David Walker’s “Appeal to the
Coloured Citizens of the World”


Examples of successful student work

This essay is successful because it clearly understands and responds to the prompt and uses specific evidence about each abolitionist, including quotes from historical documents. This student makes the link between abolitionism and the Constitution; she contextualizes the question of slavery and abolitionism in the larger historical period. The summary clearly wraps up the main ideas of the essay.

Abolitionists had a lot of different ideas of how to respond to the Constitution’s protection of slavery. Slavery was very popular in the early 19th century. The North started to reform women’s right, education, workplaces, and of course, slavery. The Constitution said slave trade was legal until 1808, 20 years after the Constitution! The government even taxed each slave coming in for ten dollars! It said slaves were counted as three-fifths of a person even though slaves couldn’t vote or anytihng. It stated that if a runaway slave was caught, they would have to be sent back to their owners. Many abolitionists protested by publicly writing and speaking. Some of those people were Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, and Harriet Beecher Stowe.

One of the most effective speaker and writer was Frederick Douglass. He wrote his own newspaper, the North Star, and three autobiographies. He once said, “Slavery is wicked, . . . it violates the great law of liberty.” He represented how smart an African American could be. He was a runaway slave, so he could relate to a lot of slaves. He changed many people’s minds. Frederick Douglass got everyone exited about abolition.

William Lloyd Garrison talked about the protection of slavery in the Contitution publicly. He said it was “an agreement with hell.” He published a newspaper called The Liberator. He wanted slavery to end immediately, even if it meant sucession from the South. He made many people angry with his newspaper. He stirred everyone’s emotions, causing them to choose sides.

Harriet Beecher Stowe chose to write a book. She wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin in 1852, selling over two million copies. She wrote about real slave’s lives. It was said to be one of the best antislavery literature. After meeting Stowe, Abraham Lincoln told her, “You’re the little lady who started this great war.”

Active abolitionists weren’t the only ones who contributed towards the war, writers and speakers did a great deal to end slavery, too. Listening and reading Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, and Harriet Beecher Stowe, helped people choose sides for the war. They made abolition the most talked about subject all over the nation. Those writers and speakers helped people realize the importance of abolition. Their work and effort paid off, slavery ended a little after.

This essay, despite including some irrelevant details, places abolition in an historical context. It displays sound content knowledge and discusses different approaches that abolitionists used. The summary provides a concise response to the prompt and explains the ultimate resolution of the conflict.

Slavery was a huge issue in the U.S. during the 1800s in the South and also in the North, but in two entirely different ways. In the North (Union), slavery was greatly spoken out against. Meanwhile, plantations in the South (Confederate) were plentiful and slavery was popular. Though the two different areas of America were separated by their views on slavery, both regions were home to many abolitionists and activists who opposed slavery. Among the great leaders in America who fought against slavery were Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, and Nat Turner; all of which had been enslaved at some point in their life. Though these three activists were all born into slavery, they fought for what they believed in and made history.

One of the most well-known and talked about Activists of the 1800s was Harriet Tubman. Tubman was born into slavery on a Maryland plantation and was originally named Araminta Ross, later changing her first name to Harriet (after her mother) and taking the last name of her husband, John Tubman. When Tubman was in her late 20s, (1849) she decided to run away so she could avoid being sold and sent off to another plantation. Tubman reached Philadelphia, where she found work and was able to save some money. In 1850, Tubman put the money to use by embarking on a very dangerous journey back to the South to help free her sister and her sister’s two children. Not too long after rescuing her sister, Tubman, again, went back to the South to rescue her two brothers and two other men. Tubman took the risk of going back to the South and getting caught a total of 19 times and with the help of others on the Underground Railroad, was able to rescue and free over three hundred slaves. Tubman continued working to end slavery with the help of leading abolitionists and after helping to aid and supply soldiers in the Civil War, she settled in Auburn, New York, until her death in 1913.

One of the abolitionists that Harriet worked with was Frederick Douglass. Douglass was a well educated and was a very strong public speaker. When he was young, Douglass was taught the alphabet by his master’s wife. His master did not approve of this, and forbade his wife to teach Frederick any further. Eager to learn, Douglass sought to teach himself how to read and write, later growing up to start his own anti-slavery newspaper called “The North Star”. Douglass was a very smart and thoughtful man, and it showed in his speeches. He spoke out in front of free colored people of the North, and he also gave speeches to abolitionist audiences. Douglass was very well known to many slaves, free blacks, and other abolitionists because of his powerful speeches.

As you can see, the two activists above had very different approaches to ending slavery, but there was yet another activist who used a different method; this method was violent rebellion. Nat Turner was born as a slave in Southampton County, Virginia. As a young boy, Turner was very clever and intelligent, this lead people to think that he was a prophet. Turner claimed to have had visions of God telling him to do certain things, and on May 12, 1828 Turner declared that he was told to “arise and prepare himself to slay his enemies with their own swords”. After three years of planning a huge rebellion, Turner gathered up six other male slaves, and they set out at 2:00 a.m. to kill all of the whites they came across; men, women, and children. As the group progressed in their actions, they were joined by over 40 other slaves. Nat was believed to have killed around 55 whites before he was captured on October 30, and later hanged on November 11.

