Abolitionist Movement Teacher Resources

Abolitionists, anti-slavery advocates, and free-soilers are often clumped together in a study of the Abolitionist Movement; however, there were significant differences in their attitudes toward slavery and the approaches used by members of these groups. Abolitionists favored the immediate abolition of slavery in the United States, a practice that was in part, acknowledged by the Three-fifths Clause in the Constitution (covered quite well in this lesson).

Use this video to introduce leaders of the Abolitionist Movement like Harriet Beecher Stowe, who argued for the immediate emancipation of all slaves. Galvanized by the passing of the Fugitive Slave Act (see this high school activity) Beecher used the power of her writing to energize the Abolitionist Movement. Learners can try to uncover her motives in a lesson using primary sources. Uncle Tom’s Cabin, brought the attention of the public to the institution of slavery. Learners can make their own book jacket for the novel here.

The stark, first-person accounts of former slaves Frederick Douglass (learn more about him in this activity) and Sojourner Truth (reading comprehension worksheet found here) were also instrumental in propelling the Abolitionist Movement, while John Brown’s (check out this fun historical detective handout) actions flamed the fires of controversy over the approach to ending slavery. The work of these abolitionists and philosophers like Henry David Thoreau ultimately lead to the Emancipation Proclamation and the passing of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution.

Showing 1 - 24 of 185 resources
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The Power of Persuasion in the Abolitionist Movement

For Teachers 8th - 11th
Students research the abolitionist movement in the United States. In this abolition lesson, students examine images and photographs from the Library of Congress website. Students write persuasive pieces on the topic.
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Militancy and the Abolitionist Movement

For Teachers 11th
Eleventh graders analyze the methods and goals of the Abolitionists in their crusade against slavery.  In this American History activity, 11th graders compare and contrast opinions of supporters and opponents of abolitionism.  Students...
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The Abolitionist Movement

For Teachers 11th
Eleventh graders examine a petition presented by the Quakers to the Delaware General Assembly in 1785 and an anti-slavery broadside published in 1836.
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Her Story: Sojourner Truth

For Students 6th - 8th Standards
Sojourner Truth is one of the most prominent faces of the abolitionist movement, but what was her life in slavery like? Learn more about her early years with a reading comprehension resource that provides a short passage from her...
3:27
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Frederick Douglass- Mini Biography

For Teachers 6th - 12th Standards
Before delving deeper into the writings of Frederick Douglass or the abolitionist movement, provide some historical background for your pupils with this brief video and gain a more complete understanding of Douglass' vision for a world...
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North and South - Impact of the Abolitionist Movement

For Teachers 3rd - 5th
Students examine history of slavery in United States, discuss abolitionists such as Frederick Douglass who worked to end slavery, listen to excerpts from Douglass' autobiography, and visit interactive Underground Railroad web site.
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Slavery and Abolition: Three Unforgettable Names

For Teachers 4th - 8th
Students research the people and events involved in the abolitionist movement prior to the U.S. Civil War. They read about and discuss the roles of Nat Turner, Harriet Tubman, and John Brown. Students complete a word splash, Venn...
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Get On Board

For Teachers 8th
Eighth graders view a documentary highlighting the abolitionist movement and the Underground Railroad. They are given the worksheet called Timeline Dates, 8th graders use the dates to construct a timeline. Pupils research a person from...
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Civil War: Before the War

For Teachers 6th - 12th Standards
Free the slaves! Scholars research primary documents and videos while working together to create abolitionist posters. They examine the John Brown raid as a template to creating their own demonstration. 
5:30
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Thoreau and Civil Disobedience

For Students 9th - Higher Ed Standards
Countless peaceful protests occur in a healthy democracy, thanks to the forefathers of civil disobedience. Teach pupils about the importance of civil disobedience and a powerful minority with a video on Henry David Thoreau, which...
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History Scene Investigators - John Brown's Raid

For Teachers 6th - 12th Standards
An informative resource covers the event of John Brown's Raid, an event that became an important part of West Virginia history. It serves as a standalone and covers the event and John Brown's life in depth using group work, online...
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The Abolitionist Movement

For Teachers 6th - 8th
Students examine the Abolitionist Movement in Delaware. In groups, they examine a petition presented to the general assembly and an anti-slavery broadside. They compare and contrast the two documents and develop their own broadside to...
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Slavery and the Underground Railroad

For Teachers 3rd
Third graders discover racism in our country by investigating the Internet.  In this abolitionist movement lesson, 3rd graders define the Underground Railroad and participate in an activity by logging on to an on-line History website. ...
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The Abolitionist Movement: A Fight for Freedom

For Teachers 6th
Sixth graders investigate the Civil War by identifying famous figures of the era. In this slavery abolitionist lesson plan, 6th graders read a text on the history of the Civil War and discuss heroes of the era such as Harriet Tubman and...
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An Abolitionist Lecture

For Teachers 10th
Tenth graders investigate the Abolitionist Movement in the United States. In this 19th century American lesson, 10th graders research Frederick Douglas, William Lloyd Garrison, and Sojourner Truth and their efforts to end slavery....
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Antebellum Revivalism and Reform

For Teachers 8th - 11th
A gold mine for American history teachers, this presentation cascades through the middle of the 19th century with the central themes of moral and social reform. Between the blossoming Mormon church, the tightening of the Temperance...
14:47
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19th Century Reforms

For Students 9th - 12th Standards
Take a closer look at the religious and moral reform movements in nineteenth century America, including the creation of utopian communities in response to the growth of the market economy, the fundamental ideals of Protestant religious...
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Plantation life in the 1840s: A slave's description

For Teachers 9th - 12th Standards
The Solomon Northrup Narrative provides class members a chance to investigate plantation life from the point of view of a slave. A provided guided-reading worksheet encourages readers to think deeply about the institution of slavery, the...
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Slavery Bound or Underground

For Teachers 11th
Examine the role of slaves,, slave owners, and abolitionists during the Civil War with a study of the history of the Underground Railroad. Through the many links learners research the people involved and the heroes of the movement....
1 In 1 Collection
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A Brief History of Women in America

For Teachers 7th - 12th
The story of women throughout American history is fascinating. Travel the path from domestic slave to the modern day with advocates such as Susan B. Anthony, the Grimké Sisters, and Gloria Steinem. A wonderful presentation that shows how...
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Free African-Americans in Delaware

For Teachers 5th - 7th
Students work in groups of two and review the Abolitionist Movement. They observe the manumission/city directory and discover what it is and why it is so important. They read the manumission aloud and discuss why they were freeing their...
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Abolitionists and Their Impact on Sectionalism

For Teachers 11th
Eleventh graders examine the impact of Abolitionist leaders on sectionalism. In small groups, they conduct research on a famous abolitionist, and develop and write a newspaper cover page based on their assigned abolitionist.
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Running for Freedom: The FUgitive Slave law and the Coming of the Civil War

For Teachers 8th - 10th
In order to understand the complicated nature of slave laws during the Civil War, learners compare and contrast an abolitionist poster and a runaway slave ad. They use an attached worksheet to consider each primary source document, then...
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African American History: Climbing the Wall

For Teachers 6th - 12th Standards
Imagine the challenge of trying to trace your family genealogy if no records were kept of births and deaths. Where would you look for information? What types of documents could provide you with the information you seek? History...