The Success of Abolitionists Essay

The Success of Abolitionists

Before Abraham Lincoln was converted to the cause of slaves, it was the abolitionists that publicly spoke out on behalf of African slaves who were looked down upon and dehumanized by their white slave masters.  In fact, the abolitionists carried the cause of slaves for nearly thirty years.  Even so, historians are of the opinion that the movement of “pure abolitionism” began during the beginning of the 1830s and lasted only ten years, after which the abolitionists were divided into two camps: the religious and the non-religious groups working to eradicate slavery in America.[1]

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     The abolitionists were successful in gathering a large number of people for their cause.[2]  After all, they had developed the means for their voice to be heard.  In the year 1831, a man named William Lloyd Garrison published a newspaper which he called The Liberator.  Published in Boston, this newspaper informed the U.S. Congress as well as the ‘silent Americans’ about the necessity of abolishing slavery.  Garrison managed to convert many people to his cause.  Two years later, he got together with believers in his cause to form the National Antislavery Society.  The Society published papers as well as books about slavery.[3]

     The Liberator was the first newspaper to end public silence on the question of slavery.  Other methods used by abolitionists to eradicate slavery included lecturing to the public.  Sojourner Truth was a female African slave.  After being freed in the year 1827, she had begun lecturing on the topic of slavery.  Because she was a gifted speaker and attracted large crowds to her lectures, Lincoln decided to make her a counselor for the freed slaves in Washington.  Although Frederick Douglass did not enjoy the same privilege, he was another African individual who escaped slavery and began lecturing on the subject.  He also wrote books about his painful life as a slave, inspiring the abolitionists and society at large to work to end slavery in America.  Another individual who wrote on the issue of slavery was Harriet Beecher Stowe.  Her father worked for the cause of slaves, which inspired her to visit a Kentucky plantation and begin writing a bestseller on slavery.  Her book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, was published in the year 1982 and banned in the South.[4]

     The success achieved by abolitionists eventually led them to petition the Congress.  They held powerful positions in certain states, for example, Texas and Kansas.  Some Congressmen also brought the cause of slaves into political discourses.  Although they were not successful in politics as they confronted enemies of their cause in the political arena, the fact that abolitionist Congressman had publicly opened the issue of slavery at the level of governance eventually led to the success of their movement.  Abolitionists also formed a political party of their own in the 1840s.  Their Liberal Party led to the creation of Free Soil Party, which in turn led to the establishment of the well-known Republican Party.[5]

     By taking their cause to the world of politics, the abolitionists ensured that they would be heard not only by the ruling class of America but also the ordinary Americans who read newspapers about the progress of their cause in the political arena.  Silence had definitely been shattered, and the cause of slaves – already dividing up the people of America – was offered a fair chance to further itself.  But, the real success of abolitionists lies in the fact that slavery was ultimately outlawed throughout the country.


“Abolitionists.” Available from Internet;

accessed 29 Nov 2008.

Stafford, Tim, and Dave Dravecky. “The Abolitionists.” Christianity & the Civil War 33 (1992).

Available from Internet; accessed 29 Nov 2008.

[1] Tim Stafford and Dave Dravecky, “The Abolitionists,” Christianity & the Civil War 33(1992); available from; Internet; accessed 29 Nov 2008.
[2] Ibid.
[3] “Abolitionists;” available from; Internet; accessed 29 Nov 2008.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Stafford and Dravecky, “The Abolitionists.”