John Woolman (1720–1772) was a North American merchant, tailor, journalist and itinerant Quaker preacher, and an early abolitionist in the colonial era. He traveled through frontier areas of British North America to preach Quaker beliefs, and advocate against slavery and the slave trade, cruelty to animals, economic injustices and oppression, and conscription. Woolman published numerous essays, and kept a journal throughout his life, The Journal of John Woolman (1774), considered a prominent American spiritual work.
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The Journal of John Woolman (1774)
(Page numbers form John Woolman (1947) A Journal of the Life, Gospel Labours and Christian Experiences of John Woolman Edw. Marsh)
- About the twenty-third year of my age, I had many fresh and heavenly openings, in respect to the care and providence of the Almighty over his creatures in general, and over man as the most noble amongst those which are visible
- p. 10
- I saw that an humble man, with the blessing of the Lord, might live on a little, and that where the heart was set on greatness, success in business did not satisfy the craving; but that commonly with an increase of wealth the desire of wealth increased. There was a care on my mind so to pass my time that nothing might hinder me from the most steady attention to the voice of the true Shepherd
- p. 14
- I had fresh confirmation that acting contrary to present outward interest, from a motive of Divine love and in regard to truth and righteousness, and thereby incurring the resentments of people, opens the way to a treasure better than silver, and to a friendship exceeding the friendship of men.
- p. 24
- I find that to be a fool as to worldly wisdom, and to commit my cause to God, not fearing to offend men, who take offence at the simplicity of truth, is the only way to remain unmoved at the sentiments of others.
- p. 36; as cited in: Ruth Marie Griffith (2008) American Religions: A Documentary History. p. 137
- After I had given up to go, the thoughts of the journey were often attended with unusual sadness, at which times my heart was frequently turned to the Lord with inward breathings for his heavenly support, that I might not fail to follow him wheresoever he might lead me.
- p. 107
- In a time of sickness with the pleurisy, a little upward of two years and a half ago, I was brought so near the gates of death that I forgot my name. Being then desirous to know who I was, I saw a mass of matter of a dull, gloomy color, between the south and the east; and was informed that this mass was human beings in as great misery as they could be and live; and that I was mixed in with them, and that henceforth I might not consider myself as a distinct or separate being. In this state I remained several hours. I then heard a soft, melodious voice, more pure and harmonious than any I had heard with my ears before; I believed it was the voice of an angel, who spake to the other angels. The words were: “John Woolman is dead.” I soon remembered that I once was John Woolman, and being assured that I was alive in the body, I greatly wondered what that heavenly voice could mean.
- p. 164 (online)
- Though departing from the Truth as it is in Jesus, through introducing Ways of Life attended with unnecessary Expences, many Wants have arisen, the Minds of People have been employ'd in studying to get Wealth, and in this Pursuit, some departing from Equity, have retain'd a Profession of Religion; others have look'd at their Example, and thereby been stengthen'd to proceed further in the same Way: Thus many having encourag'd the Trade of taking Men from Africa and selling them as Slaves.
- p. 292; cited in: On The Slave Trade by John Woolman on qhpress.org, 2013