SS7 Chapter 15: The Spirit of Reform

Section 2: The Abolitionists (p. 408-414)

The early 1800s was a time of reform. One type of reform was the work of abolitionists. Abolitionists were people who worked to abolish, or end, slavery. The Northern states had ended slavery but it was still an important part of the South’s economy. By the mid-1800s, more and more Americans came to believe that slavery was wrong. The conflict over slavery grew.

One of the early antislavery movements involved resettling Africans Americans outside the United States.  Africans Americans and slaves did not want to be relocated, they wanted to be free.

Free African Americans also played an important role in the abolitionist movement. They helped set up and run the American Anti-Slavery Society.

Some very well-known abolitionists included:

  • William Lloyd Garrison had a great effect on the antislavery movement. He started a newspaper called The Liberator.
  • Frederick Douglass was the best-known African American abolitionist. Douglass escaped from slavery and moved North to become a powerful speaker. Douglass was the editor of an antislavery newspaper called North Star.
  • Sojourner Truth escaped from slavery and worked with Frederick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison to end slavery. She spoke about her life as an enslaved person and helped the women’s rights movement.
  • Harriet Tubman became the most famous “conductor” on the Underground Railroad. It was a network of escape routes from the South to the North for runaway slaves. Along the routes, whites and African Americans guided the runaway “passengers” to freedom in Northern states or in Canada. They rested at “stations.”

There were few Northerners abolitionists. Many Northerners believed that freed African Americans could never fully be a part of American society. Some Northerners were afraid that the abolitionists would start a war between the North and South. Other Northerners feared that freed African Americans would take their jobs.

Many Southerners said abolition threatened their way of life. Southerners defended slavery. They thought it was a necessary part of the Southern economy. Southerners said they treated enslaved people well. They said they gave enslaved people food and medical care.


Section 3: The Women’s Movement (p. 415-419)

The Seneca Falls Convention was held in 1848 in Seneca Falls, NY and laid the foundation for the women’s rights movement.  Their demands included:

  • Ending unfair laws for women
  • Equal work for women
  • The right to vote (suffrage) for women
  • Temperance (banning the sale of alcohol for consumption)

Famous contributors to the women’s movement:

  • Susan B. Anthony was a  national leader, worked with Stanton on temperance and suffrage.  Also started the country’s first women’s temperance organization.
  • Elizabeth Cady Stanton helped organize the Seneca Convention and worked with Anthony on suffrage and temperance.