Medalet opposing the enslavement of African Americans, 1838. Copper. Low 54. HT-81. DeWitt CE 1838-19.
OBV: A kneeling female slave in chains with uplifted arms, AM I NOT A WOMAN & A SISTER, around; 1838, below, rosettes to either side of date. REV: Around, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA; center, olive wreath enclosing LIBERTY/1838 (date weakly struck).
By the late 1830s, the anti-slavery movement in America was gaining momentum, and the slavery question would come to dominate national politics, leading to a sectional crisis in subsequent decades. In late 1837, the American Anti-Slavery Society, based in New York, commissioned a local die-sinker to produce a copper token, patterned after the Conder Halfpenny, substituting a female for a male slave in the obverse design. The Society began selling the tokens through its publication, The Emancipator, to raise money for the cause.
Along with the many so-called Hard Times Tokens issued during the Van Buren presidency, they were made to purposefully resemble a U.S. Large Cent. This fact did not go unnoticed by the Mint, which moved to suppress their production, though with little success. A classic American political token.