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 Benjamin Lay

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Benjamin Lay

Birth
Colchester, Colchester Borough, Essex, England
Death
3 Feb 1759 (aged 76)
Abington, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, USA
Burial
Jenkintown, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, USA
Memorial ID
62051222 View Source

Slavery abolitionist and philanthropist. One of the earliest and staunchest activists against slavery. At barely over four feet tall, with a protruding chest and a hunched back, with arms nearly longer than his legs. A strict vegetarian who drank only milk and water. He would eat nor wear anything that was made as a result of the loss of animal life or in which any amount of slave labor was used for its provision. Those principles would have made him the first documented vegan in history. He also grew his own food and made his own clothes, living in a cottage in the Pennsylvania countryside, where he committed to a lifestyle of near total complete self-sustenance.
He wrote and published hundreds of pamphlets, largely all of which condemned the social institutions of the time, including slavery, the prison system, capital punishment and the wealthy Pennsylvania Quaker elite. He refused to participate in what he considered a degraded, hypocritical, tyrannical and demonic society. His radical Quaker beliefs conformed his abject hatred of slavery such that he made several dramatic public demonstrations against the institution. The most notable was at the 1738 Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of Quakers. There he dressed as a soldier and concluded a diatribe against slavery by plunging a sword into a Bible containing a hidden bladder filled with pokeberry juice; its blood-red contents spattering nearby observers. After his death, his anti-slavery legacy continued to inspire the abolitionist movement for generations to come. It was not uncommon for abolitionist Quakers to keep pictures of Lay in their homes into the mid-19th century. [Bio by: Michael]

Slavery abolitionist and philanthropist. One of the earliest and staunchest activists against slavery. At barely over four feet tall, with a protruding chest and a hunched back, with arms nearly longer than his legs. A strict vegetarian who drank only milk and water. He would eat nor wear anything that was made as a result of the loss of animal life or in which any amount of slave labor was used for its provision. Those principles would have made him the first documented vegan in history. He also grew his own food and made his own clothes, living in a cottage in the Pennsylvania countryside, where he committed to a lifestyle of near total complete self-sustenance.
He wrote and published hundreds of pamphlets, largely all of which condemned the social institutions of the time, including slavery, the prison system, capital punishment and the wealthy Pennsylvania Quaker elite. He refused to participate in what he considered a degraded, hypocritical, tyrannical and demonic society. His radical Quaker beliefs conformed his abject hatred of slavery such that he made several dramatic public demonstrations against the institution. The most notable was at the 1738 Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of Quakers. There he dressed as a soldier and concluded a diatribe against slavery by plunging a sword into a Bible containing a hidden bladder filled with pokeberry juice; its blood-red contents spattering nearby observers. After his death, his anti-slavery legacy continued to inspire the abolitionist movement for generations to come. It was not uncommon for abolitionist Quakers to keep pictures of Lay in their homes into the mid-19th century. [Bio by: Michael]

Bio by: Michael


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