"Attention southern men! Down with the Abolitionist Press!"
Through the first half of the nineteenth century, the abolitionist movement grew slowly but surely. There were many different schools of abolitionists, but together they constituted the small minority of Americans who advocated immediate emancipation of the enslaved and equal rights for African-Americans. Most came from the cities and factory towns of the Northeast and Old Northwest, but a significant number came from the upper South.
Their ranks included successful businessmen, ministers, and even former slaveholders. Factory workers and skilled craftspeople, who often worked alongside blacks, were especially likely to sign antislavery petitions.
Virtually all members of the abolition movement were deeply religious women and men, convinced that slavery violated divine law. Antislavery evangelicals gave bibles to the enslaved, established integrated churches, and preached against the sin of slavery. A few started utopian communities in the upper South, like Nashoba, founded by Frances Wright near Memphis, Tennessee as an experiment in interracial living. Still others sought to promote the emigration of "free soilers" (those opposing the extension of slavery into new US territories) into the upper South.
William Lloyd Garrison, prominent abolitionist
The abolitionists argued over how to secure the freedom of the enslaved. Some clung to the theory of gradual emancipation, with compensation to the slaveholders as a last resort, while others advocated the immediate and unconditional liberation of every slave, by force if necessary, and without compensating their owners. Despite these differences, the movement continued to grow and eventually rallied around a landmark court case: Dred Scott v. Sanford.
For many of the enslaved, Haiti served as a beacon of freedom.
Many white southerners countered the abolitionist movement by spreading pro-slavery propaganda.
PAGE 6 OF 9
Copyright 2003 The Faith Project, Inc. All rights reserved.