Abolitionist Movement Essay Research Paper ABOLITIONIST MOVEMENT

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Abolitionist Movement Essay, Research Paper ABOLITIONIST MOVEMENT. Beginning in the 1780s during the time of the American Revolution there arose in Western Europe and the United States a movement to abolish the institution of slavery and the slave trade that supported it. Advocates of this movement were called abolitionists. From the 16th to the 19th century some 15 million Africans were kidnapped and shipped across the Atlantic Ocean to the Americas. They were sold as laborers on the sugar and cotton plantations of South and North America and the islands of the Caribbean Sea (see Slavery and Serfdom). In the late 1600s Quaker and Mennonite Christians in the British colonies of North America were protesting slavery on religious grounds. Nevertheless, the institution of

slavery continued to expand in North America. This was especially true in the Southern colonies. By the late 1700s ideas on slavery were changing. An intellectual movement in Europe, the Enlightenment, had made strong arguments in favor of the rights of man. The leaders of the American Revolution had issued a Declaration of Independence in 1776. This document also enunciated a belief in the equality of all human beings. In 1789 the French Revolution began, and its basic document was the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. There was a gradual but steady increase in opposition to keeping human beings as private property. The first formal organization to emerge in the abolitionist movement was the Abolition Society, founded in 1787 in England. Its leaders were

Thomas Clarkson and William Wilberforce. The society’s first success came in 1807 when Britain abolished the slave trade with its colonies. When slavery itself showed no signs of disappearing, the Anti-Slavery Society was founded in Britain in 1823 under the leadership of Thomas Fowell Buxton, a member of Parliament. In 1833 Parliament finally passed a law abolishing slavery in all British colonies. Slavery had been written into the United States Constitution in 1787, but a provision had also been made to abolish the slave trade. This was done in 1807. Unfortunately it coincided with a reinvigorated cotton economy in the South. From that time on, the North and South grew more and more different, both economically and in social attitudes. Between 1800 and 1830 the antislavery

movement in the North looked for ways to eventually eliminate slavery from the United States. One popular plan was to colonize Liberia, in Africa, as a refuge for former slaves. This experiment was a failure. While advocates of the movement never gave up hope of gradually doing away with slavery, there emerged suddenly in 1831 a much more strident form of abolitionism. It called for the immediate outlawing of slavery. The most notable leader of this movement was William Lloyd Garrison, the founder, in 1833, of the American Anti-Slavery Society. On Jan. 1, 1831, Garrison had published the first issue of his newspaper, the Liberator, calling for immediate emancipation of all slaves in the United States. This was the most extreme of abolitionist positions and it never gained a large

following in the North. But the zeal with which Garrison and his associates pursued their cause gave them a great deal of both influence and notoriety. Abolitionists under Garrison’s leadership spoke out against slavery throughout the North. They urged the secession of the North from the Union, arranged boycotts of goods shipped from the South, and established an Underground Railroad to help slaves escape to the North and to Canada. For 30 years the American Anti-Slavery Society was a powerful but divisive influence in the United States. It never had the support of a majority of Northerners. Most did not like its extremism; they were aware that the Constitution left it to the states to decide about slavery, and they did not want to see the Union divided. And even though the