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In the mid-eighteenth century, despite the fact that Philadelphia had produced some of the earliest protests against slavery in the English-speaking world, slavery remained an important part of the region’s economy.In 1765, of the approximately fifteen hundred black Philadelphians, all but about one hundred were enslaved.Several free blacks found catering a prosperous career and organized a Guild of Caterers.After Bogle’s death in 1837, Biddle wrote this poem in remembrance of a man known for his taste, style, and culinary abilities.
Through his successful catering business, Bogle became a fixture in high society and grew close to prominent Philadelphians, such as Nicholas Biddle, financier and president of the Second Bank of the United States.While helping to establish important social institutions such as the Free African Society and St.Thomas African Episcopal Church, Jones advocated for black education reform and ran a school for black children in his home. Following passage of the Fugitive Slave Act in 1793, the free black community found themselves at higher risk of being kidnapped and sold into slavery.In the next few decades, though, this dramatically changed. Some supporters of the revolutionary cause came to recognize a clear contradiction between their calls for liberty and the practice of slavery.Others, in particular some of Philadelphia’s significant Quaker minority, grew to see slavery as a violation of deeply held religious beliefs.