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Quakers and Slavery — History Tour, Old City, Philadelphia
In his Journal Woolman only perfunctorily addresses the publication of his essay and does not mention either epistle at all, choosing instead to focus on an epistle drafted by the Yearly Meeting in the spring of 1755 concerning Friends' views of pacifism in relation to the French and Indian War. However, the two publications of 1754 mark a turning point in the public stances of Quakers - both to non-Quakers and to other Friends, towards slavery.
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1754 was an important year in the development of Quaker stances against slavery. Most well known is the publication of John Woolman's first of two essays against slavery This essay was first drafted in 1746, when Woolman was only 26. This was four years after Woolman first spoke in meeting and was the year of his first substantial ministerial journey; he traveled twice for a total of almost four months and 1,840 miles. Shortly before his death in 1750, Woolman's father encouraged him to present the essay to the Overseers of the Press, which he did in 1754. This essay was the widest distributed anti-slavery essay penned by a Friend to date.