Woolman, John

Woolman, John,

1720–72, American Quaker leader, b. near Mt. Holly, N.J. Originally a tailor and shopkeeper, Woolman was recorded a minister (1743) by the Burlington, N.J., Meeting. Thereafter he made many journeys throughout the colonies, preaching and advancing the antislavery cause. Keenly aware of social injustice, Woolman was one of the first protesters against slavery. He personally boycotted products made by slave labor, and was responsible for convincing many Quaker communities to publicly denounce slavery. He died at York on a visit to England. Among his published works is Some Considerations on the Keeping of Negroes (1754, 1762, repr. 1969). Woolman is best remembered for his journal (1774; ed. by J. G. Whittier, 1871, and P. P. Moulton, 1971).


See study by R. Reynolds (1981).

Woolman, John

(1720–72) Protestant preacher, reformer; born in Rancocas, N.J. The son of a farmer, he received a Quaker education and became a Quaker in 1743. A tailor by trade, he turned to preaching and traveled for some 30 years through the colonies—and also in England—spreading Quaker views. An early advocate of the abolition of slavery, he also called for the prohibition of liquor sales to Indians. He died of smallpox while on a visit to England. His famous Journal, much reprinted, first appeared in 1774.