From Peace to Freedom Quaker Rhetoric and the Birth of American Antislavery, 1657-1761 Brycchan Carey

Publication date:
01 Nov 2012
256 pages: 235 x 156 x 22mm

This is the first book to investigate the development of antislavery thought and rhetoric within the Society of Friends. Through meticulous examination of the earliest writings of the Friends, including diaries and letters, Brycchan Carey reveals the gradual transition the organization underwent in their position on slavery: from expressing doubt about slavery to adamant opposition to it. Though the Quakers adopted a stance against slavery much earlier than the emergence of a mainstream antislavery movement, Carey demonstrates that progression towards this stance was ongoing but slow and uneven and shows that rather than either economic necessity or political expediency, it was vigorous internal debate and discussion that led Quakers to oppose the slave trade in 1761. This book will be a major contribution to the history of the rhetoric of antislavery and the development of antislavery thought as explicated in early Quaker writing.

Brycchan Carey is reader in English literature, Kingston University, London. He is the author of British Abolitionism and the Rhetoric of Sensibility: Writing, Sentiment, and Slavery, 1760-1807.

‘Carey’s style is engaging and readable, his considered interpretation of the sources emphasises their intertextual nature. Alongside this, his examination of the minutes of the Quaker meetings gesture towards the role of discussion and debate in the formulation of rhetoric. With generous quotations from rare or inaccessible documents, this offers a detailed insight into how the Quakers in America laid down a rhetorical foundation, which later went on to influence antislavery arguments in Britain.’—Katie Donington, History Today