Abolitionist Movement Essay

Abolitionist Movement by Eric Foner and John A. Garraty

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This work provides a basic history of the abolitionist movement in the United States from the beginning of the 19th century, through the end of the Civil War and into the Reconstruction era.  By the beginning of the 18th century, the North had far fewer slaves and slave owners than the South.  Many in the North saw slavery as a sin and believed that the slavery institution of the South was global black eye on the Unites State’s moral prestige.  Many of the North’s leading activists, financiers and politicians embarked on a campaign to rid the entire country of Slavery for good- the campaign was known as the Abolitionist movement.

The article describes the differences between the ‘abolitionists’ and other contemporaneous anti-slavery movements, such as the Free-soilers who opposed admitting new states as slave states.  The different factions and leaders within the abolitionists are also identified (William Lloyd Garrison is the most prominent) as the authors trace the rise in the movements notoriety through religious movements, the press and societies.  The movement had a strong cultural impact and drew a strong reaction in the both the North and the South.  As the issue became politicized, the movement became factionalized, and despite strong leadership and widespread support at the grass roots level, emancipation was not achieved until the 13th Amendment was ratified toward the end of the Civil War.

Abolitionists were very brave and dedicated who risked a lot to fight for their beliefs.  Their dedication appears to be completely justified today, but in the heat of the pro-slavery 1830s, many, even in the North, felt that slavery was the best economic and social structure for having an integrated society.  The authors of this article effectively develop the history of the movement, the challenges faced by the movement and its overall impact on society through the passing of the 13th Amendment and beyond.

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