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ANTHONY BENEZET: TEACHER AND ABOLITIONIST OF THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY By Jean S. Straub* Anthony Benezet, a master in Friends schools in Philadelphia for some forty years during the eighteenth century, wrote in 1757 in the middle of his career : "I have sometimes very much doubted, whether I had any effectual service at all in the Creation, except serving my self; but if I have any, it's in the education of Children."1 This gifted man whose insights regarding teaching methods were far in advance of his time had achieved his self knowledge by trial. After eighteen years of teaching in various schools, Benezet had resigned his post as master of a girls school for reasons of health. But "a secret uneasiness " about this decision drew him back to teaching, in which profession he continued for the rest of his life. His return brought him satisfaction and contentment and wise understanding of himself: "Happy for us, when we know our service, to be willing to keep in it, & not aspire higher."2 Born in 1713 in St. Quenton, France, Benezet was one of thirteen children. As a result of the long decades of religious persecution in France, his father, a Huguenot, fled with his family to Holland and then to England, where Anthony received an education thought to be appropriate for success in the mercantile business. When Anthony was eighteen years old, John Stephen Benezet again moved his family and sailed for the New World, landing in Philadelphia in 1731. During the next few years, Anthony tried several business ventures. He also became a Friend and in 1736 married Joyce Marriott who was a member of a substantial Philadelphia Quaker family, and a minister.3 Unsatisfied by his business ventures, however, Benezet * Jean S. Straub is Director of the Student Personnel Assistant Program and Associate Professor of Psychology and Education at Ohio State University Columbus, Ohio. 1 Benezet to John Smith, Dec. 9 1757, in the Vaux Papers, Histórica Society of Pennsylvania. * Ibid. 'Joyce Marriott was the granddaughter of Griffith Owen, a respected physician and citizen and one of the original fifteen overseers appointed by William Penn to run the Latin School, which many years later became the William Penn Charter School. 4 Quaker History became a teacher in the school which had been founded in Germantown in 1701 by Francis Daniel Pastorius, and in his spare time did proofreading in the nearby shop of Christopher Sower.4 He apparently enjoyed his teaching, but the salary was not satisfactory and his wife missed the Philadelphia Meeting, so after three years he wrote to Israel Pemberton asking to be considered for a teaching post in the Friends school in Philadelphia.6 His proposals were presented to the school's overseers, who agreed to engage him as master of "the Writing School" and "to allow him the use of the School, & the sum of Fifty pounds out of the Publick Stock for one year in Consideration of his teach.g fifteen poor Children. . . ."6 While the subjects he volunteered to teach were many, they did not include Latin, and it would appear from the records that for the first several years he kept the school there was no Latin master. Benezet referred to this in his initial letter to Pemberton when he mentioned the salary he would be willing to accept: "I shall be content with Such a Sallary as will afford a frugal living, which if I apprehend things right, friends may allow, & yet reserve a Sufficient income for a Latin master should one come hereafter. . . ."7 Alex Buller, "late Master of the Publick School," had died in 1741s and apparently only occasional arrangements were made for a Latin master until, in 1748, Robert Willan arrived from England to teach Latin and Greek.9 With Willan as master of the Latin School, Benezet carried on as master in the Writing School and in addition, taught writing and arithmetic an hour a day to the boys in the Latin School. This extra duty became too great a chore, however, and Benezet appealed to the overseers "that the Number of his Scholars is so great that he finds it impracticable to instruct the Boys of...