American Abolitionists and Antislavery Activists:
Conscience of the Nation

Updated April 4, 2021

l to r: Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, Wendell Phillips


See below for What's New and Coming Soon!

Slavery began in British North America in 1619.  Men and women of conscience began efforts to end slavery from the earliest days of the American British colonies and the beginning of the American Republic.  These men and women were both White and African American.  Many of these individuals have been forgotten.  They dedicated their lives to ending the evil institution of slavery, sometimes at the risk of their lives.  It is our hope to recognize the heroism of these individuals, so that they may have a place of honor in our country's history.  

The purpose of this website is to provide a comprehensive history of the abolition and anti-slavery movements in the United States, from the Colonial period until 1865.  This includes a social, political, and economic history of both slavery in America and its opponents. 

Featured in this site is an online encyclopedia of abolition and anti-slavery activism in the United States.  The encyclopedia includes verbatim entries from a number of well-known sources published in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.  This includes biographies of prominent abolitionists and other opponents of slavery.  The researcher will have an opportunity to read from original sources, as written by numerous authors. This provides a unique opportunity to read authentic accounts of the anti-slavery movement.  Many of the authors included in this work are noted figures in American history.  Many were actually involved in the abolition and anti-slavery movements.  Some were noted period historians.

In addition, this site provides an extensive list of individuals and organizations that worked to end slavery in the United States. 

This site serves as a reference guide and point of departure for further research for both scholars and interested individuals.

New!  Click here for a comprehensive list of biographies of abolitionists and anti-slavery activists.  This is the largest database of abolitionists and anti-slavery activists available.  It is presently more than 5,000 printed pages of biographies, with thousands of entries, from multiple scholarly sources.  Sources: Appletons' Cyclopaedia of American BiographyScribner's Dictionary of American Biography; and others.  This is on our companion website, Civil War Encyclopedia.  It also includes a database of anti-slavery political parties and a history of slavery in America.

Please see our new companion website,  On this website, we have a significant section on the history of slavery in America.  There, we present a collection of historic documents, including slave narratives and the history of slavery from the founding of the Colonies through the end of the Civil War.

Table of Contents

Introduction to Abolition and Antislavery in the United States

Encyclopedia of Slavery and Abolition in the United States

Abolitionists and Anti-Slavery Activists

Illustrated List of Abolitionists and Anti-Slavery Activists

Abolitionist and Anti-Slavery Organizations 

Prominent African American Abolitionists

Abolitionists by Profession

Anti-Slavery Political Leaders

Slave Narratives and Books by Abolitionists  

Abolition and Anti-Slavery Historic Timelines

African American Civil Rights Timeline  

Abraham Lincoln and Slavery

Black Soldiers in the Civil War  **UPDATED**

Fact Sheet on Slavery and the Abolitionist Movement

Proposed National Programs to Honor Abolitionists

Exhibit on Abolitionists and Anti-Slavery Activists  

Quotes on Slavery and Abolition

Bibliography of Abolition and Anti-Slavery

Encyclopedia of Civil War Biography 

Encyclopedia of Civil War Military Biography 

About Us


What’s New?

Nearly a quarter of a million African American men served in the Union Army and Navy.  That was almost 10% of the total Union forces that fought in the war.  They were not officially allowed to serve until 1863, and yet they suffered disproportionately high casualties for their service.  Abraham Lincoln credited these black soldiers with turning the tide of the war and with the ultimate Union victory.  They were fighting not only for the Union, but also for their very freedom.  Abolitionists and antislavery Members of Congress were largely responsible for allowing African Americans the right to serve their country.  This is their story.

We just posted searchable text of Frederick Douglass' autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave (1845).  This is the first in what will be a series of slave narratives.  Please check back.

We have updated our list of founders and anti-slavery political leaders of the Republican Party.

We have also updated three important lists of officers and members of abolitionist and anti-slavery organizations.  These undated and expanded lists include the Free Soil Party, the Liberty Party and the anti-slavery wing of the Whig Party.  We have included the complete biographic entries from Appletons' Cyclopaedia of American Biography for leaders of these organizations.

Please see the latest addition to our website, the African American Civil Rights Timeline.

We also recently added the Encyclopedia of Civil War Biography.  It is a comprehensive list of notable Americans from the mid-19th Century.  This constitutes a who's who of America in politics, science, industry, and the arts.  These individuals represented both sides of the argument over slavery in the United States.  Also included is an extensive list of military and naval officers on both sides of the conflict.  For those interested in military and naval officers, we have compiled an edited version with just entries of those military personnel involved in the Civil War: Encyclopedia of Civil War Military Biography.  These entries were drawn from the 1888-1889 edition of Appletons' Cyclopaedia of American Biography (6 volumes).  There are more than 3,000 individuals in these Encyclopedias.

