Philadelphia: Merrihew and Gunn, Printers, 1836. iv, -20 pp. Stitched in original printed blue wrappers. Two rubberstamp accession dates in wrapper margins, and one in upper margin of page 20. Light blindstamp on title leaf. Early ownership signature at head of front wrapper. Very Good. Pages 19-20 print John Greenleaf Whittier's poem, 'To the Memory of Thomas Shipley, President of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society, who died on the 17th of the Ninth Mo. 1836, a devoted Christian and Philanthropist.'
Purvis was born in Charleston in 1810 to a free woman of color and a white cotton broker. The family soon moved to Philadelphia, where young Purvis grew up. He graduated from Amherst College, returned to Philadelphia, became a leader of that city's black community and a tireless abolitionist. He married Harriet Forten, the daughter of wealthy African-American businessman and abolitionist James Forten.
Forten signed the Preface, honoring Shipley's memory, in type on behalf of his colleagues. These included Reverend William Douglass, African-American Rector of St. Thomas's African Episcopal Church, where Purvis delivered this eulogy. Absalom Jones founded St. Thomas' in 1792 as Philadelphia's first black congregation. Douglass, born in Baltimore to Free Negroes, was ordained in Maryland and, before coming to Philadelphia, was a Minister on Maryland's Eastern Shore. Forten had been educated by Anthony Benezet. During the American Revolution he had been a powder-boy at the age of fourteen aboard Stephen Decatur's ship. Taken prisoner and held on the Prison Ship 'Old Jersey,' he remained a loyal American patriot, refusing British blandishments to shower him with wealth and status if he immigrated to England. After the War, he was a tireless battler for abolition, an active member of the Anti-Slavery Society, and an ally of William Lloyd Garrison.
Shipley, whom Purvis eulogizes, was a Quaker, a colleague of Purvis in the Pennsylvania Abolition Society, and a lifelong Philadelphia abolitionist.
LCP 8559. Dumond 95. Sabin 66734. Not in Blockson, Work. Item #35690