Michigan And The Abolitionist Movement

Abolition is defined as the legal prohibition and ending of slavery of blacks in the United States. And with the passage of the northwest ordinance when Michigan became a state in 1837, a prohibition against slavery was put into the states constitution. Compared to abolitionists in the east, Michigan seemed to take on a much more active approach. The activism in Michigan brought on two developments. One being putting slavery at the forefront of politics. And the other being the creation of the Underground Railroad.

The Underground Railroad was set up to assist escaped slaves on their path from slavery to freedom in Canada. The fugitive slave act of 1850 ensured that even if slaves were to escape and arrive in free states in the north, they could be captured and sent back to their plantations. The railroad was a secret network put in place to aid the slaves in obtaining their freedom. Fugitives generally made their way on foot and during the night, with stops approximately 10 to 15 miles apart. Detroit was listed as one of the most exciting stops on the Underground Railroad because generally it was the final stop before freedom.

It’s sad how so much went into this movement and yet we still seem at a stand still today. On a daily basis around you it still feels as if African Americans do not get the same treatment. Why is it that even after abolishing slavery segregation still seems at a stand still? They say african Americans are equal in the eyes of the law, but yet racial discrimination still stands strong today. When is this all going to end? Or are we prolonging it on ourselves?

Abolition terminated slavery in America, but yet still to this day you feel it around you. In passing, do you see two African Americans smile the same as they pass, as you would see an African American and a white American do? I don’t feel like you do. Every passing day we all have a chance to make a change, let it be today, with all of us.

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11 thoughts on “Michigan And The Abolitionist Movement

  1. It is sad to think that so much went into ending segregation and slavery but yet we are still at a stand still like you related to in your post. Like you said in your post…”they say African Americans are equal in the eyes of law” if this is the case then why is there still segregation between whites and African Americans. Will there ever not be racism and segregation? Will everyone be equal at some point?

  2. I find it very interesting how Detroit played such a big role in the Underground Railroad. Michigan was not just another state in the abolition movement, we were the final stepping stone for the slaves to achieve freedom. Its hard to think about the racial segregation that still occurs today. America should be uniting to fight this segregation.

  3. The Underground Railroad in Michigan played a huge role during the Abolitionist Movement. It is very sad that there is still a divide between Whites and African Americans. Only if we could live in a world where everyone loved one another.

    1. I personally think we will never live in a world where everyone loves on another. Its just the type of society we live in and the generations that keep coming will only be worse I think.

      1. Yes I agree while it would be amazing to have a world with out segregation and it would be awesome if everyone could love each other or at least just coexist peacefully, but humans are hateful creatures and I just don’t think it’s possible for everyone to get along. Hopefully one day people can learn to at least tolerate each other.

  4. I think your final statement is something everyone should take note of. Every day is a chance for change. Everyone’s views may not be exactly like everyone else’s. There have been problems for a long time. That won’t change overnight and ignoring it won’t make it go away. But just talking about it isn’t the same as doing something about it. Many people want to be politically correct and say all people should be treated equal. But attitudes and actions mean more. Find a way to make a difference. Look to those who make a difference in the lives of others. Be a good role model: as a business leader, an educational leader, a political leader, a community leader, a family leader, or as an individual. We should always strive to treat each other the same, with respect and acceptance, and not just if we like them or if they are the same as us.

  5. Though Michigan still has many racial problems I do believe we are doing better than other states, here in Michigan you’ll often hear stupid jokes about peoples race and other ridiculous talk, but It never crossed my mind that some places in the United State still segregate (unconsciously I hope). My cousin from down south once told me of the racial segregation still alive down there, she told of how her and her husband were in a restaurant once and she asked him if there were any colored people behind her, her husband said “no” and she proceeded to tell him it was because all the colored people were behind him, the waitress had seated them that way. This about two years ago.

    1. I also believe that Michigan is among the few states that handles modern day segregation well. I also give credit to our geographic location for this. Michigan is among one of the furthest north state in the Americas, which were known for their lack of slavery compared to the southern states.

  6. The passion that you can read about on page 42 of Michigan Voices shows that abolition was a concern for more people than just the voting men. When Elizabeth Chandler talks about the pleasure she felt with hearing about the anti slavery principles from the sermon she heard you know this was a topic that was talked about out in the open among all people. This was a major concern for our state as it was being formed, and this is why they had to include something about it in the states constitution when it was written. If you want to unify the state, you need to unify the thoughts among the people. Too bad those thought could not have included unifying equal rights among all who live or enter the state. But the Federal government is partially to blame. Even with laws that said slaves found in free states could be returned to slavery if captured, they still lived in fear in a free state, unless they were free themselves and had no worries.

  7. I wonder how many people were saved from slavery by using the Underground Railroad? It is unbelievable how Henry Bibb (Michigan Voices page 54) escaped slavery and was living a free life when he received a letter from his previous “owner”. How did he track Bibb down? Even more amazing was Bibb’s response stating he was willing to forget the past! How could he do that? I think of people nowadays who are wronged by someone and can’t forgive & forget. It is tough…

    1. I also find myself wondering the same thing. It’s crazy to think that at one point in history this was the only option to keep African Americans safe. Henry Bibb’s outlook on the whole situation was also very eye-opening. He explained all the terrible things that he had endured but still had such a studious and educated description. Just goes to show of taken advantage of the slaves truly were.

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