chapter 2 of the Book Mightier than the sword by Rodger Streitmatter

Posted: October 17th, 2013





Abolition of Human Slavery and Oppression

Chapter two of the book Mightier than the Sword gives an insight of early America in the 1800s, where slavery was rampant. This mainly affected individuals of African of decent. As America grew economically, it underwent a geographical division forming two distinct regions, the Northern region; which mainly specialized on industrialization and development of urban centered factories. The southern region focused on agriculture monopolized mainly by tobacco and cotton, ultimately relying heavily on slaves to make a profit. This consequently led to a call for a massive change in society by the northern progressives. A slave abolition movement ensued. This movement greatly applied pressure trying to persuade Americans from slaveholding and that it was an iniquity. In their defense however, the southerners argued that it had a positive impact on economic growth. Moreover, they continued to say that they provided the slaves with social amenities including clothes, food, shelter and intensive care for the sick and elderly. The abolitionists cancelled out these defenses with a fundamental argument; that the slaves were not guaranteed rights of social participations such as marriage and parenthood and that they were not being rewarded for their labor.

Some few crusading editors came forward to push for this revolution. Most surprisingly, they were not African American. Their actions however, brought scorn and ridicule in their lives from the rest of America and to the extreme of endangering their lives. Nevertheless, this did not deter them from standing by their convictions. Rev. Lovejoy selflessly gave his life for this worthy cause. The editor of a newsweekly, he used this opportunity to air his views to condemn slavery in America. He had to endure pro-slavery forces destroying his publishing equipment on three separate occasions. On the fourth occasion, Rev. Lovejoy lost his life attempting to rescue his equipment. The death of a clergyman trying fighting for the rights of the helpless sent shockwaves through the nation, sparking awareness. William Lloyd Garrison, another newspaper editor, was relentless in his attempts to dissuade Americans from slaveholding via his articles. He had to go through turbulent situations and almost lost his life, but his motives never swayed. Garrison eventually saw the fruits of his labor as the 13th amendment to the American constitution abolished slavery. These brave men stood for what they knew to be good and true. They proved to be outstanding revolutionists.

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela also proved to be a great revolutionist. He was born in a remote village in 1918, in South Africa. He was the first president in South Africa to be elected in a democratic election that was fully represented, and served for five years. Mandela was born at the time when South Africa was being colonized by the English and Dutch. The Dutch (Boers/ Afrikaners) were forced to relocate and establish new colonies of Orange Free State and Transvaal due to English domination. Apparently, these lands were highly rich in gold, which sparked an invasion from the English leading to the Boer war. It could only be settled through power sharing in the late 1940s when the Boer National party gained sufficient majority. As a means to stamp their command over social and economic systems, National Party strategists invented apartheid. The main aim of apartheid was to extend racial separation and at the same time maintaining white power (Downing, 28). An order of ‘Grand Apartheid’ was executed in the 60’s that emphasized on territorial separation instituting racial discrimination. It divided every aspect, and form of life in South Africa between the whites and non-whites, in that; there could not be marriage between whites, and non-whites and it distinguished jobs and social places between the two. This was in terms of education, medical care and public services. It even went further through an Act of law to segregate the inhabitants as white, non-white or colored. Native women suffered most under this rule since they were both racially and gender discriminated. They had no access to education and could not own property. They had few legal rights (Downing, 43).

Apartheid resulted to violence and revolts against the South African government by the non-white inhabitants. Protests and uprisings were very common, resulting to the government banning opposition and imprisonment of anti apartheid solicitors. Prior to being president, Mandela was a staunch anti apartheid activist leading Umkhonto we Sizwe, an armed wing of the African National Congress (ANC). Mandela was arrested and convicted of treason among other atrocious charges, and was handed a life sentence. He however, served twenty-seven years, majority of them in Robben Island. There was local and international pressure mounting locally, and internationally soliciting for his freedom, and was eventually released in 1990. He immediately returned to leadership of the ANC paving the way for multi-party negotiations leading to the nations first ever multi racial elections, where he won and was inaugurated as president. He took charge over the transition of ending minority rule and abolishing apartheid.

Martin Luther King Jr., a vigilant social activist was born in 1929, in Atlanta Georgia America. Back in this time, black American citizens did not have the rights they have today (Pastan, 6). King was first subjected to racial discrimination at a tender age when his next-door neighbors, apparently white, prevented him from playing with their children. At a shoe store, King and his father were queuing in line waiting to be fitted with shoes but were made to move back at the end of the line to allow other white customers to be serviced. On another occasion, King together with his teacher, were asked to give up their seats for white people while riding in a bus. These kinds of incidents obviously made a huge impression on the young lad. King’s background education imparted him with black history knowledge and their history. In case of injustice, he learnt that he could revolt by finding a quiet means of resisting and at the same time maintaining his dignity. King viewed this means of peaceful resistance as the solution to the unjust treatments black people experienced in America.

White people and black people were segregated in America; with clear defined ways to this livelihood. They were to attend different schools and allocated different sections on bus seats. Black people would sometimes be compelled to stand in a bus while there were unoccupied seats at the front of the bus in the white section. A woman, Mrs. Rosa Parks, declined giving up her seat for a white person. She was consequently arrested even though she was seated at her designated section in the black section of the bus. This event prompted protests all over America. E.D Nixon started a bus boycotting campaign that was led by Martin Luther King. They and many other black Americans refused to ride buses to raise an alarm for fair treatment. The boycott lasted for over a year as they opted for bicycles, walking and carpooling for traveling. Eventually, the bus segregation law was lifted by the Supreme Court (Pastan 36).

Martin Luther king established leadership conference and became its president. He organized non-violent marches to solicit for and end in racial discrimination. People who took part in those marches were arrested and sprayed with water hoses regardless of age or sex. King, together with other leaders, paved way for a march followed by a huge multitude into Washington DC at the Lincoln Memorial. It is here where he gave his “I Have a Dream” speech. Dr. King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his social efforts to fight for human rights and dignity. For the same course, Martin King was jailed 30 times for his revolts also receiving death threats. While standing on a balcony in Memphis, Martin King was assassinated by a gunman in 1968. He would not live to see the fruits of his labor today as racial discrimination in America ceased to exist.


            These bold men made history for their selfless acts, toiling relentlessly to revolutionize the world with their ideologies of truth and justice for all. They stood by their convictions regardless of the challenges and never gave up in their quest for emancipating the oppressed. They were all rewarded with the success of abolishing the vices that stood in their way.
















Works Cited

Pastan, Amy. Martin Luther King, Jr. New York: DK Pub, 2004. Print.

Downing, David. Apartheid in South Africa. Chicago: Heinemann Library, 2004. Print.

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