Slavery and Abolition in Pennsylvania

The topic of slavery in Pennsylvania has been reviewed by many historians over the years focusing on specific periods. Pennsylvania, being the first state to push the abolition of slavery would make it an understandable target for research. Within the existing research there are some gaps that exist in regard to how a majority of Pennsylvanian’s changed socially to accept and anti-slavery or abolitionist mindset. A significant gap exists in the study of how Pennsylvania moved from a state where slave ownership was an accepted practice to a point where fugitive slave hunters were attacked and held in local jails in rural Pennsylvania. This would require a significant societal change in the people in the state .Using a social lens of investigation we will examine how the beliefs of the people of Pennsylvania have changed and what was the major contributor to that change. Pennsylvania’s actions against slavery shows a significant point of change in colonial America and likely ushered in a sea change throughout the northern states. To better understand that social change the research that exists currently must be reviewed and compared. Primary documents will also be reviewed to understand where and how the movement against slavery began. The purpose of this research is to fill the gap of research on Pennsylvania’s history of slavery and abolition from beginning to end and look at a notable societal change within the state when it comes to the issue of slavery. Viewing the Pennsylvania colony and state as a history of the people that lived within its borders and how their behavior towards slavery changed in a span of nearly 200 years.

The Pennsylvania colony was founded in 1681 when William Penn was granted land by King Charles II. Penn had a design for a “Peaceable Kingdom” in the new world where the Quaker people would live peacefully and respectfully with the native peoples in the new colony. Pennsylvania, like the rest of the colonies was also involved in the Atlantic Slave Trade and some of the Quakers, including William Penn himself were slave owners. Slavery would be an issue for Pennsylvania through the early 19th century. Pennsylvania would be the first state, during the American Revolution to outlaw slave importation and introduce a law called the Gradual Abolition of Slavery in 1780. Pennsylvania eventually became a haven for self-emancipated slaves traveling the Underground Railroad.

William Penn – National Park Service

In examining the history of slavery in Pennsylvania, it is important to understand that the Quaker faith and how it contributed to this change. The Quaker church is also known as the Religious Society of Friends. The social movement against slavery in Pennsylvania began in the Quaker church. Quakers believe that God is in everyone and that every person has unique worth to the world. Quakers also believe that all people have equal value and must oppose anything that may threaten another. These are the beliefs which William Penn wished to build his peaceable kingdom upon. Dr, Katharine Gerbner, Professor of History and Religious Studies at the University of Minnesota looks closely at the Quaker religion and slavery in her book Christian Slavery: Conversion and Race in the Protestant Atlantic World. Gerbner writes, When George Fox, widely regarded as the founder of Quakerism, arrived on Barbados at the beginning of October 1671, he was deeply troubled by the effect of slave owning on his followers.[1]  Fox’s concern at that time was more for the white Quakers who may have viewed some polygamy among the slaves as a temptation against the church. Fox and his followers began with a belief the slavery was acceptable as long as you were merciful with your slaves, and as friends embraced “Spiritual Equality.” This meant that if Quakers treated their slaves as equals and encouraged them to learn the word of God, the fact that they owned slaves was within the beliefs of the Quaker faith.[2]

This Quaker view of slavery would begin to change, not in Barbados, where Fox and many of his followers had moved but in William Penn’s colony on the mainland of North America. When William Penn arrived in Pennsylvania, slavery had already been established in the land he now owned. The Dutch and the Swedes who had occupied the Delaware River valley as early as 1639.[3] As the number of Quakers increased in the colony, there was an ambivalence from the Quakers towards slavery, “Many owned Africans to provide labor on their estates, including William Penn himself, who at one point owned at least twelve slaves.”[4] In The History of Slavery in ‘Free’ States, James Delle, Graduate Dean of Sociology and Anthropology at Millersville University who has published two books on slavery in the colonial period in Colonial America and on the Plantations of Jamaica looks at Pennsylvania and analyzes the slave history. Delle’s research shows that in 1710, twenty percent of the City of Philadelphia’s population was enslaved, “By 1765, about two-thirds of Pennsylvania’s 5,500 slaves lived and toiled outside the city of Philadelphia.”[5] Many of those enslaved were working alongside indentured servants from Europe, not only on farms, but in new industries in Pennsylvania including boatbuilding and the burgeoning iron industry.

