SOME OF THE PROCEEDINGS OF
NORTH CAROLINA YEARLY MEETING
ON THE SUBJECT OF
SLAVERY WITHIN ITS LIMITS.
PUBLISHED BY ORDER OF THE MEETING FOR SUFFERINGS OF NORTH CAROLINA YEARLY MEETING.
PRINTED BY SWAIM AND SHERWOOD
The object of this publication is to show the manner in which Friends of North Carolina Yearly Meeting proceeded in liberating the slaves once held by them Our own members may here Fee some of the difficulties with which their forefathers had to contend in the discharge of their duty —the community at large may see the doctrines of liberty not merely drawn out in theory, but reduced to practice
Many even of our own members are not aware of the extent to which. our society once participated in slaveholding, aid some on finding it here stated may infer that ins principles have undergone a change and that we who live in this day are more pure than our predecessors were. This is not necessarily the case; and indeed, so far from it, is there not reason to fear that to many among us have failed to maintain the testimonies in that purity in which they were transmitted to us! Purity consists in uprightness of intention. It is faithfully to follow the light which we have, whether that light be great or small. Now, the light may manifest to us one thing which is wrong and ought to be abandoned. Remove that and another not before seed may then be disclosed.
In the christian warfare there must be no reservation. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy might, with all thy soul and with all thy strength, and thy neighbor as thyself." On these two commandments rest all the law and the prophets. If we have Him with all our strength and our neighbor as ourself, whether our strength be much of little, we do all that is required of us. The whole life must be offered up as a continual incense before Him. Then the will or disposition of the mind being right, the appropriate act follows just in that proportion in which it is demanded by the Light.
The Society of Friends originated about 200 years ago. They were distinguished by several peculiarities from the religious professors of that day, and especially by their explicit declaration of the immediate and perceptible influence of the Holy Spirit. This, with them, in the language of scripture, is the true light that lighteth every than that cometh into the world." This is the grace of God which bringeth salvation and which hath appeared unto all men.—That all who professed and believed this doctrine should not at once perceive all its leadings jinni to he wondered at. To the same individual, the sun of the physical world has various appearances; there are the gray twilight and the hues of saffron before we behold its effulgent beams. It may be obscured by mists or storm clouds, but ii is the settle sun notwithstanding.
The patience manifested in this work is remarkable: The labors extend over a period of more than one hundred years. One step after another was taken. each approximating nearer and nearer towards the tile Cm aft object of completely "undoing the heavy burdens and letting the oppressed go free" Attention seems first to have been directed to their religious instruction, then to trading in them with persons who dealt therein for the sake of gain. Soon friends were prohibited from buying of any except members of Society—finally, their slaves must be given up. One committee after another was appointed. Deficient members were again and again advised and dealt with in love and tenderness. A very few were disowned. They mostly yielded to their convictions of duty. Truth and justice triumphed. Slaveholding in the Society was abolished.
We appeal to men of every class to weigh this matter with candor
Let legislators, especially let all professors of Christianity—the influential men of the nation—look to it. Much lies at your door; and the higher your position in society and the greater your influence, the more will be required at your hands. Nor is any exempt. We must all do battle either for or against the Redeemer of the world. “He that is not for me is against me, and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad." Our responsibility is according to our means of doing good—our guilt is as our light. All may do something; the least may do much. A poor widow once cast two mites into the treasury of the Lord. All the sumptuous contributions of the rich did not equal this. She cast in all her living—her whole heart was given to God and the cause of righteousness.
That slavery is inconsistent with the requisitions of Christianity we think will be manifest to every person who will examine the subject with candor. We confess that while we believe critical investigations into the meaning of Greek and Hebrew words may afford an answer to those who build their right of slavery on such a sandy foundation, we do not rely on them to prove that slavery is wrong. What says the conscience? In the secret of thy own bosom does it not raise its still voice and chide thee for using thy fellow men for thy benefit and aggrandisement? Does it not whisper even when thou hast sought for arguments to justify slaveholding—they will not do?—We call on professing Christians to beware how they press a few texts of scripture into justification of slavery, and proceed thereon to erect a structure the foundations of which are laid in the groans and tears and blood of their colored brethren. Is there not danger that to convince men that Christianity allows of slavery will be to convince them that the gospel is a farce—Christianity itself a mockery?—But let it be understood, that by slavery we mean the holding of our fellow men for our own benefit—for our self gratification—whether it be to increase our wealth, to minister to our pride, to enhance our power, to promote our popularity, or to satisfy any other selfish demand of our nature. If any man deny not himself he cannot be the disciple of Christ. If he love not his neighbor (his fellow man) as himself he is no Christian. Is not this the whole tenor of the christian religion; is it not a religion of love, meekness, gentleness, kindness; a religion which makes its possessor seek the wet-fire of his fellow creatures even as his own, Nor will it do to say that this is not the character of the professed Christians of our day. That is true, and lamentable is the truth. The conduct of professed Christians however can never alter the requisitions of Christianity.
Another lesson taught here is that of charity—charity for those who stilt continue to hold slaves. Hasty and harsh condemnation of those who differ from us can seldom fail to prove injurious.
5A NARRATIVE, &C.
The society of Friends originated in the year 1647. They soon began to move on the subject of Slavery in their own borders, and though their progress may seem to have been slow, they did not lose sight of their object till it was accomplished.
So early as 1671, George Fox counselled Friends in Barbados, to train up their negroes in the fear of God, to use them mildly and gently, and after certain years of servitude to set them free. He visited that island in company with William Edmundson, and their earnest labors with the masters in behalf of the slaves occasioned a report that they were exciting the latter to revolt, which report George Fox promptly pronounced a wicked slander.
The yearly meeting of Pennsylvania and New Jersey took the first official step in regard to trading in negroes in 1696, and advised Friends to be careful "not to encourage the bringing in of any more negroes "—also to bring those whom they held, to meetings and to have meetings with them in their families. The order that those who persisted in holding slaves should be testified against by their monthly meetings, appears to have been made in 1776.
The earliest notice, on this subject in the minutes of New England yearly meeting occurs in the year 1715, though slaveholding was there made a disownable offence five or six years earlier than in Pennsylvania.
New York yearly meeting manifested its disapprobation of the slave trade previously to the year 1759 and a query “whether Friends were clear of importing or purchasing negroes or slaves" was regularly answered by the subordinate meetings. In 1787 there was not a slave in their limits.
In 1757 Friends of Virginia yearly meeting adopted a query designed to forbid the trafficking in slaves and to pro-mote the extension of religious care to those already in their possession. The disownment of a member for slaveholding seems to have been authorized in 1784.
The first record touching this matter on the minutes of
North Carolina yearly meeting was made in the year 1740; and is as follows:—" An epistle was received from the yearly meeting of Virginia concerning bearing arms or going to muster, and using negroes well, &c."
Eighteen years elapse and we find a minute referring to a large committee the consideration of these two weighty affairs, viz: "that of visiting friends' families and making provision vision for negroes' meetings," and it was agreed that meetings should he appointed for them at New Begun Creek, }lead of Little River, Simon's Creek and Lid k, at specified¬ times. A sufficient number of friends were to attend these meetings to see that good order was observed.
In our discipline it is the practice for regular reports of the state of society to be made by monthly meetings to the quarterly and by these to the yearly meeting. These reports are in the form of answers to certain inquiries as to the attendance of meetings, the preservation of love and unity among the members, the proper tuition of children, the use of ardent spirits, unduly launching into business, war, &c. These queries then may be regarded as an exposition of our views upon on the subjects contained it) them. The following was now added to the former queries, "Are all that have negroes careful to use them well, and encourage them to come to meetings as much as they reasonably can." It will be found that this query underwent various changes, gradually assuming the form it has at the present day; it then, with the answers thereto will show the position in respect of slavery from time to time occupied by Friends as a body as well as the individual members thereof.
