The enslavement of African servants has a long and dishonorable history in Pennsylvania. Even before William Penn received his charter to the province in , the Dutch and Swedish settlers in the Delaware Valley held Africans as slaves. The Society of Friends, or Quakers, who began to arrive in the early s, including Penn himself, owned slaves. Many African slaves came to Pennsylvania from the West Indies where they had experienced a period of "seasoning" and entered the province through the port of Philadelphia. With few exceptions, they remained in the southeastern area, where they served as house servants, farmhands, laborers on iron plantations, and skilled craftsmen.
Yearly M. Some of the items are very humorous. They worked as gangs in rope-walksand learned sail making. That clothes were a considerable item of expense is shown by the old household accounts and diaries. By Jack H. While the bill was in the hands of the governor a petition was sent to him, signed by twenty-four merchants of Philadelphia, who set forth the scarcity and high price Slavery in pennsylvania labor, and their Slavery in pennsylvania of slaves. They resulted from the character of many of the people who settled Pennsylvania, their Swinger crusises for slavery, and their refusal to hold slaves. That it was the usage, however, there is abundant proof. These laws continued in force untiland down to that time slaves Skavery removed from the jurisdiction of the regular courts of the province; although after it was asserted that the clause about trial by jury in the new state constitution affected Swingers messageboard as well as free men; and a pennsylgania was actually so tried in
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African slaves were working there as early as Merchants began to import slaves directly from Africa. Please help improve ppennsylvania article by adding citations to reliable sources. Hector St. An Act for the Gradual Abolition Slavery in pennsylvania Slavery The law for gradual emancipation in Pennsylvania — Jaky gyllinhaal naked Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery — passed in Februaryand decreed that all Slavery in pennsylvania born after the passage of the pennwylvania were free, and that black children born earlier would be prnnsylvania when they turned 28 years of age. In wills and inventories of the time chattel slaves were often listed amongst other valuable items Slavery in pennsylvania household property such as clocks and carriages. Namespaces Article Talk. The or so Pennsylvania slaves in stayed slaves. Pacifist Quakers worried that slavery encouraged violence, both by masters Slavery in pennsylvania rebellious slaves. Once across it, they might penbsylvania help and continue their journey out of the country. Byonly slaves remained in the state, but those black Pennsylvanians who were now indentured servants still did not enjoy complete freedom throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. Profit-maximizing slave owners discovered an early flaw in the Pennsylvania's gradual emancipation rules.
African slaves were working there as early as
- Every year that we develop the schedule for where members of the Slave Dwelling Project will spend nights in extant slave dwellings, it is always our hope that northern states are involved.
- As well as directly using slave labour, the American colonies, including Pennsylvania, were economically dependent on trade with the slave economies of the West Indies.
- Though Pennsylvania initially worked to sustain slavery in the U.
Though Pennsylvania initially worked to sustain slavery in the U. Pennsylvania was a slaveholding colony from its inception, but it was not as deeply invested in slavery as other Mid-Atlantic colonies. Though the institution remained small, it faced significant moral opposition, especially from the Society of Friends commonly called Quakers.
In , a meeting of Friends in Germantown denounced slavery and exhorted fellow Friends to treat all people according to the Golden Rule. Pacifist Quakers worried that slavery encouraged violence, both by masters and rebellious slaves. The first abolition society in colonial America, the PAS successfully lobbied for the passage of a Gradual Emancipation Law in Pennsylvania , which took effect in March Despite these conservative provisions, many owners emancipated slaves unaffected by the law, usually on the condition that these former slaves would sign contracts for long periods of indenture.
Other slaves simply ran away and claimed freedom for themselves. By , only slaves remained in the state, but those black Pennsylvanians who were now indentured servants still did not enjoy complete freedom throughout the 18th and 19th centuries.
After providing for gradual emancipation, Pennsylvania subsequently sought to keep slavery out of the state entirely. In , the Commonwealth passed a law forbidding people from forcibly carrying Pennsylvania citizens out of state. The act was aimed at keeping violent slave catchers out of the state and preserving the liberty of black Pennsylvanians. The Supreme Court nullified the law as a violation of the federal Fugitive Slave Act in the landmark case of Prigg v. Pennsylvania in Yet this had unintended consequences as the proliferation of such laws was a factor in the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act of , which gave the federal government vast powers to hunt, examine and return alleged fugitive slaves in every state in the Union, effectively nationalizing slavery.
