Confronting Enslavement

What does it take to speak out?

At Roseland Cottage or Your Site

Could you speak out against the practice of enslavement if it meant risking your livelihood, your position in the community, or even your life? In 1850, pressured to support the Fugitive Slave Law or lose customers, Woodstock native and Roseland Cottage owner Henry C. Bowen, a wealthy merchant, newspaper publisher, and abolitionist, faced this challenge. He publicly declared his opposition to enslavement and used the power of the press to work for change.

In this program, museum staff lead students in an investigation of statements made by abolitionists and those supporting enslavement during the antebellum period. Topics include the influence of media and the impact of propaganda. Students will create their own public statements using contemporary methods like the spoken word and posters.


Program Details

Available year-round, weekdays, for grades 5-9. Program lasts one hour or one class period.

Cost: $9 per student

Type of Program: Field Trips, Programs to Go, Summer Programs, After School, Scouts

Related Topics: Slavery and Civil War

Sample Primary Source: “Because Bowen and McNamee refused to sign the call for a meeting to be held at Castle Garden, New York City, to endorse the Fugitive Slave Law, which call had been signed by several thousand merchants, they were publicly attacked and reviled by the press throughout the country, and particularly so by The Journal of Commerce of New York. At last, in self defense, the firm published a card, which has since been quoted the world over.” From Lineage of the Bowens, written by Edward Bowen in 1897. View the card.

Connections to Connecticut Curriculum Frameworks, Grades 6-8


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