Nothing further is found on the minutes till 1768, when the Western Quarterly meeting asked the advice of the yearly meeting respecting the purchase of negroes. It seems that there was an order of discipline on this subject which was not sufficiently explicit, or upon which different constructions had been placed. A committee was appointed which after deliberation gave it as their united judgment that the discipline and query ought to be understood as a prohibition of buying negroes to trade upon, or of those that trade in them;
and that as the having of negroes is a burden to such as are in possession of them, it might be well for the meeting to advise all Friends to be careful not to buy or sell in any case that can be reasonably avoided." With this judgment and advice the meeting concurred.
Friends of the Western Quarter were still uneasy, and the next year desired that the. purchasing of negroes might be absolutely prohibited. No decision was arrived at; but in 1770, the matter again coming up by reference from the pre-ceding year, and the yearly meeting having weightily considered the consequences that might arise from an absolute prohibition in all cases whatever, unanimously agreed to substitute in place of the 7th query, the following:—Are all Friends careful to bear a faithful testimony against the iniquitous practice of importing, negroes, or do they refuse to purchase of those that make a trade or merchandize of then,? And do they use those whom they have by inheritance or otherwise, well, endeavoring to discourage them from evil and encourage them in that which is good? Two years after this—the Western Quarter still calling attention to the subject—a close restriction was made, for it was now agreed that no Friend should buy a slave of any other person than a friend in unity, except it be to prevent the parting of man sand wife, or parent and child, or for other good reasons approved of by the monthly meetings; and that none should sell a slave to any person who makes a practice of buying and selling for the sake of gain.
The Standing Committee (having the same duties as our present Meeting for sufferings) about this time drew up their sentiments respecting the slave trade which being approved of by the yearly meeting were recorded as follows;
“Being fully convinced in our minds and judgments beyond a doubt or scruple, of the great evil and abomination of the importation of negroes from Africa, by which iniquitous practice, great numbers of our fellow creatures with their posterity are doomed to. perpetual and cruel bondage without any regard to their natural right to liberty and freedom which they have not forfeited through any act of their own or con-
sent thereto, but by mere force and cruelty—we are impressed with abhorrence and detestation against such a practice in a christian community; for experience makes it fully manifest that instead of their embracing true religion and virtue in exchange for their natural liberty, they have become nurseries of pride and idleness to of; r youth—in such a manner that morality and true piety are much wounded where slave-keeping abounds, to the great grief of true christian minds.
And therefore, we cannot but invite our fellow subjects and especially the Representatives of North Carolina (as much lies at their door for the good of the people and prosperity of the Provinces) to join with their prudent brethren—the Burgesses of the Colony of Virginia in presenting an address to the throne of Great Britain, in order to be as eyes to the blind, and mouths to the dumb; and whether it succeed or not, we shall have the secret satisfaction in our own minds of having used our best endeavors to have so great a torrent of evil effectually stopped at the place where it unhappily had permission to begin."
Signed by (21) Thomas Nicholson, Caleb Trueblood, Ralph Fletcher, John Symons, John Sanders, &c., &e.
This committee also wrote the following epistle to the Meeting for Sufferings of London.
NORTH CAROLINA, 8th mo. 28, 1772.
Dear Friends: We think proper to acquaint you, that we have been informed by our friends of Virginia that the members of the House of Burgesses in their colony had agreed to present an address to the throne of Great Britain, desiring that an effectual stop may be put to the iniquitous practice of importing negroes from Africa to the colonies.—With this address we have good unity; and we are glad to believe that the eyes of many of those in authority begin to be so clearly opened that they are convinced not only of the imprudence but great evil of such a traffic. We have, there-fore, taken care to make known to several members of the House of Burgesses in our province the steps taken in Virginia on that account. On conferring with them, we have not found the least disposition to oppose the execution of so
good a design, but rather a desire that the same may be perfected; thus giving us some reason to hope that something of a similar nature may take place in our next General Assembly; but whether it will or not, we shall be glad to hear that Friends with you, if they find freedom, exert what influence they can to forward so good a work.
N. B. As there is an act of Assembly in this province which prohibits any person from setting a negro free except for meritorious services to be judged of by the County Court —under penalty of said negro being seized and sold to the highest bidder, for the benefit of the parish—such Friends as desire to liberate their slaves from principles of justice and christianity are under a great difficulty on that account. So we should be glad of your friendly advice and assistance if any steps appear to you that might be taken with prudence and safety.
We remain with affectionate regard your loving friends." Signed by 26.
The official proceedings for the most part up to this time have reference to the buying, selling and proper usage of slaves; but a higher step was yet to be taken. Accordingly in the year 1774, we find that a member of Perquimans monthly meeting—Thomas Newby—having become uneasy with the practice of keeping negroes in bondage and desired the advice of Friends--the case from its weight and importance was referred to the Standing Committee—which gave it as their judgment—" That all Friends finding themselves under a burden and uneasiness on account of keeping slaves, may set them at liberty by applying to the monthly meeting." They likewise advised the monthly meetings to appoint suitable persons to assist in drawing instruments of writing for that purpose, and to judge whether those intended to be set free are able to get their own livelihood.
During the same year there were several manuscripts produced by Thomas Nicholson, for examination—one entitled "Light upon the Candle-stick,"—also extracts from the “Light upon the Candle-stick" and "Liberty and Property"—respecting an alteration of the law as to freeing negroes,
and a committee was appointed to take opportunity with as many members of the Assembly as they conveniently could and let them have the perusal thereof. The author was al-lowed to publish the piece entitled "Liberty and Property."
Thus we see that the benevolent work had progressed. Friends were closely restricted as to buying and selling slaves and care was taken of their usage and religious instruction; and if any felt uneasy in holding them provision was made and encouragement held out for their liberation. But this was not enough, the stain of slaveholding must be wiped off from Friends as a society, and in 1775 the Western Quarter desired the yearly meeting to revise the query respecting slavery, and to make such alterations therein as would relieve some distressed minds. The subject was referred to a committee which after much conference, and finding that nothing short of a prohibition of either buying or selling negroes with-out consent of the monthly meeting, would give the de- , sired relief returned the matter to the yearly meeting as too weighty for them to determine.
Accordingly the meeting took the matter under its consideration—and ordered That Friends in unity shall neither buy or sell a negro without the consent of the monthly meeting to which they belong." The query revised reads thus: "Query 7th.—Are all Friends careful to bear a faithful testimony against the iniquitous practice of importing negroes? and do they refuse to buy or sell them without the consent of the monthly meeting to which they belong? And do they, who have them by inheritance or otherwise use them well in every respect, endeavoring to discourage them from evil and encourage them in that which is good?"
Next year the Eastern Quarter finding the above order too difficult for them to manage, submit it again to the meeting for its advice and assistance. A committee of 31 persons is appointed to consider thereon. They after much brotherly and sympathising conference, unanimously agree that the minute of last year needs a revisal or reconsideration, and that monthly meetings may require further help therein. This judgment is laid before the meeting. There is a time
of weighty and deliberate examination. A persuasion is felt that the keeping of their fellow-men in bondage is Inconsistent with the law of righteousness. Divine goodness is perceived to be near and by the baptising power thereof several are enabled very affectionately to express their sentiments, and, to declare their willingness and resolution to set all their negroes fully free. It is the unanimous sense of the meeting that all the members thereof who hold slaves, be earnestly and affectionately advised to clear their hands of then. as soon as they possibly can; and in the meantime that no member be permitted to buy or to sell any slaves, or hire any from those who are not of our Society. And in the cases which now lie under the consideration of Pasquotank monthly meeting. or if any of our members buy, sell or clandestinely assign for hire any slave in such manner as may perpetuate or prolong their slavery, the monthly meeting to which they belong, after dilly laboring with them—they refusing to take such steps as their friends may think necessary, and to condemn their conduct, shall be disowned as in other offences against the Church.
