Memoirs of the Life and Gospel Labours of Stephen Grellet. In One Volume. Philadelphia: Friends' Book Store, n.d.

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Observations and Remarks on Slavery, 1824.

I had at Fredericksburg a very large meeting in the Presbyterian meeting house. The prospect of having a meeting at that place, where I have repeatedly seen the poor slaves treated with great cruelty, felt awful to me. But the dear Master helped his poor servant to do the work required. I was enlarged in setting forth the love of Him who has loved us whilst sinners, and has commanded us to love one another as he has loved us. His love is to all men, he has died for all, and we must love all, and do to others as we would they should do to us. Were this the case, could men oppress one another? could they wage war against one another? could they hold their fellow men, of any colour or nation, in a state of bondage? The Lord's power came over the meeting in such a manner as to bring conviction to the minds of the people, and seriousness prevailed over all. But, alas! it may prove to many on only the passing of the morning cloud.

On the way to Richmond, stopping on the road to feed our horses, we saw a large concourse of slaves in an orchard. They were holding a meeting, previous to the burial of an aged fellow negro. Such a meeting was allowed them on the occasion, and a magistrate was with them to see that order was maintained. There was no need however of his interference, for they were very quiet and serious. One of the number was preaching to them. He was earnest and fluent in his communication, and the matter was good and appropriate. It was pleasant to me to stand a while among them, listening to what was said. I doubt not than many of them were offering unto the Lord acceptable worship.

I had two meetings at Richmond; one was largely attended by the inhabitants. I had several times, before now, apprehended that there are in this place, among much of what is evil, some well-disposed, pious persons; to these the Lord gave me to minister, for their encouragement in the ways of righteousness and holiness.

The Quarterly Meeting at Wain Oak was a time of suffering to me; things are very low among them, and there is a great departure, among the young people, form the purity and Christian simplicity of our religious profession. Many of these have been sorely wounded by associations with slaveholders. - Pages 629 - 630.


I had meeting throughout that part of Virginia, as far as Suffolk. These meetings were numerously attend by slave-holders. I cannot describe the weight of distress brought on my mind on these occasions; for the yoke of slavery has become heavy here; their treatment, and the oppressive laws against the free people of colour, are not less so. It is very evident that their Colonizaiton Society, under fair, specious appearances, has for its object to drive the free negroes away from the country, so that slaves, by not seeing any of their colour in the enjoyment of liberty, may the better submit to their state of bondage. They have so increased the penalties on the free blacks, that if any one of these is charged with having stolen to the value of one dollar and fifty cents, he is to be sold as a slave, and transported out of the country. Those that have been set free of late, must leave the state within one year, or else they are liable to be sold again as slaves. Free people of colour a re liable to be taken up as suspected slaves, and confined in prison till they can give proof that they are free; but, being shut up, they have not an opportunity to obtain this proof; or, should they obtain it, if they cannot pay the expenses incurred by their imprisonment, they are also sold as slaves. Will not the Lord plead with his people for these things? Will He not arise for the cry of the poor and oppressed descendants of Africa? I feel deeply for them, and not less awfully for their oppressors. - Pages 632 - 633.


I passed thence into the lower parts of North Carolina, attended their Quarterly Meeting for those counties, held this time as Sutton's Creek, which was very satisfactory. The public meetings were baptizing seasons. Great crowds attend the, and the Lord was pleased to extend his gracious invitation to return to him with full purpose of heart. Through those counties I had several large meetings. Some entirely among the slave-holders. Others, chiefly among the slaves; for, although it was given me to proclaim the Truth, without disguise, to the masters, their hearts appeared to be open towards me, and they made way very readily for the meetings I appointed for their slaves. Some of the masters attended, but generally they said, that they were persuaded that I would not say anything in their absence, that I would not say in their presence. The Lord was very preciously near in several of these religious opportunities. - Pages 633 - 634.


25th [7th month, 1824]. I had two meetings; one in the forenoon with Friends, the other in the Methodists large house at Lynchburg, attended by the people of the various religious denominations in the place. The Lord was near and good; he strengthened me to proclaim his Gospel, which is designed to be glad tidings of great joy to all people; a joy that all may become partakers of, if, by their own fault, they do not frustrate the purpose of the Redeemer's love towards them. In his love and free mercy he has come to deliver us from the bondage of sin, and has commanded us to love one another as he has loved us. Can we say that we love him if we observe not his commandments? Can we say that we love our fellow men, if we act toward them contrary to what we would they should do towards us? Should we think, that those who are now held under the galling yoke of bondage, acted justly towards us, were they to rivet the same heavy chains upon us that they are now laden with? It will not avail us to say that slaves are of another colour than ourselves; they, equally with us, are the children of the same Almighty Father. He has made all the nations of the earth one blood; Christ Jesus has died for all men, and he commands us to love all men. I entreated with them, to live in the Divine fear, to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God. Much seriousness was over the assembly, and none made any opposition, though I fully set before them the unrighteousness of slavery, and the guilt of slave-holders.