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An Atrocious Debasement of Human Nature: Benjamin Franklin, the First Abolitionist Petitions, and Justice

45 min

Walk-In-The-Shoes Questions
As you read, imagine you are the protagonist.

  • What challenges are you facing?
  • What fears or concerns might you have?
  • What may prevent you from acting in the way you ought?

Observation Questions

  • How was Franklin’s identity tied to his fight for abolition?
  • What was Franklin’s purpose in writing his petition?
  • What made Franklin write his petition and later his satirical piece about slavery?
  • What did the purpose of Franklin’s petition say about his identity?

Discussion Questions
Discuss the following questions with your students.

  • What is the historical context of the narrative?
  • What historical circumstances presented a challenge to the protagonist?
  • How and why did the individual exhibit a moral and/or civic virtue in facing and overcoming the challenge?
  • How did the exercise of the virtue benefit civil society?
  • How might exercise of the virtue benefit the protagonist?
  • What might the exercise of the virtue cost the protagonist?
  • Would you react the same under similar circumstances? Why or why not?
  • How can you act similarly in your own life? What obstacles must you overcome in order to do so?
  • Students will evaluate Benjamin Franklin’s efforts to petition Congress to abolish slavery.
  • Students will evaluate why Franklin’s actions to promote justice for slaves was important.
  • Students will apply their knowledge of justice to their own experiences.
  • Students will promote justice for themselves and others.

Student Handouts