Freedom: A History of US.
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Webisode 5: A Fatal Contradiction
Introduction Segment 1 Segment 2 Segment 3 Segment 4 Segment 5 Segment 6 Segment 7 Segment 8

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Anti-Slavery Almanac
Segment 3
A Northern Antislavery Society Abolition

Abolition! Back in 1765 Americans had shouted the word. Before the Revolution it was the hated British stamp tax the colonists wanted to abolish. Then the word began to be used with a new meaning. It was the slave trade some wanted to abolish, and then slavery itself. In 1775 Benjamin Franklin helped found the American Abolition Society. The Constitution said the slave trade could be officially ended in 1808. When Thomas Jefferson becomes president, he reminds everyone of that, and a law is passed ending the slave trade Check The Source - Thomas Jefferson: "A Bill Concerning Slaves". Now, no additional people can be enslaved—at least not legally. An elated Jefferson said this: "I congratulate you, fellow citizens, on the approach of the period at which you may interpose your authority constitutionally to withdraw the citizens of the United States from all further participation in those violations of human rights which have been so long continued on the unoffending inhabitants of Africa."

But ending the international slave trade doesn't put an end to slavery itself, which continues to grow by natural increase. And within the South a major internal slave trade develops See It Now - A Virginia Slave Group. Many thinking people—both Northerners and Southerners—believe slavery is morally wrong. Yet few are willing to do anything about it. Slavery is a profitable way of life. Those who do speak out—the abolitionists—aren't very popular See It Now - Anti-Slavery Almanac. Many people argue that if slavery is abolished it will wreck the Southern economy. James Henry Hammond was one of them. He said Hear It Now - James Hammond, "Do you imagine you could prevail on us to give up a thousand million dollars in the value of our slaves, and a thousand million more in the value of our lands See It Now - Slaves in a Cotton Field?"

The Southern leaders don't seem to understand. Immigrants and ideas and inventions are beginning to change the North See It Now - "The Progress of the Century". The South will be left out of much of that excitement. The Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville See It Now - Alexis de Tocqueville visits the United States and observes a free state and a slave state. He writes about what he sees: "On the north bank of the Ohio, everything is activity, industry; labor is honored; there are no slaves. Pass to the south bank and the scene changes so suddenly that you think yourself on the other side of the world; the enterprising spirit is gone."

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Did You Know?
According to the 1820 census, 5.1 million Americans lived in free states and territories; 4.4. million lived in the southern slave states.

Did you know that Freedom is adapted from the award-winning Oxford University Press multi-volume book series, A History of US by Joy Hakim?

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