In what ways do you think abolitionists caused regional differences during the mid-nineteenth century to intensify?  Which aspects/strategies of the abolitionist movement do you feel were most successful?

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By the 1830s, abolitionists and anti-abolitionists were generating a lot of division in the United States. Many slaveholders were growing increasingly concerned that abolitionism could threaten the survival of their "peculiar institution," as it was often referred to.

As the abolitionist movement gathered momentum, the pushback against it in the...

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By the 1830s, abolitionists and anti-abolitionists were generating a lot of division in the United States. Many slaveholders were growing increasingly concerned that abolitionism could threaten the survival of their "peculiar institution," as it was often referred to.

As the abolitionist movement gathered momentum, the pushback against it in the South escalated. As your question suggests, this led to an increase in regional differences. This was mostly visible in political differences. For much of the early nineteenth century, American political parties found support throughout the country. However, as abolitionism spread, different political parties took up either pro-slavery or anti-slavery agendas. Since slavery existed in some regions but not others, political lines took on a new geography.

For instance, after the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854, the Democratic Party became the pro-slavery party with its base in the South. The Whig Party essentially disintegrated, replaced in large part by the new Republican Party. This new party denied being abolitionist, but this did little to assuage the anxieties of Southern slaveholders. Consequently, Republicans were more popular in the North. As a result, clear regional political divisions were established.

When abolitionists took more aggressive approaches to end slavery, regional divisions only intensified. John Brown's failed raid in 1859 fueled an intense Southern distrust of abolitionists in particular and Northerners in general. The fear that Northerners would support a slave uprising led to intense clampdowns on any shred of freedom that slaves may have had. What's more, many Southerners began preparing themselves for a potential slave revolt.

Not all abolitionists were motivated by religious convictions. However, religion was a common source of anti-slavery fervor, particularly stemming from the Second Great Awakening. Preachers around the country gave sermons denouncing slavery. Many soon became unwelcome in the South and were driven away. Preachers who incorporated pro-slavery elements into their sermons were more welcome in the South. This led to a certain degree of religious difference, as different Christian dogmas were welcome in different regions.

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