\ˌabəlˈɪʃənˌɪsts], \ˌabəlˈɪʃənˌɪsts], \ˌa_b_ə_l_ˈɪ_ʃ_ə_n_ˌɪ_s_t_s]\
Definitions of ABOLITIONISTS
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A party or body of men bent on securing the immediate abolition of slavery in the United States. Throughout the eighteenth century there had been a sentiment, more or less widespread, in favor of the emancipation of slaves. At about the close of the Revolutionary War most of the Northern States provided for emancipation, immediate or gradual. Before the end of the century several abolition societies had been formed. In 1816 interest in the matter revived, and the American Colonization Society was organized, its object being to promote emancipation and to colonize the freed negroes in Africa. But the movement took on a new character with the beginning of the work of William Lloyd Garrison in 1829, and with the formation of the American Anti-Slavery Society in 1833, and the term Abolitionist is generally applied rather to those who took part in this new agitation than to their less uncompromising predecessors. Garrison demanded the immediate and total abolition of slavery throughout the country, all laws and constitutions to the contrary notwithstanding. The Abolitionists soon divided, Garrison and his followers holding aloof from all connection with political action under the Constitution, and advocating disunion, while another wing of the agitators, under the name of the Liberty Party (see art.), put forward candidates and took part in the presidential elections of 1840 and 1844. In 1848 these joined the Free-soilers (see art.), and in 1855 and 1856 the Republican party. Throughout the years from 1833 to 1863 the Abolitionists continued their agitation. They did much to rouse Northern sentiment against slavery, to bring on the Civil War, and to secure, among its results, the emancipation of all slaves. The leaders of the radical Abolitionists were, beside Garrison himself, Wendell Phillips, John G. Whittier, Edmund Quincy, Samuel J. May, William Jay and others.
By John Franklin Jameson