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The United States responded to the threat of violence by exerting greater control over the enslaved population. Nat Turner’s rebellion was one of many that roused the fear of violence. Rebellions in Virginia and South Carolina led to the abolition of private meetings of the enslaved and the prohibition of reading, writing, and preaching. There were other conflicts—both violent and political—in the tumultuous two decades after Turner’s rebellion that led directly to abolitionist and quasi-abolitionist political parties. One of them, the Republican Party, would elect Abraham Lincoln to the office, a year after John Brown and other abolitionists had decided that electoral means would not suffice. They were proven right.
Enslavement ended in the United States in 1865, following Britain and France, but preceding Brazil and Cuba. The record of abolitionism was crucial to these outcomes. But it also took a paradoxical and sometimes moderate route to its desired goal. In some ways, it was a product of modern liberalism that has been extended to the current political environment.
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