One of the greatest consequences of the Revolutionary Era was a growing movement in opposition to slavery. As a result of mechanization and farming, slavery became dominant and very important to the economy, particularly in the south. Many white people began to question the morality of slavery, noting the injustice in denying people of their liberties. Soon, antislavery societies were becoming common, and the north gradually provided for the abolition of slavery while the south still considered it a "positive good". The antislavery movement, which eventually developed into the abolition movement became radicalized during the early 1830's.
The beginnings of the antislavery movement were evident right after the revolution. Every state except for Georgia and South Carolina had outlawed the slave trade. Then, in 1782 Virginia passed a law that stated that owners must free their slaves. Consequently, by 1790, over ten thousand slaves had been set free. Ten years later, antislavery societies were forming from states ranging from Virginia to Massachusetts. Gradually, other northern states had followed, providing for the abolition of slavery. However, after the cotton gin was introduced to the economy, instead of eliminating the need for slavery, it actually had the opposite effect – the south now needed slavery more than ever. In addition, before Missouri joined the union, many northerners opposed the idea of Missouri becoming a state because it would allow the expansion of slavery and also give them an advantage in the senate. In the Missouri Compromise of 1820, Henry Clay proposed to let Missouri enter the union as a slave state, and Maine as a free state. It was accepted since it retained the balance between slave states and free states. With the passage of the Missouri Compromise, slavery became a national issue.
Soon the abolitionist movement arose, a crusade based on the idea that slavery was an unjust and immoral evil that needed to be eliminated as soon as possible. Since religion was the undering motive for most abolitionists, Protestant churches usually became the common-ground for their activities. In 1831, William Lloyd Garrison started to publish a newspaper called the Liberator. His determination to abolish slavery was the basis for this theory to call for immediate freedom for all blacks, rather than formal emancipation. With the help of his followers, in 1832, he established the American Anti-Slavery Society. Along with Garrison, Theodore Dwight Weld wrote a famous novel condemning slavery. During 1935, he traveled around Ohio and western New York preaching abolitionism. Even though he and his associates faced angry mobs, they did convince thousands of people to become abolitionists and form new societies. Those two people were a few of the most radical of the abolitionist leaders. As more antislavery organizations were being founded, many abolitionist leaders began to emerge as well.
Latermore, in New York City, the Tappan brothers, Lewis and Arthur, were two successful merchants who used their wealth to finance antislavery activities. They supported a huge effort to give out antislavery pamphlets and distribute them to the US. Unfortunately, since many people considered them dangerous radicals, they made relatively few conversions in 1835. Also, it was the antislavery movement that had given a woman an important chance to become involved in politics and the government. Two of the very first women that were given a right to speak publicly about the immorality of slavery were the sisters Angelina and Sarah Grimke. They argued that if a great moral reform of American society was to occur, that women had to equal equality in dealing with the issue. Later on, more women such as Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton took a stance against slavery.
These abolitionists instituted one of the most controversial movements in American history. From the first, their aim was to transform the conscience of each white American, Northerner and Southerner, by preaching against the sin of slavery. They believed that through such agitation it was possible to convince slaves to show repentance by releasing their slaves. This in turn, caused numerous problems and the issue would continue to divide the nation, extremely leading the US into a period of bitter turmoil and event, war.