Abolition movement Essay

From 1830s all the way to 1870s, the abolition movement worked hard in order to achieve urgent slave emancipation. The movement was also focused on bringing an end to racial discrimination and segregation within the American society. The advocacy of the abolitionist in achieving these objectives differentiated them from the wide based political resistance to expansion of slavery westward which mainly shaped up after the year 1840 thus raising issues which eventually culminated into the civil war. The two expressions, Free-Soilism and abolitionism which were primarily used to show the nature of hostility the slaves were subjected to, were in most cases related closely to not only their interactions and beliefs, but also to the southern slaveholders’ minds. Eventually, the southerners came to perceive the North as a force that was united against them; this is due to the fact that the northerners were in favor of emancipation of the blacks (Stewart, para 2). 

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The abolition movement

Despite the fact that feelings of abolition had been quite strong and evident in 1820s in Upper South and during the period of American Revolution, the movement of the abolitionist did not come together into a strong militant campaign until in the 1830s. During the 1820s decade, although the North experienced significant social disruptions linked to the spread of commerce and manufacturing, evangelical religious lobby groups, which were powerful arose imparting a sense of spiritual inclination to the American society. These evangelical movements stressed moral imperativeness of ending sinful practices and the responsibility of everyone to uphold the will of God within the American society. Certain preachers such as Charles G. Finney, Nathaniel Taylor and Lyman Beecher in what was later referred to as “The Second Great Awakening”, were very prominent in leading huge spiritual revivals throughout 1820s, which provided significant momentum to the abolitionism emergence in the 1830s. These evangelical leaders were also very influential in the development of other crusades which were meant to reform the American society as a whole; such reforming crusades included women’s rights, pacifism and temperance. By the start of the 1830s decade, William L. Garrison, Theodore D. Weld, Elizur Wright, Jr. and Lewis Tappan, who were all highly nourished spiritually through revivalism, had already taken the immediate emancipation cause (Stewart, para 3).

Garrison in early 1831 started publishing, “The liberator”, his most famous newspaper, which was largely supported by African-Americans who were free and who always played a significant part in the abolition movement. Towards the end of 1833, Garrison, the Tappans sixty delegates from both genders and races met in Philadelphia where they founded Anti-Slavery Society of America. This society was very vocal in denouncing slavery; they considered this practice as a vice and a sin, which ought to be abolished at whatever cost. This society also condemned all forms of racial discrimination and prejudice and also approved nonviolence. By the year 1835, the Anti-Slavery Society of America had obtained substantial financial and moral support mostly from African-American societies from the North. The society had also established numerous branches in all the Free states, thus flooding them with anti-slavery agents, petitions and literature. The society was therefore in a good position to demand for Congress to end all forms of support it was previously providing to the continuation of slavery in America. As a result, the society was able to attract substantial women and African-American participation; it also condemned the society’s program of American colonization which called for gradual and voluntary black emigration and emancipation (Stewart, para 4).

The activities mentioned above provoked very hostile responses which were widespread from the South and the North, most remarkable setting ablaze mailbags which contained literature of the abolitionists, violent mobs, and the “gag rule” endorsement in the United States Representatives House, which prohibited antislavery petitions considerations. These events and in particular the murder of Elijah Lovejoy, an abolitionist editor in 1837, compelled several northerners who feared for their civil liberties, to cast their votes in favor of antislavery politicians (Stewart, para 5).

The manner in which emancipation was being conducted thus changed significantly starting in the early 1840s. Antislavery sentiments started appearing in American politics. The abolitionists also started to disagree among themselves on the way forward. In the 1840s, Garrison together with his supporters was convinced that because influence of slavery had corrupted the entire American society, there was need for a revolutionary alteration in the American spiritual values if emancipation was to be achieved. To this particular moral suasion demand, Garrison brought in an equal rights insistence for all women as well as a serious avoidance of churches and political parties which condoned corruption. To opponents of Garrison, such thoughts appeared entirely at crossroads with Christian teachings and values in addition of being imperative to political influence and ecclesiastical systems through voting and nominating for candidates who were devoted to abolitionism. Major disagreements over such issues eventually split the Anti-slavery society of America in the 1840s, thus leaving Garrison and his followers in charge of that organization. The opponents of Garrison under the leadership of the Tappans finally founded the Foreign and American Anti-Slavery Society. In the mean time, other Garrison’s foes instigated Liberty Party; its presidential candidate, James G. Birney ran for the 1840 and 1844 presidential elections (Stewart, para 6).

