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1. Where and why did the idea of 'gradual abolition' develop in America?
2. Is it possible that the idea of 'gradual abolition' in the United States was swallowed up by the increasingly polarized north and south and the politics of tension?
The idea of 'gradual abolition' was a topic of discussion in the United States long before the 'extreme abolitionists' rigidly drew their lines during the 1850's. Two excellent examples supporting the 'gradual abolition' of slavery are the 1780 Pennsylvania legislature which passed a law advocating the 'gradual abolition' of slavery, and the plan written by Benjamin Lundy in 1825. Mr. Lundy argued that the 'gradual abolition' of slavery could actually be economically beneficial to southern slaveholders.
By the 1850's the abolitionist movement gained significant momentum due to Frederick Douglass' Autobiography, Harriet Beecher Stowe's publication of Uncle Tom's Cabin, the Kansa-Nebraska Act, The Supreme Court Dred Scot decision, and John Brown's raid.