Online Library of Liberty

A collection of scholarly works about individual liberty and free markets. A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.

Advanced Search

David M. Hart, Anti-Slavery Tracts. First Series, Nos. 1-20 (1855-56) [2018]

Anthology antislaverytracts tp
Title Page
Anti slaverytracts 1679 01 p1
Original Table of Contents or First Page

Edition used:

David M. Hart, Anti-Slavery Tracts. First Series, Nos. 1-20 (New York: American Anti-Slavery Society, 1855-56).

Available in the following formats:
Facsimile PDF 85.6 MB This is a facsimile or image-based PDF made from scans of the original book.
ePub 373 KB ePub standard file for your iPad or any e-reader compatible with that format
HTML 905 KB This version has been converted from the original text. Every effort has been taken to translate the unique features of the printed book into the HTML medium.
Simplified HTML 905 KB This is a simplifed HTML format, intended for screen readers and other limited-function browsers.

About this Title:

The first of two collections of anti-slavery tracts published by the American Anti-Slavery Society between 1855-56. It consists of 20 pamphlets written by Higginson, Foster, Burleigh, Beecher Stowe, and others. A second collection of 25 would appear in 1860-62.

Copyright information:

The text is in the public domain.

Fair use statement:

This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.

Table of Contents:

Edition: current; Page: [i]


  • 1. Anon., “The United States Constitution,” 12 pp.
  • 2. Anon., “White Slavery in the United States”, 8 pp.
  • 3. Rev. O.B. Frothingham, “Colonization”, 8 pp.
  • 4. Rev. T.W. Higginson, “Does Slavery Christianize the Negro?”, 8 pp.
  • 5. John G. Palfrey, “The Inter-state Slave Trade”, 8 pp.
  • 6. R. Hildreth, “The ‘Ruin’ of Jamaica”, 12 pp.
  • 7. Anon., “Revolution the only remedy for slavery”, 20 pp.
  • 8. Eliza Lee Follen, “To mothers in the free states”, 4 pp.
  • 9. (Louisa Jane Whiting Barker) By a Former Resident of Slave States, “Influence of slavery upon the white population”, 12 pp.
  • 10. Charles C. Burleigh, “Slavery and the North”, 12 pp.
  • 11. Rev. Charles E. Hodges, “Disunion our Wisdom and Duty,”
  • 12. Anon., (Songs), 8 pp.
  • 13. Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe, “The Two Altars; or, Two Pictures in One,” 12 pp.
  • 14. Maria Weston Chapman, ‘“How can I help to abolish Slavery?”, or, Counsels to the Newly Converted,’ 12 pp.
  • 15. Susan C. Cabot, “What have we, as individuals, to do with slavery?” 7 pp.
  • 16. Anon., “The Unanimous Remonstrance of the Fourth Congregational Church, Hartford, Conn., against the Policy of the American Tract Society on the Subject of Slavery,” 36 pp.
  • 17. Rev. Charles Beecher, “The God of the Bible against slavery,” 11 pp.
  • 18. Anon., “The Fugitive Slave Law, and its Victims,” 48 pp.
  • 19. Charles E. Whipple, “Relations of Anti-slavery to Religion,” 20 pp.
  • 20. Thomas Wentworth Higginson, “A Ride Through Kansas,” 24 pp.
Edition: current; Page: [(1)]

Anti-Slavery Tracts. First Series, Nos. 1-20 (New York: American Anti-Slavery Society, 1855-56).

1.: Anon., “The United States Constitution,” 12 pp.




Admitting, as we do, that the words of any written instrument constitute the only legal evidence of its meaning, we ask, What is the meaning of the following clauses in the Constitution of the United States?

Art. 1, sec. 2: “Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole number of free persons, including those bound to service for a term of years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other persons.”

This section distinguishes between free persons and slaves, because to the whole number of free persons are to be added three fifths of all other persons; that is, persons not free, or slaves. By excluding from the class of free persons those bound to service for life, without—as in case of Indians not taxed—assigning a reason for such exclusion, it declares them to be slaves, within the meaning of the Constitution.

This article, therefore, recognizes slavery as explicitly as if the word slave itself had been used, and gives to the free persons in a slave State, solely because they are slaveholders, a larger representation, and consequently greater political power, than the same number of free persons in a free State. A bounty on slaveholding!

Art. 1, sec. 9: “The migration or importation of such persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight; but a tax or duty may be imposed on such importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each person.”

Edition: current; Page: [2]

A person who migrates does so of his own accord; he cannot be held to be migrated by any other person. He is wholly a free agent. But a person who is imported does not import himself; he is imported by some other person. He is passive. The importer is the free agent; the person imported is not a free agent. The Virginia slave laws of 1748 and 1753 proceed on this distinction when they say “all persons * imported * shall be slaves.” Whenever we hear an importation spoken of, we instantly infer an owner, and property imported. This distinction between the force of the words migration and importation is, then, real.

That the Constitution also makes a distinction is evident, because only persons imported can be taxed. And that it adopts the distinction we have just pointed out is also evident, because this alone can afford us a sufficient reason why persons imported may be taxed, and persons who migrate cannot be.

By this clause, therefore, Congress was prevented, during twenty years, from prohibiting the foreign slave trade with any State that pleased to allow it. But by Art. 1, sec. 8, Congress had the general power “to regulate commerce with foreign nations.” Consequently, the slave trade was excepted from the operation of the general power, with a view to place the slave trade, during twenty years, solely under the control of the slave States. It could not be wholly stopped, so long as one State wished to continue it. It is a clear compromise in favor of slavery. True, the compromise was a temporary one; but it will be noticed, that Congress, even after 1808, was not obliged to prohibit the trade. Even now we are discussing the expediency of reopening the accursed traffic! whilst, in point of fact, until 1819 the laws of Congress authorized the States to sell into slavery, for their own benefit, negroes imported contrary to the laws of the United States! (Act Congr. 1807, c. 77, § 4, 6; 1818, c. 86, § 5 and 7; 10 Wheat. Rep. 321, 322.) So unmixed should be our satisfaction at the oft-repeated boast, that ours was the first nation to prohibit the African slave trade!

Art. 4, sec. 2: “No person held to service or labor in one State, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor, but shall be delivered up, on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be due.”

No one can be illegally “bound” to service, and one who is legally bound is legally “held” to that service. The expressions Edition: current; Page: [3] a person “bound” to service and a person “legally held” to service are, therefore, equivalent. This section evidently embraces, not only persons held to service for a term of years, but also those held to service for life, and therefore includes not only free persons, but those who are declared to be slaves within the meaning of the Constitution. (Art. 1, sec. 2.)

That the expression used in this section legally includes slaves is also evident on other grounds. The ordinance of 1787 calls a slave a person “from whom labor or service is lawfully claimed.” (Art. 6.) It is a criminal offence in all the States, except Maryland, Virginia, and Texas, to entice a slave to leave his master’s “service.” In Maryland, and Virginia, and other States, the owner has a civil action for damages against the person who thus entices away his slave. And the laws of all the States recognize the master’s right to enforce the labor of the slave.

If, however, it is a crime to entice a slave to leave his master’s “service,” and if such act subject a man to an action for damages by the owner, it is evident that the master must have a legal right to the “service” of his slave; for it is the infringement of this right which makes the crime and gives ground to claim damages. The slave is, therefore, a person legally held to service or labor. And as if to remove all doubt, the very expression is applied to slaves in the laws of all the States except Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, and Texas.

By this section, therefore, it is provided that no person held as a slave in one State under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from his slavery, but shall be delivered up on claim of his owner. The laws of one State, whether they support slavery or any other institution, have no power in another State. Consequently, if a slave escape into a free State, he becomes free. This is the general rule of law. In virtue of it, thousands of slaves are now free on the soil of Canada. In virtue of it, a fugitive slave from South Carolina would be free in this State, were it not for this section in the Constitution. But this section declares that he shall not thereby become free, but shall be delivered up. Again: the Constitution makes an exception from a general rule of law in favor of slavery. It gives to slaveholders and slave laws a power which the general rule of law does not give. It enables a South Carolina slaveholder to drag from the soil of Massachusetts a person whom the general Edition: current; Page: [4] rule of law pronounces free, solely because South Carolina laws declare the contrary. It makes the whole Union a vast hunting ground for slaves!

Art. 1, sec. 8: “Congress shall have power * * * to provide for calling forth the militia * * * to suppress insurrections.

Art. 4, sec. 4: “The United States shall guaranty to every State in this Union a republican form of government, and shall protect each of them against invasion, and, on application of the legislature, or of the executive, (when the legislature cannot be convened,) against domestic violence.

All insurrections and all cases of domestic violence are here provided for. To constitute an insurrection there must be a rising against those laws which are recognized as such by the Constitution; and, to make out a case of domestic violence, the violence must be exerted against that right or power which is recognized by the Constitution as lawful. But by Art. 1, sec. 2, and Art. 4, sec. 2, the Constitution admits that some persons may be legally slaves. Consequently, if these persons rise in rebellion, or commit acts of violence contrary to the laws which hold them in slavery, their rising constitutes an insurrection; such acts are acts of violence within the meaning of the Constitution, and consequently must be suppressed by the national power.

The self-styled owners are not the only slaveholders. All persons who voluntarily assist or pledge themselves to assist in holding persons in slavery are slaveholders. In sober truth, then, we are a nation of slaveholders! for we have bound our whole national strength to the slave owners, to aid them, if necessary, in holding their slaves in subjection!


On the 17th of September, 1787, the Philadelphia Convention adopted the plan of the present Constitution. The draft thus made was submitted to the people, assembled in State Conventions, “for their assent and ratification.” President Madison has preserved a record of the debates in the Philadelphia Convention; and we have also published accounts of the debates in several of the State conventions. We draw our evidence mainly from these sources.

Edition: current; Page: [5]

Apportionment of Representatives. (Const., Art. 1, sec. 2.)

Rufus King, of Massachusetts, one of the framers, said of the expression “three fifths of all other persons,” “These persons are the slaves.” Alexander Hamilton, of New York, another of the framers, referring to this clause “which allows a representation for three fifths of the negroes,” said, “without this indulgence no union could possibly have been formed.” Luther Martin, also a delegate to the Philadelphia Convention, objected to this clause because “it involved the absurdity of increasing the power of a State in making laws for freemen, in proportion as that State violated the rights of freedom.” William R. Davie, a delegate from North Carolina, says that the Southern States, “to acquire as much weight as possible in the legislation of the Union,” insisted “that a certain proportion of our slaves should make a part of the computed population.” General Charles C. Pinckney, another of the framers of the Constitution, said, “We determined that representatives should be apportioned among the several States by adding to the whole number of free persons three fifths of the slaves.”

Permission of the African Slave Trade. (Const., Art. 4, sec. 9.)

Luther Martin, speaking of this section, says, “The design of this clause is to prevent the general government from prohibiting the importation of slaves; but the same reasons which caused them to strike out the word ‘national,’ and not admit the word ‘stamps,’ influenced them here to guard against the word ‘slaves.’ They anxiously sought to avoid the admission of expressions which might be odious in the ears of Americans, although they were willing to admit into their system those things which the expressions signified.” * * *

“The Eastern States, notwithstanding their aversion to slavery, were very willing to indulge the Southern States, at least with a temporary liberty to prosecute the slave trade, provided the Southern States would in their turn gratify them, by laying no restriction on navigation acts.”

Mr. Madison says, “The Southern States would not have entered into the Union of America without the temporary permission of that trade.” Mr. Spaight, of North Carolina, one of the framers, says that the Southern States would not consent “to exclude the Edition: current; Page: [6] importation of slaves absolutely; that South Carolina and Georgia insisted on this clause as they were now in want of hands to cultivate their lands; that in the course of twenty years they would be fully supplied; that the trade would be abolished then, and that in the mean time some tax or duty might be laid on.” Hon. Rawlins Lowndes, of South Carolina, thought it almost inhuman to put any limit to the trade. General Charles C. Pinckney said, “By this settlement we have secured an unlimited importation of negroes for twenty years; nor is it declared that the importation shall be then stopped; it may be continued; we have a security that the general government can never emancipate them.”

Restoration of Fugitive Slaves. (Const., Art. 4, sec. 2.)

In the Virginia Convention, Mr. Madison said,—

“Another clause secures us that property which we now possess. At present, if any slave elopes to any of those States where slaves are free, he becomes emancipated by their laws; for the laws of the States are uncharitable (!) to one another in this respect. But in this Constitution, [then he quotes Art. 4, sec. 2.] This clause was expressly inserted to enable owners of slaves to reclaim them. This is a better security than any that now exists.”

In the North Carolina Convention, Mr. Iredell begged leave to explain the reason of this clause:—

“In some of the Northern States they have emancipated all their slaves. If any of our slaves,” said he, “go there, and remain there a certain time, they would, by the present laws, be entitled to their freedom, so that their masters could not get them again. This would be extremely prejudicial to the inhabitants of the Southern States; and to prevent it this clause is inserted in the Constitution. Though the word slave be not mentioned, this is the meaning of it. The northern delegates, owing to their particular scruples on the subject of slavery, did not choose the word slave to be mentioned.”

In the South Carolina Convention, General Pinckney thus expresses his gratification at this clause:—

We have obtained a right to recover our slaves in whatever part of America they may take refuge, which is a right we had not before. In short, considering all circumstances, we have made the best terms for the security of this species of property it was in our power to make. We would have made better if we could; but, on the whole, I do not think them bad.” (!)

Edition: current; Page: [7]

Suppression of Slave Insurrections. (Const., Art. 1, sec. 8; Art. 4, sec. 4.)

In the Virginia Convention, Mr. George Nicholas said,—

“Another worthy member says there is no power in the States to quell an insurrection of slaves. Have they it now? If they have, does the Constitution take it away? * * * No; but it gives an additional security; for, besides the power in the State governments to use their own militia, it will be the duty of the general government to aid them with the strength of the Union, when called for. No part of this Constitution can show that this power is taken away.”

Mr. Madison, respecting these clauses, says,—

“On application of the legislature, or executive, as the case may be, the militia of the other States are to be called to suppress domestic insurrections. Does this bar the States from calling forth their own militia? No; but it gives them a supplementary security to suppress insurrections and domestic violence.


Apportionment of Representatives. (Const., Art. 1, sec. 2.)

In every census which has been taken by the government, the only distinction sanctioned has been between freemen and slaves; and on every occasion of apportioning representatives, according to the representative or federal number, such number has been invariably determined by adding to the whole number of free persons three fifths of the slaves. If this, the pro-slavery interpretation of this section of the Constitution, be not right, then, since March 3, 1793, there has not been a single House of Representatives constitutionally elected, or a single statute or resolve constitutionally passed! Who is ready to make this admission?

Edition: current; Page: [8]

Permission of the African Slave Trade. (Const., Art. 1, sec. 9.)

On the 13th of May, 1789, in Congress,—

“Mr. Parker, of Virginia., moved to insert a clause in the bill, imposing a duty on the importation of slaves of ten dollars each person. He was sorry that the Constitution prevented Congress from prohibiting the importation altogether; he thought it a defect in that instrument that it allowed of such actions; it was contrary to the revolution principles, and ought not to be permitted; but, as he could not do all the good he desired, he was willing to do what lay in his power.”

Messrs. Sherman, of Connecticut, and Schureman, of New Jersey, thought the subject should be taken up independently. Mr. Madison thought otherwise:—

“I conceive the Constitution, in this particular, was formed in order that the government, whilst it was restrained from laying a total prohibition, might be able to give some testimony of the sense of America with respect to the African trade. We have liberty to impose a tax or duty upon the importation of such persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit; and this liberty was granted, I presume, upon two considerations. The first was, that, until the time arrived when they might abolish the importation of slaves, they might have an opportunity of evidencing their sentiments on the policy and humanity of such a trade.”

The motion of Mr. Parker was afterwards withdrawn.

In 1794, “An Act to prohibit the carrying on the slave trade from the United States to any foreign place or country” was passed, (Stat. 1794, c. 11.) In 1800, an act in addition to the last was passed, (Stat. 1800, c. 51.) That both these laws were framed with reference to this section of the Constitution is apparent, because the latter act expressly refers to it. Sec. 6 reads thus: “That nothing in this act contained shall be construed to authorize the bringing into either of the United States any person or persons, the importation of whom is, by the existing laws of such State, prohibited.”

See also Stat. 1803, c. 63.

And, not to multiply proof, on the 2d day of March, 1807, President Jefferson approved (Stat. 1807, c. 77) “An Act to prohibit the importation of slaves into any port or place within the jurisdiction of the United States from and after the first day of January, in the year Edition: current; Page: [9] of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and eight.” That is, at the very earliest day allowed by the Constitution (Art. 1, sec. 9) for the passage by Congress of an act prohibiting the importation of persons, a law is passed totally prohibiting the importation of slaves.

Restoration of Fugitive Slaves. (Const., Art. 4, sec. 2.)

That the fugitive slave law of 1793, (Stat. 1793, c. 7,) entitled “An Act respecting fugitives from justice, and persons escaping from the service of their masters,” and the act of Sept. 18, 1850, “to amend, and supplementary to” this act, are both framed to carry out this clause of the Constitution, is too apparent to need comment.

Suppression of Slave Insurrections. (Const., Art. 1, sec. 8, Art. 4, sec. 4.)

The “Act to provide for calling forth the militia, to execute the laws of the Union, suppress insurrections, and repel invasions,” (Stat. 1792, c. 28, sec. 1,) provides that, “In case of an insurrection in any State against the government thereof, it shall be lawful for the President of the United States, on application of the legislature of such State, or of the executive, (when the legislature cannot be convened,) to call forth such number of the militia of any other State or States as may be applied for, or as he may judge sufficient to suppress such insurrection.” Precisely the same language is made use of in Stat. 1795, c. 101. By act, approved March 3, 1807, (Stat. 1807, c. 94,) the President is authorized, “in all cases of insurrection,” “when it is lawful for him to call forth the militia for the purpose of suppressing the same,” “to employ for the same purpose such part of the land or naval force of the United States as shall be judged necessary.”

That these laws have been held to include an insurrection of slaves is indisputable. On receipt of the intelligence of Nat Turner’s insurrection in Southampton, Va., Colonel House, then commanding at Fortress Monroe, set out with three companies of United States troops, for the purpose of suppressing the revolt. He was reënforced by a detachment from the United States ships Warren and Natchez, amounting in all to about three hundred men. With our troops and Edition: current; Page: [10] our officers, we have actually aided the slaveholder in holding his fellow-man in slavery! We have actually done what our fathers engaged in the Constitution that we should do, namely, aid with the national strength in keeping the slaves in subjection!


The Constitution declares itself to be “the supreme law of the land,” (Art. 6, sec. 2.) It cannot possibly be such unless there is a final interpreter of its meaning. Now, to expound what the law is is a judicial act. “The judicial power” extends to all cases arising under the Constitution, and laws, and treaties, (Const., Art. 3, sec. 2.) It therefore extends to the exposition of the meaning of the Constitution, when the case before the court properly calls for such exposition. This judicial power, and, consequently, this power to expound the meaning of the Constitution, is “vested in one Supreme Court,” (Const., Art. 3, sec. 1.) The decision of this court, being supreme, must be final.

Apportionment of Representatives. (Const., Art. 1, sec. 2.)

In Hylton vs. United States, (3 Dallas’s Rep. 177,) Mr. Justice Paterson, delivering the opinion of the Supreme Court, says that the provision contained in this clause, that direct taxes shall be apportioned between the States according to their federal numbers, “was made in favor of the Southern States,” and to prevent Congress from taxing “slaves at discretion, or arbitrarily.” He also says, (p. 178,) “The rule of apportionment is radically wrong; it cannot be supported by any solid reasoning. Why should slaves, who are a species of property, be represented more than any other property?”

Permission of the African Slave Trade. (Const., Art. 1, sec. 9.)

In the great case of Gibbons vs. Ogden, 9 Wheaton’s Reports, pp. 206 and 207, (1824,) Chief Justice Marshall, delivering the opinion of the Supreme Court, says that the act of Congress, (1803, c. 63,) Edition: current; Page: [11] “prohibiting the importation of slaves into any State which shall itself prohibit their importation,” was passed in virtue of power conferred by this clause in the Constitution.

Restoration of Fugitive Slaves. (Const., Art. 4, sec. 2.)

The following extracts are taken from the opinion of the Supreme Court in the well-known case, Prigg vs. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, (16 Pet. Rep. 609, &c.) Judge Story delivered the opinion.

“Historically, it is well known that the object of this clause was to secure to the citizens of the slaveholding States the complete right and title of ownership in their slaves, as property, in every State in the Union into which they might escape from the State where they were held in servitude. The full recognition of this right and title was indispensable to the security of this species of property in all the slaveholding States; and, indeed, was so vital to the preservation of their domestic interests and institutions, that it cannot be doubted that it constituted a fundamental article, without the adoption of which the Union could not have been formed,” (p. 613.) “We have not the slightest hesitation in holding, that, under and in virtue of the Constitution, the owner of a slave is clothed with entire authority, in every State in the Union, to seize and recapture his slave, whenever he can do it without any breach of the peace, or any illegal violence. In this sense, and to this extent, this clause of the Constitution may properly be said to execute itself, and to require no aid from legislation, state or national.”

Suppression of Slave Insurrections. (Const., Art. 1, sec. 8; Art. 4, sec. 4.)

We are not aware of any decision of the Supreme Court upon the meaning of these clauses; but it seems difficult to conceive that they would hold that the word “insurrections” did not include all insurrections.

Such is the Constitution, according to the plain, obvious, and common meaning of its terms; such it was intended to be made by its framers; such has been the interpretation constantly followed in the practice of the government, from the time of its adoption until Edition: current; Page: [12] now; and such it is according to the decision of the final interpreter of its meaning. As reasonable men, seeking the truth, we cannot say that there is the slightest doubt whatever on the subject. The Constitution very materially supports slavery.

“Yes! it cannot be denied—the slaveholding lords of the south prescribed, as a condition of their assent to the Constitution, three special provisions to secure the perpetuity of their dominion over their slaves. The first was the immunity for twenty years of preserving the African slave trade; the second was the stipulation to surrender fugitive slaves—an engagement positively prohibited by the laws of God, delivered from Sinai; and thirdly, the exaction, fatal to the principles of popular representation, of a representation for slaves—for articles of merchandise, under the name of persons, * * * in fact, the oppressor representing the oppressed! * * * To call government thus constituted a democracy, is to insult the understanding of mankind. It is doubly tainted with the infection of riches and slavery. Its reciprocal operation upon the government of the nation is to establish an artificial majority in the slave representation over that of the free people, in the American Congress; and thereby to make the preservation, propagation, and perpetuation of slavery, the vital and animating spirit of the national government.”—John Quincy Adams.

It is because the Constitution is thus a pro-slavery instrument that the radical abolitionists refuse to vote or take office under it. Can you, reader, give it countenance or support, by voting or accepting office under it?

Published for gratuitous distribution, at the office of the American Anti-Slavery Society, No. 138 Nassau Street, New York. Also to be had at the Anti-Slavery Offices, No. 21 Cornhill, Boston, and No. 31 North Fifth Street, Philadelphia.

Edition: current; Page: [(1)]

2.: Anon., “White Slavery in the United States”, 8 pp.



The rule of the Roman slave code—the child follows the condition of the mother—is universally adopted in the Southern States. If the mother be a slave, the child is one also, notwithstanding the father is a free man.

The effect of this rule is to enslave all the issue in the maternal line to the remotest generation. The father in each generation may be a free white person, so that soon not the slightest tinge of negro blood nor the faintest trace of negro feature may be visible, and yet the unfortunate being whose remote maternal ancestor was a negro is doomed to as hopeless a slavery as that ancestor ever was.

With us the mixed races are generally called mulattoes, or persons of color; but in the West Indies names are given to the different degrees of the mixed races, expressive of their distance from the original stock. One ancestor in each generation being a white person, the child of the negro is called a mulatto; of the mulatto, a terceron; of the terceron, a quarteron; and the child of the latter is called a quinteron. “This is the last gradation, there being no visible difference between them and the whites, either in color or features.” They are, indeed, often fairer than the Spaniards. (Edwards’s West Indies, book 4, c. 1.) Judge O’Neall, of South Carolina, thinks even quadroons should always be rated as white. He says, “When the blood is reduced to or below one eighth, the jury ought always to find the party white.” And we know that tercerons frequently pass for whites, so little real difference is there between them and white persons, either in color or feature. (See 1 Dall. Rep. 167.) The laws of Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri, and Arkansas apparently rate as white all the mixed issue below tercerons. All Edition: current; Page: [2] below quadroons are apparently so considered in Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas; but in North Carolina, not even the fourth generation is so rated.

Persons of mixed blood of every degree are prima facie presumed to be free in Delaware, North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Louisiana, and probably in some other States. The contrary presumption (except as to persons apparently white) obtains in Virginia, Kentucky, and in South Carolina. In Missouri and Arkansas, a mulatto who is held as a slave must prove his right to freedom. But in all the States a presumption of freedom undoubtedly attaches in favor of those who are to be legally classed or rated as whites, though held as slaves.

These presumptions are, however, never imperative, even in case of a person manifestly white; for slavery legally extends to all the issue, however remote from the original stock. The presumption only obliges the master, in case of dispute arising, to be able to prove the descent from a female slave, according to law, of the person whom he claims to own; and so long as he can do this, the law in all the States upholds the slavery of his victims, however white they may be.

That the law thus allows an owner to prove the descent of his white slave, and by so doing overthrow the presumption of freedom arising from color, has been settled in several cases.

In Virginia, in the case of Hook vs. Nanny Pagee and her Children, (2 Munf. Rep. 379, 385, 387,) the verdict of the jury was, “that the said Nanny Pagee was a white woman,” and therefore free. But Judge Brooke said that it was competent for Hook “to have proved, if he could, that the plaintiff was descended in the maternal line from a slave. Having not proved it, she and her children must be considered as free.” In the case of Hudgins vs. Wrights, (1 Hen. and Munf. Rep. 134, 140,) Judge Tucker held, that if one evidently white be, notwithstanding, claimed as a slave, the proof lies on the party claiming to make the other his slave. Judge Roane’s opinion was the same. (Ibid. p. 141.) “A white person may be a slave, according to our laws,” says Judge Green, of the same State, (2 Leigh Rep. 653,) “if all his female ancestors were slaves.”

In Kentucky, says Chief Justice Robertson, “a white person of unmixed blood cannot be a slave. * * * But as a person apparently white may, nevertheless, have some African taint, and Edition: current; Page: [3] may, consequently, have descended from a mother who was a slave, the apparent color is but prima facie evidence; and consequently, where a jury, on their view, decide that the color is white, testimony will be admissible to prove that, notwithstanding the visible complexion, there is African blood in the veins sufficient to doom to slavery.” (3 Dana Rep. 387, 388.) In Gatliff vs. Rose, (8 B. Munr. Rep. 629,) it appeared that James Lauderdale, of Bottetourt county, Virginia, sold Rose as a slave, she being from five to seven years of age. Rose was “as white as most children through the country,” and “was sometimes mistaken, while in the family of Lauderdale, for one of his children;” and there was evidence adduced “conducing to prove” that he was her father.

The law of North Carolina, by forbidding “any white man or woman, being free,” to do a certain act, implies that such persons may be slaves. (Rev. Stat. c. 71, sec. 5.)

In Tennessee (Miller vs. Denman, 8 Yerg. 233) it was admitted that a woman of fair complexion and straight hair, and who was so white that “no one suspected that she was a slave, or that she had any negro blood,” might be proved to be a slave.

In Georgia (Hunter vs. Shaffer, Dudley, 224) it was admitted that a woman who had been married to a white person, who had enjoyed liberty and property for a long time, and transmitted them to her descendants, and who was actually presumed to be free so far as to give effect to a deed made by her, could yet be proved to have been a slave.

In Arkansas it is a penitentiary offence to steal a “white” slave. (Eng. Dig. c. 51, art. 2, sec. 6.)

In Maryland there formerly existed a law for enslaving the issue of white women. Some time in the early part of the year 1681, Lord Baltimore brought into this State, as a domestic servant, a free white woman, called Eleanor, or Irish Nell. She was married to a negro slave whilst the law of 1663, c. 30, was in force. By this law, any free white woman so marrying a negro slave was obliged to “serve the master of such slave during the life of her husband;” and the issue of such marriage were declared to be slaves, as their father was. In the month of August, 1681, after the marriage of Eleanor, the act of 1663 was repealed; but the repealing act expressly saved the rights acquired under the act of 1663, before the date of the repealing act, so far as concerned the enslavement of the woman and her issue. (Stroud’s Sketch, 9, 10.) After the lapse of nearly ninety years, Edition: current; Page: [4] during which time Eleanor and her children had died, William and Mary Butler, husband and wife, and first cousins, who were her grandchildren, petitioned for freedom. The court below, following the impulses of the times, decided in their favor; but the owner appealed, and in 1770 (1 Har. and McHen. Rep. 371) the decision was reversed by the Supreme Court; and it was held that issue born after the repealing law were slaves. William and Mary toiled on hopelessly as ever, and died. Seventeen years elapsed, and their child, Mary Butler, a great granddaughter of Eleanor, again petitioned for freedom; and in 1787, after the lapse of more than a century of wrong and outrage committed on her family, she was declared free, for want of a conviction in a court of record of Nell’s having intermarried with a slave, (2 ib. 214;) a striking illustration of that fiction, the certainty of the law, and of the great, almost overwhelming, difficulties in the way of establishing even a legal claim to freedom, and by persons apparently white. In another case (3 ib. 139) the great-granddaughter of a Spanish woman, whose grandmother and mother had been held and died in slavery, was finally set free.

We have no statistics in relation to the number of the mixed races; it must, however, be large. The female slave cannot resist her master’s power; and the law every where practically teaches her to acquiesce in his wishes, by denying her the capacity to contract a valid marriage even with a slave. If she must be the concubine of some one, how much better, then, to be the mistress of the owner, who has it in his power to do so much for her! She cannot commit adultery; nor is a slave ever punished for incontinence. It was a southerner who said that the best blood of Virginia flowed in the veins of her slaves! The following advertisements serve to confirm this view.

From the Richmond (Virginia) Whig:—

One Hundred Dollars Reward will be given for the apprehension of my negro (!) Edmund Kenney. He has straight hair, and complexion so nearly white that it is believed a stranger would suppose there was no African blood in him. He was with my boy Dick a short time since in Norfolk, and offered him for sale, and was apprehended, but escaped under pretence of being a white man!

Anderson Bowles.
Edition: current; Page: [5]

From the Republican Banner and Nashville Whig, July, 14, 1849:—

Two Hundred Dollars Reward.—Ran away from the subscriber, on the 23d of June last, a bright mulatto woman, named Julia, about twenty-five years of age. She is of common size, nearly white, and very likely. She is a good seamstress, and can read a little. She may attempt to pass for white; dresses fine. She took with her Anna, her child, eight or nine years old, and considerably darker than her mother. * * * She once belonged to a Mr. Helm, of Columbia, Tennessee.

I will give a reward of $50 for said negro and child if delivered to me, or confined in any jail in this State so I can get them; $100 if caught in any other slave State, and confined in a jail so that I can get them; and $200 if caught in any free State, and put in any good jail in Kentucky or Tennessee so I can get them.

A. W. Johnson.

From the Chattanooga (Tennessee) Gazette, October 5, 1852:—

Five Hundred Dollars Reward.—Ran away from the subscriber, on the 25th of May, a very bright mulatto boy, about twenty-one or twenty-two years old, named Wash. Said boy, without close observation, might pass himself for a white man, as he is very bright; has sandy hair, blue eyes, and a fine set of teeth. He is an excellent bricklayer; but I have no idea that he will pursue his trade, for fear of detection. Although he is like a white man in appearance, he has the disposition of a negro, and delights in comic songs and witty expressions. He is an excellent house servant; very handy about a hotel; tall, slender, and has rather a down look, especially when spoken to, and is sometimes inclined to be sulky. I have no doubt but he has been decoyed off by some scoundrel; and I will give the above reward for the apprehension of the boy and thief, if delivered at Chattanooga; or I will give $200 for the boy alone; or $100 if confined in any jail in the United States so that I can get him.

George O. Ragland.
Edition: current; Page: [6]

From the Newbern (North Carolina) Spectator:—

Fifty Dollars Reward will be given for the apprehension and delivery to me of the following slaves: Samuel, and Judy, his wife, with their four children, belonging to the estate of Sacker Dubberly, deceased.

I will give $10 for the apprehension of William Dubberly, a slave belonging to the estate. William is about nineteen years old, quite white, and would not readily be taken for a slave.

John J. Lane.

The following three advertisements are taken from Alabama papers:—

Ran away from the subscriber, working on the plantation of Colonel H. Tinker, a bright mulatto boy named Alfred. Alfred is about eighteen years old, pretty well grown; has blue eyes, light flaxen hair, skin disposed to freckle. He will try to pass as freeborn.

S. G. Stewart.

One Hundred Dollars Reward.—Ran away from the subscriber a bright mulatto man slave, named Sam. Light, sandy hair, blue eyes, ruddy complexion; is so white as very easily to pass for a free white man.

Edwin Peck.

Ran away on the 15th of May, from me, a negro woman, named Fanny. Said woman is twenty years old; is rather tall; can read and write, and so forge passes for herself. Carried away with her a pair of ear rings, a Bible with a red cover. Is very pious; she prays a great deal, and was, as supposed, contented and happy. She is as white as most white women, with straight light hair and blue eyes, and can pass herself for a white woman. I will give $500 for her apprehension and delivery to me. She is very intelligent.

John Balch.

The next advertisements we cut from the New Orleans Picayune, (September 2, 1846:)—

Edition: current; Page: [7]

Twenty-Five Dollars Reward.—Ran away from the plantation of Madame Fergus Duplantier, on or about the 27th of June, 1846, a bright mulatto, named Ned, very stout built, about five feet eleven inches high, speaks English and French, about thirty-five years old, waddles in his walk. He may try to pass himself for a white man, as he is of a very clear color, and has sandy hair. The above reward will be paid to whoever will bring him to Madame Duplantier’s plantation, Manchac, or lodge him in some jail where he can be conveniently obtained.

Two Hundred Dollars Reward.—Ran away from the subscriber, last November, a white negro man, about thirty-five years old, height about five feet eight or ten inches, blue eyes, has a yellow woolly head, very fair skin, (particularly under his clothes.) * * * Said negro man was raised in Columbia, S. C., and is well known by the name of Dick Frazier. * * * He was lately known to be working on the railroad in Alabama, near Moore’s Turnout, and passed as a white man, by the name of Jesse Teams. I will give the above reward for his delivery in any jail so that I can get him; and I will give five hundred dollars for sufficient proof to convict, in open court, any man who carried him away.

J. D. Allen.

P. S.—Said man has a good-shaped foot and leg, and his foot is very small and hollow.

A later number of the same paper (1848) contains this:—

Fifty Dollars Reward.—Ran away from the subscriber, about two months ago, a bright mulatto girl, named Mary, about twenty-five years of age, almost white, and reddish hair, front teeth out, a cut on her upper lip; about five feet five inches high; has a scar on her forehead; she passes for free; talks French, Italian, Dutch, English, and Spanish.

Andre Grasso.
Upper side of St. Mary’s Market.—N. O. Picayune.

In the New Orleans Bee of June 22, 1831, P. Bahi advertises, as a runaway, “Maria, with a clear white complexion.

The story of Ellen Craft is well known. The slave traders Bruin Edition: current; Page: [8] and Hill thought that Emily Russell, the quadroon girl, was worth at least eighteen hundred dollars in the New Orleans market. Two or three gentlemen from the south were anxious to buy her. She was thought to be, they said, “the finest-looking woman in this country.”

In the summer of 1852, the Rev. Francis Bishop, of Liverpool, visited the slave market of Pullam and Davis, in Richmond, Virginia. Among the slaves offered for sale were a mother and her six children. These are his words: “The eldest of that family was a young woman, eighteen or nineteen years of age—a beautiful young woman, nearly white.” She “excited great notice when she was placed on the stand, and the auctioneer seemed to take pride in selling such a valuable article; and he said, ‘There, gentlemen; that speaks for itself.’ Taking her by the shoulders, he turned her round that they might see her figure. ‘There is not a finer figure in all America than that,’ he said. And so he went on praising the poor creature. She seemed indignant at it. She was nearly white, as I have said, and her bosom heaved with indignation at being thus pointed at and so spoken of; and far worse treatment she was subject to than even this, such as I dare not mention here.”

A friend, a resident for some time in New Orleans, describes to us a very beautiful slave he saw there, who had light, curling hair, blue eyes, and almost a blond complexion. After having been kept as a mistress by her owner, he finally sold her to pay his debts! And so we might go on multiplying proofs; but enough has been said to prove that white slavery not only actually, but legally, exists in these United States. And will not those whose ears are closed to the cry of the despised and hated negro extend a helping hand to relieve the anguish of the white slave?

Published for gratuitous distribution, at the office of the American Anti-Slavery Society, No. 138 Nassau Street, New York. Also to be had at the Anti-Slavery Offices, No. 21 Cornhill, Boston, and No. 31 North Fifth Street, Philadelphia.

Edition: current; Page: [(1)]
O.B. Frothingham
Frothingham, O.B.

Rev. O.B. Frothingham, “Colonization”, 8 pp.



I. The Colonization Society propose transporting to Africa the whole free colored population of the United States, with or without their consent. Said Mr. Webster, “If Virginia or the south see fit to make any proposition to relieve themselves from the burden of their free colored population, they have my free consent that the government shall pay them out of these proceeds (two hundred million dollars) any sum of money adequate to that end.” Said Mr. Stanton, of the “ebony line” of steamers, “Have we not driven away the red man? Who shall say nay when we say to the black man, You are not wanted?” Mr. Brodnax, of Virginia, avowed himself in favor of compulsory laws to force the blacks into exile, and would extort their “consent” by a species of oppression calculated to make their situation here insupportable. He even confesses that some are induced to emigrate “by the gentle admonition of a severe flagellation.” It is a fact, that out of eight thousand five hundred persons sent by this society to Liberia, up to the year 1853, four thousand and ninety-three were emancipated in view of emigrating. Of course these had no choice about going.

II. The object of this wholesale banishment of the free blacks is the security of the slave system. Proofs of this abound. We have room for a few only.

1. The idea of removing the free blacks of the south, by colonizing them in remote Africa, originated in 1777. But the first vigorous impulse towards it was given, in 1800, by a threatened insurrection in Virginia; in consequence of which the governor was “requested to correspond with the President of the United States on the subject of purchasing lands without the limits of this State, whither persons obnoxious to the laws, or dangerous to the peace Edition: current; Page: [2] of society, may be removed.” This was the beginning—a dread of the disturbing presence of the free blacks—a dread on the part of slaveholders, anxious to secure their property.

2. The society was founded and supported by slaveholders. It had its birth in Virginia. At its formation Mr. Clay presided and John Randolph spoke. Its first president was Judge Washington, of Virginia. Its seventeen vice presidents were all from the south. Its managers were owners of slaves. The substitution, in later years, of northern men with southern principles for southern men has not affected this peculiarity a whit. Its organs declare that “slaveholders have given the society their approval; that they will approve it, and can approve no other;” of course because it maintains slavery.

3. The society has never manifested hostility to the institution of slavery. This would seem to follow from the nature of the case. But here are evidences: John Randolph, at the meeting called, in 1816, “to consider the propriety and practicability of colonizing the free people of color in the United States, and of forming a society for that purpose,” declared publicly that the meeting, in its effects, “must materially tend to secure the property of every master in the United States over his slaves. And again, in another speech: “The measure proposed will prove one of the greatest securities to enable the master to keep in possession his own property.” To the same purport hear Henry Clay: “It is not proposed to consider any question of emancipation, or that is connected with the abolition of slavery. I am myself a slaveholder, and consider that species of property as inviolable as any other in the country.” The society “has always protested,” say some memorialists, (12th Ann. Rep.,) “that it has no wish to interfere with the delicate, but important, question of slavery.” “Its object, if I understand it aright,” said Mr. Archer, of Virginia, “involves no intrusion upon property, or even upon prejudice.” “It is necessary,” contends Hermannus Bleecker, “to disclaim all attempts for the immediate abolition of slavery, or the instruction of the great body of the blacks.” Rev. J. M. Pease announces that “in no sense whatever does the genius of this institution interfere with the legal relation of master and servant. It acknowledges the constitutionality of that relation, and the providential arrangement by which it subsists.” The editor of the New Edition: current; Page: [3] York Colonization Society’s Journal, (March, 1853,) informs his readers that the Colonization Society was formed to assist free colored people, and only such, and from its beginning disclaimed, as a society, all interference with the question of slavery. Henry A. Wise, of Virginia, in 1839, called on the Colonization society “to maintain that great original principle on which it was founded—friendship to the slaveholders.” More than this, the society is often recommended as the safeguard and defence of slavery. Thus in the African Repository, vol. i, p. 67, we read: “The object of the Colonization Society commends itself to every class. The landed proprietor may enhance the value of his property by assisting the enterprise,” and “may contribute more effectually to the continuance and strength of this system, by removing those now free, than by any or all other methods which can possibly be devised.” Again: Mr. Archer speaks: “It is on the ground of interest, therefore, the most indisputable pecuniary interest, that I address myself to the people and legislatures of the slaveholding States.” Hon. T. Butler King, writing to F. P. Stanton about his “ebony line,” says, “The slaves cannot be removed; but the free colored people can be, and the security of both master and servant promoted.” Thus do the slaveholding colonizationists describe their favorite institution: “Its objects are, in the first place, to aid ourselves by relieving us from a species of population pregnant with future danger and present inconvenience.” In the African Repository, vol. xii. p. 375, it is maintained “that the rights of the master or owner of slave property are acknowledged by the divine law.” And this is good colonization doctrine, often uttered by the most eminent champions of the society.

4. The Colonization Society does not encourage emancipation. “The managers could with no propriety depart from their original and avowed purpose, and make emancipation their object. And they would further say, that, if they were not thus restrained by the terms of their association, they would still consider any attempts to promote the increase of the free colored population by manumission unnecessary, premature, and dangerous.” “The rights of the masters are to remain sacred in the eyes of the society.” (African Repos. vol. xi. p. 58, and iv. 274.) “It would be as humane to throw them from the decks in the middle passage as to set them free in our country. We believe there is not the slightest moral turpitude in holding slaves Edition: current; Page: [4] under existing circumstances at the south.” (African Repos. vol. ix. p. 4.) And Mr. Hopkins, president of the Geneva (New York) Colonization Society, goes further: “As I understand the Epistle to Timothy,” he says, “there is an express injunction not to preach manumission.” Distinguished patrons of this scheme have not been forward in emancipating their slaves. Judge Washington, the first president of the society, in 1821 undeceived his sanguine serfs by assuring them that none of them need expect freedom, and soon after sold fifty-four to the New Orleans market. Its second president, Mr. Carroll, held through life, and bequeathed at his death, one thousand slaves. Mr. Madison, another president, left a hundred slaves to his heirs, sending none to Liberia. Mr. Clay directed that his slaves should be kept in bonds twenty-five years after his death, and then should be removed to Liberia. Colonization operates, not to accelerate emancipation, but to retard it. That it must have this effect is plain, because the removal of the free blacks enhances the value of slave property, and manumission causes the market price of the non-manumitted to rise. It is doubtful if the rate of emancipation has ever to any considerable extent been influenced by this scheme. It has depended upon the cotton crop. Statistics show that when the cotton crop, between 1800 and 1820, increased nearly threefold, the number of emancipations decreased nearly two thirds. Emancipations multiplied between 1820 and 1830, the value of the cotton crop remaining nearly stationary. In 1830-1840 they dwindled away more than one half, owing to the more than double value of the cotton crop; and in 1840-1850 they diminished almost to nothing, from a similar cause. All this proves that colonization does not encourage emancipation. It is perfectly willing to leave slavery where and what it is, and only aims to remove the already free people, whose presence menaces its safety.

5. The Colonization Society wages war upon the free blacks. It calls them “notoriously ignorant, degraded, and miserable, mentally diseased, broken spirited; acted upon by no motives to honorable exertion; scarcely reached in their debasement by the heavenly light;” an incubus, a nuisance; “more addicted to crime, and vice, and dissolute manners than any other portion of the people of the United States.” And not in pity is this said of them, but in hate, and with the design of awakening against them more hate. What Edition: current; Page: [5] kind of love is it that thus vilifies its objects? What kind of love is it that strives to deepen degradation; that views with “highest gratification” the barbarous edicts of southern legislatures, by which free colored people entering the State (Maryland) must pay twenty dollars, on conviction, for the first offence, and five hundred dollars for the second offence, or be sold to satisfy the demand;* are forbidden to attend religious meetings, save when conducted by whites; and may not sell any of the most common articles of traffic among whites, nine in number, without proving by certificate that they came honestly by them? Do they who despise and persecute the blacks here really wish them well any where, even in Liberia? To think so is absurd. Men do not scorn and revile those they love. The free blacks are objects of antipathy; and in banishing them, the slaveholders wish only to protect themselves.

6. Finally, the enemies of slavery, with almost unanimous consent, are hostile to the Colonization Society. Repeatedly have the free people of color exposed and protested against it, as in direct opposition to their best hopes, prospects, and rights. As early as 1817, ere an anti-slavery society was formed, it was denounced in Virginia, and by public resolves, as cruel, and “in direct violation of those principles which have been the boast of the republic.” And in 1853 the colored people of Syracuse held a meeting, and unanimously resolved, “That our abhorrence of the scheme of African colonization is not in the slightest degree abated; that we recognize in it the most intense hatred of the colored race, clad in the garb of pretended philanthropy.” The same estimate of its character was formed and promulgated by such men as Wilberforce, Macaulay, Gurney, Lushington, Buxton, Cropper, and O’Connell. And Thomas Clarkson, in a letter to Mr. Garrison, giving his reasons for first accepting, and afterwards rejecting, the plan, says, “I will only say that I saw the scheme—shall I say the diabolical scheme?—with new eyes, and that the new light thrown upon it determined me to wash my hands clean forever of the undertaking.” Who are the truest friends of the slave—such persons as these? or the Clays, Stantons, Wises, and Archers, who favor colonization?

Edition: current; Page: [6]

We think now we have fairly proved our propositions, that the Colonization Society aims to expatriate the free blacks of the United States, and that in doing this it has in view the security of slavery. Many more evidences might be produced; but let candid men ponder these. Let them consider, moreover, how much respect is fairly due to a society whose agents say one thing at the north, and another at the south; commend slavery in Georgia, and condemn it in Massachusetts; profess themselves the friends of the negro on one side of the line, and the friends of the negro’s oppressor on the other side; and use unsuspecting anti-slavery feeling to advance the ends of crafty pro-slavery principles. Let them estimate the feasibility of a scheme so slow that in thirty-six years it transported to Liberia only about two thirds of the annual increase of the free black population, and not one sixth of the annual increase of those in bondage, and so costly that Mr. Webster’s famous bid of two hundred million dollars would pay not quite one third of the expense of carrying it out. Let them ask what kind of civilization is likely to be diffused in Africa by slaves, and how it is possible that a free, enlightened Christian republic can be established by people who are “notoriously ignorant, degraded, and miserable; more addicted to crime, and vice, and dissolute manners than any other portion of the United States.” Let them weigh well these facts and reasonings; and if they hear from colonizationists, as they will, sentiments verbally at variance with the propositions maintained above, let them regard such as illustrations of the duplicity, the sublime hypocrisy and treachery, which are not the least remarkable among the peculiarities of this remarkable society.

PROTEST. (1833.)

We the undersigned, observing with regret that the American Colonization Society appears to be gaining some adherents in this country, are desirous to express our opinions respecting it.

Our motive and excuse for thus coming forward are the claims which the society has put forth to anti-slavery support. These claims are, in our opinion, wholly groundless; and we feel bound to affirm that our deliberate judgment and conviction are, that the professions made by the Colonization Society, of promoting the abolition of slavery, are altogether delusive.

As far as the mere colony of Liberia is concerned, it has, no doubt, the advantages of other trading establishments. In this sense it is beneficial Edition: current; Page: [7] both to Africa and America, and we cordially wish it well. We cannot, however, refrain from expressing our strong opinion that it is a settlement of which the United States ought to bear the whole cost. We never required of that country to assist us in Sierra Leone. We are enormously burdened by our own connection with slavery; and we do maintain that we ought not to be called on to contribute to the expenses of a colony which, though no doubt comprising some advantages, was formed chiefly to indulge the prejudices of American slaveholders, and which is regarded with aversion by the colored population of the United States.

With regard to the extinction of the slave trade, we apprehend that Liberia, however good the intentions of its supporters, will do little or nothing towards it except on the extent of its own territory. The only effectual deathblow to the accursed traffic will be a destruction of slavery throughout the world. To the destruction of slavery throughout the world, we are compelled to say that we believe the Colonization Society to be an obstruction.

Our objections to it are, therefore, briefly these: While we believe its pretexts to be delusive, we are convinced that its real effects are of the most dangerous nature. It takes its root from a cruel prejudice and alienation in the whites of America against the colored people, slave or free. This being its source, the effects are what might be expected; that it fosters and increases the spirit of caste, already so unhappily predominant; that it widens the breach between the two races; exposes the colored people to great practical persecution, in order to force them to emigrate; and, finally, is calculated to swallow up and divert that feeling which America, as a Christian and a free country, cannot but entertain, that slavery is alike incompatible with the law of God and with the well being of man, whether the enslaved or the enslaver.

On these grounds, therefore, and while we acknowledge the colony of Liberia, or any other colony on the coast of Africa, to be in itself a good thing, we must be understood utterly to repudiate the principles of the American Colonization Society. That society is, in our estimation, not deserving the countenance of the British public.

Edition: current; Page: [8]
Thomas Clarkson
Clarkson, Thomas
William Lloyd Garrison
Garrison, William Lloyd


This lamented British philanthropist, in a letter addressed to William Lloyd Garrison in 1840, explaining in what manner he became deceived in regard to the real character and designs of the American Colonization Society, says,—

“You will see in this narrative my reasons for patronizing at first the American Colonization Society, and my reasons, also, for having afterwards deserted it. I left it, first, because it was entirely impracticable. This is a sufficient reason of itself; for no man in his senses would pursue a plan which he thought could never be accomplished. I left it, secondly, because I thought that newly-emancipated slaves were not qualified to become colonists in Africa to any good purpose. How could persons be sent with any propriety to civilize others who wanted civilizing themselves? Besides, the advocates for the Colonization Society in America had no right to send the scum of their population to Africa, to breed a moral pestilence there. * * * If the society did not take these people, then the prospectus offered to the public had no meaning in it, and slavery could never, according to its promises, be extinguished in the United States.”

Referring to the speeches made by the friends of the Colonization Society in different states of the Union, he adds,—

“It appeared from these speeches that the most violent supporters of this society were planters themselves, and that the speakers did not hesitate to hold out the monstrous and hateful proposition, that the negroes were not men and women, but that they belonged to the brute creation. It was impossible to read these speeches, which were so many public documents, and not perceive that the persons then assembled were no friends, but bitter enemies, to the whole African race, and that nothing in the way of good intentions towards the negro could be expected from them. It is unnecessary for me to attempt to describe what my feelings were upon this occasion. I will only say that I saw the scheme—shall I say the diabolical scheme?—with new eyes, and that the new light thus thrown upon it, added to the two arguments before mentioned, determined me to wash my hands clean forever of the undertaking. * * *

I have now given you my reasons for having once patronized the Colonization Society and then deserted it, and hope you will consider them satisfactory.

I am, dear sir, with great esteem,
Very truly and cordially yours,

Published for gratuitous distribution, at the Office of the American Anti-Slavery Society, No. 138 Nassau Street, New York. Also to be had at the Anti-Slavery Offices, No. 21 Cornhill, Boston, and No. 31 North Fifth Street, Philadelphia.

Edition: current; Page: [(1)]
T.W. Higginson
Higginson, T.W.

Rev. T.W. Higginson, “Does Slavery Christianize the Negro?”, 8 pp.



American slavery, say many of its advocates, is a great missionary institution, ordained by Providence for the civilization and instruction of the heathen.

Now, this experiment has been tried already in the Southern States of this country for some two centuries; and if we judge foreign missions by their fruits, we must certainly admit the same test as valid here. Two questions then suggest themselves, which cover the whole ground.

1. What is the result of the enterprise thus far, as seen in the moral condition of the “reclaimed heathen” now in slavery at the south?

In answer, we introduce the following testimony, confining ourselves to the words of southern men:—

Committee of Synod of South Carolina and Georgia, in 1833. “Who would credit it, that in these years of benevolent and successful missionary effort, in this Christian republic, there are over two millions of human beings in the condition of heathen, and in some respects in a worse condition? From long-continued and close observation, we believe that their moral and religious condition is such that they may justly be regarded as the heathen of this Christian country.”

Kentucky Union’s Circular to the Ministers of the Gospel in Kentucky, 1834. “After making all reasonable allowances, our colored population can be considered, at the best, but semi-heathen.

Rev. C. C. Jones’s Sermon, published at Savannah, 1831. “A nation of heathen in our very midst.”

Rev. C. C. Jones’s Catechism, preface, p. 4. “Their depravity, their spiritual ignorance and destitution, are amazingly and awfully great.”

Hon. C. C. Pinckney, Address before S. C. Agricultural Society, Edition: current; Page: [2] Charleston, 1829, 2d edition, pp. 10, 12. “There needs no stronger illustration of the doctrine of depravity than the state of human nature on plantations in general.” * * * “Their advance in years is but a progression to the higher grades of iniquity.”

Rev. Dr. Dalcho, “Practical Considerations,” &c., Charleston, 1823, p. 6. “Ignorant and indolent by nature, improvident and depraved by habit, and destitute of moral principle, as they generally appear to be.”

C. W. Gooch, Esq., Prize Essay on Agriculture in Virginia. “There seems to be almost an entire absence of moral principle among the mass of our colored population.”

The Maryville (Tennessee) Intelligencer of October 4, 1835, says of the slaves of the south-west, that their “condition through time will be second only to that of the wretched creatures in hell.”

But the chief authority on this subject is the work of the Rev. C. C. Jones, of Savannah, Ga., printed in that city in 1842, on the Religious Instruction of Slaves—a book of unimpeachable authority and great thoroughness, written by a firm defender of slavery, and yet forming an anti-slavery document to which Uncle Tom’s Cabin is feeble; for this is fact, instead of fiction founded on fact. Nor have we ever read, in the reports of any missionary society, a description of more hopeless human degradation.

“When the charge of the intellectual and moral degradation of the negroes is preferred against us,” says the author candidly, p. 107, “we are inclined to put the best face on affairs, knowing that this is the darkest feature and the most vulnerable point.

“We have indeed assisted in sending missionaries to the heathen thousands of miles from us, * * * in founding theological seminaries, * * * in having the gospel preached in our prisons; * * * we have been printing Bibles and tracts; * * * but what have we done publicly, systematically, and perseveringly for the negroes, in order that they may also enjoy the gospel of Christ? Why are they, as a class, overlooked by us in our benevolent regards and efforts.”—P. 167.

“That the negroes are in a degraded state is a fact, so far as my knowledge extends, universally conceded.”—P. 145.

“Such a general corruption of morals as would blast the reputation of any white community is known to exist among them; and Edition: current; Page: [3] yet how unaffected are we by it? Indeed, the habit of our mind is to consider them as in a state of moral degradation. * * * Whatever is idle, dissolute, criminal, and worthless attaches to them.”—P. 104.

Mr. Jones explains the origin of this. First, there is almost no religious instruction among the families of slaves.

“But how much religious instruction do the young negroes receive from their masters, who sustain the relation of parents to them?” * * * “How many ministers assemble the colored children of their congregations for instruction?” * * * “The negro children cannot be ‘hearers of the law,’ for oral instruction is but sparingly afforded to the mass of them; and on the other hand, they cannot ‘search the Scriptures,’ for a knowledge of letters they have not, and legally cannot obtain.” “The remarks on the religious instruction of children apply with equal force to adults.”—Pp. 114, 7.

True, many belong to the church; but see what follows:—

“I have heard the remark made, by men whose standing and office in the churches afforded them abundant opportunity for observation, that the more they have had to do with colored members, the less confidence they have been compelled to place in their Christian professions.”

He then explains the prevailing vices:—

Violations of the marriage contract.—The divine institution of marriage depends for its perpetuity, sacredness, and value largely upon the protection given it by the law of the land. Negro marriages are neither recognized nor protected by law. The negroes receive no instruction on the nature, sacredness, or perpetuity of the institution; at any rate, they are far from being duly impressed with these things.”—Pp. 131-132.

Uncleanness.—This sin may be considered as universal.” “They are proverbially thieves.” “Their veracity is nominal.” “Whenever opportunity is given, they will practise imposition.” “Immense quantities of ardent spirits are sold in the Southern States Edition: current; Page: [4] to the negroes by retailing shops established for the express purpose of negro trading, wherever such trade may be found.”—Pp. 134-138.

“We are surprised,” says Mr. Jones, “to find Christianity in absolute conjunction with a people, and yet conferring so few benefits.” * * * “To say that they fare as well as their masters does not settle the question; for great numbers of their masters have very few or no religious privileges at all.”—P. 177.

Finally, he concludes, “Ignorance, religious ignorance, so far from being any safety, is the very marrow of our sin against this people, and the very rock of our danger.”—P. 212.

Thus testifies Rev. C. C. Jones, a man evidently sincere and earnest, and who has apparently made more exertion for the religious instruction of the African race in the Southern States than any other for half a century. And what are we to think of a missionary institution whose results are thus stated, after two centuries of experiment, by the very leader and chief laborer among the missionaries?

We have no space for an investigation into the condition of Africa. We commonly forget that the coast of Africa, as we see it, has been desolated for ages by the slave trade, and that the condition of the natives is of course degraded. The bright side of this question is exhibited in an article in Putnam’s Magazine for October, 1854. But never have we seen a picture of the state of morals in the wildest African tribe which filled us with such indignation and such pity as the picture of “Religious Instruction among the Negroes” by the southern slaveholding divine. This degradation is worse than the other, by as much as a nominally Christian barbarism is necessarily worse than mere heathen barbarism.

But there is another and more formidable question, suggested by some terrible hints of this same witness, in the latter portion of his statement.

2. What is the effect of this missionary institution upon the missionaries themselves?

Rev. C. C. Jones. “I do not hesitate to say that the influence of the negroes on the general intelligence and morality of the whites is not good. There are those who deny this. I differ with them, and am happy in believing that the majority of our fellow-citizens are with me. We are so accustomed to sin in the negroes that our Edition: current; Page: [5] sensibilities are blunted. * * * Planters will generally confess that the management of negroes is not only attended with trouble and vexation from time to time, but with provocations to sin. Masters and mistresses have their trials. And the kind of influence which the negroes exert over our children and youth, when permitted to associate with them, is well known to all careful and observing parents.”—P. 216.

So said Jefferson: “The man must be a prodigy who can retain his manners and morals uncontaminated” [in the midst of slavery.]

Judge Tucker, of Virginia, said, in 1801, “I say nothing of the baneful effects of slavery on our moral character, because you know I have long been sensible of this point.”

Judge Nichols, of Kentucky, in a speech in 1837, said, “The deliberate convictions of my most matured consideration are, that the institution of slavery is a most serious injury to the habits, manners, and morals of our white population; that it leads to sloth, indolence, dissipation, and vice.”

Judge Summers, of Virginia, said, in a speech in 1832, in almost the same words, “A slave population produces the most pernicious effects upon the manners, habits, and character of those among whom it exists.”

The Presbyterian synod of South Carolina and Georgia said, in their Report of 1834, “Those only who have the management of these servants know what the hardening effect of it is upon their own feelings towards them.”

And that fearful revelation by John Randolph on the floor of Congress: “Where are the trophies of this infernal traffic? The handcuff, the manacle, the bloodstained cowhide! What man is worse received in society for being a hard master? Who denies the hand of sister or daughter to such monsters?”

But enough—enough of the dark results of this “missionary institution” upon all whom it concerns. We have only spoken of it in the words of southern men; we will not trust ourselves to use any others. We will only tell a story, and come to an end.

It is said that a century has passed since one of the finest islands of the Indian Ocean was visited by three young Englishmen, who, moved by the loveliness of Nature there and the degradation of man, pledged themselves with youthful ardor to make it their home henceforward, and uplift its friendly inhabitants from their ignorance Edition: current; Page: [6] and their sin. They began their work well; but soon, alas! the enervating influence of that tropical air began to soothe soul and senses; the most warlike chiefs offered them their power, the wealthiest their luxury, and the fairest maidens their virtue. Need we tell the issue? Half a century afterwards the island was again visited by English cruisers. The children of these young adventurers were now the princes of the island; and none of their subjects were so hopelessly depraved as they.

May God enlighten the minds of those who would urge the renewal of the same suicidal experiment beneath the same soft southern atmosphere, but upon a different shore.


Some years ago, the Rev. Bishop Meade, an Episcopal clergyman of Virginia, published a book of sermons and tracts for masters and slaves. It was printed at Winchester, Va., by John Hieskell.

In the preface to the work, the bishop remarks:—

“The editor of this volume offers it to all masters and mistresses in our Southern States, with the anxious wish and devout prayer that it may prove a blessing to themselves and their households.”

In this book are two sermons from this text, to be read by masters to their slaves: “Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.”

As these sermons are so perfect a delineation of slaveholding godliness, some extracts will not here be out of place. They are addressed to a congregation of slaves.

After showing the slaves that they are all in the condition where God would have them, and that they were made for the use and service of their masters, he proceeds:—

“When people die, we know of but two places they have to go to; and one is heaven, the other hell. Now, heaven is a place of great happiness, which God has prepared for all that are good, where they shall enjoy rest from their labors. And hell is a place of great torment and misery, where all wicked people will be shut up with the devil and other evil spirits, and be punished forever, because they will not serve God. If, therefore, we would have our souls saved by Christ, if we would escape hell, and obtain heaven, we must set about doing what he requires of us; that is, to serve God. Your own poor circumstances in this life ought to put you particularly upon this and taking care of your souls. * * * Almighty God hath been pleased to make you slaves here, and to give you nothing but labor and poverty in this world, which you are obliged to submit to, as it is Edition: current; Page: [7] his will that it should be so. And think within yourselves what a terrible thing it would be, after all your labors and sufferings in this life, to be turned into hell in the next life, and, after wearing out your bodies in service here, to go into a far worse slavery when this is over, and your poor souls be delivered over into the possession of the devil, to become his slaves forever in hell, without any hope of ever getting free from it! If, therefore, you would be God’s freemen in heaven, you must strive to be good and serve him here on earth. Your bodies, you know, are not your own; they are at the disposal of those you belong to; but your precious souls are still your own, which nothing can take from you, if it be not your own fault. Consider well, then, that, if you lose your souls by leading idle, wicked lives here, you have got nothing by it in this world, and you have lost your all in the next. For your idleness and wickedness are generally found out, and your bodies suffer for it here; and what is far worse, if you do not repent and amend, your unhappy souls will suffer for it hereafter.

Having thus shown you the chief duties you owe to your great Master in heaven, I now come to lay before you the duties you owe to your masters and mistresses here upon earth. And for this you have one general rule, that you ought always to carry in your minds; and that is, to do all service for them as if you did it for God himself. Poor creatures! you little consider when you are idle and neglectful of your masters’ business, when you steal, and waste, and hurt any of their substance, when you are saucy and impudent, when you are telling them lies and deceiving them, or when you prove stubborn and sullen, and will not do the work you are set about without stripes and vexation,—you do not consider, I say, that what faults you are guilty of towards your masters and mistresses are faults done against God himself, who hath set your masters and mistresses over you in his own stead, and expects that you will do for them just as you would do for him. And pray do not think that I want to deceive you when I tell you that your masters and mistresses are God’s overseers, and that, if you are faulty towards them, God himself will punish you severely for it in the next world, unless you repent of it, and strive to make amends by your faithfulness and diligence for the time to come; for God himself hath declared the same.

And in the first place, you are to be obedient and subject to your masters in all things. * * * And Christian ministers are commanded to ‘exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things, not answering them again, or gainsaying.’ * * * You are to be faithful and honest to your masters and mistresses, not purloining or wasting their goods or substance, but showing all good fidelity in all things. * * * Do not your masters, under God, provide for you? And how shall they be able to do this, to feed and to clothe you, unless you take honest care of every thing that belongs to them? Remember that God requires this of you; and if you are not afraid of suffering for it here, you cannot escape the vengeance of Almighty God, who will judge between you and your masters, and make you pay severely, in the next world, for all the injustice you do them here. And though you could manage so cunningly as to escape the eyes and hands of man, yet think what a dreadful thing it is to fall into the hands of the living God, who is able to cast both soul and body into hell!” * * *

And again, on page 116:—

“‘All things whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so unto them;’ that is, do by all mankind just as you would desire they should do by you, if you were in their place, and they in yours.

Edition: current; Page: [8]

Now, to suit this rule to your particular circumstances. Suppose you were masters and mistresses, and had servants under you, would you not desire that your servants should do their business faithfully and honestly as well when your back was turned as while you were looking over them? Would you not expect that they should take notice of what you said to them, that they should behave themselves with respect towards you and yours, and be as careful of every thing belonging to you as you would be yourselves? You are servants: do, therefore, as you would wish to be done by, and you will be both good servants to your masters, and good servants to God, who requires this of you, and will reward you well for it, if you do it for the sake of conscience, in obedience to his commands. * * * Take care that you do not fret, or murmur, or grumble at your condition; for this will not only make your life uneasy, but will greatly offend Almighty God. Consider that it is not yourselves, it is not the people you belong to, it is not the men that have brought you to it, but it is the will of God, who hath by his providence made you servants, because, no doubt, he knew that condition would be best for you in this world, and help you the better towards heaven, if you would but do your duty in it. So that any discontent at your not being free, or rich, or great, as you see some others, is quarrelling with your heavenly Master, and finding fault with God himself. * * * There is only one circumstance which may appear grievous that I shall now take notice of; and that is correction.

Now, when correction is given you, you either deserve it, or you do not deserve it. But whether you really deserve it or not, it is your duty, and Almighty God requires, that you bear it patiently. You may, perhaps, think that this is hard doctrine; but if you consider it rightly, you must needs think otherwise of it. Suppose, then, that you deserve correction; you cannot but say that it is just and right you should meet with it. Suppose you do not, or at least you do not deserve so much or so severe a correction for the fault you have committed; you perhaps have escaped a great many more, and are at least paid for all. Or suppose you are quite innocent of what is laid to your charge, and suffer wrongfully in that particular thing; is it not possible you may have done some other bad thing which was never discovered, and that Almighty God, who saw you doing it, would not let you escape without punishment one time or another? And ought you not in such a case to give glory to him, and be thankful that he would rather punish you in this life for your wickedness than destroy your souls for it in the next life? But suppose that even this was not the case, (a case hardly to be imagined,) and that you have by no means, known or unknown, deserved the correction you suffered; there is this great comfort in it, that if you bear it patiently, and leave your cause in the hands of God, he will reward you for it in heaven, and the punishment you suffer unjustly here shall turn to your exceeding great glory hereafter.”

Published for gratuitous distribution, at the Office of the American Anti-Slavery Society, No. 138 Nassau Street, New York. Also to be had at the Anti-Slavery Offices, No. 21 Cornhill, Boston, and No. 31 North Fifth Street, Philadelphia.

Edition: current; Page: [(1)]
John G. Palfrey
Palfrey, John G.

John G. Palfrey, “The Inter-state Slave Trade”, 8 pp.



It is only about seventy years since Clarkson, Wilberforce, and their philanthropic associates began to move the British legislature for the abolition of the African slave trade. Every obstacle which the basest cupidity could contrive was placed in their way. The West India interest worked upon the commercial interest, and both together upon the manufacturing interest, and all three upon the landed interest, and the united four upon the ministry and Parliament. Liverpool and Bristol, with millions invested in the nefarious business, raised as holy a howl as New York did four years ago when the Union was in danger. In his place in the House of Lords, a prince of the blood presumed to stigmatize Wilberforce and his friends as “either fanatics or hypocrites.” He lived to set his name as king to the immortal act which abolished slavery from the British dominions. His throne might have been overset by this time if he had stuck to the doctrines of his misguided youth.

In monarchical England there was a power too strong for princes or ministers, planters or spinners, merchants or landed gentlemen, or all of them together. It was a plain common sense, informed by a moral and religious sense, in the minds and hearts of the British people. By dint of industrious writing and talking through some five and twenty years, that sentiment got its peremptory voice heard in Parliament; and then omnipotent Parliament made known to Liverpool and Bristol merchant that, if he did not want to go to Botany Bay for fourteen years, he must let alone dealing in dark-colored men—an alternative of which it changed the terms a little, a few years afterwards, by substituting hanging for transportation. And so a hitherto creditable business fell into great disesteem, in which condition it has remained in England to this day. Not a decent man is known to have been hung under that law. The decent men took note of it, and mended their manners in time.

Plenty of fortunes have been made in America in the same way; Edition: current; Page: [2] and seventy years ago the men who made them held up their heads as high as their neighbors on exchanges and in drawing rooms. The carriages which had been set up by owners and masters of slave ships might be seen quite lately. Horrible traditions, of no ancient date, are still current at Bristol and Newport. But the thing has had its day. Since 1820, if a man be caught at this business, he must end his days on the gallows in America as surely as in England. And so wholesome is the provision, that a person suspected of dealing in Guinea slaves is now taboo among people who are choice as to their company; and such is the further effect of this social frown, that whoever means to make money, and at the same time keep on fair terms with the circles, finds it indispensable to pursue the former object by some other use of his talents than that of trading in his Maker’s image in ebony.

So far, so good. But what remains to be wondered at and grieved ever is, that the law should make such a parade of its own inconsistency. According to the law, it is not the act that makes the crime, but the place where the act is committed. If an American deals in slaves on the Guinea Coast, and we can lay hands on him, we hang him, not only without scruple, but with uncommon satisfaction. But nobody has a right to touch a hair of his head for carrying on the same business in Virginia. The slaves may be his own children, and still the business is perfectly legal, and, according to the local opinion, not disreputable. Judge Washington, at his slave barrack overlooking the Potomac, may do just what Mongo John does at his barracoon on the Rio Pongo, and yet continue to be a much-considered judge of the Supreme Court of the United States, and to have as good estimation with his neighbors as Mongo John with his. If Judge Washington had conducted himself in this manner on the Rio Pongo, and Mongo John at Mount Vernon, the law would have noosed Judge Washington, while John’s fellow-citizens might have seated him in Congress or on the bench of the Supreme Court.

Importation from abroad being a hanging business, the domestic trade thrives in the absence of competition. Guinea proper being driven out of the market, the northern slave States, and especially Virginia, become the American Slave Coast. Virginia breeds men for exportation as Vermont breeds horses. The thing is no secret, and the breeders, on their own ground, take no shame to themselves, though our late minister, Mr. Stevenson, was annoyed by the charge in England, and denied it. “The six thousand slaves which Virginia annually sends off to the south are a source of wealth to Virginia.” Edition: current; Page: [3] So wrote, in 1832, Professor Dew, of the College of William and Mary, in that State. “Virginia,” he continued, “is in fact a negro-raising State for other States.” “Negroes,” said the Virginia Enquirer eight years ago, “have become the only reliable staple of the tobacco-growing sections of Virginia—the only reliable means of liquidating debts, foreign and domestic.”

The African slave trade was made a felony in England and the United States because humanity in those nations cried out against it as an intolerable abomination. How much less detestable an abomination is the Virginian slave trade?

In some respects it is less horrible; in others it is more so.

The sufferings of slaves in the “middle passage,” or sea voyage, are probably not quite paralleled in their transfer from one slave State to another. The poor creatures, in the latter case, are not so crowded together, nor put to such distress for want of food, water, and air as when stowed in bulk between the decks of a Captain Canot’s little slave schooner; though any one who has seen a coffle of them on their journey, the men in pairs, handcuffed and chained to the opposite sides of an iron bar, and the women and children, tied to each other, driven behind them by armed brutes on horseback, will be apt to think that it is only by comparison with something still more wretched if their misery is not to be called extreme. Here is a picture drawn by a gentleman, since Secretary of the Navy, who, when he came to covet office, was fain to eat his words.

“The sun was shining out very hot, and in turning an angle of the road, we encountered the following group: first a little cart drawn by one horse, in which five or six naked black children were tumbled like pigs together. The cart had no covering, and they seemed to have been actually broiled to sleep. Behind the cart marched three black women, with head, neck, and breasts uncovered, and without shoes or stockings. Next came three men bare-headed, half naked, and chained together with an ox chain. Last of all came a white man on horseback, carrying pistols in his belt, and who, as we passed him, had the impudence to look us in the face without blushing. I should like to see him hunted by bloodhounds.”

