White Supremacist Northerners. Reformers and Collectivists

From: bernhard1848@att.net

The Northern worker as well as European immigrant wanted no emancipation of African slaves as they feared a flood of cheap labor coming into the North and the territories. Included in the 1854 and 1860 Republican party platforms were white supremacy planks that restricted the black man to the South while holding the western territories for white settlers. And ironically, while the abolitionists saw only evil in the South, many overlooked the plight of children and women enslaved in Northern factories, with many of the latter forced into prostitution.

Bernhard Thuersam, Chairman
North Carolina War Between the States Sesquicentennial Commission
"The Official Website of the North Carolina WBTS Sesquicentennial"


White Supremacist Northerners, Reformers and Collectivists:

“When abolitionists attempted to induce empathy with the Negro in Northern whites who opposed slavery only passively, they were consciously trying to meet the greatest challenge to their cause, the widespread fear that emancipation would bring social equality in its wake. According to one student of Northern opinion, “the key to the explanation of anti-abolition is race prejudice.”

Most Northerners, he explains, were opposed at the same time to slavery and to race equality and therefore supported the American Colonization Society.  Abolitionists, realizing this, always saw their struggle to discredit colonization as part of their fight against racism. In fact, their slogan of immediate and unconditional emancipation ought itself to be understood as, among other things, an assertion of the equality of the races.

White supremacist Northerners at the time understood this better than modern historians who have assumed that the slogan represented a naïve call for a revolutionary transformation they thought could come in the near future.


[Northern] labor reformers stressed interest where the abolitionists stressed principle, talked of classes where the abolitionists talked of individuals, urged reform in institutions where abolitionists preached repudiation of sin. It is this conflict in philosophy…that explains why the two movements were not allied.  Some abolitionists did in fact sympathize with underpaid American workers, starving Irish peasants, and disenfranchised English factory operatives.

George Henry Evans, editor of Young America…in an editorial [stated]:  “If it be true, as I most firmly believe it is, that wages slavery, in its legitimate results of crowded cities, debasing servitude, rent exactions, disease, crime, and prostitution, as they now appear in England and our Northern Eastern States, are even more destructive of life, health and happiness than chattel slavery, as it exists in our Southern States, then the efforts of those who are endeavoring to substitute wages for chattel slavery are greatly misdirected…”

Evans was seconded by another National Reformer, William West, of Boston…[who stated that] the progress of slavery can never be arrested and reversed until monopoly of the soil was abolished. Abolitionists must therefore unite with the National Reformers to limit the amount of land an individual might own…[and] Slaveowners would have to free their slaves because enormous plantations would disappear.

The following March [1846], [William Lloyd] Garrison, back from Europe [said] “The evil in society…is not that labor receives wages, but that the wages given are not generally in proportion to the value of the labor performed.” A few months later it was Wendell Phillips turn. “A wiser use of public lands, a better system of taxation, disuse of war and military preparation, and more than all, the recognition of the rights of woman…will help the classes much.”

(Means and Ends in American Abolition, Garrison and His Critics on Strategy and Tactics, 1834-1850, Aileen S. Kraditor, Pantheon Books, 1969, pp.242-250)