American Abolitionists and Antislavery Activists:
Conscience of the Nation

Updated February 14, 2017










l to r: Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, Wendell Phillips




Pennsylvania Aboltion Society (PAS)


Pennsylvania Abolition Society (PAS), Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery, founded April 14, 1775, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The first abolition society in America. Also known as the Society for the Relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage. The Society was enlarged April 1787. (References)

See also Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery, and the Relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage.




Return to Top of Page



Officers, Members and Supporters:

Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, statesman, inventor, diplomat, lawyer, publisher, author, philosopher, opponent of slavery. President of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society, 1787-1790. 

Franklin wrote: “The unhappy man, who has long been treated as a brute animal, too frequently sinks beneath the common standard of the human species.  The galling chains that bind his body do also fetter his intellectual faculties, and impair the social affectations of his heart.  Accustomed to move like a mere machine, by the will of a master, reflection is suspended; he has not the power of choice; and reason and conscience have but little influence over his conduct, because he is chiefly governed by the passion of fear.  He is poor and friendless; perhaps worn out by extreme labor, age, and disease.

            “Attention to emancipated blacks, it is therefore to be hoped, will become a branch of our national policy; but, as far as we contribute to promote this emancipation, so far that attention is evidently a serious duty incumbent on us, and which we mean to discharge to the best of our judgment and abilities.

            “To instruct, to advise, to qualify those who have been restored to freedom, for the exercise and enjoyment of civil liberty; to promote in them habits of industry; to furnish them with employments suited to their age, sex, talents, and other circumstances; and to procure their children an education calculated for their future situation in life,--these are the great outlines of our annexed plan, which we have adopted, and which we conceive will essentially promote the public good, and the happiness of these our hitherto too much neglected fellow creatures.”

(Basker, 2005, pp. v, 5, 76, 80, 82, 85, 92, 101, 128, 133, 217, 219, 239, 247, 322; Bruns, 1977, pp. 5, 31, 46, 137, 195, 236, 267, 269, 376, 394, 510; Drake, 1950, pp. 39, 43, 46, 69-70, 85, 94, 101, 104; Dumond, 1961, pp. 126-127; Goodell, 1852, pp. 30, 40, 54, 96, 100; Hammond, 2011, pp. 32, 34-36, 50, 61-65, 170-174, 254, 268; Locke, 1901, pp. 25, 48, 50, 57, 58, 93, 98, 114, 136; Rodriguez, 2007, pp. 14, 15, 17, 21, 25-26, 27, 94, 97; 103, 456, 547-551; Zilversmit, 1967, pp. 164-165, 166; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. II, pp. 526-533; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 3, Pt. 2, p. 585; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 8, p. 395; Encyclopaedia Americana, 1830, Vol. V, pp. 290-294; Constitution of the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery, Philadelphia, PA, 1787)

 

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

FRANKLIN, Benjamin, statesman and philosopher, b. in Boston, Mass., 17 Jan., 1706; d. in Philadelphia, Pa., 17 April, 1790. […]

His last public act was the signing of a memorial addressed to congress by an anti-slavery society of which he was president. This petition, which was presented on 12 Feb., 1790, asked for the abolition of the slave-trade, and for the emancipation of slaves. The southern members of congress were very indignant, and Mr. Jackson, of Georgia, undertook to prove, with the aid of texts from Scripture, the sacredness of the institution of slavery. On 23 March, Franklin wrote an answer, which was published in the “National Gazette.” It was an ingenious parody of Jackson's speech, put into the mouth of a member of the “divan of Algiers,” and fortified by texts from the Koran. This characteristic article, one of the most amusing he ever published, was written within four weeks of his death. […]

Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. II, pp. 526-533.

 

Biography from National Portrait Gallery of Distinguished Americans:

[…] [DR. FRANKLIN] continued in his retirement to ponder deeply on the condition of man, and to seek by every means in his power to promote the interest of his fellow creatures. Several of his writings at this period, and later, when entirely disabled from going abroad by his infirmities, are evidence of this fact. Many societies, the philosophical, of which he was president, that for political inquiries, for alleviating the miseries of public prisons, and for promoting the abolition of slavery, held their meetings at his house, to enjoy the benefit of his council. […]

Source: National Portrait Gallery of Distinguished Americans, 1839, Vol. 2.

 

Benezet, Anthony, co-founder, 1713-1784, Society of Friends, Quaker, philanthropist, early and important abolitionist leader.  Wrote: A Caution and Warning to Great Britain and Her Colonies, in a Short Representation of the Calamitous State of the Enslaved Negroes in the British Dominions, 1766; Some Historical Account of Guinea, Its Situation, Produce, and the General Disposition of Its Inhabitants, with an Enquiry into the Rise and Progress of the Slave-Trade, Its Nature and Lamentable Effects, 1771; and Observations on the Inslaving, Importing and Purchasing Negroes, 1748. (Basker, 2005; Bruns, 1977, pp. 108, 214, 221, 224, 246, 262-263, 269-270, 302; Drake, 1950, pp. 54-56, 62, 64, 70, 75, 83, 86, 90-94, 106-107, 112-113, 120-121, 155; Dumond, 1961, pp. 17, 19, 52, 87; Locke, 1901, pp. 27, 28, 29, 31, 32, 34, 52, 54, 56, 78, 94; Nash, 1991; Pease, 1965, pp. xxiv, 1-5; Rodriguez, 2007, pp. 17-20, 290, 331, 433, 458, 515; Soderlund, 1985, pp. 4, 10, 29-30, 43, 78, 140, 151, 166, 170-171, 175, 176, 186, 198; Zilversmit, 1967, pp. 27, 72, 74-75, 85-93, 98, 125, 131; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I, p. 234; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 1, Pt. 2, pp. 177-178; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 2, p. 562)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