Lyman Beecher had significant influence on the anti slavery movement in America. Probably, the greatest impacts Beecher had on the abolition movement were the convictions he managed to instill in the American people particularly his own children. Almost all the eleven children of Beecher became very popular for their great efforts in ending slavery in America. Henry Beecher became a very popular minister just like his dad; he was a great supporter of immediate abolition and also supported the anti-slavery movement of America. Harriet Beecher became the author of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”, a book that is regarded by several historians to be one of the most significant antislavery literature works in the entire history of America. Catharine Beecher became the founder of women school, which later became a significant influence on the movement of American women (Land, para 3).

Lyman Beecher did not only influence most of his children, but also greatly influenced Garrison. As a result of the great influence Lyman Beecher had on his children and several other people within the American society, Lyman was able to encompass religion. He was also a key figure in the abolition movement as well as in the movement of American women and therefore, he is still considered as one of the greatest and influential persons during the period of abolition movement. Most of his antislavery sentiments that are quite striking are found in his teachings and writing (Land, para 3).

Theodore D. Weld was yet another significant figure in the abolition movement. He was very crucial in the provision of a religious and spiritual setting on which the abolition movement was later formed. He was very active in the development of second awakening thus providing the American society with a unique opportunity of fighting the slavery vice from all directions. Through his efforts, the abolition movement of America was able to energetically confront the issue of slavery which had plagued this society for a couple of centuries. He managed to grow the movement of abolition from the movement of religious revivalists which was quite powerful. The teachings of the revivalist movement led the abolitionists, most of who were from religious communities, to fight slavery within the American society (Historical Boy’s Clothing, para 10-11).

As the growth of religious and spiritual revivals increased throughout the west of New York, in 1820s, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, and Sojourner Truth played a very crucial role. They were at the forefront in the abolition and antislavery movements, through their contributions, these movements were able to grow and gain a lot of momentum in the rural regions as well as in the cities. Even though this growth was not continuous, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, and Sojourner Truth managed to keep its flame burning. They denounced and condemned it since they perceived it to be inhuman, sinful and ungodly. They were very vocal in calling for immediate emancipation of all slaves within the American society. They therefore contributed immensely in sensitizing people on the evil that was going on in the country, which needed to be stopped as soon as possible (Martin, para 1).

The southerners were highly opposed to the abolition movement since they wanted the vice to continue being used in the American society. They used a number of tactics in ensuring that slavery did not end in the country. One of the most notable methods they employed was opposing the enactment of laws aimed at freeing the slaves. The representatives from south could oppose any move by the northerners of making the slaves free. The southerners employed tactics of sabotaging the northerners politically thus forcing some representatives from north to be less aggressive in fighting for slaves. The southerners were opposed to immediate emancipation and instead advocated for containment of slavery. Therefore, they wanted it to continue being used in the states where it was already operational, but be prevented from spreading to other states which were not practicing it (Net Industries and its Licensors, para 3).

The emancipation process was a long battle which was both successful and less successful. It was can be considered to have been successful since the slaves were finally freed from their captivity. They were therefore no longer subjected to forced labor and inhumane treatment by their former masters. This was a major break through in the achievement of equality and freedom in the American society. On the other hand, the entire process of emancipation can be said to have been less successful since the freed slaves stopped becoming slaves of people and instead became slaves of the law. Various laws were in operational which led to high levels of discrimination and prejudice of the former African slaves (Taylor ; Francis, pp 62).


The abolition movement brought about one of the most celebrated battles in the entire American history. Even though the blacks were living as slaves in a white dominated nation, the American society being led by the Christian community was able to rise to the occasion and condemn the vice which was going on in the country. As a result of this movement, the slaves were freed and allowed to live in the country as free citizens. Despite some shortcomings that accompanied this great movement, it was able to achieve its objectives to a great extent.

Work cited:

Historical Boy’s Clothing. Christian Abolitionist Movement: United States, 2010, Retrieved on 4th June 2010 from,


John H. Martin. Saints, Sinners and Reformers: The Burned-Over District Re-Visited, 2005, Retrieved on 4th June 2010 from,


Land, Jeremy. Lyman Beecher: Conservative Abolitionist, Theologian and Father, 2010, Retrieved on 4th June 2010 from,


Net Industries and its Licensors: Abolition Movement – EARLY ANTISLAVERY EFFORTS, EARLY EFFORTS OF BLACKS, REVOLUTIONARY ERA ABOLITIONISM, NORTHERN ABOLITIONISM, 2010, Retrieved on 4th June 2010 from,


Stewart, James Brewer. Abolitionist Movement, 2010, Retrieved on 4th June 2010 from,


Taylor & Francis; Slavery & abolition, F. Cass, 2000

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