The Publication Of Sewall 's The Selling Of Joseph

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The publication of Sewall’s, The Selling of Joseph, coincided with his attempt to assist a slave by the name of Adam in obtaining his freedom from his owner John Saffin. The three would become involved in a significant legal conflict that lasted for several years. A successful slave dealer and slave trader, Saffin had every reason to oppose Sewall’s position on slavery. Given his choice of professions, when Sewall condemned slavery, Saffin had little choice but to respond. In response to Sewall’s publication, Saffin published A Brief Candid Answer to a Late Printed Sheet Entitled, The Selling of Joseph. In the pamphlet, Saffin laid out his disagreements with Sewall’s efforts to deny that the Bible sanctioned slavery. He stated that, …show more content…

For example, he drew attention to Leviticus 25:44 which states, “As for the male and female slaves whom you may have, it is from the nations around you that you may acquire male and female slaves.” Sewall’s efforts to denounce slavery had no immediate effect, but the debate established many of the central issues that would be at the heart of the antebellum slavery debate. For example, the Hebrew and non-Hebrew slave distinction found in Mosaic Law. Ultimately, as scholar Francis Foster states, the debate between Sewall and Saffin served as the model for the future biblical defense of slavery, “in the era of Calhoun, in which scriptural snippets were manipulated to fortify a theology of white superiority and black bondage.” Throughout the first half of the eighteenth century, the biblical slavery debate continued to be dominated by the Quakers. In response to those Quakers who remained ardent defenders of slavery and the slave trade, New Jersey tailor John Hepburn and Nantucket carpenter Elihu Coleman set to the task of dismantling pro-slavery arguments using scripture. Many of Hepburn’s arguments put forth in 1715 were drawn from a pamphlet entitled Arguments against Making Slaves of Men. Within the pamphlet, Hepburn made numerous appeals to scripture in order to denounce making slaves of Africans. For example, in keeping with prior biblical arguments against slavery, Hepburn made reference to the prohibition against man-stealing stating, “Man-stealing (deserves

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