It's entirely possible that slavery wouldn't have been abolished when it was without these explosive Anti-Slavery Almanacs, starting in 1936... Image Sources: The Public Domain Review and Awesome Stories
The Public Domain ReviewAbolitionist and editor William Lloyd Garrison was a leading figure behind the publication of these almanacs.
The Public Domain ReviewGarrison launched the newspaper The Liberator in 1831, which would clear the path for these anti-slavery almanacs to be printed.
The Public Domain ReviewIn 1832, Garrison formed the New England Anti-Slavery Society, which called for the immediate abolition of slavery, and it grew quickly.
The Public Domain ReviewIt expanded to become the American Anti-Slavery Society in 1833, and within five years topped a quarter of a million members.
The Public Domain ReviewThe almanacs were released annually, and featured a gruesome image to accompany each month of the year.
The Public Domain ReviewIn addition to the images, made a strong written case about how deeply un-Christian the institution of slavery was.
The Public Domain ReviewThese written passages helped expose the vile treatment of slaves, including the fact that many children were separated from their families.
The Public Domain ReviewIn addition the almanacs marshaled statistics to help prove their case, marking a crucial moment in U.S. history when stats became an authoritative political tool.
The Public Domain ReviewEach year, the AASS featured statistics in its almanacs to convey the movement’s growth, as well as to reveal politicians’ voting records on the matter of slavery.
The Public Domain ReviewAs Vanderbilt University English professor Teresa Goddu noted, “Numbers could simultaneously expose the horrors of slavery and promote the organizational system that undergirded antislavery’s success.”
The Public Domain ReviewShe adds, “Just as the state solidified its power in this period through what Oz Frankel describes as “print statism”—the unprecedented production, accumulation, and diffusion of social facts in and through official reports—so too did antislavery rely on the printed discourse of numeracy to establish their knowledge system as credible and their movement as legitimate.”
www.awesomestories.comThe years between 1832 and 1837 saw a sharp increase in the circulation of anti-slavery propaganda, thanks in no small part to Garrison’s strategic use of media, numeracy, and vivid imagery.
www.awesomestories.comAs noted activist/abolitionist Angelina Grimke said in 1838, “Until the pictures of the slave's sufferings were drawn and held up to the public gaze, no Northerner had any idea of the cruelty of the system, it never entered their minds that such abominations could exist in Christian, Republican America."
www.awesomestories.comThat’s not to say the almanacs — carved from woodblocks — were not met without resistance. Southern states were adamant in their attempts to block the distribution of these materials.
Awesome StoriesThey were, however, widely read in the North, where they originated.
Awesome StoriesTheir gruesome imagery incited social action, and petitions to end slavery soon began flooding Congress.
Awesome StoriesThese petitions became so overwhelming that in 1836 the U.S. House of Representatives implemented the “gag rule,” which blocked debate on the subject.
Awesome StoriesAbolitionists were unfazed by the ruling, and continued to agitate for the end of slavery, gaining momentum through the continued dissemination of their almanacs.
Awesome StoriesInitially, abolitionists hoped that one of the major political parties of the time (the Democrats or the Whigs) would support their cause with the immediacy they demanded.
Awesome StoriesThat didn’t happen, and so in 1848, abolitionists established the Free Soil party.
Awesome StoriesThe party’s platform was "Free Soil, Free Speech, Free Labor and Free Men, and under it we will fight on and fight ever, until a triumphant victory shall reward our exertions."
Awesome StoriesWhile short-lived, the party exerted major influence in Congress, where it sent 16 elected officials. It also had two presidential candidates, Martin Van Buren in 1848 and John P. Hale in 1852, both of whom lost.
Awesome StoriesThe party's most important legacy lies not in votes or numbers, but the political possibilities it provided, allowing anti-slavery Democrats a way to convene with likeminded individuals of other parties.
Awesome StoriesThis political faction would eventually become the Republican Party, whose most well remembered elected official, Abraham Lincoln, would later enact the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863 and change the status of 3 million people from "slave" to "free."
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