<Standard 5.30.................................................................................................................................Standard 5.32>

Describe the significance and consequences of the abolition of slavery in the northern states after the Revolution and of the 1808 law that banned the importation of slaves in the United States.


Focus Question: How did slavery become abolished in the northern states after the American Revolution?


Topics on the page

Abolition of Slavery in the North……..

End of Slavery in Massachusetts……..

Benjamin Banneker……..


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  • For more on anti-slavery efforts in England, see WHII.8.

  • For more on slavery in the American South before the Civil War, see USI.29


For more, see Historical Biography page on African Americans Inventors

primary_sources.PNG An Act to Prohibit the Importation of Slaves (1807, passed 1808)

"To the Friends of Negro Emancipation," celebrating abolition of slavery in British Empire, 1833
"To the Friends of Negro Emancipation," celebrating abolition of slavery in British Empire, 1833

Abolition of Slavery in the North

  • By 1804, all Northern states had enacted a gradual plan to eliminate slavery.
  • The abolitionist movement to outlaw slavery nationwide started as a religious movement in the North, based on the immorality of slavery. However, abolitionists constituted a tiny minority, as they lacked a plan.
  • Female_Rose.pngHarriet Beecher Stowe, the daughter of an abolitionist leader, wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin denouncing slavery.
    • It was one of the most widely published and read books of the time.
  • Abolitionists gained support in 1836, when the House of Representatives instituted a gag rule concerning copious mailed in petitions against slavery.
    • The gag rule tabled any petition regarding slavery. Abolitionists campaigned that the right to petition was under attack by wealthy slaveholders who compromised the power of the American people.
    • This gained support against the slavery movement and the gag rule was repealed in 1844.
  • As Westward Expansion led to the creation of more states, the issue of whether to allow slavery in the new states arose in Congress.
    • The South wanted the new states to be slaveholding because it would tip the scales in Congress in favor of their interests, while the North wanted to prevent this.


primary_sources.PNGAct of Prohibit the Importation of Slaves (passed in 1807; in effect 1808).

End of Slavery in Massachusetts

Massachusetts_state_seal.pngFor more information, see The Legal End of Slavery in Massachusetts from the website, "African Americans and the End of Slavery in Massachusetts."

For a site on the end of slavery in the Northern States, visit slavenorth.com. This website allows you to read articles on the ending of Northern slavery in general, but also gives you articles on the emancipation of each specific Northern state.

external image Red_apple.jpgThis site includes documents and information on the Quock Walker trials, which along with the Elizabeth Freeman (Mum Bett) case, effectively ended slavery in Massachusetts.

external image BENJAMIN_BANNEKER_-_ASTRONOMER-CITY_PLANNER_-_NARA_-_535626.jpgBenjamin Banneker (1731-1806)


Rotating_globe-small.gifBenjamin Banneker, a free African American astronomer, mathematician, surveyor, author and farmer. He was named to the commission which made the original survey of Washington, D.C.

He publicly opposed slavery and included his opposition in Benjamin Banneker's Almanac, a collection of scientific information (compared to Benjamin Franklin's Poor Richards Almanac) that was published annually between 1792-1797.

For more, see Mathematician and Astronomer Benjamin Banneker was Born November 7, 1731 from the Library of Congress.