Abstract

This article re-evaluates traditional interpretations and presentations of the (in)-famous eighteenth century Quaker abolitionist, Benjamin Lay, by arguing that his physical disability provided the foundation for his advocacy to eliminate slaveholding amongst his fellow Friends. The article will first establish the historical context Benjamin Lay's life and transatlantic travels to explain the roots of his abolitionist advocacy. Then, this article will analyze Lay's radical abolitionism both within the context of eighteenth-century Quaker antislavery and through the lens of disability history. This methodological approach will reveal that Lay displayed a clear awareness of his non-conforming body and the ways that its marginalizing effects empowered him to radically challenge the Quaker slaveholding establishment. The article will then analyze Lay's All Slave-Keepers, Apostates and argue that Lay rhetorically constructed his own disability in this text through both a religious lens and through the emerging Enlightenment concept of human aberrance and hierarchy. Finally, the article will conclude by analyzing some of the earliest visual representations of Lay's strange body and contend that context in which they were commissioned and circulated forged a positive connection between Lay's disability and his abolitionist accomplishments.


In 1782, the year he founded and opened the United States' first natural history museum in Philadelphia, Pierre Eugène Du Simitière received a curious gift from his friend and noted Philadelphia printer, John Dunlap: an engraving of the noted (or perhaps notorious) Philadelphia Quaker Benjamin Lay, who had died in 1759. 1 In some ways, Lay was a surprising candidate to be memorialized in an engraving or included in a museum of natural history only a few decades after his death. During the time Lay lived in and around Philadelphia, he gained notoriety for his outlandish and unconventional public attacks against slavery. In one of these instances, Lay kidnapped a neighbor child whose parents owned a slave. When the frantic parents came to Lay seeking help and information about their child's whereabouts, Lay took the opportunity to first reassure them that "Your child is safe in my house," and then to impress upon them "the sorrow you inflict upon the parents of the negroe [sic] girl you hold in slavery, for she was torn from them by avarice." 2 During his lifetime, heavy-handed tactics like this one alienated Lay from both his neighbors and the larger Philadelphia Quaker community, which did not yet share his anti-slavery views.

Why, then, would a local museum want to memorialize him? This decision most likely stemmed from the fact that by the late eighteenth century both Quaker and non-Quaker Philadelphians perceived Lay as a catalyst for humanitarian change. In 1758—a year before Lay's death—the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting strongly cautioned against slave trading amongst its members. 3 This decision not only reflected the efficacy of Lay's activism but also cemented Lay's legacy as a vital figure in the trajectory of Quaker abolitionism and humanitarianism. 4

Those who encountered Lay during his lifetime and those who viewed his likeness posthumously—in Du Simitière's collection and elsewhere—likely saw him as aberrant; in fact, his extraordinary physical form became inextricably tied his vanguard abolitionism. The engraving made clear that Lay was quite short, had a hunched back and extremely skinny legs, walked with a cane, and seemed to live an austere existence as it presented him outside a cave-like dwelling. In 1815, Lay's biographer Robert Vaux described him as:

only four feet seven inches in height; his head was large in proportion to his body; the features of his face were remarkable, and boldly delineated, and his countenance was grave and benignant. He was hunch-backed, with a projecting chest, below which his body became much contracted. His legs were so slender as to appear almost unequal to the purpose of supporting him, diminutive as his frame was, in comparison with the ordinary size of the human stature. A habit he had contracted, of standing in a twisted position, with one hand resting upon his left hip, added to the effect produced by a large white beard, that for many years had not been shaved, contributed to render his figure perfectly unique. It is singular, that his wife very much resembled him in size, having a crooked back like her husband. 5

Within the larger context of Du Simitière's museum, where he also displayed "flora and fauna, about 2000 prints and drawings, a collection of Indian and African antiquities, hundreds of issues of various Colonial newspapers and among many others, a special collection of books relating to the history of America," Lay's historical significance and his physiological uniqueness made him a natural fit for this diverse collection. 6 At this late eighteenth-century moment, Du Simitière's museum captured the broader Enlightenment fascination with cataloging, categorizing, and creating taxonomies amongst anthropological and physical specimens. The results of these classifying processes led "Enlightened" thinkers to establish and naturalize hierarchies of living beings; those that somehow deviated from the "norm"—like Lay—became objects of both fascination and derision. 7 Although neither Dunlap nor Du Simitière was a Quaker, the two Philadelphians found this engraving compelling in part because it reflected Benjamin Lay's significance to that city's abolitionist legacy, which was shared by Quakers and non-Quakers alike. Yet from a scientific perspective, Du Simitière also valued this image of Lay because it furthered his bona fides as a man of the Enlightenment. This engraving not only added another artifact to his ever-growing collection of empirical oddities, but it also codified the interconnectedness of non-conformity: Benjamin Lay's aberrant body visually encapsulated his unconventional life and activism.

Indeed, the engraving was just one of the dozens of textual and visual representations of Lay that circulated throughout the Atlantic world from the late eighteenth through the mid-nineteenth century, nearly all of which referenced his stature and physical "deformity." The omnipresent references to Lay's height, his crooked back, the relative length of his arms, the frailty of his legs, and his other physical traits, suggest that Lay's disability signified more to his contemporaries and later biographers than merely serving as an interesting side-note. 8 Posthumous representations of Lay and his body abounded with vivid descriptions of his strikingly unconventional body and vitally connected those attributes with his strident moral stances and confrontational anti-slavery tactics.

Although Lay's striking behavior and bodily difference make him an interesting subject in and of himself, Lay's disability merits scholarly attention precisely because it proved central to his activism as an abolitionist in the eighteenth century. During his lifetime, Lay harnessed his bodily difference to advocate on behalf of the enslaved. His own first-hand observations of human bondage in the Caribbean exposed Lay to the ways in which that institution marginalized, enacted violence on, and often physically deformed African slaves. Although Lay lived and wrote at a moment before Enlightenment ideas about the dualistic and hierarchical nature of disabilities had been thoroughly articulated, these observations nevertheless led him to perceive and recognize his own aberrant body as a personal characteristic that marginalized and ostracized him from the larger body politic. Although he lived a much more stable material existence, Lay shared the experience with enslaved Africans of being categorized as physically and socially deviant; this enabled him to empathize with and publicly demonstrate on the slaves' behalf. Lay recognized that this emerging, quasi-scientific classification schema marked aberrant bodies—both his and those of black Africans—as inherently inferior. Yet he refused to passively acquiesce to such pejorative and circumscribed notions. Embracing and redefining this emerging Enlightenment-era construction of disability, Lay harnessed his aberrant, active, and activist body to condemn slaveholding Quakers without fear of losing social status because he has already been deemed an outsider.

Yet as a profoundly spiritual and mystical person, Lay most often framed his abolitionist arguments and references to his aberrant body in religious terms. Clearly expressing a self-awareness about his non-conforming body and the ways in which it empowered him to call for abolition, Lay articulated an aggressive call for ending slavery in his 1737 book, All Slave-Keepers That Keep the Innocent in Bondage, Apostates. Often citing Biblical passages or the writings of Quaker and non-Quaker theologians, Lay contended that eradicating slavery would spiritually elevate both the slaveholder and the enslaved. This narrative of spiritual uplift and overcoming the sin of slavery targeted slaveholders as individuals and, as a result, cohered nicely with the emerging Enlightenment discourse around disability that marked mental and physical aberrance as an individualized deficit to be overcome. Shortly after Lay's death in 1759 (and the triumph of having the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting strongly caution against slaveholding), images of Lay's body began to circulate throughout the Atlantic world. These images, which prominently displayed his non-conforming body, established an association between Lay's unconventional abolitionist activism and his unconventional body. At this mid-eighteenth-century moment, such images forged a positive connection between Lay's strange body and his abolitionist triumph and spoke powerfully to others (both Quaker and non-Quaker) who shared his hatred of human bondage. Yet such celebratory associations proved fleeting as dualistic Enlightenment notions of disability as a marginal but overcomeable condition gained ascendance in the nineteenth century.

Beginning with a brief biographical overview, this article will establish the historical context Benjamin Lay's life and transatlantic travels to explain the roots of his abolitionist advocacy. Then, this article will analyze Lay's radical abolitionism both within the context of eighteenth-century Quaker antislavery and through the lens of disability history. This methodological approach reveals that Lay displayed a clear awareness of his non-conforming body and the ways that its marginalizing effects empowered him to radically challenge the Quaker slaveholding establishment. The article will then analyze Lay's All Slave-Keepers, Apostates and argue that Lay rhetorically constructed his own disability in this text through both a religious lens and through the emerging Enlightenment concept of human aberrance and hierarchy. Finally, the article will conclude by analyzing some of the earliest visual representations of Lay's strange body and contend that context in which they were commissioned and circulated forged a positive connection between Lay's disability and his abolitionist accomplishments.

Benjamin Lay, Barbados, and the Emergence of Anti-Slavery Advocacy

Understanding how Lay forged a historical legacy that made him an image of fascination amongst Quakers and the wider Philadelphia community from the late-eighteenth century onwards—both for his body and his anti-slavery advocacy—first requires understanding how Lay developed his strident anti-slavery views. In many respects, Lay's background made him an unlikely candidate to become so intimately connected to the fight against slavery. An English Quaker from modest means, Lay was born in Colchester, England, in 1681. 9 His family, being poor and unable to provide him with an education, had him apprenticed to a glove maker, where he worked until he turned 18. After that, he worked on his brother's farm and then became a sailor. During his time on a sailing vessel, Lay traveled throughout the Mediterranean, allegedly visiting a number of holy sites in present-day Syria. While the "hardships and perils of life as a sailor," as Vaux put it, might seem surprising for an individual of Lay's physical stature, Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker argue that sailing ships in the seventeenth and eighteenth century Atlantic were sites of vast diversity and mixing—racially, linguistically, nationally, and bodily. Pirate ships in particular were defined by their "motley crews" composed of "freebooters." A sailor, who often had "a patched eye, a peg leg, and a hook for a hand [suggest] an essential truth: sailoring was a dangerous line of work. Pirates therefore put a portion of all booty into a common fund reserved for those who sustained injuries of lasting effect, whether the loss of eyesight or of any appendage." 10 Although Lay did not serve on a pirate ship, the dangers of sailing in general created an array of bodily forms. Simon Newman's research suggests that 86% of sailors suffered bodily injury of some form in the course of their work; limbs and appendages were the most-frequently disfigured parts of the body. 11 While the historical record does not indicate whether Lay's time as a sailor created or exacerbated his disability, the omnipresence of these injuries and their permanent aberrations to the body indicate that Lay would not have been out of place on a sailing vessel. In fact, Lay may have in fact been more socially integrated there than he was back in Colchester.

