an issue of the paper that the united states constitution was, quote, a covenant with death and an agreement with hell. you don't hear that too often in the 19th century or today, very strong language, a covenant with death and an agreement with hell. he is saying this because he says it is a pro-slavery constitution. he says the constitution protects slavery. his language is very blunt. he is very straight forward in his journalism throughout his career although in person garrison was very mild mannered and very quiet spoken and people who met him would often be surprised at the contrast
12:10 am
between his personality and the things that he said in his paper. he is completely dedicated to what he is doing, and he believes with his newspaper he can change public opinion. he doesn't want to go into politics. he sees american politics as corrupt. he thinks american politics are too corrupt. he is going to try to sway public opinion by using his newspaper. he also goes out on a lecture tour sometimes, garrison, was not an especially great orator, a pretty good speaker but his great gift was journalism and his newspaper stays in business until slavery ends with the civil war. some of the abolitionists were black people. not all the abolitionists were white. i think the textbooks up until maybe 40 years ago or so would often portray them as all white. it was not all white. there were some black abolitionists. for example, david walker. david walker is a native of the south. he is from wilmington, north
12:11 am
carolina. his mother was a free black woman. he came to the north in the 1820s, and he settled in boston. he ran a clothing store in the town's black business district. he was a devout church goer and so was garrison. he knows the bible very well and so was david walker. he is an active member of the methodist church and he is also sympathetic to working class black people in boston and he is also willing to help fugitive slaves and fugitive slaves showed up at his house and walker would help them. the he wrote a book, appeal to the colored citizens of the world. appeal to the colored citizens of the world. this is when the world colored was still used commonly by black
12:12 am
people. it didn't have the negative connotation it has today. in this book walker calls on black people to assist and lead the black community. he believed in the american work ethic. he believes in individual ambition. he believes in protestant values, and he says that black people have to work hard to better themselves and to better the black community. he also denounces slavery. he said that it was a crime. he said that it went way back in history. he knew quite a lot about history, all the way back to ancient egypt. he criticized the founders for their hypocrisy on slavery and singled out thomas jefferson, and he said that violence might be necessary to end slavery and he said one day god would punish whites for the sin of slavery, and this is a book just as blunt as garrison's newspaper.
12:13 am
it reached a large audience. it reached a large audience in the black population in the north. it was also carried into the south by black travelers and sometimes black sailors who go from port to port and would carry copies with them so it reaches quite a large audience and then the very next year walker died. he died in 1830. he died suddenly the year after the publication of his book. what do you think the rumor was? take a guess. that he had been killed, that he dies so suddenly and he is an early middle age, not an older man and historians believe that for a long time, but now we think that he probably died of tuberculosis because a lot of
12:14 am
people in boston got tuberculosis and died of the disease and a recent biographer found an obituary in a paper that said that mr. walker died of t.b. walker in his rather short life nonetheless had an impact with his book and frederick douglass, who will himself become an abolitionist, read that book, said years later, and he said it had a powerful impact on him. now, some abolitionists are not only white but they are also native southerners. there are a small number of white people in the south who disagree with slavery. for example, a man from kentucky named cassius clay. first name cassius. last name clay.
12:15 am
this is a name from the ancient world, his father or mother apparently read the history of the ancient world and gave their son this name cassius clay. cassius clay is the son of a slave owner. he grew up outside of lexington. he has a very comfortable upbringing. he is a college graduate, and when he was a young man he inherited his father's estate and 17 slaves. he also married a young woman who was from the slave-owning elite in kentucky. even when he was in his late teens and early 20s he was starting to make comments in writing and sometimes in public that were anti-slavery. he starts to say things like one day slavery should end. then he starts to say it should end soon. then he says that no truly patriotic person could support slavery. he got active in the anti-slavery movement.
