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  • The Root of the Evil:Free Produce and Radical Antislavery, 1820–1860
  • Carol Faulkner, associate professor of history

Though seldom studied, advocates of "free produce," or abstinence from the products of slave labor, were the radical conscience of American abolitionism, leading the call for immediate emancipation, embracing interracial organizing, and promoting moral suasion through exemplary behavior. Following successful eighteenth-century boycotts, British Quaker Elizabeth Heyrick argued in 1824 that a movement advancing free produce could quickly end slavery. Linking the sins of the consumer with the sins of the slaveholder, American advocates of free produce urged fellow abolitionists to renounce all contact with human bondage. Often portrayed as ineffectual purists committed to individual salvation, supporters in fact promoted free labor through practical measures like stores and associations. While William Lloyd Garrison and other abolitionists rejected the boycott in the 1840s, women like Lucretia Mott and African Americans like Henry Highland Garnet continued to urge the use of free produce until the Civil War. Activist women emphasized free produce as a matter of ideological consistency and moral responsibility. For black abolitionists, experiments in free cotton and sugar production contributed to their growing interest in emigration in the 1850s. While the movement never gained enough adherents to destroy slavery, its continuing popularity among the most radical and diverse group of abolitionists suggests that anti-slavery, like many other liberation movements, depended upon such symbolic sacrifices.


American Anti-Slavery Society, American Free Produce Association, American Moral Reform Association, Elizabeth Margaret Chandler, David Lee Child, Colored Free Produce Society, Frederick Douglass, Free Produce Movement, Henry Highland Garnet, William Lloyd Garrison, Mary Grew, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Elizabeth Heyrick, Elias Hicks, Lucretia Mott, James Mott, Esther Nixon, Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society, Sarah Pugh, Samuel Ringgold Ward, Lydia White, World's Anti-Slavery Convention

Oh press me not to taste again
Of those luxurious banquet sweets!
Or hide from view the dark red stain
That still my shuddering vision meets.

Away! 'Tis loathsome! Bear me hence!
I cannot feed on human sighs,
Or feast with sweets my palate's sense,
While blood is 'neath the fair disguise.

No, never let me taste again
Of aught besides the coarsest fare,
Far rather, than my conscience stain,
With the polluted luxuries there.

"Oh Press Me Not To Taste Again"
Elizabeth Margaret Chandler, 1836

I wear an easy garment,
O'er it no toiling slave
Wept tears of hopeless anguish,
In his passage to the grave. [End Page 377]

And from its ample folds
Shall rise no cry to God,
Upon its warp and woof shall be
No stain of tears and blood.

From "Free Labor"
Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, 18711

These two poems bear witness to an important, but largely forgotten, strain of trans-Atlantic abolitionism. Between the rise of antislavery sentiment in the eighteenth century and the abolition of involuntary servitude in the United States during the 1860s, thousands of activists struggled to deliver themselves, their families, and their neighbors from the immoral products of slave labor, such as sugar and cotton. Advocates of "free produce" touted the superiority of free over slave labor, creating businesses and associations that offered producers and consumers economic alternatives to slavery. Appealing to religious notions of purity, they urged Americans to construct a moral economy through individual abstinence. Though often ignored by historians, these reformers actually preceded William Lloyd Garrison in calling for immediate emancipation. Moreover, as abolitionists like Garrison rejected "free produce," many female and black activists continued to support the cause. Emphasizing the power of individual morality, antislavery women viewed free produce as a reaffirmation of their ideological opposition to slavery. African American abolitionists increasingly promoted a boycott as a practical response to slavery, asserting their independence from the American Anti-Slavery Society. Despite these varied motivations, free produce remained a mark of radical commitment to abolition and racial equality through the Civil War.

Historical neglect flows from the hostility of many abolitionists themselves. Lucretia Mott's granddaughter, Anna Davis Hallowell, called candy made from free sugar an "abomination." In an article titled "Free Produce among the Quakers" published in 1868, Wendell Phillips Garrison, son of the abolitionist leader, mocked advocates of free produce as inconsistent and irrelevant "sentimentalists," whose only value lay in [End Page 378] "the conspicuousness of their testimony against slavery." Garrison proudly recalled that his family would attend a lecture on free produce, then return home to eat slave-produced sugar. The movement's lone historian, Ruth Ketring Nuermberger, describes free produce as an idea "not compelling enough to attract outsiders." She concludes, "Whether it is viewed as just another crackbrained scheme or as the sincere effort of earnest people, it could scarcely be called a success."2

The movement's marginality can be attributed in part to its perceived association with the Society of Friends. Wendell Garrison was both amused and annoyed by the obsessive devotion of Quaker adherents. He derided the traveling minister John Woolman, an early abstainer, for his "morbidly sensitive conscience." Garrison noted the inevitable hypocrisy of Quaker reformer Elias Hicks, who printed his free-produce tracts on paper made from cotton. Nuermberger similarly portrays free produce as a "Quaker protest," oversimplifying the movement's appeal.3

From its origins in the British abolition campaign in the early 1790s, when hundreds of thousands of ordinary citizens boycotted sugar, the free-produce movement was never solely a Quaker undertaking. While the Hicksite schism in the Society of Friends provided much of the initial impetus for the American free-produce movement, prominent supporters included non-Friends Henry Ward Beecher, David Lee Child, Frederick Douglass, Henry Highland Garnet, Mary Grew and her father Henry, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, J. Miller McKim, Gerrit Smith, Calvin and Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Samuel Ringgold Ward.4

Far from being marginal, the American abstinence campaign is essential to understanding the rise and decline of Garrisonian antislavery. Free produce helped provoke the first calls for immediate abolition by forcing reformers to confront the profound connection between northern consumers and slaves. In the 1830s, free produce offered abolitionists a [End Page 379] concrete way to attack slavery. As the antislavery movement split after 1840, female and African American activists continued to view abstinence as a test of radicalism. Though ridiculed even by their allies, free producers were the moral vanguard of the antislavery movement.

* * *

Calls for abstinence from slave products accompanied the earliest calls for abolition, complicating the origins story of radical antislavery by suggesting the fundamental role of women and private virtue in the rise of immediatism. The current narrative of the American abolitionist movement traces its beginnings to black male activists like David Walker, whose moral guidance prompted William Lloyd Garrison to reject colonization and advocate the immediate, unconditional emancipation of slaves. But this account hides the important role of British and American women in the rise of immediatism as well as their commitment to free produce. In 1824, a British Quaker convert named Elizabeth Heyrick wrote an influential pamphlet titled Immediate, Not Gradual Abolition. Though scholars do occasionally invoke Heyrick, they rarely mention her pamphlet's subheading, The Shortest, Safest, and Most Effectual Means of Getting Rid of Slavery, and her call for abstinence from the products of slave labor, primarily sugar from the British West Indies.5

