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The debate over slavery in the 19th century: Calhoun vs. Douglas and Garrison

  • Apr 21, 2013 · 1:30 PM
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This will be the second topic in our cycle on slavery. We will try to see the
debate over slavery through the eyes of contemporaries who had a stake in the
issue. The pro-slavery side will be represented by John C. Calhoun from South
Carolina, a senator and later the vice-president, who defended slavery not just as
a necessary evil, but as a positive good. The abolitionist side will be represented
Frederick Douglass, a former slave himself, and William Lloyd Garrison, one
of the founders of the American Anti-Slavery Society, who kept an abolitionist
newspaper, The Liberator, going for more than 30 years.

Why do we need to hear this debate? Isn’t it obvious that Calhoun and other
defenders of slavery were dead wrong--end of story? Well, it may be obvious
to us, but it wasn’t so to the majority of people in the United States in the
1800s. It’s worth our while to discover what they were thinking, and to see what
obstacles abolitionists like Douglas and Garrison had to face.

Join us for what is certainly going to be a fascinating discussion.

Please bring a snack or beverage to share. To cover the cost of running the
meetup, a donation of $2 is respectfully requested.

Join or login to comment.

  • laura g b.

    Thanks for the Paine link, David! I'm enjoying this discussion topic.

    April 22, 2013

  • David

    Related information Part 2 of 2:

    4) According to Benjamin Quarles in "Black Abolitionists," which sites a 1827 work by abolitionist Benjamin Lundy :
    In 1827 there were only 24 abolition societies in the free states with a membership of 1500, and 130 anti-slavery societies in the slave states with a membership of 6625. The free population in the U.S. was 10.9 million people, so that represents only 0.07% of the population that was a member of an anti-slavery society!

    1 · April 22, 2013

  • David

    Excellent meetup! Here is some related info (Part 1 of 2--1000 character limit):

    1) Link to Free Produce Movement:

    2) Link to Thomas Paine's brief March 8, 1775 essay against slavery, which begins: "That some desperate wretches would be willing to steal and enslave men by violence and murder for gain, is rather lamentable than strange. But that many civilized, nay, Christianized people should approve, and be concerned in the savage practice, is surprising; and still persist, though it has been so often proved contrary to the light of nature, to every principle of Justice and Humanity, …”

    3) Link to Thomas Paine's short Oct. 18, 1775 anti-slavery essay:

    2 · April 22, 2013

  • Brian Y.

    Great discussion everybody!

    April 22, 2013

  • Peggy

    lively and informed group as usual ;)

    April 22, 2013

  • jackie g.

    an emergency came up here at home this morning. Sorry about that. Hope you all have a great discussion

    April 21, 2013

  • Gary H

    Sorry, for the late notice. I have about 3 meetings tomorrow, and 2 are in the same time frame. Next time I hope. - Gary

    April 20, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I have to move suddenly so can't make it - really looking forward to the next one

    April 20, 2013

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