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North Carolina Manumission Society (1816-1834)

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  • Levi Coffin, Jr. (1798 - 1877)
    Levi Coffin (1798 – 1877) was an American Quaker, abolitionist, and businessman. It is believed that Coffin and his wife Catharine helped more than 2,000 fugitive slaves escape to freedom, using their ...
  • Catherine Coffin (1803 - 1881)
    From Documenting the American South - Levi Coffin On 28 Oct. 1824, Coffin married Catherine White at Hopewell Church, Guilford County. In 1826 they moved to Newport (now Fountain City), Wayne County,...
  • Richard Mendenhall (1794 - 1871)
  • Vestal Coffin (1792 - 1826)
    Levi Coffin credits Vestal Coffin with organizing the underground railroad in 1819 near present day Guilford College. Levi and Vestal were charter members of the North Carolina Manumission Society. S...
  • Addison "The Life and Times Of" Coffin (1822 - d.)
    Life and travels of Addison Coffin, written by himself – Addison Coffin, Ida Coffin Doan Quaker, Pioneer, Teacher, Abolitionist, Traveler and Explorer, Author, ran "Immigrant trains" to the west

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)



  1. Patrick Sowle, “The North Carolina Manumission Society, 1816-1834,” North Carolina Historical Review (January 1965): 47-69
  2. H. M. Wagstaff, ed., “Minutes of the North Carolina Manumission Society, 1816-1834,” James Sprunt Historical Studies, vol. 22, nos. 1-2 (1934)
  3. Charles C. Weaver, “North Carolina Manumission Society,” Trinity College Society Papers, ser. 1 (1897): 71-76
  4. Paul M. Sherrill, “Quakers and the North Carolina Manumission Society,” Trinity College Historical Society Papers, ser. 10 (1914): 32-51