In 1710, Lay returned to England and settled in London, where he courted Sarah Smith, a well-respected Quaker minister who was also of short stature. During this period, Lay began to develop a reputation as a troublemaker for his frequent and vociferous public denunciations. He directed these outbursts against his fellow Quakers for delivering "false ministry" (speaking in Meeting for Worship without the guidance of the "Inner Light") or behaving hypocritically in their personal conduct. 12 Encountering conflict in his native England, Lay set off across the Atlantic in the late 1710s, when he briefly traveled to Boston and requested a certificate to marry Sarah in 1717 from the Quaker meeting in Salem, Massachusetts. Benjamin and Sarah then returned to England, but before officially requesting a certificate to marry from the Devonshire House Monthly Meeting in England Benjamin made a number of outbursts and verbal attacks toward fellow Friends that led the Meeting to delay their wedding. Finally, after a complex appeal process to the London and Middlesex Quarterly Meetings, Lay received approval to wed Sarah in 1718. 13 Immediately after their marriage, the Lays moved to Barbados, where they opened a small shop and store that sold food and other supplies.

The few years that the Lays spent in Barbados proved the most important in forging and cementing Benjamin Lay's virulent hostility toward the institution of slavery. Founded in the early seventeenth century as a proprietary colony under the direct control of English aristocrats, Barbados attracted a range of English migrants during its first century of settlement. Many English people arrived on the island as indentured servants, while others moved to the island to pursue new economic opportunities and, potentially, amass great wealth through the manufacture of sugar: the primary and most lucrative of the island's products. By 1650, the island's English-born population stood at 44,000; part of this population came from those displaced by or fleeing the upheaval of the English Civil War in the 1640s. 14 The Quakers were one of those groups of religious dissenters who experienced persecution during and in the wake of the English Civil War and, therefore, migrated to Barbados for both religious and financial reasons. By 1680, the Barbadian census indicates that the roughly 170 Quaker families on the island held a total of 3,254 slaves, revealing both the growing size of their community and their increasing involvement in the immensely profitable production of sugar. 15 These financial and migratory trends amongst all English people continued into the eighteenth century, when, in 1718, Benjamin and Sarah Lay arrived on the island.

Living in Barbados from 1718-1720 transformed Benjamin Lay's worldview and reshaped his life's work—a dynamic that paralleled other early antislavery writers. 16 The Lays encountered an island where black slaves comprised the overwhelming majority of the population: numbering roughly 76% of the islands' inhabitants. Since sugar cultivation served as the island's primary production activity, slaves' work was both extremely difficult and dangerous. 17 Running a small general store on the Caribbean island with his wife gave Benjamin his first direct experience with slavery's brutality and catalyzed his virulent hatred of the institution. While running their store, the Lays met many slaves who came to them for food. Determined to remain both charitable and profitable, Sarah Lay gave these slaves "something or other; stinking Biscuits which sometimes we had in abundance, bitten by the Cockroaches; or a rotten Cheese, stinking Meat, decayed Fish, which we had plenty of in that hot Country." In spite of the fact that the Lays had given these slaves food that the island's white inhabitants would no longer purchase, Benjamin recalled that these "poor Creatures would come running, and tearing, and rending one another, to get a part in the scramble of that which I am sure some Dogs would not touch, much less eat of, their poor Bellies were so empty, and so ravenous were they, that I never saw a parcel of Hounds more eager about a dead Carcase [sic], than they always were." Emphasizing the slaves' deplorable living conditions and treatment, Lay recalled that the slaves occasionally stole from their store, and in response he would run after them, catch them, and "would give them Stripes sometimes." 18 These experiences of having to protect their property by further abusing the already-exploited slaves led Benjamin and Sarah to consider how the institution debased the entire society and threatened their spiritual health. 19

Benjamin and Sarah Lay's experience in Barbados fits into a pattern shared amongst early Atlantic antislavery activists. Particularly in the seventeenth century, Quakers, Anglicans, and Puritans who saw slavery first-hand were moved to pen condemnations of human bondage. 20 For example, George Fox, Quakerism's founder, found his outlook towards slaves and slavery transformed after he visited Barbados in 1671. Fox accepted the legitimacy of African slavery based on Biblical and Aristotelian justifications, but when he visited Barbados in person, he was shocked by the promiscuity and disorderliness amongst the slaves. 21 Five years after returning from Barbados to England, Fox delivered a sermon that castigated slaveholders for allowing this behavior because he felt it degraded their spiritual purity. Fox proposed slave conversions as a remedy for this problem. By converting slaves, Fox hoped that itinerant Quaker ministers and Quaker slaveholders could improve the moral condition of the island, help create ideal Christian households, and ameliorate the living and working conditions for slaves. Fox's vocal advocacy for bringing Christianity to slaves also served as a means to critique the Anglican Church, which refused to convert slaves. The radical content of his message, though it did not go so far as to suggest abolition, nevertheless earned Fox and other Quakers the enmity of the island's planter class. 22 Given Fox's experience, Benjamin Lay's observations of slavery and the radicalizing impact of those experience on him and his wife were not sui generis for English Quakers whose transatlantic travels led them to advocate abolishing slavery. 23

The Lays returned to England in 1720, but their time on the island haunted Benjamin. Almost two decades later, he reflected on the physical punishments he inflicted on those slaves who attempts to steal from his store: "I have been sorry for it many times, and it does grieve me to this Day, considering the extreme Cruelty and Misery they always live under. Oh my Heart has been pained within me many times, to see and hear; and now, now, now, it is so." 24 Lay wrote these words long after his time on the island and, as we will see, in the service of his antislavery advocacy, where his presentation of slavery's disabling effects helped make his appeal to pathos more poignant. 25

Yet for all the negative reminiscences Benjamin Lay had about his time in Barbados, he nevertheless discovered an unlikely connection with the island's enslaved population. Lay recalled that the Barbadian slaves had a special affinity with him and his wife, "for the [slaves] seem to love and admire us, we being very much alike in Stature and other ways." 26 In this brief reference, Lay employs both the descriptive and the metaphorical meanings of "stature." Certainly, Lay acknowledged that his aberrant body rendered his physical appearance dissimilar from the vast majority of those who encountered in England and Barbados. Lay also observed how slaveholders justified brutally subjugating and (in some cases) physically deforming their human chattel based on religious and quasi-scientific notions of Africans as having less racial or social "stature" than white Europeans. 27 Recognizing that his physical short stature socially marginalized and excluded him from the larger body politic in a similar manner to that experienced by African slaves, Lay gained empathy for enslaved people and became empowered to make dramatic calls for social justice on their behalf. In this respect, Lay's recollection of the common "stature" that he and Barbadian slaves shared—both of which were rooted in bodily difference—also sheds light on an aspect of his life and identity that many scholars have noted, but few have analyzed with depth: his disability.

Benjamin Lay, Disability, and Eighteenth Century Abolitionism

Benjamin Lay's oblique reference to his own bodily difference—what his later biographers and contemporary medical designations would label as "dwarfism" or a "person of short stature"—highlight the ways in which his physical distinctiveness shaped his perspective toward slaves and slavery. 28 Lay's physical disability led him to his abolitionist advocacy and this calling guided the final twenty-five years of his life.

After their return to England, the Lays settled first in London for two years, but then moved to Colchester as a result of Benjamin's disturbance of and his subsequent disownment from Meetings in London. This first instance of disturbance and disownment established a pattern that would be repeated on both sides of the Atlantic. From 1722 to 1732, Benjamin continued to disrupt Meetings in Colchester and struggled with the leadership of a number of the local Meetings. Weighty Friends from the Colchester and Devonshire House Monthly Meetings requested he apologize for his behavior and public condemnation of other Quakers. During these years, Benjamin remained at a distance from the local Meetings while Sarah traveled throughout Great Britain with other female Quaker ministers. The Lays began making arrangements to move to North America in 1731. Before this could happen, however, the Lays needed approval from the Colchester Monthly Meeting to migrate. The official approval came after Benjamin granted a legacy of £100 to the Quarterly Meeting of Coggeshall, Essex. Lay's gift was earmarked toward helping other Quakers "of sober life and sound mind…transport themselves to America." 29 This generous bequest gained Benjamin official membership in the Colchester Monthly Meeting, which then granted him and Sarah a certificate to migrate to Pennsylvania. In the summer of 1732 Benjamin and Sarah traveled across the Atlantic for the last time.

