Against the American Grain
From the beginning, a great many Americans were opposed to slavery. The first organized opposition came from the Quakers, who issued a statement against the institution as early as 1724.
During the colonial periods, slave markets were active in the North as well as the South. However, the agricultural economy of the northern colonies was built upon small farms rather than vast plantations. Although many people in the North were passionately opposed to slavery on moral grounds, it is also true that the region lacked the economic motives for it. Therefore, an increasing number of colonists regarded slavery as unnecessary and undesirable; following independence, various states outlawed slavery. Rhode Island, traditionally a seat of tolerance, abolished the institution as early as 1774. Another bright spot existed in this early era: The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 excluded slavery from the vast Northwest Territory.