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Abolitionism

Abolitionism

Abolitionist thought began to make its mark on American society with both men and women braving the backlash of Southern pro-slavery anger. With abolitionists being both black and white, they had a diverse base to help spread their message far across the country. While fighting for the abolition of slavery's long-standing role in the United States, some chose to resort to violence while others chose more peaceful methods.


Abolitionism Timeline

1619 - African slavery in North America begins in Jamestown, Virginia.

1636 - America's first slave ship, "Desire," launches and begins the infamous slave trade era between the British-American colonies and Africa.

1770s - At the start of the American Revolution, which removed the Thirteen Colonies from the control of England, some states had started to forbid the importation of slaves from Africa. The slave trade was never very popular among settlers and Vermont was the first to completely abolish it in 1770. Rhode Island and Pennsylvania quickly followed in Vermont's footsteps by implementing more rules to prohibit slavery.

1789 - The U.S. Constitution replaced the "Articles of Confederation." Though the document does not directly mention slavery, it does outline the return of "fugitives," which included criminals, indentured servants, or slaves.

1809 - The Constitution prohibits the importation of slaves.

1819 - The Constitution makes the importation of slaves a capital offense. Around this time many Americans believed that slavery in the country would simply die out on its own. Unfortunately, with the invention of the sewing machine and Eli Whitney's "Cotton Gin," the South would become more reliant on the institution of slavery.

1820 - The Missouri Compromise (36º30' line).

1830 - The first Abolitionist newspaper, "The Liberator," is published by William Lloyd Garrison.

1850 - Implementation of the new "Fugitive Slave Act."

1854 - The Kansas Nebraska Act.

1856 - John Brown's Raid.

1857 - The Dred Scott Decision.

1860 - The election of Abraham Lincoln & "Secession Winter."

1861-1865 - The American Civil War.

1865 - The implementation of the 13th Amendment, which finally granted all slaves their freedom.


The Rise of Abolitionism

For a while, the United States was divided equally by slave states in the South and free states in the North. However, when Missouri wished to join the Union in 1820, the balance between slave and free states was at risk. Maine was also added around the same time, naturally as a free state, as it was originally part of Massachusetts. Along with this came the Missouri Compromise that stated all territory North of the 36º30' line was to be entered as free, and all South of the line would be entered as a slave state. Debates began to swirl around the Compromise when U.S. territory started to expand Westward after the Mexican-American War. Southerners wanted to move slavery to the West while the North wanted to keep it segregated in the South.

As the North continued to industrialize and modernize, refugees from the "Potato Famine" in Ireland flocked to the United States in search of a new life. These migrants would work hard as well as for cheap. They also came from areas where slavery had long since been abolished; between the lack of a need for slaves and the influence of foreign Abolitionism, American Abolitionism began to develop more rapidly with the rising diversity rates.

When the Fugitive Slave Act was passed along with the Compromise of 1850, tensions between the North and South grew even deeper. The Act required runaway slaves to be returned after being caught in another state. The Act also came with harsh penalties, sometimes even including death, if one was found to be aiding or hiding a runaway. The North retaliated against this idea, occasionally attacking the plantation owners that came north to retrieve their slaves. These attacks deepened the South's distaste for the North, as they began to see Northerners as people who thought they were above the law.

Antislavery Publications

Anti-slavery publications became extremely popular in the ever-developing North during this time, though they were banned in the South. Groups of militant pro-slavery Southerners occasionally raided nearby printing businesses; destroying presses and papers, and killing its printmakers.

Abolitionist
Influence

Abolitionist Movement | black and grey portrait of William Lloyd Garrison | StudySmarter

US Library of Congress (CC).
William Lloyd Garrison was an extremely prominent Abolitionist journalist and social reformer who created "The Liberator," an Abolitionist newspaper in 1830. As one of the most radical of all Abolitionists, he published many stories and articles calling for the immediate emancipation of all slaves. Garrison was also one of the founders of the American Anti-Slavery Society and though he never believed in the use of violence due to his Christian background, he accepted and supported the armed conflicts during the Civil War. Garrison also became a leading advocate for women's rights in the country, becoming a prominent voice in the Women's Suffrage movement.

Abolitionist Movement | black and grey portrait drawing of Harriet Beecher Stowe | StudySmarter

Appleton's Cyclopaedia of
American Biography (CC).

Harriet Beecher Stowe was an Abolitionist writer from Connecticut and though she wrote many books during her lifetime, the most well-known and influential was Uncle Toms Cabin. She had come to closely know previously enslaved people throughout her lifetime and wrote the book based on their stories in order to show others the horrors of slavery. Though the book became one of the most effective pieces of Abolitionist propaganda, many criticize the fact that she received so much credit for taking other people's stories.

