Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

A Visit To The United States In 1841 by Joseph Sturge

Part 4 out of 6

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.7 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

and most distinguished advocates of the anti-slavery cause in America,
to attempt some delineation, however imperfect, of that rare and
consecrated union of consistent Christian character, fine talents, and
sound and impartial judgment, which give him so much weight in the
councils of his fellow-laborers. We set sail about noon on the 1st of
the Eighth month, (August,) and arrived off Liverpool about eleven
o'clock, P.M. on the 13th, which interval included ten hours delay at
Halifax. We had about ninety passengers from Halifax to Liverpool, and
with the exception of a severe gale on the 10th, almost amounting to a
hurricane, we had a very favorable voyage. The time from Halifax to
within sight of the light house off the south coast of Ireland was
announced to be only nine days and thirteen minutes.

One of my fellow passengers had recently been traveling in the southern
States, and showed me a letter given to him as a curiosity at the post
office at Charleston, South Carolina, which was addressed by a slave to
her husband, but from insufficient direction had never reached its
destination. It was to convey the tidings that she was about to be sold
to the South, and begging him, in simple and affecting terms, to come
and see her, as they would never meet again. Another of the passengers,
who had also been a fellow voyager with my friend Joseph John Gurney,
had recently travelled in Texas. He was strongly impressed with the
evils likely to result from the proposed recognition of that government
by Great Britain. In consequence of the promising aspect of these
negotiations between General Hamilton and Lord Palmerston in favor of
Texas, the paper money issued by that piratical government, and which
had not been previously negotiable for more than one tenth of its
nominal value, rapidly rose. The Texas republic, in his opinion, could
not secure a permanence without British recognition.

Many planters, with their slaves, have emigrated thither to escape their
creditors from the border States, and the republic has been lavish of
grants of land to men of capital and influence, to induce them to settle
within its limits. My informant considered the state of society to be as
bad as it well could be, and continue to exist. The white inhabitants
are living not only in fear of hostile Indians, but in fear of each

From a late letter of a friend in America, I make the following extract
relative to the present condition of Texas.

"To give thee some adequate idea of the importance of that
beautiful republic of Texas, which Lord Palmerston and the late
Whig government of England took under their especial protection,
I will just refer to the statistics of the late election of its
President. The successful candidate, General Houston, a man
notorious for his open contempt for all the decencies of
civilized society,--brutal, brawling, profane, and
licentious,--received somewhat rising five thousand votes: his
competitor, Judge Burnet, between two and three thousand,--a
vote smaller by thousands than that of our little county of
Essex, in Massachusetts. Late accounts from Texas inform us that
gangs of organized desperadoes, under the names of moderators
and regulators, are traversing its territory, perpetrating the
most brutal outrages. In one instance they seized a respectable
citizen who dared to express his dissatisfaction with their
proceedings, hurried him into the forest, and deliberately dug
his grave before his eyes, _intending to bury him alive_! The
miserable victim, horrified by the prospect of such a fate,
broke away from his tormentors, and attempted to escape, but was
shot down and instantly killed! Such a congregation as Texas
presents was never, I suspect, known, save in that city into
which the Macedonian monarch gathered and garnered, in one
scoundrel community, the vagabond rascality of his kingdom.

"Thou would'st be amused to read an article, which has made its
appearance in the _Houston Telegraph_--a Texian paper--in which
the editor says, 'that while we deeply commiserate the situation
of our sister republic, in regard to the political scourge of
abolitionism, it is pleasing to reflect that our country enjoys
a _complete immunity from its effects_. Indeed we may with
safety declare, that throughout the whole extent of our country,
not a single abolitionist can be found.' He goes on to say that
this induces many of the southern planters to emigrate to Texas,
who, he remarks, '_will necessarily look to Texas, as the
Hebrews did to the promised land, for a refuge and home_.' It
will thus be seen that Texas is the promised land of the
patriarchal slave-holders of the southern States. When hunted
from every other quarter of the globe by the inexorable spirit
of abolition, when even Cuba and Brazil cease to afford them an
asylum--when slave-holding shall be every where else as odious
and detestable as midnight larceny, or highway robbery,--Texas
alone, uninfected and secure, is to open its gates of refuge to
the persecuted Calhouns and McDuffies, and their northern allies
in church and state--the San Marino of slavery, dissevered from
the world's fanaticism--isolated and apart, like the floating
air-island of Dean Swift."

The following extract from a recent New York paper gives an equally
deplorable representation of the society in Texas.

"The pestilent influence of the recent horrible murders on the
Arkansas, and other United States' rivers, has caused the
practice of lynching to break forth with renewed fury in Texas,
where it had apparently slept for the previous year. And we find
recorded in the Texas papers nearly a dozen of these murders
that have occurred, and undoubtedly there have been more than as
many more. In Shelby county two citizens have been shot down,
and several houses burned by a party of outlaws. In Red River
two men have been hanged as horse-thieves, without judge or
jury. In Washington county one man has been shot down, under the
pretence that he was a murderer. In Austin county two men were
killed, and two hostile parties were in arms for several days,
taking the law into their own hands. In Jefferson county two men
have been killed, and the house of one of them burnt to the
ground by a party of self-styled 'regulators.' And all this in
the space of a year."

Several of my fellow-passengers were from Cuba, and some of them
slave-holders by their own admission. With one or two of those who could
speak English, I had much conversation on the abolition of slavery. They
concurred with apparent sincerity in the desire that the slave trade
might be effectually suppressed. They seemed to consider that this trade
was promoted by the mother country as one means of preventing the colony
from aspiring to independence. They admitted the abstract injustice of
slavery, and one remarked, that a difference of the color of the skin
was a misfortune, not a crime. They were not, however, disposed to
entertain a thought of emancipation, without being fully compensated for
their slaves.

I had again the pleasure of observing on this voyage, the benefits of
the change of system with regard to the supply of wines and spirits,
each passenger paying for what he consumes, instead of his fare
including the privilege of drinking _ad libitum_. One of the stewards
told me the quantity consumed was little more than one-tenth as much as
under the former system.

I cannot conclude my narrative more gratefully to my own feelings than
by a tribute to the upright and conscientious officer who commanded the
vessel. On the first day of the week, the only one we spent at sea, the
passengers, and as many of the servants as could conveniently attend,
assembled morning and evening in the saloon, for the purpose of
religious worship. Lord Frederick Fitzclarence, one of the passengers,
officiating as a minister of the English Establishment; and every
evening a similar opportunity was offered in the fore cabin to all who
were inclined to be present. The captain firmly resisted the
introduction of cards on the first day of the week, and in his whole
conduct manifested an anxiety not only for the temporal comfort and
safety, but for the spiritual interests of those under his care. Would
that all captains of vessels, invested as they are with such authority
and influence over the passengers and crews, were like-minded with my
friend Captain McKellar.

I disembarked at Liverpool early in the morning on the 14th of Eighth
month, (August,) 1841.


The reader who has accompanied me thus far, will not need to be informed
that I have designedly omitted many of those remarks on scenery,
manners, and institutions, which were naturally suggested to my own mind
by a retrospect of my sojourn in the United States. On various subjects
of great interest and importance, it would be difficult for me to add
anything new or valuable to the information contained in other and well
known works; while on those points to which my attention was chiefly
directed, I have endeavored, as far as practicable, to incorporate the
results of my inquiries in the preceding narrative. There remain,
however, a few observations, for which, having found no appropriate
place, I would bespeak attention in a concluding chapter.

In the Northern States, education, in the common acceptation of the
term, may be considered as universal; in illustration of which it may be
mentioned, that on the occasion of the late census, not a single
American adult in the State of Connecticut, was returned as unable to
read or write. Funds for education are raised by municipal taxation in
each town or district, to such an amount as the male adults may decide.
Their public schools are universally admitted to be well conducted and
efficient, and combine every requisite for affording a sound, practical,
elementary education to the children of the less affluent portion of the
community. I need scarcely add that in a republican government, this
important advantage being conceded, the road to wealth and distinction,
or to eminence of whatever kind, is thrown open to all of every class
without partiality--the colored alone excepted.

The following extract from a letter received since my return from a
respected member of the Society of Friends, residing in Worcester,
Massachusetts, will give a lively idea of the general diffusion and
practical character of education in the New England States.

"The public schools of the place, like those throughout the State, are
supported by a tax, levied on the people by themselves, in their primary
assemblies or town meetings, and they are of so excellent a character as
to have driven other schools almost entirely out from among us. They are
so numerous as to accommodate amply all the children, of suitable age to
attend. They are graduated from the infant school, where the A B C is
taught, up to the high school for the languages and mathematics, where
boys are fitted for the University, and advanced so far, if they choose,
as to enter the University one or two years ahead. These schools are
attended by the children of the whole population promiscuously; and, in
the same class we find the children of the governor and ex-governor of
the State, and those of their day-laborers, and of parents who are so
poor that their children are provided with books and stationery from the
school fund. Under this system, we have no children who do not acquire
sufficient school learning to qualify them for transacting all the
business which is necessary in the ordinary pursuits of life. A child
growing up without school learning would be an anomaly with us. All
standing thus on a level, as to advantages, talent is developed,
wherever it happens to be; and neither wealth nor ancestral honors give
any advantage in the even-handed contest which may here be waged for
distinction. It is thus that we find, almost uniformly, that our first
men, either in government or the professions, are the sons of
comparatively poor and obscure persons. In places where the wealthier
portion of the community have placed their children in select schools,
they are found much less likely to excel, than when placed in contact
and collision with the mass, where they are compelled to come in
competition with those whose physical condition prepares them for mental
labor, and whose situation in society holds forth every inducement to
their exertions. To this system, which is co-eval with the foundation of
the State, I attribute, in a great degree, that wonderful energy of
character which distinguishes the people of New England, and which has
filled the world with the evidences of their enterprise."

The preceding statements refer to New England, the oldest portion of the
free States. The more recently settled Northern and Western States are
necessarily less advanced, yet their educational statistics would
probably bear comparison with any country in the world, except the most
favored portion of their own. In the slave States the aspect of things
affords a striking contrast. Not only is the slave population, with but
few exceptions, in a condition of heathen barbarism, a condition which
it is the express object of those laws of the slave States, forbidding,
under the heaviest penalties, the instruction of the slaves, to
perpetuate; but the want of common elementary education among large
numbers of the privileged class is notorious. Compare Virginia with
Massachusetts,--"The American Almanac for the year 1841, states, (page
210) there are supposed to be hardly fewer than 30,000 adult white
persons in Virginia who cannot read and write!" An able writer gives the
following facts.