The original of this sketch, on a much larger scale, is a familiar sight, in the proper season, in the transit states.

Nor as to mere loss of life is the excess of the African slave trade, as compared with the American, so large as is commonly supposed. The rice, cotton, and sugar regions are notoriously unhealthy. Edition: current; Page: [4] Persons not natives do not pass their summers in those regions if they can help it, lest their first summer should be their last. To an immigrant, spending his first summer under the scorching sun in a rice ditch or a cane field, a black skin is insufficient protection. Accordingly, acclimation is one of the most familiar elements of a bargain in the article. The advertisements of prime negroes in the more southerly slave States constantly describe them as acclimated. Why? Of course with a view to a better price. And why a better price? Of course because slaves not acclimated are more likely to die on the buyer’s hands. In what proportion more likely to die? A writer in the New Orleans Argus, on the cultivation of sugar, says, “The loss by death in bringing slaves from a northern climate, which our planters are under the necessity of doing, is not less than twenty-five per cent.” It is likely he is not far from right. He wrote on the spot; there was no occasion for overstatement; and such results of experience, affecting the prices current of a great article of merchandise, are just as accurately noted and determined as the facts that fix our rates of marine and life insurance are noted and ciphered out by us. But if twenty-five per cent. is the actual ratio of loss of life in the internal slave trade, it is very little, if at all, less than that of the African slave trade used to be, the horrors of “the middle passage” included. Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton computed that proportion to be nearly one third. Newton placed it at one quarter.

But supposing a less amount of mortality and of physical suffering, in the process of sending to market the home-made commodity of white Colonel Horseracer, of Albemarle, than takes place among the prisoners shipped by black Prince Bumbo in the Bight of Benin, other circumstances tend to throw the balance of agony on the other side. Compared with the Guinea negro, his brother in Virginia is a civilized and cultivated person. He has much more of local attachment, of love for wife, children, and friends, to make him wretched when he is torn away from them, or they from him, never to see or hear from one another more. Comparatively he has sensibility, reflection, and forethought; he can look backward and forward, and each view brings aggravations to his woe. Between the two sufferers there is all the difference as to mental distress that there is difference in the respective capacities of suffering between a human being scarcely raised above brute life and another of some culture of the mind and affections. Accordingly a person who will be at the pains may collect any number of perfectly well-authenticated Edition: current; Page: [5] instances of suicides committed under these circumstances, with occasional killing of children by their parents to save them from the dreaded doom. The same Secretary of the Navy before quoted from had some account from one of the dealers of a bad speculation of this kind in a young mulatto girl.

“I swore most bitterly I was only to take her to her mother’s at ——, and she went with me, though she seemed to doubt me. But when she discovered that we were out of the State, I thought she would go mad; and in fact the next night she drowned herself in the river close by. I lost a good five hundred dollars.”*

The weak attempt to qualify the indignation of humanity and Christianity at such proceedings by a denial that separations of families are an incident of slave sales is too preposterous upon its face to require any refutation. How likely is it that of people who can make up their minds to buy and sell wives and husbands, parents and children, brothers, sisters, and so on, any considerable number will be so scrupulous as to lose a good bargain rather than hurt the feelings of the article bought and the article rejected? But if any one is doubtful on this point, let him step into the nearest reading room and look at the first column that comes in his way of the advertisements daily issued in the southern newspapers. Or, if more convenient, he may find ample specimens of them in various books which are easily accessible; for instance, in that unanswered and unanswerable treatise, Mrs. Beecher Stowe’s “Key to Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” Messrs. Mayhew, Bliss, & Co., of New Orleans, advertise negroes “to be sold separately or together as desired.” Mr. Benjamin Davis, of Hamburg, South Carolina, will sell “small Edition: current; Page: [6] girls, suitable for nurses, and several small boys, without their mothers.” Mr. Benjamin Little, of Memphis, Tennessee, has for sale “likely young negroes.” Mr. T. B. McClendon, “having located in Lynchburg, (Virginia,) is giving the highest cash prices for negroes between the ages of ten and thirty years.” Mr. Seth Woodroof “continues in market for negroes of both sexes, between the ages of ten and thirty years.” Mr. A. A. McLean, General Agent, Cherry Street, Nashville, “wants to purchase immediately twenty-five likely negroes, male and female, between the ages of fifteen and twenty years.” Mr. S. N. Brown, of Montgomery, Alabama, “has now on hand, of his own selection and purchasing, a lot of likely young negroes, consisting of men, boys, and women, field hands, and superior house servants,” &c. Messrs. Sanders & Foster, of the same place, “intend to keep constantly on hand a large assortment of negroes, comprising every description.” And so on, to any extent to which the inquirer may incline to go. How are these “selections” and “assortments” made? Nature does not make them. She puts young and old, coachmen and housemaids, children and their mothers, together in one group, and binds them so with strong ties, and when they are assorted into different lots, it is not without much laceration of heartstrings, nor without great violence to nature, and impious defiance of nature’s God. The friends so separated—separated by force, or what may be even more cruel, treacherously, and without the chance of a word of farewell—are parted never to see each other more on earth—the one never to hear of the others more unless by some rare accident, never to know where they live or when they die. The Presbyterian synod of the slave State of Kentucky, in an address to the churches under its care, before synods and other such bodies got silenced, thus condensed its observations on this subject:—

“Brothers and sisters, parents and children, husbands and wives, are torn asunder, and permitted to see each other no more. These acts are daily occurring in the midst of us. The shrieks and the agony often witnessed on such occasions proclaim, with a trumpet tongue, the iniquity of our system. There is not a neighborhood where these heart-rending scenes are not displayed; there is not a village or road that does not behold the sad procession of manacled outcasts, whose mournful countenances tell that they are exiled by force from all that their hearts hold dear.”

It would be very interesting to know by what figure we are to multiply the bitter distress of each single doom of this kind, in Edition: current; Page: [7] order to get at the sum total of woe; in other words, to know what number of persons are subjects of the inter-state slave trade. It has been estimated as high as an average of forty thousand annually; and there appears no room to doubt that in some years, as in 1835 and 1836, this estimate was below the reality. An easy computation from the census tables (which, unfortunately, in such matters can by no means be relied upon as telling the whole truth) indicates the number to be, on an average, something over twenty thousand a year. The decennial ratio of increase in slaves in the United States for fifty years preceding 1840 (and of course preceding the admission of Texas) was as follows, viz.: between 1790 and 1800, 27.9; between 1800 and 1810, 33.4; between 1810 and 1820, 29.1; between 1820 and 1830, 30.61; between 1830 and 1840, 23.8. (See “Report of the Superintendent of the Census for December 1, 1852,” p. 153.) The average of these decennial ratios is 28.96. Apply it to the slave-exporting States; viz., Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, the two Carolinas, Kentucky, and Tennessee, with the District of Columbia, (for we will leave out of the account the large number of transfers which undoubtedly takes place between states classed respectively as exporting and importing, as from Virginia to South Carolina, and from Missouri to Mississippi.) In 1840 the States and Territory just named held 1,484,195 slaves. Increasing in the ratio of 28.96 per cent. in ten years, they should have had, in 1850, 1,914,017. In fact, according to the census, they had only 1,703,936, leaving a difference of 210,081, or something more than 21,000 a year, to be accounted for by emigration. On the other hand, the number of slaves in the slave-importing States—viz., Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Missouri—in 1840 was 1,002,031. Increasing in the ratio of 28.96 per cent. in ten years, their number in 1850 should have been 1,292,219; the census of that year, however, ascertained it to be 1,429,544. In other words, they had received 137,325, or 13,732 each year, by importation. But the exporting States had sent out 21,008 each year. What became of the residue of 72,756—the annual residue of 7,275—more than one third of the number sold out of the northern slave States? Some of them went to Texas; by no means the larger part, however; for Texas, with all its various sources of supply, importations before the annexation, importations from the neighboring and from more northerly States, and from natural increase, had only 53,346 slaves in 1850. To say that Texas received one third of the residue in question would be to allow an excessive proportion. Edition: current; Page: [8] Account in this way for an annual average of 2,276 in the ten years from 1840 to 1850, (during only one third of which time Texas was in our possession,) it follows that an annual average of 5,000, or close upon one quarter of the whole number annually exported from the slave-raising States, are lost sight of after the time of exportation. In other words, they perish in the miseries of the land “middle passage,” and the “acclimation.”

Such, very imperfectly sketched, and with a total omission of some material views, are the nature and extent of the inter-state slave trade. Whatever may be other political relations of slavery, the remedy for the unutterable wickedness of this traffic is in the hands of that Congress of the United States to which the free States send a majority of members. “Congress,” says the Federal Constitution, (Art. 1, sec. 8,) “shall have power to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several States.” Under the authority given in the former clause, Congress made the African slave trade a felony; the latter clause gives Congress the same power to deal in the same way with the American slave trade. It has actually legislated under the authority of this latter clause. The act of March 2, 1807, prohibits the transportation of slaves from one State to another in vessels of less than forty tons burden. An extension of the provisions of this act to vessels of any tonnage whatever would put a stop to this business as part of the coasting trade. The constitution further provides (Art. 1, sec. 9) that “the migration or importation of such persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight.” To provide that importation should not be prohibited before 1808 was to provide by implication that it might be prohibited after that year; and accordingly the federal legislature has in fact prohibited it since 1808 by law. The constitutional provision respecting migration is precisely the same. Ever since 1808 the legislature has had the constitutional power to prohibit the migration of slaves—a power which would long ago have been put into beneficent exercise if the spirit of the fathers had not long ago died out.

Published for gratuitous distribution, at the Office of the American Anti-Slavery Society, No. 138 Nassau Street, New York. Also to be had at the Anti-Slavery Offices, No. 21 Cornhill, Boston, and No. 31 North Fifth Street, Philadelphia.

Edition: current; Page: [1]
R. Hildreth
Hildreth, R.

R. Hildreth, “The ‘Ruin’ of Jamaica”, 12 pp.



Chapter I.—: Historical Introduction.

Perhaps there is not a single delusion more systematically and more perseveringly practised upon the good people of the United States, and of Great Britain too, than the comparison so perpetually brought to their notice of the alleged present economical ruin of the Island of Jamaica, as contrasted with its alleged former prosperity, and with the present prosperity of the neighboring Island of Cuba. And what gives the greater effect to this delusion is, that the instruments for spreading it are frequently men of honest intentions, and, on the generality of subjects, very well informed, but whose total ignorance of the history of Jamaica makes them easy dupes, and who, indeed, are very often blindly led into the ditch by guides in the form of respectable residents of the island, hardly less ignorant than themselves; for it is not among the residents of Jamaica that any thing beyond very superficial ideas of the history of the island is generally to be found.

As the bearing of this matter on grave domestic questions gives to it a high degree of interest, we propose to explain the true state of facts with respect to Jamaica, past as well as present, in order to put our readers in the position to draw legitimate conclusions, and to avoid being deluded by falsehoods, which, though reported by almost every mail from the West Indies, whatever currency and general acceptation they may gain by that repetition, are not rendered thereby any the less groundless and delusive.

The Island of Jamaica has an extent of a little less than six thousand square miles. It is thus about the size of the States of Connecticut and Rhode Island together. Like all the West India Islands, it consists of a central group of mountains, with fertile plains, of no great width, extending from their foot to the coast. Being placed directly south of the east end of Cuba, and thus cut off from the northern breezes, which reach it much in the state of a sponge already once squeezed, it suffers much more from drought than either Cuba, Hayti, or Porto Rico; many of its fertile plains, too distant from the mountains, and unfreshed by summer showers, are, from that cause, rendered worthless; while the rugged character of much of the interior, with the climate and difficulties of transportation, Edition: current; Page: [2] wholly unfits it for the production of sugar and coffee. In natural fertility of soil, it is, or rather was,—for of virgin soil fit for cultivation none is left,—decidedly inferior to the other three islands, and more exposed, also, to storms and hurricanes, by which, occasionally, it suffers very severely.

Columbus discovered Jamaica on his second voyage, in May, 1494. In his fourth voyage, in 1503, he ran his leaky vessel on shore on the coast of the island, and remained there for fifteen months. In 1507, Don Diego, Columbus’s viceroy, sent a colony to occupy it. The natives, as in the case of all the West India Islands settled by the Spaniards, were speedily worn out by unaccustomed labor. Negroes were introduced to supply their places; but the demand for colonial produce was then very slight; and when Jamaica surrendered to Admiral Penn (the father of our William Penn) in 1655, with whom was our Winslow, one of the founders of Plymouth colony, and who, being then in England as agent for Massachusetts, was sent out in the fleet by Cromwell, as one of the commissioners for superintending such conquests as might be made, it contained only a thousand or two of Spanish creoles, and a less number of negroes. The Spaniards submitted to the invaders; most of the negroes fled to the interior mountains, where they became the progenitors of the maroons, recruited from time to time by additional runaways, from whose depredations Jamaica afterwards suffered so much, and of whom she finally got rid, so late as 1796, only by the disgraceful breach of a capitulation into which they had been induced to enter. These maroons, transported by that breach of faith to Nova Scotia, became, along with some of the refugee slaves from Virginia and Maryland, whom the British at the close of the revolutionary war had refused to give up, the first settlers of the colony of Sierra Leone, and some of their descendants are at this day thriving merchants, and among the leading inhabitants of that Anglo-African settlement.

Cromwell, who had expected to get St. Domingo, from which his fleet was repulsed, was anxious to make all he could out of Jamaica. He tried to persuade the settlers at New Haven, who had not prospered altogether according to their expectations, to remove thither in a body, and in a sermonizing letter endeavored to convince them that they had a call from God to that work. They declined this pressing invitation; but among the adventurers who did go to Jamaica was Samuel Vassall, who had been one of the first settlers of Massachusetts, but whom the intolerant spirit prevailing there had induced to leave, and whose large landed estates acquired in Jamaica passed finally, together with his name, into the family of the Foxes, the head of which now bears the aristocratic title of Lord Holland.

Winslow, who died shortly after landing, was succeeded by Sedgwick, another New England man, who had served in the parliamentary army, and whose posterity are very honorably distinguished among us. But this new Edition: current; Page: [3] commissioner, on arriving in Jamaica, did not find things in a very promising condition. The soldiers left there had been principally drawn from the Island of Barbadoes, which had then a much larger white population than at present—being, in fact, at that time (just two hundred years ago) the most populous and wealthy of the English colonies in America. But these troops by no means came up to the standard of our good Puritan, parliamentary soldier, who was afterwards major general of Massachusetts; and in his official letters he described them very much as our letter writers of to-day describe the Jamaica negroes, “so lazy and idle as it cannot enter into the heart of any Englishman that such blood should run in the veins of any born in England.” To recruit this rather unpromising population, Cromwell ordered a thousand girls and young men to be enlisted in Ireland, and he directed the administrators of the Scottish government to apprehend all “known idle, masterless robbers and vagabonds” for transportation thither. A certain number of prisoners of war were also disposed of in the same manner.

The best thing that offered to these first English settlers in Jamaica was privateering against the Spaniards; and even after the establishment of amicable relations between Spain and England, they still kept it up. So far did Sir Thomas Modyford, who was governor in 1668, carry his notions of colonial rights,—a man after the heart of our nullifiers, whom he anticipated by almost two centuries,—that he declared war on behalf of the island against Spain, merely for the sake of being able to give commissions to the cruisers; for it is to be observed that the buccaneers of those times, like the kidnappers of ours, always preferred, when it was possible, to act under a commission. The prosperity of Jamaica, like that of the neighboring colony of French St. Domingo, (the present empire of Hayti,) thus took its start from buccaneering. Such was the source of the wealth, luxury, and profligacy, no doubt exaggerated by tradition, of Port Royal, now become an English town. But Sir Thomas Modyford was not, by any means, a man of one idea. Besides granting commissions to the buccaneers, it was he too who introduced the cultivation of sugar; and when buccaneering began to grow less profitable, and more dangerous,—though till the last moment Port Royal afforded them a market for their prizes and entertainment for their money,—the richer and more stable-minded of the old buccaneers began to import and buy negroes, and to turn their attention to sugar planting—the introduction into Europe of the use of tea and coffee having opened an enlarged market, and created a new demand for that article. From buccaneering to sugar planting—such was the second step in the career of population and prosperity alike in Jamaica and in French St. Domingo.

Jamaica, however, still retained its interest in navigation; and from Edition: current; Page: [4] fighting and plundering the Spaniards began now to trade with them. This trade, in fact, had in it something of the excitement, the risks, and the profits, too, of buccaneering; for the Spanish colonial system allowed no commerce with strangers, and the traffic actually carried on had either to be forced, in spite of the Spanish guarda costas, or insinuated by vessels that anchored off the coast under pretence of leaks, injury by storms, or lack of supplies, the eyes of the Spanish officers being closed with gold; or else worked through under cover of the assiento treaty, by which Spain had ceded first to France, and afterwards to England, the privilege of introducing, annually, a certain number of negro slaves into her colonies, with whom the vessels admitted for that purpose contrived also to smuggle in a great many other kinds of goods.

Port Royal was ruined by an earthquake in 1722, but Kingston succeeded it, and grew to be the largest town in the West Indies—not at all as a mere port for shipping sugar and landing plantation supplies, but as the entrepot of the entire British trade with Spanish America. And this entrepot it remained till the revolt of the Spanish colonies, first against the Bonaparte family and afterwards against the restored Bourbons, by opening the Spanish American ports to legitimate commerce, made any such smuggling entrepot unnecessary. Kingston, also, while the slave trade lasted, was the grand British entrepot for that traffic; and Bryan Edwards calculates that, besides the import for domestic supply, Kingston had, during the eighteenth century, the profits on half a million of negroes furnished to other colonies, foreign and British.

The city of Kingston was thus built up by smuggling and slave trading. Both these occupations are now gone, and no other has yet been created to supply their places. This simple statement of historical facts will serve to explain the decay, dilapidation, and houses to let, observed by correspondents at Kingston, the general stopping-place of travellers, and the source whence come so many Jeremiads about ruin, decay, and insolent free niggers that won’t work. The very same result from similar causes might have been seen twenty years ago in many dilapidated New England seaport towns, such as Newport, Salem, and Newburyport, into which manufacturing industry has again introduced bustle and prosperity. Jamaica, however, so far from having any protective policy to aid her in contending against the revolutions of commerce, after having been for years the spoilt child of Protection, having been as a slave colony always sustained by the close monopoly (in common with the other British sugar islands) of the British sugar market, and by occasional large parliamentary grants of money direct, has been exposed as a free colony, with its lands exhausted, its credit greatly diminished, and its supply of labor curtailed, to a thorough-going free-trade competition, not only with the virgin soil, resident proprietors, Edition: current; Page: [5] and large slave importations of Cuba, but with British capital and skill also newly employed to aid in bringing these advantages into most effectual play.

Chapter II.—: Sugar growing in Jamaica.

The original sugar planters of Jamaica—and the same was the case in all the other British islands in the West Indies—were residents in the colony, who settled there with the intention to live and to die there, and whose operations were principally carried on by means of their own capital. Such still continues to be the state of things in the Spanish islands, and, to a certain extent, also, in the French islands; but in all the English islands, in the course of the eighteenth century, a very different system was introduced. The sugars, after they were made, had to be sent to London or Bristol for sale; and the merchant employed to sell them was also employed to buy and send out the plantation supplies. Sometimes a drought, or hurricane, a negro revolt, or a maroon inroad, prevented any crop, or destroyed it. But the supplies must still be had. They were furnished on credit. A debt was contracted, which, frequently growing larger and larger, was finally secured by mortgage, with the condition to ship all the sugars in the merchant’s vessels, and consigned to his house. The debt growing larger and larger, finally the mortgage was foreclosed; and thus in many cases formally, in almost all the rest substantially, sooner or later most of the old estates passed into the hands of the few great English mercantile houses, known as the West India interest. The same process, precisely, was rapidly going on with our Virginia tobacco planters till the revolution put a stop to British credits; leaving unpaid, however, that great mass of British debts of which the Virginians struggled so hard to escape the payment; which had so injurious an influence on our domestic policy, having nearly plunged us into a premature new war with England, and the payment of which the Federal Government was finally obliged to assume.

Towards the middle of the last century, the market for sugars rapidly increasing, and coffee also having been introduced into the West Indies as a new staple, a great many new plantations were established by means of funds mainly advanced by these same West India houses, and, of course, secured by mortgage. But although the establishment of new plantations thus went on in Jamaica, as long as there was any new land fit for the purpose, we are not to suppose, with so many of our Jamaica letter writers, that a slave sugar plantation was a high road to opulence perfectly certain and sure. Bryan Edwards, the historian of the West Indies, himself an experienced planter, who had seen the elephant, informs us that while thirty thousand pounds sterling was the very smallest sum that would suffice Edition: current; Page: [6] to establish a paying plantation, the profits to be expected on this outlay—assuming a fair product and average prices—would not exceed seven per cent.; and this without charging a shilling for making good the decrease of the negroes,—a very heavy item,—or for the wear and tear of the buildings, or making any allowance for dead capital, or for the tax of six per cent. of the gross value levied on the crops of absentees. “With these and other drawbacks, to say nothing of the devastations, which are sometimes occasioned by fires and hurricanes, destroying in a few hours the labor of years, it is not wonderful,” he adds, “that the profits should sometimes dwindle to nothing, or, rather, that a sugar estate, with all its boasted advantages, should sometimes prove a millstone about the neck of its unfortunate proprietor, which is dragging him to destruction!” True Jamaica rhetoric that! A Jeremiad, too, uttered before emancipation was even so much as thought of; and yet, who wouldn’t suppose that it was copied word for word from some letter from some travelling correspondent come to hand by the very last mail from Kingston?

Anticipating that this plain and disenchanting statement might somewhat surprise some of the verdant, Edwards proceeds, on behalf of the said verdant, to put to himself this question: “Seeing that a capital is wanted which few men can command, and considering, withal, that the returns are in general but small, and at best uncertain, how has it happened that the sugar islands have been rapidly settled, and many a great estate purchased in the mother country from the profits which have accrued from their cultivation?”

“It were to be wished,” he says in reply, “that those who make such inquiries would inquire, on the other hand, how many unhappy persons have been totally and irretrievably ruined by adventuring in the cultivation of those islands without possessing any adequate means to support them in such great undertakings. On the failure of some of these unfortunate men, vast estates have indeed been raised by persons who have had money at command. Money is advanced and encouragement given to a certain point, but a skilful practitioner well knows where to stop; he is aware what very large sums must be expended before any return can be made. One third of the money thus expended he has, perhaps, furnished; but the time soon comes when a further advance is requisite. Now, then, is the moment for oppression. If the lands promise great returns, the sagacious creditor, instead of giving further aid, or leaving his too confident debtor to make the best of his way by his own exertions, pleads a sudden and unexpected emergency, and insists on immediate payment of the sum already lent. The law, on this occasion, is far from being chargeable with delay, and avarice is inexorable. A sale is hurried on, and no bidders appear but the creditor himself. Ready money is required in payment, and every one sees that a further sum will be wanting to make the estate productive. Few, therefore, have the means who have even the wish efficaciously to assist the devoted victim. Thus the creditor gets the estate at his own price, commonly for his first advance, and the miserable debtor has reason to thank his stars, if, consoling himself with only the loss of his own original capital, and his labor for a series of years, he escapes a prison for life.

“At the same time it cannot justly be denied that there are creditors who, having advanced their money to resident planters, not in the view of deriving Edition: current; Page: [7] undue advantages, but solely on the fair and honorable ground of reciprocal benefit, have been compelled, much against their inclination, to become planters themselves—being obliged to receive unprofitable West India estates in payment, or lose their money altogether. I have known plantations transferred in this manner which are a burden instead of a benefit, and which are kept up solely in the hope that favorable crops and an advance in prices may, some time or other, invite purchasers.

Thus oppression in one class of creditors, and gross injustice towards another, contribute equally to keep up cultivation in a country where, if the risks and losses are great, the gains are sometimes commensurate; for sugar estates there are, undoubtedly, from which, instead of the returns that I have estimated, double that profit has been obtained. It is indeed true that such instances are extremely rare; but, perhaps, to that very circumstance—which to a philosopher, speculating in his closet, would seem sufficient to deter a wise man from adventuring in this line of cultivation—it is chiefly owing that so much money has been expended in it. I mean the fluctuating nature of its returns. The quality of sugar varies occasionally so much as to create a difference in its value of ten shillings the hundred, which, for the superior quality, is pure gain. Much, undoubtedly, depends on skill in the manufacture; and, the process being apparently simple, the beholder feels almost an irresistible propensity to engage in it. Though, perhaps, not more than one man in fifty comes away fortunate, every sanguine adventurer takes it for granted that he shall be that one. Thus his system of life becomes a course of experiments, and if ruin should be the consequence of his rashness, he imputes his misfortunes to any cause rather than to his own want, and capacity, and foresight.

These extracts from Edwards afford an insight into the rationale of slave cultivation according to the system which ultimately prevailed throughout the British West Indies, and to a very considerable extent also in the French and Dutch colonies. The motive power of the system, the real owners not only of the plantations and of the slaves, but of the nominal proprietors also, were a few great mercantile houses in Europe, with whom it was a leading object to secure the transportation of the sugars and of the plantation supplies in their vessels, with the commissions on their sale and purchase. It was these profits, and these alone, that sufficed to cover the numerous risks of sugar planting, and to justify the large advances which the business required.

Though often compelled to carry on the estates in their own names and at their own sole risk, these European merchants greatly preferred to stand in the relation of mortgagees—thus leaving all the risks to be borne, so long as they could stand under them, by nominal proprietors. These nominal proprietors were chiefly drawn from the mercantile class, or from the class of overseers, doctors, lawyers, master mechanics, and others, who, going out to the colonies to seek their fortunes, had gradually, as attachés to the plantations, accumulated a few thousand pounds—often, it was said, in the case of the overseers, by cheating their absent employers. Whatever resident in the colonies, by whatever means, succeeded in getting together a considerable sum of money, was drawn on, by a fascination like that of the gaming table, to invest it in a sugar plantation, which remained mortgaged for the balance to the European consignees of the produce. The certain Edition: current; Page: [8] ruin that in nineteen cases out of twenty attended this procedure was proverbial in the West Indies; yet few indeed who had the means, had the strength of mind to resist the temptation to become (nominal) proprietors—that being the height of West Indian glory and dignity; while a few fortunes acquired here and there by extraordinary crops or series of crops, or by a sudden rise in the sugar market, occasioned by war or other accident, served still to bait the trap.

It was thus that the European sugar houses absorbed every thing—not only the labor of the black slaves, but all the earnings and savings of their white employés also—drawn at last into a plantation investment—the nominal proprietors being scarcely less bond slaves than the very negroes themselves. To these few houses, and to these alone, was sugar planting, under the slave system, a profitable venture. To every body else employed in it, black or white, it was incessant, exhausting, and unrequited toil, except that the black people had a very scanty and insufficient supply of food and clothing,—the latter generally a rag about their loins,—and the white people a pretty good supply of these, with plenty of wine, brandy, ale, rum, and black mistresses, horses to ride, and negroes to domineer over. And this, under the most prosperous times of the slave system, constituted the entire sum and substance of Jamaica prosperity! But even this kind of prosperity, such as it was, carried with it the seeds of its own decay. Two things were absolutely essential to its continuance—an unlimited supply of new land, and an unlimited supply of new slaves to take the places of those annually used up on the plantations.

The era of the highest planter prosperity of Jamaica corresponds exactly with the era of the highest planter prosperity of Virginia—that is to say, the twenty years preceding the breaking out of our revolutionary war. During this period the market for colonial produce enlarged steadily. Jamaica and Virginia, from the establishments already made in them, had the decided advantage over newer and yet infant settlements. There was still a sufficiency of virgin land; slaves were imported in greater numbers than ever before, and the establishment of new plantations went on in an accelerated ratio. But soon the same inevitable drawback laid its claw upon both Jamaica and Virginia. The lands in both, suitable for plantations, began to be exhausted, and settlers and speculators began to seek out fresh lands elsewhere. The first great rival of Jamaica in this respect (what Cuba is to her now) was French St. Domingo. The cultivation of that colony in the latter half of the last century advanced with very rapid strides, and her exports from the period of the American war—from which Jamaica suffered greatly, in the starvation of her slaves and the loss of her accustomed supplies of lumber—began to rival and presently to exceed those of the English colony. The French revolution and its result, the self-emancipation Edition: current; Page: [9] of the slaves of St. Domingo, delivered Jamaica from that powerful and hated rival. But about the same time with this deliverance, a change was made in the policy of Spain respecting Porto Rico and Cuba, and these islands, hitherto without trade, and with a very limited population, presented themselves as new competitors in the business of sugar growing. Presently, too, by the abolition of the slave trade, Jamaica lost her annual supply of laborers, who thenceforward, down even to the present moment, have annually diminished. For though the total population of Jamaica has increased since emancipation, that increase consists of children not yet of an age for labor; while not only has the adult able-bodied population gone on still diminishing year by year, but the women, formerly employed equally with the men in the field and the sugar mill, from the necessity of taking care of their infant children and overseeing, not slave huts, but free households, have necessarily been withdrawn from plantation labor.

With her lands year after year more and more exhausted, her supply of labor diminishing, the protective sugar duties repealed, old and worn-out Jamaica is exposed to competition with new and fertile Cuba. Compare Virginia and Missouri, and their present rate of growth, and understand, O ye travellers and letter writers! why it is that the sugar growing interest declines in Jamaica and flourishes in Cuba; why it is that, in this particular line of sugar growing, the old emancipated colonies cannot compete with the new slave ones.

Chapter III.—: TheRuinof Jamaica an old Story.

In reference to the alleged former prosperity and pretended present “ruin” of Jamaica, we have seen in what that prosperity consisted; and that, by the operation of causes entirely independent of the nature of the labor employed, that prosperity, such as it was, had already reached its period, and had commenced a gradual decline years before the abolition of slavery, or even of the slave trade.

That prosperity, to restate the matter in a few words, consisted in the diligent and laborious cultivation of a certain number of sugar and coffee plantations, by upward of three hundred thousand negroes, in the lowest state of degradation, misery, ignorance, and barbarism, uninstructed, religiously or otherwise, naked, or nearly so, supported on a scanty allowance of the coarsest food, (and a large part of that imported,) forced to labor some sixteen hours a day, and annually diminishing at the rate of nearly three per cent.,—the number being kept good only by fresh importations from Africa,—while all the profits of this forced and cruel toil went into the coffers of a few great British commercial houses, except what stuck by the way, and Edition: current; Page: [10] was employed in the maintenance of about twenty-five thousand white residents of the island, who alone were taken into account when the people and the prosperity of Jamaica were spoken of.

These white persons had a political representation in the colonial legislature, and except as to matters of trade, with which alone the home government interfered, they were lords and masters of the island, (always saving the supreme authority of the non-resident proprietors and mortgagees, who controlled at pleasure the legislation of the Assembly.) These white residents consisted in, perhaps, about equal numbers of creoles, or persons born on the island, and of accessions from abroad. Of these creoles the larger part were the descendants of the early British settlers, once numerous, but gradually wasting away, without slaves, poor and lazy, but to whom manual agricultural labor would have been a disgrace; living, as they could, by odd jobs, and occupying a position somewhat like that of the poorest and meanest white population in our southern towns and villages. The rest of the creoles were the children of more recent settlers, of whom a certain proportion had been sent “home”—that is, to Great Britain—for education, but who were no more able than the other class of creoles, already described, to perpetuate their race; and who, in the competition of business, were entirely outdone by the immigrant class, in whom, conjointly with the sugar houses at home, resided the motive power that kept the system in operation. The most successful of this immigrant class were generally Scotchmen,—hard, sharp, driving, and close-fisted,—who got what they could, and saved what they got; and who found it not difficult to conquer in Jamaica all the little “prejudices” and scruples which they had brought with them from Scotland.

A few of these whites found employment as lawyers and physicians; for the island was very unhealthy for white people living as the whites of Jamaica did, and the white inhabitants were very litigious, to say nothing of numerous debts to be collected. Here and there a jolly parson might be met with; for Jamaica had a few old livings. A somewhat larger number came out as clerks in mercantile establishments, and as millwrights, carpenters, masons, or smiths—employments of which they soon learned to shift all the manual labor upon negro slaves trained up to the business. But the chief occupation was the management and superintendence of the plantations, each of which had a chief overseer, with several inferior overseers, or bookkeepers, as they were called, and, in the case of absentee proprietors, an attorney to represent the proprietor.

The family circle was quite a rarity in slaveholding Jamaica. Marriage was the exception, not the rule. The male white population far exceeded the females in number, of whom, however, the greater portion was left to wither in single blessedness. Of the immigrant population very few were Edition: current; Page: [11] women; and such wives as were occasionally brought out from Great Britain pretty generally soon wished themselves at home again. The white men supplied themselves with mistresses and housekeepers, either from among the slaves or the free people of color, who formed, during the so-much-regretted era of Jamaica prosperity, a third and equally distinct class of the population. These free people of color, with whom were reckoned also a few manumitted negroes, amounted to about ten thousand in number, being the offspring of the connections above mentioned. In a few rare cases these colored children were educated and provided for in a fatherly manner. If the mother were a slave, it was considered in Jamaica—our democratic slaveholders think differently—only an act of common decency to secure the freedom of the child; but here, in general, the care of the father stopped. With few exceptions, the males, unprovided with any means of gaining for themselves a creditable livelihood, keenly sensitive to the honor on the one side of their white parentage, and to the disgrace of their African blood on the other, were left speedily to terminate, or miserably to protract, a wretched existence as they might. They were subjected to much the same legal disabilities and indignities as are the colored people of our Southern States, not being allowed to testify against a white man, to vote, or to hold any office; and the legislature of Jamaica had also provided—a thing not yet found necessary in any of our Southern States—that no testamentary devise from a white person to a negro or mulatto should be valid if it exceeded the amount of seven thousand dollars. The females had, as their only resource, the concubinage above described—a degraded position, in which, however, they often fulfilled, with the utmost scrupulousness and self-devotion, all the duties, without enjoying one of the rights, of a wife, and which, as it secured to them and their colored relations a white champion and protector, was regarded as the greatest piece of good fortune, and the most respectable position to which they could possibly attain.

Such was the prosperity over the decay of which so many regrets are uttered—the enjoyments, if they are to be called such, secured by it to the limited white population, and to them only, being of the grossest character. From living constantly among negroes, mostly imported from Africa, over whom they exercised despotic authority, the white immigrants, the greater part of them not over refined to begin with, degenerated into gross barbarians. Their only relaxations were drunken frolics, naked negro girls being employed to wait at table; while it was an ordinary piece of Jamaica hospitality to furnish, not only a bed to the guest, but a woman to share it. Such were the pleasures of the whites of Jamaica. Their business consisted in watching and driving up the negroes, and in gradually accumulating the means to flit for a moment as nominal proprietor of a plantation, which proprietorship, in nineteen cases out of twenty, speedily transferred these hard-earned gains into the coffers of some London sugar house.

Edition: current; Page: [12]

Nor was even this wretched system sustained, except by a strict monopoly of the British sugar market, secured to the British West India planters—a monopoly which, in the latter quarter of the last century, was so severely felt by the British consumers, considering the prices at which they might have purchased the rival sugars of French St. Domingo, as to raise a great clamor in England against the whole system of West India cultivation as a ruinous and losing concern, accompanied by a scheme for drawing the supply of sugar from the East Indies—a scheme which only received its quietus when the revolt of the slaves in French St. Domingo had freed the British colonies from that invidious contrast. On the other hand, the legislature of Jamaica complained with no less emphasis of the wretched condition to which the island was reduced. They stated, in a formal report, that, in consequence of the interruption of their usual supplies, resulting from the quarrel between Great Britain and her northern continental colonies, (now the United States,) fifteen thousand negroes had perished, between the end of 1780 and the beginning of 1787, “of famine, or of diseases contracted by scanty and unwholesome diet.” Another report, dated November 22, 1792, represents that, in the course of twenty years preceding, one hundred and seventy-seven estates were sold for the payment of debts, fifty-five were thrown up,—so long ago had that abandonment of estates commenced, of which we nowadays hear so much, as though it were a new thing growing out of emancipation,—and ninety-two were then in the hands of creditors, while, during the same period, eighty thousand and twenty-one executions, amounting to above twenty-two million five hundred thousand pounds sterling, had been lodged in the provost marshal’s office.

Such was the prosperity of Jamaica in 1792; and accounts still more lamentable are given in a another report of November 23, 1804, and in reports of the British House of Commons, of July 24, 1807, of April 13, 1808—report No. 279, 1812, and No. 381, 1832; from all which it appears that Jamaica ruin is an ancient and chronic complaint—as painful, no doubt, but apparently not much more dangerous than the gout, which, as the patient has survived it for seventy years or more, is not likely, perhaps, to result in immediate dissolution; especially as the inhabitants of the island, in spite of this protracted and reiterated ruin of the sugar planters, are vastly better off in every respect—socially, politically, intellectually, religiously, physically, and morally—than at any former period.

Published for gratuitous distribution, at the Office of the American Anti-Slavery Society, No. 138 Nassau Street, New York. Also to be had at the Anti-Slavery Offices, No. 21 Cornhill, Boston, and No. 31 North Fifth Street, Philadelphia.

Edition: current; Page: [1]

7.: Anon. [Stephen Symonds Foster], “Revolution the only remedy for slavery”, 20 pp.



In the treatment of diseases of the human system, an accurate knowledge of their nature and cause is essential to success. An eruption upon the skin indicates a derangement of the internal machinery; and he is the truly skilful physician who discovers the cause of this derangement, and applies himself wisely to its removal, thereby restoring to the vital economy its original harmonious action. Precisely so is it in administering to the moral maladies of our race. A clear and distinct knowledge of their nature and cause is absolutely essential to the discovery and skilful application of appropriate remedies. The absence of such knowledge is one of the principal reasons why, with an unequalled number of spiritual physicians, our country, at the present time, is reeking with corruption, and presents an aspect which, in some respects, might well shame the darkest portions of the heathen world. Slavery, that crime of crimes, with all its untold horrors and abominations, not only exists among us, but is extending itself with a rapidity hitherto unknown in the annals of history. It stands out before the world, to-day, a dark plague-spot upon our national escutcheon. It is an eruption upon the surface of our social system—a foul ulcer, already gangrened, and threatening the very life of the nation. Confined, it is true, in its external developments, to a distinct portion of the body politic, but in its cause and consequences coextensive with the remotest current of life blood which circulates through our common heart.

Unfortunately, however, such is not the popular belief. Slavery is regarded by the masses at the north not only as an evil of trifling magnitude, but as altogether a southern affair; and hence they decline all efforts for its abolition. As well might the head refuse to Edition: current; Page: [2] prescribe remedies for diseases of the foot; or the hand refuse to apply the assuaging ointment to an angry wound, because it had chanced upon the knee, and not upon the thumb. The south is but a part of ourself,—bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh,—and we share with her the sin, the shame, and the misfortunes of slavery. We are a united people, with one and the same destiny; and in nothing are we more thoroughly united than in support of this odious institution.

It is a sad mistake to suppose that the south alone is involved in the unparalleled crime of enslaving three and a half millions of the people of this republic. In this terrible holocaust she has officiated at the altar, it is true; but the north has furnished the knife and the wood, without which not a single victim would now be gasping in the agonies of a living death. To illustrate this important truth, and place the matter beyond the possibility of doubt, or even of cavil,—to point out some of the most important channels through which the wealth, the physical force, and the religious influence of the north are employed to sustain this great national iniquity, and to suggest the appropriate remedy,—will be the object of the following pages.

To understand the actual relations of the different sections of our country to the institution of slavery, it is necessary, in the first place, to bring to mind certain important facts of common notoriety, and consider them in their relative position and general bearing upon this subject.

The slaves, it is well known, constitute about one seventh part of our entire population. In several of the States they are the majority. Taken together they are more numerous than the entire population of the country at the time of the declaration of our national independence. If, in their knowledge of their rights, and their means of defending them, they are more circumscribed than were our revolutionary fathers, the oppression to which they are subjected is infinitely more severe and galling, and hence the motive to resistance proportionally stronger. Said Thomas Jefferson, himself a revolutionist and a slaveholder, “One hour of their bondage is fraught with more misery than whole ages of that which we rose in rebellion to oppose.” Our fathers were stimulated to resistance by the loss of political rights merely. They were subjected to taxation without representation; and when accused of crime, the right to an impartial trial by a jury of their peers was denied them. But a Edition: current; Page: [3] nation in our midst has been robbed of personal liberty, utterly denied an appeal to the laws of the land for protection in any shape whatever, and, so far as rights and personal security are concerned, placed absolutely on a level with the brutes. Our fathers, under the most rigorous administration of the British government, were never doomed, even in anticipation, to the loss of a tithe of their possessions. The slaves are robbed of all. They have earned thousands of millions of dollars—the wealth of a nation; but among them all there cannot be found a solitary individual who is the legally recognized owner of a single cent. Their plunderers have literally spared them nothing. “A slave,” says the statue, “is one who is in the power of the master to whom he belongs. He can do nothing, possess nothing, nor acquire any thing but what must belong to his master.” With the loss of property has gone also the sacred right of marriage, and the parental relation. These heaven-descended institutions exist for them only to mock their agony. A million and a half of slave women, some of them without even the tinge of African blood, are given up a lawful prey to the unbridled lusts of their masters. Even the most refined and virtuous are liable, at any hour, to come under the absolute control of any vile and bloated wretch who has the gold to command their price, and can appeal neither to the government nor to their friends for protection. Their backs are scarred with the lash; their foreheads exposed to the branding iron. Their families are sold upon the auction block. The spelling book is denied them. The Bible is to them a sealed book; the public worship of God a crime.

Such is but a faint picture of the condition of more than three and a half millions of the people of this country, many of whom are the offspring of their masters, and some of them children of our most distinguished statesmen. To hold this vast people in such a condition of wretchedness; to plunder, maim, and imbrute them; and especially to do this in a country where liberty is, theoretically, the acknowledged right of all, requires the constant application of an immense force. In this age of light, of discussion, of world-wide sympathy with the oppressed, it requires the strength of numbers as well as superior intelligence to triumph over those who are, by nature, our equals, and bind them in fetters. Whence then comes the force by means of which this great wrong is perpetrated? In other words, how, and by whom, are the slaves actually held in this Edition: current; Page: [4] condition? What power is that which makes them slaves? which holds possession of their plundered rights? We know their masters, the men who claim them as their property, and who are usually denominated slaveholders. Their position is clear and unmistakable. But is it by them alone that the slaves are held in bondage? or are others concerned with them, as accomplices and abettors? This is a most important inquiry, an intelligent answer to which will shed a world of light upon all the various ramifications of this most intricate subject.

That the slaves are not held by their claimants unaided by any foreign force, is apparent from the vast disparity in their numbers. The slaves, it must be remembered, are more than three and a half millions; their masters less than half a million, or as one to seven. We must, therefore, look elsewhere than to the plantation for the power which makes the plantation what it is—the charnel house of liberty, the grave of unnumbered hopes. The master, beyond all question, has his accomplices somewhere. To find them is the object of our search, that upon them also, as well as upon him, we may roll the mountain weight of this terrible iniquity.

Slavery in this country was, originally, a purely domestic institution. It existed without the sanction of law, solely on the responsibility of the families into which it was introduced, and the neighborhoods which tolerated it. But as it grew in strength, it became necessary for the government to take cognizance of it, and either adopt and regulate it, or put an end to its existence. It was seen to be a beast of prey which must either be caged or exterminated, or, in time, its depredations would become indiscriminate, and the children of all classes would be exposed to its terrible fangs. The governments, in most of the States, decided to adopt it, and assume its regulation and support. Hence the system lost its purely domestic character, and became a political institution. In those States slaves were declared to be lawful property, and the whole power of the government, civil and military, was pledged to the claimants of such property for its protection. By that act of the government the responsibility of slavery, which had hitherto been confined to a comparatively small number of private individuals, was extended to the whole community, or, at least, to that portion of it which constituted the government; and supporting the government became synonymous with slaveholding. It is now no longer the claimants of the Edition: current; Page: [5] slaves who control their destiny. The government has assumed that prerogative. It and not the master, decides their condition. It puts the official brand of slavery upon them, and follows them, wherever they may go, by night and by day, with a doom as certain as their own existence. It makes it a crime in any one to shelter or protect them, or to aid their escape. The masters, in some cases, would gladly set free their slaves; but the government overrules their wishes, and holds them still in bondage. The real slaveholders, therefore, are those who, through the government, actually ordain, uphold, and protect the system—who doom the negro, by law, to the condition of a brute. And hence, as slavery is preëminently a political institution, and slaveholding a political act, we should go to the caucus and to the ballot box, as well as to the plantation, to ascertain a man’s standing on this question. One may possibly be the legally-recognized owner of slaves, and be innocent in the sight of God. But he cannot sustain a slaveholding government, knowing its character, without involving himself in all the guilt and crimes inherent in the system. To sustain such a government is inevitably to aid in holding slaves. Not the slaves only of humane masters, but of the most cruel and brutal also. By that act he makes himself the accomplice of all the Legrees and Haleys in the land who perpetrate their crimes under the sanctions of a government of which he constitutes a part, and to the strength of which he voluntarily consents to add the weight of his own personal influence. For, it must be remembered, these wretches derive all their power over their victims from the government. Let its protection be withdrawn but for a single hour, and they would have returned to their own lips the poisoned chalice which they had mingled for the lips of their hapless slaves. Whoever, therefore, consents to accept a slaveholding government, and proffers to it his support, should be classed with the worst of slave claimants, inasmuch as he is not only their accomplice, but is party to an association without whose authority and protection these miscreants could never perpetrate their crimes. Such is the cost at which, in this republic, a citizen purchases the privilege of membership in the government.

Originally, the responsibility of slavery rested exclusively with the States in which it existed. No State had, necessarily, any connection with it in any other State; and if any of the States chose, they might be entirely free from the contamination. But in the formation Edition: current; Page: [6] of our present political union the relations of the several States to slavery became entirely changed. The support of the institution which had hitherto devolved exclusively upon the States in which it existed, was now assumed by the Federal Government, and the responsibility thereby thrown upon the whole country. In the United States Constitution are four important provisions, each of which, in its operations, makes the north a party to the continuance of the system, and is of such a nature as necessarily to involve all who acknowledge allegiance to the government in the guilt of that odious institution. There is also in the Constitution another provision of the same tenor, but it has become inoperative by its own limitation.

Of these provisions, the one which presents itself first in order for our notice relates to the rendition of escaped slaves. Prior to her adoption of the United States Constitution the soil of Massachusetts was free. The slave no sooner planted his feet upon it than his chains fell off. She knew no difference between the fugitive from Carolina and the fugitive from Hungary. All who sought her protection were alike the objects of her care. It was her proud boast that her soil, barren though it might be, was untainted with the footprints of a slave—that her chill breezes fanned no tyrant brow. But alas, the change! To-day every rood of her soil is hunting ground for kidnappers. Concord, and Lexington, and Bunker Hill are all deeded to the slave power. There is no temple in all her borders so sacred that it may not be profaned by the presence of the impious man-hunter; while her young men, who should have been the pride and glory of the Commonwealth, may be seen armed with murderous steel, assisting him to seize and bind his hapless prey. But recently have we seen two armies, headed respectively by National and State officials,—the strong arm of the Federal Government, backed and supported by the strong arm of the State Executive,—marshalled in deadly array through the streets of New England’s proud capital, over the very spot where Attucks fell, and within sight of Bunker Hill, dragging back to the hell from whence he had escaped one poor, solitary victim who had trustingly sought protection at her hands! Alas! who could have believed this proud old Commonwealth capable of such a crime! And yet this is the legitimate fruit of our “glorious Union.” What better could be expected from the political companionship of a people who live by Edition: current; Page: [7] plunder, and make education a crime? What is here said of Massachusetts is essentially true of all the north. There is not a solitary foot of soil beneath the shadow of the stars and stripes where the slave-hunter may not pursue his prey.

Another provision of the Constitution requires the United States to “protect each of the States against domestic violence.” This provision pledges the entire blood and treasure of the north to fight the battles of slavery, and makes all who acknowledge allegiance to the government virtually the body guard of slave masters. It is to them that the master looks to keep the peace on his plantation, and in more instances than one have they responded to his call, by sending a military force to suppress a slave insurrection. It is this provision of the Constitution, more especially, which guaranties the perpetuity of slavery. In a conflict with her slaves, it is not upon herself that the south relies, but upon the strong, vigorous, athletic arm of the north. Says the Maryville (Tenn.) Intelligencer, “We of the south are, emphatically, surrounded by a dangerous class of beings,—degraded, stupid savages,—who, if they could but once entertain the idea that immediate and unconditional death would not be their portion, would react the St. Domingo tragedy. But the consciousness, with all their stupidity, that a tenfold force, superior in discipline if not in barbarity, would gather from the four corners of the United States and slaughter them, keeps them in subjection. But to the non-slaveholding States particularly are we indebted for a permanent safeguard against insurrection. Without their assistance, the white population of the south would be too weak to quiet that innate desire for liberty which is ever ready to act itself out with every rational creature.” Said the Hon. Thomas D. Arnold, of Tennessee, in the United States House of Representatives, “What had the south to rely on if the Union were dissolved? All the crowned heads were against her. A million of slaves were ready to rise, and strike for freedom at the first tap of the drum!” Said the Hon. Mr. Underwood, of Kentucky, (lately of the United States Senate,) on the same occasion, “The dissolution of the Union was the dissolution of slavery. It had been the common practice for southern men to get up on this floor, and say, ‘Touch this subject, and we will dissolve this Union as a remedy.’ Their remedy was the destruction of the thing they wished to save, and any sensible man could see it.”

Edition: current; Page: [8]

Similar admissions have been made by many of the prominent statesmen of the south, among whom is the late Hon. Henry Clay; but our limits will not permit us to introduce them here.

Indeed, testimony on this point is unnecessary; for, as Mr. Underwood has well said, no sensible man, at all familiar with the subject, can fail to see that slavery draws its life blood from the Union. If the protection of the north were withdrawn, the slaves could only be kept in subjection by the constant presence of an immense standing army, and this would be entirely out of the power of the south to maintain.

A third provision of the Constitution requires the United States “to protect each of the States against invasion.”

It will readily be seen, that to protect the slave States against invasion is to cut off the slaves from all hope of foreign aid,—the very aid which secured our own independence,—and thereby to postpone the day of their emancipation. It is defending freebooters in the very act of plunder, and, of course, makes us a party to the crime. In resisting their masters by force, the slaves have a natural right to seek assistance from whatever quarter they may think proper; and we cannot interfere with the free exercise of that right without making ourselves responsible for the continuance of their enslavement. Were they left thus free,—that is, were the protection which the south receives from the Federal Government withdrawn,—there is reason to believe that their appeal to the awakened sympathies of Christendom would not be in vain. The north is to the slave what Russia is to Hungary—the strong right arm of the power which mocks all his hopes.

The fourth provision of the Constitution touching the question of slavery is that which gives to the slave States a representation in Congress based upon slave property.

The effect of this provision is to give the slaveholding interests a preponderance in the Federal Government, and thereby to place the whole military and naval power of the nation, together with the national treasury, entirely at the disposal of the slave power, thus rendering it morally impossible for the north to oppose any effectual resistance to its most arrogant demands. In speaking of this with other provisions of the Constitution, the late Hon. John Quincy Adams holds the following language:—

“Yes, it cannot be denied—the slaveholding lords of the south Edition: current; Page: [9] prescribed, as a condition of their assent to the Constitution, three special provisions to secure the perpetuity of their dominion over their slaves. The first was the immunity for twenty years of preserving the African slave trade; the second was the stipulation to surrender fugitive slaves—an engagement positively prohibited by the laws of God, delivered from Sinai; and, thirdly, the exaction, fatal to the principles of popular representation, of a representation for slaves—for articles of merchandise under the name of persons. * * * in fact, the oppressor representing the oppressed. * * * To call government thus constituted a democracy, is to insult the understandings of mankind. It is doubly tainted with the infection of riches and slavery. Its reciprocal operation upon the government of the nation is to establish an artificial majority in the slave representation over that of the free people in the American Congress, and thereby to make the preservation, propagation, and perpetuation of slavery the vital and animating spirit of the national government.”

By this critical analysis of the subject, we find three distinct classes of slaveholders, each sustaining peculiar external relations to the system. The first class are the claimants of slaves. The second are the members of those State governments which have adopted and now regulate the system. The third are the members of the general government—that government having assumed its protection from all forcible interference from within or from without. It should also be remarked, that the latter class stand in the same relation to the system in the District of Columbia and the Territories as that occupied by the constituents of the State governments, within their respective States. We have further seen that it is to the support given to slavery by the general government that it owes its existence at the present time. Had it been left exclusively to the States in which it existed for protection, it might have passed away many years since. The responsibility and guilt of slaveholding, therefore, rest upon the Federal government to the same extent, and in the same degree, that they do upon the State governments, or the slave claimants. As the virus of slavery is inwrought into the very framework of the government, and the support of it is the legitimate fruit of the existing compact, and must inevitably follow from any political union whatever with slaveholders, this responsibility is not confined to any particular party, or class of parties, but it falls Edition: current; Page: [10] necessarily upon all parties which are now, or may be hereafter, organized under the Constitution; and not only upon such parties, collectively, but upon every individual of society who gives his assent to that blood-stained instrument, or to the government of which it is the basis. It matters not how anti-slavery one may be in his feelings or professions—to promise allegiance and support to a Constitution which is “doubly tainted with the infection of riches and slavery,” is practically to betray the cause of freedom into the hands of its enemies, by whomsoever that promise may be made. No support of slavery is so potent as that given to it by honest men. If the interpretation here given to the Constitution—and it is the only one ever given to it by any legislative, judicial, or executive body in the country—be the true one, the conclusion is inevitable that to support it is, virtually, to become a slaveholder. It is to become an accomplice of the master in all the crimes which flow from the system, and, of course, to share his guilt and infamy. The only admissible plea which can be made in abatement of judgment, in the case of any individual, is the general one of ignorance of the nature of the act. We are, therefore, driven, logically, to the conclusion, that all that anti-slavery which accepts the Constitution, and acknowledges the Union, is utterly worthless, if not tainted and spurious, so far at least as its political character and influence are concerned. At best it is but a promissory note, the indorser of which, though an honest man, has not the means to redeem his promise.

It is this complicity with slavery through the government which has palsied all the efforts of our politicians to resist its encroachments, and confine it within its present limits. Having pledged themselves to support it with their treasure and blood, within the limits of the States where it now exists, they have become tainted with its guilt, and have thereby lost their moral power to oppose its progress into new territory. All their denunciations of slaveholding, and their arguments against it, are rendered powerless by their position. They are nothing more nor less than self-condemnation and self-reproach. “If slavery be a sin,” responds its advocate, “why do you engage to support it? Why allow it any where? If it be not a sin, why object to its introduction wherever the people choose to have it?” And so all their preaching against it serves only to disgust and exasperate while it has no tendency to reform. The Christian proverb, “Cast first the beam out of thine own eye, Edition: current; Page: [11] and thou shalt then see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother’s eye,” contains a great philosophic principle, which, if disregarded in our efforts to reform others, is sure to vindicate itself in our utter defeat. They who have sworn upon the altar of slavery are not the men to fight the battles of freedom. The recent unparalleled success of the slave power has in it no hidden mystery. It was repeatedly predicted by the abolitionists as the inevitable result of the composition of the elements of our government. They clearly saw, several years since, that a struggle against slavery carried on under a Constitution which pledged them to its support must inevitably end in utter defeat; and therefore wisely determined to renounce the government, and raise the flag of revolution. They also saw, with equal clearness, that there was no alternative left them but either to withdraw from the government or involve themselves in the guilt of slaveholding; and hence, for the sake of preserving their own personal purity, as well as for the slave’s sake, they decided to exchange an alliance with slave claimants in the government for an alliance with their slaves outside of it, and against it.

In the Federal Union lies the grand secret of the strength of the slave power. Of itself that power is contemptibly weak. If in the countenances of their masters only the slaves discovered the visage of a foe, not another sun would go down upon an unbroken fetter. Backed by the entire body of non-slave-claimants of the south, it could have no strength to stand against the combined forces of the slaves, and their many sympathizers in the north, and in Europe. But in its alliance with the free States, through the Federal government, its strength is immense. It rules with a rod of iron, and none can say to it, “Why do ye so?” It kills, and it makes alive. It casts into the shade the giant intellect of Webster, and places on the highest pinnacle of political eminence and power a man whose boon companions may be found in the bar rooms of the Granite State, and whose fame has scarcely reached the remotest township of the county which gave him birth. It is able not only to command the services of the entire body of our militia when an insurrection is to be suppressed, an invasion to be repelled, or a slave to be recaptured, but it has seduced into its willing service, or awed into submission, nearly every prominent man throughout the entire north. It has by the same means corrupted the heart of the church. Edition: current; Page: [12] It has awed the pulpit [Editor: illegible word] and, in some instances, bribed it into a scriptural defense of slavery. Whatever crime is perpetrated against freedom amongst us, it is done in the name and for the sake of the Union. Is a slave to be recaptured, it must be done to save the Union. Is an abolitionist fined and imprisoned for hiding the outcast, it is done to save the Union. Is the freedom of speech cloven down by the lawless violence of a ruthless mob, or by a shameful perversion of the law by a faithless court, it is done to save the Union. Does a doctor of divinity offer up his mother or his son on the altar of slavery, to serve in the harem or toil in the rice swamps, it is to save the Union. Indeed, no language can describe the depth of degradation to which this guilty connection with slavery has reduced us. It has led us into the perpetration of crimes at the very sight of which all Christendom has turned pale with horror. And where this career of infamy is to end God only knows. Thanks to his name, there is a remnant left, which has not bowed the knee to this political Baal—the seed, it may be, of a revolution which will yet bring light out of darkness, order out of chaos and confusion, and the sweet nectar of liberty from this sea of fathomless corruption.

One of the most obvious, if not disgraceful crimes committed against the cause of freedom by the north, is her fellowship of southern slave breeders and slave mongers as Christians and ministers of Christ. At the south the members of the different religious sects traffic in the bodies and souls of their fellow-members. They sell the living temple of the living God. Baptist sells his brother Baptist on the auction block. The Methodist communes with a woman on one day, and on the next sells her, it may be, for prostitution. The Presbyterian gives the elements of a Savior’s body and blood to a mother on Sunday, and on Monday sells her babe to the slave trader, as we sell the calf to the butcher. And yet when these men visit our northern cities and large towns, they are taken to the bosom of our churches, and oftentimes made welcome to our pulpits, even while the blood of their victims is still dripping fresh from their fingers! Against such indecency every instinct of our nature rises in rebellion. Even the unregenerate heart of the most confirmed worldling mocks at the infamy of the church in this matter. Indeed, so gross and flagrant is her inconsistency even with her own professions, and so little apparent interest has she in maintaining Edition: current; Page: [13] her present fellowship of southern slaveholders, that, to many, her conduct seems a perfect enigma. They can see no sufficient motive to induce her to adhere to a practice which is a source of great grief to many of the most devoted of her members. But the fault of such lies in searching for motives in the wrong direction. The secret of this attachment to an ecclesiastical connection with the south is not to be found in any special love or affection existing between the two sections, not in any conscious honor or strength derived from it by the north, but it is one of the many latent, but fatal results of our “glorious Union.” It is this political network in the toils of which our ministry, as well as our statesmen, find themselves bound hand and foot, and delivered over to the tender mercies of the slave power. Gladly would the northern church, undoubtedly, to-day cut her connection with the south, could it be done without disturbing other, and, to her, more important relations. She feels the infamy of her position, and is smarting under the withering scorn of Christendom, but sees no ready way of escape.

The difficulty lies here: By our political connection with the south, all our influential statesmen and politicians are forced into the interests of slavery. They have no hope of political preferment and eminence but in swearing upon its altars, and vying with each other in their readiness to do its bidding. The government, which is but another name for the slave power, holds in its hands the annual distribution of more than fifty millions of dollars, with all the honors of office, and is therefore a power whose will none but a martyr can afford to disregard. By means of this connection a similar influence is also exerted over our capitalists. All our commercial cities are threatened with the loss of southern trade unless they consent to remain true to the interests of slavery. By this means Boston is made to vie with New York, and New York to vie with Philadelphia, in doing whatever work the slave power may require at their hands. The tariff is also a most effective instrument in the hands of the slave power in controlling northern capitalists. The north desires protection for her manufactures; the slave power will grant that protection only on condition of the most faithful allegiance on her part to its one great interest—its own preservation and aggrandizement. Here, then, we have the two dominant classes of society—the wealth and talent—placed entirely at the disposal of the slave power, and ever listening to catch its word of command Edition: current; Page: [14] To them the Constitution is the higher law, and the will of the slave power is the Constitution. What slavery requires of us is, that there shall be no discussion of the subject here, and that we shall promptly fulfil all our constitutional obligations to protect it, leaving the south to direct the policy of the general government undisturbed by northern interference; and the duty and aim of these men have ever been to see that this requirement was obeyed. This is the work demanded of them by their southern masters, and in consideration of the faithful performance of which they receive political preferment and southern trade, with a tariff pitched upon a sliding scale. In the prosecution of this work the pulpit, from its powerful influence over the popular mind, naturally became a coveted instrument, and through its dependence on the voluntary system for support, became an easy prey to the assaults of so powerful an antagonist.

At a very early period of the anti-slavery enterprise, nearly the entire clergy of the north were either bribed into an open, though indirect support of slavery, or constrained to silence by the threat of expulsion from their pulpits, and starvation for their dependent families. Thus, through our political union with the south, have our clergy been made the slaves of slaves, and our churches kept in a position which is fast making the very name of Christianity a reproach. What is here said of the clergy is essentially true of our periodical press. By means similar to those employed to subjugate the pulpit has the press been muzzled by the slave power, and made to speak only the language of oppression.

Another difficulty which lies across the pathway of the church in cutting her ecclesiastical connection with southern slaveholders, so long as she remains in a political union with them, is the glaring inconsistency of the act. What principle of Christianity or of common sense would warrant her in excluding a man from her fellowship for a heinous crime, in the commission of which she had stood his sworn defender? In concert with others, she has made slavery and the slave trade lawful in our capital. Shall she, then, banish a man from her table whose only offence is, that he has bought and sold slaves?

Again: Should she exclude from her table those who hunt slaves at the south, with what show of consistency could she admit to that table those who, “conquering their prejudices,” do the same thing at the north? Is slave hunting any more unchristian and villanous Edition: current; Page: [15] in Virginia than in Massachusetts or Michigan? As well might the common drunkard refuse to associate with his cronies on account of the quality of the liquor on which they had become intoxicated, or the bad character of the house at which it had been purchased, as the northern church refuse to fellowship those of her own faith, at the south, merely because they held slaves. Such a course, should she attempt it so long as her political relations remain unchanged, would only make her the laughing stock, as she is now the tool, of the slave power.

The only practicable way of cutting any of the cords which bind her to slavery is to sever them all at a single stroke. But so long as she consents to sustain a government which annually consigns to all the horrors of chattel slavery more than a hundred thousand of its own children, turn and shift as she may, the mark of Cain will remain upon her forehead. The only possible salvation from the guilt of slaveholding is in the position long occupied by a single sect,—the old school Covenanters,—and more recently assumed by the abolitionists, of uncompromising hostility to a slaveholding government, and total disfellowship, religiously, of all who persist in upholding it.

We have now laid open before us the secret sources of the strength of the slave power. We see that power, feeble in itself, through the agency of the national government gathering into its hand the strength and resources of twenty millions of freemen, and employing them for its own aggrandizement. By means of this agency it lays its hand upon our pulpit, and it is dumb; upon the press, and it is silent; upon capital, and straightway, for the sake of its per cent., it parts with its birthright; upon our literature, and forthwith it is self-emasculated. It commands our armies. It controls our treasury. It dictates law to our judges. It expounds the gospel to our churches. It has bound the conscience of the nation by an oath to participate in its crimes, and thereby rendered its opposition impossible, or powerless. At its command we trample the law of God under our feet, and refuse to hide the outcast. Thus has it made us at once a nation of atheists and an empire of slaves.

Such is but a faint picture of the nature and strength of the evil with which, as abolitionists, we are called to grapple. Our contest is not with a few hundred thousand slave claimants, in distant States, but with a nation powerful in all the elements of physical Edition: current; Page: [16] strength and intellectual greatness. The enemy is at our own door. The entire government, from the president down to the humblest citizen in the retirement of private life, is, by the requirements of the Constitution, its protector, and is sworn to defend it, if need be, with the heart’s blood. We lift our hand to succor the victim of the merciless man-hunter, and the bayonet, not of the Carolina planter, but of our next door neighbor, is thrust into our bosoms. We hasten the panting fugitive on his flight, and forthwith we find ourselves incarcerated within the walls of a prison built with our own money. We turn to the church for sympathy, and she brands us with the double infamy of fanaticism and infidelity. We, on the other hand, are few in number and limited in resources. And yet our only chance of success lies in being able to bring into the field and oppose to this mighty cordon of strength, behind which slavery has intrenched itself, a superior force. Where, then, lies our hope? Is it in political tactics? in the skilful manœuvring of forces already committed by an oath to the slave power?

To the enlightened vision there is for this evil but one remedy. Our strength all lies in a single force—the conscience of the nation. All else is on the side of the oppressor. But conscience, that force of forces when properly instructed, is all, and always, on our side. It is to this element of strength, then, that our attention should be mainly directed. Our only hope is in being able to bring the conscience of the nation into active conflict with its present position, in respect to slavery, and thereby induce a radical change. What that position is we have already seen. The Constitution requires of the general government the protection of slavery in such of the States as choose to retain it, with no power to regulate or abolish it. Hence the private citizen has no course left to him but either to aid in upholding the system, or renounce his allegiance to the government. His only choice is between slaveholding and revolution. By this subtle device of the slave power the whole country has been leagued in defence of the institution, and the north reduced to a mere subjugated province of the plantation. The heart of the church has been corrupted by it, the conscience of the country fettered, and our statesmen converted into sycophants fawning at the feet of the slave power. Here, then, is the seat of this terrible disease, and here especially must the remedy be applied. Our first great work is to cut this Gordian knot,—the Union,—and Edition: current; Page: [17] set free the northern conscience from the restraints of the constitutional oath. Till this is done, all other efforts will prove of little avail. There is no hope for the slave, nor for the country, but in revolution.

So long as we fulfil our constitutional obligations to slavery, it will live, and extend its domain, in spite of freesoil and free democratic triumphs. To promise to fulfil them, with a different purpose in our hearts, is an act of fraud which will most certainly rob us of our moral power, and make us alike the prey and sport of our enemies. At present, we have little or nothing to do with the slave claimants. They are, of themselves, but a mere cipher. Our controversy is with the government which upholds the system, and makes it possible for the master to plunder his victim, and with a clergy and church who baptize such a government, and thank God for its existence, because, forsooth, it protects them and theirs, though at the same time it inflicts upon millions of their countrymen outrages such as find no parallel under the darkest despotisms of the old world—a government in whose capital stands the auction block for the sale of human flesh, and many of whose senators have acquired princely fortunes by robbing mothers of their babes. This sin of the government and of the church must be brought and laid at the door of every individual member of these corrupt bodies. They must be made to see and feel that they cannot remain in organizations which are employed in the commission of such atrocious crimes without being themselves partakers of the guilt. It is the presence, mainly, of the seemingly good in these corrupt organizations which gives them power to do the wrong. The vilest members of our government, if left alone, would stand aghast at its wickedness. But the presence of better men keeps them in countenance, the better class, meanwhile, excusing themselves with the belief that the villains who use and direct them will alone be held responsible for the results of their united action. Such delusion must be dispelled, and all the guilt, and blood, and fathomless abominations of slavery rolled upon the individual conscience of every man who consents to support a government which legalizes and protects it, or to fellowship a church which recognizes the members of such a government as ministers or followers of Christ. If we would succeed, our separation from slavery must be thorough Edition: current; Page: [18] and complete. “Come out from among them, and be ye separate, and touch not the unclean thing,” is the voice of reason, as well as the language of Scripture.

The great anti-slavery lesson of to-day is, that support to institutions which protect or sanction slavery is slaveholding; and that uncompromising hostility to all such institutions is the only genuine anti-slavery. The time has gone by when lower ground than this can be safely occupied by any true friend of liberty. As well might we recognize a man who is in the daily use, in moderate quantities, of intoxicating drinks, as a genuine friend of temperance, as regard him as a true abolitionist who proffers his allegiance and support to a slaveholding government. The honesty of such a man we may not perhaps question; but in his influence, as well as by his position, he stands with the oppressor, and we should regard and treat him as an enemy of the slave. Freedom allows no compromises. The man who makes them is ill begotten, and can never inherit her estates. To consent to yield to the oppressor a single barleycorn is, in fact, to yield principle, and consequently to yield every thing. So we have always found it. So we always shall find it, till the law of God is reversed, and the corrupt tree brings forth good fruit. In every contest with evil, the highest ground is the strongest. Indeed, our only real strength is in planting our feet upon the absolute right, so that God can work with us and through us. He is no compromiser. He has no part or lot with those who abate one “jot or tittle” of his law to accommodate themselves to the institutions of wicked men. The idea of hedging slavery in within certain limits is morally absurd. It can be exterminated, but it can never be controlled. You can never say to it, “Thus far—but no farther.” And that anti-slavery which seeks merely to confine it within its present limits, or within any limits, is utterly spurious and worthless. It is but a milder type of pro-slavery—a hybrid, or, more properly, a kind of varioloid, whose only grace is in comparison with the hateful disease to which it bears so close a resemblance, and for which it serves as a substitute. Talk of confining slavery? As well might you talk of regulating the cholera, or of confining the plague within certain limits, or say to intemperance, “In such and such localities seek your victims, and we will defend you there; but pass not those boundaries.” The vices are not our Edition: current; Page: [19] servants. We have power to exterminate them, if we will, but we can never tolerate them, except to become our masters. A people whose moral standard will permit them to tolerate slavery any where are too weak to resist its most arrogant demands, under the pressure of temptations such as the slave power is always able to present.

If we would see our country free from the curse of slavery, we must begin the work of its abolition by applying to it the golden rule—the eternal law of absolute moral rectitude.

Our first work is with ourselves, to bring our own conduct within the requirements of this law, by assuming such a position towards the slaveholding institutions of the country as we should desire others to occupy were we the slaves; thus practically “remembering those in bonds as bound with them.” Our next duty is to press its claims upon the conscience of our neighbor, and give him no rest till he also yields to its requirements. Anti-slavery, it must be remembered, is a reform as well as a revolution. It can progress only as the people are made better; and we can aid it only as we exert a healthful moral influence on those around us. The slaves can be delivered from their chains only by delivering their enslavers from their guilt. In the same proportion that the one is made morally better is the other made politically and socially free.

By means such as are here proposed must the moral sentiments of the country be renovated. When that shall have been done to any considerable extent, the time will have come to commence the work of reconstructing the government and remodelling the church. But it must be remembered, we cannot build without material; nor is it wise to commence the work till a moderate portion, at least, shall have been previously prepared. Let it be the aim, then, of every true friend of liberty to get ready the public mind; and in due time will appear a master-builder under the superintendence of whose tasteful and discerning eye will be reared an edifice worthy the highest love and admiration of a free and generous people. May God hasten the day when it shall be our happiness to hail for our beloved country a new State and a new Church, “wherein dwelleth righteousness.”

Reader, do you agree, in the main, with the views here presented? Suffer us, then, to exhort you to engage, with all your heart, in the work of their dissemination. Be yourself a preacher of this divine Edition: current; Page: [20] gospel, leaning, in the mean time, upon the arm of Him who is above all, and keeping your heart warm and overflowing with that love which animated the bosom of our great Leader while on earth. Remember the wretchedness and utter desolation of those for whom you toil, and with what eagerness and intense anxiety they watch your every motion. Their destiny is in your hands! Disappoint not their hopes. Remember, too, that you are laboring for a world’s redemption—for such is really the scope of this great enterprise. “The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds.” Like the divinely illuminated Saul of Tarsus, “Confer not with flesh and blood.” Like our revolutionary fathers, though with better weapons, defend the struggling cause of Freedom manfully, heroically, against all its enemies. Now is emphatically the time to work.

Published for gratuitous distribution, at the Office of the American Anti-Slavery Society, No. 138 Nassau Street, New York. Also to be had at the Anti-Slavery Offices, No. 21 Cornhill, Boston, and No. 31 North Fifth Street, Philadelphia.

Edition: current; Page: [(1)]
Eliza Lee Follen
Follen, Eliza Lee

Eliza Lee Follen, “To mothers in the free states”, 4 pp.



I speak to mothers. The mothers in the Free States could abolish slavery; American mothers are responsible for American slavery.

