Lowell Walks resumes this Saturday with Abolitionism in Lowell led by UMass Lowell history professor Bob Forrant. The tour begins at 10 am at the National Park Visitor Center at 246 Market Street and will spend the next 90 minutes walking around downtown Lowell, visiting sites and hearing stories related to the pre-Civil War Abolitionist movement in Lowell. The tour is free and requires no advance registration. Just show up.
Here is something about the tour that Bob Forrant recently posted on his Facebook page:
SPEAKING OUT AGAINST SLAVERY IN 19TH CENTURY COTTON LOWELL!!! If you’ve been on any of the ‘Lowell Walks’ on Saturday mornings this summer you know how great they’ve been so far. I will be leading one on Saturday morning, August 1 starting out at 10:00am from the National Park Visitors Center on Market St. The topic is abolitionism and anti-slavery movements in Lowell before the Civil War.
Lowell is a fascinating place when it comes to this subject because the mills relied exclusively on slave produced cotton and there was a feeling for quite a while among mill owners and investors to allow slavery to exist in the South, the rationale being it was in the Constitution. By the 1830s things began to change and the city became a hotbed of anti-slavery agitation with frequent abolitionist speakers like Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison and many others showing up to speak out against slavery. Women mill workers formed a Female Anti-Slavery Society, many of the city’s leading ministers were outspoken critics of slavery, and even some mill managers spoke out against slavery. Hope to see some of you on the walk and discussion of this piece of city history.
Lowell’s entire reason for existence was to convert the raw cotton picked by slaves in the American south into cloth for resale. Because the smooth flow of cotton was essential to the city’s economy, there was a great financial incentive for those in Lowell to either support or at least keep quiet about slavery. Despite this, Lowell became a hotbed of Abolitionism, almost from its founding right up until the war began. The complexities of this issue in Lowell reflect those throughout the United States. Better understanding this history can help better understand some of the major issues confronting American society today.
Plus these are terrific stories. And central to the success of Lowell Walks is great stories. Please join us on Saturday.