|Date(s):||January 17, 1839|
|Location(s):||ROWAN, North Carolina|
|Tag(s):||African-Americans, Church/Religious-Activity, Migration/Transportation, Race-Relations, Slavery|
|Course:||“Rise and Fall of the Slave South,” University of Virginia|
|Rating:||4.67 (3 votes)|
The Society of Friends, otherwise known as the Quakers, of North Carolina submitted a petition to the United States Senate concerning their position on slavery. The Quakers completed this petition during their annual meeting in November of 1838. The petition stated, "we entreat you to legislate for the termination of slavery in this state." Nathan Mendenhall signed the petition, and Senator J. T. Morehead from Guilford County, North Carolina presented the petition to the Senate. The Senate received the petition a few days before its adjournment. The Western Carolinian Newspaper reported the petition to the general public on January 17, 1839. The journalist from the Western Carolinian did not write positively about the abolition attempt, and was shocked that the movement was happening "at home."
A petition to Congress about slavery was very common at this time. Congress was force to issue a gag rule to end the constant debate about anti-slavery petitions. The major issue however, was that the Quakers pushed this petition from a very prominent slave owning state. Quakers were very vocal about their religious beliefs against slavery, which sometimes got them into a lot of trouble. The Quakers strongly upheld the idea that all men are equal in the eyes of God. Quakers also felt the need to obey the law and be moral citizens. However, these two conflicting beliefs did not stop the Quakers' fight. Many Quakers, such as Nathan Mendenhall, were active in the manumission society. This was a society that Mendenhall and his fellow Quakers created in attempt to set up new areas in Liberia for freed slaves to live. Other Quakers owned "freed slaves" to keep them from being resold into slavery, worked directly with the Underground Railroad, and were active in court cases dealing with possession of slaves. Due to this obvious protest of slavery, Quakers faced many conflicts with their slave-owning neighbors. Quakers received harsh treatment and persecution for their actions as well. These problems caused many Quakers to flee to the new frontier. The majority of the Quaker population ignored their neighbors' resistance and continued to fight slavery from within North Carolina. Although the North Carolina Quakers were a peaceful and moral religious group, they still played an important role in the abolition movement from their location in a slave holding state.