My countrywomen, let me ask you a few questions. Have you, to whom the holy fountain of a mother’s love has been opened,—when that day-star of your life, a living child, was first set in the eternal firmament of your being,—solemnly consecrated this immortal soul to the service of justice, of truth, of God? to the imitation of Christ? I will take it for granted that you have performed this high and holy duty; your son, perhaps, is now a man; he is the pride of your life, the joy of your heart; you have, perhaps, some cherished picture of him when he was a boy, and you love to compare the manly face, filling and brightening daily with the record of a good and happy life, with the innocent child-face that you love for its very childishness, and for the dawning prophecy you read there of what now is a happy reality. Do you, when you so look at the child and the man, and bring home to your heart the memory of this happy darling boy playing at your feet or laughing in your lap, your heart running over with love and joy, do you sometimes think what would have been your desolation of soul at his being snatched from you and sold for a slave, condemned to life-long ignorance, hard labor, and brutal treatment,—bereft, both of childhood and manhood,—and you, left with a breaking heart, forced to submit in silence, or endure the lash should you murmur? And now when you rejoice in the manhood of your grown-up son, and his possible happy future, and find your waning existence brightened by the sunshine of his early days, do you remember the slave that has no childhood, no youth, no manhood, and his poor mother who can never know your joy?

There is even a more painful picture than this for American mothers to see, and one that God and man call upon them to look at and remember. You have a daughter; you are a proud, tender, virtuous mother. She is your heart’s choicest treasure. You would bid the winds of Heaven to blow gently upon her; you guard her with the most sensitive care; she is as the flower of your existence. Imagine her exposed to ill usage, often cruelty, always to the lowest passions of humanity; her womanly feelings trampled upon,—if possible, obliterated; her pure affections laughed at and scorned; her person desecrated, and her whole nature brought down to the level of the vileness of a licentious man. I ask you whether, when you look upon your beloved daughter, you remember the poor slave-mother and her child? Is the picture overdrawn? If you will not believe authentic statements, like those in the Key to Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and many others never disproved, use your Edition: current; Page: [2] own reason, and yourself judge whether it is improbable. The slaveholder has, by law, the same power over his slaves as he has over his cattle. He puts them up on the auction-block to be examined by slave-traders, just as cattle are examined by a butcher. The poor girl whom he owns may not refuse to do his bidding, let the act he commands be what it will; if she disobey him, he may punish her in any way he pleases; if she forcibly resists, he may flog her to death. The law of the land and the customs of society give her to him. She is his slave.

Do you not—I address every mother in the land—do you not know that such irresponsible power must be abused? Would you trust your own husbands or sons with such power? Would you dare accept it yourselves? In spite of the restraints of law and public opinion, do you not see enough of injustice, licentiousness, and cruelty, to show you what a hell on earth life must be where all restraints are taken away? For my part, I only wonder that, in the South, the enormities of the Slave System are not multiplied tenfold. It speaks well for human nature, that so much love and tender care and justice are practised towards these poor helpless creatures who have nothing to protect them—nothing, save the unquenchable pity still left in the hearts of men, and the fear which even the worst masters have, lying at the bottom of their hearts, of the retribution laid up for them in the world where they and their victims will soon stand side by side before the Great Judge of all. But though it doubtless is true that excessive cruelty is the exception, not the rule, yet the story of the actual treatment of the slaves is too frightful to relate. Every honest and intelligent man and woman in the land must know that Uncle Tom and Ida May owe much of their power to the ghastly truths they reveal.

But if it were proved that no cruelty was exercised towards the slaves, the case would be no better. A slaveholder calls himself the owner of that to which he has no lawful claim. He who pretends to own a human soul usurps the prerogative of the Almighty. The right of a man to himself is his first and dearest right; and there is no robbery so monstrous as that which takes it from him, thereby stripping its victim of all that is worth having in life, and putting out of his power all redress save by death or crime. It is as mean as it is cruel.

You will, perhaps, say to me ‘these things may be as you state them, but what can women,—what can we mothers do? why make ourselves miserable at the thought of these terrible facts, when we can do the poor sufferers no good? what can we do?’ I answer, you can do everything; I repeat, you can abolish slavery. Let every mother take the subject to heart, as one in which she has a personal concern. In the silence of night, let her listen to the slave-mothers crying to her for help. Let her prayer for them be her “Soul’s sincere desire.” Let her promise before God to do all she can for their redemption. Let her be faithful to her vow, “in season and out of season,” and watch every opportunity and means of doing, or saying, or suffering anything she can for these poor, dumb and helpless creatures. Let her seek for light how she can best serve their cause. Let the desire to serve them go with her where she goes, and dwell a perpetual presence in her home. Let her heart, her understanding, her thoughts, be ever on the alert in their cause. While she must ask for heavenly wisdom to guide her, she must take no council from her fears; she must call no man master. Edition: current; Page: [3] She must, in all things, be “true as truth, uncompromising as justice.” Let no worldly favor win her, no flattery deceive her, no danger deter her. Her children will see in her every act a respect for the rights of all. They will see that neither position, nor color, nor any circumstances of life, can ever make her forget that God made us all of one blood. They will grow up in an atmosphere of true christian love. When they are of an age to understand and hear the sad story, she will tell them of the wrongs done by the white man to the poor slave. She has kindled in the hearts of her children a love of justice, a hatred of tyranny, a passionate desire to take the part of the oppressed which shall enlist them for life as the champions of their sorely-injured, down-trodden, colored brethren. Such a mother is as an abiding inspiration to her children. Her son will not vote for the Fugitive Slave Law or the Nebraska Bill, nor become a kidnapping United States Commissioner! If he be opposed, persecuted for fidelity to the “higher law,” if all his worldly prospects be destroyed, he will not waver for a moment. Should he be fined and imprisoned, or, as some faithful ones have been, called upon to die unless he will bow to the hideous idol of American slavery, he will still hold fast his faith. Like the young Hebrew, in the story of the Maccabees, who refused to obey the tyrant, he will be ready to say:—“even in death, in the last gasp; ‘thou, like a fury, itakest me out of this present life; but the King of this world shall raise us up, who have died for his laws, unto everlasting life.’ ” And the heroic mother will, with God’s help, support him and say as the noble Hebrew mother said:—“I beseech thee, my son, to look upon the Heavens and the earth, and all that is therein, and consider that God made them of things that were not, and so was mankind made likewise. Fear not this tormentor; take thy death, that I may receive thee again in mercy.” In the early days of our country, we had such mothers; and they had such sons. Let them of the present day emulate their example. Let them so consecrate themselves, so dedicate their children; and, ere long, the chains will fall from our three millions of captives, and the jubilee be heard in our land.

Many will say, “Suppose all our sons were sincerely devoted, what could they do? What steps can they take? The Free States have no power to abolish slavery. Show us some practical way.” It is an old, but true saying, “A will finds a way.” But who does not know that the votes from the Free States made the Fugitive Slave Law and passed the Nebraska Bill? The Free States support Slavery. The Southerners are the Slave Owners, we are the Slave Holders. Put an end to the immoral participation of the Free States, and their almost as criminal indifference, and American Slavery could no longer exist. We are the greater sinners, for we have the baser motives for our share in this iniquity. A selfish fear of harm to ourselves keeps us quiet, while we see our Republic scorned or mourned over by the lovers of Justice throughout the world. No old sacred remembrances, no time-honored prejudices, no tender associations of early and childish attachments, none of all these things can be pleaded in extenuation of our conduct. Not one of us thinks Slavery right; nay, we declare it to be a sin; out of our own mouths we are condemned.

I say, then, to mothers in the Free States, you have before you a solemn duty, a glorious work. Shall the noble Florence Nightingale Edition: current; Page: [4] spend eight hours in the day upon her knees, by the bedside of her wounded and suffering fellow-men, both countrymen and enemies, and will not you listen to the cry of the millions of sufferers in your native land? Her mission is one of love and mercy only; yours is a work of love and mercy and justice. Shall she and other heroic women, taking no counsel from fear of ridicule, or that shrinking fastidious delicacy in which they have been nurtured, nor from fear of hardship, disease, or death, leave comfort, luxury, home, in pity for bodily suffering; and can our American women do nothing, risk nothing, for those in their native land who are bereft of everything that is desirable in life! Shall not the broken spirit, the bruised body, the wounded affections, the cramped and distorted intellect, the crushed aspirations, of the slave be remembered by his happy and favored countrywomen? Will you not listen to his cry for help? Will you not hasten to his relief, and, “on the knees of your spirit,” pray and labor for him, till his wrongs are redressed and he is set free? Can you not find the skill and the courage to apply efficient remedies to the moral contagion that is slowly but surely poisoning our very atmosphere, sapping the foundations of our existence as a Republic, so that liberty and love of justice are fast dying out in our land?

Mothers in the Free States, I tell you no idle dream; I present no visionary impracticable idea. I tell you the simple truth, when I say you can, if you will, abolish slavery. The tender heart of the boy is in the hands of the mother. From her he receives his first impressions of right and wrong—impressions which remain to him through life, mingled with the memory of his first and happiest hours. When he is tempted to abandon the highest right, to make a compromise with wrong, to adopt a time-serving policy dignified by the name of prudence and defended on the plea of necessity; then shall the memory of his mother and her faithful words come back to him—the angel of his early days. In that presence, the tempter shall stand rebuked, and take his true shape of cowardice and sin. Therefore, O my countrywomen, I call upon you, I plead with you to take up this cause with a heroic faith, a martyr-like fidelity, an unquenchable courage!

I am myself a mother. I am bound with the same ties that you are. I have counted the cost, and know what I demand of you. But the time has come when woman must come to the rescue in this land. As women, our all is at stake. We have, above every other motive, that especial call for our devotion—our children. They are, at once, the pledges of our sincerity and the tests of our courage. Let us not be found wanting.

Published, for gratuitous distribution, at the Office of the American Anti-Slavery Society, No. 138 Nassau Street, New York. Also, to be had at the Anti-Slavery Offices, No. 21 Cornhill, Boston, and No. 31 North Fifth Street, Philadelphia.

Edition: current; Page: [(1)]
Louisa Jane Whiting Barker
Barker, Louisa Jane Whiting

(Louisa Jane Whiting Barker) By a Former Resident of Slave States, “Influence of slavery upon the white population”, 12 pp.



Much has been said and written about the “victims of oppression;” and wherever the term is used in connection with American institutions, our thoughts at once turn to the millions of our colored brethren in bondage.

A true understanding of the nature and influences of American slavery forces the conviction that this system renders the master no less a “victim” than the slave. The attractive elegances of social life may deceive the superficial observer; but a deeper insight will discover, under this light drapery, not only a world of secret misery, but of hideous corruption.

Nothing can convey a true idea of the influence of slavery upon the white population but an intimate acquaintance with southern society—not as a guest, to be entertained and flattered, but as a resident year by year, when all reserve is laid aside in the free and natural relations of social and domestic life.

In order to understand the immense power of slavery to shape the character and destiny of the master, we must remember that it has the sole training of his early youth. The men and women of the south are what the slaves have made them. With a knowledge of the influences exerted upon the first eighteen or twenty years of life, almost any biography may be predicted. This is peculiarly true of the characters formed by slavery. In the pulpit, on the plantation, in Congress, we find the promise of the child fulfilled in manhood.

The conscience which is never awakened to the force of the command, to “do unto others as ye would that they should do unto you,” will not in after life be vigilant in self-government.

The heart that has never been made to realize that all created beings are the children of one Father, and equally dear to him, cannot acknowledge the obligations resting on that fact, especially when they conflict with the whole social and civil arrangements of life.

The first aspect in which slavery presents itself to a northerner is in the relations of the household. This is the first and the best; and if objections to slavery are based upon stories of personal abuse and suffering, and no pains are taken to look beneath the fair exterior, Edition: current; Page: [2] such objections will speedily give place to a less hostile feeling.

The white child at the south is born into a strange and unnatural combination of influences. Consigned at once to the care of his colored nurse, often dependent on her for food as well as every other service which belongs to the office of maternity, he is attached to her by the first instincts of his nature. It is a common thing for the colored mother to nurse her own and her mistress’s child through the whole period of lactation; and thus between these little ones a bond of affection is formed, which, if left to its natural development, would consecrate these relations for life.

The office of the nurse is to keep the child from physical injury. He must be carefully protected from extremes of heat, cold, fatigue, and hunger. He must not be thwarted or fretted, for that would “spoil his disposition.” The nurse carries him about from morning to night, to the kitchen, the stable, the garden, or the fields, wherever her roving disposition may dictate; and if he is brought back at the appointed time in good condition, the nurse is considered unexceptionable.

Yet, all this while, bad temper and the waywardness of childhood are developing, without restraint or correction. The life of mental and physical inactivity that southern women lead renders them incapable of a judicious training of their children, and, in general, they seem entirely ignorant of the responsibilities involved in the relation of a mother. They are too essentially indolent to undertake the arduous duty of “managing” any thing or any body; and thus the precious years of infancy are committed to the most ignorant or malicious hands.

As soon as the little one is old enough to seek playmates, his foster brother and the little negroes near his age are his constant companions. They become the next instructors of his youth, and their language, habits, and manners form the strongest associations of his childhood—associations so strong that there is hardly a southern man or woman who, under extensive culture and intercourse with the best society in after life, does not occasionally, by language and pronunciation, betray their early intimacy with the southern negro, whose peculiarities, when once heard, can always be recognized.

Meanwhile “human nature” begins to show itself with considerable vigor. The little master gets angry with his playmates; he fights and beats them, while they are never to strike back. His little foster brother, who is generally presented to him for a body servant, becomes his favored victim. He beats him the most because he is his most constant companion, and oftenest offends him; and the enslaved brother is taught that he must bear more because he especially belongs to his young master.

Occasionally a mother corrects her son, and begs him not to strike, because it is not “pretty.” But, as a general rule, as soon as the child learns the use of his little fist, he finds it most effectual for his purposes, and in the exercise of ungoverned passion and imperious Edition: current; Page: [3] self-will, the years of childhood prepare the way for the deeper sins of manhood. But long before he reaches that period he is drilled in the catechism whose first question is, “What is the chief end of the white man?” Ans. “To rule.” “What is the chief end of the slave?” Ans. “To obey.” And by a logical inference from the right of property in man, he argues that a master has a right to do what he will with his own, and even if he choose to torment his slave, he is accountable to no one therefor.

Neither Eva nor Topsy are exaggerations, for I have known the counterpart of each. But I have seen a specimen of haughty rebellion against reasonable requirements, of insensibility to the sufferings of others, in the daughter of a southern merchant, which has never yet been paralleled in fiction.

Imagine a young negro girl, with her hair blazing round her head, lighted “for fun” by her young “missis.” I thought it had caught by accident, and extinguished it; but she told me it had been often done before. I asked her why she allowed it, and she proudly answered, “I would not put it out if it burned off my ears.”

Nature produces the same diversities of temper at the south as at the north. But wherever the elements are bad, slavery fosters them into full and hateful proportions. It has no gentle teachings of self-control and self-sacrifice for the happiness of others; it forms no habits of industry and self-reliance; it cultivates no sense of justice. On the other hand, it exalts self into hateful supremacy over every other consideration. Indolence and imbecility are its inevitable results, and this very idleness and mental vacuity encourage artificial wants, which make extra demands upon the compulsory labor of the slave.

The time soon comes to “educate” the youth; but the only opportunities for education which deserve the name must be sought beyond the reach of slavery. In a speech before the House of Representatives, in Congress, in 1848, the Hon. Horace Mann says, upon this subject, “Slavery makes the general education of the whites impossible. You cannot have general education without common schools. Common schools cannot exist where the population is sparse. Where slaves till the soil, or do the principal part of whatever work is done, the free population must be sparse. Slavery, then, by an inexorable law, denies general education to the whites.” * * *

“Sir, during the last ten years I have had a most extensive correspondence with the intelligent friends of education in the south. They yearn for progress, but they cannot obtain it. They procure laws to be passed, but they speak in a vacuum, and no one hears the appeal. If a parent wishes to educate his children, he must send them from home, and thus suffer a sort of bereavement while they live, or he must employ a tutor or governess, which few are able to do. The rich may do it; but what becomes of the poor? In cities the obstacles are less, but the number of persons resident in cities is comparatively small. All this is the inevitable result of Edition: current; Page: [4] slavery; and it is as impossible for free, thorough, universal education to coexist with slavery as for two bodies to occupy the same space at the same time. Slavery would abolish education if it should invade a free state; education would abolish slavery if it could invade a slave State.”

But slavery not only precludes education by its very nature—it enacts laws to secure ignorance among the free citizens of the slave States. By the laws of Virginia, Mrs. Douglass, of Norfolk, was pronounced guilty of a “crime” for teaching free colored children to read. She suffered thirty days’ imprisonment in the city jail, not because it is actually a crime to teach a free colored child to read, but because intelligence is dangerous to slavery. It was necessary to make an example of her to deter all future offenders. Judge Baker has won an unenviable notoriety in his delivery of her sentence. He says that the idea that universal culture is necessary to religious instruction and education is “mischievous”—a well-chosen term. He says that of all the negroes in the world, none are so intelligent, so inclined to the gospel, and so blessed by the elevating influences of the gospel, as the slaves of the United States, and that if any one would have their interests more carefully regarded than they are by the laws of Virginia, it must be from a sickly sensibility towards them. Then he proceeds to vindicate the justice of the sentence by the fact that, “in good sense and sound morality, his discretionary power to imprison for six months or less does not authorize a mere minimum punishment,” since the question of “guilt” is beyond a doubt, and there are many “aggravating circumstances.” “Therefore, as a terror to those who acknowledge no rule of action but their own evil will and pleasure, and in vindication of the justness of our laws, the judgment of the court is, that you be imprisoned for the period of one month in the jail of this city.”

Because Mrs. Douglass chose to remain and suffer the full penalty of the law, though all the citizens hoped she would leave the city, the Norfolk Argus of February 9, 1854, says, “Then sympathy departed, and in the breast of every one rose a righteous indignation towards a person who would throw contempt in the face of the laws, and brave the imprisonment for ‘the cause of humanity.’ ”

Such a burlesque of all that is truly enlightened and just cannot be improved by any comment. It is an admirable illustration of the significance attached to that clause in the Declaration of Independence which guaranties “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” to every American citizen, whether applied to Mrs. Douglass or the free colored children. It explains the fact that of nine hundred thousand there are eighty thousand whites in Virginia who can neither read nor write.

This is the sort of justice that rendered the Hon. Samuel Hoar a “fugitive from slavery.” One of the governor’s aids, now a member of Congress from South Carolina, told me that his orders from the governor to the mayor of Charleston were to treat Mr. Hoar with the utmost courtesy, but that he must leave the city—peaceably if he would—by violence if necessary. He granted that Edition: current; Page: [5] Massachusetts had the right to test the constitutionality of a law affecting her own citizens, but that the discussion of that question was fraught with such dangers to the life and safety of the masters, that it was a matter of life or death to them, and “they were resolved to suppress it, right or no right.

But suppose the most favorable opportunities afforded by wealth for education; what future worthy of true manhood offers itself under the institution of slavery? Its first, greatest, all-absorbing ambition is for wealth. That is absolutely indispensable. Not that wealth which is the honorable reward of industry; on the other hand, it is the inherited proceeds of unrequited toil which give the highest social position. If a man has never soiled his hands by useful labor, and is secure from the possibility of ever applying them to the purposes for which they were created,—if by inheritance or marriage he can command a fortune,—the ends of his ambition are attained—an ambition more universal and unscrupulous in the means adopted to obtain it than any or all others combined. “A poor white man” is a byword and a reproach. For him there is no future. By degrading the dignity of manual labor, slavery crushes those who are neither slaveholders nor slaves. The poor white man is too proud to associate with negroes, his superiors too proud to associate with him; denied the benefits of education, with a hopeless prospect for himself and children, there is absolutely no sphere for him but to labor for the supply of his animal wants, despised and rejected.

It is from this rank and condition in life that the material is chosen to fill the place of slave driver—a fit school for such an office, where he must crush out of his soul the last vestige of self-respect; he must crucify his true manhood, its very life blood must be drained, in order to prepare the soulless automaton to do his work acceptably. When that is accomplished, he may hope for promotion to the more lucrative and conspicuous offices of kidnapper and slave hunter.

But if he cannot “conquer his prejudices,” if there is a tender place in his heart that quivers at the sound of mourning, and if he proudly prefers the scanty fruits of his own earning to the wealth of unrequited toil, then his fate is fixed, and in hopeless ignorance and poverty he and his children will live and die to no other purpose than to swell the list of those who shall one day rise up in judgment against slavery.

If the “poor white man” numbers daughters among his progeny, their condition is equally deplorable, especially if their home happens to be remote from towns. They are then too far removed from the means of acquiring the useful trades which afford a respectable livelihood to find advancement in that direction, and the best thing offered them is the position of housekeeper in a wealthy family. The white girl, by virtue of her color, is ranked one degree above the slaves, though the advantages of the house servants for cultivation in the refinements of domestic life are often superior to those afforded by her own home. She holds an intermediate position Edition: current; Page: [6] between the mistress and slave, always subject to the countermanding orders of her superior, and therefore not recognized as authority by the slaves, treated by them with contempt, answered with impertinence, annoyed by disobedience, and insulted with her poverty; yet she finds no companionship in the family which she serves. Guests may come and go, and gayety resound throughout the borders, but she has no part or lot therein, and is virtually ranked among the slaves.

One of these unfortunate women told me that she had been compelled to bear treatment from a former mistress to which few house servants are ever subjected. She was required to rise at three o’clock in the morning, after working till ten or eleven at night; and sometimes she was so overpowered by fatigue, that, after she went out doors in the morning, she sat down under the trees and fell asleep again. She had the whole oversight of house and kitchen, carrying the basket of keys to every locked drawer and closet about the house, and the various storerooms arranged about the yard; she must answer every call from every quarter; she employed all her leisure time in weaving negro cloth; she was stinted in her food, and provided with a bed that would disgrace a convict’s cell; and for this labor and this usage she received ninety-six cents a week.

And now I approach a part of my subject from which I would gladly draw back, were I not riveted to the point by my desire to be faithful to my purpose of setting forth the effects of slavery upon the master. It is a painful and delicate office to do justice to this matter; but I speak to the pure in heart, who seek to know and defend eternal truths.

By a strange misnomer, slavery has been called a “domestic” institution: but before its presence all that is properly implied in that word domestic vanishes like an exorcised spirit. The desolation wrought among the colored victims of slavery is terrible, and mighty indeed is their demand for redress; but they have their revenge in the wreck of the domestic happiness of their oppressors.

I have said that the white child is committed entirely to the care of the colored nurse, and thus the process of contamination begins in infancy. Young children are familiarized to sights and associations which destroy the instinctive modesty of youth. They are also placed in such relations to the colored children, through the ignorance or malice of the nurse, as to stimulate the passions into premature activity. Some nurses believe that personal intimacies between the young master and his young female companions cultivate a closer affection, and insure the latter from the chances of being sold. Others, of a fiercer temper, seek their revenge for outrages committed on themselves in order to exult over the wreck of early manhood always resulting from self-indulgence. By whichever process the result is attained, it is a well-known fact that purity among southern men is almost an unknown virtue.

There are thousands of proofs of this in the prevalence of the Edition: current; Page: [7] fair skin, smooth and glossy hair, blue eyes, straight nose, delicate foot, and arched instep, which are every where to be met among the slaves. But why should we expect purity when every restraint is removed which helps to subdue the clamors of the animal nature, while every possible opportunity is offered for its indulgence?

There is no fear of public opinion, for there is no danger of detection, since the slave is bound to submit in silence.

There is no loss of social position consequent upon the grossest licentiousness.

The most honorable social and political distinctions are awarded without reference to the private character of the individual.

The libertine maintains a high and honored standing in the church.

The law decrees that every child born of a slave shall follow the condition of its mother, and thus not only extends no protection to virtue, but offers a premium to vice.

Nor is one class of society more base than another in this respect. The highest social life is often the most vile in its secret history. A young man at the age of twenty-one takes possession of his portion of the paternal estate, erects a house upon it, where he retires and establishes a household for himself. He secures what means of gratification his taste can select, and thus lives, sometimes ten or fifteen years, if no heiress or beauty cross his path of sufficient attractions to induce him to add her as an ornamental appendage to his establishment. Meanwhile his human “property” steadily increases, both in numbers and value; for the lighter the mulatto the more desirable among the fastidious; and rare beauty is often the result of a second intermingling of the same aristocratic blood with the offspring of a former passion. From time to time, friends come to visit this bachelor hall, and in due season the master is repaid for his hospitality to them by a valuable addition to his stock of human chattels.

If in due time a wife be wooed and won, what is she? Nothing but “the fairest among his concubines.” She is not his wife; and if she deserve the name of woman, her fate is a living death. If by a false education her feminine nature has formed no pure ideal, and she neither expects nor demands true manhood, then also has slavery wrought its perfect work in her. There are few women who can endure the proofs of their husband’s infidelity. There is an instinct in the female heart about this matter too deep and thoroughly inwrought in her organization to be reasoned away or crushed out. Her suffering will show itself, either in the premature decay which tells the story of a broken heart, or her heart will turn to stone, and a haughty pride will endeavor to conceal the wreck of love. She will write the record of her outraged nature in the frenzy with which she persecutes her favored rivals. She is the first to propose, the most relentless to insist on, the sale of the unfortunate victims in whose agonies she tries to find satisfaction for her own wrongs.

Mrs. Douglass, to whom I have before referred, adds a powerful Edition: current; Page: [8] testimony on this point. She is a South Carolinian by birth, and lately a resident of Virginia, and testifies to what she knows.

Speaking of licentiousness, she says, “It is impossible to deny that this unnatural custom prevails to a fearful extent throughout the south. The testimony is of too positive and personal a character to be overcome. * * * Its followers are to be found in all ranks, occupations, and professions. The white mothers and daughters of the south have suffered under it for years, have seen their dearest affections trampled upon, their hopes of domestic happiness destroyed, and their future lives imbittered, even to agony, by those who should be all in all to them as husbands, sons, and brothers. I cannot use too strong language in reference to this subject, for I know that it will meet a heartfelt response from every southern woman. I would deal delicately with them if I could; but they know the fact, and their hearts bleed under the knowledge, however they may attempt to conceal their discoveries. Southern wives know that their husbands come to them, * * * from the arms of their tawny mistresses. Father and son seek the same sources of excitement, * * * scarcely blushing when detected, and recklessly defying every command of God and every tie of morality and human affection.”

Peace, and happiness, and the faith which is as immovable as the everlasting hills in the heart of pure and constant love, those essential elements of the true home, are nowhere to be found in slavery.

The wife constantly sees the likeness of her husband in children that are not hers; the husband welcomes every new comer among them as so many hundreds of prospective gain, and devotes himself to their increase, while his legal children are born with feeble minds and bodies, with just force enough to transmit the family name, and produce in feebler characters a second edition of the father’s life.

The plantation in Virginia is “stocked” with negroes that are bought with sole reference to their capacities for reproduction, and master and slave unite, the former consciously, the latter unconsciously, in the same odious enterprise of raising victims for the southern market.

Mr. Gholson, of Virginia, in his speech in the legislature of that State, January 18, 1832, (see Richmond Whig) says, “It has always (perhaps erroneously) been considered by steady and old-fashioned people, that the owner of land had a reasonable right to its annual profits, the owner of orchards to their annual fruits, * * * and the owner of female slaves to their increase. * * * It is on the justice and inviolability of this maxim that the master foregoes the service of the female slave, has her nursed and attended during the period of gestation, and raises the helpless infant offspring. The value of the property justifies the expense; and I do not hesitate to say, that in its increase consists much of our wealth.

R. S. Finley, Esq., late general agent of the American Colonization Edition: current; Page: [9] Society, at a meeting in New York, 27th February, 1833, said, “In Virginia and other grain growing States, the blacks do not support themselves, and the only profit their masters derive from them is, repulsive as the idea may justly seem, in breeding them, like other live stock, for the more southern States.”

Professor Dew, president of the University of William and Mary, Virginia, in his review of the debate in the Virginia legislature, 1831-2, says, p. 49, “From all the information we can obtain, we have no hesitation in saying that upwards of six thousand [slaves] are yearly exported [from Virginia] to other States.” Again, p. 61, “The six thousand slaves which Virginia annually sends off to the south are a source of wealth to Virginia.” Again, p. 120, “A full equivalent being thus left in the place of the slave, this emigration becomes an advantage to the State, and does not check the black population as much as, at first view, we might imagine—because it furnishes every inducement to the master to attend to the negroes, to encourage breeding, and to cause the greatest possible number to be raised.”

I might add a hundred testimonials to these facts; but I forbear. Volumes could not record the length and breadth, the height and depth, of the pollutions of slavery.

The possession of absolute, irresponsible power, guarantied by law to the American slaveholder, inevitably cultivates selfishness, cruelty, and insensibility towards the slave, especially since that law affords no redress to the injured party.

The master’s ungoverned temper vents itself in blows, and this exasperates the slave. He retaliates by theft, eye service, and disobedience; the master storms, and the slave persists in sullen defiance, till at last selling becomes too lenient a punishment, and the victim is delivered over to the stocks, whip, thumbscrews, &c.

W. C. Gildersleeve, of Georgia, in 1839 an elder of the Presbyterian church, Wilkesbarre, Pennsylvania, after describing the flogging of a slave, in which his hands were tied together, and the slave was hoisted by a rope, in which condition one hundred lashes were inflicted, says, “I stood by and witnessed the whole without feeling the least compassion; so hardening is the influence of slavery, that it very much destroys the feeling for the slave.”

With this indifference to physical suffering, it would be what Judge Baker terms “sickly sensibility,” to expect any tenderness towards the natural affections which bind the slaves to each other. Hence the inhuman hardness of heart which separates man and wife, (though not recognized as such by slave law,) mother and child, brother and sister, like cattle, to be sold, “singly or in lots, to suit purchasers.”

A resident in a southern family relates that the lady of the house, wishing to buy a shawl, and having no ready money, took with her to the store a fine mulatto girl, who had been brought up in the house, and whose mother and grandmother still served in the family. The girl waited outside the store till the mistress called her in, Edition: current; Page: [10] and to her horror, she was informed that she was sold to the merchant. Her cries and lamentations were in vain; the mistress left her; she was immediately taken to the auction block, and in twenty-four hours was on her way to New Orleans. When the child’s mother and grandmother heard the news, they gave vent to the most piercing cries and groans, and the mistress, after repeatedly ordering silence without effect, at last sent them to be whipped for disobedience.

Yet with all this domestic cruelty and callousness of heart, the south is proverbial for its hospitality, kindness, and generosity. Many believe it impossible that such opposite qualities can be found in the same individual, and hence disbelieve the reported cruelties inflicted on the slave. But it must be remembered that hospitality costs nothing. Guests are a merciful relief from the tedium of daily life. They are feasted on the proceeds of the labor of the slave, they are served by an attendance which in no wise interferes with the time or interrupts the occupations of the white household; and why should not stolen wealth be lavishly bestowed? But one cannot infer, from the master’s generosity towards the guest, a similar one towards the slave. It were as wise to infer that the highway robber would show the same “honor” towards the traveller who chanced to fall in his power, as to his companions in crime, with whom he shares the spoils. I have attended a Christmas party where the table groaned under the weight of luxuries, and piles of wood blazed high on the hearth, (for the day was bitter cold,) and the little boy who opened the gate to admit our carriage was bareheaded, barefooted, and had nothing but the remains of a cotton shirt to cover him. This was on the estate of one of the wealthiest men in South Carolina.

With such influences from youth to manhood, what right have we to hope for a higher standard of manners or morality than are presented in our halls of Congress? If we look to the pulpit of the south, what do we find? The pulpit! What memories rise up as I write the word! Sunday after Sunday I have seen the pious church members meet to listen to the garbled presentation of God’s word, members of one church, claiming one God as their Father, one Christ for their Savior, striving for the blessed promises of one heaven, to which there is but one strait and narrow way of entrance; yet here in the visible church, divided, black from white, by a wooden fence, and on sacrament days, after the white members had partaken of the bread and wine, the black members crawled through a little gate, left open only on that day, and came forward, four or five at a time, to take the bread and wine. I have heard a minister in the Methodist Episcopal Church in Virginia read the discipline, and explain the clause forbidding to church members the traffic in slaves, by remarking that it referred to the African slave trade, but had no allusion to the exchange of slaves already in bondage, and then proceed to an harangue of an hour’s length on the sin of wearing jewelry and artificial flowers.

Edition: current; Page: [11]

Christianity can no more coexist with slavery than can education. The first words of the gospel of Christ, preached in their true spirit and with their proper application, would exterminate it from the face of the earth. There is no half way in this matter. One must either recognize the spurious religion which, under cover of Christ’s name, kills both soul and body, and reject it with scorn and indignation, or be so stultified in moral and mental capacity as not to detect the enormous counterfeit. Slavery has wrought this last effect upon the southern mind. The abstract right has no binding force. The “peculiar institution” has become their God, and whatever protects it is right, whether in politics or religion. The most intelligent men of the south see through the sham, and are most indifferent to religion. They maintain the church, as a respectable institution, especially prized by the women, and valuable for the negroes. It makes them better servants, and forms an item of pecuniary value. A Methodist will bring more than a Baptist, because the latter depends upon immersion for his hopes of heaven, while the Methodist is taught that he must “work out his salvation with fear and trembling”—a precept that hardly needs to be enforced under the circumstances. The pathetic appeals to the feelings, the terrors of hell, the necessity of joining the church, &c., produce the clap-trap effects which gloss over the oratory of the southern pulpit with a mock solemnity. But every thinking person knows that these are but the mint, anise, and cumin, while the weightier matters of the law—truth, justice, and mercy—are overlooked. Here, as every where else, slavery shows its cloven foot. It blinds the reason, perverts the conscience, and in awful blasphemy plants itself upon God’s word, claiming a divine origin and sanction, and in his name proceeds to outrage humanity in the person of the slave.

If, then, the two highest sources of moral power are polluted by slavery, if home is desecrated, and religion turned into a mockery, where shall we look for the cultivation of that moral integrity which constitutes the true life of a nation, and on which its real prosperity depends?

Never did a panic of terror wring out a deeper truth than that which lately echoed from north to south—“The Union is in danger.” The nation is in peril, whether whole or severed; not because a compact has been broken, not because the Constitution may be shattered, not from the possibility of a civil war, or the horrors of an insurrection, but because truth, justice, and mercy are being hourly slain. Upright fidelity to the truth in our halls of Congress meets cunning, trickery, and abuse; justice is answered by a bluster about “honor;” and the mention of a higher law draws down undisguised derision and contempt. The question at issue is not between north and south, but between truth and error, right and wrong, God and the devil.

Our work, then, is to beware lest by silence or apology we lend our strength to the oppressor; to guard our hearts from the insensibility Edition: current; Page: [12] to the wrongs of others, which our own secure enjoyments may induce; but most of all to keep the eye single, that we be full of light as to the enormity of our country’s sin, and our own duty towards it. Then only will the battle of life be earnestly fought, and our whole work be done. Thus only can the full stature of manhood be attained.

Published for gratuitous distribution, at the Office of the American Anti-Slavery Society, No. 138 Nassau Street, New York. Also to be had at the Anti-Slavery Offices, No. 21 Cornhill, Boston, and No. 31 North Fifth Street, Philadelphia.

Edition: current; Page: [1]
Charles C. Burleigh
Burleigh, Charles C.

Charles C. Burleigh, “Slavery and the North”, 12 pp.




The question of slavery is undeniably, for this country at least, the great question of the age. On the right decision of it depend interests too vast to be fitly set forth in words. Here are three millions of slaves in a land calling itself free; three millions of human beings robbed of every right, and, by statute and custom, among a people self-styled Christian, held as brutes. Knowledge is forbidden, and religious worship, if allowed, is clogged with fetters; the sanctity of marriage is denied; and home and family and all the sacred names of kindred, which form the dialect of domestic love, are made unmeaning words. The soul is crushed, that the body may be safely coined into dollars. And not occasionally, by here and there a hardened villain, reckless alike of justice, law and public sentiment; fearing not God nor regarding man; but on system, and by the combined strength of the whole nation. Most men at the North, and many even at the South, admit that this is wrong, all wrong,—in morals, in policy every way wrong,—that it is a gross injustice to the slave, a serious evil to the master, a great calamity to the country; that it belies the nation’s high professions, brings deep disgrace upon its character, and exposes it to unknown perils and disasters in the time to come.


What then ought to be done? One would think a just people need not study long upon so plain a question; that a people clear-sighted for its own welfare might soon find an answer. If slavery be wrong every way, hurtful in all its bearings, then, in the name of justice, of humanity, of self-interest even, let it be abolished at once. Give back to manhood its plundered rights; raise it up from its Edition: current; Page: [2] enforced debasement. Immediate emancipation for the slave; immediate abolition, for the system of slavery; is the least demand of right and of enlightened policy. By this is not meant, as some pretend to think, that the slaves should be “turned loose” from all restraint, to be vagabonds and thieves. Emancipation would break no bond of righteous law or moral obligation. On the contrary, it would ensure to law a readier obedience, by making it impartial, both in its benefits and its restraints. It would strengthen moral obligation, by showing that it is a mutual bond, henceforth to be regarded by the high no less than by the low. To emancipate, then, is not to outlaw, or cut loose from society or any of its natural relations or real duties; but it is to cease from holding men as property, and begin to treat them as men; enabling them to claim and receive the earnings of their toil; giving them a voice in the choosing of their work, their employers, their associates, abodes, and manner of life; respecting their domestic ties and rights and duties; allowing them to improve their minds with knowledge and their hearts with moral culture; and leaving them free to worship God when, where and how their consciences require.


To what, in all this, can any one reasonably object? The master cannot justly complain of a loss of property, for what he loses was never his; but so much as the change takes from him, so much has he been wrongfully withholding from the real owner, to whom—long due—it is at last restored. Nay, if either loses, it is still the slave; for his past toils and wrongs are unrequited. He is merely to be robbed no longer;—not to have back what has been plundered from him. The state or country cannot complain of loss, for, to it, the slave was only worth what work could be forced out of him, and that is less than he will do unforced, when free. The change takes nothing from his strength or skill, but adds much to his willingness to use them. When laboring, of his own accord, with the prospect of receiving what he earns, he has a motive to be diligent and faithful, which he never had while toiling reluctantly for another’s gain. Even as a Edition: current; Page: [3] mere working-tool, therefore, he is worth more for being free. And then, too, freedom makes him infinitely more than a mere working-tool. He is now a man, with all the priceless treasures of mind and soul, with all the growing powers and upward aspirations which belong to manhood; with ever-widening scope for his unfolding faculties, and nothing to forbid his progress toward any height, however lofty, of human excellence. As much as brain and muscle are worth more than muscle only; as much as moral joined to mental power is a better wealth than mere brute force; in a word, as much as men with human skill, contrivance and invention, with reason, affection and the sense of right, are of more account than cattle yoked, and horses trained to harness; so much will the emancipation of a nation’s slaves enrich the nation. Why, then, should not our slaves go free?


They are ignorant and stupid, it is said; a brutish race, not fit for freedom. True,—in part,—and partly false. No doubt the slaves are ignorant and degraded. So any race would be, if wronged as they have been, and through so many generations. What else could be expected from men weighed down by ages of oppression, forbidden to use the key of knowledge,—letters,—allowed no hope of bettering their state, nor any motive to exert their minds or to improve their morals? But it is not true that they are only fit for slavery; fit only to be kept under the very influences which now debase them. The bad effect is no good reason for continuing the cause, but rather shows the need of its immediate removal. What!—shall we enslave men, because slavery makes them base? Keep the burden on their backs because they stoop beneath its weight; the fetter on their limbs because their gait, with it, is awkward; their dungeon closely locked because its darkness dims their sight? Is this manly?—just?—or wise? If holding man as property would give him wisdom, virtue, manly bearing; or put him in the way of getting them; or even fill him with a stronger wish to have them; then ignorance and dulness, vice and degradation, might with a little better face be urged as reasons for enslavement. Edition: current; Page: [4] But such is not its purpose nor its tendency. Its motive is self-interest; the debasement of its subject is at once its necessary means and its sure result. While slavery lasts the slaves will be degraded. Freedom is the school which fits men to be free. What if the black man is inferior to the white? It does not follow that he always must be. Excel him where his chance is equal, before you boast yourself above him. Give him his liberty, and as strong a motive to exertion as you have;—a prospect of reward as sure and ample; not only wages for his toil, but respect and honor and social standing according to his worth, and see what he can then become, before you judge him to be sunk so low that freedom cannot lift him up and bless him. His powers have never yet been fairly tried, for he has always had to struggle against difficulties and discouragements which white men do not meet. When free in name, he is denied a freeman’s rights and hopes and prospects, an open field of competition, and success to match his merit. Yet how nobly has he often proved his manhood? Throughout the United States, spread over the broad fields of Canada, and in many foreign countries, are thousands who are living proofs that slaves of African descent can shake off degradation with their chains, and win respect even from stubborn prejudice. Toussaint and Petion, Dumas the general and Dumas the author, Placide the Cuban poet, Wheatly, Banneker, Horton, Osborn, Jordan and Hill, are a few among the many witnesses, that neither learning, taste, nor talent, nor skill to rule, nor warlike prowess, nor eloquence, nor wisdom, nor sagacity, nor any element of human greatness, is incompatible with negro blood. What these men have achieved may well suggest the question, “if such things can be done in the green tree, what may be done in the dry?” If with the hindrances of slavery and caste, the colored race has shown so many proofs of manliness, what may it not do when these checks have been removed. The slaves are very few, who, if set free and treated justly, would not take better “care of themselves” than slavery has ever taken of them. Nay, doubtless many now in bondage are higher, both in intellect and morals, than many of the whites. Some slaves and masters must exchange Edition: current; Page: [5] conditions, if the inferior is to be the slave. Fix,—on your scale of mind and morals,—the point of fitness to be free; and, high or low, it will condemn the present practice. If high enough to doom all colored men to slavery, it dooms a multitude of whites; if low enough to leave the whites all free, it frees all colored men. For the lowest black is not beneath the most degraded white.


But even if the highest blacks were lower than the lowest whites, that would not justify enslaving them. For they are men and brethren still, and have the sacred rights of manhood. The more debased they are, the stronger is their claim upon the sympathy and help of their more favored brothers. If “we who are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak,” our brother’s weakness is a poor excuse for making him our beast of burden. Instruction is the right of ignorance; kind care, of helplessness; and wholesome moral influences, of a low moral state. Slavery gives neither. They can all be better given without it. We never offer it to the degraded, ignorant, and helpless here among ourselves. Nay, such an offer would be deemed an outrage on the feelings of the public, and insulting to the very vilest of our paupers; and to urge in its behalf that “they cannot take care of themselves,” would be thought an aggravation of the wrong. How then can we pretend to think it suited to the case of colored men, if they are helpless, ignorant, degraded?


But the slaves do not wish for freedom, we are told. Happy in bondage, they desire no change. Prove this, and slavery needs no heavier condemnation. If it has so utterly imbruted men that they are content to be brutes,—if it has crushed out of them the very consciousness of manhood, all hope of a higher state, and even the wish to rise; it has wrought too fearful havoc on God’s noblest work to be borne with any longer. Let it not blight another generation, nor sink the present still farther out of sight of manliness, and quite beyond the reach of resurrection. If for no other reason, it ought, for this alone, to Edition: current; Page: [6] be at once abolished. Moreover, if the slaves desire no change, they can be freed without the slightest inconvenience to their masters, for they will serve them still, of their own accord, and all the more cheerfully and faithfully, that their free choice to do so is now made certain. The master’s wife, or daughter, will not have to “black his shoes;” as a distinguished statesman has foretold. Why bind men to the place they choose to stay in? Why make them chattels,—beasts,—to get the service which they wish to render? There is no shadow of excuse for enslaving men who are willing to serve. Nor would a generous nature,—or even a simply just one,—requite a life-long, willing service with but the bare support of animal life; at most, the means of animal enjoyment; while mind and soul are starved, and manhood is, as far as may be, blotted out; or abuse an ignorant brother’s unsuspecting trust, to cheat him of the common Father’s richest gifts, and keep him blind to his incalculable loss. The more willingly he serves, the baser is the ingratitude of such a requital. This plea, then, would be worthless even if true.


But it is false. The slaves are not content to be in bondage. Witness the pains needed to keep them there;—the laws against their leaving home without a written pass; the penalties for helping them away or harboring them while fleeing; the nightly patrols, to watch them; the bloodhounds, trained to track their flight; the high rewards often offered for their recapture; the slaveholder’s anxiety for northern aid, by legislation and otherwise, to hinder their escape; the provision of the Constitution, that they shall find no refuge in the whole land, but, wherever found, shall be given up to their pursuers; the many calls made upon northern officers and magistrates to enforce it, and the many victims torn, at its behest, from hope and freedom. Witness, too, the thousands who, in spite of all these precautions, have fled to Canada, and the multitudes scattered over the free states, or lurking in southern woods and swamps, braving unnumbered perils, toils, and hardships, rather than be slaves. How can we believe that “they would not be free if they could,”—are “better off in slavery,” Edition: current; Page: [7] and choose to stay there? Why! the slaveholders themselves know better. They use enslavement as a penalty, and offer freedom as the highest of rewards. Governor Giles, of Virginia, in his address to the legislature, in 1827, speaking of the punishing of free blacks, byselling them as slaves, says “slavery must be admitted to be a punishment of the highest order; and according to every just rule for the apportionment of punishment to crimes, it would seem that it ought to be applied only to crimes of the highest order.” Several of the slave states permit emancipation “for meritorious services,” and for no other cause. A few years ago the state of Georgia paid $1800 to buy freedom for a slave who, by great exertion and at much personal risk, had saved the state-house from being burnt. And lately the legislature of South Carolina permitted a slave to be set free, for his valor and devotion to his master’s son,—with whom he had gone to the war, and who fell fighting the Mexicans. Such instances show the slaveholder’s real belief as to what the slaves like best, and what is best for them. “That our negroes will be worse off, if emancipated,” says a Committee of the Synod of Kentucky, in an address to the Presbyterians of that state, “is, we feel, but a specious pretext for dulling our own pangs of conscience, and answering the argument of the philanthropist. None of us believe that God has so created a whole race that it is better for them to remain in perpetual bondage.”


For further proof that slaves love freedom and are better off for having it, look at the British West Indies. There, as is well known, emancipation was received with a general burst of joy and gratitude, and its effect upon the slaves, was a great improvement both in outward comforts, and in mind and morals. They have more and better food and clothing and home conveniences; schools are set up for their instruction, and are well attended by the children and youth and often even by full grown men and women, the churches are thronged by crowds who had no religious teaching in the time of slavery, vice and crime are lessened, marriage is held more sacred, beneficial societies are multiplied, and other tokens of abetter social state abound. Edition: current; Page: [8] So have testified colonial governors, legislators, magistrates, planters, merchants, and visiters from abroad, some of them after careful observation, in all the principal islands, made on purpose to learn the working of freedom. One sign of the much improved outward condition of the laboring class—no longer slaves—is the great increase of imports of such articles as they use. For instance, in Jamaica, since slavery was abolished, the yearly average importation of flour, rice, corn, and bread has considerably more than doubled; of corn-meal, butter, lard and soap, almost doubled; of pork, about trebled; of candles, and of lumber, has increased nearly one half; and of cattle, more than four-fold. If exports have lessened, one reason is, a greater home-consumption. The planter sends away less, for the laborer uses more, thus having not only more comforts from abroad, but also more of those produced at home. Many of the freedmen have become small landholders, and live in easy independence on their little properties. Women, to a great extent, have left field-labor, and now attend to household duties and the care of their children, formerly, of necessity, so much neglected. Self-respect and manly bearing, have, in a good degree, taken the place of that cringing servility which generally marks the slave. Thus facts refute the falsehood that negroes are fit only to be slaves; and neither wish for freedom, nor would be bettered by it.


But if freed, it is said, they will overrun the North. Ah! Wouldn’t leave their masters if they could; so if allowed to do as they please, they will all run off! Sound logic, truly! And as sound morality, is the inference that therefore they must still be enslaved! If they would come north, to hinder is to wrong them. As rightfully might the West shut out the eastern emigrant, as the North shut out the southern. But there is no danger of their coming. Free them, and the motive which brings them here is gone. When they come now, it is for freedom. Let them have it at home, and they will stay there. The climate of the South suits them better than ours, they are used to its employments, their habits are formed by and Edition: current; Page: [9] fitted to a southern life, there are all their attachments and associations, there the strong home-feeling binds them. There too they are needed. They do the hard work of the South, and could not be spared from its fields and shops. To employ them there at liberal wages would cost much less than to put other laborers in their places. Hence it would be for the employers’ interest to keep them, and for theirs to stay. Moreover they do stay there now, when freed; although oppressive laws—which would be repealed when the abolition of slavery had removed their cause—are now in force there against free blacks.

Of the whole South, about one man in thirty-six is free colored. And more than two-thirds of these are in the northern border slave States, whence, of course, they could most easily “come north.” In Virginia, they are one in twenty-five of all the people; in Maryland, nearly one in ten; in Delaware, more than one in five. Yet hardly ever does one of them remove into a free State, though slaves come often—sometimes hundreds in a year.


This reasoning also proves the notion false, that emancipation at the South will lower the price of labour at the North. For, instead of sending up the southern blacks to compete with the working classes here, it would both keep them at home and draw back many who were driven hither by slavery, but would gladly return when they could do so and be free. Besides, it would much enlarge the market at the South, for the fruits of northern industry and enterprise. The southern laborers, when free and paid, would buy of us many comforts and conveniences not allowed them now;—cloths, hats, shoes, furniture, household utensils, improved working-tools, a countless variety of northern manufactures, and of foreign wares, imported through the North;—the demand for which would give new activity to our shops and mills and shipping, and steadier employment, and, most likely, higher wages, to all kinds of labor here. Three million new consumers of the wares we make and sell, would add greatly to the income of the North. New shops and factories, built to meet their wants, would grow to villages and towns; and, Edition: current; Page: [10] employing many busy hands in every useful calling, create home markets for the farmers’ produce; increase the worth of lands and houses; put life into every branch of business; and spread the benefits of the change among all classes over the whole country. Slavery keeps from us all these benefits, and thus, in robbing southern labor, robs also northern. Yet worse; it degrades labor; coupling it, at the South, with the lowest social debasement, and thereby lessening its respectability at the North, till now it has become, in the esteem of many, a positive disgrace, and the honest sons of toil are shut out of self-styled “good society,” by reason solely of their useful occupations. Hence, doubtless, is it that our hopeful youth so often flee from field or shop, into some over-crowded “profession,” and suffer in proud poverty through life, or are corrupted and depraved by the manifold temptations of their unwisely chosen lot. Hence, too, the laborer, failing of the respect which is his due from others, too often loses somewhat of his self-respect, grows careless of his character and conduct, makes little or no earnest effort to increase in worth and rise in social standing, and perhaps becomes at length, in many instances, as low as he is rated. Thus the enslavement of labor at the South, is by no means least among the causes which keep down labor at the North, and, of course, emancipation there would be no detriment, but a great advantage, to the working classes here.


“But we of the North,” it is often said, “have no right to meddle with slavery; then why talk about it here? It is for the South alone to decide whether it shall be abolished, and, if so, when and how.” Granted;—that each State has the sole right to legislate on the subject, within its own limits. But this is far from proving northern anti-slavery action to be wrong, or northern inaction, touching slavery, to be right. It is our right and duty to defend ourselves against the aggressions of the slave-power. These have been notoriously many and gross. It has trampled on our right of petition and free speech; demolished our free presses; plundered our mails and burnt their contents; imprisoned and enslaved northern Edition: current; Page: [11] colored freemen, and outraged the persons of northern citizens, both white and colored; insulted northern States by offering indignities to the representatives of their sovereignty; virtually annulled that provision of the Constitution which guaranties, to the citizens of each State, “all the privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States;” and, in instances and ways unnumbered, in its treatment of the North, done violence to every dictate of justice, every principle of law, human or divine. It has usurped, by far the greater share of all political preferments, power and profits; controlled the action of the government in all its branches; wasted the nation’s blood and treasure in wars for its advantage; and always shaped the most important measures of public policy with a single eye to the promotion of its own interests, at whatever sacrifice of northern rights or the general welfare. Against the longer continuance of this state of things we may and ought to labor earnestly.


Again; it is our right and duty to oppose the farther spread of slavery over the national domain. For the increase of slave States since the Union was formed, the North is justly answerable, in common with the South. Of the seventeen new States, which should all have been held sacred to freedom, we have yielded nine to slavery. In getting one of these, the slave power plunged us into murderous and costly war, and now it not only claims all it can use of the acquisitions of that war, but, by the Nebraska bill, has opened its way to a vast domain itself had guarantied to freedom forever. It grasps at Cuba, too, and Hayti, nor ever rests while aught is unwon which can be turned to its account. And if we still, as heretofore, hold on with it in its career of robbery and blood, we must expect to share the ruin in which it is sure to end. If the North has a right to shun that fate, it has, no less, a right to use the needful means;—resistance to the spread of slavery on the nation’s territory.


Yet again; it is the right and duty of the North to cease supporting slavery. We have no right to help wrongdoing. Edition: current; Page: [12] Even on the objector’s own ground, that our duty is to leave it wholly to the South, we may no more interfere for the system than against it. But we do interfere for it, so long as we allow a representation for slave property in Congress; bind ourselves to give up runaway slaves to their masters, and, at the bidding of the South, to crush all attempts to win freedom, as our fathers did, by force; array the laws and constitutions of the northern States against the freedom of the slave or the rights of the free colored man; give the fellowship of our churches to slaveholders, while denying it to the doers of less flagrant wrongs; and in our social intercourse, and through all the various expressions of our public sentiment, treat slaveholding as no offense, or as a very light one. All this the North is doing now. Through Church and State and the social circle, through press and pulpit and theological seminary, it is allied with slavery. The system is not southern only; it is national. Till this alliance with it is dissolved, the North is guilty with the South. We may and must dissolve it. If we cannot abolish slavery, we can, at least, and ought ourselves to cease slaveholding, even, if need be, at the cost of separation from a slaveholding Union.


And finally, it is our right and duty to exert our moral influence against slavery at the South, and—though we cannot legislate upon it there,—to change the public sentiment which governs legislation; so that they who have the power may also have the will to take from injustice the support of law, from manhood’s brow the brand of chattelism, from American democracy its foul reproach, and from our country its darkest guilt and deadliest curse and greatest danger. The faithful utterance of anti-slavery truth in earnest love and untiring perseverance, will win at last this glorious result, as surely as God’s promise is inviolate, that his word shall not return unto him void, but shall prosper in the thing whereto he sent it.

Published for gratuitous distribution, at the Office of the American Anti-Slavery Society, No. 138 Nassau Street, New York. Also to be had at the Anti-Slavery Offices, No. 21 Cornhill, Boston, and No. 31 North Fifth Street, Phila.

Edition: current; Page: [(1)]
Charles E. Hodges
Hodges, Charles E.

Rev. Charles E. Hodges, “Disunion our Wisdom and Duty,”



In discussing this question, it should be remembered that it is in the highest sense a moral question, and, as such, superior to any criticisms of an immoral expediency; that its positions cannot be met by arguments not based on the same fundamental principle from which it starts, namely, that right is right, and therefore demands the voluntary adherence of men—that wrong is wrong, and as such must be repudiated; that in questions of this nature there is no room for compromise or evasion. And it must be further borne in mind that, however much must be conceded to a necessary expediency in matters purely political, nevertheless this great principle must be applied, wherever it is applicable, equally to the affairs of nations as of individuals. It is not claimed that governments and political associations should be either missionary societies, ecclesiastical tribunals, or direct religious agencies; yet no government or party has a right, for any possible motive, itself to violate, or to exact of any of its subjects or members a violation of the absolute and immutable moral law.

If disunion be, as is asserted, a measure not simply of expediency, but of justice, not of mere policy, but of right, it certainly is the duty of every honest man to investigate the subject calmly and rationally, as he would any other subject making such claims. It is a duty he owes, not alone to the slave, whose emancipation he would secure, nor to the country, whose otherwise sure and final ruin he would avert, but to himself as a moral agent responsible for his actions.

To do this fairly, or at all, we have first to free ourselves of an amount of prejudice unequalled in any other direction; the prejudice of education, ignorance, pride, and inherited reverence, all Edition: current; Page: [2] of which is fostered by the mistaken patriotism of an uninquiring public, and the atheistical idolatry of a human constitution and political union, by most of the controlling minds of the country, in both church and state,—a prejudice so general and so confirmed, that the impression is almost universal, that the United States Constitution is sacred as divine revelation, and the Union, however cemented, to whatever base uses prostituted, of divine origin. To investigate these, therefore, to question their right to be perpetuated, or the duty of allegiance, is regarded with pious horror, as the ravings of a disorganizing and impious fanaticism, a profanation of the sanctuary which shields us.*

Such view as this, it is evident, precludes all hope or necessity of amendment, and denies even that final and universally-conceded right of revolution. For, of course, if the Constitution and Union are infallible and sacred, nothing can ever justify disobedience or resistance. Whatever of oppression or injustice may be exercised under the authority of the one, or by the force of the other, must be patiently endured. A position, which no political theorist has ever ventured to take. But, what is of even greater consequence, such a view puts an end at once, to the right of criticism, examination, and moral judgment; in other words, forbids the exercise of reason and conscience. This is the necessary effect of the popular idea of the sacredness of these things, and is the actual present state of public sentiment.

But, since the Constitution is of human origin, and the Union, existing by virtue of that instrument, equally the result of human agency, there is no sufficient reason why these should be more infallible in their aim and operation than their authors, and no especial heresy or impropriety in examining and criticizing their claims upon us as honest men. With these rational views, with no prejudice or preference, save for the truth, we may look at this question of disunion with the hope of coming to some just conclusion.

And, at the outset, we are ready as any, to grant the importance of some such union as ours for most ends of political existence. The physical constitution of the country, apart from other considerations, Edition: current; Page: [3] which need not be mentioned here, makes a union natural, desirable, and in the end, perhaps, essential. Probably no person wishes to deny this. But the question is not of the advantage of union (though it has been often and undeniably proved that in every respect it is injurious to the north, and only advantageous to the south, as it at present stands); the question is deeper than this; not, Is it expedient? but, Is it right? Have we a right, for the sake of national greatness and power, or territorial integrity, or any conceivable material prosperity, or for any purpose whatsoever, to sustain a union, which demands, and for its preservation must secure, from its citizens, a sacrifice of the fundamental and eternal laws of religion and morality? We firmly and sincerely believe that we have no such right; that nothing of presumed expediency or necessity, can justify conscious and deliberate acquiescence in, or support of what we believe to be morally wrong. We stand on the assertion of the simplest, the very elementary principles of morality and religion, that whatever is contrary to the universal, unchangeable, and very initial laws of God, cannot be made right by vote of a majority; that what is intrinsically wrong for one man is equally so for a hundred, or a hundred thousand men; and, on the same principle, that what is wrong in one State is wrong in every State, or in a union of States; and yet further, that to defend or sustain another in doing what we confess would be wrong for us, and is wrong for them to do, involves us in an equal culpability for the sin and its consequences.

It is on these simple principles that the abolitionist justifies, and commends to the consideration of a candid public, his opposition to the Union. It is wrong for us to support voluntarily, a government or political union, which sustains iniquity. If, then, our Union does sustain iniquity, it is wrong for us to abide by the Union. This, in brief statement, is the position of the northern anti-slavery, and only sincere disunionist, who is not insane.

Does the Union, then, protect, encourage, sustain iniquity, and do we by our acts, as members of that Union, acquiesce?

We proceed, in answering this question, with the assumption, that slavery is not simply a social or political evil, but a sin and a crime, in the fullest sense; something which neither law nor presumed necessity can justify; which cannot exist, in however mitigated a form, without infraction of the primal rights of human nature; therefore Edition: current; Page: [4] not without absolute and direct rebellion against God; who, by creating man with the nature he has, granted, by the very act of creation, and guaranteed the rights, which that nature demands for its satisfaction. Preëminent among these are the rights to life and liberty, and all which necessarily result therefrom; which even our Declaration of Independence unqualifiedly asserts when it declares them to be inalienable. Now, slavery actually alienates these rights; robs three and a half millions of human beings of their right to the pursuit of happiness, to liberty, and even to life—men, women, and children, who, even granting their present inferiority, are still human beings, endowed by their Creator with the common human nature, and so equally entitled to human rights.

The assumption and exercise of the power and boasted right to hold property in man, is the essential wrong, and the necessary source and justification of the misery and iniquity which result;—as, the denial to the slave of the slightest opportunity for the culture and development of the faculties given him in trust; the exaction of severe and wasting labor without compensation, and wrung from the indolent and the feeble by the lash; the encouragement of prostitution in various ways, but most cruelly in its mockery of the sacredness of marriage; the separation and sale of husband and wife, parent and child, and the many other infamous customs of slavery. And these are not accidental, unusual, or mere abuses of the system, but its necessary results, without which, slavery cannot exist, so declared in the statute laws of the slaveholding States, and of constant occurrence under the administration of these laws. So we say that the whole thing is, from beginning to end, in principle and result, “de facto et de jure,” sin, and nothing but sin, and that continually. It should seem unnecessary, it certainly is humiliating, to feel compelled to waste a word, or a moment of time, in stating such evident propositions as these: that slavery is sin, at war with the holiest instincts of our nature, the essential rights of man, the principles of Christianity, and the will of God; and, that we have no right deliberately to countenance or sustain sin. But we are fallen on unhappy times, when even learned and influential ministers of religion, (so accredited,) occupying commanding social positions, urge, with the calm and mature deliberation of printed argument and appeal, the opposite doctrines; and when men gladly accept these modern, Protestant indulgences to countenance and Edition: current; Page: [5] abet in man stealing, prostitution, and all the iniquity of slavery, with untarnished title to respect here, and duly endorsed passport to heaven.

Nothing more, certainly, need be said to prove—what, it is presumed, after all, most men here at the north will grant—that slavery is sin, and that we have no right to sanction or encourage sin. And any man who grants this, has granted all we ask; for we assert, what a very few words will confirm, that in sustaining the Union, we are encouraging and upholding slavery; and even more strongly, that without the Union, as it now exists, slavery could not stand another day.

Our present political position proves our connection with the sin. In closest league with States in which slavery, with all its infamy, is sustained by express statute—States in which this system is supreme, the controlling element in all affairs, political and religious, and which have succeeded, for nearly seventy years, ever since the Union was formed, in subjecting the legislation of the entire country to their will, making the general government, which by virtue of numbers, is ours more than theirs, favor, foster, and extend slavery, till it has grown to what it is. We are in intimate union with these States, in partnership with them in crime. We swear to abide by a Constitution, which guarantees perpetual possession of his slaves to the slaveholder, which grants him unusual privileges, in proportion to the number of his slaves, and finally, guarantees perpetual enjoyment of those privileges. We meet with them in the national Congress, yielding them a larger representation there, than an equal number of non-slaveholders, in proportion to their iniquity. We make laws together, elect officers in common, pay taxes into a common treasury, collect a common revenue, make treaties and form alliances with other nations, as one people, united in principle and interest. We associate with them in church and state, as friends and fellow-Christians, and do their bidding in all things, without noticeable or efficient protest. We have thus openly committed ourselves, in the eyes of the world, to a participation in their guilt, and in the court of conscience, to an equal responsibility for the sin. For our association with the slave States is not a partial or limited confederacy, formed for protection against a common danger, for special purposes, in no wise connected with this peculiar evil, in which we hold no part, and for which we are not responsible. Edition: current; Page: [6] Such argument is not merely fallacy, but falsehood. Undoubtedly, an alliance of that nature is possible between two or more States, without involving an acquiescence from either one, in the peculiar faith, institutions, or customs of the other. As England and France are, at this moment, acting as associates and allies of the Turk, without suspicion of countenancing either Islamism or polygamy. But our Union is not of that temporary or limited character. It is not a partial and independent alliance, in view of some pressing emergency, to cease when that is past. Were it so, the hour for dissolving that connection arrived long ago. Ours is an unlimited partnership, a perpetual and peculiar confederation, of the most intimate character. One which unites both north and south, the free and the slave States, into a common country, under one central government, under a federal Constitution, the fundamental law of the land, which grants, as has been said, extraordinary privileges to the slaveholders—1st, a three-fifths representation for their slaves in the national Congress; 2d, a pledge to restore fugitives; and 3d, the pledge that we will labor, and, if necessary, fight to repel aggression, and to suppress any efforts that may be made by the oppressed to regain their freedom. Now, in illustration of our position, we will take a supposable case, thus: I form a partnership in trade with a notoriously wicked man, one who is dishonest in his dealings, given to theft and falsehood, engaged in constant brawls, living in open adultery, and feeding his lust by force. In our articles of agreement, I allow him an undue interest in the concern, in proportion to his iniquity; agree to continue the connection, despite his character, though he should cheat even me; pledge myself to defend his practices; and, more, should any victims of his knavery or unholy violence resist, or rise against him, to shoot them down. Now, should I do all this, I could as justly claim exemption from any responsibility for, or encouragement of that man’s iniquity, as we can, under the Union, disclaim any responsibility for slavery and its inevitable iniquities. The cases are strictly parallel. The man who swears to sustain the Constitution, which grants and the Union, which sustains slavery, is certainly, in the sight of God, as guilty as one would be in the case I have supposed. The cry, “Freedom national, slavery sectional,” is an absurdity. It is impossible under the Union. Slavery existing any where in these States is the sin of the whole people.

Edition: current; Page: [7]

From what has already been said, it is apparent that slavery exists only by virtue of the Union. This is further confirmed by the voluntary confessions of a few southern gentlemen, who exhibit either superior sagacity or a greater degree of honesty than is common in their portion of the country. In the debate in Congress on the question of censuring John Q. Adams for presenting a petition for dissolution of the Union, Mr. Underwood, of Kentucky, said,—

“They (the south) were the weaker portion, were in the minority. The north could do what they pleased with them; they could adopt their own measures. All he asked was, that they would let the south know what those measures were. One thing he knew well—that the State which he in part represented had perhaps a deeper interest in this subject than any other, except Maryland and a small portion of Virginia. And why? Because he knew that to dissolve the Union and separate the different States composing this confederacy,—making the Ohio river and Mason and Dixon’s line the boundary line,—he knew as soon as that was done, slavery was done in Kentucky, Maryland, and a large portion of Virginia, and it would extend to all the States south of this line. The dissolution of the Union was the dissolution of slavery. It had been the common practice for southern men to get up on this floor and say, ‘Touch this subject, and we will dissolve this Union as a remedy.’ Their remedy was the destruction of the thing which they wished to save, and any sensible man could see it. If the Union were dissolved into two parts, the slave would cross the line, and then turn round and curse his master from the other shore.”

Mr. Thomas D. Arnold, of Tennessee, in a speech on the same subject, spoke as follows:—

“The free States had now a majority of forty-four in that house. Under the new census they would have fifty-three. The cause of the slaveholding States was getting weaker and weaker, and what were they to do? He would ask his southern friends what the south had to rely on if the Union were dissolved? Suppose the dissolution could be peaceably effected, (if that did not involve a contradiction in terms,) what had the south to depend upon? All the crowned heads were against her. A million of slaves were ready to rise and strike for freedom at the first tap of the drum. They were cut loose from their friends at the north (friends that ought to be, and without them the south had no friends); whither were they to look for protection? How were they to sustain an assault from England or France, with that cancer at their vitals? The more the south reflected, the more clearly she must see that she had a deep and vital interest in maintaining the Union.”

The editor of the Maryville (Tenn.) Intelligencer, in an article on the slave population, wrote thus:—

Edition: current; Page: [8]

“We of the south are emphatically surrounded by a dangerous class of beings,—degraded, stupid savages,—who, if they could but once entertain the idea that immediate and unconditional death would not be their portion, would react the St. Domingo tragedy. But the consciousness, with all their stupidity, that a tenfold force, superior in discipline, if not in barbarity, would gather from the four corners of the United States, and slaughter them, keeps them in subjection. But to the non-slaveholding States particularly we are indebted for a permanent safeguard against insurrection. Without their assistance, the white population of the south would be too weak to quiet that innate desire for liberty which is ever ready to act itself out with every rational creature.”

More recently, Mr. Gentry, member of Congress from Tennessee, thought it would be better for the south to submit to the Wilmot proviso than to dissolve the Union, as he “believes that the continued existence of slavery rests upon the existence of the Union.”

Every slave will confirm what these gentlemen tell us—that what prevents the slaves securing their liberty, is not their degradation, nor fear of their masters, but the fear, into which they are carefully educated, of the intervention of the northern States. The first successes of the Nat Turner insurrection, and its final suppression by the forces of the Union, teach the value of that Union to the slaveholder, and afford a painful precedent of despair to the unhappy slave. It is idle to offer further evidence. Every one who understands the Constitution, and interprets it fairly, and who knows so much of history as is comprised in the records of these States for seventy years, must confess that the Union is the main stay of slavery, and that were the Union dissolved, slavery that moment hastens to its end. No man, therefore, can properly regard the position of the abolitionist as other than reasonable and just, fully sanctioned, in the light of religion and humanity, by such facts and admissions as have been stated. A position, whose justice is implied by the Hon. Horace Mann, in his eloquent and able speech in Congress, August 17, 1852, when he says, “Let me ask if the political free soil party do not go to the uttermost verge that patriot, moralist, or Christian can go, when it consents to let slavery remain where it is?” To his question we reply, Yes; and beyond that dizzy and bewildering verge, where a mistaken expediency overlaps the boundaries of right, farther than either patriot, moralist, or Christian can go. It is on these grounds that a dissolution of the Union is urged; because, first, while we remain in the Union we are responsible Edition: current; Page: [9] for slavery, which the Union sustains, and second, because we believe, that in disunion lies the only hope of emancipation for the slave.

No reference has been made to the corrupting influence of slavery upon the country; its constant aggressions upon our liberties; its control of the political parties; its despotic use of the general government as a tool for the promotion of its interests, by patronage, public moneys, and unjust enactments; its wars, fought by northern men, paid for by northern money; its prostitution of justice, through packed juries, profligate attorneys, and unjust judges; for all these things the north has power to correct if she will; though it is an impossible expectation, that the north will ever be sufficiently free and united, to rule by virtue of its numerical preponderance, while slavery exists as a recognized power in the State. But we omit any argument based on these things, which admit of possible cure. For, in respect to these things, the fault (strictly speaking) is not directly with the Union. These, we are not forbidden to prevent, and therefore, of themselves, afford no necessary or unavoidable reason for a separation. Now, this same argument, could it be applied to the Constitution, would be equally valid against our measure of dissolution. If it were possible, under the Constitution, to abolish slavery, and we could be freed from the responsibility of an immoral oath, if it were possible so to alter the Constitution as to expunge its slave clauses, and allow us to move for abolition,—then the Union need not, necessarily, be severed. But how is it, in fact?

The Constitution is pro-slavery. That has been assumed throughout. Nothing need be said on that point, save to refer the reader to the first tract of this series, or to Mr. Phillips’s reply to Lysander Spooner. Facts, evidence, usage, the interpretation of our courts, the public voice, and the instrument itself, are unanimous in their decision of that point. That Constitution is the fundamental federal law. Whatever is constitutional may be done; whatever is unconstitutional (save when in favor of slavery) may not be done. It stands, therefore, as the supreme law of the land, and is regarded by the people as a sort of external conscience. Here, then, we have an authority, established nearly seventy years ago, to control the legislation of a great and growing country, increasing, since that authority was established, from thirteen to thirty-one States, and seven enormous Territories, and, in population, from three to twenty-three Edition: current; Page: [10] millions—an authority from which there is no appeal; which neither changing social needs, the growing wants of a growing country, nor increasing intelligence and virtue, and capacity of men for freer forms, nor any exigency or circumstance whatever can question. But even further; this authority, which admits of no appeal, hears no petitions, which is blind, deaf and heartless, in its protection of sin, this authority is perpetual. The Constitution cannot be altered, so that there may be just laws, which shall be at the same time constitutional, so that we may obey conscience legally, and speak and act for the right, without arrest for treason. Provision is made, indeed, for amendment, but under conditions so strict and impossible, that it amounts to prohibition, so far as any great dividing question, like slavery, is concerned. Article V. of the Constitution reads as follows: “The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution; or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a convention for proposing amendments; which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by Congress.”