Tired of moderate political efforts to abolish slavery in Great Britain and hoping to build on the popularity of the eighteenth-century English boycott, Heyrick's passionate argument starts and ends with free produce. Using the provocative image of a muscular black man in a loincloth with a whip and chains at his feet for an illustration, Heyrick dropped Josiah Wedgwood's ubiquitous query for a more urgent statement underneath: "I am a Man, Your Brother." Immediately reprinted in Philadelphia in 1824, albeit without the illustration, the essay argued that moral and political arguments had failed to end West Indian slavery: "Reason and eloquence, persuasion and argument have been powerfully exerted . . . to little purpose." Instead Heyrick called for an economic measure, [End Page 380] abstinence, writing, "When there is no longer a market for the productions of slave labour, then, and not till then, will the slaves be emancipated." A devotee of Adam Smith, she contended that abstinence would "compel the planter to set his slaves at liberty" by demonstrating the superiority of "more productive, more advantageous" free labor.6

Calling for moral purity, Heyrick expressed a theme increasingly resonant among American reformers. Disgusted by Britain's unwillingness to end slavery in its West Indian colonies even as the empire fought against the Atlantic slave trade, she advised, "Let us firstmind our own business . . . the Divine blessing may then be expected to crown our exertions for the redemption of other captives." But Heyrick did not exempt the individual activist. Even if abstinence failed to undermine slavery, practitioners received an "abundant reward," namely the "consciousness of sincerity and consistency,—of possessing 'clean hands,' of having 'no fellowship with the workers of iniquity.'" Frequently referring to "clean hands," Heyrick suggested that slavery could taint the individual's soul (and skin) even from afar. This notion of spiritual and corporeal purity later gave advocates a sense of purpose and unity, even as it drew criticism from others.7

Philadelphia proved fertile ground for Heyrick's message. Residents of the mid-Atlantic region had been exposed to the problem of slave produce by the divisive ministry of Elias Hicks. In 1811, Hicks had issued a relatively uncontroversial pamphlet titled Observations on the Slavery of the Africans and Their Descendants, arguing that northern consumers provided necessary sustenance for slavery, "which would, of course, stop as soon as they withdrew their support." But by 1819, his free-produce agitation, combined with his broader campaign against worldliness in the Society of Friends, stretched the patience of Philadelphia's powerful elders. On one visit to the city, Hicks preached to the [End Page 381]

Figure 1. Title page of Elizabeth's Heyrick's 1824 edition of Immediate, Not Gradual Abolition, published by R. Clay in London. Courtesy of The Library Company of Philadelphia.
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Figure 1.

Title page of Elizabeth's Heyrick's 1824 edition of Immediate, Not Gradual Abolition, published by R. Clay in London. Courtesy of The Library Company of Philadelphia.

[End Page 382]

men's meeting on the importance of abstaining from the products of slave labor, and then proposed to visit the women's meeting on the same subject. After some debate, Hicks's mission to the women was approved, but while he was in the adjoining room, the men abruptly, and in an "unprecedented" manner, adjourned. While Hicks saw the city's Quaker merchants and consumers as violating their testimony against slavery and war, the elders viewed Hicks as a dangerous infidel who threatened their social and economic status. This infamous adjournment was a skirmish in the conflict preceding the "Hicksite" schism of 1827.8

Heyrick's arguments received immediate attention from American women, Quaker and non-Quaker alike, who embraced the cause by promoting Heyrick's ideas and by bringing freely produced goods to market. Reissuing the essay in 1836, the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society (PFASS) wrote that it "excited so much feeling and interest as induces a belief that a republication will be attended with very beneficial consequences." Indeed, Lucretia Mott banned slave goods from her household after reading Heyrick.9

Though most American women, like their British counterparts, participated in the movement as consumers, free produce enabled abolitionist women to engage in a wide array of business activities. Seeking to clothe their families in morally untainted fabric, Philadelphia women started one of the first free-produce societies, the Female Association for Promoting the Manufacture and Use of Free Cotton. In 1829, members reported that their contractors had spun 2,515 lbs. of "free Upland Cotton," and manufactured some it into "ginghams, checks, bed-tickings, stripes, kitting and sewing cotton, and cotton hose." From 1830–1846, Lydia White, a Hicksite Quaker and lifelong member of the PFASS, ran [End Page 383]

Figure 2. Title page of the 1836 edition of Elizabeth Heyrick's Immediate, Not Gradual Abolition, published by the Philadelphia Ladies' Anti-Slavery Society. Courtesy of The Library Company of Philadelphia.
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View full resolution
Figure 2.

Title page of the 1836 edition of Elizabeth Heyrick's Immediate, Not Gradual Abolition, published by the Philadelphia Ladies' Anti-Slavery Society. Courtesy of The Library Company of Philadelphia.

[End Page 384]

a free-produce store at 86 N. Fifth St., which was "the first establishment exclusively of this character." By the 1850s, women in Philadelphia could shop in a number of specialized free-produce stores, selling confections, shoes, or trunks.10

Women sometimes struggled with these new political and economic roles. The experience of Esther Nixon reveals the difficulty of being a middle-class woman in the marketplace. In 1838, the newly formed, sexually and racially integrated American Free Produce Association (AFPA) recruited this Quaker from Randolph County, North Carolina, to procure free cotton from local yeoman farmers. Nixon soon discovered that free cotton was a dangerous business in North Carolina, as "all it needs is a match to create an explosion." She, and later her husband, had difficulty convincing farmers of the duty and economy of free cotton, and they were forced to price their cotton above market value. Nixon's "zeal" proved no match for her discomfort. As she wrote in an early letter to the AFPA, "This may serve as a hint that I feel like retiring more from public practice and keep more closely within the female province."11

Though free produce offered women a public role, most viewed free produce as a domestic issue. Their efforts at cleansing their homes of the sinful stain of slavery had a noble history. During the Revolutionary era, women's willingness to boycott imported British luxuries served as an important example of republican virtue and consumer resistance to British imperialism. Women also dominated the British boycott of West Indian sugar that followed.12 [End Page 385]

The market revolution brought new urgency to the moral policing of the home. By the 1820s, the rise of a regional, national, and even international market for consumer goods had displaced an older, undoubtedly idealized, world of female home production among the middle classes. Within a generation, antebellum women had traded their homespun for garments made of cotton grown by slaves in Georgia, spun and woven into fabric in Massachusetts, and cut and sewn in New York City. This shift provoked a range of anxieties among women, as well as in society at large. Slavery, early industrialization, and the market revolution threatened women's traditional place in the republic by giving them access to consumer goods and undermining Quaker and Puritan belief in austere simplicity. And, of course, it compelled women to do business with slavery.13

Free-produce advocates worried that newly available luxuries depended upon forced labor. Elizabeth Margaret Chandler's poem, with its vision of "luxurious banquet sweets" expressed concern for the impact of consumption on the individual soul. In another poem titled "Slave Produce," she addressed women's desire for "flowing board" and fine clothes as status symbols, admonishing "List thee, lady! And turn aside,/With a loathing heart, from the feast of pride." Such sentiments reflected a republican aversion to aristocracy and indulgence. But they also grew out of her Quaker heritage, which had long emphasized plain living and promoted a connection between individual morality, asceticism, and the economy. Elias Hicks also contrasted the just actions of those who abstained from slave goods to the "excess" and "avarice" of slaveholders. Further echoing Hicks, Chandler, with her "loathing heart," testified against slavery as "prize goods," marred by violence akin to warfare. Accordingly, Chandler warned female consumers to act morally in the marketplace.14

