Sample History Paper on American History: Abolitionist Movement

The abolitionist movement after 1830 had a considerable impact on the history of the United States. The movement was fervent on their disapproval of slavery, an act that had been practiced in the country for over 100 years. The abolitionist movement in the US was organized by persons who did not believe in slavery, and they mimicked the actions of British abolitionists. The movement began as a religious outcry but was soon transformed into a political issue that caused a rift in the country as supporters and critics engaged in debates and violent confrontations. This essay explores the position white women took in the abolitionist movement and what it meant for them in terms of opportunities and equality.

The abolitionist movement consisted of mostly white religious Americans who viewed slavery as an abomination. Black men and women who escaped from bondage were also part of the movement that eradicated slave ownership in the US. Through strategies like sending of petitions, inundation of the people of the south, and running for political office, the movement campaigned religiously to eradicate slavery from the United States. Through abolitionism, white women realized that they, too, were an oppressed people with limited freedom. Women were treated like property and highly criticized if they spoke against norms happening in the American society.

Abigail and John Adams played a significant role in the abolitionist movement as Abigail advised her husband on equality between men and women. In a letter to her husband, Abigail states that:

“Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands. Remember

, all men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention are not paid to the Ladies, we are determined to foment a Rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.” (Foner 106-107)

This statement shows the position Abigail takes on matters of equality, and the reply by John shows he did not welcome the idea of people lacking their full freedom and he claims, “I am sure every good Politician would plot, as long as he would against despotism, empire, monarchy, aristocracy, oligarchy, or ochlocracy [mob rule]. A fine story indeed.”(Foner 109) Through these illustrations, it is clear that there was a change in how the leadership reviewed matters. The struggle for independence from Britain had raised various concerns on equality, which would lead to the abolition of slavery and raise concerns on equality.

The abolitionist movement and the civil war created women opportunities to do more than being ruled and stay at home. Doors of opportunities were opened to women, and they took advantage of it by filling in positions they previously were not allowed. Mary Livermore toured hospitals during the war, assessed the injured soldiers’ needs, and cared for them. After the war, she had deep resentment against women’s subordination in the legal and political realms, which led her to organize the first women suffrage convention:

“In marriage, she has been a serf; as a mother, she has been robbed of her children; in public instruction, she has been ignored; in labor, she has been a menial, and then inadequately compensated; civilly she has been a minor, and politically she has had no existence. She has been the equal of man only when punishment, and the payment of taxes, were in question.” (Foner 300-302)

The quote shows the contemptuous manner in which women were treated before the civil war and why women joined the abolitionist movement.

Through the anti-slavery movement that began in the north, citizenship and equality of rights were defined. The right to equality for slaves, propertyless men, women, Indians, and Negroes were defined by the statement that all men are equal. The campaign by the abolitionist movement and the civil war that ensued, later on, helped provide ground for equality for oppressed persons in the US. The Black Residents of Nashville asked why they were called upon to fight in the military but were not allowed voting on the ballot. The slaves expressed their devotion to the principles of justice and their understanding of the burden of citizenship (Foner 304). They further expressed their view of the American government not being democratic if some of its citizens were treated like aliens and an inferior class when compared to others. The abolitionists’ used strategies like these to help end slavery, which in turn helped in promoting equality for all the oppressed persons, including women.

Different strategies were used during the abolitionist movement, which helped in the vision of equity for all. Robert Owen offered such a strategy in his address of Americans providing a new way of doing things. He explains that the people human beings should be committing actions that ensure the happiness of the majority of persons, but instead, man has become the tormentor of man. He states:

Man, through ignorance, has been, hitherto, the tormentor of man. He is here, in a nation deeming itself possessed of more privileges than all other nations, and which pretensions, in many respects, must be admitted to be true. Yet, even here, where the laws are the most mild, and consequently the least unjust and irrational, individuals are punished even to death, for actions which are the natural and necessary effects arising from the injurious circumstances which the government and society, to which they belong, unwisely permit to exist; while other individuals are almost as much injured by being as unjustly rewarded for performing actions for which, as soon as they shall become rational beings, they must be conscious they cannot be entitled to a particle of merit (Foner 226).

Through this address, Owen manages to explain the new system as he has seen it and the likelihood of its success if equality wins. Such strategies helped reach out to the people around the united states on the need for equality amongst all factions and races. The seniority of one race over the others is touched on and becomes the main point of focus as he stresses equality and the need to make decisions that ensure the majority of persons are satisfied.

The abolitionist movement was a visionary movement that wanted equity for all people. The movement’s central idea was equality in every sphere of life, and reforms needed to be made to ensure slavery was abolished. White women realized at this time that they too were oppressed, and this led to their participation in the movement. The role of Abigail and John Adams helped in the inclusion of women during the movement. Additionally, women like Mary Livermore stood for what they believed in, and she organized the first woman suffrage convention after the war. Through taking up opportunities presented during the war, white women found the zeal to fight for their freedom and their representation in congress. In conclusion, through using these opportunities and strategies, the abolitionist movement not only helped end slavery, but it encouraged women to stand up for equality.


Work Cited

Foner, Eric. Voices of Freedom. WW Norton, 2008.