By this article, therefore, not one State alone, not all New England, not the entire north, have any right to propose a modification or repeal of the slave clauses of the Constitution. As we now stand, twenty-one States must agree to propose an amendment, before the proposition can be received; and after that is done, twenty-four States must ratify that amendment, before it can be law. Is not this simple statement sufficient? Who so sanguine or visionary, that he dare hope for a vote of three fourths of the States, to free our Constitution from its protection of slavery, or even of two thirds of the States to make such a proposal. This very difficulty was alluded to by Edmund Randolph, of Virginia, a member of the convention which framed the Constitution. In a letter to the Virginia legislature, explaining his reasons for refusing to sign the Constitution, he says, “My opinion always was, and still is, that every citizen of America, let the crisis be what it may, ought to have a full opportunity to propose, through his representatives, any amendment which in his apprehension tends to the public welfare. By signing, I should have contradicted this sentiment. * * * I may be asked Edition: current; Page: [11] why the mode pointed out in the Constitution, for its amendment, may not be a sufficient security against its imperfections. My answers are, That it is better to amend while the passions of designing men are not yet enlisted, and while a bare majority of the States may amend, than to wait for the uncertain assent of three fourths; that a bad feature in government becomes more and more fixed every day; * * * and that in the present case it may be questionable whether, after the particular advantages of its operation shall be discerned, three fourths of the States can be induced to amend.”

Here, then, we have the singular spectacle, of a Constitution, which is the national fundamental law, the bond of union, and supreme, from whose authority there is no appeal, which is unchangeable and eternal, formed nearly seventy years ago, not by an omniscient power, but by men like ourselves; men who yet made laws not for themselves alone, not for their times, suited to their political necessities alone, but, with an assumption of infallibility almost impious, for their children’s children, to the remotest generation, for every age, to the end of time or of the Union. Absolute beyond the possible limits of monarchical despotism, our charter of tyranny, not only makes laws, but makes them perpetual. And in swearing to the Constitution, we are compelled, virtually, to swear to its perpetuity just as it is. That Constitution is pro-slavery. Viewed, then, in the light of all that is urged, (and can logic or inspiration point to any other conclusion?) he is not the traitor to his country, but the only true patriot as well as Christian, who labors for the peaceful dissolution of this Union.

The question of the policy of this movement, apart from its effect in removing slavery, we have not discussed. We care not to discuss it; though the fears, so commonly expressed, of consequent disaster and ruin, might easily be shown to be unfounded. But whether so or not, it is a fatal admission for any one to make, that the prosperity and safety of the country depend on sustaining sin, and would be perilled by removing it; still more fatal to say, that any conceivable danger to existing institutions, can justify persevering and perpetual disobedience to the supreme law of God. But there is no danger of disaster or ruin in the success of the measure proposed, even were it put into execution at once. There is, however, no immediate prospect of that. A score or two of abolitionists cannot Edition: current; Page: [12] dissolve the Union. Their principles must first be carried home to the consciences of the people of the north. Thus the public mind will be prepared for the change, when it can be made, and all needful precautions taken. And when the people are ready, then the Union is broken, the Constitution repealed, slavery abolished. Then, and not till then, shall we be able to secure, what, in the preamble to our Constitution, the present Union proposed, but has signally failed to effect—“a more perfect union,” which will “establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.

Our purpose is not incendiary. We do not expect to dissolve the Union, alone. With the truest and most disinterested love of justice, humanity, and our country, we simply ask coöperation, and for this, appeal to the conscience and understanding of the people. There is no necessity, therefore, for any definite answer to the question, “How do you propose to do this thing?” It is not the time to lay out a plan of the campaign, to open trenches, dispose forces, and besiege the citadel, while we yet have no forces, save only a few recruiting officers. The thing to be done now is, to urge upon every man this question—Are you ready? If you (believing slavery a sin, and that it is wrong to sustain sin) believe that the American Union does sustain slavery, can you do otherwise than commit yourself to this cause, as the only hope for the slave, the only measure of salvation for the country, and a simple expression of adhesion to the eternal laws of the Almighty?

Published for gratuitous distribution, at the Office of the American Anti-Slavery Society, No. 138 Nassau Street, New York. Also to be had at the Anti-Slavery Offices, No. 21 Cornhill, Boston, and No. 31 North Fifth Street, Philadelphia.

Edition: current; Page: [1]

12.: Anon., (Songs), 8 pp.



    • “What mean ye that ye bruise and bind
    • My people? saith the Lord;”
    • And starve your craving brother’s mind
    • That asks to hear My word?
    • What mean ye that ye make them toil
    • Through long and hopeless years;
    • And shed, like rain, upon your soil
    • Their blood and bitter tears?
    • What mean ye that ye dare to rend
    • The tender mother’s heart?
    • Brothers from sisters, friend from friend,
    • How dare ye bid them part?
    • What mean ye, when God’s bounteous hand
    • To you so much has given,
    • That from the slave that tills your land
    • Ye keep both earth and Heaven?
    • When, at the Judgment, God shall call
    • “Where is thy brother?” Say!
    • What mean ye to the Judge of all
    • To answer, on that day?


    • My country that nobly could dare
    • The sword of oppression to brave:
    • Can’st thou, of all nations, still bear
    • To be the dark land of the slave?
  • Edition: current; Page: [2]
    • His groans and the clank of his chains
    • Shall rise with the shouts of the free;
    • And turn into discord the strains
    • We raise, God of justice, to Thee.
    • Proud knees at the altar we bend.
    • Upon the Almighty we call.
    • We name Him our Father and Friend;
    • And forget He’s the Father of all.
    • His children He will not forget.
    • His mercy, His power, can save;
    • And, sure as God liveth, He yet
    • With liberty give to the slave.
    • Rejoice not in freedom and peace;
    • With blood of the slave on your sod!
    • Till the groans of the negro shall cease,
    • Hope not for a blessing from God!
    • The dead whom the white man has slain,
    • They cry from the ground and the waves:
    • They once prayed for mercy in vain.
    • They plead for their brothers the slaves.
    • O, let them, my country, be heard!
    • Be the home of the free and the brave;
    • And send forth the glorious word,—
    • This is not the land of the slave!


    • Mother, when around your child
    • You clasp your arms in love,
    • And when with grateful joy you raise
    • Your eyes to God above;
  • Edition: current; Page: [3]
    • Think of the negro-mother when
    • Her child is torn away,—
    • Sold for a little slave,—oh then
    • For that poor mother pray!
    • Father, when your happy boys
    • You look upon with pride,
    • And pray to see them, when you ’re old,
    • All blooming by your side;
    • Think of the man who lives to be
    • The father of a slave;
    • And asks a pitying God to give
    • His little son a grave!
    • Brothers and sisters who with joy
    • Meet round the social hearth,
    • And talk of home and happy days,
    • And laugh in careless mirth;
    • Remember then the poor young slave
    • Who never felt your joy,
    • Who, early old, has never known
    • The bliss to be a boy!
    • Ye Christian ministers of Him
    • Who came to make men free,
    • When at the Almighty Maker’s throne
    • You bend the suppliant knee;
    • From the deep fountains of your soul,
    • Then let your prayers ascend
    • For the poor slave who hardly knows
    • That God is still his friend!
    • Let all who know that God is just,
    • That Jesus came to save
    • Unite in the most holy cause
    • Of the forsaken slave!
Edition: current; Page: [4]


    • How hopeful were the early days
    • Our brave forefathers knew!
    • How beautiful their simple ways,
    • Their doings good and true!
    • Chorus.—Our early days, our early days,
    • With all their light, are o’er;
    • The mighty men and good old ways
    • That we shall see no more.
    • The glowing history we read
    • Of acts too great for praise;
    • And learn by heart each noble deed
    • Of those bright early days.
    • Our early days, &c.
    • Alas, that hour of deepest gloom!
    • Those men so good and true
    • Have signed and sealed the negro’s doom.
    • “They know not what they do.”
    • Our early days, &c.
    • To give their children peace and wealth,
    • Their brother’s right they stole.
    • God sent the nation’s body health,
    • But “leanness to its soul.”
    • Our early days, &c.
    • A prophet speaks the word to-day
    • ‘For erring sires atone!
    • That fatal Union shall ye lay
    • Upon the altar-stone.’
    • Our early days, &c.
    • And from that sacrifice sublime
    • Shall rise the sacred fire;
    • The spirit of the olden time
    • Our people shall inspire.
    • Chorus.—Our early days, our early days,
    • With all their light, are o’er;
    • But earnest men and honest ways
    • Shall come to us once more.
Edition: current; Page: [5]


Air—From Greenland’s icy mountains.

    • Lift up a voice of gladness,
    • Ye lowly waiting throng!
    • O, dry your tears of sadness,
    • And raise a cheerful song!
    • Hope on! A glorious morrow
    • Your aching hearts shall see;
    • And quench their burning sorrow
    • In freedom’s jubilee.
    • The word of doom is spoken.
    • Your chains are loosening fast.
    • Ere long, they shall be broken;
    • And Justice reign at last.
    • Nation to nation calling,
    • Cries—liberty for all!
    • The tyrant’s power is falling,
    • Is quailing at that call.
    • From mountain back to mountain,
    • Its echoes shall be heard;
    • And maidens at the fountain
    • Shall pass the holy word.
    • O’er mighty lake and river.
    • Shall go the great decree,
    • The tyrant’s chain to sever,
    • And set the captive free.
    • O’er many a flowery prairie,
    • Like breath from Heaven, it sighs;
    • And bids the sad and weary
    • Lift up their tearful eyes.
  • Edition: current; Page: [6]
    • Ocean to ocean swelling,
    • With loud exulting waves,
    • The joyful word is telling—
    • There shall be no more slaves.


Air—The Troubadour.

    • Sadly the fugitive weeps in his cell.
    • Listen awhile to the story we tell!
    • Listen ye gentle ones! Listen ye brave!
    • Lady fair, lady fair, weep for the slave!
    • Praying for liberty dearer than life;
    • Torn from his little ones, torn from his wife;
    • Flying from slavery; hear him, and save!
    • Christian men, christian men, help the poor slave!
    • Think of his agony, feel for his pain;
    • Should his hard master e’er hold him again!
    • Spirit of liberty, rise from thy grave!
    • Make him free! Make him free! Rescue the slave!
    • Freely the slave-master goes where he will.
    • Freemen stand ready his wish to fulfil:
    • Helping the tyrant, or honest or knave:
    • Thinking not, caring not for the poor slave.
    • Talk not of liberty! Liberty ’s dead.
    • See the slave-master’s whip over our head!
    • Stooping beneath it, we ask what he craves.
    • Boston boys, Boston boys, catch me my slaves!’
    • Freemen, arouse ye, before ’t is too late!
    • Slavery ’s knocking at every gate.
    • Make good the promise your early days gave!
    • Boston boys, Boston boys, rescue the slave!
Edition: current; Page: [7]


    • Lord deliver! Thou canst save.
    • Save Thy children, mighty God!
    • Hear, O hear the kneeling slave!
    • Break, O break the oppressor’s rod!
    • Shall the tyrant reign forever?
    • Shall we always suffer wrong?
    • When wilt Thou our race deliver?
    • Must we wait? “O God, how long?”
    • O, how long, with blood and tears,
    • Shall we till the oppressor’s soil?
    • When shall end these heavy years?
    • When shall cease our hopeless toil?
    • Robbed of manhood, knowledge, all;
    • Father, we have nought but Thee.
    • Hear us, when on Thee we call!
    • God of mercy, set us free!
    • Not on Afric’s distant strand
    • Shall our people exiled be.
    • Here, within our native land,
    • Give us back our liberty!
    • Still we watch the passing hour
    • Patiently through sorrow’s night;
    • Till the Lord shall give us power
    • Here to vindicate our right.
    • He whose power is everywhere,
    • Who doth lowly sorrow see;
    • He will hear the captive’s prayer.
    • He will set the captive free.
Edition: current; Page: [8]


    • When children play the livelong day,
    • Like birds and butterflies;
    • As free and gay, sport time away,
    • And know not care or sighs;
    • Then all the air seems fresh and fair
    • Around us and above.
    • Life’s flowers are there; and everywhere
    • Is innocence and love.
    • When children pray with fear all day,
    • A blight must be at hand.
    • Then joys decay, and birds of prey
    • Are hovering o’er the land.
    • When young hearts weep as they go to sleep,
    • Then all the world is sad.
    • The flesh must creep, and woes are deep,
    • When children are not glad.

Published, for gratuitous distribution, at the Office of the American Anti-Slavery Society, No. 138 Nassau Street, New York. Also, to be had at the Anti-Slavery Offices, No. 21 Cornhill, Boston, and No. 31 North Fifth Street, Philadelphia.

Edition: current; Page: [1]
Harriet Beecher Stowe
Stowe, Harriet Beecher

Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe, “The Two Altars; or, Two Pictures in One,” 12 pp.




The well-sweep of the old house on the hill was relieved, dark and clear, against the reddening sky, as the early winter sun was going down in the west. It was a brisk, clear, metallic evening; the long drifts of snow blushed crimson red on their tops, and lay in shades of purple and lilac in the hollows; and the old wintry wind brushed shrewdly along the plain, tingling people’s noses, blowing open their cloaks, puffing in the back of their necks, and showing other unmistakable indications that he was getting up steam for a real roystering night.

“Hurra! now it blows!” said little Dick Ward, from the top of the mossy wood-pile.

Now Dick had been sent to said wood-pile, in company with his little sister Grace, to pick up chips, which, everybody knows, was in the olden time considered a wholesome and gracious employment, and the peculiar duty of the rising generation. But said Dick, being a boy, had mounted the wood-pile, and erected there a flag-staff, on which he was busily tying a little red pocket-handkerchief, occasionally exhorting Gracie “to be sure and pick up fast.” “O, yes, I will,” said Grace; “but you see the chips have got ice on ’em, and make my hands so cold!”

“O! don’t stop to suck your thumbs!—who cares for ice? Pick away, I say, while I set up the flag of Liberty.”

So Gracie picked away as fast as she could, nothing doubting but that her cold thumbs were in some mysterious sense an offering on the shrine of Liberty; while soon the red handkerchief, duly secured, fluttered and snapped in the brisk evening wind.

“Now you must hurra, Gracie, and throw up your bonnet,” said Dicky, as he descended from the pile.

Edition: current; Page: [2]

“But won’t it lodge down in some place in the wood-pile?” suggested Gracie, thoughtfully.

“O, never fear; give it to me, and just holler now, Gracie. ‘Hurra for Liberty;’ and we ’ll throw up your bonnet and my cap; and we ’ll play, you know, that we were a whole army, and I ’m General Washington.”

So Gracie gave up her little red hood, and Dick swung his cap, and up they both went into the air; and the children shouted, and the flag snapped and fluttered, and altogether they had a merry time of it. But then the wind—good-for-nothing, roguish fellow!—made an ungenerous plunge at poor Gracie’s little hood, and snipped it up in a twinkling, and whisked it off, off, off,—fluttering and bobbing up and down, quite across a wide, waste, snowy field, and finally lodged it on the top of a tall, strutting rail, that was leaning very independently, quite another way from all the other rails of the fence.

“Now see, do see!” said Gracie; “there goes my bonnet! What will Aunt Hitty say?” and Gracie began to cry.

“Don’t you cry, Gracie; you offered it up to Liberty, you know—it ’s glorious to give up everything for Liberty.”

“O! but Aunt Hitty won’t think so.”

“Well, don’t cry, Gracie, you foolish girl! Do you think I can’t get it? Now, only play that that great rail was a fort, and your bonnet was a prisoner in it, and see how quick I ’ll take the fort, and get it!” and Dick shouldered a stick, and started off.

“What upon ’arth keeps those children so long? I should think they were making chips!” said Aunt Mehetabel; “the fire ’s just a-going out under the tea-kettle.”

By this time Gracie had lugged her heavy basket to the door, and was stamping the snow off her little feet, which were so numb that she needed to stamp, to be quite sure they were yet there. Aunt Mehetabel’s shrewd face was the first that greeted her, as the door opened.

“Gracie—what upon airth!—wipe your nose, child; your hands are frozen. Where alive is Dick, and what ’s kept you out all this time,—and where ’s your bonnet?”

Poor Gracie, stunned by this cataract of questions, neither wiped her nose nor gave any answer; but sidled up into the warm corner, where grandmamma was knitting, and began quietly rubbing and blowing her fingers, while the tears silently rolled down her cheeks, as the fire made their former ache intolerable.

Edition: current; Page: [3]

“Poor little dear!” said grandmamma, taking her hands in hers; “Hitty shan’t scold you. Grandma knows you ’ve been a good girl,—the wind blew poor Gracie’s bonnet away;” and grandmamma wiped both eyes and nose, and gave her, moreover, a stalk of dried fennel out of her pocket, whereat Gracie took heart once more.

“Mother always makes fools of Roxy’s children,” said Mehetabel, puffing zealously under the tea-kettle. “There ’s a little maple sugar in that saucer up there, mother, if you will keep giving it to her,” she said, still vigorously puffing. “And now, Gracie,” she said, when, after a while, the fire seemed in tolerable order, “will you answer my question?—Where is Dick?”

“Gone over in the lot, to get my bonnet.”

“How came your bonnet off?” said Aunt Mehetabel. “I tied it on firm enough.”

“Dick wanted me to take it off for him, to throw up for Liberty,” said Grace.

“Throw up for fiddlestick! just one of Dick’s cut-ups, and you was silly enough to mind him!”

“Why, he put up a flag-staff on the wood-pile, and a flag to Liberty, you know, that papa ’s fighting for,” said Grace, more confidently, as she saw her quiet, blue-eyed mother, who had silently walked into the room during the conversation.

“Grace’s mother smiled, and said, encouragingly, And what then?”

“Why, he wanted me to throw up my bonnet and he his cap, and shout for Liberty; and then the wind took it and carried it off, and he said I ought not to be sorry if I did lose it,—it was an offering to Liberty.”

“And so I did,” said Dick, who was standing as straight as a poplar behind the group; “and I heard it in one of father’s letters to mother, that we ought to offer up everything on the altar of Liberty! And so I made an altar of the wood-pile.”

“Good boy!” said his mother, “always remember everything your father writes. He has offered up everything on the altar of Liberty, true enough; and I hope you, son, will live to do the same.”

“Only, if I have the hoods and caps to make,” said Aunt Hitty, “I hope he won’t offer them up every week—that ’s all!”

“O! well, Aunt Hitty, I ’ve got the hood,—let me alone for that. It blew clear over into the Daddy Ward pasture-lot, and there stuck on the top of the great rail; and I played that the rail was a fort, and besieged it, and took it.”

Edition: current; Page: [4]

“O! yes, you ’re always up to taking forts, and anything else that nobody wants done. I ’ll warrant, now, you left Gracie to pick up every blessed one of them chips!”

“Picking up chips is girls’ work,” said Dick; “and taking forts and defending the country is men’s work.”

“And pray, Mister Pomp, how long have you been a man?” said Aunt Hitty.

“If I a’nt a man, I soon shall be; my head is ’most up to mother’s shoulder, and I can fire off a gun, too. I tried, the other day, when I was up to the store. Mother, I wish you ’d let me clean and load the old gun; so that, if the British should come!”

“Well, if you are so big and grand, just lift me out that table, sir,” said Aunt Hitty, “for it ’s past supper-time.”

Dick sprung, and had the table out in a trice, with an abundant clatter, and put up the leaves with quite an air. His mother, with the silent and gliding motion characteristic of her, quietly took out the table-cloth and spread it, and began to set the cups and saucers in order, and to put on the plates and knives, while Aunt Hitty bustled about the tea.

“I ’ll be glad when the war ’s over, for one reason,” said she. “I ’m pretty much tired of drinking sage-tea, for one, I know.”

“Well, Aunt Hitty, how you scolded that pedler, last week, that brought along that real tea.”

“To be sure I did. S’pose I ’d be taking any of his old tea, bought of the British?—fling every tea-cup in his face, first!”

“Well, mother,” said Dick, “I never exactly understood what it was about the tea, and why the Boston folks threw it all overboard.”

“Because there was an unlawful tax laid upon it, that the government had no right to lay. It was n’t much in itself; but it was a part of a whole system of oppressive meanness, designed to take away our rights, and make us slaves of a foreign power!”

“Slaves!” said Dicky, straightening himself proudly. “Father a slave!”

“But they would not be slaves! They saw clearly where it would all end, and they would not begin to submit to it in ever so little,” said the mother.

“I would n’t, if I was they,” said Dicky.

“Besides,” said his mother, drawing him towards her, “it was n’t for themselves alone they did it. This is a great country, and it will be greater and greater: and it ’s very important that it should have free and equal laws, because it will by and by be so great. This country, if it is a free one, will be a light of the Edition: current; Page: [5] world,—a city set on a hill, that cannot be hid; and all the oppressed and distressed from other countries shall come here to enjoy equal rights and freedom. This, dear boy, is why your father and uncles have gone to fight, and why they do stay and fight, though God knows what they suffer, and—” and the large blue eyes of the mother were full of tears; yet a strong, bright beam of pride and exultation shone through those tears.

“Well, well, Roxy, you can always talk, everybody knows,” said Aunt Hitty, who had been not the least attentive listener of this little patriotic harangue; “but, you see, the tea is getting cold, and yonder I see the sleigh is at the door, and John ’s come,—so let ’s set up our chairs for supper.”

The chairs were soon set up, when John, the eldest son, a lad of about fifteen, entered with a letter. There was one general exclamation, and stretching out of hands towards it. John threw it into his mother’s lap;—the tea-table was forgotten, and the tea-kettle sang unnoticed by the fire, as all hands piled themselves up by mother’s chair to hear the news. It was from Captain Ward, then in the American army, at Valley Forge. Mrs. Ward ran it over hastily, and then read it aloud. A few words we may extract: “There is still,” it said, “much suffering. I have given away every pair of stockings you sent me, reserving to myself only one; for I will not be one whit better off than the poorest soldier that fights for his country. Poor fellows! it makes my heart ache sometimes to go round among them, and see them with their worn clothes and torn shoes, and often bleeding feet, yet cheerful and hopeful, and every one willing to do his very best. Often the spirit of discouragement comes over them, particularly at night, when, weary, cold and hungry, they turn into their comfortless huts, on the snowy ground. Then sometimes there is a thought of home, and warm fires, and some speak of giving up; but next morning out comes Washington’s general orders,—little short note, but it ’s wonderful the good it does! and then they all resolve to hold on, come what may. There are commissioners going all through the country to pick up supplies. If they come to you, I need not tell you what to do. I know all that will be in your hearts.”

“There, children, you see what your father suffers,” said the mother, “and what it costs these poor soldiers to gain our liberty.”

“Ephraim Scranton told me that the commissioners had come as far as the Three-mile Tavern, and that he rather ’spected they ’d be Edition: current; Page: [6] along here to-night,” said John, as he was helping round the baked beans to the silent company at the tea-table.

“To-night?—Do tell, now!” said Aunt Hitty. “Then it ’s time we were awake and stirring. Let ’s see what can be got.”

“I ’ll send my new over-coat, for one,” said John. “That old one an’t cut up yet, is it, Aunt Hitty?”

“No,” said Aunt Hitty; “I was laying out to cut it over, next Wednesday, when Desire Smith could be here to do the tailoring.”

“There ’s the south room,” said Aunt Hitty, musing; “that bed has the two old Aunt Ward blankets on it, and the great blue quilt, and two comforters. Then mother’s and my room, two pair—four comforters—two quilts—the best chamber has got ——”

“O! Aunt Hitty, send all that ’s in the best chamber. If any company comes, we can make it up off from our beds!” said John. “I can send a blanket or two off from my bed, I know;—can’t but just turn over in it, so many clothes on, now.”

“Aunt Hitty, take a blanket off from our bed,” said Grace and Dicky, at once.

“Well, well, we ’ll see,” said Aunt Hitty, bustling up.

Up rose grandmamma, with great earnestness, now, and going into the next room, and opening a large cedar wood-chest, returned, bearing in her arms two large snow-white blankets, which she deposited flat on the table, just as Aunt Hitty was whisking off the table-cloth.

“Mortal! mother, what are you going to do?” said Aunt Hitty.

“There,” she said, “I spun those, every thread of ’em, when my name was Mary Evans. Those were my wedding blankets, made of real nice wool, and worked with roses in all the corners. I ’ve got them to give!” and grandmamma stroked and smoothed the blankets, and patted them down, with great pride and tenderness. It was evident she was giving something that lay very near her heart; but she never faltered.

“La! mother, there ’s no need of that,” said Aunt Hitty. “Use them on your own bed, and send the blankets off from that:—they are just as good for the soldiers.”

“No, I shan’t!” said the old lady, waxing warm; “’t an’t a bit too good for ’em. I ’ll send the very best I ’ve got, before they shall suffer. Send ’em the best!” and the old lady gestured oratorically!

They were interrupted by a rap at the door, and two men entered, and announced themselves as commissioned by Congress to search out supplies for the army. Now the plot thickens. Aunt Edition: current; Page: [7] Hitty flew in every direction,—through entry-passage, meal-room, milk-room, down cellar, up chamber,—her cap-border on end with patriotic zeal; and followed by John, Dick and Gracie, who eagerly bore to the kitchen the supplies that she turned out, while Mrs. Ward busied herself in quietly sorting, bundling, and arranging in the best possible travelling order, the various contributions that were precipitately launched on the kitchen floor.

Aunt Hitty soon appeared in the kitchen with an armful of stockings, which, kneeling on the floor, she began counting and laying out.

“There,” she said, laying down a large bundle on some blankets, “that leaves just two pair apiece, all round.”

“La!” said John, “what ’s the use of saving two pair for me? I can do with one pair, as well as father.”

“Sure enough,” said his mother; “besides, I can knit you another pair in a day.”

“And I can do with one pair,” said Dicky.

“Yours will be too small, young master, I guess,” said one of the commissioners.

“No,” said Dicky; “I ’ve got a pretty good foot of my own, and Aunt Hitty will always knit my stockings an inch too long, ’cause she says I grow so. See here,—these will do;” and the boy shook his, triumphantly.

“And mine, too,” said Gracie, nothing doubting, having been busy all the time in pulling off her little stockings.

“Here,” she said to the man who was packing the things into a wide-mouthed sack; “here ’s mine,” and her large blue eyes looked earnestly through her tears.

Aunt Hitty flew at her.—“Good land! the child ’s crazy! Don’t think the men could wear your stockings,—take ’em away!”

Gracie looked around with an air of utter desolation, and began to cry. “I wanted to give them something,” said she. “I ’d rather go barefoot on the snow all day, than not send ’em anything.”

“Give me the stockings, my child,” said the old soldier, tenderly. “There, I ’ll take ’em, and show ’em to the soldiers, and tell them what the little girl said that sent them, and it will do them as much good as if they could wear them. They ’ve got little girls at home, too.” Gracie fell on her mother’s bosom completely happy, and Aunt Hitty only muttered,

“Everybody does spile that child; and no wonder, neither!”

Soon the old sleigh drove off from the brown house, tightly Edition: current; Page: [8] packed and heavily loaded. And Gracie and Dicky were creeping up to their little beds.

“There ’s been something put on the altar of Liberty to-night, has n’t there, Dick?”

“Yes, indeed,” said Dick; and, looking up to his mother, he said, “But, mother, what did you give?”

“I?” said the mother, musingly.

“Yes, you, mother; what have you given to the country?”

“All that I have, dears,” said she, laying her hands gently on their heads,—“my husband and my children!”

II.—: THE ALTAR OF ——, OR 1850.

The setting sun of chill December lighted up the solitary front window of a small tenement on —— street, which we now have occasion to visit. As we push gently aside the open door, we gain sight of a small room, clean as busy hands can make it, where a neat, cheerful young mulatto woman is busy at an ironing-table. A basket full of glossy-bosomed shirts, and faultless collars and wrist-bands, is beside her, into which she is placing the last few items with evident pride and satisfaction. A bright, black-eyed boy, just come in from school, with his satchel of books over his shoulder, stands, cap in hand, relating to his mother how he has been at the head of his class, and showing his school-tickets, which his mother, with untiring admiration, deposits in the little real china tea-pot,—which, as being their most reliable article of gentility, is made the deposit of all the money and most especial valuables of the family.

“Now, Henry,” says the mother, “look out and see if father is coming along the street;” and she begins filling the little black tea-kettle, which is soon set singing on the stove.

From the inner room now daughter Mary, a well-grown girl of thirteen, brings the baby, just roused from a nap, and very impatient to renew his acquaintance with his mamma.

“Bless his bright eyes!—mother will take him,” ejaculates the busy little woman, whose hands are by this time in a very floury condition, in the incipient stages of wetting up biscuit,—“in a minute;” and she quickly frees herself from the flour and paste, and, deputing Mary to roll out her biscuit, proceeds to the consolation and succor of young master.

“Now, Henry,” says the mother, “you ’ll have time, before supper, to take that basket of clothes up to Mr. Sheldin’s;—put in that Edition: current; Page: [9] nice bill, that you made out last night. I shall give you a cent for every bill you write out for me. What a comfort it is, now, for one’s children to be gettin’ learnin’ so!”

Henry shouldered the basket, and passed out the door, just as a neatly-dressed colored man walked up, with his pail and white-wash brushes.

“O, you ’ve come, father, have you?—Mary, are the biscuits in?—you may as well set the table, now. Well, George, what ’s the news?”

“Nothing, only a pretty smart day’s work. I ’ve brought home five dollars, and shall have as much as I can do, these two weeks;” and the man, having washed his hands, proceeded to count out his change on the ironing-table.

“Well, it takes you to bring in the money,” said the delighted wife; “nobody but you could turn off that much in a day!”

“Well, they do say—those that ’s had me once—that they never want any other hand to take hold in their rooms. I s’pose its a kinder practice I ’ve got, and kinder natural!”

“Tell ye what,” said the little woman, taking down the family strong box,—to wit, the china tea-pot, aforenamed,—and pouring the contents on the table, “we ’re getting mighty rich, now! We can afford to get Henry his new Sunday-cap, and Mary her muslin-de-laine dress;—take care, baby, you rogue!” she hastily interposed, as young master made a dive at a dollar bill, for his share in the proceeds.

“He wants something, too, I suppose,” said the father; “let him get his hand in while he ’s young.”

The baby gazed, with round, astonished eyes, while mother, with some difficulty, rescued the bill from his grasp; but, before any one could at all anticipate his purpose, he dashed in among the small change with such zeal as to send it flying all over the table.

“Hurra!—Bub ’s a smasher!” said the father, delighted; “he ’ll make it fly, he thinks;” and, taking the baby on his knee, he laughed merrily, as Mary and her mother pursued the rolling coin all over the room.

“He knows now, as well as can be, that he ’s been doing mischief,” said the delighted mother, as the baby kicked and crowed uproariously;—“he ’s such a forward child, now, to be only six months old!—O, you ’ve no idea, father, how mischievous he grows,” and therewith the little woman began to roll and tumble the little mischief-maker about, uttering divers frightful threats, Edition: current; Page: [10] which appeared to contribute, in no small degree, to the general hilarity.

“Come, come, Mary,” said the mother, at last, with a sudden burst of recollection; “you must n’t be always on your knees fooling with this child!—Look in the oven at them biscuits.”

“They ’re done exactly, mother,—just the brown!”—and, with the word, the mother dumped baby on to his father’s knee, where he sat contentedly munching a very ancient crust of bread, occasionally improving the flavor thereof by rubbing it on his father’s coat-sleeve.

“What have you got in that blue dish, there?” said George, when the whole little circle were seated around the table.

“Well, now, what do you suppose?” said the little woman, delighted;—“a quart of nice oysters,—just for a treat, you know. I would n’t tell you till this minute,” said she, raising the cover.

“Well,” said George, “we both work hard for our money, and we don’t owe anybody a cent; and why should n’t we have our treats, now and then, as well as rich folks?”

And gayly passed the supper hour; the tea-kettle sung, the baby crowed, and all chatted and laughed abundantly.

“I ’ll tell you,” said George, wiping his mouth, “wife, these times are quite another thing from what it used to be down in Georgia. I remember then old Mas’r used to hire me out by the year; and one time, I remember, I came and paid him in two hundred dollars,—every cent I ’d taken. He just looked it over, counted it, and put it in his pocket-book, and said, ‘You are a good boy, George,’—and he gave me half-a-dollar!

“I want to know, now!” said his wife.

“Yes, he did, and that was every cent I ever got of it; and, I tell you, I was mighty bad off for clothes, them times.”

“Well, well, the Lord be praised, they ’re over, and you are in a free country now!” said the wife, as she rose thoughtfully from the table, and brought her husband the great Bible. The little circle were ranged around the stove for evening prayers.

“Henry, my boy, you must read,—you are a better reader than your father,—thank God, that let you learn early!”

The boy, with a cheerful readiness, read, “The Lord is my shepherd,” and the mother gently stilled the noisy baby, to listen to the holy words. Then all kneeled, while the father, with simple earnestness, poured out his soul to God.

They had but just risen,—the words of Christian hope and trust scarce died on their lips,—when lo! the door was burst open, and Edition: current; Page: [11] two men entered; and one of them, advancing, laid his hand on the father’s shoulder. “This is the fellow,” said he.

“You are arrested in the name of the United States!” said the other.

“Gentlemen, what is this?” said the poor man, trembling.

“Are you not the property of Mr. B., of Georgia?” said the officer.

“Gentlemen, I ’ve been a free, hard-working man, these ten years.”

“Yes, but you are arrested, on suit of Mr. B., as his slave.”

Shall we describe the leave-taking?—the sorrowing wife, the dismayed children, the tears, the anguish,—that simple, honest, kindly home, in a moment so desolated! Ah, ye who defend this because it is law, think, for one hour, what if this that happens to your poor brother should happen to you! * * * * *

It was a crowded court-room, and the man stood there to be tried—for life?—no; but for the life of life—for liberty!

Lawyers hurried to and fro, buzzing, consulting, bringing authorities,—all anxious, zealous, engaged,—for what?—to save a fellow-man from bondage?—no: anxious and zealous lest he might escape,—full of zeal to deliver him over to slavery. The poor man’s anxious eyes follow vainly the busy course of affairs, from which he dimly learns that he is to be sacrificed—on the altar of the Union; and that his heart-break and anguish, and the tears of his wife, and the desolation of his children, are, in the eyes of these well-informed men, only the bleat of a sacrifice, bound to the horns of the glorious American altar! * * * *

Again it is a bright day, and business walks brisk in this market. Senator and statesman, the learned and patriotic, are out, this day, to give their countenance to an edifying and impressive, and truly American spectacle,—the sale of a man! All the preliminaries of the scene are there: dusky-browed mothers, looking with sad eyes while speculators are turning round their children,—looking at their teeth, and feeling of their arms; a poor, old, trembling woman, helpless, half-blind, whose last child is to be sold, holds on to her bright boy with trembling hands. Husbands and wives, sisters and friends, all soon to be scattered like the chaff of the threshing-floor, look sadly on each other with poor nature’s last tears; and among them walk briskly glib, oily politicians, and thriving men of law, letters and religion, exceedingly sprightly and in good spirits,—for why?—it is n’t they that are going to be sold; it’s only somebody else. And so they are very comfortable, and look Edition: current; Page: [12] on the whole thing as quite a matter-of-course affair; and, as it is to be conducted to-day, a decidedly valuable and judicious exhibition.

And now, after so many hearts and souls have been knocked and thumped this way and that way by the auctioneer’s hammer, comes the instructive part of the whole; and the husband and father, whom we saw in his simple home, reading and praying with his children, and rejoicing, in the joy of his poor ignorant heart, that he lived in a free country, is now set up to be admonished of his mistake.

Now there is great excitement, and pressing to see, and exultation and approbation; for it is important and interesting to see a man put down that has tried to be a free man.

“That ’s he, is it?—Could n’t come it, could he?” says one.

“No, and he will never come it, that ’s more,” says another, triumphantly.

“I don’t generally take much interest in scenes of this nature,” says a grave representative;—“but I came here to-day for the sake of the principle!

“Gentlemen,” says the auctioneer, “we ’ve got a specimen here that some of your northern abolitionists would give any price for; but they shan’t have him!—no! we ’ve looked out for that. The man that buys him must give bonds never to sell him to go north again!”

“Go it!” shout the crowd, “good!—good!—hurra!” “An impressive idea!” says a senator; “a noble maintaining of principle!” and the man is bid off, and the hammer falls with a last crash on his hearth, and hopes, and manhood, and he lies a bleeding wreck on the altar of Liberty!

Such was the altar in 1776;—such is the altar in 1850!

Published for gratuitous distribution, at the Office of the American Anti-Slavery Society, No. 138 Nassau Street, New York. Also to be had at the Anti-Slavery Offices, No. 21 Cornhill, Boston, and No. 31 North Fifth Street, Philadelphia; and at the Anti-Slavery Depository, Salem, Columbiana Co., Ohio.

Edition: current; Page: [(1)]
Maria Weston Chapman
Chapman, Maria Weston

Maria Weston Chapman, ‘“How can I help to abolish Slavery?”, or, Counsels to the Newly Converted,’ 12 pp.



Yes, my friend, I can resolve your question. Twenty years of actual experience qualify one to reply. I have stood, as you now stand, on the threshold of this grandest undertaking of any age—this effort to elevate a whole people in the scale of moral being—with my head full of plans, and my heart of devotedness, asking the same question. I really longed for this coming of millennial glory, and therefore soon found the road on which to go forth to meet it. My disgust was unutterable, as yours, too, will be, if you desire the abolition of slavery more than the temporary triumph of sect or party, at the stupid schemes by which selfish men were then, as now, trying to make capital for themselves out of the sacred cause of human rights—seeking to sell the gift of the Holy Ghost for money. Hear them clamorously and meanly taking advantage of ignorance, for the promotion of self-interest.

First, hear the agents of slavery presenting the colonization scheme as the instrument of abolition.

“Aid the Colonization Society.” Yes; to make slavery stronger by exalting prejudice as an ordination of divine Providence; to make slavery safer by eliminating that dangerous element, the free black; to make its term longer by stultifying national conscience. See that society making the laws of slave States more cruel, the men of the free States more obdurate, the situation of the free men of color more difficult and insupportable, as a part of its plan. It Edition: current; Page: [2] could not, if it would, transport three millions of souls to Africa; the navies and revenues of the world would be insufficient. It would not, if it could; for slavery has no intention of parting with its three millions of victims; unless induced to free them out of generosity, it will keep them on speculation. Its forty years of colonization labor, and its million of gold and silver, have exiled fewer to Liberia than have escaped into Canada in spite of it—less in that period than the monthly increase of the slaves! It can do nothing for Christianizing Africa, for it sends a slaveholding gospel, which is anti-Christ. Be not deceived, then, by a tyrannical mockery like this, working to perpetuate slavery, and not to abolish it. Aid the American Anti-Slavery Society, which deals with the heart and conscience of this slaveholding nation, demanding immediate, unconditional emancipation, without expatriation; the abolition of slavery by the spirit of repentance, in conformity with all your own principles and traditions, whether religious or political.

Hear another cry, (coming, not like the first, from the enemies of abolition, but from friends, generally those of more pretension than devotedness:) “Form a political party, free soil or other, to vote down slavery.”

Yes, don’t kill the growing monster—call to him to stop growing; merge immediatism, which always succeeds, in gradualism, which never does. Substitute a secondary object for the primary one. Strive in the first place not to abolish slavery, but to get one set of men out of office and another in, to learn by the event that the last are as incapable to turn back the whirlpool that masters the government as the first were. Make an appeal to force of numbers in a case where you know it is against you; in a case, too, where, having sworn assistance, you must lose influence by such an appeal. Spend your time and money, not in making new abolitionists, but in counting the old ones, that at every count diminish. Politics, in the common, small sense of the term, merely takes the circumstances it finds, and does its best with them. But the present circumstances are unfavorable. Then create new ones. This is true politics, in the enlarged, real meaning of the word. Here is a building to be erected, and no sufficient materials. A little untempered mortar, a few unbaked bricks—that is all. Go to the deep quarries of the human heart, and make of your sons and daughters polished stones Edition: current; Page: [3] to build the temple of the Lord. It is this cleaving into the living rock the American Anti-Slavery Society girds itself to do. Under its operations men become better and better abolitionists. Under the labors of political partisanship they necessarily grow worse and worse. They must ever ask themselves how little anti-slavery feeling and principle they can make serve the temporary turn; because the less of either, the greater the chance. They must always be sacrificing the end to the means. Call them to the witness box in their capacity of philosophical observers, and out of their little circumventing political characters, and themselves will tell you that the effect of electioneering on anti-slavery is most unfavorable, adding to the existing opposition to right the fury of party antagonism, throwing away the balance of power, lowering the tone of moral and religious feeling and action, and thus letting a sacred enterprise degenerate into a scramble for office. But labor with the American Anti-Slavery Society directly to the great end, and even Franklin Pierce and Co., pro-slavery as they are, will grovel to do your bidding. The administration now on the throne is as good for your bidding as any other. In a republican land the power behind the throne is the power. Save yourself the trouble of calling caucuses, printing party journals, distributing ballots, and the like. Let men who are fit for nothing of more consequence do this little work, which is best done by mere nobodies. More than enough of them are always ready for it. You, who are smitten by the sacred beauty of the great cause, should serve it greatly. Don’t drag the engine, like an ignoramus, but bring wood and water and flame, like an engineer. The American Anti-Slavery Society has laid the track.

“Buy slaves and set them free.’ Yes; lop the branches and strengthen the root; make the destruction of the system more difficult by practising upon it; create a demand for the slave breeder to supply; compromise with crime; raise the market price, when you ought to stop the market; put a philanthropic mark upon the slave trade; spend money enough in buying one man to free fifty gratis, and convert a thousand. But there is a wholesale way, cries one. “Sell the public lands, and set every means in motion, from the merely mercantile donation of a million to the infant cent society, and thus raise two thousand millions of dollars, and beg the slaveholders to take it, (not as compensation, but as a token of good will,) and Edition: current; Page: [4] let their bondmen go.” I marvel at this insufficient notion of the heart of a slaveholder. I wonder exceedingly at such a want of imagination. “Not as compensation” is well put; for what sum can compensate a monarch for his throne? This system of slavery makes the south the parent of long lines of princes. It gives to her diabolical dominions

“Kingdoms, and sway, and strength, and length of days.”

I am strangely divided in sympathy. I feel at once the generosity of the proposal, and have the feeling of contempt with which its insufficient inappropriateness is received.

“Organize vigilance committees, and establish underground railroads.” Yes; hide from tyranny, instead of defying it; whisper a testimony; form a bad habit of mind in regard to despotism; try to keep out the sea with a mop, when you ought to build a dike; flatter your sense of compassion by taking private retail measures to have suffering ameliorated, when you might, with the American Anti-Slavery Society, be taking public wholesale measures to have wrong (the cause of suffering) righted. You may safely leave with the half and quarter converted, with the slaveholders, nay, even with the Curtises, the charge of all these things, which without the American Anti-Slavery Society are but as hydrogen and nitrogen without oxygen, however good with it, as the natural fruits of its labors. What I would discourage is, not mercy and compassion in an individual case, but a disgraceful mistake in the economy of well doing; spending in salving a sore finger what would buy the elixir vitæ; preferring the less, which excludes the greater, to the greater, which includes the less. Slavery can only be abolished by raising the character of the people who compose the nation; and that can be done only by showing them a higher one. Now, there is one thing that can’t be done in secret; you can’t set a good example under a bushel.

“But instruction! instruction! found schools and churches for the blacks, and thus prepare for the abolition of slavery.” O, shallow and shortsighted! the demand is the preparation; nothing can supply the place of that. And exclusive instruction, teaching for blacks, a school founded on color, a church in which men are herded ignominiously, apart from the refining influence of association with Edition: current; Page: [5] the more highly educated and accomplished,—what are they? A direct way of fitting white men for tyrants, and black men for slaves. No; if you would teach and Christianize the nation, strengthen the American Anti-Slavery Society, the only American institution founded on the Christian and republican idea of the equal brotherhood of man, and in opposition to a church and state which deny human brotherhood by sanctioning slavery, and pull down Christ to their own level. The American Anti-Slavery Society is church and university, high school and common school to all who need real instruction and true religion. Of it what a throng of authors, editors, lawyers, orators, and accomplished gentlemen of color have taken their degree! It has equally implanted hopes and aspirations, noble thoughts and sublime purposes in the hearts of both races. It has prepared the white man for the freedom of the black man, and it has made the black man scorn the thought of enslavement, as does a white man, as far as its influence has extended. Strengthen that noble influence. Before its organization, the country only saw here and there in slavery some “faithful Cudjoe or Dinah,” whose strong natures blossomed even in bondage, like a fine plant beneath a heavy stone. Now, under the elevating and cherishing influence of the American Anti-Slavery Society, the colored race, like the white, furnishes Corinthian capitals for the noblest temples. Aroused by the American Anti-Slavery Society, the very white men who had forgotten and denied the claim of the black man to the rights of humanity now thunder that claim at every gate, from cottage to capitol, from school house to university, from the railroad carriage to the house of God. He has a place at their firesides, a place in their hearts—the man whom they once cruelly hated for his color. So feeling, they cannot send him to Coventry with a hornbook in his hand, and call it instruction! They inspire him to climb to their side by a visible acted gospel of freedom. Thus, instead of bowing to prejudice, they conquer it.

“Establish free-labor warehouses.” Indeed! is that a good business calculation that leads to expend in search of the products of free labor the time and money that would make all labor free? While wrong exists in the world, you cannot (short of suicide) but draw your every life breath in involuntary connection with it; nor is conscience to be satisfied with any thing short of a complete devotion to the anti-slavery cause of the life that is sustained by slavery. Edition: current; Page: [6] We may draw good out of evil: we must not do evil, that good may come. Yet I counsel you to honor those who eat no sugar, as you ask no questions for conscience’s sake; while you despise those who thrust forward such a call upon conscience, impossible, in the nature of things, to be obeyed, and therefore not binding, as if it were the end of the law for righteousness, in order to injure Garrison, the great and good founder of the American Anti-Slavery Society. I have seen men stand drawing bills of exchange between England and the United States, while uttering maledictions against the American Anti-Slavery Society, because it does not, as such, occupy itself with the free produce question. This I brand as pro-slavery in disguise—sheer hypocrisy.

You see, my friend, that I have replied to your question in the conviction that you desire the abolition of slavery above all other things in this world; as one assured that it is the great work of Christianity in our age and country, as the conflict with idolatry was in other times and climes. Thus you see the salvation of the souls, the maintenance of the rights, the fulfilment of the duties, and the preservation of the free institutions of Americans, to depend upon the extirpation of this accursed and disgraceful disease which is destroying them. If I had reason to think you merely desirous to make sectarian and political capital out of a holy thought and a sacred purpose originated by others—if you were merely contriving defences for what is indefensible, and trying to save the credit of what is disgraceful, trying to throw dust, and change the issue, and pay tithes of cumin to delay justice, in order to spare your own insignificant self in this greatest conflict of light and darkness, good and evil, which the world has now to show—if you had been trying how to seem creditably interested in what ought to be an American’s first business, and calculating how little instead of how much you might sacrifice to the soul-exalting cause of freedom—if you were but trying to get yourself or some friend into office by the judicious use of ideas which, as a republican and a Christian, you ought to give yourself wholly to be used by—if you were the hired agent of some demisemiquaver of a movement which tacked anti-slavery to its other titles, in order to establish a claim on the purses of abolitionists—in any of these cases I would not have stopped to talk with you. Your interest being the thing you had at heart, I should not counsel; I should be called, in the name of all that is Edition: current; Page: [7] holy, to condemn you, in order that blame might awaken conscience. But the case, I trust, is different. I may, then, say to you, with all the confidence, nay, certainty, which is inseparable from experience, knowledge, and utter self-abnegation in the matter, Work with the American Anti-Slavery Society. Lavish your time, your money, your labors, your prayers, in that field, which is the world, and you will reap a thousand fold, now and hereafter. This movement moves. It is alive. Hear how every thing mean and selfish struggles, hisses, and dies under its influence. Never, since the world was, has any effort been so clear, so strong, so uncompromising, so ennobling, so holy, and, let me add, so successful. It is “the bright consummate flower” of the Christianity of the nineteenth century. Look at those who “have not resisted the heavenly vision” it presented them of a nation overcoming its evil propensities, and doing right at all risks; ask them whether it has not saved their souls alive; ask them if it has not made them worshippers of the beauty and sublimity of high character, till they are ready to “know nothing on earth but Jesus Christ and him crucified.” For this they give all—wealth, youth, health, strength, life. Worldly success, obtained by slackening their labors against slavery, (and it is easy to have it on those terms at any moment, so placable a monster is the world,) strikes them like failure and disgrace. They have “scorned delights, and lived laborious days,” till at length they feel it no sacrifice, but the highest joy. All this the American Anti-Slavery Society demands of you. Do it! and be most grateful for the opportunity of fulfilling a work which is its own exceeding great reward. Do it, and find yourself the chosen of God, to keep alive in this nation, degraded and corrupted by slavery, the noble flame of Christian faith, the sentiment of honor and fidelity, the instinct of high-mindedness, the sense of absolute, immutable duty, the charm of chivalrous and poetic feeling, which would make of the poorest Americans the Christian gentlemen of the world.

  • “Cherish all these high feelings that become
  • A giver of the gift of liberty.”

You will find yourself under the necessity of doing it in this noble company, or alone. Try it. Strive to be perfect, as God is perfect—to act up to your own highest idea, in connection with church or state in this land corrupted by slavery, and see if you are helped or Edition: current; Page: [8] hindered. Be not dragged along by them protesting. It is graceing as a slave the chariot wheels of a triumph. But flee from them, as one flees out of Babylon. Secure the blessing of union for good, and be delivered from the curse of union in evil, by acting with the American Anti-Slavery Society, its members and friends.

I use this mode of expression advisedly, for I am not speaking of a mere form of association. Many are in harmonious coöperation with it who have neither signed the constitution nor subscribed the annual half dollar. Hence it is neither a formality nor a ceremony, but a united, onward-flowing current of noble lives.

If, then, you feel that devotedness of heart which I verily think your question indicates, I feel free to counsel you to go immediately to the nearest office of the American Anti-Slavery Society,* by letter, if not in person, subscribe what money you can afford—the first fruits of a life-long liberality, and study the cause like a science, while promoting it like a gospel, under the cheering and helpful sympathy of some of the best company on earth; but not unless; for this company despises what politicians, ecclesiastical and other, call “getting people committed.” They have a horror of this selfish invasion of another’s freedom, as of the encumbrance of selfish help. They warn you not to touch the ark with unhallowed hands.

One consideration more—the thought of what you owe to your forerunners in what you feel to be the truth. It is, to follow meekly after, and be baptized with the baptism that they are baptized with. “Thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness;” and the more your talents, gifts, and graces may, in your own judgment, be superior to theirs, the more becoming it will be to seek their fellowship; for in the whole land they, and they alone, are right. It is not eulogy, but fact, that theirs is the path of the just, shining more and more unto the perfect day—denied only by the besotted with injustice, the committed to crime. Consider, then, not only what you owe to your slavery-cursed country, your enslaving as well as enslaved countrymen, your fathers’ memory, your remotest posterity, the Christian religion, which forbids the sacrifice of one man’s rights to another man’s interests, and which knows no distinction of caste, color, or condition,—but consider, also, what you owe to those individuals and to that brotherhood who have battled twenty years in the breach for your freedom, involved with that of the meanest slave.

Edition: current; Page: [9]

Imagine how the case stood with those who perished by suffocation in the Black Hole at Calcutta. Suppose that some of their number had felt the sublime impulse to place their bodies in the door, and the high devoted hearts to stand the crushing till dawn awoke the tyrant; the rest of that doomed band might have passed out alive. This is what the American Anti-Slavery Society has been unflinchingly doing for you, and for the rest of the nation, amid torture, insult, and curses, through a long night of terror and despair. The life of the land, its precious moral sense, has been thus kept from suffocation. The free agitating air of faithful speech has saved it. The soul of the United States is not dead, thanks, under Providence, to that noble fellowship of resolute souls, to find whom the nation has been winnowed. Do your duty by them, in the name of self-respect. Such companionship is an honor accorded to but few, and of that worthy few I would fain count you one. Strike, then, with them at the existence of slavery, and you will see individual slaves made free, anti-slavery leaven introduced into parties and churches, instruction diffused, the products of free labor multiplied, and fugitives protected, in exact proportion to the energy of the grand onset against the civil system.

Note. The work of the American Anti-Slavery Society is carried on by newspapers, books, tracts, agents, meetings, and conventions. The donor is requested to specify to what department, and in what section of country, he wishes his contribution applied.

Edition: current; Page: [(10)]



Whereas the Most High God “hath made of one blood all nations of men to dwell on all the face of the earth,” and hath commanded them to love their neighbors as themselves; and whereas our national existence is based upon this principle, as recognized in the Declaration of Independence, “that all mankind are created equal, and that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness;” and whereas, after the lapse of nearly sixty years, since the faith and honor of the American people were pledged to this avowal before Almighty God and the world, nearly one sixth part of the nation are held in bondage by their fellow-citizens; and whereas slavery is contrary to the principles of natural justice, of our republican form of government, and of the Christian religion, and is destructive of the prosperity of the country, while it is endangering the peace, union, and liberties of the States; and whereas we believe it the duty and interest of the masters immediately to emancipate their slaves, and that no scheme of expatriation, either voluntary or by compulsion, can remove this great and increasing evil; and whereas we believe that it is practicable, by appeals to the consciences, hearts, and interests of the people, to awaken a public sentiment throughout the nation that will be opposed to the continuance of slavery in any part of the republic, and by effecting the speedy abolition of slavery, prevent a general convulsion; and whereas we believe we owe it to the oppressed, to our fellow-citizens who hold slaves, to our whole country, to posterity, and to God, to do all that is lawfully in our power to bring about the extinction of slavery, we do hereby agree, with a prayerful reliance on the divine aid, to form ourselves into a society to be governed by the following constitution:—

Edition: current; Page: [11]

Article I.—This society shall be called the American Anti-Slavery Society.

Article II.—The objects of this society are the entire abolition of slavery in the United States. While it admits that each State in which slavery exists has, by the constitution of the United States, the exclusive right to legislate in regard to its abolition in said State, it shall aim to convince all our fellow-citizens, by arguments addressed to their understandings and consciences, that slaveholding is a heinous crime in the sight of God, and that the duty, safety, and best interests of all concerned require its immediate abandonment, without expatriation. The society will also endeavor, in a constitutional way, to influence Congress to put an end to the domestic slave trade, and to abolish slavery in all those portions of our common country which come under its control, especially in the District of Columbia, and likewise to prevent the extension of it to any State that may be hereafter admitted to the Union.

Article III.—This society shall aim to elevate the character and condition of the people of color, by encouraging their intellectual, moral, and religious improvement, and by removing public prejudice, that thus they may, according to their intellectual and moral worth, share an equality with the whites of civil and religious privileges; but this society will never, in any way, countenance the oppressed in vindicating their rights by resorting to physical force.

Article IV.—Any person who consents to the principles of this constitution, who contributes to the funds of this society, and is not a slaveholder, may be a member of this society, and shall be entitled to vote at the meetings.

Article V.—The officers of this society shall be a president, vice-presidents, a recording secretary, corresponding secretaries, a treasurer, and an executive committee of not less than five nor more than twelve members.

Article VI.—The executive committee shall have power to enact their own by-laws, fill any vacancy in their body, and in the offices of secretary and treasurer, employ agents, determine what compensation shall be paid to agents and to the corresponding secretaries, direct the treasurer in the application of all moneys, and call special meetings of the society. They shall make arrangements for all meetings of the society, make an annual written report of their doings, the expenditures and funds of the society, and shall hold stated meetings, and adopt the most energetic measures Edition: current; Page: [12] in their power to advance the objects of the society. They may, if they shall see fit, appoint a board of assistant managers, composed of not less than three nor more than seven persons residing in New York city, or its vicinity, whose duty it shall be to render such assistance to the committee in conducting the affairs of the society as the exigencies of the cause may require. To this board they may from time to time confide such of their own powers as they may deem necessary to the efficient conduct of the society’s business. The board shall keep a record of its proceedings, and furnish a copy of the same for the information of the committee, as often as may be required.

Article VII.—The president shall preside at all meetings of the society, or, in his absence, one of the vice-presidents, or, in their absence, a president pro tem. The corresponding secretaries shall conduct the correspondence of the society. The recording secretary shall notify all meetings of the society and of the executive committee, and shall keep records of the same in separate books. The treasurer shall collect the subscriptions, make payments at the direction of the executive committee, and present a written and audited account to accompany the annual report.

Article VIII.—The annual meeting of the society shall be held each year at such time and place as the executive committee may direct, when the accounts of the treasurer shall be presented, the annual report read, appropriate addresses delivered, the officers chosen, and such other business transacted as shall be deemed expedient.

Article IX.—Any anti-slavery society or association founded on the same principles may become auxiliary to this society. The officers of each auxiliary society shall be ex officio members of the parent institution, and shall be entitled to deliberate and vote in the transactions of its concerns.

Article X.—This constitution may be amended, at any annual meeting of the society, by a vote of two thirds of the members present, provided the amendments proposed have been previously submitted, in writing, to the executive committee.

Published for gratuitous distribution, at the Office of the American Anti-Slavery Society, No. 138 Nassau Street, New York. Also to be had at the Anti-Slavery Offices, No. 21 Cornhill, Boston, and No. 31 North Fifth Street, Philadelphia; and at the Anti-Slavery Depository, Salem, Columbiana Co., Ohio.

Edition: current; Page: [(1)]
Susan C. Cabot
Cabot, Susan C.

Susan C. Cabot, “What have we, as individuals, to do with slavery?” 7 pp.



I wish you would not distress me by continually talking about the slaves. I do not consider the subject as belonging either to you or me; it is for the south, and not for the north. The southerners must do their work, and we must do ours. I make a rule of forgetting the slaves as far as I can. What is the use of dwelling upon what you cannot help? it only unfits one for doing any thing. For my own part, I find quite enough for my time and thoughts in feeling and acting for those at my very door, whose wants and necessities require all one’s spare hours; and were I to take up the slave question, I hardly know what would become of me. No; this work is beyond my powers; it would be only a waste of time and feeling to attempt it. At all events, I cannot bear it; it only makes me nervous, and no good comes of dwelling upon it.’ These words, or their meaning, are often uttered to those who allude to the subject of slavery in their intercourse with friends; but they do not always carry conviction with them, even when those to whom they are addressed are conscious that the speaker is one who is devoted to charitable thoughts and deeds, and earnestly striving to take their full share of the duties which Christianity lays upon her disciples; but we lament the more for this very reason that they should be uttered, because we think them at variance with that very charity which calls upon us to overcome all things. It may seem foolish or presumptuous to attempt to confute them, and we would not strive to do this in the way of argument; but in presenting another, and what seems to us a more satisfactory view of the subject, we may hope, as “in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to Edition: current; Page: [2] man,” that we may by this appeal excite sympathy and interest in what seems to us a more just and Christian way of looking at the subject.

In reply to the remarks we have cited, we would say that our interest for the slave springs from the same source as our interest for the poor; we cannot say, My heart shall flow out for the white woman, and not for the black, for the free woman, and not for the bond. The sense of justice and of right does not stop to inquire how far, or how long, or upon what objects she shall exercise her divine power; but, like the widow with her flask of oil, pours out upon him who stands in need, and finds in proportion as this is done, so is the supply. In how few words are we told in this simple story to trust in right doing! When we undertake to fix the boundary of our hearts, and say how far, or how long, or for whom they shall move us to act, it shows we have not put our confidence in Him who has made them to beat; it is the questioning of the divine power to mistrust them in this way. While we are intent upon doing the right thing, the urn will fill without our care; for we know not at best how it is that we are able to remove mountains, excepting by our trust in the divine word.

Those who are troubled and made nervous by the discussion of slavery, and wish never to hear about it are not put into this state because they have no feeling for the slave, but because they find it necessary to work with a distinct idea that they must accomplish something, as they show when you ask them to give money to buy one of these poor sufferers. How willingly they will do this! And yet in their hearts they may have been wanting in that true sympathy which, in the sight of God, makes this purchase a dreadful comment on the relation of his children one to the other.

‘Why,’ we are asked, ‘do you say we may have been wanting in true sympathy for the slaves?’ Because we believe a true sympathy for their condition would leave no desire to criticize any sincere efforts to help them out of their despair, but would gladly join in the work, with the prayer that God would order it for the right.

When we feel called upon to do something, the nerves take their appointed place, and give us the power to accomplish what we desire to do; and then they become sources of pleasure, and not of pain. To bear one another’s burdens came from the lips of Jesus. Did not his life show us how to do this? When he called the leper Edition: current; Page: [3] to him, had not his heart overflowed with love and compassion and the thought that this too is a child of God, would he not have felt nervous, and questioned the prudence and propriety of touching him?

The circumstance of the complexion and conformation of the slaves, added to their long history of degradation, influences unconsciously, we think, the feelings and judgment of those who do not sympathize with the advocates of their cause. These objectors find it easy enough to see the mistakes that are made in the means used, and in the mode of doing the work. Doubtless there is some ground for these objections, so keenly perceived; but we think the fares in this field can safely be left. When some delicate woman, brought up in the refinements of life, visits the hovel of the poor drunkard, and sees the object of her charity so disfigured that hardly a trace of humanity is left, she, all the more, longs to bring back the soul to this degraded temple, that it may again assert its origin. Her heart does not grow cold by criticism, but burns with a new desire, at the sight of this ruin, to do something to restore this fallen one. But this poor creature is white; hence her ears are quick to hear any suggestions to break the sinful chains that bind him to the earth. She does not ask herself to what country he belongs; she knows he is a child of God, and that is enough. But the poor negro whose dark skin we are unaccustomed to, whose chains are riveted by the hand of the white man, whose degradation is compelled by the avarice of selfishness, must be pleaded for, must be reasoned about, before we can penetrate the prejudice that hardens the heart against him—a prejudice which blinds the eye of justice, and makes us forget that this too is a child of God; and one whom, could the curtain be raised, perhaps we should see nearer the throne of grace than, in our short-sightedness, we imagined. By whose fiat did this dark skin come into the world? Are we to question the wisdom of his existence? Are we to judge the Almighty?

If the question were put, whether, if the three millions of slaves were white instead of black, there would not be more sympathy for those who take their part, and less criticism upon their imperfect measures, there are many who would say, ‘Yes,’ and add, ‘naturally enough we do prefer white to black; we have a right to our preference, and no one has a right to interfere with it.’ We would not infringe upon the rights of any one; respect for the rights of all Edition: current; Page: [4] being the groundwork of our interest in the slave. It is our preference, our choice, which guides us in our efforts for the emancipation of the slave; but it is not a choice of color, so much as of morality. We do not condemn this preference of any one; but when a matter of taste oversteps its legitimate bounds, and influences our judgment of right and wrong, encroaching upon the integrity of our hearts, bribing our consciences, and ruling our lives, then we are giving up gold for dross, the permanent for the transient, the corruptible for the incorruptible. Would the fugitive slave law, that forces men and women to break away from their honest calling and the fireside of their cherished homes have been received with such patriotic consideration had these fugitives and a white skin instead of a black one? This new aspect of the system of slavery, this new manifestation of its reckless power, has a tongue for itself; it needs no comment. The 2d of June, 1854, has not yet quite faded out of the memory of those who, perhaps then for the first time, were made conscious of what stuff slavery is made.

But our object is not now to call up the horrors of slavery, in order to make apparent the view we have of it; it is simply to show our relation to it as Christians that we speak of it. We have said that one difference between those who do and those who do not advocate the cause of the slave is that the latter are influenced by the fact that their actions in this regard need the incentive of apparent results. One of their arguments against any action is that they see no good in it; ‘What is the use of talking, if you do nothing? How are your lectures and your speeches going to affect the slave? There he is still in his bondage, and will continue to be so for all your words.’ It may be so; but, could this be proved, it would not shake the friend of the slave from his purpose of clearing his skirts of the sin of slavery by his constant protest against it, and his determination to do all that in him lies to overthrow it, this being a necessary and natural expression of his allegiance to justice, and of his sympathy with humanity. We do not acknowledge as a consistent Christian him whose actions in the moral world are influenced by the idea of success, as a necessary condition of his efforts for the right. He shows a scepticism in the power of right. He works not as children, in the love of obedience to the perfect standard set up in our hearts, which we must obey, or become rebels. He would put himself in the place of the divine Edition: current; Page: [5] law that he may come to a shorter method of accomplishing the work. For a time, in the eye of the world, he may succeed; but He that knows the end from the beginning sees with a clearer eye. It is from the starting point of right, and not of calculation, that the abolitionist sets out upon his work of reform. His mind is not weakened or troubled by the many stumbling blocks in his way, nor is he moved from his purpose because misunderstood. When we are in earnest, we are unmindful of casualties. If the ground we have taken is a false one, if there is in it any contradiction to the simple precepts of Jesus, any thing at variance with his life, then should it be abandoned; but not till then. It may be supposed from what we have said that we are indifferent to results; not at all; but we leave them in the hands of God.

There must arise in the mind of every one who uses his faculties consciously some idea of the object he has chosen as most worthy of the use of his powers; but it comes before his mind as the result of the work of time, with which he personally has nothing to do, any further than a strict adherence to what he conceives to be the right thing at the time requires. The artist who first conceives the idea of the cathedral glowing in all the splendor of his aspiring soul, solemnized with the desire of making a place of worship fitting the Most High is not detened from devoting all his thoughts to the carrying out his conception from the fact that he shall never see it realized: he still feels a sacred obligation to be true to his idea; he still retains his temple of worship within.

With these views, it is natural that the advocate of the slave should be opposed to those who try to forget him, who think it not their affair to interfere with his condition, who treat the attempt to restore him to the place God assigned him as Quixotic. Those who so feel are considered the common sense part of society, the rational—the practical. We have attempted to show how we differ from them, and why; and we think we have the vantage ground, from the fact that we have espoused the cause in question. The interest which induces one to adopt any subject (supposing the mind tolerably fair) helps him to understand and see more quickly its claims; it renders him clear sighted to its vulnerable points, that he may guard against them. We cannot do justice to any subject till we have loved it; it is this “hunger of the heart” which is Edition: current; Page: [6] essential to put in motion the will, and which gives sight to the understanding.

When our philanthropy is influenced by our taste it shows that it springs not from the highest source, and is liable to fail when its refreshing waters are most needed for the parched lips which plead for it; but when this happens, we are apt to think the fault is in the object and not in ourselves. This is a failure we can avoid, as we have before intimated, by starting from the highest point, from that source of living waters which is a well ever springing up, that we may always trust in. Those who are simply guided by their taste and their sensitiveness in their works of philanthropy naturally avoid all contact with slavery. The fact of the color and degraded condition of the slave repels them. This seems to us as a form of atheism. It may seem a harsh judgment; but surely, if we believe that we are all children of God, and that he is no respecter of persons, it is great presumption for us to discard as unfit for our sympathy any portion of his family; and by indulging in this selfish selection we are doing homage to ourselves rather than to Him. This exclusive feeling carried out would gradually estrange us from an impartial Being; our hearts would grow hard; and, in the midst of our rejoicing amongst our chosen friends, some hour might come when there might appear a fiery hand, that would write in burning characters that the days of such a philanthropy were numbered. It seems more fitting for Christians to take their feast at the common table of humanity, where neither complexion nor country can interfere with our belief that we are all children of God, all learners in the great school of life which is the preparation for a higher existence.

The advocates of the slave are called people of one idea. But this one idea—what is it? It is an idea that includes all others, for its aim is to overthrow a system which takes in and covers all the immoralities and sins that man can work upon the fair face of God’s earth. Let one sin be mentioned which does not, almost of necessity, spring from the atheistic root of slavery! From the time when Joseph was cast into the pit by his brothers down to the present hour, its poisonous root has sent forth its shoots; and here, in this so called land of freedom, it flourishes in the plantations, and is exhibited on the auction block. We are longing and looking for the hour when the sin that has sold our brother shall, Edition: current; Page: [7] through much sorrowing and many tears, be so repented of that on bended knee and in deep humiliation we shall ask pardon for our great iniquity. May this Joseph be the prefigurement of our better spirit, of our allegiance to the highest law of right. Let us take all that we have, and make a pilgrimage in the search for what we have lost, till we find ourselves again in the arms of truth and justice. We have done this great sin in the sight of Heaven; let us pray to be released from its weary bondage that our souls may be refreshed by peace of conscience. Let this slavery become a history to be told to our grandchildren, taking its place with that record of sins of which the floods of heaven were opened to destroy all likeness from the face of the earth. Let us pray for that mercy which shall allow us an ark of safety in the integrity of our determination: that we may rise above these dark waters which threaten to destroy the life of our souls.

Published for gratuitous distribution, at the Office of the American Anti-Slavery Society, No. 138 Nassau Street, New York. Also to be had at the Anti-Slavery Offices, No. 21 Cornhill, Boston, and No. 31 North Fifth Street, Philadelphia; and at the Anti-Slavery Depository, Salem, Columbiana Co., Ohio.

Edition: current; Page: [1]

16.: Anon., “The Unanimous Remonstrance of the Fourth Congregational Church, Hartford, Conn., against the Policy of the American Tract Society on the Subject of Slavery,” 36 pp.




of the



against the

Policy of the American Tract Society



Edition: current; Page: [2]

The following unanimous Remonstrance of the Fourth Congregational Church of Hartford, Conn., was originally published and circulated to the number of several thousands by private individuals. The stereotype plates having been generously presented to the American Anti-Slavery Society, it has been adopted as a tract in their series, and for obvious reasons is published without alteration. The committee by whom it was prepared consisted of the Pastor, (Rev. Wm. W. Patton,) John Hooker, Esq., and Mr. Milo Doty.

Edition: current; Page: [3]





The eminent civil and religious position which many of your number hold, combined with your well-known interest in the cause of piety and philanthropy, induce us to address you, and through you the Christian community, with respect to certain relations and influences of the national benevolent society over which you preside. It is scarcely necessary for us to express our approbation of the object for which the American Tract Society was instituted, and which it has for more than a quarter of a century so successfully pursued. The fact that some of us are numbered among its life-members and life-directors, and that as a church we have for many years contributed to its funds and aided in the distribution of its publications, is evidence of our sentiments on that point. We have believed the circulation of a religious literature common to all evangelical Christians and selected from among the productions of the most eminent living and departed authors, to be an agency for good, both at home and abroad, with which the church could not wisely dispense. It has been our gratification, also, to observe the wisdom and propriety with which the operations of the society have in most respects been conducted, so that its efforts and success have surpassed those of any other benevolent publication society. The selection of books and tracts has been highly Edition: current; Page: [4] judicious, the style of publication in mechanical respects has been eminently chaste and attractive, and there have been displayed on the part of those entrusted with its management, a business tact and energy which would have done credit to the most noted secular establishments. Entire perfection of method and policy during an extended work of twenty-nine years, the society would not claim, nor would we flatteringly ascribe. We have reason, also, to believe and affirm, that the operations of the society have been blessed of God to the production of the happiest Christian results in our own land and in foreign countries. The private Christian and the pastor, the home missionary and the foreign missionary, have felt themselves strengthened by its influence and have welcomed it as a most successful auxiliary; while multitudes both on earth and in heaven praise God for the agency which, by his direction, it had in their conversion. How, then, could we feel other than the deepest interest in the continued prosperity of such an organization?

It is the fact of such an interest, coupled with our regard for other aspects of the cause of Christ, that induces us to address you, the honored Officers and Directors of this honored society, upon a subject closely connected with its appropriate object and its future prospects. We come forward with friendly interest to offer a criticism upon one feature of its policy, upon which we and others have looked with pain, and which we desire to see give place to a course of action more in harmony with what we humbly conceive to be the spirit of the Gospel, the design of the society as described in its constitution, the aspects of Providence, and the growing desire of a large portion of the individuals and churches which have supplied the society’s treasury with such ample funds.

Edition: current; Page: [5]

It can scarcely have escaped your observation, as you have mingled with Christian circles and have perused the contents of religious newspapers, that evidences of discontent have manifested themselves with regard to the policy which has been pursued by the American Tract Society upon the subject of American Slavery—a subject which for many years has agitated church and state, and is likely to engross the attention of God’s people in a still greater degree in time to come. As it is possible, however, that your attention has not been sufficiently turned to this point, you will pardon our more particular reference to it.

First of all, we may bear our personal testimony to the fact. From intercourse with fellow-Christians, both ministers and laymen, dwelling in all parts of the free states, we know that such a feeling as the one just indicated, extensively prevails; that it is rapidly on the increase; that while embracing not a few of the mature and experienced, it is fast possessing the minds of the younger portion of the ministry; and that it is absolutely necessary that something should be speedily done to meet and pacify it. This topic is gradually forming a prominent subject of conversation in ministerial and laic circles, and the leaven of discontent is working beneath the surface to a degree which the various officers and managers of the society do not suspect.

