Robert Purvis, the son of a wealthy cotton broker, was born on 4th August, 1810, in Charleston, South Carolina. In 1833 Purvis helped establish the Library Company of Colored People and the Anti-Slavery Society in Philadelphia.
In 1834 he embarked on a tour of England where he made speeches and raised funds for the Anti-Slavery cause. On his return to Philadelphia he was active in the campaign to repeal the new state law that barred African-Americans from voting. This included drafting the document, Appeal of Forty Thousand Citizens Threatened with Disfranchisement (1838).
Purvis was involved in the Underground Railroad and served as chairman of the General Vigilance Committee (1852-57) that helped assist fugitive slaves. He was also elected president of the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society (1845-50). Purvis also campaigned in favour of women's rights, prison reform and prohibition.
Robert Purvis, who presided over the 50th anniversary meeting of the American Anti-Slavery Society in 1883, died in Philadelphia on 15th April, 1898.
Slavery in the United States (£1.29)