Only one adequate plan has ever appeared in the world, and that is the Christian dispensation.
John Jay - First US Supreme Court Chief Justice
Wednesday's Word: African American History - The Selling of Joseph, on 24 June 1700

Wednesday's Word

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Saturday, March 08, 2014

African American History - The Selling of Joseph, on 24 June 1700



'The Selling of Joseph', a story by Massachusetts judge, businessman, and printer, Samuel Sewall, revealed mounting abhorrence of the slave trade. Citing passages from the Bible, he states his case; in the subsequent section of the tract, judge Sewall raises, and answers, hypothetical objections to his verdict condemning the practice of slavery.

Sewall’s tract was, in part, inspired by a slave, Adam, who was the slave of John Saffin, a prominent Boston merchant and magistrate. Saffin hired out Adam for a term of seven years and promised him freedom upon his good behavior. Saffin denied Adam his freedom, leading to several years of legal proceedings and a public war of words between Saffin and Samuel Sewall. In 1701, Saffin published A Brief and Candid Answer to a late Printed Sheet Entitled the Selling of Joseph, in which he refuted Sewall's objections to slavery and defended his actions in Adam's case. In 1703, after a long legal struggle, Adam finally gained his freedom, but Sewall did not reply directly to Saffin's A Brief and Candid Answer until 1705 when he reprinted an English condemnation of the slave trade that had originally appeared in The Athenian Oracle.

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