We next advert to the fact that this feature of the policy of the society is engaging the attention of local churches, whose members are forming and preparing to express their opinions. The action of the Congregational church in Manchester, Conn.—one of the most staid, intelligent, and influential churches of this vicinity—published in the Religious Herald of the 19th ult., is an indication of a feeling which will ere long manifest itself somewhat generally Edition: current; Page: [6] among the churches of New England. This action in the Manchester church was unanimous. After expressing “deep and tender interest in the American Tract Society as an institution of great usefulness,” and concluding to forward a contribution for the present year, though decreased in amount as we understand, the church condemned “the policy of the society to maintain perfect silence on the subject of American Slavery, as wrong, and calculated, if persisted in, to alienate many of its most efficient friends, and to cause them, however reluctantly, to withdraw their confidence and support.”

As another indication of Christian opinion, we refer to the fact that the two newspapers most widely circulated and ably edited among the Congregationalists in the Eastern and Middle states—to wit: the Congregationalist, at Boston, and the Independent, at New York—have repeatedly and pointedly condemned the policy referred to, in which numerous smaller papers at the East and West concur, besides the able and influential Quarterly known as the New Englander—altogether representing a wide-spread sentiment through the free states.

Moreover, the subject has engaged the attention of the ecclesiastical bodies of the North somewhat generally, but especially among the Congregationalists, from whom larger donations, it is believed, flow into your treasury than from any other denomination. Some of these bodies have refused to take action on the subject; but, even in such cases, large and influential minorities appeared. Others have delayed action until another year, for the purpose of inquiry and consideration. Several have expressed their views decidedly in opposition to the course pursued by the society, and we will briefly refer to the action of those whose record of proceedings happens to be at hand. About two Edition: current; Page: [7] years since, the Congregational Union of Fox River, Ill., adopted a letter of remonstrance to your society on this subject, ably discussing the principles applicable to it, and stating that “good men can give but a hesitating support to institutions of powerful but defective influence,” to which Rev. R. S. Cook, one of your secretaries, replied, defending the society’s policy. After a careful consideration of this reply, the Union rëaffirmed their sentiments, and declared themselves unconvinced by the secretary’s logic.

In 1853, the General Association of Massachusetts passed the following vote nearly or quite unanimously:

Resolved, That while the General Association of Massachusetts entertain a profound regard for the large publishing societies, and rejoice in the great good they are accomplishing, they would express an earnest desire that these societies would not make the subject of slavery an exception in their efforts to rid the world of all iniquity by diffusing throughout it an evangelical literature, but would set forth in their publications the sentiments of our common Christianity on the enormous sin of slavery, with the same freedom and faithfulness with which they exhibit and rebuke all other sin.”

The present year the subject again came up, and a committee was appointed to confer with the delinquent societies.

The attention of the General Association of New York was also called at its recent meeting to the same defect, and a committee was raised to report upon it the ensuing year.

The General Association of Michigan appointed a committee in 1853, to examine and report upon this matter, which they did at the meeting the last summer, severely censuring the society. The report was adopted with but a single dissenting vote. After an earnest address from Rev. Dr. Bacon, of New Haven, Conn., who was present, Edition: current; Page: [8] and who bore a very decided testimony against the society’s policy, a resolution was adopted, calling upon the society to do at least so much as to publish a tract composed of quotations from Scripture bearing on the various elements of oppression which enter into slavery.

The Council Bluffs Association, of Iowa, at its recent meeting, on the 12th inst., after expressing their gratification that the “American Board” had “decided to treat the sin of American Slavery as it would treat any other sin that so directly opposes the evangelization of the world,” passed the following:

Resolved, That we long to see the American Tract Society, and the American Sabbath School Union, and other benevolent societies, take similar ground.”

The Central Association of Illinois have, within a few weeks, taken action to the same effect.

Not to multiply instances further, suffice it to quote the following action of the General Association of Iowa, taken in June last:

Resolved, That our confidence in the American Tract Society and in the American Sunday School Union is greatly impaired by the course they have taken in expunging anti-slavery sentiments from their publications, and in refusing to speak out plainly against the sin of slavery, while they testify freely against every other prevailing sin.”

These facts prove, that we do not represent a small, discontented, and insignificant faction, but that a feeling of displeasure and disgust is spreading rapidly throughout the North. The words of remonstrance come from every quarter. The old Puritan state of Massachusetts raises its voice of protest, and the echo returns to us from the far-off prairies of Iowa.

Edition: current; Page: [9]

We proceed then to state definitely the grounds of our dissatisfaction, that you may judge, as those accustomed to weigh evidence, whether our complaints are reasonable. In this we have nothing to do with the motives of those who have managed the society. We are quite willing to allow that it has been their intention so to administer its affairs as best to secure the end for which it was instituted. A serious mistake, however, we do allege, and one of a most mischievous nature, which, when discovered, it becomes the society immediately to rectify. However natural and excusable the original error, persistence in it will shake public confidence in the wisdom and integrity of the committee and directors.

I. The first charge which we bring against the society, is one of suppression. It has in sundry instances suppressed the anti-slavery opinions of authors whose works it has rëpublished. Those sentences which have condemned slavery as sinful, have been stricken out. This has been done not merely by way of general abridgement, but for the avowed purpose of avoiding the expression of sentiments which would be distasteful to slave-holders. Though the fact is admitted, and you are probably acquainted with some of the details, yet as many who will see this letter are not so familiar with them, we will adduce sufficient proof to exhibit the nature of the suppression alluded to.

It pleased your society to rëprint a work of that venerable Boston minister of the Puritan age, the Rev. Cotton Mather, D. D.—to wit: his “Essays to Do Good”—and in the preface you declared:

“In this edition, such portions of the original essays are omitted, and such changes have been made in the phraseology, as might be expected after the lapse of more than a century since the work was written”—

Edition: current; Page: [10]

language which honestly implied that the changes and omissions were simply of obsolete phrases and of matter which had no application to any thing at the present day. What will the public say of the following alterations and suppressions on the subject of slavery—a subject which, so far from being by-gone, never attracted so much and so necessary attention as at the present time? On page 44, Tract Society’s edition, occurs this sentence:

“O that the souls of our servants were more regarded by us! that we might give a better demonstration that we despise not our own souls, by doing what we can for the souls of our servants. How can we pretend to Christianity, when we do no more to christianize our servants?”

By turning to the correct edition of the Massachusetts Sabbath School Society, page 102, it will be seen that Cotton Mather wrote “slaves,” and not “servants,” in those sentences, and that between the two you have suppressed these words:

“And not using them as if they had no souls! That the poor slaves and blacks which live with us, may by our means be made the candidates of the heavenly life!”

On the same page, a little below, you have suppressed an entire paragraph, as follows:

“But if any servant of God may be so honored by him as to be made the successful instrument of obtaining from a British Parliament ‘an Act for the Christianizing of the slaves in the plantations,’ then it may be hoped something more may be done than has yet been done, that the blood of souls may not be found in the skirts of our nation; a controversy of heaven with our colonies may be removed, and prosperity may be restored; or, however, the honorable instrument will have unspeakable peace and joy in the remembrance of his endeavors. In the mean time, the slave-trade is a spectacle that shocks humanity.

Edition: current; Page: [11]
  • “The harmless natives basely they trepan,
  • And barter baubles for the souls of men;
  • The wretches they to Christian climes bring o’er
  • To serve worse heathens than they did before.”

As we do not find this book on your recent lists, and as your edition was severely criticised a few years since for doctrinal omissions and alterations, we suppose the offensiveness of those doctrinal changes has led to its entire suppression.

There is a curious fact in connection with the different editions to which we may properly refer. After its publication by the author, the work remained out of print, we believe, till issued in England, under the editorship of Rev. Mr. Burder, who undertook to modernize the phraseology. When he came to the passages above, he omitted them, stating, however, in a note at the bottom of the page, that the author had there made remarks concerning slavery, which, being happily inapplicable to that country, (England,) were omitted. Mr. Burder’s edition was followed in the rëprints in this country, all of which inserted his note. But your edition suppressed the note, and thus left the reader in ignorance of what the author had done. The English editor made omissions because they were inapplicable to his country; but you suppress the same passages because they were applicable to yours!

In the Tract Society’s edition of Mary Lundie Duncan, the following passage, found on page 67 of Carter’s edition, is suppressed:

“We have been lately much interested in the emancipation of slaves. I never heard eloquence more overpowering than that of George Thompson. I am most thankful that he has been raised up. O, that the measure soon to be proposed in Parliament, may be effectual!”

On page 87 of Carter’s edition, is found a reference by Edition: current; Page: [12] the biographer, to the departure of “George Thompson, the eloquent pleader for the abolition of slavery,” to visit the United States to advocate his cause there. That reference is suppressed, as are also the stanzas, on page 80, which Mary Lundie Duncan addressed to him upon that occasion, from which we quote the third and eighth:

    • “Yet go, heaven-favored hero, go!
    • Pursue your glorious plan;
    • Abridge the weight of human woe,
    • And raise the slave to man.
    • “Heaven bless your cause! your country’s prayers
    • Attend you o’er the sea!
    • Go, break the chain that slavery wears,
    • And bid the oppressed be free.”

Again, on pages 106, 107, similar suppressions are found of phrases which speak of the emancipated slaves in the West Indies, as “no more degraded lower than the brutes—no more bowed down with suffering from which there is no redress,” and as now being able to “seek the sanctuary fearless of the lash,” and “to call their children their own.”

We hear that the authoress has recently consented to have the book remain on your list thus altered, rather than have it wholly suppressed. But why did you not consent to restore the omitted passages, or at least those which did not refer to and endorse Mr. Thompson as an individual?

We learn, moreover, that the author, Mrs. Lundie, while in this country, was seen by one of your secretaries before the society rëpublished the work, and though urged to consent to this mutilation, absolutely refused, declaring that the lines sought to be suppressed, were precious to her for their sentiment and for her daughter’s sake; that the secretary then reminded her that, as there was no copyright for it in this country, the society could go on and publish it in such form as they wished; and that she replied, that Edition: current; Page: [13] she knew she was in their power, and they could do as they pleased.

The society publish also an edition of J. J. Gurney’s “Habitual Exercise of Love to God;” but before consenting to do so, the committee constrained or induced the author, no doubt by the plea of greater usefulness, to consent to suppress the condemnation of slavery which his treatise contained in its remarks upon love to man. The original edition reads, page 142:

“If this love had always prevailed among professing Christians, where would have been the sword of the crusader? Where the African slave-trade? Where the odious system which permits to man a property in his fellow-men, and converts rational beings into marketable chattels?”

In the Tract Society’s edition, page 142, after the first question, it reads:

“Where the tortures of the Inquisition? Where every system of oppression and wrong by which he who has the power revels in luxury and ease at the expense of his fellow-men?”

Of such suppressions as these we complain, both on general grounds of opposition to all alteration and suppression of a writer’s peculiar sentiments, and also because of the specific wrong in connection with slavery. You will remember the agitation caused a few years since by the discovery that the Tract Society had been guilty of similar suppressions with reference to doctrinal opinions propounded in works which it rëpublished, and the virtual pledge of a different policy for the future which it gave, and to which we presume it has adhered. The principle contended for then, covers the case now before us. If the society does not like the sentiments of the author, it is under Edition: current; Page: [14] no obligation to rëpublish his works; but if it does so, his opinions should stand in their integrity. This is peculiarly true in a biography, which professes to describe the individual as he was. To suppress the allusion to his peculiar principles or practice, on any point, is to do him injustice and to defraud the public. And then as to the particular direction which the policy of suppression has taken in the instance before us and in those of a like nature, we feel a special burden of grief; for, if there be any subject with reference to which the truth which has been once uttered should not be suppressed, it is American Slavery. If holy men and women have at any time been outspoken against this curse and shame of our land, in God’s name, let the fact appear! There is sufficient power enlisted in its support, and there are men enough who do and say nothing for its overthrow. Diminish no influence which is bearing against it; blot out no condemnation which pious souls have uttered. To say the least, the appearance of your suppressions is that of a subserviency to the dictation of slave-holders, such as no self-respecting men, and last of all, the conductors of a religious society, should ever evince.

II. Our second and similar charge, is, one of studied and persistent omission. It has been the deliberate policy of the Society, in its numerous tracts, volumes, and monthly papers, not to utter a direct condemnation of the most giant iniquity of our land. Slavery, which reduces three millions of fellow-men to property, deprives them of knowledge, takes away from them the Holy Scriptures, makes a race of heathen in a Christian land, robs them of liberty, compensation for their labor, the rights of marriage and of the parental relation; which sustains an internal slave-trade, equal in horror to that between Africa and Cuba, and in fifteen of our states inflicts untold cruelties and perpetuates Edition: current; Page: [15] crimes of nameless abomination; slavery, which corrupts the master, degrades all honest toil, hinders all public improvement, and is a most formidable obstacle to education, religion, and the unity of our nation in its ecclesiastical and political relations—this “sum of all villanies,” as John Wesley justly termed it, has never been directly and purposely recognized by the American Tract Society as a sin deserving distinct discussion and condemnation!—And yet its Constitution declares its object to be, “to promote the interests of vital godliness and sound morality”! Is it astonishing that men of anti-slavery principles are beginning to be disgusted with such a policy? The Society has issued in the course of twenty-nine years some six hundred distinct tracts, and nearly three hundred separate volumes of various sizes, in which it has waged a Christian warfare upon almost every conceivable sin; and yet its first distinct, direct, and intended assault is yet to be made against a sin more than almost any other, open, flagrant, and ruinous—a sin which is a greater blight and corruption to our politics, literature, and religion, a greater disgrace to our country, and a greater hindrance to the universal triumph of the gospel, than any other practice which can be named! By an examination of the titles of the tracts of the Society—which, however, are a very insufficient guide to the subjects discussed—we find that the Society has been outspoken in condemnation of the following vices and immoralities, to wit: profanity, Sabbath-breaking, use of intoxicating drinks, covetousness, gambling, breaches of the seventh commandment, attendance upon the theatre, dancing, gayety and extravagance in dress, novel-reading, and sleeping in church. Now these are doubtless grave sins, and worthy of marked reprobation; and we would give due honor to the Society which has placed its condemning Edition: current; Page: [16] brand upon them; but to think that these should have been selected, and slave-holding omitted! It is this contrast of treatment which makes the policy of the Society equally notorious and culpable, bringing upon it by a necessity of mental association, an application of the words of the Saviour, “Ye blind guides, who strain at (out) a gnat and swallow a camel.” If the Society did not profess to notice immoralities, if it avowedly confined itself to an inculcation of evangelical theological doctrine, the omission in question would be unnoticed; but when it deliberately enters upon the work of securing a “sound morality,” and proceeds in numerous tracts to set forth the flagrant wickedness of showy and expensive dress, of the practice of social dancing, and of the habit of sleeping in church, and then passes by American Slavery, the inconsistency is too gross to escape detection.

We are aware that in some of the earlier publications of the Society, such as Beecher on Intemperance, the writers, while discussing other sins, have dropped by a passing phrase, and, in the way of illustration, an incidental condemnation of slavery as sinful, showing that then the Society was not so rigid in its policy as now, and corroborating our statement hereafter made, that formerly there was an agreement among evangelical Christians as to the iniquity of the system. We have also perceived with pleasure, that in the commentaries on the Bible from the pen of Dr. Justin Edwards, published by the Society, he avoids placing a pro-slavery construction on any passage, and asserts general principles favorable to liberty, though he does not any where directly condemn slave-holding as sinful. Probably the officers of the Society are not themselves aware of all the incidental allusions referred to above, and would scarcely thank any officious friend who should collect and publish Edition: current; Page: [17] them, so that they would meet the eye of the South. Even under a strict censorship, something will occasionally escape notice and get into print.

We cannot, however, regard such trifling and indirect reflections, occurring in rare instances in the midst of volumes on other subjects, as the discharge of duty, or as practically affecting the charge of studied omission. Especially can we not consent that the Society should have them culled out by agents at the North, and orally stated as showing an anti-slavery policy in the Society, while the Secretaries publish to the world that the Society does not and can not commit itself on this subject. The policy of the Society must be taken from the official statements of those who manage its affairs. The letter of Secretary Cook in reply to the Fox River Union, is such a statement, in which he argues for entire silence on this subject, and defends it as the policy of the Society.

We contend that such a policy is a wrong to all the parties concerned. It is a wrong to the slave; for it withholds an influence in his favor, which, if exerted, would be felt throughout the entire land, and would hasten by years the advent of his freedom. It is a wrong to the slaveholder; for it aids to perpetuate his blindness and to confirm his sin. It is a wrong to evangelical Christianity; for it virtually declares that slavery is not held by evangelical Christians to be inconsistent with “sound morality.” It is a wrong to the South; for it is a false friendship, concealing the disease which is consuming its very vitals. It is a wrong to the North; for it subjects the religious literature, the publication and circulation of which is principally paid for by Northern money, to the offensive and degrading censorship of the South. It is a wrong, you will permit us to add, to your own souls, brethren who conduct the Society; Edition: current; Page: [18] for its tendency is, to induce you to overlook the woes of the slave, to fellowship the sinning master, and to cultivate a habit of sophistical reasoning in the endeavor to avoid unwelcome duty.

We are aware that those who have officially and unofficially represented the Society, have urged certain grounds of defence before the Christian public, and as we would not seem to evade arguments which some have deemed forcible, we will briefly state and answer those which have fallen under our notice:

1, It is alleged, that to publish on the subject of slavery, would be to turn aside from the specific object of the society. Were this the case, we should acknowledge the sufficiency of the defence. We would not have the society undertake a work for which it was not organized. We do not propose to have it become specifically an anti-slavery society, any more than an anti-gambling society, or a temperance society. But as it does not shrink from uttering Christian truth with respect to gambling and intemperance, as it meets them in the prosecution of its comprehensive work, so we desire it to make no exception of slavery. The specific object of the Tract Society, as set forth in its constitution, is sufficiently general to include all violations of the moral law, and whatever is offensive to genuine piety; for the first article declares, that “the object shall be to diffuse a knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ as the Redeemer of sinners, and to promote the interests of vital godliness and sound morality.” It would seem in this day of light, to require no argument to prove that slavery is opposed to “the interests of vital godliness,” and is inconsistent with “sound morality.” But if such be its character, you are authorized and even required to publish tracts and volumes in its condemnation.

Edition: current; Page: [19]

2, It is next urged, that another clause of the first article of the constitution, forbids the circulation of works which do not meet the approbation of all evangelical Christians, and that the society, according to article sixth, can publish nothing to which a single member of the publishing committee shall object. Hence it is argued, that as slavery is a disputed topic among evangelical Christians, and as different views would be entertained by different members of the publishing committee, it is not possible for the society to make any reference to it. The latter half of this objection is easily disposed of. Let it once be decided that the society will issue tracts and volumes on this subject, and it will be no difficult matter to select a publishing committee from the different denominations, who will agree upon anti-slavery works, new or old.

With reference to the former part of the objection, we would submit certain considerations which we think will entirely relieve a point which has labored in many candid minds. There need be no doubtful construction of the article in question. We rely upon well-established principles of interpretation. Where the meaning of a written document is in dispute, that interpretation which harmonizes most perfectly with the letter and spirit of the instrument, and which can appeal to uniform and long-continued practice under it, must necessarily be true; for it combines every element of correctness for which any class of interpreters, be they loose or strict constructionists, can contend. To such a test we propose to submit our view of the meaning of that part of the Tract Society’s Constitution to which reference is now had.

The first article reads as follows: “This Society shall be denominated the American Tract Society, the object of which shall be to diffuse a knowledge of our Lord Jesus Edition: current; Page: [20] Christ as the Redeemer of sinners, and to promote the interests of vital godliness and sound morality, by the circulation of Religious Tracts, calculated to receive the approbation of all evangelical Christians.” That the directors of the society have not been very rigid in the construction of this article where favorite ideas were to be carried out, is evident from the fact that the words “Religious Tracts,” which have always had a definite meaning as referring to small unbound pamphlets, have been stretched to include large bound volumes on the one hand, and monthly newspapers on the other. Why those who have no scruple in thus expanding the fundamental idea of the society beyond the prescribed limits, should suddenly become so conscientious in adhering to the letter of the constitution in other respects, is not so clear as could be desired. But we are prepared to appeal to the very letter of the constitution, as permitting the publication of anti-slavery tracts, even though some who are evangelical Christians should not approve of them.

(1.) We contend that the clause in question, refers only to a doctrinal difference of a theological character, and to the sentiments of denominations rather than individuals. Almost every word in the sentence, and every fact in the origin and relations of the society, demonstrates this. The design of the society was informally to unite the various evangelical denominations in the publication of those doctrinal and practical tracts which would not come in collision with the peculiar tenets of any of the associated sects. A reference to all the explanations of the necessity and design of the society, contained in the early reports and magazines and appeals to the public, will prove this. Indeed, the fact is too notorious for denial. To express this idea was the intention of the clause in question, and no reference whatever Edition: current; Page: [21] was had to merely practical points in which there might be and must be differences of judgment among individuals. The use of the word “evangelical” supports this idea, for it shows that the founders of the society were thinking only of avoiding those subjects which divided the various sects of evangelical Christians, which subjects are ecclesiastical and doctrinal in their nature, and not ethical or practical. What peculiar relation has the subject of slavery to the differences of evangelical Christians? It is neither a point in dispute between them on the one side, and heretics on the other, nor is it a dividing line between any two denominations of themselves. The fact, then, that the constitution employs the word “evangelical” in the connection, proves that no reference was had to subjects of mere practical judgment, but only to those of a doctrinal nature.

Then again the word “calculated” favors the same view. The tracts must be “calculated to receive the approbation of all evangelical Christians;” that is, they must be such as do not interfere with denominational peculiarities, and of such a Christian character as should properly commend them to all true followers of the Lord Jesus. This does not require that every individual evangelical Christian shall actually approve every sentiment published by the Society; which were absurd, and would make your whole enterprise impracticable. But it is enough, if the tracts do not theologically offend any evangelical denomination, and if their inculcations are such as ought to please sanctified minds. Anti-slavery tracts can easily be supplied, meeting these reasonable conditions.

All this is further corroborated by the sixth article, which reads thus: “To promote in the highest degree the objects of this Society, the officers and directors shall be elected Edition: current; Page: [22] from different denominations of Christians; the Publishing Committee shall contain no two members from the same ecclesiastical connection; and no tract shall be published to which any member of that committee shall object.” Here again the use of the words “different denominations” and “ecclesiastical connection,” proves, that all that was aimed at in the way of exclusion was, to prevent the publication of doctrinal or ecclesiastical matter offensive to denominations as such.

(2.) To make our position invincible, and to show that these are not after-thoughts of hypercritical minds striving to extract a given idea from given words, we refer with confidence to the whole practice of the Society from the beginning to the present time, as sustaining and illustrating the distinction which we have made. Take the publications of the Society, and examine the subjects discussed and the sentiments propounded. Are they such as secure or even claim to secure the unanimous verdict in their favor of “all evangelical Christians” exercising their individual judgments? Not at all. Far from it. They avoid topics of doctrinal discussion, but not of difference of practical judgment as to duty. They do not discuss election, or baptism, or liturgies, or church government; but they do discuss practical points on which “evangelical Christians” widely differ among themselves, as individuals, and not as denominations. Thus the Society publishes over twenty tracts against the manufacture, sale, and use of intoxicating drinks as a beverage. But “all evangelical Christians” are not agreed in that position. There is not a denomination represented in the Society that does not contain members and ministers who use such liquors, and defend the practice from the Bible. Not only so, but to render the case still more decisive, it will be found, if we go abroad Edition: current; Page: [23] and include the old world, that the overwhelming majority of evangelical Christians reject the sentiments taught by the Society on that point. The “evangelical Christians” of Great Britain, France, Germany, and Switzerland, have never as a body, or by more than a mere fraction, say one-tenth of their number, given in their adhesion to the doctrine that total abstinence is a Christian duty. A far larger proportion of evangelical Christians through the world are opposed to slavery, than are opposed to the use of intoxicating beverages. And yet you publish against the latter, and refuse to condemn the former! The Society publishes several tracts against dancing as a social amusement. Are “all evangelical Christians” agreed in this view? Ask our Episcopal brethren. Ask the pastors of the city churches among all the evangelical denominations. Ask the Christian world in Europe. The sentiments of many of your tracts on that subject are repudiated by thousands of “evangelical” families, even among those who contribute to your funds. The same may be said of ideas advanced in tracts against card-playing, and other forms of gambling, Sabbath-breaking, attendance on the opera and theatre, and novel-reading. No one of them would receive the approbation of all “evangelical Christians,” and some of them would even be condemned by a majority. Why then do you publish them? On what ground do you rest your defence against the charge of having violated your Constitution from the beginning? You must resort to the very distinction which we have raised. You must claim that these are not topics which divide evangelical denominations, as such, but only lead to differences among individuals irrespective of denominations. The distinction is valid, and we ask you to apply it to the Edition: current; Page: [24] subject of slavery. If you attack the sin of slave-holding, you may come into conflict with individual judgments among evangelical Christians, but you will cross no denominational lines. No Methodist, nor Episcopalian, nor Presbyterian, nor Congregationalist, nor Baptist, as such, will be wounded. Why then repudiate an interpretation of your Constitution upon which you have impliedly acted from the beginning, merely to escape responsibility with reference to slavery?

(3.) We also insist, that the overwhelming majority of Christians in this country are so far agreed on this subject as to allow the publication of numerous tracts in which they would accord. They might differ as to whether a voluntary retention of the legal relation of slave-owner always involved guilt and deserved church discipline, and they might also disagree as to the best time and method of emancipation. But they are agreed with respect to the unrighteousness of the general system as defined and protected by the slave-code, and as sustained by ordinary practice. They are agreed in the condemnation of the internal slave-trade, the separation of parents and children and husbands and wives by sale, the non-existence of legal marriage, the exaction of unpaid toil, the use of the lash and other instruments of torture, the prohibition of other than oral instruction and consequent denial of the Bible to the slave, the rejection of colored testimony in the courts, depriving the slave of all legal protection, and other practices which enter into American slavery as it is. They are also united as to the duty and policy of emancipation in some way, and at as early a period as practicable. Upon each of these points a tract might be written, according with the convictions of nineteen-twentieths of the evangelical Edition: current; Page: [25] Christians of the land, and running counter to no denominational peculiarity.

(4.) We furthermore urge, that such disagreement as exists upon the topics just mentioned, is entirely of recent origin, and is owing to the apostacy of the Southern churches from the common faith of evangelical Christendom; for extended proof of which fact, we refer to an able article in the last number of the New Englander, (October, 1854,) from the pen of Rev. Dr. Bacon. In 1818, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian church unanimously adopted a very strong expression of their abhorrence of the whole system, and its ordinary cruelties and wrongs. Not a minister or layman from the South voted against it, for it was then Southern as well as Northern evangelical doctrine, that slavery is of itself wrong, and should be abandoned as speedily as practicable. The sentiment was the same in other denominations. But since earnest anti-slavery men have pressed the duty which results from such a concession, the south have been driven by force of logic and conscience, either to abandon what they acknowledged to be wrong, or to take a new position, and deny the wrong. They have chosen the latter alternative, and in so doing, have apostatized from the universal faith of Christendom. But is that any reason why the American Tract Society should refuse to hold on the even tenor of its way, and abide by the faith of the Christian world? Shall it refuse to adopt as one of its tracts the unanimous declaration against slavery of the General Assembly of 1818, or John Wesley’s “Thoughts on Slavery,” once universally acceptable, because within twenty years there has been a wide-spread apostacy from the evangelical faith in one section of the land? If so, then if a similar retrogression of correct sentiment should occur with reference to the Edition: current; Page: [26] sale and use of intoxicating beverages, the society would feel bound to strike all its temperance tracts from its list? Men of principle ordinarily see in the fact of apostacy from correct doctrine, an additional reason for proclaiming the truth. If, then, there was once a universal, and is now a prevailing sentiment among evangelical Christians against slavery, then the Tract Society should echo it in their publications, not swerving from the path of duty because in a certain section personal interest and the necessity of logical consistency in evil, have induced professed Christians to deny what they once admitted.

(5.) Nor is it improper that we should suggest the exceeding impolicy of the construction which you place upon the constitution of the society. Its tendency is to drive anti-slavery Christians from your support, and to make it necessary for them to sustain a new and rival society. We do not desire such a result, if it can be avoided. But if you thrust your constitution in our face, and declare that it is impossible for you to comply with our request, what alternative do you leave us, but to withdraw and sustain a more comprehensive organization?

3, But it has been contended by some who advocate the continuance of the policy of silence, that it is really open to no charge of favoring slavery; that the society simply expresses no opinion on the subject, but contents itself with preaching the gospel and thus preparing the way for the ultimate emancipation of the slave, in the mean time leaving anti-slavery societies to do the work of opposing slavery specifically. But why not in like manner leave temperance societies to do the whole work of opposing intemperance? Why does the Tract Society also publish tracts upon that subject? Why does it denounce breaches of the seventh commandment in its publications, instead of leaving Edition: current; Page: [27] the subject of chastity to moral reform societies? Had the society refused to publish on those points, would it not have been charged with withholding the truth? Where a subject meets us in the field of our operations, we cannot evade it without practically assuming a part in the controversy. Hence, Christ said, “He that is not with me is against me, and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.” The slave and his friends can say the same. You meet the sin of slavery in the direct prosecution of your work of “promoting the interests of vital godliness and sound morality.” Your publications go where it prevails. Two hundred and fifty of your colporteurs labor in the midst of it. You are thus necessitated to take a stand for or against it. If you are silent on the subject, that is regarded as tantamount to a tacit approval or friendly toleration, especially as the mean while you are performing acts of fellowship with those who are guilty of the sin, and are thus endorsing their Christian character and standing. In this manner you omit an influence for humanity which you are bound to exert, and throw the weight of your position as a great national Christian society into the scale of slavery.

It is sometimes attempted to compare your relation to the subject with that of the Bible Society; but they are quite different. The Bible Society has for its single object to publish and distribute the Bible without note or comment. Its naked work is to circulate Bibles. It seeks to proclaim no truth in any other way. But the Tract Society aims at the very thing which the Bible Society leaves untouched, viz: the inculcation of specific moral and religious truth, or the application of the general doctrines and precepts of the Bible to the circumstances of men. And yet even the Bible Society may so conduct its cause as to connive at slavery. If, for instance, it refuses to give the Bible to Edition: current; Page: [28] such slaves as can read it, and if it refuses to condemn the laws which prohibit the teaching of slaves to read God’s Word, then it proves recreant to duty by not opposing slavery as it is met in the prosecution of the legitimate work of the society. We contend that a benevolent society is bound equally with individuals, to do all the good and remove all the evil that it can, in its natural sphere of action. As therefore slavery lies directly in your path, for your society not to notice it, is deliberately to avoid duty, and like the priest and Levite, to “pass by on the other side,” leaving your robbed and wounded “neighbor” to perish. And will not Christ say, “Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me?” The omission of good is the commission of evil, an act of disobedience to the command, “As therefore ye have opportunity, do good unto all men.” Vain is the thought of evading responsibility.

  • * * * “Fatal mistake! the dread account proceeds,
  • And our not doing is set down among our vilest deeds.”

4. But lastly, it is argued in defence of the Society’s past and present policy, that to publish any thing against slavery would result in the exclusion of the Society’s agents and publications from the Southern States; that thus multitudes would be left without the gospel in any form, as no part of the land is more destitute of the means of grace; so that without benefitting the slave, the gospel would be taken from the poor whites, and also from the free colored population, sacrificing a real and present good to a mere abstract principle. This, we have reason to believe, is relied upon as the strong argument in opposition to the views which we present. That it is but a broken reed upon which to lean, can be easily demonstrated.

Edition: current; Page: [29]

First, let us inquire whether the position thus taken in apparent defiance of the obligations which Christian principle imposes, is not an adoption of the maxim, “Let us do evil that good may come”? We have proved that the object of the Society, the claims of religion and humanity, and a sense of consistency, require you to attack slavery as you would any other prevailing sin. Is it then a sufficient answer, to affirm that to do so would embarrass the Society, and create opposition? Is it Christian, or is it Jesuitical—is it like Paul, or is it like Ignatius Loyola—to consent to suppress part of the gospel in order to preach the remainder? If there be a plain duty of rebuke owed to the slave-holder, and of compassion and aid owed to the slave, then no possible anticipation of success can justify the neglect of that duty. The apostle declares that “the damnation is just” of all who act upon the corrupt principle of doing evil that good may come. The prior question of duty, growing out of the unchangeable and impartial law of love, must be decided, before the claims of a low expediency can have a hearing.

We cannot but regard the principle thus avowed in defence of your policy, as corrupting in the highest degree. If consistently carried out, it would lead missionaries to China to avoid condemning the use of opium; missionaries to India to be silent with reference to caste; missionaries to Turkey to refrain from attacking polygamy; missionaries to Africa to be speechless concerning the slave-trade; lest the rulers or the populace should expel them from the country. Were it not better for religion that they should be expelled, rather than a compromise should be made of principle, and the nations should be presented with an emasculated gospel, devoid of purity and power?

You will soon have an opportunity of testing the operation Edition: current; Page: [30] of this principle in our own land, in a novel application of it. The territory of Utah is in the possession of the Mormons, who are rapidly filling it with cities and villages. You will of course send colporteurs to labor amid the population. The Mormon faith allows polygamy, and that sin is now extensively and publicly practised there under the protection of the authorities. Will you keep silence respecting it, lest your agents should be driven from the territory, and thus lose all opportunity of doing good? Will you expunge from your list all tracts in favor of chaste marriage, lest your Society be obnoxious to the Mormons? Will you consent to carry an antinomian gospel? To preach faith without works? To call upon men to repent, without specifying the sins which they notoriously practice? Surely you will not thus succumb to polygamy. Why then succumb to slavery upon a principle which you repudiate in its other applications?

This attempt to weigh out future consequences, and decide upon resultant good in advance, is a very hazardous matter. No man has foresight of the future sufficient to trace out all the results of a given course. Present appearances of a flattering nature are no proof whatever of the ultimate wisdom of a prescribed policy. Immediate success may be gained at the cost of eventual disaster. This fact, Swartz and other early Protestant missionaries to India unhappily demonstrated, when, to avoid conflict and secure success, they tolerated caste in the churches. Thousands were easily converted, and their policy seemed wise. But longer experience proved that they committed a disastrous error, as is now admitted by nearly all the missionaries in the field of every denomination. Converts who were allowed in a flagrant breach of the law of love, were found to be a source of weakness rather than strength. It is much safer, therefore, to be guided by general principles Edition: current; Page: [31] of right, leaving God to take care of the consequences. Let us illustrate from Scripture. John the Baptist was a great favorite with King Herod, who made him court chaplain, “heard him gladly,” and even “did many things” at his suggestion. But John saw that Herod was living in gross sin, having formed an adulterous connection with his brother Philip’s wife. What course should he pursue? Perhaps some of his disciples advised him to observe a prudent silence; not indeed expressing any approbation of the sin, but being careful not explicitly to rebuke it and contenting himself with reproving other sins about which Herod was not so sensitive, and with inculcating the general duty of fearing God. Perhaps they reminded him of the favor with which he was now regarded, of the many opportunities which he consequently had of exerting a good influence at court and throughout the nation, of the improvement which Herod had already made, and of the hope that might be indulged, that eventually he would himself see the sin of his adultery, and repent of it; whereas, were John to attack that sin directly, he would be disgraced and probably imprisoned and beheaded, and thus all hope of good be lost. But John despised this timid, compromising policy. He did his duty as a preacher of righteousness, and trusted God to protect his own cause. Was he wise? Did he right? Let universal Christendom respond its approbation. True, he was beheaded, and his career as a reformer terminated; but his example of faithfulness has done more for religion in all subsequent ages than could have been accomplished by thousands of converts at the court. It has inspired heroism in those called to combat with error and sin in each succeeding century, and not a day passes in which some struggling soul is not strengthened by the memory of that stern fidelity to truth.—Brethren, will not such be your influence, if you speak for God Edition: current; Page: [32] and the slave despite the frowns of the oppressor? Will not the noble testimony thereby borne to the power of Christian principle, be a means of good beyond human calculation, as the knowledge of it shall spread from land to land, and be handed down from generation to generation? On the other hand, will not your silence aid to propagate a weak and shame-faced gospel, at which infidels will scoff, and which even Christians cannot respect? Will you not assist in recognizing and perpetuating a religion tolerant of slave-holding, which is to say, a religion tolerant of a system that is prolific of ignorance, wretchedness and heathenism? Thus amid apparent success you are destroying with one hand what you build with the other. You declare that the South is the most truly missionary field in the country; but you well know that slavery makes it such. Why not attack, then, that which is the source of such moral and religious destitution?

And are you not mistaken in supposing that by simply preaching evangelical doctrine and general principles of right, you are sapping the foundation of the whole system of slavery, and preparing the way for ultimate emancipation? Are you not aware that the Southern Church of all denominations now claims that the Bible is the best defence of slavery? Is it not an obvious and significant fact, that under the preaching of such a gospel as you propose to carry, slavery has increased for two hundred years, till professed Christians are as deeply involved in the sin as others, the curse has spread over fifteen states, and its victims number three millions? If, then, you pass through the states, fellowshipping those churches and ministers, and carrying an abstract theologic gospel which is silent respecting this great iniquity, how can your influence be favorable to liberty?

But has it never occurred to you, that some such act as Edition: current; Page: [33] the expulsion of your agents and the exclusion of your publications from the South for opposition to slavery, may be the very thing which is needed to usher in the dawn of freedom? Suppose the worldly politicians of the South should accomplish such an expulsion; might not the effect be, to start the conscience of good men in that section into new life? Would they not begin to inquire, what it meant, that their adhesion to slavery was thus separating them from the whole Christian world? Might they not make a stand at last against politicians, and claim the right of free discussion? There are thousands at the South who hate slavery, but are afraid to brave the wrath of the oppressor by openly laboring for its overthrow. Let your society assume an anti-slavery position, and it would instantly embolden them, and if acts of violence were resorted to against your colporteurs, the indignation of the entire North combined with the aroused action of Christian men at the South, would ere long open the field again. Remember that the actual slave-holders are but three hundred and fifty thousand in number, and that if they strain the cord of tyranny over the three millions of non-slave-holding whites at the South too far, it will snap asunder.

But theory aside, we can present facts which prove that the South will not be closed to your operations should you assume anti-slavery ground. The American Missionary Association has during the past year sustained three colporteurs in the slave states, whose business has been in large part to distribute Bibles to slaves, and to circulate anti-slavery tracts and books among the whites. This work has been pursued without serious opposition, and with encouraging success. Each year finds the field enlarging. Besides these laborers, the association has organized eight churches in Kentucky and six in North Carolina, that do not receive slave-holders to communion, and sustains four Edition: current; Page: [34] clerical missionaries, who in addition to their ordinary duties, lecture frequently and in many places against the sin of slavery. If then professed abolitionists find the field open, why need your society fear exclusion from the South for beginning to discharge this long-neglected duty? Such exclusion would be at the worst only partial, and in no state could it be permanent, while so far as ground was retained or rëgained, the victory for truth would be lasting and invaluable.

We have thus, brethren, at no little expense of labor to ourselves, and we fear of patience to you, gone over the entire subject in dispute. It has been painful to us to criticise the action of a great and good organization, but fidelity to truth seemed to require it. Pardon us, if in the ardor of discussion we have spoken too warmly or seemed to censure your course too severely. Weigh carefully the facts and arguments which we have presented, nor esteem them unworthy of notice till you have prayerfully compared them with the word of God. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.” We appreciate the work in which the Tract Society is engaged, so vast in extent, so comprehensive in scope, so successful in prosecution. Our only desire is, to aid its progress, to save it from inconsistency, and to enlarge its resources. Not for what it has done so much as for what it has not done, do we send this remonstrance, saying with the Saviour, “These ought ye to have done and not to leave the other undone.”

Wishing you all prosperity in the faithful prosecution of your work, we remain,

Your brethren in the gospel of Christ,
Edition: current; Page: [(35)]

Extract from a Letter of Hon. William Jay, of New York, to Rev. R. S. Cook, Corresponding Secretary of the American Tract Society.

On the whole, sir, I cannot but think that your Society has greatly mistaken its duty to God and man, in shrinking from pronouncing slavery, as well as gambling and horseracing, a moral evil. Unquestionably, the Society has acted in perfect accordance with the general policy of the northern church, both Popish and Protestant. That policy is more easily understood than vindicated. So intimate are our commercial relations with the South, and so dependent are our politicians for the most trifling office upon the support of their party by southern votes, that to ask them and our merchants to participate in measures and opinions offensive to their southern patrons, is like asking the favor of them to pluck out a right eye, or cut off a right hand. Of course, the pecuniary and party interests of these men react on the church and religious societies with which they are connected. Hence has grown up a secular and ecclesiastical alliance, offensive and defensive, with slavery. But this alliance, although undoubtedly embracing many worthy men, is nevertheless in direct antagonism with the gospel of Christ, and has consequently led, and is daily leading to, most disastrous results. It has caused the avowal, by men of high position in both church and state, of principles utterly subversive of that regard for justice and mercy, which is not only one of the peculiar and beautiful features of our holy religion, but also, and especially in a democracy, one of the strongest safeguards of person and property. Some slaveholders in Congress propose a law, the provisions of which may well have been inspired by that evil and malignant spirit that goeth about seeking whom he may devour—a law openly setting at defiance the established rules of evidence, and levelling in the dust all the barriers erected by the common law around the personal liberty of the citizen—a law requiring every man, at the summons of a miscreant slave-catcher, to assist him in his damnable work—a law seeking by fine and imprisonment to suppress the impulses of humanity and the gushings of Christian sympathy. No sooner is this accursed law proposed, than rival politicians contend for the honor of giving it their support; and no sooner is it enacted, than the two great rival parties strive to gain votes for their presidential candidates by pledging their best endeavors to carry it into execution. Many individuals, however, affirm that a law thus requiring them to participate in deeds of cruelty and injustice is at variance with the divine commands. Forthwith we have our public men and our party press sneering at the “higher law,” and insulting all who acknowledge its paramount authority to an act of Congress; worse than all, we have our ministers of the Lord Jesus Christ descanting from their pulpits on the reverence due to the “powers that be,” as ordained of God, and actually urging the duty of obedience to one of the most ungodly and execrable enactments of modern legislation. Occasionally it was indeed admitted, that under peculiar circumstances, and multiplied conditions, we ought to obey God rather than man, but at the same time it was distinctly taught, not merely that we should not forcibly resist the Fugitive Law, but that the “higher law” did not dispense with our obligation to catch slaves.

In the zeal, the rivalry, and the cruelty displayed in seizing the hapless and innocent fugitive, and hurrying him back to the house of bondage, of mental darkness and bodily suffering, lessons of cruelty and injustice have been set by the rich and moral, which will not be lost on the needy Edition: current; Page: [36] and profligate. Many of our wealthy and influential gentlemen are sowing seeds which may yet yield to them and their children most bitter fruit.

The shocking insensibility of our churches, religious societies, and religious men, to the iniquities of slavery, of course involves them in gross inconsistencies, degrades the character of the gospel of Christ, and gives a mighty impulse to infidelity. Never before, in my opinion, has the American church been in such peril as at present, and from almost every portion of it comes up a cry of distress. There is no failure of money. The country is rich, and our wealthy men are liberal, and pride, and ostentation, and competition secure the erection of gorgeous and expensive churches. But there is a failure of increase of ministers and members. The population is outgrowing the church, and the love of many is waxing cold. From men like Tom Paine and most of his followers the church has little to fear. They hate the gospel because their deeds are evil. Their lives are a sufficient antidote to their doctrines. But a new class of converts to infidelity is springing up, men whose fearless and disinterested fidelity to truth, mercy, and justice extort unwilling respect. These men reject the gospel, not because it rebukes their vices, but because they are taught by certain of its clergy, and the conduct of a multitude of its professors, that it sanctions the most horrible cruelty and oppression, allowing the rich and powerful forcibly to reduce the poor and helpless to the condition of working animals, articles of commerce, and to keep their posterity in ignorance and degradation to the end of time. Every argument wrested from the Bible in behalf of slavery applies to the bondage of white men. Hence the modern pro-slavery divinity justifies the ancient villanage and the modern serfdom, and would justify their indefinite extension. If it be right to hold three millions of human beings as chattels, it is equally right to hold hundreds of millions. Hence Christianity, if it indeed authorizes this unlimited despotism of the strong over the weak—this vast indefinite annihilation of the conjugal and parental relations—this total abrogation of the rights of conscience, of property, of personal happiness, has surely little claim to our reverence, for its tendency to mitigate the sorrows and troubles of the present life. Certainly it is not wonderful that benevolent, well-meaning men should question the divine authority of a religion sanctioning such tremendous enormities, and whose professors recommend the catching of slaves, as a service acceptable to the Deity, when required by act of Congress.

Edition: current; Page: [(1)]
Charles Beecher
Beecher, Charles

Rev. Charles Beecher, “The God of the Bible against slavery,” 11 pp.



It seems very strange that any one should think that the Bible sanctions slavery. Yet the defenders of the system appeal to the Bible with boldness, as if its authority were on their side.

The Charleston Union Presbytery, South Carolina, declare, that “the holding of slaves, so far from being a sin in the sight of God, is nowhere condemned in his holy word.”

The Charleston Baptist Association “does not consider that the Holy Scriptures have made the fact of slavery a question of morals at all.

The Georgia Methodist Annual Conference resolved that “slavery, as it exists in the United States, is not a moral evil.”

The Protestant Episcopal Society for the Advancement of Christianity declare in a tract, that “without a new revelation from heaven, no man is authorized to pronounce slavery wrong.”

Rev. James Smylie, of Mississippi, (endorsed by two Presbyteries,) says, “The twenty-fifth chapter of Leviticus clearly and unequivocally establishes the fact, that slavery was sanctioned by God himself, and that buying, selling, holding and bequeathing slaves, as property, are regulations which are established by himself.”

Rev. Thomas S. Witherspoon says, “I draw my warrant from the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, to hold the slave in bondage.”

Dr. Fuller says, “I find my Bible condemning the abuses of slavery, but permitting the system itself.

Statements like these could be brought from sources of high Edition: current; Page: [2] standing, to any required amount. Now, the very boldness of this claim may stagger some minds. How could men dare appeal so earnestly to the Bible, if it was really against them? But as history shows that the worst despotisms of the Old World have been in the habit of putting forth just such claims, so it may be in the case of slavery. It may be only the instinctive effort of an evil system to stave off judgment, by clothing itself with sacredness as a Bible institution, and representing all opposition to it as infidelity. And when we reflect on the cruelty of the system, this appears quite probable; nor, if we look at the arguments used to back this claim, is the probability at all diminished.

A fair Bible argument ought to show that slavery, as defined by the slave law, is agreeable to the character of God as revealed in the Bible. If this be really friendly to the system, then, and not otherwise, is slavery upheld by the Bible. Now, this is not the usual method of the defenders of slavery. Instead of it, they usually appeal to the curse on Canaan, the practice of Abraham, the legislation of Moses, and the silence of Christ and the apostles—an argument in every point unsound, nay, even absurd, when stripped of rhetorical ornament, and stated in the plain dialect of common sense. God cursed Canaan, who settled in Asia; therefore Ham, whom God did not curse, and who lived in Africa, must be enslaved. Abraham had armed servants, free to leave his service at will; therefore we may hold slaves unarmed, and without the least power to change masters. Moses’ laws destroyed slavery in Palestine; therefore God sanctions our laws which make slavery eternal. The apostles declared masters and slaves brethren, and forbade all recourse to Roman civil law; therefore they sanction that law and its cruel offspring among us.

Let it not be said that this is a caricature. If you tear off the fleece from a wolf in sheep’s clothing, you do not caricature him; you show him as he is. So it is not a caricature to tear off rhetorical fleece from a sophism, and show it to be absurd.

Leaving, however, this point for further consideration by and by, let us now test the system of slavery by the only fair Bible argument; an argument not from disputed theological points, on which Christians may honestly disagree, but from the revealed attributes of the true God, about which there can scarcely be much difference of opinion.

Edition: current; Page: [3]

What is the Bible view of God? How does he stand towards slavery as defined in the American slave code?

1. The Scriptures represent God as interested in the temporal concerns of men. Indeed, he is the Author of all really good social organization, and the only cause adequate to preserve it from corruption. He was the Founder and manifest Executive of the Hebrew commonwealth; and their system was the wisest, for the ends in view, that ever existed. All nations are held accountable to him for their laws and institutions; and whatever system is intrinsically unthrifty, disorderly, and disorganizing, must be displeasing to him.

But slavery degrades labor, discourages education, science, art; enfeebles commerce, blights agriculture, and continually works society towards barbarism. No traveller from a free to a slave state can fail to be struck with the evidence of this. The wisest southern statesmen have confessed slavery an incubus; and the fate of the Roman empire, where the experiment was tried on a magnificent scale, demonstrates the fact beyond denial.

Says Alison, “The steady growth, unequalled extent, and long duration of the Roman empire prove the wisdom of their political system; but it fell a prey at length to the dreadful evil of domestic slavery.”

Says Dr. Hague, “What caused that weakness of the empire which gave the barbarians a chance to overturn it? The answer is, The slave system within the empire corroded the core of its strength, and rendered it a mere shell, unable to resist the pressure of its enemies.”

Such a system, then, cannot be well pleasing to God.

2. God is revealed in the Bible as the Author of the family state, and the jealous defender of its purity. The family is the oldest, simplest, strongest, and most sacred institution of God on earth. All true systems have guarded it; all false systems have struck at its very life. Two of the ten commandments aim directly to establish the family,—

Thou shalt not commit adultery.

Honor thy father and thy mother.

Any system of laws, then, which nullifies the family, and legalizes concubinage, is in direct and flagrant opposition to the law of God, and must excite his deepest displeasure.

But what is slave law on this head?

Edition: current; Page: [4]

“A slave cannot even contract matrimony.” (Stroud’s Sketch of Slave Laws, p. 61.) “Slaves are not entitled to the conditions of matrimony.” (Taylor’s Roman Civil Law, p. 429.) Slaves may indeed go through the usual forms, and be joined by the minister at the altar; but the laws allow no reality, no binding force, to the transaction. The law has nothing to shield any female slave from the passions of her owner; and husband and wife, parent and child, may be legally sold asunder forever, at any moment. Thus the family is completely annihilated by law, and the result is universal licentiousness.

“We southern ladies,” said the sister of President Madison, “are complimented with the name of wives; but we are only mistresses of seraglios.”

Nor is this destruction of the family an “abuse” of the system. It is an essential element of its legal being. Therefore the system of slavery must be exceedingly odious before God.

3. The Bible reveals the justice of God. He is the Creator and Father of all, and all are his offspring. All bear his image. He loves all impartially. All have equal rights before him. He is the common Judge of all, before whom all complaints must come for final decision. He is always represented as judging the cause of the poor and needy, and pleading for the oppressed. If we should extract from the Old Testament alone, to say nothing of the New, all that God says against social injustice, the accumulation of testimony would be overwhelming.

But what does slavery say of itself in its laws?

“Slaves,” says the South Carolina statute, “shall be deemed, held, taken, reputed, and adjudged in law, to be chattels personal in the hands of their owners and possessors, and their executors, administrators, and assigns, to all intents, constructions, and purposes whatsoever.”

That this is the radical doctrine of slave law throughout the South, the following statement of Mr. Goodell shows:—

“Where other usages or statutes in any of the states fail, recourse is generally had to the Roman civil law.” That law was as follows:—

“Slaves were held pro nullis, pro mortuis, pro quadrupedibus. They had no head in the state; no name, title, or register; they were not capable of being injured,” &c.

Edition: current; Page: [5]

This is the root notion of slave law. A slave is counted “as a cipher, a corpse, a quadruped.” He is not a citizen. He cannot be injured or wronged, because he is so stripped of rights that he has no rights to be violated. But why? What has he done? Does he deserve this? Is there any ground for it in natural law? None. Says Blackstone, “It is repugnant to reason and the principles of natural law that such a state should exist any where.” Book I. chap. xiv. p. 423.

The slave has simply been born of a slave mother, and is thus stripped of his rights because his mother was before him; she, because her mother was; and so onward until we arrive at the original act of man-stealing in Africa, which our laws condemn as piracy, and Moses’ law punishes with death. Therefore the ablest judges confess in open court that this is intrinsically unjust. “Merely in the abstract,” says Judge Ruffin, of North Carolina, “it may well be asked, which power of the master accords with right?”

Here, again, we are not dealing with “abuses” of the system, but with the system itself, as it is in its own laws and courts; and we ask, Must not the Bible, revealing a God of infinite justice, reject such a system, and expel it from the world?

4. God is infinitely benevolent. Awful as God appeared on Sinai, the law that he revealed there was love, and in it he disclosed the deepest law of his own being; so that “he that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God, for God is love.” The gospel is a still higher unfolding of the same feeling, for “God so loved the world that he gave his beloved Son to die.” Hence no one can deny that any system which is radically selfish must be hateful to God. But slavery confesses this of itself. If we wish to hear slavery speak, we must go into southern courts, and hear the slave law utter itself through the lips of its ablest judges.

Speaking of the legal relation of master and slave, Judge Ruffin says, “This has been assimilated at the bar to the other domestic relations; and arguments drawn from the well-established principles which confer and restrain the authority of the parent over the child, the tutor over the pupil, the master over the apprentice, have been pressed on us.

“The court does not recognize their application; there is no likeness between the cases; they are in opposition to each other, and there is an impassable gulf between them. The difference is that Edition: current; Page: [6] which exists between freedom and slavery, and a greater cannot be imagined. In the one, the end in view is the happiness of the youth born to equal rights with that governor on whom the duty devolves of training the young to usefulness in a station which he is afterwards to assume among freemen. * * * With slavery it is far otherwise. The end is the profit of the master, his security, and the public safety; the subject, one doomed, in his own person and his posterity, to live without knowledge, and without the capacity to make any thing his own, and to toil that another may reap the fruits. * * * The power of the master must be absolute, to render the submission of the slave perfect. I most freely confess my sense of the harshness of this proposition. I feel it as deeply as any man can; and as a principle of moral right, every person in his retirement must repudiate it; but in the actual condition of things, it must be so; there is no remedy.

This may stand as a full and fair confession from the mouth of the slave system of its incurable selfishness. Parents may be selfish, but the relation itself of parent and child is not intrinsically selfish, but benevolent. But while, on the other hand, the master may be humane and benevolent, the legal relation existing between him and his slave is intrinsically and unchangeably selfish. Therefore the mere fact that the Bible reveals a God of infinite benevolence, is ample condemnation of such a system.

5. The character ascribed to God in the Bible is eminently undespotic; the opposite of the usual character of earthly monarchs. Abraham conversed familiarly with God as a man with his friend. Moses found him, even on Sinai, long-suffering, slow to anger, and of great mercy. The Psalms and prophecies all breathe the same spirit; while Christ, in whom dwelt the fulness of the Godhead bodily, said, “Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart.”

Alluding to the tyranny of earthly lords and rulers, Jesus said, “So shall it not be among you;” and afterwards actually stooped to wash his disciples’ feet, saying, “If I, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye ought also to wash one another’s feet.”

Now, is this the fundamental characteristic of the slave law? Meekness, lowliness, self-sacrifice for inferiors? Not so thought Judge Ruffin, when he said, “The power of the master must be absolute, to render the submission of the slave perfect.” It is power, not love, on which such dominion stands,—brute force, not Edition: current; Page: [7] ideas. Indeed, Judge Ruffin asks in open court, “What moral considerations shall be addressed to such a being to convince him, what it is impossible but that the most stupid must feel and know can never be true, that he is to labor thus upon a principle of natural duty, or for the sake of his own personal happiness? * * * Such obedience is the consequence only of uncontrolled authority over the body.

And this is despotism—a government not of ideas and motives, but of bodily violence. Hence Jefferson declared “the whole commerce between master and slave to be a perpetual exercise of the most unremitting despotism on the one part, and of the most degrading submission on the other.”

Therefore he adds, that the children of slaveholders “nursed, educated, and daily exercised in tyranny, cannot but be stamped by it with odious peculiarities.”

As much, then, as the character of God, as shown in Christ, is opposite to the character of a Nero or a Caligula, so much is the Bible opposed to the system of American slavery.

6. Finally, the Bible reveals God as above all other things interested in the moral elevation and renovation of men, their deliverance from darkness and sin, and their preparation for heaven. God only is Lord of the conscience. All men have from him equal religious rights. The Bible reveals to all the solemn sanctions of eternity, and summons all to the same judgment seat. To all it brings the message of salvation through a crucified Redeemer. Any system, then, which darkens the mind, and tends to prevent repentance, and faith, and holy living, must in the highest degree incur the wrath of God.

All Protestants admit this principle as applied to Romanism: consistency requires them to admit it as applied to slavery. For slaves are far more dependent on their masters, who are not even professedly Christian teachers, than Catholics on their priests, who are. It is against the law to distribute Bibles and good books to slaves. It is against the law to teach them to read. The law gives to every master full power to deprive his slave of all religious instruction, if he choose; or to determine the nature and extent of that instruction. And the result is, that the slaves are generally ignorant and demoralized. The Synod of South Carolina and Georgia, in 1833, said, “In this Christian republic, there are over two millions of human beings in the condition of heathen, and in some Edition: current; Page: [8] respects in a worse condition.” * * * “They may justly be considered the heathen of this Christian country.” Similar testimony is abundant from other religious bodies at the South.

Now, if the slaves have souls; if they are in danger of eternal destruction; if Christ died for them; how great the guilt of that system which thus imperils their salvation!—a system which, not content with stripping them of all their rights here, tends directly to defeat their last hope of happiness hereafter!

With an unbeliever in future punishment this argument might have less weight. But with the majority of denominations of Christians in this country, it is an argument of inconceivable power. If God be justly indignant with pagan delusions, with papal priest-craft, and with other systems which tend to destroy the soul, how much fiercer the indignation he must feel towards this, whose malignant tendencies in this respect are unparalleled upon earth! And how can the Bible, which reveals him, fail to make war on such a system?

Now, in the face of such a Bible argument as this, an argument susceptible of unlimited expansion, an argument any single point in which ought to be conclusive, what do the defenders of the system allege?

Shall we take up again, and examine in the light of this development, their fourfold plea?

1. Noah said, “Cursed be Canaan.” We answer, that curse was executed on Canaan, all whose descendants are, in Gen. x., expressly located in Palestine. What has it to do, then, with Ham, who was not cursed, and whose descendants were located in Africa? As well call the yellow fever in New Orleans a fulfilment of Moses’ curses on the Jews.

2. Abraham had slaves. We answer, Abraham had several wives; does the Bible therefore sanction polygamy? But the fact is, Abraham’s slaves were not slaves as Southern law defines slavery. They had arms; they could leave his service at will; there was no state and national law to interfere. Indeed, instead of being in Abraham’s power, he was in theirs.

3. Moses legalized slavery. “Of them” (the heathen) “shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids, and ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them as a possession; they shall be your bondmen forever.”—Lev. xxv. 46.

But, as Dr. Hague judiciously remarks, “this must be understood Edition: current; Page: [9] in consistency with the law of the jubilee, laid down in a preceding part of the same chapter, (ver. 9, 10,) “Ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.” Hence the meaning of the statute is not the entail of perpetual slavery on any class, but simply the confining the Jews in the purchase of slaves, always and forever, to the children of the heathen.”—Christianity and Statesmanship, pp. 382, 383.

A full view of all the Mosaic statutes on this subject shows conclusively that the property principle of our laws was in no wise sanctioned. Let us take a bird’s eye view. Moses found slavery in existence. He legislated not to perpetuate, but to destroy the practice. Hence, while in other nations it continued, in Israel it disappeared, so that in Christ’s time, while the Roman empire was full of slaves, in Judea there were none. Moses’ laws were the opposite of ours in this: ours favor the master, his favored the slave; ours disfranchise the slave, his made him a Jewish citizen. Kidnapping was punished with death. Every Hebrew slave and every circumcised foreign slave went free the seventh year. Every fiftieth year all went free, whether proselytes or not.

No permission was ever given to sell a slave, or bequeath them by will; nor is there any evidence in the record that such a thing was ever done. The law protected the person of the slave. The loss of an eye or a tooth set him free. If the slave ran away, all were strictly forbidden to help the master catch him. This alone destroys entirely the chattel principle. More than one third of the slave’s time was at his own disposal by law. Finally, the slave was required to be circumcised, and incorporated into the state as a citizen, with the right of intermarriage, and of equal religious privileges, and there was no prejudice of color or caste feeling to keep him down.

The contrast between such a system of legislation as this, and the American slave code, is as wide as between the things of God and the things of Cæsar. It is a contrast so entire, that if to-day the Jewish law could be substituted for our slave code, it would instantly operate as an effectual abolition of the entire system of American slavery.

4. Christ and the apostles did not condemn slavery. We answer, Christ spent his life in Palestine, where slavery had been Edition: current; Page: [10] abolished. He, probably, never came in contact with Roman slavery. The argument is then narrowed to the apostles. The question now is, what stand the apostles took in their epistles to converts from paganism; for of their actual preachings to unconverted pagans we have few vestiges remaining. Paul’s sermon on Mars’ Hill, in which he declared that “God had made of one blood all nations that dwell on the earth,” is about the only specimen of an apostolic sermon to pagans.

Did, then, the apostles sanction the Roman civil code, in their letters to the churches? This is manifestly the vital point of the whole argument. For it is the Roman civil code, and not the Jewish, from which our slave code has descended.

We reply, they not only did not sanction it, but they unequivocally, and with the whole weight of their authority, condemned it. In his letter to the Corinthian converts, Paul asks, “Dare any one of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints?”

And again,—

“I speak to your shame. Is it so that there is not a wise man among you, no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren? But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers.” That is, in the courts of the Roman civil law.

“Now, therefore, there is utterly a fault among you because ye go to law one with another,” &c.

Christians, then, were utterly forbidden to go into Roman courts, and to appeal to Roman law; and then the whole system of slavery was in an instant annihilated, both the slavery of slaves, and the slavery of sons and of wives. For the Roman civil law gave the father absolute power of life and death over his wife and his son, as much as over his slave. And if the apostles had by silence sanctioned that law in one respect, they would have equally sanctioned it in all. But they did not. They were not silent. Says Dr. Hague, “Far from availing themselves of any power granted by the civil law to retain their brethren in bondage, their religion forbade them to refer to that law any question respecting their duties to each other.

Hence slavery was immediately abolished in the primitive churches. For whenever a question arose between a convert and his former slave, he could no longer resort to the civil tribunals; he Edition: current; Page: [11] must go to the brotherhood, and the case must be issued by them. But they had sworn allegiance to Christ. His golden rule was for them “the royal law,” “the law of Christ.” Hence, when the apostles commanded masters to love their servants as brethren, and to render to them things just and equal, we see a deep significance in those words. “Justice” and “equality” were terms not predicable under Roman law of slaves. What “justice” to a cipher, a corpse? what equality to a quadruped? Roman law must have been utterly ignored before such words could be used. Hence all the passages alluding to masters and slaves receive a new meaning, far different from that the defenders of slavery are wont to give. Does the apostle speak of slaves “who are under the yoke,” “suffering wrongfully”? It is plain they are converted slaves of unconverted masters, who have not ignored Roman law. Does he caution converted slaves “not to despise” their believing masters? It is plain emancipation has taken place, with its natural reaction from servility to unrestraint. Does an escaped slave, now a convert, wish to return to his former master, now also converted, the apostle entreats Philemon to receive him “not now as a servant, but above a servant, a brother beloved.” Such expressions the apostle could never have used, if he had not utterly repealed and ignored the Roman law, as having any thing to do with the conduct of Christians.

Such, then, is the value of the so-called Bible argument in behalf of American slavery. Noah’s curse cannot touch Ham in Africa; Abraham’s servants are insulted by the idea of chattelhood; Moses’ law is the antipode of the Roman; and the Roman, with its courts, expressly prohibited by apostolic authority.

At the same time, on every page of the Bible a glorious God of infinite order, purity, justice, benevolence, meekness, and grace, stands revealed against a system of disorder, lust, injustice, selfishness, despotism, and irreligion. Does, then, the Bible uphold Slavery? Nay, verily, it must ever be to that system a consuming fire. Either the system must be consumed, or the fire quenched. Either Slavery or the Bible must be put down.

Published, for gratuitous distribution, at the Office of the American Anti-Slavery Society, No. 138 Nassau Street, New York. Also, to be had at the Anti-Slavery Offices, No. 21 Cornhill, Boston, and No. 31 North Fifth Street, Philadelphia, and at the Anti-Slavery Depository, Salem, Columbiana Co., Ohio.

Edition: current; Page: [1]

18.: Anon., “The Fugitive Slave Law, and its Victims,” 48 pp.



The Fugitive Slave Law was enacted by Congress in September, 1850, received the signature of Howell Cobb, [of Georgia,] as Speaker of the House of Representatives, of William R. King, [of Alabama,] as President of the Senate, and was “approved,” September 18th, of that year, by MILLARD FILLMORE, Acting President of the United States.

The authorship of the Bill is generally ascribed to James M. Mason, Senator from Virginia. Before proceeding to the principal object of this tract, it is proper to give a synopsis of the Act itself, which was well called, by the New York Evening Post, “An Act for the Encouragement of Kidnapping.” It is in ten sections.


Section 1. United States Commissioners “authorized and required to exercise and discharge all the powers and duties conferred by this act.”

Sect. 2. Commissioners for the Territories to be appointed by the Superior Court of the same.

Sect. 3. United States Circuit Courts, and Superior Courts of Territories, required to enlarge the number of Commissioners, “with a view to afford reasonable facilities to reclaim fugitives from labor,” &c.

Sect. 4. Commissioners put on the same footing with Judges of the United States Courts, with regard to enforcing the Law and its penalties.

Sect. 5. United States Marshals and deputy marshals, who may refuse to act under the Law, to be fined One Thousand dollars, to the use of the claimant. If a fugitive escape from the custody of the Marshal, the Marshal to be liable for his full value. Commissioners authorized to appoint special officers, and to call out the posse comitatus, &c.

Sect. 6. The claimant of any fugitive slave, or his attorney, “may pursue and reclaim such fugitive person,” either by procuring a warrant from some judge or commissioner, “or by seizing and arresting such fugitive, where the same can be done without process;” to take such fugitive before such judge or commissioner, Edition: current; Page: [2] “whose duty it shall be to hear and determine the case of such claimant in a summary manner,” and, if satisfied of the identity of the prisoner, to grant a certificate to said claimant to “remove such fugitive person back to the State or Territory from whence he or she may have escaped,”—using “such reasonable force or restraint as may be necessary under the circumstances of the case.” “In no trial or hearing under this act shall the testimony of such alleged fugitive be admitted in evidence.” All molestation of the claimant, in the removal of his slave, “by any process issued by any court, judge, magistrate, or other person whomsoever,” to be prevented.

Sect. 7. Any person obstructing the arrest of a fugitive, or attempting his or her rescue, or aiding him or her to escape, or harboring and concealing a fugitive, knowing him to be such, shall be subject to a fine of not exceeding one thousand dollars, and to be imprisoned not exceeding six months, and shall also “forfeit and pay the sum of one thousand dollars for each fugitive so lost.

Sect. 8. Marshals, deputies, clerks, and special officers to receive usual fees; Commissioners to receive ten dollars, if fugitive is given up to claimant; otherwise, five dollars; to be paid by claimant.

Sect. 9. If claimant make affidavit that he fears a rescue of such fugitive from his possession, the officer making the arrest to retain him in custody, and “to remove him to the State whence he fled.” Said officer “to employ so many persons as he may deem necessary.” All, while so employed, to be paid out of the Treasury of the United States.”

Sect. 10. [This Section provides an additional and wholly distinct method for the capture of a fugitive; and, it may be added, one of the loosest and most extraordinary that ever appeared on the pages of Statute book.] Any person, from whom one held to service or labor has escaped, upon making “satisfactory proof” of such escape before any court of record, or judge thereof in vacation,—a record of matters so proved shall be made by such court, or judge, and also a description of the person escaping, “with such convenient certainty as may be;”—a copy of which record, duly attested, “being produced in any other State, Territory, or District,” and “being exhibited to any judge, commissioner, or other officer authorized,” &c., “shall be held and taken to be full and conclusive evidence of the fact of escape, and that the service or labor of the person escaping is due to the party in such record mentioned;” when, on satisfactory proof of identity, “he or she shall be delivered up to the claimant.” “Provided, That nothing herein contained shall be construed as requiring the production of a transcript of such record as evidence as aforesaid; but in its absence, the claim shall be heard and determined upon other satisfactory proofs competent in law.”

The names of the NORTHERN men who voted for this cruel kidnapping law should not be forgotten. Until they repent, and Edition: current; Page: [3] do works meet for repentance, let their names stand high and conspicuous on the roll of infamy. Let the “slow-moving finger of scorn” point them out, when they walk among men, and the stings of shame, disappointment, and remorse continually visit them in secret, till they are forced to cry, “my punishment is greater than I can bear.” As to the Southern men who voted for the law, they only appeared in their legitimate character of oppressors of the poor—whom God will repay, in his own time. The thousand-tongued voices of their brother’s blood cry against them from the ground.

The following is the vote, in the SENATE, on the engrossment of the bill:—

Yeas.—Atchison, Badger, Barnwell, Bell, Berrien, Butler, Davis (of Mississippi), Dawson, A. C. DODGE (of Iowa), Downs, Foote, Houston, Hunter, JONES (of Iowa), King, Mangum, Mason, Pearce, Rusk, Sebastian, Soulé, Spruance, STURGEON (of Pennsylvania), Turney, Underwood, Wales, Yulee.—27.

Nays.—Baldwin, Bradbury, Chase, Cooper, Davis (of Massachusetts), Dayton, Henry Dodge (of Wisconsin), Greene, Smith, Upham, Walker, Winthrop.—12.

Absent, or Not Voting.—Benton, Borland, Bright of Indiana, Clarke of Rhode Island, Clay, Cass of Michigan, Clemens, Dickinson of New York, Douglas of Illinois, Ewing of Ohio, Felch of Michigan, Hale of New Hampshire, Hamlin of Maine, Miller of New Jersey, Morton, Norris of New Hampshire, Phelps of Vermont, Pratt, Seward of New York, Shields of Illinois, Whitcomb of Indiana. [Fifteen Northern Senators absent from the vote.]

On the final passage of the Bill in the Senate, the yeas and nays were not taken. D. S. Dickinson of New York, who had been absent when the vote was taken on the engrossment, spoke in favor of the bill. Mr. Seward was said to be absent from the city, detained by ill health.

When the Bill came up in the HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, (September 12th,) JAMES THOMPSON of Pennsylvania, got the floor,—doubtless by a previous understanding with the Speaker,—and addressed the House in support of the Bill. He closed his remarks by moving the previous question! It was ordered, and thus all opportunity for reply, and for discussion of the Bill was cut off. The Bill was then passed to its third reading—equivalent to enactment—by a vote of 109 Yeas, to 75 Nays; as follows:—

Edition: current; Page: [4]


Maine.Thomas J. D. Fuller, of Calais; Elbridge Gerry, of Waterford; Nathaniel S. Littlefield, of Bridgton.

New Hampshire.Harry Hibbard, of Bath; Charles H. Peaslee, of Concord.

Massachusetts.Samuel A. Eliot, of Boston.

New York.Hiram Walden, of Waldensville.

New Jersey.Isaac Wildrick, of Blairstown.

Pennsylvania.Milo M. Dimmick, of Stroudsburg; Job Mann, of Bedford; J. X. McLanahan, of Chambersburg; John Robbins, Jr., of Philadelphia; Thomas Ross, of Doylestown; James Thompson, of Erie.

Ohio.Moses Hoagland, of Millersburg; John K. Miller, of Mount Vernon; John L. Taylor, of Chillicothe.

Michigan.Alexander W. Buell, of Detroit.

Indiana.Nathaniel Albertson, of Greenville; William J. Brown, of Amity; Cyrus L. Dunham, of Salem; Willis A. Gorman, of Bloomington; Joseph E. McDonald, of Crawfordsville; Edward W. McGaughey, of Rockville.

Illinois.William H. Bissell, of Belleville; Thomas L. Harris, of Petersburg; John A. McClernand; William A. Richardson, of Quincy; Timothy R. Young, of Marshall.

Iowa.Shepherd Leffler, of Burlington.

California.Edward Gilbert.

[All these Northern Traitors called themselves Democrats! save three—Eliot of Massachusetts, Taylor of Ohio, and McGaughey of Indiana, who were Whigs.]

☞ Every Representative of a Slaveholding State, who voted at all, voted YEA. Their names are needless, and are omitted.


Maine.—Otis, Sawtelle, Stetson.

New Hampshire.—Amos Tuck.

