Major Developments in the Movement to Abolish Slavery


The slavery of African Americans began in the seventeenth century after the transatlantic trade brought Africans to the American colonies. Unfortunately, slavery spread significantly with many whites supporting the practice because it provided them with cheap labor. However, it was a form of humiliation and indignation of Africans. For many years, slavery denied them the opportunity to enjoy basic human rights and freedoms. During the eighteenth century, the 13 American colonies staged an uprising and revolt against the British imperial system (McNeese, 2008). Particularly, the appraising eventually became the revolutionary war that enabled the United States to gain independence from the British powers. Notably, African Americans contributed significantly to the revolutionary war. However, the conclusion of the war did not have any direct effects on the African Americans. The White slave masters continued to exploit slaves and to treat them like they were not humans. The revolution was in the 1760s led to the development of two antislavery movements that declared their strong stand against the slavery. These movements emerged, both in the Southern and Northern states. The formation of the antislavery movements marked a significant milestone in the journey towards the abolition of slavery. Many people joined the movements in support of the abolitionist agenda. The organized resistance against slavery is one of the main factors that contributed to the success of the emancipation efforts. This paper will explore the major developments in the movements to abolish slavery.

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It took many years for the African Americans to form an antislavery movement. The Africans had always exhibited a form of resistance against their masters. However, the transatlantic trade continued to bring on board more African slaves to serve in the American colonies. As a result, the profitability of the trade made it difficult for the African Americans to condemn the practice openly (McNeese, 2008). However, some individuals developed a religious conviction that slavery was wrong. These people belonged to the Quakers religion. As mentioned above, two antislavery movements started in the eighteenth century. In the Southern states, there was a movement comprising freed and enslaved Africans who were against the slavery practice (Eisenstark, 2010). In the North, there were both Africans and White abolitionists who formed the antislavery movement. The people of the Quaker religion had taken note of the need to abolish slavery since the 1730s. As a result, they were active players in the abolition movements. However, the Quakers supported a peaceful abolition of slavery. The two movements formed in the eighteenth century signified the initial organized efforts against slavery.

In the nineteenth century, the formation of the American Colonization Society signified a critical step in the abolition movement. The American colonization society emerged in the 1810s and 1820s. Unfortunately, there was no evidence that this organization promoted emancipation. The members declared their stand against slavery and started meetings in 1816 with the core objective of freeing African slaves. The American colonization society comprised white leaders such as Henry Clay and Bushrod Washington (Detweiler, 2014). These individuals supported African Americans in their quest to end slavery. Additionally, there were highly vocal black abolitionists; namely, David Walker and Nat Turner, who contributed in the Southern antislavery movement significantly. Both of these black abolitionists held strong religious convictions. However, they were in full support of using a violent means to end slavery. Due to their highly vocal nature, they had a significant impact on other abolitionists in both the South and the North. The two abolitionists embraced different approaches to ending slavery. Walker, on different occasions, condemned slavery furiously. He incited slaves to rely on violent means to earn their freedom. He was also an ardent writer who used his skills to demonstrate to the African slaves that it was their time to take critical measures and end slavery (McNeese, 2008). He encouraged them to attack any whites who resisted their efforts to become freemen. Through his writings, he achieved a significant level of impact in encouraging African slaves and instilling hope and pride in them. He printed pamphlet and circulated them to African Americans as a way of empowering them to have a voice against slavery.

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On the other hand, Nut Turner opted to organize the first uprising against slavery in Louisiana. Due to the uprising, Turner was able to register a significant level of impact by instilling fear in the Southern Slave masters. These slave masters recognized his ability to incite the African slaves into action. Turner’s initial uprising was in 1811 marking an important step in the determination of African slaves to fight for their freedom and rights (Eisenstark, 2010). Turner’s efforts continued to have a significant impact on the antislavery movement. In 1929, some white slave masters saw the need to call for emancipation. In their view, it was time to abandon slavery as they anticipated the state constitutional convention. The use of violent means triggered an increase in conflicts among the members of the antislavery movements (McNeese, 2008). The African Americans and the movement recognized the white abolitionists as allies. However, the white abolitionists feared for their lives because the slaves went ahead to stage violence appraising. In the antislavery movements, the white abolitionists wanted to play the leading role in the establishment of policies.

Unfortunately, the African Americans did not agree to such terms, an aspect that weakened the antislavery movements. The movements experienced a controversy surrounding the support provided to violent uprising. There were divided views in the antislavery movement as some of the members opted for violent means while the others supported peaceful approaches. However, white abolitionists such as Garrison made efforts of resolving the racial differences that were evident in the antislavery movements. Additionally, the 1830s saw the development of a stronger antislavery movement as more abolitionists joined the movements (Detweiler, 2014). For the first time, women had the opportunity to become part of the abolition movement. Black me serving as slaves attended meetings of different abolitionists who sought to seek the support of the abolition movement. The American Antislavery Society was the most influential movement in the 1830s (McNeese, 2008). The members of this movement ensured that Black slaves had an opportunity to attend different meetings and recognize the need for pursuing freedom. The American Antislavery Society was against slaveholding and considered it as sin before God.

President Lincoln was one of the main contributors to the success of emancipation. In his view, slavery and other race-related issues were as a result of the emancipated slaves. He presented an argument that slave owners received a certain amount of compensation for hosting slaves. Before he became president, he had passed a bill in support of the emancipation of slaves. He urged members of the Congress to reward states that would voluntarily adopt a gradual abolition of slavery (McNeese, 2008). Unfortunately, his strategy did not prove successful. President Lincoln expressed his different views concerning the emancipation process. He recognized the adverse effects of slavery and urged states to give up the wrong practice. In the 1860s, he was a powerful speaker who stood against slavery to support emancipation. President Lincoln sought to preserve the union that existed between the states (Detweiler, 2014). However, some of the states continued to withdraw from the union due to the popularity of Lincoln’s policies. In his efforts to end slavery, President Lincoln presented Black men with the opportunity to serve in the military. Although he recognized the adverse effects of slavery, he was afraid of attacking the practice directly. He focused on compensating slave masters who had given up their slaves. Many critics believed that Lincoln was not doing enough to ensure that African slaves would be free. These movements heightened until the civil war when African Americans made a strong voice that they needed freedom from slavery.

The civil war began in the 1860s as many slaves needed to act so that they would receive freedom. From 1861 to 1865, the civil war rage with the antislavery movements and organizations serving as leader of the war. The civil war culminated the struggle against slavery. The Civil war represented the struggle of Africans in their efforts to earn freedom. Undoubtedly, the Civil war represented a critical milestone in the antislavery struggle (Eisenstark, 2010). The Northern and Southern states engaged in a struggle due to their varied views towards emancipation. President Lincoln would eventually issue the emancipation proclamation that allowed slaves in the Southern States to become freemen. Undoubtedly, the civil war lasted for four years and threatened the stability of the United States due to the opposing views regarding slavery.

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  1. Detweiler, M. D. (2014). The Civil War: The story of the war with maps. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books.
  2. Eisenstark, R. (2010). Abolitionism. New York: Infobase Pub.
  3. McNeese, T. (2008). The abolitionist movement: Ending slavery. New York: Chelsea House.
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