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Petitioning the Federal Government
Memorial of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society
Memorial of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society, February 3, 1790
(Courtesy of the National Archives)


Part 2 of the Memorial
Part 2

Great pains were taken to prevent petitions against slavery from being submitted to the Federal Convention or the first session of the First Congress. However, in February 1790 Quakers from Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and western New England petitioned Congress, calling on it to regulate the slave trade. At the same time Congress received a petition from the Pennsylvania Society for the Abolition of Slavery, signed by its president, Benjamin Franklin. The petition called on Congress to use the powers inherent in the preamble of the Constitution to restore slaves to liberty, to "devise means for removing this Inconsistency from the Character of the American People," to "promote Mercy and Justice towards this distressed Race," and to "Step to the very verge of the Powers vested in you for discouraging" the slave trade.

To see a larger version of the Petittion by Pennsylvania Abolitionist Society, click on the images to the left.


Full text transcript of the petition.


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