English -> 1688 Against Slavery

Against Slavery.

Franz Daniel Pastorius, born in Sommerhausen, Lower Franconia, Bavaria, Germany, was one of the founders of Germantown, now part of Philadelphia, Pa.

On February 18, 1688, a fervent appeal was made by the Germantown Parish Council, which used to meet once a month, to stop the black trade in the colonies. It was not until 1715 that Quakers began to object to the importation of slaves, leading to a dispute with the British government. Nevertheless, by 1730 the slave trade was explicitly frowned upon in the Quaker communities. 42 years had passed since the resolution of the Germans.

“These are the reasons we are against human trafficking: Is there anything that is done or handled this way? To be sold for life or to be made slaves? How frightened and trembling are many at sea when they sight a strange ship, fearing that it might be a Turk who will take them away and sell them as slaves in Turkey! Now, how much better is this than the Turks do? In fact, it is rather worse for those who say they are Christians, for we understand that most of those Negroes were brought here against their will and without consent, so that many of them were kidnapped. Therefore, although they are black, we cannot believe that there is any greater justification for keeping them as slaves than there is for keeping others—namely whites—as such. A proverb says that we should do to all men what we expect to be done to us, regardless of sex, race or colour. And aren't those who kidnap or rob people and those who buy or acquire them all the same?

There is freedom of conscience here, which is right and just. Here likewise there should be freedom of the person, excepting wrongdoers, which is another case. But we stand up against bringing people here against their will or robbing and selling them. In Europe there are many oppressed for reasons of conscience, but here there are those who are oppressed because of their black color. We also know that people must not commit adultery. However, some commit it in other ways, taking women away from their husbands and giving them to others. And some sell the children of those poor creatures to other people. Oh! Think these things over really well, you who do! What if it happened to you? And whether it happened in accordance with Christianity? In this matter you surpass Holland and Germany. This earns a bad reputation in all those countries of Europe where it is said that the Quakers actually treat men here as they treat cattle there. It is precisely for this reason that some have neither the intention nor the inclination to come here. And who shall defend or plead for this cause of yours? We really can't do that unless you teach us better about it, namely, that Christians have the right to do such things.

pray! What on earth could be worse than having people rob and kidnap us, then sell us abroad as slaves, separating husbands, wives, and children in the process. If it hasn't happened to this day, it may still happen to us, so we protest and oppose this human trafficking. And we, who profess that stealing is unlawful, must likewise shun the acquisition of things that are stolen, nay, rather, as far as possible, discourage such robbery and theft. Those people should be freed from the hands of the robbers and set free as well as in Europe. Then Pennsylvania must get a good reputation instead of the bad one it now enjoys in other countries on this matter. Especially now that Europeans are curious to know how the Quakers rule their province, most of whom cast an envious look at us. But if we call that good, what should we call bad? If these slaves (whom they say are very bad and wayward people) should ever band together and fight for their freedom and treat their masters and mistresses as they treated them before, then those masters and mistresses will take up the sword and use force of arms against those poor slaves? As we can believe, some will not shy away from doing so. Or don't these Negroes have the same right to fight for their freedom as you have to keep them slaves?

Now consider this matter carefully, whether it is good or bad. And if you think it good to treat the blacks in this way, we hereby sincerely wish and request that you would enlighten us, which has never happened before, namely, that Christians have such a freedom, so to proceedings. Only then shall we be content on that point, and in like manner reassure our good friends and acquaintances at home, to whom it seems a dreadful or dangerous thing that men in Pennsylvania should be so acted upon.

This is to be transmitted from our meeting at Germantown, held April 18, 1688, to the monthly meeting at Richard Warrel's.

Gerret Hendericks
Derick op de Graeff
Francis Daniell Pastorius
Abraham op Den Graeff“

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