Although antislavery sentiments had existed prior to the American Revolution, the abolition movement did not gain sufficient momentum until about 1830. During that period, many abolitionists performed illegal acts such as helping transport escaped slaves north to freedom. Do you think the actions of the abolitionists in those decades prior to the Civil War were justified? Why or why not?
The actions of the abolitionists in the decades prior to the Civil War were justified. Since the abolition movement did not begin to start any progress until 1830, abolitionists during that time chose to help slaves by performing illegal acts in order to help slaves embrace their freedom in the Northern States. Although their actions were not justified by the law at that time, the abolitionists understood that the southern slaveholders had immense power and would themselves commit illegal acts in order to prevent the advocating against slavery. A good example is the Slave Power Conspiracy, which intended to outlaw free speech and promote Americans to accept slavery. (Shultz, 2012) In addition, most abolitionists and slaves feared what would happen to them if they revolted against slavery. For instance, during the John Brown raid in 1859, slaves were more afraid that Brown would be unsuccessful in his attempt and did not want to risk their lives. John Brown was captured and hung in Virginia for revolting against slavery. Therefore, what choice did abolitionist have but to go against the law and do what they thought was proper for human rights. The government was not protecting the people, only allowing for the inequality of man and slavery in the United States.
The political party “Free Soil Party”, which consisted of non-abolitionists, was also unsuccessful in attempts to abolish slavery in the states obtained from Mexico in the West. The party wanted to abolish slavery in the West in order for white farmers to obtain land instead of the rich southern plantation owners. Once again, the abolitionist realized how powerful the southern states were and how difficult the anti-slavery movement was progressing; therefore, in order to protect individuals from the difficulties and harsh slave owners, abolitionists took the law into their own hands and helped slaves move from the south to the northern slave-free states. This is a justifiable cause, especially because freedom is how the United States in built and it took several years and Civil War for the equality of man to be realized and practiced in the United States. (Shultz, 2012)
Schultz, K. M. (2012). HIST2, Volume 1. Retrieved from The University of Phoenix eBook Collection.