Once in Pennsylvania, the Lays settled first in Philadelphia, and then moved outside the city to the town of Abington. Both Benjamin and Sarah applied for membership in the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, but only Sarah was granted a certificate in Philadelphia and Abington; she died shortly after gaining official membership in 1736. These Meetings, having learned about Benjamin's disruptive behavior from the Meetings in England refused to grant him a certificate of membership, and he remained marginal to the Quaker body politic for the remainder of his life in North America. 30 Illustrating this ostracism, in February 1737, the Abington Monthly Meeting "ordered that Benjamin Lay be kept out of our Meetings for Business, he being no member but is a frequent Disturber thereof." 31

His official status as a disowned religious outsider, however, allowed Lay to aggressively pursue his abolitionist message. Lay spoke and behaved dramatically at various Meetings in and around Philadelphia and publishing a scathing screed in 1737, All Slave-Keepers That Keep Innocents in Bondage, Apostates, condemning Quakers for holding or tacitly supporting slavery and slave labor. The most famous (and oft-described) incident of Lay's abolitionist career took place the following year, in 1738 at the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. Lay entered the Meeting House dressed in military garb with a sword and carrying a hollowed-out Bible in which he concealed a bladder of pokeberry juice. In the midst of the meeting, Lay delivered a dramatic and stinging condemnation of his co-religionists who held slaves. He concluded by declaring, "It would be as justifiable in the sight of the Almighty, who beholds and respects all nations and colours of men with an equal regard, if you should thrust a sword through [the slaves'] hearts as I do through this book." 32 Having finished his oration, Lay then thrust the sword into the book, bursting the bladder of pokeberry juice, and splattering those sitting near him with the faux-blood. Although many of the antislavery arguments Lay advanced in this speech had been articulated by noteworthy Friends, such as George Fox, this incident nevertheless earned him public condemnation and further alienated him from his fellow Quakers. 33

After his dramatic attacks and publications against slavery in the late 1730s, Lay spent the remainder of his life living simply outside of Philadelphia while he continued working to persuade his co-religionists of the inherent evils of slavery. A year before he died in 1759, the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting officially condemned slaveholding and voted to exclude any members who held or sold slaves. While this official change in policy chronologically aligns with the more gentle persuasion and less vituperative writings of Quaker abolitionists John Woolman and Anthony Benezet in the 1750s, Lay's fiery rhetoric condemning slavery cohered with the general antislavery sentiment building in the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting as early as the late 1730s. 34 When he learned of this antislavery triumph in 1758, Lay, who was quite frail at this time, allegedly arose and shouted: "Thanksgiving and praise be rendered unto the Lord God…I can now die in peace!" 35 In the span of roughly 20 years, therefore, Quakers underwent the transition from widespread hostility toward Lay's message to, by the time of his death, sectarian acceptance of the very demands that earned him the opprobrium of his fellow Friends decades earlier.

As was true for many other groups in the Atlantic world, Quakers moved in a piecemeal manner from diverse positions against slavery toward a coherent and sectarian embrace of abolitionism—a process in which Lay played a critical role. The first recorded Quaker publication challenging slavery appeared in 1688 in Germantown, Pennsylvania, authored in part by a German pietist named Francis Daniel Pastorious. This singular protest, which the Philadelphia Monthly Meeting ultimately rejected, did not invoke scriptural justifications, references to Christ, or traditional Quaker salutations. Instead, the Germantown Quakers called on their co-religionists to uphold their ethical embrace of equality, arguing for the abolition of slavery on what might be seen as early human rights grounds. Within the context of late-seventeenth-century Philadelphia, a port city where many merchants owned slaves or profited from their sale, the Germantown Quakers' condemnation of the institution put them out of step with the broader imperatives of Pennsylvania's colonial economy. 36

Those few Quakers who condemned slavery in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries rarely did so out of concern for the cruelty that it inflicted on the slaves and their bodies. Rather, as Margaret Abruzzo argues, early Quaker "denunciations of slavery's cruelty rested on the immoral purposes that inflicting pain served. Antislavery Friends worried more about the worldliness and sinfulness of slaveholders than the pain endured by the enslaved laborers." 37 In fact, Benjamin and Sarah Lay expressed this mindset when they decided to migrate back to England in 1720 because of the deleterious spiritual effects they felt in Barbados. But by the time Lay had moved to Pennsylvania and had begun agitating extensively amongst the Philadelphia Quakers, he viewed the essential wrong of slavery as the violence it enacted on slaves' bodies. Lay's advocacy, therefore, challenged Quaker thinking about the fundamental reasons for slavery's immorality, though its effect (if measurable at all) took decades to take hold.

Lay's experience and awareness of his own distinctive body played a central role in his opposition to slavery. Through his vivid, visceral language that described how slaves endured "Starving, Whipping, Racking, Hanging, Burning, Scalding, Roasting, and other Hellish Torments," Lay made slavery's violence and attendant physical pain the root of its immorality. 38 In using this language and making this argument, Lay, whose own non-normative body likely experienced pain as a result of his twisted spine and hunched back, rejected wider Quaker attitudes that slavery's immorality existed in the moral taint that it imputed to those who owned slaves. Literary scholar Elaine Scarry argues that the experience of pain constitutes an all-consuming one for the sufferer, preventing that person from thinking about anything else and simultaneously rendering him or her unable to articulate those feelings through language. Those in pain, therefore, must have others speak and advocate on their behalf because "the person in pain is ordinarily so bereft of the resources of speech." 39 By taking up the cause of articulating the slaves' pain, Lay sought to speak on behalf of those who had been doubly-silenced: first by their enslaved status and secondly by the pain inflicted upon them by their work and their masters. Furthermore, Lay's condemnation of slavery gained additional power and poignancy because it came from an individual whose own unique body and twisted spine meant that the author intimately knew physical pain himself.

Benjamin Lay's Rhetoric of Disability

Benjamin Lay himself forged a connection between his bodily difference and his abolitionist advocacy in his writings. The origin of his most famous antislavery screed, All Slave-Keepers, Apostates, reflected Lay's marginal status amongst Philadelphia Friends. Written between 1736 and 1737 after his wife's death, when he had been living in Abington, Pennsylvania, for roughly four years, All Slave-Keepers, Apostates offered an extensive and passionate attack against Quakers who held slaves personally or condoned the slave system through their purchase of slave-produced products. Lay persuaded his acquaintance and noted Philadelphian, Benjamin Franklin, to publish this book. 40 Although he was not listed as the publisher of All Slave-Keepers, Apostates, Franklin confirmed his role in printing this book in a letter he wrote to John Wright, a Quaker living in London, on November 4, 1789. In that letter, Franklin explained that in "about the year 1736, I printed another book on the same subject [anti-slavery] for Benjamin Lay, who also professed being one of your Friends, and he distributed the books chiefly among them." 41 Apocryphal accounts of the publication process recount that when Lay presented him with his book, Franklin found it "deficient in arrangement," to which Lay responded that Franklin could "print any part thou pleasest first." 42 Although All Slave-Keepers, Apostates does not read as a smooth, coherent narrative, Franklin published this text not for its literary merits or because he agreed wholeheartedly with its abolitionist message; in fact, Franklin published many notices for slave sales and began to own slaves himself in the 1730s and 1740s. Instead, Franklin admired many of the values and intellectual influences that shaped Lay's attack on the social order and its immorality. He also firmly believed in the values religious pluralism and a free press. By publishing Lay's book, Franklin could both bring an unpopular abolitionist message into the marketplace of ideas and also personally profit from doing so. 43 The Quaker Overseers of the Press, who vetted publications from members of the Religious Society of Friends, did not preview the book before Franklin published it, as Lay's attacks against fellow Quakers would have assuredly prevented its publication. 44

As anticipated, the content of All Slave-Keepers, Apostates angered the leaders of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting and solidified Lay's marginal status amongst his co-religionists. Fulfilling his charge from the Yearly Meeting, in mid-October 1738, John Kinsey, the Clerk of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting published a notice in The American Weekly Mercury, claiming that Lay's book "contains gross Abuses […] against the whole Society [of Friends]: That the Author is not of their Religious Community, and that they disapprove of his Conduct, the Composition and printing of his Book; and therefore are not to be accountable for its Contents." 45 The Philadelphia Yearly Meeting also published a similar notice in Benjamin Franklin's Gazette on November 2, 1738, noting that it had not authorized Lay to publish his book. 46 Such public condemnations was not surprising since Lay had staged his most famous and dramatic "pokeberry juice" anti-slavery demonstration at the Yearly Meeting in Burlington, New Jersey, just one month earlier.

Throughout All Slave-Keepers, Apostates Lay included biographical details and carefully selected words and phrases that alluded to his own physical form and disability. Lay began the preface in an apologetic tone, imploring his "impartial reader" to understand why he felt he must express the truth of slaveholding's immorality for the benefit of his fellow Quakers. Nevertheless, Lay acknowledged that making such statements to further "Truth's cause, which is God's cause," gave him "some fear and trembling" as he had grown accustomed to "being and seeing [him]self so very unfit almost everyway, as a Man." Lay further described himself as "so very mean and contemptible in the sight of Men, almost in every respect, […] but shall leave that to the Lord, to whom faithfulness and obedience is required." 47 Lay employed many phrases in his introduction that served dual rhetorical purposes: they alluded to how God imbued him with an earnest faith and a bodily difference, both of which empowered him to rail against slavery.

The phrase "mean and contemptible" would certainly have registered amongst a knowledgeable Christian reading audience and revealed Lay's impressive grasp of critically important Christian texts. Thomas à Kempis, the famous German Catholic theologian and ascetic, first used the phrase "mean and contemptible" in his devotional manual, Imitation of Christ, written between 1418 and 1427. Many scholars consider this work the most important Catholic text; it was the second most-widely read and translated Christian work after the Bible. 48 In the Imitation of Christ, à Kempis wrote, "Love is swift, sincere, kind, pleasant, and delightful. […] Love is subject and obedient to superiors. It is mean and contemptible in its own eyes, devoted and thankful to God; always trusting and hoping in Him even when He is distasteful to it, for there is no living in love without sorrow." 49 Lay, in spite of his insistence that he was merely "a poor common sailor, and an illiterate man," read widely in Christian literature and in fact referenced à Kempis by name in All Slave-Keepers, Apostates. 50 Furthermore, Lay embraced aspects of à Kempis's teachings about asceticism in his own lifestyle, which was remarkably spartan. Living in a cave, growing and harvesting his own food, and spinning his own clothes from flax and linen so as to avoid those made with slave labor, Lay absolutely embraced early Quakers' calls to embrace "plainness" and purge oneself of luxury and other worldly items that would distract from the Inner Light. In these respects, Lay also established himself in a line of religious mystics who both experienced direct spiritual connection to God and, as a result, existed on the margins of society. Margaret Abruzzo makes clear that à Kempis deeply influenced these Quaker ideals in his calls "to 'Subdue your Body now by Mortification and Self-denial' and 'raise your Affections up to nobler Enjoyments.'" These ideas led à Kempis' Quakers readers in the eighteenth century, of which Lay was one, to see "bodies–and the world of flesh–as distracting the soul from its inward life." 51

Given that Lay shared a range of attitudes about luxury, asceticism, and the unimportance of the corporeality with à Kempis, we can further understand his use of the phrase "mean and contemptible" to also allude to his own marginal status both physically and socially. In terms of thinking about bodies, in All Slave-Keepers, Apostates Lay urged his readers to reject the "vain Notion" that Christ existed "in Heaven with a carnal Body," as this "Vail of Flesh" so "limit[ed] the blessed eternal Maker and Saviour of Mankind." Believing that the physical world served only to distract from the quest for spiritual purity (as indicated by Christ's own incorporeality), Lay made clear that because the "Vail of Flesh" is insignificant, his bodily difference would not prevent him from working to simultaneously improve the lives of slaves and the spiritual status of his fellow Friends. Similarly, Lay labeled "all Sin," and especially slavery, as "Deformity," furthering the idea that any corporeality in any form is insignificant in the quest for spiritual purity. 52 Although Lay did not directly address or describe his unique body and short stature in these passages or in conjunction with these Biblical allusions, his general de-emphasis on the importance of the body nevertheless tacitly recalled his own distinctive physical form.

