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Content Reading: The Antebellum Era (1781-1860): Slavery Divides the Nation Part 1
The Abolitionist Movement grew in the Antebellum Era. The movement sought to abolish slavery in the USA. During the Second Great Awakening (1790s-1840s), a wide spread Christian movement, many began to become more devoted to the religion. Within the movement, many participants felt slavery contradicted their faith. Yet, others in the faith argued slavery did not do this.
Unitarians and Transcendentalists began to spread their ideas in this era. Leaders, such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, taught that, according to transcendentalism, truth could be gained by observing nature and emotion. African American Christians began to relate to Biblical stories, such as the Exodus, to their own struggles as slaves seeking freedom.
William Lloyd Garrison published The Liberator as a newspaper against slavery. Frederick Douglas was an escaped slave who began to speak out and demand an end to slavery. Nat Turner was a slave who led a violent rebellion in 1831 in Virginia, which led to a massive backlash by white slave owners against slaves and those sympathetic to abolitionism.
Women worked for reform as well. Many women not only strived for abolition, they also petitioned for the education of girls and women. The Seneca Fall Convention of 1848 was organized to advocate for these rights for women. Elizabeth Cady Stanton was an important leader for women in this era and fought for women’s suffrage, which means the right to vote. Women received the right to vote in 1920 in the USA, eighteen years after Stanton’s passing.
During this time the Underground Railroad came about. It was a set of secret “stations” in which slaves could escape to the North. People would help slaves get from point to point on various routes north to gain freedom. Harriet Tubman, a former slave, served as a “conductor” taking slaves on the path of the Underground Railroad.
Also in this time, helping the abolitionist cause, Harriet Beecher Stowe published Uncle Tom’s Cabin in 1852. It was a fictitious work that exposed the real evils of slavery. This book stirred up the emotion of the abolitionist cause and increased the desire of many to see slavery come to an end.