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The Abolitionists by John F. Hume

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Produced by Jonathan Ingram, Victoria Woosley and PG Distributed





The Knickerbocker press


The opening chapter of this work was prepared during the recent
presidential campaign. It was the idea of the author that it should
appear in one of the leading newspapers or magazines before the
election, but maturer reflection brought about a change of purpose. He
realized that its publication at that time, might, not altogether
unreasonably, be looked upon as a political move having as its object
the election or defeat of a particular candidate for office, whereas
he had no desire to play the partisan. His sole aim was to vindicate
the character of a portion of the citizens of this country--some
living, some dead--whom he had always believed to be most deserving of
popular esteem, from what he considered the unmerited aspersions of a
man who has since come into a position so conspicuous and so
influential that his condemnation necessarily carries with it a
damaging effect.

Having gone so far as the preparation of the initial chapter, he
concluded that proofs of his assumptions and assertions might at
certain points be thought desirable, if not necessary, and that he
should so prolong his work as to provide them. His first idea at this
point, as his years went back beyond the beginning of the Abolitionist
movement in this country, and as he had been from early boyhood
identified with this movement, was to contribute such information as
his recollection of events would supply. In other words, he decided to
write a narrative, the matter of which would be reminiscent, with here
and there a little history woven in among the strands of memory like a
woof in the warp. It has ended in history supplying the warp, and the
reminiscence indifferently supplying the woof.

However, the value of the production is, doubtless, greatly enhanced
by the change. A string of pearls--dropping the former simile and
adopting another--is estimated according to the gems it contains, and
not because of the cord that holds it together. The personal
experiences and recollections that are here and there interwoven, by
themselves would be of little consequence; but they will be found to
carry upon them certain historical facts and inferences--some new in
themselves and in their connections--which, as the author hopes and
believes, are of profitable quality and abounding interest.

In consequence of the change of plan just explained, the scope of the
work is materially affected. What was begun as a magazine article, and
continued as a brochure, ends in a volume.


Poughkeepsie, N.Y., July, 1905.
















XIV.--MOBS 108







XXI.--MISSOURI _(Continued)_ 174











The following is an extract from Theodore Roosevelt's biography of
Thomas H. Benton in Houghton, Mifflin, & Co.'s American Statesmen
Series, published in 1887:

"Owing to a variety of causes, the Abolitionists have received an
immense amount of hysterical praise which they do not deserve, and
have been credited with deeds done by other men whom, in reality,
they hampered and opposed rather than aided. After 1840, the
professed Abolitionists formed a small and comparatively
unimportant portion of the forces that were working towards the
restriction and ultimate destruction of slavery; and much of what
they did was positively harmful to the cause for which they were
fighting. Those of their number who considered the Constitution as
a league with death and hell, and who, therefore, advocated a
dissolution of the Union, acted as rationally as would
anti-polygamists nowadays if, to show their disapproval of
Mormonism, they should advocate that Utah should be allowed to
form a separate nation. The only hope of ultimately suppressing
slavery lay in the preservation of the Union, and every
Abolitionist who argued or signed a petition for the dissolution
was doing as much to perpetuate the evil he complained of, as if
he had been a slaveholder. The Liberty party, in running Birney,
simply committed a political crime, evil in almost all its
consequences. They in no sense paved the way for the Republican
party, or helped forward the Anti-Slavery cause, or hurt the
existing organizations. Their effect on the Democracy was _nil_;
and all they were able to accomplish with the Whigs was to make
them put forward for the ensuing election a slaveholder from
Louisiana, with whom they were successful. Such were the remote
results of their conduct; the immediate evils they produced have
already been alluded to. They bore considerable
resemblance--except that after all they really did have a
principle to contend for--to the political Prohibitionists of the
present day, who go into the third party organization, and are,
not even excepting the saloon-keepers themselves, the most
efficient allies on whom intemperance and the liquor traffic can

"Anti-Slavery men like Giddings, who supported Clay, were doing a
thousandfold more effective work for the cause they had at heart
than all the voters who supported Birney; or, to speak more
accurately, they were doing all they could to advance the cause,
while the others were doing all they could to hold it back.
Lincoln in 1860 occupied more nearly the ground held by Clay than
that held by Birney; and the men who supported the latter in 1844
were the prototypes of those who worked to oppose Lincoln in 1860,
and only worked less hard because they had less chance. The ultra
Abolitionists discarded expediency, and claimed to act for
abstract right on principle, no matter what the results might be;
in consequence they accomplished very little, and that as much
for harm as for good, until they ate their words, and went
counter to their previous course, thereby acknowledging it to be
bad, and supported in the Republican party the men and principles
they had so fiercely condemned. The Liberty party was not in any
sense the precursor of the Republican party, which was based as
much on expediency as on abstract right, and was, therefore, able
to accomplish good instead of harm. To say that extreme
Abolitionists triumphed in Republican success and were causes of
it, is as absurd as to call Prohibitionists successful if, after
countless efforts totally to prohibit the liquor traffic, and
after savage denunciations of those who try to regulate it, they
should then turn round and form a comparatively insignificant
portion of a victorious high-license party. The men who took a
great and effective part in the fight against slavery were the men
who remained with their respective parties."

No word of praise or approval has Mr. Roosevelt for the men and
women--for representatives of both sexes were active sharers in the
work performed--who inaugurated, and for a long period carried
forward, the movement that led up to the overthrow of African slavery
in this country. He has no encomiums to bestow on those same men and
women for the protracted and exhausting labors they performed, the
dangers they encountered, the insults they endured, the sacrifices
they submitted to, the discouragements they confronted in many ways
and forms in prosecuting their arduous undertaking. On the contrary,
he has only bitter words of condemnation. In his estimation, and
according to his dogmatic utterance, they were criminals--political
criminals. His words make it very manifest that, if Mr. Roosevelt had
been a voter in 1840, he would not have been an Abolitionist. He would
not have been one of that devoted little band of political
philanthropists who went out, like David of old, to do battle with one
of the giant abuses of the time, and who found in the voter's ballot a
missile that they used with deadly effect. On the contrary, he would
have enrolled himself among their adversaries and assailants, becoming
a member--because it is impossible to think of Theodore Roosevelt as a
non-partisan--of one of the leading political parties of the day.
There were but two of them--the Whigs and the Democrats. In failing to
support one or the other of these parties, and giving their votes and
influence to a new one that was founded and constructed on
Anti-Slavery lines, the Abolitionists, in Mr. Roosevelt's opinion,
"committed a political crime."

Now, for what did those parties stand in 1840? Who were their
presidential candidates in that year? Martin Van Buren was the
candidate of the Democrats. He had been for eight years in the offices
of Vice-President and President, and in that time, in the opinion of
the Anti-Slavery people of the country, had shown himself to be a
facile instrument in the hands of the slaveholders. He was what the
Abolitionists described as a "doughface"--a Northern man with Southern
principles. As presiding officer he gave the casting vote in the
Senate for the bill that excluded Anti-Slavery matter from the United
States mails, a bill justly regarded as one of the greatest outrages
ever perpetrated in a free country, and as holding a place by the
side of the Fugitive Slave Law. True, he afterwards--this was in
1848,--like Saul of Tarsus, saw a new light and announced himself as a
Free Soiler. Then the Abolitionists, with what must always be regarded
as an extraordinary concession to partisan policy, cast aside their
prejudices and gave him their support. Yet Mr. Roosevelt charges them
with being indifferent to the demands of political expediency.

General William Henry Harrison, candidate of the Whigs, was a
Virginian by birth and training, and an inveterate pro-slavery man.
When Governor of the Territory of Indiana, he presided over a
convention that met for the purpose of favoring, notwithstanding the
prohibition in the Ordinance of '87, the introduction of slavery in
that Territory.

These were the men between whom the old parties gave the Abolitionists
the privilege of pick and choice. Declining to support either of them,
they gave their votes to James G. Birney, candidate of the newly
formed Liberty party. He was a Southern man by birth and a slave-owner
by inheritance, but, becoming convinced that slavery was wrong, he
freed his negroes, giving them homes of their own, and so frankly
avowed his Anti-Slavery convictions that he was driven from his native
State. His supporters did not expect to elect him, but they hoped to
begin a movement that would lead up to victory. They were planting
seed in what they believed to be receptive soil.