A committee was now appointed to visit and assist Friends in setting their negroes free as way may open, and the monthly meetings were advised to nominate suitable friends to join the said committee. A particular account of their proceedings was to be rendered to the yearly meeting and if any of the liberated slaves should be interrupted in their freedom, the Standing Committee were required to have that or any other matter respecting them under particular care, and to take the necessary stops for their preservation and assistance.
At the succeeding yearly meeting (1777) the above named committee reported that they found a great willingness, even beyond their expectation, to promote the work; and a considerable number of slaves had been liberated by those who held them in possession. About 10 of these were after-wards taken up and sold in consequence of an act of Assembly passed at Newbern (after said negroes were manumitted.) This seemed to put a stop to the work at that time, although several Friends who yet held negroes, were believed to be
very uneasy in continuing a practice which they were convinced is not consistent with justice or "doing as they would be done unto."
It appears that the Standing Committee interfered in behalf of the distressed negroes and made use of every expedient that occurred iii their favor. They employed lawyers who extended their abilities in pleading much to the satisfaction of Friends and for their extraordinary care and pains (though to little purpose at present) they gave them .R64 proclamation money, which the meeting concluded to raise at the next sitting.
The Standing Committee also published the following as Friends' reasons for releasing their negroes from slavery:
If we are called in question concerning the good deed done the much injured Africans in restoring to them that liberty and freedom which is the natural and inalienable right of all mankind--the cause is too good to deny it. And there-fore we are willing to inform all whom it may concern of the cause and motive which induced us so to do, in order that if any are found fighting against God, they may be left without excuse.
From mature, deliberate consideration and the conviction of our own minds, being fully persuaded that freedom is the natural right of all mankind, and that no law moral or divine, has given us a right to or property in the persons of our fellow creatures any longer than they are in a state of minority, we are desirous to restore to them their liberty and thus to fulfill the injunction of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ--doing to others as we would be done by.
The above laudable motive, prevailing in our minds beyond all selfish and worldly considerations, we believe that our conduct therein has the sanction of divine approbation and ought to be approved by all reasonable men.
We have endeavored to be clear from the least stain of guilt in the blood shed on the earth--when that awful day shah come in which ~. The earth shalt disclose her blood and no more cover her slain."--Isaiah xxvi, 21,--fully believing that the trade in slaves and souls of men is justly chargeable
with a large share therein, and that those who do remain partakers with murderers and manstealers will be involved in their guilt. And therefore whatever ignorance may surmise to the contrary, having through divine asaistance, done what we believe was our duty to do in liberating our slaves if men shall be permitted to reduce them to a state of bond-age and slavery, the guilt will lie at the door of those that are the cause thereof, and we shall appeal to Him who judgeth righteously without respect of persons."
Some of the manumitted slaves bound themselves to Friends for life. But the meeting discouraged such a course, tending as it did to lay waste the testimony in behalf of universal liberty; for though some Friends may have been influenced by motives of compassion to receive them, in case of death, such negroes might be deemed part of the estate and their posterity Involved in the same difficulties.
This year the answers to the querles show that no Friend is concerned in importing or buying slaves--though some have been sold, These cases were under care.
In 1778 it does not appear that any Friends import, buy or sell negroes, yet a fear is expressed that those who have them in possession do not use them so well in every respect as is desired.
Superior Courts of Law were now established, and the Standing Committee hoped that by appealing to them from the proceedings of the County Courts the negroes that had been manumitted and unjustly reduced again to slavery might obtain their liberty. They accordingly employed attorneys who for their services were to receiveRG00 of the money then in circulation; the Eastern Quarter raising £460 and the Western the rest. The suit was attended to, and an order obtained for the freedom of the negroes. But the spirit of oppression has an hundred grasping hands. Another act was passed to reduce them again to bondage.
It was now concluded to address the General Assembly in their behalf, respectfully showing:
"That, whereas the last General Assembly held at Halifax passed an "act for apprehending and selling certain
slaves set free contrary to law and to distract the public "peace, and for confirming the sales of others"—referring to the act to prevent domestic insurrections.
In answer to this, we do declare, that the liberation of our slaves was from mature and deliberate consideration and the conviction of our minds; being fully persuaded that freedom is the natural right of all mankind, and that no law, moral or divine, has given us a right to or property in the persons of any of our fellow creatures any longer than they are in a state of minority; and being desirous to fulfil the injunction of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in doing to others as we would be done by. These motives prevailing in our minds beyond all selfish and worldly considerations, we believe our conduct therein hath the sanction of divine approbation. And we are so far from doing a thing to distract the public peace that we do ardently wish and heartily pray for the peace and happiness of all mankind.
The aforesaid acts of Assembly and the proceeding upon them, we fully believe to be not only a violation of the explicit declaration of the Congress on the subject of universal liberty and the common rights of mankind published at the beginning of the present contest with Great Britain; but they manifestly contradict the Declaration and Bill of Rights on which depends your authority to make laws. Sec. 24 expressly declares "That retrospective laws, punishing facts committed before the existence of such laws and by them only declared criminal, are unjust, oppressive and incompatible with liberty; therefore no ex post facto law ought to be made." And in the Constitution or Form of Government is the following expression: Sec. 44. That the Declaration of Rights is hereby declared to be part of the present constitution and ought not to be violated on any pretence whatsoever. The Superior Court held at Edenton have publicly placed on record "That it appeared to them that the County Court in their proceedings (ordering the sale of several of the negroes) pave exceeded their jurisdiction, violated the rights of the subjects and acted in direct opposition to the Bill of Rights of this State considered justly a part of the Constitution
thereof, by giving a law not intended to affect this case a retrospective operation, thereby depriving free men of this State of their liberty contrary to the law of the land. Ordered, there= fore, that the proceedings so certified be quashed and held as null and void."
In Virginia many negroes have been manumitted since the year 1775 and none of them taken up and sold that we have heard of except one for misbehavior. In Maryland, as. we are credibly informed, there is an act of Assembly prescribing a method for manumitting slaves, by which any person may liberate his slaves provided they are under 50 years of age and sound in mind and body, and that they are not so freed in prejudice of creditors. In Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and New England the manumission of slaves is frequent, by many of other Societies as well as of our own, without offence to authority.
We believe that awful day will come in which "the earth shall disclose her blood and shall no more cover her slain," —and apprehend that the trade in slaves and souls of men has a large share therein. Wherefore we earnestly entreat you to take the whole matter under your serious consideration and relieve the oppressed.
25th of 10th mo., 1779."
The above memorial was signed by eleven Friends who had manumitted their slaves, and six of them were appointed to present it, but after conversing with some of the members of the Legislature and thinking best to defer its presentation, it was referred to the Standing Committee by which the subject was again revived after a few years.
Hitherto Friends were prohibited from importing, buying
or selling slaves, but were still permitted to hire them from
members of the Society; but in 1780 an order was made forbidding every instance of hiring g except of manumitted negroes during their minority, and those belonging to orphans. But slaves are still held and as the answers show, their instruction in piety is much neglected. More efficient measures are now adopted. The yearly meeting recommends monthly meetings to continue to visit such members as hold
slaves and to labor with then in love and tenderness, endeavoring to convince them of their iniquity. But after this care has been fully extended, and to no effect, then the monthly meeting shall apply to a committee appointed by the Quarterly meeting for assistance in further laboring with them
if after all, these endeavors prove fruitless and they still persist in holding their fellow-men in bondage, the monthly meeting may, with the consent of said committee, disown them from Society. As the reports of subsequent years show, this recommendation was productive of good effects. The slave-holders more and more yielded to the convictions of Truth and let the oppressed go free: many of them however continued to reject the advice of their friends—held on—and some contended for the practice.
