Themes

This page features brief descriptions of themes related to Quakers and Slavery. Take the opportunity to learn more about Quakers & Slavery by browsing documents and reading scholarly commentary related to each of the following themes.


Primary Sources Icon SEARCH primary sources Commentary Icon READ scholarly commentary Relationship Map Icon Icon EXPLORE relationship maps
Some Considerations...

1754   Primary Sources Icon  Commentary Icon

In 1754 the Society of Friends began to take a clear stance on the issue of slavery. The Philadelphia Yearly Meeting approved the publication of John Woolman's essay against slavery "Some Considerations on the Keeping of Negroes". Woolman's essay protests slavery on religious grounds. Later in the same year Philadelphia Yearly Meeting wrote AN EPISTLE of Caution and Advice, to the Quarterly Meetings urging against the buying and keeping of slaves.



Germantown Protest

Early Protests   Primary Sources Icon  Commentary Icon

Some members of the Society of Friends in Philadelphia took an anti-slavery stance as early as the late 17th century. Their position on the issue of slavery was written in protests and presented to various meetings up the hierarchical chain finally reaching the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. Learn more about these early protests and the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting's response.



Female Teachers of FFA

Radical Quaker Women   Primary Sources Icon  Commentary Icon

Learn about radical Quaker women by exploring their role abolition in Pennsylvania and the early Women’s rights movement. Topics discussed include the American Anti-Slavery Society, rural Quaker women, and the first Women’s Rights Convention held at Seneca Falls, New York, 1848.



Williamson

Rescue of Jane Johnson   Primary Sources Icon   Commentary Icon

In 1855, the slave Jane Johnson and her two children travelled through Philadelphia with their master, John Hill Wheeler. Johnson sent a message to the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society that she wished to escape, and on July 18, Passmore Williamson, William Still, and five other free blacks confronted Wheeler and escorted Johnson and her children to freedom. The event was one of the first challenges to the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law. Passmore Williamson, William Still and the other free blacks were charged for their role in Johnson's 'abduction;' Lucretia and James Mott sheltered Johnson during the trial so that she could testify on her rescuers' behalf.



White Slaves

The White Slaves   Primary Sources Icon  Commentary Icon

In 1863, the National Freedman's Association, in collaboration with the American Missionary Association and interested officers of the Union Army, launched a propaganda campaign to raise money to keep schools running in Louisiana. Five children and three adults, all former slaves from New Orleans, were sent to the North on a publicity tour. The authors of this campaign aroused sympathy for blacks by portraying them as white. The portraits were sold for 25 cents each. The proceeds of the sale were directed to Maj. Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks in Louisiana, where the money would be "devoted to the education of colored people."