Abolitionism(redirected from Anti-slavery)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus.
(1) A social movement aimed at liquidating a law.
(2) A movement in the United States in the 18th and 19th centuries for the abolition of Negro slavery. Abolitionism in the United States was strikingly manifested by the Negro slave rebellions in the South—for example, the rebellions in 1800, led by Gabriel; and in 1831, led by Nat Turner. The beginning of an organized national abolitionist movement dates from the founding of the American Antislavery Society in 1833. Abolitionism unified broad segments of society, including farmers who were struggling for land against the slaveholding plantation owners, workers, progressive intellectuals, and activists in the Negro emancipation movement, as well as an element of the bourgeoisie who saw slavery as an obstacle to the development of capitalism in the country. The most revolutionary abolitionist groups, headed by F. Douglass, understood the need for armed force in the struggle against slavery. Of special importance in the struggle against slavery was the 1859 insurrection led by J. Brown. The popular masses played a leading role in the liquidation of slavery during the American Civil War. Under pressure from them, the government of A. Lincoln adopted as a military measure a law emancipating but giving no land to those Negro slaves who were owned by planters participating in the secessionist rebellion. However, the Civil War did not bring true freedom to the Negroes. The American bourgeoisie strove “to restore everything possible, and to do everything possible—even the impossible—to further the most shameless and vile oppression of Negroes” (V. I. Lenin, Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 27, p. 142).
(3) The struggle which developed in Great Britain, France, and several other European countries in the 18th and 19th centuries to abolish slavery in colonial areas.