Richard Allen: “An Address to Those Who Keep Slaves, and Approve the Practice”

(1794)

The first abolitionist essay authored by the celebrated black activist and minister Richard Allen, “An Address to Those Who Keep Slaves, and Approve the Practice,” was among the most important black abolitionist proclamations of the late eighteenth century. Originally published in 1794 as part of a longer document titled A Narrative of the Proceedings of the Black People, during the Late Awful Calamity in Philadelphia, in the Year 1793, which he coauthored with his fellow black churchman Absalom Jones, Allen’s antislavery address challenged Americans to end both slavery and racial injustice. With his hometown of Philadelphia serving as the nation’s temporary governing capital between 1790 and 1800, he believed that he had a unique opportunity to mold antislavery policy and compel American leaders to create a biracial republic that would shine in the eyes of both God and man.

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

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