Some of the Quakers were having moral concerns about the growth of slavery in Pennsylvania and those concerns were expressed as early as 1688 in Germantown, which is now part of the City of Philadelphia. Quaker teachings believed in the sanctity of all life and the rights of all humans under God. There were members of the Quaker community who were speaking out against slavery. Francis Daniel Pastorius among several other Germantown Quakers wrote a petition against slavery based on the biblical proverb “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” well known in the modern world as the Golden Rule and a standard teaching in the Quaker Church. Pastorius and the others presented this petition to their local Friends Meeting. The petition was asking the Quakers to make a stand against slavery. These Quakers wrote the following passage.

            “Here is a liberty of conscience which is right and reasonable; here ought to be a liberty of ye body, except of evildoers, which is another case. But to bring men hither, or to rob and sell them against their will, we stand against. In Europe there are many oppressed for conscience sake; and here there are those oppressed who are of black colour… Now consider will this thing, if it is good or bad, And in case you find it to be good to handle these blacks at that manner, we desire and require you hereby lovingly, that you may inform us here in, which at this time never was done… To the end we shall be satisfied in this point, and satisfie likewise our good friends and acquaintances in our natif country, to whose it is a terror, or fairful thing, that men should be handled so in Pennsylvania”[6]

The writers of the petition felt strongly that it was time for their meeting group to stand against slavery. The petitioners were pointing out that the Quakers themselves had moved away from Europe because of political persecution of their religion and the contradiction that existed when they persecuted others. When these men brought this forward to their meeting house, they knew that it would not be possible to make slavery illegal in the colony, their aim was to get the Quaker church to openly state that slavery was wrong. The Germantown Friends decided to forward the petition on to the Philadelphia quarterly meeting of Friends. The petition was discussed at the Philadelphia quarterly meeting and forwarded to the yearly meeting, which is the meeting that decides the plans for the Quaker church in the colonies. At the yearly meeting, the petition was discussed and felt that the abolition of slavery was a too much of a weighty matter for the colonial meeting to decide upon. The Philadelphia meeting forwarded the issue to the London annual meeting which makes decisions for the church as a whole. Sadly, there was no mention of the petition in the minutes of the London annual meeting. While the Quakers took no position officially on slavery, A Minute Against Slavery, Addressed to Germantown Monthly Meeting, 1688, began a movement within the Quakers that would continue through the Civil War. In 1693, the issue of slavery once again became a point of dispute in the Quaker church, a Quaker named George Keith helped write a printed protest against slavery called An Exhortation and Caution to Friends Concerning Buying or Keeping of Negroes. This document reiterated the issue raised in the Germantown petition, it condemned Christians for enslaving any person “for whom Christ has shed his precious blood.”[7] The Germantown protest, and Keith’s document pushed some Quakers to continue to push forth an anti-slavery movement at the Philadelphia annual meetings.

            Dr. Marcus Rediker is a distinguished professor of Atlantic History at the University of Pittsburgh. He is also Senior Research Fellow at the Collège d’études mondiales / Fondation Maison des sciences de l’homme in Paris. In 2017 his wrote, The Fearless Benjamin Lay: the Quaker Dwarf Who Became the First Revolutionary Abolitionist, a book that looks at a Quaker man who added  his voice and some theatrics to the quaker fight against slavery. At the Philadelphia Annual Meeting in September 1737, a man who stood just over four feet tall rose to speak. The man, known as Benjamin Lay, was wearing a great coat, which was seen as odd for early autumn, in one had he held a book. He spoke in a deep and booming voice to the assembled Quakers about the evils of slavery. He asked how any followers of God’s golden rule could abide keeping slaves. Lay then stated, “Thus shall God shed the blood of those persons who enslave their fellow creatures.”[8] What he did next surprised everyone in the room, Lay opened his coat suddenly, underneath he was wearing a military style uniform and had a sword at his side. Lay drew the sword and plunged the sword through the book he was carrying, inside the book was a sheep’s bladder filled with red pokeberry juice which splattered on several Quaker slave owner who were seated nearby. Lay was then forcibly removed from the meeting.[9] Lay’s actions that day and his writing that he published weeks later “All Slave-Keepers that Keep the Innocent in Bondage, Apostates,” targeted wealthy slave owning Quakers for having abandoned their faith by owning other human beings. Lay wrote this passage for those attendees of this major Quaker gathering:

