Mar 24, 2022 - Sale 2598

Sale 2598 - Lot 36

Price Realized: $ 875
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 600 - $ 900
(SLAVERY & ABOLITION.) Newspaper publication of Pennsylvania's "Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery," in an issue of the Pennsylvania Packet or General Advertiser. 4 pages, 16 x 10 inches, on one folding sheet; disbound, minimal dampstaining, uncut. Philadelphia, 23 December 1779

Additional Details

Filling most of the first page and extending slightly into the second is "An Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery" which had been proposed for debate by the state's General Assembly, in addition to the small distraction of the ongoing Revolution. It passed into law the following March. Its scope was limited: those presently in slavery were to remain so for life. However, all children of slaves born in Pennsylvania going forward were to be considered indentured servants who would be free at age 28; enslaved people imported into the state would be declared free; and slaveowners were required to keep a detailed register to assure compliance. This was the first law ever passed by a democracy which abolished slavery.

The law was not yet in effect. On page 3, we find the kind of advertisement which was all too common in newspapers of this era: "To be sold: a very likely active Negro boy, about fifteen years of age; he has had the small pox and measles, understands talking care of horses, and rides well."