The National Era

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The National Era was an abolitionist newspaper that ran from 1847 to 1860.[1] Published weekly in Washington D.C., it contained seven columns and was four pages long.[2] The National Era was noted for its large size and unique type. It featured the works of John Greenleaf Whittier who served as the associated editor[2] and the first publication, as a serial, of Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin (1851).

The National Era Prospectus stated in 1847:

While due attention will be paid to Current Events, Congressional Proceedings, General Politics and Literature, the great aim of the paper will be a complete discussion of the Question of Slavery, and an exhibition of the Duties of the Citizen in relation to it; especially will it explain and advocate the leading Principles and Measures of the Liberty Party, seeking to do this, not in the spirit of the Party, but in the love of Truth—not for the triumph of Party, but for the establishment of Truth...[2]

"The Soft Answer"[edit]

Two months after the establishment of the National Era, The Soft Answer was published on its back page by T.S. Arthur. The short story was based off a business disagreement between two former friends, Mr. Singleton and Mr. Williams, set to be mediated by a Lawyer named Mr. Trueman. After receiving an unacceptable settlement offer from Williams, Singleton prepares an angry reply, only to be dissuaded from sending it by his lawyer. Singleton instead assents to signing a far more tactful and conciliatory reply composed by Trueman.[3]

This tactful and conciliatory reply which reconciled two former friends is what is now know as The Soft Answer. This idea suggested a Gradualism point of view to abolish slavery.

Changes in the forms of the social organization have always been gradual, Social reforms are the product of the characters and opinions of the individuals composing a society. Individual influences determine them at first, and they react upon the individual....

[4]

This idea of gradual steps to get two sides to agree is something that many felt that the North and South could use to abolish slavery and integrate the African Americans into society.

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