By choosing free over slave produce, activists suggested that women could reassert control over the market. The Ladies' Repository of the [End Page 386] Genius of Universal Emancipation advised that "a little exertion is often all that is necessary," and asked that women do everything in their power to purchase only free goods. In another article in the Genius, "Catharine" (probably Chandler) argued that "self-denial and disinterestedness, always bring their own reward." She asked, "Who then will hesitate, when the relief of more than two millions of human beings is the object, to retrench some portion of their many comforts?" Such articles portrayed women actively shaping their households and the larger economy around their antislavery principles, and, in the process, purifying themselves through sacrifice.15

Like the market revolution, the Second Great Awakening encouraged abstinence from slave goods. As Robert Abzug shows, nineteenth-century abolitionists broke with Protestant institutions and dogma by replacing the church with the home in their theology. One way to bring sacred order to their everyday life was to banish slave produce from the dinner table. Though nineteenth-century reformers engaged in a variety of diet and health reforms, free produce was linked rhetorically and philosophically to temperance. Both reforms included a commitment to bodily purity in the form of abstinence. And, like evangelical advocates of temperance, free producers saw individual morality as essential to the transformation of society.16

But a specific theological controversy in the Society of Friends also prompted the advent of the free-produce movement in the United States. Hicksites feared that the rule of the elders had replaced their discipline's emphasis on individual conscience. Rejecting all outward forms of religious authority, Hicksites also disavowed the economic customs of modern life. In their view, commercial interests had trumped the society's testimony against materialism and slavery. Abstinence allowed Hicksite Quakers to reclaim their individual moral authority and purify their sect. These democratic religious ideas also fit well with Quakers' abstract [End Page 387] commitment to free labor, and they criticized slaveowners' power over the mind, soul, body, and produce of the slave.17

The free-produce movement shows that abolitionists struggled to reconcile their economic principles with their moral commitments, complicating our understanding of the historical association between capitalism and antislavery. Their self-conscious relationship to the market calls into question David Brion Davis's argument that capitalism exerted a hegemonic influence over abolitionists, hiding the economic interests behind their benevolence. In this sense, free produce affirms the work of Thomas Haskell, who attributes antislavery to a new market sensibility, which allowed individuals to see themselves as agents whose actions had broad consequences. Haskell argues that the market encouraged a feeling of responsibility among middle-class men and women, who believed that their small sacrifices could effect positive change in the lives of slaves. While Haskell's observations help explain the consumers who boycotted slave products, they do not account for abolitionist attempts to reshape production and distribution.18

Free-produce advocates attempted to create an alternative economy. Like other social and economic experiments in the antebellum period, free produce attracted its share of cranks, who zealously hounded others about their clothing and dietary choices. But reformers also made an honest effort to align their economic interests with their moral sentiments. David Lee Child, husband of abolitionist writer Lydia Maria Child, implemented a short-lived plan to raise sugar beets in Northampton, [End Page 388] Massachusetts, in order to compete with slave-produced cane sugar. As the "vanguard of the industrial revolution," Quakers often took special care to apply their religious ideals to their business practices. After years of financial difficulty, James Mott established himself in the cotton commission business in the 1820s. But by 1829, he was selling free cotton, and in 1830 he abandoned cotton to deal solely in wool. Mott's morals did not ultimately impede his efforts to make money, but most free-produce advocates struggled to persuade others that combining principle and commercial gain was possible.19

Their calls for socially responsible commerce were rooted in contempt for slavery, not a broader critique of the market economy, wage labor, or industrialism. As Garrison complained in the Liberator, "While our Pennsylvania correspondent [Lea Gause] is endeavoring to prove that the products of slave labor ought not to be used, we have another one who is urging that 'wages slavery,' as he calls it, is worse than 'chattel slavery.' Between them both, if we are to repudiate whatever is tainted with oppression, starvation is before us." Advocates of free produce proclaimed the competitive superiority of free labor over slavery, and as a result they took little notice of the impact of industrialization on working men and women. When James Mott toured Great Britain in 1840, he bemoaned the condition of factory workers, but he wrote, "It may be asked whether all this poverty, filth, and degradation, is not as bad as our slavery? I am fully prepared to say NO; for our slavery is all this and more." Any attack on capitalism threatened to endorse the Southern critique of the North, which painted slavery as preferable to wage labor. For Mott and other believers, the problem with the market was its relationship to slavery.20 [End Page 389]

* * *

Free-produce agitators not only devoted themselves to immediatism as early as the 1820s but also remained the radical, interracial edge of the movement, much to the frustration of Garrisonian abolitionists grown weary of abstinence by the 1840s. In Philadelphia, "the capital of free produce agitation," James Mott and other abolitionists founded the Free Produce Society of Pennsylvania in 1827. Shortly thereafter, women formed the Female Association for Promoting the Manufacture and Use of Free Cotton. As far as can be determined, all members of these societies were white, but they worked with black allies, who founded the Colored Free Produce Society, which counted Robert Purvis and James Cornish as members, and the Colored Female Free Produce Society by 1831. After an initial meeting in Richard Allen's church in December 1830, the Colored Free Produce Society, like its white counterpart, connected the sin of the consumer with the sin of the slaveholder, proclaiming that "every individual who uses the produce of slave labor encourages the slave-holder, becomes also a participator in his wickedness." But these free blacks also noted their personal stake in free produce: "it particularly becomes us, who are more closely allied to the sons of Africa, to use our influence to change their present degraded condition, and restore them to the rank which nature and nature's God designed they should occupy."21

The most important associations dedicated to abolition emerged in part from these free-produce societies. Following the ferment of the Hicksite schism and the flowering of free-produce organizations, black and white abolitionists held the founding meeting of the American Anti-Slavery Society in Philadelphia in 1833. One section of the American Anti-Slavery Society's Declaration resolved to "encourage the labor of freemen rather than that of the slaves, by giving a preference to their productions." Although only male abolitionists signed the Declaration of Sentiments, at least five female abolitionists attended the convention, [End Page 390] three of whom were Hicksite Quakers and supporters of free produce: Lucretia Mott, Sidney Ann Lewis, and Lydia White.22

Shortly thereafter, these women helped found the interracial Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society (PFASS). Though most famous for declaring slavery and racism "contrary to the laws of God," the PFASS added a tenth article to its constitution in January 1834 recommending that "the Members of this society should, at all times and on all occasions, give the preference to free produce over that of slaves believing that the refusal to purchase and use the products of slave labour is one of the most efficient means of abolishing slavery." This language, stronger than the AASS declaration, deliberately echoed the title of Heyrick's pamphlet, reflecting her influence on the society's black and white founders. Though they later modified their argument that free produce was an "efficient means" of ending slavery, the society's members remained committed to free produce until they disbanded in 1870.23

Black abolitionists in Philadelphia founded the short-lived American Moral Reform Society (AMRS) in 1836, hoping to transcend racial prejudice by encouraging the participation of white men and women in their organization. Seeking to abolish slavery and discrimination through uplift, the AMRS adopted the watchwords of education, temperance, economy, and universal liberty. But this society also published an "Address to the Colored Churches in the Free States," advising congregations not to aid slavery by consuming its products. In addition, the organ of the society, the National Reformer, printed advertisements for Lydia White's store. The paper's masthead featured a quote from the Acts of the Apostles, "God hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth," which had also adorned the London edition of Heyrick's tract.24 [End Page 391]