These three activists were strongly against slavery, and they worked hard to fight for what they believed in. Though different abolitionists had different approaches to fighting slavery, all of them wanted to achieve the same goal, which was to end slavery all together. Their actions may have even helped to speed up the development of the Civil War, which was won by the Union thereby turning the U.S. into a slave-free nation. Though many lives were lost in rebellions and the War, the dream of these three activists was accomplished, and slavery was made illegal in America.

Examples of unsuccessful student work

This essay is not successful in addressing the prompt in several ways. For one, the author does not establish time period or focus on the question of how abolitionists worked to end slavery. Furthermore, the author offers no analysis of the information presented and the essay is largely biographical instead of analytical. The transitions are awkward, and her use of language often incorrect.

Slavery in America was very common but there were also many abolitionist. Back in the 1800’s there lots of problems having to do with slavery there were many peoples like John Brown, Harriet Tubman, and Maria Stewart who were strongly against slavery and took actions against slavery and they all make a lot of changes for example Harriet Tubman.

Harriet Tubman risked her like to free other slaves. Tubman threatened any slaves that tried to turn back. She had a gun but nobody knew it wasn’t loaded. Tubman freed over 300 slaves. The reward for her capture was $40,000. Her message to slaves she helped free was: Be Free or Die. She was also the major conductor for the Underground Railroad.

Another abolitionist was John Brown instead of secretly freeing slaves he took chances in violent rebellion. His audience was slaves. His message towards people against slavery was: Kill the masters Kill anyone who disagrees. But in taking those actions there were consequences and they were he was hung and also his actions speeded up the country’s movement toward the Civil War.

The last abolitionist was Maria W. Steward. Her approach was public speaking and being a writer. Her audience was “Blacks to rely on themselves for freedom and civil rights and she insisted she was the voice of “god”. Sadly she was forced out of Boston and became a teacher.

So they were significant because they made a big difference in many people eye. They made them open their eyes to slavery and to see how bad really is so that many people change their ways. So we should all keep in mind messages from these great abolitionists because most of them risked their lives or even died for whats right.

This essay does try and explain some of the biographical information on different abolitionists, but in no ways offers any analysis or conclusion. Also, the constant switching between past and present tense is distracting to the reader. The author does not link the paragraphs cohesively together and does not connect the conclusion back to the introduction paragraph.

In the 1800’s, the discord between the two part of the United States nearly torn the whole country apart with hatred and segregation. Luckily there was some people, who we should call her, made a tremendous change to America’s history. These three abolitionists and activist; Harriet Tubman, David Walker, and Maria W. Stewart, are all example of what abolitionists do to oppose and/or try to end slavery.

Harriet Tubman was a conductor of the Underground Railroad, who saved three hundred slaves to freedom. Harriet made nineteen trips from the south to the north eventhough there was a serious consequence, if anyone was caught escaping. In order to get to the north safely, they had to travel at night and sleep at day and follow the brightest star, which points north. Harriet had to provide food and shelter to all slaves she was helping. If anyone backs out, Harriet threaten them with an unloaded gun and said “You’ll be free or die!” Harriet was a strong woman because of her ability to travel on foot, from the south to the north, with slaves she got to take care of and not get caught. She was lilke Americas Most wanted but still never gave up.

David Walker wrote his appeal on September of 1829. Walker hated the fact that there was slavery and wanted it to end immediately. His appeal was distributed by sewing copies into the lining of sailors clothing and when it got to the south, it gets distributed. The appeal was inspiring to the slaves but the whites didn’t feel the same. They forbid blacks to read it and banned it.

Maria W. Stewaart was the first African-American to speak for women’s rights. David Walkers appeal also inspired her. She writes and was also a public speaker. She believed that blacks could really gain their rights. She published her essays and speeches. But her criticism against African-American males lead her kicked out of Boston.

In conclusion, these abolitionists and activist made a difference,even if they didn’t really ended slavery. At least they had the guts to speak up and the power to help. If no one was as brave and worked as hard as these abolitionists and activist, we would still have slavery.


The group observed that the reading strategy for the primary source requires a lot of direct instruction. By breaking the sentences into their component parts and identifying pronoun referrers, students start asking questions of the text and truly engaging with it. Teachers who used this strategy found that student responses to the four questions were of a much higher quality.

We also found that we need to connect the themes of the unit more explicitly to the Constitution. Very few pieces of student work linked the work of the abolitionists with their goal of reversing the Constitution’s protection of slavery. Student essays also needed improved analysis, explaining the “so what?” of the details in their essays.

Impact on the Curriculum

This lesson and the larger unit helped us frame provocative questions that have implications for all history instruction. We gained understanding that Constitutional themes can be linked to many social and political events in the eighth grade curriculum. We hope to use difficult primary sources with appropriate scaffolding to enhance content depth and teach to the historical thinking standards. Guided writing assignments are the best form of assessment of student understanding.