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The Antislavery Movement in Kentucky

The Antislavery Movement in Kentucky

Copyright Date: 1978
Pages: 144
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  • Book Info
    The Antislavery Movement in Kentucky
    Book Description:

    As one of only two states in the nation to still allow slavery by the time of the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865, Kentucky's history of slavery runs deep. Based on extensive research,The Antislavery Movement in Kentuckyfocuses on two main antislavery movements that emerged in Kentucky during the early years of opposition. By 1820, Kentuckians such as Cassius Clay called for the emancipation of slaves -- a gradual end to slavery with compensation to owners. Others, such as Delia Webster, who smuggled three fugitive slaves across the Kentucky border to freedom in Ohio, advocated for abolition -- an immediate and uncompensated end to the institution. Neither movement was successful, yet the tenacious spirit of those who fought for what they believed contributes a proud chapter to Kentucky history.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-5783-2
    Subjects: History, Political Science, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Preface
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. 1-17)

    Slavery existed in Kentucky from the earliest days of settlement, and some slaves may have accompanied the hunters who explored the area before 1775. One of the state’s pioneers recalled in later years that the first child born to the settlers in Kentucky was “a coloured male child of a black woman in the Family of Dr. N. Hart” at Boonesborough. When Daniel Boone was marking the Wilderness Trail in 1775 his party was attacked by Indians who killed Captain William Twetty and his Negro servant. Colonel Richard Henderson’s party that followed Boone included several slaves. During the late winter...

    (pp. 18-37)

    Slavery was already something of an anomaly at the time of the American Revolution, although it existed in all thirteen colonies. A number of Americans could not reconcile its existence with the ideas expressed in the Declaration of Independence. Other protests were made on economic and moral grounds, and before the Revolution ended, several northern states had provided for the end of slavery, sometimes on a gradual basis that took decades to complete. The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 prohibited slavery in the public domain north of the Ohio River, with the result that Kentucky’s long northern boundary touched free territory...

    (pp. 38-60)

    The colonization movement was so innocuous and subject to such different interpretations that it could harbor individuals with quite varied opinions of slavery. Many Kentuckians of that era shared a sort of comfortable uneasiness about the institution of slavery. It was an evil, of course, and it would have been well if it had never been introduced into the commonwealth. But realities had to be faced. Slavery was well established, and it was an important aspect of the state’s economy. Besides, Kentucky slaves were thought to lead a better life than those in any other state, and with their handicaps...

    (pp. 61-78)

    The decisive defeat suffered in 1849 discouraged many of the foes of slavery, and some of them accepted the reverse as final. Others, who could not accept life in a permanent slave community, left the state. Samuel Freeman Miller, later a member of the Supreme Court, had been an emancipationist candidate from Knox County in 1849 but had withdrawn to avoid splitting the antislavery vote. Sorely disappointed with the new constitution, he moved to Iowa where he freed all his slaves.¹ But some determined opponents of slavery refused to concede defeat and continued the struggle during the final decade before...

    (pp. 79-97)

    Much of the writing about the antislavery movement has concentrated upon the whites who participated in it. When blacks are mentioned, they are usually treated merely as subjects of the movement, not as active participants in it. But the blacks were the people most directly and most intimately associated with slavery. They were the ones who suffered most from it, and they stood to gain most from its extinction. Many of Kentucky’s slaves opposed the institution in some way, and most of them displayed their opposition without assistance from antislavery whites.

    When the black role in the antislavery movement has...

    (pp. 98-112)

    While slavery in its various ramifications was an important cause of the Civil War, the war was not started in order to end slavery. President Lincoln was emphatic on that point. His purpose was to preserve the Union, and if he could best accomplish that by keeping slavery, it would be kept. The Republican platform of 1860 had been adamant on halting the further expansion of slavery, but it had disclaimed any intention of interfering with the institution in the states that had it. But many southerners saw in the victory of a sectional party an indication of future events....

  10. Notes
    (pp. 113-122)
  11. A Note to Readers
    (pp. 123-131)
  12. Index
    (pp. 132-140)