Famous Abolitionists

"I can only say that there is not a man living who wishes more sincerely than I do to see a plan adopted for the abolition of slavery." - George Washington

By the mid 1800's, slavery was a sensitive topic which gained momentum throughout the nineteenth century. It was a cause which would see many abolitionists rise to notoriety; however, the population was divided as to whether slavery should be abolished. There were various reasons that the South were unwilling to part with their slaves; the threat of economical instability was of great concern, but so to was the fear that there would be more competition for jobs resulting in undercutting of salary. The South heavily relied on cheap labour to meet the demands for cotton, indigo and tobacco, but many people in the North began to view slavery as an immoral and sinful institution.

In order to avoid hostility, the majority of abolitionists would congregate largely in the northern states; however, riots and abuse still took place. It was no longer just escaped slaves, free men and the majority of Quakers who became abolitionists, but educated white men and women, even those who were raised with slave owning parents in the South.

  • Learn about the impact that abolitionists made on society.
  • Read about the childhood of famous abolitionists.
  • Learn about the different ways that abolitionists sought to end slavery.
  • Read about the struggles faced by many abolitionists.
  • Learn about the people that helped escort and shelter escaped slaves on the Underground Railroad.
  • Learn about the lives of famous abolitionists.

Famous American Abolitionists

John Brown
Considered a radical abolitionist, John Brown believed that people needed to physically take a stand against slavery and is most known for inciting the failed slave rebellion, Harpers Ferry Raid.

Levi Coffin
Levi Coffin was an abolitionist famed for assisting thousands of escaped slaves by using his house as a shelter on the Underground Railroad.

Ellen and William Craft
After the Crafts daring escape from slavery, the couple toured England giving lectures against slavery, before moving back to America and opening an agricultural school for former slaves.

Frederick Douglass
An escaped slave who gained notoriety as an orator, Frederick Douglass was famed for his speech 'What to the slave is the fourth of July' and wrote numerous articles against slavery.

Thomas Garrett
Said to have assisted over two thousand slaves to freedom, Thomas Garrett used his house to shelter fugitive slaves en route to Canada.

William Lloyd Garrison
Publisher of the abolitionist newspaper The Liberator and fierce advocate for women's rights; William Lloyd Garrison was one of the most renowned abolitionists of the ninetenth century.

Angelina Grimké
Angelina Grimké was a fierce opponent in slavery debates and along with her sister Sarah was considered the only Southern female abolitionist.

Wendell Phillips
Known for his speeches against enslavement, Wendell Phillips was also famed for his support of the women's rights movement.

Amy Post
Also a supporter of the women's rights movement, Amy Post used her house as  a stop on the Underground Railroad.

Gerrit Smith
Wealthy land owner Gerrit Smith donated land and funds to former slaves and was also benefactor of the failed Harpers Ferry Raid.

Sojourner Truth
The first African American woman to win a legal battle against a white man after her son was illegally sold, Sojourner Truth went on to give famous speeches such as 'Ain't I a Woman?' and supported gender and racial equality.

Harriet Tubman
As a conductor on the Underground Railroad, Harriet Tubman led thousands of slaves on foot to Canada and assisted The Union in liberating Southern slaves.

Theodore Weld
Known author and orator, Theodore Weld also trained and recruited others to the cause.

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