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Abolitionism is the belief that slavery should be abolished, a movement originating in the early nineteenth century in the northern United States, that aimed to get rid of slavery altogether. These efforts were far more effective in the North, even before the revolution, northern states had marginally less slaves than southern states. Not only were there calls for the end of slavery in America, but also in Europe, showing that (at that time) it was a global movement. Heavy appeals were made by free blacks in the North, who in 1850 outnumbered the concentrated population living in cities. The freed blacks in the North sometimes lived in even poorer conditions than the slaves in the South, giving them high motivation to fight for this cause. Many worked as sailors and servants, though they were paid practically nothing. Some were even kidnapped and taken back to the South and forced into slavery again. In 1830, abolitionism began to gather the force that would eventually make it the forerunner of all social issues.

John Randolph, a founder
John Randolph, a founder
The American Colonial Society

The movement was founded on December 28, 1816 by prominent white Virginians that aimed at challenging slavery. However it did not want to infringe on other issues such as property rights. Early on the ACS proposed manumission, or a gradual freeing of the slaves with compensation given to the owners. In 1822 the American Colonial Society established the colony of Liberia in an attempt to settle free blacks in Africa. The ACS succeeded in gaining some support, and even shipped some African Americans back to Africa, where they created Liberia (whose capital is at Monrovia). Although it was somewhat successful, the ACS failed to gain enough financial, or other, support. The total number of African Americans sent back to Africa for "colonization" were, in total, less than were born in one month; it therefore had little impact. Resistance to the ACS even came from within the African American population itself. Colonization was impossible as a solution, and with the boom of cotton in the South it was very difficult to oppose slavery.

The ACS also experienced criticism from the free blacks in America, many of whom were third or fourth generation and had no will to go back to Africa. According to them, the African Civilization was backward and less refined, it was not a tourist location.

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Harriet Beecher Stowe (June 14, 1811-July 1, 1896)
Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote the best-selling fiction novel of the nineteenth century, Uncle Tom's Cabin, in 1852. Beecher Stowe was a prominent abolitionist. In her book she attempted to avoid the wrath of white, southern plantation owners by making the antagonist of her story a New Englander. Even with this small attempt at conflict avoidance Beecher Stowe's motives were quite apparent in the reaction of the public to the publication of Uncle Tom's Cabin. Unlike previous propoganda attemps against slavery, Stowe's work was revolutionary. It appealed to a much wider audience that included the women who read Sentimental Novels. Stowe represented her work with the use of characters who appealed to women's sensitive natures. The book chronicles a kind slave's life and his extreme subserviance to his cruel, white master. It exemplifies Stowe's ideals towards domestic security and family values, and how slavery violates these ideals. The white slaveowner struggles to find tranquility and security in his life, conspicuously similar in personality and quest to the characters of her other books.

Beecher Stowe was also a strong feminist. Her sister Catharine Beecher was known for her unconventional behavior. Beecher Stowe also incorporated her maiden name into her legal name as opposed to just dropping it, which was unusual for the time, but not unusual for feminists.

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William Lloyd Garrison (December 10, 1805-May 24, 1879)

As a teen in the 1920s Garrison was an assisitant at the leading antislavery newspaper in Baltimore, the Genius of Universal Emancipation. While working there he gained the antislavery ideals of his coworkers. The Quaker abolitonist benjamin Lundy whom he met in 1829 had the most prominent effect. At this time the antislavery movement was decentralized and unorganized; Garrison was at first a follower of these movements in that he originally though slavery should be abolished gradually and then slaves be incorporated into colonies outside the United States. Yet later he decided that this method was ineffective and impractical. He proceeded to call for "Immediate and complete emancipation." (qtuote from his first editorial) To take action towards what he wanted, Garrison moved to Boston in 1831 and founded his own newspaper, the Liberator whose first issue came out January 1, 1831. The paper he cofounded was a financial failure but a political success. It gained him nationwide renown as a prominent abolitionist.
With this new respect from the northerners came loathing from the south. The south saw him as an emblem of insane northern anti-slavery radicalism. Yet from the south he also appealed to the slave population. He aided some escaped slaves like Frederick Douglass and tutored Douglass in the methods of organized civil resistance.
Garrison had unconventional methods in rallying support for the abolitonist movement. Instead of trying to make peace and accept those remnants of the original pathetic anti-slavery movements (like those who supported that slaves should be freed, but then forced to live in colonies, or those who thought slaves ought to be gradually liberated and full freedom witheld them until they were educated enough to fit in to society) he estranged them by attacking the movements fiercely in books, one of which is Thoughts on Colonization (1832). He also had a battle with the New England Clergy and as a result lost more supporters of the anti-slavery (those who were religious) than he must have assumed he would gain.

ABC Clio
Bography Resource Center
A Survey American history by Alan Brinkley