The Washington Post produces one of my regular podcast selections called “Retropod“. Earlier this week, it ran a piece on the history of one of the earliest American abolitionists, Benjamin Lay, a Quaker whose accomplishments were uncovered by a historian from “Abington Meeting House in Jenkinton“. Mispronunciation aside, the podcast sheds light on a very important figure in the anti-slavery movement.
According to the story:
Benjamin Lay wrote one of the first treatises against slavery in Colonial America, a time when many prosperous Pennsylvania Quakers were slave owners. But the Quakers disowned Lay for speaking out.
At the time, many Quakers owned slaves despite their belief in non-violence. He cited his religious community for its hypocrisy, calling Quaker slaveowners “man stealers”. For this and his other antics, he became a pariah in his community.
Lay remained forgotten for centuries and only last year did the Quakers posthumously welcome Lay back into the fold, calling him “A friend of the truth.”
Listen to this and other interesting historical podcasts from Retropod here.