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What are the Origins of the Abolitionist Movement

176 bytes added, 19:26, 15 June 2017
The Threat of Violence
===The Threat of Violence===
[[File:Gordon,_scourged_back,_colored_slide_2.png|thumbnail|left|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, then 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 revolt, 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 largest single expansions came in 1803 with the Louisiana Purchase, the unloading of a large swath of the French Empire. This liquidation came in the face of the defeat of the French by what would be come 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 obviously also caused turmoil in France, which had undergone its own 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.”

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