On July 19, 1816, twenty-three delegates from Quaker meetings at Centre, Carraway, Deep River, and New Garden organized the North Carolina Manumission Society at Centre Friends Meeting House in Guilford County. The delegates represented 147 members in the local societies. The antislavery organization alternated between meeting at Centre and Deep River until it disbanded after 1834. The Mendenhalls, along with the Swaims and Coffins, were the most active families in the organization.
Female auxiliary societies were added beginning in 1825 by which time the delegates totaled eighty-one and active male membership in the local societies was 497. Members met resistance from many quarters and had difficulty retaining printers for their handbills and other publications. While printer Joseph Gales of Raleigh declined to perform the work, William Swaim of Greensboro was friendly to the group.
The Manumission Society was the chief antislavery society in antebellum North Carolina. After 1830 participation in the society declined, due to westward migration and the rise of the more radical abolitionist movement. Its final meeting was held in 1834.
"Whether by trepidation or frustration, many manumission supporters went west, largely to Indiana and Illinois. There, reportedly, they helped found the Free Soil movement and ultimately drew all antislavery parties into the Republican Party." (NCPedia)
- Moses Swaim President, 1816
- Benjamin Swaim President, 1827, 1835
- Aaron Coffin Secretary
- Hugh Sherwood Treasurer
- Thomas Sherwood Clerk
- Patrick Sowle, “The North Carolina Manumission Society, 1816-1834,” North Carolina Historical Review (January 1965): 47-69
- H. M. Wagstaff, ed., “Minutes of the North Carolina Manumission Society, 1816-1834,” James Sprunt Historical Studies, vol. 22, nos. 1-2 (1934)
- Charles C. Weaver, “North Carolina Manumission Society,” Trinity College Society Papers, ser. 1 (1897): 71-76
- Paul M. Sherrill, “Quakers and the North Carolina Manumission Society,” Trinity College Historical Society Papers, ser. 10 (1914): 32-51
- NCPedia - Manumission Societies
- 1.4 The Quakers and anti-slavery: Reminiscences of Levi Coffin, The Reputed President of the Underground Railroad, 2d ed. (Cincinnati: Robert Clarke & Co., 1880), pp. 73–76.
- ...Minutes of the N.C.Manumission society, 1816-1834, Volume 22. Manumission Society of North Carolina. The University of North Carolina press, 1934 - Antislavery movements - 230 pages
- Manumission Society of North Carolina: An Address to the People of North Carolina, on the Evils of Slavery. By The Friends of Liberty and Equality. Greensborough, N.C.: W. Swaim, 1830.
- Manumission Society of North Carolina Records, 1773-1845: Digital Records
- Mendenhalls active in abolition of slavery
- Barney genealogical record, Nantucket Historical Society
- Constitution of the North Carolina Manumission Society