Though committed egalitarians, free-produce advocates tried to soothe anxieties prompted by the nascent feminism of the Garrisonians. At the 1838 Anti-Slavery Convention of American Women in Philadelphia, delegates debated the legitimate role of women. While the crowd outside Pennsylvania Hall raged at alleged "amalgamation," abolitionists inside clashed over the propriety of female lecturers. Amidst these tensions, delegates used free produce to reassert the domesticity of women activists, resolving, "That is the duty of all those who call themselves abolitionists to make the most vigorous efforts to procure for the use of their families the products of free labor, so that their hands may be clean, in this particular, when inquisition is made for blood." Though female activists saw the free-produce movement as a potent weapon, they presented it as a defensive form of protest, which permitted antislavery women to oppose slavery without stepping outside of their sphere.25

By contrast, radical antislavery women used free produce to reestablish their identification with African Americans, even as many abolitionists retreated from interracial cooperation in the face of mob violence. The women at Pennsylvania Hall agreed that "prejudice against color is the very spirit of slavery," but they disagreed on a resolution that encouraged visible association between white and black abolitionists. The managers of the hall tried to appease the public discomfort with the racially and sexually mixed meetings both before and after the fact, but the mob burned the new hall to the ground on the night of May 17. After the violence of the preceding year, a smaller number of women met in Philadelphia in 1839. The remaining female delegates promoted free produce as an act of racial rebellion, suggesting that "we should regard slave labor produce as the fruits of the labor of our own children, brothers, and sisters, and from such a view decide on the propriety of using [End Page 392] it." For these female abolitionists, free produce expressed a principled revulsion to the horrors of slavery.26

At the World's Anti-Slavery Convention held in London in 1840, Lucretia Mott further linked free produce and female agency. Though the convention is most famous for the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society's decision to exclude Mott and other female delegates from the United States, the convention continued for nine days after the initial debate over women, and included discussion of the international slave trade, colonization, the appropriate relationship between the Church and slavery, the results of West Indian emancipation, and other topics. On June 20, members of the convention debated a resolution recommending "the disuse of slave-labour produce . . . as far as practicable." Baptist minister Nathaniel Colver, of Tremont Temple in Boston, a stout man with little interest in dietary renunciation, opposed the resolution as inexpedient. Delegates finally agreed to form a committee to examine possible sources of free produce as a replacement for the earlier resolution. Watching from the gallery, Mott was appalled. In her diary, she raged against Colver's hypocrisy, writing "N. Colver told how tender he was once on the subject, how he gathered his little ones about him, and explained to them the cruelty & wickedness of such participancy," but then "he too discovered self-denial was not easy & gave it up & his children full of latitude & spoil & the gain of oppression." After his speech, Colver "sallied forth" to the bar, behind which the rejected female delegates sat, and invited Mott to speak "if the spirit moves you," granting his permission. In protest, Mott sat in silence, instead writing in her diary that, "Our Free Produce society will have to double their diligence & do their own work—and so will American abolitionists generally—& especially women."27 [End Page 393]

The resolution's failure signaled the declining influence of free produce among American abolitionists. The convention passed several measures supporting the "general axiom, that free-labour is more profitable to the employer, and consequently cheaper, than slave-labour." Mott criticized these resolutions for appealing to "avarice" and neglecting individual "moral power." For Mott, abstinence was an aspect of the practical Christianity that she advocated in her sermons: an everyday action that shook the religious, political, and economic foundations of slavery. Unlike the abstract economic laws promoted by the World's Anti-Slavery Convention, such personal acts were not only an attempt to sacralize the world, but also a profoundly democratic statement. Abstinence gave moral power to the individual; anyone could engage in the boycott. By choosing free produce, the individual freed herself from the bondage of custom and the market even as she contributed to the liberation of slaves.28

While Mott's commitment to abstinence grew stronger, most abolitionists distanced themselves from free produce during the 1840s. The American Free Produce Association, which survived until 1847, faced limited attendance at its annual meetings, and had difficulty unloading its stock of free-produce calico, even at greatly reduced prices. Though William Lloyd Garrison once supported the cause, he increasingly argued that slavery was "wasteful, improvident, precarious," premised not upon "the love of gain, but the possession of absolute power, unlimited sovereignty." Boycotts, he argued, could not deter men driven by motives other than greed.29

Garrison's rejection prompted an outcry from his allies in the free-produce movement. Daniel S. Miller rebuked him for remaining "silent upon the question of abstinence." Advocates of free produce accused him of hypocrisy, compromising with slavery for his own comfort and convenience. Lea Gause, another Philadelphia abolitionist, asked Garrison, "Is there any neutral ground for a reformer, in relation to good and evil?" Turning Garrison's words against him, Gause stated, "I have [End Page 394] adopted the motto, 'No Union with Slaveholders.' So has thee, in theory; but I fear not in practice. Does thee not use the slave's labor?"30

Responding to these challenges, Garrison repeated his conclusions about the free-produce movement: "We are convinced that its discussion is a waste of time and talent, that no practical benefit can arise out of it to the slave, and therefore we have declined being drawn into it." Others reacted to the moral pressure exerted by free producers, declaring them inconsistent, and noting that if they really wanted to remain untainted by slavery they would have to stop using bank notes, paying taxes, patronizing the post office, riding on railroads or other common carriers, and breathing.31

Compared to the success of the earlier British boycott, such tests of purity, based on a radical reconfiguring of the religious and economic universe, proved a poor basis for a broad movement. One abolitionist critic noted the moral rigidity of their cause: "A Test is generally an odious thing. And justly so, when it is intended to exclude any one from privileges and advantages for opinion's sake." In addition to viewing abstinence as a waste of time and energy, like Garrison, abolitionists may have found the stress on personal complicity with slavery unconvincing. Further, if the development of a consumer market inspired the movement, the same market created almost unendurable temptations in the form of store-bought cakes, candy, and clothing. The marketplace only increased the distance between abolitionists and production. Despite free producers' appeals to their imagination, most abolitionists did not see blood and tears when they got dressed in the morning.32

But Garrison's turn actually failed to sway the most dedicated abolitionists. Free produce retained support among Quakers, African [End Page 395] Americans, British abolitionists, and the PFASS. Far from being the sole province of Quaker men and women, many continued to believe that a boycott could exert enough economic pressure to end slavery. In addition, they supported it as a test of abolitionist commitment and matter of personal morality. For Lucretia Mott, free produce cut straight "to the root of the evil." A convert to the cause after reading Solomon Northrup's narrative, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper agreed. Northrup described slavery as a system "which fattens and feasts on human blood." Harper asked, "Oh, how can we pamper our appetites upon luxuries drawn from reluctant fingers? Oh, could slavery exist long if it did not sit on a commercial throne?" A former slave named Henry Marshall argued, "We must stop the slaveholders' market." Frederick Douglass's North Star printed an excerpt from the pamphlet by British Quaker abolitionist Henry Richardson, "Revolution of the Spindles, for the Overthrow of American Slavery," which echoing the masthead of Garrison's The Liberator, cried "No Commercial Union with Slaveholders!" The author urged Britain to stop its consumption of American cotton in order to bring down slavery.33

