Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > The Old Discipline > Negroes or Slaves


It appears to have been the concern of this meeting revived from time to time, with increasing weight, to testify their entire disunity with the practice of enslaving mankind (and particularly to guard all in membership with us against being concerned in the purchase of slaves from the coasts of Africa) yet as we have with sorrow to observe that in some parts of our country, this shameful practice is still continued and connived at, we think it proper to revive the advices heretofore issued; and again exhort our members, to be no way accessary to this enormous national evil, but to discourage it by all the justifiable means in their power; it being obvious that wherever it prevails it tends to corrupt the morals of the people, so as not only to render them obnoxious to the displeasure of the Almighty, but deaf to his warnings, and insensible and regardless of his impending judgments. -- 1755, 1806.

And we earnestly desire it may become the concern of our members generally, to use the influence they have with those who hold slaves by inheritance or otherwise, that they may be treated with moderation and kindness, and instructed as objects of the common salvation in the principles of the Christian religion; as well as in such branches of school-learning as may fit them for freedom, and to become useful members of civil society. Also that Friends in their several neighbourhoods advise and assist such of the black people as are at liberty, in the education of their children, and common worldly concerns. -- 1778.

Understanding that some in membership with us, either through inadvertence, or from selfish motives, have hired slaves to assist them in their business; we desire such to consider that in so doing they promote the unrighteous traffic, and oppose our testimony against it.

Friends are also cautioned against acting as executors or administrators to estates where slaves are bequeathed; and doing any thing whereby their bondage may be prolonged. -- 1774.

We are united in judgment, that the state of the black people, who have been held as slaves by any of us or our predecessors, calls for a deep inquiry and close examination, how far we are clear of with holding from them, what under such an exercise may be opened to our view as their just right; and we earnestly and affectionately entreat those in particular who have released any of them, to attend to the further openings of duty. Even if no such obligations to this people existed among us, it is worthy of our serious consideration, whether any object of beneficence is more deserving of our regard, than that of training up their youth in such virtuous principles and habits as may render them useful and respectable members of the community.

It is the sense and judgment of this meeting, that if any of our members are concerned in importing, selling, or purchasing; or shall give away or transfer any negro or other slave, with or without any other consideration than to clear their estate of any future incumbrance, or in such manner that their bondage is continued beyond the time limited by law or custom for white persons; and also those who accept of such gift or assignment; they ought to be speedily treated with in the spirit of true love and wisdom, and the iniquity of their conduct laid before them. And if, after Christian labour, they cannot be brought to such a sense of their injustice, as to do every thing which the monthly meeting shall judge to be reasonable and necessary for the restoring such slave to his or her natural and just right to liberty, and condemn their deviation from the law of righteousness and equity, to the satisfaction of the said meeting, that such member or members be testified against as other transgressors are by the rules of our discipline for other immoral, unjust, or reproachful conduct. -- 1774.

It appearing that, notwithstanding the many afflictive dispensations with which divine wisdom has seen meet to visit this land, many of its inhabitants are so deaf to the language of the rod, as to continue in the nefarious traffic for slaves to the coasts of Africa: and that the importation of them is still connived at: this meeting, considering such a conduct as a bold and impious defiance of the Ruler of nations, and pregnant with the most alarming consequences to our country, earnestly recommends to the meeting for sufferings to embrace every suitable opportunity for advancing our testimony in this respect, and for calling the attention of the public mind to this awfully interesting subject. -- 1786, 1787, 1806.

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