THE AMERICAN ANTI-SLAVERY SOCIETY
The antislavery movement did not begin with the organization of the American Anti-Slavery Society in December 1833. That would seem to be a simple truism at this point in our discussion, but it needs re-emphasis. The movement began with the Quakers and continued with the Presbyterians and Baptists. In pre-Revolutionary days, it was largely denominational with the Quakers, less so with the Presbyterians and Baptists. It ceased to be strictly denominational with the organization of the Eastern abolition societies in the post-Revolutionary period. It broadened out in the evangelism of the 1820's, but remained largely Presbyterian and Congregational even during the 1830's. The movement, however, was as much political as it was religious, even more so. We have traced it in the political treatises of the Revolutionary period; in the legislative acts and court decisions of those states which abolished slavery; in the debates of the Constitutional Convention, the Congresses of the United States both before and after 1789, and the conventions of new states; and in the climactic public discussion of the Missouri question. The movement, then, was both religious and political, and it did not suddenly change with the organization of the American Anti-Slavery Society in 1833, nor with the schism in the society in 1840.
Early in 1831 in New York City a small group of men began to pull together for the first time the widely scattered threads of moral democracy reaching back to pre-Revolutionary days. They were Lewis Tappan, George Bourne, Joshua Leavitt, Simeon Jocelyn, William Goodell, and Theodore Weld.1 What a combination of intellect, courage, and Christian faith! What a solid foundation of antislavery tradition, evangelistic fervor, and equalitarianism! Tappan represented the Eastern liberal tradition of opposition to slavery and aid to the Negroes extending back to Woolman and Benezet, and including in its long history men like Benjamin Franklin, Benjamin Rush, William Rawle, John Jay, Rufus King, Theodore Dwight, and Elias Boudinot. Tappan spoke always for his brother Arthur also, and for the numerous wealthy patrons of Christian benevolence in New York City.
George Bourne, who had said that "every man who holds Slaves and who pretends to be a Christian or a Republican, is either an incurable Idiot who cannot distinguish good from evil, or an obdurate sinner who resolutely defies every social, moral, and divine requisition," represented the Presbyterian preachers from the South whose opposition to slavery had led to exile, including men like Gilliland and Rankin.2
Joshua Leavitt was a stolid New England lawyer and preacher, trained at Yale by the liberal Nathaniel Taylor. He edited the New YorkEvangelist, the paper founded by the Tappans to expound and popularize in New York City the new theology of Charles Grandison Finney. He had been writing against slavery since 1825 and was destined to be, as editor of the Independent after 1848, one of the most respected journalists in the country.3
Simeon S. Jocelyn was a home missionary serving the Negroes of New Haven. He was busily