Lay further reinforced his marginalized image by presenting himself as someone of low social status and education. To convey this message, Lay described himself as "a Man of so very mean a capacity, and little Learning." 53 Yet, as J. William Frost notes, these proclamations of inadequacy run counter to the fact that Lay quoted extensively from noted Christian texts like à Kempis's, as well as little known works by early Quaker theologians like George Fox and George Keith. 54 Frost claims that Lay was a unique "autodidact" who may have "had a better library of early Quakerism than any other Pennsylvania Quaker," owning over 200 books. 55 Moreover, Lay gifted his own copy of á Kempis's Meditations to a friend when her husband died. 56 Yet in spite of his extensive learning and thorough scriptural knowledge, Lay persisted in downplaying his own expertise—a common characteristic amongst mystics—and instead attributed his stinging critique of Quaker slaveholders to his faith and the tradition of Biblical prophets who had earlier delivered God's truth. With this line of argumentation, Lay conceded elite social status through education in exchange for an elevated spiritual status. By making religion the driving force of his attack on his fellow Quakers, Lay placed himself in a long tradition of Biblical figures and religious mystics who critiqued societal practices. By fashioning himself as part of this spiritual lineage, Lay legitimized his attack on slavery. Furthermore, in positioning himself alongside earlier prophets, Lay gave himself the rhetorical upper-hand against his critics, as anyone who spoke publicly against his advocacy would be attacking someone who had been called by God to convey this message.

In the Introduction to All Slave-Keepers, Apostates, Lay used the term "unfit" to provide Biblical support to his anti-slavery argument and subtly allude to his disability and accompanying social marginalization. In the Biblical context, the term "unfit" had often been associated with individuals from humble origins who heeded God's call to effect dramatic change in the world around them. From the New Testament, Lay's use of the term "unfit" recalled Paul's letter to the Corinthians: "God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty." 57 To reinforce this association with social marginalization and bodily aberration, Lay immediately followed this allusion to Corinthians with a direct reference to the Old Testament prophet, Moses. Lay likely chose Moses as a Biblical antecedent because they both came from modest social backgrounds and both had a disability; for Moses it was the speech impairment of stuttering. 58 Nevertheless, in the Book of Exodus, Moses served God by speaking directly to Pharaoh and successfully freeing the Jews from their bondage in Egypt. This Biblical story of Moses' triumph over his speech impairment suggests an early example of an "overcoming narrative" where an unlikely individual completes God's work against overwhelming odds. The narrative reinforced God's omnipotence as the provider of all human faculties and illustrated how God empowered people to transcend social and bodily limitations. 59 Lay also saw parallels between himself and Moses because they both relied on direct connections with God to help them use their bodies in the cause of ending slavery. Not only did Lay reference Moses eight times throughout All Slave-keepers, Apostates, but he also explicitly drew inspiration from "Moses's prayer […] when the Lord was about to send [hi]m to deliver his people from Captivity." 60

Lay also employed rhetoric that displayed an awareness of how emerging Enlightenment discourses surrounding disability empirically categorized his non-conforming body as a sign of social marginalization. To reinforce this point, Lay added the modifier "as a Man" to the phrase "being and seeing myself so very unfit almost everyway." Even within Lay's own era, writers used the term "unfit" to describe a variety of physical, moral, or mental aberrations and cast them in a negative light. In 1736, one year before Lay published All Slave-Keepers, Apostates, the noted Anglo-Irish Catholic theologian George Berkeley wrote an essay where he likened those who had never learned proper societal attitudes as akin to "monsters, utterly unfit for human society." 61 Within this early Enlightenment context, Berkeley's connecting the term "unfit" with the concept of "monstrosity"—a notion which had antecedents in the Classical world with Aristotle, amongst early Christian thinkers with St. Augustine, and in early modern Europe amongst scientific thinkers like Francis Bacon—would have evoked notions of physical deformity and social marginality. Lay subtly acknowledged that Enlightenment thinkers were using disability to craft hierarchies of humanity; bodily and mental aberrance served as an empirical marker allowing one to distinguish between the "fully" human and he "sub"-human. 62 These quasi-scientific attitudes, however, freed Lay to agitate aggressively against slavery as most of his fellow Friends already viewed him as a marginal figure, meaning that he had little social status to lose.

Yet Lay did not confine his Enlightenment awareness to his own body, but also displayed subtle awareness of these emerging definitions of disability in writing about others. In writing about his fellow Friend and early abolitionist, Ralph Sandiford, Lay explained that after Sandiford published his 1729 attack on slavery, The Mystery of Iniquity, Sandiford then experienced "great Perplexity of mind; and having oppression, which makes a wise man Mad, by which he was brought very low, with many Bodily Infirmities." Lay also recalled that Sandiford, shortly before he died, "fell into a sort of Delirium" caused by "his sore Affliction of mind, concerning Slave-keeping [….] and Infirmity of Body." 63 In describing Sandiford's experience, Lay employed some of the emerging Enlightenment understandings about disability. For instance, he framed Sandiford's deteriorating mental condition as reflective of individual weakness and marginalization. Moreover, Lay suggested that one could empirically observe causal connections between aberrations in the mind and the body. In Sandiford's case, according to Lay, as his mind became more "afflicted," his body also lost strength, perhaps explaining his relatively early death at the age of forty. Lay concluded, however, on a tone of optimism: "I do believe if [Sandiford] had lived he would have overcame [his Delirium]." 64 This hopeful hypothetical anticipated the Enlightenment belief that many disabilities and human aberrations (especially those of the body or of "temporary" insanity), offered the possibility of recovery—a turn of events that would restore that individual back to their "full" humanity. Ironically, many nineteenth-century commentators on Lay's body borrowed this Enlightenment notion of a mind-body connection to argue that Lay's "twisted" body shaped both his unconventional (for the eighteenth century) abolitionist beliefs and his dramatic public displays against human bondage. 65

As Enlightenment thinkers crafted these hierarchical definitions of humanity, they focused on categories of humans—such the "dwarf" category into which Lay eventually fell—that helped define normalcy by analyzing those who were "unfit." Deborah Armintor contends that dwarves became associated with concepts of "unfit" and "monstrosity" by noting that "English literature and art of the eighteenth century abounded in miniature men of diverse kinds," and that "dwarfs (defined rather vaguely both then and now as people significantly below average in height, typically with normal-size head and torso and disproportionally short arms and legs, 'whose short stature involves a medical condition')" played a prominent role in these cultural products. 66 Given this literary context, Lay clearly used the Introduction to All Slave-Keepers, Apostates to establish his Christian humility and solidify his religious devotion. Yet Lay also made his disability evident in the text by using phrases such as "mean and contemptible," "unfit," and a host of other allusions to the body, which evoked emerging Enlightenment concepts of disability and also indicated that his unique body and spiritual stridency were expressions of God's will.

Eighteenth-Century Visual Representations of Benjamin Lay

While Benjamin Lay made only oblique and passing references to his own distinctive physical form in All Slave-Keepers, Apostates, this aspect of his identity spawned a multitude of presentations of him and his unique body beginning before his death in 1759. These depictions appeared in both North America and England and took the form of painted portraits, extensively reproduced prints, short biographical summaries, and full-length biographies.

The first presentation to suggest a link to between Lay's body, mind, and the space he occupied in the body politic, was a portrait commissioned by Deborah Franklin, the wife of Benjamin Franklin. Mrs. Franklin hired William Williams, Sr., a renowned Philadelphia-based painter, to create this portrait sometime between 1750 and 1758. 67

Image of a painting showing an older man with a white beard standing outside with a cane and book in his right hand

Figure 1. Benjamin Lay, Artist: William Williams, Sr., c. 1750-1758, oil on panel, National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; this acquisition was made possible by a generous contribution from the James Smithson Society. This painting depicts a man with a white beard and black hat, coat, shirt, and boots, holding a book and a cane standing in from of a cave. In the background are trees and rolling green hills. The man has slender legs with white leggings. To the man's right rests a basket of oranges and a woman's bonnet.

Although her husband had published Lay's All Slave-Keepers, Apostates twenty years earlier in Philadelphia, Deborah Franklin found a renewed interest in the aged anti-slavery advocate because of her family connection to the widely celebrated Quaker abolitionist, Anthony Benezet, whom many historians view as one of the two major Quaker figures who carried on Lay's antislavery work into the late eighteenth century. 68 While scholars have not found a definitive account or explanation of what Deborah Franklin hoped to communicate by commissioning this painting of Lay in her home, presumably she sought to establish her abolitionist bona fides by investing in and prominently displaying the portrait of such a unique (and in the late 1750s in Philadelphia, notorious) individual.

The rendering of Lay and the symbols within the composition conveyed a tone of empowerment and self-sufficiency, but also a recognition that Lay's beliefs and behaviors placed his non-conforming body on the margins of the body politic. In the portrait Lay stands rigidly upright and displays an expression of seriousness and focus. The image also suggests that literacy brings empowerment, as Lay prominently holds a copy of "Trion on Happiness"—a seventeenth-century treatise by the English Quaker, Thomas Tryon, which presented guidelines for healthful living and included a section on vegetarianism, which Lay practiced. 69 Given the content of Tryon's book, the basket of fruit, and the backdrop of the cave, this portrait reiterated Lay's uncompromising attitudes regarding slavery, healthful living, and general asceticism.

