In The New York Times Jon Grinspan argues that it was “the Northern moderates,” not the abolitionists, who ended slavery. According to Grinspan, we have credited the abolitionists with the victory because “[w]e like the idea of sweeping change, of an idealistic movement triumphing over something so clearly wrong.” While his article implies that these types of movements are ineffective, at the same time he seems to cheer them on concluding: “We can only wonder which of today’s unpopular causes will, in 150 years, be considered the abolitionism of 2015.”
Grinspan’s argument seems to rest on the assumption that only concrete changes count. It was the abolitionists who laid the moral foundation that made the actions of the Northern moderates possible. I count that as a victory!
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