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American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society (1840-1859?) | Amistad Research Center

Name: American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society (1840-1859?)

Historical Note:

The American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society (AFASS) was founded in May 1840 by a group of abolitionists who had left the American Anti-Slavery Society (AASS) due to a series of doctrinal differences within the AASS.  Founders of the AFASS included Arthur and Lewis Tappan, Amos Phelps, and William Jay, who disagreed with William Lloyd Garrison and others within the AASS who argued that women's rights, opposition to governmental institutions, and other views were fundamental parts of abolitionist doctrines. They also disagreed with AASS members, such as James G.Birney and Elizur Wright Jr., who argued that abolitionists should found a new political party and enter electoral politics. After Garrison's faction captured a majority of delegates to the 1840 annual meeting of the AASS, the Tappans and their supporters seceded in order to form a new organization that more faithfully reflected their abolitionist principles.

The AFASS upheld the literal truth of Scripture and believed that the triumph of abolitionism would result from appeals to the consciences of individuals by means of "moral suasion" and not through politics or attacking individuals' religious denominations. Another tenant of the organization was that it denied women the right to vote in society proceedings. Other abolitionists argued against the society's traditional views on scripturalism and viewed the society as a vehicle for the abolitionist views of the Tappan brothers.

Throughout its existence, the society produced tracts and pamphlets espousing its views, but was largely inactive between annual meetings and had difficulty attracting members. The AFASS stopped holding regular annual meetings in 1855, but the executive committee met as late as 1859.


Nina Mjagkij (ed.). Organizing Black America: An Encyclopedia of African American Associations. New York: Garland Publishing, Inc. 2001. pp. 31-32.

American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Minute Book, Amistad Research Center

Note Author: Christopher Harter

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