Opposition To Slavery

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Oftentimes in early American History education the opposition to slavery is portrayed as a mainly white movement. This perception is not only a clear example of the white-washing in history education but also clearly false. When the movement against slavery is examined, it is clear that African-Americans, both free and enslaved, presented a clear opposition to the institution of slavery by committing acts of individual resistance that were impossible to ignore. The conditions of slavery greatly varied based on region, family relations, and the type of work that slaves were doing. These conditions determined the level of the individual’s education, awareness of political climate, and involvement in community. Because of these factors, many …show more content…
Other forms of individual resistance included self-harm, in which a slave would consciously hurt themselves in order to prevent them from being able to do the work that was required of them. Another form of resistance used by many slaves was escaping from their masters and running away from where they were kept. The escapees were most commonly young men because they did not have the familial ties such as romantic relationships and children that kept many people from fleeing. However, they were not the only type of person to escape, there were documented cases of people who were both female and mothers who chose to escape as well. An example of this is “A Slave Woman Resists” (Major Problems, 211) in which a woman tells her first-hand account of when she decided to run away from her master and children in order to give all of them a better life and higher chances of freedom. Escape was a very common way for slaves to attempt to gain freedom; we know this because of the runaway slave advertisements that were posted like the one that this woman’s master posted when he discovered that she had disappeared (Major Problems, 213). An implicit result of these slaves decisions to run away was that the public began to understand what they were willing to risk in order to be free of this institution. These acts not only affected the masters who had to deal with the search and …show more content…
Free black communities were also hugely important in the African-American fight for freedom. An example of these influential figures is Benjamin Banneker, a free black man who was well-educated and famously penned a letter opposing slavery to Thomas Jefferson, United States Secretary of State and owner of mass amounts of slaves. In this letter Banneker points out the inconsistencies in Jefferson’s ideals by using his own rhetoric to prove that slavery did not align with the morals that the United States independence was founded on. In this letter, Banneker cites Jefferson’s famous word that ‘all men are created equal and argues to Jefferson that “it is the indispensible duty of those, who maintain for themselves the rights of human nature, and who possess the obligations of Christianity, to extend their power and influence to the relief of every part of the human race, from whatever burden or oppression they may unjustly labor under” (Primary Source Investigator). This argument is tremendously strong because it uses the exact sentiments that were used to successfully gain independence from Great Britain. Banneker’s letter is one example of the revolutionary rhetoric that African-American’s and other anti-slavery advocates used to support their arguments. Other

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