Vermont.—Hebard, Henry, Meacham.

Massachusetts.—Allen, Duncan, Fowler, Mann.

Rhode Island.—Dixon, King.

Connecticut.—Butler, Booth, Waldo.

New York.—Alexander, Bennett, Briggs, Burrows, Gott, Gould, Halloway, Jackson, John A. King, Preston King, Matteson, McKissock, Nelson, Putnam, Rumsey, Sackett, Schermerhorn, Schoolcraft, Thurman, Underhill, Silvester.

New Jersey.—Hay, King.

Pennsylvania.—Calvin, Chandler, Dickey, Freedley, Hampton, Howe, Moore, Pitman, Reed, Stevens.

Ohio.—Cable, Carter, Campbell, M. B. Corwin, Crowell, Disney, Evans, Giddings, Hunter, Morris, Root, Vinton, Whittlesey, Wood.

Edition: current; Page: [5]

Michigan.—Bingham, Sprague.

Indiana.—Fitch, Harlan, Julian, Robinson.

Illinois.—Baker, Wentworth.

Wisconsin.—Cole, Doty, Durkee.



Andrews, Ashmun (Mass.), Bokee, Brooks, Butler, Casey, Cleveland (Conn.), Clarke, Conger, Duer, Gilmore, Goodenow, Grinnell (Mass.), Levin, Nes, Newell, Ogle, Olds, Peck, Phœnix, Potter, Reynolds, Risley, Rockwell (Mass.), Rose, Schenck, Spaulding, Strong, Sweetser, Thompson (Iowa), Van Dyke, White, Wilmot (Penn.) [33—all Northern men.]

[Fifteen Southern Representatives did not vote.]

Daniel Webster was not a member of the Senate when the vote on the Fugitive Slave Bill was taken. He had been made Secretary of State, a short time previous. All, however, will remember the powerful aid which he gave to the new compromise measures, and among them to the Fugitive Slave Bill, in his notorious Seventh of March Speech, [1850.] A few extracts from that Speech will show how heavily the responsibility of the existence of this law rests upon Daniel Webster:—

“I suppose there is to be found no injunction against that relation [Slavery] between man and man, in the teachings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, or of any of his Apostles.”—Webster’s 7th March Speech, (Authorized Edition,) p. 9.

“One complaint of the South has, in my opinion, just foundation; and that is, that there has been found at the North, among individuals and among legislators, a disinclination to perform, fully, their Constitutional duties in regard to the return of persons bound to service, who have escaped into the free States. In that respect, it is my judgment that the South is right, and the North is wrong.” * * * * “My friend at the head of the Judiciary Committee [Mr. Mason of Virginia] has a bill on the subject now before the Senate, with some amendments to it, which I propose to support, with all its provisions, to the fullest extent.”—Idem. p. 29.

He proceeded to assure the Senate that the North would, on due consideration, fulfil “their constitutional obligations” “with alacrity.” “Therefore, I repeat, sir, that here is a ground of complaint against the North well founded, which ought to be removed, which it is now in the power of the different departments of this Government to remove; which calls for the enactment of proper laws authorizing the judicature of this Government, in the several States, to do all that is necessary for the recapture of fugitive slaves, and for the restoration of them to those who claim them.

Edition: current; Page: [6]

Wherever I go, and whenever I speak on the subject, and when I speak here, I desire to speak to the whole North, I say that the South has been injured in this respect, and has a right to complain; and the North has been too careless of what, I think, the Constitution peremptorily and emphatically enjoins upon her as a duty.”—Idem. p. 30.

In a speech in the United States Senate, July 17, 1850, made with an evident view to calm that Northern feeling which had been aroused and excited by his 7th of March speech, beyond the power of priest or politician wholly to subdue, Mr. Webster said there were various misapprehensions respecting the working of the proposed Fugitive Slave Bill:—

“The first of these misapprehensions,” he said, “is an exaggerated sense of the actual evil of the reclamation of fugitive slaves, felt by Massachusetts and the other New England States. What produced that? The cases do not exist. There has not been a case within the knowledge of this generation, in which a man has been taken back from Massachusetts into slavery by process of law, not one.” * * * * Not only has there been no case, so far as I can learn, of the reclamation of a slave by his master, which ended in taking him back to slavery, in this generation, but I will add, that, as far as I have been able to go back in my researches, as far as I have been able to hear and learn, in all that region there has been no one case of false claim. * * * There is no danger of any such violation being perpetrated.*Webster’s Speech on the Compromise Bill, in the United States Senate, 17th of July, 1850, edition of Gideon & Co., Washington, pp. 23-25.

With such words did Mr. Webster endeavor to allay Northern alarm, and to create the impression (which was created and which prevailed extensively with his friends) that the Fugitive Law was only a concession to Southern feeling, and that few or no attempts to enforce it were likely to be made.

But when a few months had proved him a false prophet, and the Southern chase after fugitive men, women, and children had become hot and fierce, and in one or two instances the hunter had been foiled in his attempts and had lost his prey, Mr. Webster changed his tone, as follows:—

In May, 1851, at Syracuse, N. Y., he said: “Depend upon it, the Law [the Fugitive Slave Law] will be executed in its spirit Edition: current; Page: [7] and to its letter. It will be executed in all the great cities—here in Syracuse, in the midst of the next Anti-Slavery Convention, if the occasion shall arise.”

Certainly, so far as in Mr. Webster lay, so far as was in the power of Mr. Fillmore, and the officers of the United States Government generally, and of the still larger crowd of expectants of office, nothing was left undone to introduce the tactics, discipline, and customs of the Southern plantation into our Northern cities and towns, in order to enforce the Fugitive Law.

The remainder of this Tract will be devoted to a record, as complete as circumstances enable us to make, of the Victims of the Fugitive Slave Law. It is a terrible record, which the people of this country should never allow to sleep in oblivion, until the disgraceful and bloody system of Slavery is swept from our land, and with it, all Compromise Bills, all Constitutional Guarantees to Slavery, all Fugitive Slave Laws. The established and accredited newspapers of the day, without reference to party distinctions, are the authorities relied upon in making up this record, and the dates being given with each case, the reader is enabled to verify the same, and the few particulars which the compass of the Tract allows to be given with each. With all the effort which has been made to secure a good degree of completeness and exactness, the present record must of necessity be an imperfect one, and fall short of exhibiting all the enormities of the Act in question.

James Hamlet, of New York, September, 1850, was the first victim. He was surrendered by United States Commissioner Gardiner to the agent of one Mary Brown, of Baltimore, who claimed him as her slave. He was taken to Baltimore. An effort was immediately made to purchase his freedom, and in the existing state of the public feeling, the sum demanded by his mistress, $800, was quickly raised. Hamlet was brought back to New York with great rejoicings.

Near Bedford, Penn., October 1. Ten fugitives, from Virginia, were attacked in Pennsylvania—one mortally wounded, another dangerously. Next morning, both were captured. Five others entered a mountain hut, and begged relief. The woman supplied their wants. Her husband went out, procured assistance, captured the slaves, and received a reward of $255.

Edition: current; Page: [8]

Harrisburg, Penn., October. Some slaves, number not stated, were brought before Commissioner M’Allister, when “the property was proven, and they were delivered to their masters, who took them back to Virginia, by railroad, without molestation.”

Detroit, 8th October. A negro was arrested under the new law, and sent to jail for a week, to await evidence. Great numbers of colored people armed themselves to rescue him. Result not known.

Henry Garnett, Philadelphia, arrested as the slave of Thomas P. Jones, of Cecil County, Maryland, and taken before Judge Grier, of the United States Supreme Court, October 18, 1850, who declared his determination to execute the law as he found it. The Judge said that the claimant had not taken the course prescribed by the fugitive act, and proceeded to explain, in a detailed manner, what the course should be in such cases. As the claimant thus failed to make out his case, the prisoner was ordered to be discharged.

Boston, about 25th October. Attempt to seize William and Ellen Craft. William Craft armed himself, and kept within his shop. Ellen was concealed in the house of a friend. Their claimants, named Hughes & Knight, were indicted for defamation of character, in calling W. C. a slave, and brought before a magistrate. The feeling excited against them was so great, that they at length fled from the city. Shortly after, it being considered hazardous for Mr. and Mrs. Craft to remain in the country, they were enabled to escape to England.

[In a letter, dated Macon, Georgia, Nov. 11, John Knight gives a particular account of the proceedings and experiences of himself and his friend Hughes, on their then recent visit to Boston for the purpose, to quote his own language, “of re-capturing William and Ellen Craft, the negroes belonging to Dr. Collins and Ira Taylor.” Willis H. Hughes also published his statement.]

New Albany, Indiana. A woman and boy given up, and taken to Louisville. They were so white that, even in Kentucky, a strong feeling arose in their favor on that ground. They were finally bought for $600, and set free.

Adam Gibson, Philadelphia, December 21, 1850. Surrendered by Edward D. Ingraham, United States Commissioner. The case was hurried through in indecent haste, testimony being admitted against him of the most groundless character. One witness swore that Gibson’s name was Emery Rice. He was taken to Elkton, Maryland. There, Mr. William S. Knight, his supposed owner, refused to receive Gibson, saying he was not the man, and he was taken back to Philadelphia.

What compensation has the United States Government ever made to Adam Gibson, for the injurious act of its agent, Ingraham? Had not the Slaveholder been more honorable than the Edition: current; Page: [9] Commissioner or the makers of the Fugitive Law, Gibson would have been in Slavery for life.

Henry Long, New York, December, 1850. Brought before Commissioner Charles M. Hall, claimed as the fugitive slave of John T. Smith, of Russell County, Virginia. After five or six days’ proceedings, there being some doubt of the Commissioner’s legal right to act, the alleged fugitive, Long, was taken before Judge Judson, District Judge of the United States. The Castle Garden Union Safety Committee retained Mr. George Wood in this case, as counsel for the slave claimant. Long was surrendered by Judge Judson, and taken to Richmond, Virginia. Judge J. was complimented by the Washington Union as “a clear-headed, competent, and independent officer, who has borne himself with equal discretion, liberality, and firmness. Such judges as he,” continues the Union, “are invaluable in these times of turmoil and agitation.” At Richmond, Long was advertised to be sold at public auction. On Saturday, January 18th, he was sold, amid the jeers and scoffs of the spectators, for $750, to David Clapton, of Georgia. The auctioneers (Pullam & Slade), in commencing, said there was one condition of the sale. Bonds must be given by the purchaser that this man shall be carried South, and that he shall be kept South, and sold, if sold again, to go South; and they declared their intention to see the terms fully complied with. Long was subsequently advertised for sale at Atlanta, Georgia.

Near Coatsville, Chester County, Penn. On a writ issued by Commissioner Ingraham, Deputy Marshal Halzell and other officers, with the claimant of an alleged fugitive, at night, knocked at the door of a colored family, and asked for a light to enable them to mend their broken harness. The door being opened for this purpose, the marshal’s party rushed in, and said they came to arrest a fugitive slave. Resistance was made by the occupant of the house and others, and the marshal’s party finally driven off—the slave owner advising that course, and saying, “Well, if this is a specimen of the pluck of Pennsylvania negroes, I don’t want my slaves back.” The master of the house was severely wounded in the arm by a pistol shot; still he maintained his ground, declaring the marshal’s party should not pass except by first taking his life.

Marion, Williamson County, Ill., about December 10, 1850. Mr. O’Havre, of the city police, Memphis, Tennessee, arrested and took back to Memphis a fugitive slave, belonging to Dr. Young. He did so, as the Memphis paper states, only “after much difficulty and heavy expense,” being strongly opposed by the Free Soilers and Abolitionists, but was assisted by Mr. W. Allen, member of Congress, and other gentlemen.”

Philadelphia, about January 10, 1851. G. F. Alberti and others seized, under the Fugitive Slave Law, a free colored boy, named Edition: current; Page: [10] Joel Thompson, alleging that he was a slave. The boy was saved.

Stephen Bennett, Columbia, Penn., arrested as the slave of Edward B. Gallup, of Baltimore. Taken before Commissioner Ingraham; thence, by habeas corpus, before Judge Kane. He was saved only by his freedom being purchased by his friends.

The Huntsville (Ala.) Advocate, of January 1, 1851, said that Messrs. Markwood & Chester had brought back “seven of their Slaves” from Michigan.

The Memphis (Tenn.) Eagle, of a later date, says that within a few weeks “at least five fugitive slaves have been brought back to this city, from free States, with as little trouble as would be had in recovering stray cows.” The same paper adds, “We occasionally receive letters notifying us that a slave, said to be the property of some one in this vicinity, has been lodged in jail in Illinois or Indiana, for his owner, who will please call, pay charges, and take him away.”

In Boston, end of January, 1851. A colored man, lately from North Carolina, was sought by officers, under Marshal Devens, aided by a lawyer, named Spencer, provided by the New York Union Safety Committee. The arrest was not attempted. It was found that the colored man was too strongly guarded and protected.

Mrs. Tamor, or Euphemia Williams, Philadelphia, February, 1851, mother of six children, arrested and brought before Commissioner Ingraham, as the slave Mahala, belonging to William T. J. Purnell, of Worcester County, Maryland, admitted to have been absent since 1829—twenty-two years. Children all born in Pennsylvania; oldest about seventeen—a girl. Her husband also in custody, and alleged to be the slave of another man. Under writ of habeas corpus, Mrs. Williams was taken before Judge Kane, of the United States Circuit Court. After a full hearing, she was discharged, as not being the woman alleged.

Shadrach, in Boston, February 15, 1851. Arrested in Taft’s Cornhill Coffee House, by deputies of United States Marshal Devens, on a warrant issued by George T. Curtis, United States Commissioner, on the complaint of John Caphart, attorney of John De Bree, of Norfolk, Va. Seth J. Thomas appeared as counsel for Caphart. After a brief hearing before G. T. Curtis, Commissioner, the case was adjourned to the following Tuesday. Shortly after the adjournment, the court-room was entered by a body of men, who bore away the prisoner, Shadrach. After which he was heard of in Montreal, Canada, having successfully, with the aid of many friends, escaped the snares of all kidnappers, in and out of Boston. The acting President, MILLARD FILLMORE, issued his proclamation, countersigned by Daniel Webster, Secretary of State, requiring prosecutions to be commenced against all who participated in the rescue.

Edition: current; Page: [11]

Shawneetown, Illinois. A woman was claimed by Mr. Haley, of Georgia, as his slave; and was delivered up to him by two Justices of the Peace, (early in 1851.)

Madison, Indiana. George W. Mason, of Davies County, Kentucky, arrested a colored man, named Mitchum, who, with his wife and children, lived near Vernon. The case was tried before a Justice of the Peace, named Basnett, who was satisfied that Mitchum was Davis’s slave, and had left his service nineteen years before. The slave was accordingly delivered up, and was taken to Kentucky, (Feb. 1851.)

Clearfield County, Penn., about 20th January, 1851. A boy was kidnapped and taken into slavery.—Mercer (Pa.) Presbyterian.

Near Ripley, Ohio. A fugitive slave, about January 20, killed his pursuer. He was afterwards taken and carried back to slavery.

Burlington, Lawrence County, Ohio, near the end of February, 1851, four liberated slaves were kidnapped, re-enslaved, and sold. Efforts were made to bring the perpetrators of this nefarious act to punishment, and restore the victims to freedom.

At Philadelphia, early in March, 1851, occurred the case of the colored woman HELEN or HANNAH, and her son, a child of tender years. She was taken before a Commissioner, and thence, by writ of habeas corpus, before Judge Kane. An additional question arose from the fact that the woman would soon become the mother of another child. Judge Kane decided that she was the property of John Perdu, of Baltimore, together with her son, and her unborn child, and they were all surrendered accordingly, and taken into slavery.

Pittsburg, March 13, 1851. RICHARD GARDINER was arrested in Bridgewater, Beaver County, Pennsylvania, claimed as the property of Miss R. Byers, of Louisville, Kentucky. Judge Irwin, of the United States District Court, “remanded the fugitive back to his owner.” He was afterwards bought for $600, and brought into a free State.

The Wilmington (Del.) Journal, in March, 1851, says kidnapping has become quite frequent in that State; and speaks of a negro kidnapped in that city, on the previous Wednesday night, by a man who had been one of the city watchmen.

THOMAS SIMS, arrested in Boston, April 4, 1851, at first on pretence of a charge of theft. But when he understood it was as a fugitive from slavery, he drew a knife and wounded one of the officers. He was taken before Commissioner George T. Curtis. To guard against a repetition of the Shadrach rescue, the United States Marshal, Devens, aided by the Mayor (John P. Bigelow) and City Marshal (Francis Tukey) of Boston, surrounded the Court House, in Boston, with heavy chains, guarded it by a strong extra force of police officers, with a strong body of guards also within the building, where the fugitive was imprisoned as well as Edition: current; Page: [12] tried. Several military companies also were called out by the city authorities, and kept in readiness night and day to act against the people, should they attempt the deliverance of Sims; Faneuil Hall itself being turned into barracks for these hirelings of slavery. Every effort was made by S. E. Sewall, Esq., Hon. Robert Rantoul, Jr., and Charles G. Loring, Esq., to save Sims from being returned into slavery, and Boston from the eternal and ineffaceable disgrace of the act. But in vain. The omnipotent Slave Power demanded of Boston a victim for its infernal sacrifices. Millard Fillmore, Daniel Webster, and their numerous tools, on the Bench, in Commissioners’ seats, and other official stations, or in hopes of gaining such stations bye and bye, had fallen upon their faces before the monster idol, and sworn that the victim should be prepared. Thomas Sims was ordered back to slavery by Commissioner G. T. Curtis, and was taken from the Court House, in Boston, early on the morning of April 11th, [1851,] to the Brig Acorn, lying at the end of Long Wharf, and thence in the custody of officers, to Savannah, Georgia.

There, after being lodged in jail, and severely and cruelly whipped, as was reported, he was at length sold, and became merged and lost in the great multitude of the enslaved population. The surrender of Sims is said to have cost the United States Government $10,000; the City of Boston about as much more; and Mr. Potter, the claimant of Sims, about $2,400, making a total of some $22,000, directly expended on the case.

Vincennes, Indiana, April, 1851. Four fugitive slaves were seized, claimed by one Mr. Kirwan, of or near Florence, Alabama. The magistrate, named Robinson, gave up the fugitives, and they were taken into slavery.

In Salisbury Township, Penn., April, 1851, an elderly man was kidnapped and carried into Maryland.

Near Sandy Hill, Chester County, Penn., in March, 1851, a very worthy and estimable colored man, named Thomas Hall, was forcibly seized, his house being broken into by three armed ruffians, who beat him and his wife with clubs. He was kidnapped.

Moses Johnson, Chicago, Illinois, brought before a United States Commissioner, discharged as not answering to the description of the man claimed.

Charles Wedley, kidnapped from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, and taken into Maryland. He was found, and brought back.

Cincinnati, Ohio, June 3, 1851, an attempt to arrest a fugitive was made. But a scuffle ensued, in which the man escaped.

Cincinnati, Ohio. About the same time, some slaves, (number not stated,) belonging to Rev. Mr. Perry and others, of Covington, Kentucky, were taken in Cincinnati, and carried back to Kentucky.

Philadelphia, end of June, 1851, a colored man was taken away as a slave, by steamboat. A writ of Habeas Corpus was got out, Edition: current; Page: [13] but the officer could not find the man. This is probably the same case with that of Jesse Whitman, arrested at Wilkesbarre.

Frank Jackson, a free colored man in Mercer, Penn., was taken, early in 1851, by a man named Charles May, into Virginia, and sold as a slave. He tried to escape, but was taken and lodged in Fincastle jail, Virginia.

Thomas Scott Johnson, free colored man, of New Bedford, was arrested near Portsmouth, Virginia, and was about to be sold as a slave; but, by the strenuous interposition of Capt. Card, certificates were obtained from New Bedford, and he was set at liberty.

Elizabeth Williams, West Chester County, Penn., delivered into slavery by Commissioner Jones. (July, 1851.)

Daniel Hawkins, of Lancaster County, Penn., (July, 1851,) was brought before Commissioner Ingraham, Philadelphia, and by him delivered to his claimant, and he was taken into slavery.

New Athens, Ohio, July 8, 1851. Eighteen slaves, who had escaped from Lewis County, Kentucky, were discovered in an old building in Adams County, Ohio. Some white men, professing to be friendly, misled them, and brought them to a house, where they were imprisoned, bound one by one, and carried back to Kentucky. [The enactment of the Fugitive Slave Law is the direct stimulating cause of all these cases of kidnapping.]

Buffalo, August, 1851. Case of Daniel ——. D. was a cook on board the steamer “Buckeye State.” He was engaged in his avocation, when Benj. S. Rust, with a warrant from United States Commissioner H. K. Smith, went on board the boat. Daniel was called up from below, and as his head appeared above the deck, Rust struck him a heavy blow, upon the head, with a large billet of wood, which knocked him back into the cook-room, where he fell upon the stove and was badly burned. In this state, he was brought before the Commissioner, “bleeding profusely at the back of the head, and at the nose, and was moreover so stupefied by the assault, that he fell asleep several times during the brief and very summary proceedings.” For most of the time he was unable to converse with his counsel, and “sat dozing, with the blood slowly oozing out of his mouth and nostrils.” After a very hurried form and mockery of a trial, Daniel was ordered to be delivered to Rust, the Agent of George H. Moore, of Louisville, Kentucky. By a writ of Habeas Corpus, Daniel was brought before Judge Conkling, of the United States Court, at Auburn, who gave a decision that set Daniel at liberty, and he was immediately hurried by his friends into Canada. Rust was indicted, in Buffalo, for his brutal assault on Daniel. It was fully proved; he afterwards plead guilty, and was let off with the paltry fine of fifty dollars.

John Bolding, arrested in Poughkeepsie, New York, claimed as the property of Barret Anderson, of Columbia, S. C. Bolding was a young man, of good character, recently married, and had a small Edition: current; Page: [14] tailor’s shop in P. He said he was told, when a boy, that he was the son of a white man. He was tried before United States Commissioner Nelson, who ordered him to be delivered up to his claimants, and he was taken quietly from the city to Columbia, S. C. The sum of $2,000 was raised in New York, and paid to Bolding’s owner, who had consented to take that sum for him, and Bolding returned to his family in Poughkeepsie.

Christiana, Lancaster County, Penn., Sept. 1851. Edward Gorsuch, (represented as a very pious member of a Methodist Church in Baltimore,) with his son Dickinson, accompanied by the Sheriff of Lancaster County, Pa., and by a Philadelphia officer named Henry Kline, went to Christiana to arrest certain slaves of his, who, (as he had been privately informed by a wretch, named Wm. M. Padgett,) were living there. An attack was made upon the house, the slaveholder declaring (as was said) that he “would not leave the place alive without his slaves.” “Then,” replied one of them, “you will not leave here alive.” Many shots were fired on both sides, and the slave-hunter, Edward Gorsuch, was killed.

At a subsequent trial, a number of persons (nearly forty) were committed to take their trial for “treason against the United States, by levying war against the same, in resisting by force of arms the execution of the Fugitive Slave Law.” Castner Hanway was of the number. After suffering imprisonment and being subjected to great loss of time and heavy expenses, they were all discharged.

Syracuse, October 1, 1851. Jerry, claimed as the slave of John McReynolds, of Marion County, Missouri, was brought to trial before Commissioner J. F. Sabine. He was rescued by a large body of men from the officers who had him in custody, and was next heard of in Canada.

James R. Lawrence, a lawyer of Syracuse, acted as counsel for James Lear, attorney of McReynolds.

[N. B. Daniel Webster’s prophecy was not fulfilled.]

Columbia, Penn., (fall of 1851.) Man named Henry, arrested as the slave of Dr. Duvall, of Prince George’s County, Maryland,—taken to Harrisburg, before United States Commissioner McAllister, and by him consigned to slavery.

Judge Denning, of Illinois, discharged a negro brought before him as a fugitive slave, on the ground that the Fugitive Slave Law was unconstitutional.

Two alleged slaves arrested at Columbia, Penn., on warrant of United States Commissioner McAllister,—claimed as property of W. T. McDermott, of Baltimore. One was carried into slavery; one escaped. (November, 1851.)

Near New Philadelphia, Maryland, a woman, married to a free colored man, with whom she had lived ten years, was arrested as the slave of a Mr. Shreve, of Louisville, Kentucky. She was taken back to Kentucky.

Edition: current; Page: [15]

Rachel Parker, free colored girl, kidnapped from house of Joseph S. Miller, West Nottingham, Penn., by the “notorious Elkton Kidnapper, McCreary,” Dec. 31, 1851. Mr. Miller tracked the kidnappers to Baltimore, and tried to recover the girl, but in vain. On his way home, he was induced to leave the cars, and was undoubtedly murdered,—it was supposed in revenge of the death of Gorsuch at Christiana. Mr. Miller’s body was found suspended from a tree. A suit was brought in the Circuit Court of Baltimore County, for the freedom of Rachel Parker, Jan. 1853. Over sixty witnesses, from Pennsylvania, attended to testify to her being free-born, and that she was not the person she was claimed to be; although, in great bodily terror, she had, after her capture, confessed herself the alleged slave! So complete and strong was the evidence in her favor, that, after an eight days’ trial, the claimants abandoned the case, and a verdict was rendered for the freedom of Rachel, and also of her sister, Elizabeth Parker, who had been previously kidnapped, and conveyed to New Orleans.

☞ McCreary was demanded by Gov. Bigler, of Pennsylvania, to be delivered up for trial on a charge of kidnapping; but Gov. Lowe, of Maryland, refused to surrender him. See Standard, July 2, 1853.

James Tasker, New York City, (Feb. 1852,) arrested through the treachery of Police Officer Martin, and brought before United States Commissioner George W. Morton, as the slave of Jonathan Pinckney, of Maryland. He was given up, and taken back to slavery.

Horace Preston, arrested in Williamsburg, New York, as the slave of William Reese, of Baltimore, Maryland;—Richard Busteed, of New York, being Attorney for the slaveholder. He was brought before United States Commissioner Morton, 1st April, 1852; for several days previous he had been kept a prisoner and his wife knew not what had become of him. He was given up by the Commissioner, and was carried into slavery. The same policeman, Martin, (who acted in the case of James Tasker,) was active in this case; being, doubtless, the original informant.

Preston was afterwards bought for about $1,200, and brought back.

Columbia, Penn., (end of March, 1852;) a colored man, named William Smith, was arrested as a fugitive slave in the lumber yard of Mr. Gottlieb, by Deputy Marshal Snyder, of Harrisburg, and police officer Ridgeley, of Baltimore, under a warrant from Commissioner McAllister. Smith endeavored to escape, when Ridgeley drew a pistol and shot him dead! Ridgeley was demanded by the Governor of Pennsylvania, of the Governor of Maryland, and the demand was referred to the Maryland Legislature.

Edition: current; Page: [16]

Hon. J. R. Giddings proposed the erection of a monument to Smith.

James Phillips, who had resided in Harrisburg, Penn., for fourteen years, was arrested May 24, 1852, as the former slave of Dennis Hudson, of Culpepper County, Virginia, afterwards bought by Henry T. Fant, of Fauquier County. He was brought before United States Commissioner McAllister. Judge McKinney volunteered his services to defend the alleged fugitive. The Commissioner, as soon as possible, ordered the man to be delivered up; and, after fourteen years’ liberty, he was taken back to slavery in Virginia. Afterwards, bought for $900, and taken back to Harrisburg.

Wilkesbarre, Penn., (Summer of 1852.) Mr. Harvey arrested and fined for shielding a slave.

Sacramento, California; a man named Lathrop claimed another as his slave, and Judge Fry decided that the claim was good, and ordered the slave to be surrendered. Mr. Lathrop left, with his slave, for the Atlantic States.

A beautiful young woman, nearly white, was pursued by her owner [and father] to New York, (end of June, 1852.) There a large reward was offered to a police officer to discover her place of residence. It was discovered, and measures taken for her apprehension; but the alarm had been taken, and she escaped.

Sacramento, California; three men were seized by a Mr. Perkins, of Mississippi. The Court decided them to be his property, and they were carried back to Mississippi.—Standard, July 29, 1852.

Petersburg, Penn. Two fugitives from Alabama slavery were overtaken, and taken back, September, 1852.

John Henry Wilson, a lad of fourteen years, kidnapped from Danville, Pennsylvania, and taken to Baltimore, where he was offered for sale to John N. Denning. Kidnappers committed to jail, October, 1852.

[☞ DANIEL WEBSTER, the endorser of the Fugitive Slave Law, died at Marshfield, Mass., October 24th, 1852, in the very height of the Law’s triumphant operation.]

Louisa, a colored woman, claimed by Mrs. Reese, of San Francisco, California, was seized by five armed men, and put on board Steamer Golden Gate, and carried it is not known whither. The aid of the Law was not invoked. The California Christian Advocate, from which the above is taken, says, “Two colored men, stewards on the Golden Gate, were sent back to the States on the last trip, under the State Fugitive Law.”

A mulatto woman, in San Francisco, was ordered to be delivered to her claimant, T. T. Smith, Jackson County, Missouri, by “Justice Edition: current; Page: [17] Shepherd.”—San Francisco Herald—in Standard, November 4, 1852.

Sandusky, Ohio. Two men, two women, and several children were arrested and taken from a steamboat just about to leave for Detroit. Taken before Mayor Follett, by a man who claimed to be their owner. R. R. Sloane, Esq., was employed as counsel for the slaves. No one claiming custody of the slaves, or producing any writs or warrants, Mr. Sloane signified to the crowd present that there appeared to be no cause for the detention of the persons. Immediately a rush was made for the door. A man, who before had been silent, exclaimed, “Here are the papers—I own the slaves—I’ll hold you individually responsible for their escape.” The slaves escaped into Canada, October, 1852. Mr. Sloane was afterwards prosecuted for the value of the slaves, and judgment given against him to the amount of $3,950.

Thirty slaves, says the Maysville (Ky.) Eagle, “escaped from Mason and Bracken Counties, a short time ago. Some of them were captured in Ohio, by their owners, at a distance of about forty miles from the river.” “They brought the captured slaves home without encountering the least obstacle, or even an unkind word.”—Standard, November 4, 1852.

The Lemmon Slaves. At New York, eight persons, claimed by Jonathan Lemmon, of Norfolk, Virginia, as his slaves, were brought before Judge Paine, November, 1852. It appeared that they had been brought to New York by their owner, with a view of taking them to Texas, as his slaves. Mr. Louis Napoleon, a respectable colored man, of New York, procured a writ of habeas corpus, under which they were brought before the court. Their liberation was called for, under the State Law, not being fugitives, but brought into a free State by their owner. Said owner appeared, with Henry D. Lapaugh as his counsel, aided by Mr. Clinton. At their urgent request, the case was postponed from time to time, when Judge Paine, with evident reluctance, decreed the freedom of the slaves. E. D. Culver and John Jay, Esqs., were counsel for the slaves. The merchants and others of New York subscribed and paid Mr. Lemmon the sum of $5,280, for loss of his slaves. The New York Journal of Commerce was very active in raising this money. The same men were invited to contribute something for the destitute men, women, and children claimed by Lemmon. The whole amount given by them all, was two dollars. About one thousand dollars were raised for them among the better disposed but less wealthy class.

Thomas Brown alias George Bordley, Philadelphia, November, 1852, was claimed by one Andrew Pearce, Cecil County, Maryland. Given up to claimant by Commissioner Ingraham. The arrest of the man was made by the notorious kidnapper, George F. Alberti. Mr. Pettit, counsel for the claimant.

Edition: current; Page: [18]

Richard Neal, free colored man, kidnapped in Philadelphia, and carried from the city in a carriage towards Maryland. A writ of habeas corpus was obtained, the kidnappers were overtaken, and Neal brought back after resistance and various hindrances. The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania discharged him. February, 1853.

Ten slaves, arrested in Indiana, and taken back to Tennessee, by W. Carney and others. Resistance was made, and W. Carney “was very badly injured during the fracas.”—Nashville Whig, March 5, 1853.

Alton, Illinois. A man claimed to belong to Walter Carrico, of Warren County, Missouri, was arrested by police officers from St. Louis. After being lodged in jail in St. Louis he made his escape, and again went into Illinois. He was pursued, found, and taken back to St. Louis.—St. Louis Republican, March, 1853.rightpointing1

Amanda, a slave girl, was brought to St. Louis, from near Memphis, Tennessee, a year before, by a son of her master, and by him set free, without his father’s consent. After the father’s death, an attempt was made to seize Amanda, and take her back to Tennessee without trial. This was prevented by officers, the girl taken from the steamboat Cornelia, and brought before Levi Davis, United States Commissioner. He decided in favor of the claimants, (the heirs of the estate, of course.)—St. Louis Republican, March 17, 1853.

Jane Trainer, a colored child, about ten years old, in the possession of Mrs. Rose Cooper, alias Porter, (a woman admitted by her counsel to be a common prostitute,) was brought before Judge Duer, of New York City, by a writ of habeas corpus, which had been applied for by Charles Trainer, the father of the child, (a free colored man, who had followed the parties from Mobile to New York,) and who desired that the custody of his daughter’s person should be granted to him. [June, 1853, and previous.] Judge Duer decided that it was not within his jurisdiction to determine to whom the custody of the child belonged; the Supreme Court of New York must decide that. Judge D. proposed to both parties that the child should be put into his hands, and he would provide a proper person for her care and education, but the woman (Porter) would not consent to this. She evidently designed to train up the child for a life of shame, and perhaps of slavery also. The case was brought by a writ of habeas corpus, before Judge Barculo, of the Supreme Court, sitting at Brooklyn. The effort to serve the writ was at first defeated by the notorious New York bully, Captain Edition: current; Page: [19] Isaiah Rynders, acting, it was said, under the advice of James T. Brady, counsel for Mrs. Porter. For this interference with the law, Rynders and some others were arrested and taken before Judge Barculo, who let them off on their making an apology! The second attempt to serve the writ on the child was more successful. After hearing counsel, Judge Barculo adjudged “that the said Charles Trainer is entitled to the care and custody of said Jane Trainer, and directing her to be delivered to him as her father,” &c. In giving his decision, Judge B. said, “It is not to be assumed that a child under fourteen years of age is possessed of sufficient discretion to choose her own guardian; a house of ill-fame is not a suitable place, nor one of its inmates a proper person for the education of such a child.” Jane Trainer’s mother was afterwards bought from slavery in Mobile, Alabama, and enabled to join her husband and child.

In 1854, Charles Trainer obtained a verdict in King’s County Court, New York, for $775 damages, against Rose Cooper.

[N. B. Though not strictly a case under the Fugitive Slave Law, this is very properly inserted here, as the whole spirit of the woman, of her counsel, and of the means he took to accomplish his base designs, was clearly instigated by that Law, and by the malignant influences it brought into action against the colored people, both slave and free.]

Basil White, Philadelphia, was summarily surrendered into slavery in Maryland, by United States Commissioner Ingraham, June 1, 1853. He was betrayed into the clutches of the kidnapper Alberti, by a colored man named John Dorsey.

Two slaves of Sylvester Singleton, living near Burlington, (Ky.?) escaped and reached Columbus, Ohio; were there overtaken by their master, who secured them and took them back with him.—Cincinnati Enquirer.

John Freeman, a free colored man, seized in Indianapolis, and claimed as the slave of Pleasant Ellington, a Methodist church-member, (Summer, 1853,) of Missouri. Freeman pledged himself to prove that he was not the person he was alleged to be. The United States Marshal consented to his having time for this, provided he would go to jail, and pay three dollars a day for a guard to keep him secure! Bonds to any amount, to secure the marshal against loss, if Freeman could go at large, were rejected. Freeman’s counsel went to Georgia, and “after many days returned with a venerable and highly respectable gentleman from Georgia, Mr. Patillo, (post-master of the place where he resides,) who had voluntarily made the long journey for the sole purpose of testifying to his knowledge of Freeman, and that he was well known to be free!” But Freeman was still kept in jail. After several days, Edition: current; Page: [20] Ellington brought witnessess to prove F. to be his slave. The witnesses, and Liston (counsel for Ellington) wished to have Freeman strip himself, to be examined naked. By advise of his counsel he refused. The marshal took him to his cell, and compelled him to strip. The witnesses then swore that he was Ellington’s property. Freeman’s counsel produced further evidence that he had been known as a free man twenty years. Ellington claimed that he had escaped from him sixteen years before. The man who did escape from Ellington, just sixteen years before, was discovered to be living near Malden, Canada. Two of the Kentucky witnesses visited and recognized him. Freeman was then released, but with a large debt upon him, $1,200, which had grown up by the unusually heavy expenses of his defence and long imprisonment. Freeman brought a suit against Ellington for false imprisonment, laying damages at $10,000. A verdict for $2,000 was given in his favor, which was agreed to by Ellington’s counsel.—Indiana Free Democrat, May, 1854.

Three slaves, two men and a girl, fled from near Maysville, Kentucky, into Ohio. Were pursued by their owners and assistants, five men armed, and were overtaken, says the Maysville Weekly Express, “at the bridge over Rattlesnake Creek, on the Petersburg and Greenfield road, about ten o’clock at night,” the slaves being armed, and accompanied by a white man. Both parties fired, the negro girl was wounded, but still fled; one of the negro men was also wounded, and, says the Maysville paper, they “were tracked a mile and a half by the blood.” The other slave was secured and taken back to Kentucky, “much bruised and cut in the affray.” “The white man,” says the same paper, “was also caught and beaten in a very severe manner with a club, and strong hopes are entertained that he will die.”—Wilmington (Ohio) Republican, July 22, 1853.

A colored girl, between four and five years old, suddenly disappeared from Providence, R. I., July 13, 1853; at the same time, a mulatto woman, who had been heard to make inquiries about the child, was missing also. Believed to be a case of kidnapping.

A negro boy, says the Memphis Inquirer, “left his owner in this city,” and went on board the steamboat Aurilla Wood, bound for Cincinnati. By a telegraphic message he was intercepted, taken from the boat at Cairo, Illinois, and taken back to Memphis. (Summer, 1853.)

George W. McQuerry, Cincinnati, Ohio. A colored man, who had resided three or four years in Ohio, and married a free woman, by whom he had three children, was remanded to slavery by Judge McLean, (August, 1853.) The man was taken by the United States Marshal, with a posse, across the river to Covington, Kentucky, and there delivered to his master!

Two men kidnapped from Chicago, and taken to St. Louis. See Chicago Tribune, quoted in Standard, Aug. 27, 1853.

Edition: current; Page: [21]

Three Slaves taken by Habeas Corpus, from steamboat Tropic, and brought before Judge Flinn, at Cincinnati, August, 1853. The woman Hannah expressed a wish to return to her master in the boat. Judge Flinn ordered her into the custody of the claimants without investigation. Judge F. asked Hannah if she had the custody of the child Susan, to which she answered that she had. Whereupon the Judge also ordered her back into the custody of the claimants, without examination. Mr. Jolliffe protested against ordering the child back without examination. The Court said they would take the responsibility. The examination then proceeded in the case of the man Edward. It appeared that they were purchased in Virginia, to be conveyed to Mississippi. The boat stopped at Cincinnati, and the slaves were twice taken by the agent of the owners on shore, and upon the territory of Ohio. Mr. Jolliffe commenced his argument at 7, P. M., and argued that the slaves, being brought by their owners upon free territory, were legally free. Mr. J., before finishing, was taken ill, and obliged to leave the court-room; he first begged the Court to adjourn until morning, which was refused by Judge Flinn. Judge Keys said the Ohio river was a highway for all States bordering on it, whose citizens had a right also to use the adjacent shores for purposes necessary to navigation. Mr. Zinn stated that Mr. Jolliffe had been obliged to retire, in consequence of illness, and had requested him to urge the Court to continue the case. Judge Flinn said—“The case will be decided to-night; that is decided on. We have not been sitting here four or five hours to determine whether we will decide the case or not. It will be decided, and you may come up to it sideways or square; or any way you please; you must come to it.” Mr. Zinn said he was not going to argue. He had made the request out of courtesy to a professional brother. He doubted the power of the Court to deliver the boy into slavery. Judge Flinn said—“I do not wish to hear any arguments of that nature.” The man was then ordered to be taken by the Sheriff, and delivered to claimant on board the boat,—which was done.—Cincinnati Gazette, 27th August, 1853.

Patrick Sneed, a colored waiter in the Cataract House, Niagara Falls, arrested on the pretended charge of murder committed in Savannah, Georgia. He was brought, by Habeas Corpus, before Judge Sheldon, at Buffalo, (September, 1853,) and by him ordered to be “fully discharged.”

Bill, [or William Thomas,] a colored waiter at the Phenix Hotel, Wilkesbarre, Penn., described as a “tall, noble-looking, intelligent, and active mulatto, nearly white,” was attacked by “Deputy Marshal Wynkoop,” Sept. 3, 1853, and four other persons, (three of them from Virginia.) These men came “suddenly, from behind, knocked him down with a mace, and partially shackled him.” He struggled hard against the five, shook them off, and with the handcuff, which had been secured to his right Edition: current; Page: [22] wrist only, “inflicted some hard wounds on the countenances” of his assailants. Covered with blood, he broke from them, rushed from the house, and plunged in the river close by, exclaiming, “I will be drowned rather than taken alive.” He was pursued, fired upon repeatedly, ordered to come out of the water, where he stood immersed to his neck, or “they would blow his brains out.” He replied, “I will die first.” They then deliberately fired at him four or five different times, the last ball supposed to have struck on his head, for his face was instantly covered with blood, and he sprang up and shrieked. The by-standers began to cry “shame” and the kidnappers retired a short distance for consultation. Bill came out of the water and lay down on the shore. His pursuers, supposing him dying, said, “Dead niggers are not worth taking South.” Some one brought and put on him a pair of pantaloons. He was helped to his feet by a colored man named Rex; on seeing which, Wynkoop and party headed him and presented their revolvers, when Bill again ran into the river, “where he remained upwards of an hour, nothing but his head above water, covered with blood, and in full view of hundreds who lined the banks.” His claimants dared not follow him into the water, for, as he said afterward, “he would have died contented, could he have carried two or three of them down with him.” Preparations [rather slow! it would appear,] were made to arrest the murderous gang, but they had departed from the place. Bill then waded some distance up the stream, and “was found by some women flat on his face in a corn-field. They carried him to a place of safety, dressed his wounds,” and the suffering man was seen no more in Wilkesbarre.—Correspondence of New York Tribune.

Wynkoop and another were afterwards arrested in Philadelphia, on a charge of riot, the warrant issuing from a State magistrate of Wilkesbarre, on the complaint of William C. Gildersleeve, of that place. Mr. Jackson, the constable who held them in custody, was brought before Judge Grier, of the United States Supreme Court, by habeas corpus. Judge Grier, during the examination, said:—

“I will not have the officers of the United States harassed at every step in the performance of their duties by every petty magistrate who chooses to harass them, or by any unprincipled interloper who chooses to make complaints against them—for I know something of the man who makes this complaint.” “If this man Gildersleeve fails to make out the facts set forth in the warrant of arrest, I will request the Prosecuting Attorney of Luzerne County to prosecute him for perjury. * * * If any tuppenny magistrate, or any unprincipled interloper can come in, and cause to be arrested the officers of the United States, whenever they please, it is a sad affair. * * * If habeas corpuses are to be taken out after that manner, I will have an indictment sent to the United Edition: current; Page: [23] States Grand Jury against the person who applies for the writ, or assists in getting it, the lawyer who defends it, and the sheriff who serves the writ. * * * I will see that my officers are protected.” On a subsequent day, Judge Grier gave an elaborate opinion, reciting the facts in the case, as stated by the prisoners, and ordering them to be discharged! He said:—“We are unable to perceive, in this transaction, anything worthy of blame in the conduct of these officers in their unsuccessful endeavors to fulfil a most dangerous and disgusting duty; except, perhaps, a want of sufficient courage and perseverance in the attempt to execute the writ!”

Wynkoop and the other were discharged by Judge Kane on the ground that they did only what their duty, under the Law, required. (May, 1854.)

A family of colored persons, at Uniontown, Pa., were claimed as slaves by a man in Virginia. They admitted that they had been his slaves, but declared that they had come into Pennsylvania with their master’s consent and knowledge, on a visit to some friends in Fayette County, and were not, therefore, fugitives. This was overruled, and the negroes were sent back by a United States Commissioner, name not given. (September, 1853.)*Pittsburgh Saturday Visiter.

A desperate fight between a party of four fugitives and about double the number of whites, took place in Carroll County, Maryland. Four white men shot—none dangerously. Two of the slaves wounded, one severely. They were captured. (October, 1853.)—Westminster (Md.) Democrat.

Washington, Indiana. In April, 1853, George, a negro man, was arrested and claimed by a Mr. Rice, of Kentucky, as his slave. Judge Clemens ordered his surrender to Rice, who took him to Louisville, and there sold him to a slave-trader, who took him to Memphis, Tennessee. Here a man from Mississippi claimed that George was his slave, obtained a writ of replevin, and took possession of him.

Joshua Glover, colored man, claimed as the slave of B. S. Garland, of St. Louis County, Missouri, was arrested near Racine, Wisconsin, about the 10th of March, 1854. Arrest made by five men, who burst suddenly into his shanty, put a pistol to his head, felled him to the ground, handcuffed him, and took him in a wagon to Milwaukee jail, a distance of twenty-five miles. They swore that if he shouted or made the least noise, they would kill him instantly. When visited, says the Milwaukee Sentinel, “We Edition: current; Page: [24] found him in his cell. He was cut in two places on the head; the front of his shirt and vest were soaking and stiff with his own blood.” A writ of habeas corpus was immediately issued; also a warrant for the arrest of the five men who assaulted and beat him in his shanty. Thousands of people collected around the jail and court-house, “the excitement being intense.” A vigilance committee of twenty-five persons was appointed to watch the jail at night, and see that Glover was not secretly taken away. The next day, at about five o’clock, P. M., a considerable accession of persons being made to the crowd, and it appearing that every attempt to save Glover by the laws of Wisconsin had been overruled by United States Judge Miller, a demand was made for the man. This being refused, an attack was made upon the door with axes, planks, &c. It was broken in, the inner door and wall broken through, and Glover taken from his keepers, brought out, placed in a wagon, and driven off at great speed.

S. M. Booth, editor of the Milwaukee Free Democrat, Charles Clement, of the Racine Advocate, W. H. Waterman, and George S. Wright were arrested for aiding and abetting the rescue of Glover. Booth was subsequently discharged by the Supreme Court of Wisconsin, on the ground that the Fugitive Slave Law is unconstitutional. He was, however, re-arrested, and held to answer in the United States Courts, on the same charge; the offered bail was refused, and he was lodged in jail. The case was subsequently tried before the District Court of the United States, at Milwaukee, on the question as to the right of a State judiciary to release prisoners under a writ of habeas corpus, who may be in the lawful custody of United States officers; and also to determine the constitutionality of the Fugitive Slave Law. (Washington Star, September 20, 1854.) The Attorney General, Caleb Cushing, made himself very active in pushing forward this case. Mr. Booth, early in 1855, was fined one thousand dollars and sentenced to one month’s imprisonment. John Ryecraft, for same offence, was sentenced in a fine of two hundred dollars and imprisonment for ten days. All for acts such as Christianity and Humanity enjoin. On a writ of habeas corpus, Messrs. Booth and Ryecraft were taken before the Wisconsin Supreme Court, sitting at Madison, and discharged from imprisonment. This, however, did not relieve them from the fines imposed by the United States Court. The owner of the slave brought a civil suit against Mr. Booth, claiming $1,000 damages for the loss of his slave. Judge Miller decided, July, 1855, that the $1,000 must be paid.

Edward Davis, March, 1854. As the steamboat Keystone State, Captain Hardie, from Savannah, was entering Delaware Bay, bound to Philadelphia, the men engaged in heaving the lead heard a voice from under the guards of the boat, calling for help. A rope was thrown, and a man caught it and was drawn into the boat in a greatly exhausted state. He had remained in that place from the time of leaving Savannah, the water frequently sweeping Edition: current; Page: [25] over him. Some bread in his pocket was saturated with salt water and dissolved to a pulp. The captain ordered the vessel to be put in to Newcastle, Delaware, where the fugitive, hardly able to stand, was taken on shore and put in jail, to await the orders of his owner, in Savannah. Davis claimed to be a free man, and a native of Philadelphia, and described many localities there. Before Judge Bradford, at Newcastle, Davis’s freedom was fully proved, and he was discharged. He was again arrested and placed in jail on the oath of Captain Hardie, that he believed him to be a fugitive slave and a fugitive from justice. After some weeks’ delay, he was brought to trial before United States Commissioner Samuel Guthrie, who ordered him to be delivered up to his claimant on the ground that he was legally a slave, though free-born. It appeared in evidence that Davis had formerly gone from Pennsylvania to reside in Maryland, contrary to the laws of that State, which forbid free colored persons from other States to come there to reside; and being unable to pay the fine imposed for this offence (!) by the Orphan’s (!) Court of Harford County, was committed to jail and sold as a slave for life, by Robert McGaw, Sheriff of the County, to Dr. John G. Archer, of Louisiana, from whom he was sold to B. M. Campbell, who sold him to William A. Dean, of Macon, Georgia, the present claimant. Thus a free-born citizen of Pennsylvania was consigned, by law, to slavery for life.

[☞ In May, 1854, the Kansas-Nebraska Bill was enacted.]

Anthony Burns, arrested in Boston, May 24, 1854, as the slave of Charles F. Suttle, of Alexandria, Virginia, who was present to claim him, accompanied by a witness from Richmond, Virginia, named William Brent. Burns was arrested on a warrant granted by United States Commissioner Edward Greeley Loring, taken to the court-house in Boston, ironed, and placed in an upper story room under a strong guard. The hearing commenced the next morning before Mr. Loring, but was adjourned until Saturday, May 27, to give the counsel for A. Burns time to examine the case. On Friday evening, (26th,) an attack was made upon the court-house by a body of men, with the evident design of rescuing Burns; a door was forced in, and one of the marshal’s special guard, (named Batchelder,) was killed, whether by the assailants or by one of his own party is uncertain, it being quite dark; upon the cry of Batchelder that he was killed, the attacking party retreated and made no further attempt. The trial of the case proceeded on Saturday, again on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, when the Commissioner said he would give his decision on Friday. During the trial, Burns was continually surrounded by a numerous body-guard, (said to be at least one hundred and twenty-five men,) selected by Watson Freeman, United States Marshal, from the vilest sinks of scoundrelism, corruption, and crime in the city, to be Deputy Marshals for the occasion. These men, with Edition: current; Page: [26] every form of loathsome impurity and hardened villainy stamped upon their faces, sat constantly around the prisoner while in the court-room, the handles of pistols and revolvers visibly protruding from their breast pockets. A company of United States troops, from the Navy Yard, occupied the court-house, and guarded all avenues to the United States court-room. The testimony of numerous highly respectable witnesses was adduced to show that Anthony Burns was in Boston a month earlier than the time at which he was said to have left Richmond. R. H. Dana, Jr. and Charles M. Ellis, counsel for Burns, made very eloquent and able arguments in his behalf. Seth J. Thomas and E. G. Parker were the counsel for Suttle, the case being constantly watched and aided by the United States District Attorney, Benjamin F. Hallett, who was in regular telegraphic communication with the President of the United States, (F. Pierce,) at Washington. An effort was made, and followed up with much patience, to buy Burns’s freedom, Suttle having offered to sell him for $1,200. The money was raised and tendered to Suttle, when difficulties were interposed, especially by Mr. Attorney Hallett, and the attempt failed. Suttle afterwards declared he would not sell Burns for any sum, but that he should go back to Virginia. On Friday morning, June 2d, Commissioner Loring gave his decision, overriding all the testimony in Burns’s favor, using certain expressions which fell from Burns in the first heat and confusion of his arrest, as testimony against him, and concluding with ordering him to be delivered up to the claimant. Some four hours were consumed in getting Court Street, State Street, &c., in a state of readiness for the removal of the prisoner. A regiment of Massachusetts Infantry had been posted on Boston Common, under command of Col. Benjamin Franklin (!) Edmands, from an early hour of the day, in anticipation of the Commissioner’s decision. These troops, which had been called out by the Mayor, Jerome V. C. Smith, were marched to the scene of the kidnapping, and so placed as to guard every street, lane, and other avenue leading to State Street, &c., the route through which the slave procession was to pass. No individual was suffered to pass within these guards; but acts of violence were committed by them on several individuals. Court Square was occupied by two companies of United States troops, (chiefly Irishmen,) and a large field-piece was drawn into the centre. All preparations being made, Watson Freeman (United States Marshal) issued forth from the court-house with his prisoner, who walked with a firm step, surrounded by the body-guard of criminals before mentioned, with drawn United States sabres in their hands, and followed by United States troops with the aforesaid piece of artillery. Preceded by a company of Massachusetts mounted troops, under command of Colonel Isaac H. Wright, this infamous procession took its way down Court Street, State Street, and Commerce Street, (for the proprietors of Long Wharf refused to allow them to march upon their premises, though a public highway in all ordinary cases,) to the T Wharf, where the prisoner was taken on board a steam tow-boat, Edition: current; Page: [27] and conveyed down the harbor to the United States Revenue Cutter Morris; in which he was transported to Virginia.

It may not be amiss to have given, in a single instance, this somewhat detailed account of the process of seizing, trying, and delivering up a man into slavery, whose only crime was that he had fled from a bondage “one hour of which is fraught with more misery than ages of that which our fathers rose in rebellion to throw off,” Thomas Jefferson, the Virginian slaveholder, himself being witness.

Anthony Burns, having been sold into North Carolina, was afterwards purchased with money subscribed in Boston and vicinity, for the purpose, and returned to Boston.

The illegality of the Mayor’s conduct in ordering out the military, and giving to the Colonel of the regiment the entire control of the same, was fully shown by different and highly competent writers, among whom was P. W. Chandler, Esq., whose two articles, in the Boston Advertiser, deserve to be remembered with respect. The Mayor’s excuse was that he desired to keep the peace. But these Massachusetts troops received pay for their day’s work from the United States Government! Judge Hoar, in a charge to the Grand Jury, declared the act of the Mayor, in calling out the militia, to be an infraction of law.

Stephen Pembroke, and his two sons, Robert and Jacob, 19 and 17 years of age, were arrested in New York almost simultaneously with the seizure of Burns in Boston; claimed as the slaves of David Smith and Jacob H. Grove, of Sharpsburg, Washington County, Maryland. They escaped May 1st, and came to New York, followed closely by their masters, who discovered their retreat in Thompson Street, and pounced upon them by night. At 81/2 o’clock, next morning, they were taken before United States Commissioner G. W. Morton, “where the case came up for the most summary and hasty hearing that has ever characterized our judicial proceedings.” Dunning and Smith were counsel for the masters, but the fugitives had no counsel; and the hearing was finished, and a warrant granted to the slave claimants before the matter became known in the city. When Mr. Jay and Mr. Culver hastened to the court-room to offer their services to the prisoners, as counsel, they were assured by officers, and by Commissioner Morton himself, that the men wanted no counsel, and were not in the building. On search, however, it was found they were in the building, locked up in a room. They said they desired counsel and the aid of friends. A writ of habeas corpus was obtained, but before it could be served the three men had been removed from the State, and were on their way to Baltimore. [See the published Card of E. D. Culver, Esq.] Stephen Pembroke was the brother, and his sons the nephews of Rev. Dr. Pennington, of New York City, Pastor of a Presbyterian (colored) Church. Stephen Pembroke was purchased and brought back to New York, ($1,000 having been contributed for that purpose,) and related his experience Edition: current; Page: [28] of the slave’s life, at a public meeting, held in the Broadway Tabernacle, July 17, 1854. His sons had been sold, and remained in slavery.

James Cotes, free man of color, residing in Gibson County, Indiana, went to Jeffersonville, (Ind.,) to take the cars for Indianapolis. On going to the depot, at 6, A. M., for the morning train, he was knocked down, “beat over the head with a brick-bat, and cut with a bowie-knife, until subdued. He was then tied, and in open daylight in full view of our populace, borne off bleeding like a hog.” He was undoubtedly taken to the jail, in Louisville. On crossing the river to Louisville he met the captain of a steamboat, who knew him to be a free man. (About June 1, 1854.) The kidnapper was arrested and held to bail in the sum of $1,000, to take his trial at next Circuit Court.

Near Cedarville, Ohio, May 25, 1854, about noon, “a colored man, of middle age and respectable appearance, was walking on the Columbus and Xenia turnpike. He was alone. A man in a buggy overtook him, and invited him to ride, saying he was a friend to the colored man, and promising to assist him in obtaining his liberty.” He took the colored man to the house of one Chapman, “three miles south of Selma, in Greene county.” There Chapman and the other, (whose name was William McCord,) fell upon the colored man, struck him with a colt upon the head, so that he bled severely, and bound his hands behind him. “Soon after the negro got loose and ran down the road; McCord ran after him, crying ‘Catch the d——d horse thief,’ &c., Chapman and his son following; negro picked up a stone, the man a club and struck him on the head, so that he did not throw the stone. He was then tied, and helped by McCord and Chapman to walk to the buggy. McCord asked Chapman, the son, to accompany him to Cincinnati with the colored man, promising to give him half the reward ($200) if he would. They then started, driving very fast.” “We had not gone over two or three miles,” said Chapman, “before the negro died, and after taking him two or three miles further, put him out, and left him as now discovered,”—viz. in a thick wood, one mile south of Clifton. The above facts are taken from the testimony given at the coroner’s inquest over the body. “The jury gave in substance the following verdict:—Deceased came to his death by blows from a colt and club in the hands of one William McCord, assisted by the two Chapmans.” Chapman, the son, said that McCord made him a proposition to join and follow kidnapping for a business, stating that he knew where he could get four victims immediately. McCord was taken and lodged in Xenia jail. The Chapmans bound over to take their trial for kidnapping.—Wilmington (Ohio) Herald of Freedom.

Columbus, Indiana. A Kentuckian endeavored to entice a little negro boy to go with him, and both were waiting to take the cars, when mischief was suspected, and a crowd of people proceeded to Edition: current; Page: [29] the depot, and made the kidnapper release his intended victim. (June, 1854.)—Indiana Free Democrat.

—— Brown, a resident of Henderson, Kentucky, was arrested for aiding four female slaves to escape from Union County, Kentucky, to Canada. United States Marshal Ward and Sheriff Gavitt, of Indiana, made the arrest. He was lodged in Henderson jail.—Evansville (Ind.) Journal, June 2, 1854.

Several Kentucky planters, among them Archibald Dixon, raised $500 in order to secure Brown’s conviction and sentence to penitentiary.

Nine slaves left their masters in Boone County, Kentucky, on Sunday, June 11, 1854, having three horses with them. Arrived at the river, they turned the horses back, and taking a skiff crossed at midnight to the Ohio shore. After travelling two or three miles, they hid during Monday in a clump of bushes. At night they started northward again. A man, named John Gyser, met them and promised to assist them. He took them to a stable, where they were to remain until night. He immediately went to Covington, Kentucky, learned that $1,000 reward was offered for their apprehension, and gave information of their place of concealment. At evening a strong band of Kentuckians, with United States Deputy Marshal George Thayer, assisted by three Cincinnati officers, surrounded the stable and took the nine prisoners, on a warrant issued by United States Commissioner Pendery. They were all given up to their claimants, and taken back to Kentucky.

A New Orleans correspondent of the New York Tribune, in a letter dated July 3, 1854, writes, “During a recent trip up the river I was on several steamers, and on every boat they had one or more runaway slaves, who had been caught and were being taken in irons to their masters.

On the Steamer Alvin Adams, at Madison, Indiana, a man was arrested as a fugitive and taken to Louisville, Kentucky. He was claimed as the slave of John H. Page, of Bowling Green. The Louisville Journal, edited by a Northern man, stigmatised him as a “rascal,” for his attempt to be free. (July, 1854.)rightpointing1

Two colored men, on their way to Chicago, were seized and taken from the cars at Lasalle, Illinois, by three men, who said they were Edition: current; Page: [30] not officers. The colored men were known to be free; one was “a respectable resident of Chicago.” Some of the passengers interfered; but it being night, and very dark, and the cars starting on, the colored men were left in the hands of their kidnappers.

Chicago, Illinois. Three men from Missouri, with a warrant from the Governor of that State, to take a certain fugitive slave, seized a man whom they met in the street, bound him with a handkerchief, and to quicken his steps beat him with the butt of a pistol. He succeeded in shaking off his captors and fled, a pistol-bullet being sent after him, which did not hit him. He made good his escape. The men were arrested and held to trial for assault with deadly weapons. By an extraordinary conspiracy on the part of District Attorney Hoyne, Sheriff Bradley, and others, these men were taken from jail to be carried to Springfield, Illinois, two hundred miles distant, to appear before Chief Justice Treat, that he might inquire “whether said alleged kidnappers were justly held to bail and imprisoned.” It was so suddenly done that the counsel for the kidnapped man and for the State of Illinois had not time to reach Springfield before the men were discharged and on their way to Missouri! The Grand Jury of the County (in which Chicago is) had found a true bill against them, of which the Sheriff professed to be ignorant, (which was deemed hardly possible,)—under which bill they would probably have been convicted and sentenced to the State Prison. Thus the omnipotent Slave Power reaches forth its hand into our most Northern cities, and saves its minions from the punishment which their lawless acts have justly merited.—Chicago Daily Tribune, Sept. 21, 1854.

☞ The three kidnappers published a statement in the St. Louis Republican of September 26.

Henry Massey, at Philadelphia, September, 1854, was brought before United States Commissioner E. D. Ingraham, claimed by Franklin Bright, of Queen Anne’s County, Maryland, as his slave. Arrested in Harrisburg.

Harvey, arrested near Cumminsville, Ohio,—escaped,—taken again in Goshen, about ten miles from Cincinnati, and lodged in the jail of that city. An investigation of the case was had before United States Commissioner Pendery, and the slave remanded to the custody of his master.—Cincinnati Commercial, September 22, 1854.

Byberry, Pennsylvania, September 18, 1854. A carriage load of suspicious looking men came to this place in the afternoon. They waited until nightfall, when they burst into the house of a colored family, “seized the man in presence of his wife and another woman, threatening to shoot them if they interfered—dragged him out, beating him over the head with a mace. The poor fellow continued to scream for help until his voice was stifled by his groans; they forced him into their carriage and drove off, before Edition: current; Page: [31] any effectual assistance could be offered.” He was a sober and industrious man, and much respected. His wife was left heartbroken, with one child.—Norristown (Pa.) Olive Branch.

The Frankfort (Ky.) Yeoman, of November 18, 1854, said:—“Kidnapping free negroes in Ohio, and deluding our slaves from their masters to recapture and sell them, is an established profession of a gang located upon the borders of the Ohio River, combining with negro-traders in the interior of this State.” The names of some employed in this business are given, two of whom, having been arrested and imprisoned, threatened to burn the city of Frankfort for interrupting their business.

Jane Moore, a free colored woman, at Cincinnati, November, 1854, seized in the house of her sister, (Sycamore Street,) beaten, and with the help of a deputy marshal from Covington, Kentucky, carried over to Covington, and lodged in jail, on pretence of her being a fugitive slave. She was taken before the Mayor of Covington, “who heard the case with impartiality.” Her freedom was established, and she released.

At Indianapolis, Indiana, December, 1854, Benjamin B. Waterhouse was indicted for harboring fugitive slaves, contrary to the provisions of the Fugitive Law. He was found guilty, but the jury recommended him “to the favorable consideration of the Court, and stated that the evidence was barely sufficient to convict.” He was fined fifty dollars and to be imprisoned one hour, and the government to pay the costs.—Chicago Tribune.

A Proposition for Kidnapping, on a large scale, was made by John H. Pope, “police officer and constable,” in a letter dated “Frederick, Maryland, United States of America, January 1, 1855,” and addressed to Mr. Hays, Sheriff of Montreal, Canada. “Vast numbers of slaves,” says Mr. Pope, “escaping from their masters or owners, succeed in reaching your Provinces, and are, therefore, without the pale of the ‘Fugitive Slave Law,’ and can only be restored by cunning, together with skill. Large rewards are offered and will be paid for their return, and could I find an efficient person to act with me, a great deal of money could be made, as I would equally divide. * * * The only apprehension we have in approaching too far into Canada is the fear of being arrested; and had I a good assistant in your city, who would induce the negroes to the frontier, I would be there to pay the cash. On your answer, I can furnish names and descriptions of negroes.”

This letter was published, doubtless at the Montreal Sheriff’s request, in the Montreal Gazette, January 13, 1855.

☞ The Montreal Gazette, of February 3, published a second letter from J. H. Pope.

A warrant was issued in Boston, January 10, 1855, by United States Commissioner Charles Levi Woodbury, for the arrest of Edition: current; Page: [32] John Jackson, as a fugitive from service and labor in Georgia. Mr. Jackson, who had been for some time in the city, was nowhere to be found.

Rosetta Armstead, a colored girl, was taken by writ of habeas corpus before Judge Jamison, at Columbus, Ohio. Rosetta formerly belonged to Ex-President John Tyler, who gave her to his daughter, the wife of Rev. Henry M. Dennison, an Episcopal clergyman of Louisville, Kentucky. Mrs. D. having deceased, Rosetta was to be sent back to Virginia in care of an infant child, both being placed in charge of a Dr. Miller, a friend of Mr. Dennison. Passing through Ohio, the above writ was obtained. Rosetta expressed her desire to remain in freedom in Ohio. The case was removed to Cincinnati, and was delayed until Mr. Dennison could arrive from Louisville. (Ohio State Journal, March 12, 1855.) The girl was set free; “but was again arrested by the United States Marshal upon the same warrant which Judge Parker had declared illegal; thereupon another habeas corpus was issued, which the Marshal refused to obey; when he was fined $50, and imprisoned for contempt.” Even United States Commissioner Pendery, before whom the case was brought as that of a fugitive slave, pronounced the girl free, and she was placed in the care of a guardian. The United States Marshal being taken by habeas corpus before Judge McLean, of the United States Supreme Court, was set at liberty, Judge McL. alleging that the proceedings in the State Court were null and void!

George Clark, a colored boy, eighteen years of age, in Pennsylvania, was decoyed into the house of one Thompson, (February 23, 1855,) where he was seized by three men, one of whom was Solomon Snyders, a well known ruffian and kidnapper in the neighborhood, who said to him, “Now, George, I am going to take you to your master.” The screams of George fortunately brought deliverance to him. The three men were arrested, tried, and sentenced to imprisonment for kidnapping, by the Court of Dauphin County.—Norristown (Penn.) Olive Branch.

The Norristown (Penn.) Olive Branch, (in connection with the last named case,) speaks of a case which had occurred a short time before, under the Fugitive Law, before United States Commissioner McAllister, at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and which has not yet been mentioned in this record. A colored man and his wife, with their infant child, were taken, “one morning, very early,” before Commissioner Richard McAllister, and before any counsel could reach the spot the case had been decided against the man and woman; but the babe, having been born in Pennsylvania, they did not “dare to send that” into slavery; “so the only alternative was to take it away from its mother,” which was done, and that evening the man and woman were taken South. No time had been allowed to bring forward witnesses in their behalf, and there was only a single witness against them, and he a boy about seventeen years old, and a relative of the slave-claimant. The woman’s Edition: current; Page: [33] sufferings, on account of the separation from her child, seemed greater than for her own fate. The article from the Norristown paper is in the National Anti-Slavery Standard, June 2, 1855.

George Mitchell, a young colored man, at San Jose, California, arrested and taken before Justice Allen, April, 1855, “charged with owing service and labor to one Jesse C. Cooper, of Tennessee.” Mitchell was brought into California by his then owner, in 1849, the year before the enactment of the Fugitive Slave Law. His arrest was made under a Fugitive Slave Law of California. By habeas corpus the case was carried before Judge C. P. Hester, of the District Court. Mitchell was discharged on the ground (we believe) that the California Law was unconstitutional; also that the proceedings were “absolutely void.” On the 21st April (or May) “another attempt was made to reduce George to slavery at San Francisco.” He was brought before the United States District Court, Judge Hoffman presiding, claimed under the United States Fugitive Law as the property of the above-named Cooper. [The result of the trial not known.]—San Jose Telegraph.

At Dayville, Connecticut, June 13, 1855, an attempt was made to seize a fugitive slave; “but the citizens interfered and the fugitive escaped.” He was claimed by a resident of Pomfret, who said he had bought him in Cuba.—Hartford Religious Herald.

At Burlington, Iowa, a colored man, called Dick, was arrested and taken before United States Commissioner Frazee. “Much excitement was caused.” He was claimed as belonging to Thomas Ruthford, Clark County, Missouri. Dick was discharged as not being the man claimed. (June, 1855.)

A white girl, fourteen years of age, daughter of Mr. Samuel Godshall, of Downingtown, Chester County, Pennsylvania, while walking upon the road, was seized by two men, a plaster put upon her mouth, and she taken in a close carriage in the direction of Maryland. After going twelve miles, they put her out of the carriage, “in a secluded and woody portion of the country, threatening to kill her if she made any alarm, when they drove away as fast as they could.” Some colored people met her, got the plaster off her mouth, and aided her home. It was supposed the kidnappers mistook her for a mulatto girl; but discovering their blunder dismissed her.—Philadelphia Ledger, July 9, 1855.

The Norristown (Penn.) Herald relates a case similar to the preceding. Benjamin Johnson, a white lad of fifteen, on his way from his father’s, at Evansburg, to S. Jarrett’s, near Jeffersonville, was invited to ride by a man in a carriage. The man took him by an unusual route; night coming on, the boy was alarmed and attempted to escape, “when the villain caught him and drove off at full speed, and by threats and blows prevented him from making any alarm.” He drove to a distance of fifteen miles beyond Jeffersonville, when the boy succeeded in making his escape. (July, 1855.)

Edition: current; Page: [34]

Jane Johnson, and her two sons, (colored,) brought into Philadelphia (on their way to New York and thence to Nicaragua) by John H. Wheeler. Stopped to dine at Bloodgood’s Hotel. Jane there made known her desire to be free. Information of the same was conveyed to Passmore Williamson, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society, an old association founded by Benjamin Franklin, Benjamin Rush, and others. Mr. Williamson went to the hotel, and found that the party had gone to the steamboat, at the foot of Walnut Street. He proceeded thither, found them, and told the mother that she and her sons had been legally made free by being brought by their master into a free State. After some delay, Jane rose to leave the boat. Wheeler endeavored to detain her. Williamson held Wheeler back, and the woman went on shore, a number of colored persons taking up the boys and carrying them from the boat. They were enabled to escape. (July 18, 1855.)

The celebrated case of PASSMORE WILLIAMSON followed, before Judge Kane, of the United States District Court. (See “Case of Passmore Williamson,” reported in full, and published in Philadelphia, by Uriah Hunt & Son, 1856.) On the 27th July, Mr. Williamson was committed to Moyamensing Prison, by Judge Kane, “for a contempt of the court in refusing to answer to the writ of habeas corpus;” Mr. W. having answered that he had not, and never had had, the custody of the three alleged slaves, and therefore could not produce them in court. Mr. Williamson was kept in prison until November 3d, when he was discharged by Judge Kane, the technical “contempt” having been removed.

Celeste, a mulatto woman, claimed as a slave, before Judge Burgoyne, Cincinnati, Ohio. It appeared that she was brought to Cincinnati by her master, and she was set free.—Cincinnati Gazette, July 7, 1855.

Two fugitives, in Indiana, (September, 1855,) requested aid of the conductor of the Madison and Indianapolis Railroad. The aid given was to take them back to Madison, whence they were conveyed over the river to Kentucky. Before leaving that State they had been hunted and attacked by dogs. These they had despatched with their knives. The conductor was dismissed from his position. An agent of the express company was said to have aided him in the surrender of the men.—Madison Courier.

Jack, a colored boy, nine years of age, “claimed by Joseph Tucker, of Mobile, as his slave, was sent back to his master from Boston, in the brig Selma, Captain Rogers, on the 18th inst.” (October, 1855.)—Boston Times.

Jacob Green, a colored man, was seized near Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania, by one Parsons, as a fugitive slave. Parsons could show no authority for detaining Green, who, with the help of some bystanders, released himself and escaped.—Hollidaysburg Standard, October 24, 1855.

Edition: current; Page: [35]

Four men indicted for kidnapping at Greensburg, Indiana, in the Spring of 1855. Their names—David and Thomas Maple, Morrison, and McCloskey. Charged with kidnapping two men, whom they conveyed to a slave state, and sold as slaves. The two Maples, fearing the indictment, absconded. The other two were arrested, and brought to trial in October, 1855, at the State Court, before Judge Logan. “Defendants’ counsel moved to quash the indictment for the reason that the section of the statute of Indiana against kidnapping was in violation of the acts of Congress, and, therefore, void; and the Court accordingly quashed the indictment!”—Indianapolis Journal.

