American Experience on PBS looks at 5 amazing heroes who against all odds ignited the abolitionist (anti-slavery) movement in the USA. They are: Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, Harriet Beecher Stowe, John Brown and Angelina Grimké. As the 3 part series, The Abolitionists, says, they “turned a despised fringe movement against chattel slavery into a force that literally changed the nation.”
If you want to be inspired, watch this series. It started on January 8 and continues tonight, January 15 and next Tuesday, January 22. It starts at 9:00 Eastern, 8:00 Central.
Frederick Douglas was a part of one of the most heroic groups of Americans ever — the runaway slaves. After he secured his freedom, Douglas began to speak out boldly against slavery, sharing his firsthand experiences across the North.
William Lloyd Garrison was one of the few white men who saw the terrible inconsistency in America — proclaiming that “all men are created equal” while at the same time forcibly holding 3 million innocent men, women and children in cruel lifelong bondage and labor. He saw slavery as the horrible evil that it was and began to demand its immediate end. He refused to use violence, but rather let his words shake the nation through his anti-slavery newspaper, The Liberator. He was so effective that the state of Georgia put a $5,000 bounty on his head — dead or alive.
Harriet Beecher Stowe also saw the evil of slavery and wrote a novel that depicted its horrors — Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
John Brown went a step beyond the others. He grew frustrated with the slow pace of non-violence and decided that he needed to arm the slaves so that they could do like George Washington and fight for their freedom. He led a small group that raided a federal armory at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia. The raid failed and Brown was hanged, but he helped seal the downfall of American slavery and freedom for 3 million Americans.
Angelina Grimké grew up in a slave-owning family in South Carolina. She saw the wickedness and brutality of slavery first hand and she hated its cruelty from the time she was a small girl. When she was old enough she left home and moved to the North where she became one of the most prominent anti-slavery speakers and writers. Because of her bold stand for equal rights, the South called her a traitor.