Anti-Slavery Sentiment Sparks Quaker Organization

Levi Coffin, an active member of the N.C. Manumission Society. Image from the Office of Archives and History.On July 19, 1816, 23 delegates from four Quaker meetings organized the North Carolina Manumission Society in Guilford County. The delegates represented 147 members in local societies. The antislavery organization alternated between Quaker meeting meeting houses at Centre and Deep River until it disbanded after 1834. Female auxiliary societies were added beginning in 1825. Members met resistance from many quarters and had difficulty retaining printers for their handbills and other publications.

The Manumission Society was the chief antislavery society in antebellum North Carolina. Little is known about the separate North Carolina Abolition Society organized in 1824. Though the impact of the society’s activities on state politics is generally considered small, one of its major achievements was colonizing 420 slaves in Liberia.

After 1830, participation in the society declined, mostly due to the westward migration of its members and the rise of the more radical abolitionist movement. The Manumission Society’s final meeting was held in 1834 after legal and other pressures forced the society to disband. Many of its members turned their abolitionist energies toward working for the Underground Railroad.

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