The Abolitionist movement was a systematic effort to end slavery in the United States. The first administrators of the campaign, which took place from about 1830 to 1870; imitated some of the same techniques British abolitionists had used to end slavery in Great Britain in the 1830s.
Though it started as a movement with the religious technique of abolitionism; it became a questionable political issue that divided much of the country. Supporters and critics engaged primarily in heated debates and sometimes even deadly confrontations. The animosity fueled by the movement, along with other factors, led to the Civil War and ultimately the end of slavery in America.
How Did Abolitionism Start?
Opposition to slavery wasn’t anything new when abolitionism started. Since the beginning of the Atlantic slave trade, critics voiced their disapproval of the system.
The American Colonization Society, founded in 1816; in an early endeavor to stop slavery; recommended the idea of freeing slaves and sending them back to their original continent which was Africa.
This solution was thought to be a settlement between anti-slavery activists and slavery supporters.
By the year 1860, nearly 12,000 African Americans had returned to Africa.
The Missouri Compromise of 1820, which enabled Missouri to become a slave state, further provoked anti-slave sentiment in the North.
The abolitionist movement which officially emerged around 1830; began as a systematic, extreme, and immediate effort to end slavery than earlier campaigns.
It is believed by Historians that the ideas set forth during the religious movement known as the Second Great Awakening inspired abolitionists to rise against slavery. This Protestant revival motivated the notion of adopting renewed morals, which centered around the idea that all men are created equal in the eyes of God.
Abolitionism started in states like New York and Massachusetts and quickly circulated to other Northern states.
Laws Inflame Tensions
Congress passed the controversial Fugitive Slave Act; in the year 1850. The bill required all escaped enslaved people to be returned to their owners and American citizens to cooperate with the captures.
Seven years after the bill was passed; the Supreme Court ruled in the Dred Scott decision that Black people free or enslaved didn’t have legal citizenship rights. Owners of enslaved people were also granted the right to take their enslaved employees. to Western territories. These legal 7decisions and other actions sparked outrage among abolitionists.
Many Americans, including free and formerly enslaved people, worked tirelessly to support the abolitionist movement. Some of the most famous abolitionists included:
William Lloyd Garrison
He was a very influential early abolitionist, Garrison began a publication called The Liberator, which supported the sudden freeing of all enslaved men and women.
This amazing woman was a fugitive enslaved person and abolitionist who was generally known for helping escaped enslaved people reach the North through the Underground Railroad network.
This magnificent man escaped slavery himself and later published a memoir titled Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. He was an instrumental figure in the abolitionist movement, Douglass also supported women’s suffrage.
Susan B. Anthony
Susan Anthony was a speaker, author, and women’s rights activist who magnanimously supported the abolitionist movement. She is honored for her diligent efforts in fighting for women’s rights to vote.
Harriet Beecher Stowe
Harriet Stowe was an abolitionist and an author who was best known for her novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
Best known for her speech, “Ain’t I a Woman?,” She was both an abolitionist and a women’s rights, advocate.
He was an extreme abolitionist who organized various raids and uprisings, including an infamous raid on Harpers Ferry, Virginia.
Fissure Widens Between North and South
The abolitionist movement caused increasing friction between states in the North and the slave-owning South as it gained momentum. Analysts of abolition argued that it negated the U.S. Constitution, which left the option of slavery up to individual states.
President Andrew Jackson banned the U.S. Postal Service from delivering any publications that supported the movement, and it was made illegal in the South.
In the year 1833, a white student at Lane Theological Seminary named Amos Dresser was publicly whipped in Nashville, Tennessee, for possessing abolitionist literature while traveling through the city.
The Civil War and Its Aftermath
President Abraham Lincoln opposed slavery but was careful about fully supporting the more revolutionary ideas of the abolitionists. As the power struggle between the North and the South reached its pinnacle, the Civil War broke out in 1861.
As the war waged on, Lincoln handed out his Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, calling for the freeing of enslaved people in areas of the rebellion. And in the year 1865, the Constitution was authorized to include the Thirteenth Amendment, which finally abolished all forms of slavery in the United States.
Abolitionist Movement Ends
Though the abolitionist movement seemed to dissolve after the addition of the Thirteenth Amendment, many historians are of the argument that the effort didn’t completely cease until the 1870 passage of the Fifteenth Amendment; which broadened voting rights to Black men. Meanwhile, the Fourteenth Amendment, upheld in 1868, granted citizenship to all persons “born or naturalized in the United States,” including formerly enslaved people.
When slavery officially ended, many central abolitionists turned their focus to women’s rights issues. It is believed among Historians that the experiences gotten and lessons learned during the abolitionist movement paved the way for leaders who were eventually successful in the women’s suffrage movements.