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Mifflin, Warner (1745-1798) to William Smallwood

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC06508.09 Author/Creator: Mifflin, Warner (1745-1798) Place Written: Kent, Delaware Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 31 [August ]1786 Pagination: 3 p. : address ; 33.7 x 21 cm.

Summary of Content: Dated as "the 31st of 8 mo." Written by Mifflin as a Quaker abolitionist to Smallwood as Governor of Maryland. Says he remembers Smallwood's treatment toward him during the Revolution with esteem. Extensively explains his Christian anti-war stance, especially denigrating the idea that war in self-defense is sanctioned by Christianity. Says that America was given its independence by God in displeasure, because of the sin the nation lives in. Condemns the practice of slaveowners in Maryland separating families when they sell their slaves. Wonders what the fate of America will be for such sins. "I believe if thou remains Indiferent while such things in going forward that it will in the end tend to thy condemnation." Has heard some of the slaves that were separated from their families committed suicide. Also heard that slave owners have violated a Maryland law prohibiting slaves to be imported into the state. Says Virginia slaves would be hired in Maryland for years before being brought back to Virginia, effectively bypassing the law. Mentions a flagrant violator, Peter Challie, a magistrate and Maryland Assemblyman whom he is sure Smallwood knows and can intervene in the case. Address leaf indicates it was sent by Richard Bassett. Letter dated in Quaker fashion, avoiding the pagan names for months. Paper has extensive damage that has been repaired. Text loss on all pages.

Background Information: William Smallwood was a General in the Continental Army and later Governor of Maryland. Warner Mifflin was one of the founders of Delaware’s first abolition society in 1788. Warner Mifflin ...was recognized internationally for his antislavery efforts and is credited with assisting a great number of African-Americans in obtaining their freedom. At the time of the Battle of Germantown, he was a member of a committee of Quakers that traveled to meet with both American General Washington and British General Howe to present a testimony against war.See More