Black Abolitionism

There were many white Americans who supported Abolitionism. Nonetheless, without African Americans who risked their own lives, the Abolitionist movement may have never had the impact it had. From fighting court cases to walking out on their masters on their own terms, and even creating a secret escape route into the North, black Abolitionists helped hundreds of people find freedom.

Abolitionist
Influence

Abolitionist Movement | black and grey portrait photo of Frederick Douglas | StudySmarter

Frederick Douglas. Source:
National Archives and
Records Administration (CC).
Frederick Douglas was a magnificent writer and speaker who was able to captivate anyone who listened. His writings and speeches helped lead to the spread of Abolitionist sentiments across the United States. During the Civil War, Douglas became an advisor for President Abraham Lincoln; convincing him to arm the previously enslaved and prioritize Abolitionism. Douglas also became the first black U.S. Marshal during this time. Not only did he advocate throughout his life for the civil rights of African Americans, but he was also an open supporter of equal rights for women.

Abolitionist Movement | black and grey portrait of Dred Scott | StudySmarter

Dred Scott. Source:
National Portrait Gallery (CC).
Beginning in 1854, Dred Scott and his wife filed for freedom from their master. While enslaved, Scott had resided in two free states, Illinois and Wisconsin, while his master worked as a traveling military physician. After being granted freedom by the Missouri State Court for two years, Scott was sent back into slavery. The Dred Scott Case made its way to the Supreme Court and yet again his freedom was denied, with the judge declaring that Dred Scott could never be an American citizen whether or not he ever reached his freedom. The North was outraged by this ruling and was extremely vocal about the failure of the justice system. Douglas' eventual freedom and the decision of his case added fuel to the fire of American Abolitionism.
Abolitionist Movement | black and grey standing portrait photo of sojourner truth | StudySmarter
Sojourner Truth. Source: US Library of Congress (CC).
In 1851, former slave Sojourner Truth made her famous speech "Ain't I a Woman" at the Women's Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio. Truth was originally born into slavery in New York but walked out on her owner after she felt she had done enough for him over the years. After writing her memoir The Narrative of Sojourner Truth: A Northern Slave in the 1840s and seeing it published in the 1850s, Truth also began to tour; speaking out against slavery as well as expressing her support of women's rights.
Abolitionist Movement, women's contribution to anti-slavery, Study Smarter
National Portrait Gallery (Creative Commons License)
Harriet Tubman was a former slave who helped many others reach freedom either in the US or Canada via her "Underground Railroad" during the mid-1800s. The Railroad was a series of "safe houses" consisting of barns, homes, or other private buildings that would help guide slaves into the North. Tubman was a fierce leader, if anyone wanted to turn back she threatened to shoot them, as their journey back may expose her work. Slaves that reached Canada however could be much more relaxed than those who reached the North, as they did not need to worry about being discovered and sent back due to the Fugitive Slave Act. Despite the dangers, Tubman can be credited with helping around 300 people escape slavery.

Abolitionism & Women's Suffrage

The Seneca Falls Convention

During many Abolitionist meetings, women were rarely permitted to speak. In 1848, the first women's rights convention was held and women used this time not only to speak for their own rights but the rights of the enslaved African American people in the country. Women speaking out openly against slavery bound the idea of women's rights and Abolitionism tightly together in the eyes of many.

Abolitionist
Influence
Abolitionist Movement | black and grey portrait photo of Elizabeth Stanton | StudySmarter
Elizabeth Cady Stanton
US Library of Congress

Elizabeth C. Stanton was a writer and activist. She was the leader of the Seneca Falls Convention of 1838. She continued to lead and attend future women's rights conventions and eventually partnered with Susan B. Anthony upon their meeting in 1851. Stanton also worked alongside many abolitionist leaders such as William Lloyd Garrison. She also became the first woman to speak in front of the New York State Legislature in 1860.

Abolitionist Movement | black and white sitting portrait photo of Susan B. Anthony | StudySmarter
Susan B. Anthony
US Library of Congress

Susan B. Anthony was a social reformer as well as a strong women's rights activist until her death in 1906. Anthony was born to a Quaker family in 1820. Quakers believed in the principles of equality, brotherhood, and non-violence. She was committed to and willing to fight for equality. She was a writer and public speaker who remained diligent in freeing the enslaved and the women of America.

In 1851, she met Elizabeth Cady Stanton at the Seneca Falls Convention and the two would continue their fight for equality over the next fifty years, even co-founding the American Equal Rights Association in 1866.


