In reviewing some pamphlets in our collections, I found one that peaked my interest. The title is A Discourse delivered April 12, 1797 at the request of the New-York Society for Promoting the Manumission of Salves, and Protecting Such of Them as Have Been or May Be Liberated. It was written by Samuel Miller, A. M., one of the ministers of the United Presbyterian Churches in the city of New York and member of said society and printed by T. and J. Swords, No. 99 Pearl Street in 1797.
The author, Samuel Miller, was born near Dover, Delaware on October 31, 1769. He completed studies at the University of Pennsylvania in 1789 then began studying theology with his father and completed his theological studies with Charles Nisbet, president of Dickinson College. He was ordained to the Presbyterian ministry on June 5, 1793 and served in the Presbyterian churches of New York City.
In 1813 he was appointed professor of church history and government at the newly established Princeton Theological Seminary. He was the second professor in the seminary. While teaching and preaching, he continued to write and publish. He was an esteemed author of history and biography. He wrote biographies of Jonathan Edwards, David Brainerd, Charles Nisbet, and John Rogers. Rev. Miller continued in his position at the Princeton Theological Seminary until his death on January 7, 1850.
In this discourse, Rev. Miller took an optimistic view of the abolition of slavery in the United States writing in his final paragraph, "The time, I trust, is not far distant, when there shall be no slavery to lament — no oppression to oppose in the United States: — when the EMANCIPATING SPIRIT of our Constitution shall go forth in 'the greatness of her strength,' breaking in pieces every chain, and trampling down every unjust effort of power:..." Sadly, it was not until 1863, that President Lincoln emancipated the slaves.
The New York Manumission Society was founded in 1785 to promote the abolition of the slavery of African descendants within the state of New York. The organization was made up entirely of wealth, influential white men. The society battled against the slave trade and for the eventual emancipation of all the slaves in New York state until 1849. In 1787, it founded the African Free School for the poor and orphaned children of slaves and free people of color.
This pamphlet is part of our Rare Book Collection.