Pennsylvania Slavery

Like most of the other states during colonial America, Pennsylvania had slavery.  Founding Fathers such as Benjamin Franklin, John Dickinson, and Robert Morris had slaves at one time. However, Pennsylvania was one of the first states to oppose slavery. The Quakers, which dominated Pennsylvania, were the first organized group to express opposition to slavery. The Quakers did not have an immediate outcome in the abolition of slavery in Pennsylvania. What they did do, was raise awareness to whether slavery was moral.

In 1780, Pennsylvania passed the Gradual Emancipation Act. The law itself helped slavery disappear in Pennsylvania, but in itself, it did not emancipate a single slave. Any person who was a slave up until the law took effect on March 1, 1780, remained a slave until their death. The only exception was if his or her owner freed them. All children born to slaves after the law took effect, could be enslaved until they turned 28. It wasn’t until 1847, that total abolition came to Pennsylvania.



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