Josiah Wedgwood asks a question.

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According to my history text book, English potter Josiah Wedgwood designed an anti-slavery cameo and sent copies of it to Benjamin Franklin. Josiah issued the medal in 1787.

The Declaration of Independence was published on July 4th, 1776.  The American colonists broke away from England looking for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This British artist was trying to point out that the question of slavery needed to be answered.  He inscribed the words “Am I Not A Man And A Brother?”. Our founding fathers answered “no” to this question and we faced a  bloody civil war 80 years later.

https://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/highlight_objects/pe_mla/a/anti-slavery_medallion,_by_jos.aspx

By looking at the anti-slavery cameo I see a man kneeling down with chains wrapped around him. He’s showing that he is a slave. When Wedgwood sent Benjamin Franklin the design in 1788 to Pennsylvania, it was an immediate success. Women wore the cameos as bracelets or pins for their hair. The men wore them on their shirts. The design was also used in printed form on plates, enamel boxes for patches, as well as on tea caddies and for tokens.  

What does the popularity of this fashion statement in Pennsylvania say about the different regional answers to the question of slavery in America?  Why were they so popular in Pennsylvania?  Maybe the Quaker city of Philadelphia was living up to its name as “the city of brotherly love”.

 

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