At about the age of twenty-seven, Hicks was recognized as a preacher by the Friends in his meeting. He was regarded as a very gifted speaker, with a strong voice, great poise, and dramatic flair.
Hicks was one of the early abolitionists among the Friends. He spoke about slavery often and worked hard to persuade others to oppose it. His Observations on the Slavery of the Africans (1811), which argued for a boycott of slavery-produced goods, represented one of the earliest social reform boycott efforts in the United States. Following a gradual abolition law passed by the state legislature in 1799, which freed children born to slave mothers, the state of New York finally emancipated all remaining slaves and abolished slavery within its borders on July 4, 1827.
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