But love is unwearied in its exertions. Monthly meetings are directed to exted further labor, and where any members still reject the counsel of their brethren and refuse to execute proper instruments of writing, fully releasing from slavery all who are in their power whether arrived at full age or in their minority, and there is no hope of Friends being profitable to them,—the monthly meeting having thus fully 4ischarged its Christian duty may testify its disunion with them. The position now occupied by the yearly meeting on this subject is shown by its adoption of the following query
“Are Friends clear of importing, purchasing, disposing of or holding mankind as slaves? and do they use those well who are set free and are under their care through nonage or other-wise, endeavoring to encourage them in a virtuous life ?"
In 1787 the following petition handed up from the Standing Committee of the Eastern Quarter was directed to be presented
To the General Assembly of the Slate of North Carolina to be held at Tarborough:
The petition of the Yearly meeting of the people called Quakers, held at Centre in Guilford County—for North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia—respectfully showeth:
We believe that the emancipation of slaves is in no wise inconsistent with the principles of the present constitution,
and that it clearly corresponds with a declaration of the General Congress in these words “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these ate life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and to secure these rights governments are instituted among
From full persuasion of these truths, as well as the obligation of the injunction of our blessed Lord “to do unto all men as we would they should do unto us," divers of the members of our religious society, in order to preserve a conscience void of offence both toward God and toward man, have found themselves under the constraining necessity to yield up a considerable part of what (by the laws and customs of the country) was termed their property, and emancipate their negroes. Several so liberated have been afterwards seized and sold into slavery, and others remain liable to like treatment.
These things coming under our consideration, we have felt our minds deeply concerned for the welfare of our country; and being animated with love to mankind we believe it to be our religious duty to bring them to your view. Inasmuch as it is righteousness which exalteth a nation and sin is a reproach to any people, will not such treatment of our fellow creatures incur the displeasure of that God who is our common Father and the rightful dread of nations?
We are affected with sorrow that in this State there should remain in force laws whereby the civil and religious liberties of mankind are so frequently violated, while in every other State on this continent, except Georgia, there is an open door for such as choose to liberate their slaves.
We do therefore earnestly request that you may take this subject under your serious deliberation and grant such relief as to you may appear just and reasonable. And we do most ardently wish that a total prohibition may be put to the importation of slaves into this State.
Under sincere desires that divine wisdom may govern your deliberations for the welfare of the State, and to then peace of your own minds, we are your friends.
Signed on behalf of the meeting, 31st day of 1 nth mo., 1787. LEVI MUNDEN, Clk.
The petition was accordingly presented and read, where-upon a bill was introduced, which after being read the second time in the Senate, was rejected.
The reports from year to year—show the progressive nature of the work; but the labors of the meeting on this subject now assume a more definite sphere. The object is twofold—to clear the Society of slaveholding members and to secure protection and instruction to the manumitted negroes. The committee appointed in the Eastern Quarter had visited nearly all the members thereof that still held staves, and a considerable number had been liberated.—Care had been extended to deficient members in the Western Quarter to a degree of satisfaction. The inferior meetings were directed to continue their care as heretofore.
1788.-The sufferings of the manumitted negroes called forth another remonstrance in their behalf, w herein is set forth the illegality of the Acts in prohibiting the liberation of slaves, which acts, unlawful as they were, had been vigorously prosecuted against several that were liberated whereby they were again reduced to slavery, being dragged from their lawful occupations, and exposed to public sale like brutes, thus parting man and wife, parents and children against the laws of nature and of nature's God. But the assembly adjourned before the arrival of the Friends entrusted with its presentation.
The year following a petition was adopted to the ensuing General Assembly of the State of North Carolina to be held at Fayetteville.
" The petition of the people called Quakers from their Yearly meeting held at Symons Creek in Pasquotank county, for North and South Carolina and Georgia—respectfully showeth:
That whereas there are now in force several acts of the General Assembly prohibiting the liberation of slaves which we conceive are not -consistent with those truths asserted in the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America; and believing that the dictates of conscience are of sov-
ereign authority, and that it is our duty to endeavor to keep, a conscience void of offence "toward both God and man, and to do unto others as we would desire to be done by, many among us, as a people, cannot with peace of mind continue their fellow-men in slavery and transmit then from one generation to another as beasts; but the aforesaid laws have been so severely executed that divers slaves who were from these laudable motives liberated have been reduced to a state of slavery again. We think this circumstance must be affectting to every true advocate for liberty, and demands a very serious consideration. We are again religiously concerned to bring the case of these suffering people to your view, and ardently desire that you may please to give your attention to it, and grant an act of toleration to such as have been or may be emancipated, with such restrictions as to you in wisdom, may appear just and reasonable. Signed by order of the meeting. LEVI MUNDEN, Clk."
This petition was presented to the Legislature—but did not produce the desired. effect. Another of nearly the same purport was adopted and four friends appointed to attend with
it at Newbern.
1792. From the answers to the queries it appears that "No Friends import, buy or sell slaves, but a few yet hold them. Some of whose cases were under care. "
The Yearly meeting having several years petitioned the Legislature on behalf of the colored people without the de-sired effect, this year agreed on the following communication, respectfully showing
"To the Senate and House of Delegates of North Carolina, That your remonstrants deeply impressed with sorrow and concern at the continued acts of injustice and oppression, which under sanction of law are permitted to be exercised by unreasonable men on the African race within this State—are engaged once more to remind this House of a subject so interesting and which to us appears loudly to call the attention and require the interposition of the Legislature as the professed Guardians of every description of men within the
It is declared that “God is no respecter of persons" and that his mercy is over all his works, and notwithstanding He may for a time permit one people or nation to oppress and afflict others, yet we find many instances in the Holy Scriptures where such oppressors were made to partake of a portion of affliction equal to what they had meted to others.—This was the case with the Egyptians and Babylonians for their pride and cruelty to the children of Israel, who again suffered by a famine of three years for Saul's cruelty to the Gibeonites—whereby we are instructed that national evils are some-times inflicted for the unrighteous acts of the rulers, as well as for the sins of the people at large.
Your remonstrants lament that any State within the American Union, where those inalienable rights of human beings to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness have been so clearly defined and happily enjoyed, should be so far in-sensible of the source from which all blessings flow, as to suffer a repetition of those cruelties which were exercised to-ward the people of Africa in removing them from their own country and every connexion esteemed most valuable in life, and reduce them again to a state of abject slavery—at a time too when the benign spirit of liberty is diffusing itself in various parts of the world.
They also conceive it to be highly unjust in itself and in-consistent with the constitution for any law to remain in force which deprives them of the privilege of disposing of what the same law declares to be their property, in such manner as they may conscientiously believe to be a duty to the Father of all the families of the earth.
They therefore earnestly request and entreat that every law now existing which deprives our free citizens of the liberty of emancipating their slaves may be repealed and never again disgrace the annals of a christian people professing to do to others as they would in like circumstances be done by.
Respectfully your friends.
Signed on behalf of the meeting.
LEVI MUNDEN, Clk." This was also presented and read—but rejected on the
second reading. Another remonstrance was agreed on by the next Yearly meeting. This met with the usual reception. In 1794 a revisal of the petition of '92 was presented. This also was rejected on the second reading. In 1795 a petition was prepared by the Eastern Standing Committee. In 1796 the Yearly meeting unanimously agreed again to solicit the Assembly, and the following was prepared.
"To the General Assembly of North Carolina to be held at Raleigh.
The remonstrance and petition of the people called Quakers from the Yearly meeting held in Pasquotank County, respectfully showeth:
That your Remonstrants feel their minds impressed with sorrow, that such injustice and cruelty should be perpetrated under sanction of law in any christian community as has been exercised in this State towards numbers of the African race, who after they were emancipated from motives purely conscientious, have been taken up without being chargeable with the commission of any offence and sold into abject slavery, several being thereby far separated from their nearest connections in life. We believe such proceedings are contrary to the law of nature and that it will surely incur the wrath of the Almighty who is no respecter of persons. He made of one blood all the nations of men and sent his Son into the world to taste death for every man that all might be saved; so that all people whatever their complexion may be, are objects of his mercy.
