Header img
Beyond Penn's Treaty

The Life of Thomas Eddy; Comprising an Extensive Correspondence

Page out of 347

Mr. Eddy

made the subject of imprisonment for
debt, one of deep reflection. He did not believe that
a man could, by any contract, pledge his liberty par-
tially; and it is conceded on all sides, that no man
can make himself a slave, liberty being an unalien-
able right. He saw that the gaols were crowded
with poor debtors, sent to those awful places for
small sums, in general, where their health and morals
were injured, and their spirits broken down. The
philanthropist alone, whose feelings are enlisted in
the spirit of reform, can come to any just calculation
of the number who, in former times, suffered as poor
debtors. He knew that more than ten thousand
were incarcerated in his own State, every year, for
sums that would not average fifteen dollars each;
and he had sufficient information from many other
States, to discover, that the evil existed among them
generally to as great an extent, according to their
population. He frequently visited the gaol in the
city of New York, and assisted the prisoners from
his own purse, and from monies belonging to associ-
ations among the Friends. He did not live to see
imprisonment for debt abolished in the State of New
; but he foresaw that the time would come,
when that blot on the fame of our country would be
wiped away, not only in this State, but in others.
He preserved in his diary, a letter, which he believed
to have been written by the celebrated Indian, Brandt,
who was educated at Dartmouth College. It is so
full of just remarks, and is, in itself, so great a
curiosity, that I thought it worthy of being pre-


Your letter came safe to hand. To give you
entire satisfaction, I must, I perceive, enter into the
discussion of a subject, on which I have often thought.
My thoughts were my own, and, being so different
from the ideas entertained among your people, I