Abolitionism was a European and American social movement that main aim was to end slavery. The intensification of the system of slavery which was followed by the trafficking of enslaved Africans was catalyzed by the colonies in North and South America and the West Indies. This work will examine three different perspectives on abolition, which are militant, social justice, and female rights-focused, and show that they all distinctly support the movement.
David Walker is one of the contributors to the discussion over abolition. In his work Walker’s appeal, in four articles, he challenged racism and insisted that people of color have as many rights as whites (Walker, 1830). He stated that the black individuals are disunited, and this is “the reason our natural enemies are enabled to keep their feet on our throats” (Walker, 1830). It implies that Walker’s perspective of abolition is focused on the possibility of armed struggle against slavery. He supports the movement but does not share the more peaceful point of view, being convinced of the unfairness of conduct toward people of color who has a background full of victories and achievements. Therefore, David Walker has a militant attitude toward abolition, intending to end slavery at any cost.
The other influencer, Frederick Douglass, has an opposite to Walker’s perspective. Although he also supported abolition, his intentions were peaceful and focused on resolving the issue through social measures based on political freedom and natural justice principles. In his oration My bondage and my freedom, he referred to the Declaration of Independence, emphasizing the hypocrisy of protecting one’s life and dignity while humiliating other human beings by the sign of skin color. He proclaimed that “The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity, and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me” (Douglass, 1855). By this statement, he attempted to reveal the distance between people who have the rights of American citizens and black slaves.
Frederick Douglass is a great orator, and he tried to influence the minds of listeners through his speech to convince them to support abolition. He claimed that “the feeling of the nation must be quickened and the conscience of the nation must be roused” (Douglass, 1855). It implies that Douglass sticks to a social justice perspective, according to which all the parties involved should agree to stop enslaving black people.
The third contributor, Catharine Beecher, focused on the role of women in society, which was expected to rise as a consequence of the success of the abolitionist movement. In her essay Duty of American females, she offers a scathing condemnation of slavery. She criticizes the established state of affairs and supports abolition also intended to benefit women. She claims that “Women is to win everything by peace and love. But this is to be accomplished in the domestic and social circle,” implying that slavery deprives black women of their right and direct responsibility to protect social values (Beecher, 1837). Beecher criticizes, in her lectures, slavery and supports abolition, revealing her perspective as scathing condemnation focused on one with an emphasis on female rights.
Three famous influencers of the time of abolition: David Walker, Frederick Douglass, and Catharine Beecher, are known for sticking to different attitudes toward abolition. These contributors’ impact is an instance of how perspectives of people with a united opinion can differ. All of them supported the movement but on different values basis, which is the past glory of people of color and the necessity for an armed fight for rights, social justice, and females’ rights, respectively.
Beecher, E. C. (1837). Essay on Slavery and Abolitionism, with reference to the futy of American females. Harper & Brothers.
Douglass, F. (1855). My bondage and my freedom. Simon & Schuster.
Walker, D. (1830). Walker’s Appeal, in Four Articles. David Walker.