Abolitionism in America

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Inspired by conscience and guided by principle, abolitionists took a moral stand against slavery that produced one of America’s greatest victories for democracy. Through decades of strife, and often at the risk of their lives, anti-slavery activists remained steadfast in the face of powerful opposition. Their efforts would ultimately force the issue of slavery to the forefront of national politics, and fuel the split between North and South that would lead the country into civil war.

On display from June 5 through September 27, 2003, “Abolitionism in America” documents our country’s intellectual, moral, and political struggle to achieve freedom for all Americans. Featuring rare books, manuscripts, letters, photographs, and other materials from Cornell’s pre-eminent anti-slavery and Civil War collections, the exhibition explores the complex history of slavery, resistance, and abolition from the 1700s through 1865. The exhibition offers a rare opportunity to view some of Cornell Library’s greatest treasures, including a manuscript copy of the Gettysburg Address written by Abraham Lincoln, a manuscript copy of the Emancipation Proclamation, and a copy of the 13th Amendment signed by Lincoln and members of Congress.

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Cornell University Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections Cornell University Library