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8.9.2 An address to the public, from the Pennsylvania Society for promoting the abolition of slavery, and the relief of free negroes, unlawfully held in bondage ... Signed by order of the Society, B. Franklin, President. Philadelphia, 9th of November,1789

1789
Ephemera
Library of Congress

Pennsylvania Society For Promoting The Abolition Of Slavery. An address to the public, from the Pennsylvania Society for promoting the abolition of slavery, and the relief of free negroes, unlawfully held in bondage ... Signed by order of the Society, B. Franklin, President. Philadelphia, 9th of November. Philadelphia, 1789. Pdf. https://www.loc.gov/item/2005577131/.

Soon after the United States became an independent nation, a small number of Americans in the North worked to put a legal end to slavery. They argued that slavery did not belong in a nation founded on principles of freedom. These Americans called themselves abolitionists. As we see in this source, these abolitionists not only believed that slavery went against human nature, but they were also worried that simply ending the institution of slavery (and not figuring out where the formerly enslaved would live or earn money) could lead to many problems in society. Many of these early societies — like the one that Benjamin Franklin led in Philadelphia — were made up of white, upper-class men. Some of them were attorneys who used their knowledge of the legal system to petition Congress to end slavery and to protect the enslaved people who fled for freedom. Despite their goal to end slavery, these society members excluded black members and, oftentimes, women as well. However, free black communities in the North established their own abolitionist societies and created alliances with white abolitionists to further the cause of ending slavery. What reasons do you think these abolitionist societies had for ending slavery, but for excluding black members and women? What does that reveal about their priorities or values?

In 1780 Pennsylvania became the first state, and the first government in the world, to establish laws to free those enslaved within the state's jurisdiction. The Pennsylvania Abolition Society (PAS), which formed just after the American Revolution, was the first abolitionist society in the world. Between the late eighteenth century and 1830, the PAS sent over 20 petitions to the US Congress to end slavery, and members of the society also used their positions as attorneys to litigate against slaveowners and in favor of individual slaves seeking freedom. Despite their willingness to put in this effort (sometimes working for little or no pay), many of these early abolitionists did not admit blacks or women into their antislavery societies. This does not mean that the larger abolitionist movement did not include the leadership or active participation of black Americans, but the lack of integrated abolition societies is evidence of deep-seated racism and the complexity of the movement.

An address to the public, from the Pennsylvania Society for promoting the Abolition of Slavery, and the Relief of free Negroes, unlawfully held in Bondage ...
. . . Slavery is such an atrocious debasement of human nature that its very extirpation, if not performed with . . . care, may sometimes open a source of serious evils . . .
Signed by order of the Society, B. Franklin, President. Philadelphia, 9th of November, 1789.