The first society established for promoting public sentiment in favor of the abolition of slavery was formed in Philadelphia
on April 14, 1775, with Benjamin Franklin
as president and Benjamin Rush as secretary.
was the first president of a society for the same purpose formed in New York, Jan. 25, 1785, and called the “New York manumission Society.”
The Society of Friends, or Quakers, always opposed slavery, and were a perpetual and active abolition society, presenting to the national Congress the first petition on the subject.
Other abolition societies followed — in Rhode Island
in 1786, in Maryland
in 1789, in Connecticut
in 1790, in Virginia
in 1791, and in New Jersey
These societies held annual conventions, and their operations were viewed by the more humane slave-holders with some favor, since they aimed at nothing practical or troublesome, except petitions to Congress, and served as a moral palliative to the continuance of the practice.
The abolition of the African slave-trade by Great Britain
in 1807, and by the United States
in 1808, came as a great relief to the abolition societies, which had grown discouraged by the evident impossibility of effecting anything in
, and were now ready to accept this success as the limit of possibility for the present.
In 1801, Thomas Jefferson
and Gov. James Monroe
, of Virginia
, had considerable correspondence on the subject of colonizing free blacks outside of the country.
In the autumn of 1816, a society for this purpose was organized in Princeton, N. J.
The Virginia Legislature commended the matter to the government, and in December, 1816, the National Colonization Society met in Washington
Its object was to encourage emancipation by procuring a place outside of the United States
, preferably in Africa
, to which free negroes could be aided in emigrating.
Its indirect object was to rid the South
of the free black population, which had already become a nuisance.
Its branches spread into almost every State, and for fourteen years its organization was warmly furthered by every philanthropist in the South
as well as in the North
It is noteworthy that, though the society made no real attack upon slavery, as an institution, nearly every person, noted after 1831 as an abolitionist, was before that year a colonizationist.
At first free negroes were sent to the British
colony of Sierra Leone
In 1820, the society tried and became dissatisfied with Sherbrook Island, and on Dec. 15, 1821, a permanent location was purchased at Cape Mesurado.
the colony declared itself an independent republic under the name of Liberia
(q. v.), its capital being Monrovia
It was in 1830 that the abolitionist movement proper began.
In 1829-30, William Lloyd Garrison
engaged with Benjamin Lundy
in publishing The genius of universal emancipation
, in Baltimore
's first efforts were directed against the Colonization Society and gradual abolition.
He insisted on the use of every means at all times towards abolition without regard to the wishes of slave-owners.
The effects were almost immediately apparent.
Abolition, with its new elements of effort and intention, was no longer a doctrine to be quietly and benignantly discussed by slave-owners.
On Jan. 1, 1831, Garrison
began publishing The liberator
, in Boston
; the New England Anti-Slavery Society was formed Jan. 1, 1832; in 1833 Garrison
, and secured from Wilberforce
, Zachary Macaulay
, Daniel O'Connell
, and other English abolitionists, a condemnation of the colonizationists.
In December, 1833, the American Anti-Slavery Society was organized, in Philadelphia
, by an abolition convention of which Beriah Green
was president and Lewis Tappan
and John G. Whittier
From this time the question became of national importance.
Able and earnest men, such as Weld
, May, and Phillips
, journeyed through the Northern States
as the agents of the National Society, founding State branches and everywhere lecturing on abolition, and were often met by mob violence.
, in 1833, Miss Prudence Crandall
, of Canterbury
, opened her school for negro girls.
The Legislature, by act of May 24, 1833, forbade the establishment of such schools, and imprisoned Miss Crandall
Being set at liberty, she was ostracized by her neighbors and her school broken up. For a year George Thomson
, who had done much to secure British emancipation in the West Indies
, lectured throughout the North
He was mobbed in Boston
, and escaped from the country in disguise, in November, 1835.
On Nov. 7, 1837, Elijah P. Lovejoy
(q. v.), a Presbyterian minister, who had established an abolition newspaper in Alton, Ill.
, was mobbed and shot to death.
These occurrences did not cease entirely until the beginning of the Civil War. in 1861.
In the South
rewards were offered for the capture of prominent abolitionists, and a suspension of commercial intercourse was threatened.
The Southern States objected to the use of the mails for the circulation of anti-slavery literature.
A bill forbidding such use was voted on in Congress, but lost, and in its stead the care of abolition documents was left, with final success, to the postmasters and the States.
The Garrisonian abolitionists were always radical.
They criticised the Church
, condemned the Constitution
, refused to vote, and woman's rights, free love, community of property, and all sorts of novel social ideas were espoused by them.
In 1838 the political abolitionists, including Birney
, the Tappans, Gerrit Smith
, Edward Beecher
, Thomas Morris
, and others seceded, and in 1840 organized the American
and Foreign Anti-Slavery
Society, and under this name prosecuted their work with more success than the original society.
In 1839-40 the liberty party
(q. v.) was formed, and in the Presidential election of 1844 Birney
received 62,300 votes, most of which would have gone to Clay
, and thus made possible the election of Polk
, the annexation of Texas
and the addition of an immense amount of slave territory to the United States
In the next two Presidential elections the abolitionists voted with the free soil party
(q. v.), and after 1856 with the Republicans, though rather as an auxiliary than as an integral part of the party.
During the period 1850-60 the most active exertions of the abolitionists were centred in assisting fugitive slaves to reach places of safety in Canada
(see fugitive slave law
and underground Railway). The result of the Civil War
(1861-65) was the total abolition of slavery in all the States.
Soon after the adoption of the Thirteenth Amendment, the publication of The liberator
ceased and the Anti-Slavery Society dissolved, as natural results.