Ending slavery in the 1800sI'm doing a speech about slavery, I am pretending to be a person from the 1800's. I need some ideas on what to say to the audience about how to end slavery. I have to...

Ending slavery in the 1800s

I'm doing a speech about slavery, I am pretending to be a person from the 1800's. I need some ideas on what to say to the audience about how to end slavery. I have to conclude with a warning about what might happen if slavery doesn't end.


Any ideas?


Expert Answers
geosc eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Considerations Toward Ending Slavery:

How would you provide for slaves who were too elderly to work?  Once freed, their former owners will no longer be obligated to care for them.

In many areas, there were more slaves than the work required.  How would you find employment for the excess?  Once freed, their former owners will no longer employee any more than he needs to do his work.  If nothing is done, many will be forced to steal for survival; for this they will end up in jail or at the end of a rope, not to mention the harm to their victims.

What would you do with slaves who had grown up in slavery and did not want to be free?

Some slaves could read and write, but more could not.  Would you put them into the job market with no education, or would you somehow provide an education for them?  How would you do this?

Many slaves had skills at carpentry, brick laying, house keeping, etc., but many more had no job skills but as field hands.  How would you provide for the excess field hands who had no skills for any other job?

The slave was worth a lot of money, kind of like an automobile today.  Some families own one or two autos; some families own large fleets of trucks or constructin equipment, or busses.  If internal combustion engines were outlawed because of their pollution, many people would be bankrupted, and many more would be unable to make a living.  How will you keep this from happening to your slave-owners when you free the slaves?

If all the slaves are freed at once and go looking for jobs, a lot of people with jobs, in northern factories for example, will suddenly find their wages are a lot lower.  This sudden reduction in wages will be hard on them and their families.  Maybe you should release only a part of the slaves each year.  How will you handle this problem?

If you tell your audience about the few who are beaten for no reason, will you tell your audience about the many who were never beaten for no reason, or will you mislead your audience into thinking being beaten for no reason was common?

Slaves could not change bosses if they did not like the one they had.  Neither could most factory hands of the time, but however that may be, this inability to seek a better position for one's self may have been the thing about slavery that slaves themselves most disliked.  There is a joke from the era that makes this point. 

A slave escaped from Kentucky and went to Ohio.  In Ohio he was apprehended and taken before a magistrate.  The magistrate asked him if he was mistreated as a slave.  "Oh, no sir.  Me and ol' massa was best of friends."  The magistrate asked if he was over-worked.  "No sir.  Me and ol' massa took Wednesdays and Saturdays off and went fishing, and went hunting most near ever night."  The magistrate asked if he was under-fed.  "No sir.  Ol' massa gave me all the pork and cornmeal I could eat and I raised plenty of vegetables and chickens. "  The magistrate asked if he was adequately housed.  "I had a nice little cabin sir, with roses around the door."  "Well!  I don't understand why you ran away!" the magistrate exclaimed.  The slave replied, "Well judge, your honor, sir, that position is still open down there if you want it."

Good luck with your speech.

besure77 eNotes educator| Certified Educator


To really hit home I would discuss how slaves were treated. You can discuss how slaves were whipped and beaten for doing nothing wrong. You can also discuss how children were ripped away from their mothers because she was sold at an auction.

If you were speaking to people who believed that slavery was wrong you could advocate for the Underground Railroad. You could even play the role of an abolitionist.

If you were speaking to the south you could discuss that if slaves were released then they would still need jobs. They could pay them and the difference that this would make is that since they would be allowed to stay with their families and be free, they would be more productive.

I think the battle over slavery would inevitably end in war because so many people were passionate about slavery and anti slavery.

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that this is a very interesting assignment.  I would probably suggest that part of your speech be made in light of the nature of American History.  I would point out in your speech that the Framers conceived of a nation steeped in liberty and freedom.  When they experienced violations of economic and political rights, they rebelled through violence.  Accordingly, I would point out in my speech that it is only a matter of time before enslaved people of color do the same.  Is this something that we want?  I would point out that the increasing use of slave codes already indicate that resistance and anger are building within the slave community and coming to some type of consensus to end slavery could avoid further bloodshed and allow us to live up to our nation's promise of "liberty and justice for all."

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is going to depend some on who you're talking to.  If you're talking to people in the South, the best thing to talk about is probably the danger of a slave uprising like the one in Haiti.

If you're talking to regular people in the North, you should warn them about the danger of having slavery spread.  If that happens, the South will have more power and will do things like taking all the new states in the West for itself.  Then there will be no room for small farmers to expand.

As far as how to end it, that's much harder.  I think I would advocate paying the slaveowners -- buying the slaves from them.  It's abhorrent, but it's cheaper than a war and more humane too.  As to where to put the freed slaves... that's a tough one...


krishna-agrawala | Student

Arguments against slavery in valid 1800's would have been equally valid at the time of formation USA as a nation, and these would still be valid today. Some of these arguments are given below.

  • Slavery is not justified in a nation that has been formed on the basis of equality of all people.
  • Slavery was against the basic principles of USA constitution.
  • Slavery is not really the most economic or effective way of getting any work done. A free person, treated well by an employee is better motivated, resulting in increased productivity, which in turn lowers cost.
  • Slavery makes people insensitive to the needs, sufferings and freedom of others. This is likely to lead to reduced cooperation and increased conflict among different section of people in the society.
  • Slavery would create bad reputation for USA making it difficult to develop more positive relationships with other nations. For examples USA cannot expect the African nation to be positively disposed towards it when USA follows the practice of capturing and enslaving African people.