The USA earned its independence from British rule in the eighteenth century. The new country was based on democratic principles where people’s rights were respected and exercised to a considerable extent. However, the democratic aspirations of Americans were rather compromised as millions of people were deprived of basic rights. Slavery became a matter of heated debate and even one of the reasons for the Civil War that tore the country into two camps. Some people in the USA, including politicians and average citizens, advocated for slavery abolishing, while others tried to ignore or silence those individuals’ concerns. This paper includes a brief analysis of the abolitionist movement and some of its effects on the development of American society.
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It is first necessary to consider the peculiarities of the methods used by some abolitionists. Many of these people were responsible reformers who tried to develop specific strategies and methods to ensure the swift transfer to the society where slavery is abolished. However, thousands of abolitionists were agitators or, in many cases, idealists who focused on morals and democratic values. For instance, the American anti-slavery society declared its sentiments regarding the matter in 1833 (Library of Congress, n.d.).
The organization stressed that slavery must be abolished, and this can be achieved through political instruments. It is stated that people of free states should advocate for making all slaves free, which is supposed to persuade slave owners (Library of Congress, n.d.). It is stressed that no compensations can be offered since slavery is a crime. Clearly, this position was rather unrealistic and even irresponsible as it led to increased tension in the country.
One of the strengths of the movement was its use of the provisions of the Declaration of Independence. For example, the American anti-slavery society emphasized that the country was governed in terms of the principles of equality. The declaration of the society included quotes that all people were born equal and had the right to live and to liberty (Library of Congress, n.d.). However, their opponents were reluctant to take into account such strong evidence and attempted to put an end to the debate. The Gag Rule was a response of anti-abolitionists who simply introduced the regulations that enabled Congress to ignore anti-slavery petitions. Ironically, although the creators of the regulation wanted to make the debate less visible, it had quite the opposite effect. In spite of the fact that Congress did not consider anti-slavery petitions, the abolitionist movement earned more and more supporters in the society.
Another effect of the Gag Rule, which is specifically remarkable, is associated with the women’s rights movement. Females participated in the abolitionists’ struggle using diverse methods, including the development of petitions. A group of women who resided in Massachusetts created a petition where they mentioned major principles of democracy and some provisions of the Declaration of Independence (United States House of Representatives, n.d.).
American females learned how to be active and how to employ different strategies to achieve their goals. These skills and commitment to certain goal attainment were instrumental in making the women’s rights movement successful.
In conclusion, it is necessary to state that American abolitionists often used quite ineffective tools to achieve their goals, such as idealistic declarations. Nevertheless, every petition and declaration still contributed to the final outcome as an increasing number of Americans were starting to understand the adverse effects slavery had on the development o the new nation. The abolitionist movement was also an important stage in the creation of a civil society where people were prepared to fight for their rights.
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Library of Congress. (n.d.). Image 1 of Declaration of sentiments of the American anti-slavery society. Adopted at the formation of said society, in Philadelphia, on the 4th day of December, 1833. New York. Published by the American anti-slavery society, 142 Nassau Street. William S. Web.
United States House of Representatives. (n.d.). Petition to rescind gag rule. Web.