What events took place where Americans began to question the idea of slavery and its inhumane nature? What actions took place to show American attitude shifting?

Many Americans questioned the idea of slavery for different reasons. Some opposed its expansion for political reasons. Others were influenced by religious convictions, particularly as part of the Second Great Awakening. The publication of slave narratives and other abolitionist works also caused many to question the morality of slavery.

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Americans who opposed slavery did so for various reasons. There was no single event that led to anti-slavery and abolitionist feelings, but there were some things that had significant contributions.

Many Americans opposed merely the expansion of slavery, not its complete abolition. Most of these people were Northerners and felt this way for political reasons. From the country's very beginnings, there were divisions between the North and the South. In the North, politics tended to support business and urban interests. In the South, political agendas were more aligned with Jefferson's agrarian notions, which often relied on the preservation of slavery. A delicate balance was maintained in Congress to keep one faction from dominating the other. As the country expanded westward, first with the Louisiana Purchase and then with the Mexican-American War, many Northerners saw the potential of slavery expanding into these regions as a threat to their political agendas.

Still, many wanted to completely abolish slavery for moral reasons. Religion was a major motivator for many. The Quakers had been advocating against slavery since the colonial period. Many abolitionists's motivations came out of the Second Great Awakening. This massive religious revival movement swept the country around the turn of the 19th century. A central idea of it was that all people are capable of receiving salvation and that it is the duty of the faithful to create the ideals of heaven on Earth itself. Naturally, slavery was antithetical to these notions and many revivalists worked to abolish slavery.

Something else that convinced many Americans to oppose slavery was the publication of abolitionist writings. For those in the North who never directly witnessed slavery, it was possible to pretend that it was not so bad. Indeed, many slave owners promoted the myth that they were benevolent caretakers of their slaves. When former slaves such as Frederick Douglass, Solomon Bayley, and Solomon Northup had their accounts of slavery published, their descriptions of the harsh and inhumane conditions they endured changed the minds of many. Even works of fiction brought many people to the abolitionist cause. Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin is credited with advancing abolitionism more than just about any other work.

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What events took place that made Americans begin to question the idea of slavery and its inhumane nature?

There's an old story, almost certainly apocryphal, where President Lincoln meets with Harriet Beecher Stowe at a White House reception at the start of the Civil War and says to her

So this is the little lady who started this great war.

It's a nice story, but it's almost certainly not true. Nevertheless, it does contain a kernel of truth. The book that Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote, Uncle Tom's Cabin, played no small part in generating revulsion for the institution of slavery among millions of Americans, thus helping to precipitate the Civil War. The book, a powerful, searing indictment of the evils of slavery, became an instant best-seller, not just in the United States but all over the world. And most people who read the book became convinced that slavery was an evil that must be abolished.


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a work of fiction,Uncle Tom's Cabin was based on the real-life experiences of actual slaves. This made Stowe's savage indictment of slavery all the more effective, as her readers could be sure that this was the kind of thing that was actually going on in their own country, not some remote, uncivilized corner of the globe.

After the book was published, many Americans, some of them for the first time, became acquainted with the horrific details of slavery as it was actually practiced. And what they found within the book's pages appalled them. Not every reader became an outright abolitionist, but at the very least Stowe had successfully roused the consciences of millions of Americans, turning them into implacable foes of an evil, morally degrading system.

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