"No one of the slave States has probably so much general education as
Virginia. It is the oldest of them--has furnished one half of the
Presidents of the United States--has expended more upon her University
than any State in the Union has done during the same time upon its
colleges--sent to Europe nearly twenty years since for her most learned
professors; and in fine, has far surpassed every other slave State in
her efforts to disseminate education among her citizens; and yet, the
Governor of Virginia in his message to the legislature, (Jan. 7, 1839)
says, that of four thousand six hundred and fourteen adult males in that
State, who applied to the county clerks for marriage licences in the
year 1837, one thousand and forty seven were unable to write their
names." The governor adds, "these statements, it will be remembered are
confined to one sex: the education of females, it is to be feared, is in
a condition of _much greater neglect_."--The editor of the Virginia
Times published at Wheeling, in his paper of January 23d, 1839,
says,--"We have every reason to suppose that one fourth of the people of
the State cannot write their names, and they have not of course any
other species of education."[A]

[Footnote A: "American Slavery as it is," page 187.]

The destitution of the means of moral and religious improvement is in
like manner very great. A recent number of the "Monthly Extracts from
the correspondence of the American Bible Society," contains the
following extract from the 28th annual report of the Virginia Bible
Society: "The sub-sheriff of one of our Western Counties stated the
following fact to your agent. A jury was to be empannelled in a remote
settlement of this country--he happened to have left his home without a
Bible--there was no Bible in the house where the jury was to sit, and
the sheriff travelled fourteen miles calling at every house, before he
found a Bible. Pious surveyors stated to your agent that they had
traversed every settlement in a remote section of one or two of our
south western counties, that they had frequently inquired among the
settlers for a Bible, but had never seen or heard of one in a region,
say sixty miles by fifty."

There are few things more striking in the free States than the number
and commodiousness of the places of worship. In the New England States,
however general the attendance might be, none would be excluded for want
of room. The other means or accompaniments of religious instruction are
in the same abundance. How is it possible to evade the conclusion that
Christianity flourishes most, when it is unencumbered and uncorrupted by
state patronage? What favored portion of the United Kingdom could
compare its religious statistics with New England?

Religion and morality, viewed on the broad scale, are cause and
effect--a remark which is fully borne out in the Northern States, and in
no instance more remarkably exemplified than in the spread of
temperance. A few years ago the consumption of ardent spirits, and other
intoxicating drinks, was as general as in England, and the effects even
more conspicuous and debasing. It is now very rare, in the free States,
to see a drunken person, even in the most populous cities. At the large
hotels, as far as my observation extended, it is the exception, not the
rule, to take any spirituous or fermented beverage at or after dinner;
and no case of inebriety came under my notice in any of these
establishments. I have already remarked, that some of the first hotels
in the principal cities are established on the strictest temperance
principles. I believe, in private hospitality, intoxicating drinks are,
in like manner, very much discarded. At the tables of members of the
Society of Friends, it is very rare to see either wine or malt liquor
introduced; while, as already noticed, the selling, using, or giving
ardent spirits is so great an offence as to be made the subject of
church discipline. This is, by no means, one of the "peculiarities" of
"Friends," as I believe it may be generally stated that the same
practices, in most other Christian communities, would be considered as
quite incompatible with a profession of religion.

The effects of this great reformation are not confined to the United
States, although the change hitherto has been much more gradual in my
native country; not so, however, in Ireland, now, by a happy reverse, a
scene of light and promise, amidst surrounding gloom and depression. Of
the American facts I have to record, connected with the temperance
movement, the most grateful is the striking contrast that is exhibited
in the Irish emigrants. By the divine blessing on Theobald Mathew's
benevolent labors, they have generally forsaken their besetting sin of
drunkenness in their native land, and if compelled to seek the means of
subsistence in another country, they now at least do not carry with them
habits that tend irresistibly to destitution and degradation. The Irish
movement is likewise re-acting most beneficially on the native Irish,
who have long been settled in America, and who are joining the total
abstinence societies in great number, though hitherto the most
intemperate part of the community.

In short, whether I consider the religious, the benevolent, or the
literary institutions of the Northern States--whether I contemplate the
beauty of their cities, or the general aspect of their fine country, in
which nature every where is seen rendering her rich and free tribute to
industry and skill--or whether I regard the general comfort and
prosperity of the laboring population,--my admiration is strongly
excited, and, to do justice to my feelings, must be strongly expressed.
Probably there is no country where the means of temporal happiness are
so generally diffused, notwithstanding the constant flow of emigrants
from the old world; and, I believe there is no country where the means
of religious and moral improvement are so abundantly provided--where
facilities of education are more within the reach of all--or where there
is less of extreme poverty and destitution.

As morals have an intimate connection with politics, I do not think it
out of place here to record my conviction, that the great principle of
popular control, which is carried out almost to its full extent in the
free states, is not only beautiful in theory, but that it is found to
work well in practice. It is true that disgraceful scenes of mob
violence and lynch-law have occurred; but perhaps not more frequently
than popular outbreaks in Great Britain; while, generally, the supremacy
of law and order have been restored, without troops, or special
commissions, or capital punishments. It is also true, that these
occurrences are, for the most part, directly traceable, not to the
celebrated declaration of the equal and inalienable right of all men to
life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, which is the fundamental
principle of the constitution; but to the flagrant violation of that
principle in the persons of the colored population, of whom those in
most of the free states are actually or virtually deprived of political
rights; and the rest, constituting a majority of the population in some
of the Southern States, are held in abject slavery. The corruptions and
disorders that obscure the bright example of the American people, and
detract from the estimation in which their institutions and policy would
otherwise be held, generally spring from this source. So long as slavery
and distinction of color exist, America will always be pointed at with
the finger of scorn, for her flagrant violation of all truth and
consistency. But let us not forget that this odious institution is the
disgraceful legacy of a monarchy--that it is no necessary effect of
republican institutions, but the reverse. Our quarrel, therefore, is not
with the declaration of rights, but that this celebrated declaration
should be regarded, in the instance of one class in the community, as a
mere rhetorical flourish, and should thus be deprived of its legitimate
practical effect.

The great feature of the political arrangements of the free States is,
the absence of the aristocratic element. A pure despotism in the hands
of one man has seldom been seen, except in the instances of those
renowned military chiefs, whom a retributive Providence has at intervals
employed as the scourge of guilty nations. An aristocracy under various
forms and names, has usually been the governing power, and as the too
frequent result, laws have been made and administered for the benefit of
the few, and not for the many. Yet the United States of North America
exhibit, however, notwithstanding their political theory to the
contrary, an aristocracy of the worst kind, _an aristocracy of color_;
in the free States of the many against the few, in affirming these to be
a degraded race, as long as African blood runs in their veins; and in
the slave States, for a no better reason, reducing them even when they
are the majority; to the condition of brute beasts, to be held and sold
as goods and chattels. And this leads me to observe that the writer who
mistakes the general government of the confederacy, with its limited
scope and powers, for the chief source of laws and administration in the
separate States will unavoidably present a confused and distorted
representation of existing facts. Each State constitutes within itself a
distinct republic, virtually independent of the general government, so
long as its legislation does not conflict with the specific articles of
the constitutional compact; all the rights and powers of sovereignty,
not specifically delegated to the Government in that instrument, being
retained by the States. Hence nothing can present a wider contrast than
the slavery-blackened code of South Carolina, and the statutes of
Massachusetts, characterized by republican simplicity and equality.

The preceding observations in favor of the democratic institutions of
the northern States, are therefore to be understood as of local
application; and I would explicitly admit that a well-ordered and a
well-working government on such principles must in a great measure
depend upon the amount of virtue and intelligence in the community: but
while a government which is based upon the principles of impartial
justice requires a virtuous people properly to administer it, it has, I
believe, within itself one of the most powerful elements for the
formation of such a community.

On the subject of peace my inquiries elicited an almost uniformly
favorable response. If we except those who would encourage the war
spirit, from hopes of sharing in the plunder, or those to whom it would
open up the path to distinction and emolument, there are comparatively
few who do not desire the maintenance of peace. In the religious part of
the community, there is a rapidly spreading conviction of the
unchristian character of war, in every shape; and the President, in his
late message to Congress, in stating that "the time ought to be regarded
as having gone by when a resort to arms is to be esteemed as the only
proper arbiter of national differences", has expressed the sentiments of
the great bulk of the intelligent citizens of the United States. I
believe also that the majority would be found willing to assent to any
reasonable and practical measure that should preclude the probability of
an appeal to arms, or of keeping up what are absurdly called "peace
establishments" of standing armies and appointed fleets for the
protection of national safety or honor. The late excitements on the
Boundary and McLeod questions were confined to comparatively few of the
population, and the report of them was magnified by distance.

But a far stronger guaranty for the permanence of international peace
than any treaties, will be found in the interchange of mutual benefits
by commerce. For this reason he who is successful in promoting a free
and unchecked commerce, is the benefactor, not of his own country alone,
but of the world at large. There are few countries where in practice
free trade is more fully carried out than in the United States, but in
theory the true doctrine of this subject is only in part adopted by her
statesmen and leading minds. They are willing to trade on equal terms,
but will meet prohibition with prohibition. Here undoubtedly they
mistake their real interests, but though such a policy will not advance
the prosperity of America, it will inflict tremendous and lasting injury
on Great Britain. Whatever the event, _we_ cannot complain. The terms
offered by the United States, though not wise, on an enlarged view of
her own interests, are yet _reciprocal_, and therefore fair between
nation and nation. If, however, I possessed any influence with the
enlightened citizens of North America, I should be in no common degree
anxious to exert it against those false views of trade and commerce
which distort alike the maxims and the policy of her rulers. Their
manufactures flourish, not in consequence of protection, but in defiance
of it. With such an extended coast, and such facilities of internal
communication, prohibition is impossible. The manufactures of England
are excluded, not by the revenue laws of the States, but by the corn
laws of Great Britain, which forbid the British manufacturer to take in
exchange the only article of value his American customer has to spare; a
prohibition which, unhappily for the people of this country, our
government has power to enforce. The prohibitory system is, to a great
extent, impracticable in the United States; and just so far as it should
be found practicable, it would prove injurious, by creating fictitious
and dependent interests, which, in the course of time, would become
insupportably burdensome to the commonwealth, and eventually would have
to be relinquished at the cost of a fearful amount of individual
distress and national suffering. Legitimate commerce is that department
of the national welfare, in which it is the business of statesmanship to
do nothing but remove the impediments of its own creating in past times.
In all other respects, commercial legislation is a nuisance; and if
under some circumstances trade is found to flourish concurrently with
such interference, the fact is due either to the restrictions and
regulations being practically inoperative, or more frequently, to the
high profits arising from unexhausted resources, in the absence of
competition, enabling commerce to advance in spite of impediments; in
the same way as cultivation by slave labor, notwithstanding its
expensiveness and inordinate waste, enables the first planter on a
virgin soil, and with an open market for his produce, to roll in his
carriage, though beggary is to be the fate of the second or third
generation of his descendants.

