Peter Williams, Jr.: “Oration on the Abolition of the Slave Trade”

(1808)

On January 1, 1808, as part of the forenoon service at the African Church in New York City, Peter Williams, Jr., a young, free African American abolitionist, gave an address entitled “An Oration on the Abolition of the Slave Trade.” The church was celebrating the implementation that day of a law passed the year before, banning the external slave trade in the United States. The day’s events included two services with prayers, hymns, and orations as well as a reading of the 1807 act. Williams’s oration tells some of the history of the African slave trade and the sorrows of slavery,...

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Woodcut image of a supplicant male slave in chains (Library of Congress)

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