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A Dead-End on Slavery Previous Next
Digital History ID 4574


By the early 1830s, the United States had reached a dead-end on slavery. Colonization had failed. Each year, the slave population grew by roughly 50,000, but in 1830, the American Colonization Society convinced just 259 free blacks to migrate to Africa.

Racial prejudice was intensifying. At the same time that many state legislatures adopted white manhood suffrage, they restricted voting by blacks. In 1829, white mobs forced over a thousand free blacks in Cincinnati to emigrate to Canada. After white abolitionists proposed to build a manual labor college for African-Americans in New Haven, Conn., white mobs terrorized the town's black ghetto.

Meanwhile, the threat of violence loomed. In 1822, a slave insurrection, led by Denmark Vesey, was uncovered in Charleston, S.C. In 1829, David Walker, a second-hand clothing dealer in Boston, issued a militant appeal, threatening insurrection and violence if calls for the abolition of slavery and improved conditions for free blacks were not realized.

African-Americans took the lead in staging protests against slavery. As discrimination and white racial violence intensified, blacks strengthened community ties by establishing separate churches, schools, fraternal orders, voluntary associations, and the first African-American newspapers. They also staged parades to commemorate the Haitian Revolution and the adoption of abolition laws in the North. In 1830, forty black delegates from eight states held the first of a series of annual conventions that denounced slavery and called for an end to discriminatory laws in the northern states.

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