How did the Quakers' attitude toward slavery contrast with the existing laws of the time?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Quakers' beliefs on slavery were ahead of the time period and represents a rather transformative view of race relations in America.   The first state to ban slavery was Pennsylvania, founded by the Quaker William Penn.  Pennsylvania was considered to be a Quaker state, at the time.  The Quakers' view of the Biblical tradition was one that fused religion with the advancement of human rights in the broadest of stance.  Taking a stand abolitionist stand on the issue of slavery was concurrent with such a belief system.  Even in the few Quakers who did own slaves, there was a belief of protecting the spiritual and human rights of these slaves.  It is reflective of the Quaker view of human beings that they would inject the idea of fair treatment into an institution such as slavery.  However, for the most part, the Quakers believed that the profiteering off of human suffering and trafficking of slaves were deemed morally unacceptable through their understanding of the Bible and Christian beliefs.  Levi Coffin and Lucretia Mott were two strong abolitionists who advanced their cause with the Quaker interpretation of spirituality.