“Friends, by the tender Mercies of our God, to consider, can be greater Hypocrisy, and plainer contradiction, than for us as a People, to refuse to bear Arms, or to pay them that do, and yet purchase the Plunder, the Captives, for Slaves at a very great Price, there by justifying their selling of them, and the War, by which they were or are obtained; nor doth this satisfy, but their Children also are kept in Slavery, ad infinitum.”[10]

Benjamin Lay – Swarthmore College

Lay had worked on slave ships and had seen the brutality committed against slaves. When he left the sailing trade, he set his mind to push a resistance to slavery and he did so with his words and radical theatrical deeds, such as the Philadelphia meeting. Sadly, Lay’s fight against slavery would again fall on deaf ears, lay was considered extremely radical. Lay’s statements were recorded in the writings and minutes of Quaker meetings; however, affluent Quakers often wrote off his radical style of beliefs. Within the less affluent Quaker ranks, the words of the Germantown Quakers and radicals such as Benjamin Lay began to take hold and Quaker meeting houses began to gain better understanding of the horrors of slavery, both in Pennsylvania and in London. In 1750, there were over 6,000 slaves in the Pennsylvania colony, slaves made up nearly twenty percent of the population of the colony. In 1758, and upswell of Quakers came to the Philadelphia meeting to demand that the Quakers take and official stance against slavery, this time the majority of Quakers passed an Anti-Slavery statement. In 1775, the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society was chartered, with plans among Quakers that belonged to the society to develop the first “Negro School” in Philadelphia within two years. Members of the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society would include many quakers, free blacks and founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin and other notable men like Anthony Benezet. Benezet had started teaching classes for free blacks in 1750. Benezet would be the first President of the Pennsylvanian Anti-Slavery Society. In 1775, the Anti-Slavery Society would begin to push for an Abolition of Slavery in the Pennsylvania colony. Among the other strife happening within the American colonies, immediate action within the colony was difficult. A social change was arising from within the Quaker community that was also spreading to Mennonite and Presbyterian communities on the eastern side of Pennsylvania who would continue to make pushes within the Pennsylvania assembly.

In 1780, the Pennsylvania Assembly passed the Gradual Abolition of Slavery, the law largely blamed Great Britain for the cause of African slavery stating; “We esteem a peculiar Blessing granted to us, that we are enabled this Day to add one more Step to universal Civilization by removing as much as possible the Sorrows of those, who have lived in undeserved Bondage, and from which by the assumed Authority of the Kings of Britain, no effectual legal Relief could be obtained.”[11] By reviewing the words within this law we see that it was a conservative law that freed few slaves immediately but did give a road map for freedom from slavery. The law did immediately ban the importation of slaves into the colony, although slave owners were allowed to sell slaves that they had registered to others in the state. The following year there were attempts to lengthen the time that slave owners had to register those they enslaved and attempts to repeal the law altogether. Through the strength of the growing anti-slavery movement, any challenge to the law was blocked. In 1788, the law was strengthened further by blocking illegal importation from other states which had been happening along the southern borders of the state near Maryland and Virginia. The law also stated that slavery for life would be eliminated:

“Be it enacted and it is hereby enacted by the Representatives of the Freemen of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in General Assembly met and by the Authority of the same, That all Persons, as well Negroes, and Mulattos, as others, who shall be born within this State, from and after the Passing of this Act, shall not be deemed and considered as Servants for Life or Slaves; and that all Servitude for Life or Slavery of Children in Consequence of the Slavery of their Mothers, in the Case of all Children born within this State from and after the passing of this Act as aforesaid, shall be, an hereby is, utterly taken away, extinguished and forever abolished.”[12]

Gradual Abolition of Slavery –

Once registered, any adult slave would receive their freedom within four years and provide them all rights as free men. Any child slave would be freed upon their twenty-eighth birthday.[13] The child slave portion was a cause of some cheating among slave owners who would alter birth dates of children, since no record of slave births existed at that point in time. Some slave owners would write a later birthday in an effort to get a longer period of service from those children they enslaved. Under provisions in the law, slave owners had to register those they enslaved as well as their birth dates to the county prothonotary where they lived each year.

