The Beautiful Soul of John Woolman, Apostle of Abolition


Now out of print- we still have a few slightly marked remaindered copies of this classic biography.

JohnWoolman was one of the most significant Americans of the eighteenth century, though he was not a famous politician, general, scientist, or man of letters, and he never held public office. This superb book makes it clear why he mattered so much. A humble tailor known at first only to the other Quakers who encountered him at meetings in New Jersey, Philadelphia, and New England, Woolman became a prophetic voice for the entire Anglo-American world when he spoke out against the evils of slavery.

Thomas P. Slaughter's deft, dramatic narrative reveals how it was that the mysticWoolman became an unforgettable public figure, his gospel infused with a benign confidence that ordinary people could achieve spiritual perfection. Placing Woolman in the full context of his times, Slaughter paints the portrait of a hero--and not just for the Quakers, social reformers, labor organizers, socialists, and peace advocates who have long admired him.

Our Reviews


"There are a few previously published biographies, but Slaughter's is by far the most comprehensive, including many fascinating passages about Woolman's dreams . . . The author walks the line between 'hagiography and psychological reductionism, ' and there is much to learn here about the spiritual culture of this still-New World as well as the spiritual growth of this remarkable man." --Susan Salter Reynolds, "Los Angeles"" Times"

"Brilliantly written and researched . . . An extraordinary biography." --Douglas Brinkley, "Austin American-Statesman,"

Best Books of 2008 "Thoughtful and reflective . . . Thomas P. Slaughter treats Woolman's dreams, his life, and his death with subtlety and great sympathy . . . He also, intriguingly, allows us to see Woolman as others did not wish to see him . . . As Slaughter carefully and rigorously shows, from one perspective Woolman's life (both conscious and unconscious) was the story of an increasingly critical consciousness of the world . . . Slaughter suggests that 'it is the extremes, not the complexities, that provide the man's measure.' I may not agree. But that he has written a work both historical and ethical that can make that question a point of debate is quite the accomplishment." --Michael Meranze, "William and Mary Quarterly"

"A gem of the biographer's art . . . Thomas P. Slaughter's stunning achievement is that he makes this man, otherwise so far away, so very real." --Justin Torres, "First Things" "We can benefit from a really good secondary source such as Thomas P. Slaughter's "The Beautiful Soul of John Woolman, Apostle of Abolition." Slaughter's project is all about context and analysis . . . In the end, we do not explain Woolman. He explains us." --John Benson, "Quaker Life" "The most ambitious biography of Woolman in two generations. Its strength lies in placing Woolman in the context of the Anglo-American Atlantic world of the mid-18th century . . . Recommended." --T. D. Hamm, "Choice" "A masterful biography. . .