Inventing a culture of anti-slavery: Pennsylvanian quakers and the Germantown protest of 1688

Brycchan Carey*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


In the spring of 1688, in Germantown, a Pennsylvania village that was just five years old, a small group of Dutch and German settlers, Francis Daniel Pastorius, Gerrit Hendricks, Derick op den Graeff and Abraham op den Graeff, put their name to a now celebrated statement of antislavery that has become variously known as the Germantown ‘Protest’, ’Declaration’ or ‘Petition’. The statement, outlining the reasons why the four were ‘against the traffick of men-body’, was read out in their meeting in Germantown, then passed upwards through the colony’s Quaker hierarchy for consideration, before being discussed, noted and dismissed by the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting — the highest Quaker body in Pennsylvania. It was then, according to historical orthodoxy, lost and entirely forgotten until 1844, when it was rediscovered, reprinted and distributed further than its original authors could possibly have imagined. Hailed in 1844 and afterwards as the first formal statement of antislavery thought in territories that would later become the United States (although this is not in fact true), it is nevertheless generally agreed that before 1844 the document had no impact or influence at all on whatever conversations Quakers — or Americans more generally — were having about slavery and the slave trade. Thus, Lery T. Hopkins argues that ‘the Germantown Protest can only be considered a manifestation of internal discussion since there is no evidence that anyone outside of the Monthly and yearly Meetings was aware of it’.1
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationImagining Transatlantic Slavery
EditorsCora Kaplan, John Oldfield
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9780230277106
ISBN (Print)9780230578203, 9781349367658
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Inventing a culture of anti-slavery: Pennsylvanian quakers and the Germantown protest of 1688'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this