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Petition from the Pennsylvania Society for the Abolition of Slavery, February 3, 1790

The Pennsylvania Society for the Abolition of Slavery was founded largely by Quakers in 1775. The Society petitioned the First Congress (1789-1791) to end slavery, calling the institution an “inconsistency” in the American character. The Senate took no action; the House, after bitter debate, also failed to abolish slavery before adjourning in 1791.

That mankind are all formed by the same Almighty being, alike objects of his care & equally designed for the Enjoyment of Happiness the Christian Religion teaches us to believe & the Political Creed of America fully coincides with the Position.

Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives and Records Administration

Petition from the Pennsylvania Society for the Abolition of Slavery That mankind are all formed by the same Almighty being, alike objects of his care & equally designed for the Enjoyment of Happiness the Christian Religion teaches us to believe & the Political Creed of America fully coincides with the Position.

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.