After 1840, the old parties became more and more submissive to the
Slave Power. Conjointly, they enacted those measures that became
known as the compromises of 1850, the principal ones being the
Fugitive Slave Law and the act repealing the Missouri Compromise. Both
of them pronounced these acts to be "a finality," and both of them in
national convention declared there should be no further agitation of
the subject. They set out to muzzle all the Anti-Slavery voices of the

By this time it was perfectly manifest that there was not only nothing
the slaveholders might demand which the old parties would not concede,
but that there was, so far as the slavery issue was involved,
absolutely no difference between them. It is a notable fact that in
the eight years following 1840, of the four presidential candidates
put in nomination by the two parties, three were slaveholders, the
fourth being a Northern "doughface," and both of the two who were
elected held slaves.

For the nomination and election of one of these men, whom he describes
as "a slaveholder from Louisiana" (General Taylor), Mr. Roosevelt is
disposed to hold the Abolitionists accountable. They forced the poor
Whigs into those proceedings, he intimates, probably by telling them
they ought to do nothing of the kind, that being what they actually
did tell them. But as the Abolitionists, four years earlier, in the
same way defeated the Whigs when they were supporting a slaveholder
from Kentucky (Clay), and a man who, in his time, did more for the
upbuilding of slavery than any other person in America, it would
appear that the score of responsibility on their part was fairly
evened up.

In citing the action of Joshua R. Giddings as an anti-third-party
man, Mr. Roosevelt is not altogether fortunate. Subsequent to the
presidential campaign of 1844, the third-party Abolitionists held a
convention in Pittsburg, in which Giddings was a leading actor. As
chairman of the committee on platform, he submitted a resolution
declaring that both of the old parties were "hopelessly corrupt and
unworthy of confidence."

The Abolitionists could not see that they were under obligation to
either of the old parties, believing they could do far better service
for the cause they championed by standing up and being counted as
candidates honestly representing their principles. They fought both of
the old parties, and finally beat them. They killed the Whig party out
and out, and so far crippled the Democrats that they have been limping
ever since. Their action, in the long run, as attested by the verdict
of results, proved itself to be not only the course of abstract right,
but of political expediency.

In 1840, the vote of the third-party Abolitionists, then for the first
time in the political field, was 7000; in 1844 it was 60,000, and in
1848 it was nearly 300,000. From that time, with occasional backsets,
Mr. Roosevelt's "political criminals" went steadily forward until they
mastered the situation. From the first, they were a power in the land,
causing the older parties to quake, Belshazzar-like, at sight of their
writing on the wall.

But according to Mr. Roosevelt, the men of the Liberty-Free-Soil party
had no share in fathering and nurturing the Republican party, to which
he assigns all the credit for crushing slavery. Says he, "The Liberty
party was not in any sense the precursor of the Republican party,
which was based as much on expediency as on abstract right." It is
very true that many Republicans, especially in the earlier days, were
neither Abolitionists nor Anti-Slavery people. A good many of them,
like Abraham Lincoln, were sentimentally adverse to slavery, but under
existing conditions did not want it disturbed. Many of them, having
broken loose from the old parties, had no other place of shelter and
cared nothing for slavery one way or the other, some being of the
opinion of one of the new party leaders whom the writer hereof heard
declare that "the niggers are just where they ought to be." All this,
however, does not prove that the third-party people were not the real
forerunners and founders of the Republican party. They certainly
helped to break up the old organizations, crushing them in whole or
part. They supplied a contingent of trained and desperately earnest
workers, their hearts being enlisted as well as their hands. And what
was of still greater consequence, they furnished an issue, and one
that was very much alive, around which the detached fragments of the
old parties could collect and unite. Their share in the composition
and development of the new party can be illustrated. Out in our great
midland valley two rivers--the Missouri and the Mississippi--meet and
mingle their waters. The Missouri, although the larger stream, after
the junction is heard of no more; but being charged with a greater
supply of sedimentary matter, gives its color to the combined flood of
the assimilated waters. Abolitionism was merged in Republicanism. It
was no longer spoken of as a separate element, but from the beginning
it gave color and character to the combination. The whole compound was

It was not, indeed, the voting strength, although this was
considerable, that the Abolitionists brought to the Republican
organization, that made them the real progenitors of that party. It is
possible that the other constituents entering into it, which were
drawn from the Anti-Slavery Whigs, the "Anti-Nebraska" Democrats, the
"Barnburner" Democrats of New York, the "Know-Nothings," etc.,
numbered more in the aggregate than the Abolitionists it included; but
it was not so much the number of votes the Abolitionists contributed
that made them the chief creators of the Republican party, as it was
their working and fighting ability. They had undergone a thorough
training. For nearly twenty years they had been in the field in active
service. For the whole of that time they had been exposed to
pro-slavery mobbing and almost every kind of persecution. They had to
conquer every foot of ground they occupied. They had done an immense
amount of invaluable preparatory work. To deny to such people a
liberal share of the credit for results accomplished, would be as
reasonable as to say that men who clear the land, plough the ground,
and sow the seed, because others may help to gather the harvest, have
nothing to do with raising the crop. But for the pioneer work of the
Abolitionists there would have been no Republican party.

There had been Anti-Slavery people in this country before the
Abolitionists--conscientious, zealous, intelligent--but somehow they
lacked the ability, in the language of the pugilists, to "put up a
winning fight." They had been brushed aside or trampled under foot.
Not so with the Abolitionists. They had learned all the tricks of the
enemy. They were not afraid of opposition. They knew how to give blows
as well as to take them. The result was that from the time they
organized for separate political action in 1840, they had made steady
progress, although this seemed for a period to be discouragingly slow.
It was only a question of time when, if there had been no Republican
party, they would have succeeded in abolishing slavery without its

Although, as before remarked, the Republican party was made up of a
good many elements besides the Abolitionists, there was among them but
little homogeneousness. They were indifferent, if not hostile, to each
other, and, if left to themselves, would never have so far coalesced
as to make a working party. They had no settled policy, no common
ground to stand on. They would have been simply a rope of sand. But
the Abolitionists supplied a bond of union. They had a principle that
operated like a loadstone in bringing the factions together.

There was another inducement the Abolitionists had to offer. They had
an organization that was perfect in its way. It was weak but active.
It had made its way into Congress where it had such representatives as
John P. Hale and Salmon P. Chase in the Senate, and several brilliant
men in the Lower House. It had a complete outfit of party machinery.
It had an efficient force of men and women engaged in canvassing as
lecturers and stump orators. It had well managed newspapers, and the
ablest pens in the country--not excepting Harriet Beecher
Stowe's--were in its service. All this, it is hardly necessary to say,
was attractive to people without political homes. The Abolitionists
offered them not only shelter but the prospect of meat and drink in
the future. In that way their organization became the nucleus of the
Republican party, which was in no sense a new organization, but a
reorganization of an old force with new material added.

And here would seem to be the proper place for reference to the
historical fact that the Republican party, under that name, had but
four years of existence behind it when the great crisis came in the
election of Lincoln and the beginning of the Civil War--Lincoln's
election being treated by the South as a _casus belli_. The Republican
party was established under that name in 1856 and Lincoln was elected
in 1860.

Now, the work preparatory to Lincoln's election was not done in four
years. The most difficult part of it--the most arduous, the most
disagreeable, the most dangerous--had been done long before. Part of
it dated back to 1840. Indeed, the performance of the Republican party
in those four years was not remarkably brilliant. With the slogan of
"Free soil, free men, and Fremont" it made an ostentatious
demonstration in 1856--an attempted _coup de main_--which failed. It
would have failed quite as signally in 1860, but for the division of
the Democratic party into the Douglas and Breckenridge factions. That
division was pre-arranged by the slaveholders who disliked Douglas,
the regular Democratic nominee, much more than they did Lincoln, and
who hoped and plotted for Lincoln's election because it furnished them
a pretext for rebellion.