In giving the preceding representation of the religious, the moral, and
the intellectual elevation of the population of the Northern States of
the Union, I have indicated the source we must look to for the abolition
of slavery, to which it is now time to turn our attention, for no
American question can be discussed, into which this important subject
does not largely enter.

Light and darkness, truth and falsehood, are not more in opposition than
Christianity and slavery. If the religion that is professed in the free
States be not wholly a dead letter,--if the moral and intellectual light
which they appear to enjoy be indeed light, and not darkness,--then the
abolition of slavery is certain, and cannot be long delayed. In order to
make this apparent, as well as to vindicate my own proceedings in the
United States, it is incumbent on me to show, that the great contest,
for the abolition of American slavery, is to be decided in the _free_
States, by the power of public opinion. I have distinctly admitted, that
the confederated republics have each their independent sovereignty.
Neither the free States, nor the general Government, can perhaps
constitutionally abolish slavery in any one of the existing slave
States. Yet there are certain objects clearly within the limits of the
constitutional power of the general Government, such as the suppression
of the internal slave-trade, and the abolition of slavery in the
district of Columbia, for which it is undeniably lawful and
constitutional for every American citizen to strive; and the attainment
of which would suffice to cripple, and ultimately destroy slavery in
every part of the Union. The slave-holding power is so sensible of this,
that all its united strength is employed to retain that control over the
general Government, which it has exercised from the date of the
independence, and never more despotically than at the present time.
Amidst the difficulties which beset, and the dangers which threatened
the country, at the period of the formation of the constitution, the
southern States dictated such a compromise as they thought fit; and,
with the great principles of liberty paraded on the face of the
declaration of independence, came into the Union on the express
understanding that those principles should be perpetually violated in
their favor. Of the details of this compromise, by far the most
important, and one which has mainly contributed to consolidate the
political supremacy of the south, is the investiture of the slave
masters with political rights, in proportion to the amount of their
slave property. Every five slaves confer three votes on their owner;
though, in other points of view, a slave is a mere chattel--an article
of property and merchandize,--yet, in this instance, and in _criminal
proceedings against him_, his _personality_ is recognized, for the
express object of adding to the weight of his chains, and increasing the
power of his oppressor.

The North, in voting away the rights and freedom of the laboring
population of the South, surrendered its own liberty. The haughty
slave-holding masters of the great confederacy have from the beginning
chosen the Presidents, and the high officers of state, and have
controlled the policy of the Government, from a question of peace or
war, to the establishment of a tariff or a bank. In the executive
department they have dictated all appointments, from a letter-carrier to
an ambassador; an amusing illustration of which I find in my recent
correspondence. A late member of the Massachusetts legislature, writes
on the Eighth Month (August) 26, 1841:

"One instance of the all-pervading _espionage_ of the slave
power I may mention. The newly appointed postmaster of
Philadelphia employed, among his numerous clerks and
letter-carriers, Joshua Coffin, who, some three years ago, aided
in restoring to liberty a free colored citizen of New York, who
had been kidnapped and sold into slavery. The appointment of the
postmaster not being confirmed, he wrote to his friends in
Congress to inquire the reason, and was told that the delay was
occasioned by the fact that he had employed Coffin as one of his
letter-carriers! Coffin was immediately dismissed, and the
senate in a few days confirmed the appointment! Is not this a
pitiful business?"

If the reader, who wishes further information, will consult William
Jay's work, entitled "A View of the Action of the Federal Government in
behalf of Slavery," he will find ample historical proof that the
internal and external administration of the Union--legislative,
executive, and diplomatic--has been employed, without any deviation from
consistency, to subserve the interests of the slave-holding States. Yet
these States are, in population, numerically weaker than those of the
North, and inferior, to a far greater degree, in wealth, intelligence,
and the other elements of political power. They are strong only in the
compactness of their union, while the citizens of the free States are
divided in interest and opinion. Here, then, is presented a distinct and
legitimate object for those of the abolitionists who regard their
political rights as a trust for the benefit of the oppressed and
helpless, to combine the scattered and divided power of the North into a
united phalanx, which shall wrest the administration of the Federal
Union from the slave-holding interest, and shall purify the general
Government from the contamination of slavery, by reversing its general
policy on that subject, and by the adoption of the specific measures
before mentioned; while, in the States in which they respectively
reside, the abolitionists feel it to be their duty to exert themselves,
to wipe away from the statute book every vestige of that barbarism which
makes political, civil, or religious rights depend upon the color of the

Yet more important is it, however, to bring the moral force of the North
to bear against slavery, by reforming the prevailing public sentiment of
the religious, moral, and intelligent portion of the community. Here
again, one of the most sagacious leaders of the pro-slavery party, J.C.
Calhoun, has descried the danger from afar, and has publicly proclaimed
it in the senate of the United States, by vehemently deprecating the
anti-slavery proceedings, not as intended to provoke the slaves to a
servile war, but as a crusade against the _character_ of the

Although the different States are distinct governments, their
geographical boundaries are mere lines upon the map; their inhabitants
speak the same language, and enjoy a communion of citizenship all over
the Union. The North Eastern States have by far the greater part of the
whole commerce of the Union, and are the medium through which the
planter exchanges his cotton for provisions and clothing for his slaves,
implements for his agriculture, and his own family supplies. These
commercial ties create a direct and extensive pro-slavery interest in
the North. Again, the planter is yet more dependent on the North for
education for his children, and for the gratification of his own
intellectual wants, as the slave-holding region has few colleges, and
those of secondary reputation; while I believe it has no periodical of
higher pretension than the political newspapers. The pro-slavery
re-action in this way, on the seminaries of the North, and on the
literature of the United States, is most sensibly felt.

Another powerful cause that contributes to leaven the entire population
into one mind on the subject of slavery, is the double migration that
annually takes place of people of the Southern States to the North, in
summer, and of the inhabitants of the free States to the South in
winter. Hence follow family alliances, the interchange of hospitalities,
and a fusion of sentiments, so that the slavery interest spreads its
countless ramifications through every corner of the free north.

Another cause, and perhaps the most powerful of all, is the community of
religious fellowship in leading denominations. The Episcopalians, the
Methodists, the Baptists, and the Presbyterians of two schools, are
severally but one body, all over the Union, and as a matter of course,
all are tainted with slavery, and for consistency's sake, make common
cause against abolition. The pamphlet of James G. Birney, entitled "The
American Churches the Bulwarks of American Slavery,"[A] offers the
amplest proof that the Methodist Episcopal, the Baptist, the
Presbyterian, and the Anglican Episcopal Churches are committed, both in
the persons of their eminent ministers, and by resolutions passed in a
church capacity, to the monstrous assertion that slavery, so far from
being a moral evil, which it is the duty of the church to seek to
remove, is a Christian institution resting on a scriptural basis; this
assertion is repeated in the numerous quotations of the pamphlet, in a
variety and force of expression that show the utterers were resolved not
to leave their meaning in the smallest doubt. Indeed, it might be
supposed, from the perusal of this pamphlet, that the suppression of
abolitionism, if not the maintenance of slavery, was one of the first
duties of the Christian churches in America.

[Footnote A: Published by Ward & Co., Paternoster-row, London.]

The following extracts are offered in illustration:--

THE METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH.--"Resolved, That it is the sense
of the Georgia Annual Conference, that slavery, as it exists in
the United States, _is not a moral evil_."

"The Rev. Wilbur Fisk, D.D., late President of the (Methodist)
Wesleyan University in Connecticut--'The New Testament enjoins
obedience upon the slave as an obligation _due_ to a present
_rightful_ authority.'"

"Rev. E.D. Simms, Professor in Randolph Macon College, a
Methodist Institution--'Thus we see, that the slavery which
exists in America, _was founded in right_.'"

"The Rev. William Winans, of Mississippi, in the General
Conference, in 1836--'Yes, sir, Presbyterians, Baptists,
Methodists, should be slaveholders,--yes, he repeated it
boldly--there should be members, and _deacons_, and ELDERS and
BISHOPS, too, who were slave-holders.'"

"The Rev. J.H. Thornwell, at a public meeting, held in South
Carolina, supported the following resolution--'That slavery, as
it exists in the South, is no evil, and is consistent with the
principles of revealed religion; and that all opposition to it
arises from a misguided and fiendish fanaticism, which we are
bound to resist in the very threshold.'"

"Rev. Mr. Crowder, of Virginia, at the Annual Conference in
Baltimore, 1840--'In its _moral_ aspect, slavery was not only
countenanced, permitted, and regulated by the Bible, but it was
positively _instituted_ by GOD HIMSELF--he had, in so many
words, ENJOINED IT.'"

THE BAPTIST CHURCH--"Memorial of the Charleston Baptist Association, to
the Legislature of South Carolina:

"'_The right of masters to dispose of the time of their slaves
has been distinctly recognized by the Creator of all things_,
who is surely at liberty to vest the right of property over any
object in whomsoever he pleases.'"

"Rev. R. Furman, D.D., of South Carolina--'The right of holding
slaves is clearly established in the Holy Scriptures, both by
precept and example.'"

"The late Rev. Lucius Bolles, D.D., of Massachusetts, Cor. Sec.
Am. Bap. Board for Foreign Missions, (1834.)--'There is a
pleasing degree of union among the multiplying thousands of
Baptists throughout the land.... Our Southern brethren are
generally, both ministers and people, slave-holders.'"

PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH.--"Resolution of Charleston Union Presbytery--'That,
in the opinion of this Presbytery, the holding of slaves, so far from
being a SIN in the sight of God, is no where condemned in his holy

"Rev. Thomas S. Witherspoon, of Alabama, writing to the Editor of the
_Emancipator_, says--'I draw my warrant from the Scriptures of the Old
and New Testament, to hold the slave in bondage. The principle of
holding the heathen in bondage is recognized by God.... When the tardy
process of the law is too long in redressing our grievances, we of the
South have adopted the summary remedy of Judge Lynch--and really, I
think it one of the most wholesome and salutary remedies for the malady
of Northern fanaticism, that can be applied.'"

"Rev. Robert N. Anderson, of Virginia--'Now _dear Christian brethren_, I
humbly express it as my earnest wish, that you _quit yourselves like
men_. If there be any stray goat of a minister among you, tainted with
the bloodhound principles of abolitionism, let him be ferreted out,
silenced, excommunicated, and left to the _public to dispose of him in
other respects_.'"

Episcopalian--'She has not merely remained a mute and careless spectator
of this great conflict of truth and justice with hypocrisy and cruelty,
but her very _priests and deacons may be seen ministering at the altar
of slavery_, offering their talents and influence at its unholy shrine,
and openly repeating the awful blasphemy, _that the precepts of our
Savior sanction the system of American slavery_.'"