For a legislative body of men professing christianity, to be so partial as thus to refuse any particular people the enjoyment of their Liberty—even when the holders of such slaves are desirous from religious motives that they might enjoy it as the natural right of all mankind—is so incompatible with the nature of a free republican government and so repugnant to the spirit of the christian religion that the present case perhaps, all circumstances considered, has never been paralleled in christendom.
Yet we hope that divine wisdom may enable this House to exercise the power vested in it to the honor of the most
High and the welfare of the State, so that piety and virtue may be promoted and injustice with other vice and immorality be suppressed.
Therefore we earnestly entreat that you may give your attention to this important and interesting subject, and pass an act whereby the free citizens of this State who cannot conscientiously hold slaves may emancipate them and the persons so liberated be under protection of law. Such a reason-able request we hope will not be rejected, as we have no motive but a sincere desire that mercy, justice and equity may be put in practice,—and are respectfully your friends.
Signed by direction. LEVI MUNDEN, Clk."
This was offered to the Assembly, referred to a committee and rejected.
1797. The Eastern Standing Committee prepared an ad-dress of similar import showing how that for the sake of peace of mind divers members of the Society had given to their slaves that freedom which is the natural right of all mankind—that these persons so liberated had been again reduced to abject slavery—and requesting that these cruel restrictions and impositions may be removed. It is not their design to enjoin a general emancipation or to compel any to liberate their slaves—but only that liberty of conscience in that respect may be allowed, which they conceive to be reasonable and are not apprehensive that such an equitable step will be injurious to the interests of the State.
This petition together with a bill was introduced into the House. The bill was put to vote and fell by a large majority. Yet Friends believed their attendance was of service.
The reports show that there are yet some few instances of slaveholding most of which are under care. It is also intimated that the tuition and treatment of those in minority under Friends care is not sufficiently attended to.
1798. Another petition was prepared. A committee at-tended with it and endeavored to impress the minds of the members of the Legislature with the subject—but with the usual effect.
1800. The Quarterly meetings are recommended to appoint
point suitable committees to unite with others from the monthly meetings in inspecting into the circumstances of the black people among Friends, and in doing what may appear expedient, for their enlargement; also in laboring with those members who are deficient respecting the instruction and usage of the blacks under their care. Next year the Quarters reported that they had nearly gone through with the above service.
1803. Another petition to the Legislature was agreed on. It fell in the House of Commons on the third reading.
The minutes of the Yearly meeting from this time to the year 1812 are lost; but it is known that the subject was still kept alive.
The reports of 1812 show that Friends had again interceded with the Legislature—and with the usual want of success.
In the epistle of advice for 1813, we find the following: "And dear friends, we are constrained in love to remind you of the neglected situation of the black people under your care, with respect to a suitable education to enable them to minister to their own necessities, and fit them for the enjoyment of freedom,"
At the next meeting (1814) a special committee was appointed to take into consideration all the suffering cases and to administer to them such counsel and assistance as appeared best.
This year it was stated that nearly all the black people be-longing to Friends of the Eastern Quarter, had been transfer-red to the trustees appointed for that purpose. Some of the minors were placed out, more than 40 had been conveyed to Pennsylvania and some Were freed by application to the County Court.
A petition to the Legislature as heretofore, setting forth the suffering condition of the people of color, was adopted.--It expressed a belief that the happiness of the nation very much depends upon the administration of justice, and requests the Legislature to take the subject into consideration and afford such relief as may seem just and necessary. The Friends appointed on this subject attended thereto--but finding the
House in an unfavorable disposition towards our society and pointedly opposed to any law or measure being adopted on be-half of the subjects of the petition, they thought best with the friendly advice of some of the members of the House not to lay the petition before it or introduce a bill.--It was tried again the next year and without success.
The committee on suffering cases report that they have taken assignments for 48 negroes within the verge of the Western, New Garden and Westfield Quarters. And Friends are in a particular manner exhorted to greater vigilance in endeavoring to promote the religious as well as the literary education of those under their care, in order to qualify them to become useful members of civil and religious society. The Standing Committees were directed to use spirited exertions for the promotion of schools for their benefit.
1816. The propriety of addressing the General Government of the United States having been weightily considered, the following was adopted.
"To the Congress of the United States:
The memorial and petition of the religious society of Friends
from their Yearly meeting held in Guilford County,
North Carolina, respectfully showeth:
That your memorialists, estimating the high regard with which Congress will be disposed to consider any subject affecting the great principles of civil and religious liberty, beg leave to solicit your attention to the situation of the people of color in our General Government. Our minds have been solemnly impressed with the subject, and we believe it to be our religious duty to address you in that love which wisheth well to the whole human family, ardently desiring that you may consider the case of this much-injured people, who, not-withstanding the excellence of our national constitution are groaning under the iron hand of oppression—retained in involuntary subjection. and doomed to wear the chains of perpetual slavery. Here we behold human beings sold like herds of cattle—children torn by violence from their pa-rents and sold in distant lands, conjugal affection and matrimonial ties disregarded---a system calculated to promote the
aggrandizement of one upon the misery of another, which is in its nature abhorrent from every just and tender sentiment-
Desires have been raised in our minds that every opening may be embraced that is calculated to meliorate their condition: we therefore hope that you will be pleased to take the subject into serious consideration and afford such relief as may seem proper, and that you may be influenced by that wisdom which is from above and is profitable to direct in all things.
Your memorialists, as christians, are deeply concerned for the welfare of our nation; and believe that no worthier thanks can be offered to the great Sovereign of the Universe, and on no better ground can future blessings be solicited, than the recognition and discharge of those great duties which we all alike owe to the rights, the liberty and the happiness of our fellow creatures. Thus we conclude and acknowledge with gratitude the many favors we have long enjoyed under our government, and from you the rulers of this nation."
The Friends who attended Congress with the above, reported that they met with a cordial reception.
1817. The Standing Committee report that they have made some progress in the education of the people of color. Several instances of Friends having slaves are mentioned; one of ill treatment, all of which were under care. Some pains taken to encourage them in a virtuous life.
Though so often repulsed, a memorial to the Legislature was this year again prepared, as follows:
"Your memorialists, while we appreciate the blessings which we enjoy under a system of Government so mild as ours, and while with gratitude we acknowledge the freedom we enjoy to be invaluable, feel our minds seriously impressed to solicit your attention to a species of oppression which is prevailing in this land of freedom—whereby a great number of the descendants of Africa are held in and doomed to perpetual and involuntary slavery.
We deem it unnecessary at this time to advert to arguments to prove the propriety of "doing unto others as we would be done by," it being obvious to every reflecting-mind,
But while we wish a reform of this evil, and that your body may give the subject its due weight, we are not insensible of the difficulty of effecting much in a short time. Yet we think an amelioration of their condition may be gradually effected —perhaps by acting in concert with the plan of the General Government for Colonization, and by prohibiting the introduction of slaves into this State, which would in some measure be a means of discouraging the iniquitous traffic in our section of the Union." This was also attended with little success.
1818. The Eastern Standing Committee report: That they have used some exertion for the education of the colored people, some of whom can spell and read. They also brought forward the case of a mulatto girl (Penny) supposed to be free-born, but sought after with a view of reducing her to slavery; and were directed to interfere in her behalf.
From the report of the Western Committee it appears that most of those in minority are in a way to get a portion of school learning, and it is their judgment that Friends should endeavor to extend the education of the males so as to enable them to read, write, and cypher as far as the Rule of Three, and the females to read and write. A case wherein an attempt was made to subject some of them to slavery is mentioned and the meeting directed the necessary expenses to be paid from its treasury.
