From Slavery to Freedom
The plantations required large numbers of laborers. But slavery was less profitable in the North, where economic activity centered on small farms and industries. Therefore, few people in the North owned slaves.
During the Revolutionary War in America (1775-1783), many Americans turned against slavery. These Americans came to believe that slavery had no place in a nation that had been formed to protect natural human rights.
Opposition to slavery developed more rapidly in the North, but some Southerners, including such leaders as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, spoke out against slavery. However, the high profits that resulted from slavery had far greater influence than did any moral arguments. Even the many Southerners who did not own slaves accepted the planters' view that the South's economy would collapse without slavery.
The voices condemning slavery grew louder during the 1800's. Noted philosophers and religious leaders in Europe and North America declared that slavery violated human rights and God-given law. North and South were on an economic and philosphical collision course that was to end in a bloody Civil War.
This article is from The World Book Encyclopedia.