The change of name from "Free Soil" or "Liberty" to "Republican" in
1856 had very little significance. It was a matter of partisan policy
and nothing more. "Liberty" and "Free Soil," as party cognomens, had a
meaning, and were supposed to antagonize certain prejudices.
"Republican," at that juncture, meant nothing whatever. Besides, it
was sonorous; it was euphonious; it was palatable to weak political
stomachs. The ready acceptance of the new name by the Abolitionists
goes very far to contradict Mr. Roosevelt's accusation against them of
being regardless of the claims of political expediency.

The writer has shown, as he believes, that without the preparatory
work of the political Abolitionists there would have been no
Republican party. He will now go a step further. He believes that
without that preliminary service there would not only have been no
Republican party, but no Civil War in the interest of free soil, no
Emancipation Proclamation, no Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments to
the Federal Constitution. There might have been and probably would
have been considerable discussion, ending in a protest, more or less
"ringing," when slavery was permitted to overstep the line marked out
by the Missouri Compromise. There might even have been another
"settlement." But no such adjustment would have seriously impeded the
northward march of the triumphant Slave Power. Indeed, in that event
it is more than probable that ere this the legal representatives of
the late Robert Toombs, of Georgia, would, if so inclined, have made
good his boast of calling the roll of his slaves at the foot of Bunker
Hill monument.

So far we have dealt with Mr. Roosevelt's indictment of the
Abolitionists for abandoning the old pro-slavery political parties,
and undertaking to construct a new and better one. That, in his
judgment, was a political crime. But he charges them with another
manifestation of criminality which was much more serious. He accuses
them of hostility, to the Union, which was disloyalty and treason. The
evidence offered by him in support of his accusation was the
Anti-Unionist position taken by William Lloyd Garrison, who branded
the Union as a "league with hell," and some of his associates. But
Garrison was not a leader, or even a member, of the third or Liberty
party. He denounced it almost as bitterly as Mr. Roosevelt.

Garrison was a Quaker, a non-resistant, and a non-voter. He relied on
moral suasion. He saw no salvation in politics. The formation of a new
Anti-Slavery party excited his fiery indignation. He declared that it
was "ludicrous in its folly, pernicious as a measure of policy, and
useless as a political contrivance."

Far and away the most potential member and leader of the political
Abolitionists was Salmon P. Chase. Instead of denouncing the
Constitution as "a league with death and hell," he claimed that it
was an Anti-Slavery document and should be so construed. As for the
Union, by his services in successfully managing the finances of the
country in its great crisis, he did as much to sustain the Union as
any other man of that time. To accuse him of hostility and infidelity
to the Union, is something that no one can do with impunity. In fact,
so clear and so clean, as well as so bold and striking, is the record
of Chase and his associates, beginning in 1840 and continuing down
until the last shackle was stricken from the last bondsman's limbs,
that even the shadow of the White House cannot obscure it.

Nor is Mr. Roosevelt happy in his illustration, when, in his
concluding arraignment of the Abolitionists, he seeks to discredit
them as an organization of impracticables by comparing them to the
political Prohibitionists of to-day. When the latter, if that time is
ever to be, shall become strong enough to rout one or both of the
existing main political parties, and, taking the control of the
Government in their hands, shall not only legally consign the liquor
traffic to its coffin, but nail it down with a constitutional
amendment, then Mr. Roosevelt's comparison will apply.



In selecting those who are to receive its remembrance and its honors,
the world has always given its preference to such as have battled for
freedom. It may have been with the sword; it may have been with the
pen; or it may have been with a tongue that was inflamed with holy
rage against tyranny and wrong; but whatever the instrumentality
employed; in whatever field the battle has been fought; and by
whatsoever race, or class, or kind of men; the champions of human
liberty have been hailed as the bravest of the brave and the most
worthy to receive the acclaims of their fellows.

Now, if that estimate be not altogether inaccurate, what place in the
scale of renown must be assigned to those pioneers in the successful
movement against African slavery in this country who have commonly
been known as "Abolitionists"--a name first given in derision by their
enemies? It should, in the opinion of the writer hereof, be the very
highest. He is not afraid to challenge the whole record of human
achievements by great and good men (always save and except that which
is credited to the Saviour of mankind) for exhibitions of heroism
superior to theirs. Nay, when it is remembered that mainly through
their efforts and sacrifices was accomplished a revolution by which
four million human beings (but for the Abolitionists the number to-day
in bondage would be eight millions) were lifted from the condition in
which American slaves existed but a few years ago, to freedom and
political equality with their former masters; and, at the same time
when it is considered what qualities of heart and brain were needed
for such a task, he does not believe that history, from its earliest
chapters, furnishes examples of gods or men, except in very rare and
isolated cases, who have shown themselves to be their equals.

In the matter of physical courage they were unsurpassed,
unsurpassable. A good many of them were Quakers and non-resistants,
and a good many of them were women, but they never shrank from danger
to life and limb, when employed in their humanitarian work. Some of
them achieved the martyr's crown.

In the matter of conscience they were indomitable. Life to them was
worth less than principle.

In the matter of money they were absolutely unselfish. Those of them
who were poor, as the most of them were, toiled on without the hope of
financial recompense. They did their work not only without the promise
or prospect of material reward of any kind, but with the certainty of
pains and penalties that included the ostracism and contempt of their
fellows, and even serious risks to property and life.

All these sacrifices were in the cause of human liberty; but of
liberty for whom? That is the crucial point. In all ages there have
been plenty of men who have honorably striven for liberty for
themselves. Some there have been who have risen to higher planes. We
have an example in Lafayette. He fought to liberate a people who were
foreign in language and blood; but they were of his own color and the
peers of his compatriots.

The Abolitionists, however, espoused the cause, and it was for that
that they endured so much, of creatures that were infinitely below
them; of beings who had ceased to be recognized as belonging to
humanity, and were classed with the cattle of the field and other
species of "property." So low were they that they could neither
appreciate nor return the services rendered in their behalf. For their
condition, the Abolitionists were in no sense responsible. They had no
necessary fellowship with the unfortunates. They were under no
especial obligation to them. They were not of the same family. It was
even doubted whether the races had a common origin. And yet, to the
end of securing release for these wretched victims of an intolerable
oppression, not a few of them dedicated all they possessed--life not

True it is that they had no monopoly of benevolence. Many noble men
and women have gone as missionaries to the poor and benighted, and
have sought through numerous hardships and perils to raise up those
who have been trodden in the dust. But, as a rule, their services have
been rendered pursuant to a secular employment that carried financial
compensation, and behind their devotion to the poor and oppressed has
been the expectation of personal reward in another world, if not in
this. But such motives barely, if at all, influenced the
Abolitionists. No element of professionalism entered into their work.
They were not particularly religious. They neither very greatly
reverenced nor feared the Church, whose leaders they often accused of
a hankering for the "flesh-pots" that induced them to lead their
followers into Egypt, rather than out of it. They were partly moved by
a hatred of slavery and its long train of abuses that was
irrepressible, and which to most persons was incomprehensible, and
partly by a love for their fellows in distress that was so insistent
as to make them forget themselves. Their impulses seemed to be largely
intuitive, if not instinctive, and if called upon for a philosophical
explanation they could not have given it.

In such a struggle for freedom and natural human rights as was carried
on by the Abolitionists against tremendous odds and through a term
covering many long years, it does seem to the writer of this essay
that mortal heroism reached its height.

