Last Updated 13 Apr 2020

The system of slavery and resulting

Category Slavery
Words 526 (2 pages)
Views 263

The system of slavery and resulting racial prejudice evoked negative reaction from many Americans. Their views came into conflict with the perception of slave labor as `normal` and economically sound part of everyday life prevalent in the mainstream community. some of them resorted to peaceful means for propaganda of their worldview like Harriet Beecher Stowe; others like Nat Turner initiated armed struggle to overthrow the hateful system.

Nat Turner’s rebellion continues to evoke a mixed response, depending supposedly on the race of the evaluator and position on racial issues. On the one hand, Nat Turner was definitely a man of great leadership skills, able to motivate many people to fight against inhuman conditions of the Southern plantations.On the other, he is known to have ordered the murder of al white people including children and women, and the list of the rebellion’s casualties includes many people whose contribution to exploitation was but marginal.

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Similarly questionable are the methods of guerrilla warfare used by John Brown to liberate the slaves. This story demonstrates that centuries after, America continues to be divided on the issue of race and ways to overcome racial tensions.

Harriet Beecher Stowe is certainly a less controversial figure. Her novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin is undoubtedly one of the most influential books in US history. Its significance was succinctly expressed by Abraham Lincoln in a personal meeting with the writer in 1862: "So you're the little woman who wrote the book that started this Great War!"[1]

While the President’s words were surely a polite exaggeration, it is certain that Stowe’s novel helped wake up many citizens who, much like herself before 1850, remained passive onlookers of slaves’ sufferings, informed those remote from the issue, and helped shape and develop the Abolitionist Movement.

However, in the South she received negative publicity as people began to accuse her of exaggerating the horrors of slavery. To this date, Americans still live to some extent in the shadow of these events. Still, debates continue as to the need to compensate descendants for the atrocities of slavery, methods to be used for the rehabilitation of the African American community, and heroes of the anti-slavery struggle.

For centuries, women remained on the sidelines of American society. Slowly but gradually, their role continued to rise as women’s rights entered the political agenda of the United States as an important issue. This change was made possible by the efforts of many outstanding women who upheld the cause of female liberation through the toughest of times.

Harriet Beecher Stowe can be considered a precursor of the Feminist movement. In a letter to George Eliot, Stowe insisted that “emancipation of slaves must be followed by the emancipation of women”[2]. In an attempt to combine the two, Stowe wrote in New York newspaper Independent that women can be active in the abolitionist cause, striving to leverage their influence by signing petitions, sharing information, and organizing community anti-slavery events[3].

[1] Harriet Beecher Stowe Center. (2005). Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Life and Timeline. Retrieved June 10, 2006, from http://www.harrietbeecherstowecenter.org/life/

[2] Cavendish, R. (2001). Publication of Uncle Tom's Cabin. History Today 51 (6), 54.

[3] Harriet Beecher Stowe Center. (2005). Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Life and Timeline. Retrieved June 10, 2006, from http://www.harrietbeecherstowecenter.org/life/

The system of slavery and resulting essay

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