Robert Pleasants (1722-1801)

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Robert Pleasants was born at "Curles," Henrico County, Virginia and lived there throughout his life. He was an active member of the Society of Friends. His brother Samuel Pleasants (1737-1807) was a successful merchant in Philadelphia. Sometime after 1771, he entered into a mercantile company (Robert Pleasants & Co.) which did business as a consignment tobacco exporter. He organized an abolition society in 1790.

"Along with other Virginia Quakers, Pleasants successfully petitioned the state legislature to allow the manumission of slaves. When the law passed in 1782, he freed his own slaves and filed a lawsuit for emancipation of more than 400 slaves freed by the terms of his father's [John Pleasants) will (in 1771, before the law had passed). Pleasants opposed the deportation of freed bondsmen and supported the establishment of free schools for African-American children."[1]

Materials in the Special Collections Research Center


  1. "Robert Pleasants", Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia, Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Inc., accessed February 21, 2017,

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