Abolition of Slavery
Slavery is a system that was introduced in the colonial days whereby an individual would own, buy or sell another individual as though they were property. The slavery system mainly affected persons with African ancestry which led to racial segregation and discrimination in the country, even long after the practice was abolished. Though slaves were used to drive the economy before the revolutionary war, numerous petitions were brought forward from various counties to abolish it. The petitions were mainly in form of letters which were co-signed by community members and presented to the authorities. Evidently, the abolition of slavery and slave-trade took great effort from various groups of abolitionists who voiced a similar concern. Consequently, the anti-slavery petitions gained popularity and eventually through the thirteenth amendment to the constitution, slavery came to an end.
One among such document was the “Anti-Slavery Petition from the Women of Philadelphia” which contained the signatures of sixty-five women who were pushing for abolition of slavery. The petition was presented to congress to influence the outcome on the issue since women were not allowed to vote at the time (1844).
Another organized women group from Boston made an address in 1836 to abolish slavery. The address was to the women of Massachusetts beseeching them to labor in love towards the ending slavery especially of other women by influencing men to cease the evil. The address aimed to convince the men in authority to abolish slavery since it was a disgrace to the Christian principles.
In like manner, the citizens of New York, in 1851, petitioned the Congress to expressly prohibit slave-trade and slavery in all territories in the United States. The abolitionists worked by collecting signatures of those people who disapproved of slave trade and presenting the documents to the congress. Such petitions eventually raised enough agitation to cause a cessation of slave trade in states which had early on tried to defend the practice.
Slavery continued in several states for some time after the nation’s declaration of independence in 1776. The Pennsylvanians petitioned the Senate and the House of representatives of USA to reject slavery in 1844. The petition called the senate to block admission of new states that still allowed slavery. It was clear that slavery had negative repercussions on families and individuals who faced harsh treatment and forced labor.
Consequently, in 1861 there was a proposal to amend the constitution. The “Proposed Thirteenth Amendment regarding the abolition of slavery” was tabled in the Congress in a move to maintain unity with the southern states. The amendment held that slavery would not be extended, but did not dismiss its existence. This amendment was the start of future proposal for equal rights for all people in the country with no regard to color or social class.
The proposal held a united voice that slavery should be abolished and resulted in the freeing of many former slaves. The thirteenth amendment was ratified bringing reprieve to the slaved who had labored in plantations and homes without pay. The freed men were able to own properties and they settled in freed states as part of the Reconstruction era. The constitution, through the 13th amendment protected the rights of individuals against slavery and it became the law of the land. Although the labor force decrease with the passing of the amendment, the benefits of the abolishment far outweighed the negative implications. Therefore, the abolitionists efforts bore fruit and black people obtained freedom from their owners.
Address of the Boston Female Anti-Slavery Society; 7/13/1836; Tabled Petitions and Memorials, 1797-1871; Records of the U.S. House of Representatives, Record Group 233; National Archives Building, Washington DC, 20408. [Online Version, https://www.docsteach.org/documents/document/address-boston-antislavery-society, October 18, 2018]
Anti-Slavery Petition from the Women of Philadelphia; 1844; Records of the U.S. Senate, Record Group 46; National Archives Building, Washington, DC. [Online Version, https://www.docsteach.org/documents/document/antislavery-petition-women-philadelphia, October 18, 2018]
Petition from Citizens of New York Asking that Slavery and the Slave-trade may be Expressly Prohibited by Act of Congress in all the Territories of the United States; 3/25/1851; Records of the U.S. House of Representatives, Record Group 233. [Online Version, https://www.docsteach.org/documents/document/petition-from-citizens-of-new-york-asking-that-slavery-and-the-slavetrade-may-be-expressly-prohibited-by-act-of-congress-in-all-the-territories-of-the-united-states, October 18, 2018]
Petition from Pennsylvanians to Reject Slavery; 1844; Records of the U.S. Senate, Record Group 46. [Online Version, https://www.docsteach.org/documents/document/petition-from-pennsylvanians-to-reject-slavery, October 18, 2018]
Proposed Thirteenth Amendment Regarding the Abolition of Slavery; 3/2/1861; General Records of the United States Government, Record Group 11. [Online Version, https://www.docsteach.org/documents/document/proposed-thirteenth-amendment-regarding-the-abolition-of-slavery, October 18, 2018]