See also our new website, the Civil War Encyclopedia. The purpose of this site is to provide those interested in the American Civil War with an extensive body of historic reference works on the war. It deals with all aspects of the Civil War, including the political and social history of the war. The central part of this website is an exhaustive, encyclopedic reference document on the Civil War. This includes biographies of soldiers, political leaders, inventors, financiers, and others involved in the war effort. It also includes a list of all of the Civil War battles, arranged chronologically. Also included are military terms and concepts. Other documents will include citations from Union and Confederate Army and Navy regulations and the Articles of War.

We have just created a mini-exhibit entitled American Abolitionists and Anti-Slavery Activists: Conscience of the Nation, curated by Eric Saul.  We premiered this exhibit at Sulfur Studios in Savannah, Georgia, on December 21, 2017. The exhibit is now on display at the Beach Institute in Savannah, Georgia. If you are visiting Savannah, please drop by and visit their museum. The exhibit will be shown at the Georgia state capitol in Atlanta in the spring of 2018. Please see the Exhibits page for more details.

Click here for an illustrated list of prominent abolitionist leaders and antislavery activists.  Please take a look at this gallery of American heroes.  This will be the basis for a major traveling exhibit, which premiered in Savannah, Georgia, in December 2017.  The exhibit is also scheduled to appear at the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta in the spring of 2019.

We have updated our list of abolitionists and antislavery activists.  This list includes a brief biography of the individual, along with entries from The National Portrait Gallery of Distinguished Americans, published 1835-1839, and Appletons' Cyclopaedia of American Biography, published in 1888.  This site will also be adding historical biographical entries from the Encyclopaedia Americana, 1845.  We have done a comprehensive list of abolitionists and antislavery activists by profession and vocation.  Among the categories in this list are political leaders, including senators, congressmen, and other government officials who opposed slavery. The list also includes jurists, lawyers, writers, educators, businesspersons, newspaper editors and journalists, clergy and others. 

In addition, we have updated our list of antislavery organizations.  These include organizational descriptions and rosters of leaders and important members in these organizations.  These also have entries from contemporary historical works.

We have completed an extensive list of officers, members and supporters of the following organizations: American and Foreign Anti-Slavery SocietyBoston Female Anti-Slavery SocietyFree Soil PartyLiberty PartyMassachusetts Anti-Slavery SocietyNew England Anti-Slavery SocietyNew England Emigrant Aid SocietyNew York Manumission SocietyPennsylvania Abolition Society, and the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery, and the Relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage. We will be updating these lists periodically.

Please see our latest, updated chronology of the abolition and anti-slavery movements in the United States and in the world.

Please see our new Abraham Lincoln historic anti-slavery and emancipation quotes and speeches.  In addition, we have an extensive Abraham Lincoln slavery and emancipation timeline, which includes a Civil War chronolgy, 1861-1865.

We also have a fact sheet on slavery and the abolitionist movement in the United States.

We provide an extensive bibliography of sources on this subject.  These include books, newspapers, periodicals, etc.  We will also provide a list of organizations and resources for the study of the anti-slavery movement in the United States.

This website is a work in progress.  We will continue to update the contents.  We invite your comments and suggestions to make this the best and most accurate possible site. This site is a not-for-profit endeavor and is supported largely by volunteer research.

Coming Soon

We are starting a new project for the American Abolitionists website.  We will be adding a number of historic books on the anti-slavery and abolitionist movement.  Many of these books were published in the 19th Century.  These will include facsimile reproductions of the original texts of a number of books as well as searchable text.  We have already posted Frederick Douglass' autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave (1845). Some of the other books we will be making available to download are: Henry Wilson's landmark 3-volume series, The Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America (1872-1875); Horace Greeley's 2-volume set, The American Conflict (1866, 1868); Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852); Solomon Northup's Twelve Years a Slave (1853); and William Still's Underground Rail Road (1872).  We will be adding numerous books to our downloadable collection in the next few weeks.


This project was created in cooperation with the Center for Jubilee, Reconciliation and Healing, Inc., Patt Gilliard-Gunn, President, and Rosalyn Rouse.  The Center for Jubilee is a nonprofit organization in Savannah, Georgia.  The members of the Center for Jubilee are primarily African Americans who are the descendants of formerly enslaved people from Savannah and its surrounding areas.  The Center is planning a series of educational program and a historic traveling exhibit.

We would also like to thank the NiBlack-Freeney-McNish family and show our appreciation for their friendship and inspiration.  This family is descended from formerly enslaved individuals who were emancipated by General Sherman's army on November 22, 1864.

We would like to gratefully acknowledge the cooperation of the librarians and staff at West Virginia University, in Morgantown, West Virginia.  These individuals are Jessica Tapia, Martin Dunlap, and especially Autumn Summers.  They have helped us in the pursuit of this project to honor anti-slavery activists in America.  We are grateful for their help and cooperation.  The African American and anti-slavery collections at the West Virginia University Libraries are extensive and outstanding.

The contents of this website are copyrighted.  All rights reserved.  Please see our Copyright Statement.

This website was launched January 25, 2014.

Contents updated April 4, 2021.