Furthermore, Lay's physical proportions—skinny legs, long arms, hunched shoulders and back, as well as the cane in right hand—confront the viewer directly and clearly communicate his aberrance, yet these bodily characteristics pose no impediment to Lay's self-sufficiency and control over his environment in the portrait. Williams prominently placed Lay standing outside of his cave holding a book and standing next to a basket of fruit, a woman's bonnet, some vegetables, and what appears to be a vessel to hold liquid. The inclusion of these objects in the image alluded to Lay's strident moral commitments to avoiding slave produced goods, which he did by growing his own food and making his own clothes. These practices placed Lay into a small (but growing) tradition of Quaker and American Revolutionary commercial practices that boycotted slave-made items as a way to condemn the violent, dehumanizing system of African chattel slavery. 70 From the Enlightenment perspective that perceived disability as an aberrant individual state to be overcome, Williams's reference to Lay's agricultural and sartorial self-sufficiency indicated that Lay's bodily difference did not make him infirm. Rather, the image reaffirmed that Lay remained an independent figure in spite of his physical form and the effects of old age. 71 From the other side of this dualistic definition of disability, however, Lay's isolation and physical separation from the larger Quaker body politic reinforced the marginal position he occupied both because of his non-conforming body and strident abolitionist beliefs.

Shortly after Lay's death, this visual presentation of Lay and its connotations began to spread throughout the Atlantic world after William Williams's portrait became the subject of an engraving done by Henry Dawkins.

Image of an etching showing an older man with a white beard standing in front of the mouth of a cave with a cane and a book in his reight hand

Figure 2. "Benjamin Lay," Artist: Henry Dawkins after William Williams, Sr., Etching and engraving on laid paper, c. 1760, National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution. This sepia-toned engraving depicts a man with a scraggly beard, hat, coat, and shirt standing in front of a cave. The man holds a book and a cane in his right hand. To the man's left rests a basket of fruit and to the man's right rests a book and other unidentifiable personal objects on the ground.

The details surrounding Henry Dawkins's life are less clear than those of William Williams, and he seemed to lack the same personal connection to the subject matter as Williams, who embraced anti-slavery sentiment in both England and North America. Instead, Dawkins worked as a professional engraver and created images for a variety of clients in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania between 1754 and 1780, when he helped engrave the official continental currency. However, scholars know nothing of his work after this date and all his plates were auctioned off in 1786—a date that likely coincided with his death. 72 Though estimates of when precisely Dawkins made the copperplate engraving of Lay vary, most scholars assume that it immediately followed Lay's death, when interest in his life, work, and legacy would have been at a peak. Likely, Dawkins engraved the image in 1760 or 1761; historian Gary Nash suggests that Anthony Benezet commissioned the engraving as a way celebrate Lay's life work and his accomplishment in persuading the Society of Friends to forcefully condemn slaveholding as a practice. 73

Though neither these first two presentations nor those that followed definitively described Lay as "disabled" or used contemporary terminology to diagnose or label the nature of his aberrance, a close examination of these early presentations reveals that Lay's disability was central to narratives of his life and proved critical in how authors and artists understood his anti-slavery activism. In general, these mid-eighteenth-century presentations of Lay conveyed a positive tone about his abolitionist work and his physical aberrance, yet they still encapsulated the dualistic Enlightenment attitudes toward disability. In emphasizing Lay's strength and dignity, these portraits celebrated the ways Lay challenged his local Quaker community and the wider Atlantic society to end their dependence on slave labor and slave-produced goods. Reminding the viewers that Lay transformed the Quaker body politic by writing about the violence inflicted on slaves' bodies and displaying his own non-conforming body, these images helped forge the "overcoming" narrative of Lay's abolitionism. Yet at the center of these presentations remained Lay's awkward, non-conforming, and isolated body, reinforcing the Enlightenment's more pejorative associations with disability. Although Lay's aberrant body empowered him to champion an anti-slavery message in ways inaccessible to able-bodied Friends, it ultimately ostracized him and ensured that he, and the abolitionist message he championed during his lifetime, would remain outside of the Quaker body politic until after his death.

Conclusion

By re-reading Benjamin Lay's eighteenth-century life and writings through the lens of disability history, we gain a number of important insights about the role his body, his faith, and his experiences with other marginalized people played in shaping his abolitionist work. Both Lay and his contemporaries recognized his body as unconventional, non-normative, and something that set him apart from the larger Quaker body politic both in England and in Philadelphia. These characteristics, while marginalizing Lay socially, also empowered him to empathize with and then fight to stop the bodily violence and social ostracism that chattel slavery inflicted on enslaved Africans. Conducting his activism from this outsider position, Lay then made radical, religiously-grounded calls to end slaveholding amongst the Religious Society of Friends in his 1737 book, All Slave-Keepers, Apostates. Although Lay grounded his attack on human bondage in Biblical texts and the writings of early Quaker religious leaders, his book also revealed an awareness of his own and others' disabilities at a moment in the eighteenth century when such ideas about marginalization, the potential for individual overcoming, and natural hierarchies of humanity were coalescing. Uncovering the presence of Enlightenment-influenced ideas about disability in the life and writings of this profoundly pious individual further reveals that Quaker humanitarians, like Lay, grounded their activism both in their faith and in these emerging quasi-scientific notions.

Within this context of isolation from his religious community, Lay nevertheless found ways contribute to society by making his disfigured body the centerpiece of his "able-bodied" work on behalf of the enslaved. Lay's emphasized his own self-sufficiency by living as a religious mystic, conducting many dramatic demonstrations, and vociferously attacking slavery; all these characteristics highlight the agency that Lay—and more broadly those with bodily aberrations—could exert in the eighteenth century. Moreover, in Lay's case, his physical otherness helped him build and exercise this agency and redefine the meaning of his disability. Rather than an objective indicator of his marginal social status and place outside of the body politic, Lay recognized that he could harness his body both rhetorically and physically as a vital tool in his fight to eliminate slaveholding amongst his co-religionists. When the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting issued an official caution against slaveholding in 1758, it seemed to validate Lay's corporeal methods for effecting change on behalf of enslaved Africans. This humanitarian triumph within the Quaker body politic spurred the first artistic commissions and rendering of Lay—images that enshrined the distinctive body of this abolitionist right before he died in 1759.

These initial images spawned a host of other visual and written presentations of Lay's body, which circulated throughout the Atlantic world after his death and became part of a visual lexicon that was central to the abolitionist movement. These eighteenth-century presentations of Lay spurred many nineteenth-century abolitionists and humanitarians to forge a narrative connection between Lay's visually striking body and his abolitionist beliefs and behaviors. In all these cases, disability—whether it was Lay's aberrant body or the bodies of African slaves that had been disabled through the brutalizing practices of Atlantic slavery—remained at the core of this humanitarian advocacy. The ways in which slavery disabled bodies and dehumanized souls became a leitmotiv of abolitionist activity in the nineteenth century as it recalled the ways that antebellum culture embedded disability into the lives of slaves. 74 Authors such as Theodore Weld, the Grimké sisters, and Harriet Beecher Stowe centered their advocacy on visual and rhetorical displays of slavery's disabling effects. These authors employed images and descriptions of disabled bodies intended to evoke visceral disgust and moral opposition to the institution of human bondage. 75 By examining Benjamin Lay through the lens of disability history, we can more fully understand how his own and others' representations of his disabled body fit into a wider historical trajectory of abolitionism stretching back into the eighteenth century. Not only did Lay act as a critical figure in advancing abolition amongst the Religious Society of Friends, but he also helped establish an anti-slavery rhetoric that placed the disabled body—and especially the brutal (often disabling) violence inflicted on enslaved black bodies—as a symbol of this cruel institution that he had attempted to eradicate with his own disabled body.