In page 25 is the following:--

"The Rev. James Smylie, A.M., of the Amite Presbytery,
Mississippi, in a pamphlet, published by him a short time ago,
_in favor_ of American slavery, says:--'If slavery be a sin, and
advertising and apprehending slaves, with a view to restore them
to their masters, is a direct violation of the Divine law; and
if _the buying, selling, or holding a slave, for the sake of
gain_, is a heinous sin and scandal; then, verily,
_three-fourths of all the Episcopalians, Methodists, Baptists_,
and _Presbyterians_, in _eleven States of the Union_, are of the
devil. They 'hold,' if they do not buy and sell slaves, and,
_with few exceptions_, they hesitate not to 'apprehend and
restore' runaway slaves, when in their power.'"

Yet, in the face of evidence so overwhelming as this, showing how the
whole moral atmosphere of the Northern States is tainted with
pro-slavery corruption, the abolitionists are frequently taunted with
the question, what has the North to do with slavery? It is, however, a
part of their vocation to bear contempt and reproach. They know they are
at the right end of the lever, though at some apparent distance from the
object to be moved. _Their mission is to correct public opinion in the
free States_. Let us suppose, for a moment, this object attained--the
whole slave-holding portion of the churches cut off, as a diseased and
corrupt excrescence; the national literature purified, and the entire
community pervaded by sound Christian feeling--a feeling which should
abhor all participation, in word or deed, with the guilt of slavery; and
how could the South maintain, for a single day, the perpetual warfare,
which would be thus waged against her from without, and seconded by
alarmed consciences in her own citadel?

The rise of the present abolition movement dates from the year 1832,
when a few persons met at Philadelphia, and adopted and signed a
declaration of their sentiments. He, however, who would trace
anti-slavery sentiments to their source, must go back to the first era
of Christianity, and to the authoritative promulgation of the Divine law
of love by the lips of the Savior of mankind himself. In the darkest
times, since that period, the true doctrine of the unlawfulness of
slavery has never been wholly lost, being in fact a part of the
imperishable substance of vital Christianity.

From 1832 until the division referred to in an early portion of this
work, the anti-slavery societies multiplied with extraordinary rapidity.
The following account of the present state of the cause is furnished by
my friend, John G. Whittier.

"He who, at the present time, judges of the progress of the
anti-slavery cause in the United States, by statistics of the
formation of new societies, or the activity and efficiency of
the old, will obtain no adequate idea of the truth. The
unfortunate divisions among the American abolitionists, and, the
difficulty of uniting, for any continuous effort, those who
differ widely as to the proper means to be used, and measures to
be pursued, have, in a great measure, changed the direction and
manifestation of anti-slavery feeling and action. Thus, while
public opinion, in all the free States, is manifestly
approximating to abolition, and new converts to its principles
are daily avowing themselves, it is exceedingly rare to hear of
the formation of a new anti-slavery society, and there are few
accessions to those which are already in existence. Yet the
fresh recipients of the truths of anti-slavery doctrine find
abundant work for their hands to do, even without the pale of
organized societies, in purifying the churches with which they
are connected, and in counteracting the pro-slavery politics of
the country.

"The two great political parties in the United States, radically
disagreeing in almost all other points, are of one heart and
mind, in opposing emancipation; not, I suppose, from any real
affinity to, or love for the 'peculiar institution,' but for the
purpose of securing the votes of the slave-holders, who, more
consistent than the Northern abolitionists, refuse to support
any man for office, who is not willing to do homage to slavery.
The competition between these two parties for Southern favor is
one of the most painful and disgusting spectacles which presents
itself to the view of a stranger in the United States. To every
well wisher of America it must be a matter of interest and
satisfaction to know, that there is a growing determination in
the free States to meet the combination of slave-holders in
behalf of slavery, by one of freemen in behalf of liberty; and
thus compel the party politicians, on the ground of expediency,
if not of principle, to break from the thraldom of the slave
power, and array themselves on the side of freedom.

"It is an undoubted fact, that, at the present time, the various
denominations of professing Christians in the United States are
more deeply agitated by this question than at any former period.
The publication of such books as Weld's 'Slavery as it is,' has
unveiled the monstrous features of slavery to the Christian
public in the Northern States. The blasphemous attempts of
Southern professors and ministers, to defend their abominable
practices upon Christian grounds, have powerfully re-acted
against them at the North; and church after church, especially
in New England, is taking the high stand of the late General
Convention in London, in withholding its fellowship from
slave-holders, and closing its pulpit against their preachers.

"Recent movements in the slave States themselves encourage the
friends of freedom. In Kentucky, at the late election for state
officers, one of the candidates, Cassius M. Clay, nephew of
Henry Clay, avowed his opposition to pro-slavery principles in
the strongest terms, and staked his election upon this avowal.
He was warmly supported, and his opponent only succeeded by a
small majority. Tennessee, in her mountain region, has many
decided, uncompromising abolitionists, whose encouraging letters
and statements have been published within the last year, in the
Northern anti-slavery papers. The excellent work of Joseph John
Gurney, on the West Indies, and Dr. Channing's late pamphlet,
entitled "Emancipation," have been very widely circulated in
many of the slave States; and, so far as can be ascertained,
have been read with interest by the planters. The movements of
English and French abolitionists have attracted general
attention, and, in the Southern States, have awakened no small
degree of solicitude.

"That baleful American peculiarity, prejudice against color, is
evidently diminishing, under the influence of anti-slavery
principles and practice; and the laws which have oppressed the
free colored citizen are rapidly yielding to the persevering
action of the abolitionists. Dr. Channing has not over-stated
the fact, that the provision in the Federal Constitution,
relative to the reclaiming of fugitive slaves, has been silently
but effectually repealed by the force of public opinion, and the
interposition of jury trial, in many of the free States. In
Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine, and New York, with the exception
of its slavery-ridden commercial emporium, the recovery of a
slave by legalized kidnappers is entirely out of the question.
In any one of these States, it would, to use the language of a
New York mechanic, be exceedingly difficult to prove, to the
satisfaction of a jury of honest freemen, that a man had been
born 'contrary to the Declaration of Independence.' The
frontiers of slavery are every where very much exposed, and all
along the line of Maryland, Delaware, Kentucky, Virginia, and
Missouri, the tide of self-emancipated men and women is pouring
in upon the free States. I cannot give a better idea of the
extent of this peculiar emigration, than by copying extracts
from the _Centreville Times_, a paper published in Maryland:--

"'_Free Negroes and Slaves_.--When it is too late, the
people of Maryland will begin to look for the means of
protection in their slave property. We still say slave
property; although, notwithstanding slaves are
recognized as property by the constitution, without
which recognition this confederation never would have
been formed: yet such has been the effect of fanaticism
and emancipation, of the intermeddling machinations of
abolitionists, and the mischievous agency of free
negroes--that _the very owners of this species of
property seem to begin to doubt whether slaves are
property or not_; and so much has its value become
impaired, in the possession of those who reside
contiguous to the non-slaveholding States, that the
question has been raised, whether they are, in fact,
worth keeping. Either discipline must be so much
relaxed, as that the labor of the slave will scarcely
pay for his support; or, if forced to labor no more than
is even necessary to health and contentment, they
abscond, and passing over the lines into a
non-slaveholding State, are there concealed and
protected. The number and the success of elopements
leave no doubt of the establishment of a regular chain
of posts, accessary to, and of systematic plans,
deliberately organized, for their seduction and
concealment. In these escapes, the free negroes are, for
the most part, undoubtedly instrumental, as they are to
most of the robberies committed by slaves. While at
Easton, two weeks since, the slaves of two gentlemen
made their escape, being each, if not recovered, a loss
of one thousand dollars; and the firm persuasion was,
that, in both cases, the runaways were furnished with
passes by a free negro barber. Even if apprehended,
these gentlemen will have been put to an expense of not
less than three hundred dollars, and this without the
slightest pretext of ill usage or unkindness.

"'The usual process is, when the owner is supposed to
have despaired of his recovery, for some abolition or
free negro lawyer to open a correspondence with the
owner, representing the runaway to be in Canada, or
otherwise beyond apprehension--coolly adding, with a
highwayman's impudence, "take that or nothing;" and the
owner has to put up with a total loss, or compromise for
a third of the value of his property--the result in
either case, proving an incentive to others to be off in
like manner"'

* * * * *

"'There is not an interest that is not impaired, by the
proximity of the free States, and the protection there
afforded to slaves, and by the presence and
intercommunion of the free with the slave negro. Even
the value of land is diminished by it. Maryland suffers
the disadvantages, without the advantages of a slave
State. The disadvantage consists in the reputation, (the
odium, north of the Delaware,) of being a slave State.
_The capitalists of the North refuse, on that account,
to invest in Maryland lands, though they could buy land
in Maryland for twenty dollars an acre, which is
intrinsically worth more than theirs, which they could
sell for an hundred._ Our condition is, in fact, that of
neither the one or the other; and, unless something can
be done to counteract the progress of fanaticism on this
subject, and that abuse of strength and heedless
injustice which always follows irresponsible power,
_slavery in Maryland must cease, either by sale, while
that right remains to the slave-holder, or ere long, by
forced emancipation_.

"'Virginia--once proud and independent Virginia, already
half captive to the North--will soon take her place as
the frontier slave State;--Maryland, with her Southern
principles, eaten out by Northern men, will then assume
to her the relation that Pennsylvania now bears to
Maryland;--nay, it is but too obvious that, as things
are now working, in process of time, and that not
slowly, _slavery must cease to exist in all the
provision-growing States_,--its northernmost line will
be the line of the sugar, the rice, and the cotton
culture,--the climate alone affording to the
slave-holder that shelter which justice could not offer
from the rapacity of his pursuers. Will the Southern
still accept the shadow without the substance of equal
and confederate powers? Be his relation, then, what it
may--independent, confederate, or colonial--for one, we
say, let it be defined. To the misery of the slave, let
him not add the meanness of the dupe. Let him remember,
that time and corruption have often achieved what would
have defied the power of the sword;--in a word, let the
slave-holder think, while yet, if yet, he has power to

I have now concluded an imperfect attempt to delineate the present state
of the anti-slavery cause, on the North American continent, with
incidental notices of the past history of the efforts of its friends. In
regard to the future, my hopes are built on the continuance of these
efforts, and on the concurrent aid afforded by the march of events, both
in the United States and in the world at large, under the manifestly
over-ruling power of that gracious Being, who sometimes employs human
instrumentality to accomplish His purposes of mercy; but who works also
Himself, by His immutable laws, and by the dispensations of His





"From our Yearly Meeting held in London, by adjournment from the
20th of the 5th Month to the 29th of the same inclusive, 1840.