The summary answer this year says "None held as slaves —a few instances of some disposing of their rights, which are under notice. Some care taken for the virtuous instruction of those under our care—yet more is necessary. No complaint of ill usage."
The Eastern Agents report that they have received assignments for 24 people of color. The Western agents also report a few since last year.
This year the Yearly meeting appropriated $1,000 to the American Colonization Society.
Full authority was granted to the agents to hire out the colored people under their care, receive their earnings and apply it to the best use they can for them—and if they refuse
to comply with the direction of the agents they were to be delivered up to a course of law.
In 1S20, the eastern agents report that 16 persons had been conveyed to them within two years by Friends who had arrived at a competent age, and that as near as they can as-certain there are about 400 under their care belonging to the Yearly meeting, that they had managed them so as to avoid any expense to the meeting except a small part of what was paid for recording assignments and assisting those who were -willing to go to the Northern States.
1821. The Eastern Standing Committee report that they have deliberated on the subject of educating the free people of color under Friends' care, but no way seemed to open for their education, except what is done in Friends' families, and that not much progress has been made since last year. They also report that there is a suit in Norfolk County, Virginia, wherein the liberty of sundry persons of color is depending;—the meeting directed the expense of the witness who attended thereto to be refunded to him.
They further report that in the year 1808 there was a per-son of color by the name of Shadrack transferred to the Yearly meeting's Standing Committee, with the exception of 10 years of service, and that before the term expired he was sold and resold and now remains in a state of slavery, and having taken counsel and made a demand to no purpose, the commit-tee thought proper to bring suit at the expense of the Yearly meeting. Care for the education of the colored people is still manifested.
In 1822 a proposition was received from Deep River Quarterly meeting that the Yearly meeting should consider the condition of the people of color with the view of devising some plan whereby Friends may get clear of the charge of them. A Committee of 42 persons was appointed who gave it as their judgment that an examination should be made of the laws of some of the free States respecting the admission of colored people therein, and if necessary that the Legislature of that State of which the laws appeared most favorable should be consulted with.
The Agents for Contentnea Quarterly meeting reported that they had taken assignments for 14 slaves, 3 of whom had been carried off to Alabama and sold—some of the others had been in the possession of one of the sons of the former holder so long that it is believed they cannot be recover-ed. "The others except one are in our possession. Suit has been instituted for those in Alabama and our counsellors say they think we shall obtain such a verdict against the claimants that rather than pay the damages they will bring the negroes back again. We have also brought suit against another person for one he has in his possession. The suits will probably cost $300. We have taken assignments from John Kenedy for 36, and one from Joseph Borden for about 18. We have also taken assignments from most of the heirs of Thomas Outland, deceased, for 4.9." The Agents are directed to per-severe in the work.
The agents for the Eastern Quarter say That at a meet-lug the 30th of the 8th mo., 1822, a Friend was appointed at a preceeding meeting to assist the clerk in procuring a book and recording the names and ages of all the people of color under their care, also the births and deaths of all those born since their mothers were transferred, reported that they had procured one and that nearly all were recorded agreeably to direction—the number is upwards of 450—they directed the agents in the verge of each monthly meeting to take the births and deaths of all in their respective districts and hand to the Clerk at their annual meeting in the 3d mo. Eight have been transferred since last year, and some care has been ex tended for the education of such as live in Friends' families," of which the meeting approves.
The Agents of the Yearly meeting are instructed to receive no assignments except from our own members.
The Eastern Standing Committee reported that the per-sons appointed to bring suit for Shadrack had complied there-with, and that the judge's charge to the jury was against our title on the ground that an absolute sale for a valuable consideration and possession accompanying it was preferable to
a voluntary gift, and the jury gave a verdict in favor of the defendant. Attorney's fee, &c., $34 32.
1823. The Friends appointed last year to examine the laws of some of the free States reported that they find nothing in the laws of Ohio, Indiana or Illinois to prevent the introduction of people of color therein. The agents of the Yearly meeting are therefore instructed to remove them as fast as they are willing to go, or as may be consistent with our religious profession, and to draw on the treasury for any sum not exceeding 5200 to defray the expense.
This year it was concluded again to petition the Congress of the United States and also our Legislature on behalf of the colored people—as follows:
That while we duly appreciate the many privileges and benefits resulting from one excellent form of government, we lament that there are nearly two millions of human beings within the limits of the United States, equally entitled by the law of nature and the declaration of independence to the same inestimable blessings—who are yet deprived thereof—and many of them reduced to the most abject state of slavery and degradation.
We your memorialists, in common with all other Christian denominations, hold the marriage covenant the highest civil engagement amongst men and that it ought to be sacred and inviolable. Notwithstanding this, the master is tolerated by the law of the land to break this most solemn contract, by separating husbands and wives. Parents are frequently separated from their children and driven in chains to a distant part of the country to be sold—sometimes infants are taken from the breasts of their weeping mothers. These with many other cruelties which the people suffer without redress we are concerned to lay before you.
Believing that you, with us, are enjoined "to do unto all men as you would that they should do unto you "—we solicit you to take the subject under serious consideration and adopt such measures as you may think best calculated to a-meliorate the condition of those within your jurisdiction--at least within the District of Columbia—so that not only a hu-
mane example may be set to the different States, but the stain in some measure be wiped away from our national character."
After acknowledging the many favors enjoyed by us as a religious society, in this country where every denomination may enjoy the free exercise of religious liberty, the memorial expresses a sympathy with others who are suffering great oppression. "The traffic in human flesh is still continued and in many instances under the most aggravated circumstances--such as separating the nearest relations, husbands and wives, parents and children, who are often torn assunder without the hope of ever seeing each other again in mutability. This we consider to be altogether inconsistent with the spirit of christianity as well as the letter of our federal institutions. And moreover we suppose that this iniquitous trade gives great encouragement to the vile practice of kidnapping whereby many free persons of color have been violently torn away from their homes and friends and consigned to perpetual slavery. We feel solicitous that your body should consider the evil and wretchedness of such a traffic. While missionaries are traversing foreign lands to convert the heathen, we think it worthy our attention to inculcate moral and religious principles among those who are destitute of such instruction in our own country."
And we respectfully suggest to your consideration an amendment of the law against slave traders passing with their slaves through this State, as the law has been evaded in so many ways that it seems, if not annulled, to have but little effect.
A committee was appointed in 1824 to correspond with the Haytian agent in this country or other persons in regard to the removal of the people of color, and on ascertaining the conditions to proceed as wisely and prudently as possible, and .to remove as many of them as are willing to go to that place .and elsewhere,—drawing on the treasury of the Yearly meeting for any sum not exceeding $200, to defray the expense.
The meeting also decided to aid and assist in defending the suit for the slaves left by the will of Thomas Wright to New Garden monthly meeting.
The agents for the Eastern quarter stated that. one man had gone to Philadelphia at his own expense and nine have removed to Indiana at a cost of $9.00. There have been thirty children born since the report of 1822, and nearly as many deaths, mostly of the aged. The whole number now under our care is 500—257 females. Among the males there are shoemakers and rough carpenters—the others are employed in agricultural pursuits. There is no expense to the Yearly meeting from suffering cases.
The other Quarters report in substance as follows: From the Western Quarter the number is 13—9 of whom have recently removed to Ohio—out of the verge and at the expense of Cane Creek monthly meeting—$55.
The number in New Garden 32—15 of whom have removed to free States. The expense of their conveyance was $98. The remaining 17 are 4 women between the ages of 21 and 61, one man aged 65, and 12 children all under 15.
In Contentnea Quarter there are 156—8 of whom are very: aged persons; the others are 50 years of age and under, down to infants. Some of them are willing to go to the free States, but few of them are able to remove without assistance.
