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Civil War Encyclopedia >> Terms
Abolition technically means "to do away with," but in the 1800's the term was so closely aligned with the abolition of slavery that it is almost never used in any other context.
Although the term abolition would not reach popular usage until the 1780's, the earliest abolitionists were Quakers, who made owning a slave a punishable offense within the church. The state of Vermont passed a Constitution in 1777 that said
Therefore, no male person, born in this country, or brought from over sea, ought to be holden by law, to serve any person, as a servant, slave or apprentice, after he arrives to the age of twenty-one Years, nor female, in like manner, after she arrives to the age of eighteen years, unless they are bound by their own consent, after they arrive to such age, or bound by law, for the payment of debts, damages, fines, costs, or the like.
Other northern states followed, including Massachusetts (1780) and New Hampshire (1783). Pennsylvania (1780), Rhode Island (1784), Connecticut (1784), New York (1799), and New Jersey (1804) passed statutes outlawing slavery. The Northwest Ordinance, or the Ordinance of 1787 outlawed slavery in Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and most of Minnesota. The northern states efforts did not free existing slaves.
Great Britain abolished slave trade in 1807 and the United States abolished it in 1808.
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abolition was last changed on - October 28, 2007
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