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SLAVERY IN THE TERRITORIES
FROM the Missouri Compromise to the beginning of the Mexican War there was an effort to exclude all direct dis
cussion of slavery from the halls of Congress. An Early opposition to active antislavery propaganda was, however, carslavery
ried on outside of Congress and was now assuming formidable proportions. The first opposition to slavery came from the Quakers of Pennsylvania in the eighteenth century. At the time of the Revolution, Jefferson, Mason, and most of the leading statesmen of Virginia regarded slavery as a moral and social evil and looked forward to a not far distant emancipation.
What to do with the emancipated slave, was the question which none could solve. An earnest attempt was made to colonize the free negroes in Africa by the American Colonization Society which was formed in 1816. The plan was officially endorsed by Virginia, Georgia, Maryland, Tennessee, and Vermont, and by the United States government, which extended its protection to Liberia, the territory on the west coast of Africa selected by the Society as the site for its colony. Several thousand negroes were sent over to Liberia, but large numbers of them succumbed to the African fevers and this deterred others from going, even had the Society been able to raise the necessary funds. The colonization scheme was a noble effort on the part of Southern statesmen and Northern philanthropists to solve the problem. Among the presidents of the Society were Monroe, Madison, Marshall, and Henry Clay, who was one of its most earnest promoters.
The movement against slavery was now world-wide. In 1832, after a long and memorable contest, the British Parliament abolished slavery in the British West The Indies and appropriated $100,000,000 to compen- abolition sate the owners. Within the next twenty years movement most of the other European countries abolished slavery in their colonies. In 1831 William Lloyd Garrison founded in Boston the Liberator, a paper devoted to the immediate and unconditional abolition of slavery in the United States, and in 1833 the American Antislavery Society was organized with the same object in view. Since the Constitution protected slavery, Garrison denounced the Union as “a covenant with death” and the Constitution as “an agreement with hell."
The program of the abolitionists was to arouse public opinion at the North and to distribute literature among the slaves of the South in order to create in them a longing for liberty. Later the “Underground Railroad” was organized for the purpose of enabling slaves to escape from their masters. Secret agents conducted them at night from point to point, supplying their wants and concealing them during the day at appointed stations, until they were safely across the border in Canada.
Garrison's crusade naturally created great indignation at the South, and when, a few months after the founding of the Liberator, a slave insurrection broke out in the SouthVirginia, it was generally believed that it had been ampton in
surrection, instigated by the abolitionists. in August, 1831, 1831, and Nat Turner, a negro preacher of Southampton the debate,
on slavery in County, with the assistance of a small band of the Virginia slaves, suddenly began murdering the white people legislature in his community, and before steps could be taken to arrest them sixty-one persons, mostly women and children, had been barbarously slain. This was the most serious slave insurrection that had ever been known in the South and it
led to a memorable discussion of the whole slavery question at the next session of the Virginia legislature. In January, 1832, Thomas Jefferson Randolph, a grandson of Jefferson, proposed to submit to the voters of the State a plan for freeing all slaves born after July 4, 1840, and for removing them beyond the limits of the United States. The question occupied the attention of the legislature for weeks and the debate attracted the attention of the entire country, but the committee to whom the plan was referred finally reported adversely by a majority of one vote.
In the northern tier of slave States thousands of slaves were freed by the voluntary action of their masters. In The prob
Virginia alone more slaves were freed by voluntary lem of the emancipation between the Revolution and the free negro
Civil War than were freed in the entire North by statute. The presence of the free negro in slave communities presented a serious problem, and most of the Southern States found it necessary to place restrictions on emancipation, forbidding it altogether unless the freedmen were removed beyond the limits of the State.
John Randolph, who died in 1833, provided in his will for the emancipation of all his slaves and directed his executors to purchase lands for them north of the Ohio. His executors bought a large tract of land in the State of Ohio and took the negroes on the long journey, but at the border of the county in which the land lay they were met by men armed with rifles who ordered them back and they were not allowed to enter. Indiana and Illinois passed laws prohibiting free negroes and mulattoes from settling within their borders. If the free negro was considered a menace in the free States, it is not strange that he was so considered in the slave States.
The abolition crusade threw the South on the defensive and as the Southern members of Congress could not secure legislation excluding abolition literature from the mails, the