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Anti-Abolitionist Violence Previous Next
Digital History ID 4576


The growth of abolition provoked a violent reaction. Mobs led by "gentlemen of property and standing" attacked the homes and business of abolitionist merchants, destroyed abolitionist printing presses, and attacked black neighborhoods.

In 1832, Connecticut politicians prevented a Quaker schoolteacher, Prudence Crandall, from opening a school for black girls in the state. That same year, a mob destroyed a racially integrated academy in Dover, Del. Between 1834 and 1836, white mobs attacked black neighborhoods in Boston, Cincinnati, Hartford, New York, Pittsburgh, and Utica. In 1837, the abolitionist movement suffered its first martyr when a mob in Alton, Ill., murdered the Rev. Elijah Lovejoy while he was guarding a printing press he planned to use to print an antislavery newspaper.

The Postmaster General refused to deliver antislavery tracts to the South and in each session of Congress between 1836 and 1844, the House adopted gag rules forcing the body to automatically table resolutions or petitions calling for the abolition of slavery.

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