Although opposition to the institution of slavery in North America dates back into the eighteenth century, the 1831 publication of William Lloyd Garrison's newspaper, the Liberator, is often cited as the inaugural event of the abolition movement in America. In the decades prior to the Civil War, abolitionists built a social movement and a political campaign aimed at ending slavery in the United States—a goal that was accomplished with the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865. The definitions of manhood used by abolitionists varied in detail, but they generally included economic, political, and spiritual independence. Slavery had to be abolished, at least in part, because it threatened these cherished ideals.

Historians are increasingly emphasizing the significant contributions of different African-American communities to the movement, particularly ...

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