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American Anti-Slavery Society, Broadside, 1836


Materials in the Library of Virginia’s collections contain historical terms, phrases, and images that are offensive to modern readers. These include demeaning and dehumanizing references to race, ethnicity, and nationality; enslaved or free status; physical and mental ability; and gender and sexual orientation. 


In December 1833, a meeting of 60 abolitionists who were all men, both Black and white, was held in Philadelphia. It was at this meeting that the American Anti- Slavery Society was formed. The organization was dedicated to seeking the immediate emancipation of enslaved people. They believed that enslavement was a violation of the principle of equality founded in the Declaration of Independence and from Biblical scripture. The society practiced non- violence and promoted racial equality. The organization membership included several Black abolitionists, but women from both races were excluded from membership in the group.  

This broadside is an 1836 publication by the American Anti-Slavery Society. The broadside highlights the group’s opposition to slavery suing quotations from the Bible and some of America’s Founding Documents. In the 1830s, moves were made to silence abolitionists by banning their ability to publish in the South. The Society countered this challenge by asserting their right to publish this broadside under the first Amendment to the Constitution which guarantees freedom of speech and freedom of the press. The broadside was created, in part, to encourage Congress to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia. The society asserted that, legally, Congress had the power over all legislation in the District of Columbia including the ability to emancipate enslaved people. The broadside addresses how free blacks, who were citizens, were being kidnapped, placed in jail, and sold into slavery which was a clear violation of their rights.

Definition: Broadsides were posters, announcing events or proclamations, or simply advertisements.

Citation: American Anti-Slavery Society Broadside, 1836 Library of Virginia Manuscripts & Special Collections Broadside Collection 800 East Broad Street, Richmond, VA.


VS.7 USI.8 VUS.6

Suggested Questions

Preview Activty
Look at it: Look at the images in the broadside document. What do the images reveal about the topics of the broadside? 

Post Activites

Analyze: Why do you think the author wrote this broadside? What do you think the author hoped to accomplish?

Another Perspective: How do you think Black Americans felt about a broadside like this one? Explain.