Sample Sociology Essays on The Abolitionist Movement

The Abolitionist Movement

In the early 1980s, during the American Revolution there arose a movement in Western Europe and the U.S. that aimed at abolishing the institution of slavery and the slave trade that supported it. Supporters of this movement were known as abolitionists. From the 16th to the 19th century, an estimated 15 million Africans were forcefully taken away from their homes, shipped across the Atlantic Ocean, and made slaves to work on sugar and cotton plantations. Towards the end of the 1600s, the Quaker as well as Mennonite Christians began to protest against people being private property on religious grounds, to them all men and women were equal in the eyes of God. However, at the time, they had limited influence, and the institution of slavery continued to expand particularly in North America in the Southern colonies (Harrold, 2014). Although the sentiments of Quaker and Mennonite did not gain much prominence at the beginning of their campaign, the notions on slavery were shifting by the late 1700s.

A group of intellectual Englishmen in Europe known as ‘the Enlightenment’ came up with strong arguments in favor of citizens’ rights and ending institutionalized slavery (Ferrell, 2016). It should be noted they did not oppose the minority races working for the whites but championed for the freedom of people. In 1776, the forefathers of the American Revolution issued a Declaration of Independence, legislation that also enunciated rights to equality of all human beings. After the French Revolution began in 1789, one of its main agendas was based on the Declaration of the Rights of Man. As explained by Harrold (2014), at the time, there was a steady increase in the number of opposition to keeping people as property.

The first ever formal organization to identify as part a major part of abolitionist movement was the Abolition Society, founded in 1787 in England. The movement’s first success was achieved in 1807 after Great Britain ended the slave trade with its colonies. However, by this time, slavery and the slave trade had been institutionalized by private companies for years, and by 1823, it seemed that slavery was not going to end. Consequently, the Anti-Slavery Society under the guidance of Member of Parliament Thomas Fell Buxton was established (Coupland, 2017). A decade after its formation, in 1833, Parliament finally enacted a law abolishing slavery in all British colonies for private companies, which shifted the slave trade towards U.S based entities.

Although the United States Constitution had abolished slavery, it did had provisions that allowed some type of slavery up until 1807 where total abolishing was established (Ferrell, 2016). Regrettably, the abolishment overlapped with a significant reinvigorated cotton economy in the Southern territory leading to the increased illegal slave trade. As explained by Coupland (2017), the North and South grew continually different economically and in social attitudes regarding the ownership of people as private property. For three decades between 1800 and 1830, the antislavery movement in the North territory searched for means to ultimately abolish slavery from the U.S. In 1831; the U.S saw the development of a much more strident group of abolitionism that called for the swift outlawing of slavery. The most distinguished leader who represented this new movement was Mr. William Lloyd Garrison. On Jan. 1, 1831, he published the first issue of his print, the Liberator, which called for the immediate emancipation of all slaves in America. Garrison’s actions manuscript was the most extreme of abolitionist positions, and it gained significant admiration from the in the North. Nonetheless, the enthusiasm with which he and his associates trailed their cause permitted them a significant arrangement of both influences as well as notoriety.

Under Garrison’s leadership, the antislavery movement throughout the North United. As stated by Demos, (2004), the anti-slavery association urged the secession of the Northern Territory from the Union, arranged for boycotts of goods being sent from the South territory, as well as established an Underground Railroad to aid slaves to leave to the North and Canada. For three decades, the American Anti-Slavery Society grew in influence. Although the Northern states had abolished slavery and were in support of freeing all peoples from slavery between 1777 and 1804, most of the whites were opposed to the idea of a large black population living in amongst them. As narrated by Demos (2004), the white community of the not north would not allow the extension of slavery to new states as well as territories. The subject that was at the center of Abraham‘s eventual election as president in addition to the secession of the South from the Union plus the Civil War. After the Civil War slavery was abolished by the establishment of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, although the institution of slavery ceased to exist in Western Europe, it did continue in their colonies. However, the French became the first nation in continental Europe to outlaw slavery in all their territories and 1794; the revolutionary government freed all French slaves. By 1819, there was no slave trade in all French colonies by private entities.



Coupland, R. (2017). The British anti-slavery movement. Pickle Partners Publishing.

Demos, J. (2004). The antislavery movement and the problem of violent” Means.” New England Quarterly, 501-526.

Ferrell, C. L. (2016). The Abolitionist movement. Greenwood Publishing Group.

Harrold, S. (2014). American Abolitionists. Routledge.