Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society

U.S. abolitionist organization established in 1838 / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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The Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society was established in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1838. Founders included James Mott, Lucretia Mott, Robert Purvis,[1][2] and John C. Bowers.[3]:154

In August 1850, William Still while working as a clerk for the Society, was assisting a fugitive slave calling himself "Peter Freedman". As the escapee's story was similar to many he had heard before, it took a while for Still to realize that Freedman was his long-lost brother. It was this incident that galvanized Still's resolve and compelled him to document his work with the Underground Railroad, later published in 1872 as The Underground Rail Road Records.[4]

In 1855, while working for the Society, Passmore Williamson and William Still helped Jane Johnson escape slavery while in Philadelphia with her master, a well-known congressman, John Hill Wheeler. As one of the first challenges to the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 the case created a scandal, with Williamson imprisoned for several months, charged with riot, forcible abduction, and assault. The judge in the case rejected an affidavit from Johnson affirming that there had been no abduction as "immaterial". Williamson eventually turned his cell into a virtual abolitionist media center, drawing visits from luminaries like Frederick Douglass.[5]

Robert Purvis, African American son of a wealthy white cotton broker, was a leading member during the life of the organization.[6]