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[[File:ridefor liberty.jpg|thumbnail|left|350px|"A Ride for Liberty," Eastman Johnson, 1862.]]
The Antebellum period in America gave rise to political tension focusing on the issue of slavery. Politicians, large planters, orators, and activists engaged in heated and often violent debates as to the merits of “owning” a human being. The political, social, and economic angles were argued with each side offering its own spin on the topic. The importance of art as propaganda cannot be omitted when discussing Antebellum America. Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin in 1858 in an effort to illuminate the horrors of slavery. Nearly two decades earlier; however, Edward William Clay’s 1841 drawing, ''America'', was a response to the increased abolitionist movement in the North. Clay’s intent was promote the idea that slavery was good for slaves. The significance of this piece however, is not in the meaning itself; rather the importance lies in Clay’s intended audience. America attempted to convey a message to abolitionists and working-class members of the North---both black and white---that the “peculiar institution” of slavery was preferable to eking out a living in northern factories.