Westward Expansion

Abolition Movement

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The Abolition Movement

The Abolition Movement is a reform movement that took place in the United States during the early 1800s. Its main purpose/goal was to end slavery.


People who participated in the Abolition Movement and actively sought to end slavery were called abolitionists. Each abolitionists tried to end slavery differenlty. Some went around giving speeches. Others wrote anti-slavery newspapers such as the North Star. Others were conductors, station masters, or workers on the Undergroudn Railroad. To learn more about some of the famous abolitionists and what they chose to do to end slavery, take a few minutes and examine the Abolitionists' Concept Map.

In class, each of you chose one abolitionist to research and write a Biography Poem for. Make sure you use the proper format (Handout--Biography Poem Format) when you write your poem. Also, check out the Biography Poems students wrote in the past about Harriet Tubman for an example of the assignment.

The Underground Railroad

The Underground Railroad was a series of secret routes from the South to the North that were made up of abolitionists who helped slaves escape slavery and gain their freedom. To learn more about the Underground Railroad and how it lead slaves to freedom, view the Underground Railroad PowerPoint.

Communication Between Slaves and Abolitionists

According to the slave codes (laws), slaves were not allowed to learn how to read or write. This became a serious problem when it came to communicating with the slaves about how to escape on the Underground Railroad. Every message had to be in a form that the slaves would understand. Songs, visuals, etc. were used to secretly communicate with the slaves. You should take a few minutes to look over and analzye some of these encrypted, secret codes.

Extra Credit Opportunity

National Geographics has created a wonderful webbased interactive activity for students on the Underground Railroad located at This activity will allow you to experience the journey on the Underground Railroad from a slave's point of view. If you complete the activity along with the worksheet (National Geographics Internet Activity Worksheet), you will receive 25 extra credit points.