Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER V. - The History of the Abolition of the African Slave-Trade, vol. 1
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CHAPTER V. - Thomas Clarkson, The History of the Abolition of the African Slave-Trade, vol. 1 
The History of the Rise, Progress, and Accomplishment of the Abolition of the African Slave-Trade by the British Parliament, 2 vols. (London: L. Taylor, 1808). Vol. 1.
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Third class of forerunners and coadjutors, up to 1787, consists of the Quakers and others in America—Yearly meeting for Pennsylvania and the Jerseys takes up the subject in 1696—and continue it till 1787—Other five yearly meetings take similar measures—Quakers, as individuals, also become labourers—William Burling and others—Individuals of other religious denominations take up the cause also—Judge Sewell and others—Union of the Quakers with others in a society for Pennsylvania, in 1774—James Pemberton—Dr. Rush—Similar union of the Quakers with others for New York and other provinces.
The next class of the forerunners and coadjutors, up to the year 1787, will consist, first, of the Quakers in America; and then of others, as they were united to these for the same object.
It may be asked, How the Quakers living there should have become forerunners and coadjutors in the great work now under our consideration. I reply, first, That it was an object for many years with these to do away the Slave-trade as it was carried on in their own ports. But this trade was conducted in part, both before and after the independence of America, by our own countrymen. It was, secondly, an object with these to annihilate slavery in America; and this they have been instruments in accomplishing to a considerable extent. But any abolition of slavery within given boundaries must be a blow to the Slave-trade there. The American Quakers, lastly, living in a land where both the commerce and slavery existed, were in the way of obtaining a number of important facts relative to both, which made for their annihilation; and communicating many of these facts to those in England, who espoused the same cause, they became fellow-labourers with these in producing the event in question.
The Quakers in America, it must be owned, did most of them originally as other settlers there with respect to the purchase of slaves. They had lands without a sufficient number of labourers, and families without a sufficient number of servants, for their work. Africans were poured in to obviate these difficulties, and these were bought promiscuously by all. In these days, indeed, the purchase of them was deemed favourable to both parties, for there was little or no knowledge of the manner in which they had been procured as slaves. There was no charge of inconsistency on this account, as in later times. But though many of the Quakers engaged, without their usual consideration, in purchases of this kind, yet those constitutional principles, which belong to the Society, occasioned the members of it in general to treat those whom they purchased with great tenderness, considering them, though of a different colour, as brethren, and as persons for whose spiritual welfare it became them to be concerned; so that slavery, except as to the power legally belonging to it, was in general little more than servitude in their hands.
This treatment, as it was thus mild on the continent of America where the members of this Society were the owners of slaves, so it was equally mild in the West India islands where they had a similar property. In the latter countries, however, where only a few of them lived, it began soon to be productive of serious consequences; for it was so different from that, which the rest of the inhabitants considered to be proper, that the latter became alarmed at it. Hence in Barbadoes an act was passed in 1676, under Governor Atkins, which was entitled, An Act to prevent the people called Quakers from bringing their Negros into their meetings for worship, though they held these in their own houses. This act was founded on the pretence, that the safety of the island might be endangered, if the slaves were to imbibe the religious principles of their masters. Under this act Ralph Fretwell and Richard Sutton were fined in the different sums of eight hundred and of three hundred pounds, because each of them had suffered a meeting of the Quakers at his own house, at the first of which eighty Negros, and at the second of which thirty of them, were present. But this matter was carried still further; for in 1680, Sir Richard Dutton, then governor of the island, issued an order to the Deputy Provost Marshal and others, to prohibit all meetings of this Society. In the island of Nevis the same bad spirit manifested itself.—So early as in 1661, a law was made there prohibiting members of this Society from coming on shore. Negros were put in irons for being present at their meetings, and they themselves were fined also. At length, in 1677, another act was passed, laying a heavy penalty on every master of a vessel, who should even bring a Quaker to the island. In Antigua and Bermudas similar proceedings took place, so that the Quakers were in time expelled from this part of the world. By these means a valuable body of men were lost to the community in these islands, whose example might have been highly useful; and the poor slave, who saw nothing but misery in his temporal prospects, was deprived of the only balm, which could have soothed his sorrow—the comfort of religion.
But to return to the continent of America.—Though the treatment, which the Quakers adopted there towards those Africans who fell into their hands, was so highly commendable, it did not prevent individuals among them from becoming uneasy about holding them in slavery at all. Some of these bore their private testimony against it from the beginning as a wrong practice, and in process of time brought it before the notice of their brethren as a religious body. So early as in the year 1688, some emigrants from Krieshiem in Germany, who had adopted the principles of William Penn, and followed him into Pennsylvania, urged in the yearly meeting of the Society there, the inconsistency of buying, selling, and holding men in slavery, with the principles of the Christian religion.
In the year 1696, the yearly meeting for that province took up the subject as a public concern, and the result was, advice to the members of it to guard against future importations of African slaves, and to be particularly attentive to the treatment of those, who were then in their possession.
In the year 1711, the same yearly meeting resumed the important subject, and confirmed and renewed the advice, which had been before given.
From this time it continued to keep the subject alive; but finding at length, that, though individuals refused to purchase slaves, yet others continued the custom, and in greater numbers than it was apprehended would have been the case after the public declarations which had been made, it determined, in the year 1754, upon a fuller and more serious publication of its sentiments; and therefore it issued, in the same year, the following pertinent letter to all the members within its jurisdiction:—
“It hath frequently been the concern of our yearly meeting to testify their uneasiness and disunity with the importation and purchasing of Negros and other slaves, and to direct the overseers of the several meetings to advise and deal with such as engage therein. And it hath likewise been the continual care of many weighty Friends to press those, who bear our name, to guard, as much as possible, against being in any respect concerned in promoting the bondage of such unhappy people. Yet, as we have with sorrow to observe, that their number is of late increased among us, we have thought it proper to make our advice and judgment more public, that none may plead ignorance of our principles therein; and also again earnestly to exhort all to avoid, in any manner, encouraging that practice, of making slaves of our fellow-creatures.
“Now, dear Friends, if we continually bear in mind the royal law of doing to others as we would be done by, we should never think of bereaving our fellow-creatures of that valuable blessing—liberty, nor endure to grow rich by their bondage. To live in ease and plenty by the toil of those, whom violence and cruelty have put in our power, is neither consistent with Christianity nor common justice; and, we have good reason to believe, draws down the displeasure of Heaven; it being a melancholy but true reflection, that, where slave-keeping prevails, pure religion and sobriety decline, as it evidently tends to harden the heart, and render the soul less susceptible of that holy spirit of love, meekness, and charity, which is the peculiar characteristic of a true Christian.