Endnotes

  1. John C. Van Horne, Pierre Eugene DuSimitiere: His American Museum 200 Years After (Philadelphia: The Library Company of Philadelphia, 1985), sec. 9:10.
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  2. Roberts Vaux, Memoirs of the Lives of Benjamin Lay and Ralph Sandiford: Two of the Earliest Public Advocates for the Emancipation of the Enslaved Africans (Philadelphia: Solomon W. Conrad, 1815), 28–29, http://archive.org/details/memoirsoflivesof00vaux.
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  3. The Philadelphia Yearly Meeting took the final step to officially make slaveholding a disownable offense in 1776. Between 1758 and 1776, however, Philadelphia Quakers disowned fourteen members who had committed an additional offense in addition to slave owning. For further details, see Marietta, The Reformation of American Quakerism, 1748-1783, 120.
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  4. For contemporary scholarship that stresses the importance of Benjamin Lay to the narrative of Quaker abolitionism, see Gary B. Nash and Jean R. Soderlund, Freedom by Degrees: Emancipation in Pennsylvania and Its Aftermath (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), 48–57; Geoffrey Gilbert Plank, John Woolman's Path to the Peaceable Kingdom: A Quaker in the British Empire (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012), 83, 100–101, 106; Brycchan Carey, From Peace to Freedom: Quaker Rhetoric and the Birth of American Antislavery, 1657-1761 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2012), chap. 4.
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  5. Vaux, Memoirs of the Lives of Benjamin Lay and Ralph Sandiford, 20–21.
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  6. Martin Levey, "The First American Museum of Natural History," Isis 42, no. 1 (April 1, 1951): 10.
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  7. For an analysis of how disabled individuals and their bodies were displayed in eighteenth-century England, see David M. Turner, Disability in Eighteenth-Century England: Imagining Physical Impairment (New York: Routledge, 2012), chap. 4. For a discussion of how Enlightenment thinkers like Lessing, Lavater, Buffon, and Kant helped establish taxonomies for ideal facial appearances (especially focused on the nose), see Sander L. Gilman, Making the Body Beautiful: A Cultural History of Aesthetic Surgery (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1999), 85–91. As James Gregory demonstrates, the impulse to collect and display aberrant human bodies existed not only in the physical museum, but also in printed collections of "eccentric biographies." Both the anatomical museum and the eccentric biography collection owed their origin, according to Gregory, to Francis Bacon's seventeenth-century concept of creating a "collection...of the extraordinaries and wonders of human nature" (Bacon qtd. in Gregory, 74). For the wider discussion of how these eccentric biographies incorporated individuals famed for their aberrant behaviors and bodies, see Gregory, "Eccentric lives: Character, characters and curiosities in Britain, c. 1760–1900," in Waltraud Ernst, ed., Histories of the Normal and the Abnormal: Social and Cultural Histories of Norms and Normativity (London: Routledge, 2006), 73–100. For analysis of how public exhibitions of the body from the eighteenth century onwards served multiple purposes from medical education to popular entertainment, see Elizabeth Stephens, Anatomy as Spectacle: Public Exhibitions of the Body from 1700 to the Present (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2011). The trends of collecting and displaying unconventional human artifacts that emerged in the eighteenth century in places like Du Simitière's museum continued into the next century. For a discussion of how displaying human remains in medical museums conveyed cultural and scientific capital for those who owned and displayed artifacts of aberrant human bodies in the nineteenth century, see Samuel J. M. M. Alberti, Morbid Curiosities: Medical Museums in Nineteenth-Century Britain (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011).
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  8. Vaux's emphasis on Lay's hunched-back and "twisted position" suggests that Lay may have also lived with scoliosis. For a fuller description of the varieties of scoliosis and its contemporary medical treatments, see Mayo Clinic Staff, "Scoliosis - MayoClinic.com," Mayo Clinic, February 3, 2012, http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/scoliosis/DS00194, accessed April 14, 2013. For an example of a work that plays up Lay's quirks for their own sake, see Carl Sifakis, American Eccentrics: One Hundred Forty of the Greatest Human Interest Stories Ever Told (New York: Facts on File, 1984), 15–18, http://archive.org/details/americaneccentri000198mbp.
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  9. There is some dispute as to when precisely Benjamin Lay was born. According to the Colchester Register of Births and the Essex Quarterly Meeting Birth Digest, Lay was born on January 26, 1681. For sources that use this date, see C. Brightwen Rowntree, "Benjamin Lay," Journal of the Friends' Historical Society XXXIII (1936): 4; Andreas Mielke, "'What's Here to Do?': An Inquiry Concerning Sarah and Benjamin Lay, Abolitionists," Quaker History 86, no. 1 (1997): 22, http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/qkh.1997.0000; J.R. Oldfield, "Lay, Benjamin (1681-1759)," ed. H.G.C. Matthew and Brian Howard Harrison, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (New York: Oxford University Press), accessed March 24, 2013, http://www.oxforddnb.com.ezproxy.uta.edu/view/article/16216. By contrast, other sources cite the date 1677 as the date for Benjamin Lay's birth, which first appeared in Vaux's biography (without a citation) and has since been repeated by later sources, see Vaux, Memoirs of the Lives of Benjamin Lay and Ralph Sandiford, 13; Blanche Day, "The Disquieting Quaker," American Heritage, April 1962.
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  10. Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker, The Many-Headed Hydra: Sailors, Slaves, Commoners, and the Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic (Boston: Beacon Press, 2000), 164.
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  11. Simon P. Newman, Embodied History: The Lives of the Poor in Early Philadelphia (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003), 111.
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  12. J. William Frost, "Quaker Antislavery: From Dissidence to Sense of the Meeting," Quaker History 101, no. 1 (2012): 24–25, http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/qkh.2012.0004.
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  13. Mielke, "What's Here to Do?," 24–26. Mielke's chronology of Lay's life is very thoroughly documented and reconstructs much of the generalized (and undated) biography that Vaux and those who followed him repeated. Mielke also suggests that Lay may have traveled this great distance to request a marriage certificate because the Salem Meeting knew less about his disruptive behavior and would have been more likely to grant approve his marriage to Sarah.
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  14. Carla Pestana, The English Atlantic in an Age of Revolution, 1640-1661 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2004).
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  15. For insight into the declining role of white indentured servitude and the rise of black slavery in Barbados, see Hilary McD. Beckles, White Servitude and Black Slavery in Barbados, 1627-1715 (Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, 1989). Chapter 5 of Beckles' monograph, in particular, examines the growth of black slavery in Barbados during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries—the time when Benjamin and Sarah Lay were living on the island. For a monograph focused on the experience of Friends in Barbados, see Larry Dale Gragg, The Quaker Community on Barbados: Challenging the Culture of the Planter Class (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2009), 124–125. For an anthropologically-influenced interpretation of the interactions between Barbadian Quaker masters and their slaves, see Kristen Block, "Quaker Evangelization in Early Barbados: Forging a Path toward the Unknowable," in Brycchan Carey and Geoffrey Plank, eds., Quakers and Abolition (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2014), 89–105. Block argues that Quaker slaveholders rarely heeded calls from prominent Quakers, such as George Fox and William Edmundson, to integrate enslaved people into their "family order" and eventually manumit them. Moreover, Block creatively explores how the enslaved Africans might have perceived Quaker religious communities and practices to contend that while Quaker worship might have paralleled African religious traditions thereby making African slaves feel a sense of kinship with their Quaker masters, that the slaves "would have known that in the British colonial world, racialized thinking meant that African initiates would forever remain at the bottom of the organizational hierarchy" (p. 96).
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  16. Drawing on the dates in Lay's own writing, historian Andreas Mielke concludes that Benjamin and Sarah Lay lived in the Caribbean during the last few years of the 1710s, see Mielke, "What's Here to Do?," 27–28; Benjamin Lay, All Slave-Keepers That Keep the Innocent in Bondage, Apostates, ed. Joe Lockard (Philadelphia: Printed for the author, 1737), 32, http://antislavery.eserver.org/religious/allslavekeepersfinal/. Though Quakerism's founder, George Fox, did not call for abolition or express an explicitly antislavery message when he visited Barbados, he did call for slaveholders to consider their human chattel as part of their spiritual family and care for them accordingly. For this entire sermon, see George Fox, Gospel family-order, English (Philadelphia: Reinier Jansen, 1701). Thomas Tryon, a seventeenth-century Puritan visitor to Barbados, was also influenced to adopt and antislavery position based on his experience in Barbados. For an analysis of his antislavery message and the ways in which it was influenced by his time in the Caribbean, see Philippe Rosenberg, "Thomas Tryon and the Seventeenth-Century Dimensions of Antislavery," The William and Mary Quarterly 61, no. 4 (2004): 609–42, http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/3491423.
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  17. Jerome S. Handler, Frederick W. Lange, and Robert V. Riordan, Plantation Slavery in Barbados: An Archaeological and Historical Investigation (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1978), 28, 17–18. My estimates for the demographic composition of the island are extrapolated from the authors' conclusion that in 1715-1716 there were 52,856 black slaves on the island, which constituted 76% of the total population. That number increased to 81% by 1757 and 82% by 1802-1803. Quantitative analysis of census data further corroborates this number, as Robert V. Wells projects that the island's black population stood at 77% of the total in 1712. For the full chart, see Robert V. Wells, Population of the British Colonies in America Before 1776: A Survey of Census Data (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2015), 238. For a description of the difficult and dangerous labor involved in sugar cultivation, see Adam Hochschild, Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire's Slaves (New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2006), 63–66; David Brion Davis, Inhuman Bondage: The Rise and Fall of Slavery in the New World (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006), 107–111. For the most important and groundbreaking commodity history on sugar and its role as a culture and world-transforming food, see Sidney W. Mintz, Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History (New York: Viking, 1985).
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  18. Lay, All Slave-Keepers, 35. 40.
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  19. Mielke, "What's Here to Do?," 27–30. Interestingly, Mielke posits that the slaves in Barbados may have been more tempted to steal from the Lays because their short stature made them seem more susceptible. Mielke notes, "the thieves must have felt invited by their generosity, and perhaps by their diminutive physical statures" (29). Given the absence of slave voices on this topic, however, it remains unclear as to how these Caribbean slaves viewed the Lays' short stature.
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  20. Christopher Brown, Moral Capital: Foundations of British Abolitionism (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006), 43. Brown references Thomas Tryon, Morgan Godwyn, and William Edmundson as examples of this dynamic. Many of the narratives of these missionary visits to Barbados emphasize the themes of promiscuity and disorderliness that George Fox expressed after his visit to the island. For analysis of how these themes are present in the work of the Puritan visitor, Thomas Tryon, see Rosenberg, "Thomas Tryon and the Seventeenth-Century Dimensions of Antislavery."
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  21. David Brion Davis, The Problem of Slavery in Western Culture (Oxford University Press, 1988), 304; Davis, Inhuman Bondage, chap. 2. Davis places particular emphasis on Aristotle's ideas about the duality of the "free" versus the "slave" soul and in the Biblical "Curse of Ham" justification.
