(1751) Anthony Benezet

From at least the 1750s, Benezet became a firm opponent of slavery. His campaign, very much a solitary one at first, took two forms. Firstly, he worked to convince his Quaker brethren in Philadelphia that slave-owning was not consistent with Christian doctrine. Secondly, he wrote and published at his own expense a number of anti-slavery tracts and pamphlets. Of these, Some Historical Account of Guinea, written in 1772, was by far the most influential on both sides of the Atlantic. The pamphlet was read and, to a certain extent, imitated by both Granville Sharp and John Wesley, both of whom corresponded with Benezet and distributed his works in England. Several years later, Benezet’s works were instrumental in persuading Thomas Clarkson to embark on his abolitionist career, and Benezet’s Some Historical Account of Guinea was reprinted several times during the height of the abolition campaign. Benezet, however, did not live to see anti-slavery become a powerful force, either in Britain or America. He died on 3 May 1784, and is buried in the Friends’ Burial Ground, Philadelphia. Benezet perhaps qualifies more as an American than a British Abolitionist, but his influence on the British abolition campaign cannot be doubted.

Source: “Biography” Main British Abolitionists Page. Brycchan Carey’s Website: brycchancarey.com

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Manuscript Collection at Haverford

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