The Election of Abraham Lincoln

One idea that took extreme hold over the South was the possibility of a Republican President; in their eyes, it would ruin their

way of life and pushed them to the point of possible secession. These fears drove the Democratic Party to split into three separate groups during their convention of 1860.

With the opposing Party in pieces, Abraham Lincoln gained the upper hand, winning the Presidential Election of 1860 with 180 electoral votes. Shocked and angered because Abraham Lincoln's name did not even appear on ten state ballots, Southern states began to officially claim their secession from the Union. Lincoln claimed in his campaign and also his inauguration speech that the preservation of the Union was his number one priority and he attempted to appeal to the South, offering an added amendment to the Constitution that would protect slavery within territories it was already legal. The seceding states refused, and the Civil War began soon after in 1861.

Over the course of the war (1861-1865), Lincoln gradually moved to abolish slavery; this began with Lincoln declaring that if any Confederate sympathizers were exposed, their land would be ripped away from them and every slave would be set free. Secondly, in 1862, Congress passed the Militia Act which allowed black men to serve as laborers in the U.S. military. Following in 1863, the "Emancipation Proclamation" was set into place: if Confederate states did not agree to re-join the Union in 100 days, then their slaves would now be "forever free." Thinking that they still had a chance at winning the war, the Confederacy continued fighting and lost the war in 1865.

The 13th Amendment

Upon the Union winning the Civil War and taking back the Southern states, Abraham Lincoln went on to add the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Amendment abolished slavery and freed thousands of people.

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."

–13th Amendment, Section 1

Seeing slavery's defeat brought happiness to many, but not all. An enraged Confederate sympathizer named John Wilkes Booth decided to take revenge on President Lincoln. On April 14th of 1865, at Ford's Theatre in Washington DC, Booth fatally shot Lincoln before running off to hide away from the assassination.

The oncoming years would still hold much tension. It also brought light to a new movement: Women's Suffrage. Many men and women who participated in Abolitionist conventions would go on to show their support and raise their voices for women's rights as well; a reciprocate act to all of the brave women who spoke out against slavery.


Abolitionism - Key takeaways

  • Abolitionism gained momentum during the 19th century, fostered by the North's diversity due to immigration.
  • Abolitionists were manifold, with their members being black, white, male, and female; from different backgrounds (previously enslaved, Quaker, Christian, etc).
  • Women were rarely allowed to speak at Abolitionist conventions, so they took the time to speak about slavery during women's rights conventions. The relationship between Abolitionism and Women's Suffrage created a bond that would continue after the passing of the 13th Amendment in 1865; in the search for women's rights.
  • Abraham Lincoln would officially abolish slavery at the end of the Civil War in 1865 with the passing of the 13th Amendment.

Frequently Asked Questions about Abolitionism

Some abolitionists were white, religious men and women; some were black men and women who had previously escaped their enslavement. While some groups or individuals took a peaceful abolitionist route, hoping for reforms by the means of the legislature; others decided to express their opinions with violence, or active movements, like the "immediatist".  

The abolitionist had ample participation of women, which wasuncustomary for the time, and was influenced by several female leaders. Many abolitionists went on to lead and support women's suffrage movements. During abolitionist meetings, women were rarely allowed to speak, so women's rights and abolition became topics of discontent that were uttered in unison. 

The rise of the abolitionist movement in the North caused the extremely pro-slavery South to feel like their way of life was threatened. Their economy that relied so much on slavery was in danger of being ruined. 

Frederick Douglas was a former slave that gave famous speeches about his enslavement and his journey running away. His speeches influenced many prominent white people in the North that in turn helped propel the movement forward. 

In Quaker ideology, they believe in strong principles of brotherhood / equality of man and non-violence. 

Final Abolitionism Quiz

Question

What was Harriet Beecher Stowe's occupation?

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Answer

Author

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Question

What book is Harriet Beecher Stowe most remembered for?

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Answer

Uncle Tom's Cabin

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Question

How sucesssful was Uncle Tom's Cabin?


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Answer

It was the most sucessful novel of the century 

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Question

What were Anti-Tom novels?

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Answer

Pro-slavery propaganda 

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Question

What was an abolitionist?


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Answer

A person who wanted to end the practice human ensalvement

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Question

Why was Uncle Tom's Cabin important?

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Answer

It showed white northerners the horror and cruelty of slavery 

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Question

Who was Uncle Tom?


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Answer

A man who was ensalved

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Why did Uncle Tom's Cabin enrage people in the South?

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Answer

It attacked the practice of human enslavement upon which their economy was built 

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What was The Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin?

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Answer

A book Stowe put together containing various documents and personal accounts illustrating how real her depiction of slavery was.

