Philadelphia: Joseph Crukshank, 1773 [i.e., 1772-1774]. Five tracts in one volume. ,xi,124;16;48;83;60pp. Edges worn; leather scuffed, more heavily on spine; spine ends chipped. Contemporary and later ownership inscriptions in front free endpapers; contemporary printed label affixed to front pastedown; scattered contemporary manuscript annotations through text. Moderate toning and dust soiling; scattered foxing. About very good. Item #2308
A fascinating and unusual sammelband of pamphlets on religious and adjacent Quaker subjects, selected and assembled by Anthony Benezet, a French immigrant to Philadelphia who became a prominent Quaker leader, teacher, early abolitionist, and author of several 18th-century, anti-slavery works.
"Benezet found his calling in teaching, a profession that would bring him significant personal satisfaction throughout his life as a result of his belief that education offered a means of reforming an increasingly competitive society.... After two decades of offering free evening classes for black students in his home, in 1770 he persuaded the Society of Friends to open an “Africans’ School.” Although the school’s enrollment was rather low, a number of Benezet’s students—among them Absalom Jones and James Forten—became important leaders of Philadelphia’s black community.... From the 1750s until his death, amid numerous other reform projects, Benezet actively pursued an abolitionist campaign that began in Pennsylvania and soon extended across the Atlantic.... While he continued abolitionist work in Philadelphia, in 1759 he began to publish a series of influential antislavery tracts that soon reached an international audience. In A Short Account of That Part of Africa Inhabited by the Negroes (1762), a pamphlet that was later translated into French and German, he directly challenged assertions of innate black inferiority" - ANB.
The present volume contains five separately paginated and titled tracts with a covering title page, each selected by Benezet. Together, they are a representation of his thoughts on Quaker beliefs and philosophy, slavery, prohibition, and more. The tracts present here are as follows:
1) The Plain Path to Christian Perfection.... Philadelphia: Joseph Crukshank, 1772. xi,124pp.
2) The Dreadful Visitation, in a Short Account of the Progress and Effects of the Plague, the Last Time It Spread in the City of London, in the Year 1665.... Philadelphia: Joseph Crukshank, 1774. 16pp.
3) The Mighty Destroyer Displayed, in Some Account of the Dreadful Havock Made by the Mistaken Use as well as Abuse of Distilled Spiritous Liquors. Philadelphia: Joseph Crukshank, 1774. 48pp.
4) Wesley, John. Thoughts Upon Slavery. Philadelphia: Joseph Crukshank, 1774. 83pp.
5) Sermons or Declarations, Made by Stephen Crisp, One of the Antient Preachers Amongst the People Called Quakers. Philadelphia: Joseph Crukshank, 1773.
According to Joseph Smith, in his voluminous bibliography of Quaker books, Benezet likely paid for the printing of various pamphlets himself and distributed them under this collective title page to students, friends, fellow Quakers, and other interested parties. As a result, the tracts included vary from volume to volume; the contents of this sammelband correspond only to copies held by AAS, JCB, and the Library Company of Philadelphia. The collective title of the present volume is signed, "Collected by Anthony Benezet," in Benezet's hand, and bears the contemporary ownership inscription of George Miller, probably a former student of Benezet. Miller seems to have become a prominent Friend in Bucks County, and maintained correspondence with several important Philadelphia figures in the late 18th century, including Benjamin Rush, with whom he discussed many of the topics addressed in the present pamphlets.
ESTC W33558. Evans 13145. Sabin 4671.