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People’s beliefs on slavery were not simply binary. Even those in the first half of the 1800s who were totally against enslaving Black people believed the solution lay in a variety of different areas, many of which seem pretty horrible today. Elijah Lovejoy was one of the many whose thoughts on what to do about the massive human rights violation changed over time.

According to the Library of Congress, Lovejoy was a newspaper editor and minister. At the start of the 1830s, he felt the best option for enslaved persons was to send them all to Africa. (Amazingly, that was once considered a caring option and not something horrible racists yell at Black people.) Lovejoy’s views then evolved to believing enslaved persons should be emancipated slowly over time. Finally, by 1837, he wanted every single slave freed ASAP. And he made sure everyone knew what he thought by writing editorials in the abolitionist newspaper he ran.

But that newspaper was located in St. Louis, Missouri – and Missouri was a slave state. His press was destroyed by pro-slavery factions multiple times. Lovejoy responded by increasing his circulation. A U.S. senator even opined that Lovejoy’s beliefs on slavery were not protected under the First Amendment. When a mob came to burn down the newspaper office on November 7, 1837, Lovejoy ran out to confront them and was shot and killed. His death drew more people to the abolitionist cause, and a young Illinois state representative named Abraham Lincoln made a public statement denouncing the murder.

Peter Still’s life could easily be a Hollywood film. According to PBS, Peter was born into slavery. Over 40 years, he managed to earn and save up $500 to buy his freedom. Then Peter made it to Philadelphia, where he knew he had family, and he started posting notices trying to find relatives. He went to the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society and told his story to a man who worked there – only to discover he was talking to William Still (pictured), the very brother he was looking for.

Peter was desperate to free his wife, Vena, and their children from enslavement, but they were in Alabama and that state made it essentially impossible for an enslaved person to be freed, even if the enslaver was offered a lot of money to do so. With William’s help, his brother’s story got out, and at least one person who heard it was determined to free Peter’s family, no matter what.

Seth Concklin worked on the Underground Railroad, but he didn’t listen when told how dangerous this attempt would be. Peter gave Concklin a bonnet of his wife’s so she would know the stranger really was sent by her husband. “The Sage of Peter Still” says Concklin managed to get Vina and her three children all the way to Indiana (technically a free state), but there they were arrested. Vina and the children were returned to Alabama, and Concklin was found drowned: he was bound and had been badly beaten up. Somehow, this was passed off as an “accident.”

For some pro-slavery individuals, even being roundly defeated in the Civil War wasn’t enough for them to accept that it was over, that Blacks were people, that their side had lost both morally and literally. But the U.S. was not the only place in the world where white people could own Black people. According to the Economist, after the war, thousands of disgruntled Southerners looked even further south, to Brazil. One of these was James Warne, a doctor who’d fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War, who moved to South America in 1866, just eight months after the fighting ended.

But Brazil was also looking to put an end to the evil of slavery. Many in the country were working towards abolition, and by the end of the 1880s, it looked like they would be triumphant. But the law still required police to arrest “runaway slaves,” the BBC Brazil explains, and to put down any demonstrations against slavery. But in one town, the police chief Joaquim Firmino de Araújo Cunha refused to do any of that, and instead assisted enslaved people in their escapes, including hiding them in his own home.

This made the pro-slavery faction homicidally angry. On February 11, 1888, a mob of an estimated 200 people, led by Dr. Warne, surrounded Firmino’s home. He tried to escape by jumping out a window but fell to the ground where he was beaten to death.

The murder was international news. Three months later, Brazil banned slavery.

This content was originally published here.

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