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Quakers and the abolition of the slave trade

Kneeling figure with slogan, 'Am I not a man and a brother?'

The campaign to end the slave trade can be traced back to a handful of Quakers (members of the Religious Society of Friends, also known as Friends) in the late 1600s, at a time when very few questioned the rightness of slavery. Quakers saw the trade as a violation of a fundamental belief that everyone is equal in the sight of God. No person has the right to own another.

The British anti-slavery campaign was the first large-scale national campaign devoted to a single cause. This online exhibition from the Library of the Religious Society of Friends illustrated with documents from its collections highlights some of the key events in the Quaker history of opposition to slavery and the slave trade that led up to the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act in 1807.