            The Gradual Abolition of Slavery was the first anti-slavery law in the United States, the initial law was passed before the war for independence had been won. It stopped all importation of slaves to the state and ended public sale of slaves in the state. The catalyst for the law was the large population of Quaker and Mennonite citizens of the state and the growth of anti-slavery teachings within those sects. The law faced a significant amount of resistance, the law remained in place and provided for the freedom from slavery within the state and a growing movement against slavery throughout the state. The Quaker church was by far the catalyst for abolition in Pennsylvania and notable Quakers were supporting the anti-slavery movement.

            The anti-slavery movement soon developed beyond the borders of Pennsylvania, which was largely due to the prominent members of the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society which included Benjamin Franklin, Benjamin Rush, and Anthony Benezet, all of whom were active in the passing of the Pennsylvania law. A national organization rose from the passing of the Pennsylvania law, the organization called, the American Convention for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery and Improving the Condition of the African Race.[14] The organization was largely made up of Pennsylvanians and it met in Philadelphia yearly from 1781 through 1832. By 1832 there was representation in the organization from every northern state and territory. Pennsylvania had shown itself as a beacon of the anti-slavery movement, however, many of the newer states in the movement had passed laws that ended slavery in a much shorter timeline.

            In his book, On the Edge of Freedom: The Fugitive Slave Issue in South Central Pennsylvania, 1820-1870, Dr. David G. Smith who is a researcher on the Civil War and Social Historian specializing in societal conflict, writes about how fugitive slavery was being dealt with in the Northern Appalachian mountains of Pennsylvania and how the abolition movement is fighting to protect fugitive slaves on free soil. The southcentral part of the state was nearest to Maryland and Northern Virginia (now West Virginia) and this area of the Appalachian Mountains offered plenty of places to travel and hide which were difficult for fugitive slave hunting parties to traverse. Smith writes that many of the abolitionist lawyers in the southcentral part of the state were unhappy with the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society’s less-aggressive stance in their response to helping fugitive slaves who had crossed into the state. The anti-slavery groups in southcentral Pennsylvania began to take a more aggressive approach towards those who chased slaves inside the state. Smith calls this more aggressive approach “Garrisonian” named for William Lloyd Garrison a well noted radical abolitionist and publisher of The Liberator which was the first anti-slavery newspaper in the country. Garrison and his friends and followers were pushing an immediate end to slavery in all forms throughout the United States, and believed that once a Fugitive Slaved reached “Free Soil,” they could no longer be pursued, despite a federal law that said otherwise. “The decision of the state’s antislavery minority, particularly in southern Pennsylvania, to adopt an aggressive legal strategy prosecuting kidnappers….”[15] This Pennsylvania Personal Freedom Law that hade been passed with the help of anti-slavery advocates would be challenged in 1842 in a case that would be brought before the U.S. Supreme Court after the arrest of a slave owner in York County, Pennsylvania for violating the 1826 law. Edward Prigg was a slave catcher from Maryland who was seeking a runaway slave named Margaret Morgan, who had run from a slave owner in Maryland. Prigg captured Morgan in York County, however the York County Sheriff arrested Prigg on the basis that he had kidnapped a free woman and attempted to take her to be enslaved outside of Pennsylvania. Prigg was tried and convicted of kidnapping in the York County Court, and after the Pennsylvania Supreme court upheld his conviction, the U.S. Supreme Court heard the case. The case dealt a blow to the anti-slavery movement once a judgement was released:

“The clause of the Constitution of the United States relating to fugitives from labor manifestly contemplates the existence of a positive unqualified right on the part of the owner of the slave which no state law or regulation can in any way qualify, regulate, control, or restrain. Any state law or regulation which interrupts, limits, delays, or postpones the rights of the owner to the immediate command of his service or labor operates pro tanto a discharge of the slave therefrom.”[16]

