The Abolitionist Movement

Abolition is defined as the action or an act of abolishing a system, practice, or institution. Early settlers were advocates of abolition and did not agree with slavery. The people of Michigan were dominant in helping the slaves escape from the south through the Underground Railroad. The Underground Railroad ran through many cities and towns throughout the state. Many of the African Americans that were escaping from the South were escaping to Canada. The people of Michigan helped with that processes.

Unfortunately the views of the abolitionists were short lived.  As the country grew, so did practices of segregation and cruelty to African Americans.  From the time of abolition until the Civil Rights Movement, the life of the African American became a literal hell.  National government laws and practices allowed blacks to be treated unfairly though segregation and inequality.  Unfortunately, we have not completely reconciled our views and practices as a state, and country as a whole, in the fair treatment of African Americans.  Although we have made major strides since the Civil Rights Movement, I feel that there is so much more work to be done to possibly get us back to our abolitionist roots.

Although slavery ended, African Americans are still not treated equally.  Although they are equal in the eyes of the law, racial divide is still extremely prevalent in our country.  We, as a nation, are very divided.  We say that we are equal, however, feelings and practices are still not interconnected between white and black America.  Racism is still, sadly, very much alive.

Life was, and is still not easy for African Americans.  Many people believe racism ended with inclusion, however until views, words and actions of fellow Americans change, African Americans will truly never be seen as equal. The divide is still found in Michigan and throughout America as a whole.


Work Cited:

The fifth edition of Michigan: A History of the Great Lakes State


10 thoughts on “The Abolitionist Movement

    1. I am so proud of Michigan for being such a big participant in the Abolitionist Movement. I especially find it very cool how Detroit was the last stop for the Underground Railroad in Michigan. Also, the divide is visible in America between the races and we should work to limit this gap.

        1. I also am very proud of Michigan for this, we played a huge part in getting slaves to safety, and most Michiganders saw that African Americans deserved so much more than what was happening to them.

  1. I believe that your last paragraph tied the whole blog together in a few simple sentences, “Life was, and is still not easy for African Americans. Many people believe racism ended with inclusion, however until views, words and actions of fellow Americans change, African Americans will truly never be seen as equal. The divide is still found in Michigan and throughout America as a whole.” African Americans are still not treated as equals, but there are also many other groups that are not treated as equals. There is still a “white pride” sense in America, and although every race should be able to be proud of themselves this is not the same concept. These individuals are extremists and do not even see it as so.

  2. The possibility of freedom in the North must have been inspiring, despite all the risks and dangers associated with that possibility. When reflecting on the account of Henry Bibb, he describes the literal hell in his life when he wrote to his slaveholder with the words “stand by and see you whip and slash my wife without mercy” and “my infant child was frequently flogged…for crying, until its skin was bruised literally purple” (Grimm, Michigan Voices, p. 54). Yet Henry showed a different attitude that I didn’t expect. He wrote of being pleased to hear from his slaveholder again and being very happy to correspond with him. Although some progress has been made, there is still room for more. We could learn a lot from Henry Bibb and how to deal with others to foster equality when he wrote, “I subscribe myself a friend to the oppressed, and Liberty forever” (Grimm, Michigan Voices, p. 54).

    1. I found that letter to be most interesting, the forgiveness of Bibb is simply amazing, I think we could all learn a lesson from him. I do have a question about it though, from what I can tell Bibb left his wife and daughter behind when he escaped, Why is that?

      1. To answer the question on why he left his family behind. Many slaves would leave family behind due to safety. With having an infant child, it would have been a treacherous journey for them. He would have been able to travel faster and undetected without the child. Also, if he had is wife with him, he would have been worried for her well being and safety. Again this would have caused a burden on his speed of escape. Many slaves would return after they had successfully escaped, and get their family, or in same cases, some slaves would get freedom, and them proceed to try and buy their family.
        This was probably not an easy choice for him to leave them behind, especially with treatments he had witnessed they receive. He might have also had a fear that his family would be punished for is running away, or that they would be closer watched in case he did return to retrieve them right away.

  3. Hello,

    I agree with you that Michigan, as well as the rest of the United States, is still not completely free from racism. I have encountered young racists and old racists and it seems to me that the majority of our racism comes from the elderly, those who lived in or close to that time period who were raised to treat African Americans unequally. I wish that racism would be abolished completely, but unfortunately that day may never come.

  4. I totally agree with your statement about African Americans still being treated unequally. Although, I think the younger generations, college age types, don’t treat them any different. At least for the most part. I feel that most people now have grown up in a very diverse world where people of any race can do anything they want and for the most part are treated equally, though there are still some people who think old-fashionally. Like main of the elders and maybe even people like our parents, some still think that way because that is how they grew up and they can’t recognize that it is wrong. I think it is amazing that Michigan played such a big role in the Underground Railroad and others. I agree with all you have written and this was a very well written blog!

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