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Question

What was not an influence to write Uncle Tom's Cabin


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Answer

The Civil War 

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Question

Where was Frederick Douglass born?

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Answer

Maryland

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Question

Frederick Douglass was an activist for the __________ movement.

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Answer

abolitionist 

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Who encouraged Frederick Douglass to share his story?


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Answer

William Lloyd Garrison 

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Question

What did Frederick Douglass do for the Union Army?

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Answer

He recruited black men to serve 

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Question

______ was a speaking tour of abolitionist activists that travelled the US. 


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Answer

One Hundred Conventions

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Question

​How did Frederick Douglass advise Lincoln on the Civil War?


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Answer

Douglass believed that  declaring an end to slavery would cause enslaved people and free black men would rise up against the Confederacy 

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Question

What was North Star?

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Answer

An abolitionist and womens suffrage newsletter published by Frederick Douglas 

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Question

True or False:

Frederick Douglas joined the abolitionist movement in New Bedford, MA.

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Answer

True

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Question

Where was Frederick Douglas inspired by a society without human enslavement?


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Answer

England

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True or False:

Frederick Douglass the first Black man to own a printing press in the United States.

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Answer

True

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Question

What important event did Douglass attend which was not directly about abolition?


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Answer

Seneca Falls Convention 

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Question


Why did Douglass briefly flee to Canada?

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Answer

He feared being caught up in the John Brown case as they had been friends and Brown had recently visited  

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Question

What was supposed to happen to Sojourner Truth on the Fourth of July but did not?

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Answer

She was supposed to be freed from slavery 

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Question

Sojourner Truth was the first Black woman to ____________.

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Answer

win a court case against a white man.

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Where did Sojourner Truth famously experience discrimination in Washington, DC?


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Answer

A street car 

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Why did Sojourner Truth take that name?

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Answer

Her religious conviction to spread the Gospel and speak against oppression

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What was the reaction to The Narrative of Sojourner Truth?


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Answer

The book was popular and acclaimed 

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Why do historians think the line "Ain't I a woman?" was not actualy spoken by Sojourner Truth?

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Answer

She spoke with a Dutch accent but the line is written in a Southern dialect audiences expected a former slave to have 

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True or False:

Sojourner Truth petitioned Congress to give land grants to those who were free from enslavement.

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Answer

True

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Question

What was one thing Sojourner Truth tried to do for Black people after the Civil War?

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Answer

Help them find jobs 

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Why did Olive Gilbert help with The Narrative of Sojourner Truth?

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Answer

Truth was illiterate and needed someone to write her story down 

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Question

Sojourner Truth made a speech connecting the rights of women and Blacks at the ____________________________.

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Answer

Ohio Women's Rights Convention

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Question

True or False:

Sojourner Truth considered herself an activist, as well as a politician. 


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Answer

False, she considered herself to be a preacher 

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Question

Where did Sojourner Truth spend her later years?

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Answer

Battlecreek, MI

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Question

What was the Underground Railroad?

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Answer

a network of routes and safehouses that enslaved people used to escape to freedom

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Question

Which individual was not a conductor of the Underground Railroad?

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Answer

William Lloyd Garrison

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Which was not a destination of the Underground Railroad?

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Answer

South Africa

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What was typical of groups traveling land routes of the Underground Railroad?

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led by a conductor

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What law made being a conductor of the Underground Railroad especially dangerous?

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The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850

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Did captured conductors of the Underground Railroad face harsher sentences in the North or South?

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Answer

the North

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Question

Which individual published a book that had first-hand accounts from those who escaped slavery via the Underground Railroad?

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Answer

William Still

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Question

Why did Frederic Douglass call the Underground Railroad the "upperground railroad"?

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Answer

Abolitionists spoke about it publicly and the South was well aware

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Question

How do some historians believe conductors and passengers of the Underground Railroad communicated?

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Answer

quilts

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Question

What did conductors do in the context of the Underground Railroad?

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Answer

They guided enslaved people to freedom.

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Question

John Brown and his sons had previously became infamous for their march through ________.

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Answer

the Pottawatomie Valley.

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Question

Why did John Brown plan an attack on Harpers Ferry?

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Answer

He was an Abolitionist who wanted to free the enslaved of Harpers Ferry. 

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Question

How many men were a part of John Brown's Raid?

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Answer

21

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Question

When did John Brown's Raid take place?

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Answer

October 16th - 18th

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Question

Why did Frederick Douglas refuse to join John Brown's Raid?

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Answer

Though also an Abolitionist, he did not agree with John Brown's violence.

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Question

John Brown would become a martyr of Abolitionism after his execution.

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Answer

True.

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