Motivated in part by the growing interest of British abolitionists in the late 1840s, black activists renewed their efforts to promote a boycott as a means of ending slavery. But this campaign also highlighted growing strategic tensions in the antislavery movement. In a series of articles published in 1849, Frederick Douglass criticized Henry Highland Garnet for proposing to lecture on free produce during an upcoming tour of England. Still officially an ally of Garrison and an advocate of moral suasion, Douglass also supported the free-produce cause. He contended that Garnet had misrepresented himself to British abolitionists, painting himself as an advocate of the boycott while actually advocating slave insurrection. In doing so, Douglass implied that the two positions were fundamentally incompatible. "When and where has Mr. Garnet written or spoken a word in this country in favor of abstinence from slave produce?" Douglass [End Page 396] asked. In his defense, Garnet accused Douglass of jealousy, egomania, and a desire for fame. He also wrote, "I am a friend of Free Produce, and have humbly commenced practicing it." Whether or not he practiced abstinence, Garnet felt the need to claim adherence, lest he lose crucial support from British abolitionists. By advocating free produce, Garnet could appeal to whites without betraying his own militant conscience. But his public support also indicates that free produce was not simply a form of nonresistance. Free produce connected the militant Garnet with the pacifist Mott, who proclaimed she was a belligerent in the face of slavery.34

For white and black women in the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society, free produce was a matter of ideological consistency. Mary Grew, secretary of the society, wrote that "free labor will triumph," but she also admitted that "slavery will be abolished by other and more powerful means" first. Instead, she argued, abolitionists must boycott slave goods as "evidence of our sincerity." Grew noted the hypocrisy of abolitionists who "purchase the products of the slave's unrequited labor, thus hiring the oppressor to continue in the commission of sin, from which they are, at the same time, solemnly warning him to desist." Confronting those who charged that free producers were deluded, Sarah Pugh wrote, "In my attempt not to partake of the gain of oppression I have not for a moment supposed myself clear; all that I have supposed possible is to cease from direct support."35

This quest for purity left the PFASS a smaller but more radical organization. Though their constitution contained a clause on free produce, the vehemence of Mott, Pugh, and Grew on this subject drove some members of the PFASS out. As Jean Soderlund argues, the PFASS became "cliquish" after the 1830s, as it stopped trying to recruit new members and lost others to political differences. Free produce was one aspect of this internal struggle. In 1842, Mary Grew offered a resolution that [End Page 397] "it is the duty of abolitionists immediately to abstain from the use of the products of slave labor," which was tabled. By 1848, Lucretia Mott's remarks on free produce were uncontroversial to the society's faithful white and black members, largely because all the dissenters had left. And, as Soderlund notes, the PFASS only lost one African American member in the early 1840s.36

Unlike black abolitionists, who supported free produce to hasten the end of slavery, white abolitionists looked increasingly inward. Repeating the words clean and pure, free-produce advocates set themselves apart from other abolitionists they deemed inconsistent. Members of the Philadelphia Female Association for Promoting the Manufacture and Use of Free Cotton formed their society after asking, "How shall we cleanse our hands of this evil?" The Clarkson Anti-Slavery Association, of Chester County, Pennsylvania, called upon the PFASS to join them in holding a free-produce convention, initiating the founding of the American Free Produce Association, in part to "free ourselves from the guilt of sustaining and abetting all the iniquity and crime." They argued that those who "touch, taste, or handle the unclean thing" also participate in sin. In a letter to the Liberator, Samuel Rhoads, editor of the free-produce journal the Non-Slaveholder, unfavorably contrasted Garrison's current position with his earlier support of free produce, when Garrison was still in his "early, fresh, pure anti-slavery life." The early antislavery life continued to influence Lucretia Mott, who cited the American Anti-Slavery Society's Declaration of Sentiments in support of free-produce resolutions. Under her powerful influence, the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society passed these resolutions, such as one in 1850, which recommended abstaining "as far as practicable" from consuming slave produce "as an endeavor after personal purity, and a testimony against the robbery of the Slave by the Slave-holder."37

These free-produce arguments contained a hint of racialism. In principle, adherents hoped their boycotts could contain slavery. In practice, they seemed to make a fetish of their own purity. Their rhetoric often [End Page 398] focused on the soul of the individual abolitionist, rather than on the suffering of slaves. The "the dark red stain" of slavery, with its overtones of defilement, suggests a whiff of Negrophobia. In her poem "Slave Produce," Elizabeth Margaret Chandler used whiteness to indicate purity when she described some clothes as "stainless and pure in their snowy tint," though slavery had "render'd their brightness dim." Certainly, the free-produce movement unwittingly focused attention on the pure soul and garments of the individual abolitionist rather than on the slave.38

Figure 3. The Executive Committee of the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society, ca. 1851. Standing, left to right: Mary Grew, Edward M. Davis, Haworth Wetherald, Abby Kimber, J. Miller McKim, and Sarah Pugh. Seated, left to right: Oliver Johnson, Margaret Jones, Benjamin S. Bacon, Robert Purvis, Lucretia Mott, and James Mott. Courtesy of Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College.
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Figure 3.

The Executive Committee of the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society, ca. 1851. Standing, left to right: Mary Grew, Edward M. Davis, Haworth Wetherald, Abby Kimber, J. Miller McKim, and Sarah Pugh. Seated, left to right: Oliver Johnson, Margaret Jones, Benjamin S. Bacon, Robert Purvis, Lucretia Mott, and James Mott. Courtesy of Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College.

Nonetheless, black activists continued to support free produce largely because they viewed abstinence as a practical means of ending slavery rather than a path to personal salvation. Alexander Crummell told the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society that they had a "personal as [End Page 399] well as collective duty" to abstain from slave products. He urged the English to "let your Lancashire mills stop working, let your Manchester factory be standing still." Crummell invoked morality, but he emphasized economic pressure over all: "Tell the planters that you will no longer, by buying the produce of their slaves, suffer them to get rich by the sweat, and agony, and blood of your fellow creatures—that you will reduce them from affluence to poverty and bankruptcy, and immediately the system will come to an end."39

Henry Highland Garnet also saw free produce as a powerful economic weapon. He wrote Samuel Ringgold Ward that abstinence was "one of the most important instrumentalities for the overthrow of negro slavery." Disproving Douglass's fears, Garnet's tour of England apparently encouraged the formation of twenty-six new free-produce associations. In a letter to Philadelphia Quaker Samuel Rhoads about his trip, Garnet noted the growing interest of "Capitalists" in free cotton. "Allowing their motives to be purely commercial, yet the effect of their movement will be the same upon slavery, and will do the thing that those benevolent people desire who base their efforts upon humane and moral principles." Garnet's perceptions were accurate. As R. J. M. Blackett writes, by the 1850s British manufacturers were searching for alternatives to their dependence on southern cotton, eventually lending their support to Martin Delany's proposals to cultivate cotton in Africa. But for Garnet, it did not matter how slavery ended, only that it ended. In a period when many abolitionists, including Douglass, broke with Garrison and demanded political, economic, and violent solutions to the problem of slavery, free produce regained some of its initial influence.40

