What is Abolitionism?

Meaning and Definition of Abolitionism

Abolitionism was a movement started at the end of the 18th century by people who opposed slavery and who mobilized to abolish this practice, that is, to put an end to it. Members of the movement became known as abolitionists .

Europeans began enslaving Africans in the late 15th century. After arriving in the Americas, the Europeans established colonies. In a first stage, they captured Indians and made them slaves. In the following centuries, thanks in particular to the condemnation of indigenous slavery by Catholic priests in the Spanish colonies and in Brazil, the Indians were excluded from slave labor.

However, many Africans were brought by ship to colonies throughout the United States, to work primarily in coffee, cotton, and sugar mills.

Until the 17th century there were rare protests against slavery , with the exception of the efforts of Jesuit priests in Brazil and other friars in the Spanish colonies, as well as some inhabitants of the English colonies who, in the 17th century, condemned slavery for religious reasons.

Gradually, however, more and more people balked at the idea of ​​regarding other human beings as private property.

Anti-Slavery Efforts

The first official organization to fight for the abolition of slavery was the Abolitionist Society, founded in 1787 in Great Britain. In 1807, the British decided to abolish the slave trade in their colonies. By 1833, all slaves in the British colonies in the Western Hemisphere had been freed.

Other countries in Europe soon followed suit. France banned the slave trade in 1819, and in 1848 slavery was also abolished in the French colonies.

With the emancipation movements in North and South America, slavery was gradually abolished. In Mexico, slavery became extinct in 1810; In Chile, the so-called free womb law was passed in 1811, which gave freedom to the children of slaves who were born after

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