Nor am I by any means alone in the opinion just expressed. As far back
as 1844, when the Abolitionists were few in number and the objects of
almost savage persecution in every part of our country, the Earl of
Carlisle, who, in his day was one of the most capable leaders of
British public opinion, declared that they were engaged "in fighting a
battle without a parallel in the history of ancient or modern

I am moved to write the story of the Abolitionists, partly because it
is full of romantic interest, and partly because justice demands it.
Those doughty file leaders in the Anti-Slavery fight do not to-day
have an adequate acknowledgment of the obligations that the country
and humanity should recognize as belonging to them, and they never
have had it. Much of the credit that is fairly theirs has been
mis-applied. Writers of history--so called, although much of it is
simple eulogy--have been more and more inclined to attribute the
overthrow of slavery to the efforts of a few men, and particularly one
man, who, after long opposition to, or neglect of, the freedom
movement, came to its help in the closing scenes of a great conflict,
while the earlier, and certainly equally meritorious, workers and
fighters have been quite left out of the account. The writer does not
object to laborers who entered the field at the eleventh hour, sharing
with those who bore the heat and burden of the day; but when there is
a disposition to give to them all the earnings he does feel like

The case of the Abolitionists is not overstated when it is said that,
but for their labors and struggles, this country, instead of being all
free, would to-day be all slaveholding. The relative importance of
their work in creating, by means of a persistent agitation, an
opposition to human slavery that was powerful enough to compel the
attention of the public and force the machine politicians, after long
opposition, to admit the question into practical politics, cannot well
be overestimated.

They alone and single-handed fought the opening battles of a great
war, which, although overshadowed and obscured by later and more
dramatic events, were none the less gallantly waged and nobly won. It
is customary to speak of our Civil War as a four years' conflict. It
was really a thirty years' war, beginning when the pioneer
Abolitionists entered the field and declared for a life-and-death
struggle. It was then that the hardest battles were fought.

I write the more willingly because comparatively few now living
remember the mad excitement of the slavery controversy in ante-bellum
days. The majority--the living and the working masses of to-day--will,
doubtless, be gratified to have accurate pictures of scenes and events
of which they have heard their seniors speak, that distinguished the
most tempestuous period in our national history--the one in which the
wildest passions were aroused and indulged. Then it was that the
fiercest and bitterest agitation prevailed. The war that followed did
not increase this. It rather modified it--sobered it in view of the
crisis at hand--and served as a safety-valve for its escape.

For the same reason, the general public has now but slight
comprehension of the trials endured by the Abolitionists for
principle's sake. In many ways were they persecuted. In society they
were tabooed; in business shunned. By the rabble they were hooted and
pelted. Clowns in the circus made them the subjects of their jokes.
Newspaper scribblers lampooned and libelled them. Politicians
denounced them. By the Church they were regarded as very black sheep,
and sometimes excluded from the fold. And this state of things lasted
for years, during which they kept up a steady agitation with the help
of platform lecturers, and regularly threw away their votes--so it
was charged--in a "third party" movement that seemed to be a hopeless

Another inducement to the writer to take up the cause of the
Abolitionists is the fact that he has always been proud to class
himself as one of them. He came into the world before Abolitionism, by
that name, had been heard of; before the first Abolition Society was
organized; before William Lloyd Garrison founded his _Liberator_, and
before (not the least important circumstance) John Quincy Adams
entered Congress. He cannot remember when the slavery question was not
discussed. His sympathies at an early day went out to the slave. He
informed himself on the subject as well as a farmer boy might be
expected to do in a household that received the most of its knowledge
of current events from the columns of one weekly newspaper. He cast
his first vote for the ticket of the Abolitionists while they were yet
a "third party."

The community in which he then lived, although in the free State of
Ohio, was strongly pro-slavery, being not far from the Southern
border. The population was principally from Virginia and Kentucky.
There were a few Abolitionists, and they occasionally tried to hold
public meetings, but the gatherings were always broken up by mobs.

The writer very well remembers the satisfaction with which he, as a
schoolboy, was accustomed to hear that there was to be another
Abolition "turn-out." The occasion was certain to afford considerable
excitement that was dear to the heart of a boy, and it had another
recommendation. The only room in the village--"town" we called
it--for such affairs, except the churches, which were barred against
"fanatics," was the district schoolhouse, which, by common consent,
was open to all comers, and as the windows and doors, through which
missiles were hurled during Anti-Slavery gatherings, were always more
or less damaged, "we boys" usually got a holiday or two while the
building was undergoing necessary repairs.

As might be surmised, the lessons I learned at school were not all
such as are usually acquired at such institutions. My companions were
like other children, full of spirit and mischief, and not without
their prejudices. They hated Abolitionists because they--the
Abolitionists--wanted to compel all white people to marry "niggers."
Although not naturally unkind, they did not always spare the feelings
of "the son of an old Abolitionist." We had our arguments. Some of
them were of the knock-down kind. In more than one shindy, growing out
of the discussion of the great question of the day, I suffered the
penalty of a bloody nose or a blackened eye for standing up for my

The feeling against the negroes' friends--the Abolitionists--was not
confined to children in years. It was present in all classes. It
entered State and Church alike, and dominated both of them. The
Congressional Representative from the district in which I lived in
those days was an able man and generally held in high esteem. He made
a speech in our village when a candidate for re-election. In
discussing the slavery question--everybody discussed it then--he spoke
of the negroes as being "on the same footing with other cattle." I
remember the expression very well because it shocked me, boy that I
was. It did not disturb the great majority of those present, however.
They cheered the sentiment and gave their votes for the speaker, who
was re-elected by a large majority.

About the same time I happened to be present where a General Assembly
of one of our largest religious denominations was in session, and
listened to part of an address by a noted divine--the most
distinguished man in the body--which was intended to prove that
slavery was an institution existing by biblical authority. He spent
two days in a talk that was mostly made up of scriptural texts and his
commentaries upon them. This was in Ohio, and there was not a
slave-owner in the assembly, and yet a resolution commendatory of the
views that had just been declared by the learned doctor, was adopted
by an almost unanimous vote.

In the neighborhood in which I lived was an old and much respected
clergyman who was called upon to preach a sermon on a day of some
national significance. He made it the occasion for a florid panegyric
upon American institutions, which, he declared, assured freedom to all
men. Here he paused, "When I spoke of all men enjoying freedom under
our flag," he resumed, "I did not, of course, include the Ethiopians
whom Providence has brought to our shores for their own good as well
as ours. They are slaves by a divine decree. As descendants of Ham,
they are under a curse that makes them the servants of their more
fortunate white brethren." Having thus put himself right on the
record, he proceeded with his sermon. No one seemed to take exception
to what he said.

In the same neighborhood was a young preacher who had shortly before
come into it from somewhere farther North. In the course of one of his
regular services he offered up a prayer in which he expressed the hope
that the good Lord would find a way to break the bands of all who were
in bondage. That smacked of Abolitionism and at once there was a
commotion. The minister was asked to explain. This he declined to do,
saying that his petition was a matter between him and his God, and he
denied the right of others to question him. That only increased the
opposition, and in a short time the spunky young man was compelled to
resign his charge.

About that time there appeared a lecturer on slavery--which meant
against slavery--who carried credentials showing that he was a
clergyman in good standing in one of the leading Protestant
denominations. In our village was a church of that persuasion, whose
pastor was not an Abolitionist. As in duty bound, the visiting brother
called on his local fellow-laborer, and informed him that on the
following day, which happened to be Sunday, he would be pleased to
attend service at his church. On the morrow he was on hand and
occupied a seat directly in front of the pulpit; but, notwithstanding
his conspicuousness, the home minister, who should, out of courtesy,
have invited him to a seat in the pulpit, if to no other part in the
services, never saw him. He looked completely over his head, keeping
his eyes, all through the exercises, fixed upon the back pews, which
happened, on that occasion, to be chiefly unoccupied.

Such incidents, of themselves, were of no great importance. Their
significance was in the fact that they all occurred on the soil of a
free State. They showed the state of feeling that then and there



The writer has spoken of the courage of the Abolitionists. There is
another trait by which they were distinguished that, in his opinion,
should not be passed over. That was their extreme hopefulness--their
untiring confidence. No matter how adverse were the conditions, they
expected to win. They never counted the odds against them. They
trusted in the right which they were firmly persuaded would prevail
some time or another. For that time they were willing to wait,
meanwhile doing what they could to hasten its coming.

Benjamin Lundy, the little Quaker mechanic, who was undeniably the
Peter-the-Hermit of the Abolitionist movement, when setting out alone
and on foot, with his printing material on his back, to begin a
crusade against the strongest and most arrogant institution in the
country, remarked with admirable naivete, "I do not know how soon I
shall succeed in my undertaking."

