Why Abolitionism?

  • Abolitionism was a movement to end the slave trade and to emancipate (free) slaves in both Western Europe and the Americas. It usually took part in Northern states (but not everyone was anti-slavery), than in Southern states.
  • The Enlightenment and the Great Awakening are what stirred things up and made some begin to question the morality of slavery.

The Enlightenment (violating the rights of man)

  • European and American intellectual revival, which mainly spoke about rationality

The Great Awakening (slavery is un-Christian)

  • Brought colonists back to religion—it was a religious revival
  • The main message of the Awakening was that: “all men were equal in the eyes of God”

In the eleven states that made up the American South, slavery was a powerful economic institution, and was key for the survival of the agricultural economy.

On the other hand, in the North (1820’s-30’s) the movement grew strong because of three key reasons:

  • Slave revolts were becoming more frequent in the United States and around the world. Abolition would prevent racial violence (i.e. Haiti)
  • The Second Great Awakening—another religious revival, which tried to remove the evils of society
  • The North believed that slavery threatened the harmony of the North and South in the Union

The South believed slavery was a necessary means because of three key reasons:

  • It was what the Southern and U.S economy revolved around and was therefore necessary for survival
  • Slavery was a process of civilization
  • Northern working class are treated even worse than slaves are

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