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Evolution of the North Carolina Yearly Meeting's Policy on Slave Trading

(p.76) 2 1768–1773
The Having of Negroes Is Become a Burden
Michael J. Crawford
University Press of Florida

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter presents extracts from the Minutes of the North Carolina Yearly Meeting from 1768 to 1773. The 1768 Meeting advised “all friends to be careful not to buy or Sell in any Case, that can be reasonably avoided…” The 1769 Meeting concluded “absolute Prohibition” in purchasing Negroes. The 1770 Meeting requested Friends to “bear a faithful Testimony against the Iniquitous Practice of Importing Negroes.” The 1772 Meeting explained providing “Natural Right to Liberty and freedom” to Negroes having “Secret Satisfaction” in their minds of having used their best endeavor.

Keywords:   North Carolina Yearly Meeting, Negroes, freedom, liberty, satisfaction, prohibition

Extracts from the Minutes of the North Carolina Yearly Meeting, 1768–1773

Source: Minutes of North Carolina Friends Yearly Meeting, 1768–1773, North Carolina Yearly Meeting Archives, Friends Historical Collection, Guilford College, Greensboro, North Carolina.

1768 (pp. 97–98)

{T}he discipline & Queries relating thereto ought to be understood as a prohibition of Buying Negroes to trade upon or of them that trade in them; and as the having of Negroes is become a Burthen to such as are in Possession of them it might be well for the meeting to advise all friends to be careful not to buy or Sell in any Case, that can be reasonably avoided, with which advice & Judgment this meeting Concurs.

1769 (pp. 99–100)

{I}t appeard to this meeting from representation of the western Quarter that friends there, were Still uneasy, respecting friends purchasing Negroes, They desiring there Should be an absolute Prohibition in that respect, which this meeting taking into solid Consideration do agree to refer it to next yearly meeting.

(p.77) 1770 (pp. 103–4)

The referrence respecting Negroes from Last yearly Meeting coming under the solid Consideration of this Meeting and after weightily Considering the Consequences that might arrise from an absolute Prohibition of Purchasing Negroes, in any respect whatever—do unanimously agree to Substitute the following Query as the 7th Instead of that which hitherto has fill'd that Place (Viz) Are all friends carefull to bear a faithful Testimony against the Iniquitous Practice of Importing Negroes; Or do they refuse to Purchase of those that make a trade or Merchandize of them; and do they use them which they have by Inheritance or otherwise well Indeavouring to discourage them from Evill and Incouraging them in that which is good.

1772 (pp. 107, 117–19)

Friends of the Western Quarter Made a Motion for some Notice to be taken in respect to the Querie Relating to buying and selling Negroes, and Friends appoints a Committee to Consider the same and make Report to the next Sitting of this meeting….

We the Committee afforesaid met according to appointment, and haveing weightily Considered the Evil Practice of Buying and Selling Negroes whereby the Slave Trade is kept up and Encouraged, and the number of them Increased in the society, do give it as our Judgement that no Friends in unity, shall Buy a Negroe or other slave of any other Person then a friend in unity, Excepting it be to Prevent the Parting of man and wife or Parent and Child, or for such other good Reasons as shall be approved of by the monthly Meeting, and it is Earnestly advisd that all Friends who are Possessed of slaves by Inheritances or otherwise, use them well in Every Respect, Endeavouring to discourage them from Evil and Encouraging them in them in that which is good, and that they do not Sell a Slave to any Person, who makes a Practice of Buying and Selling for the Sake of Gain, without Regarding how the Poor slave may be used, or the great Evil of Seperateing man and wife or Parent and Child.—Which Report is approved and Confirmed by the Meeting….

(p.78) The Standing Committee Report that they haveing had the Slave Trade under their Consideration; had Drawn up their Sentiments thereon which was Read and approved in this Meeting and ordered to be Recorded they had Likewise wrote an Epistle to Friends of the Meeting for Sufferings in London which they Produced at this Meeting for the approbation thereof, which said Epistle is approved and Ordered to be forwarded to the said Meeting and Likewise to be Recorded.—which are as followeth.—

The Standing Committee's Sentiments Being fully Convinced in our Minds and Judgements beyond a Doubt or Scruple, of the Great Evil and Abomination of the Importation of Negroes from Affica: by which Iniquitious Practice Great Numbers of our fellow Creatures with their Posterity are Doom'd to Perpetual and Cruel Bondage; without any Regard being had to their Haveing forfeited their Natural Right to Liberty and freedom, by any act of their own or Consent thereto otherwise then by meer force and Cruelty, Impresses our minds with such abhorence and Detestation against such a Practice, in a Christian Community; where Experience fully makes it manifest that Instead of their Embracing true Religion, Piety, and vertue, in Exchange for their Natural Liberty, that they are become Nurseries to Pride, and Idleness, to our youth in such a manner that Morallity, and true Piety is much wounded where slave keeping abounds; to the great grief of true Christian minds.—And therefore we cannot but Invite our fellow Subjects; and more Especially the Representatives in North Carolina (as much lies at their Doors for the Good of the People and Prosperity of the Province) to Joyn Heartily with their President Brethren the Burgesses of the Collony of Virginia in Presenting addresses to the Throne of Great Brittain in Order to be as Eyes to the Blind, and Mouths to the Dumb; and wheither it succeeds or not we shall have the Secret Satisfaction in our own minds of haveing used our best Endeavour, to have so Great a Torrent of Evil, Effectually Stoped, at the Place where it unhappilly had the Permission to begin.—

Signed By

Caleb Trueblood

Ralph Fletcher

Thomas Nicholson

John Symons

John Sanders

Samuel Newby

Abel Trueblood

Matthew White

Thomas Newby

Joshua Morris

John Anderson

William Albertson

Mark Newby

Zachariah Toms

Jacob Wilson

Lancelot Bell

John Morris

John White

Joseph White

Zachariah Nixon

Benjamin White

Joseph Mcadam


1773 (pp. 127–28)

Querie 7th are all Friends Carefull to bear a faithfull Testimony against the Iniquitious Practice of Importing Negroes, or do they Refuse to Purchase of those that make a Merchanize of them; or of such as are not in unity with Friends, Excepting it be to Prevent the Parting of man and wife—or Parent and Child, or for other Good Reasons as shall be approved of by the monthly Meeting, and do they which have them by Inheritance or otherwise use them well, in Every Respect Endeavouring to discourage them from Evil and Incourageing them in that which is Good?

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