Abolition Movement

  • Slavery Began

    Slavery in America began when the first African slaves were brought to the North American colony of Jamestown, Virginia, in 1619, to aid in the production of such lucrative crops as tobacco.
  • Refugee Slaves

    Statutes regarding refugee slaves existed in America as early as 1643 and the New England Confederation, and slave laws were later enacted in several of the 13 original colonies.
  • George Washington

    In 1786 George Washington complained about how one of his runaway slaves was helped by a "society of Quakers, formed for such purposes."
  • Fugitive Slave Act

    Enacted by Congress in 1793, the first Fugitive Slave Act authorized local governments to seize and return escaped slaves to their owners and imposed penalties on anyone who aided in their flight.
  • William Lloyd Garrison Was Born

    William Lloyd Garrison was born in Newburyport, Massachusetts, in 1805.
  • William Lloyd Garrison

    In 1808 William's father deserted the family, forcing them to scrounge for food from more prosperous families and forcing William to work, selling homemade molasses candy and delivering wood.
  • Northerners Were Against Slavery

    This was an unpopular view during the 1830s, even with northerners who were against slavery. What would become of all the freed slaves? Certainly they could not assimilate into American society, they thought.
  • The System Grew

    The system grew, and around 1831 it was dubbed "The Underground Railroad," after the then emerging steam railroads.
  • New England Is Anti-Slavery

    In 1832 he helped organize the New England Anti-Slavery Society, and, the following year, the American Anti-Slavery Society. These were the first organizations dedicated to promoting immediate emancipation.
  • Organizations

    Many within the Society differed with these positions, however, and in 1840 there was a major rift in the Society which resulted in the founding of two additional organizations: the Liberty Party, a political organization, and the American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, which did not admit women.
  • Prigg vs. Pennsylvania

    The legality of Personal Liberty Laws was eventually challenged in the 1842 Supreme Court case Prigg v. Pennsylvania.
  • Slaves In The South

    Many within the Society differed with these positions, however, and in 1840 there was a major rift in the Society which resulted in the founding of two additional organizations: the Liberty Party, a political organization, and the American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, which did not admit women.
  • Fugitive Slave Act

    the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, which added further provisions regarding runaways and levied even harsher punishments for interfering in their capture.
  • Henry Clay

    Part of Henry Clay’s famed Compromise of 1850a group of bills that helped quiet early calls for Southern secessionthis new law forcibly compelled citizens to assist in the capture of runaway slaves.
  • Weapon Against Slavery

    Later, in 1851, the once devoted and admiring Frederick Douglass stated his belief that the Constitution could be used as a weapon against slavery.
  • Dred Scott vs. Sanford

    In March 1857, in one of the most controversial events preceding the American Civil War, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in the case of Dred Scott v. Sanford.
  • Southern Masters

    Widespread opposition to the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 saw the law become virtually unenforceable in certain Northern states, and by 1860 only around 330 slaves had been successfully returned to their Southern masters.
  • Laws of the Time

    The Fugitive Slave Acts were among the most controversial laws of the early 19th century, and many Northern states passed special legislation in an attempt to circumvent them. Both laws were formally repealed by an act of Congress in 1864.
  • Acts Were Officially Repealed By an Act of Congress

    It was not until June 28, 1864, that both of the Fugitive Slave Acts were officially repealed by an act of Congress.
  • Civil War Ended

    For more than three decades, from the first issue of his weekly paper in 1831, until after the end of the Civil War in 1865 when the last issue was published, Garrison spoke out eloquently and passionately against slavery and for the rights of America's black inhabitants.
  • Garrison

    After the end of the Civil War in 1865, Garrison published his last issue of the Liberator. After thirty five years and 1,820 issues, Garrison did not fail to publish a single issue.
  • Slaves Were Freed

    Though the Union victory freed the nation’s 4 million slaves, the legacy of slavery continued to influence American history, from the tumultuous years of Reconstruction 1865-77 to the civil rights movement that emerged in the 1960s, a century after emancipation.
  • United States Constitutional Convention

    By the time of the United States Constitutional Convention in 1787, many Northern states including Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut had abolished slavery.