The abolition of slavery became the most pressing moral, social and radical reform in America during the mid-19th century. This was brought about by the changes America was experiencing due to industrialization. The primary objective of the abolition movement was to abolish slavery. It also aimed for the emancipation of slaves and to accord equal rights to all African Americans.

In order to attain their objectives, leaders and members of the abolition movement resorted to both passive and aggressive methods. Free African Americans in the North espousing equal rights and the abolition of slavery set up societies that petitioned Congress for reforms and mailed anti-slavery propaganda to the South. They also held speaking engagements to inform both whites and blacks of the evils of slavery. They resorted to speeches, newspapers, books and other art forms to spread their mission for the abolition of slavery and equal rights for blacks.  Aggressively, there was the Underground Railroad that helped slaves escape from the South.  They held rallies and raids, several of which turned violent, to spark slave rebellions. There were also several uprisings and rebellions that took place.

Americans reacted differently towards abolitionism. The South slave owners vehemently opposed the abolition of slavery. The slaves obviously secretly supported this movement. White abolitionists from the North supported emancipation of slaves but did not support equal rights for blacks. Immigrants, most especially the Irish, and the lower American classes did not support emancipation of slaves and equal rights for Blacks as they felt that they would take away jobs from them. Abolitionism further divided the nation.  It resulted in the American Civil War.

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