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  22. For a thorough analysis of George Fox's evolving attitudes toward slavery in his writings from 1657-1676, including a very detailed rhetorical analysis of his most strident antislavery statement in Gospel family-order, see Carey, From Peace to Freedom, 43–58; Katharine Gerbner, "Antislavery in Print: The Germantown Protest, the 'Exhortation,' and the Seventeenth-Century Quaker Debate on Slavery," Early American Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal 9, no. 3 (2011): 558–559, http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/eam.2011.0025; Marietta, The Reformation of American Quakerism, 1748-1783, 111.
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  23. Only a few voices, notably those of William Edmundson and George Gray, followed the lead of George Fox in speaking out against the present conditions of slavery. Yet the more meaningful change in attitude amongst Quakers in Barbados toward slavery is reflected in their wills, where an ever-increasing number manumitted their slaves upon their death. For an analysis of this transition, see Gragg, The Quaker Community on Barbados, chap. 7. Edmundson and Lancashire Quaker, Alice Curwen, also visited Barbados and followed in the path of antislavery rhetoric set out by George Fox. See Carey, From Peace to Freedom, 58–69.
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  24. Lay, All Slave-Keepers, 33–34, 35, 39–40.
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  25. Dea H. Boster, African American Slavery and Disability: Bodies, Property and Power in the Antebellum South, 1800-1860, 1st ed. (New York: Routledge, 2013), 124.
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  26. Lay, All Slave-Keepers, 32.
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  27. For a concise synopsis of the varied religious justifications for New World slavery, see Davis, Inhuman Bondage, chap. 3. For an analysis of the emerging and competing Enlightenment-era notions about blackness and its place in the human hierarchy, see Andrew S. Curran, The Anatomy of Blackness: Science and Slavery in an Age of Enlightenment (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011).
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  28. The first biographical overview of Lay appeared in 1790 and asserted that he stood "not much above four feet," see "An Account of Benjamin Lay," Universal Asylum and Columbian Magazine 4, no. 3 (March 1, 1790): 133. Most references to Lay's stature, however, assert that he was 4'7", which is a height drawn from Roberts Vaux's 1815 joint biography of him and his fellow early eighteenth century Quaker abolitionist, Ralph Sandiford. For the full description, see Vaux, Memoirs of the Lives of Benjamin Lay and Ralph Sandiford, 20, accessed September 23, 2012. For the contemporary medical definition of "Dwarfism," which applies to any adult under 4'10" in height, see Mayo Clinic Staff, "Dwarfism," Mayo Clinic, August 27, 2011, http://www.mayoclinic.com/print/dwarfism/DS01012/DSECTION=all&METHOD=print, accessed February 10, 2013. Contemporarily, "person of short stature" is the preferred term for individuals with these characteristics.
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  29. Mielke, "What's Here to Do?," 31–36; Rowntree, "Benjamin Lay," 11. Neither Mielke nor Rowntree mention the source of Lay's income and why he is able to bequeath such a generous amount of money in his will. It is possible that his wealth came from his business success during his time in Barbados or perhaps from money inherited from his brother, who owned a farm. "Benjamin Lay: Excerpts from Colchester Two Week Meeting, 1705-1741 and from Colchester Monthly Meeting, 1718-1755" various dates, +BX7795.L44 B4, Friends Historical Library, http://tripod.brynmawr.edu/find/Record/.b1821242. This source contains excerpts of all the pertinent excerpts related to the Lays during their time in England from 1722 to 1732. For the sake of simplicity, the above account omits much of the back-and-forth between Lay and the English Meetings. Mielke covers these exchanges in considerable detail.
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  30. Mielke, "What's Here to Do?," 36–39.
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  31. Abington Men's Monthly Meeting Minutes, 11th mo., 30th day, 1737, in "Abington Monthly Meeting Records," 1682-1746, RG2/Ph/A2 1.1, Friends Historical Library, Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, PA.
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  32. Vaux, Memoirs of the Lives of Benjamin Lay and Ralph Sandiford, 27.
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  33. Roberts Vaux was the first of Lay's biographers to write about this noteworthy incident, though he had reports of it third-hand from Dr. John Watson of Bucks County, who learned about the event from Jonathan Ingham, Esq., who witnessed it personally. Nevertheless, this anecdote remains a prominent one in biographical overviews of Lay's life. For a brief sampling, see ibid., 25–27; Lydia Maria Child, Memoir of Benjamin Lay: Compiled from Various Sources (New York: American Anti-Slavery Society, 1842), 15–16; Blanche Day, "The Disquieting Quaker"; Oldfield, "Lay, Benjamin (1681-1759)"; Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Men's Minutes, 16th to the 20th, 7th Mo., 1738, "Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Minutes, 1681-1746" n.d., 411, 1250/A1.2, Haverford College Quaker Collection, http://trilogy.brynmawr.edu/speccoll/jnt/pymannses.xml. The minutes from the 1738 Yearly Meeting do not directly describe or confirm Benjamin Lay's "pokeberry juice" (or as some sources call it, the "bladder of blood") demonstration, but the sequence of that year's minutes suggest Lay made his famous speech on the September 18 or 19, 1738. The minutes for that day are very standard and catalog a series of business items until the tone of the minutes changes abruptly and notes that the Meeting Clerk, John Kinsey, "is ordered to draw an Advertisement to be printed in the newspapers at Philadelphia in order to inform all whom it may concern that the Book lately published by Benjamin Lay Entitled &c. was not published by the approbation of Friends, that he is not in unity with us, and that his Book contains false charges as well against particular persons of our Society as against Friends in general." After this item in the Meeting minutes, the agenda returns to normal and proceeds to a warning against "spirituous liquors," a topic frequently addressed by the Yearly Meeting. For a close rhetorical analysis of this speech, which contends that its contents very much follow in the early eighteenth-century tradition of Quaker antislavery rhetoric that focused on the ways slavery caused suffering, violated the Peace Testimony, and rejected the "Golden Rule," see Carey, From Peace to Freedom, 166–167.
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  34. For more on these two very important and influential Quaker abolitionists, see Thomas P. Slaughter, The Beautiful Soul of John Woolman, Apostle of Abolition (New York: Hill and Wang, 2008); Maurice Jackson, Let This Voice Be Heard: Anthony Benezet, Father of Atlantic Abolitionism (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011); Marietta, The Reformation of American Quakerism, 1748-1783, 111–121; Nash and Soderlund, Freedom by Degrees, chap. 2; David Brion Davis, The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Revolution, 1770-1823 (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1975), 213–214, footnote 1. In spite of the important role Woolman and Benezet played in this process, Davis makes clear that the Quaker movement toward antislavery was not a linear and teleological one that began with George Fox and ended with Benezet. Davis offers a number of explanations for the triumph of Quaker antislavery that complicate that oversimplified narrative. For example, Davis notes that Quakers in the West Indies only attempted to Christianize their slaves. Furthermore, the Quaker-controlled government of Pennsylvania enacted a harsh slave code and Quaker merchants there continued buying and selling slaves until the 1730s. In Rhode Island, Quaker merchants there continued participating in the slave trade into the 1760s. Finally, Davis explains how the Seven Years' War spurred increased demand for slaves in Pennsylvania that did not subside until the mid-1770s. The Philadelphia Yearly Meeting began issuing, and continued issuing, cautions against slave trading as early as 1735—two years before Lay published All Slave-keepers, Apostates. The PYM published similar cautionary messages in 1739, 1741, and 1742, which meant that Quakers who were buying and selling slaves in the early 1740s would have had to endure public disapprobation from their fellow Friends for rejecting the official recommendations of their sect's central religious body. For details on this chronology of Quaker antislavery that challenges the overly celebratory narrative of Woolman and Benezet's peaceful persuasion, see Carey, From Peace to Freedom, 172–176.
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  35. Blanche Day, "The Disquieting Quaker," 103.
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  36. Katharine Gerbner, "We Are Against the Traffik of Men-Body: The Germantown Quaker Protest of 1688 and the Origins of American Abolitionism," Pennsylvania History 74, no. 2 (Spring 2007): 149, 151–154.
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  37. Margaret Abruzzo, Polemical Pain: Slavery, Cruelty, and the Rise of Humanitarianism (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011), 17. Contemporary scholarship is beginning to challenge the interpretation that violence toward slave bodies was not a concern for slaveholders. For an example of scholarship that works to highlight the importance of concerns about violence in Quaker theology and politics, see Michael J. Goode, "Gospel Order among Friends: Colonial Violence and the Peace Testimony in Quaker Pennsylvania, 1681-1722" (PhD dissertation, University of Illinois at Chicago, 2012), http://hdl.handle.net/10027/9283. Similarly, recent academic conferences, such as "The Spectre of Peace in Histories of Violence," held at the Tanner Humanities Center at the University of Utah, August 14-15, 2015, have also explored the "theme of peace as it relates to the negotiation of violence, the legitimation of authority, and the racial and gendered ordering of the early American frontier."
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  38. Lay, All Slave-Keepers, 127. For an analysis of recent scholarship that places the role of violence more centrally in histories of slavery, see Vincent Brown, "Social Death and Political Life in the Study of Slavery," The American Historical Review 114, no. 5 (2009): 1231–49. Lay's emphasis on the physically brutalizing aspects of slavery prefigured rhetorical techniques used by nineteenth-century abolitionists such as Theodore Weld, Angelina and Sarah Grimké, and Harriet Beecher Stowe. For analysis of these mid-nineteenth century works, see Jenifer L. Barclay, "'The Greatest Degree of Perfection': Disability and the Construction of Race in American Slave Law," South Carolina Review 46 (2014): 38–41.
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  39. Elaine Scarry, The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985), 9–13, 6.
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  40. Drawing on the Devonshire House Monthly Meeting records, Andreas Mielke has revised much of the previous chronology surrounding Benjamin and Sarah Lay's life. Amongst some of the most important corrections Mielke made to the previous biographies, he documented that the Lays lived in Barbados from only 1718-1720, and then spent from 1720-1732 back in England, living first in London and then in Benjamin's hometown on Colchester before finally migrating to North America and settling outside of Philadelphia in 1732. For these chronological details, see Mielke, "What's Here to Do?," passim.
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  41. Benjamin Franklin, Life of Benjamin Franklin, Written by Himself, vol. 3 (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co., 1875), 445.
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  42. "Order," New-York Mirror, XII (July 5, 1834), 8, reprinted in "'Order,' New-York Mirror, XII (July 5, 1834), 8, Reprinted in," Quarterly Journal of Speech 41, no. 2 (April 1955): 158.
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  43. David Waldstreicher, Runaway America: Benjamin Franklin, Slavery, and the American Revolution (New York: Hill and Wang, 2005), 80–83. Franklin did not become devoted to an antislavery position until the late 1780s, when he served as president of Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery.
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  44. Mark Kaharas, "Benjamin Lay," Online exhibit sponsored by Friends Historical Library and the Haverford College Special Collections, Quakers & Slavery, (2010), http://trilogy.brynmawr.edu/speccoll/quakersandslavery/commentary/people/lay.php, accessed February 10, 2013. Woolman pursued a similar strategy in 1762 when he sought approval of the Overseers of the Press, but did not allow the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting to pay for or distribute his antislavery pamphlet. By rejecting this financial support, Woolman avoided the risk of having slave owning Friends seize his publication or attack his argument on the grounds that their contributions to the Meeting had helped sponsor the publication. For these details on Woolman, see Plank, John Woolman's Path to the Peaceable Kingdom, 152–154.