For Garnet and some other black abolitionists, support for emigration in the 1850s followed from free produce in the 1840s. Since the 1790s, British abolitionists had been searching for a way to challenge the economic dominance of slavery. They viewed the settlement of former slaves in Sierra Leone as an opportunity to prove the possibility of successfully cultivating sugar using free labor. The colony's failure did not hinder [End Page 400] later free-labor experiments in the West Indies and Africa. Some black Americans, increasingly frustrated with racism and the intransigence of American slavery, seized the opportunities offered by the British. In 1854, Samuel Ringgold Ward consulted with British abolitionists about cultivating free cotton and sugar in Jamaica. Though this endeavor did not get beyond the planning stages, Ward himself moved to Jamaica to take up farming. He encouraged other American blacks to immigrate to the island, touting the "climate, the rich and varied productions of the soil, the abundance of unoccupied land, and its social and political condition."41

In an important way, emigration brought the free-produce movement full circle back to Heyrick, who had illustrated the first London edition of her pamphlet with the image of a strong, standing black man. Rejecting the personal, consumerist ethos of the American free-produce movement, black abolitionists recreated themselves as producers of free cotton and African nationalists. Ward argued that the "chief, almost the only business of the Negro, is to be a man of business." Though emigrationists like Ward used gendered language, some African American women also embraced this enterprise. As Bruce Dorsey points out, women comprised 30% of the delegates to one emigration convention in the 1850s. Emigration proposals were directly tied to economic arguments about the superiority of the free market. Inspired by Orthodox Quaker Benjamin Coates, Henry Highland Garnet formed the African Civilization Society (ACS) in 1859 to civilize and Christianize Africa, and to promote cotton cultivation. The society proposed to destroy the African slave trade through "the introduction of lawful commerce and trade," creating a continent of "industrious producers and as well as consumers of articles of commerce." In addition to establishing Africans as independent producers, the ACS and its supporters saw African civilization as a [End Page 401]

Figure 4. Samuel Ringgold Ward. Courtesy of Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations.
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Figure 4.

Samuel Ringgold Ward. Courtesy of Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations.

free-labor experiment. Reverend Joseph P. Thompson argued that "cotton competition in Africa . . . shall break down the slaveholder's monopoly and make slavery too ruinous to be continued." Due to the involvement of colonizationists such as Coates, these free-labor experiments failed to catch on with most American supporters of free produce, [End Page 402] whose rejection of colonization had served as a crucial step in their embrace of immediatism.42

Free produce faced other obstacles in the black community. In 1852, young African American abolitionist Jacob White, Jr., berated black Philadelphians for their "inconsistency" in using slave produce. He pointed out that given the choice, African Americans would shop at a slave-produce over a free-produce store. But for most blacks, segregated into low-paying jobs in the Northern economy, free produce was economically prohibitive. As Frances Ellen Watkins Harper noted, "I have reason to be thankful that I am able to give a little more for a Free Labor dress, if it is coarser." The middle-class and elite women of the interracial PFASS undoubtedly could say the same. Only those white and black abolitionists with financial means consistently supported the cause. Free-produce activists tried in vain to bring the cost of free cotton in line with slave. Gerrit Smith proposed underwriting free cotton for several years. Others suggested that if the demand for free-produce goods went up, the price would go down. As Nuermberger concludes, "Free Produce failed because it made too heavy an economic demand on the individual."43

* * *

Though it earned interracial and international support, the free-produce movement did not end slavery or gain a broad following. Despite their initial influence, free-produce advocates failed to convince other abolitionists that abstinence was an ideological or moral imperative. As they [End Page 403] lost sway, female and Quaker supporters emphasized individual purity, drawing criticism for their obsessive attention to the details of daily life. Building on their experience with the Hicksite schism, members of the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society positioned themselves as the moral conscience of the antislavery movement. But abolitionist women also feared irrelevance in the face of political and violent strategies to end slavery, and, as a result, they reminded others in vain that personal rejection of slavery had always been at the center of Garrisonian abolitionism. For black abolitionists, however, free produce was another response to the limits of moral suasion. Though black advocates in the 1840s and 1850s found a receptive audience among British abolitionists, their free-labor experiments suffered from the taint of colonization in the United States.

Due to its reputation as a marginal movement among Quaker enthusiasts, history has not judged the free-produce movement kindly. But to their credit, supporters of free produce were willing to suffer for their cause by eating bad candy and wearing coarse clothing. This sacrifice was a public exhibition of their profound empathy for and identification with slaves. Support for free produce was also a rare acknowledgement (at least among white abolitionists) of the complicity of the North in sustaining slavery. Free-produce advocates accused New England abolitionists like Garrison of "seeking gain with an avidity which may possibly lead [them] to overlook the nicer and unprofitable distinctions of a pure morality." Discarding the idea that economic laws must be abstract or amoral, they conducted business by their antislavery principles so that free labor might truly be free. And abstainers rightly criticized other abolitionists for weakness, as Mott did when she noted the "flimsy" arguments of abolitionists against buying free produce at the World's Anti-Slavery Convention in London.44

Moreover, historians need to account for a strategy that attracted the most committed, most diverse, and arguably most radical abolitionists. Indeed, abstinence and boycotts have played an important role in innumerable liberation movements throughout history, from the American Revolution through the Civil Rights movement. Free produce radicalized American abolitionism by drawing a figurative and literal connection between female consumers and African Americans. Free produce also mobilized [End Page 404] female abolitionists and facilitated interracial organizing. In addition to radicalizing the movement, free-produce advocates created a bond "of trust through self-denial" to borrow T.H. Breen's phrase, offering an example of intellectual consistency, sincerity, and otherworldliness that drew admiration as well as scorn and disbelief.45

Carol Faulkner, associate professor of history
Syracuse University


1. Benjamin Lundy, ed., The Poetical Works of Elizabeth Margaret Chandler (Philadelphia, PA, 1836), 108; Maryemma Graham, ed., Complete Poems of Frances E. W. Harper (New York, 1988), 25.

2. Anna Davis Hallowell, James and Lucretia Mott: Life and Letters (Boston, MA, 1884), 88; W. P. Garrison, "Free Produce among the Quakers," Atlantic Monthly, Oct. 1868, 487; Ruth Ketring Nuermberger, The Free Produce Movement: A Quaker Protest Against Slavery (New York, 1942), 59, 113.

3. Garrison, "Free Produce," 490–92; Nuermberger, Free Produce Movement.

4. Seymour Drescher, Capitalism and Antislavery: British Mobilization in Comparative Perspective (New York, 1987), 78–79; Adam Hochschild, Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire's Slaves (New York, 2005), 192–96.

5. Elizabeth Heyrick, Immediate, Not Gradual Abolition; Or, An Inquiry into the Shortest, Safest, and Most Effectual Means of Getting Rid of West Indian Slavery (Philadelphia, PA, 1836). Clare Midgley, "Slave Sugar Boycotts, Female Activism and the Domestic Base of British Anti-Slavery Culture," Slavery and Abolition 17 (Dec. 1996), 152–55; Hochschild, Bury the Chains, 322–28.

