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[338] he says, ‘that a large number of slaves had been imported from Africa into the town, and were then on sale by a member of our Society, my appetite failed; I grew outwardly weak, and had a feeling of the condition of Habakkuk: “ When I heard, my belly trembled, my lips quivered; I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble.” I had many cogitations, and was sorely distressed.’ He prepared a memorial to the Legislature, then in session, for the signatures of Friends, urging that body to take measures to put an end to the importation of slaves. His labors in the Yearly Meeting appear to have been owned and blessed by the Divine Head of the church. The London Epistle for 1758, condemning the unrighteous traffic in men, was read, and the substance of it embodied in the discipline of the meeting; and the following query was adopted, to be answered by the subordinate meetings:—--

‘Are Friends clear of importing negroes, or buying them when imported; and do they use those well, where they are possessed by inheritance or otherwise, endeavoring to train them up in principles of religion’

At the close of the Yearly Meeting, John Woolman requested those members of the Society who held slaves to meet with him in the chamber of the house for worship, where he expressed his concern for the well-being of the slaves, and his sense of the iniquity of the practice of dealing in or holding them as property. His tender exhortations were not lost upon his auditors; his remarks were kindly received, and the gentle and loving spirit in which they were offered reached many hearts.

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John Woolman (1)
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1758 AD (1)
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