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Theodore Weld

Within Abolitionism, no one was more influential than Theodore Dwight Weld. Born in Hampton, Connecticut on November 23, 1803, he was raised in Utica, New York, where he was influenced by the evangelist Charles Finney. Along with Charles Stuart, a British opponent of slavery in the West Indies, Weld joined Finney's "holy band" of evangelists and preached temperance throughout western New York for two years. In 1830, Weld shifted his main emphasis to the antislavery movement, becoming one of the founders of the American Anti-Slavery Society in 1833. He went to Washington, D.C., where he became a lobbyist for the Abolitionists. His tract Slavery As It Is, published anonymously in 1839, was part of the inspiration for Harriet Beecher Stowe's book, Old Tom's Cabin. Weld was an advisor to John Quincy Adams, one of the leaders in the antislavery movement in the House. He retired from active politics when the strong Whig antislavery bloc was formed in 1843. Weld's role in the Abolitionist movement has been little recognized, due largely to his careful avoidance of personal publicity. He died in Hyde Park, Massachusetts, on February 3, 1895.