The Civil War in New YorkFor fifty years following the cessation of hostilities between the U.S. and Great Britain, merchant ships based in Boston, New York, and Liverpool made regular passage bringing cloth, ceramics, metal products from Great Britain, slaves from Africa, spices from the Carribbean, and supplying cotton, spices, coffee, and tobacco to Europe.
At the same time, New York nurtured a determined anti-slavery movement. One of the most eloquent leaders was Frederick Douglas. In one of his speeches regarding Haiti:
Working Together to Make a Difference
Until she spoke no Christian nation had abolished Negro slavery.
Until she spoke no Christian nation had given to the world an organized effort to abolish slavery.
Until she spoke the slave ship, followed by hungry sharks, greedy to devour the dead and dying slaves flung overboard to feed them, ploughed in peace the South Atlantic, painting the sea with the Negro’s blood.
Until she spoke, the slave trade was sanctioned by all the Christian nations of the world, and our land of liberty and light included. Men made fortunes by this infernal traffic, and were esteemed as good Christians, and the standing types and representations of the Savior of the World.
Until Hayti spoke, the church was silent, and the pulpit was dumb. Slave-traders lived and slave-traders died. Funeral sermons were preached over them, and of them it was said that they died in the triumphs of the Christian faith and went to heaven among the just.
In less than half a century, abolitionists convinced many northerners that American slavery could not be reconciled with American freedom. Conflict between the two sides, one favorable to slavery and one opposed, was all but inevitable.
Drawing of Fredrick Douglas on an Outing in Haiti (Dates unknown) - drawing courtesy Fredrick Douglas National Historic Site, Washington, D.C.