“How then can we, who have been concerned to publish the Gospel of universal love and peace among mankind, be so inconsistent with ourselves, as to purchase such as are prisoners of war, and thereby encourage this antichristian practice; and more especially as many of these poor creatures are stolen away, parents from children, and children from parents; and others, who were in good circumstances in their native country, inhumanly torn from what they esteemed a happy situation, and compelled to toil in a state of slavery, too often extremely cruel! What dreadful scenes of murder and cruelty those barbarous ravages must occasion in these unhappy people’s country are too obvious to mention. Let us make their case our own, and consider what we should think, and how we should feel, were we in their circumstances. Remember our Blessed Redeemer’s positive command—to do unto others as we would have them do unto us;—and that with what measure we mete, it shall be measured to us again. And we intreat you to examine, whether the purchasing of a Negro, either born here or imported, doth not contribute to a further importation, and, consequently, to the upholding of all the evils above mentioned, and to the promoting of man-stealing, the only theft which by the Mosaic law was punished with death;—‘He that stealeth a man, and selleth him; or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death.’
“The characteristic and badge of a true Christian is love and good works. Our Saviour’s whole life on earth was one continual exercise of them. ‘Love one another,’ says he, ‘as I have loved you.’ But how can we be said to love our brethren, who bring, or, for selfish ends, keep them, in bondage? Do we act consistently with this noble principle, who lay such heavy burthens on our fellow-creatures? Do we consider that they are called, and do we sincerely desire that they may become heirs with us in glory, and that they may rejoice in the liberty of the sons of God, whilst we are withholding from them the common liberties of mankind? Or can the Spirit of God, by which we have always professed to be led, be the author of those oppressive and unrighteous measures? Or do we not thereby manifest, that temporal interest hath more influence on our conduct herein, than the dictates of that merciful, holy, and unerring Guide?
“And we likewise earnestly recommend to all, who have slaves, to be careful to come up in the performance of their duty towards them, and to be particularly watchful over their own hearts, it being by sorrowful experience remarkable, that custom, and a familiarity with evil of any kind, have a tendency to bias the judgement and to deprave the mind. And it is obvious that the future welfare of these poor slaves, who are now in bondage, is generally too much disregarded by those who keep them. If their daily task of labour be but fulfilled, little else perhaps is thought of. Nay, even that which in others would be looked upon with horror and detestation, is little regarded in them by their masters,—such as the frequent separation of husbands from wives and wives from husbands, whereby they are tempted to break their marriage covenants, and live in adultery, in direct opposition to the laws of God and men, although we believe that Christ died for all men without respect of persons. How fearful then ought we to be of engaging in what hath so natural a tendency to lessen our humanity, and of suffering ourselves to be inured to the exercise of hard and cruel measures, lest thereby in any degree we lose our tender and feeling sense of the miseries of our fellow-creatures, and become worse than those who have not believed.
“And, dear Friends, you, who by inheritance have slaves born in your families, we beseech you to consider them as souls committed to your trust, whom the Lord will require at your hand, and who, as well as you, are made partakers of the Spirit of Grace, and called to be heirs of salvation. And let it be your constant care to watch over them for good, instructing them in the fear of God, and the knowledge of the gospel of Christ, that they may answer the end of their creation, and that God may be glorified and honoured by them as well as by us. And so train them up, that if you should come to behold their unhappy situation, in the same light, that many worthy men, who are at rest, have done, and many of your brethren now do, and should think it your duty to set them free, they may be the more capable of making proper use of their liberty.
“Finally, Brethren, we entreat you, in the bowels of gospel love, seriously to weigh the cause of detaining them in bondage. If it be for your own private gain, or any other motive than their good, it is much to be feared that the love of God and the influence of the Holy Spirit are not the prevailing principles in you, and that your hearts are not sufficiently redeemed from the world, which, that you with ourselves may more and more come to witness, through the cleansing virtue of the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ, is our earnest desire. With the salutation of our love we are your friends and brethren—
“Signed, in behalf of the yearly meeting, by
This truly Christian letter, which was written in the year 1754, was designed, as we collect from the contents of it, to make the sentiments of the Society better known and attended to on the subject of the Slave-trade. It contains, as we see, exhortations to all the members within the yearly meeting of Pennsylvania and the Jerseys, to desist from purchasing and importing slaves, and, where they possessed them, to have a tender consideration of their condition. But that the first part of the subject of this exhortation might be enforced, the yearly meeting for the same provinces came to a resolution in 1755, That if any of the members belonging to it bought or imported slaves, the overseers were to inform their respective monthly meetings of it, that “these might treat with them, as they might be directed in the wisdom of truth.”
In the year 1774, we find the same yearly meeting legislating again on the same subject. By the preceding resolution they, who became offenders, were subjected only to exclusion from the meetings for discipline, and from the privilege of contributing to the pecuniary occasions of the Society; but by the resolution of the present year, all members concerned in importing, selling, purchasing, giving, or transferring Negro or other slaves, or otherwise acting in such manner as to continue them in slavery beyond the term limited by law* or custom, were directed to be excluded from membership or disowned. At this meeting also all the members of it were cautioned and advised against acting as executors or administrators to estates, where slaves were bequeathed, or likely to be detained in bondage.
In the year 1776, the same yearly meeting carried the matter still further. It was then enacted, That the owners of slaves, who refused to execute proper instruments for giving them their freedom, were to be disowned likewise.
In 1778 it was enacted by the same meeting, That the children of those, who had been set free by members, should be tenderly advised, and have a suitable education given them.
It is not necessary to proceed further on this subject. It may be sufficient to say, that from this time, the Minutes of the yearly meeting for Pennsylvania and the Jerseys exhibit proofs of an almost incessant attention, year after year* , to the means not only of wiping away the stain of slavery from their religious community, but of promoting the happiness of those restored to freedom, and of their posterity also. And as the yearly meeting of Pennsylvania and the Jerseys set this bright example, so those of New England, New York, Maryland, Virginia, and of the Carolinas and Georgia, in process of time followed it.