The number reported from Westfield Quarter is 5.
Deep Riper 7 Southern 31
One of these has removed since last year without any expense to the Yearly Meeting. Two of them are women 50 years old, one is 44. There are three men and two women between 20 and 32. All the others are in minority, and nearly all of them desirous to get to free States. A few of those in minority are bound out, and are to have literary education, - -others have already got a small portion.
From the whole of which it appears there are 727 persons of color conveyed to the agents of the Yearly meeting.
In 1825, from the summary answers there appears to be one instance of a friend purchasing a slave and several of hiring, which cases are under care; the titles to some others are held by friends under particular circumstances. No complaint of. bad treatment, and some care taken to. encourage them in a virtuous life.
The meeting for sufferings reported that they had appointed a committee to endeavor to have the suit concerning the slaves of Thomas Wright, dec'd, tried on its merits—who have employed attorneys therefor. The slaves are now hired out by an order of court, and it is expected so will be from court to court, till a decision can be obtained, which will probably not be very soon.
The agents of the Yearly meeting were instructed to confer collectively with the people of color under Friends' care, respecting their willingness to go to other governments. They report that there are now in the Eastern Quarter 506, that 7 have been received by transfer in the past year, 2 have gone to Hayti and 5 to Philadelphia, which cost the Yearly meeting $23,30. Some are willing to go to Africa, some to Pennsylvania and others to Indiana.
The Western Quarter has 13. Two men are willing to gone to Hayti, but are married to free wives and have several Children.
New Garden Quarter has 17; four women, twelve children, one man not disposed to be under the care of Friends.
Contentnea did not report their number this year. Many of them are willing to go to Hayti—many are married to slaves (not under our control.)
Westfield Quarter has five--two old people and three grand children who are willing to cross the Ohio.
Deep River has six, two are willing to go to Hayti. One not willing to be under the care of Friends and spends his wages; three are willing to cross the Ohio.
Southern Quarter has 31; one born, one gone to Indiana without expense to the meeting--one family willing to go to Liberia or Hayti and has property to the value of about $100; another family is willing to cross the Ohio.
It is the judgment of the meeting that if any of the people of color under Friends' care will not be persuaded by the advice and counsel of Friends that they may be subjected by the most moderate means that will effectually reduce them to industry for their own benefit.
It was-this year unanimously agreed that the sum of one thousand dollars be raised for the purpose of removing the people of color to free governments; arid an address was pre-pared to the Quarterly meetings on this subject. And next year (1826) it was agreed that the sum of $2000 be raised by the members of the Yearly meeting for the same purpose.
In the year 1829 Deep River Quarter asked the advice of the Yearly meeting, whether it is admissible for Friends to purchase slaves with a view of sending them to free governments when a reasonable remuneration had been received from the services of such slaves; also whether it is advisable for Friends to take minor children, slaves, for a time and then return them to their masters? After deliberation on both these cases, separately, it was the judgment of the meeting that neither is admissible.
The treasurer informed that Rhode Island Yearly meeting had sent the sum of $1351,50 to be applied as this meeting may think proper for the removal attic people of, color under its care to free governments. It was directed to be paid into the hands of the trustees appointed to have the charge of such funds.
A memorial to the General Assembly on the sub; shivery was prepared and the Friends appointed
reported (1832) that it was read and laid
1833. The Friends appointed last
eral Assembly without a written
and support of our testimonies,
days in deep exercise and frequ
ing ability from the divine
way--sketched out an ad
larly relates to slavery
"24. We believe
nominations that th
ought to be held
set of men sh
propriety of removing the free people of color that are willing
to go from this State to Liberia in Africa, and such persons as their masters may from scruples of conscience wish to send to the land of their forefathers. This we ask not for ourselves, having provided for the removal of our own."
1834. The meeting for sufferings produced a memorial to the General Assembly on the subject of the oppressive laws of this State prohibiting the literary instruction of slaves, from which the following is an extract:
"Your memorialists are emboldened under a weighty sense of religious duty to petition the present General Assembly to repeal all those laws enacted by preceding legislatures of this State against the literary instruction of slaves, whereby it is made a finable offence for any to be found teaching their slaves to read. And they also respectfully re-. quest your consideration of the repeal of the laws recently, enacted prohibiting all colored persons in this State—bond and free—under a penalty of corporal punishment from preaching or exhorting publicly in their respective religious congregations. We consider these laws unrighteous—contrary to
it of Christianity—offensive to God. And your mem-
if not repealed, they will increase the diffi-
they are intended to prevent.
far from using any measure either
would tend to increase the discon-
situation, feel it their indispensi-
ns to encourage slaves to obe-
masters, as the probable,
and ameliorating their
masters to be kind
ristian usage would
between them, and
both. May we
tice of the
whole human family one of the grand purposes for which this religion was introduced into the world?
And lastly your petitioners would respectfully submit to your consideration not. only the repeal of the laws before mentioned, but the enactment of other laws and regulations for the general instruction of slaves in the doctrines of the Christian religion and in at least so much of literary education as would enable them to read the Holy Scriptures, which would undoubtedly tend to the improvement of their general character, and greatly lessen if not wholly remove the apprehension of danger from them, &c."
The Friends appointed to attend with this memorial—reported that they did so, but without success.
In the prosecution of this design one difficulty after another presented—the Society Itself having advanced so far as in mind to clear itself of slavery, was still compelled not only to retain the legal right to slaves but in many instances to de-fend that right at great expense. Heirs, contrary to the will of former holders were on the lookout—ready to take advantage of any informality in the proceedings and reduce their fellowmen to perpetual bondage.
Such it would appear was the prejudice against freeing the slaves, the danger of their being carried off and sold in distant parts, the ignominy of their situation, that there was no way but to remove them to free governments as fast as their circumstances would permit. Friends of other Yearly meetings were consulted on the subject. They approved of the course and. freely, time after time, made donations in aid of the undertaking.
This then being the only hope of permanent security for them, preparations were made to carry it into effect. But difficulties still surrounded. Some who had been set free were involved in law suits commenced to reduce them again to slavery—others were intermarried with slaves out of society-others to free blacks--some were unwilling to leave their native land, to break up their former attachments and seek a home among strangers. But the work though gradual was persevered in. Their freedom was defended, to pre-
vent the separation of families purchases were made, the ,danger of their sit net w is explained to them by conference appointed or that purpose—they saw the necessity of an escape--some chose to go to the Western States, some to the Northern. some to Hayti, and others to Liberia.
But in so no instances even when Friends were prepared to send them and they were willing to go--they were not permitted by the free States to enter their holders. On one occasion a number having concluded to go to Indiana and be. ing prohibited, turned towards Pennsylvania—there too they were repulsed. not even being suffered to land. Friends of Philadelphia fitted them out with food, clothing, tools, &c., and they sailed for Liberia.
From a summary report in 1830 it appears that 652 had been removed to free governments at an expense of $12739 50 and that 402 were still remaining under Friends' care.
To show the nature of these labors, the tenor of some of the minutes of the meeting for suffering is here shown:
1824. The emigration of the people of color under Friends' care to Hayti claiming the attention of the meeting, a committee was appointed to write to the agents for the Yearly meeting in the Eastern and Contentnea quarters. and ascertain the number of those that are willing to go, and the probability of a passage from any port in the United States and particularly in this State.
It was the judgment of the meeting that the people of color he hired out under Friends' care, their wages received, their debts paid, and a part of their earnings reserved to pay their taxes and to enable them to remove to other governments.
1825. Those appointed to confer with the people of color respecting their willingness to remove to Hayti or elsewhere report: There are none in the Western Quarter that are willing to go. New Get diet Quarter has suspended its proceedings until further information is received front the
Hayden government. Southern Quarter has 21, most of whom would be willing to go across to Ohio, if their families could go too, but not otherwise; one is in debt about $50; one family cannot pay their taxes without much difficulty.
