Disagreeing on Slavery

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The Declaration of Independence clearly and famously states, “All men are created equal” and have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In the early years of the United States, however, this affirmation of basic rights did not extend and apply to all. African Americans, who were at the time viewed simply as property rather than as human beings, had these rights completely deprived of them by being kept in slavery on southern farms and plantations. Slaves on these plantations did various work and tasks but mostly harsh manual labor farming in the fields for their masters. Slavery had been an established institution in the country since colonial times and while there had always been several opinions on the issue, it had been basically accepted or at least acknowledged as part of the Nation’s culture and framework. Eventually the opposing views became more defined and ultimately split into the Anti-Slavery North and the Pro-Slavery South. Both perspectives had legitimate reasons to back up their different views and ideas about how to handle slavery as the country grew and matured. In the years leading up to the Civil War, the opinions of the North and South on the future of the existence of slavery differed because of economic, social, and political reasons.

By the mid 1800’s Northerners commonly agreed on the belief that the complete abolition of slavery was imperative to the future success of the country. Up until this point most thought of slavery as a necessary evil, and so it was tolerated with the expectation and aspiration for it to eventually die out (Stolyarov). Disagreements over slavery date back as far at the American Revolution. During the war Northerners were bothered by the fact that the white Southern slaveholding population was more concerned with protecting their slaves than fighting and defeating the British. Many, including commander-in-chief George Washington, were disturbed by the fact that Southern slave owners were showing desperation and weakness to the enemy in order to retrieve their “involuntary work force from the clutches of the departing British soldiers” (Dudley 18). The disapproval of African American servitude and the desire to end slavery led to the formation of a movement called Abolisionism. The movement was made up of anti-slavery activists, who were key in “leading the momentous struggle against slavery, informing it, [and] inspiring it” (Aptheker xi). The abolitionists were the main force behind the eventual emancipation of slaves and were responsible almost every action and event leading up to it. Abolition was also backed by some of the great leaders of the American Revolution, including President Jefferson and author Thomas Paine. Other leaders such as future Presidents George Washington and John Adams also expressed their aversion to the insistution of slavery (1). “Abolitionists…agreed that the movement to emancipate the slaves, immediately and without compensation to the masters, was a revolutionary one” (15). Abolitionists felt very strongly about this issue and had several reasons for fighting for the emancipation of slavery. They were prepared and willing to go to great lengths to do what they felt was in the best interest of the future of the country they had so recently worked hard for and fought relentlessly to gain as their own. White Southern plantation owners were not the inventors of slavery. The use of human beings as an unwilling labor source had existed all over the world for thousands of years before the Southern United States even existed and was able utilize the practice. At that point in history, life without slavery was almost unimaginable to many communities and regions, including the Southern states of the U.S. (Higgs). Since even before the creation of the United States, when these areas were nothing more than British colonies, people living in the lower part of the country found the use of slaves to be invaluble. While today’s knowledge...
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