The New International Encyclopædia/Abolitionists

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AB'OLI'TIONISTS (Lat. abolitio, an annulling, from abolere, to check the growth). The term used in the United States, after 1835 and until the Civil War, for those opponents of slavery who were the most intense in their desire to secure the immediate emancipation of the blacks. Others avowed their “anti-slavery” opinions, but these advocated, by all the means they could command, immediate “abolition.” Their position was weakened, and their reputation for sobriety was damaged, by their steadfast refusal to recognize the binding force of any human laws which recognized human slavery, and even of the constitution; and their extreme demands and radical methods repelled the sympathy of many conservative men who desired that the abolition of slavery should be seeured, although by expedient and legal means. Although discredited in many quarters, the abolitionists were in the end successful, from one point of view, in making slavery a national issue and in hastening the time of final decision as to its continuance. Among the most conspicuous leaders of the abolitionists were William Lloyd Garrison, a vigorous and fearless writer, Wendell Phillips, the famous orator, Gerrit Smith, a generous philanthropist, Arthur Tappan, William Goodell, and Lucretia Mott. The biographies of most of these leaders have been written, and they afford ample illustrations of the spirit by which they were governed. See Anti-Slavery Society; Garrison, William Lloyd; Giddings, Joshua R.; and Parker, Theodore.