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Instruments in the Hands of God: William Lloyd Garrison, Secession and the Coming War

William Lloyd Garrison had spoken of disunion for decades. His weekly newspaper, The Liberator, was helmed with the slogan: "No Union With Slaveholders." From the 1840s, he had called the Constitution a "covenant with death" and even "an agreement with hell." He saw the Union as a "hollow mockery," a

Down With the Slaveholding Union! – The Calls for Disunion by the Abolitionist Garrison

Throughout pre-Civil War American history, one of the greatest fears common to both Northerners and Southerners was the fear that the Union would be dissolved. Disunion meant that the fathers of the country had failed, that the "new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that 'all men

Abraham Lincoln and the Thirteenth Amendment that Wasn’t

A proposed Thirteenth Amendment would have denied the power of the Federal government “to abolish or interfere” with the institution of slavery. So why then did Lincoln and many other anti-slavery Republicans support it? And why didn’t this stop secession?

Cheek By Jowl with the Abolitionists – Feminism’s Embrace of Racial Equality

The rights of women and of black Americans are often held in comparison. This was true as far back as the early 1800s. In the North, it was rare to find a woman who supported feminism yet did not also fight for the cause of abolitionism. While there were, of

‘They Choose a Name For Themselves’ – Surnames in Slavery and Freedom

In Western culture, our surnames are traditionally handed down along a patrimonial line. If Your father was a Smith, you are a Smith – if you are male, then your children will also be Smiths. While this was how it worked for most of European society, it was not allowed to cross over to the slaves held by that society. And yet, former slaves such as Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, Nat Turner and Harriet Tubman all had surnames. In fact, nearly every slave freed, whether by pre-war emancipation or the Fourteenth Amendment, had one. But if slaves were not given surnames by their masters, how did this come about?

The Union is in Danger! – Fremont and Secession in the 1856 Election

The 1856 election pitted James Buchanan against John Fremont, the latter remembered as a radical abolitionist. From the Deep South came the warnings of disunion should the progressive Republican candidate win. However, at the time of the election, his personal politics on slavery went mostly unstated. In the build up

The Martyrdom of Elijah Lovejoy, Abolitionist and Constitutionalist

The 1837 murder of abolitionist Elijah Lovejoy by a pro-slavery mob was long in coming. Rather than silencing the abolitionist movement, it had the opposite effect, solidifying it, and even radicalizing those who might have otherwise stayed silent. The murder’s reverberations rippled through the decades, even to the Civil War.

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