Abolitionism is the term used to describe the radical wing of the American antislavery movement during the 19th century. In the United States, the leading abolitionist was William Lloyd Garrison, a tenacious speaker, writer, organizer, and publisher who launched his influential periodical, The Liberator, in January 1831.

Abolitionism is distinguished by its opposition to gradualism. Thomas Jefferson and other gradualists, although condemning slavery as a horrendous evil, believed it should be phased out over many years so as to lessen the harmful effects on southern agriculture. Moreover, many gradualists believed that African Americans could not be successfully assimilated into American society. They supported a policy known as colonization, which called for freed slaves to be transported to colonies overseas.

Garrison and his followers, such as Wendell Phillips, ...

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