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Pemberton, James (1723-1809) to Moses Brown

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC04980 Author/Creator: Pemberton, James (1723-1809) Place Written: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 17 May 1788 Pagination: 3 p. : docket ; 32.2 x 20.2 cm.

Summary of Content: The letter is written in traditional Quaker fashion without reference to the pagan names of months, and instead uses numbers for dates throughout. Written by Pemberton, a Quaker merchant and philanthropist in Philadelphia, to Brown, a well-known Quaker merchant in Providence, Rhode Island. References Brown's letter of 9 May 1788. Says he is getting the act of the Massachusetts Assembly (probably a law on the slave trade) republished in the newspaper with the most extensive circulation in Massachusetts. Sends along information and new publications on the anti-slave trade crusaders in Britain. Hopes they may "have a beneficial tendency particularly in the Southern Governments where the people & the Rulers in some of them require to be animated to a sense of the iniquity they are ... involved in." References efforts to get anti-slave trade petitions before various state governments. Says his principal reason of writing is to inform Brown that the Quakers in Philadelphia are publishing a new edition of Robert Barclay's catechism. Postscript references a letter that was sent to Benjamin Franklin that speaks of a 1784 Connecticut law favorable to "oppressed blacks."

Background Information: Moses was one of the famous Brown brothers of Providence who founded Brown University. Moses was an investor in the first Arkwright spinning mill in the United States, also in ...Providence. See More

Full Transcript: [excerpts]

"…the late arrival of ships from London has furnished us with numerous publications on the enormity of the Slave trade which we are endeavouring to get diffused in the ...like manner hoping they may have a beneficial tendency particularly in the Southern Governments where the people & the Rulers in some of them require to be animated to a sense of the iniquity they are forcefully involved in,…"

"…our Meeting for suffr has agreed to address the Delaware & Jersey Assembly's on the same subject which we hope will be followed by petitions from the inhabitants of those states at large; laws similar to that passed lately by the Assembly of this City being a recent instance found to be expedient a ship which was fitted out in this port [inserted: last year] for the iniquitious purpose of enslaving the poor Africans having performed the Voyage was returning with the same view & has taken shelter at Wilmington where we hope the owners (two British merchants) have met with such discouragements that they will be induced to lay aside their intention Thou will I expect receive so full information of the laudable spirit prevailing in Great Britain for suppressing the infamous traffick that I need not repeat the accounts we have received on this head, & the hope there is of its extending to the other parts of Europe."


By a letter to B Franklin our President from Sam Huntington Governs of Connecticut I find a law was passed by the Legislature in the year 1784 favorable to the oppressed Blacks & he expressed himself well disposed to promote their further benefits -

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People: Pemberton, James, 1723-1809

Historical Era: The New Nation, 1783-1815

Subjects: QuakersReligionSlaverySlave TradeAbolitionLawGovernment and CivicsReform MovementPetitionAfrican American History

Sub Era: Creating a New Government

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