BENEZET, Anthony, philanthropist, b. in St. Quentin, France, 31 Jan., 1713; d. in Philadelphia, Pa., 3 May, 1784. He was descended from wealthy and noble French parents, who fled from France to Holland in 1685, after the revocation of the edict of Nantes, and thence to England in 1715. In London his relatives became Quakers, and in 1731 they settled in Philadelphia. He apprenticed himself to a cooper, but in 1742 became instructor in the Friends' English school, and continued to teach until near the end of his life. He devoted much attention to the abolition of the slave-trade, and advocated the emancipation and education of the colored population, opening for that purpose an evening school. During the revolutionary war and the occupation of Philadelphia by the British army, he was active in alleviating the sufferings of the prisoners. He published tracts, which were gratuitously distributed throughout the country, the most important being "A Caution to Great Britain and her Colonies, in a Short Representation of the Calamitous State of the Enslaved Negroes in the British Dominion" (Philadelphia, 1767); "Some Historical Account of Guinea, with an Inquiry into the Rise and Progress of the Slave Trade" (1772); "Observations on the Indian Natives of this Continent" (1784); "A Short Account of the Society of Friends" (1780); and "Dissertation on the Christian Religion" (1782). See "Memoir of Anthony Benezet," by Roberts Vaux (New York, 1817).  Source: Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I, p. 234.

 

Purvis, Robert, 1810-1898, Philadelphia, African American, benefactor, abolitionist leader, reformer.  Vice president and founding member of the American Anti-Slavery Society, December 1833.  Member, Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society.  Associated with William Lloyd Garrison and Wendell Phillips.  Member of the Underground Railroad.  Author, wrote Appeal of Forty Thousand Citizens with Disenfranchisement to the People of Pennsylvania.  Brother of Joseph Purvis.  

(Dumond, 1961, p. 333; Mabee, 1970, pp. 21, 57, 58, 99, 106, 109, 111, 121, 181, 191, 265, 276, 294, 305, 321, 338, 414n11, 422n27; Rodriguez, 2007, pp. 45, 161, 162, 464; Winch, 2002; Abolitionist, Vol. I, No. XII, December, 1833; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. V, p. 137; The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. I. New York: James T. White, 1892, p. 413; Gates, Henry Louis, Jr., & Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, eds. African American National Biography. Oxford University Press, 2013, Vol. 9, p. 281).

 

Pemberton, James, Vice President, 1787 (Constitution of the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery, Philadelphia, PA, 1787)

 

Penrose, Jonathan, Vice President, 1787 (Constitution of the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery, Philadelphia, PA, 1787)

 

Rush, Benjamin, Secretary, 1787 (Constitution of the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery, Philadelphia, PA, 1787)

 

Coxe, Tench, Secretary, 1787 (Constitution of the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery, Philadelphia, PA, 1787)

 

Starr, James, Treasurer, 1787 (Constitution of the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery, Philadelphia, PA, 1787)

 

Lewis, William, Counsellor, 1787 (Constitution of the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery, Philadelphia, PA, 1787)

 

Coxe, John D., Counsellor, 1787 (Constitution of the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery, Philadelphia, PA, 1787)

 

Fisher, Miers, Counsellor, 1787 (Constitution of the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery, Philadelphia, PA, 1787)

 

Rawle, Counsellor, 1787 (Constitution of the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery, Philadelphia, PA, 1787)

 

Bailey, Frances, Electing Committee, 1787 (Constitution of the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery, Philadelphia, PA, 1787)

 

Armatt, Thomas, Electing Committee, 1787 (Constitution of the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery, Philadelphia, PA, 1787)

 

Boys, Nathan, Electing Committee, 1787 (Constitution of the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery, Philadelphia, PA, 1787)

 

Carson, Andrew, Electing Committee, 1787 (Constitution of the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery, Philadelphia, PA, 1787)

 

Harrison, Thomas, Electing Committee, 1787 (Constitution of the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery, Philadelphia, PA, 1787)

 

Jones, Norris, Electing Committee, 1787 (Constitution of the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery, Philadelphia, PA, 1787)

 

Read, James, Electing Committee, 1787 (Constitution of the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery, Philadelphia, PA, 1787)

 

Richards, Samuel, Electing Committee, 1787 (Constitution of the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery, Philadelphia, PA, 1787)

 

Shoemaker, Jacob, Jr., Electing Committee, 1787 (Constitution of the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery, Philadelphia, PA, 1787)

 

Warner, John, Electing Committee, 1787, and Acting Committee (Constitution of the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery, Philadelphia, PA, 1787)

 

Whitehall, James, Electing Committee, 1787 (Constitution of the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery, Philadelphia, PA, 1787)

 

McElhenney, William, Acting Committee, 1787 (Constitution of the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery, Philadelphia, PA, 1787)

 

Oldden, John, Acting Committee, 1787 (Constitution of the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery, Philadelphia, PA, 1787)

 

Parker, Thomas, Acting Committee, 1787 (Constitution of the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery, Philadelphia, PA, 1787)

 

Shields, Thomas, Acting Committee, 1787 (Constitution of the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery, Philadelphia, PA, 1787)

 

Warner, John, Acting Committee, 1787 (Constitution of the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery, Philadelphia, PA, 1787)

 

Zane, William, Acting Committee, 1787 (Constitution of the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery, Philadelphia, PA, 1787)




Return to Top of Page


References


(Bruns, 1977, pp. 385, 512-524; Gellman, 2006, pp. 45, 56, 57, 83, 96; Constitution of the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery, Philadelphia, PA, 1787)