The Second Great
During the 1820’s and 1830’s there were many social movements working to
reform American society, with inspiration coming from the Second Great
Awakening. Slavery was no regarded as “…an unparalleled sin…”( the
religious conviction) and that “…it contradicted the values enshrined in the
Declaration of Independence (secular conviction).
It added a religious underpinning to the celebration of personal selfimprovement , self-reliance, and self-determination, originally organized by
established religious leaders, but quickly expanded beyond churches
It is characterized from the religious revivals that pervaded the North and
South, offering salvation to sinners and improvement throughout society
Despite national recognition for some reform movements, some only existed
in the North, the most notable being the militant movement “…demanding
the immediate abolition of slavery and the incorporation of blacks as equal
citizens of the republic”.
How Abolitionists Spread
Their Message
During this time, abolitionists focused their discussions on
freedom based on the “…sharp contradiction between
liberty and slavery” (382)
-”They promoted an understanding of freedom as control
over one’s self and participation as an equal member in
social and political life”.
They printed newspapers, pamphlets and books
Their own protests not only placed the issue of slavery on
the national agenda but also inspired others, including
women. As they worked in the antislavery movement, they
became aware of their own lack of rights and opportunities
Abolitionists argued that slavery was so deeply embedded
in American society that in order to change it, there would
have to be fundamental changes in the North AND South
“They worked to attack the intellectual foundation of
racism, seeking to disprove pseudoscientific arguments for
black inferiority”
They called on free blacks to seek “…skilled and dignified
employment, to demonstrate the race’s capacity for
Gradualists VS
Immediatists- radical approach to abolitionism
William Lloyd Garrison
Raised solely by his mother, who also got him his first
apprenticeship with a newspaper publisher
After his apprenticeship, his writings were often attacks on
politics and politicians- an editorial referring to a slave
holder as a “murderer” caused him to be sued for libel. He
was convicted and went to jail, which proved to be a lifechanging experience
In jail, he listened to the stories of blacks, completely
changing his views and for forty-nine days he wrote
editorials “…demanding ‘immediate emancipation’ of all
On January 1, 1831, Garrison began publishing The Liberator,
which would eventually become the leading abolitionist
He helped found the New England Anti-Slavery Society- he
demanded complete equality for EVERYONE
He was the most notable propagandist
“I am aware that many object to the severity of my
language, but is there not cause for severity? I will be as
harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice. On this
subject, I do not wish to think, or to speak, or write, with
moderation. No! no! Tell a man whose house is on fire to
give a moderate alarm; tell him to moderately rescue his
wife from the hands of the ravisher; tell the mother to
gradually extricate her babe from the fire into which it has
fallen; -but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the
present. I am in earnest- I will not equivocate-I will not
excuse- I will not retreat a single inch- AND I WILL BE
Frederick Douglas
Was the son of a slave mother and an unidentified white
From an early age he desired freedom. He secretly taught
himself to read and write. Later he stated that “From that
moment I understood that knowledge was the pathway
from slavery to freedom”
He experienced slavery in every way. At age 15, his owner
sent him to a “slave breaker” and after numerous whippings
, he refused to allow himself to be disciplined again. He
refers to this confrontation as the “… turning point on my
career as a slave”
He escaped to the North in 1838
He became the most influential African American advocate
– he lectured against slavery throughout the North and
British Isles , edited anti-slavery publications, published an
autobiography, and was active in other movements,
including the campaign for women’s rights.
During the Civil War, he advised Abraham Lincoln on
employing blacks as well as giving them the right to vote
Overall, he believed that slavery would only be overthrown
by continuous resistance- of which he demonstrated
throughout his life
The Tappan Brothers
Arthur and Lewis Tappan were both prominent businessmen
They joined local groups dedicated to abolition
They demanded “universal liberty.”
Working with African Americans such as Frederick Douglass,
Samuel Cornish, and Henry Highland Garnet, the brothers
accomplished many things. They helped found the New York
Anti-Slavery Society and were actively part of the Underground
Railroad. Lewis organized the defense for the Africans of the slave
ship Amistad. The brothers also gave money to integrated
colleges, abolitionist newspapers, and many other anti-slavery
The Grimké Sisters
Daughters of a prominent North Carolina slave-holder
(Angelina and Sarah)
First converted to Quakerism and then abolitionism when
visiting Philadelphia
During the 1830’s they began delivering lectures that offered
condemnation of slavery after witnessing it firsthand and
were denounced by some due to their sacrifice of all
“modesty and delicacy”
They retaliated with the fact that women should be able to
take part in political debates, and have equal social and
educational opportunities given to men
Sarah published a book, Letters on the Equality of the Sexes
(1838), a call for equal rights, and would raise issues
applicable even to today’s society (equal pay for equal
“They were the first to apply the abolitionist doctrine of
universal freedom and equality to the status of women”
Their writings helped spark the movement for women’s
rights (even after they retired), which came about in the
What Encouraged the
Growth of Abolitionism
-”Wage slavery”, popularized by the era’s labor movement,
abolitionists argued that in comparison to a slave, “…the
person working for wages was an embodiment of
-The growing participation of women in the anti-slavery
movements ( Some believed that there was a defined role for
women in regards to political movements, causing a schism
in abolitionism). This ultimately caused over 1,000 antislavery societies to be scattered throughout the North
Technological advancements- The use of pamphlets,
writings, etc
Abolitionism now became an important reform movement
within American society due to awareness
“ The abolitionists’ greatest achievement lay in shattering
the conspiracy of silence that had sought to preserve
national unity by suppressing public debate over slavery”
America, Empire of Liberty. A New History of the United
States. David Reynolds. Copyright 2009
Freedom- A History of US. Joy Hakim. Copyright 2003
Give Me Liberty! An American History. Eric Foner. Copyright