[[File:AmINotAMan.jpg|left|thumbnail|250px|Am I Not a Man and a Brother? (1837)]]__NOTOC__
The movement toward the abolition of the system of enslavement has been remembered as one of the great humanitarian initiatives in modern history. Occurring as it did in a world that was rent by the slaveholding republics and empires of America and Western Europe, abolition was in some ways “anti-modern” in that it sprung from those intellectuals and moralists who denied that progress benefits us all if it comes at a human cost. Therein lies the paradox. How could a system so responsible for the modern world’s economic progress, like enslavement, be ended by those who enjoyed its benefits?
== What was the Moral Argument against Slavery? ==
[[File:Slaveshipposter.jpg|thumbnail|left|Stowage of the British slave ship Brookes under the regulated slave trade act of 1788]]
The evolution of the moral argument dates back to the long conversation around the question of human nature. What Sylvia Wynter and others frame as the “genre of the human” provides a roadmap to the nature of the conceptual arguments advanced by Western philosophers. Clearly, who gets constituted as a human determines who is offered the protections offered by a social contract that confers rights upon those humans that belong to a particular society.
== How did technological changes make slavery more economically beneficial in the South? ==
300px|Slaves using the first cotton gin - Drawn by William Sheppard in 1869]]
One does not need to be a historical materialist to recognize the ways that economics shapes decision-making. Such was especially the case in the modern world. The argument advanced by many was that the Age of Europe created rationales for exploration that were lodged in the acquisition of land and thus of wealth. The enslavement of Africans was part of this matrix, and it is crucial to make those connections. While moral arguments about abolition were critical, it is unlikely, as Eric Williams argued, that enslavement would have been abolished without the shift in the industrial and imperial ambitions of one of the major powers: Great Britain.
== Why did Southerners fear Slave Revolts? ==
300px|Colored glass slide from the medical examination by Union doctor in 1863 of Gordon, a slave, in Baton Rouge]]
There were numerous uprisings of the enslaved in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries across the landscape of the New World. Enslaved Africans never accepted the fact of their enslavement. Neither did they accept the fact that they were chattel. The maintenance of the slave economies that produced the rice, sugar, coffee, tobacco, and cotton so necessary to Western Europe, was a violent affair.
Much of the violence was exerted upon the enslaved, but not all of it. Gerald Horne argues that the founding of the United States had much to do with the untenable situation that had emerged for enslavers in the British Caribbean, which was rent by revolt. They found solace on the mainland, and eventually they revolted against British rule, themselves. Their rebellion, according to Horne, however, was about their fears that the moral argument against enslavement would be victorious. Thus, in some ways, and quite ironically, many who contributed to the founding of the United States, were only there because of the revolutionary resistance of the enslaved. The same could be said about the expansion of the United States.
One of the most significant single expansions came in 1803 with the Louisiana Purchase, the unloading of a broad swath of the French Empire. This liquidation came in the face of the defeat of the French by what would
be come to the first Black republic: Haiti. Haiti was, of course, a symbol for those Black abolitionists who saw it as both proof of the capacity for Black self-government and a beacon for how enslaved Africans in the United States might resist. Enslavers, however, saw it as a warning.
Haiti actively supported and encouraged rebellion beyond its borders, inspiring the anti-slavery efforts of Simon Bolivar among others. Haiti was thus a threat to both the British Empire and the United States, which did not recognize its existence until the American Civil War. It also caused turmoil in France, which had undergone its revolution, but famously could not conceive of the enslaved as revolutionaries as well. The abolitionist movement in France, the Amis des Noirs, placed pressure upon the French revolutionaries to extend the “rights of man” to mixed-race citizens of Saint Domingue, but it was inconsistent and uneven. By 1804, the founding of Haiti would write Black citizenship into the very meaning of the term, “citizen.”