This page features brief biographies of some of the most prominent, interesting, and influential people associated with Quakers and Slavery.

Primary Sources Icon SEARCH primary sources  Commentary Icon READ scholarly commentary  Relationship Map Icon Icon EXPLORE relationship map


Anthony Benezet

Anthony Benezet magnifier relationships

Anthony Benezet (1713-1784) was a native of France who became a Quaker at age fourteen. In 1731 he came to Philadelphia and in 1736 married Joyce Marriott. He was a teacher for most of his life and was active in promoting an end to slavery and the slave trade. He wrote and distributed many papers and tracts dealing with slavery, American Indians and education.

Elihu Burritt

Elihu Burritt magnifier relationships

Elihu Burritt (1810-1879) was born in New Britain, Connecticut. Known as the "Learned Blacksmith" because he was primarily self-taught, Burritt was a social reformer, abolitionist, pacifist, linguist, and internationalist. Although a staunch abolitionist and a believer in complete equality among the races, he opposed the American Civil War on absolute pacifist principles. Burritt proposed a system of "compensated emancipation" to pay Southern slave owners to free their slaves.

Thomas Clarkson

Thomas Clarkson magnifier info

Thomas Clarkson (1760-1846)was born in England. He first became interested in abolitionism in 1785, an Anglican minority in the overwhelmingly Quaker anti-slavery movement. Clarkson devoted the rest of his life to ending slavery in the United Kingdom, and when that was accomplished with the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833, he continued to work towards emancipation in America.


Joseph Dugdale

Joseph A. Dugdale magnifier relationships

Joseph Dugdale (1810-1896) was a Quaker minister, farmer, and reformer, born in Bristol, Pennsylvania in 1810. He lived in Ohio, where he was part of the progressive group at Green Plain that split from Indiana Yearly Meeting; Pennsylvania, where he helped organize Pennsylvania Yearly Meeting of Progressive Friends (also known Longwood Yearly Meeting); and Iowa, where he died in 1896.

Ruth Dugdale

Ruth Dugdale magnifier relationships

Ruth Dugdale (1801-1896) rivaled her husband, Joseph, in her zeal for reform causes. She was a respected Quaker minister, and participated actively in anti-slavery, temperance, women's rights, and other movements in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Iowa. She survived her husband and died in 1896.

Sarah B. Dugdale

Sarah B. Dugdale magnifier

Sarah B. Dugdale (1787-1880) was the mother of Joseph A. Dugdale and the progenitor of his liberal ideals. She was involved in the American Anti-Slavery Society nearly from its founding, continued to participate in Progressive Friends societies and other reform movements until her death in 1880.


George Fox

George Fox magnifier info

George Fox (1624-1691) was the founder of the Religious Society of Friends. He was an English Dissenter who believed that spiritual truth resided in every person, and that following one's own "inner light" was paramount; he denounced ritualized worship, standardized doctrine, and clerical authority. Fox preached testimonies of peace, equality, integrity, and simplicity. In 1657, his cautionary letter "To Friends Beyond Sea, that Have Blacks and Indian Slaves" expounded on the testimony of equality of men in the eyes of God.

Thomas Garrett

Thomas Garrett magnifier relationships info

Thomas Garrett (1789-1871) was a Quaker and a known conductor of the Underground Railroad. In 1848 he and fellow Quaker John Hunn were brought to trial by two slave-owners on charges of harboring and aiding fugitive slaves. The defendants were found guilty by the U.S. Circuit Court in Delaware, presided over by Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, who ten years later would deliver the landmark 'Dred Scott Decision.' Harriet Beecher Stowe cites Garrett's 1848 trial as inspiration for some scenes in her influential anti-slavery novel 'Uncle Tom's Cabin.'

Elias Hicks

Elias Hicks magnifier relationships

Elias Hicks (1748-1830) was an eminent Quaker minister from Jericho, Long Island, N.Y. He was a farmer, partner in a tannery, and had a knowledge of surveying. In 1771, he married Jemima Seaman, daughter of Jonathan and Elizabeth (Willis) Seaman. Beginning in 1776, Hicks served on a committee that visited friends' homes and urged members of Westbury Monthly Meeting to manumit any slaves they owned. He was recognized as a minister in 1779 and during the next fifty years, made sixty-three visits as a traveling Friend to meetings in the United States. In the 1820s, a religious controversy within the Society of Friends which focused on Hicks' ministry led to the so-called Hicksite-Orthodox Separation of 1827-1828.


Isaac Hopper

Isaac T. Hopper magnifier relationships info

Isaac T. Hopper (1771-1852) was a Quaker reformer and abolitionist. Born in 1771, Hopper became a staunch Hicksite. He was active in prison reform and abolition, and was the editor of the National Anti-slavery Standard. Hopper was disowned by New York Yearly Meeting of Friends in 1842 because of an article which appeared in his publication.

