An extremely rare 1794 edition of "The Journal of John Woolman", printed in Dublin. It is the first edition printed after his death. 464 pages, leather-bound. Woolman is said to be the very first abolitionist in America.
BACKGROUND: John Woolman (October 19, 1720 – October 7, 1772) was an itinerant Quaker preacher, traveling throughout the American colonies, advocating against conscription, military taxation, and particularly slavery. John Woolman came from a family of Friends (Quakers). His grandfather, also named John Woolman, was one of the early settlers of New Jersey. His father Samuel Woolman was a farmer. Their estate was between Burlington and Mount Holly Township in that state. At age 23 his employer asked him to write a bill of sale for a slave. He told his employer that he thought that slave keeping was inconsistent with the Christian religion. Many Friends believed that slavery was bad — even a sin — but there was not a universal condemnation of it among Friends. Some Friends bought slaves from other people in order to treat them humanely and educate them. Other Friends seemed to have no conviction against slavery whatsoever. Woolman took up a concern to minister to Friends and others in remote places. He went on his first ministry trip in 1746 with Isaac Andrews. They went about 1,500 miles round-trip in three months, going as far south as North Carolina. He preached on many topics, including slavery during this and other such trips. In 1754 Woolman wrote Some Considerations on the Keeping of Negroes. He refused to draw up wills transferring slaves. Working on a nonconfrontational, personal level, he individually convinced many Quaker slaveholders to free their slaves. He attempted personally to avoid using the products of slavery; for example, he wore undyed clothing because slaves were used in the making of dyes. Whenever he received hospitality from a slaveholder, he insisted on paying the slaves for their work in attending him. Woolman worked within the Friends traditions of seeking the guidance of the Spirit of Christ and patiently waiting to achieve unity in the Spirit. He went from one Friends meeting to another and expressed his concern about slaveholding. One by one the various meetings began to see the evils of slavery and wrote minutes condemning it. In his lifetime, Woolman did not succeed in eradicating slavery even within the Society of Friends in the United States; however, his personal efforts changed Quaker viewpoints. In 1790 the Society of Friends petitioned the United States Congress for the abolition of slavery. The fair treatment of people of all races is now part of the Friends Testimony of Equality. The Journal of John Woolman is considered to be an important spiritual document.