February 18, 1688
First Protest Against Slavery in Colonial America
On this date in 1688, four members of a religious congregation in Germantown, Pennsylvania issued a statement arguing against slavery. It was the first organized protest against slavery in the colonies.
Although the four men were native German speakers, they wrote their document in English, apparently intending it for a wider audience. Among other arguments, they appealed to the Golden Rule: "Pray, what thing in the world can be done worse towards us, than if men should rob or steal us away, and sell us for slaves to strange countries; separating housbands from their wives and children." (Although many sources identify the Germantown congregation as Quaker, others say the four men who signed the Germantown Protest were Mennonites or, possibly, Moravians.)