Abolition of Slavery in America Lesson for Kids: Facts, Movement & Important Events

Instructor: Kelley Lipke

Kelley has been teaching middle school for six years and has a master's degree in educational administration.

The struggle to end slavery in the United States was an incredible movement that forever changed our country. In this lesson, you will learn about how important figures and events abolished slavery and achieved equality in America.

History of Slavery

Have you ever been asked to do things you didn't want to do? Maybe your parents had you clean your room or mop the floor. How would you feel if you were told to do these things for long hours each day? Well, slaves were forced to do many chores for others and were not treated with respect. Many worked tirelessly in the fields, farming or picking cotton, both of which caused harm to their bodies due to tough working conditions. In addition, they were usually treated poorly by their owners, who were mostly wealthy white people, by enduring harsh beatings. Oftentimes, slave owners would even sell slaves at auctions, splitting up their families. This unfair treatment of slaves caused many people—both black and white—to start a movement towards freedom and equality.

Slaves working on a plantation


Throughout the 1700-1800s, a group of people known as abolitionists began a movement to end or abolish slavery. At this time, the country was split in half, with slave-free states in the north and slave states in the south. Famous abolitionists such as Harriet Beecher Stowe and Frederick Douglass spoke up for the rights of slaves and advocated for their freedom. In 1847, Douglass began publishing his own newspaper, The North Star, which covered issues surrounding slavery and promoted its abolishment. Similarly, Stowe wrote a novel titled Uncle Tom's Cabin, which emphasized the horrible treatment of slaves and soon influenced people to support the abolitionist movement.

Frederick Douglass
Frederick Douglass

Underground Railroad

Although support for ending slavery continued to expand, slaves were still facing injustice and wanted to take immediate action. Some wanted to live a life of freedom so much that they were willing to escape their owners in the south. The Underground Railroad was a system of people, homes, and secret hideouts that helped these slaves escape to the north. Harriet Tubman was a significant part of this secret system. She was an abolitionist who made the escape herself and then continued to travel back and forth through the Underground Railroad to help others make the dangerous journey. Even today, we're still not exactly sure how many slaves were successful in using the Underground Railroad during the 1800s.

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