We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is the Abolitionist Movement?

By Felicia Dye
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
America Explained is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At America Explained, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

An abolitionist generally refers to a person in the 19th century who desired an immediate end to slavery. The abolitionist movement refers to a period where many organized efforts worked to achieve this goal. Although the movement is commonly attributed to the Northern states of the United States, it is important to note that there were abolitionists and abolition activities in the South as well. There were also many Northerners who were against the movement.

Attempting to place specific starting and ending dates on the abolitionist movement has resulted in a great deal of debate. The dates which some want to designate start only after significant abolitionist efforts were under way. In other instances, people declare that the movement had ended despite significant events that occurred after those dates. It is best, therefore, to simplify the matter by saying that the movement occurred during the 19th century.

Abolitionists wanted black emancipation and they wanted it to come quickly. They argued that not only should slaves be set free, but that blacks should also have a right to land, to be educated, and to vote. There were a number of factors that motivated abolitionist positions.

To begin with, Christianity played a major role in Americans’ lives. Abolitionists often argued that slavery was sinful and could not be reasonably supported by those who claimed to live according to biblical principles. This led to the development of what were known as abolitionist churches, where the need to end slavery was proclaimed from the pulpit.

Many white people found hypocrisy when they compared slavery to their own quest for freedom. The former colonies were filled with people who had opposed being ruled by monarchies, yet they lived in a land where humans were kept and treated as beasts. Freed blacks were a major component in the abolitionist movement and they capitalized on these arguments.

The movement was marked by efforts of all sorts. Newspapers, poetry, and books were produced. In the North, abolitionist literature became so popular and influential that a gag rule was eventually established to ban such material.

Whites and blacks worked together to smuggle slaves to freedom in the North. Legislation to end slavery and grant rights to blacks was proposed. Anti-slavery and pro-black rights politicians openly expressed their views while campaigning, and won offices.

The abolitionist movement did not achieve the aim of its supporters as quickly as many would have liked. Many individuals died without witnessing the freedoms they fought for. This movement stands as a part of American history that influenced change, however.

America Explained is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By oasis11 — On Feb 20, 2011

Mutsy - I agree. She was really a remarkable women. I also wanted to say that the Frederick Douglas abolitionist movement also paved the way for the abolition of slavery.

Frederick Douglas was an advisor to President Abraham Lincoln who was very influential in drawing attention to the abolitionist movement.

He drafted many pieces of legislation that offered civil rights for black as well as the inclusion of voting rights.

He also gave speeches on the subject in order to inform the public about how wrong American slavery was.

By mutsy — On Feb 17, 2011

I have to say that when I think of the abolitionist movement I always think of Harriet Tubman and the underground railroad.

Harriet Tubman was a remarkable women. She was a runaway slave that went back to help other slaves escape. She really was like a nurse and a soldier and was often referred to as Moses.

She was also instrumental in creating the underground railroad which allowed black slaves to runaway.

She let them know that at the end of the railroad was a house with a bright lantern that would offer them a safe haven.

In addition to helping to care for these slaves she also had two schools built to educate the freed slaves and her largest supporter was a Quaker by the name of Thomas Garret who worked on the underground railroad for forty years.

Although Harriet Tubman appeared strong she actually was in poor health but could not stand there and allow the American slavery movement to continue.

America Explained, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

America Explained, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.