Abolitionists & the Moral Argument Regarding Slavery
29 SEP 2017
Before the Civil War and the ratification of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, a great debate between abolitionists and those who wanted to preserve slavery raged on. Abolitionists used moral arguments to counteract the case made by their pro-slavery counterparts.
1 Just Reward
One of the moral arguments regarding slavery was a counterargument to the idea that the Southern U.S. economy depended on the institution. Abolitionist Ottobah Cugoano raised the point that the pain and suffering of slave owners, as they adjusted to the loss of slavery, was the price they had to pay for their part in enslaving human beings.
William Wilson, an abolitionist, stated that slavery went against the basic beliefs of Christianity. His main argument was the biblical principle of man being made in God's image. Abolitionists also believed that slavery went against God's Golden Rule, to love your neighbor as yourself. At the heart of the argument that slavery was anti-Christian is the idea that black people were as fully human as white people.
3 Right to Liberty
William Lloyd Garrison believed that all human beings, regardless of color, had the right to liberty. This is one of the main arguments abolitionists had against slavery. Not only did abolitionists believe that every person had the right to not be owned physically by another person, they believed that the right to one's own body was a God-given liberty that no government had the right to take away.
4 Deterent to Production
Another moral argument against slavery, used by abolitionists, was that while slaves may have added to the production of a society, it also deterred production because the slaves themselves lacked motivation. An abolitionist politician named Daniel Raymond believed that getting rid of slavery would reduce the societal differences between black and white people, and therefore build a stronger, more motivated working class.