1828. A letter was received and read in this meeting, giving an account of a boy named Joe, claimed by the Yearly meeting, who had been taken from Asa Folger in Grant Co.
in Kentucky, on his passage to Indiana. Measures were taken for his relief. A correspondence was held with R. M.
Saunders, a member of Congress from this State Ile was furnished with a certified copy of the deed of gift and other necessary pa pets. A consultation was had with Col. Johnson, a representative from Grant Co. Ky., who wrote home advising the surrender of Joe. The papers and other instructions were forwarded by Saunders to Folger, who afterwards re-ported that he had received Joe and restored him to his liberty.
Subsequent minutes show that after examining the titles, the whole family of the forenamed Joe and one named Jacob, were sent to Indiana. A committee was appointed to provide a wagon, horses and other things necessary for the journey, They were the Symons family, 37 number.
The friends appointed in the first month last to visit .the
agents in the Eastern and Contentnea Quarters, report that they find under the care of Friends in those two quarters 729 persons of color; of those there are 202 children under 12 years old, that 315 are disposed to go to Liberia, one hundred to Hayti, 101 to the westward, and 15 to Philadelphia; that 99 wish to stay; 63 of the Outland family and 15 oldie Dickenson family are in Iaw—20 in the name of Exum Outland; that 25 had gone westward after this list was made; that there are 44 intermarriages with slaves who have 79 children; and 20 married to those legally free who have 50 children; they have hired a vessel to sail from Beaufort in Carteret county, to take 80 persons or under to Hayti, furnished and victualled, for $1400; for all above 8O which the vessel may take they agreed to pity $5 each;—u the people should not be ready to sail on the 3d of next month, they agreed to pay $20 demurrage for each day's detention. They paid $600 down and agreed to pay the remainder on the return of the vessel or in 25 days after:—the vessel is to take two a-gents without charge, and if they can leave Hayti in time,
they are to return in it also. They will lay in their own stores
for the voyage. There appears to be 95 people of color left
without any legal claimants by Friends who have removed to
Jersey, Ohio and Indiana. Some friends were appointed to
carry into effect the above contract. There were also 11 people of color from the neighborhood of Deep River disposed to
go in the same vessel. Provision was made for them also.
George Swain was appointed to go to Contentnea and Core
Sound, procure the necessary papers and try to have all the necessary arrangements made for the embarkation, to do, act and perform on behalf of this Meeting all things reasonable .and necessary therein. Also to examine the situation of the law suits in Wayne, on account of colored people.
Phineas Nixon and John Fellow were appointed agents for this Meeting to go to Beaufort and thence to sail with the people of color to Hayti, and to endeavor to have them comfortably located there and invested with the rights of citizens.
Considerable difficulty was met with in getting the people embarked. They were finally landed at Aux Cayes. This .year also it was reported that the Jessop family had been sent to the West by Friends appointed for that purpose.
In 1827 it was reported that 67 sailed on the brig Doris for Liberia—and that the people of color seem more unwilling to remove from Perquimans and Pasquotank counties than they were last year.
A written account was received from Contentnea that a-bout 50 were disposed to go to different places, and would acquiesce it was thought in what friends would advise.
1834. The Eastern quarter have succeeded in getting off to the West 1.33,, including 23 free ones and slaves given up which were connected with ours by marriage, the greater part of whose travelling expenses would be borne by Friends. They unanimously preferred going to Indiana and were gratified in the choice. They went in three companies and with suitable young Friends to whom were executed powers of attorney to manumit, set free, settle or bind them out: One company of 53 started on the 2d of 10th mo., another of 35 on the 10th and another of 45 on the 15th. Thirteen carts and `wagons were bought. $1250 were furnished for the travel-ling expenses, as the people were very destitute of clothing for so long a journey, the climate to which they were going cold and winter approaching. The whole cost amounted to about $2490.
In 1835 it was reported that in the neighborhood of Con-
tentnea, but four colored persons could be found who were, properly under the care of Friends—two men intermarried with free wives having several children, one of the wives de-. ceased, the children of the other bound out by the county court at the request of the parents. None of these were conveyed to the agents, but were under the care of individual friends, so left by their legal owners who went to the west., At Core Sound there were 2 women, one 50, the other 60 years of age, neither of them willing to go any where. One woman on Neuse River and 8 children, 5 of them bound out by the county court as free persons. At Matamuskeet one woman, 2 children and 5 or 6 grand children, 2 slaves of the. Newby family who pass for free persons. One old man at Clubfoot with a slave wife, and 4 boys said. to be bound to David Helen who removed with them to Alabama.
From Rich Square all were gone but 4, one woman the fall previous left at the camp two small children and her. clothing the next night after they started and in the spring had the offer of being conveyed with another company but, utterly refused. Five law suits were struck off the docket, and the cost paid. Those involved, with 8 or ten others, are expected to go to. the west next summer.
At Sutton's and Simon's Creeks—those connected with free husbands, generally in debt, cannot go, and none of their, children are willing to go and leave them; those connected with-slave husbands, except the indebtedness, are nearly in the same condition. Arrangements were made to send in companies of 10 or 12 at a time, 40 or 50 to the interior of Long Island. A friend is willing to conduct about 20 to the interior of Pennsylvania. These last reported were very poor and destitute of the comforts of life and deplorably ignorant.
The friends that went with the companies last fall reported that they were kindly received by Friends there and many of the minors bound out in suitable families.
One of the principal obstacles in the way of removing - these people being their intermarriages with slaves and indebted free persons, some discretionary power was given to the agents to pay small debts when several might thereby be removed.
From the report of the eastern agents (28th of 8th mo., 1835) it appears that since last report there had been 6 births, and as many deaths. Fifty-seven had been removed—most of them to Ohio and Indiana at an expense of $996,69. The number remaining and. actually transferred is about 160, but is believed there are several whose names and ages have not
been recorded which will perhaps swell the number to 200.
David White who went. with a company to the West, now reported that he left Perquimans with 53 to conduct them to Ohio and Indiana. Thirty-eight of them belonged to the Society of Friends and of them 33 were of the family that Friends were sued for in that county. Five belonged to a member who had authorized them to be taken at his expense. Six of them belonged to Simpson Lawrence, a colored man--who many years ago bought his wife and raised a family of children. Two of our men married two of his daughters; they had four children. Four of our women hid. intermarried with slave husbands and they had 20 children, part of those for whom Friends were shed, and being earnestly solicitous to go to some other State for safety—they had all concluded to go and leave their husbands in slavery. But as the time of their departure drew near, the cross was hard for them to hear and they seemed almost ready to give out going, and risk the chance of being reduced again into bondage
unless they could have their husbands with them.--Under these circumstances the four slaves were directed to find out from their masters, for what sum they would let them go. And their owners being somewhat moved with compassion¬; agreed to take one-half the sum they could obtain for them. A contract was then made with the masters and-they received $1400 for the four men.
Ile then proceeded to Ohio. and left 4 in Chillicothe, 23 near Leesburg, and 26 went to Wayne county, Indiana, near Newport. He met with no opposition in the journey, answered¬ all inquiries frankly and fully and found a more con. dial reception from the people of Ohio and Indiana than he had expected. There was quite a willingness in Many to have the colored people settled on their lands, to clear and cultivate it under leases of several years.
10th mo., 1836. Agents of the Eastern Quarter report that there have been removed to New York: 28 colored people since last Yearly meeting. The number remaining and actually transferred is about 130 agreeably to our records, yet it is believed there are several births which have not been recorded which will make the number larger -than the record shows.
There are at this time (1848) still a few persons to whom our Society retains the legal right–perhaps not more titan 12 or 15 in all. It is believed there is no instance of any being held among us so as to deprive them of the benefit of their labor.