But whilst the Quakers were making these exertions at their different yearly meetings in America, as a religious body, to get rid both of the commerce and slavery of their fellow-creatures, others in the same profession were acting as individuals (that is, on their own grounds and independently of any influence from their religious communion) in the same cause, whose labours it will now be proper, in a separate narrative, to detail.
The first person of this description in the Society, was William Burling of Long Island. He had conceived an abhorrence of slavery from early youth. In process of time he began to bear his testimony against it, by representing the unlawfulness of it to those of his own Society, when assembled at one of their yearly meetings. This expression of his public testimony he continued annually on the same occasion. He wrote also several tracts with the same design, one of which, published in the year 1718, he addressed to the elders of his own church, on the inconsistency of compelling people and their posterity to serve them continually and arbitrarily, and without any proper recompense for their services.
The next was Ralph Sandiford, a merchant in Philadelphia. This worthy person had many offers of pecuniary assistance, which would have advanced him in life, but he declined them all because they came from persons, who had acquired their independence by the oppression of their slaves. He was very earnest in endeavouring to prevail upon his friends, both in and out of the Society, to liberate those whom they held in bondage. At length he determined upon a work called The Mystery of Iniquity, in a brief Examination of the Practice of the Times. This he published in the year 1729, though the chief judge had threatened him if he should give it to the world, and he circulated it free of expense wherever he believed it would be useful. The above work was excellent as a composition. The language of it was correct. The style manly and energetic. And it abounded with facts, sentiments, and quotations, which, while they showed the virtue and talents of the author, rendered it a valuable appeal in behalf of the African cause.
The next public advocate was Benjamin Lay* , who lived at Abington, at the distance of twelve or fourteen miles from Philadelphia. Benjamin Lay was known, when in England, to the royal family of that day, into whose private presence he was admitted. On his return to America, he took an active part in behalf of the oppressed Africans. In the year 1737, he published a treatise on Slave-keeping. This he gave away among his neighbours and others, but more particularly among the rising youth, many of whom he visited in their respective schools. He applied also to several of the governors for interviews, with whom he held conferences on the subject. Benjamin Lay was a man of strong understanding and of great integrity, but of warm and irritable feelings, and more particularly so when he was called forth on any occasion in which the oppressed Africans were concerned. For he had lived in the island of Barbadoes, and he had witnessed there scenes of cruelty towards them, which had greatly disturbed his mind, and which unhinged it, as it were, whenever the subject of their sufferings was brought before him. Hence if others did not think precisely as he did, when he conversed with them on the subject, he was apt to go out of due bounds. In bearing what he believed to be his testimony against this system of oppression, he adopted sometimes a singularity of manner, by which, as conveying demonstration of a certain eccentricity of character, he diminished in some degree his usefulness to the cause which he had undertaken; as far indeed as this eccentricity might have the effect of preventing others from joining him in his pursuit, lest they should be thought singular also, so far it must be allowed that he ceased to become beneficial. But there can be no question, on the other hand, that his warm and enthusiastic manners awakened the attention of many to the cause, and gave them first impressions concerning it, which they never afterwards forgot, and which rendered them useful to it in the subsequent part of their lives.
The person, who laboured next in the Society, in behalf of the oppressed Africans, was John Woolman.
John Woolman was born at Northampton, in the county of Burlington and province of Western New Jersey, in the year 1720. In his very early youth he attended, in an extraordinary manner, to the religious impressions which he perceived upon his mind, and began to have an earnest solicitude about treading in the right path. “From what I had read and heard,” says he, in his Journal* , “I believed there had been in past ages people, who walked in uprightness before God in a degree exceeding any, that I knew or heard of, now living. And the apprehension of there being less steadiness and firmness among people of this age, than in past ages, often troubled me while I was a child.” An anxious desire to do away, as far as he himself was concerned, this merited reproach, operated as one among other causes to induce him to be particularly watchful over his thoughts and actions, and to endeavour to attain that purity of heart, without which he conceived there could be no perfection of the Christian character. Accordingly, in the twenty-second year of his age, he had given such proof of the integrity of his life, and of his religious qualifications, that he became an acknowledged minister of the gospel in his own Society.
At a time prior to his entering upon the ministry, being in low circumstances, he agreed for wages to “attend shop for a person at Mount Holly, and to keep his books.” In this situation we discover, by an occurrence that happened, that he had thought seriously on the subject, and that he had conceived proper views of the Christian unlawfulness of slavery. “My employer,” says he, “having a Negro woman, sold her, and desired me to write a bill of sale, the man being waiting, who bought her. The thing was sudden, and though the thought of writing an instrument of slavery for one of my fellow-creatures made me feel uneasy, yet I remembered I was hired by the year, that it was my master who directed me to do it, and that it was an elderly man, a member of our Society, who bought her. So through weakness I gave way and wrote, but, at executing it, I was so afflicted in my mind, that I said before my master and the friend, that I believed slave-keeping to be a practice inconsistent with the Christian religion. This in some degree abated my uneasiness; yet, as often as I reflected seriously upon it, I thought I should have been clearer, if I had desired to have been excused from it, as a thing against my conscience; for such it was. And some time after this, a young man of our Society spoke to me to write a conveyance of a slave to him, he having lately taken a Negro into his house. I told him I was not easy to write it; for though many of our meeting, and in other places, kept slaves, I still believed the practice was not right, and desired to be excused from the writing. I spoke to him in good-will; and he told me that keeping slaves was not altogether agreeable to his mind, but that the slave being a gift to his wife he had accepted of her.”
We may easily conceive that a person so scrupulous and tender on this subject (as indeed John Woolman was on all others) was in the way of becoming in time more eminently serviceable to his oppressed fellow-creatures. We have seen already the good seed sown in his heart, and it seems to have wanted only providential seasons and occurrences to be brought into productive fruit. Accordingly we find that a journey, which he took as a minister of the gospel in 1746, through the provinces of Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina, which were then more noted than others for the number of slaves in them, contributed to prepare him as an instrument for the advancement of this great cause. The following are his own observations upon this journey. “Two things were remarkable to me in this journey; First, in regard to my entertainment. When I ate, drank, and lodged free-cost, with people who lived in ease on the hard labour of their slaves, I felt uneasy; and, as my mind was inward to the Lord, I found, from place to place, this uneasiness return upon me at times through the whole visit. Where the masters bore a good share of the burthen, and lived frugally, so that their servants were well provided for, and their labour moderate, I felt more easy. But where they lived in a costly way, and laid heavy burthens on their slaves, my exercise was often great, and I frequently had conversations with them in private concerning it. Secondly, This trade of importing slaves from their native country being much encouraged among them, and the White people and their children so generally living without much labour, was frequently the subject of my serious thoughts: and I saw in these southern provinces so many vices and corruptions, increased by this trade and this way of life, that it appeared to me as a gloom over the land.”
