Abolitionists: American Experience, The
On January 1, 1863, when abolitionist leaders Frederick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison received word that the Emancipation Proclamation had declared three million enslaved African Americans "forever free," it was the culminating moment of the most important civil rights crusade in American history, and the climax of a long and difficult friendship between two remarkable men. In this series, the 150th anniversary of the Proclamation, American Experience tells the story of how Douglass, Garrison and their abolitionist allies Harriet Beecher Stowe, John Brown and Angelina Grimke turned a despised fringe movement against chattel slavery into a force that literally changed the nation. The "holy warriors" of emancipation captured the private details of their tumultuous political and personal journeys toward freedom in letters, diaries, newspaper articles, and memoirs. They revealed themselves to be willful, arrogant, righteous, and unbending, yet empathic, faithful, loyal, candid, and just. They fought the slave-holding South with a moral passion and bickered among themselves with petty familiarity. Along the way, they fell in love, got married, had families, lost loved ones, formed cliques, quarreled and made up.
The Abolitionists, Part One (#101H) Duration: 56:16 STEREO TVPG-VL (Secondary audio: DVI)
Shared beliefs about slavery bring together Angelina Grimke, the daughter of a Charleston plantation family, who moves north and becomes a public speaker against slavery; Frederick Douglass, a young slave who becomes hopeful when he hears about the abolitionists; William Lloyd Garrison, who founds the newspaper The Liberator, a powerful voice for the movement; Harriet Beecher Stowe, whose first trip to the South changes her life and her writing; and John Brown, who devotes his life to the cause. The abolitionist movement, however, is in disarray and increasing violence raises doubts about the efficacy of its pacifist tactics.
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The Abolitionists, Part Two (#102H) Duration: 56:16 STEREO TVPG-VL (Secondary audio: DVI)
Douglass escapes slavery, eventually joining Garrison in the anti-slavery movement. Threatened with capture by his former owner, Douglass flees to England, returning to the U.S. in 1847. He launches his own anti-slavery paper. John Brown meets with Douglass, revealing his radical plan to raise an army, attack plantations and free the slaves. Harriet Beecher Stowe publishes Uncle Tom's Cabin in 1852. A best-seller, and then wildly successful stage play, this influential novel changes the hearts and minds of millions of Americans. The divide between North and South deepens, touching off a crisis that is about to careen out of control.
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The Abolitionists, Part Three (#103H) Duration: 56:16 STEREO TVPG (Secondary audio: DVI)
The battle between pro-slavery and free-soil contingents rises to fever pitch. During his raid on Harpers Ferry, John Brown is captured, then executed, becoming a martyr for the cause. Abraham Lincoln is elected president in 1860. Southern states secede, war breaks out and the conflict unexpectedly drags on. On New Year's Day 1863, it is announced that Lincoln has emancipated the slaves in rebel territory. African-American men may now enlist in the Union forces; two of Douglass' sons go to war. In December 1865, the Thirteenth Amendment is ratified, banning slavery in all states - forever.
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