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[72]

Chapter 9: Anti-slavery societies

The divergent characteristics of the East and the West were never more clearly shown than in the progress of the Anti-Slavery movement. Efforts were made to plant Abolition societies at various points throughout the West, but they failed to take permanent root and soon disappeared. The failure was not due to any lack of interest, but rather to an excess of zeal on the part of the Western supporters of the cause. Society organizations on the lines of moral suasion were too slow and tame to suit them. They preferred the excitement of politics. They believed in the superior efficacy of a political party, and to its upbuilding they gave their energies and resources. In the “long run” they were amply vindicated, but for all that, the favorite Eastern method for organized effort had its advantages.

The East, and especially New England, always believed in societies. If anything of a public nature was to be promoted or prevented, a society always appealed to the New Englander as the natural instrumentality. There is a tradition that when Boston was ravaged by a loathsome disease, a number of its leading citizens came together and promptly organized an anti-smallpox society.

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