06/13/2014 03:59 PM
BATON ROUGE – Pennsylvanian Quaker Anthony Benezet was one of the most important and
prolific abolitionists of the 18th century. The first to combine religious and philosophical
arguments with extensive documentation of the slave trade based on eyewitness reports
from Africa and the colonies, Benezet’s antislavery writings served as foundational
texts for activists on both sides of the Atlantic. In England, those who incorporated
his work into their own writings included Granville Sharp, John Wesley, Thomas Clarkson,
and William Dillwyn, while Benjamin Franklin, Benjamin Rush, David Cooper, James Forten,
Absalom Jones and Richard Allen drew inspiration from his essays in America. Despite
Benezet’s pervasive influence during his lifetime, David L. Crosby’s annotated edition
of "The Complete Antislavery Writings of Anthony Benezet," available from LSU Press,
represents the first time Benezet’s antislavery works are available in one book.
In addition to assembling Benezet’s canon, Crosby chronicles the development of Benezet’s
antislavery philosophy and places the abolitionist’s writing in historical context.
Each work is preceded by an editor’s note that describes the circumstances surrounding
its original publication and the significance of the selection.
A valuable tool for scholars and students of African American history, slavery studies,
and the Revolutionary era, “The Complete Antislavery Writings of Anthony Benezet,
1754–1783,” demonstrates the prevailing impact of the foremost pioneer in American
Crosby is emeritus professor of English and communications at Alcorn State University.
Posted on Friday, June 13, 2014