American Anti-slavery Society

Established in 1833 in Philadelphia by members of state and local abolition* societies. About 1830 the abolitionist movement began to organize and spread quickly as a religious and humanitarian crusade. William Lloyd Garrison, an outspoken radical leader of the abolitionists in New England, in 1832 organized the New England Anti-Slavery Society. Abolition of slavery in the British Empire by the British government in 1833 led American abolitionists to unite quickly to form a national organization. Western leaders of the revivalist reform movement which had arisen from the work of C.G. Finney* joined the generally more radical New Englanders to form the American Anti-Slavery Society with the announced goal of immediate abolition, but with the expectation by many members that the process of emancipation would be gradually and moderately accomplished. Influential evangelical supporters of the society were the philanthropists Arthur and Lewis Tappan, and T.D. Weld,* an eloquent spokesman, organizer, and traveling agent of the national movement. Weld at Lane Seminary was successful in training effective antislavery agitators who converted entire communities to an awareness of the sinfulness of slavery and the need to abolish it. But the national society lacked unity and was considered too radical by many advocates of abolition. Differences among the factions within it led the anti-Garrison abolitionists to leave it in 1840, thus bringing its effectiveness to an end.