Quakers and Slavery, 1657-1865
An International Interdisciplinary Conference
November 5, All day at Swarthmore College
More than two dozen scholars will participate in this conference, which aims to examine the history, literature, and culture of the Quaker relationship with slavery, from the Society of Friends’ origins in the English Civil War to the end of the American Civil War.
In 1657, George Fox wrote to “Friends beyond sea, that have Blacks and Indian Slaves” to remind them that Quakers who owned slaves should be merciful and should remember that God “hath made all Nations of one Blood.” His argument may seem far from radical today, but it initiated more than two centuries of Quaker debate and activism over the problem of slavery that would ultimately see Friends taking key roles in abolition and emancipation movements on both sides of the Atlantic and beyond.
It was, however, by no means inevitable that Quakers would embrace antislavery. In the 17th century and most of the 18th century, Quakers were divided on the issue–particularly in the British American colonies–with some denouncing slavery and others owning slaves. In the 19th century, Quakers were more unified in their opposition to slavery but encountered a range of spiritual, political, and personal challenges while taking their antislavery message to a wider world.
Keynote Speakers: Gary B. Nash, University of California??os Angeles, J. William Frost, Swarthmore College James Walvin, University of York. Conference Details:
The event is free and open to the public. See the conference website for registration details.