6. Ibid., 6, 5; Heyrick, Immediate, Not Gradual Abolition (London, 1824). Heyrick, Immediate, Not Gradual Abolition (Philadelphia, PA, 1824). Abraham Pennock and James Mott, "Circular," Genius of Universal Emancipation, July 14, 1827. David Brion Davis, Slavery and Human Progress (New York, 1984), 113– 15, 156–62, 190–91; Seymour Drescher, The Mighty Experiment: Free Labor versus Slavery in British Emancipation (New York, 2002), ch. 2 and passim.

7. Ibid., 23, 24. Lawrence B. Glickman, "'Buy for the Sake of the Slave': Abolitionism and the Origins of American Consumer Activism," American Quarterly 56 (Dec. 2004), 898–99, 901.

8. Elias Hicks, Observations on the Slavery of the Africans and their Descendants (New York, 1811), 13; An Authentic Report of the Testimony in a Cause at Issue in the Court of Chancery of the State of New Jersey, between Thomas L. Shotwell, Complainant, and Joseph Hendrickson and Stacey Decow, Defendants. Taken Pursuant to the Rules of the Court by Jeremiah J. Foster. In Two Volumes. (Philadelphia, PA, 1831), 2: 39–40, 376; Garrison, "Free Produce," 492; H. Larry Ingle, Quakers in Conflict: The Hicksite Reformation (Wallingford, PA, 1986, 1998), 84–86.

9. Heyrick, Immediate, Not Gradual Abolition (1836), 2; Proceedings of the General Anti-Slavery Convention, Called by the Committee of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, and Held in London from Friday June 12th, to Tuesday, June 23rd, 1840 (London, 1841), 438.

10. "Free Produce Society," Genius of Universal Emancipation, Oct. 30, 1829; "Free Dry Goods' Store," Genius of Universal Emancipation, May 1830. "Lydia White," Friends' Intelligencer, May 13, 1871. Pennsylvania Freeman (Philadelphia), Apr. 19, 1838, Apr. 11, 1844, Aug. 7, 1851.

11. Esther Nixon to the American Free Produce Association (AFPA), Feb. 7, 1840, Mar. 6, 1840, May 1, 1840; Phineas Nixon to the AFPA, Sept. 25, 1840, Oct. 2, 1840, American Free Produce Association, Incoming Correspondence, Reel 31, Pennsylvania Abolition Society Papers, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. Aequalitas, "The Vexed Question," Liberator, Sept. 7, 1838. For African American participation see National Enquirer, And Constitutional Advocate of Universal Liberty, Jan. 4, 1838; Pennsylvania Freeman, Oct. 27, 1841. Christopher Densmore, "Before Seneca Falls: Abolition and Women's Rights in Chester County," Organization of American Historians annual meeting, Apr. 19–22, 2006, Washington, DC.

12. T. H. Breen, The Marketplace of Revolution: How Consumer Politics Shaped American Independence (New York, 2004), 230–34, 279–89.

13. Catherine E. Kelly, In the New England Fashion: Reshaping Women's Lives in the Nineteenth Century (Ithaca, NY, 1999), 214–18, 222–28.

14. Lundy, ed., Poetical Works, 111; Hicks, Observations on the Slavery of the Africans, 7, 12, 13, 14. Midgley, "Slave Sugar Boycotts," 143–47. Margaret Bacon, "By Moral Force Alone: The Antislavery Women and Nonresistance," in The Abolitionist Sisterhood: Women's Political Culture in Antebellum America, ed. Jean Fagan Yellin and John C. Van Horne (Ithaca, NY, 1994), 276–81.

15. Catharine, "Selfishness," Genius of Universal Emancipation, June 1833; "On the Use of Free Produce," Ladies Repository, Genius of Universal Emancipation, Jan. 1832.

16. Robert H. Abzug, Cosmos Crumbling: American Reform and the Religious Imagination (New York, 1994), 219, ch. 7; Davis, Slavery and Human Progress, 128–29, 143; Robert H. Abzug, Passionate Liberator: Theodore Dwight Weld and the Dilemma of Reform (New York, 1980), 57–58.

17. Letters of Paul and Amicus: Originally Published in The Christian Repository; A Weekly Paper, printed at Wilmington, Delaware (Philadelphia, PA, 1828), 307, 314; Hole in the Wall; or A Peep at the Creed-Worshippers. Embellished with Cuts by the Author (Philadelphia, PA, 1828), 36, passim. For differing Quaker perspectives see Records of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of Women Friends, May 10–15, 1841, Microfilm MR Ph 515, Friends Historical Library, Swarthmore College; George W. Taylor, Autobiography and Writings of George W. Taylor (Philadelphia, PA, 1891); Emma J. Lapsansky-Werner and Margaret Hope Bacon, eds., Benjamin Coates and the Colonization Movement in America, 1848–1880 (University Park, PA, 2005), 26, 29, 30–31.

18. David Brion Davis, "The Preservation of English Liberty, I" and Thomas L. Haskell, "Capitalism and the Origins of the Humanitarian Sensibility," in The Antislavery Debate: Capitalism and Abolitionism as a Problem in Historical Interpretation, ed. Thomas Bender (Berkeley, CA, 1992), 70–71, 107–60, 232; Drescher, Capitalism and Antislavery, 21.

19. Review of David Lee Child, The Culture of the Beet, and Manufacture of Beet Sugar, in Maine Farmer, and Journal of the Arts, Mar. 14, 1840; "Beet Sugar," Liberator, Apr. 3, 1840; Davis, "The Quaker Ethic and the Antislavery International" in Bender, ed., The Anti-Slavery Debate, 45, 61–63; Lucretia Mott to Adam and Ann Mott, Apr. 23, 1826, in Selected Letters of Lucretia Coffin Mott, ed. Beverly Wilson Palmer (Urbana, IL, 2002), 15–16; "Free Produce Society," Genius of Universal Emancipation, Oct. 30, 1829; Hallowell, James and Lucretia Mott, 87. John Ashworth, Slavery, Capitalism, and Politics in the Antebellum Republic, Volume 1: Commerce and Compromise, 1820–1850 (New York, 1995), 157–68.

20. "The Slave Produce Question," Liberator, Apr. 9, 1847; James Mott, Three Months in Great Britain (Philadelphia, PA, 1841), 53.

21. Glickman, "'Buy for the Sake of the Slave,'" 890; "Colored People in Philadelphia," Genius of Universal Emancipation, Feb. 1831; "Colored Free Produce Society," Genius of Universal Emancipation, May 1831. Benjamin Quarles, Black Abolitionists (New York, 1969), 74–76.

22. Liberator, Jan. 4, 1834; "Free Products," Genius of Universal Emancipation, Mar. 1834. Hallowell, James and Lucretia Mott, 114; Sherry H. Penney and James D. Livingston, A Very Dangerous Woman: Martha Wright and Women's Rights (Amherst, MA, 2004), 41.

23. Dec. 14, 1833 and Jan. 15, 1834, Minutes of the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society, Reel 30, Pennsylvania Abolition Society, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia (hereafter PFASS, HSP); Fourth Annual Report of the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society (Philadelphia, PA, 1838).

24. National Enquirer, and Constitutional Advocate of Universal Liberty, Nov.12, 1836; National Reformer, Sept. 1838, Oct. 1838, Sept. 1839. Julie Winch, Philadelphia's Black Elite: Activism, Accommodation, and the Struggle for Autonomy, 1787–1848 (Philadelphia, PA, 1988), 105–6, 111, 121, ch. 6 passim.

