John Woolman was born in 1720. As a Quaker, he was especially sensitive to spiritual experiences, as well as to the dignity and rights of all people. He attended school for a while and then worked in commerce, tailoring, and farming, but Woolman was also interested in promoting the ways and will of God, so he became a preacher and traveled throughout the country, speaking against injustice, slavery, war, the oppression of the poor, and the mistreatment of Native Americans.
Woolman's preaching led to publishing, as he wanted to reach an even larger audience. In 1753, he published his first essay, "Some Considerations on the Keeping of Negroes," in which he argues that slavery is not compatible with God's plan for human beings. He expanded on that idea in "Some Considerations on Keeping Negroes, Part Second," which he published in 1762. Woolman also published on other social issues with his essay collections Considerations on Pure Wisdom and Human Policy, on Labor, on Schools, and on the Right Use of the Lord's Outward Gifts in 1768 and Considerations on the True Harmony of Mankind, and How It Is to Be Maintained in 1770. In the latter, he speaks of serving God according to Christ's example in all areas of life.
John Woolman also kept a journal, which was published under the title The Journal of John Woolman in 1774, two years after Woolman's death. In the Journal, Woolman discusses God's work in his own life as well as his travels, his views about slavery, and his opinions on many of the social issues he comments on his essays. He focuses especially on God's power and mercy and on the tendency of human power and materialism to lead to corruption.