"_To the Yearly Meetings of Friends on the Continent of North

"DEAR FRIENDS,--We think it a favor to us, and we accept it as
an evidence that our Lord is mindful of us, that from one time
to another, when thus assembled for mutual edification, and the
renewing of our spiritual strength, we are in any small measure
brought afresh to the enjoyment of that love which flows from
God to man, through Jesus Christ our Savior; and under its
blessed influence quickened to exercise of mind, not only for
the health and prosperity of all those professing the same faith
with ourselves, but for the coming of the kingdom of God upon
earth, and the universal prevalence of righteousness and truth
among men. This love has often brought us in Christian
compassion and tenderness of spirit, deeply to feel for that
portion of the great family of man subjected to the degradation
and cruelty of slavery.

"We do not cease to rejoice with reverent thanksgiving to
Almighty God, for the termination of this system of iniquity in
the British Colonies. It was an act of justice on the part of
our Legislature, and it has removed an enormous load of guilt
from our beloved country; but in our rejoicing, we cannot, nor
would we wish, to forget the hundreds of thousands of our
brethren and sisters on the continent of America, and elsewhere,
still detained in this abject condition, and liable to all the
misery and oppression which it entails upon its victims.

"We have a strong conviction of the guilt and sinfulness of
slavery, and its pernicious effects upon both the oppressed and
the oppressor. That man should claim a right of property in the
person of his fellow--that man should buy and sell his
brother--that civil governments in their legislative enactments,
should so far forget that 'God who giveth to all, life, and
breath, and all things, and hath made of one blood all nations
of men, for to dwell on all the face of the earth,' as to treat
those who differ from them in the color of their skin, or any
other external peculiarity, as beasts that perish, as chattels
and articles of merchandise,--is in such direct violation of the
whole moral law, and of the righteousness of the New Testament,
and that in a day in which the principles of civil and religious
liberty are so fully acknowledged in many of the nations of
Christendom, may well excite both indignation and sorrow. And we
cannot but regard it as such proof of hardness of heart, and
perverted understanding, that we think it can be attributed to
nothing short of the deceivableness of Satan working upon the
fallen nature of man.

"It was, dear friends, in the gradual unfolding of that light in
which the things that are reproved are made manifest, that your
forefathers and ours, were brought to see the criminality of
slavery. Thus enlightened, they could find no peace with God,
until they had put away this evil of their doings from before
his eyes--until by a conscientious discharge of their individual
religious duty, they had restored those whom they held in
bondage, to the full enjoyment of unqualified freedom. Under the
influence of Divine wisdom, and by this faithfulness on the part
of upright Friends, our religious society were brought to a
united and settled judgment as a body, that personal slavery,
both in its origin and its results, was so great an evil, that
it could be tolerated by no mitigation of its hardship; and they
felt the demands of equity to be so urgent upon them, that they
were concerned to enjoin it upon Friends every where, by a ready
compliance with such reasonable duty, to cease to do evil, by
immediately releasing those they held as slaves. Their own hands
being cleansed from this pollution, they felt it to be laid upon
them, plainly and faithfully, to labor with their countrymen to
bring them to a full understanding of the requiring of the
Divine law, and to press it upon them to act up to its
commandments. In the love of God, they were bold, both in your
country and in ours, to plead the cause of the oppressed with
those in power. We believe, and we would wish to speak of it
with modesty and humility, that their faithfulness, in
connection with the exertions of humane and devoted men of other
Christian communities, were instrumental to bring about the
abolition of the slave trade, as well as the extinction of

"We are reverently impressed with a sense of the prerogatives of
the Great Head of the Church, to dispose of his servants, and to
employ their time, and every talent which he has intrusted them,
in such a way and manner as may consist with the purposes of his
wisdom and love. It is the concern of this Meeting, that all our
dear friends may carefully seek each to know his Lord's will,
and to ascertain his individual path of duty; at the same time
we desire to encourage one another to simple obedience to that
which in the true light may be made manifest to them; and each
to an unflinching and uncompromising avowal of his allegiance to
his Lord in all things.

"We observe with satisfaction and comfort, in the epistles from
your Yearly Meetings, which have been read in this Meeting, that
there is a very general acknowledgment of concern on this
important subject. It has often been a prominent feature in the
brotherly correspondence which subsists between us. The
expression of your encouragement in times past, has been helpful
to us, and in the trials and difficulties you have had to
endure, our hearts have been brought into fellow feeling with
you. In this work of justice and love, we have long labored
together. It has helped to strengthen the bond of our union; and
in the fresh sense of this Christian fellowship, as it is now
renewed amongst us, we offer you, beloved friends, the warm
expression of our sympathy, and our strong desire for your help
and encouragement. So far removed as we are from the scene of
slavery, we are aware that we can but imperfectly appreciate
either the sufferings of the slave, or the trials of those who
live in the midst of such oppression; nor do we believe that we
can fully appreciate either the labors of faithful Friends in
your land, or the obstacles and discouragements which have been
thrown in their way.

"The brief review we have taken of the history of our Society,
in reference to this deeply interesting subject, and the feeling
which prevails with us, under a sense of the enormity of the
evil, urges us, and we desire that it may have the same effect
upon you, still to persevere; and in every way that may be
pointed out to us of the Lord, that we may continue to expose
the evil of this unjust interference with the natural and social
rights of man. Time is short, the day is spending fast with
every one of us, and we had need to use diligence in the work of
our day. We know the high authority under which we are commanded
to 'love our neighbor as ourselves.' It is our desire on our own
account, and in this exercise of mind we believe, dear friends,
that you are one with us, that in our efforts to discharge the
duties laid upon us, we may watch against a hopeless and
distrustful spirit in times of discouragement. And O that in his
great mercy and love towards his poor afflicted and helpless
children, it might please Him to hasten the coming of that day,
even to this generation of the enslaved in your land, in which
every yoke shall be broken and the oppressed go free.

"If, in this righteous cause, we move in the leading of our
Lord, we may humbly trust that he, with whom there is no respect
of persons, who careth for the sparrows and feedeth the ravens,
will grant to his dependent ones the help and support of his
Holy Spirit, and enable them, in the face of every opposition,
to do that which is made known to them as his will.

"With the enlarged views entertained by Friends of the mercy and
love of our heavenly Father towards his children of every nation
and tongue all the world over, we desire to press it upon you
still to labor for the removal of all those unjust laws and
limitations of right and privilege consequent upon the
unwarrantable distinction of color--a distinction which has
brought so much suffering upon those settled in different parts
of the Union, and which we think must conduce to the
strengthening of the prejudices of former years, and to retard
the work of emancipation.

"It is affecting to us to think with what astonishing rapidity
slavery is extending itself upon the Continent of North America,
and how from year to year the slave population is increasing
among you. Our spirits are oppressed with a sense of the
magnitude of the evil; we tremble at the awful consequence
which, in the justice and wisdom of Almighty God, may ensue to
those who persist in the upholding of it. We commend the whole
subject to your most serious attention, and desiring that divine
wisdom may be near to help in your deliberations upon it,

"We bid you, affectionately, farewell.

"Signed in and on behalf of the Meeting, by


"_Clerk to the Meeting this year_."



The following extract from Clarkson's "Memoirs of the Public and Private
Life of William Penn," will show how the society of Friends, at a very
early period, became unwarily entangled with the practice of slave
holding; and also that the unchristian nature of it was immediately
perceived by the more spiritual minded among them. It will serve also to
prove that the testimony of Friends against slavery is no novelty, but
is coeval with its rise as a distinct religious body. The measures
proposed by William Penn on this subject, are an honorable testimony to
the comprehensive benevolence of that truly great and magnanimous
legislator, yet they fell short of the exigencies of the case, and of
what Christian people required; consequently what good they directly
effected was local and temporary. Viewed as the germ of subsequent
anti-slavery enterprises of the last century, in Europe and America,
their interest and importance cannot be too highly estimated.

"I must observe, that soon after the colony (Pennsylvania) had
been planted, that is, in the year 1682, when William Penn was
first resident in it, some few Africans had been imported, but
that more had followed. At this time the traffic in slaves was
not branded with infamy, as at the present day. It was
considered, on the other hand, as favorable to both parties: to
the American planters, because they had but few laborers, in
comparison with the extent of their lands; and to the poor
Africans themselves, because they were looked upon as persons
redeemed out of superstition, idolatry, and heathenism. But
though the purchase and sale of them had been admitted with less
caution upon this principle, there were not wanting among the
Quakers of Pennsylvania those who, soon after the introduction
of them there, began to question the moral licitness of the
traffic. Accordingly, at the Yearly Meeting for Pennsylvania,
held in 1688, it had been resolved, on the suggestion of
emigrants from Crisheim, who had adopted the principles of
William Penn, that the buying, selling, and holding men in
slavery, was inconsistent with the tenets of the Christian
religion. In 1696, a similar resolution had been passed at the
Yearly Meeting of the same religious society for the same
province. In consequence, then, of these noble resolutions, the
Quakers had begun to treat their slaves in a different manner
from that of other people. They had begun to consider them as
children of the same great Parent, to whom fraternal offices
were due; and hence, in 1698, there were instances where they
had admitted them into their meeting houses to worship in common
with themselves.[A]

[Footnote A: "I cannot help copying into a note an anecdote from
Thomas Story's Journal for this year (1698). 'On the 13th,' says
he, 'we had a pretty large meeting, where several were tendered,
among whom were some negroes. And here I shall observe, that
Thomas Simons having several negroes, one of them, as also
several belonging to Henry White, had of late come to meetings,
and having a sense of truth, several others thereway were
likewise convinced, and like to do well. And the morning that we
came from Thomas Simons's, my companion speaking some words of
truth to his negro woman, she was tendered; and as I passed on
horseback by the place where she stood weeping, I gave her my
hand, and then she was much more broken: and finding the day of
the Lord's tender visitation and mercy upon her, I spake
encouragingly to her, and was glad to find the poor blacks so
near the truth and reachable.' She stood there, looking after us
and weeping, as long as we could see her. I had inquired of one
of the black men how long they had come to meetings, and he said
'they had always been kept in ignorance, and disregarded as
persons who were not to expect any thing from the Lord, till
Jonathan Taylor, who had been there the year before, discoursing
with them, had informed them that the grace of God, through
Christ, was given also to them; and that they ought to believe
in and be led and taught by it, and so might come to be good
Friends, and saved as well as others. And on the next occasion,
which was when William Ellis and Aaron Atkinson were there, they
went to meetings, and several of them were convinced.' Thus one
planteth and another watereth, but God giveth the increase."]

