Robert Purvis, President of the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society, circa 1845.
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Photograph, quarter plate daguerreotype

Credit:  Courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Print Department

The independently wealthy son of an English cotton broker and free black mother from South Carolina, Robert Purvis helped organize the American Anti-Slavery Society in 1833, then served as president of the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society from 1845-1850, and as chairman of the Philadelphia Vigilance Committee from 1852-1857. By his own account Purvis helped a slave a day reach freedom for close to thirty years.

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