From the year 1747 to the year 1753, he seems to have been occupied chiefly as a minister of religion, but in the latter year he published a work upon Slave-keeping; and in the same year, while travelling within the compass of his own monthly meeting, a circumstance happened, which kept alive his attention to the same subject. “About this time,” says he, “a person at some distance lying sick, his brother came to me to write his will. I knew he had slaves, and, asking his brother, was told, he intended to leave them as slaves to his children. As writing was a profitable employ, and as offending sober people was disagreeable to my inclination, I was straitened in my mind, but as I looked to the Lord he inclined my heart to his testimony; and I told the man, that I believed the practice of continuing slavery to this people was not right, and that I had a scruple in my mind against doing writings of that kind; that, though many in our Society kept them as slaves, still I was not easy to be concerned in it, and desired to be excused from going to write the will. I spoke to him in the fear of the Lord; and he made no reply to what I said, but went away: he also had some concerns in the practice, and I thought he was displeased with me. In this case, I had a fresh confirmation, that acting contrary to present outward interest from a motive of Divine love, and in regard to truth and righteousness, opens the way to a treasure better than silver, and to a friendship exceeding the friendship of men.”
From 1753 to 1755, two circumstances of a similar kind took place, which contributed greatly to strengthen him in the path he had taken; for in both these cases the persons who requested him to make their wills, were so impressed by the principle upon which he refused them, and by his manner of doing it, that they bequeathed liberty to their slaves.
In the year 1756, he made a religious visit to several of the Society in Long Island. Here it was that the seed, now long fostered by the genial influences of Heaven, began to burst forth into fruit. Till this time he seems to have been a passive instrument, attending only to such circumstances as came in his way on this subject. But now he became an active one, looking out for circumstances for the exercise of his labours. “My mind,” says he, “was deeply engaged in this visit, both in public and private; and at several places observing that members kept slaves, I found myself under a necessity, in a friendly way, to labour with them on that subject, expressing, as the way opened, the inconsistency of that practice with the purity of the Christian religion, and the ill effects of it as manifested amongst us.
In the year 1757, he felt his mind so deeply interested on the same subject, that he resolved to travel over Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina, in order to try to convince persons, principally in his own Society, of the inconsistency of holding slaves. He joined his brother with him in this arduous service. Having passed the Susquehanna into Maryland, he began to experience great agitation of mind. “Soon after I entered this province,” says he, “a deep and painful exercise came upon me, which I often had some feeling of since my mind was drawn towards these parts, and with which I had acquainted my brother, before we agreed to join as companions.
“As the people in this and the southern provinces live much on the labour of slaves, many of whom are used hardly, my concern was that I might attend with singleness of heart to the voice of the true Shepherd, and be so supported, as to remain unmoved at the faces of men.”
It is impossible for me to follow him in detail, through this long and interesting journey, when I consider the bounds I have prescribed to myself in this work. I shall say therefore, what I purpose to offer generally and in a few words.
It appears that he conversed with persons occasionally, who were not of his own Society, with a view of answering their arguments, and of endeavouring to evince the wickedness and impolicy of slavery. In discoursing with these, however strenuous he might appear, he seems never to have departed from a calm, modest, and yet dignified and even friendly demeanour. At the public meetings for discipline, held by his own Society in these provinces, he endeavoured to display the same truths and in the same manner, but particularly to the elders of his own Society, exhorting them, as the most conspicuous rank, to be careful of their conduct, and to give a bright example in the liberation of their slaves. He visited also families for the same purpose: and he had the well-earned satisfaction of finding his admonitions kindly received by some, and of seeing a disposition in others to follow the advice he had given them.
In the year 1758, he attended the yearly meeting at Philadelphia, where he addressed his brethren on the propriety of dealing with such members, as should hereafter purchase slaves. On the discussion of this point he spoke a second time, and this to such effect that he had the satisfaction at this meeting to see minutes made more fully than any before, and a committee appointed, for the advancement of the great object, to which he had now been instrumental in turning the attention of many, and to witness a considerable spreading of the cause. In the same year also, he joined himself with two others of the Society to visit such members of it, as possessed slaves in Chester county. In this journey he describes himself to have met with several, who were pleased with his visit, but to have found difficulties with others, towards whom however he felt a sympathy and tenderness on account of their being entangled by the spirit of the world.
In the year 1759, he visited several of the Society who held slaves in Philadelphia. In about three months afterwards, he travelled there again, in company with John Churchman, to see others under similar circumstances. He then went to different places on the same errand. In this last journey he went alone. After this he joined himself to John Churchman again, but he confined his labours to his own province. Here he had the pleasure of finding that the work prospered. Soon after this he took Samuel Eastburne as a coadjutor, and pleaded the cause of the poor Africans with many of the Society in Bucks county, who held them in bondage there.
In the year 1760, he travelled, in company with his friend Samuel Eastburne, to Rhode Island, to promote the same object. This island had been long noted for its trade to Africa for slaves. He found at Newport, the great sea-port town belonging to it, that a number of them had been lately imported. He felt his mind deeply impressed on this account. He was almost overpowered in consequence of it, and became ill. He thought once of promoting a petition to the legislature, to discourage all such importations in future. He then thought of going and speaking to the House of Assembly, which was then sitting; but he was discouraged from both these proceedings. He held, however, a conference with many of his own Society in the meeting-house-chamber, where the subject of his visit was discussed on both sides, with a calm and peaceable spirit. Many of those present manifested the concern they felt at their former practices, and others a desire of taking suitable care of their slaves at their decease. From Newport he proceeded to Nantucket; but observing the members of the Society there to have few or no slaves, he exhorted them to persevere in abstaining from the use of them, and returned home.
In the year 1761, he visited several families in Pennsylvania, and, in about three months afterwards, others about Shrewsbury and Squan in New Jersey. On his return he added a second part to the treatise before published on the keeping of slaves, a care which had been growing upon him for some years.
In the year 1762, he printed, published, and distributed this treatise.