Samuel M. Janney

Samuel M. Janney magnifier relationships

Samuel M. Janney (1801-1880) was a Virginia Quaker minister, author, educator, and reformer. In 1839 he opened a boarding school for girls in Loudoun County. He traveled widely in the ministry, meeting with other denominations as well as being immersed in the contemporary issues facing the Society of Friends. Among his activities were establishing schools for African Americans and women, creating public schools in Virginia, and working for the abolition of slavery. In 1869 he was appointed Superintendent of Indian Affairs in Nebraska. A detailed inventory of the Samuel M. Janney papers held by the Friends Historical Library is available online.

Benjamin Lay

Benjamin Lay magnifier relationships info

Benjamin Lay (1677-1757) was born in England and lived in Barbados for 10 years before settling near Philadelphia. He considered himself a Quaker all his life, although he was denounced by many in the Society for his extreme beliefs and eccentric behavior. Lay was a strict vegetarian, wore a very prominent beard, and vehemently denounced the use of any products made with a trace of slave labor. "All Slave-Keepers..." was, in 1737, one of the first antislavery books printed in America.


J. Miller McKim

J. Miller McKim magnifier relationships

James Miller McKim (1810-1874) also spelled M'Kim, was born in Pennsylvania in 1810. He was a Presbyterian minister, an abolitionist, and a known conductor of the Underground Railroad. He was present at the Anti-Slavery Society's headquarters in Philadelphia when they received a package containing Henry "Box" Brown, a slave from Richmond who literally mailed himself to freedom.

James Mott

James Mott magnifier relationships

James Mott (1788-1869) was a prominent Philadelphia Quaker minister and a leader in reform movements, especially antislavery, education, peace, and women's rights. He was born in 1788 in Long Island. In 1811, he married Lucretia Coffin and they settled in Philadelphia. Both Motts were active Hicksite Quakers, and James Mott was a founder of the American Slavery Society in 1833. In 1840, the couple went to England to attend the first World's Antislavery Convention and Lucretia met Elizabeth Cady Stanton. They decided to organize a women's rights convention, which was held in Seneca Falls, N. Y. in 1848. James was elected to chair the convention. The Motts were active in the founding of Swarthmore College, a coeducational institution incorporated in 1864, and supported the founding of the nation's first medical school for women, Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania. James Mott died in 1869.

Lucretia Mott

Lucretia Mott magnifier relationships

Lucretia Coffin Mott (1793-1880)was a prominent Philadelphia Quaker minister and a leader in reform movements, especially antislavery, education, peace, and women's rights. She was born in 1793 in Nantucket, Massachusetts, and after marrying James Mott in 1811, settled in Philadelphia. The Motts were active Hicksite Quakers, and Lucretia served as clerk of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting and traveled in the ministry. Lucretia was a founder of the Philadelphia Female Antislavery Society. In 1840, she and James went to England to attend the first World's Antislavery Convention and Lucretia met Elizabeth Cady Stanton. In 1848, she and Stanton announced a conference on women's rights to be held at Seneca Falls, N.Y., generally considered to be the first women's rights convention in America. She and her husband were active in the founding of Swarthmore College and supported the founding of the nation's first medical school for women, Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania, and the School of Design for Women, now Moore College of Art. Lucretia Mott died in Philadelphia in 1880.


Daniel Neall Sr.

Daniel Neall, Sr. magnifier relationships info

Daniel Neall (1784-1846) was a Philadelphia Quaker, a dentist, and an abolitionist. He was presiding over the Pennsylvania Hall Association at the time the Hall was destroyed by a mob in 1838— an event which was also witnessed, in horror, by his 20-year-old son. Several years later, while travelling in Delaware with his wife, Sarah Mifflin, and her cousin Lucretia Mott, Neall was seized by an angry mob of slave-holders. Having heard that Mott and her companions were abolitionists, they decided to tar-and-feather Daniel Neall. After they released him, Neall reputedly forgave the mob and invited any of them to call upon him for hospitality if they ever visited Philadelphia. When Daniel Neall died in 1846, he was eulogized by his friend, the great American poet John G. Whittier.

Daniel Neall Jr.

Daniel Neall, Jr. magnifier relationships info

Daniel Neall Jr. (1817-1894) was to Daniel and Sarah M. Neall, the younger Daniel Neall was a dentist, abolitionist, and ardent Quaker, as his father had been. In 1838, he watched his father struggle vainly for the anti-slavery cause against the crowd that destroyed Pennsylvania Hall. Daniel Neall junior survived his father to see the end of slavery in America, and in 1883, as secretary of the American Anti-slavery Society, he helped organize the conference that celebrated the society's 50th anniversary.

Theodore Parker

Theodore Parker magnifier relationships

Theodore Parker (1810-1860) was a Unitarian minister involved in many reform movements, but most active in anti-slavery. Many of his views were congruent with those of the Progressive Friends, with whom he was involved in the years leading to his death.