William Lloyd Garrison, when the pioneer Anti-Slavery Society was
organized by only twelve men, and they people of no worldly
consequence, the meeting for lack of a better place being held in a
colored schoolroom on "Nigger Hill" in Boston, declared that in due
time they would meet to urge their principles in Faneuil Hall--a most
audacious declaration, but he was right.

The writer, when a boy, was witness to an exhibition of the same
spirit. A kinsman of his was a zealous Abolitionist, although not
particularly gifted with controversial acumen. He and his minister, as
often happened, were discussing the slavery question. The minister,
like many of his cloth at that time, was a staunch supporter of "the
institution," which, according to his contention, firmly rested on
biblical authority.

"How do you expect to destroy slavery, as it exists in Kentucky, by
talking and voting abolition up here in Ohio?" asked the clergyman.

"We will crush it through Congress when we get control of the general
government," said my kinsman.

"But Congress and the general government have, under the Constitution,
absolutely no power over slavery in the States. It is a State
institution," replied the clergyman.

It is unnecessary to follow the discussion, but, one after another,
the quicker-witted and better-informed preacher successfully combated
all the propositions advanced by my relative in trying to give a
reason for the faith that was in him, until he was completely
cornered. "Well," said he at last, "the good Lord has not taken me
into His confidence, and I don't know what His plans for upsetting
slavery are, but He will be able to manage it somehow."

My kinsman lived long enough to see the day when there was not a
slave on American soil, and the minister lived long enough to become a
roaring Abolitionist.

It was doubtless their confidence in ultimate triumph, a result of
their absolute belief in the righteousness of their cause, that, as
much as anything else, armed and armored the Abolitionists against all
opposition. It was one main element of their strength in the midst of
their weakness. Without it they could not have persisted, as they did,
in their separate or "third party" political action, that cleared the
way and finally led up to a victorious organization. Year after year,
and for many years, they voted for candidates that had no chance of
election. Their first presidential ticket got only seven thousand
votes in the whole country. The great public, which could not see the
use of acting politically for principle alone, laughed at their
simplicity in "throwing away their votes." "Voting in the air" was the
way it was often spoken of, and those who were guilty of such
incomprehensible folly were characterized as "one idea people." They,
however, cared little for denunciation or ridicule, and kept on
regularly nominating their tickets, and as regularly giving them votes
that generally appeared in the election returns among the
"scattering." They were not abashed by the insignificance of their

"They were men who dared to be
the right with two or three,"

according to the poet Lowell.

In the county in which I lived when a boy, there was one vote polled
for the first Abolitionist presidential ticket. The man who gave it
did not try to hide his responsibility--in fact, he seemed rather
proud of his aloneness--but he was mercilessly guyed on account of the
smallness of his party. His rejoinder was that he thought that he and
God, who was, he believed, with him, made a pretty good-sized and
respectable party.



The intensity--perhaps density would be a better word in this
connection--of the prejudice that confronted the Abolitionists when
they entered on their work is not describable by any expressions we
have in our language. In the South it was soon settled that no man
could preach Anti-Slaveryism and live. In the North the conditions
were not much better. Every man and woman--because the muster-roll of
the Abolition propagandists was recruited from both sexes--carried on
the work at the hazard of his or her life. Sneers, scowls, hootings,
curses, and rough handling were absolutely certain. One incident
throws light on the state of feeling at that time.

When Pennsylvania Hall, which the Abolitionists of
Philadelphia--largely Quakers--had erected for a meeting place at a
cost of forty thousand dollars was fired by a mob, the fire department
of that city threw water on surrounding property, but not one drop
would it contribute to save the property of the Abolitionists.

Why was it that this devotion to slavery and this hostility to its
opposers prevailed in the non-slaveholding States? They had not always
existed. Indeed, there was a time, not so many years before, when
slavery was generally denounced; when men like Washington and
Jefferson and Henry, although themselves slave-owners, led public
opinion in its condemnation. Everybody was anticipating the day of
universal emancipation, when suddenly--almost in the twinkling of an
eye--there was a change. If it had been a weather-cock--as to a
considerable extent it was, and is--public opinion could not have more
quickly veered about.

Slavery became the popular idol in the North as well as in the South.
Opposition to it was not only offensive, but dangerous. It was

So far as the South was concerned the revolution is easily accounted
for. Slavery became profitable. A Yankee magician had touched it with
a wand of gold, and from being a languishing, struggling system, it
quickly developed into a money-maker.

Whitney, the Connecticut mechanical genius, by the invention of the
cotton-gin, made the production of cotton a highly lucrative industry.
The price of negroes to work the cotton fields at once went up, and
yet the supply was inadequate. Northernly slave States could not
produce cotton, but they could produce negroes. They shared in the
golden harvest. Such cities as Baltimore, Washington, Richmond,
Wheeling, and Louisville became centers of a flourishing traffic in
human beings. They had great warehouses, commonly spoken of as "nigger
pens," in which the "hands" that were to make the cotton were
temporarily gathered, and long coffles--that is, processions of men
and women, each with a hand attached to a common rope or
chain--marched through their streets with faces turned southward.

The slave-owners were numerically a lean minority even in the South,
but their mastery over their fellow-citizens was absolute. Nor was
there any mystery about it. As the owners of four million slaves, on
an average worth not far from five hundred dollars each, they formed
the greatest industrial combination--what at this time we would call a
trust--ever known to this or any other country. Our mighty Steel
Corporation would have been a baby beside it. If to-day all our great
financial companies were consolidated, the unit would scarcely come up
to the dimensions of that one association. It was not incorporated in
law, but its union was perfect. Bound together by a common interest
and a common feeling, its members--in the highest sense co-partners in
business and in politics, in peace and in war--were prepared to act
together as one man.

But why, I again ask, were the Northern people so infatuated with
slavery? They raised no cotton and they raised no negroes, but many of
them, and especially their political leaders, carried their adulation
almost to idolatry.

When Elijah P. Lovejoy was shot down like a dog, and William Lloyd
Garrison was dragged half naked and half lifeless through the streets
of Boston, and other outrages of like import were being perpetrated
all over the North, it was carefully given out that those deeds were
not the work of irresponsible rowdies, but of "gentlemen"--of
merchants, manufacturers, and members of the professions. They claimed
the credit for such achievements. There were reasons for such a state
of things--some very solid, because financial.

The North and the South were extensively interlaced by mutual
interests. With slave labor the Southern planters made cotton, and
with the proceeds of their cotton they bought Northern machinery and
merchandise. They sent their boys and girls to Northern schools. They
came North themselves when their pockets were full, and freely spent
their money at Northern hotels, Northern theatres, Northern
race-tracks, and other Northern places of entertainment.

Then there were other ties than those of business. The great political
parties had each a Southern wing. Religious denominations had their
Southern members. Every kind of trade and calling had its Southern

But social connections were the strongest of all, and probably had
most to do in making Northern sentiment. Southern gentlemen were
popular in the North. They spent money lavishly. Their manners were
grandiose. They talked boastfully of the number of their "niggers,"
and told how they were accustomed to "wallop" them.

Then there were marriage ties between the sections. Many domestic
alliances strengthened the bond between slavery and the aristocracy of
the North.

In the circles in which these things were going on, it was the fashion
to denounce the Abolitionists. Women were the most bitter. The
slightest suspicion of sympathy with the "fanatics" was fatal to
social ambition. Mrs. Henry Chapman, the wife of a wealthy Boston
shipping merchant who gave orders that no slaves should be carried on
his vessels, was a brilliant woman and a leader in the highest sense
in that city. But when she consented to preside over a small
conference of Anti-Slavery women, society cut her dead, her former
associates refusing to recognize her on the street. The families of
Arthur and Lewis Tappan, the distinguished merchants of New York, were
noted for their intelligence and culture, but when the heads of the
families came to be classified as Abolitionists the doors of all
fashionable mansions were at once shut against them. They in other
ways suffered for their opinions. The home of Lewis Tappan was invaded
by a mob, and furniture, books, and _bric-a-brac_ were carried to the
street and there burned to ashes.