In 1767, he went on foot to the western shores of the same province on a religious visit. After having crossed the Susquehanna, his old feelings returned to him; for coming amongst people living in outward ease and greatness, chiefly on the labour of slaves, his heart was much affected, and he waited with humble resignation, to learn how he should further perform his duty to this injured people. The travelling on foot, though it was agreeable to the state of his mind, he describes to have been wearisome to his body. He felt himself weakly at times, in consequence of it, but yet continued to travel on. At one of the quarterly meetings of the Society, being in great sorrow and heaviness, and under deep exercise on account of the miseries of the poor Africans, he expressed himself freely to those present, who held them in bondage. He expatiated on the tenderness and loving-kindness of the apostles, as manifested in labours, perils, and sufferings, towards the poor Gentiles, and contrasted their treatment of the Gentiles with it, whom he described in the persons of their slaves; and was much satisfied with the result of his discourse.
From this time we collect little more from his journal concerning him, than that, in 1772, he embarked for England on a religious visit. After his arrival there, he travelled through many counties, preaching in different meetings of the Society, till he came to the city of York. But even here, though he was far removed from the sight of those whose interests he had so warmly espoused, he was not forgetful of their wretched condition. At the quarterly meeting for that county, he brought their case before those present in an affecting manner. He exhorted these to befriend their cause. He remarked that as they, the Society, when under outward sufferings, had often found a concern to lay them before the legislature, and thereby, in the Lord’s time, had obtained relief; so he recommended this oppressed part of the creation to their notice, that they might, as the way opened, represent their sufferings as individuals, if not as a religious society, to those in authority in this land. This was the last opportunity that he had of interesting himself in behalf of this injured people; for soon afterwards he was seized with the small-pox at the house of a friend in the city of York, where he died.
The next person belonging to the Society of the Quakers, who laboured in behalf of the oppressed Africans, was Anthony Benezet. He was born before, and he lived after, John Woolman; of course he was cotemporary with him. I place him after John Woolman, because he was not so much known as a labourer, till two or three years after the other had begun to move in the same cause.
Anthony Benezet was born at St. Quintin in Picardy, of a respectable family, in the year 1713. His father was one of the many protestants, who, in consequence of the persecutions which followed the revocation of the edict of Nantz, sought an asylum in foreign countries. After a short stay in Holland, he settled, with his wife and children, in London, in 1715.
Anthony Benezet, having received from his father a liberal education, served an apprenticeship in an eminent mercantile house in London. In 1731, however, he removed with his family to Philadelphia, where he joined in profession with the Quakers. His three brothers then engaged in trade, and made considerable pecuniary acquisitions in it. He himself might have partaken both of their concerns and of their prosperity; but he did not feel himself at liberty to embark in their undertakings. He considered the accumulation of wealth as of no importance, when compared with the enjoyment of doing good; and he chose the humble situation of a schoolmaster, as according best with this notion, believing, that by endeavouring to train up youth in knowledge and virtue, he should become more extensively useful than in any other way to his fellow-creatures.
He had not been long in his new situation, before he manifested such an uprightness of conduct, such a courtesy of manners, such a purity of intention, and such a spirit of benevolence, that he attracted the notice, and gained the good opinion, of the inhabitants among whom he lived. He had ready access to them, in consequence, upon all occasions; and, if there were any whom he failed to influence at any of these times, he never went away without the possession of their respect.
In the year 1756, when a considerable number of French families were removed from Acadia into Pennsylvania, on account of some political suspicions, he felt deeply interested about them. In a country where few understood their language, they were wretched and helpless; but Anthony Benezet endeavoured to soften the rigour of their situation, by his kind attention towards them. He exerted himself also in their behalf, by procuring many contributions for them, which, by the consent of his fellow-citizens, were entrusted to his care.
As the principle of benevolence, when duly cultivated, brings forth fresh shoots, and becomes enlarged, so we find this amiable person extending the sphere of his usefulness, by becoming an advocate for the oppressed African race. For this service he seems to have been peculiarly qualified. Indeed, as in all great works a variety of talents is necessary to bring them to perfection, so Providence seems to prepare different men as instruments, with dispositions and qualifications so various, that each, in pursuing that line which seems to suit him best, contributes to furnish those parts, which, when put together, make up a complete whole. In this point of view, John Woolman found, in Anthony Benezet, the coadjutor, whom, of all others, the cause required. The former had occupied himself principally on the subject of Slavery. The latter went to the root of the evil, and more frequently attacked the Trade. The former chiefly confined his labours to America, and chiefly to those of his own Society there. The latter, when he wrote, did not write for America only, but for Europe also, and endeavoured to spread a knowledge and hatred of the traffic through the great society of the world.
One of the means which Anthony Benezet took to promote the cause in question, (and an effectual one it proved, as far as it went,) was to give his scholars a due knowledge and proper impressions concerning it. Situated as they were likely to be, in after-life, in a country where slavery was a custom, he thus prepared many, and this annually, for the promotion of his plans.
To enlighten others, and to give them a similar bias, he had recourse to different measures from time to time. In the almanacs published annually in Philadelphia, he procured articles to be inserted, which he believed would attract the notice of the reader, and make him pause, at least for a while, as to the licitness of the Slave-trade. He wrote, also, as he saw occasion, in the public papers of the day. From small things he proceeded to greater. He collected, at length, further information on the subject, and, winding it up with observations and reflections, he produced several little tracts, which he circulated successively (but generally at his own expense), as he considered them adapted to the temper and circumstances of the times.
In the course of this his employment, having found some who had approved his tracts, and to whom, on that account, he wished to write, and sending his tracts to others, to whom he thought it proper to introduce them by letter, he found himself engaged in a correspondence, which much engrossed his time, but which proved of great importance in procuring many advocates for his cause.
In the year 1762, when he had obtained a still greater store of information, he published a larger work. This, however, he entitled, A short Account of that Part of Africa inhabited by the Negros. In 1767 he published, A Caution and Warning to Great Britain and her Colonies, on the Calamitous State of the enslaved Negros in the British Dominions:—and soon after this, appeared, An Historical Account of Guinea, its Situation, Produce, and the General Disposition of its Inhabitants; with an Inquiry into the Rise and Progress of the Slave-Trade, its Nature, and Calamitous Effects. This pamphlet contained a clear and distinct development of the subject, from the best authorities. It contained also the sentiments of many enlightened men upon it; and it became instrumental, beyond any other book ever before published, in disseminating a proper knowledge and detestation of this trade.
