As the abolitionist, or antislavery, movement gained momentum in nineteenth-century America, much of its humanist logic cross-pollinated with the rhetoric of the women's movement. Women and their male supporters, likening the subjugated position of women to that of slaves, argued generally that a country claiming God and liberty as its foundation could in no way justify its treatment of either group. Highly visible abolitionists, such as Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, Sojourner Truth, Sarah Margaret Fuller, John Stuart Mill, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, spoke out in support of the women's movement, adding to both its visibility and its viability.
Of course, white women could hardly align themselves with abolitionists without acknowledging somehow their own roles in the institution of slavery. In trying to bridge this racial gap, women called on their counterparts to recognize the particular abuses leveled against female slaves and accept that, unless they protested such injustices, they too were as guilty of perpetuating inequality as were the men. In some cases, supporters of the women's causes spoke out directly against slavery; Sarah Grimke, for example, wrote that “[t]here is another class of women in this country, to whom I cannot refer, without deepest feelings of shame and sorrow. I allude to our female slaves, ” though she then added as a sort of disclaimer that
the colored woman [does not] suffer alone: the moral purity of the white woman is deeply contaminated. In the daily habit of seeing the virtue of her enslaved sister without hesitancy or remorse, she looks upon the crimes of seduction and illicit intercourse without horror, and although not personally involved in the guilt, she loses that value for innocence in her own, as well as the other sex, which is one of the strongest safeguards to virtue.