Some Recollections of Our Antislavery Conflict
Transcriber’s Note: Cover created by Transcriber and placed in the Public Domain.
SAMUEL J. MAY.
FIELDS, OSGOOD, & CO.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1869, by
SAMUEL J. MAY
in the Clerk’s Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.
University Press: Welch, Bigelow, & Co.,
Many of these Recollections were published at intervals,during the years 1867 and 1868, in TheChristian Register. They were written at the specialrequest of the editor of that paper; and without theslightest expectation that they would ever be put to anyfurther use. But so many persons have requested meto republish them in a volume, that I have gatheredthem here, together with several more recollections ofevents and transactions, illustrative of the temper ofthe times as late as the winter of 1861, when our guiltynation was left “to be saved so as by the fire” of civilwar.
My readers must not expect to find in this book anythinglike a complete history of the times to which itrelates. The articles of which it is composed are fragmentaryand sketchy. I expect and hope they will notsatisfy. If they whet the appetites of those who readthem for a more thorough history of the conflict withslavery in our country and in Great Britain, they willhave accomplished their purpose. That in the two freest,most enlightened, most Christian nations on earth thereshould have been, during more than half of the nineteenthcentury, so stout a defence of “the worst systemof iniquity the world has ever known,” is a marvel thatcannot be fully studied and explained, without discoveringthat the mightiest nation, as well as the humblestindividual, may not with impunity consent to any sin,nor persist in unrighteousness without ruin.
ivI am happy to announce that in due time a somewhatelaborate history of the rise and fall of the slave powerin America may be expected from the Hon. Henry Wilson.He is competent to the undertaking. He is cautiousand candid as well as brave and explicit. He wasan Abolitionist before he became a politician. He hasnever ignored the rights of humanity, for the sake of partisansuccess or personal aggrandizement. Mr. Wilson,I believe, did as much as any one of our prominentstatesmen to procure the abolition of slavery in theDistrict of Columbia, and to effect its subversion throughoutthe country.
My brief sketches have been taken, I presume, from apoint of sight different somewhat from his. Many ofmy readers may wish that I had not reported so manyof the evil words and deeds of ministers and churches.I have done so with regret and mortification. But ithas seemed to me that the most important lesson taughtin the history of the last forty years—the influence ofslavery upon the religion of our country—ought leastof all to be withheld from the generations that arecoming on to fill our places in the Church and in theState.
My book, I fear, will be displeasing to many becausethey will not find in it much that they expect. I canonly beg such to bear in mind what I have proposed togive my readers,—not a history of the antislavery conflict,only some of my recollections of the events andactors in it. I have merely mentioned the names of ourindefatigable and able fellow-laborers, Henry C. Wright,Stephen S. Foster, and Parker Pillsbury. A due accountof their valuable services in this country and GreatBritain would fill a volume as large as this. But, forthe most part, these became known to me through TheLiberator and Antislavery Standard.
vMy sphere of operation and observation was confinedalmost entirely to Massachusetts and Connecticut, untilI removed to Central New York in 1845. My travelsas an antislavery agent and lecturer were restricted toNew England, and to the years from 1832 to 1836, beforemany who have since become distinguished hadgiven themselves to the work. The field has been coextensivewith our vast country. It cannot be supposedthat I have personally known a tenth part of the individualswho have done good services, much less that Ihave been a witness of their words and deeds. Oftenhave I been encouraged and delighted by unexpectedtidings of noble words uttered and brave deeds done, inone part and another of the land, by individuals whomI never saw before nor since. Almost everywhere therewas some one who promptly responded to the demandfor the liberation of the enslaved, and dared to advocatetheir right to freedom. Could a perfect history be writtenof the antislavery labors of the last forty years,hundreds would be named as having rendered valuableservices, of whom I have never heard; whose good wordor work perhaps was not known beyond the immediatecircle that was affected by it. But the memory thereofwill not be lost. Every righteous act, every heroic,generous, true utterance in the cause of the outraged,crushed, despised bondmen, will be had in everlastingremembrance, and He who seeth in secret will hereafter,if not here, openly reward the faithful.
S. J. M.
|Rise of Abolitionism||1|
|Rev. John Rankin and Rev. John D. Paxton||10|
|William Lloyd Garrison||15|
|Miss Prudence Crandall and the Canterbury School||39|
|The Black Law of Connecticut||52|
|Charles C. Burleigh||62|
|Miss Crandall’s Trial||66|
|House set on Fire||70|
|Mr. Garrison’s Mission to England.—New York Mobs||72|
|The Convention at Philadelphia||79|
|Mrs. L. Maria Child||97|
|Eruption of Lane Seminary||102|
|George Thompson, M. P., LL. D.||108|
|His First Year in America||115|
|Reign of Terror||131|
|The Clergy and the Quakers||144|
|The Reign of Terror continued||150|
|Riot at Utica, N. Y.—Gerrit Smith||162|
|His Address on Slavery||177|
|The Gag-Law.—Second Interview||194|
|Hon. James G. Birney||203viii|
|John Quincy Adams||211|
|The Alton Tragedy||221|
|Woman Question.—Misses Grimké||230|
|“The Pastoral Letter” and “The Clerical Appeal”||238|
|Dr. Charles Follen||248|
|John G. Whittier and the Antislavery Poets||259|
|Prejudice against Color||266|
|A Negro’s Love of Liberty||278|
|Distinguished Colored Men||285|
|David Ruggles, Lewis Hayden, and William C. Nell||285|
|William Wells Brown||289|
|Charles Lenox Remond||289|
|Rev. J. W. Loguen||290|
|The Underground Railroad||296|
|The Annexation of Texas||313|
|Abolitionists in Central New York.—Gerrit Smith||321|
|Conduct of the Clergy and Churches||329|
|Unitarian and Universalist Ministers and Churches||333|
|The Fugitive Slave Law||345|
|The Unitarians and their Ministers||366|
|The Rescue of Jerry||373|
|Riot in Syracuse||391|
RISE OF ABOLITIONISM.
Ever and anon in the world’s history there hasbeen some one who has broken out as a livingfountain of the free spirit of humanity, has given boldutterance to the pent-up thought of wrongs, too longendured, and has made the demand for some God-givenright, until then withheld,—a demand so obviouslyjust, that the tyrants of earth have trembled as ifcalled to judgment, and the oppressed have rejoicedas at the voice of their deliverer. “It is thus thespirit of a single mind makes that of multitudes takeone direction.”
Such, as the subsequent history of our country hasshown, such was the spirit of the mind of that manwho will be honored through all coming time, as theleader of the most glorious movement ever made inhumanity’s behalf,—the movement for perfect, impartialliberty, which for the last thirty-nine years has rockedour Republic from centre to circumference, and will continueto agitate it until every vestige of slavery isshaken out of our civil fabric.
“When the tourist of Europe has descended fromthe Black Forest into Suabia, his guide asks him if hedoes not wish to see