The abolition movement promoted the end of the slave trade and slavery. Early abolitionists called for a gradual end to slavery. Some of the founding fathers, such as Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, promoted the end of slavery although they themselves kept slaves most of their lives.Continue Reading
Emancipation in many northern states was gradual with those who were slaves remaining slaves and children of slaves considered to be born free. A great number of abolitionists opposed slavery on religious and moral grounds, and there were also those who argued it was unconstitutional. The abolitionist movement founded Liberia in West Africa, where thousands of slaves were relocated in the early 19th century. However, many slaves opposed this colonization and simply wished to get their rights as free people. As the abolitionist movement became more radical, with some advocating armed rebellion, the issue became a political lightning rod.
When Abraham Lincoln was elected, seven Southern states decided to secede. The American Civil War broke out in April 1861. When Lincoln called for troops to suppress the rebellion, four more slave states seceded. In 1863, Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed slaves held in the Confederate states. The Thirteenth Amendment (ratified in December 1865) abolished slavery in the United States for good.Learn more about US History