25. Proceedings of the Anti-Slavery Convention of American Women, Held in Philadelphia, May 15th, 16th, 17th, and 18th, 1838 (Philadelphia, PA, 1838), 7, 8. History of Pennsylvania Hall, which was Destroyed by a Mob, on the 17th of May, 1838 (Philadelphia, PA, 1838), 127, 136. Julie Roy Jeffrey, The Great Silent Army of Abolitionism: Ordinary Women in the Antislavery Movement (Chapel Hill, NC, 1998), 18–21; Beth Salerno, Sister Societies: Women's Antislavery Organizations in Antebellum America (DeKalb, IL, 2005), 17–19.

26. Ibid., 7, 8; Proceedings of the Anti-Slavery Convention of American Women, held in Philadelphia, May 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, 1839 (Philadelphia, PA, 1839), 7–8, 13. History of Pennsylvania Hall, 4, 96, 101, 117. Elizabeth Clark, "'The Sacred Rights of the Weak': Pain, Sympathy, and the Culture of Individual Rights in Antebellum America," Journal of American History 82 (Sept. 1995), 463–93.

27. Proceedings of the General Anti-Slavery Convention, 437, 446. Frederick B. Tolles, Slavery and the "Woman Question": Lucretia Mott's Diary of Her Visit to Great Britain to Attend the World's Anti-Slavery Convention of 1840 (Haverford, PA, 1952), 40.

28. Proceedings of the General Anti-Slavery Convention, 431; Tolles, Slavery and the "Woman Question," 39.

29. "The Free Produce Question, Liberator, Mar. 1, 1850. Pennsylvania Freeman, Oct. 20, 1841, Jan. 1, 1846, Apr. 12, 1849, Nov. 22, 1849.

30. "Free Labor Association," Liberator, Oct. 16, 1840; "Products of Slave Labor," Liberator, Mar. 5, 1847; "Abstinence from Slave Produce," Liberator, Feb. 19, 1847.

31. "Free Produce Question," Liberator, Mar. 1, 1850; "Tests," Liberator, Aug. 2, 1844. Aileen S. Kraditor, Means and Ends in American Abolitionism (New York, 1969), 217–220. An exception was Gerrit Smith, see "Cazenovia Convention Again," North Star, Sept. 5, 1850; Lucretia Mott to Phebe Post Willis, Sept.2, 1835, in Selected Letters, 33; John Stauffer, The Black Hearts of Men: Radical Abolitionists and the Transformation of Race (Cambridge, MA, 2002), 163–64.

32. Q., "Tests," Liberator, Aug. 2, 1844.

33. Lucretia Mott to Phebe Post Willis, Sept. 13, 1834, in Selected Letters, ed. Palmer, 27. William Still, "Frances Ellen Watkins Harper," The Underground Railroad, (Philadelphia, PA, 1872), 759; "Free Produce" and "The Free Produce Question," Liberator, Mar. 1, 1850; North Star, June 23, 1848; Non-Slaveholder, June 1, 1848. R. J. M. Blackett, Building an Antislavery Wall: Black Americans in the Atlantic Abolitionist Movement, 1830–1860 (Baton Rouge, LA, 1983), 119–20.

34. North Star, Sept. 7, 1849; "Remarks at the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society, October 25–26, 1860," in Lucretia Mott: Her Complete Speeches and Sermons, ed. Dana Greene (New York, 1980), 262. Blackett, Building an Antislavery Wall, 143–45.

35. "Correspondence between the Buckingham Female A.S. Society and the Female A.S. Society of Philadelphia," Genius of Universal Emancipation, Oct.1837; Sarah Pugh, Diary Entry, Aug. 1844, in Memorial of Sarah Pugh: A Tribute of Respect from Her Cousins (Philadelphia, PA, 1888), 136.

36. Minutes for Oct. 13, 1842, Dec. 8, 1842, Apr. 11, 1848, PFASS, HSP. Jean R. Soderlund, "Priorities and Power: The Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society," in Abolitionist Sisterhood, ed. Yellin and Van Horne, 73, 87, passim.

37. "Free Produce Society," Genius of Universal Emancipation, Nov. 6, 1829; Letter from the Clarkson Anti-Slavery Association, 1837, Reel 31, PFASS, HSP; "Free Produce," Liberator, Mar. 1, 1850; Pennsylvania Freeman, Oct. 24, 1850.

38. Lundy, ed., Poetical Works, 111.

39. "Remarks of Alexander Crummell, 21 May 1849," in The Black Abolitionist Papers, Volume 1: The British Isles, 1830–1865, ed. C. Peter Ripley (5 vols., Chapel Hill, NC, 1985), 149–50.

40. Henry Highland Garnet to Samuel Ringgold Ward, Sept. 4, 1850, Henry Highland Garnet to Samuel Rhoads, Dec. 5, 1850, Black Abolitionist Papers, 1: 225, 232; Blackett, Building an Antislavery Wall, 121, 141, 184.

41. Drescher, Capitalism and Antislavery, 9, 22, 61, 242–43; Drescher, The Mighty Experiment; Hochschild, Bury the Chains, 145–46, Christopher Leslie Brown, Moral Capital: Foundations of British Abolitionism (Chapel Hill, NC, 2006), ch. 5; Blackett, Building an Antislavery Wall, 167, 174; Ronald K. Burke, Samuel Ringgold Ward: Christian Abolitionist (New York, 1995), 58–59. Benjamin Coates, Cotton Cultivation in Africa: Suggestions on the Importance of the Cultivation of Cotton in Africa, in Reference to the Abolition of Slavery in the United States, through the Organization of an African Civilization Society (Philadelphia, PA, 1858); Lapsansky-Werner and Bacon, Benjamin Coates, 30–31.

42. Samuel Ringgold Ward, Autobiography of a Fugitive Negro: His Anti-Slavery Labours in the United States, Canada, and England (New York, 1968), 233, 234–35; Bruce Dorsey, Reforming Men and Women: Gender in the Antebellum City (Ithaca, NY, 2002), 162, 146, 149, 154–64; Constitution of the African Civilization Society: Together with the Testimony of Forty Distinguished Citizens of New York and Brooklyn, to the Importance of the Objects Contemplated by Its Friends: Also, the Anniversary Address, Delivered by Rev. Joseph P. Thompson, D.D., at the Annual Meeting of the Society, May 19, 1861 (New Haven, CT, 1861), 2, 35; Coates, Cotton Cultivation in Africa, 3, 6, 8; Lapsansky-Werner and Bacon, Benjamin Coates, 33; Blackett, Building an Anti-Slavery Wall, 176, 178–79.

43. C. Peter Ripley, ed., The Black Abolitionist Papers, Volume 4: The United States, 1847–1858 (Chapel Hill, NC, 1991), 137–39; Still, The Underground Railroad, 759; Gerrit Smith to Abraham L. Pennock, Non-Slaveholder, June 1, 1846; "Objections to Abstinence from Slave Products," Non-Slaveholder, July 1, 1847.

44. "The Slave Produce Question," Non-Slaveholder, Nov. 1, 1847.

45. T. H. Breen, "Will American Consumers Buy a Second American Revolution," Journal of American History 93 (Sept. 2006), 408.

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