One month and one day following the end of the Revolutionary war securing our freedoms from Tyrany, some of our ancestors turned their attention to the next order of business: Securing the freedoms of other Americans.
This project is to identify those who signed this document:
To the United States in Congress Assembled
The Address of the People Called Quakers
Being through the favour of Divine Providence met as usual at this season in our annual Assembly to promote the cause of Piety and Virtue, We find with great satisfaction our well meant endeavours for the relief of an oppressed part of our fellow Men have been so far blessed, that those of them who have been held in bondage by Members of our Religious Society are generally restored to freedom, their natural and just right.
Commiserating the afflicted state into which the Inhabitants of Africa are very deeply involved by many professors of the mild and benign doctrines of the Gospel, and affected with a sincere concern for the essential Good of our Country, We conceive it our indispensable duty to revive the lamentable grievance of that oppressed people in your view as an interesting subject evidently claiming the serious attention of those who are entrusted with the powers of Government, as Guardians of the common rights of Mankind and advocates for liberty.
We have long beheld with sorrow the complicated evils produced by an unrighteous commerce which subjects many thousands of the human species to the deplorable State of Slavery.
The Restoration of Peace and restraint to the effusion of human Blood we are persuaded excite in the minds of many of all Christian denominations gratitude and thankfulness to the all wise controller of human events; but we have grounds to fear, that some forgetfulness of the days of Distress are prompted from avaricious motives to renew the iniquitous trade for slaves to the African Coasts, contrary to every humane and righteous consideration, and in opposition to the solemn declarations often repeated in favour of universal liberty, thereby increasing the too general torrent of corruption and licentiousness, and laying a foundation for future calamities.
We therefore earnestly solicit your Christian interposition to discourage and prevent so obvious an Evil, in such manner as under the influence of Divine Wisdom you shall see meet.
Signed in and on behalf of our Yearly Meeting held in Philadelphia for Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware, and the western parts of Maryland and Virginia dated the fourth day of the tenth month 1783.
See http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~quakers/petition.htm for further information and list of names.
The dynamics within the 25 year leadup to the 1783 Quaker Anti-Slavery Petition are outlined in the 2007 book by Jack D. Marietta "The Reformation of American Quakerism, 1748-1783. See http://www.upenn.edu/pennpress/book/1229.html . Marietta is Associate Professor of History at The University of Arizona. Marietta describes the revitalization of the society which made possible the Quakers' campaign against slavery, thus distinguishing them as the first group of people in history to espouse abolition.