The history of America knows many controversial stages, one of which was slavery in the country. Today, when any manifestations of inequality and, in particular, racism are condemned, it is not easy to imagine that, along with the opponents of this antisocial phenomenon, its supporters were in favor of maintaining inequality. The topic that will be touched on further is promoting in the concepts of pro- and anti-slavery, and the motives of the participants of both opposing camps. Fighting class inequality is one of the most controversial topics in American history, and the role of some human rights defenders in eradicating this dangerous and humiliating trend is significant.
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Anti-Slavery Concept of Democracy
Confronting the slave system as the phenomenon of medieval remnants became the policy of those who supported the abolition of class inequality. One of the prominent figures of this movement was Frederick Douglass, a former slave who managed to receive freedom and an opportunity to speak in public with his ideas. The primary concept on which Douglass relied was based on the principle of democracy as the main state system. He is famous for saying that any attempt to perpetuate racism and inequality as a valuable ideology is a sin and a shame for the country (Douglass). This public figure was one of the most famous human rights activists of his time, and his participation contributed greatly to the abolition of slavery.
The speech that Douglass addressed people in 1852 was a call for action and even a revolution (Douglass). Another prominent human right defender was David Walker who tried to achieve the democratization of society, and the eradication of the unacceptable phenomenon of slavery was the abolitionist’s key idea. Therefore, when analyzing the texts of the appeal to people, it can be noted that these two public figures were deeply involved in the problem. Based on personal experience, they were ready to draw attention to the issue of inequality by all means, and this position was a vivid example of anti-slavery movement.
Pro-Slavery Concept of Capitalism
One of the concepts justifying slavery in the America of the 19th century was capitalism. As evidence, the ideas of Christy, the journalist and political scientist of that time, may be quoted. He argued that any attempt to end slavery would fail since the country’s capitalist development and, in particular, cotton production was part of the national economic plan (Christy). He also hoped that people could not deny the fact that providing freedom to the working black population would be fraught with financial problems for the state treasury. In this regard, the concept of capitalism was considered one of the main mechanisms of the pro-slavery movement.
Capitalism as the driver of the market economy was the system that could affect a social situation if it were not for a strong abolitionist activity. According to Christy, about nine-tenths of the world cotton reserves consumed in Christian countries were produced in the USA. Since the overwhelming majority of plantation workers were slaves, endowing all members of society with equal rights would lead to significant losses and the decay of the labor market.
Fitzhugh’s conviction was based on the fact that class division promoted the expansion of the country’s power and its authority due to an opportunity to prove the superiority of the ruling elites. As a result, despite the arguments of both figures in favor of financial well-being, their ideas did not receive adequate support because of the condemnation of inequality by most government members.
Implication and Limitation
Based on the resources reviewed, it can be noted that the conducted analysis allows revealing the positions of anti- and pro-slavery from the point of view of two concepts – democracy and capitalism. Both these terms had a definite influence on the situation in America in the mid-19th century and in many respects formed public opinion on the problem of class inequality. The limitation of the analysis is the lack of two other concepts – mobility and difference. In the context of the topic under consideration, they could be discussed as additional factors affecting the movements for and against slavery.
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Anti-and pro-slavery movements in the America of the 19th century were the result of the dedicated struggle of individual public figures. Regarding abolitionist practices, the concept of democracy was promoted, and the supporters of the preservation of slavery adhered to capitalistic ideas as the basic national strategy. The notions of mobility and difference could be used as additional factors influencing the nature of the confrontation.
Christy, David. “Economical Relations of Slavery.” HomeworkMarket. Web.
Douglass, Frederick. “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?” TeachingAmericanHistory.org, 1852. Web.
Fitzhugh, George. “Sociology for the South: Or, The Failure of Free Society: Electronic Edition.” Documenting the American South. Web.
Walker, David. “Walker’s Appeal, in Four Articles; Together with a Preamble, to the Coloured Citizens of the World, but in Particular, and Very Expressly, to Those of the United States of America, Written in Boston, State of Massachusetts, 1829.” Documenting the American South. Web.