As the reader will notice, the great majority of selections included in this volume were written during the 1830's and early 1840's. It was during those years that the Abolitionist movement made its greatest contribution to American life and faced its most difficult tasks: to awaken public opinion to the horror of slavery and to stimulate it to take action against the evil. It was during those formative years that the leadership and philosophy of the movement crystallized. On the one hand, issues which were to split the movement into two were born then; on the other, the philosophy and strategy of each of the contending factions took form within that period and were not to undergo any significant change until the Civil War.
The selections written during the later period have been chosen because they either illuminate the earlier years or, as in the case of William Lloyd Garrison, they are a fitting close to an aspect of history in which Garrison was the overshadowing figure.
John Brown is not included here because his efforts belong to a much later period and because a large representative sampling of his letters, speeches and other writings is to be found in this writer's volume, A John Brown Reader, published by Abelard-Schuman in 1960.
I am grateful to Prof. Sidney Kaplan, of the University of Massachusetts, for reading the manuscript and offering many valuable suggestions.