Joshua Reed Giddings


“A Crime of the Deepest Dye”: Speeches from The American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922

The October release of The American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society includes speeches illustrating the growing controversy surrounding America’s peculiar institution in the decade leading up to the Civil War.

Highlighted here are speeches from the floor of the House of Representatives, the floor of the Senate of Massachusetts, and a street corner in Alton, Illinois.


Ohio congressman Joshua Reed GiddingsPayment for Slaves (1849)

Speech of Representative Joshua Reed Giddings

In dissenting to legislation before the U.S. House of Representatives—the “Bill To Pay the Heirs of Antonio Pacheco for a Slave Sent West of the Mississippi with the Seminole Indians in 1838”—Ohio congressman Joshua Reed Giddings makes both an emotional and technical argument after giving a brief background of the case.

The claimant, in 1835, residing in Florida, professed to own a negro man named Lewis….The master hired him to an officer of the United States, to act as a guide to the troops under the command of Major Dade, for which he was to receive twenty-five dollars per month.

It is unclear whether Lewis deserted the army or was captured by the enemy when Dade was defeated, but Lewis was recaptured in 1837 by U.S. General Jesup who…

“A Crime of the Deepest Dye”: Speeches from The American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922

“When Is a Slave Rightfully a Slave?”: Highlights from The American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922

The September release of The American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society includes diverse perspectives on America’s peculiar institution. Highlighted below are an Englishman’s assessment of American slavery and the abolition movement as well as a juxtaposition of the morality of slavery as described in the Bible against its practice in the American South. Also included is a speech by Ohio Representative Joshua Reed Giddings in which he opposes any compensation to the slave traders who claimed losses due to the Amistad mutiny.


A Brief Notice of American Slavery, and the Abolition Movement (1846)

By John Bishop Estlin

John Bishop Estlin of Bristol, England, was an ophthalmic surgeon and fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of England. His only daughter, Mary Anne Estlin, became a prominent British abolitionist and traveled to the United States where she met Susan B. Anthony and other activists. Estlin wrote this work to support the Boston Female Anti-Slavery Society and in hopes of bringing “into view the leading features of American Slavery and the Abolition Movement, afford[ing] some information to those who have not previously paid attention to the subject.”

Describing the domestic slave trade within the U.S., which Estlin referred to as, “one of the most criminal and revolting departments of this nefarious institution,” he wrote:

“When Is a Slave Rightfully a Slave?”: Highlights from The American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922

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