While Commonwealth authorities sought to keep slavery out of the state, a new radical organization, the American Anti-Slavery Society AAS began to call for the immediate abolition of slavery throughout the country. They flooded the slaveholding South with thousands of abolition pamphlets, petitioned government to end slavery and harbored fugitive slaves who had escaped to the free states. The committee coordinated the Underground Railroad in the region, helping fugitive slaves escape through the North to Canada, where they would be beyond the reach of federal slave catchers.
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The PA Civil War commemoration has concluded. You are viewing a static, archived version of the PA Civil War website which will not be updated. It is a snapshot of the website with minor modifications as it appeared on July 16, Slavery and Freedom in Pennsylvania. History Of Slavery In Pennsylvania Pennsylvania was a slaveholding colony from its inception, but it was not as deeply invested in slavery as other Mid-Atlantic colonies.
Clashes With Federal Law After providing for gradual emancipation, Pennsylvania subsequently sought to keep slavery out of the state entirely. Radicals Organize To End Slavery While Commonwealth authorities sought to keep slavery out of the state, a new radical organization, the American Anti-Slavery Society AAS began to call for the immediate abolition of slavery throughout the country.
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Once the colony was established, the slaves took on a wider variety of jobs. Email required Address never made public. That all Persons, as well Negroes, and Mulattos , as others, who shall be born within this State, from and after the Passing of this Act, shall not be deemed and considered as Servants for Life or Slaves; and that all Servitude for Life or Slavery of Children in Consequence of the Slavery of their Mothers, in the Case of all Children born within this State from and after the passing of this Act as aforesaid, shall be, and hereby is, utterly taken away, extinguished and for ever abolished. They tell his story as they talk about the main house; they have decided to set up an unheated, airless loft room as a possible living space for Jack because in other farm buildings in the area, such lofts were used to house enslaved people. In , there still were 64 slaves in the state, but by there were none. And be it further enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That the Offences and Crimes of Negroes and Mulattos as well as Slaves and Servants and Freemen, shall be enquired of, adjudged, corrected and punished in like manner as the Offences and Crimes of the other Inhabitants of this State are and shall be enquired of adjudged, corrected and punished, and not otherwise except that a Slave shall not be admitted to bear Witness agaist [sic] a Freeman. Coach Factory September 27, at PM.
Slavery in pennsylvania. ~ a counterblast
In Pennsylvania the seasonal demands of cereal farming meant that its agriculture was not particularly viable for the employment of large numbers of slaves. Generally, farmers in Pennsylvania preferred to use indentured servants rather than slave labour. The Iron Masters were the largest employers of industrial black slaves. During the middle of the 18th Century there was a change of policy in the purchase of slaves into the Northern colonies.
This was brought about by the difficulty of obtaining white indentured labour. Merchants began to import slaves directly from Africa. By the s black slaves constituted two thirds of the servant population of Philadelphia. In wills and inventories of the time chattel slaves were often listed amongst other valuable items of household property such as clocks and carriages. Secondly I give unto my well beloved wife Elizabeth one third of my whole Estate to be paid to her by my Executor within twelve Months after my Decease.
I also give unto her my malattow [mulatto] child now living with me…. Amongst the wealthy and middle classes in the towns and cities of the American colonies the ownership of slaves was practically universal. It was only the lack of living quarters which prevented many of them from increasing the number of slaves in their households. This lack of living accommodation in urban areas also meant that female slaves were frequently sold as soon as they were discovered to be pregnant.
As a result of the Gradual Emancipation Act of , the 3, African American slave population of Pennsylvania had dropped to 64 by By all Pennsylvanian African Americans were free unless they were fugitives from the South. One White man was killed, another wounded. In other words, Franklin himself would handle the sale and take a commission. For example:. A likely young Negro woman, can wash or iron or do any kind of household work, as is fit for either town or country; with two children.