"William Penn was highly gratified by the consideration of what
has been done on this important subject. From the very first
introduction of enslaved Africans into this province, he had
been solicitous about their temporal and eternal welfare. He had
always considered them as persons of the like nature with
himself; as having the same desire of pleasure and the same
aversion from pain; as children of the same Father, and heirs of
the same promises. Knowing how naturally the human heart became
corrupted and hardened by the use of power, he was fearful lest,
in time, these friendless strangers should become an oppressed
people. Accordingly, as his predecessor, George Fox, when he
first visited the British West Indies, exhorted all those who
attended his meetings for worship there, to consider their
slaves as branches of their own families, for whose spiritual
instruction they would one day or other be required to give an
account, so William Penn had, on his first arrival in America,
inculcated the same notion. It lay, therefore, now upon his mind
to endeavor to bring into practice what had appeared to him to
be right in principle. One of them was to try to incorporate the
treatment of slaves, as a matter of Christian duty, into _the
discipline of his own religious society_; and the other, to
secure it among others in the colony of a different religious
description, _by a legislative act_. Both of these were
necessary. The former, however, he resolved to attempt first.
The Society itself had already afforded him a precedent, by its
resolutions in 1688 and in 1696, as before mentioned, and had
thereby done something material in the progress of the work. It
was only to get a minute passed upon their books to the intended
effect. Accordingly, at the very first Monthly Meeting of the
Society, which took place in Philadelphia in the present year,
he proposed the subject. He laid before them the concern which
had been so long upon his mind, relative to these unfortunate
people; he pressed upon them the duty of allowing them as
frequently as possible to attend their Meetings for worship, and
the benefit that would accrue to both, by the instruction of
them in the principles of the Christian religion. The result
was, that a Meeting was appointed more particularly for the
negroes, once every month; so that besides the common
opportunities they had of collecting religious knowledge, by
frequenting the places of worship, there was one day in the
month, in which, as far as the influence of the Monthly Meeting
extended, they could neither be temporally nor spiritually
overlooked. At this Meeting also, he proposed means, which were
acceded to, for a more frequent intercourse between Friends and
the Indians; he (William Penn,) taking upon himself the charge
of procuring interpreters, as well as of forwarding the means
proposed."--Vol. II. pp. 218-222.




"The Committee charged with promoting the Gradual Improvement
and Civilization of the Indian Natives, report:--

"That although they have given attention to this interesting
concern, there are but few subjects in their operations, since
the last report, which require notice. The Indians have been in
a very unsettled condition during the past year, in consequence
of the embarrassment and distress produced by the ratification
of the treaty, and their uncertainty as to the best course to be
pursued by them in their trying and perplexing circumstances.
They still cling to the hope that they shall be able to ward off
the calamity which threatens them, either through the favorable
disposition of the new Administration and Senate, to give their
case a re-hearing, or by an Appeal to the Supreme Court of the
United States. Small as the hope afforded by these sources may
appear to a disinterested observer, they are buoyed up by it,
and seem as unwilling as ever, to look toward relinquishing
their present homes.

"In a communication addressed to the committee, dated
Tunesassah, Fifth Month 24th, 1840, signed by ten chiefs, they
say, 'Although, the information of the ratification of the
treaty is distressing to us, yet it is a satisfaction to hear
from you, and to learn that you still remember us in our
troubles, and are disposed to advise and assist us. The
intelligence of the confirmation of the treaty caused many of
our women to shed tears of sorrow. We are sensible that we stand
in need of the advice of our friends. Our minds are unaltered on
the subject of emigration.' Another dated Cold Spring, Twelfth
Month 8th, 1840, holds this language: 'Brothers, we continue to
feel relative to the treaty as we have ever felt. We cannot
regard it as an act of our nation, or hold it to be binding on
us. We still consider, that in justice, the land is at this time
as much our own as ever it was. We have done nothing to forfeit
our right to it; and have come to a conclusion to remain upon it
as long as we can enjoy it in peace.' 'We trust in the Great
Spirit: to Him we submit our cause.'

"A letter from the Senecas, residing at Tonawanda, was addressed
to the Committee, from which the following extracts are taken:

"'By the help of the Great Spirit we have met in open
council this 23d day of the Fifth Month, 1840, for the
purpose of deliberating on the right course for us to
pursue under the late act of the government of the
United States relating to our lands. Brothers, we are in
trouble; we have been told that the President has
ratified a treaty, by which these lands are sold from
our possession. We look to you and solicit your advice
and your sympathy under the accumulating difficulties
that now surround us. We feel more than ever, our need
of the help of the great and good Spirit, to guide us
aright. May his council ever preserve and direct us all
in true wisdom.

"'It is known to you, brothers, that at different times
our people have been induced to cede, by stipulated
treaties, to the government of the United States,
various tracts of our territory, until it is so reduced
that it barely affords us a home. We had hoped by these
liberal concessions to secure the quiet and unmolested
possession of this small residue, but we have abundant
reason to fear that we have been mistaken. The agent and
surveyor of a company of land speculators, known as the
Ogden Company, have been on here to lay out our land
into lots, to be sold from us to the whites. We have
protested against it, and have forbidden their

"'Brothers, what we want, is that you should intercede
with the United States government on our behalf. We do
not want to leave our lands. We are willing that the
emigrating party should sell out their rights, but we
are not willing that they should sell ours.

"'Brothers, we want the President of the United States
to know that we are for peace; that we only ask the
possession of our just rights. We have kept in good
faith all our agreements with the government. In our
innocence of any violation we ask its protection. In our
weakness we look to it for justice and mercy. We desire
to live upon our lands in peace and harmony. We love
Tonawanda. It is the residue left us of the land of our
forefathers. We have no wish to leave it. Here are our
cultivated fields, our houses, our wives and children,
and our firesides--and here we wish to lay our bones in

"'Brothers, in conclusion, we desire to express our
sincere thanks to you for your friendly assistance in
times past, and at the same time earnestly solicit your
further attention and advice. Brothers, may the Great
Spirit befriend you all--farewell.'

"Desirous of rendering such aid as might be in our power, a
correspondence has been held with some members of Congress, on
the subject of the treaty, and other matters connected with it;
and recently, two of our number visited Washington, and were
assured by the present Secretary of War, under whose immediate
charge the Indian affairs are placed, that it was his
determination, and that of the other officers of the government,
to give to the treaty, and the circumstances attending its
procurement, a thorough examination; and to adopt such a course
respecting it, as justice and humanity to the Indians would

"The friends who have for several years resided at Tunesassah
still continue to occupy the farm, and have charge of the saw
and grist mills and other improvements. The farm, during the
past year, has yielded about thirty-five tons of hay, two
hundred bushels of potatoes, one hundred bushels of oats, and
one hundred bushels of apples. Notwithstanding the unsettlement
produced by the treaty during the past season, the Indians have
raised an adequate supply of provisions to keep them comfortably
during the year; and they manifest an increased desire to avoid
the use of ardent spirits, and to have their children educated.
In their letter of the Twelfth Month last, the chiefs say, 'We
are more engaged to have our children educated than we have
heretofore been. There are at this time three schools in
operation on this reservation, for the instruction of our

"Our friend, Joseph Batty, in a letter dated 28th of Second
Month last, says, 'The Indians have held several temperance
councils this winter. The chiefs--with the exception of two, who
were not present--have all signed a pledge to abstain from the
use of all intoxicating liquors, and appear engaged to bring
about a reform among their people; but the influence of the
whites among them is prejudicial to their improvement in this
and other respects.'

"By direction of the Committee,


"_Philadelphia, 4th Month 15th, 1841_."



The following particulars of this memorable person are chiefly taken
from a work, now very scarce, entitled "The Life of Elisha Tyson, the
Philanthropist, by a Citizen of Baltimore."

"The eldest known ancestor of Mr. Tyson was a German Quaker,
converted to the faith of Fox by the preaching of William Penn.
Persecuted by the government of his native country for his
religion, he gathered up his all and followed Penn to England;
with whom, and at whose request, he afterwards embarked for
America, and was among the first settlers of Pennsylvania. He
established himself within what are now called the environs of
Philadelphia, married the daughter of an English settler, and
became the happy father of sons and daughters. From these, many
descendants have been derived.

"Elisha Tyson was one of the great grandsons in direct descent
of the German Quaker, and was born on the spot which he had
chosen for his residence. The religion and virtues of this
ancestor were instilled into the minds of his children and
children's children, to the third and fourth generation--not by
transmission of blood, but by the force of a guarded and a
Christian education. In the subject of this memoir, they blazed
forth with superior lustre. From his infancy he was conspicuous
in his neighborhood for that benevolence of heart and
intrepidity of soul, which so highly distinguished him in after

In his early manhood he removed to Baltimore, in the slave State of
Maryland. Here, from his first residence, he took an active part in
various benevolent and public spirited enterprises, although he had to
struggle with early difficulties, having no resources for his support
but honesty, industry, and perseverance. The cause of the oppressed
slaves very soon engaged his attention, and his unwearied exertions in
their behalf ceased not till the close of a long and energetic life. In
the following quotation, describing the American slave trade, although
the past tense is employed by his biographer, yet if Louisiana be
substituted for Georgia, the whole representation is true of the present
time. That dreadful traffic has increased many fold since the date here
alluded to, at which E. Tyson's career of benevolence commenced.

"Even the most creditable merchants felt no compunction in speculating
in the flesh and blood of their own species. These articles of
merchandize were as common as wheat and tobacco, and ranked with these
as a staple of Maryland. This state of things was naturally productive
of scenes of cruelty. Georgia was then the great receptacle of that
portion of these unfortunate beings, who were exported beyond the limits
of their native soil; and the worst name given to Tartarus itself could
not be more appalling to their imaginations than the name of that sister
State. And when we consider the dreadful consequences suffered by the
victims of this traffic; a separation like that of death between the
nearest and dearest relatives; a banishment for ever from the land of
their nativity and the scenes of their youth; the painful inflictions by
the hands of slave drivers, to whom cruelty was rendered delightful by
its frequent exercise; with many other sufferings too numerous to
mention, we cannot wonder at this horror on the part of these
unfortunate beings, and that it should cause them to use all the means
in their power to avoid so terrible a destiny. The slave-trader, aware
of all this, and fearful lest his victims might seek safety by flight,
became increasingly careful of his property. With these men, and upon
such subjects, care is cruelty; and thus the apparent necessity of the
case came in aid of the favorite disposition of their minds. They
charged their victims with being the authors of that cruelty, which had
its true origin in their own remorseless hearts. Their plea for
additional rigor, being plausibly urged, was favorably received by a
community darkened by prejudice. Few regarded with pity, and most with
stoical indifference, this barbarous correction for crimes anticipated,
and rigorous penance for offences existing only in the diabolical
fancies of their tormentors. The truth is, it was the love these poor
wretches bore their wives, children, and native soil, for which they
were punished. They were commonly bound two and two by chains, riveted
to iron collars fastened around their necks, more and more closely, as
their drivers had more and more reason to suspect a desire to escape. If
they were conveyed in wagons, as they sometimes were, additional chains
were so fixed, as to connect the right ancle of one with the left ancle
of another, so that they were fastened foot to foot, and neck to neck.
If a disposition to complain, or to grieve, was manifested by any of
them, the mouths of such were instantly stopped with a gag. If,
notwithstanding this, the overflowings of sorrow found a passage through
other channels, they were checked by the 'scourge inexorable;'--the
cruel monsters thus endeavoring to lessen the appearance of pain, by
increasing its reality. These were scenes of ordinary occurrence; troops
of these poor slaves were continually seen fettered as before described,
marching two and two, with commanders before and behind, swords by their
sides, and pistols in their belts--the triumphant victors over unarmed
women and children. The sufferings of their victims, were, if possible,
increased, when they were compelled to stop for the night. They were
crowded in cellars, and loaded with an additional number of fetters. On
those routes usually taken by them to the South, stated taverns were
selected as their resting places for the night. In these, dungeons under
ground were specially contrived for their reception. Iron staples, with
rings in them, were fixed at proper places in the walls; to these,
chains were welded; and to these chains the fetters of the prisoners
were locked, as the means of certain safety. It was usual every day for
these slave-drivers to keep a strict record of the imagined offences of
their slaves; which, if not to their satisfaction expiated by suffering
during the day, remained upon the register until its close; when, in the
midst of midnight dungeon horrors, goaded with a weight of fetters, in
addition to those which had galled them during their weary march, these
reputed sins were atoned by their blood, which was made to trickle down
'the scourge with triple thongs.'"

