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New York State led the nation in transforming society, politics, and finance before the Civil War. Its citizens held ambitious and often conflicting ideas about the issues that defined the nation's purpose. No other single issue concerned antebellum New Yorkers more than slavery.

Once the largest slave state in the North, New York became a center for abolitionism and other reform movements. At the same time, many New Yorkers profited from their business relationships with Southern slaveholders. In the end, the differences between opponents and supporters of slavery would become an "irrepressible conflict" for New Yorkers and all Americans.

Emigrant Landing