Anthony Benezet may be considered as one of the most zealous, vigilant, and active advocates, which the cause of the oppressed Africans ever had. He seemed to have been born and to have lived for the promotion of it, and therefore he never omitted any the least opportunity of serving it. If a person called upon him who was going a journey, his first thoughts usually were, how he could make him an instrument in its favour; and he either gave him tracts to distribute, or he sent letters by him, or he gave him some commission on the subject, so that he was the means of employing several persons at the same time, in various parts of America, in advancing the work he had undertaken.
In the same manner he availed himself of every other circumstance, as far as he could, to the same end. When he heard that Mr. Granville Sharp had obtained, in the year 1772, the noble verdict in the cause of Somerset the slave, he opened a correspondence with him, which he kept up, that there might be an union of action between them for the future, as far as it could be effected, and that they might each give encouragement to the other to proceed.
He opened also a correspondence with George Whitfield and John Wesley, that these might assist him in promoting the cause of the oppressed.
He wrote also a letter to the Countess of Huntingdon on the following subject.—She had founded a college, at the recommendation of George Whitfield, called the Orphan-house, near Savannah, in Georgia, and had endowed it. The object of this institution was, to furnish scholastic instruction to the poor, and to prepare some of them for the ministry. George Whitfield, ever attentive to the cause of the poor Africans, thought that this institution might have been useful to them also; but soon after his death, they who succeeded him bought slaves, and these in unusual numbers, to extend the rice and indigo plantations belonging to the college. The letter then in question was written by Anthony Benezet, in order to lay before the Countess, as a religious woman, the misery she was occasioning in Africa, by allowing the managers of her college in Georgia to give encouragement to the Slave-trade. The Countess replied, that such a measure should never have her countenance, and that she would take care to prevent it.
On discovering that the Abbé Raynal had brought out his celebrated work, in which he manifested a tender feeling in behalf of the injured Africans, he entered into a correspondence with him, hoping to make him yet more useful to their cause.
Finding, also, in the year 1783, that the Slave-trade, which had greatly declined during the American war, was reviving, he addressed a pathetic letter to our Queen, (as I mentioned in the last chapter,) who, on hearing the high character of the writer of it from Benjamin West, received it with marks of peculiar condescension and attention. The following is a copy of it.
“ToCharlotteQueen of Great Britain.
“Impressed with a sense of religious duty, and encouraged by the opinion generally entertained of thy benevolent disposition to succour the distressed, I take the liberty, very respectfully, to offer to thy perusal some tracts, which, I believe, faithfully describe the suffering condition of many hundred thousands of our fellow-creatures of the African race, great numbers of whom, rent from every tender connection in life, are annually taken from their native land, to endure, in the American islands and plantations, a most rigorous and cruel slavery; whereby many, very many of them, are brought to a melancholy and untimely end.
“When it is considered that the inhabitants of Great Britain, who are themselves so eminently blessed in the enjoyment of religious and civil liberty, have long been, and yet are, very deeply concerned in this flagrant violation of the common rights of mankind, and that even its national authority is exerted in support of the African Slave-trade, there is much reason to apprehend, that this has been, and, as long as the evil exists, will continue to be, an occasion of drawing down the Divine displeasure on the nation and its dependencies. May these considerations induce thee to interpose thy kind endeavours in behalf of this greatly injured people, whose abject situation gives them an additional claim to the pity and assistance of the generous mind, inasmuch as they are altogether deprived of the means of soliciting effectual relief for themselves; that so thou mayest not only be a blessed instrument in the hand of him ‘by whom kings reign and princes decree justice,’ to avert the awful judgments by which the empire has already been so remarkably shaken, but that the blessings of thousands ready to perish may come upon thee, at a time when the superior advantages attendant on thy situation in this world will no longer be of any avail to thy consolation and support.
“To the tracts on this subject to which I have thus ventured to crave thy particular attention, I have added some which at different times I have believed it my duty to publish* , and which, I trust, will afford thee some satisfaction, their design being for the furtherance of that universal peace and goodwill amongst men, which the gospel was intended to introduce.
“I hope thou wilt kindly excuse the freedom used on this occasion by an ancient man, whose mind, for more than forty years past, has been much separated from the common intercourse of the world, and long painfully exercised in the consideration of the miseries under which so large a part of mankind, equally with us the objects of redeeming love, are suffering the most unjust and grievous oppression, and who sincerely desires thy temporal and eternal felicity, and that of thy royal consort.
Anthony Benezet, besides the care he bestowed upon forwarding the cause of the oppressed Africans in different parts of the world, found time to promote the comforts, and improve the condition of those in the state in which he lived. Apprehending that much advantage would arise both to them and the public, from instructing them in common learning, he zealously promoted the establishment of a school for that purpose. Much of the two last years of his life he devoted to a personal attendance on this school, being earnestly desirous that they who came to it might be better qualified for the enjoyment of that freedom to which great numbers of them had been then restored. To this he sacrificed the superior emoluments of his former school, and his bodily ease also, although the weakness of his constitution seemed to demand indulgence. By his last will he directed, that, after the decease of his widow, his whole little fortune (the savings of the industry of fifty years) should, except a few very small legacies, be applied to the support of it. During his attendance upon it he had the happiness to find, (and his situation enabled him to make the comparison,) that Providence had been equally liberal to the Africans in genius and talents as to other people.
After a few days’ illness this excellent man died at Philadelphia in the spring of 1784. The interment of his remains was attended by several thousands of all ranks, professions, and parties, who united in deploring their loss. The mournful procession was closed by some hundreds of those poor Africans, who had been personally benefited by his labours, and whose behaviour on the occasion showed the gratitude and affection they considered to be due to him as their own private benefactor, as well as the benefactor of their whole race.
