The abolition movement, or the movement to free slaves in the United States, has been present In the U.S. since it's founding. Although Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin were both slaveholders, they included strong antislavery rhetoric in the constitution. In 1807 Thomas Jefferson passed the Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves, which meant that if slaveholders wished to continue their practices, they had to keep a positive natural increase of slaves. However, in the 1840's slavery was still established as a legal practice in the southern states. The abolitionist movement was centered in the North, with social reformers such as William Lloyd Garrison leading it. In 1833 William Lloyd Garrison founded the American Antislavery society, which had 250,000 members in 1838. The abolitionist movement gained support though the writing of John Greenleaf Whittier, a Quaker poet, and Harriet Beecher Stowe, who wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin, which harshly denounced all institutions of slavery. The abolitionists supported the Republican Party who called for a gradual phasing out of slavery, believing free labor was more beneficial to the economy than slave labor. The south, whose efforts to expand slavery into the western states, were being struck down time after time by the republicans, felt they were being treated as second class citizens. When republican Abraham Lincoln was elected in 1860, the south decided to break off from the union and form the confederacy.
"The first generation of black abolitionists understood that if African Americans wanted to realize the aspirations of the Revolution, slavery would have to be abolished, white racism would have to be fought, and they would have to lead the effort themselves. "
- Ed Rugemer (Departments of History and African American Studies, Yale University)
This historian's primary source shows that the abolition movement was truly led by African Americans, instead of the portrayed as morally correct white man. This shows also a significant mental adjustment was made in the minds if African Americans at this time: to fight. This spark led to the eventual success of the movement to end slavery.