Slavery and Abolition, 1831-1841

By Albert Bushnell Hart | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER XXI
THE EFFECTS OF ABOLITION
(1830-1860)

THE question still remains, how far did the abolitionists accomplish what they set out to do? After thirty years of agitation, suddenly slavery ceased to be, through the use of that military power which John Quincy Adams had foreseen and almost invoked.1 The abolitionists naturally believed that they had pulled down the heavens and let the freedmen escape through the cracks. Are they entitled to the credit for this tremendous result?

The work of the abolitionists can be estimated only in contrast with their aims, motives, and results, up to the breaking out of civil war. So far as the effect upon the conditions of the slave was concerned, the abolitionist accomplished little of what he set out to do: the slave codes were more severe in 1860 than in 1830; the national fugitiveslave act was more drastic; the law of the territories was more favorable to slavery; the square miles open to slavery had doubled in the thirty years; the

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1
See chap. xviii., above.

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