Its great work was the act emancipating the slaves in the British colonies (August 30).
In 1826 a beginning toward it was made in partially emancipating the neophytes, but active and thorough secularization of the missions did not begin until 1834; by 1835 it was consummated at sixteen missions out of twenty-one, and by 1840 at all.
Benton and others prepared a plan for educating the slaves and gradually emancipating them under state law; and undoubtedly a considerable party would have supported such a project, for the Whigs and Democrats were not then divided along party lines on the slavery issue; but nothing took organized form in 1849, when Senator Benton repudiated certain ultra pro-slavery instructions, breathing a secession spirit, passed by the General Assembly for the guidance of the representatives of the state in Congress.
At one moment the idea of emancipating all the serfs was entertained, but the project was speedily abandoned, because it would have alienated the nobles - the only class on which Catherine could rely for support.
The object he and his associates had then in view was gradual abolition by establishing something like a system of serfdom for existing slaves, and passing at the same time a measure emancipating all their children born after a certain day.