12:16 am
he starts to give anti-slavery speeches in kentucky, also in other places in the ohio river valley. he begins publishing his own anti-slavery newspaper in lexington when he called the "true american," emphasizing patriotism, that a true patriot would be anti-slavery, and as you might imagine, a man in kentucky saying this is going to get criticism. not just verbal criticism. one time a mob broke into his newspaper office and destroyed his press, and cassius clay started to get death threats. he is very determined. he is someone who is very strong willed, and he will not back down although he never emancipated his own slaves. it seems to be the case his in-laws threatened him, his wife's family, apparently, and he had bad relationship with his
12:17 am
wife's family, and that was true throughout the marriage, and seems to be the case that his wife's family threatened him if he decided to free his own slaves, and he didn't and his critics said that he was a hypocrite. clay said in his old age that it was a mistake, he was embarrassed about it, but he didn't free his own slaves even as he is calling for emancipation. nonetheless, he goes out on a lecture circuit and he often faced audiences, especially in kentucky, which is a slave state, that were quite hostile, and clay even though he was a religious man and knew the bible very well, he said most of the time his justification, his protection was the constitution. he said the constitution gave
12:18 am
him the right to say what he thought about slavery. when he would walk into a room to give a lecture to an audience, he would often hold up a copy of the constitution, and he would say this is my protection, and then he would pull a gun out of his bag and hold it up and say this is also my protection. he would put the gun down right there on the table, so everybody in the room knew that mr. clay was armed, and he carried a gun with him everywhere he went because he got death threats on a fairly regular basis because . he said later that he was never actually assaulted during a lecture although other abolitionists were. we'll talk about that in a minute. he got many death threats, and one day when he was walking down a country road near his house in kentucky in the 1850s, a stranger ran up to him and
12:19 am
stabbed him and clay was seriously injured but he recovered and he continued on his anti-slavery mission. in 1851 he ran for the governor of kentucky on an emancipation ticket. he did not win. he got about 5,000 votes, but he begins to get more of a profile outside of kentucky. he is invited to give a lectures in other parts of the country in the free states. he spoke to a large crowd in springfield, illinois. guess who was in the audience? abraham lincoln. lincoln himself heard clay speak, and he remembered clay. when lincoln became president in 1860, he gave clay a diplomatic appointment, the u.s. ambassador to russia which is not the most important appointment in the diplomatic corps, that would probably not u.s. ambassador to england, but still it was a political favor we might say for
12:20 am
somebody who had been a long time outspoken critic of slavery. clay said later that his service in russia mostly consisted of going to parties and drinking a lot and listening to conversations between russian aristocrats to try to figure out what the czar was thinking about the american war. would the czar want to intervene in the war, and he did not. he came back to the united states, became more conservative as he got older, but still remained very defiant, became more and more reclusive and finally died on his farm in 1903. some abolitionists were from the south and ex-slaves and probably the most famous was a man from
12:21 am
maryland and his name was frederick douglass. fredrick douglass spelled his name with two s's. frederick douglass was born in the late 18-teens in maryland. he was a slave. his father died or deserted the family before he was born, and he was owned by a family named anthony, the surname anthony, and the anthonys were slave owners who had relatives in rural maryland and also in the city of baltimore. frederick douglass's mother died when he was young and he was largely raised by his grandmother. he was also very fond of and close to his many cousins, his siblings, and his relatives on the different anthony plantations. douglass said later that slavery there was quite harsh.