Eight fugitives from Kentucky reached Adams County, Ohio, closely followed by several Kentuckians, who attempted to search the houses of several of the citizens. “The people, indignant at this outrage, assembled with arms, and placed an injunction upon these summary proceedings.” “The men-hunters then offered $2,000 to any traitor who would betray the fugitives into their hands. But, so far as we have learned, the bribe was as unsuccessful as the attempted search.” (November, 1855.)—Carroll Free Press.

At Wilson’s Corner, Bensalem, Buck’s County, Pa., Dec. 13, 1855, a colored man in the employ of John Henderson was seized by three men, who tied him, threw him into a wagon, and drove off at full speed. They were seen, and quickly followed by men on horseback. After two hours’ hard riding, the kidnappers were overtaken. A fight ensued—the black man was released; when three pistol-shots were fired by the kidnappers, killing a horse, and wounding one of the rescuing party severely. A statement of the facts was published, as an advertisement, in the Philadelphia Ledger, signed by William Williams and John Henderson.

Two very bright mulatto girls,” says the Staunton (Va.) Spectator, “one belonging to Mr. John Churchman, and the other to the estate of Colonel Crawford, deceased, took the cars at Staunton, on the morning of December 30, 1855, and made their way successfully to Baltimore, en route for a free State. At Baltimore they were detected just as they were about to take the train for Philadelphia, and information of their arrest was immediately forwarded to D. Churchman, of this place.” On the following Friday they were taken back to Virginia. “They were so nearly white that their success in imposing upon the conductors of the cars is not astonishing, and the only wonder is that they were detected at all. Since their return, the negro girls have been sold—Mr. Churchman’s for $1,050, and the other for $950.”

Fanny, a colored child of five years old, was taken from Chicago, Illinois, into Tennessee, and sold for $250. A man named F. M. Chapman, with his servant William R. Tracy, were arrested as the kidnappers, and taken before Justice DeWolf. Chapman claimed Edition: current; Page: [36] to have owned the child in Arkansas, and to have brought her to Illinois [thereby making her free.] He procured Tracy to take the child to Tennessee and sell her. The result of the case not known. (January, 1856.)

Two fugitives, passing through Ohio, (January, 1856,) were closely pursued and nearly overtaken at Columbus, Ohio. “Ten minutes previous warning only saved the fugitives from their pursuers.” Deputy Marshal J. Underwood, being called on to act in the case, refused, and resigned his office, saying, he did not expect to be “called upon to help execute the odious Fugitive Slave Law.”—Cincinnati Commercial.

[☞ The following may, not improperly, find a place here.]

The House of Delegates of Virginia, early in 1856, adopted the following:—“Be it resolved by the General Assembly, That our Representatives in Congress are requested, and our Senators be and are hereby instructed, to secure the passage of a law making full compensation to all owners whose slaves have or may hereafter escape into any of the non-slaveholding States of this Union, and there be withheld from those to whom such service or labor may be due.”

Fourteen persons of color, held at Los Angelos, California, early in 1856, as the servants of one Robert Smith, were brought before Judge Benjamin Hays, on a writ of habeas corpus. Smith alleged that he formerly resided in Mississippi, where he owned these persons; was now about to remove to Texas, and designed to take these persons with him as his slaves. Judge Hays decided that they were all free, and those under twenty-one years of age were placed in the charge of the sheriff, as their special guardian.—Los Angelos Star. The opinion of Judge Hays (who was said to be a native of South Carolina,) is a very able one, and under the circumstances, of much interest. It may be found in the Standard, of April 5, 1856.

Two colored lads, named Ralls and Logan, living in Cincinnati, were kidnapped thence by two men, named Orr and Simpkins, and taken to St. Louis, Missouri, where the men tried to sell them. The men were arrested as kidnappers. (March, 1856.)

The Decatur (Illinois) Chronicle states that “a man charged with being a fugitive slave was recently arrested at that place and carried off, no one knows where. The sheriff of the county was the willing instrument in the hands of the claimants; no attempt to appeal to the law was made, the negro being carried off as if he were a stray horse or dog.” The Chicago Tribune says: “If this is a true statement of the affair, that sheriff has laid himself liable to the charge of kidnapping, and should at once be proceeded against with such rigor as his offence demands.” (April, 1856.)

Edition: current; Page: [37]

Margaret Garner and seven others, at Cincinnati, Ohio, January, 1856. Of this recent and peculiarly painful case we give a somewhat detailed account, mainly taken from the Cincinnati papers of the day.

About ten o’clock on Sunday, 27th January, 1856, a party of eight slaves—two men, two women, and four children—belonging to Archibald K. Gaines and John Marshall, of Richwood Station, Boone County, Kentucky, about sixteen miles from Covington, escaped from their owners. Three of the party are father, mother, and son, whose names are Simon, Mary, and Simon, Jr.; the others are Margaret, wife of Simon, Jr., and her four children. The three first are the property of Marshall, and the others of Gaines.

They took a sleigh and two horses belonging to Mr. Marshall, and drove to the river bank, opposite Cincinnati, and crossed over to the city on the ice. They were missed a few hours after their flight, and Mr. Gaines, springing on a horse, followed in pursuit. On reaching the river shore, he learned that a resident had found the horses standing in the road. He then crossed over to the city, and after a few hours diligent inquiry, he learned that his slaves were in a house about a quarter of a mile below the Mill Creek Bridge, on the river road, occupied by a colored man named Kite.

He proceeded to the office of United States Commissioner John L. Pendery, and procuring the necessary warrants, with United States Deputy Marshal Ellis, and a large body of assistants, went on Monday to the place where his fugitives were concealed. Arriving at the premises, word was sent to the fugitives to surrender. A firm and decided negative was the response. The officers, backed by a large crowd, then made a descent. Breaking open the doors, they were assailed by the negroes with cudgels and pistols. Several shots were fired, but only one took effect, so far as we could ascertain. A bullet struck a man named John Patterson, one of the Marshal’s deputies; tearing off a finger of his right hand, and dislocating several of his teeth. No other of the officers were injured, the negroes being rendered powerless before they could reload their weapons.

On looking around, horrible was the sight which met the officers’ eyes. In one corner of the room was a nearly white child, bleeding to death. Her throat was cut from ear to ear, and the blood was spouting out profusely, showing that the deed was but recently committed. Scarcely was this fact noticed, when a scream issuing from an adjoining room drew their attention thither. A glance into the apartment revealed a negro woman holding in her hand a knife literally dripping with gore, over the heads of two little negro children, who were crouched to the floor, and uttering the cries whose agonized peals had first startled them. Quickly the knife was wrested from the hand of the excited woman, and a more close investigation instituted as to the condition of the infants. They Edition: current; Page: [38] were discovered to be cut across the head and shoulders, but not very seriously injured, although the blood trickled down their backs and upon their clothes.

The woman avowed herself the mother of the children, and said that she had killed one and would like to kill the three others, rather than see them again reduced to slavery! By this time the crowd about the premises had become prodigious, and it was with no inconsiderable difficulty that the negroes were secured in carriages, and brought to the United States District Court-rooms, on Fourth Street. The populace followed the vehicle closely, but evinced no active desire to effect a rescue. Rumors of the story soon circulated all over the city. Nor were they exaggerated, as is usually the case. For once, reality surpassed the wildest thought of fiction.

The slaves, on reaching the marshal’s office, seated themselves around the stove with dejected countenances, and preserved a moody silence, answering all questions propounded to them in monosyllables, or refusing to answer at all. Simon is apparently about fifty-five years of age, and Mary about fifty. The son of Mr. Marshall, who is here, in order, if possible, to recover the property of his father, says that they have always been faithful servants, and have frequently been on this side of the river. Simon, Jr., is a young man, about twenty-two years old, of a very lithe and active form, and rather a mild and pleasant countenance. Margaret is a dark mulatto, twenty-three years of age; her countenance is far from being vicious, and her senses, yesterday, appeared partially stultified from the exciting trials she had endured. After remaining about two hours at the marshal’s office, Commissioner Pendery announced that the slaves would be removed to the custody of the United States Marshal until nine o’clock Tuesday morning, when the case would come up for examination.

The slaves were then taken down stairs to the street-door, when a wild and exciting scene presented itself; the sidewalks and the middle of the street were thronged with people, and a couple of coaches were at the door in order to convey the captives to the station-house. The slaves were guarded by a strong posse of officers, and as they made their appearance on the street, it was evident that there was a strong sympathy in their favor. When they were led to the carriage-doors, there were loud cries of “Drive on!” “Do n’t take them!” The coachmen, either from alarm or from a sympathetic feeling, put the whip to their horses, and drove rapidly off, leaving the officers with their fugitives on the sidewalk. They started on foot with their charge to the Hammond Street station-house, where they secured their prisoners for the night.

The slaves claimed that they had been on this side of the river frequently, by consent of their masters.

About three o’clock application was made to Judge Burgoyne for a writ of habeas corpus, to bring the slaves before him. This was put in the hands of Deputy Sheriff Buckingham to serve, who, Edition: current; Page: [39] accompanied by several assistants, proceeded to Hammond Street station-house, where the slaves were lodged. Mr. Bennett, Deputy United States Marshal, was unwilling to give them up, and a long time was spent parleying between the marshal and the sheriff’s officers. The sheriff being determined that the writ should be executed, Mr. Bennett went out to take counsel with his friends. Finally, through the advice of Mayor Faran, Mr. Bennett agreed to lodge the slaves in the jail, ready to be taken out at the order of Judge Burgoyne. Mr. Buckingham obtained the complete control of the slaves.

On the morning of the 29th, Sheriff Brashears, being advised by lawyers that Judge Burgoyne had no right to issue his writ for the slaves, and remembering Judge McLean’s decision in the Rosetta case, made a return on the writ of habeas corpus, that the slaves were in the custody of the United States Marshal, and, therefore, without his jurisdiction. This returned the slaves to the custody of the Marshal. By agreement, the parties permitted the slaves to remain in the county jail during that day, with the understanding that their examination should commence the next morning, before Commissioner Pendery. An inquest had been held on the body of the child which was killed, and a verdict was found by the jury charging the death of the child upon the mother, who it was said would be held under the laws of Ohio to answer the charge of murder. An examination took place on Wednesday, before the United States Commissioner. Time was allowed their counsel to obtain evidence to show that they had been brought into the State at former times by their masters. A meeting of citizens was held on Thursday evening, to express sympathy with the alleged fugitives.

The Cincinnati Commercial of January 30, said:—The mother is of an interesting appearance, a mulatto of considerable intelligence of manner, and with a good address. In reply to a gentleman who yesterday complimented her upon the looks of her little boy, she said, “You should have seen my little girl that—that—[she did not like to say, was killed]—that died, that was the bird.”

The Cincinnati Gazette, of January 30, said:—We learn that the mother of the dead child acknowledges that she had killed it, and that her determination was to have killed all the children, and then destroy herself, rather than return to slavery. She and the others complain of cruel treatment on the part of their master, and allege that as the cause of their attempted escape.

The coroner’s jury, after examining the citizens present at the time of the arrest, went to the jail last evening, and examined the grandmother of the child—one of the slaves. She testified that the mother, when she saw they would be captured, caught a butcher knife and ran to the children, saying she would kill them rather than to have them return to slavery, and cut the throat of the child, calling on the grandmother to help her kill them. The grandmother said she would not do it, and hid under a bed.

The jury gave a verdict as follows:—That said child was killed by its mother, Margaret Garner, with a butcher knife, with which she cut its throat.

Edition: current; Page: [40]

Two of the jurors also find that the two men arrested as fugitives were accessories to the murder.

“The murdered child was almost white, and was a little girl of rare beauty.”

The examination of witnesses was continued until Monday, February 4, when the commissioner listened to the arguments of counsel until February 7th. Messrs. Jolliffe and Gitchell appeared for the fugitives, and Colonel Chambers, of Cincinnati, and Mr. Finnell, of Covington, Kentucky, for the claimants of the slaves. A great number of assistants, (amounting very nearly to five hundred,) were employed by the United States Marshal, H. H. Robinson, from the first, making the expenses to the United States Government very large; for their twenty-eight days’ service alone, at $2.00 per day, amounting to over $22,000. February 8th, the case was closed, so far as related to the three slaves of Mr. Marshall, but the decision was postponed. The examination in regard to Margaret and her children was farther continued. It was publicly stated that Commissioner Pendery had declared that he “would not send the woman back into slavery while a charge or indictment for murder lay against her.” Colonel Chambers, counsel for the slave-claimants, in his argument, “read long extracts from a pamphlet entitled, ‘A Northern Presbyter’s Second Letter to Ministers of the Gospel of all Denominations, on Slavery, by Nathan Lord, of Dartmouth College,’ approving and recommending Dr. Lord’s views.” Colonel Chambers having alluded, in his remarks, to Mrs. Lucy Stone Blackwell, and said that she had sought to give a knife to Margaret Garner, the Court gave permission to Mrs. Blackwell to reply to Colonel C. Mrs. B. preferred not to speak at the bar, but addressed the crowded court-room directly after the adjournment. Her eloquent remarks will be found in the papers of the day. At the close of the hearing, February 14th, the commissioner adjourned his court to the 21st, afterwards to the 26th, when, he said, he would give his decision.

Meantime the case was making some progress in the State courts. Sheriff Brashears having made return to the Common Pleas Court that the fugitives were in the custody of the United States Marshal, Judge Carter said this could not be received as a true return, as they were in the County jail, under the sheriff’s control. The sheriff then amended his return, so as to state that the prisoners were in his custody, as required in the writ, and this was received by the Court. The fugitives now came fully into the charge of the State authorities. The sheriff held them “by virtue of a capias issued on an indictment by the grand jury for murder.”

The slaves declared they would go dancing to the gallows rather than to be sent back into slavery.

On the 26th February, Commissioner Pendery gave his decision. First, he refused to discharge Margaret and three others from the custody of the United States Marshal and deliver them to the Sheriff of Hamilton County, although held to answer, under the laws of Ohio, to the charge of murder. He then proceeded to Edition: current; Page: [41] consider the claim of Marshall to three of the slaves, decided it to be valid, and ordered them into Marshall’s custody. He then considered Gaines’s claim to Margaret and her three surviving children, decided that also to be good and valid, and ordered them to be delivered into the possession of said Gaines.

The case of the rightful custody, as between the United States Marshal and the Ohio Sheriff also came on, February 26th, before Judge Leavitt, of the United States District Court, and was argued by counsel on both sides. On the 28th, Judge Leavitt decided that the custody was with the United States Marshal. The substance of Judge L.’s argument and decision is found in the following extract.

“Judge McLean says: ‘Neither this nor any other Court of the United States, nor Judge thereof, can issue a habeas corpus to bring up a prisoner who is in custody under the sentence or execution of a State Court, for any other purpose than to be used as a witness. And it is immaterial whether the imprisonment be under civil or criminal process.’ If it be true, as there asserted, that no Federal Court can interfere with the exercise of the proper jurisdiction of a State Court, either in a civil or criminal case, the converse of the proposition is equally true. And it results that a State Court cannot take from an officer of the United States, even on a criminal charge, the custody of a person in execution on a civil case.

It is said in argument that if these persons cannot be held by the arrest of the Sheriff under the State process, the rights and dignity of Ohio are invaded without the possibility of redress. I cannot concur in this view. The Constitution and laws of the United States provide for a reclamation of these persons, by a demand on the Executive of Kentucky. It is true, if now remanded to the claimant and taken back to Kentucky as slaves, they cannot be said to have fled from justice in Ohio; but it would clearly be a case within the spirit and intention of the Constitution and the Act of Congress, and I trust nothing would be hazarded by the prediction that upon demand properly made upon the Governor of Kentucky, he would order them to be surrendered to the authorities of Ohio to answer to its violated law. I am sure it is not going too far to say that if the strictness of the law did not require this, an appeal to comity would not be in vain.”

Mr. Chambers said his client, Mr. Gaines, authorized him to say that he would hold the woman Margaret, who had killed her child, subject to the requisition of the Governor of Ohio, to answer for any crime she might have committed in Ohio.

Judge Leavitt’s decision covered the cases of the four adult fugitives. Another legal process was going on, at the same time, before Judge Burgoyne, of the Probate Court, viz.—a hearing under a writ of habeas corpus allowed by Judge Burgoyne, alleging the illegal detention, by the United States Marshal, of the three negro children, Samuel, Thomas, and Silla Garner, which took place in the Probate Court, before Judge B., on the afternoon of February 27.

Edition: current; Page: [42]

Mr. Jolliffe said he represented the infants at the request of their father and mother, who had solicited him to save the children, if possible.

Messrs. Headington and Ketchum appeared for the United States Marshal.

Judge Burgoyne intimated that, in view of the serious and important questions involved, he should require some time to render a decision. He intimated, however, that a majority of the Judges of the Supreme Court having passed on the constitutionality of the Fugitive Slave Law was no reason why he should not take up the Constitution and read it for himself, being sworn to support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Ohio.

Mr. Ketchum suggested that his Honor was as much bound in conscience to regard the decision of the majority of the Judges of the United States Courts as the express provisions of the Constitution itself.

Judge Burgoyne said, that however the decisions of the Judges of the United States Courts might aid him in coming to a conclusion, where the obligations of his conscience were involved, he could not screen himself behind a decision made by somebody else.

Judge Burgoyne subsequently decided that, in as far as the Fugitive Slave Law was intended to suspend the writ of habeas corpus—and he believed that it was so intended—it clearly transcended the limits prescribed by the Constitution, and is “utterly void.” Judge B. required the United States Marshal to answer to the writ on the following Friday; and on his neglect to do so, fined and imprisoned him. Judge Leavitt, of the United States Court, soon released the Marshal from prison.

The Cincinnati Columbian, of February 29, gave the following account:—The last act of the drama of the fugitives was yesterday performed by the rendition of the seven persons whose advent into the city, under the bloody auspices of murder, caused such a sensation in the community. After the decision of Judge Leavitt, Sheriff Brashears surrendered the four fugitives in his custody, under a capias from an Ohio court, to United States Marshal Robinson. An omnibus was brought to the jail, and the fugitives were led into it—a crowd of spectators looking on.

Margaret was in custody of Deputy-Marshal Brown. She appeared greatly depressed and dispirited. The little infant, Silla, was carried by Pic. Russell, the door-keeper of the United States Court, and was crying violently. Pollock, the reporter of the proceedings in the United States Court, conducted another of the fugitives, and all were safely lodged in the omnibus, which drove down to the Covington ferry-boat; but, although a large crowd followed it, no hootings or other signs of excitement or disapprobation were shown.

On arriving at the Kentucky shore, a large crowd was in attendance, which expressed its pleasure at the termination of the long proceedings in this city by triumphant shouts. The fugitives were Edition: current; Page: [43] escorted to the jail, where they were safely incarcerated, and the crowd moved off to the Magnolia Hotel, where several toasts were given and drank. The crowd outside were addressed from the balcony by H. H. Robinson, Esq., United States Marshal for the Southern District of Ohio, who declared that he had done his duty and no more, and that it was a pleasure to him to perform an act that added another link to the glorious chain that bound the Union. [What a Union! For what “glorious” purposes!]

Mr. Finnell, attorney for the claimants, said he never loved the Union so dearly as now. It was proved to be a substantial reality.

Judge Flinn also addressed to the crowd one of his peculiar orations; and was followed by Mr. Gaines, owner of Margaret and the children. After hearty cheering the crowd dispersed.

Further to signalize their triumph, the slaveholders set on the Covington mob to attack Mr. Babb, reporter for one of the Cincinnati papers, on the charge of being an abolitionist, and that gentleman was knocked down, kicked, trampled on, and would undoubtedly have been murdered, but for the interference of some of the United States Deputy Marshals.

A legal irregularity on the part of the Sheriff was brought to the notice of Judge Carter on the morning of February 29. It was passed over lightly.

On the Sunday after the delivery of the slaves, they were visited in the Covington jail by Rev. P. C. Bassett, whose account of his interview, especially with Margaret, was published in the American Baptist, and may also be found in the National Antislavery Standard of March 15, 1850. Margaret confessed that she had killed the child. “I inquired,” says Mr. Bassett, “if she were not excited almost to madness when she committed the act!” ‘No,’ she replied, ‘I was as cool as I now am; and would much rather kill them at once, and thus end their sufferings, than have them taken back to slavery and be murdered by piece-meal.’ She then told the story of her wrongs. She spoke of her days of suffering, of her nights of unmitigated toil, while the bitter tears coursed their way down her cheeks.”

Governor Chase, of Ohio, made a requisition upon Governor Morehead, of Kentucky, for the surrender of Margaret Garner, charged with murder. The requisition was taken by Joseph Cooper, Esq. to Gov. Morehead, at Frankfort, on the 6th of March—an unpardonable delay in the circumstances. Gov. Morehead issued an order for the surrender of Margaret. On taking it to Louisville, Mr. Cooper found that Margaret, with her infant child, and the rest of Mr. Gaines’s slaves had been sent down the river in the steamboat Henry Lewis, to be sold in Arkansas. Thus it was that Gaines kept his pledged word that Margaret should be surrendered upon the requisition of the Governor of Ohio! On the passage down the Ohio, the steamboat, in which the slaves were embarked, came in collision with another boat, and so violently that Margaret and her child, with many others, were thrown into the water. About twenty-five persons perished. A colored man Edition: current; Page: [44] seized Margaret and drew her back to the boat, but her babe was drowned! “The mother,” says a correspondent of the Louisville Courier, “exhibited no other feeling than joy at the loss of her child.” So closed another act of this terrible tragedy. The slaves were transferred to another boat, and taken to their destination. (See Mr. Cooper’s letter to Gov. Chase, dated Columbus, March 11, 1856.) Almost immediately on the above tragic news, followed the tidings that Gaines had determined to bring Margaret back to Covington, Kentucky, and hold her subject to the requisition of the Governor of Ohio. Evidently he could not stand up under the infamy of his conduct. Margaret was brought back, and placed in Covington jail, to await a requisition. On Wednesday, Mr. Cox, the prosecuting-attorney, received the necessary papers from Gov. Chase, and the next day (Thursday), two of the Sheriff’s deputies went over to Covington for Margaret, but did not find her, as she had been taken away from the jail the night before. The jailor said he had given her up on Wednesday night, to a man who came there with a written order from her master, Gaines, but could not tell where she had been taken. The officers came back and made a return ‘not found.’

The Cincinnati Gazette said,—“On Friday our sheriff received information which induced him to believe that she had been sent on the railroad to Lexington, thence via. Frankfort to Louisville, there to be shipped off to the New Orleans slave market.

He immediately telegraphed to the sheriff at Louisville (who holds the original warrant from Gov. Morehead, granted on the requisition of Gov. Chase,) to arrest her there, and had a deputy in readiness to go down for her. But he has received no reply to his dispatch. As she was taken out on Wednesday night, there is reason to apprehend that she has already passed Louisville, and is now on her way to New Orleans.

Why Mr. Gaines brought Margaret back at all, we cannot comprehend. If it was to vindicate his character, he was most unfortunate in the means he selected, for his duplicity has now placed this in a worse light than ever before, and kept before the public the miserable spectacle of his dishonor.

We have learned now, by experience, what is that boasted comity of Kentucky on which Judge Leavitt so earnestly advised Ohio to rely.”

The assertion of the Louisville Journal, that Margaret was kept in Covington jail “ten days,” and that the Ohio authorities had been notified of the same, is pronounced to be untrue in both particulars by the Cincinnati Gazette, which paper also declares that prompt action was taken by the governor of Ohio, and the attorney and sheriff of Hamilton County, as soon as the fact was known.

Here we must leave Margaret, a noble woman indeed, whose heroic spirit and daring have won the willing, and extorted the unwilling, admiration of hundreds of thousands. Alas for her! after so terrible a struggle, so bloody a sacrifice, so near to deliverance once, twice, and even a third time, to be, by the villainy Edition: current; Page: [45] and lying of her “respectable” white owner again engulphed in the abyss of Slavery! What her fate is to be, it is not hard to conjecture. But friendless, heart-stricken, robbed of her children, outraged as she has been, not wholly without friends,

  • “Yea, three firm friends, more sure than day and night,
  • Herself, her Maker, and the angel Death.”

Extract from a sermon recently delivered in Cleveland, Ohio, by Rev. H. Bushnell, from the following text: “And it was so, that all that saw it, said, There was no such deed done nor seen from the day that the children of Israel came up out of the land of Egypt unto this day: consider of it, take advice, and speak your minds.”—Judges XIX: 30.

A few weeks ago, just at dawn of day, might be seen a company of strangers crossing the winter bridge over the Ohio River, from the State of Kentucky, into the great city of our own State, whose hundred church-spires point to heaven, telling the travellers that in this place the God of Abraham was worshipped, and that here Jesus the Messiah was known, and his religion of love taught and believed. And yet, no one asked them in or offered them any hospitality, or sympathy, or assistance. After wandering from street to street, a poor laboring man gave them the shelter of his humble cabin, for they were strangers and in distress. Soon it was known abroad that this poor man had offered them the hospitalities of his home, and a rude and ferocious rabble soon gathered around his dwelling, demanding his guests. With loud clamor and horrid threatening they broke down his doors, and rushed upon the strangers. They were an old man and his wife, their daughter and her husband with four children; and they were of the tribe of slaves fleeing from a bondage which was worse than death. There was now no escape—the tribes of Israel had banded against them. On the side of the oppressor there is power. And the young wife and mother, into whose very soul the iron had entered, hearing the cry of the master: “Now we’ll have you all!” turning from the side of her husband and father, with whom she had stood to repel the foe, seized a knife, and with a single blow nearly severed the head from the body of her darling daughter, and throwing its bloody corpse at his feet, exclaimed, “Yes, you shall have us all! take that!” and with another blow inflicted a ghastly wound upon the head of her beautiful son, repeating, “Yes, you shall have us all—take that!” meanwhile calling upon her old mother to help her in the quick work of emancipation—for there were two more. But the pious old grandmother could not do it, and it was now too late—the rescuers had subdued and bound them. They were on their way back to the house of their bondage—a life more bitter than death! On their way through that city of churches whose hundred spires told of Jesus and the good Father above; on their Edition: current; Page: [46] way amid the throng of Christian men, whose noble sires had said and sung, “Give me liberty, or give me death.

But they all tarried in the great Queen City of the West—in chains, and in a felon’s cell. There our preacher visited them again and again. There he saw the old grandfather and his aged companion, whose weary pilgrimage of unrequited toil and tears was nearly at its end. And there stood the young father and the heroic wife “Margaret.” Said the preacher, “Margaret, why did you kill your child?” “It was my own,” she said, “given me of God, to do the best a mother could in its behalf. I have done the best I could! I would have done more and better for the rest! I knew it was better for them to go home to God than back to slavery.” “But why did you not trust in God—why not wait and hope?” “I did wait, and then we dared to do, and fled in fear, but in hope; hope fled—God did not appear to save—I did the best I could!

And who was this woman? A noble, womanly, amiable, affectionate mother. “But was she not deranged?” Not at all—calm, intelligent, but resolute and determined. “But was she not fiendish, or beside herself with passion?” No, she was most tender and affectionate, and all her passion was that of a mother’s fondest love. I reasoned with her, said the preacher; tried to awaken a sense of guilt, and lead her to repentance and to Christ. But there was no remorse, no desire of pardon, no reception of Christ or his religion. To her it was a religion of slavery, more cruel than death. And where had she lived? where thus taught? Not down among the rice swamps of Georgia, or on the banks of Red River. No, but within sixteen miles of the Queen City of the West! In a nominally Christian family—whose master was most liberal in support of the Gospel, and whose mistress was a communicant at the Lord’s table, and a professed follower of Christ! Here, in this family, where slavery is found in its mildest form, she had been kept in ignorance of God’s will and word, and learned to know that the mildest form of American slavery, at this day of Christian civilization and Democratic liberty, was worse than death itself! She had learned by an experience of many years, that it was so bad she had rather take the life of her own dearest child, without the hope of Heaven for herself, than that it should experience its unutterable agonies, which were to be found even in a Christian family! But here are her two little boys, of eight and ten years of age. Taking the eldest boy by the hand, the preacher said to him, kindly and gently, “Come here, my boy; what is your name?” “Tom, sir.” “Yes, Thomas.” “No sir, Tom.” “Well, Tom, how old are you?” “Three months.” “And how old is your little brother?” “Six months, sir!” “And have you no other name but Tom?” “No.” “What is your father’s name?” “Have n’t got any!” “Who made you, Tom?” “Nobody!” “Did you ever hear of God or Jesus Christ?” “No, sir.” And this was slavery in its best estate. By and by the aged couple, and the young man and his wife, the remaining children, with the Edition: current; Page: [47] master, and the dead body of the little one, were escorted through the streets of the Queen City of the West by a national guard of armed men, back to the great and chivalrous State of old Kentucky, and away to the shambles of the South—back to a life-long servitude of hopeless despair. It was a long, sad, silent procession down to the banks of the Ohio; and as it passed, the death-knell of freedom tolled heavily. The sovereignty of Ohio trailed in the dust beneath the oppressor’s foot, and the great confederacy of the tribes of modern Israel attended the funeral obsequies, and made ample provision for the necessary expenses! “And it was so, that all that saw it, said, There was no such deed done, nor seen from the day that the children of Israel came up out of the land of Egypt unto this day; consider of it, take advice, and speak your minds!”

With the sad case of Margaret Garner we close, for the present, the record of the Fugitive Slave Law, as its history has been daily writing itself in our country’s annals. Enactment of hell! which has marked every step of its progress over the land by suffering and by crimes,—crimes of the bloodiest dye, groanings which cannot fully be uttered; which is tracked by the dripping blood of its victims, by their terrors and by their despair; against which, and against that Wicked Nation which enacted it, and which suffers it still to stand as their LAW, the cries of the down-trodden poor go up continually into the ears of God,—cries of bitterest anguish, mingled with fiercest execrations—thousands of Rachels weeping for their children, and will not be comforted, because they are not.

Reader, is your patriotism of the kind which believes, with the supporters of old monarchies, that the Sovereign Power can do no wrong? Consider the long record which has been laid before you, and say if your country has not enacted a most wicked, cruel, and shameful law, which merits only the condemnation and abhorrence of every heart. Consider that this law was aimed at the life, liberty, and happiness of the poor and least-privileged portion of our people—a class whom the laws should befriend, protect, and raise up. What is the true character of a law, whose working, whose fruits are such as this meagre outline of its history shows? Is it fit that such deeds and such a law should have your sanction and support? Will you remain in a moment’s doubt whether to be a friend or a foe to such a law? Will you countenance or support Edition: current; Page: [48] the man, in the church or in the state, who is not its open and out-spoken opponent? Will you not, rather, yourself trample it under foot, as alike the disgrace of your country, the enemy of humanity, and the enemy of God? And nobly join, with heart and hand, every honest man who seeks to load with the opprobrium they deserve, the law itself and everything that justifies and upholds it?

In this tract no mention is made of that great company of slaves who, flying from their intolerable wrongs and burdens, are overtaken before reaching the Free States—(alas, that we should mock ourselves with this empty name of free!)—and carried back into a more remote and hopeless slavery; nor of the thousands who, having fled in former years, and established themselves in industry and comfort in the Northern States, were compelled again to become fugitives, leaving their little all behind them, into a still more Northern land where, under British law, they find at last a resting-place and protection; nor to any great extent of the numerous cases of white citizens, prosecuted, fined, harassed in every way, for the crime of giving shelter and succor to the hunted wanderers. To have included these—all emphatically victims of the Fugitive Slave Law—would swell our tract into a volume. What a testimony against our land and our people is given by their accumulated weight! Every living man and woman is guilty of this great Sin, who either by apology, or by silence, lends it the least support.

☞ In a record like the foregoing, dealing so largely with facts and dates, perfect accuracy is not to be expected, although much pains have been taken to make it strictly correct. Any information, on good authority, which will help to make the record more exact, or more complete, will be very gratefully received. It should be addressed to Samuel May, Jr., No. 21 Cornhill, Boston, Mass.

Published at the office of the American Anti-Slavery Society, No. 138 Nassau Street, New York. Also to be had at the Anti-Slavery Offices, No. 21 Cornhill, Boston, and No. 31 North Fifth Street, Philadelphia; of Joel McMillan, Salem, Columbiana Co., Ohio, and of Jacob Walton, Jr., Adrian, Michigan.

Edition: current; Page: [1]
Charles E. Whipple
Whipple, Charles E.

Charles E. Whipple, “Relations of Anti-slavery to Religion,” 20 pp.



The Anti-Slavery movement (as conducted, for twenty-three years past, by the American Anti-Slavery Society) was at its commencement, and has ever since been, thoroughly and emphatically a religious enterprise. The earliest official documents of that Society (its Constitution and its Declaration of Sentiments, both adopted at Philadelphia in 1833) show that its prominent and preponderating appeal was to religious considerations; that Slavery, whatever else it might be, was first, “a heinous crime in the sight of God;” that immediate emancipation was the divinely imposed “duty” of the slaveholder, whether he recognized it as his pecuniary interest or not; that a public sentiment adverse to slavery was to be awakened first by “appeals to the consciences” of the people; that the elevation of the character and condition of the people of color was to be sought “by encouraging their intellectual, moral, and religious improvement;” and that it was proposed, among the means to this end, “to enlist the pulpit in the cause of the slave, and to aim at a purification of the churches from all participation in the guilt of slavery.”

It is obvious that the founders of the American Anti-Slavery Society, in this plan for the accomplishment of a religious end by religious means, confidently relied upon the support of “the pulpit.” They had attributed the silence of the clergy respecting slavery to the same source with their own former quiescence, partly thoughtlessness, partly ignorance of the essential character and the actual workings of the system, and partly preoccupation with subjects nearer home; and they had confidently expected that when a sin so gross and so widely extended, and moreover entwined so intimately and injuriously with their own ecclesiastical system, was brought to their notice, the clergy would at once take measures, first for the purification of their own churches and ecclesiastical bodies, and next for that of the community and the country. But subsequent events showed this charitable judgment not to be well founded. The great majority of ministers, of every denomination, remained utterly indifferent both to the facts and the arguments which were set forth concerning slavery, continuing to fraternize with slaveholders both in church and state; and the flocks felt no call to renounce or oppose that which their pastors allowed. Thus the church, which had been looked to as the field best prepared for the reception of Anti-Slavery truth, was found to be no more accessible than the congregation; and both church and congregation soon learned to appeal to the indifference of so pious and excellent a man as their minister, as a sufficient reason for their own indifference to the guilt and the danger involved in slavery.

The failure of their efforts in this direction wrought as a stimulus instead of a discouragement to the Abolitionists. If the disease had taken a deeper hold than even they had supposed, if slavery was to be tacitly allowed by the church as well as supported by the state, and if even the teachers of Edition: current; Page: [2] religion refused to oppose it, the more need was there for strenuous and unwearied exertions on their own part. The harvest being greater and the laborers fewer than they had expected, those who were in the field must work with double diligence. And they did so work.

But they soon found that not only indifference, but opposition, was to be encountered from the clergy. Having undertaken to call the nation to repentance for a great sin, and to immediate abandonment of it, they of course preached this doctrine on Sunday as well as on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday; and presently they were stigmatized by the clergy as violators of the Sabbath. Making large use, as their previous culture and habits of thought dictated, of the denunciations of prophets, apostles, and evangelists against oppression, and finding these injunctions neutralized, sometimes directly and sometimes indirectly, by men who called themselves ministers of the gospel, they saw the fitness, and did not shrink from the painful duty, of quoting what was said by the same authorities against corrupt priests, false prophets, blind guides, dumb dogs that bark not, and hireling shepherds; and for this the corrupters of religion called them revilers of religion. Finally, when, having proved by indisputable argument and overwhelming evidence that slavery is the sum of all villanies, they were met by the assertion that “slavery is authorized by the Bible” they replied, “If it be so, so much the worse for the Bible,”—for this their clerical opponents declared them infidels.

Though by no means the first, or the only instance, the Anti-Slavery Society is yet a signal and noteworthy instance of an evil reputation not only coexisting with, but growing out of, a good character. The Abolitionists, after their first surprise at the recreancy of the clergy to their own principles, were very little concerned at being called ill names by those whom they had shown to be in the wrong. They could afford to be censured for recommending right things because they were right, by men who tolerated things contrary to justice and humanity because (they said) they found no prohibition of them in the Bible. They therefore went on, continuing to quote, as the supreme authority, “the higher law” of right, and have so continued till the present time, though the theologians under Moses Stuart combined with the politicians under Daniel Webster to scoff at that rule as unpractical and fanatical, avowing their own chief standard of duty (in relation to slavery) to be the Constitution of the United States.

If the systematic allowance by clergymen, and from (so called) religious considerations, of a system combining the height of oppression with the depth of meanness, be well suited to excite the tears of the weeping philosopher, the mirth of the laughing philosopher must no less be awakened by the charge of infidelity, made by the same clergymen, against persons who are vainly calling them and their people to repentance for “a heinous sin in the sight of God.”

The Abolitionists have quoted Scripture quite as much as their opponents, but with this peculiarity, that they have always quoted it on the side of right and justice. Their offence has been that they have not bowed their heads in silence when an interpretation of Scripture favoring injustice and oppression has been brought against them. Preaching to a slaveholding Union of Northern and Southern States their duty to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke, they have cared nothing for the allegation, true or false, that Abraham and Job were slaveholders. Engaged in helping the robbed and wounded traveller, they have neither stopped to pull off their hats to the Priest and Levite passing by on Edition: current; Page: [3] the other side, nor regarded the cry of “infidelity” which those reverend personages set up against them. Regarding a man as better than a sheep, they have not scrupled to pull him out of a pit, even on the Sabbath day. Finding Onesimus to have been sent back to Philemon, “not as a servant, but as a brother beloved,” they have not seen in this message any justification of the Fugitive Slave Law; and they regard the positive precept of Jesus, “Whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so to them,” as infinitely more weighty than the negative assertion that he is nowhere recorded to have claimed immediate emancipation for the Roman slaves, even supposing, what is yet unproved, that he ever came in contact with slaves at all.

Steadily and invariably, through the twenty-three years of its existence, the American Anti-Slavery Society has adhered to this high ground. From first to last, they have denounced the act of slaveholding as “a sin against God;” they have declared immediate emancipation to be the “duty” of every master, as well as the right of every slave; and they have steadily disregarded the overtures that have been made, sometimes from political and sometimes from ecclesiastical sources, to increase their numbers by lowering their platform, abating their denunciations against the sin, and moderating their demand upon the sinner. They have been urged in the most persevering and importunate manner, not to represent slaveholding as absolutely and invariably sinful; not to require immediate repentance and reformation; not to insist on placing popular vices in the same category with unpopular ones; and, above all, not to impugn a man’s Christian character, and fitness for church membership, on the ground of his systematically practising the “sum of all villanies.” Despite all the persuasions, promises, threats, and vituperations that have been brought to bear upon them, they have steadily insisted on bringing slavery face to face with this one test—“Whether it be right in the sight of God.

The Anti-Slavery Society is not, and has never pretended to be, a church; neither are its principles presented to the community as covering the whole ground of Christian duty. The relation with which this association concerns itself, namely, that of self-assumed ownership on one side and compulsory chattelhood on the other, is only one of the relations of life; it has, however, extensively interwoven itself with other relations, combining a vast array of social, political, and ecclesiastical influences for its support; and the claim of the Abolitionists is, that they have followed it, through all its windings, with the touchstone of right; that they have demanded that this, like all other relations, shall be judged by Christian principles instead of by custom, or interest, or, an unjust law, or a selfish expediency; that they have felt, and spoken, and acted for those in bonds as bound with them; that they have maintained, in the face of calumny, persecution, and discouragement of every sort, the rightful supremacy of divine laws over human; and that neither bribes nor threats, neither the thunder of the state nor the anathema of the church, neither the sophistry of Webster nor of Stuart, nor yet the specious pretence of gaining more for the slave by demanding less, have for a moment prevailed with them to recede from this commanding position. They have pursued, and mean still to pursue, a Christian end by Christian means.

None have a better right than the Abolitionists to address the American people in the words of Paul to the Galatians—“Am I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?” They have given the very highest evidence of disinterested sincerity in voluntarily exposing themselves to reproach and contumely to advance the end which they deem Edition: current; Page: [4] most beneficial alike to the slave and the master. The very act which unreflecting people charge upon them as a fault,—the plain exposure of unfaithfulness to their duty in a class of men so popularly respected as the clergy,—is the best proof that they are really seeking the welfare of others, and not their own credit or profit. They claim, and prove, that their work in behalf of the slave is a good work, pursued in a right manner; but they may also claim, and can thoroughly prove, that in doing this work for the slave, they are collaterally doing an immense service to the cause of religion; that in plainly demonstrating wherein the professed teachers of Christianity are unfaithful to their work,—in pointing out as false prophets and blind guides those who, speaking in the name of Jesus, teach the doctrines of Daniel Webster and Franklin Pierce, and declare that, if there be any conflict between these, the latter should be obeyed in preference to the former,—they (the Abolitionists) are acting in the interest of religion not less than of Anti-Slavery; that the advancement of Christianity itself, in this country, demands the precise course they are taking; that, as the very root and essence of true religion is confidence in the infinite excellence, the absolute perfection of the Creator—as the imputation to him of injustice in his own acts, or any countenance of injustice in the laws which he has given to men, would be (in the mind that accepted such an idea) a weakening of the very foundation of Christianity—as the duty of loving and serving God results from his being good and not evil, and as both love and service will of necessity be deteriorated by the supposition that injustice forms a part, either of his character or his commands—and that, since the very first step towards reclaiming the wanderer is to show him the direction in which he has been led astray, and point out the course by which he should return,—so the indispensable preliminary to a thorough and effective preaching of the gospel in the United States is, to show the churches and congregations how, and how far, and by whom, they have been led to pervert religion to the support of slavery.

There are doubtless many persons who (having neither sought it themselves, nor read it when collected by the Abolitionists) are yet unacquainted with the immense body of evidence which exists in proof of the unfaithfulness of the clergy to their duty in relation to slavery in all the large and popular sects of this country. For the instruction of such persons, a statement, and a few specimens of this unfaithfulness, will here be given.

I charge upon the churches of all the great sects in the United States, and preëminently upon the clergy, the leaders of those churches, that, assuming to be “the salt of the earth and the light of the world,” or, in other words, assuming to be not only the chief, but the divinely constituted and authorized conservators of religion and good morals, a great and controlling majority of them in each sect hold one or another of the following positions:—

I. They make no effort,* by word or deed, to put a stop to slavery.

Edition: current; Page: [5]

II. They throw the weight of their influence actively against those who are seeking its immediate and unconditional abolition.

III. Some of them practise slaveholding, and defend it; and others actively and thoroughly defend it, without the temptation or the opportunity to practise it.

IV. The remainder (including some who freely comment on the vicious character of slavery, and oppose its extension northward) welcome to their full fellowship, as Christians and Christian ministers, both the above-mentioned classes; namely, those who hold slaves, and those, both North and South, who maintain from the Bible the right to hold them.

V. The condition of heart and life which they recognize and inculcate as “piety,” or “evangelical Christianity,” and which qualifies a man for membership in their churches, neither excludes the practice of slaveholding, nor requires opposition to it,—the good standing of their church members being absolutely unaffected by slaveholding, slave trading, and slave breeding; while, on the other hand, the expression of any active and energetic opposition to slavery is regarded as a disturbing force, an objectionable element, in their religious meetings, and specially to be deprecated when there is most fervor and earnestness of religious feeling.

Among the evidences that the churches and clergy of the United States really hold this position in regard to slavery, namely, ignoring its anti-Christian character, acquiescing in its indefinite continuance in the South, fraternizing with those who practise and defend it, and opposing those who most directly and actively oppose it, are the following:—

1. The American Tract Society, a great incorporated body, supported by, and a fair representative of, all the sects which call themselves “Evangelical,” and declaring its purpose in the distribution of books and tracts to be to “promote the interests of vital godliness and good morals,” not only refuses to publish and distribute tracts against slavery, but persists in this refusal on the very ground that it cannot oppose what the American churches support. It also takes pains to conciliate the slaveholders by cutting out from its editions of works originally published elsewhere, such testimonials against slavery as they may incidentally contain, sometimes persuading the authors to consent to such mutilation.

2. The American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, a great incorporated body, also supported by, and fairly representing, all the sects which call themselves “Evangelical,” refuses to exclude slaveholders from its mission churches, also, on the ground that it cannot oppose what the American churches support; and thus at once throws its weight into the scale of slavery, and corroborates our position respecting the corrupt state of the popular religion.

Edition: current; Page: [6]

3. The American Bible Society, a great incorporated body, also supported by, and fairly representing, all the sects which call themselves “Evangelical,” has gone a step further than this, namely, it has circulated, in one of its official documents, an elaborate representation of the Bible as a pro-slavery book, characterizing this representation (Bible Society Record, November 1854 and April 1855) as an “Important document,” and an “excellent address.

4. Every one knows the assiduity with which Daniel Webster devoted the last years of his life to advocating the perpetuity of the American Union; and every one also knows that the means by which he sought this end were exhortations to the North to “conquer their prejudices” against slavery, to consent to its indefinite continuance and extension, and to fortify it on the Northern border by the seizure and surrender of fugitive slaves. He not only gave these counsels to his political friends and the Northern people at large, but he expressly claimed that, in relation to slavery and all other matters connected with politics, the Constitution of the United States was to be reverenced and obeyed as supreme, and “the higher law” (if any such existed) set aside as subordinate. This was either asserted or taken for granted in all the speeches and political letters of that portion of his life. Here is one of the direct expressions of it:—

“When nothing else will answer, they [the abolitionists] invoke religion, and speak of the higher law. Gentlemen, this North Mountain is high, the Blue Ridge higher still, the Alleghanies higher than either, and yet this ‘higher law’ ranges further than an eagle’s flight above the highest peaks of the Alleghanies. No common vision can discern it; no common and unsophisticated conscience can feel it; the hearing of common men never learns its high behests; and therefore one would think it is not a safe law to be acted upon in matters of the highest practical moment. It is the code, however, of the abolitionists of the North.”—Speech at Capon Springs, Virginia, June 26, 1851.

What was the response of the clergy of New England to these declarations of the most prominent statesman of their time? It is to be remembered that, as the Whigs and Democrats of that period vied with each other in expressions of allegiance to the Fugitive Slave Law, there were many zealous advocates and practisers of this system of immoral philosophy in every one of the congregations to which these clergymen preached. What, then, did they say to and of Daniel Webster, when he publicly scoffed at the claim that there was a law higher than the Constitution of the United States, and when a prominent and fundamental feature of the course pursued through the last years of his life was the assumption of a right entirely to disregard religion when politics were in question?

The great majority of the New England clergy, (tacitly conceding the points assumed by Webster,) said not one word against them; of the remainder, far the greater number gave explicit testimony in favor of Webster’s position, (perhaps a hundred and fifty sermons to this effect having been printed,) while a few* made a prompt and manly protest against it. Professor Stuart, the most prominent in learning and station of the Orthodox clergy, took the lead in authenticating Webster’s position, elaborately arguing the case in his pamphlet entitled “Conscience and the Constitution;” Edition: current; Page: [7] and long before that publication, he had advised his theological students not to speak nor pray against slavery in public. Rev. Nehemiah Adams, of Boston, takes the same position, saying, (page 128 of his “South-Side View of Slavery,”) “While it [the Constitution] remains, all our appeals to a higher law are fanaticism.

5. The great annual meetings of the principal sects in the United States, at which their representatives, assembled from all parts of the country, discuss, in sessions continued through several days, the position, progress, purposes, desires, and modes of operation of the religious denominations which they represent, form one important criterion by which those sects should be judged. Their proceedings are published at length, from year to year, in the organs of their respective denominations, and they have, thus far, never commenced, nor even proposed, any decisive action against slavery in the South, nor ever refused to fraternize with slaveholders and defenders of slavery, as Christians.

6. The system of “caste” which, partly by law and partly by public opinion, stigmatizes colored people as an inferior race, and forcibly keeps them in a degraded social position, receives the support and coöperation of the churches as corporate bodies, of the church members in private life, and of the clergy as their leaders and teachers in both these departments, as fully as of any other classes in the community, though all these contend vigorously against a similar system, when it is practised as far off as Hindostan, and by persons out of their church communion.

Even the above statement does not express the whole truth upon this important subject. The highest type of piety recognized by the churches of the popular religion in the United States does not include, but on the contrary, does exclude, such an estimation of the rights of man as would demand for the colored man and woman equality of civil and social standing with the white. I mean to assert these two things respecting the highest type of (self-styled) “Evangelical religion” in the United States, as represented by the Park Street, Essex Street, Central, and Old South churches of Boston; first, that their most pious communicant would not find his reputation for piety in the eyes of his brethren diminished in the slightest degree by his refusal, on the ground of color or race, to receive a colored man at his table, or in his carriage or pew, or a colored child in the class at school with his children, or to sign a petition or document in aid of the recovery of civic or social rights for such persons; and next, that active interest and continuous exertion in relation to matters of this sort would unfavorably affect a man’s reputation for piety in the eyes of those churches, and any persistent attempt to elicit from them a practical recognition of this department of human rights would cause the mover to be stigmatized as a disturber of the peace of the church—a troubler of Israel.

This is neither a hasty nor a careless statement. I feel fully authorized to make it, on the grounds following: a large acquaintance, and numerous conversations, extending over a period of twenty years, with clergymen and church members, upon the subjects above mentioned; a careful notice of the attitude of these classes towards the colored people, towards the abolitionists, and towards the few of their own church members who fraternized with either abolitionists or blacks; and a careful scrutiny into the circumstances and true meaning of facts like the following:—

In the year 1830, a colored man bought and paid for a pew in Park Street church, then and since the headquarters of “orthodoxy” in Boston. He occupied it, with his family, a Sunday forenoon, but on returning in the afternoon, a constable, employed by the church committee, forcibly prevented Edition: current; Page: [8] his entrance; the prudential committee wrote him a prohibitory* letter; and the church, in a church meeting called thereafter for the express purpose, voted that he should not be allowed to occupy his own pew. They then proceeded to discuss, in five or six meetings following, each opened and closed with prayer, the most convenient and effective way of excluding the whole colored race from equal participation in their worship. Finally, at the suggestion of one who bore, while he lived, the very highest reputation for piety in that church, a new pew deed was framed, containing a provision enabling them to effect their purpose, and the pews of that church are still held under that deed. It has been so perfectly obvious that any similar attempt would meet the like result, that the trial has never been repeated in Boston. A Baptist church, however, (Rev. Baron Stow’s, in Rowe Street,) has guarded itself against such attempts by inserting in its pew deeds the restriction that the pews shall be sold only to “respectable white persons.” Whoever of that congregation is not a saint can at least claim the credit of being a respectable white sinner.

In the earlier years of the Anti-Slavery effort in Boston, before it became absolutely certain that the clergy were to be opposers and not helpers of it, the prayers of the churches on Sundays were hundreds of times requested, in the ordinary form, by Anti-Slavery men and women, in behalf of slaves whose cases were then before the public, and hundreds of times refused. That I might assure myself whether any change had taken place in the twelve or fifteen intervening years, I made another trial, as follows.

The Old South church (Rev. Dr. Blagden’s, equally with Park Street church the headquarters of Boston orthodoxy) has for many years maintained in its vestry a daily morning prayer meeting. Finding it customary to present requests, sometimes verbal and sometimes written, that particular bodies or individuals might be made the subjects of special prayer, one morning in May, 1851, while the Boston court house was in chains, and the case of the kidnapped Sims yet unfinished, I handed in the following note:—

“The prayers of this congregation are requested in behalf of a brother who is now in imminent danger of being torn away from the religious privileges of Boston, and carried as a slave to Georgia, where the laws forbid him to read the Bible; also, that God would be pleased to arouse the churches of this city to a sense of the duty of not delivering again to his master the servant who has escaped from his master unto them.”

This note was presented during the singing of a hymn. The chairman, (Rev. Dorus Clarke,) having cast his eye over it, beckoned to Deacon Safford, who sat near him, and after he also had read the note, they held a brief whispered conference together. The purport of this I can only conjecture, but as the note was not read to the meeting, nor any allusion whatever made to it, I presume they decided that the poor man who had fallen among thieves belonged to another parish; that they were neither his “keepers” nor his “neighbors,” and that the interests of their Zion would prosper quite as well whether he were adjudged a slave or a freeman.

Edition: current; Page: [9]

Not choosing, however, to content myself with inferences, I went to the desk after meeting, and asked Mr. Clarke why he had not read the note. He replied, “It was thought best not to read it; we have had nothing of this sort here for a long time, [it is perhaps quite time to begin, I suggested,] and just in the peculiar state of things among us now, [indications of a ‘revival.’] it seemed best not to introduce it.” “Is that a reason for not praying?” said I. He replied, “We thought it best, all things considered, to hold on upon it.” Another person, a constant attendant of the prayer meeting, who had read the note while we were talking, now said, “You did perfectly right, brother Clarke.”

I was not in the least surprised at these results; neither was I surprised when, on the death, some time after, of the deacon who joined the reverend chairman in rejecting Thomas Sims’s petition for prayers, the brethren of the prayer meeting united in extolling him as a pattern of pious excellence.

Now let us take a glance at the relation of the popular religion in Boston to slavery, anti-slavery, and the social position of the people of color. Park Street church turns a colored man, because he is colored, out of a pew which he has bought and paid for, and then votes that no colored man shall be allowed even to buy a pew any more among them; and their minister says nothing against it. Rowe Street church votes that only respectable white persons shall own pews among them; and their minister says nothing against it. The minister of the Old South church publicly defends slavery from the Bible, and his people agree with him. To carry out their idea of the best mode of promoting piety and good morals, they establish a daily meeting for prayer and exhortation. Whatever is “their hearts’ sincere desire” in the departments of religion and good morals, it is appropriate to express in that meeting, to God by prayer, to men by exhortation. A man, who represents himself as a member of an evangelical church in communion with them, is kidnapped in their own city, and about to be enslaved for life in a region where the laws forbid him to read the Bible. His friend asks their prayers, exhortations, and efforts in his behalf. All these are refused, jointly refused by three persons, each a representative of the highest form of piety cultivated by that church and that meeting, and refused because piety is just then in an unusually flourishing state among them. Dr. Lyman Beecher, the father of Mrs. Stowe, is one of the most constant attendants on that meeting, and one of the main pillars in its management. He knows that their form of piety excludes anti-slavery, and includes pro-slavery; yet, far from protesting against it, he fraternizes with, and supports it. He knows that the Rev. Mr. Blagden, their pastor, defends slavery from the Bible, yet he fully authenticates and recommends him as a Christian and a minister of the Gospel. A few ministers of that denomination, among whom is Henry Ward Beecher, the brother of Mrs. Stowe, hate slavery, and, though thinking themselves obliged to acquiesce in its indefinite continuance at the South, strenuously oppose its extension, and also the surrender of fugitive slaves from their own region. They all know that Dr. Blagden defends slavery from the Bible, and favors the surrender of fugitive slaves. But they all authenticate and recommend him as a Christian and a minister of the Gospel, in good as well as regular standing. Pro-slavery in their view, however unsatisfactory as a trait of character, is not anti-Christian; not incompatible with fervent piety, a truly Christian character, or the adequate fulfilment of the Christian ministry. And thus, even those among the clergy who hate slavery, throw over it the cloak of Christian charity, and join hands with its most thorough defenders.

Edition: current; Page: [10]

7. Besides the numerous ordinary cases, like the above, in which the clergy fraternize with pro-slavery as perfectly compatible with the Christian character, I wish to mention two especially prominent and noteworthy cases.

Rev. Nathan Lord, a Presbyterian clergyman, President of Dartmouth College, in Hanover, N. H., has long devoted himself to the defence of slavery, reading each year a lecture to that effect before the class about to graduate from his college. In the year 1855, he extended the sphere of his operations by publishing two bulky pamphlets, addressed “To Ministers of the Gospel, of all denominations, on Slavery,” in which he stated and defended the three following propositions:—

“Slavery is an institution of God according to Natural Religion.

It is also an institution of God according to Revealed Religion.

It is also perfectly consistent with the law of love.”

No protest has been made against Dr. Lord by his sect, or by any part of it, or by any of the (self-styled) “Evangelical” sects, in communion with it. They hold, and have expressed, various opinions about the speculative correctness of his position, but do not hold it incompatible with the character of a Christian, or of a Christian minister.

In 1854, the Rev. Nehemiah Adams, pastor of the Essex Street (Orthodox Congregational) church, in Boston, and bearing the highest reputation for orthodox piety, published a book called “A South-Side View of Slavery,” in which he praises slavery, as now carried on at the South, both generally and in its most characteristic particulars, defending it from the Bible, and on religious as well as other grounds, wishing he could apply its mode of operations in Boston, seriously suggesting the advantages of a renewal of the African slave trade, and echoing Daniel Webster’s position (above referred to) in the following words, which, however well suited to the last desperate struggle of a profligate politician, are no less than amazing in the mouth of one who claims to be a minister of the Gospel.

“While it [the Constitution of the United States] remains, all our appeals to a higher law are fanaticism.”—p. 128.

The point to which I wish to direct the attention of my readers is this. Since Dr. Adams has thus identified himself, his wishes, his efforts, his reputation as a Christian minister, his influence as a writer of religious books, and his credit as an interpreter of the Bible and the Christian system, with the defence of slavery as it is now practised in the Southern States, not only has no protest been made by his sect, or any part of it, or any of the (self-styled) “Evangelical” bodies in communion with it, impeaching him as having thereby forfeited the character of a Christian, and especially that of a Christian minister, but, on the contrary, the professors, lay and clerical, of the popular religion have seemed to take especial pains to fraternize with him, and to publish to the world their undiminished confidence in him as a Christian minister. Thus, he has been chosen one of the executive committee of the American Tract Society, whose function includes the examination of books and tracts proposed for publication, each member having the absolute power of prohibition; he has preached the annual sermon before that great representative of orthodoxy, the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions; he presided at the opening session of that prayer and conference meeting formed by the combined “Evangelical” churches of Boston which filled Winter Street church every morning of “Anniversary Week,” 1855; he was chosen to preach the sermon at an installation in Providence, R. I.; and to make a dedicatory prayer at the opening of the new rooms of the Mercantile Library Association in Boston; and to open Edition: current; Page: [11] with prayer the May term of the United States Circuit Court in Boston, 1855; and last, not least, he was suggested by the editor of The Independent (a religious newspaper with which Mrs. Stowe and Henry Ward Beecher are connected as regular contributors) as a satisfactory person to write a tract upon slavery for the American Tract Society, and thus remove from that body the reproach—which has become somewhat burdensome of late—that they have never issued a tract upon that subject. The Independent was so considerate as to suggest to Dr. Adams that such a tract need not “meddle with the vexed question of abolition,” and so mindful of the credit of its clerical brother as to assure its readers that they might expect to find such a tract “clear, dispassionate, earnest, full of a holy unction.” (See Note at the end of this Tract.)

Let us now look at the sum of the whole matter.

The government of the United States, which has always sustained slavery, appealing to the Constitution as its sufficient authority, has of late years manifestly directed its chief power and activity to that end.

A certain proportion of the clergy of every sect buy, sell, and hold slaves; maintain from the Bible the right to do so as Christians; maintain from the Constitution the right to do so as citizens; denounce abolitionism as a compound of treason and infidelity, and exhort their people, both as Christians and citizens, to defend the system of slavery, and stand by the government which is already defending it for them.

A smaller number of the clergy, though not holding slaves themselves, occupy the same position with the former class in every other respect.

A far greater number of the clergy, amounting to a decided majority in all the principal sects, feeling no special interest in the slaves, and no impulse to join, far less to initiate, a revolutionary movement in their behalf, finding their consciences somewhat disturbed, and their quiet materially so, by the censures of the Abolitionists, and being already in bonds of ecclesiastical union with the two classes of clergymen previously mentioned, take what seems to them the easiest course,—defending their clerical allies by echoing their justification of slavery from the Bible, and doing what they can to neutralize the censures of the Abolitionists by echoing the current calumnies against them.

Lastly, the small remaining proportion of the clergy, who, with or without the aid of the abolitionists, have attained “a realizing sense” of the essential viciousness of slavery, and see how it depraves the South, injures the North, corrupts the nation at home, disgraces it abroad, obstructs education and improvement, undermines morality and subverts religion, as well as oppresses the slave, would be glad to make an energetic and uncompromising warfare with slavery, but find themselves fettered by two considerations: First, the Constitution authorizes slavery. The Constitution, the work of their venerated forefathers, the basis of their country’s laws, protects the very thing which they wish to destroy; and, though the answer to this objection seems plain enough when they remember what Peter and John said to their* Constitution, and though a glow of generous ardor fills their souls when they recall the answer of Shadrach and his companions to their Constitution, the thought next comes up that the elder leaders of their sect, Edition: current; Page: [12] the heads of their theological school, the editors of their strictest religious newspapers, all wise as well as good and pious men, take the opposite view; they do not feel like entering into a controversy with them, as well as into a war with the actual slaveholders; so they are strongly tempted to compromise the matter, as their fathers did, and to direct their active exertions only against the extension of slavery, either tacitly acquiescing in its indefinite continuance within its present boundaries, or explicitly pledging themselves, as Henry Ward Beecher did, (in Park Street church, Feb, 1854,) to abandon and discountenance all agitation, and allow to slavery and the slave trade undisturbed and indefinite continuance within their present limits, if they would desist from the occupancy of any new territories.

I say, the small number of clergymen now under consideration are strongly tempted to this compromising course by finding a decided majority, both in number and weight, of their own ecclesiastical connection arrayed against them in relation to the supremacy of the Constitution. But the second obstacle, now to be mentioned, a far more weighty one, effectually decides them to take that course. They find themselves already thoroughly committed, by the whole ecclesiastical system under which they have been living, and preaching, and making converts, and building up churches, to the concession that the men who practise and defend slavery are Christians. Slaveholders are members, in good and regular standing, of great numbers of the churches of their denomination. They practise no concealment; they were converted while slaveholders, (probably by the preaching of a slaveholding minister;) were fairly examined by the church committee, (probably slaveholders;) were accepted as regenerate men, children of God, and heirs of heaven, without a word expressed or implied in condemnation of their slaveholding, and perhaps joined a church which held slaves in its corporate capacity. How are they to be laid hold of, called to account, and subjected to discipline according to the rules of the church, for that which, equally existing five or ten years ago, was no bar to their admission then? And if they cannot be subjected to discipline, how are they to be accused at all, or how is their slaveholding position to be censured? The truth is, that how much soever they may have infringed justice, humanity, the golden rule, and the Christian system, they have not infringed the laws of the church, as understood and administered by its government.

Abolitionists would know very well what to do in this situation. They would see that the church was involved in a reductio ad absurdum; that its rules were grossly deficient, and needed immediate revision; they would set themselves to that work at once, and if, after a fair trial, their numbers, strength, and influence proved insufficient to accomplish it, they would leave that organization, and find or make a better. They would at all events keep clear of the enormous blunder of assuming the body which shelters the “sum of all villanies” in its bosom to be the “church of Christ.”

But our clergymen, not being prepared for movements so energetic and radical, not venturing even for a moment to entertain the hypothesis that their church is any thing but a church of Christ, withhold their hands from the work, leave the slave a slave, the slaveholding church members and ministers obvious but unimpeached oppressors, and the church a synagogue of Satan, and do nothing;—nothing but protest, with the whole strength of their lungs, that slavery is so thoroughly and hopelessly evil that it ought not for a moment to be admitted into Kansas. As if that which is too bad for Kansas was not just as much, and for the very same reasons, too bad for Kentucky; as if that could be too bad for Kansas which is not too bad for the church of Christ on earth, and the kingdom of God in heaven!

Edition: current; Page: [13]

These things being so, what are the Abolitionists to do? For twenty-five years they have been demanding the abolition of slavery, in the name and on the grounds of Christianity. What are they to do when they find nearly the whole body of American clergy, (some by direct and open demand, and some by tacit allowance, but all effectively,) giving shelter to slavery in the church, declaring the practice of it to be perfectly consistent with piety; declaring opposition to it to be opposition to God’s system; and assuming that where piety is most fervent and effective, there opposition to slavery is most to be deprecated? What? Just what the engineer does when he finds the trunk of a tree across his railroad track!—take immediate measures for its removal, or at least towards its removal; and if a body of men in black coats and white cravats say that the tree is theirs, and that they choose to keep it in that position, apply himself, by all legitimate means, to the work of their removal.

This is what the Abolitionists have done. Finding the representatives and managers of the American religion holding towards slavery precisely the attitude described above, in the New England Anti-Slavery Convention, assembled in Boston, May 30th, 1855, they framed, fully discussed, and unanimously adopted the following preamble and resolutions:—

“Whereas, the popular religion of the land is thoroughly impregnated with the slaveholding spirit, and from the organization of the government to the present time has given its sanction to a colossal and ever enlarging system of robbery, licentiousness, heathenism, and soul murder, until the victims thereof are counted by millions; and

Whereas, an extensive revival of this religion is said to be going on in Boston, under the sanction and with the coöperation of such men as the Rev. Dr. Nehemiah Adams and the Rev. Dr. Blagden, the defenders of slavery against every assault upon it; therefore,

Resolved, That the multiplication of converts to such a religion, instead of indicating any progress in the cause of justice, freedom, and Christianity, or furnishing any occasion for congratulation, is a sure sign of moral degeneracy, judicial blindness, and pharisaical malignity, to be denounced as an imposture; and that such a ‘revival’ is only a device of time-serving hirelings to withdraw attention from the reforms of the age, and especially from the anti-slavery movement; to affect a zeal for God for the benefit of their craft; and to shield themselves from the condemnation which they deserve for their treachery to the rights of man.

Resolved, That the charge brought by Abolitionists against the Northern church, that it is the bulwark of American slavery, finds its justification in much that transpires in what are denominated the religious anniversary meetings; and as a special illustration of our meaning, we would point to the prayer meeting in the Winter Street church, which was opened with prayer by the Rev. Nehemiah Adams,—a man standing before the world as the confessed champion of slavery, and yet retaining the unimpaired confidence and fellowship of the evangelical (so called) churches. To such assemblies we commend the consideration of the 13th, 14th, and 15th verses of the 1st chapter of Isaiah: ‘Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting.’ ‘Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth; they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them.’ ‘And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you; yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.’ ”

I have selected this particular series of resolutions among many of the Edition: current; Page: [14] same class that have for years past been voted by the Abolitionists, because I find here one of the strongest and fullest expressions of their judgment that the popular religion is at variance with Christianity, of the particulars in which they find such variance to exist, and of the source through which they see this corruption to have been perpetuated and to be now upheld. Founding themselves on the very essence of the system which Jesus taught, and accepting his summary of it* as their rule of action, and relying for the overthrow of slavery upon the clearness with which they can show its absolute contrariety to that system, and finding the power of this contrast neutralized in the public mind by a false idea already fixed there by the clergy of what Christianity is, what it necessarily implies, what it includes, and what it excludes, they see the exposure of this false teaching to be a duty imposed on them by Christianity not less than by Anti-Slavery. Yet for this very course, followed for this very purpose, they have been called infidels!

The Abolitionists have taken, and hold, and mean still to hold, until it is proved to be erroneous, just this position towards the American pro-slavery religion. Remembering those in bonds “as bound with them,” recognizing their “neighbor” and their “brother” in the black man who has fallen among thieves, and seeing the active or silent partners of those thieves in the Priest and the Levite who are passing by on the other side, they call upon the nation which practises this wickedness, and especially upon those in the nation who acknowledge their religious responsibilities and duties, to repent, immediately to repent, and immediately to commence the work of reformation. They rely solely upon what Paul called “the foolishness of preaching.” They point out plainly, in the sight of all men, who are the oppressed, and what justice and humanity require for their relief; they also point out who are the oppressors, and who their accomplices in church and state; and they cry unceasingly to the whole people, in the words of Jeremiah, “Thus saith the Lord, Execute judgment in the morning, and deliver him that is spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor.” In view of the example of prophets, apostles, and martyrs, of the plain commands of God, and of the nature of religion itself, they see not how any other course is open to them; and they say with Luther, when he was persecuted by those who called themselves successors of the apostles, “Here we stand! we can no other! God help us!

And we know that he will help us.


I am happy to be able, before these pages have passed through the press, to add to them a record of the two following transactions, which, however varying in form from the statements of the tract, corroborate them in substance.

At the annual meeting of the American Tract Society, held in Boston, on Tuesday, May 27, 1856, as they were about to proceed to the election of officers, Dr. Kirk rose, and called attention to the fact, that on many of the tickets the name of Rev. Dr. Nehemiah Adams was left out, and Mr. Edition: current; Page: [15] Stone’s name substituted. He wished to know whether this was designed as a chastisement of Dr. Adams for his “South-Side View of Slavery.” He did not believe Dr. A. should be chastised, and thought that to remove him would be injurious to the cause.

The balloting was then stopped, and a discussion ensued, one party strongly urging the reëlection of Dr. Adams, and the other taking the ground that it was undesirable that an extremist, an abolitionist or a defender of slavery, should be chosen on the Executive Committee, and that though Dr. Adams was as much respected as Mr. Stone, [an opposer of the extension of slavery,] and was moreover conscientious, high-minded, and pious, a man who had always done his duty well, yet since, in the matter of slavery, he did not so well represent the views of New England as Mr. Stone, the latter was the more satisfactory candidate.

Before the vote was taken, Dr. Adams rose, strongly urged his own re-election, on the ground, among others, that “he had the confidence of the South,” and caused to be read recommendations of his “South-Side View” from the “Christian Observer,” Philadelphia, the “New York Observer,” Rev. Dr. Heman Humphrey, and many other individuals and newspapers.

The old board was reëlected unanimously, with the exception of Dr. Adams. On the contested point, the vote stood:

Whole number of votes, 99.
Necessary to a choice, 50.
Rev. Dr. Adams had 43;
Rev. A. L. Stone had 56;

and was elected.

The above statement is condensed from the report in the Boston Evening Traveller, a paper which will certainly not be accused of warping its account in a manner unfavorable to Dr. Adams. I propose to look critically at this transaction, estimate its just value and significance, and see whether it indicates any thing like repentance or reformation in a body which has held, up to this time, a position auxiliary to slavery.

It will be noticed that not only does one of these parties claim for Dr. Nehemiah Adams the credit of exemplary piety and thoroughly Christian character, but the other admits this, without a syllable of dissent. The fact that he praises, heartily supports, and quotes Scripture in justification of an enormous system of oppression, does not, in their view, interfere with his claim to be regarded as a Christian; his representation of God and Christ as authorizing the strong to live on the enforced labor of the weak, paying them therefor only such wages as they pay to oxen and horses, does not, in their view, interfere with his being a faithful messenger from that God, a regenerate disciple and true minister of the Gospel of that Christ; he wishes that more Africans might be brought as slaves to South Carolina, and that the restrictions of South Carolinian slavery might be applied to certain classes in Boston; those among the voters of the Tract Society who differ with him in this, consider it a mere difference of opinion, as of one man preferring a ride and another a walk, and as not in the least detracting from his true discipleship to the Saviour, who came to break every yoke, and to let the oppressed go free; they concede him to be a pious man, and a Christian minister, and would take the Lord’s supper from his hand just as readily as if in his professional and individual life he helped, instead of hindering, the men and women who have fallen among thieves. And yet the “Independent,” which stands nearer to a reformatory position than any other (so called) “religious” paper in the country, says of this affair—“What was actually done at the meeting of the Tract Society was exactly Edition: current; Page: [16] what we wished to have done.” The Italics are the editor’s. Such is the advance guard of reform in the church. I claim that the above transaction corroborates the general position taken in this tract, namely, that in relation to slavery, the clergy and the churches have been corrupters, while the Abolitionists have been defenders and preservers, of true Christianity.

If the Tract Society’s operations were conducted in advancement of the Christian, instead of the American, religion, and if its members were really solicitous that it should “promote the interests of vital godliness and good morals,” they would have voted unanimously for the exclusion of Dr. Adams, on the following grounds:—

Whereas, Dr. Adams distinctly takes and persistently holds the position, that a Christian may buy another Christian, and thus acquire the right to hold him as a piece of property; that he may keep him enrolled among his goods and chattels, and subject to the consequences of such enrolment; that he may compel him to work without his own consent either to the work itself or the compensation properly belonging to it, and that he may give or sell him, as property, to any one he pleases, thus transferring a real ownership, which may be used or again transferred at the buyer’s pleasure,—

And whereas, he distinctly takes and persistently holds the position that God authorizes, and that Christianity allows, such purchase, and ownership, and sale of one Christian by another,—

And whereas, it is obvious that this position is at once a gross libel upon the character of our Heavenly Father, and a reversal of the system taught us by his Son Jesus Christ, and ruinous to “the interests of vital godliness,” and utterly subversive of “good morals,”—

And whereas, the holder of such opinions, having renounced and denied the very essence of Christianity, namely, the recognition of a just and good God, who enjoins justice and goodness upon his creatures, necessarily shows himself incompetent to decide as to what publications will, and what will not, “promote the interests of vital godliness and good morals”; therefore,

Resolved, That the Rev. Dr. Adams be removed from the Executive Committee, as being incompetent to its work, because apostate from its principles.

