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Quaker Petition to Abolish the Slave Trade, addressed to the first U.S. Congress, 1790.

To the Senate and House of Representatives for
the United States of America,

The Address of the Representatives of the
Religious Society called Quakers, in the State of
New York, and western parts of New England

Our minds being deeply affected with the enormities
attendant on the slave trade, and having had the company of
many of our Friends from the westward, who gave us an opportu-
nity of seeing a copy of the address to you, on the general subject
of slavery, from the last Yearly Meeting of our Brethren held at
Philadelphia, which, after a solid consideration, we united
with, and believe it right, not only to express our concurrence
therewith, but at the same time to represent,

That, although some useful and necessary laws have
been enacted in this State, for the releif of the oppressed
Africans, yet a door remains open, distinguishing this from
neighbouring Governments, of which avaricious men
avail themselves, so that the intended salutary purposes
of the laws of those Governments, prohibiting the trade to
Africa for slaves, are liable to be evaded; instances having
occurred of vessells fitted and cleared out from hence on
this unrighteous business; and we are well informed, that
from other Parts
several late applications | have been made to trading men

[page two]
in this State to embark yet farther and more extensively therein.
The consideration whereof having impressed our minds with much
concern for this afflicted People, we were induced to address the
Legislature of this State on this subject, and relative to the
abolition of slavery
, but as our address was laid aside upon a
report of a Committee, touching the subject of the slave trade, that
nothing could be done in that business, as those matters were by
the Constitution, vested in the General Government. we therefore,
believe ourselves religiously bound to lay this subject before you,
earnestly desiring, that a case, so deeply interesting to the rights of
men, may obtain your close attention, and that your minds may
be so influenced by Divine Wisdom that effectual provision may
be made to restrain vessells from fitting and clearing out in any
of the ports in this State for the purpose of a trade to Africa for
. [emphasis in original]

New York [ ___ ]
Signed by direction and on behalf of a
Meeting of the Representatives, aforesaid
George Bowne


Courtesy National Archives
(46-Petition-1AG3-2, pp. 3–4)
See page images of the petition and supporting documents, including the accompanying letter of Benjamin Franklin, at the online NARA Archival Image Locater (NAIL) of the National Archives and Records Administration at


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