John Woolman Anti Slavery Essays

concerning our duty toward this people; and it is not a time for delay’ ().On that day the Quakers began the process by which they freed their slaves – the first large body to do so in America.

He decided to travel in steerage across the Atlantic to England rather than in cabin accommodation, remembering how his ‘fellow creatures’ – the black slaves – had made their passage from Africa.For 16 years he was also a member of the Overseers of the Press for Yearly Meeting.On 18 October 1749 Woolman married Sarah Ellis by whom he had two children, Mary and John, but John only lived for a short time.He was compelled to tell his employer that he thought slave-keeping was ‘a practice inconsistent with the Christian religion’ (Journal and Major Essays, 33).The next time Woolman was asked to write a bill of sale he refused.Shortly after its publication, the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting ruled that members who purchased or sold slaves would be removed from church positions of power.Woolman was also a pioneer of the Free Produce movement, shunning cotton and other goods produced by slave labor beginning in the early 1760s.Woolman continued his journeys, turning his attention again to the south and to New England, where at Newport in 1760 he met with several economically powerful Quaker slaveholders who, in time.would follow the example of their Philadelphia brethren.He also championed the Native Americans and in 1763 made an extraordinary journey to Wyalusing in Pennsylvania to be among them and to ‘feel and understand their life and the spirit they live in; if haply I might receive some instruction from them, or they be in any degree helped forward by my following the leadings of Truth amongst them’ (127).Unlike others of his time Woolman saw that the Indians’ plight was similar to the state of black slavery.

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