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Antislavery Poetry from San Francisco

Running man image from workshop poster

The Pacific Appeal was the leading African American newspaper on the West Coast during the early 1860s.  A newly-published set of eight antislavery poems from the journal's inaugural 1862 volume captures the sense of expectancy within the African American community for the imminent end of US slavery.  These poems include the work of James Madison Bell, a San Francisco plasterer, brickmason, and poet.  Read more... 
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The Slave's Appeal

A public address by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, published in Albany, New York in 1860. Digitized by the Antislavery Literature Project.


Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902) was a leading nineteenth-century activist both against slavery and for women’s rights. She began as an antislavery speaker and came to view racial and gender discrimination as arising from the same causes. Together with Lucretia Mott, she organized the 1848 Women’s Rights Convention at Seneca Falls, New York. She went on to help found the Loyal Leagues to support the Emancipation Proclamation during the Civil War, and then the National Woman’s Suffrage Association in 1869.

The Slave’s Appeal is a dramatic address to the New York State public-at-large, calling upon them to listen to a divinely-inspired call for their moral reform. Stanton adopts a slave’s voice to issue this call, assuring her readers that an antislavery Decalogue has come into force and must be obeyed. She lists each commandment and interprets its meaning in reference to slavery. Stanton argues that slavery’s sin and guilt will be visited upon a passive citizenry: “On the soul of every man, and woman and child, rests the guilt of this Bastile of horrors, so long as they are not pledged with all their power and influence to pull it down.” (4) 

For a comprehensive discussion of The Slave’s Appeal, see Jeanne Stevenson-Moessner, “Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Reformer to Revolutionary: A Theological Trajectory,”Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 62 (Autumn, 1994) 3:673-697, esp. 677-681.  For memoirs of her introduction to the antislavery movement, see Stanton, Eighty Years and More: Remniscences 1815-1897 (New York: T. Fisher Unwin, 1898), ch. 8.

- Joe Lockard