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Historical Document
Jones's sermon on the abolition of the international slave trade

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In 1807, Congress voted to ban the importation of slaves into the United States, effective January 1, 1808. Absalom Jones, co-founder and first pastor of Philadelphia's African Methodist Episcopal Church, preached a sermon on that day, in which he proposed that the day "be set apart every year, as a day of publick thanksgiving," so that "our children, to the remotest generations" might be taught "the history of the sufferings of our brethren, and of their deliverance" from "the trade which dragged your fathers from their native country, and sold them as bond men in the United States of America."

The work of Jones and other anti-slavery activists was far from ended by the ban. Although the law imposed a legal prohibition, the international trade continued illicitly until the beginning of the Civil War, while the domestic slave trade flourished.

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Portrait of Absalom Jones

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