Abolitionism in the United States
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Abolitionism in the United States was the movement which sought to end
During and immediately following the
Under the general heading of abolitionism were a number of sub-movements which did not get on particularly well. There was first the question of what was meant by abolitionism, and what conditions would be attached to it. Would it be immediate, or gradual? What would become of the freed slaves? Were they, or could they become citizens, with the right to vote? Would they be invited, or forced, to leave the United States, or set free on condition that they emigrate? (This was the policy in some Southern states; newly freed slaves had to leave the state.) Should they go "
There were a number of antislavery movements, which at times made for strange bedfellows. There was a racist anti-black anti-slavery movement, primarily made up of white persons, which sought to do away with slavery in order to benefit the soul of the white owner, and destroy the economic basis of the black life of the time, and these people basically believed that black people should not exist, or at least, they should not exist here where we white people exist, and white slaveholders should not exist, or at least, they should not be a part of the society which we decent white folks inhabit. In distinct opposition to these folks, there was an anti-slavery movement, primarily made up of persons of color, which sought improved conditions of life for persons of color, ameliorations both material and spiritual. To cut across the division that was created by two such contrasting motivational patterns, there was an anti-slavery movement made up of persons who sought gradual, step-by-step, piecemeal practical improvements, new good amelioration following new good amelioration, a building process, and there was an anti-slavery movement made up of persons like William Lloyd Garrison, Theodore Dwight Weld, Arthur Tappan, and Lewis Tappan who demanded immediate utter freedom and emancipation regardless of the personal or social cost, a tear-it-all-down-and-start-over project, and they were willing to see great harm done to real people if only the result would be some change in the wording of a law, written on paper somewhere. There was an Old Abolitionism which was racist, and an Old Abolitionism which was paternalist. There was a New Abolitionism which was Evangelical and millenialist and sought total top-down changes in society, and there was a New Abolitionism which was immanentist and demanded total bottom-up personal transformation, within each individual's soul.