The terms of indentured servitude ranged from 1 to 17 years children served the longest indentures , with a typical one being 4 or 5 years. The discipline records of the Quaker meetings cover cases of members called to account for cruelty to indentured servants, and these tales tell of servants whipped, beaten and locked up for laziness.
Wars in Europe during the s disrupted immigration patterns and cut down on the indentured servant pool. The French and Indian War also drew indentured male farm workers into the military. The Quakers again began to buy slaves. The importation of slaves into Philadelphia peaked in the years between and By , it was believed to number 30, But the end of the French and Indian War opened up a fresh flood of European immigration.
Slave importation fell off sharply. Free Blacks in Pennsylvania Not only was colonial Pennsylvania a slave-owning society, but the lives of free blacks in the colony were controlled by law. The restrictions on slaves were mild by Northern standards, but those on free African men were comparatively strict.
After , when Pennsylvania was not yet 20 years old, blacks — free and slave — were tried in special courts, without the benefit of a jury. An Act for the Better Regulation of Negroes passed in the session, set especially high penalties for free blacks who harbored runaway slaves or received property stolen from masters. The penalties in such cases were potentially much higher than those applied to whites, and if the considerable fines that might accrue could not be paid, the justices had the power to order a free black person put into servitude.
Under other provisions of the act, free negroes who married whites were to be sold into slavery for life. For mere fornication or adultery involving blacks and whites, the black person was to be sold as a servant for seven years.
Whites in such cases faced different or lighter punishment. Other colonial Pennsylvania laws forbade blacks from gathering in tippling-houses , carrying arms, or assembling in companies. These, however, were loosely or unevenly enforced. Throughout the Pennsylvania Colony, the children of free blacks, without exception, were bound out by the local justices of the peace until age 24 if male or 21 if female.
All in all, the free blacks of colonial Pennsylvania led severely circumscribed lives. They had little or no control over their own family arrangements, and could be put back into servitude for laziness or petty crimes, at the mercy of the local authorities. Quakers Against Slavery Quakers felt uneasy about slavery — in part because they had doubts about the propriety of owning another person, but also because they feared it was a luxury that marked them as worldly, and they feared Africans would be a bad influence on their families.
Pennsylvania Mennonites had expressed concerns about slavery since the 17th century, but it was only in that the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of the Society of Friends — the Quakers — made buying or selling a slave a bar to leadership in the Quaker meetings. Slavery in Pennsylvania had died of the market economy long before Quaker morality shifted against it.
Slavery in Pennsylvania, by Edward Raymond Turner: a Project Gutenberg eBook
Early Pennsylvania was not immune to the tragedy of slavery. The practice of slavery was not completely eliminated from the state until Records from the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam show that in , a convict was sentenced to serve among the blacks at the South Delaware River.
This is the first documentation of slavery in the area that would become Pennsylvania. Enslavement of Africans and Native Americans, and the indenture of whites was a common practice by European nations. The Dutch and Swedish settlers on the Delaware Bay brought the practice of slavery to that area of the New World long before there was a Pennsylvania. In a world that only recently emerged from the Feudal Age, indentured servitude was a standard practice across Europe.
Many of the first American settlers secured passage aboard ships bound for the New World by indenturing themselves to landowners and businessmen. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, slavery was a common practice worldwide. England gained control of the colonies of New Sweden and New Amsterdam in At the time, Quakers were a despised Christian sect.
They believed that all people possessed the Light of God within, and, consequently, all were equal. They disdained church hierarchy and the inhibition of individual thought and worship. They refused to acknowledge social classes and government control of religious practice. They gained many members and much influence during the mid s.
A persistent, vicious persecution of the Friends, by government and other denominations, drove them to America by the thousands. Curiously, many of them owned slaves or servants. In , William Penn, a Friend who had been imprisoned several times for openly practicing the Quaker way, was given vast land grants in the New World by King Charles II, who owed a large debt to his father.
These requirements were based on his Quaker philosophy of equality, freedom and justice. There was a strict requirement that no servant could be kept past the time of indenture. Those servants included Native Americans and blacks as well as indentured whites. In addition, Indians were provided with legal channels to redress grievances. The enslavement of Africans was tolerated under the auspices of educating and religiously training them.
