Letter from Benjamin Franklin to Vice President John Adams, February 9, 1790
Benjamin Franklin was president of the Pennsylvania Society for the Abolition of Slavery from 1787 until his death in April 1790. One of his last public acts was sending this letter and petition to Vice President John Adams, who presided over the Senate. Franklin, formerly a slaveholder, became an ardent abolitionist after ratification of the U.S. Constitution.
At the Request of the Pennsylvania Society for the Abolition of Slavery, I have the Honour of presenting to your Excellency the enclosed Petition…
Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives and Records Administration
Appealing for Abolition
Antislavery campaigns developed during the nation's founding period. Pennsylvania Quakers were active abolitionists who believed slavery violated their religious values and contradicted fundamental principles of liberty and equality. For nearly a century, civic and religious antislavery associations regularly petitioned Congress to prohibit slavery. Although Congress banned the importation of slaves in 1808, the institution of slavery did not end until after the Civil War with the adoption of the 13th Amendment in December 1865.