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  45. William Nelson, Extracts from American Newspapers, Relating to New Jersey. 1704-1775: 1775, vol. 11 (Paterson, NJ: The Press Printing and Publishing Co., 1894), 551.
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  46. John Thomas Scharf and Thompson Westcott, History of Philadelphia, 1609-1884, vol. 2 (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co., 1884), 1249.
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  47. Lay, All Slave-Keepers, 4. Given its prominent origin in Thomas à Kempis's work, the phrase "mean and contemptible in the sight of men" appears contemporaneously in the writings of other religious thinkers and writers. In particular, Baptist theologian John Gill's exposition of the Bible, which Gill began publishing in 1746, nine years after Lay's work appeared, included that phrase in reference to 1 Samuel 3:13. For this text, see Matthew Henry, John Gill, and Arthur W. Pink, Exposition of I & II Samuel (Lafayette, IN: Sovereign Grace Publishers, 2001), 40.
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  48. "Catholic Encyclopedia: Imitation of Christ," New Advent, 2009, http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07674c.htm.
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  49. Thomas à Kempis, Of the Imitation of Christ: In Three Books, trans. John Payne (Dutchess County, NY: Daniel Lawrence, 1803), 98–99.
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  50. Vaux, Memoirs of the Lives of Benjamin Lay and Ralph Sandiford, 31; Lay, All Slave-Keepers, 125.
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  51. Abruzzo, Polemical Pain, 22–23. For a synoptic overview of Christian mystics and the mystical tradition amongst both Catholics and Protestant, see Steven Fanning, Mystics of the Christian Tradition (New York: Routledge, 2005). Fanning cites numerous examples throughout his book of mystics' bodily transformations and often overcoming the pain or limitations of the physical world in the process of directly connecting with God and the spiritual world. St. Teresa of Ávila's spiritual autobiography (1567) and Gian Lorenzo Bernini's sculpture of her first transformative spiritual vision (1647) both provide clear examples of the bodily experience of mystics.
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  52. Lay, All Slave-Keepers, 251, 192, 194; Abruzzo, Polemical Pain, 24.
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  53. Lay, All Slave-Keepers, 18–19.
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  54. Ibid.
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  55. Frost, "Quaker Antislavery," 22–23.
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  56. By the early twentieth century, a man named Charles F. Jenkins, who lived in Germantown, PA, near Lay's home in Abington in suburban Philadelphia, owned Lay's copy of this book. For further details, see "Exhibits Shown at the Annual Meeting, 11 Mo., 29, 1920," Bulletin of the Friends Historical Association 10, no. 2 (May 1921): 58–59.
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  57. 1 Corinthians 1:27 (King James Version).
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  58. Fidias E. Leon-Sarmiento, Edwin Paez, and Mark Hallett, "Nature and Nurture in Stuttering: A Systematic Review on the Case of Moses," Neurological Sciences 34, no. 2 (February 1, 2013): 231–37, http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10072-012-0984-2.
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  59. Judith Z. Abrams, Judaism and Disability: Portrayals in Ancient Texts from the Tanach Through the Bavli (Washington D.C.: Gallaudet University Press, 1998), 112; Saul M. Olyan, Disability in the Hebrew Bible: Interpreting Mental and Physical Differences (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 10, http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511499036
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  60. Lay, All Slave-Keepers, 4–5.
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  61. George Berkeley, The Works of George Berkeley, D. D. Formerly Bishop of Cloyne, ed. Alexander Campbell Fraser, vol. 3 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1871), 413; OED Online, "Unˈfit, Adj. (and Adv.)" (Oxford University Press, March 2013), http://www.oed.com.ezproxy.uta.edu/view/Entry/213361?rskey=m5JYmT&result=1&isAdvanced=false, accessed April 01, 2013.
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  62. Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, Extraordinary Bodies: Figuring Physical Disability in American Culture and Literature (New York: Columbia University Press, 1997), 19–20; Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, "Introduction: From Wonder to Error—A Genealogy of Freak Discourse in Modernity," in Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, ed., Freakery: Cultural Spectacles of the Extraordinary Body (New York: New York University Press, 1996), 1–4; Henri Jacques Stiker, A History of Disability (Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 1999), chap. 5, esp. pp. 92–104.
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  63. Lay, All Slave-Keepers, 20–21. For Sandiford's attack on slavery, which Benjamin Franklin also published, see Ralph Sandiford, The Mystery of Iniquity in a Brief Examination of the Practice of the Times, by the Foregoing and the Present Dispensation: Whereby Is Manifested How the Devil Works in the Mystery, Which None Can Understand and Get the Victory over but Those That Are Armed with the Light ... Unto Which Is Added in the Postscript, the Injury This Trading in Slaves Doth the Commonwealth, Humbly Offer'd to All of a Publick Spirit. ([Philadelphia]: Printed [by Benjamin Franklin] for the author, 1730), http://opac.newsbank.com/select/evans/3349. For a close rhetorical analysis of Sandiford's text, see Carey, From Peace to Freedom, 155–164. Carey suggests that Sandiford's mental states may have been exacerbated in part by the public attacked he endured from slaveholding Friends, though he argues more forcefully that Sandiford's revision of the book after these initial critiques demonstrated his strengthened resolve to persuade others to the abolitionist cause rather become marginalized and silenced by them.
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  64. Lay, All Slave-Keepers, 21.
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  65. For a much more thorough discussion of the Enlightenment foundations of modern concepts of disability and analysis of nineteenth-century presentations of Benjamin Lay, respectively, see Nathaniel Smith Kogan, "'Every Good Man Is a Quaker, and That None but Good Men Are Quakers': Transatlantic Quaker Humanitarians, Disability, and Marketing Enlightened Reform, 1730-1834" (Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Texas at Arlington, 2015), chap. 1, 3.
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  66. Deborah Needleman Armintor, The Little Everyman: Stature and Masculinity in Eighteenth-Century English Literature (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2011), x. Armintor explores works like Jonathan Swift's, Gulliver's Travels, the memoirs of the Polish court dwarf, Józef Boruwlaski, and various writings from Alexander Pope.
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  67. William Williams, Sr., Benjamin Lay, Oil on panel, c. 1750-1758, National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; this acquisition was made possible by a generous contribution from the James Smithson Society. Williams served as an important figure in the history of early American painting. Williams migrated to North America from England in the 1740s and went on to teach the great American artist, Benjamin West. For a thorough overview of his career and evolving artistic styles, see E. P. Richardson, "William Williams: A Dissenting Opinion," American Art Journal 4, no. 1 (April 1, 1972): 5–23, http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/1593917. Williams' painting itself has an interesting history, as the portrait was lost from the mid-nineteenth century until the late 1970s, when two antiques dealers bought it as part of a lot of frames for $4 and then discovered that one of the frames contained this Williams portrait. Prior to this discovery, the portrait had long been assumed destroyed or lost. For more on this rediscovery, see Karen M. Jones, "Collectors' Notes: A Long-Lost Portrait of Benjamin Lay," The Magazine Antiques 144, no. 1 (January 1979): 194–96; Lita Solis-Cohen, "He Paid $4 for a Treasure of Americana," Philadelphia Inquirer, n.d. The clipping of this article in Haverford College Special Collections includes in the page numbers of the article, but does not include the date. The article was originally sent attached to a memorandum from Stephen Cary to Dave Fraser on January 5, 1978, clearly indicating that the article was published before that date.
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  68. Nash suggests that this interest likely came about because Deborah Franklin's second cousin, Elizabeth North, was married to Anthony Benezet's brother. For more on this family connection, see Gary B. Nash, "Franklin and Slavery," Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 150, no. 4 (2006): 627. Scholars cite John Woolman as the other major anti-slavery advocate to follow in Lay's footsteps. For one example of this popular narrative, see Nash and Soderlund, Freedom by Degrees, 48–57.
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  69. Wilford P. Cole, "Henry Dawkins and the Quaker Comet," Winterthur Portfolio 4 (January 1, 1968): 39–40.
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  70. For the most contemporary and sweeping analysis of Quaker commercial practices in the Early Republican era and how these expressed a moral rejection of slavery, see Julie L. Holcomb, Moral Commerce: Quakers and the Transatlantic Boycott of the Slave Labor Economy (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2016), chap. 2–4. For a discussion of the role North American women played in declaring their loyalty to the new US nation by rejecting British-made textiles and instead wearing "homespun" clothes, see Linda K. Kerber, Women of the Republic: Intellect and Ideology in Revolutionary America (Chapel Hill, N.C.: University of North Carolina Press, 2000), 38–39; Lawrence A. Peskin, Manufacturing Revolution: The Intellectual Origins of Early American Industry (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010); T. H. Breen, The Marketplace of Revolution: How Consumer Politics Shaped American Independence (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004), passim., esp. Ch. 6. For an analysis of this "homespun" movement through the lens of material culture, see Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, The Age of Homespun: Objects and Stories in the Creation of an American Myth (New York: Knopf, 2009).
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  71. For a number of examples from the eighteenth century of people with disabilities who lived alongside their non-disabled neighbors and families and whose skills, class status, or family background enabled them to remain integrated in the wider community, see Kim E. Nielsen, A Disability History of the United States (Boston: Beacon Press, 2012), 31–40.
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  72. Cole, "Henry Dawkins and the Quaker Comet," 40–41.
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  73. Horne, Pierre Eugene DuSimitiere, sec. 9:10; Cole, "Henry Dawkins and the Quaker Comet," 43; Nash, "Franklin and Slavery," 628, footnote 26.
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  74. Barclay, "'The Greatest Degree of Perfection'". Barclay cites a number of examples of eighteenth and nineteenth century colonial law codes that physically disabled slaves as a punishment for their transgressions. Given the "double character" of slavery that denied slaves' humanity and prevented them from owning property while only perceiving them as people when holding them accountable for breaking laws, disabling physical punishments "became the only significant and viable means of punishing them" (29).
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  75. Ibid., 38–41. Barclay offers a close reading of this imagery of disabled slave bodies in Weld and Grimké's American Slavery As It Is and in Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin. For an analysis of Stowe's work as well as two other mid-19th c. novels that feature rhetorical presentations of disabled figures, see Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, "Benevolent Maternalism and Physically Disabled Figures: Dilemmas of Female Embodiment in Stowe, Davis, and Phelps," American Literature 68, no. 3 (1996): 555–86, http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/2928244. For an analysis of the intersection between the feminine roles of "motherhood," racialized antebellum slavery, and how enslaved mothers cared for their disabled children, see Jenifer L. Barclay, "Mothering the 'Useless': Black Motherhood, Disability, and Slavery," Women, Gender, and Families of Color 2, no. 2 (2014): 115–40, http://dx.doi.org/10.5406/womgenfamcol.2.2.0115.
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