12:22 am
he witnessed the master flogging one of his relatives once, one of his aunts was flogged by the master. he witnessed other relatives and friends being severely punished, and then he got a very interesting reprieve. he was sent to baltimore to work for a relative of the anthony family and when he was in baltimore he learned how to read. the wife of the man he worked for in baltimore taught him to read, a white woman taught him to read because she thought a slave should be able to read the bible. she was a devout christian and thought a slave should be able to read the bible even though this was illegal in many parts of the south. this was considered dangerous and unacceptable. nonetheless, frederick douglass becomes literate because this white woman in baltimore teaches him how to read. once he learns how to read, he can't get enough of books and newspapers and he reads
12:23 am
everything that he can find, a very curious and inquisitive little boy. then he gets sent back to the countryside. he was sent back to the countryside because a relative died and he was passed as part of that inheritance to another member of the family and he has to go to work in the fields, and he hates it. he hates field labor. he becomes known as a quote, unquote, difficult slave. he is someone who is perceived by the master and the overseer as a defiant, difficult young man, and by the time he was about 20, he had decided he was going to escape. he was going to run away. in 1838 he did get away. he was married to a free black woman, and he got his wife to make for him an outfit that sailors wore, and sailors had very distinctive clothing, white and black. if you saw a man walking down the streets of baltimore, you could tell right away if he was
12:24 am
a sailor because of how he was dressed, so his wife made a sailor's outfit for him, and he passed himself off as a free black man who was working on the ship. he made it to new york, and he got off at the dock, and he was standing there, and probably looking kind of disoriented and a black man came up to him and said it is not safe here, you should keep going. keep moving. why don't you go to boston? it is safer there. a black man intuitive that douglass was a fugitive. he went to boston and got a job working in a small town outside of boston and almost immediately within a year or two of settling in new england he gets his first public talk against slavery. douglass turns out to be a very compelling public figure and public speaker. he is very tall. he is a tall, powerful man.
12:25 am
he had a baritone voice, a deep rich speaking voice and spoke with great conviction. he is talking about personal experience, the things that happened to him, the punishments that he got, the punishments that were inflicted on his relatives and friends. he talked about the slave trade, separating family members from each other. even though he is a very compelling and inspiring speaker, he still got heckled. he was jeered at, occasionally he was pelted with garbage and rotten eggs, and some people even said he couldn't be an ex-slave. he was too smart and too articulate to actually have ever been a slave. so he publishes an autobiography in 1845 to prove in part that he really was a slave and in his book he talks about the things he already had been talking about in his lectures, the
12:26 am
dehumanizing effects of slavery, how slaves are badly treated and also talks about the corrupting influence that slavery has on white people and that even white men who are trying to be good masters can sometimes behave with great cruelty. of course now that he has a public profile, now that he is a published author, his friends were afraid that the anthony family back in maryland might try to hire a slave catcher to track him down and bring him back to slavery. he left the united states. he went to europe. he traveled around the british isles for about two years. he met a number of famous reformers in england and ireland. he gave public speeches, and then he comes back to the united states and his friends raise money, approximately $700, to pay off the anthony family, to pay them for the value that frederick had as a slave because
12:27 am
he is a slave, he is worth money to the anthony family. so then he is really free. he doesn't have to look over his shoulder anymore. he founded a newspaper in rochester, new york, and called it the north star, an abolitionist newspaper that he ran himself. he was also interested in other causes. he was interested in the woman's rights movement which we'll be talking about in a few minutes. he was an early supporter of women's suffrage when that was a radical idea and he also talked about segregation in the north, the fact that in the north many public facilities were either closed to black people or they had to sit in the back or sit in a special sections. believe it or not, segregation started in the early 19th century north and later spreads to the south after the civil war, but it is a creation of the early 19th century north. hotels are segregated and
12:28 am
restaurants and most universities are closed to black people and many public schools are closed to black people. for example, the state of massachusetts which is one of the few states that allowed black people to vote nevertheless did not allow black children to go to public schools. four states in the midwest did not allow black people to own property. ohio, indiana, illinois, and michigan. douglass is very outspoken about the prejudice that he witnessed and experiences as a free man in the north. in the 1850s he began to change his mind about the methods of abolition. up until that time he like garrison and many others was hoping they could change public opinion and persuade people. in the 1850s he begins to think maybe violence might be necessary, you know. maybe that's the way to finally end slavery.
12:29 am
in 1860 he supports abraham lincoln, not with tremendous enthusiasm. lincoln was not an out and out abolitionist as we'll be discussing later on in the course. did he say in 1860 that the expansion of slavery has to stop. no more new slave states in the trans-mississippi west, so he is the only anti-slavery candidate and douglass supports him for that reason. he is a lifelong republican because it was the republican party that brought about emancipation. he had several local offices as a republican after the war, lives a very long time, dies in the 1890s. as i mentioned a moment ago, giving public lectures against slavery can be dangerous, very dangerous, and fredrick douglass


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on