Abolition, Quakers, Benjamin Lay, Slavery


in 1758, a sickly hunchback lay ill in his cave-like dwelling. He had devoted his life to the cause of eradicating slavery. He was alone, a widower and an outcast among those called Friends. Now, in the winter of his life, 77-yearold Benjamin Lay heard the news that the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting had embraced antislavery thought to the extent that those who "could not be persuaded to desist from the practice of holding slaves, or were concerned in the importation of them" could face disciplinary action, just as he had for decrying the evils of racial slavery decades before. At hearing the news,

"The venerable and constant friend and advocate of that race of men, attentively listened to this heart-cheering intelligence, and after a few moments reflection on what he had heard, he rose from his chair, and in an attitude of devotional reverence, poured forth this pious ejaculation, "Thanksgiving and praise be rendered unto the Lord God." After a short pause, he added-, "I can now die in peace."