William Plumsted

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William Plumsted, c. 1760

William Plumsted, also a founder and trustee, inherited three slaves from his father. Plumsted purchased a slave as late as 1762, three years before he died. These men, both prominent Philadelphia slaveholders, had signed the Petition of 1741, a plea to the crown to send extra troops in case the slaves of Pennsylvania decided to rebel like their counterparts in New York City earlier in the year. The petitioners wanted sufficient force to be able to put down such a rebellion. While these are just some of the numerous stories of the trustees that we were able to find in our initial research, they are demonstrative of a larger pattern. These prominent, wealthy Philadelphia men who were integrally important to early development of the University of Pennsylvania owned slaves, benefitted from slave labor, and played a role (either in favor of or in opposition to) in abolition.

~Caitlin Doolittle