“Justice abhors punishing an innocent person; and if they are innocent why shall they not enjoy their natural rights as fully and absolute as the rest of mankind. Or is it their being born of a different colour from ourselves that gives us this prerogative of dealing with them as we please…”
From the remarkable recent collection of Benezet’s anti-slavery writings: To Be Silent Would be Criminal: the Anti-Slavery Influence and Writings of Anthony Benezet. Edited, with extensive prefatory notes, by Irv A. Brendlinger. Revitalization: Explorations in World Christian Movements. Pietist and Wesleyan Studies, No. 20. The Scarecrow Press; Lanham, MD; Toronto; and Plymouth, UK. And The Center for the Study of World Christian Revitalization and Movements. 2007.
“we Christians introduced the Traffick of Slaves, and that before our coming they lived in Peace; but, say they, it is observable, that wherever Christianity comes, there comes with it a Sword, a Gun, Powder and Ball.”
–William Smith, quoting a 1726 conversation with a European merchant in Africa (cited in Benezet’s 1762 “Short Account of Africa,” edited by Brendlinger 2007).