The Gospel Army
In 1829 David Walker, the free black proprietor of a secondhand-clothing store in Boston, published his Appeal, an incendiary pamphlet that called upon the slaves to rise against their masters.
“ I speak, Americans, for your good. We must and shall be free, I say, in spite of you. You may do your best to keep us in wretchedness and misery, to enrich you and your children; but God will deliver us from under you And woe, woe, will be to you if we have to obtain our freedom by fighting.”
“Even in Boston, Walker died under suspicious circumstances less than a year after the publication of the "Appeal." “(G. C. Ward, The Civil War, p14)
William Lloyd Garrison began publishing in that same city as Walker, a militant antislavery newspaper, The Liberator.
"The Southern planter's career," he said, "is one of unbridled lust, of filthy amalgamation, of swaggering braggadocio, of haughty domination, of cowardly ruffianism, of boundless dissipation, of matchless insolence, of infinite self-conceit, of unequalled oppression, of more than savage cruelty." (G. C. Ward, The Civil War, p14)
A comrade of Lloyd Garrison was Frederick Douglass. Son of a slave master, he escaped slavery and learned to read by studying street signs. Garrison told him that people didn't believe that he had been a slave so he wrote an autobiography called the Life and times of Frederick Douglass." Slave hunters were convinced that he was an ex-slave so he had to leave the country. He took his message of the cruelty of American slavery to England.
Frederick Douglass had the enormous task of convincing the world of the evils of American slavery. But first he must convince the world that all men are equal and basically the same. Slavery dehumanized the slave and Douglass had to remind the world that slaves were people. He chose to use a common trait between the races, which is the need to love and be loved. The following is taken from a speech that he delivered to the British people while he was exiled to England. If Toni Braxton had been available, she would have helped him out by singing "Breathe Again."
May 2, 1846
"The woman was placed on the auctioneer's block; her limbs, as is customary, were brutally exposed to the purchasers, who examined her with all the freedom with which they would examine a horse. There stood the husband, powerless; no right to his wife; the master's right preeminent. She was sold. He was next brought to the auctioneer's block. His eyes followed his wife in the distance; and he looked beseechingly, imploringly, to the man that had bought his wife to buy him also. But he was at length bid off to another person. He was about to be separated forever from her whom he loved. No word of his, no word of his, could save him from this separation. He asked permission of his new master to go and take the hand of his wife at parting. It was denied him. In the agony of his soul he rushed from the man who had just bought him, that he might take a farewell of his wife; but his way was obstructed, he was struck over the head with a loaded whip, and was held for a moment; but his agony was great. When he was let go, he fell a corpse at the feet of his master. His heart was broken. Such scenes are the every-day fruits of American slavery. "
Life and writings of Frederick Douglass, Early Years, 1817-1849, Appeal to the British People, p158-9
Another man that fought slavery with the press was Reverend Elijah P. Lovejoy.
“In the clear moonlit night of November 7, 1837, two hundred men, some carrying torches, surrounded a brick warehouse on the east cross of the Mississippi at Alton, Illinois. It housed a weekly news paper, the Observer, whose editor, the Reverend Elijah P. Lovejoy, had already been driven out of St. Louis, just across the river, for his violent denunciations slavery. Three times mobs had seized his presses and hurled them into Mississippi, and Lovejoy and a small group of supporters were now determined mined not to let it happen again.” (G. C. Ward, The Civil War, p2)
The mob shot Lovejoy five times. At Congregational Church in Hudson Ohio, a clergyman said “The question now before us is no longer, ‘Can the slaves be made free?’ but ‘Are we free or are we slaves under mod law?’”
“In the back of the church, a strange, gaunt man rose to his feet and raised his right hand. "Here, before God," he said, "in the presence of these witnesses, I consecrate my life to the destruction of slavery." He was John Brown.” (G. C. Ward, The Civil War, p2)
My favorite book on the Civil War is called “The Negro in the American Rebellion“ by William Wells Brown. This book fascinated me because it was written by a “man of the times” and a former slave. While living in St. Louis as a slave, he worked for Lovejoy. He escaped from his owner in St. Louis and became a conductor on the Underground Railroad as well as a great anti-slavery orator. He was the first black writer and wrote a book called “Clottel, the Presidents Daughter.” Apparently he had to write it in England since it revealed the intimate relationship between Thomas Jefferson and a mulatto slave woman.
Brown wrote the first African American History book and documented the part Blacks played in the Civil War. Browns view of the Civil War was unique. He admitted that he was neither historian nor writer, however modern editors disagree. His work is highly thought of. He included articles and letters in his book that he collected during the Civil war.
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