27 Harrowing Images From The 1830s’ Anti-Slavery Almanacs

Almanacs were a popular source of information for literate Americans starting in the 1600s, with the first of these publications focused on weather, horoscopes, and other amusements.

When the American Anti-Slavery Society (AASS) published the first Anti-Slavery Almanac in 1836 (and for years after that), they sought to educate people on the moral and ethical horrors of slavery, and included graphic images of slaves’ treatment to emphasize the un-Christian nature of the practice. As you’d imagine, these images created quite the controversy:

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Anti Slavery Almanacs

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

anti slavery almanac January 1838

Abolitionist and editor William Lloyd Garrison was a leading figure behind the publication of these almanacs. - The Public Domain Review

anti slavery almanacs February 1838

Garrison launched the newspaper The Liberator in 1831, which would clear the path for these anti-slavery almanacs to be printed. - The Public Domain Review

March 1838

In 1832, Garrison formed the New England Anti-Slavery Society, which called for the immediate abolition of slavery, and it grew quickly. - The Public Domain Review

April 1838

It expanded to become the American Anti-Slavery Society in 1833, and within five years topped a quarter of a million members. - The Public Domain Review

May 1838

The first almanac was printed in 1836 by the American Anti-Slavery Society. - The Public Domain Review

June 1838

The almanacs were released annually, and featured a gruesome image to accompany each month of the year. - The Public Domain Review

July 1838

In addition to the images, made a strong written case about how deeply un-Christian the institution of slavery was. - The Public Domain Review

August 1838

These written passages helped expose the vile treatment of slaves, including the fact that many children were separated from their families. - The Public Domain Review

September 1838

In 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 Review

October 1838

Each 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 Review

November 1838

As 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 Review

December 1838

She 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.” - The Public Domain Review

Arresting Fugitives

The 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.com

Burning McIntosh 1840

As 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.com

Chained Work 1840

That’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. - www.awesomestories.com

Branding Slaves 1840

They were, however, widely read in the North, where they originated. - Awesome Stories

Cutting Slaves 1840

Their gruesome imagery incited social action, and petitions to end slavery soon began flooding Congress. - Awesome Stories

Dogs Guns 1840

These petitions became so overwhelming that in 1836 the U.S. House of Representatives implemented the “gag rule,” which blocked debate on the subject. - Awesome Stories

Field Work 1840

Abolitionists were unfazed by the ruling, and continued to agitate for the end of slavery, gaining momentum through the continued dissemination of their almanacs. - Awesome Stories

Improving Females 1840

The gag ruling was eventually repealed in 1844. - Awesome Stories

Mother Child 1840

Initially, 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 Stories

Negro Pew 1840

That didn’t happen, and so in 1848, abolitionists established the Free Soil party. - Awesome Stories

Northern Hospitality 1840

The 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 Stories

Paid Unpaid 1840

While 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 Stories

Poor Things 1840

The 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 Stories

Vicksburg 1840

This 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." - Awesome Stories

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Thomas Jefferson’s Dark Side: Four Damning Secrets

Today, he is a great president. In his own time, he was described as “a liar, whoremaster, debaucher, drunkard, gambler, and infidel.” And that was just by one man — a preacher.

Thomas Jefferson

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Even 190 years after Thomas Jefferson’s death, there’s a lot to celebrate about the man. Perhaps one of the last true Renaissance men, Jefferson has a list of accomplishments that reads like a short history of politics, statecraft, and science of the 18th century.

But there was a darker side of Thomas Jefferson, one that doesn’t always play as prominent a role in biographies as it should. In public, Jefferson was Mister Enlightenment, coining the phrase “all men are created equal” and even advocating the abolition of slavery early in his career. In private, however, well…read on to see.

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Three Massive Product Recalls, And The Chilling Circumstances Behind Them

Sometimes product makers get things wrong — and sometimes, they knowingly risk lives for a quick buck. The worst product recalls of recent years will have you thinking twice about going to the store.

Worst Recalls

An average of 30 class I and II recalls occur every week in the U.S., according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Image Source: Pixabay

Developed countries usually have high standards for products available for sale within their borders. Those standards aren’t always followed, however, and sometimes a dangerous product finds its way to market. When that happens, the only way forward, amid a welter of lawsuits, is a product recall.

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Four Little-Known Antebellum Slave Uprisings That Helped Bring About The Civil War

From razing New York City to torching Louisiana plantations, these slave revolts paved the way for the Civil War, and the eventual abolition of slavery.

Failed Slave Revolts

Scenes from Nat Turner’s 1831 Rebellion — this rebellion is well known, but many preceded it. Image Source: Library of Congress

Over 300 years ago, a group of black slaves staged an uprising in New York City. The amount of insurrectionists is unclear, but on April 6, 1712, they set fire to a building on Maiden Lane, near Broadway. When the white colonists came to put out the fire, the insurrectionists attacked them, killing nine and injuring eight.

The rebellion resulted in the arrest of 70 blacks, and the trial of 43. 14 were (surprisingly, for the time) acquitted, whereas 20 were hanged, and three were burned at the stake.

The results of the rebellion point to failure, but that didn’t stop other groups of black slaves from attempting insurrections of their own. Here are four memorable examples.

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