This page is about the abolition of slavery. For a page on the general concept of abolition, see abolition.

Abolitionism started with The Enlightenment and became a large movement in several nations of the 19th century that sought to abolish slavery and the slave trade. Members of this movement are known as abolitionists.

Table of contents
1 Roots of Abolitionism
2 Abolitionism in the United States
3 Notable American abolitionists
4 British abolitionists
5 Historians working in areas connected with abolitionism
6 Literature relating to abolition in the United States
7 Other movements described as abolitionist
8 External Link

Roots of Abolitionism

The chief philosophical ground for abolition has been the idea of human rights—that human beings are too valuable to be property, as well as the idea that human beings ought to control their own destiny. Much of this philosophy stems from religious views, although Christians, Jews and Muslims have all practiced slavery in the past. Belief in abolition has contributed to the foundation of some denominations such as the Free Methodist Church.

Another ground for abolishing slavery has been economic, and much ink has been spilled describing how various crusaders or factions have sought to profit financially by outlawing slavery. Indeed, Marxist and other historians have analyzed the American Civil War from this point of view (Charles Beard?).

Opposition to abolition has come primarily from people who profit personally from slave labor or the slave trade, including those who rely on goods produced by slaves, as well as from people who regard slaves as inferior beings suited to servitude.

France first abolished slavery in its possessions during the French Revolution in 1794. Slavery was then restored in 1802 and re-abolished in 1848.

In Great Britain, abolitionists succeeded in abolishing slavery throughout the empire in 1833 and in allowing the Royal Navy to enforce a ban on the slave trade.

Abolitionism in the United States

In the United States, abolitionists were involved in the conflict between North and South (see American Civil War). While the Quakers were particularly noted for activity in this movement, it was by no means limited to Quaker participation. This issue was one of several key issues that led to the creation of the Free Methodist denomination, a group which split from the Methodist Episcopal Church in the 1860s.

Many American abolitionists took an active (and often illegal, by the laws of the time) role putting their principles into practice, by supporting the Underground Railroad.

After the Emancipation Proclamation, American abolitionists continued to pursue the freedom of slaves in the remaining slave states, and to better the conditions of black Americans generally. From these principles the US civil rights movement was to eventually take form.

Notable American abolitionists

British abolitionists

Historians working in areas connected with abolitionism

Literature relating to abolition in the United States

Other movements described as abolitionist

  • Race Traitor ("journal of the new abolitionism")

External Link