1. the principle or policy of abolition, especially of slavery of blacks in the U.S.

1790, in the anti-slavery sense, from abolition + -ism.

The belief that slavery should be abolished. In the early nineteenth century, increasing numbers of people in the northern United States held that the nation’s slaves should be freed immediately, without compensation to slave owners. John Brown, Frederick W. Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, Sojourner Truth, and Harriet Tubman were well-known abolitionists.

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