Such was the evil with which Elisha Tyson, when "young, solitary, and
friendless," undertook to grapple; the means he chiefly employed, were
such as tended to purify and enlighten public opinion.

"He had two principal modes of operating upon the public mind;
by conversation in public and private places, and by the press.
Through the means of the first, he worked upon the feelings and
sentiments of the higher and more influential classes; by means
of the latter, he influenced in a great degree, the mass of the
community. In private conversation, his arguments were so
cogent, his appeals so energetic, and his manner so sincere and
disinterested, that few could avoid conviction. It is true,
indeed, as it regards the press, that he did not publish very
much of his own composing; but he procured the publication of a
vast deal of his own dictating. By his arguments and entreaties,
he aroused the zeal of many individuals, each of whom enlisted
himself as a kind of voluntary amanuensis, who wrote and
published his dictations. Many important essays have in this way
been communicated to the public."

But he undertook also, services requiring a yet sterner resolution, and
more heroic perseverance, services which demanded that he himself should
be in bondage neither to riches, honor, nor reputation, since his
exertions endangered all his personal interests in such a community as
that by which he was surrounded.

"Of those held in servitude, two classes of beings felt in a
peculiar manner the kindness and sympathy of Mr. Tyson--those
entitled to their freedom, and illegally held in slavery--and
those, who, though not illegally kept in bondage, yet were
treated with inhumanity by their masters.

"Where he had reason to believe that a person claimed as a slave
was entitled to his freedom, he would, in the first place, in
order to avoid litigation, lay before the reputed owner, the
grounds of his belief. If these were disregarded, he then
proceeded to employ counsel, by whom a petition for freedom was
filed in the proper court, and the case prosecuted to a final
determination. What excited most astonishment in these trials,
was the extraordinary success which attended him. Very few were
the cases in which he was defeated; and his failure even in
these, was more generally owing to the want of testimony, than
to the want of justice on his side. To enumerate his successes,
would be as impossible, on account of their vast number, as it
would be tedious on account of their similarity to each other.
Whole families were often liberated by a single verdict, the
fate of one relative deciding the fate of many. And often
ancestors, after passing a long life in illegal slavery, sprung
at last, like the chrysalis in autumn, into new existence,
beneath the genial rays of the sun of liberty, which shed at the
same time its benign influence upon their children, and
children's children.

"The titles of the individuals, thus liberated, to their
freedom, were variously derived. Sometimes from deeds of
manumission, long suppressed, and at last brought to light, by
the searching scrutiny of Tyson--sometimes from the genealogy of
the petitioner, traced by him to some Indian or white maternal
ancestor--sometimes from the right to freedom, claimed by birth,
but attempted to be destroyed by the rapacity of some vile
kidnapper, and sometimes from the violation of those of our laws
which manumitted slaves imported from foreign parts.

"The labors of Mr. Tyson, were not confined to a single
district--they extended over the whole of Maryland. There is not
a county in it, which has not felt his influence, or a court of
justice, whose records do not bear proud testimonials of his
triumphs over tyranny. Throwing out of calculation the many
liberations indirectly resulting from his efforts, we speak more
than barely within bounds, when we say, that he has been the
means, under Providence, of rescuing at least two thousand human
beings from the galling yoke of a slavery, which, but for him,
would have been perpetual.

"And here let me join my readers in expressions of wonder and
astonishment at this extraordinary display of human benevolence,
in the person of a single individual--unsupported by power,
wealth, or title, beneath the frowns of society, and against a
torrent of prejudice."

In the year 1789 an "Abolition Society," (see antecedent pages 23 and
24,) was formed in Baltimore, of which Elisha Tyson was a member until
its dissolution, seven years afterwards.

"From that time, Mr. Tyson supported alone the cause of
emancipation in Maryland. Alone, I mean, as the sole director
and prime mover of the machinery by which that cause was
maintained. Assisted, he was, no doubt, from time to time; but
that assistance was procured through his influence, or rendered
effectual under his inspection and advice.[A]

[Footnote A: "One of the most active assistants was his brother
Jesse, much younger than Elisha. He followed him to this State a
few years after the arrival of the latter, was an active member
of the Abolition Society, and continued, to the day of his
death, to co-operate with Elisha."]

"The slave traffic gave rise to an evil still greater--I mean
the crime of _kidnapping_. If the horrors arising from the first
were so great as I have described them, how shall I depict those
of the other! Slaves only were the victims of the slave trade.
In passing from hand to hand, they merely exchanged one
condition of slavery for another. And though on such occasions
they fell from a less degree of misery into a greater, they
could not number among their privations any thing so bitter as
the loss of liberty. It was this that made the difference
between them and the victims of the kidnapper; not that they
laid their hands exclusively upon the freeman, for sometimes
their rapacity seized upon a slave. But this was very seldom,
for the vigilance of slave owners was always alive to detect,
and their vengeance to punish such daring felony. In almost all
cases of man stealing, the stolen beings were of those who had
tasted the sweets of liberty. To the kidnapper, who made these
his prey, there were great facilities for escaping with
impunity; not only because, in the depth and darkness of a
dungeon, his limbs loaded with fetters, and utterance choked
with a gag, his suffering could not be made visible or audible,
but also because the deadness of sensibility on this subject,
which still pervaded the public, though in a less degree than
formerly, seemed to have unnerved every eye and palsied every
ear. Sights of misery passed darkly before the one and sounds of
wo fell lifeless on the other.

"On one occasion Mr. Tyson received intelligence that three
colored persons, supposed to have been kidnapped, had been seen
under suspicious circumstances, late in the evening, with a
notorious slave-trader, in a carriage, which was then moving
rapidly towards a quarter of the precincts of Baltimore in which
there was a den of man-hunters. It was late in the day when he
received the information, which was immediately communicated to
the proper authorities. As the testimony offered to these was
not, in their opinion, sufficiently strong to induce them to act
instantaneously, Mr. Tyson was obliged to seek for aid in other
quarters. He accordingly requested certain individuals, who had
sometimes lent him their assistance, to accompany him to the
scene of suspicion, in order to obtain, if possible, additional
proof. One after another made excuse, (some telling him that the
evidence was too weak to justify any effort, and others saying
that it would be better to postpone the business for the next
morning,) until Mr. Tyson saw himself without the hope of
foreign assistance. But he did not yield or despair--one hope
yet remained, and that rested on himself. Alone he determined to
search out the den of thieves, to see and judge for himself. If
there was no foundation for his suspicions, to dismiss them; if
they were true, to call in the aid of the civil power, for the
punishment of guilt and the rescue of innocence.

"So much time had been spent in receiving the excuses of his
friends, that it was late at night when he set out, on foot and
without a single weapon of defence. In the midst of silence and
darkness, he marched along until he arrived at the place of
destination. It was situated in the very skirts of the city--a
public tavern in appearance, but almost exclusively appropriated
to a band of slave-traders. Here they conveyed their prey,
whether stolen or purchased; here they held their midnight
orgies, and revelled in the midst of misery. The keeper of this
place was himself one of the party, and therefore not very
scrupulous about the sort of victims his companions chose to
place beneath his care. Mr. Tyson ascended the door-sill, and,
for a moment, listened, if perchance he might hear the sounds of
wo. Suddenly a loud laugh broke upon his ears, which was soon
lost in a chorus of laughter. Indignant at the sound, he reached
forth his hand and rapped with his whole might. No answer was
received. He rapped again--all was silence. He then applied
himself to the fastening of the door, and finding it unlocked,
opened it and entered. Suddenly four men made their appearance.
They had been carousing around a table which stood in the centre
of a room, and when a little alarmed by the rapping at the door,
they had gone in different directions to seize their weapons.
Mr. Tyson immediately recognised in the countenance of one of
these, who appeared to be their leader, the slave-trader whose
conduct had given rise to the suspicions that had brought him
thither. Nor was it many moments before the person and character
of Mr. Tyson became known.

"'I understand,' said he, 'that there are persons confined in
this place entitled to their freedom?'

"'You have been wrongly informed,' said the leader of the
quartette; 'and, besides, what business is it of yours?'

"'Whether I am wrongly informed,' said Mr. Tyson, calmly, 'can
be soon made to appear; and I hold it my business, as it is the
business of every good man in the community, to see that all
doubts of this kind are settled!'

"'You shall advance no further,' rejoined the leader, swearing a
tremendous oath, and putting himself in a menacing attitude.

"With the rapidity of lightning, and with a strength that seemed
to have been lent him for the occasion, Mr. Tyson broke through
the arms of his opponent. As he had been repeatedly at this
house on similar errands, he knew the course he should steer,
and made directly for the door of the dungeon. There he met
another of the band, with a candle in one hand, and in the
other, a pistol, which, having cocked, he presented full against
the breast of Mr. Tyson, swearing that he would shoot him if he
advanced a step further.

"'Shoot if thee dare,' said Mr. Tyson, in a voice of thunder,
'but thee dare not, coward as thou art, for well does thee know,
that the gallows would be thy portion.'

"Whether it was the voice and countenance of Mr. Tyson, or the
terror of the word gallows, that affected the miscreant, his arm
suddenly fell, and he stood as if struck dumb with amazement.
Mr. Tyson taking advantage of the moment, in the twinkling of an
eye, snatched the candle from the hand of the kidnapper, entered
the dungeon door, which was providentially unlocked, and
descended into the vault below.