Our position is, that a vote substantially like this would have been unanimously passed, if the Tract Society were doing a Christian work in a Christian manner. Instead of this, in an unusually large meeting of voters, we find them unanimous in the opposite direction, some declaring and the rest admitting, Dr. Adams to be a thoroughly pious and Christian man, while the bare majority which displaced him, did so only on the ground that he did not represent their opinions so well as the other candidate. Not a member of the Tract Society even intimated that the attempt to justify slavery by religious considerations, and to represent God and Christianity as upholding it, was reproachful to God, libellous to Christianity, and sufficient proof of unfitness for the work of selecting religious tracts. It was not at all that Dr. Adams was unfit, but that Mr. Stone was preferable, that the former was refused by a bare majority, fifty-six to forty-three.

Suppose that Dr. Adams’s book, instead of denying slavery to be a sin, had denied, at equal length and with equal thoroughness, that men were born totally depraved; that that position had been before the public for a year, and that Dr. Adams continued to defend it!—do you think that then we should have had a mere preference, by a bare majority, of some other brother in the same connection, with an express admission of Dr. Adams’s Christian character? Would the commendations of Dr. Heman Humphrey, Edition: current; Page: [17] and Dr. Worcester, of Salem, and of the New York Observer, then have been forthcoming?

To enable our readers to understand how merely superficial is this rejection of Dr. Adams, and how far it is from denoting any reformation in the Tract Society, one or two more facts must be mentioned.

There are two Societies, one in Boston and one in New York, each calling itself “The American Tract Society.” Of these, the former was first founded, having been in operation a dozen years, more or less, before the establishment of the New York Society. The latter adopted the tracts already published of the Boston Society, as a basis of operations, and then took upon itself the whole business of publishing for both Societies, and the Boston depository has ever since been supplied from the New York depository. Each Society has its own board of officers, and Dr. Adams was chosen on the Executive Committee of both Societies. His displacement from the Boston committee does not in the least affect his position on the New York one. But the peculiarity of the affair is that the Boston Society, which has dropped him, does not publish any tracts of its own, but supplies itself from the depository of the New York Society, which retains him. So the distributors of tracts, whether in Boston or New York, or elsewhere, will still enjoy whatever advantage there may be in Dr. Adams’s supervision, and must still suffer the inconvenience of his absolute censorship over all matter of an anti-slavery cast in the manuscripts offered to the Tract Society.

The last week in May, (called “Anniversary Week,” from the assemblage of the clergy and other representatives of the churches to transact the annual business of their religious and sectarian associations in Boston,) came in 1856 at a time when the mass of the community was excited, to a degree never witnessed before, by recent demonstrations of outrage and violence perpetrated by the representatives of slavery in Washington and in Kansas. After “indignation meetings” had been held by laymen in Boston and many other places in reference to these two events, and the press had abounded in details of them, the clergy held a meeting in Boston. I copy the resolutions passed by it, with one specimen of accelerating and one of retarding influence, from the report in the Boston Evening Telegraph, Friday, May 30th.


“A ministers’ meeting was held Thursday afternoon, in the Meionaon, to consider the present position of affairs with relation to the outrage committed on Senator Sumner, and the condition of the country with reference to Kansas, &c. Rev. Mr. James, of Worcester, called the meeting to order, and nominated Rev. Prof. Stowe, of Andover, to take the chair. Prayer was then offered by Rev. Mr. Wallace, of Manchester, N. H. The meeting was very large and highly respectable.

Mr. Stowe expressed his thanks to the meeting for calling him to the chair. He thought there had been too much caution with reference to the Edition: current; Page: [18] slavery question. We are reaping the fruits of our own doing. Slavery is a national sin, and the work of our fathers is all to be done over again. Unless there is a different tone manifested in the churches and throughout the entire North, the outrages recently committed will prove only the beginning of troubles. The first work of the ministry is penitence for their past neglect, and the second is to see that that neglect shall exist no longer. There must be a determined resistance to the slave power. We are, said he, in just the beginning of our trials.

Rev. Mr. Dexter was appointed secretary.

On motion of Rev. Mr. Burrell, of Easton, a business committee of five was appointed to prepare resolutions for the meeting, consisting of Rev. Messrs. Russel, of Canton, James, of Worcester, Walcott, of Providence, Drummond, of Lewiston Falls, Me., and Rev. Mr. Wallace, of Manchester, N. H.

Mr. Branscomb, of Kansas, was called up by Rev. Mr. Dexter, and was received with applause. He left Lawrence on the 16th day of this month. There is no greater oppression to be heard of than that which now afflicts Kansas. He then gave a narrative of the atrocities committed in Kansas in connection with Gov. Reeder and others.

[During Mr. B.’s remarks the audience applauded; whereupon Rev. Dr. Worcester, of Salem, hoped that if any laymen had come into the meeting with the usages of political gatherings, they would remember that this was a meeting of ministers. Rev. Mr. Dexter remarked that the ministers had themselves applauded, and immediately the hall resounded with applause ten times greater than before.]

The Committee then reported, through Rev. Mr. James, the following resolutions:—

In view of the ceaseless aggression of the Slave Power in our land, and especially in view of the recent brutal attempts to extinguish free speech in the Congress of the United States, and take the lives of free men in Kansas;

We, Ministers of the Gospel, to the end that we may bear our united and efficient testimony before all men, do hereby calmly, prayerfully, and as in the sight of God, embody our deep religious convictions, and our unalterable purposes, in the following resolutions:

Resolved, That the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is the only antidote for sin, and the only secure basis either of personal character or of political institutions; adapted alike to the family, the church, and the state, and precisely fitted to work out in them all the highest and noblest ends.

Resolved, That we can entertain no hope that American slavery will be done away, or its countless usurpations peacefully cease, except as the result of a widely-increased conviction of its hatefulness in the sight of God, and its inherent and inevitable antagonism to the spirit of Christ. And we do therefore pledge to each other our mutual coöperation, sympathy, and aid, in the work of developing, through the pulpit, the church, and the press, an enlightened public sentiment on this whole subject.

Resolved, That the murderous assault upon our honored senator, Charles Sumner, is not only a dastardly assault upon his person, and through him upon the right of free speech, but also a wound which we individually feel, and by which our very hearts bleed; and whether he shall recover, or sink into a martyr’s grave,—which may God avert,—we will address ourselves unto prayer and effort that this sorrowful event may become the glorious resurrection of national virtue, and the triumph of freedom.

Edition: current; Page: [19]

Resolved, In view of the present crisis in our national affairs, and especially the awful perils that impend over Kansas and the land, we see a new exhibition of the essentially corrupt and corrupting spirit of slavery, and a new necessity that we, as ministers of the gospel and lovers of liberty, should gird ourselves afresh to oppose its aggressions, and secure the final triumph of freedom.

The resolutions were then taken up seriatim, and discussed.

Rev. Dr. Worcester doubted about the preamble, and thought that some different action might be proper. He had been exceedingly pained at demonstrations of applause, and thought it did not become ministers to act like political men. It would be better to have a day of fasting and prayer.”

After a long debate, the preamble and resolutions were unanimously adopted, and it was also voted that they be signed by the officers of the meeting, and sent to the Massachusetts Senators and Representatives in Washington.

The meeting then adjourned.

Now let us consider what are the weight and significance of this transaction.

The Abolitionists have for twenty-three years been trying to arouse the people (and especially the clergy and the churches) to a consciousness of the fact that slavery is a heinous sin in the sight of God, requiring immediate repentance and reformation, not only in the slaveholders, but in those who are so politically and ecclesiastically connected with it and responsible for it as the people, and especially the religious people, of the North. If this proposition be true, the clergy should have taken the lead in preaching and enforcing it. They have not done this; they have constantly maligned and obstructed the Abolitionists, who did do it; and now, after the masses of the people have emphatically spoken, without the slightest confession of their long-continued sins of omission and commission in this matter, they pledge each other their mutual coöperation, sympathy, and aid in doing what every one of them ought long since individually to have done, ex officio, from the very fact that he assumes to be a minister of the gospel.

It remains to be seen whether they will discharge even this beginning of their duty; and I beg every reader of these pages to notice whether the ministers nearest to his observation fulfil this pledge any farther than they are crowded into it by their people, moving slowly and timidly in the direction indicated by the Abolitionists.

It is highly probable that a vivid sentiment of indignation against the outrageous assaults lately perpetrated upon Sumner in Washington, and the Free State people in Kansas, felt and expressed in public meetings by so large a portion of the people, may bring out a crop of sermons upon the same topics, expressed with a warmth so unusual in those compositions as to seem like spontaneous movement and progress. It is only seeming. The sermonizers follow, not lead, the movements of the people; and whenever Charles Sumner recovers from his wounds, (if Providence shall so ordain it,) and whenever the pending question concerning Kansas shall be settled, by her becoming, possibly a free, probably a slave State, if events do not widely vary from all the analogies of the last fifty years, this hastily aroused excitement of the people will subside, (as did the almost unparalleled interest aroused by “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,”) they will return to their farms and their merchandise, will yield impunity to the outrage upon their rights inflicted through Charles Sumner, as formerly to that inflicted through Samuel Hoar, and will take an established slavery in Kansas as quietly as they now Edition: current; Page: [20] do in South Carolina; and then, I say, if all analogies do not fail, the sermons will drop down to their ordinary level, and the clergy will continue to be followers, not leaders, of the people. Meantime, while the temporary fervor lasts, mark carefully to how much such sermons pledge the speakers, and to what kind and amount of action they urge the people. It is very easy to condemn a brutal and cowardly assault, but will those persons trace it to its source—slavery; condemn that system as a whole, confess their own past shortcomings in relation to it, cut off their own ecclesiastical connection with it, and urge their people to immediate action for its utter overthrow? It is very easy to condemn the violence of an armed banditti, who, in defiance of constitutional law as well as right, have controlled the freedom of elections in Kansas; but will they trace that to its source—slavery; confess their own guilt in having tacitly consented to it so long, and warn their people that, until every vestige of it is rooted out, from church and state, and social life, in every portion of our country, the like dangers will neither be prevented, nor their own duties discharged? Those who carefully note, examine, and compare in relation to these matters, will see whether I prophesy truly or not.

Another point which may be profitably noted for careful observation, during the coming year, as indicating the practical relation of the clergy to slavery, is, whether the prayers of those who pray at all for the slave, in public, are made as an appropriate and intended preliminary to action, and followed by earnest exhortations to their people, to do something, immediately, towards the overthrow of the slave power, or whether prayer is proposed merely as a substitute for action, and a means of preventing discussion. Before the mass of the people had begun to think or talk about slavery, Professor Stuart counselled his theological students not to pray about it publicly, lest “agitation,” and its follower, anti-slavery, should gain entrance into their churches; but if he were living now, as circumstances alter cases, he might pursue the same end by the very opposite means; just as Dr. Worcester, of Salem, (from whose church several members long since withdrew themselves, on account of his and its pro-slavery character,) after vainly trying to retain Dr. South-Side Adams on the Tract Society’s committee, and to frown down the applause raised for resistance to the aggressions of slavery in Kansas, at the ministers’ meeting, attempted to check even the feeble current of feeling manifested in their “Resolutions,” by proposing to substitute for them “a day of fasting and prayer.”

Perhaps we are now to find this policy practised by many of the clergy Perhaps the latest counsel of Dr. Gannett and Dr. Kirk, to wait and pray, may be found by many others the most effective means of averting Anti-Slavery action. Those who thus counsel, are blind guides in religion, not less than in Anti-Slavery. The prayer that “availeth much” is not such as the wagoner offered to Hercules, a lazy attempt to persuade God to do our duty, but is accompanied and followed by strenuous and persevering action. God helps those who help themselves.

Published for gratuitous distribution, at the Office of the American Anti-Slavery Society, No. 138 Nassau Street, New York. Also to be had at the Anti-Slavery Offices, No. 21 Cornhill, Boston, and No. 31 North Fifth Street, Philadelphia.

Edition: current; Page: [1]
Thomas Wentworth Higginson
Higginson, Thomas Wentworth

Thomas Wentworth Higginson, “A Ride Through Kansas,” 24 pp.



[The following letters were originally published, with the signature of Worcester, in the New York Tribune.]

Sept. 12, 1856
Nebraska City


Nebraska City is a handful of one-story cabins, interspersed with an equal number of magnificent distances, all beautifully situated on a bluff overlooking the muddy Missouri. It has one or two groves of “timber” about it, and there are noble woods on the rich bottom-land across the river. The village itself, like other Western villages, has a tavern and three or four land offices, and the principal pursuit of the inhabitants consists in sitting on the doorsteps of these structures, waiting for real estate to rise. It does rise, however, very fast, and the name of the settlement may be more veracious at some future time. At present, in this region, if a place is tolerably large, it is called a town. If otherwise, something must be done for it, and it is christened Something City.

This is a good way into the Far West. From childhood I had learned by Worcester’s Geography that Council Bluffs was the extreme verge of the imaginable horizon. When at last the stage rolled me in there, I felt as strangely as a little boy on the Canada Railway, who, as the conductor shouted the name of the little village of London, sprang up, half awake, behind me, exclaiming, “Do we really pass through LONDON, that great city!”

Set it down as a general rule that all statements of Iowa Kanzas Committees in regard to stage routes are incorrect; and in fact those of everybody else, for the only fixed rule of the Western Stage Company is to do nothing to-day, as it was done yesterday. And as each driver goes but ten or fifteen miles, and knows nothing beyond his own route, and as the agent at each end hardly knows that, it is impossible to state at any given moment what will be done. When the stage ought to go, it stops, and when it should stop, it goes. No wonder, then, if Kanzas Committees are wrong, when nobody is right. But it may save some disappointment if I say that there is not a single direct stage route across Edition: current; Page: [2] Iowa to Nebraska City, of any sort, and that whether one starts from Iowa City or Mount Pleasant, it is equally necessary to bring up at Council Bluffs, and thence get down the river as one can, the best way being to take a stage which leaves twice a week for Sidney, at the convenient hour of midnight. Sidney is fifteen miles from this city, and one must choose between a private conveyance thence, and a hack which is said to run twice a week with the mails.

There is thus no stage line over the greater part of either route, and this is a great inconvenience. A route has been talked of in the newspapers, and even announced in handbills, running directly from Mount Pleasant to this place, through the second tier of Iowa counties, but I am satisfied that there is no prospect of its being opened. In the mean time, the one hope of Kanzas emigration is the Burlington and Missouri Rivers Railroad. Let Eastern capitalists remember this.

At present no person, without actually travelling across Iowa, can appreciate the injury done by the closing of the Missouri River. Emigrants must toil, week after week, beneath a burning sun, over the parched and endless “rolling prairie,” sometimes seeing no house for a day or two together, camping often without wood, and sometimes without water, and obliged to carry with them every eatable they use. It is no wonder that they often fall sick on the way; and when I consider how infinitely weary were even my four days and nights of staging, (after as many more of railroad travel,) I can only wonder at the patience and fortitude which the present emigrants have shown.

As soon as one approaches the Missouri River, even in Iowa and Nebraska, he begins to feel as if he were in France or Austria. Men are very cautious in defining their position, and wait to hear what others will say. Then, perhaps, their tongues are slightly loosed, if they think there are no spies about them. But it is no slight risk when a man may have to pay with his life, further down the river, for a free word, spoken at Council Bluffs or Sidney, both Pro-Slavery towns.

The first night I spent in this place, it seemed as if a symbolical pageant had been got up to remind me where I was. I sat writing by an open window in the beautiful moonlight. A party of boys in the street were shouting and screeching, playing “Border Ruffian,” and “storming a fort.” In a building beyond, two very inexperienced performers played martial tunes with a drum and fife. Within, the small tavern rocked with the music and dancing of a border ball. Thus I sat between tragedy and comedy.

But there is plenty of genuine tragedy. Coming from a land where milionaires think themselves generous in giving fifty dollars to Kanzas, I converse daily with men who have sacrificed all their property in its Edition: current; Page: [3] service, and are ready at any hour to add their lives. Refugees come every few days from Leavenworth City, and tell, with a quiet desperation, of the wrongs and outrages there transacted. “Come, Uncle George,” says the latest informant, “have a seat on this log, and I ’ll tell you all about it.” So Uncle George sits down, takes out his long jack-knife, selects a convenient stick, and begins to whittle. The informant takes out his knife, and follows suit, and a few bystanders settle down and begin to whittle likewise. Then comes the story, “all which he saw, and part of which he was”—how the Missourians came over to vote, and voted—how enraged they were that the Free State men would not vote—how they collected in mobs at last, maddened by whiskey—how they went from house to house and shop to shop, while men took their wives and children to the fort, and fled themselves—how they tarred and feathered one of Uncle George’s friends, and ran another out of town, and murdered another—how, like devils, they behaved inside his handsome house, destroying what they could not steal, and trying at last to set it on fire. “Your loss can’t be less than $6,000, old fellow,” concludes his frank informant, who has himself lost that or more, “even if they did n’t burn your block of stores, which they allowed to do after I left.” Uncle George hears it all in silence, whittles faster or slower according to the excitement of the narrative, and quietly says at last, with a slight moisture in the corner of either eye, “Well, my old woman was out of it, anyhow.”

Meantime, in regard to Topeka and Lawrence, the accounts are somewhat confused even here, only one hundred and twenty-five miles off. The last arrival left Topeka on Friday, Sept. 5. He reports the condition of affairs such as you have doubtless had narrated before now. The fortifications around Lawrence, and so on;—the people provided with beef and potatoes, but entirely out of flour and of lead. As to the road between here and there, he saw fewer Missourians than previous parties have seen; and there is reason to think that Richardson’s bands have been drawn off for a time, to re-enter at a time agreed upon—probably when their spies report that our emigrant train is ready to set forth—though if it amounts to half their number, it is not likely that they will dare to attack it.

The train is passing through here piecemeal, on its way from a temporary encampment at Tabor to another at the Little Nemaha, twenty-five miles south of this place. The largest section of it is a party of some fifty Massachusetts and Maine men. Having personally assisted in organizing this party and starting them from Boston, I can testify to their character. Some of them own their own wagons and bring pecuniary means with them; others have only brave hearts and strong bodies; Edition: current; Page: [4] and they complain of nothing but the long delay, as they left July 24. Beside these, there are smaller parties from Vermont, Ohio, Illinois, and Iowa, who bring much valuable property. When we are all collected on the Little Nemaha, I shall, perhaps, have time to write more definitely as to the numbers of the train, which will probably count up to several hundred.

Every one admits the fine appearance and excellent conduct of the whole party thus far. Even the mean editor of The Nebraska News, a little Administration paper published here, can find nothing against the emigrants, except that they look dusty and ragged. Probably he would prefer them if they had tramped across three hundred miles of prairie in ruffles and patent leather. But the article has been of use in the reaction which it has produced. Even Pro-Slavery men here see that it may injure the place, though not the emigrants, and the first citizens are signing a protest against it. The fact is, that an effort is already being made to turn the emigration through Plattsmouth, (where the ferry is better than here,) and the people of this village perceive where their interest lies. The train will spend some $2,500 or more here, first and last, and not the slightest disorder has yet been charged on a single member of the company. If the market were larger, our purchases would be larger also. I have myself bought up for the emigrants all the cowhide boots to be found in town, (except extra sizes,) and nearly all the flannel shirts and blankets.

Missouri, however, expects to rule Iowa and Nebraska, as well as Kanzas. It is openly threatened that the new steam ferry boat, now being built at St. Louis, shall never come up the river to be used in carrying emigrants; and this is fast converting the owner of the ferry, born in Missouri, and hitherto Pro-Slavery, into an Anti-Slavery man. The Missourians also threaten to attack Tabor, Iowa, which is only some twenty miles from the border, and which is an Anti-Slavery town. Indeed, the citizens of Tabor are entitled to everlasting gratitude for their unwearied kindness to our emigrants. The sick have been cared for, clothing has been made, and every house, stable, and melon-patch, has been common property. Let the Eastern States hold this thriving little village in grateful remembrance.

I am here as a sort of General Agent, to put the train through, and shall, of course, go in with it, to Kanzas.

Sept. 25, 1856


I wrote last from Nebraska City, just before the train of emigrants left that place for this. I reached here yesterday, a day or more in advance Edition: current; Page: [5] of them, having pushed through, for the last two days, with a few companions. The distances on the route are about as follows:—To Camp Creek, or Worcester, twelve miles; thence to Little Nemaha River and Village, fifteen miles; to Archer, fifteen miles; to Plymouth, (Kanzas,) twelve miles; to Lexington, ten miles; to Indian Village, thirty-five miles; to Topeka, fifteen miles. This would make the whole distance one hundred and fourteen miles, and it is variously estimated from that up to one hundred and forty. The route is also somewhat circuitous, and will be shortened hereafter. The road is uniformly a good prairie road, except where a creek is to be crossed, and there is a steep pitch on each side, with a slough between. No serious accident, however, occurred to any of our teams. Of the localities above-named, Nemaha and Archer are thriving little Nebraska settlements, each with lodging-house and store. Worcester, in Nebraska, is one log-house. Plymouth consists of an earthen redoubt on a hill, and two log-houses in the distance. Lexington is a log-fort in the centre of a prairie, where seven of our brave Worcester boys were laboriously digging the best well I have seen in this region—thirty-five feet deep and nine wide. Both Plymouth and Lexington, however, are very favorable town sites, and well laid out. The companies who settled them are now returning from the seat of war, and if they can only obtain food and clothing during the winter, (a doubtful prospect,) these will yet be flourishing towns. That well of water, at least, will be a clear gain to Kanzas in all coming time.

Except these, there are no settlements over this long route till Indianola, a few miles from Topeka. There are occasional log-houses, however, and it is, on the whole, more inhabited than the western part of Iowa.

Our train included about one hundred and forty men and some twenty women and children. There were twenty-eight wagons—all but eight being horse-teams. Our nightly tents made quite a little colony, and presented a busy scene. While some watered and fed the stock, others brought wood for the fires; others prepared the tents and wagons for sleeping; others reloaded pistols or rifles, and the leaders arranged the nightly watch or planned the affairs of the morrow. Meanwhile, the cooks fried pork, made coffee, and baked bread, and a gaping crowd, wrapped in blankets, sat around the fire. Women brought their babes, and took the best places they could find, and one worthy saddler brought out his board and leather every night and made belts and holsters for the men. We slept soundly in spite of the cold and of the scarcity of wood, and each kept watch for an hour, striding in thick boots through the grass, heavy with frost. Danger always seemed before us, though Edition: current; Page: [6] we never actually got into it, and we were never far from our rifles and revolvers. Truth compels the admission that my rifle was never pointed at anything more formidable than a superb hawk, which it brought down, and even that shot was disputed by a comrade, who fired at the same time. However, I have the wings.

We came through without attack from the Missourians, as General Lane assured us that we should; we had had their spies among us, but they had seen that we were well armed, and that our men, though quiet, were determined.

The one thing that discouraged our party, however, was to meet other parties, day after day, returning. Men on horseback and on foot, with wagons and without, came along in ominous numbers. All told the same story. “What the Missourians have been trying for two years to do, Governor Geary has done in two weeks at last,” said one man; “the Free State men are driven out.” It was like entering Hungary just after the treachery of Görgey. Each had his story to tell of arrests and tyrrannies; how a Pro-Slavery witness had only to point at a man as identified with any measure of public defense, and he was seized at once. Several whom we met had been arrested in person, herded with a hundred others, like cattle, on the bare prairie, been scantily fed once a day, and escaped by rolling half a mile through the grass while the sentinels’ backs were turned. The bravest young men of Lawrence were put under arrest, charged with treason, murder, arson, robbery, and what not; while not a Pro-Slavery man was seized. This was the penalty they had to pay for defending themselves vigorously at last, and clearing their own soil from the invading Missourians. “The worst enemy Kanzas had ever had,” they pronounced Governor Geary to be; and they were going into Iowa to wait for better times. “Will you give up Kanzas?” I asked. “Never!” was the reply from bronzed and bearded lips, stern and terrible as the weapons that hung to the saddle-bow. “We are scattered, starved, hunted, half-naked, but we are not conquered yet.

Some of these were young men, whom I had seen go from prosperous homes, well clothed and cared for. I had since heard of them performing acts of heroic courage in this summer’s battles. Lane had praised them to me, and declared that there never was such courage in the world as that of the Free State men of Kanzas. “I saw one of them,” said he, “ride up alone within thirty yards of a body of a hundred and fifty men, during an engagement, take deliberate aim, and bring one down.” I now saw that very man—that boy rather, a Worcester boy—retreating from his adopted country, hungry, ragged, and almost barefooted, walking wearily on, with others hunted like himself, while some, who had been less scrupulous, rode by on horses which they had plundered from the Missourians, who had first plundered them.

Edition: current; Page: [7]

It was such processions as this which welcomed us to unhappy Kanzas. And when we reached the muddy banks of the world-famous river, we found not less than nineteen wagons of emigrants, fleeing with heavy hearts from the land of promise they sought so eagerly two years ago; a sad greeting for the families we brought in. “Truly,” said our informant, again, “The Free State men are leaving Kanzas at last; Governor Geary has conquered them.”

As Hungary, having successfully resisted her natural enemy, Austria, yielded at length to the added strength of Russia; so the Kossuths of Kanzas, just as they had cleared her borders of Missourians, are subdued by the troops of the United States at last.

Sept. 28, 1856
Lawrence, Kanzas


It produces a singular effect upon the mind to awake in the morning, before daybreak, and find the house surrounded by a cordon of dragoons, each sitting silent on his horse. This was my experience this morning, followed by the information that they intended at daylight to search the house for the leaders of the party of immigrants of which I had been one of the conductors. Sallying forth and inquiring for the commanding officer, I was astonished at being accosted by name and discerning an old acquaintance. I then ascertained that the man chiefly aimed at was our common friend Redpath. Then appeared a gentlemanly young Virginian, Colonel Preston, who introduced himself to me as the marshal who was to make the arrest, and gave further elucidation.

I must go back and say that, as the emigrant train was arriving on the previous day, one hundred and forty United States dragoons had come riding through the town, followed by baggage wagons enough for a winter’s campaign. They passed us with such unconcern that we regarded them with much the same indifference; but Colonel Preston explained all that. It seems that the vigilant Governor had sent him in pursuit of an armed force of terrific numbers, said to be entering the Territory from Nebraska, under the most ferocious leaders. Therefore a special marshal was sent, clothed with almost unlimited powers, which he showed me, to arrest any or all of this party, and by all means to secure the leaders, especially Redpath. So the marshal rode past our peaceful train, looking for the warlike one, and happening to inquire at the last wagon, found that we, and none but we, were the expected army. Either the bird had flown, or it was a dove, and not a hawk. True, the dove carried a Sharp’s rifle under his wing, but it was for defensive purposes only. So Colonel Preston and Captain Walker halted their force, unloaded their baggage wagons, camped uncomfortably on the prairie, and waked sadder and wiser men next morning.

Edition: current; Page: [8]

True, they still wished to arrest Redpath, but after some courteous debate with Governor Robinson and myself, it was finally agreed, especially as the victim could not be found, that he should be amicably invited to drive down to Lecompton with us, and call on the Governor. This seemed very natural and proper to me, as I had been twice arrested myself, in the same amicable manner, in the Bay State region. (Being brought before potentates in that manner suggests the same criticism made on the sedan chair with no bottom to it—“If it were not for the name of it, it is very much like walking.”)

So we four rode down behind the Governor’s pair of horses (respectable, but not dashing steeds, well worked); and the traitor and the captor rode on the back seat together, and they interchanged cigars, and Redpath, who would be on easy terms with the Great Mogul at the second whiff, joked the young Colonel rather closely, and put in little keen questions about the decay of Virginia, and the good, generous, manly Governor Robinson had always a sensible word to add; and we told our guest that we didn’t approve of stealing horses, but approved particularly of “stealing niggers,” and I really was pleased with his exemplary courtesy. I must, however, put in the brief Yankee criticism of Captain W., a staunch Free State man, on my praising these attributes in the young Virginian: “Confound him, does the manners well; so they all do, and shoot you the next minute, if they dare.”

We rode into the little village of Lecompton, caught a glimpse of the prisoners (whom I shall visit to-morrow), and found the Governor in a house pleasantly situated by the river. Poor man, there is nothing else that is pleasant in his situation.

There is much more harmony in the opinions held here about the Governor than appears to have existed a week or two ago. It does not take long to see through him. When you see that a man makes an effort to be dignified and commanding, it is all over with him. The new Governor’s eyes look at you, as a certain poet once described somebody’s to me, “with a very intensified nothing in them.” He impressed me as a man who intends to do the right thing, and is profoundly convinced that he has the full ability to do it, and is profoundly mistaken in that belief. He appears to have energy of will, without real energy of character; can do single acts of decision, and has done them already; but has neither the mental ability to understand the condition of Kanzas, nor the moral power to carry out any systematic plan for its benefit. His present plan, to coerce both parties and play a little Napoleon at Lecompton, will inevitably fail, and is failing already. Both sides will cease to respect him as soon as they understand him, and it is mere chance which he will fall out with first. But he will be the last person in the Territory to discover his own failure.

Edition: current; Page: [9]

He thinks he has plenary power, commits the most despotic acts without apparently understanding what he does, sets aside the Territorial laws at pleasure, and the United States laws, and all other laws, and yet cannot be made to see that he does so. He puts Pro-Slavery militia over Free State men, and is organizing bodies of Free State men to keep down Pro-Slavery men, and all without law or precedent. So far, he has only arrested Free State men; but I shall not be at all surprised if he arrests others. Still, the Free State men cannot consistently make complaints under the Territorial laws, and they do not; and as they keep aloof from him, and are learning to despise him, he is almost wholly under the influence of the other party.

What can be expected from a man who proclaims in presence of a dozen people, as I heard him, in the most grandiloquent manner, “Gentlemen, rely upon it that I watch over you always; my information extends everywhere; my spies are everywhere; I shall spend $10,000, if necessary, in obtaining information; two men cannot talk together in the streets of Kanzas without my knowing the subject of their machinations; in fact, a man can scarcely think, without my knowing the subject of his thoughts.” Yet these are almost his precise words, not in private conversation, but delivered in an almost public manner, and written down by me directly after.

I give this description of the new Governor of Kanzas, because there is no public man in the United States whose blunders or errors may be more destructive. Of his private life I have nothing to say, and indeed know nothing; but he has undertaken a position so inconsistent and difficult that the wisest man could not fill it; and he is a great way from being the wisest.

As to Redpath’s case it was soon dismissed, but not till his keen wit had had ample play upon the lofty Governor, who did not for some time discover whom he had to deal with; and when they finally parted, Redpath assured the Governor that he need not apologise for his treatment of him, and if their positions were ever reversed, he would certainly treat him with the same generosity. It was impossible not to laugh, and his Excellency bowed us out, looking a little puzzled, and I closed the door, feeling that pity one entertains for a man not without good intentions, but who has undertaken a task utterly out of proportion to his calibre.

We came down to Lawrence that night in the Governor’s carriage, (the real Governor, who by the way made a noble speech to our emigrants, the day before, in his own simple way,) and it was through the most tremendous, sudden storm I was ever out in. It was just after sunset, and in an instant all was absolute darkness around us, and the lightning came in such intensity that we could see no more than we saw Edition: current; Page: [10] without it. The hail came in sheets upon the roof of the vehicle, then the rain saturated even its interior; the horses had to be held in their fright; it was uncomfortable. But I reflected that I had come to Kanzas expecting adventures, and here was one; and then I was being driven by a Governor, in his own carriage, moist though it might be. And we arrived safely at last.

Lawrence is three times the size of Topeka, and delightfully situated; hills, river, and “timber” in plenty; more in this vicinity than I have seen anywhere else. Things look less utterly paralyzed than in Topeka, where I counted forty-four occupied buildings, and nineteen on which work had been begun and abandoned. Here there seems to be some employment, but the ruins of the large hotel, and the bare spot where Governor Robinson’s house stood, and the fortifications across some of the principal streets, tell a tale about as sad. There has also been far more suffering here. Flour has just arrived in abundance, and sells at $5.00 per sack of 100 lbs., but, where to get the money!

Never have I been in such a community as this; never seen such courage, such patience, such mutual generosity, such perfect buoyancy of spirit. Not a man nor a woman seems bent or depressed by all that they have suffered; and they speak of the attack upon the town, a fortnight ago to-day, with two thousand eight hundred Missourians outside and two hundred and fifty fighting men inside, as lightly as I can now speak of the prairie tempest last night.

Sept. 30, 1856


Yesterday I visited the prisoners of State, now under confinement at Lecompton. It was my second visit to that forlorn little Virginia town. I call it thus because the whole sensation is that of the Old Dominion. Instead of the rising school-houses and churches of Lawrence, the little street is lined with bar-rooms, whereof the chief is the “Virginia Saloon.” The tavern is true Virginia—bacon, corn-bread, and dirty negro boys and girls to wait at table. Southern provincialisms strike one’s ear at every moment, and the town is garrisoned by Colonel Titus’s militia, re-enforced yesterday by twenty-five precious youths from Georgia, in a high state of whiskey.

The Governor disavows all control over the prisoners, but Marshal Donelson was very ready to admit me to see them. In fact, they were very visible, being allowed an area of a square rod or so before their prison door, guarded by a few young Missourians, who paced up and down with loaded muskets. I met one of the poor fellows, allowed for some reason to cross the street, pursued by an evil-looking scoundrel Edition: current; Page: [11] with fixed bayonet. It is singular how much alike all Slavery’s officials look. I saw half a dozen times repeated the familiar features of my Boston friend, Mr. Asa O. Butman.

The hundred and five prisoners lounged about, looking as prisoners everywhere do. They are kept in a large unfinished wooden building, without an atom of furniture of any description. They do their own cooking, with very scanty utensils, and such provisions as I shall hereafter describe. They have obtained with great difficulty fifteen straw pallets for the whole company. Some have no blankets; but the majority possess the luxury of one apiece. It was an exceedingly cold, windy day, when I was there; the exposed side of the house was unfinished, and about half its superficial extent consisted of great gaps through which the wind whistled. A few of the men lay about on the floor sick with fever and ague.

Most of them are young men, the flower of the youth of Lawrence. They are a light-hearted set of boys, and are resolved to avenge themselves on their captors by perfect indifference to captivity. It comes hard, however, on some fathers of families and owners of farms, which are alike suffering from their absence. Three weeks labor of a hundred men, all lost, in the busiest season of the year, for it is the only time to get in the hay for the Winter’s supply.

One man had left six children, all sick, and his wife accidentally absent from home; he said he supposed some of the neighbors would look after them! Another carried in his arms a child, who was, I was told, the first child born in Lawrence, and was christened with the name of the town. The poor little thing looked rather forlorn, as its pallid father carried it up and down the bare prison room; an early initiation into the sorrows of Kanzas.

Among the crowd I found two of the best emigrants whom Worcester had sent, and others who belonged to companies which I had organized. Not one of these seemed depressed, but all appeared proud of being there. At first, they said, while in the care of the United States troops, and encamped on the prairie, there were many escapes; now the guard was so close that it was almost impossible. Colonel Titus, who has charge of these men, is the head of one division of Kanzas militia, his force being chiefly from Missouri and other Southern States; he is the man whose life was humanely spared by the Free State men when they broke up his camp of outlaws. He showed his gratitude by informing his Free State prisoners that if one of them attempted to escape, he should blow the building to atoms. I looked and saw the cannon actually pointed, not upon the entrance, but so as to command the main portion of the building. There stood the emblem of despotism, with its conical pile of Edition: current; Page: [12] balls beside it. I never saw but one cannon, before, that looked so detestable. That was employed in the same cause, but in Boston instead of Lecompton.

Even now, the men say that some could escape by killing a few sentinels; but this they will not do, for a true Kanzas reason—they would lose their rifles; whereas, if liberated, Governor Geary assures them that they shall be restored. I doubt this prospect, however, from the fact that out of fourteen horses, possessed by different individuals of the number when captured, only three can now be found; and a horse ranks second to a Sharp’s rifle in the affections of a Kanzas man.

All these prisoners are bound over for trial in October, on the charge of murder in the first degree. You are aware of the brilliant series of engagements in which the freemen of Kanzas had driven the invaders from their borders before Governor Geary appeared. In most of these a few Missourians were killed. In return for this, every Free State man who is accused by anybody of having taken part in those engagements is in danger of arrest. The greater part, however, were taken after the battle at Hickory Point, while of the Pro-Slavery men, who still had the black flag flying when these were taken, not one was captured.

If each of these prisoners had, in broad daylight, deliberately murdered a man, they could have been placed in no worse position than they are now, for simply defending the liberties of their country under most fearful provocation.

For instance, in the attack on Osawkee, the Free State men, on entering the Pro-Slavery fort, found a man chained to the floor, by a heavy log chain, about eight feet long, which was riveted to his leg. In this position he had been kept for six weeks, on the charge of stealing a horse. In all the exasperation produced by this discovery, no man was killed; but the Missourians were compelled to perform the labor of detaching the chain from the leg. My informant saw it done. For this affair, some of those whom I saw at Lecompton were imprisoned, and others in this place are hiding from arrest, or working on their farms with a horse ready saddled for instantaneous escape from any suspicious visitors.

All these arrests have been made by the United States troops, whom it is the present policy of the people not to resist. But this patience cannot last forever; and I only repeat, what I have every day asserted, when I say that the election of Fremont is the only thing that can avert a bloodier conflict than has ever yet stained this soil. For myself, I do not believe that even that will do it. When not a single Pro-Slavery man is arrested, how can men help seeing that the power of the Union is sustaining Missouri?

Edition: current; Page: [13]

The Governor excuses himself by saying that the Free State men make no complaints. But he does not wait for complaints on the other side, and he admitted to me that he sent up to arrest the leaders of our train of emigrants without an affidavit from any one. He has been repeatedly informed of the reason why the Free State men do not make complaints—namely, that they repudiate the bogus laws and despise the Judges. But he never will understand it, if it is stated to him every day during his stay in Kanzas.

I think he means to be kind to the prisoners, and he readily consented to order some additional blankets for them, and to suggest some improvement in their fare; he also, on being requested, directed the Marshal to close up the chinks in the building above referred to.

I took down a list of the prisoners. They came from the following States: Maine three, New Hampshire one, Vermont three, Massachusetts twelve, Rhode Island two, Connecticut one, New York thirteen, Ohio twelve, Michigan five, Indiana twelve, Illinois twenty-three, Wisconsin five, Iowa nine, Missouri six; total, one hundred and seven. I took pains to collect their names and origin, from their own lips, that we of the Free States may see that these are our own fellow-citizens.

The first prisoners were captured September 10, kept by the United States troops ten days, (having on one occasion but one biscuit each for thirty-six hours,) and then transferred to their present position, of which I add a further illustration from another source.

E. R. Falley
Falley, E. R.
Artemas H. Parker
Parker, Artemas H.

Statement of Provisions furnished the Prisoners for their first week at Lecompton.

Monday, Sept. 20.—Received no rations from United States Camp. Moved to Lecompton. Received at 5 o’clock, 1 sack of ‘shorts,’ baked into bread—1 do. not baked; 75 lbs. of bacon; 6 candles. 103 men. No coffee or sugar.

Tuesday Evening.—1 sack of shorts, 103 lbs. of bacon, 4 lbs. of coffee, 6 lbs. of sugar, 8 or 10 lbs. of salt, 1 lb. of saleratus, 1 gallon of molasses. 103 men.

Wednesday Evening.—1 sack of shorts, 5 lbs. of coffee, 5 lbs. of sugar, 1 gallon of molasses, 1 lb. of saleratus. 105 men.

Thursday Evening.—1 sack of flour, 50 lbs. of bacon, 6 lbs. of coffee, no sugar, 1 lb. of saleratus, 1 gallon of vinegar, 3 candles, 1 gallon of molasses. Provisions brought after dark. 105 men.

Friday, 2 o’clock.—Called on Sergeant of the Guard for provisions: was informed that he had spoken to the Marshal and that we were curtailed to two meals per day. Half past 4, Marshal came, brought 50 lbs. of bacon, fore-quarter of beef, about 110 lbs., 125 lbs. of flour, 1 bushel of green beans in the pod, 6 lbs. of coffee, no sugar, no salt; we got about 1 quart of salt from a neighbor. 7 o’clock, fresh arrival of nine prisoners. Marshal brought 3 candles for the whole amount of us, 111 men; furnished 15 mattresses to sleep on.

Edition: current; Page: [14]

Saturday.—Received 25 lbs. of beef, 125 lbs. of flour, one small sack of salt, one gallon of molasses, 6 lbs. of coffee. [111 men.] Spoke to Marshal in behalf of nine men brought here yesterday, who had no blankets, and was told that it was impossible to furnish any for them. He afterwards brought three quilts for them.

Sunday.—About 100 lbs. of beef, much damaged, 125 lbs. of flour, 6 lbs. of coffee, 1/2 lb. saleratus, 1 peck of beans, 3 candles, 4 lbs. of sugar.

We give the above as the amount of provisions received by the prisoners since coming to Lecompton, and are willing to make oath to the same.

E. R. Falley,
Artemas H. Parker,
Commissaries for the prisoners to distribute their provisions.

N. B.—Mr. Parker is well known to me as a worthy citizen of Clinton, Mass., who emigrated this Spring.

October 4, 1856


Ever since the rendition of Anthony Burns, in Boston, I have been looking for men. I have found them in Kanzas. The virtue of courage (for although these two words originally meant the same thing, they have become separated now) has not died out of the Anglo-American race, as some have hastily supposed. It needs only circumstances to bring it out. A single day in Kanzas makes the American Revolution more intelligible than all Sparks or Hildreth can do. The same event is still in progress here.

I have always wondered whether, in the midst of war, tumult, and death, the same daily current of life went on, and men’s hearts accommodated themselves to the occasion. In heroic races, I now see that it is so. In Kanzas, nobody talks of courage, for every one is expected to exhibit it.

Take, for instance, the Sunday attack on Lawrence, a fortnight ago. The army which approached it consisted of 2,800 by the estimate here—3,000 by Governor Geary’s estimate, and 3,200 by the statement of The Missouri Republican, in a singular article, which described the capture of the town, although it never happened. This force was in sight the greater part of the day, and though Governor Geary’s aid was invoked, it was known that it could not arrive till evening; thus allowing time for the destruction of everything.

Against this force, the number at first counted upon was one hundred; that being the supposed number of fighting men left, after the arrest of the hundred about whom I wrote to you, as prisoners. To the surprise of all, however, more than two hundred rallied to the fort. The lame came on crutches, and the sick in blankets.

Two hundred men against fourteen times their number! And the Edition: current; Page: [15] fort a mere earthen redoubt, of no pretensions—for the only fort worth the name is on the hill above the town, and was at this time useless. And yet (here comes the point) I was assured by Governor Robinson and a dozen others, that among this devoted handful the highest spirits prevailed; they were laughing and joking as usual, and only intent on selling their lives as dearly as possible.

They had no regular commander, any more than at Bunker Hill; but the famous “Old Captain Brown” moved about among them, saying, “Fire low, boys; be sure to bring down your eye to the hinder sight of your rifle, and aim at the feet rather than the head.”

A few women were in the fort that day—all who could be armed. Others spent the whole Sunday making cartridges. I asked one of these how she felt: “Well, I can ’t remember that I felt any way different from usual,” answered the quiet housekeeper, after due reflection. So they all say. One young girl sat at her door, reading, a mile or so from the scene of action. “Once in a while I looked up,” she said, “when there was a louder shot than usual.”

The chief fighting was among skirmishers, and there was no actual attack on the fort. The newspapers have had the particulars before, and I only mention the affair to show the spirit of buoyant courage which almost universally prevails. It must be remembered, also, that even now these people are poorly armed, and still worse off for ammunition. On this occasion they had but a few rounds apiece.

Persons at the North who grudge their small subscriptions to Kanzas, should remember that a few dollars may sometimes save a thousand. Osawatamie was sacrificed, after one of the most heroic defences in history, for want of ammunition. Brown and twenty-seven others resisted two hundred, killing thirty-three and wounding forty-nine, (eighty-two in all, by the Pro-Slavery statement,) and then retreated through these, with the loss of but one man, shot as he was swimming the creek. A hundred dollars worth of ammunition would have prevented, on that occasion, the destruction of $60,000 worth of property.

I walked out yesterday to the scene of the last fight at Franklin, and heard the narrative from one of the Pro-Slavery men who had defended the fort. He said “he did n’t like those d—d Sharp’s rifles; did n’t mind the ball so much, but hated the whizzing of them”—just, I suppose, as the hum of a mosquito is more annoying than the bite. He said also: “As soon as they shoved up the wagon-load of hay, and set it on fire, we boys cried for quarter, and then we all ran.” I saw where the hay was taken from, a very exposed place, and where the door had been burned by it. He showed also the narrow space through which the defenders fired, and I observed that nearly all the rifle balls of the assailants Edition: current; Page: [16] went above it, the tendency of Sharp’s rifles in inexperienced hands. My Pro-Slavery friend dug out one of these for me, as a memorial.

Franklin was the place where the Free State men were charged with plundering the letters from the Post-Office. I suppose it will not have the smallest effect on the Democratic newspapers when I say that this young man, the postmaster’s son, entirely denied this story. He only charged them with stealing sixty dollars worth of stamps. But as the village of Franklin consists of less than a dozen houses, and as I have found it hard to buy a dollar’s worth of stamps at much larger places in this region, I must doubt the precise accuracy of these figures, and I told him so.

Since breaking up this den of thieves, the vicinity has been quiet, except when the noble army of two thousand eight hundred, on returning, burnt a large mill close by, on which the whole neighborhood depended for meal and lumber. It is not far from here to Blanton’s Bridge, which the Grand Jury declared a nuisance, because it gave aid and comfort to Free State men. I suppose that this mill was a nuisance for the same reason. The heaps of sawdust of the building were still in flames as I stood before them.

The owner of this mill was a Pennsylvanian, named Straub. We saw his daughter, a noble looking girl of 20, but rather unnecessarily saucy and spirited in her replies, I at first thought. Presently she said, with surprise, “Why, I thought you were Missourians, and I was resolved that you should hear the truth.” This was a piece of genuine Kanzas pluck, as it was a lonely place, and we were three to one. Afterward, we found that this girl had walked alone into the midst of the Missourians, while the house and mill were burning, and demanded her horse from one of them with such spirit that the others compelled him to dismount. She mounted it and rode away—he presently followed and attempted to get the halter from her hand. She held on. He took his bowie-knife and threatened to cut her hand off; she told him to do it if he dared; he cut the rope close to her hand, and led the horse away. She slipped off, and presently two of the man’s companions rode up and brought her the horse once more. A horse is worth more than a life in this region, and you can estimate the extent of such a triumph.

As for Lawrence, it has one of the most beautiful situations I ever looked upon. It stands on a bank above a bend in the river; across the river are miles of woods, while behind the town rise two beautiful hills, which are hills, and not merely the endless swells of rolling prairie of which my Eastern eyes have grown so tired. Indeed, this whole region far surpasses, in respect to hills and forest, both Iowa and Nebraska, and even Northern Kanzas, while the prairies are richer, and coal and stone are interspersed. Give it freedom, and a few years will make Kanzas Edition: current; Page: [17] the garden of America. This year the Missourians have almost ruined the corn; but never have I seen such luxuriance of melons, squashes, and pumpkins. I have seen some fine stock, too, on the more favored farms; but that kind of riches soon takes to itself legs, more dangerous, in the present state of Kanzas, than the proverbial wings.

Lawrence is three times as large as Topeka, and at present much more busy. It has, however, suffered much more from want of food. For instance, I have just talked with a man whom I knew at the East. “I came out here,” said he, “with $1,500 in money. I have served through the whole war. My wife and nine children have lived more than two weeks on green corn and squash. I have in my house no meat, no flour, no meal, no potatoes, no money to buy them, no prospect of a dollar; but I’ll live or die in Kanzas!

Afterwards this man’s wife wrote to me in almost the same words.

Such is the spirit of multitudes, many of whom are as badly off as this man. There is the greatest generosity, and men share with each other while anything is left; but after that, what then?

The State Committee works with energy and system to relieve distress, and may be entirely relied upon, but its funds are also exhausted. The expense of sending emigrants, arms, and ammunition, through Iowa and Nebraska, has been so enormous, that but little has yet reached Kanzas in any other form; and the cost of supporting the army here has been also enormous—some $300 per day. At the very time when farm labor was most needed, all the able-bodied men have been obliged to live for weeks in camp, at the public expense—they themselves being the principal public.

This discourages and drives out the timid and lukewarm, and educates the remainder to endurance. People in Kanzas are like Indians—they eat what they can, and sleep where they can; and when they have no house and no food they wait awhile till something turns up. I can see that this state of things brings out some bad qualities, but far more good ones.

Last Sunday I preached in this place (though I must say that I am commonly known here by a title which is elsewhere considered incompatible with even the Church Militant.) It was quite an occasion; and I took for my text the one employed by the Rev. John Martin the Sunday after he fought at Bunker Hill—Neh. iv: 14; “Be not ye afraid of them; remember the Lord, which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your houses.”

To-night I speak again, and leave to-morrow for Leavenworth, there to witness a Border Ruffian election, as there is to be no voting at Lawrence.

Edition: current; Page: [18]


I have come over to see the election. The road from Lawrence runs thirty-three miles through the most beautiful region of Kanzas, the Delaware Reserve. It is mostly well wooded, and all the soil is luxuriant. There are only a few Indian cabins on the way, but some points of the road have a sad celebrity. In the hospital, at Lawrence, I saw two men recovering from terrible wounds in the head, inflicted, not by P. S. Brooks, M. C., but by his humbler imitators in Missouri. The case was this. Three men were riding, unarmed, from Lawrence to Leavenworth. They were captured by a small posse of the enemy, and shot in cold blood the next morning. One had his jaw terribly broken, and was left for dead. Another lay wounded and the wretches felt his pulse, as is their practice, and finding it still beating, knocked him on the head with their guns, till life seemed extinct. These were the two I saw; the third was killed; and amid those lovely woods and fields, a pile of earth and a roadside stake are his only memorial.

We passed also the spot where Mr. Hops was murdered and scalped, for a bet of a pair of boots. Now the road is comparatively safe, or what the stage-driver calls safe; “last week there was only one man taken off the stage, who has n’t since been heard from.” But I rode across with an old farmer and his boy, unmolested, though we met a few small parties of Missourians on horseback, some of them riding double, as they occasionally do.

The Free State hotels in Leavenworth are broken up. (Do n’t be surprised to hear of a “Free State hotel” in regions where men distinguish between a Pro-Slavery and an Anti-Slavery cow.) The chief tavern at present is kept by a man named McCarty, who is building a large new brick one. He is desperately Pro-Slavery, and in conjunction with Majors and Russell, the great Government contractors, originated the late riots in the town.

Leavenworth is twice as large as Lawrence, has a fine situation on the river and fine scenery around. The landing is good, and with New England enterprise it would be destined to greatness, and by the aid of Government business it may yet attain it. But never did I see such universal drinking. There must be more than fifty liquor shops for some two thousand inhabitants; the doors of the Leavenworth Hotel are adorned with a row of whiskey casks and of barrels full of empty bottles; and the bar-room is crowded all day.

Despite this, it is said to be the quietest election-day ever known. None of the Anti-Slavery men vote, very properly declining to recognize the validity of an election under the bogus laws, and there is but one ticket running, which I send.

Edition: current; Page: [19]


For Congress.


For Convention.


No Regular Nomination.

Four to be elected.


There are local interests and jealousies for particular candidates, four only out of ten being eligible, but the Slavery question is not raised. The favorite candidate, Martin, is captain of the atrocious Kickapoo Rangers, and the character of the whole may be easily inferred.

As for the voting, nothing can be more free and easy. Strangers are pressed to take a share in it, as if it were something to drink. Nothing seems necessary except to hand in a ticket at a small office window, and announce one’s name; no questions appeared to be asked. I was urged to do this by bystanders, in spite of my assurances that I was merely a traveller, not a resident; they assured me it made no difference. I saw the same persuasions succeed with persons who obviously did not come in for the purpose. But many openly proclaimed that as the only object of their visit, and coolly debated the most available points to throw Pro-Slavery votes, just as a knot of country merchants might debate whether to go to New York or Boston for their purchases.

Indeed, there is a delightful absence of hypocrisy in all this region. They leave all that to Eastern politicians, editors, and clergymen. There is very little dispute about the main facts of the case. Every Pro-Slavery man admits the important ones, and defends them. “The end (i. e. Slavery) justifies the means.” I wish some of our beclouded and befogged Democratic brethren could sit for an hour or two on McCarty’s door steps, of an evening. For instance, last night there was general applause when a leading man said, “By ——, I wish the Abolitionists would just kill one or two of our men, moderate men, you know, not good for much, but just enough to let us claim them as ours—anything to give us a handle.” And yet the political allies of this worthy personage are every day declaring that the whole excitement is only kept up to make capital for the Fremont party.

Once the conversation began to grow rather personal. Said one man, just from Lecompton, “Tell you what, we ’ve found out one thing, there ’s a preacher going about here preaching politics.” “Fact?” and “is that so?” was echoed with virtuous indignation on all sides. “That ’s so,” continued he, “and he fixes it this way; first, he has his text and preaches religion; then he drops that and pitches into politics; and then he drops that, too, and begins about the sufferin’ niggers” (with ineffable contempt); “and what ’s more, he ’s here in Leavenworth now.” “What ’s his name?” exclaimed several, eagerly. “Just what I do n’t know,” was the sorrowful reply, “and I should n’t know him if I saw him, but he ’s here, boys, and in a day or two there ’ll be some gentlemen here that know him.” (N. B. At my last speech in Edition: current; Page: [20] Lawrence, I was warned that three Missouri spies were present.) “It ’s well we ’ve got him here, to take care of him,” said one. “Wont our boys enjoy running him out of town?” added another, affectionately; while I listened with pleased attention, thinking that I might, perhaps, afford useful information. But the “gentlemen” have not yet appeared, or else are in search of higher game.

The causes of the quiet which reigns to-day are apparently the presence of a few United States troops, and the absence of provocation from the non-voting party. That the latter cause would not be alone sufficient is manifest from the fact that the last riots were produced merely by a similar refusal to vote.

I observe here a large class of young men who are evidently not Missourians, but from other Southern States—a slender, puny race, with good manners and bloated faces. One of them, a Virginian, bearing the appropriate name of Stringfellow, has apparently felt called upon, in a drunken fit, to vindicate the character of the peculiar institution, and has, therefore, just summoned before him his slave, a neat-looking boy of sixteen. “B-B-Bill,” says the representative of chivalry, “do you know me?” “Yes, mas’r,” returns Bill, respectfully. “Have you ever been in chains, Bill?” stammers out the specimen of the superior race, with the impressive seriousness of inebriation. “Never, sir.” “Ever expect to be in chains, Bill?” “Never, sir.” “G-g-good boy, Bill, take something to drink, Bill?” Which offer Bill declines, rather to my surprise, and is dismissed with a slight contempt as being after all a poor creature, chains or no chains.

A party of these gentry leave with me, to-night, in the boat for St. Louis, and I shall make further acquaintance with them.


We have left Kanzas behind, and my last association with it is of three pistol-shots which killed, in a drunken row, one of the self same company of Virginia and South Carolina youths who were swaggering in our cabin when I went to bed. I did not, however, know of the catastrophe till the next morning. I am told that the remains of the poor young man were taken into a gambling-room and laid upon a table, after which the gambling went on as before.

We are gliding down the rapid Missouri, now shouldering over a sandbank, now shuddering over a snag; while the endless woods look dewy and beautiful in early morning or moonlight, and very hot at noon. The yellow dust drifts over the bare islands which the shrinking water has left, and buzzards and wild geese shriek and soar away through its midst.

The tumultuous steamboat dinner is despatched with that rushing rapidity which is usual on such occasions, where people, having nothing to do afterward, are in a proportionate hurry to do it. As I look up and down the long table, and at the row of guests who sit with their glasses of Missouri water like tumblers of lemonade before them, it is sad to think that among those sixty men there are not half a dozen who belong to the same nation with myself. For what constitutes a common nationality except common ideas, principles, habits, and purposes? and in all these I find myself more alone than I should be among English, French, or Russians.

The majority are young men from various Southern States—Virginia, Edition: current; Page: [21] Kentucky, the Carolinas, and Georgia—who have been to Kanzas expressly to fight men from Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, New York, Michigan, Illinois, and so on. And yet people speak of civil war as only a thing that may be, when there is scarcely a State in the Union which has not been already involved in civil war, through its representatives here. The simple fact is, that slaveholders and freemen are always two nations. I could speak my whole thoughts more safely in Berlin or St. Petersburg than here, except indeed that these enemies are more susceptible of fear.

By their own account, indeed, they show a poor record in this respect. Yesterday they were declared by their lieutenant, who alone wears a military coat, to be a pack of cowards; and he further asserted that in the point of danger they had been accustomed to take a vote whether to fight or run, and always ran!

Most of them are quite young and slender, with a dull, profligate look, while a few have open, simple faces, that seem strangely out of place. They have an easy, natural politeness, and swear, chew, and play cards enormously.

They are not in the least hypocrites or doughfaces; too uninstructed for that. One of them said, naively, in my hearing, with a sort of tender regret, “Do n’t you remember when we went up the river, we were all of us drunk all the time?” “So we were,” replied another, himself not far from that condition, “and so we should be now, only we ’ve got no money.”

They proclaim openly that they went to Kanzas to fight and vote for Slavery. All finally voted at Leavenworth; and, having done that, are going home. But they complain bitterly of Atchison and others, who induced them to go; they say they were promised support for a year and fifty dollars in money, and yet they have had to support themselves almost entirely; and now very few have more than enough to take them to St. Louis, and some were unable to leave Leavenworth for want of even that. “Let me once get home,” said the same youth who made the above confession, “and I ’ll stay at home, sure. It ’s cost me the price of one good nigger, just for board and liquor, since I left home.”

“Wo unto them, for they have cast lots for my people and sold a girl for wine, that I may drink.” Let me confess that this apt bit of Scripture I obtain not from memory but from “Dred,” of which I bought an early copy at Lawrence. Several of the passengers have borrowed and examined it, with various comments, but no threatening ones. I could easily fill the margin of the book with sketches of illustrative faces, especially those of Ben Dakin, Jim Stokes, and the unfortunate Cripps. The romance reads well in the midst of the reality, though to be sure we have no actual slaves on board, except one young Topsy in a yellow apron, who stands as patiently as her nature permits, behind the chair of a stout lady, in the consecrated upper end of the long cabin. (I never saw the æsthetic inequality of the sexes so fully recognised as in a Missouri River steamboat.)

October 11.—Yesterday we spent on a sand-bank, till at nightfall the steamer F. X. Aubry came along and pulled us off. We proceeded in company till at another difficult place the two boat-loads were disembarked, and we all walked half a mile along the shore. Then came out a startling story; how H. Miles Moore, Esq., Secretary of the Kanzas State Committee, had taken passage on board the other boat—after being released from a malicious arrest at Kanzas City; how the South Edition: current; Page: [22] Carolina and Virginia rowdies on the boat, finding him alone and unarmed, had threatened to hang him, and were proceeding to actual violence, when Governor Cobb, of Alabama, and the captain interfered and put him, for protection, in a state-room in the ladies’ cabin; and how all thought he actually owed his life to them. Seeking him out, I found that it was all true; although the “honor” of Governor Cobb and some of the rowdies themselves was now pledged for his safety. It appeared to me, however, that a transfer to our boat and the loan of a revolver would be a better security; and that night he availed himself of it, there being fortunately a vacant berth in my state-room. The men on our boat were quite as far gone with whiskey as those on the other, and made common cause with them; but these were fewer in number, and we had three or four very reliable New England men, who kept a good lookout. And caution was needed, for the excitement rose again as we lay at Jefferson City over night, and inquiry began to be made as to the whereabouts of Moore. But Governor Cobb got up a visit to Governor Price, on the part of the passengers; and then there was a dance in the other boat; and when, about 101/2 o’clock, the ringleaders began to whisper mischief again, part of their men were asleep and part in a worse condition, and the noble design fell through and we were undisturbed. I was glad to have him there, for I could not bear that he should owe his safety to the protection of a slaveholder.

We reached St. Louis this afternoon, four days and a half from Leavenworth, a trip which usually takes less than three. Kanzas and its perils lie behind, and there is no excitement but elections. Well, one does feel a little homesick for Kanzas, I can assure you, and at some future day The Tribune may hear again from its correspondent.

I did not, however, go out as a settler, but simply to see the country for myself. Yet if I did not live in Massachusetts, I would live in Kanzas.


I find that my letters from Kanzas seem incomplete without a final appendix, in regard to the immediate future of that region. Perhaps the observation of a visitor to the Territory may have seen some things in a different light from that of its residents, or from that of those who have never been there.

Moreover, I have observed for many years that the more thorough an Abolitionist any man is, the more correct are his prophecies as to American affairs; and in this respect, at least, the present writer is pretty well qualified. I will therefore give the reasons which lead me to think, contrary to the opinions of many at the East, that the present comparative quiet of Kanzas is only the prelude to a severer struggle than any she has yet seen; that this struggle will occur soon after the Presidential election; and that it will be almost equally certain to occur, whether Fremont or Buchanan be elected.

The foundation for these opinions can be made very intelligible.

1. The real question at issue is, not the invasions of Missourians, nor the blockading of the river, but the enforcing of the bogus laws. The laws still exist, the Courts are still controlled by Missouri, and this is the real root of the difficulty, over which neither Governor Geary nor any one else (except Congress) has any legitimate control. The essential trouble, therefore, must either remain unsettled till Congress meets again, or be settled by force.

Edition: current; Page: [23]

2. There is not the slightest increase of harmony between the parties, but the contrary. Both sides expect to see the contest renewed. I did not hear of a single man, on either side, except Governor Geary and his satellites, who thought otherwise.

3. Both sides are making actual preparations for a renewal. The settlers are collecting arms, ammunition, and fresh men. The Missourians are doing the same. True, men from both sides are leaving the country; but they are going, either with the design to return soon after the election, or else from personal dissatisfaction—not because they expect permanent peace.

4. Neither party desires peace, under the present auspices. The Missourians do not desire it, until they see that it involves the speedy introduction of Slavery. And the settlers do not desire it, when it means submission to the laws which a foreign State imposed upon them, and the daily arrest of their own men while Pro-Slavery men go free.

5. War always educates men to itself, disciplines them, teaches them to bear its fatigue, anxiety, and danger, and actually to enjoy them. I saw abundant instances of this on the Free State side; and I believe it to be so with the Missourians. Everybody testified that the army of two thousand eight hundred, which last besieged Lawrence, was better armed and better drilled than any previous invading force; and all agreed that at the battle of Hickory Point the Missourians showed more courage than ever before.

6. The whole tendency of Governor Geary’s policy is to exasperate both sides, and, indeed, actually to strengthen both. Take a single instance: What can be more preposterous than his plan of organizing the two parties, “man for man,” (as he expressed it to me,) into military companies? Imagine an Irish mob, and the Governor stopping them to say, “Hold on my hearties! lay down your shillelahs, while I give you Sharp’s rifles, teach you the art of war, and pick out your bravest men to lead you properly!” Yet this is precisely what Geary has done. He has organized two companies of Free State men, and two of Pro-Slavery men; he arms them, pays them, and officers them with the very leaders who have been foremost in the fray. At Lawrence, Captain Walker, who led the attack on Titus’s fort, now heads one company under the Governor’s system, while Titus heads another. Lieutenant Harvey, of the new Lawrence company, is the Colonel Harvey of Hickory Point notoriety. His men lie in prison, while he is put in office: but there is no change in him, only in the Governor. And in Topeka, with the other Free State company, the same folly is played over. The Governor may fancy this a peace measure, if he will; I call it a war measure, and confidently expect to see the conflict recommence among his own troops.

7. The reason why the strife is postponed, by tacit agreement, is easily told. The Missourians are waiting, in stronger and stronger hopes that Geary will do their work. The Free State men submit to his aggressions, only because the election is coming. That, and that only, gives them patience; precisely as the hope of flight to Canada keeps slaves from insurrection. They cling to the hope, not of escaping the contest, but of placing it on a more favorable footing. Take away the dream of Fremont, and no power could make these injured men endure a week longer the combined oppression of the Administration and of Missouri. Besides, every letter that comes to them from the East, exhorts Edition: current; Page: [24] them to “endure till November, and all will be well.” Is it strange, then, if they seem almost too submissive, with such a prospect?

8. The trial of the Lecompton prisoners will furnish fuel to the flames, and perhaps the final explosion. Most of them will, no doubt, be acquitted. But the Pro-Slavery men will not submit to the liberation of all, nor the Anti-Slavery men to the execution of any.

9. Look out, therefore, for trouble in Kanzas, in November. Elect Fremont, and there will be a last desperate effort of Missouri to obtain possession of Kanzas. In this they will rely on the aid of the United States Courts and troops, and will have it, whatever Gov. Geary says. The policy of the Administration will be unchanged. It is absurd to suppose that Pierce, Cushing, and Douglass will not still bid for Southern favor, after the election of Fremont. They will have nothing else left to do. They will look out for a Pro-Slavery reaction four years afterward, (and it will come then, if not sooner,) and steer for that wave. Still, the Kanzas men will have a great advantage, for the United States troops will not in that case act against them with a will, and they have nothing else to fear.

In case of Buchanan’s election, the whole power of Missouri, backed by the whole power of the Administration, will be directed upon Kanzas. The two forces will be identified. They will be brought to bear as one; and, thank God, resisted as one. The defenders of Freedom will fight, at last, as they never yet have fought. Heretofore, they have submitted to injuries from the weakest United States official, which they would never have borne from whole armies of Missourians. They will not make this nice distinction much longer. Oppression is oppression, wherever it comes from, they will say. “If that is treason, make the most of it.”

We must have a new dictionary, and the definition of this much abused word must be: “Treason, the rope by which the real traitors seek to hang those who resist them.”

Such treason as this is fast ripening in Kanzas. Call it revolution if you please.

If the United States Government and Border-Ruffianism are to mean the same thing, the sooner the people of Kanzas have revolution the better. So they will say, and who shall gainsay it? They have borne to the utmost. Another ounce of weight, and they will bear it no longer; and a less thing than the dispersion of their Legislature, or the destruction of their hotel, will be the signal.

Before I went to Kanzas I feared that her children would gradually scatter and flee, rather than meet a final, desperate struggle. I stand corrected. They will stay and meet it. They will meet it, if need be, unaided.

Will they be unaided? Ask Governor Grimes and the thousands of freemen of Iowa. Ask every man who has a heart left in his bosom.

Kanzas may be crushed, but not without a final struggle more fearful than that of Hungary; a struggle which will convulse a continent before it is ended, and separate forever those two nations of North and South, which neither Union nor Constitution has yet welded into one.

Published, for gratuitous distribution, at the Office of the American Anti-Slavery Society, No. 138 Nassau St., New York. Also, to be had at the Anti-Slavery Offices, No. 21 Cornhill, Boston, and 31 North Fifth St., Philadelphia, and at the Anti-Slavery Depository, Salem, Columbiana Co., Ohio.


One half the net proceeds of sale goes to the State Colonization Society!

In Baltimore and Annapolis it is only necessary that the meeting should be held “with the written permission of a white licensed ordained preacher.”


Extracts from a letter to the writer from a gentleman in Washington:—

“Williams & Co., of this city, sold a woman and two children to a slave-dealing house in Alexandria. While they were imprisoned, she murdered the children, and the purchaser sued the vender for selling him a vicious slave.”

“Williams & Co., (I think—perhaps their predecessors) of this city, bought a mother and two children near Rockville, Maryland, brought them here, and put them in their own prison on Seventh Street and Maryland Avenue. The mother murdered her two children, and then took her own life. My authority was a dark intimation in the National Intelligencer that a horrid deed had occurred in the city; and this was explained to me by the people here as referring to this murder and suicide. No one here ever doubted the facts, so far as I have information, though I had no other proof than that stated.”

“Another was that of a young woman who threw herself from the long bridge. The story has been poetically told by Grace Greenwood. Another was the case of a young man employed in a restaurant in one of the lower rooms of the Capitol. He learned that his master had sold him; he fled, was overtaken, and while his captors were preparing the irons, he took a knife from his pocket and cut his throat. This occurred some two years since.”


The Rev. Nehemiah Adams, D. D., in his “South Side View,” page 128, says, “There is a law of the land, a Constitution, to which we must submit, or employ suitable means to change it. While it remains, all our appeals to a ‘higher law’ are fanaticism.


Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1852, by John P. Jewett & Co., in the Clerk’s Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.


For the local offices, see bottom of page 12.


See also Mr. Webster’s Letter to the Citizens of Newburyport, dated May 15th, 1850, wherein he urges the same point, with great pains of argument.


The Slaveholders of Kentucky begin forming associations for mutual protection against loss of runaway slaves. The preamble of the plan of association, proposed at a meeting at Minerva, Kentucky, held in the winter of 1852-53, is as follows:—“Whereas it has become absolutely necessary for the slave-owners of Kentucky to take such steps as will secure their property, we, the citizens of Mason and Bracken counties, do recommend,” &c.


A correspondent of the New York Evening Post, writing from Columbus, Ohio, September 1, 1853, states that a very large number of fugitive slaves are continually passing through that State; that they are generally armed; and that they find increasing sympathy among the people on the road, and the boatmen on the lakes.


The case of Solomon Northup, though not under the Fugitive Law, is so striking an illustration of the power which created that law, and of the constant danger which impends over every colored citizen of the Northern States, fast threatening to include white citizens also, that it must not be passed over without mention. He was kidnapped in 1841, from the State of New York, and kept in slavery twelve years. Two men, named Merrill and Russell, were arrested and tried as his kidnappers, and the fact fully proven. But the case was got into the United States Courts, and the criminals went unpunished.


This may be illustrated by the position of the Rev. Dr. Lyman Beecher. Probably no clergyman has been a more thorough representative of the system called “Evangelical,” or “Orthodox,” for the last thirty years, than he. He was at the zenith of his reputation when the Anti-Slavery movement commenced. But not only had he never commenced it, not only had he never been moved by his religion to say one word against the slaveholders with whom he was then, as now, in ecclesiastical connection, nor one word for the relief of the slaves, whom he knew to be unjustly held in bondage by his orthodox “brethren;” he declined acting in that direction at all, even incidentally, even so much as he has acted against intemperance, when such action was formally proposed to him. Twenty years ago, before Anti-Slavery had become complicated with the calumnious accusations that are now poured upon its advocates, when Mr. Garrison, then believing in the honesty and purity of the clergy, was appealing to them to aid in exposing the abominations of slavery, and in rousing at least the church to free herself from the disgrace of sustaining it, and when, seeing that the great champion of orthodoxy did not spontaneously recognize the claims of two millions of slaves upon the church under whose shadow they were oppressed, Mr. Garrison made it a special business to seek him, spread before him the facts, and urge him to do something in opposition to slavery; he declined, on the ground that he was occupied with other things of more consequence; and in the quarter of a century which has since elapsed, during which he has been actively fraternizing with slaveholders, and building up the form of religion which authenticates them as Christians, he seems to have advanced no farther in opposition to slavery than the discovery that it is undesirable for Kansas and Nebraska. I quote Dr. Beecher as a fair specimen of the influence of the popular religion upon a popular sin like slavery.

On the other hand, I wish distinctly to testify that a few clergymen (most of whom bear the stigma of heterodoxy as well as of anti-slavery) have stood, and still stand, prominent among the boldest, truest, firmest, and most self-sacrificing friends of the slave.


Dr. Edward Beecher enumerates eighteen clergymen (taking in New York and New Jersey with New England) who have published sermons or other addresses to this effect. Doubtless there were more, and a larger number not published. But what are these among so many of the opposite character? The exceptions prove the rule.

George Odiorne
Odiorne, George
March 6, 1830
Frederick Brinsley
Brinsley, Frederick
Mr. Frederick Brinsley.

The Prudential Committee of Park Street Church notify you not to occupy any pew on the lower floor of Park Street Meeting House on any Sabbath, or on any other day during the time of divine worship, after this date; and if you go there with such intent, you hazard the consequences. The pews in the upper galleries are at your service.

for the Committee.

“Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. We cannot but speak.”

“Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.”


Matt. vii. 12, and xxii. 37 to 40.