However, many Quakers felt it was against Christian conscience. The institution was not of the same magnitude it was in other colonies, however. Records show that from through , less than 7 percent of Philadelphia families owned slaves. In , Quakers from the Philadelphia suburb of Germantown put forth the first American document that made a plea for equal human rights for all people.
This pronouncement was the first by any religious organization in the world that denounced the institution of slavery. It was not legislative policy, though; it affected only Quakers. He presented to the Provincial Assembly, which was dominated by Friends, several bills he wished enacted as provincial law.
The Assembly approved his requests. Specific, approved judicial procedures were established for dealing with crimes committed by slaves. To further discourage the practice, the Assembly imposed duties and taxes on the import of slaves.
The decisions were invariably rescinded by the Board of Trade in England, but the legislature persisted. The Assembly frequently delayed sending notice of the legislation to London so that by the time it was overturned, there was another import tax being voted on.
Consequently, the laws never had a chance to lapse. It too was overruled in London. On June 7, , the Pennsylvania Assembly passed a law that banned the import of new slaves into the colony.
However, by an Act of Queen Anne, on February 20, , the decision was negated. In , and again in , the Assembly passed similar laws. In each case the English government repealed them in the name of commerce. It was not economical, and the Crown did not want the idea of emancipation to spread.
Consequently, slavery persisted and grew in the American colonies. Quakers, though concerned and in the forefront of efforts to end the institution of slavery, were not innocent. While living on his estate at Pennsbury Manor, before he returned to England forever in , William Penn kept 12 slaves. Many other wealthy Friends kept slaves and indentured servants, though the treatment of their wards was said to be gentle and kind. Conscience eventually prevailed. Gradually, the majority of Friends freed their slaves and, at the local level, began to disown members who would not.
Slave ownership was a luxury of the wealthy. A report shows that 44 percent of all slaves in the province were owned by the wealthiest 10 percent of the population. Only 5 percent were owned by the poorest 50 percent. The importation of African slaves diminished as the newcomers began to fill the job niches once dominated by slaves. There was another surge in slave ownership in the colony after the outbreak of the French and Indian War, when immigration was inhibited and many laborers were in the military.
By the time of the American Revolution, the numbers had again sagged. In , Quakers lost dominance in the Pennsylvania Assembly due to their refusal to vote for war against the Indians and French. Abolition was no longer a prime objective of the legislature.
Wealthy businessmen and farmers promoted the use of slaves. The Society of Friends continued to work toward abolition. In , Philadelphia Yearly Meeting agreed that they would no longer permit slave owners to have leadership positions in the organization. It was renamed the Pennsylvania Society for the Promotion of Abolition in , and in Benjamin Franklin became its president. It was the first attempt by a government in the Western Hemisphere to eliminate the institution.
No one was set free at first. A registry of all slaves in the state was compiled. Taxes were placed on them. No new slaves could be imported. An amendment to the Act passed in , making it illegal for slave owners to transport pregnant women out of the state to give birth, thus circumventing the law, and prohibited the separation of slave families.
During this period, citizens of Pennsylvania continued to fight for abolition. Many thousands of slaves were assisted toward Canada where they were out of reach of the federal government, or were settled in the northern states. The U. In , the Commonwealth passed a law forbidding people from forcibly carrying citizens out of the state.
Pennsylvania in In response, Pennsylvania passed a law in which freed any slave as soon as they set foot on Pennsylvania soil. Unfortunately, a consequence of that law was the passage of a new Fugitive Slave Law of , which gave the federal government great power to hunt down and capture escaped slaves. This law, in effect, nationalized the institution of slavery.
The condition of free African American men was not always good in Pennsylvania. The legislature also began paying bonuses to judges who ruled that escaped slaves, or even falsely accused free blacks, were in the state illegally and extradited them. Abraham Lincoln was elected president. Over the next five years, tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians gave their sons, their fathers, and their lives to end slavery on the North American continent.
The Emancipation Proclamation was issued in Resistance ended at Appomattox in April, The The Pennsylvania Assembly act did not free all the slaves in the colony, as the author originally stated, but instead banned the importation of new slaves.
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