Slavery

 

Digital image via Library Company of Philadelphia.

Views of Slavery. New York, 1836. Political Cartoon Collection.

This antislavery lithograph contains six scenes underscoring the inhumanity of slavery. Those scenes include slave children crying while their mothers work near a slave being whipped on a sugar plantation; the punishment of slaves through flogging, whipping, and binding; a slave auction; a freedwoman with a child watching the destruction of her free papers as she is kidnapped; a distraught slave mother being separated from her children by a slave trader; and the shipping of slaves from Baltimore to New Orleans. An excerpt from William Ellery Channing’s anti-slavery text, “Slavery,” appears below.

This image was advertised in the New York American Anti-Slavery Society newspaper, Emancipator (March 1836, p.3).


 Digital image via Library Company of Philadelphia.

Digital image via Library Company of Philadelphia.

John Caspar Wild, Pennsylvania Hall; John Sartain, Destruction of the Hall; Reuben Gilbert, Ruins of the Hall. Philadelphia, 1838.

These three images document the existence, destruction, and ruin of Pennsylvania Hall, an arena for “free discussion” that was destroyed by a mob after several days of abolitionist activities.

Wild’s Pennsylvania Hall serves as the “before” image. Pedestrians stroll sidewalks and a horse-drawn cart passes on the street.

Sartain’s Destruction of Hall shows the structure engulfed in flames. A mob set fire to the building after a series of interracial dedication ceremonies (May 17, 1838). Crowds, including a group of drunken men and other revelers, look on as several fire companies try to contain the flames using handpump hoses. Notably, the fire companies did not attempt to extinguish the burning hall.

Finally, Gilbert’s Ruins of the Hall captures the state of Pennsylvania Hall after the mob violence. The building was razed and never rebuilt.

In addition to chronicling the destruction of an abolitionist meeting space, these three images also speak to the formal variety of the period: Pennsylvania Hall is a hand-colored lithograph; Destruction of the Hall is a mezzotint engraving; and Ruins of the Hall is a wood engraving.


Digital image via Library Company of Philadelphia.

Abolition Hall. Philadelphia, 1850. Photographic Reproduction.

This photograph of an anonymous lithograph (by a “Zip Coon”), offers a racist, anti-abolitionist depiction of Pennsylvania Hall on the eve of its destruction. It pairs well with the preceding trio of images.

Notably, this cartoon recasts Pennsylvania Hall as an amalgamation brothel in order to assail the abolitionist activities of white women through the Anti-Slavery Convention of American Women (May 16, 1838). The convention, which featured interracial ceremonies celebrating the opening of the hall, stoked racist fears. A day later, a mob set fire to the hall.

This scene shows well-dressed interracial couples, including a pair of children, strolling, kissing, and cavorting in the street and near the building. A black man frolics over a broadside that refers to abolitionist David Paul Brown, a Philadelphia lawyer who spoke on May 14th, the day of dedication of the hall.

According to the abolitionist paper Liberator, city authorities encouraged mob through inaction, blamed violence on the victims, and charged that abolitionists were guilty of “openly promulgating and advocating doctrines repulsive to the moral sense of a large majority of our community” (May 24 and May 31, 1839).


Digital image via Library Company of Philadelphia.

Slavery as it Exists in America. Slavery as it Exists in England. Boston, 1850. Political Cartoon Collection.

This anti-abolition lithograph favorably contrasts the living conditions of American slaves with that of British industrial workers. The cartoon circulated shortly after George Thompson, an “English anti-slavery Agitator,” received a banquet in Boston.

In the first scene, Southern slaves dance as four gentlemen—two Northerners and two Southerners—observe.

First Northerner: “Is it possible that we of the North have been so deceived by false Reports? Why did we not visit the South before we caused this trouble between the North and South, and so much hard feelings amongst our friends at home?”

First Southerner: “It is as a general thing, some few exceptions, after mine have done a certain amount of Labor which they finish by 4 or 4 P.M. I allow them to enjoy themselves in any reasonable way.”

Second Southerner: “I think our Visitors will tell a different Story when they return to the North, the thoughts of this Union being dissolved is to [sic] dreadful a thing to be contemplated, but we must stand up for our rights let the consequence be as it may.”

The second scene depicts the dismal state of the working class at a British textile factory. English “slavery” in maintained by soldiers. A priest (holding a book of “Tythes”) and government official (holding “Taxes”) watch as emaciated factory hands bemoan their lot. A well-dressed gentleman speaks to a factory worker. Behind them, a mother laments her ragged children. In the foreground, two barefoot children speak as a forlorn man comments to the left.

Gentleman: “Why my Dear Friend, how is it that you look so old? you know we were playmates when boys.”

Factory worker: “Ah! Farmer we operatives are fast men, and general die of old age at Forty.”

Mother: “Oh Dear! what wretched Slaves, this Factory Life makes me & my children.” 

First child: “I say Bill, I am going to run away from the Factory, and go to the Coal Mines, where they have to work on 14 hours a Day instead of 17 as you do here.”

In 1847 Parliament had fixed a 10-hour day for women and youths in textile factories.

Second child: “Oh! how I would like to have such a comfortable place…”

Forlorn man: “Thank God my Factory Slavery will soon be over.”


Digital image via Library Company of Philadelphia.

John Magee. Southern Chivalry—Arguments versus Clubs. Philadelphia, 1856. Political Cartoon Collection.

Magee, a lithographer who established a prominent firm in Philadelphia in 1850, published this cartoon assailing Southerners’ use of violence to suppress antislavery sentiment. The cartoon depicts the Brooks-Sumner incident during which a Southern representative caned antislavery Norther senator on the Senate floor (May 26, 1856).  

In that incident, representative Preston Brooks (South Carolina) attacked senator Charles Sumner (Massachusetts) as a reprisal for his two day speech, “The Crime against Kansas,” which assailed the violence in Kansas over the issue of slavery, the South, and senator Andrew Pickens Butler (South Carolina). After the Senate adjourned, Brooks  approaches Sumner (writing at desk) and struck him repeatedly over head with gutta-percha cane. Sumner fell to the floor unconscious, and it took him more than three years to recover. In that time he transformed into a martyr for Northern abolitionists. (Massachusetts even kept his seat open for him.) 

Regarding the incident, William Cullen Bryant wrote: “Violence reigns in the streets of Washington. Violence has now found it was into the Senate chamber. Violence lies in wait on all the navigable rivers and all the railways of Missouri, to obstruct those who pass from the free States into Kansas. Violence overhangs the frontiers of that Territory like a stormcloud charged with hail and lightening…In short, violence is the order of the day; the North is to be pushed to the wall by it, and this plot will succeed if the people of the free States are as apathetic as the slaveholders are insolent.” 

This cartoon which is occupied (unusually) by just two figures: Sumner, head bloodied, quill raised, clutches a paper symbolically inscribed “Kansas;” Brooks forces him to the ground, cane raised to strike him again. In the background, members of Congress look on, some laughing, others scowling.