Full Transcript: Kent Deleware the 31th of 8 mo 1786
Respected Friend}
William Smallwood}
Thy cond[text loss: uct] toward me while thou had the command of the American [text loss: tr]oops at ...Wilmington has often occasioned the remembrance of [text loss: th]ee with esteem, and especially when I consider my conduct [text loss]ing in a line so contrary and opposite to the conduct and [text loss] thou wert engaged in, & what induces me to have the [text loss]ter respect for thee, is that I apprehend thou condecended to[text loss] thy self out of thy ordinary road and grant me toleratio[text loss] an apprehension at least that I believed that I was in th[text loss]y of my duty to him who made me which indeed would be a [text loss] line of conduct for all ruleing men to [steer] in, and where in I [text loss: believe] thou will never have cause to repent for any thing thou the[text loss]rd for me, let thee look on me to be mistaken as thou might [text loss]id believe it was from Divine requireing on my part and yet to stand with a Testimony clear against War from a full conviction that it is contrary to the nature of Christianity, that is the Spirit by which those are actuated who are engaged in Carnal War, and I also believe that the faithful follower of Christ in this day will by his Holy Spirit [inserted: be] led to hold a testimony against it, whereby they will be [text loss: used] as Instruments in his hand for the furtherance of that day fortold by the Prophet should come wherein the Swords were to be beaten into Plow Shears, and the spear into Pruning hooks, Nation was not to lift up sword against Nation nor learn War any more, this however small the appearance at present of the complision thereof I remain firm in the faith will in the Almightys time be brought about, and that every Act of faithfull obedience on my Part will contribute to help forward thereto, and will at least procure [we] a measure of Peace, Proportionate for all, I can suffer on account of my faithfullness thereto, and I am no more discouraged from any prospect that it may never be fully compleated in my day than I should be from Planting an Orchard for fear I should not live to eat the fruit thereof - my faithfulness in my day is like assisting to plant or cherish what will some time beyond all doubt manifest in a conspicuous manner its fruit - and here I am not so uncharitable as to conclude all those who may adhere to the Principle of what is called self defence, which they say is the first Law of Nature, are totally sequestred from the Divine influences [text loss: of] the Holy Spirit of Christ, I hold no such opinion, I believe according to sacred information that the "Grace of God which brings salvation hath [text loss: ap]peared unto all men Teaching [& c. &] [2] and that this teaching cor[text loss] with them during the extending the day of the Allmightys me[text loss]l visitation, whereby as Obedience is yielded to this divine teach[text loss] self is brought into small estimation, such will find so great a chang[text loss] self preservation being the first obligation by the workings of the Lan[text loss] Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus, to find their duty and greatest In[text loss] to do the will of God, even if it was to yield their bodies to the f[text loss] the faithful Martyrs have done in the support of a good Co[text loss] yielding up Body, Soul and Spirit [strikeout] as into the hands of a [text loss] Creator, trusting to his support and Protection, which they expe[text loss] to be above that of Iron and Steel, or all the arm of flesh, knowing [text loss] their Life breath and being are at his disposal and if they have him for the [text loss] friend then indeed they have left nothing to fear, for there is to such a [text loss: f]orce that this life cant be taken from them at least without his suffer[text loss] and then they are confident he has a better state prepared for them [text loss] they experience a being born again without which Jesus Christ him [text loss: self] [text loss] [tisfyed] there is no entering the Kingdom of Heaven which induces me to look on [text loss] [reat] Idol self preservation in the [text loss] held out by the supporters [text loss] AntiChrists Kingdom as an insignificant Phantom -
I now leave the subject of War and crave thy serious attention to some things that has of latter time affected my mind very much and which I believe will in its effects be of importance to our Country - when I look at the Calamities which have of latter years been spread over this Land, I have allways viewed it as a judgment from the Almighty for the Sins of the People. And altho they have now got the so much famed Independence, yet I cant help viewing it at times in the manner that the Children of Israel had a King allowed them in displeasure - and in order to try them after the Solemn appeals they have made to Heaven respecting their movements and the rights of Mankind, (I mean my Country men) how they would act with it and in Perticular respecting the grant matter contended for which was Liberty, Now my Friend I feel a concern to through this matter in a serious view before thee, not only as a friend of mine, but [struck: but] also as Helmsman of the Goverment of the state of Maryland, altho I do consider thee as being under the Necessity of Yielding as it were to other mariners as to the point to steer, yet I think in thy station thou may have great influence to draft to the right Point, if thou should be thy self aiming for it, that if others will not agree quite to it thou might by haveing [inserted: the] helm were the ship a little thereto -
Now my friend if thou believes as I do in respect of the Almighty Creating of One blood [text loss] Nations of men however diversified as to Colour or language (which I [text loss: believe] thou does) and that he is a God takeing [3] Cognizance of the actions of men, the [text loss]live also thou [text loss] spent to if not got worse by being in the [text loss] as thou told me thou was affraid thou should, and that as well of goverments as Individuals and that he will recompence unto all according to the fruits of their doings, and that he is the Refuge of [text loss], Then what prospect can we have of the issue with cruel [text loss] who are the Individual Perpetrators, as well as the Gover[text loss: ment] under which it is acted, who can, [strikeout] and do [so] sport with the Li[text loss] their fellow men, and put them on the level with brute be a [text loss] still not only to continue the Cursed Practice of holding the [text loss] situation subjected thereto but also [inserted: influenced by] the Love of money to be [text loss] guilty of the brutal act of seperating them from the dearest [text loss] Nature without Provocation leaveing no grounds to expect a sig[text loss] each other again in this Life Husbands from Wives, Parents from [text loss: Children], sold away from Maryland to Carolina, of this there is I suppose [text loss] a Considerable Trade from the Lower parts of Maryland, [text loss: several vessals] constantly imploy'd I understand in carying away Negroes [text loss] have been ready to say oh poor America what will be thy fate at [text loss] How to do what I can to be a testamony against this Spicies [text loss] Turkish Tyranny. I did thin[text loss] it was my duty to through those th[text loss]g, before thee, that I might so far stand Clear myself and to stir th[text loss] to bestir thy self, and if thou discharges thy self and thou does not have accomplished what thou could wish thou will then be clear which will be a great thing, but I believe if thou remains Indiferent while such things in going forward that it will in the end tend to thy condemnation -
Several of those poor Creatures I understand that have [inserted: been] thus taken away have taken it so to heart as to throw themselves into the great deep whereby to end their sorrow in this way, O how is the sacred name of Christ Blaspheamed hereby, Another shamefull and flagrent instance of Justice being denied them is in the case of the late Act of Assembly of Maryland which Prohibit the importation of Slaves into that state [of sundry] instances have been of Negroes being brought out of Virginia since and hired in Maryland for years and taken from Maryland [inserted: into Virginia] where there is a similar law, and the officers would not even listen to any complaint made to them, and the Court of Worcester County I believe absolutely refused to grant such Negroes a hearing as a Lawyer who Practices there informed me for some time and I believe little attention is yet given to it, one of those Negroes was I believe hired by Peter Challee a Majistrate and Assemblyman I mention his name to thee as I expect thou knows him and has opportunity of seeing him, I shall expect a few Lines from thee in answer to this at least I hope I stand in so favourable point of view with thee, that induces me to expect that thou will trouble thyself so far, the [Barrer] a perticular friend of mine

[written in the left margin of page 3]
will readily receive a line from thee to hand me, I expect also to hand by him a small piece or two for thy [perusal] as a token of my further regard to thee - I remain a Sincere friend to the welfare and Happiness of America and in reallity thine
Warner Mifflin

[address leaf]
William Smallwood Esqr.
President of the State of
favoured by
Richard Bassett Esqr
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People: Mifflin, Warner, 1745-1798
Smallwood, William, 1732-1792

Historical Era: The New Nation, 1783-1815

Subjects: Revolutionary WarRevolutionary War GeneralReligionQuakersChristianityAbolitionAfrican American HistorySlaverySlave SaleChildren and FamilyLawSuicideMilitary History

Sub Era: Creating a New Government

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