Research Abolitionist Question

rbortega

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May 4, 2013
Something I found surprising when reading about the Anti-Slavery Movement was that, despite being against slavery, many Abolitionists had racists views of African Americans and did not believe in equality. A notable exception was John Brown. Does anybody know of any other Abolitionists besides John Brown who in favor of abolishing slavery and supported racial equality?
 

John Winn

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Probably the most famous was William Lloyd Garrison. He was a bit of an odd boy though and tended to distance himself from other abolitionists in his rather extreme views (e.g. he was somewhat of an anarchist as he didn't believe in government). Oh, and he also didn't believe in drinking which wasn't yet a real popular idea. Check him out.
 

rbortega

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May 4, 2013
Probably the most famous was William Lloyd Garrison. He was a bit of an odd boy though and tended to distance himself from other abolitionists in his rather extreme views (e.g. he was somewhat of an anarchist as he didn't believe in government). Oh, and he also didn't believe in drinking which wasn't yet a real popular idea. Check him out.
According to a biography of John Brown I am currently reading, even Garrison was known for having racists views of African Americans.
 

John Winn

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According to a biography of John Brown I am currently reading, even Garrison was known for having racists views of African Americans.
Well, he felt that slavery tended to, essentially, damage blacks to the point that they were robbed of much of their humanity, not to be regained. Thus, most slaves were likely not to be the social equal of whites (or perhaps free blacks). So by today's standards he was, indeed, racist. Now, I think he probably would have said that were slavery eliminated (which he of course advocated) that blacks who were never enslaved would be equal to whites (but that's just my opinion based on his statements). Maybe, like Lincoln, he'd have changed his views at some point but who knows (Lincoln was "racist" for a long time).

These are examples of why I don't think we should impose our modern views backward and judge those in the past to have been immoral. They lived in different times. To have advocated freeing slaves was a brave and profound thing in Garrison's day. Should he not get credit for it ?

And regarding Brown, he was also a murderer. So it's often not real clean.
 

Carol

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Well, he felt that slavery tended to, essentially, damage blacks to the point that they were robbed of much of their humanity, not to be regained. Thus, most slaves were likely not to be the social equal of whites (or perhaps free blacks). So by today's standards he was, indeed, racist. Now, I think he probably would have said that were slavery eliminated (which he of course advocated) that blacks who were never enslaved would be equal to whites (but that's just my opinion based on his statements). Maybe, like Lincoln, he'd have changed his views at some point but who knows (Lincoln was "racist" for a long time).

These are examples of why I don't think we should impose our modern views backward and judge those in the past to have been immoral. They lived in different times. To have advocated freeing slaves was a brave and profound thing in Garrison's day. Should he not get credit for it ?

And regarding Brown, he was also a murderer. So it's often not real clean.
I agree. Attaching our present views and current daily life does not equal historical truth. The truthful answer to the question, and this is my opinion only, is each and every person who spoke outwardly for the demise of slavery also contained stipulations of what freedom meant for those enslaved. In saying this, just as you state and I quote you here, "I don't think we should impose our modern views backward and judge those in the past to have been immoral." This is a perfect statement. Life was different, completely different for our ancestors who lived during the war years, after and before. We cannot grasp the TRUE meaning of how different life was simply because we were not there. To speak out against slavery was very noticeable by the general public. It automatically brought attention directly to the words, the person and the area. People and their lives were changed forever because they spoke openly about the issue. I'll stop here. @John Winn I agree with you 110%. One more thing, the word freedom is a strong and powerful word. Freedom held a different definition during 1776. The word changed greatly during the Civil War and moving forward, Freedom's definition today is different from the onset of the 21st century.
 

WJC

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Something I found surprising when reading about the Anti-Slavery Movement was that, despite being against slavery, many Abolitionists had racists views of African Americans and did not believe in equality. A notable exception was John Brown. Does anybody know of any other Abolitionists besides John Brown who in favor of abolishing slavery and supported racial equality?
There was a very large Black Abolitionist Movement: they most certainly believed in equality. Frederick Douglass is well known: others largely forgotten, though they were highly influential at the time. For more, I suggest Timothy P. McCarthy and John Stauffer, Editors, Prophets of Protest: Reconsidering the History of American Abolitionism. (New York: The New Press, 2006).
 

John S. Carter

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Something I found surprising when reading about the Anti-Slavery Movement was that, despite being against slavery, many Abolitionists had racists views of African Americans and did not believe in equality. A notable exception was John Brown. Does anybody know of any other Abolitionists besides John Brown who in favor of abolishing slavery and supported racial equality?
William Lloyd Garrison ,newspaper publisher, would be one, though I do not believe that he advocated Brown' s form of radicalism. There were ladies ,though I can not remember any names. There was one from the South who was a voice for abolition. You can find several from the Quakers who where early leaders in the movement. In fact they were not liked by either Northern or Southern for their actions against slavery or for equal rights.,esp. those from Pa.
 

Fairfield

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William Lloyd Garrison ,newspaper publisher, would be one, though I do not believe that he advocated Brown' s form of radicalism. There were ladies ,though I can not remember any names. There was one from the South who was a voice for abolition. You can find several from the Quakers who where early leaders in the movement. In fact they were not liked by either Northern or Southern for their actions against slavery or for equal rights.,esp. those from Pa.
There is a difference between racism and abolitionism.

Don't forget Otis O. Howard of Maine. Also the often maligned Lysander Spooner. Lastly, I suspect that many USCT officers fell into this category. John Hartwell Cook.

The ladies you mean may be the Grimke sisters of South Carolina. And, of course, Harriet Beecher Stowe.
 

Peace Society

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I read in The Irish General by Paul Wylie that Thomas Francis Meagher started out pro-southern, by became a rabid abolitionist by around 1863. He entered the war hoping for freedom for Ireland (by all those trained soldiers he encouraged to enlist). When he learned how Negroes were treated, he realized they and the Irish were not that different. He supported full equal rights for blacks immediately.
 

Drew

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Oct 22, 2012
Thaddeus Stevens... other abolitionist I have read about wanted them to resettle in Africa.

Thaddeus Stevens' skirt is not clean, by 2021 standards. He was in bed with the nativist, "Know Nothing" party for a while.

He also had an African American girlfriend for many years, whom he never married. Maybe it was illegal in his home state of Pennsylvania? I don't know.

What's good for the goose is good for the gander, if you ask me. If we're going to hold historical figures to account, it's got to be done evenly.
 

Joshism

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His racism came with a qualification: he held that it was slavery that had done this.

Which is not an unreasonable belief. Someone who has spent their entire life denied education while experiencing a variety of traumas (physical and psychological abuse, rape, suddenly and forcibly being parted from your spouse and/or children) from a young age through adulthood is unlikely to ever be a fully functional adult.
 
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Aug 4, 2019
rbortega

It's not really surprising. Most abolitionists did not really accept equal rights immediately for the negro slave for the oblivious reason that they believed the southerner slavery system had indeed retarded the humanistic normal development of the negro slave for over two hundred years. The negro slave was kept in near total isolation his/her entire life span. They further believed that through immediate education and training the negro slave could over come these imposed handicaps and the future day would appear when equal rights and whatever could be granted to the negro freed slave. One may called this racist attitude but I tend to disagree.
 
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