Dillwyn Parrish

Dillwyn Parrish magnifier relationships

Dillwyn Parrish (1809-1886) graduated from the College of Pharmacy in Philadelphia and operated a pharmacy with his brother Edward. The Parrishes were a prominent Quaker family in the Philadelphia area, noted for their philanthropy. An active member of Philadelphia Monthly Meeting, he served as Overseer, Clerk, and Elder. He was also a member of the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery and Improving the Condition of the African Race from 1832-1886, serving as its President in 1851.

Edward Parrish

Edward Parrish magnifier relationships

Edward Parrish (1822-1872) shared a pharmacy with his brother, Dillwyn. In addition to the pharmacy Edward also taught at the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy. He was active in New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore Yearly Meetings (Hicksite), and was a primary fundraiser for Swarthmore College, a Quaker educational institution incorporated in 1864. Edward Parrish was the first president of the college, although he resigned in 1871 due to conflicts with the Board of Managers. In 1872 he was appointed to a Commission to negotiate a treaty with the Kiowa and Comanche tribes, and he died of malaria on this mission to Indian Territory in the same year.

John Parrish

John Parrish (1729-1807)magnifier relationships info

John Parrish (1729-1807) is best known for his anti-slavery book 'Remarks on the Slavery of the Black People.' Published in 1806, the book advocated the total abolition of slavery, as opposed to the abolition of just the slave trade. John Parrish died the following year. Edward and Dillwyn Parrish were sons of Susanna Cox and Joseph Parrish, whose father, Isaac, was John Parrish's brother.


Elijah Pennypacker

Elijah Pennypacker magnifier relationships

Elijah F. Pennypacker (1804-1888) a convinced Quaker, was originally of Mennonite descent. He was a politician and activist who labored tirelessly in the anti-masonic, temperance, and anti-slavery movements. Pennypacker's home in Chester County, Pa., was a vital station on the underground railroad. He was a member of Radnor Monthly Meeting and a minister until his death in 1888.

Robert Pleasants

Robert Pleasants magnifier relationships

Robert Pleasants (1723-1801) was a Quaker plantation-owner who, inspired by Anthony Benezet, went from slaveholder to abolitionist in a few short years. After deciding to free his slaves in 1782, Pleasants founded the first school for free blacks in Virginia and helped organize the Virginia Abolition Society.

Robert Purvis

Robert Purvis magnifier

Robert Purvis (1810-1898) was an African-American abolitionist, born to a free woman of color and a wealthy white Englishman. Purvis spent the majority of his life in Philadelphia, where he used his wealth and education to forward the cause of African-Americans. He attended the Anti-Slavery Convention of 1833 and was one of the founders of the American Anti-Slavery Society, and he also worked on the Underground Railroad. Purvis died in 1898.


Moses Sheppard

Moses Sheppard magnifier relationships

Moses Sheppard (1775-1857) was a Quaker humanitarian and businessman of Baltimore, Maryland. Born in 1775, he never married, and devoted most of his life to a number of social reforms. As a member of Baltimore Monthly Meeting, he was active in a number of committees, including that of Indian Affairs of Baltimore Yearly Meeting. Sheppard was deeply concerned with the issues of American and Caribbean slavery, and for many years was principally involved in the Maryland Colonization Society—although his involvement later waned as he became disillusioned with developments in the Anti-Slavery movement, particularly what he perceived as extremism in the North. Sheppard was also committed to improving the conditions of mental health care facilities, and upon his death in 1857 devoted his bequest to founding the Sheppard Asylum. It is still in existence today as the Sheppard Pratt Health System.

George Taylor

George Washington Taylor magnifier relationships

George Washington Taylor (1803-1891) was a pupil of the Quaker educator Enoch Lewis. Taylor was a convinced Friend who devoted his life to social reform, especially anti-slavery, temperance, and the peace movement. He ran a free labor goods store in Philadelphia from 1847-1867; was an agent of the Friends Bible Association; and as a publisher produced the periodicals "The Non-Slaveholder" and the peace-oriented "The Citizen of the World."

John G. Whittier

John G. Whittier magnifier relationships info

John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892) was a Massachusetts Quaker, an abolitionist, and one of the most well-known poets of the 19th century. He was a founding member of the American Anti-Slavery Society in 1833; the same year he published "Justice and Expediency," a radical pamphlet which called for the immediate abolition of slavery. Many of his poems dealt with themes related to slavery and abolitionism, but today his most well-known work is "Snow-Bound," a long narrative poem about fixing memories of the idyllic past.

John Woolman

John Woolman magnifier info

John Woolman (1720-1772) was born to Quaker parents in New Jersey and spent his life travelling and preaching against slavery and war. In 1754 he wrote "Some Considerations on the Keeping of Negroes," an anti-slavery tract which was published by Philadelphia Yearly Meeting and distributed to every yearly meeting in America. Woolman kept a journal for over a decade, published in 1774, soon after his death. Woolman's journal is still considered an important document in the fields of religion, history, and literature.