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NOTES 8f DOCUMENTS A WOOLMAN MANUSCRIPT By Henry J. Caobury I have been familiar with John Woolman's handwriting for a good while. For example, in 1946 I spent a day at the Office of the Secretary of State in Trenton, New Jersey, identifying twenty-five wills engrossed throughout by him, together with scores that he witnessed, proved, or was otherwise involvedin.1 Lately while I was looking for something quite different among the boxes of loose papers preserved by Philadelphia Yearly Meeting pertaining to its Meeting for Sufferings ,2 inevitably I noticed at once, in a box that I was going through, a book of ruled quarto papers written in this familiar hand and running to forty-six pages. Two pages were signed "John Woolman." The crude gathering of stitched papers included the following letter of explanation: To the Meeting for Sufferings to be held at Philadelphia. Beloved friends. About three months before the decease of my brother Abner, he exprest in my hearing a desire that a piece he had wrote concerning trading to the West Indies might be handed about amongst Friends at Wilmington. And near his departure, having had a particular desire to speak to me, he then told me that he felt a desire that a piece he had written, directed to the active members of Burlington Monthly Meeting, which he had handed about to a considerable number, might continue to be handed about amongst Friends of said meeting. This trust, thus laid on me, hath been attended with some exercise of mind, under which I have believed it best for me to offer the said pieces to the consideration of the Meeting for Sufferings, and have also collected the substance of sundry short chapters, part from a stitched book, and part from loose papers which I found in said book, and propose to send them herewith. The original papers in his handwriting I have by me, and am free to send or bring them, if the Meeting for Sufferings desire it. 1772From your loving Friend John Woolman 1 See "Letter from the Past. No. 154," Friends Journal, Oct. 29, 1955, pp. 274, 282. 2 Box 13, 1766-1773; Department of Records, 304 Arch St., Philadelphia. 35 36Quaker History The two brief papers first mentioned are evidently the two in a different hand that are attached. The latter is in fact dated and signed "9th mo 1770 Abner Woolman." The bulk of the material is the collection written out by John. It is written in the first person, divided into forty-two numbered brief sections, entitled, "Some writings left by Abner Woolman," prefaced by a letter to his children in which he says they "were wrote in tenderness, and the chief part of them in the night when you my dear children were asleep." The paragraphs are some of them dated 1760, 1760, 1758, 1763, "2 day 2 mo 1764," seventh month 1766, Third month 1768, and finally "20th day 8th month 1771." After this John Woolman himself refers to being with him and to his declining strength and sundry remarks until "he departed like one going to sleep, on the 4th day 11 mo 1771 in the evening, aged about 47—John Woolman." Abner Woolman was the fifth of the thirteen children of Samuel and Elizabeth Woolman. Following two daughters, John, Asher, and Abner were born to them. John (1720-1772) was about four years older than Abner, and he died nearly a year after, aged about 52. In 1752 Abner married Mary Aaronson, a Friend of Haddonfield, and had some children, including two sons who left descendants. This material reveals something of his character of which we had no knowledge heretofore. He was an elder. The MS memorial of him, preserved with this material, but not printed, mentions particularly his concerns against slavery and the excessive use of liquor. It is of course disappointing that this manuscript, entirely new at least to me, is so little of it the original composition of John Woolman himself. But indirectly it does add something to our knowledge of him. In the first place it helps fill a lacuna in his Journal. The last entry in his...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1934-1504
Print ISSN
0033-5053
Pages
pp. 35-41
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
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