Friday, September 13, 2019

Quakers' Contribution in Anti-Slavery Movement Research Paper

Quakers' Contribution in Anti-Slavery Movement - Research Paper Example All thirteen of the colonies permitted slavery and did not allow slaves the basic freedoms outlined in the Declaration of Independence. Slaves in America had no freedom and were subject to the whims and demands of their masters. The Louisiana code stated that "A slave could not make contracts, own property, or form legal partnerships on his or her own" (Oakes xiv). Family relationships among slaves were not honored and as a result, there were no requirements that slave owners keep families intact. In fact, many times, children were taken from mothers and sold as soon as they were strong enough to work themselves. Husbands and fathers were sold without regard to the feelings of wives or children. The people who were most against slavery were those who were involved in organized religion. Quakers believed in ending slavery one slaveholder at a time. They sent letters, wrote to newspapers, authored pamphlets and almanacs, using any form of publication they could to decry the institution of slavery and encourage slave owners to free their slaves. Quakers outlined a method through which slaveholders would "first educate slaves in reading and writing, teach them the principles of truth and righteousness, teach them a trade, and then set them free" (Brown 6). While it cannot be argued that the Quakers, or Society of Friends, played a crucial role in the anti-slavery movement, in all likelihood the movement would have gone on and would have been successful without their influence. There were many people in antebellum America who were willing to make great personal sacrifices to see that there was eventual freedom for all Americans. These people spanned the races, religions and cultures of the time and were dedicated to the idea of freedom for all. Body The Quakers brought up the inappropriateness of slavery in the 1600s, thus bringing the issue to the forefront of many political and social debates. They began work against slavery and did not stop their work until the e nd of slavery in America. One distinct advantage that the Quakers had in their anti-slavery work was that they had an already established network of people willing to assist runaway slaves and those who had already been freed. Friends could meet in large, public groups to make plans regarding their abolitionist activities without fear of raising suspicion because that is what they had been doing prior to their involvement in the Underground Railroad and other abolitionist activities. Additionally, the Quakers involved in anti-slavery activities knew that they could trust their fellow Friends with their lives, which is what was at stake when they assisted runaway slaves to freedom. Before slaves began to receive help from Quakers, or anyone else, in their resistance movement, they had devised many ways to confront slavery. They discovered that violence was rarely a very successful method of resistance, as the slaveholders responded immediately and intensely. Instead, they used more s ubtle methods of resistance such as "work slowdowns, feigning illness, breaking tools, and sabotaging equipment under the guise of clumsiness" (Horton and Horton 120). Slaves also used song to fight slavery. These songs told stories of escape, sent encoded messages, set the pace for work and placated slave owners by giving the appearance of passivity and contentment. Running away was another form of

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