Skip to main content

Am I not a Man and a Brother?

Modeled by William Hackwood (English, 1738–1820) Made by Josiah Wedgwood (English, 1730–1795)

Modeled by William Hackwood and fabricated by Josiah Wedgwood in England in 1787 for the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade, this medallion functioned as a potent political emblem for promoting the abolition of slavery. It reached the United States in 1788, when Wedgwood sent a batch to Philadelphia for former enslaver and "cautious abolitionist" Benjamin Franklin to distribute. Americans soon reproduced the medallion’s iconography in many forms. The 1830s saw more women politically mobilize against slavery, catalyzing the women’s suffrage movement. They employed the same type of symbolism but with a female figure, often accompanied by the phrase, "Am I not a woman and a sister?"

Significantly, this image gained popularity among white abolitionists because it presented a subjugated Black figure and thus did not overtly encourage Black individuals to take liberty into their own hands. Civil rights activists would later reference and subvert this in the 1960s with posters pointedly declaring "I am a man."

Object Details

We are always open to learning more about our collections and updating the website. Does this record contain inaccurate information or language that you feel we should improve or change? Contact us here.

Please note that this particular artwork might not be on view when you visit. Don’t worry—we have plenty of exhibitions for you to explore.