            Despite Pennsylvania’s law giving escaped slaves the same rights as citizens of the state, the Supreme Court decided that the Constitution stated otherwise. This did not, however sway the anti-slavery societies in Pennsylvania, the Personal Liberty Law of 1847 now made it necessary that to recover a fugitive slave inside the state, the slave catcher must bring the fugitive slave before a local magistrate. Local magistrates in Pennsylvania are an elected position, so the local community had a strong say on the magistrate and that community would have a sway on how that magistrate might rule. “If judges could be convinced to rule in favor of the fugitives rather than the owners in doubtful cases, the tide of remanded fugitives could be checked legally, without tumultuous antislavery lecturing, forcible resistance, or outright violation of the law.”[17] A ruling of this type from one local magistrate could create a precedent by which other judges within the state could use to free others. Another important part of Pennsylvania’s new Personal Liberty law was that it made it illegal for any law enforcement officer in Pennsylvania to take part in the capture of a fugitive slave. Pennsylvania legislators were doing everything that could be done to maintain the freedom of those who sought it while they remained in the state.

            An important aspect of the social change in southcentral and southwestern Pennsylvania was the growth of communities of free blacks. Those that had been emancipated started to create communities of their own in these growing areas of Pennsylvania. With towns like Pittsburgh, Johnstown, Indiana, and Blairsville, free black communities were supported and assisted by the growing abolitionist movement around these communities. “In south central Pennsylvania, free blacks could shelter escaping African Americans, guide them through the region, direct them to additional help, or even entice slaves to flee”[18] In Indiana County, Pennsylvania free black communities as well as the white community had a history of helping slaves escape to freedom. By the mid 1840’s, there were at least two African Methodist Episcopal Zion congregations whose mission was to “aid refugees.” Other denominations like the Wesleyan Methodists and the Baptists were now opposing slavery as well and assisting fugitive slaves in their escape.[19] In 1845, an escaped slave names James Hollingsworth was working on the farm of James Simpson as a paid farmhand. Two men working for Hollingsworth’s former Virginia owner found him working in the field along the road, they captured him an took him to Indiana, PA the county seat, where the men stayed in the boarding house of a pro-slavery Sheriff. The people of Indiana soon learned that the only reason Hollingsworth was being held is that he had been born a slave, they began to gather outside the boarding house, surrounding it. A well-known abolitionist attorney agreed to represent Hollingsworth the next day in front of Judge Thomas White. The Judge asked the slave catchers to produce a copy of the Virginia Constitution showing that the state allowed slavery. The slave catchers were unable to produce the document, so Hollingsworth was set free. The Sheriff and the two slave catchers were unaware that Judge White was a member of the local abolitionist society. A similar incident took place in Blairsville Indiana County, in 1858 when a Pennsylvania Constable and Pennsylvania Marshal arrived to capture an escaped slave who was working at a local store. When the two men attempted to capture the former slave, they were attacked by a crowd of townspeople, local abolitionist leaders intervened to save the two men, worried they would be killed. Armed citizens chased the two out of town, and the fugitive slave was placed on a train to Philadelphia.[20]

Pennsylvania Abolition Society –

            In Western Pennsylvania, there was also a large abolitionist movement that worked heavily in the Underground Railroad. There were still slaved in Washington and Allegheny counties in the Early 1800’s. After 1780 the numbers began to lower, Washington county still a largely rural county, in 1782 slave owners registered 443 slaves, by 1830 the number of slaves in the county was down to one person.[21] Allegheny County, which contained Pittsburgh went from Fifty-nine in 1790, up to seventy-nine in 1800, and none were listed in 1830.[22] The Gradual Abolition of Slavery had made no provision for those living outside the state who owned slaves other than to make slave-owners adhere to the registration and abolition of slaves in accordance with the timeline set forth in the law.

            Under the Gradual Abolition of Slavery, once slaves received their freedom, it was important for them to report to the county prothonotary and carry those papers with them always should their freedom be in question. Freedmen from outside of the state were unable to register within the state unless they had paperwork from another state to prove their freedom. This prevented runaway slaves from going to the office to get freedom papers. “Free Black people still faced danger. Many appeared in court to ask for a Certificate of Freedom. The claimant had to prove that he/she was born free or had been previously freed. If the court was satisfied, it would issue a certificate with a description of the person including skin shades, hair texture, and body scars. Freedom papers were essential for freedmen who wanted to travel, particularly those working on the rivers.”[23] To work any essential job in the Pittsburgh region, it was important to have these freedom papers. Many of the jobs in the region were on board boats, in delivery of goods or in the shipbuilding industry at that time which meant regular travel throughout the region including into Ohio and Virginia.

