The Anti-Slavery Alphabet

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Genres: Children's History
Language: English
Type: Digital

Content and Approach

  • Target Audience: The Anti-Slavery Alphabet was written for young children, aiming to instill abolitionist ideas in a gentle and accessible way.
  • Format: Each letter of the alphabet corresponds to a word or concept related to slavery. A short poem or quatrain elaborates on the concept, often highlighting the plight of enslaved people.
  • Examples:
    • A is for Abolitionist – A person who wants to set the enslaved people free.
    • B is for Brother – A person with darker skin, but equal before God.
    • K is for Kidnapper – Someone who stole a child and mother (referencing the separation of families).

Historical Context

  • Published in 1846 by the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society, the book emerged during a period of heightened debate and activism regarding slavery in the United States.
  • The book reflects the abolitionist movement's strategies, which often involved educating the public, particularly children, about the moral wrongs of slavery.

Significance and Legacy

  • The Anti-Slavery Alphabet offers a valuable historical window into children's literature used for social advocacy.
  • Despite its simplistic format, the book tackles complex issues like forced labor, family separation, and the dehumanization of enslaved people.
  • It serves as a reminder of the efforts made to raise awareness about slavery and the importance of social justice education for all ages.

Additional Points

  • The book's anonymous authorship reflects the potential risks faced by abolitionists during this period.
  • The use of guilt and empathy through the lens of childhood experiences ("Imagine not being able to play with your friends") aimed to emotionally connect young readers to the cause.


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