Such, then, were the labours of the Quakers, in America, of individuals, from 1718 to 1784, and of the body at large, from 1696 to 1787, in this great cause of humanity and religion. Nor were the effects produced from these otherwise than corresponding with what might have been expected from such an union of exertion in such a cause; for both the evils, that is, the evil of buying and selling, and the evil of using, slaves, ceased at length with the members of this benevolent Society. The leaving off all concern with the Slave-trade took place first. The abolition of slavery, though it followed, was not so speedily accomplished; for, besides the loss of property, when slaves were manumitted without any pecuniary consideration in return, their owners had to struggle, in making them free, against the laws and customs of the times. In Pennsylvania, where the law in this respect was the most favourable, the parties wishing to give freedom to a slave were obliged to enter into a bond for the payment of thirty pounds currency, in case the said slave should become chargeable for maintenance. In New Jersey the terms were far less favourable, as the estate of the owner remained liable to the consequences of misconduct in the slave, or even in his posterity. In the southern parts of America manumission was not permitted but on terms amounting nearly to a prohibition. But, notwithstanding these difficulties, the Quakers could not be deterred, as they became convinced of the unlawfulness of holding men in bondage, from doing that which they believed to be right. Many liberated their slaves, whatever the consequences were; and some gave the most splendid example in doing it, not only by consenting, as others did, thus to give up their property, and to incur the penalties of manumission, but by calculating and giving what was due to them, over and above their food and clothing, for wages* from the beginning of their slavery to the day when their liberation commenced. Thus manumission mission went on, some sacrificing more, and others less; some granting it sooner, and others later; till, in the year 1787* , there was not a slave in the possession of an acknowledged Quaker.
Having given to the reader the history of the third class of forerunners and coadjutors, as it consisted of the Quakers in America, I am now to continue it, as it consisted of an union of these with others on the same continent in the year 1774, in behalf of the African race. To do this I shall begin with the causes which led to the production of this great event.
And in the first place, as example is more powerful than precept, we cannot suppose that the Quakers could have shown these noble instances of religious principle, without supposing also that individuals of other religious denominations would be morally instructed by them. They who lived in the neighbourhood where they took place, must have become acquainted with the motives which led to them. Some of them must at least have praised the action, though they might not themselves have been ripe to follow the example. Nor is it at all improbable that these might be led, in the course of the workings of their own minds, to a comparison between their own conduct and that of the Quakers on this subject, in which they themselves might appear to be less worthy in their own eyes. And as there is sometimes a spirit of rivalship among the individuals of religious sects, where the character of one is sounded forth as higher than that of another; this, if excited by such a circumstance, would probably operate for good. It must have been manifest also to many, after a lapse of time, that there was no danger in what the Quakers had done, and that there was even sound policy in the measure. But whatever were the several causes, certain it is, that the example of the Quakers in leaving off all concern with the Slave-trade, and in liberating their slaves (scattered as they were over various parts of America) contributed to produce in many of a different religious denomination from themselves, a more tender disposition than had been usual towards the African race.
But a similar disposition towards these oppressed people was created in others by means of other circumstances or causes. In the early part of the eighteenth century, Judge Sewell of New England came forward as a zealous advocate for them. He addressed a memorial to the legislature, which he called The Selling of Joseph, and in which he pleaded their cause both as a lawyer and a Christian. This memorial produced an effect upon many, but particularly upon those of his own persuasion; and from this time the presbyterians appear to have encouraged a sympathy in their favour.
In the year 1739, the celebrated George Whitfield became an instrument in turning the attention of many others to their hard case, and of begetting in these a fellow sympathy towards them. This laborious minister, having been deeply affected with what he had seen in the course of his religious travels in America, thought it his duty to address a letter from Georgia to the inhabitants of Maryland, Virginia, and North and South Carolina. This letter was printed in the year above mentioned, and is in part as follows—
“As I lately passed through your provinces in my way hither, I was sensibly touched with a fellow-feeling for the miseries of the poor Negros. Whether it be lawful for Christians to buy slaves, and thereby encourage the nations from whom they are bought to be at perpetual war with each other, I shall not take upon me to determine. Sure I am it is sinful, when they have bought them, to use them as bad as though they were brutes, nay worse; and whatever particular exceptions there may be (as I would charitably hope there are some) I fear the generality of you, who own Negros, are liable to such a charge; for your slaves, I believe, work as hard, if not harder, than the horses whereon you ride. These, after they have done their work, are fed and taken proper care of; but many Negros, when wearied with labour in your plantations, have been obliged to grind their corn after their return home. Your dogs are caressed and fondled at your table; but your slaves, who are frequently styled dogs or beasts, have not an equal privilege. They are scarce permitted to pick up the crumbs which fall from their master’s table. Not to mention what numbers have been given up to the inhuman usage of cruel taskmasters, who, by their unrelenting scourges have ploughed their backs, and made long furrows, and at length brought them even unto death. When passing along I have viewed your plantations cleared and cultivated, many spacious houses built, and the owners of them faring sumptuously every day, my blood has frequently almost run cold within me, to consider how many of your slaves had neither convenient food to eat, nor proper raiment to put on, notwithstanding most of the comforts you enjoy were solely owing to their indefatigable labours.”
The letter, from which this is an extract, produced a desirable effect upon many of those, who perused it, but particularly upon such as began to be seriously disposed in these times. And as George Whitfield continued a firm friend to the poor Africans, never losing an opportunity of serving them, he interested, in the course of his useful life, many thousands of his followers in their favour.
To this account it may be added, that from the year 1762, ministers, who were in the connection of John Wesley, began to be settled in America, and that as these were friends to the oppressed Africans also, so they contributed in their turn* to promote a softness of feeling towards them among those of their own persuasion.
In consequence then of these and other causes, a considerable number of persons of various religious denominations had appeared at different times in America, besides the Quakers, who, though they had not distinguished themselves by resolutions and manumissions as religious bodies, were yet highly friendly to the African cause. This friendly disposition began to manifest itself about the year 1770: for when a few Quakers, as individuals, began at that time to form little associations in the middle provinces of North America, to discourage the introduction of slaves among people in their own neighbourhoods, who were not of their own Society, and to encourage the manumission of those already in bondage, they were joined as colleagues by several persons of this description* , who cooperated with them in the promotion of their design.
This disposition however became more manifest in the year 1772; for the house of burgesses of Virginia presented a petition to the King, beseeching his majesty to remove all those restraints on his governors of that colony, which inhibited their assent to such laws, as might check that inhuman and impolitic commerce, the Slave-trade: and it is remarkable, that the refusal of the British government to permit the Virginians to exclude slaves from among them by law, was enumerated afterwards among the public reasons for separating from the mother country.
