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Abolitionism

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Abolitionism was a movement in several nations of the 19th century that sought to abolish slavery and the slave trade. Members of this movement are known as abolitionists.

The chief philosophical ground for abolition has been the idea of human rights --- that human beings are too valuable to be property, as well as the idea that human beings ought to control their own destiny. Much of this philosophy stems from religious views, although Christians, Jews and Muslims have all practiced slavery in the past. Belief in abolition has contributed to the foundation of some denominations such as the Free Methodist Church.

Another ground for abolishing slavery has been economic, and much ink has been spilled describing how various crusaders or factions have sought to profit financially by outlawing slavery. Indeed, Marxist and other historians have analyzed the American Civil War from this point of view (Charles Beard?).

Opposition to abolition has come primarily from people who profit personally from slave labor or the slave trade, including those who rely on goods produced by slaves, as well as from people who regard slaves as inferior beings suited to servitude.

In Great Britain, abolitionists succeeded in abolishing slavery throughout the empire in 1833 and in allowing the Royal Navy to enforce a ban on the slave trade.

In the United States, abolitionists were involved in the conflict between North and South (see American Civil War). While the Quakers were particularly noted for activity in this movement, it was by no means limited to Quaker participation. This issue was one of several key issues that led to the creation of the Free Methodist denomination, a group which split from the Methodist Episcopal Church in the 1860s.

Many Abolitionists took an active (and often illegal, by the laws of the time) role putting their principles into practice, by supporting the Underground Railroad.

After the Emancipation Proclamation the Abolitionists continued to pursue the freedom of slaves in the remaining slave states, and to better the conditions of black Americans generally. From these principles the US civil rights movement was to eventually take form.

Notable Abolitionists included:

Historians working in areas connected with "abolitionism"

Literature relating to abolition

Other movements described as "abolitionist"



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