            The slave trade was still prominent across the Virginia border,  Washington county, which until the Civil War bordered Virginia (now West Virginia) on two sides which made it easy to move slaves across the ill-defined border from slave auction sites in Wheeling and Morgantown.[24] Washington County also had a rising abolitionist sentiment which began to assist runaway slaves crossing the border from Virginia. Abolitionists in Washington County along with Abolitionists and Free Blacks in Allegheny, Beaver and Butler Counties on the western side of the state began to learn the intricacies of the Underground Railroad.[25]

The increasing freedom of blacks led to free black communities in Western Pennsylvania, these communities developed in Pittsburgh with Little Hayti and Arthursville,[26] within the city of Washington and in Monongahela, Washington County, and in Uniontown, Fayette county.[27] These free communities became important to escaped slaves who were trying to find their way to freedom. Free blacks used these communities to harbor fugitive slaves until they could move them to another station, towards freedom. In some cases, free blacks took active roles in the freedom of slaves who were traveling through these areas with slave owners. On several occasions at the Monongahela Hotel in Pittsburgh, black staff members dressed slaves from out of state in extra uniforms and snuck them out of the hotel to freedom in Arthursville or in one of the Free black owned businesses in Market Square which at the time was the largest market district on the western side of the state.[28] From Pittsburgh, many of the fugitive slaves were transported to towns along the Ohio River like Sewickley and Hopewell and to the north through northwestern Pennsylvania, New York, and Ohio to Canada and freedom. The growth of free black communities throughout Pennsylvania also helped direct escaped slaves to freedom in the Philadelphia area and in the central part of the state.

After nearly 200 years of effective social change, Pennsylvania had moved from a slave owning state, to a state where residents had actively interfered in attempts to apprehend fugitive slaves, even in defiance of federal laws that prohibited interfering in the apprehension of fugitive slaves. Although this evolution took time to develop, Pennsylvania became noted as a strong anti-slavery state and a significant travel point for the underground railroad. The growth of Pennsylvania from Penn’s Peaceable Kingdom of a planned Quaker settlement to a land of free black communities to the development of the first among many African Methodist Episcopal church in Philadelphia shows the evolution of freedom for blacks throughout the state. evolution of freedom for blacks throughout the state.

             The Quaker church was the catalyst for the development of the anti-slavery movement in Pennsylvania and those teachings grew to other faiths to help eliminate slavery in Pennsylvania and throughout the northern states and territories. The growth of the abolitionist movement eventually led to the freedom of all slaves in the United States, though it would take a war to accomplish that effort. Pennsylvania progressed from a state where slavery was allowed, to a state that fought hard against slavery when it was still legal in other states and in the numbers of Pennsylvania soldiers who fought against slavery in the American Civil War. The development of strong free black communities throughout the state shows how Pennsylvania evolved away from slavery and became a safe place for former slaves to settle.


Blairsville Area Underground Railroad. Blairsville Underground Railroad Museum, 2015.

Burns, Edward M. “Slavery in Western Pennsylvania.” Pennsylvania History Magazine, 1964, 204–12.

Delle, James A. 2019. The Archaeology of Northern Slavery and Freedom. Sarasota: University Press of Florida.

Free at Last? Slavery in Pittsburgh in the 18th and 19th Centuries. University of Pittsburgh, 2009.

Gerbner, Katharine. 2018. “Quaker Slavery and Slave Rebellion.” In Christian Slavery: Conversion and Race in the Protestant Atlantic World, by Katharine Gerbner, 49- 73. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Henderich, Garret, Derick up de Graeff, Francis Daniell Pastorious, and Gabriel up Den graef. “A Minute Against Slavery, Addressed to Germantown Monthly Meeting, 1688.” German Mennonite Historic Trust. German Mennonite Historic Trust. Accessed October 28, 2020.

“Indiana County and the Underground Railroad.” Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Mainwaring, W. Thomas. 2018. “The Twilight of Slavery.” In Abandoned Tracks: The Underground Railroad in Washington County, Pennsylvania, 19 – 43. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press.

