December 10, 2020 in History

Critical Thinking

Explanation of Problem, Question, Conflict or Issue 

With at least 200 words-

  1. Provide background and summarize the event/person you have chosen.
  2. What makes this worthy of saving?
  3. What other person or event might you have chosen? What made you decide not to choose it?

If I could save one historical event from destruction, I would choose the abolitionist movement in the USA of the 18th-19th centuries since I consider it to be of utmost importance both diachronically and synchronically. Up until the adoption of the Thirteenth Amendment and subsequently Fifteenth Amendment, slavery was deemed an acceptable phenomenon, especially in Southern states that depended on slaves in agriculture and virtually all other aspects of their lives. Northern states were quicker in terms of industrialization, which partially explains why they were the first to condemn and abolish slavery. Disagreement of the North and the South on the issue of slavery was among the main reasons why the Civil War broke out. Therefore, the abolitionism movement has played an integral role in the history of the USA.

This event is worthy of saving since it has played such a tremendous role in the history of both the USA and the world. If Southern states had won and slavery had remained a part and parcel of daily lives, millions of people would have suffered in captivity and died as a result of harsh treatment, rebellions, diseases, and other related issues. Thus, the abolitionist movement may be deemed the first step on the way towards creation of the contemporary democratic society enjoying various liberties and freedoms.

Another event that I have considered saving for the future is the history of first colonial settlements on the territory of modern Unites States, but I have decided in favor of the abolitionism movement as I consider the latter to be more topical and hence significant from the perspective of possible future challenges. However, it should be noted that the history of colonization of the USA is quite important as people should know how their ancestors lived and how their country was founded as there can be no future without respect for the past and knowledge of the roots.

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  • Look at the event/person you have chosen and provide different viewpoints supporting and against; defend them with academic sources (bibliography, inline citations).
  • How do different groups view this event? (Other countries, religions, genders etc…)

Abolitionism appeared as a strong movement in the 18th century and gained momentum till adoption of the Fifteenth Amendment in the late 19th century. This movement sought abolishment of slavery and freeing of more than four millions of slaves predominantly represented by African Americans. Besides, abolitionism played a key role in the escalation of the conflict between Northern and Southern states, which subsequently resulted in the Civil War. Moreover, the abolitionist movement contributed to the emergence of the womens rights movement. Therefore, it is evident that abolitionism played a key role in the history of the USA and world in general thanks to its fight for universal human rights for all.

However, slavery as well as abolitionism has always been a highly controversial phenomenon and different people have viewed it differently throughout the centuries. In particular, American abolitionists of the 18th century were significantly influenced by black resistance to slavery, changing interpretations of Christian morality, eighteenth-century ideas concerning universal human rights, and economic change. Although it is generally supposed that all representatives of the movement advocated for the end of slavery, the movement was not uniform and consisted of several directions. One group advocated for immediate emancipation of all slaves and the end of racial discrimination and segregation. They founded the American Anti-Slavery Society in 1833 and one of its leaders named William Lloyd Garrison published a newspaper The Liberator in 1831 in Boston. The other group consisted of supporters of gradual abolishment of slavery. This group was subdivided into two large fractions: the one advocating for limitation of the spread of slavery, i.e. those who were ready to let Southern states preserve the existing state of affairs if it did not threaten the North, and the one that gradually adopted a view that emancipation of slaves had to be connected with their expatriation. Hence, the latter founded the American Colonization Society and advocated for expatriation of freed slaves to Africa despite these peoples objections.

Under the influence of abolitionists, the North started viewing slavery as a sinful and immoral phenomenon, but the South disagreed in this respect. In the South, slavery was legal in fifteen states in the early 19th century and it played a pivotal role in the life of the so-called Cotton Kingdom related to the invention of cotton gin that required immense labor resources. Besides, Southerners resisted abolishment of slavery as they viewed it as an attempt of the North to interfere with their life and impose rules on them. It virtually became a reason for intensification of the calls to secede from the Union and subsequent start of the Civil War. Finally, it should be mentioned that at the time of the abolitionist movement in the USA slavery was gradually abolished all over the world, which victory of the North in the Civil War contributed to.

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Influence of Context and Assumptions

  • Explain how the event/person is viewed within the context of the time it exists. (Cultural, political, global)?
  • Compare the event/person with another of its time?
  • How would this person/event be viewed in todays world? What are the main differences in the context of then and now? (Are there things that would be unacceptable now that were normal then or vice versa?)

The abolitionist movement played a significant cultural and political role. Culturally and demographically, it meant liberation of four millions of African Americans and granting them with the ability to freely practice and spread their culture. Besides, this movement was closely connected with emergence of a wide variety of various free churches, including both for all races and only for the Blacks, which advocated for emancipation of slaves. Cultural impact of the movement was especially obvious in the North, whereby the South resisted its impact. The movement also influenced literature as there emerged poems and stories either supporting or condemning slavery. Historically, the movement played a part in the escalation of tension between the South and the North, which resulted in the Civil War. Political role of the movement is evident from its contribution to the US Constitution. In particular, the movement worked hard to see the Thirteenth and Fifteenth Amendments adopted. The movement succeeded in terms of its goals as the Thirteenth Amendment states that Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction (The Library of Congress). Furthermore, this amendment had a global outreach, for instance, during the adoption of various laws relating to universal human rights.

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In some respects, the abolitionist movement was similar in its activities to the womens rights movements, but their success and outreach, as well as support among the population and in the government differed. Some female abolitionists founded the womens rights movement in the early 19th century since they realized that women enjoyed little freedoms and rights and that had to be changed, but their success was limited because of the unpopularity of their ideas for a long time. However, both movements developed alongside for some time and resorted to similar techniques and strategies albeit with different results.

Nowadays, the abolitionist movement would receive global support as slavery is considered to be a humiliating, despicable, and unacceptable phenomenon in the contemporary society. Currently, trafficking of people is a serious crime persecuted internationally even though this illegal business is blooming because of the poverty and crimes raging in many parts of the world. Anyway, today the abolitionist movement would be actively supported because of its noble and humane goals.

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