Abraham op den Graeff

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Abraham op den Graeff
Inscription Pistorius Monument.JPG
Representative, Pennsylvania Provincial Assembly
In office
Personal details
Born c 1649
Krefeld, Germany
Died 1731
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Profession Politician, merchant
The petition was the first American public document to protest slavery. It was also one of the first written public declarations of universal human rights.

Abraham Isacks op den Graeff (c. 1649 – 1731) was an original settler of Germantown, Pennsylvania, as well as a politician, award-winning merchant, and signer of the first organized religious protest against slavery in colonial America. He was a subject of John Greenleaf Whittier's poem "The Pennsylvania Pilgrim".

Early life[edit]

Abraham op den Graeff was a famous member of the Op den Graeff family. He was born in c. 1649 in Krefeld, Germany as son of Isaac Herman op den Graeff and grandson of Herman op den Graeff. He took up the profession of linen merchant, and was a member of the Mennonite church. In the summer of 1683, he left Rotterdam, immigrating to the Pennsylvania Province along with his mother and siblings aboard the ship "Concord".[1][2][3]

Germantown Settlement[edit]

Abraham op den Graeff and his family were one of the original 13 which settled Germantown, comprising 33 in total.[2] There he helped established the linen industry, winning the first Governor's prize from William Penn, a cousin of Abraham, in 1686 for the finest piece of linen woven in the Province.[4] In 1688, Abraham along with three others signed the first organized religious petition against slavery in the colonies, the 1688 Germantown Quaker Petition Against Slavery. In 1689, he was one of the original charter grantees for the settlement, and that year was elected to the Provincial Assembly, representing the settlement until 1692.[5][6] He would also serve as a burgess of Germantown.[7]

The Pennsylvania Pilgrim[edit]

Abraham was a subject of John Greenleaf Whittier's abolitionist poem "The Pennsylvania Pilgrim", published in 1809.[8]

Notable descendants[edit]

His descendants named Opdegraf(f), Updegraf (f), Updegrave, Updegrove, Updegraph, Uptegrove and Upthegrove. Pennsylvania Governor Samuel Whitaker Pennypacker was the fourth great-grandson of Abraham.[9]


  1. ^ "The Friend, Volume 48", The Friend., 1875. Harvard University. p. 67
  2. ^ a b "Ship Passengers Mentioned in Merion MM Minutes; Chester County, PA.", Yvonne Prough. U.S. Genealogical Web Archives. Accessed 29 sept 2011
  3. ^ "1683 Concord", Pro Genealogists. Accessed 29 sept 2011
  4. ^ White servitude in Pennsylvania: indentured and redemption labor in colony and commonwealth, Cheesman Abiah Herrick. Books for Libraries Press, 1970. p. 58
  5. ^ "National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in Pennsylvania", The Society by J.B. Lippincott Company, 1902. p. 203
  6. ^ "Friends' review: a religious, literary and miscellaneous journal, Volume 29", Samuel Rhoads, Enoch Lewis. J. Tatum., 1876. p. 285
  7. ^ "The autobiography of a Pennsylvanian, Volume 3", Samuel Whitaker Pennypacker. John C. Winston Co., 1918. p. 28
  8. ^ "Narrative and Critical History of America: French explorations and settlements in North America, and those of the Portuguese, Dutch, and Swedes, 1500-1700", Justin Winsor. Houghton, Mifflin and company, 1884. p. 491
  9. ^ "Colonial and Revolutionary Families of Pennsylvania", John W. Jordan. Genealogical Publishing Com, 1978. ISBN 0-8063-0811-7, ISBN 978-0-8063-0811-1. p. 486

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