“PHMC Abolition of Slavery.” Abolition of Slavery | PHMC Our Documentary Heritage. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. Accessed November 1, 2020.

“Prigg v. Pennsylvania, 41 U.S. 539 (1842).” Justia Law. Accessed November 14, 2020.

Rediker, Marcus. The Fearless Benjamin Lay: the Quaker Dwarf Who Became the First Revolutionary Abolitionist. Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2018.

[1] Katharine Gerbner, Christian Slavery. Conversion and Race in the Protestant Atlantic World (Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018). Page 49.

[2] Gerber. Page 53.

[3] James A. Delle and Michael S. Nassaney, “The History of Slavery in ‘Free’ States,” in The Archaeology of Northern Slavery and Freedom (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2019), Page 41.

[4] Delle. Page 41.

[5] Delle. Page 42.

[6] Garret Henderich et al., “A Minute Against Slavery, Addressed to Germantown Monthly Meeting, 1688.,” German Mennonite Historic Trust

[7] Katharine Gerbner, “Quaker Slavery and Slave Rebellion,” in Christian Slavery. Conversion and Race in the Protestant Atlantic World (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018), pp. 49-73. Page 72

[8] Marcus Rediker, The Fearless Benjamin Lay: the Quaker Dwarf Who Became the First Revolutionary Abolitionist (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2018).

[9] Marcus Rediker, The Fearless Benjamin Lay: the Quaker Dwarf Who Became the First Revolutionary Abolitionist (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2018).

[10] Benjamin Lay, All Slave-Keepers that Keep the Innocent in Bondage, Apostates. 1737. (Evans Early American Imprint Collection – University of Michigan)

[11] “PHMC Abolition of Slavery,” Abolition of Slavery | PHMC: Our Documentary Heritage, accessed October 11, 2020,

[12] PHMC Abolition of Slavery,” Abolition of Slavery | PHMC: Our Documentary Heritage, accessed October 11, 2020,

[13] PHMC Abolition of Slavery,” Abolition of Slavery | PHMC: Our Documentary Heritage, accessed October 11, 2020,

[14] Myers, John L. “The Early Antislavery Agency System in Pennsylvania, 1833-1837.” Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies 31, no. 1 (1964): 62-86.

[15] Smith, David G. “The Fugitive Slave Issue on Trial: The 1840s in South Central Pennsylvania.” In, On the Edge of Freedom: The Fugitive Slave Issue in South Central Pennsylvania, 1820-1870, 87-114. New York: Fordham University Press, 2013. Page 87.

[16] “Prigg v. Pennsylvania, 41 U.S. 539 (1842),” Justia Law,

[17] Smith. Page 89-90

[18] Smith, David G. “South Central Pennsylvania, Fugitive Slaves, and the Underground Railroad.” In On the Edge of Freedom: The Fugitive Slave Issue in South Central Pennsylvania, 1820-1870, 12-38. New York: Fordham University Press, 2013. Page 18.

[19] “Indiana County and the Underground Railroad,” Indiana University of Pennsylvania (Indiana University of Pennsylvania), accessed November 1, 2020,

[20] “Blairsville Area Underground Railroad,” Blairsville Area Underground Railroad (Blairsville Underground Railroad Museum, 2015),

[21] Edward M. Burns, “Slavery in Western Pennsylvania.” Pennsylvania History. Page 207

[22] Burns. Page 207

[23] Free at Last? Slavery in Pittsburgh in the 18th and 19th Centuries (University of Pittsburgh, 2009)

[24] W. Thomas Mainwaring, “The Twilight of Slavery,” in Abandoned Tracks: The Underground Railroad in Washington County, Pennsylvania (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2018), pp. 19-43. Page 27

[25] Mainwaring. “The Twilight of Slavery,” Page 34

[26] Free at Last? Slavery in Pittsburgh in the 18th and 19th Centuries (University of Pittsburgh, 2009)

[27] W. Thomas Mainwaring, “The Twilight of Slavery.” Page 36-37

[28] Free at Last? Slavery in Pittsburgh in the 18th and 19th Centuries (University of Pittsburgh, 2009)

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