FEBRUARY 11, 1790
The Pennsylvania Abolition Society, believed to be the first American society dedicated to the cause, petitioned Congress for emancipation of all who were enslaved.
Educator and abolitionist Anthony Benezet started the organization after the creation of a school in Philadelphia for Black Americans. Benjamin Franklin served as president of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society, which sought to create schools for Black Americans and to help them find jobs.
The society became a model for other abolitionist groups that followed. One of its members, Robert Purvis, a Black abolitionist, helped form the American Anti-Slavery Society in 1833, using his home and farm to hide those who had escaped slavery before helping them escape to other cities and to Canada by way of the Underground Railroad.
The society still exists, combating racism and seeking to reduce harsh sentencing and the over-representation of Black Americans in prison.