"There he beheld a dismal sight; six poor creatures chained to
each other by links connected with the prison wall! The
prisoners shrunk within themselves at the sight of a man, and
one of them uttered a shriek of terror, mistaking the character
of their visitor. He told them that he was their friend; and his
name was Elisha Tyson. That name was enough for them, for their
whole race had been long taught to utter it. He inquired, 'if
any of them were entitled to their freedom?' 'Yes,' said one,
'these two boys say that they and their, mother here are free,
but she can't speak to you, for she is gagged.' Mr. Tyson
approached this woman, and found that she was really deprived of
her utterance. He instantly cut away the band that held in the
gag, and thus gave speech to the dumb. She told her tale; 'she
was manumitted by a gentleman on the eastern shore of Maryland;
her sons were born after her emancipation, and of course free.
She referred to persons and papers. She had come over the
Chesapeake in a packet, for the purpose of getting employment;
and was, with her children, decoyed away immediately on her
arrival, by a person who brought her to that house. Mr. Tyson
told her to be of good comfort, for he would immediately provide
the means of her rescue. He then left the dungeon and ascended
the stair way, when he reached the scene of his preceding
contest; he, looked around, but saw no one save the keeper of
the tavern. Fearing that the others had escaped, or were about
to escape, he hastened out of the house, and proceeded with
rapid strides in pursuit of a constable. He soon found one and
entreated his assistance. But the officer refused, unless Mr.
Tyson would give him a bond of indemnity against all loss which
he might suffer by his interference. Mr. Tyson complied without
hesitation. The officer, after summoning assistance, proceeded
with Mr. Tyson to the scene of cruelty. There meeting with the
tavern keeper, they compelled him to unlock the fetters of the
three individuals claiming their freedom. They then searched the
house for the supposed kidnappers, and found two of them; in,
bed, whom, together with the women, and children, they conveyed
that night to the jail of Baltimore county, to await the
decision of a court of justice. The final consequence was, the
mother and children were adjudged free. One of the two
slave-traders, taken as afore-mentioned in custody, was found
guilty of having kidnapped them, and was sentenced to the
Maryland penitentiary, for a term of years.

"On another occasion, Mr. Tyson having received satisfactory
evidence that a colored person, on board a vessel about to sail
for New Orleans, in Louisiana, was entitled to his freedom,
hastened to his assistance. On reaching the wharf, where the
vessel had lain, he learned that she had cleared out the day
before, and was then lying at anchor, a mile down the river. He
immediately procured two officers of the peace, with whom he
proceeded in a batteau, with a full determination to board the
suspected ship.

"When he arrived alongside, he hailed the captain and asked him
'whether such a person, (naming him,) having on board negroes
destined for the New Orleans market, was not among the number of
passengers.' Before the captain had time to reply, the passenger
alluded to, who had overheard the question, stepped to the side
of the vessel, and recognising Mr. Tyson, asked what business
_he_ had with him. 'I understand,' said Mr. Tyson, 'that a
colored person,' describing him, 'now in thy possession, is
entitled to his freedom.' 'He is my slave,' said the trader; 'I
have purchased him by a fair title, and no man shall interfere
between him and me.'

"'If these documents speak the truth,' said Mr. Tyson, holding
certain papers in his hand, 'however fairly you have purchased
him he is not your slave.' He then proceeded to read the
documents. At the same time a light breeze springing up, the
captain ordered all hands to hoist sail and be off. Mr. Tyson
seeing that there was not a minute to be lost, requested the
constables to go on board with him for the purpose of rescuing
the free man who had been deprived of his rights. The trader
immediately drew a dagger from his belt, (for this sort of men
went always armed,) and swore that 'the first man that dared set
his foot upon the deck of that ship was a dead man.' 'Then I
will be that man,' said Mr. Tyson, with a firm voice and
intrepid countenance, and sprang upon the deck. The trader
stepped back aghast. The officers followed, and descended the
hold of the ship. There they soon saw the object of their
search. Without any resistance being made on the part of a
single person on board, they led their rescued prisoner along
and safely lodged him in the boat below. Then Mr. Tyson,
addressing the trader, said, 'If you have any lawful claim to
this man, come along and try your title; if you cannot come,
name your agent, and I will see that justice is done to all
parties.' The trader, who seemed dumb with confusion, made no
answer; and Mr. Tyson requested his boatmen to row off. Ere they
had proceeded half their distance from the ship, her sails were
spread and she began to ride down the stream. Had Mr. Tyson's
visit been delayed half an hour longer, his benevolent exertions
would have been in vain.

"No one appearing to dispute the right of the colored man to
freedom, his freedom papers were given him and he was set at

"The whole life of Mr. Tyson was diversified by acts such as we
have just described. Those I have given to the reader may be
considered as specimens merely, a few examples out of a vast
many, which, if they were all repeated, would satiate by their
number and tire by their uniformity.

"The joy manifested by the poor creatures whom he thus rescued
from misery, on their deliverance, may be imagined, but cannot
well be described. Sometimes it broke forth in loud and wild
demonstrations; sometimes it was deep and inexpressible, or
expressed only by mingled tears of gratitude and ecstacy,
rolling silently but profusely down their wo-worn cheeks.

"Mr. Tyson, it is remarkable, would always turn his eyes from
these manifestations. He would listen to no declarations of
thanks. When these were strongly pressed upon him, he would
usually exclaim, 'Well, that will do now; that is enough for
this time.' And once when one of these creatures, fearful that
Mr. Tyson would not consider him sufficiently grateful, cried
out, 'Indeed, master, I am very thankful, I would die to serve
you,' Mr. Tyson exclaimed, 'Why, man, I have only done my duty;
I don't want thy thanks;' and turned abruptly away.

"Equalled only by the delight of the rescued victims, was the
chagrin and vexation of the slave-traders, when they saw their
prey torn from their grasp. They cursed the law; they cursed its
ministers; but above all, they invoked imprecations upon the
head of Tyson.

"They swore that they would murder him, that they would fire his
dwelling over his head, that they would do a thousand things,
all full of vengeance. None of these threats were ever put into
execution; for though a plot was once laid to take away his
life, fear dispersed the actors long before the day of
performance. Thus does it always happen that the wickedest of
men are also the meanest, and therefore the most dastardly. And
thus did the cowardice of Mr. Tyson's enemies shield him from
the effects of their enmity. Nor did he profit less by that
individual fear of him which these slave-traders were made to
feel. They feared him because they deprecated his hostility. In
order, if possible, to lessen this hostility, they frequently
became informers on others engaged in the same traffic. This
they were further inclined to do, in consequence of the jealousy
that subsisted between them--a jealousy very natural to
competitors in the same line of business. It was always a time
of exultation with them when one of their number found his way
into the penitentiary.

"It sometimes happened that Mr. Tyson extracted from the mouths
of these monsters, evidence which afterwards went to criminate
those who had uttered it. It was usual with him when he could
not obtain testimony against a suspected person, to send for
such person and interrogate him. No one refused his
summons--fear forbade the refusal; and after they had come, the
very fear which brought them there sacrificed them to injured
humanity. Sometimes those who came voluntarily for the purpose
of criminating others, involved themselves in toils of their own
weaving; where they were no sooner seen, by the penetrating eye
of Tyson, than he reached forth his hands and secured his
astonished prisoner, before he had a suspicion of his danger.

"Mr. Tyson's knowledge of the sort of people with whom he had
principally to deal was perfect. His quickness of perception and
self-command were also remarkable. These qualifications gave him
an extraordinary power in the examinations just alluded to.

"One evening the servant announced a stranger at the door, who
wished to see Mr. Tyson privately. Mr. Tyson requested that he
might be asked into the room where we were then sitting, and if
further privacy were necessary he should have it.

"When the door opened and the stranger appeared, he was no other
than the slave-trader we have just alluded to.

"'Your humble servant,' said the man, casting off his hat and
bowing profoundly; 'I hope you are well, sir; I have a few words
for your private ear.'

"'Every one present may be safely trusted,' said Mr. Tyson; 'but
sit down.'

"The man seated himself. 'Well,' said Mr. Tyson, 'what is there
new in thy way of business; I suppose it continues as usual to
be a good business?'

"'Ah! sir,' said the man, 'I believe it to be a bad business in
more ways than one. I am resolved to quit it.'

"'Not while thee can get two hundred dollars profit per man,'
said Mr. Tyson.

"'Notwithstanding that,' said the trader, 'it's a bad business;
it's a hard business; I must quit it, and that very soon.'

"'Hast thou heard of the old saying,' said Mr. Tyson, 'Hell is
paved with good intentions? I fear,' said he, 'when thee goes
there thee will find thine among the number.'

"'I know,' said the trader, 'you think me very bad; but when you
hear what I have to communicate, perhaps your opinion will alter
a little.'

"'I wish it may; but,' said Mr. Tyson, 'thy progress down hill
has been so rapid, and thou hast got so far, that thee will find
it rather hard to turn about and ascend.'

"These doubtings, attended with a shrewd, suspicious, yet
satirical look, had the effect intended; for the man became
doubly anxious to do what he had come to do, and what he thought
would be esteemed a great favor by Mr. Tyson. Accordingly, after
a word or two of preface, he stated that he 'had reason to
believe that ----', naming a certain trader, 'had kidnapped two
free blacks.'

"'Thee is certainly mistaken,' said Mr. Tyson, affecting great
surprise; 'it is hardly possible that so worthy a man could have
been guilty of so great a crime.'

"This apparent doubt on the part of Mr. Tyson, made the man more
anxious to bring out all his testimony.

"'But who told thee this piece of news?' said Mr. Tyson. There
was a breach at once into the man's order and arrangement and he
hesitated for a reply. 'Mr. ----, Mr. ----, Mr. ----, what do ye
call him, spoke to me about it.' 'Who?' said Mr. Tyson. 'Mr.
----,' said the man; mentioning the name of a veteran dealer in
human flesh.

"'Is he engaged in the traffic now?' asked Mr. Tyson.

"'Yes, sir; very deep in it.'

"'By himself, or in partnership?' asked Mr. Tyson carelessly.

"'Why, I believe he is in partnership with some body.'

"'Is he not in partnership,' said Mr. Tyson, 'with ----?' naming
the person whom the man was anxious to inculpate.

"'I believe he was, but I don't know that he is now.'

"'Thee don't know of their having dissolved?' asked Mr. Tyson at
the same time, as if thoughtlessly lighting his pipe.

"'No, I do not. But as I was going to say,' said the trader--

"'Ah, true,' said Mr. Tyson, 'we must not forget. Thee was
talking about a case of kidnapping; well?'

"'Last night,' said the trader, 'a hack drove up to the tavern
where I lodge. The hackman inquired the way to ----'s tavern,
which is the place of rendezvous for ---- and his gang;' naming
the person whose guilt _seemed_ to be the principal object of
inquiry. 'I looked into the carriage, and saw two boys.'

"'Did thee speak to them?'

Book of the day: