Since the establishment of slavery, there were always some people (a minority) that have had problems with slavery. However, slavery still managed to exist for over 200 years in North America. And it wasnt until after the revolutionary war that people began to seriously debate slavery.
Opposing racism is definitely amongst the strongest reasons for the abolition of slavery. This argument seems quite feasible, considering the fact that only Negroes were slaves. That is to say, skin color was the most deciding factor in whether somebody was a slave or a slaveholder. Many abolitionists argued that Negroes were not racially inferior because all humans are equal before the eyes of the Lord (Moore159). They believed that the only reason people viewed Negroes as racially inferior, was because they were, for the most part, poor, uneducated slaves. If the Negroes were set free and educated, then they would be civilized and could greatly contribute to the community. Because, as they saw it, Negroes were still humans, and therefore our brothers. Immorality
Another large cause for the cry of abolition was the cruelty and injustice of slavery. Slaves were often beaten to the point were they were on the brink of death. Their treatment was completely in the hands of their masters. And although it would be unfair to say that all Slaveholders were cruel to their slaves, the majority of them were. As much pain, as slaves had to endure physically, they endure a hundred times more than that by the denial of their freedom. Slaves, as men, and humans, were entitled to natural and inalienable rights. However, they were stripped of these rights by some of the people who fought for those very same rights. Things like the right to choose religion, the right to choose a house, and the right to own property, were just among some of the rights that slaves had stolen from them. By depriving them of all their natural rights, slaves were reduced to property, a concept that didnt sit well with most abolitionists. The abolitionists believed that no man could have ownership of another man. This belief is on of the key ideas of the abolitionist movement.
The Irony of Slavery
How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of Negroes.
- Dr. Johnson
In the United States there was a huge irony between having total control over another human being and the phrase all men are created equal (Owens 3). However, some slaveholders did free their slaves once the irony of slavery was brought to light. It is also quite ironic that nearly half of the members of congress at the time the slave trade was abolished, were Slaveholders. Another interesting irony in slavery was that Thomas Jefferson, the author of our Declaration of Independence, held approximately 200 slaves. Americans were all well aware of these ironies but choose to let them rest and ignored the situation, for the most part. That is, until abolitionists began to publish manuscripts and pamphlets and shoved the issue down the throats of Americans. Perhaps the most famous abolitionist was William Lloyd Garrison. He published the famous manuscript called The Liberator. He was one of the few men who forced America to see the true irony of slavery. Abolitionists argued that after fighting a war for our own freedom and pleading an argument based mostly on the natural rights of man, it would be hypocritical to deny those very same rights to Negro slaves. An incredible amount of guilt was placed on to the shoulders of Americans everywhere. And although the people in the North didnt participate directly in slavery, they were still quite a large part of it. The fact that they did little to end this incredible injustice while fighting for their own freedom seemed far too much for them. The awful sin of slavery was, in fact, a national sin (Nelson 42). After all to be silent in the midst, of such a strong injustice, makes you just as guilty as participating in it. This guilt led many northerners to look at slavery a little bit closer. They began to demand an end to slavery all across the United States. They wanted no part in the cruel irony and hypocrisy of Slavery. Southern Paranoia
Probably the most selfish of all the reasons for abolition was southern paranoia. Southern paranoia was the idea that the large numbers of slaves in the south would revolt against their white slave owners and any other whites they would come across. It was widely believed that free blacks as well as the thousands that were slave, threatened the tranquility of all white people. Therefore, the best method of controlling blacks was slavery. However, it would have been impossible to argue this in the guilt-ridden north. This combination led to the formation of the American Colonization Society. The American Colonization Society was a group of people who wanted to send the blacks back to Africa. However, when examining the percentage of blacks in the south, it is easy to see why southern paranoia caught on so quickly. As you can see from the chart, some states actually had more black slaves than whites. And seven states had at least 1/3 of the population made up of slaves. The combination of the statistics with the actual rebellions that took place is enough to warrant a serious concern among the white population. An incident like John Browns Raid and especially Nat Turners revolt. Nat Turner was a slave who revolted in 1831. He led several other slaves with him and ended up killing a total of approximately 60 white people. This incident is just a small example of what could happen and the people in the south know this. It is the nightmare of the south. The incident leads to the south eventually demanding the cooperation of the north against slavery. Nat Turners revolt leads America on step closer to the Civil War as well as one step closer to emancipation of the slaves.Closing Remarks on the Ideological Origins of Antislavery
In closing, there are quite a bit of reasons why slavery ended. Specifically on the topic of ideological origins, those, which youve just seen, are the most important. However, it is important to remember that there were several smaller reasons and other scholars. It is simply a matter of opinion.