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 The Society gave these memorials a cold reception. The love of gain and power was too strong, on the part of the wealthy and influential planters and merchants who had become slaveholders, to allow the scruples of the Chester meeting to take the shape of discipline. The utmost that could be obtained of the Yearly Meeting was an expression of opinion adverse to the importation of negroes, and a desire that ‘Friends generally do, as much as may be, avoid buying such negroes as shall hereafter be brought in, rather than offend any Friends who are against it; yet this is only caution, and not censure.’ In the mean time the New England Yearly Meeting was agitated by the same question. Slaves were imported into Boston and Newport, and Friends became purchasers, and in some instances were deeply implicated in the foreign traffic. In 1716, the monthly meetings of Dartmouth and Nantucket suggested that it was ‘not agreeable to truth to purchase slaves and keep them during their term of life.’ Nothing was done in the Yearly Meeting, however, until 1727, when the practice of importing negroes was censured. That the practice was continued notwithstanding, for many years afterwards, is certain. In 1758, a rule was adopted prohibiting Friends within the limits of New England Yearly Meeting from engaging in or countenancing the foreign slave-trade. In the year 1742 an event, simple and inconsiderable in itself, was made the instrumentality of exerting a mighty influence upon slavery in the
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