Slavery was the most contentious and inflammatory issue Vermonters confronted in this era. Vermont had abolished slavery within its borders in 1777 with the adoption of the state’s constitution. Many Vermonters were initially content to leave the south alone and only supported the Free Soil Movement which prohibited the expansion of slavery into new western territories. Other Vermonters supported colonization, the resettlement of freed slaves to the African country of Liberia.
abolition of slavery was seen as a radical movement that was
divisive to the Union. Abolitionist meetings were sometimes disrupted.
In 1832 abolitionist Samuel May was driven off the stage while
trying to speak in Montpelier. But attitudes began to change
in the 1830s. Antislavery societies supported by some churches, organized
throughout the state and worked tirelessly to educate the public about
the horrors of slavery. When more churches began to preach the view that
slavery was a sin, people were finally convinced of its evils. By the
time Abraham Lincoln was elected president in 1860, the vast majority
of Vermonters believed that slavery should be abolished throughout the
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