The masses of the Northern people were, however, led to favor slavery
by other arguments. One of them was that the slaves, if manumitted,
would at once rush to the North and overrun the free States. I have
heard that proposition warmly supported by fairly intelligent persons.

Another argument that weighed with a surprisingly large number of
people, was that civil equality would be followed by social equality.
As soon as they were free, negro men, it was said, would marry white
wives. "Do you want your son or your daughter to marry a nigger?" was
regarded as a knockout anti-Abolitionist argument. The idea, of
course, was absurd. "Is it to be inferred that because I don't want a
negro woman for a slave, I do want her for a wife?" was one of the
quaint and pithy observations attributed to Mr. Lincoln. I heard
Prof. Hudson, of Oberlin College, express the same idea in about the
same words many years before.

And yet there were plenty of Northern people to whom
"Amalgamation"--the word used to describe the apprehended union of the
races--was a veritable scarecrow. A young gentleman in a neighborhood
near where I lived when a boy was in all respects eligible for
matrimony. He became devoted to the daughter of an old farmer who had
been a Kentuckian, and asked him for her hand. "But I am told," said
the old gentleman, "that you are an Abolitionist." The young man
admitted the justice of the charge. "Then, sir," fairly roared the old
man, "you can't have my daughter; go and marry a nigger."

But what probably gave slavery its strongest hold upon the favor of
Northern people was the animosity toward the negro that prevailed
among them. Nowhere was he treated by them like a human being. The
"black laws," as those statutes in a number of free States that
regulated the treatment of the blacks were appropriately called, were
inhuman in the extreme. Ohio was in the main a liberal State. She was
called a free State, but her negroes were not free men. Under her laws
they could only remain in the State by giving bonds for good behavior.
Any one employing negroes, not so bonded, was liable to a fine of one
hundred dollars. They could not vote, of course. They could not
testify in a case in which a white man was interested. They could not
send their children to schools which they helped to support. The only
thing they could do "like a white man" was to pay taxes.

The prejudice against the poor creatures in Ohio was much stronger
than that they encountered on the other side of the Ohio River in the
slave State of Kentucky. Here--in Kentucky--they were property, and
they generally received the care and consideration that ownership
ordinarily establishes. The interest of the master was a factor in
their behalf. In many instances there was genuine affection between
owner and slave. "How much better off they would be if they only had
good masters," was a remark I very often heard in Ohio, as the negroes
would go slouching by with hanging heads and averted countenances.
There is no doubt that at this time the physical condition of the
blacks was generally much better in slavery than it was in freedom.
What stronger testimony to the innate desire for liberty--what Byron
has described as "The eternal spirit of the chainless mind"--than the
fact that slaves who were the most indulgently treated, were
constantly escaping from the easy and careless life they led to the
hostilities and barbarities of the free States, and they never went
back except under compulsion.

"O carry me back to old Virginy,
To old Virginy's shore,"

was the refrain of a song that was very popular in those days, and
which was much affected by what were called "negro minstrels." It was
assumed to express the feelings of colored fugitives from bondage when
they had time to realize what freedom meant in their cases, but I
never heard the words from the lips of a man who had lived in a state
of servitude.

I have elsewhere referred to the fact that women were often the most
bitter in their denunciations of the Abolitionists. In the
neighborhood in which I passed my early days was a lady who was born
and raised in the North, and who probably had no decided sentiment,
one way or the other, on the slavery question; but who about this time
spent several months in a visit to one of the slave States. She came
back thoroughly imbued with admiration for "the institution." She
could not find words to describe the good times that were enjoyed by
the wives and daughters of the slave-owners. They had nothing to do
except to take the world easy, and that, according to her account,
they did with great unanimity. The slaves, were, she declared, the
happiest people in the world, all care and responsibility being taken
from their shoulders by masters who were kind enough to look out for
their wants.

But one day she unwittingly exposed a glimpse of the reverse side of
the picture. She told the story of a young slave girl who had been
accused of larceny. She had picked up some trifling article that
ordinarily no one would have cared anything about; but at this time it
was thought well to make an example of somebody. The wrists of the
poor creature were fastened together by a cord that passed through a
ring in the side of the barn, which had been put there for that
purpose, and she was drawn up, with her face to the building, until
her toes barely touched the ground. Then, in the presence of all her
fellow-slaves, and with her clothing so detached as to expose her
naked shoulders, she was flogged until the blood trickled down her

"I felt almost as bad for her," said the narrator, "as if she had been
one of my own kind."

"Thank God she was not one of your kind!" exclaimed a voice that
fairly sizzled with rage.

The speaker who happened to be present was a relative of the author
and a red-hot Abolitionist.

Then came a furious war of words, the two enraged women shouting
maledictions in each other's faces. As a boy, I enjoyed the
performance hugely until I began to see that there was danger of a
collision. As the only male present, it would be my duty to interfere
in case the combatants came to blows, or rather to scratches and
hair-pulling. I did not like the prospect, which seemed to me to be
really alarming, and was thinking of some peaceable solution, when the
two women, looking into each other's inflamed faces, suddenly realized
the ridiculousness of the situation and broke into hearty peals of
laughter. That, of course, ended the controversy, not a little to the
relief of the writer.

If the influence of a great majority of the women of that day was
thrown on the side of slavery, as was undoubtedly the case, the
minority largely made up for the disparity of numbers by the spunk and
aggressiveness of their demonstrations. A good many of the most
indomitable and effective Abolition lecturers were women--such as Mrs.
Lucretia Mott, the Grimke sisters, Abby Kelly, and others whose names
are here omitted, although they richly deserve to be mentioned. Of
all that sisterhood, the most pugnacious undoubtedly was Abby Kelly, a
little New England woman, with, as the name would indicate, an Irish
crossing of the blood. I heard her once, and it seemed to me that I
never listened to a tongue that was so sharp and merciless. Her eyes
were small and it appeared to me that they contracted, when she was
speaking, until they emitted sparks of fire. Although she went by her
maiden name, she was a married woman, being the wife of Stephen
Foster, a professional Abolitionist agitator and lecturer. Although
himself noted for the bitterness of his speech, when it came to
hard-hitting vituperation he could not begin to "hold a candle" to his
little wife.

The two traveled together and spoke from the same platforms. They were
constantly getting into hot water through the hostility of mobs, which
they seemed to enjoy most heartily. Foster's life was more than once
in serious danger, but they kept right on and never showed the
slightest fear. The only meeting addressed by them that I attended,
though held on the Sabbath, was ended by the throwing of stones and
sticks and addled eggs.

But if the current of public opinion in the North suddenly turned, and
for a long time ran with overwhelming force in favor of slavery, it
changed about almost as suddenly and ran with equal force in the
opposite direction. The county in which I lived when a boy, that
furnished only one vote for the first Abolitionist presidential
ticket, became a Republican stronghold. It was in what had been a Whig
district, and when the Whig party went to pieces, the most of its
_debris_ drifted into the Republican lines.

On the occasion of one of the pro-slavery mobs I elsewhere tell about,
when a supply of eggs with which to garnish the Abolitionists, was
wanted, and the money for their purchase was called for, the town
constable--the peace officer of the community--put his hand in his
pocket and supplied the funds.

A few years thereafter, on my return to the village after a
considerable absence, I found that I had come just in time to attend a
Republican rally which was that day to be held in a near-by grove.
When I reached the scene of operations a procession to march to the
grove was being formed. There was considerable enthusiasm and noise,
but by far the most excited individual was the Grand Marshal and
Master of Ceremonies. Seated on a high horse, he was riding up and
down the line shouting out his orders with tremendous unction. He was
the constable of the egg-buying episode.



In several of his addresses before his election to the Presidency, Mr.
Lincoln gave utterance to the following language: "A house divided
against itself cannot stand. I believe this Government cannot
permanently remain half slave and half free. I do not expect the house
to fall, but I do expect it to cease to be divided. It will become all
one thing or all the other thing."

