“The Abolitionists” on PBS

“Radicals. Agitators. Troublemakers. Liberators. Called by many names, the abolitionists tore the nation apart in order to make a more perfect union. Men and women, black and white, Northerners and Southerners, poor and wealthy, these passionate antislavery activists fought body and soul in the most important civil rights crusade in American history. What began as a pacifist movement fueled by persuasion and prayer became a fiery and furious struggle that forever changed the nation.”

From tonight’s episode of “The Abolitionists” on PBS (check your local listings):

In 1852, following the tragic death of her own young son and moved by the plight of slave families being torn apart by the Fugitive Slave Law, Harriet Beecher Stowe published Uncle Tom’s Cabin. An instant best seller that became wildly successful as a play, this influential fictional story helped change the hearts and minds of millions of Americans by depicting slavery through the eyes of its victims.

“In the face of personal risks — beatings, imprisonment, even death — abolitionists held fast to their cause, laying the civil rights groundwork for the future and raising weighty constitutional and moral questions that are with us still.”


See more from American Experienceon PBS.

“The Abolitionists” on PBS tells the stories of five key people in the abolition movement: Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, Angelina Grimké, Harriet Beecher Stowe and John Brown. The “wildly successful … play,” version of Stowe’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” the George Aiken 1852 production, is adapted and re-staged on our DVD (available on Amazon), along with a bonus video of the complete. twenty-minute, 1903 Thomas Edison silent film version.