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IX. the rise and progress of Abolition.

the General Congress which convened at Philadelphia in 1774, framed articles of Association between the colonies, one of which was a solemn agreement “that we will neither import nor purchase any slave imported after the 1st of December next;” being moved thereto by State action of like character, wherein Virginia and North Carolina were honorably conspicuous. Most of the States, accordingly, prohibited the Slave-Trade during or soon after the Revolution. Throughout the war for independence, the Rights of Man were proclaimed as the great objects of our struggle. General Gates, the hero of Saratoga, emancipated his slaves in 1780. The first recorded Abolition Society--that of Pennsylvania--was formed in 1774. The New York Manumission Society was founded in 1785: John Jay was its first President; Alexander Hamilton its second. Rhode Island followed in 1786; Maryland in 1789; Connecticut in 1790; Virginia in 1791; New Jersey in 1792. The discovery that such societies were at war with the Federal Constitution, or with the reciprocal duties of citizens of the several States, was not made till nearly forty years afterward. These Abolition Societies were largely composed of the most eminent as well as the worthiest citizens. Among them were, in Maryland, Samuel Chase, a signer of the Declaration, and Luther Martin, one of the framers of the Constitution; in Delaware, James A. Bayard,1 afterward in Congress, and Caesar A. Rodney, who became Attorney-General. The Pennsylvania Society had Benjamin Franklin for its President, and Benjamin Rush for Secretary — both signers of the Declaration. This,2 among other such societies, memorialized the first Federal Congress, then sitting at Philadelphia, against Slavery, asking
that you will be pleased to countenance the restoration to liberty of those unhappy men who, alone in this land of freedom, are degraded into perpetual bondage, and who, amid the general joy of surrounding freemen, are groaning in servile subjection; that you will devise means for removing this inconsistency of character from the American people; that you will promote mercy and justice toward this distressed race; and that you will step to the very verge of the power vested in you for discouraging every species of traffic in the persons of our fellow-men.

Congress courteously received this and similar memorials, calmly considered them, and decided that it had no power to abolish Slavery in the

1 Father of one of her present U. S. Senators.

2 Franklin, then 84 years of age, signed this memorial on the 3d of February, 1790, and died on the 17th of April following.

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