The same opinion had been enunciated several years before by John
Quincy Adams on the floor of Congress, when, with his accustomed
pungency, he declared, "The Union will fall before slavery or slavery
will fall before the Union."

But before either Adams or Lincoln spoke on the subject--away back in
1838--the same idea they expressed had a more elaborate and forcible
presentation in the following words:

"The conflict is becoming--has become--not alone of freedom for
the blacks, but of freedom for the whites. It has now become
absolutely necessary that slavery shall cease in order that
freedom may be preserved in any portion of our land. The
antagonistic principles of liberty and slavery have been roused
into action, and one or the other must be victorious. There will
be no cessation of the strife until slavery shall be exterminated
or liberty destroyed."

The author of the words last above quoted was James Gillespie Birney,
who was the first Abolitionist, or "Liberty party," candidate for the
Presidency, and of whose career a brief sketch is elsewhere given.

That the slaveholders reached the same conclusion that Birney and
Adams and Lincoln announced, viz., that the country was to be all one
thing or all the other thing, is as manifest as any fact in our
history. It is equally certain that they had firmly resolved to
capture the entire commonwealth for their "institution," and had laid
their plans to that end. They were unwilling to live in a divided
house, particularly with an occupant who was stronger in population
and wealth than they were.

They saw the danger in such association. Northern sentiment toward
slavery was complacent enough, even servilely so, but it might change.
The South thought it had too much at stake to take the chances when
the opportunity for absolute safety and permanent rule was within its
reach. It resolved to make the whole country, not only pro-slavery,
but slaveholding. If, through any mischance, it failed in its
calculation, the next step would be to tear down the house and from
its ruins reconstruct so much of it as might be needed for its own
occupancy. That it would be able in time to possess itself of the
whole country, however, for and in behalf of its industrial policy, it
did not for an instant doubt. It was not empty braggadocio on the part
of the celebrated Robert Toombs, of Georgia, when he uttered his
famous boast.[1] He voiced the practically unanimous opinion of his

[1] See page 13.

Nor was there anything seemingly very presumptuous in that
anticipation. So far, the South had been invariably victorious. In
what appeared to be a decisive battle in the test case of admitting
Missouri into the Union as a slave State, it had won. So pronounced
was its triumph that whatever Anti-Slavery sentiment survived the
conflict appeared to be stunned and helpless. All fight was knocked
out of it. Its spirit was broken. While the South was not only compact
and fully alive, but exultingly aggressive, the North was divided,
fully one half of its population being about as pro-slavery as the
slaveholders themselves, and the rest, with rare exceptions, being
hopelessly apathetic. The Northern leaders of both of the old
political parties--Whig and Democratic--were what the Abolitionists
called "dough-faces," being Northern men with Southern principles. The
Church was "a dumb dog," and the press simply drifted with the tide.
It was not at all strange that the slaveholders expected to go on from
conquest to conquest.

There were two policies they could adopt. One was to attack the
enemy's citadel; or rather, the several citadels it possessed in its
individual States, and force them to open their doors to the master
and his human chattels. The other was to flank and cover, approaching
the main point of attack by way of the Territories. These, once in
possession of the slaveholders, could be converted into enough slave
States to give them the control of the general government, from which
coigne of advantage they could proceed in their own time and way to
possess themselves of such other free States as they might want.

In the matter of the Territories they had a great advantage. The North
was up against a stone wall at the Canadian border. In that direction
it could not advance a step, while the South had practically an
unlimited field on its side from which to carve possessions as they
might be wanted, very much as you would cut a pie.

In pursuance of its territorial policy--being the line of action it
first resolved upon--the first movement of the South was to annex
Texas--a victory. The next was to make war on Mexico, and (a joke of
the day) conquer a "piece" from it large enough to make half a dozen
States, all expected to be slaveholding--another victory.

By a curious irony the filching of land for slavery's uses from a
neighbor, and on which the foot of a slave had never pressed, was
exultingly spoken of at the time by its supporters as "an extension of
the area of freedom." The act was justified on the ground that we
needed "land for the landless," which led Benjamin F. Wade of Ohio to
assert on the floor of the United States Senate, with as much truth as
wit, that it was not land for the landless that was wanted, but
"niggers for the niggerless."

Then came the battle over Kansas. The passage of the Kansas-Nebraska
Bill in Congress, although involving a breach of good faith on the
part of the South, was hailed as another victory for that section. It
was a costly victory. It was followed by defeat not only disastrous
but fatal. The result in Kansas was really the turning-point in the
great struggle. It broke the line of Southern victories. It
neutralized the effect of the whole territorial movement up to that
point. It completely spoiled the slaveholders' well-laid plans. We
will always give Grant and his men all praise for victories leading up
to Appomatox, but, in some respects, the most important victory of the
great conflict was won on the plains of Kansas by John Brown of
Ossawattomie and his Abolition associates.

The most sagacious Southern leaders saw in that result conclusive
proof that the scale was turned. They realized that they were beaten
within the lines of the Union, and they began to arrange for going out
of it. They helped to elect a Republican President by dividing the
Democratic party in 1860 between two candidates--Douglas and
Breckenridge--in order that they might have a plausible pretext for

But the slaveholders had not abandoned the other policy to which
reference has been made--that of carrying their institution, by main
force, as it were, into some, if not all, of the free States. To that
end they had, in sporting parlance, a card up their sleeves which they
proceeded to play. That card was the decision of the United States
Supreme Court in the Dred Scott case, upon which they relied to give
them the legal power to take and hold their slaves in all parts of the
land. Up to the date of that decision, the current of judicial rulings
had been that slavery, being a municipal institution, was local,
while freedom was national. Hence, when a master took his slave into a
free State, at that instant he became a free man. The Dred Scott
decision was intended to reverse the rule. Practically it held that
slave ownership, wherever the Constitution prevailed, was both a legal
and a natural right. It, as Benton forcibly expressed it, "made
slavery the organic law of the land and freedom the exception"; or, as
it was jocularly expressed at the time, it left freedom nowhere.

Although at the time of its promulgation, it was claimed by some of
the more conservative pro-slavery leaders that the Dred Scott dictum
applied only to the Territories, giving the masters the legal
authority to enter them with their slaves, that position was clearly
deceptive. The principle involved, as laid down by the Court, was
altogether too broad for that construction. In effect it put the
proprietorship of human beings upon the same footing with other
property rights, and claimed for it the same constitutional
protection. The bolder men of the South, like Toombs of Georgia, did
not hesitate to give that interpretation to the Court's pronouncement,
and to insist on it with brutal frankness. If they were wrong, the
Court was putty in their hands and they could easily have had a
supplemental ruling that would have gone to any extent.

If the Dred Scott decision had been promulgated by our highest court,
and the slaveholders had insisted upon the license it was intended to
give them for taking their slave property into free territory, at the
time that Garrison was being dragged by a mob through Boston's
streets; when Birney's printing-press in Cincinnati was being tumbled
into the Ohio River; when Pennsylvania Hall, the Quaker Abolitionists'
forty-thousand-dollar construction, was ablaze in Philadelphia; when
Lovejoy, the Abolition martyr, was bleeding out his life in one of the
streets of Alton, Illinois--when, in fact, the whole land was swayed
by a frenzied hatred of the men and women who dared to question
slavery's right to supremacy, the writer believes the movement would
have been successful. Public opinion was so inclined in States like
Indiana and Illinois, and even in Ohio, that they might have been
easily toppled over to the South. Indeed, at that time it is a problem
how Massachusetts would have voted on a proposition to "slaveryize"
her soil. The surprising thing, as we look back to that period, is
that slavery did not get a foothold in some of the free States, if not
in all of them.

