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

In the first book to investigate in detail the origins of antislavery thought and rhetoric within the Society of Friends, Brycchan Carey shows how the Quakers turned against slavery in the first half of the eighteenth century and became the first organization to take a stand against the slave trade. Through meticulous examination of the earliest writings of the Friends, including journals and letters, Carey reveals the society's gradual transition from expressing doubt about slavery to adamant opposition. He shows that while progression toward this stance was ongoing, it was slow and uneven and that it was vigorous internal debate and discussion that ultimately led to a call for abolition. His 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 currently 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