Posts in Abolition of slavery
Abolishing the Norm - Episode 4: Over John Brown's Body

Despite over half a century of abolitionist activity, including subversive activism, dissent, debate, protest and attempts at electoral process, by the end of the 1850s the demise of slavery seemed to some to still be as far from becoming reality as ever.

Enter John Brown. Whereas the division over the issue of slavery had riven the young federal society of the US apart, John Brown never wavered, questioned or acted against the defining principle of his life: slavery was an abomination that must end.

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Abolishing the Norm - Episode 3: No Place Like Home

The passing of the Kansas-Nebraska act in 1854 opened up a new battlefront in the United States between those for and against the institution of slavery. Senator Stephen A. Douglas, who sponsored the bill, supported the notion of popular sovereignty; that the people who lived in a certain territory could decide by themselves whether or not to allow slavery. In so doing, he began a race between rebellious free-staters and resistant pro-slavery partisans to claim Kansas as their own, which lead to an outburst of violence that history remembers as the Bleeding of Kansas.

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Abolishing the Norm - Episode 2: Railroad Rebels

In antebellum United States, in the first half of the 1800s, chattel slavery was deeply embedded. It was an integral part of the socio-economic systems of the various states, and thus protected by the constitution. The 'Railroad Rebels' didn't care. They knew that slavery was wrong. They were the ones who suffered from it, the ones who escaped from it; they were those who harboured fugitives, and who helped them move from servitude to liberty; people of all colours and classes who flouted the law on a daily basis, because their principles and beliefs demanded it of them. They are the heroes who would form what became known as the Underground Railroad, a loose, organic, grass-roots system helping fugitive slaves. It is because of them, that institutional slavery is now dead. And thank fuck for that. Long live the Railroad Rebels.

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Abolishing the Norm - Episode 1: Slavery's Tryal

Over 300 years, the transatlantic slave trade caused the abuse, suffering and enslavement of an estimated 10-12 million people. This episode takes a look at what some of that experience would have meant for these groups and individuals forcibly removed from their homelands. Specifically, we look at the slave uprising on the Spanish ship Tryal, in 1805, and ask some questions that set us on the path of this series about the abolition of one of the oldest human institutions. What were the social, political and economic conditions that led to the uprising on the Tryal? How did it go down and what were the repercussions? Furthermore, how did American author Herman Melville (of Moby Dick fame) write about the Tryal uprising, some 50 years after it had occurred, and during a period where his country was at that moment tearing itself apart over the very question of slavery? All this and more, in Slavery's Tryal.

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