But this friendly disposition was greatly increased in the year 1773, by the literary labours of Dr. Benjamin Rush of Philadelphia* , who, I believe, is a member of the presbyterian church. For in this year, at the instigation of Anthony Benezet, he took up the cause of the oppressed Africans in a little work, which he entitled An Address to the Inhabitants of the British Settlements on the Slavery of the Negros; and soon afterwards in another, which was a vindication of the first, in answer to an acrimonious attack by a West Indian planter. These publications contained many new observations. They were written in a polished style; and while they exhibited the erudition and talents, they showed the liberality and benevolence, of the author. Having had a considerable circulation, they spread conviction among many, and promoted the cause for which they had been so laudably undertaken. Of the great increase of friendly disposition towards the African cause in this very year, we have this remarkable proof;—that when the Quakers, living in East and West Jersey, wished to petition the legislature to obtain an act of assembly for the more equitable manumission of slaves in that province, so many others of different persuasions joined them, that the petition was signed by upwards of three thousand persons.
But in the next year, or in the year 1774* , the increased good-will towards the Africans became so apparent, but more particularly in Pennsylvania, where the Quakers were more numerous than in any other state, that they, who considered themselves more immediately as the friends of these injured people, thought it right to avail themselves of it: and accordingly James Pemberton, one of the most conspicuous of the Quakers in Pennsylvania, and Dr. Rush, one of the most conspicuous of those belonging to the various other religious communities in that province, undertook, in conjunction with others, the important task of bringing those into a society who were friendly to this cause. In this undertaking they succeeded. And hence arose that union of the Quakers with others, to which I have been directing the attention of the reader, and by which the third class of forerunners and coadjutors becomes now complete. This society, which was confined to Pennsylvania, was the first ever formed in America, in which there was an union of persons of different religious denominations in behalf of the African race.
But this society had scarcely begun to act, when the war broke out between England and America, which had the effect of checking its operations. This was considered as a severe blow upon it. But as those things which appear most to our disadvantage, turn out often the most to our benefit, so the war, by giving birth to the independence of America, was ultimately favourable to its progress. For as this contest had produced during its continuance, so it left, when it was over, a general enthusiasm for liberty. Many talked of little else but of the freedom they had gained. These were naturally led to the consideration of those among them, who were groaning in bondage. They began to feel for their hard case. They began to think that they should not deserve the new blessing which they had acquired, if they denied it to others. Thus the discussions, which originated in this contest, became the occasion of turning the attention of many, who might not otherwise have thought of it, towards the miserable condition of the slaves.
Nor were writers wanting, who, influenced by considerations on the war and the independence resulting from it, made their works subservient to the same benevolent end. A work, entitled, A Serious Address to the Rulers of America on the Inconsistency of their Conduct respecting Slavery, forming a Contrast between the Encroachments of England on American Liberty and American Injustice in tolerating Slavery, which appeared in 1783, was particularly instrumental in producing this effect. This excited a more than usual attention to the case of these oppressed people, and where most of all it could be useful. For the author compared in two opposite columns the animated speeches and resolutions of the members of congress in behalf of their own liberty with their conduct in continuing slavery to others. Hence the legislature began to feel the inconsistency of the practice; and so far had the sense of this inconsistency spread there, that when the delegates met from each state, to consider of a federal union, there was a desire that the abolition of the Slave-trade should be one of the articles in it. This was, however, opposed by the delegates from North and South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, and Georgia, the five states which had the greatest concern in slaves. But even these offered to agree to the article, provided a condition was annexed to it, (which was afterwards done,) that the power of such abolition should not commence in the legislature till the first of January 1808.
In consequence then of these different circumstances, the society of Pennsylvania, the object of which was “for promoting the abolition of slavery and the relief of free Negros unlawfully held in bondage,” became so popular, that in the year 1787 it was thought desirable to enlarge it. Accordingly several new members were admitted into it. The celebrated Dr. Franklin, who had long warmly espoused the cause of the injured Africans, was appointed president; James Pemberton and Jonathan Penrose were appointed vice-presidents; Dr. Benjamin Rush and Tench Coxe, secretaries; James Star, treasurer; William Lewis, John D. Coxe, Miers Fisher, and William Rawle, counsellors; Thomas Harrison, Nathan Boys, James Whiteall, James Reed, John Todd, Thomas Armatt, Norris Jones, Samuel Richards, Francis Bayley, Andrew Carson, John Warner, and Jacob Shoemaker, junior, an electing committee; and Thomas Shields, Thomas Parker, John Oldden, William Zane, John Warner, and William McElhenny, an acting committee for carrying on the purposes of the institution.
I shall now only observe further upon this subject, that as a society, consisting of an union of the Quakers, with others of other religious denominations, was established for Pennsylvania in behalf of the oppressed Africans, so different societies, consisting each of a similar union of persons, were established in New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and other states for the same object, and that these afterwards held a correspondence and personal communion with each other for the promotion of it.
[* ]This alludes to the term of servitude for white persons in these provinces.
[* ]Thus in 1779, 1780,-1,-2,-4,-5,-6. The members also of this meeting petitioned their own legislature on this subject both in 1783 and in 1786.
[* ]Benjamin Lay attended the meetings for worship, or associated himself with the religious society of the Quakers. His wife too was an approved minister of the gospel in that Society. But I believe he was not long an acknowledged member of it himself.
[* ]This short sketch of the life and labours of John Woolman, is made up from his Journal.
[* ]These related to the principles of the religious society of the Quakers.
[* ]One of the brightest instances was that afforded by Warner Mifflin. He gave unconditional liberty to his slaves. He paid all the adults, on their discharge, the sum, which arbitrators, mutually chosen, awarded them.
[* ]Previously to the year 1787, several of the states had made the terms of manumission more easy.
[* ]It must not be forgotten that the example of the Moravians had its influence, also, in directing men to their duty towards these oppressed people; for though, when they visited this part of the world for their conversion, they never meddled with the political state of things, by recommending it to masters to alter the condition of their slaves, as believing religion could give comfort in the most abject situations in life, yet they uniformly freed those slaves, who came into their own possession.
[* ]It then appeared that individuals among those of the church of England, Roman catholics, presbyterians, methodists, and others, had begun in a few instances to liberate their slaves.
[* ]Dr. Rush has been better known since for his other literary works; such as his Medical Dissertations, his Treatises on the Discipline of Schools, Criminal Law, &c.
[* ]In this year, Elhanan Winchester, a supporter of the doctrine of universal redemption, turned the attention of many of his hearers to this subject, both by private interference and by preaching expressly upon it.