[FRANKLIN, Benjamin]. WHITFIELD, George (1714-1770). Letter to the "Inhabitants of Maryland, Virginia, North and South Carolina" in regard to slavery. In The Pennsylvania Gazette, Philadelphia: Printed by B. Franklin, Post-Master, at the New Printing-office near the Market...17 April 1740, Number 592. 4 pages, 4to (12,3.4 x 7¾ in.), matted, framed.
"GOD HAS A QUARREL WITH YOU FOR YOUR ABUSE...AND CRUELTY TO THE POOR NEGROES"
Franklin's popular and long-running paper--with advertisments for his printing business (where "Book-Binding is done reasonably, in the best Manner"). This issue contains a long, powerful attack on Southern slavery by the English evangelical preacher, George Whitefield (1714-1770). Addressed to "the Inhabitants of Maryland, Virginia, North and South Carolina," Whitefield castigates Americans for their mistreatment the bodies and the souls of their slaves. "...I must inform you, in the Meekness and Gentleness of Christ, that I think God has a Quarrel with you for your Abuse and Cruelty to the poor Negroes...For your slaves, I believe, work as hard, if not harder, than the Horses whereon you ride....I have wondered that we have not more Instances of Self-Murder among the Negroes, or that they have not more frequently rose up in Arms against their Owners...And tho' I heartily pray God they may never be permitted to get the upper Hand; yet should such a Thing be permitted by Providence, all good men must acknowledge the Judgment would be just..."
"I have great reason to believe, that most of you, on Purpose, keep your Negroes ignorant of Christianity." The masters would never properly tend to the souls of their slaves "till you are convinced of the Necessity of securing the Salvation of your own. That you yourselves are not effectually convinced of this...is too notorious to want Evidence. A general Deadness as to divine Things, and not to say a general Prophaneness, is discernible in both Pastors and People." Franklin has a wonderful anecdote in his memoir of coming to a Whitefield sermon in 1738 with a skeptical attitude about the sensational preacher, only to be so carried away by his oratory that he emptied his purse into the collection plate. When Whitefield returned for a second American tour in 1739-40, the crowds were even bigger but the hostility of Southern Anglican clerics grew apace. They tried to bar him from preaching and convened an ecclesiastical court to hear charges of apostasy against him, but he refused to recognize their jurisdiction. He made five other trips to America between 1744 and 1760, and was a leading light in the evangelical revival known as the Great Awakening. Ironically, this same issue of the Gazette also contains a notice for a runaway slave "named Jo," born in Bermuda, "speaks good English...Whoever secures or brings him to the [owner] shall be reasonably rewarded."