Source: "The Pennsylvania German in the Revolutionary War", 1775-1783 by Henry Melchior Muhlenberg Richards. Publisher: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., Baltimore, 1978. Repository: The Dalles Public Library, 722 Court St., The Dalles, OR 97058


Subject: Letter of 1688

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The first voice, raised on this continent, for individual [p.5] freedom, irrespective of color, was that of the German settlers in Germantown, in the following protest against slavery, sent to the Quakers, which is given "verbatim et literatim." The handwriting of the original appears to be that of Pastorius.

"This is to ye Monthly Meeting held at Rigert Worrells. These are the reasons why we are against the traffick of mens-body as followeth: Is there any that would be done or handled at this manner? viz. to be sold or made slave for all the time of his life? How fearful & fainthearted are many on sea when they see a strange vassel being afraid it should be a Turck, and they should be tacken and sold for Slaves in Turckey. Now what is this better done as Turcks doe? Yea rather is it worse for them wch say they are Christians for we hear, that ye most part of such Negers are brought heither against their will & consent, and that many of them are stollen. Now tho' they are black, we cannot conceive there is liberty to have them slaves, as it is to have other white ones. There is a saying, that we shall doe to all men[p.6] licke as we will be done our selves : macking no difference of what generation, descent, or Colour they are. And those who steal or robb men, and those who buy or purchase them, are they not all alicke? Here is liberty of Conscience, wch is right & reasonable, here ought to be lickewise liberty of ye body, except of evildoers, wch is an other case. But to bring men hither, or to robb and sell them against their will, we stand against. In Europe there are many oppressed for Conscience sacke; and here there are those oppressed wch are of a black Colour. Ans we, who know that men must not commit adultery, some do commit adultery in others, separating wifes from their housbands, and giving them to others and some sell the children of these poor Creatures to other men. Oh, doe consider well this things, you who doe it, if you would be done at this manner? and if it is done according Christianity? You surpass Holland and German in this thing. This mackes an ill report in all those countries of Europe, where they hear off, that ye Quackers doe here handle men, Licke they handel there ye Cattle; and for that reason some have no mind or inclination to come hither. And who shall maintaine this your cause or plaid for it! Truely we can not do so except you shal inform us better hereoff, viz. that christians have liberty to practise this things. Pray! What thing in the world can be done worse towarts us then if men should roob or steal us away & sell us for slaves to strange Countries, separating housband from their wife & children. Being now this is not done at that manner we will be done at , therefore we contradict & are against this traffick of men body. And we who profess that it is not lawfull to steal, must lickewise avoid to pruchase such things as are stolen, but rather help to stop this robbing and stealing if possible [pg.7] and such men ought to be delivred out of ye hands of ye Robbers and set free as well as in Eurpoe. Then is Pensilvania to have a good report, in stead it hath now a bad one for this sacke in other Countries. Especially whereas ye Europeans are desirous to know in what manner ye Quackers doe rule in their Province & most of them doe loock upon us with an envious eye. But if this is done well, what shall we say, is don evil?

"If once these slaves (wch they say are so wicked and stubborn men) should joint themselves, fight for their freedom and handel their masters & mastrisses, as they did handel them before; will these masters & mastrisses tacke the sword at hand & warr against these poor slaves, licke we are able to believe, some will not refuse to doe? Or have these negers not as much right to fight for their freedom, as you have to keep them slaves?

"Now consider well this thing, if it is good or bad? and in case you find it to be good to handel these blacks at that manner, we desire & require you hereby lovingly that you may informe us herein, which at this time never was done, viz. that Christians have Liberty to do so, to the end we shall be satisfied in this point, & satisfied lickewise our good friends & acquaintances in our natif Country, to whose it is a terrour or fairfull thing that men should be handeld so in Pensilvania.

"This was is from our meeting at Germantown hold ye 18 of the 2 month 1688 to be delivred to the monthly meeting at Richard Warrels"

"Gerret Hendricks

"Derick Op De Graeff

"Francis Daniell Pastorius

"Abraham Op Den Graef."

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