Never Caught: The President’s Runaway Slave Woman

Slavery’s gradual disappearance in the North opened the door for escape, and many enslaved Americans seized the opportunity. One remarkable case involves Ona Judge.  Ona was enslaved by President George Washington, but made a daring escape in 1796. Historian Erica Armstrong Dunbar, the Director of the Library Company of Philadelphia’s Program in African American History tells her remarkable story.


Freedom National: The Destruction of Slavery

Historians have debated who freed the slaves, with some crediting Abraham Lincoln, others the Union Army, and others look to the slaves themselves. Historian James Oakes’s award-winning book argues that the Republican Party had deeply committed antislavery sympathies and worked to attack slavery from the very beginning of the Civil War. Professor Oakes explains his arguments and research with students of the Abolition Seminar.  


Brief History of Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church by Richard Newman

Professor Richard Newman provides a brief introduction to the history of Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church and its surrounding neighborhood at 6th and Lombard, Philadelphia, PA.


The Abolition Seminar visits Mother Bethel AME Church

Mother Bethel, the first African American congregation in the United States remains a symbol of African American culture throughout the world. Hear a minister from South Africa explain how the African Methodist Episcopal Church functions in South Africa and what the legacy of Mother Bethel means to him.


Let This Voice Be Heard: Anthony Benezet and Abolitionism

Anthony Benezet was among the most influential abolitionists in the Atlantic World. Benezet wrote and reprinted abolitionist material that was circulated widely in both Europe and North America. Hear Benezet’s biographer, Professor Maurice Jackson of Georgetown University, describe the life and work of this essential abolitionist.


The William Still Digital History Project

The Historical Society of Pennsylvania has begun work on a new digital history project about the Underground Railroad. The project will weave new connections between the manuscript journal and published book of William Still, known as the “Father of the Underground Railroad.” This effort will provide extraordinary insight into the experiences of enslaved individuals and families who passed through Philadelphia between 1852 and 1857 and the covert networks that aided their escape.


Space, Law, and Black Resistance in American Memory

Space, Law, and Black Resistance in American Memory was presented by Scott Hancock, Associate Professor of History and Africana Studies at Gettysburg College, to the NEH Summer Seminar for School Teachers The Abolitionist Movement.


Student Interview: Learning and Teaching Abolitionism

Ashley Johnson of the Brooks School describes her experience learning about abolitionism and the importance of teaching about the topic.


The Bible on Slavery Part I: Can Slavery be Removed from the Bible?

Here a reverend discusses passages from the Old Testament that seem to support the idea that God and/or the Bible approved slavery or at least condone and tolerate it. This argument was used to support the institution of slavery in the South up to the Civil War.


The Bible on Slavery Part II: Southern Clergy Support Slavery

This is a true story given by Underground Railroad Stationmaster Levi Coffin about proslavery a Southern minister he met on a boat on the Ohio River in 1850.


The Bible on Slavery Part III: Does God/Moses Approve Slavery?

Here a friar in an interview from a fictional organization gives the exact passages in the book of Leviticus in the Old Testament that give the rules for handling slaves that were laid down by Moses from God on Mt.Sinai.


Nat Turner’s Rebellion

No one represented black rebellion as dramatically as preacher Nat Turner who felt he heard divine message to lead a slave revolt  struck hard against the white population in Southampton County Virginia on Aug 21, 1831, killing about 55. He was caught and hanged on Nov 11, 1831. This is his story in his own words.


Angelina Grimké | Southerner Aristocrat Turned Abolitionist

The first four and a half minutes of this clip explores how Angelina Grimké, a former member of the slave-holding class of South Carolina, Angelina turns against her upper class background and becomes an outspoken abolitionist. She became the first female speaker to lecture in front of both men and women, breaking all conventional rules of the time.


John Brown’s Raid on Harper’s Ferry

John Brown’s Raid on Harper’s Ferry in 1859 unquestionably set the stage for the southern states to secede from the Union. When it was discovered by a Senate investigating committee that wealthy northern men helped finance John Brown,  southern plantation owners realized that they could no longer feel secure keeping their slaves from raiders, and it could happen again. Secession and war were imminent.


Frederick Douglass & William Lloyd Garrison

After hearing Frederick Douglass speak at an anti-slavery convention in Nantucket, an inspired William Lloyd encourages Douglass to join the abolitionist movement.


William Lloyd Garrison

A brief introduction to one of the most influential and confrontational American abolitionists.


Harriet Beecher Stowe

A brief introduction to the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the most widely read book in the nineteenth century and an essential weapon for abolitionists.



Other Video Resources

America’s Earliest Africans

Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. discusses two of the earliest Africans to arrive in the Americas—men who journeyed to this continent a century before the first “20 And Odd” Africans landed in Jamestown, Virginia in 1619. Juan Garrido and Esteban both found hope and opportunity in this new land. But things changed quickly.

Priscilla, a Slave
As just a young girl, Priscilla was purchased at a slave auction in South Carolina by a rice planter, Elias Ball. She arrived on Ball’s rice plantation in 1756. In her time, South Carolina had more black slaves than it did white citizens. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. meets Edward Ball, the fifth great grandson of Elias, and tours the old plantation, discussing Priscilla and early slavery in the United States.


The Cotton Economy and Slavery

Many stakeholders benefited from the cotton economy — plantation owners in the South, banks in the North, shipping merchants, and the textile industry in Great Britain. Cotton transformed the United States, making fertile land in the Deep South, from Georgia to Texas, extraordinarily valuable. Growing more cotton meant an increased demand for slaves. Slaves in the Upper South became incredibly more valuable as commodities because of this demand for them in the Deep South. They were sold off in droves. This created a Second Middle Passage, the second largest forced migration in America’s history.


Robert Smalls: A Daring Escape

Robert Smalls was a 23-year-old slave pressed into service for the Confederacy aboard a warship called the Planter. For nearly a year, he quietly observed the movements of the ship and its crew. Just before dawn on May 13, 1862, Smalls took his chance. While the ship’s officers slept ashore, he and his fellow slave crewmen pulled anchor and eased the Planter into Charleston Harbor. They had prearranged to meet their family members. Together they embarked  on an extremely dangerous journey.


Modern Slavery Videos

Kevin Bales Ted Talk: How to Combat Modern Slavery
Kevin Bales, one of the foremost scholars of modern slavery presents his ideas on how we can work to combat modern slavery.



Faridoun Hemani on Human Trafficking

This Ted Talk explores the reality of contemporary human trafficking.


Witness: Illuminating the World of Modern-day Slavery

Humanitarian photographer Lisa Kristine describes her work in photographing modern day slavery.


Slavery in Modern Supply Chains

This video explores the role of slavery in modern global economic supply chains.