Benjamin Lay, by William Williams, 1750.
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Oil on mahogany board of an odd looking, bearded, little man standing in front of a hollow of a tree. He holds a book and a cane in his right hand.

Credit: Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; this acquisition was made possible by generous contribution from the James Smithson Society. NPG.79.171

Benjamin Lay was small of stature and peculiar in his personal habits.  Barely four feet tall, with a misshapen body and sharp tongue, Lay was a radical Quaker who refused to wear or eat anything made from the loss of animal life or associated with slave labor.  Despite these eccentricities, his writings, rants, and actions against slavery made a deep impression on Pennsylvania Quakers. Benjamin Franklin, who printed his All Slave Keepers that keep innocent in bondage, in 1737, wrote that Lay's anti-slavery efforts marked the "origin of the anti-slavery movement in Pennsylvania."

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