But by the time the South was ready to play its trump card, it was too
late. The game was lost. Public opinion had become revolutionized
throughout the North. The leaven of Abolitionism had got in its work.
The men and women, few in number and weak in purse and worldly
position as they were, who had enlisted years before in the cause of
emancipation, and had fought for it in the face of almost every
conceivable discouragement, had at last won a great preliminary
victory. Slavery, through their exertions, had become impossible, both
in the Territories and in the free States of the North, the United
States Supreme Court and all the forces of the slave power to the
contrary notwithstanding. Then came to the South a not unanticipated,
and to many of her leaders a not unwelcome political Waterloo, in the
election of Lincoln. This gave the argument for secession that was
wanted. The South had then to yield--which she had no idea of
doing--or to go into rebellion. She went out of the Union very much as
she would have gone to a frolic. She had no thought that serious
fighting was to follow. She did not believe, as one of the Southern
leaders expressed it, that the Northern people would go to war for the
sake of the "niggers."



The early Abolitionists were denounced as fanatics, or "fan-a-tics,"
according to the pronunciation of some of their detractors. They were
treated as if partially insane. The writer when a boy attended the
trial of a cause between two neighbors in a court of low grade. It was
what was called a "cow case," and involved property worth, perhaps, as
much as twenty dollars. One of the witnesses on the stand was asked by
a lawyer, who wanted to embarrass or discredit him, if he were not an
Abolitionist. Objection came from the other side on the ground that
the inquiry was irrelevant; but the learned justice-of-the-peace who
presided held that, as it related to the witness's sanity, and that
would affect his credibility, the question was admissible. It is not,
perhaps, so very strange that in those days, in view of the
disreputableness of those whose cause they espoused, and the
apparently utter hopelessness of anything ever coming out of it, the
supporters of Anti-Slaveryism should be suspected of being "out of
their heads."

Although Don Quixote, who, according to the veracious Cervantes, set
out with his unaided strong right arm to upset things, including
wind-mills and obnoxious dynasties, has long been looked upon as the
world's best specimen of a "fanatic," he would ordinarily be set down
as a very Solomon beside the man who would undertake single-handed to
overthrow such an institution as American slavery used to be. Such a
man there was, however. He really entered on the job of abolishing
that institution, and without a solitary assistant. Strange to say, he
was neither a giant nor a millionaire.

According to Horace Greeley, "Benjamin Lundy deserves the high honor
of ranking as the pioneer of direct and distinctive Anti-Slaveryism in

He was slight in frame and below the medium height, and unassuming in
manner. He had, it is said, neither eloquence nor shining ability of
any sort.

At nineteen years of age he went to Wheeling, Virginia, to learn the
trade of a saddler. He learned more than that. Wheeling, as he tells
us, was then a great thoroughfare for the traffickers in human flesh.
Their coffles passed through the place frequently. "My heart," he
continues, "was grieved at the great abomination. I heard the wail of
the captive, I felt his pang of distress, and the iron entered into my

But much as Lundy loathed the business of the slave-dealers and
slave-drivers, he then had no idea of attempting its abolishment. He
married and settled down to the prosecution of his trade, and had he
been like other people generally he would have been content. But he
could not shut the pictures of those street scenes in Wheeling out of
his mind and out of his heart.

The first thing in the reformatory line he did was to organize a
local Anti-Slavery society in the village in which he was then living
in Ohio; at the first meeting of this society only five persons were

About this time Lundy made some important discoveries. He learned that
he could write what the newspapers would print, and give expression to
words that the people would listen to. He was quick to realize the
fact that the best way to reach the people of this country was through
the press. He started a very small paper with a very large name. It
was ambitiously nominated _The Genius of Universal Emancipation_. He
began with only six subscribers and without a press or other
publishing material. Moreover, he had no money. He was not then a
practical printer, though later he learned the art of type-setting. At
this time he had his newspaper printed twenty miles from his home, and
carried the edition for that distance on his back.

But insignificant as Lundy's paper was, it had the high distinction of
being the only exclusively Anti-Slavery journal in the country, and
its editor and proprietor was the only professional Abolition lecturer
and agitator of that time.

Afterwards, in speaking of his journalistic undertaking, Mr. Lundy
said: "I began this work without a dollar of funds, trusting to the
sacredness of the cause." Another saying of his was that he did not
stop to calculate "how soon his efforts would be crowned with

As Lundy spent the greater part of his time in traveling from place to
place, procuring subscriptions to his journal and lecturing on
slavery, he could not issue his paper regularly at any one point. In
some instances he carried the head-rules, column-rules, and
subscription-book of his journal with him, and when he came to a town
where he found a printing-press he would stop long enough to print and
mail a number of his periodical. He traveled for the most part on
foot, carrying a heavy pack. In ten years in that way he covered
twenty-five thousand miles, five thousand on foot.

He decided to invade the enemy's country by going where slavery was.
He went to Tennessee, making the journey of eight hundred miles, one
half by water, and one half on foot. That was, of course, before the
day of railroads.

He continued to issue his paper, although often threatened with
personal violence. Once two bullies locked him in a room and, with
revolvers in hand, tried to frighten him into a promise to discontinue
his work. He did not frighten to any extent.

Seeking what seemed to be the most inviting field for his operations,
he decided to move his establishment to Baltimore, going most of the
way on foot and lecturing as he went whenever he could find an

His residence in Baltimore came near proving fatal. A slave-trader,
whom he had offended, attacked and brutally beat him on the street.
The consolation he got from the court that tried the ruffian, who was
"honorably discharged," was that he (Lundy) had got "nothing more than
he deserved." Soon afterwards his printing material and other property
was burned by a mob.

He went to Mexico to select a location for a projected colony of
colored people. He traveled almost altogether afoot, observing the
strictest economy and supporting himself by occasional jobs of
saddlery and harness mending. In his journal he tells us that he often
slept in the open air, the country traversed being mostly new and
unsettled. He was in constant danger from panthers, alligators, and
rattlesnakes, while he was cruelly beset by gnats and mosquitoes. His
clothes in the morning, he tells us, would be as wet from heavy dews
as if he had fallen into the river.

Intellectually, Lundy was not a great man, but his heart was beyond
measurement. The torch that he carried in the midst of the all but
universal darkness of that period emitted but a feeble ray, but he
kept it burning, and it possessed the almost invaluable property of
being able to transmit its flame to other torches. It kindled the
brand that was wielded by William Lloyd Garrison, and which possessed
a wonderful power of illumination.

Garrison was beyond all question a remarkable man. In the qualities
that endow a successful leader in a desperate cause he has never been
surpassed. He had an iron will that was directed by an inflexible
conscience. "To him," says James Freeman Clarke, "right was right, and
wrong was wrong, and he saw no half lights or half shadows between
them." He was a natural orator. I never heard him talk, either on or
off the platform, but I have heard those who had listened to him,
speak of the singular gift he possessed in stating or combating a
proposition. One person who had heard him, often compared him, when
dealing with an adversary, to a butcher engaged in dissecting a
carcass, and who knew just where to strike every time,--a homely, but
expressive illustration. His addresses in England on a certain notable
occasion, which is dealt with somewhat at length elsewhere, were
declared by the first British orators to be models of perfect

Lundy and Garrison met by accident. They were boarding at the same
house in Boston, and became acquainted. Lundy's mind was full of the
subject of slavery, and Garrison's proved to be receptive soil. They
decided to join forces, and we have the singular spectacle of two poor
mechanics--a journeyman saddler and a journeyman printer--conspiring
to revolutionize the domestic institutions of half of the country.

They decided to continue the Baltimore newspaper. Garrison's
plain-spokenness, however, soon got him into trouble in that city. He
was prosecuted for libelling a shipmaster for transporting slaves, was
convicted and fined fifty dollars. The amount, so far as his ability
to pay was involved, might as well have been a million. He went to
prison, being incarcerated in a cell just vacated by a man who had
been hanged for murder, and there he remained for seven weeks. At the
end of that time Arthur Tappan, the big-hearted merchant of New York,
learning the facts of the case, advanced the money needed to set
Garrison free.

Undeterred by his experience as a martyr, Garrison--who had returned
to Boston--resolved to establish a journal of his own in that city,
which was to be devoted to the cause of the slave. _The Liberator_
appeared on the 1st of January, 1831.

In entering upon this venture, Garrison had not a subscriber nor a
dollar of money. Being a printer, he set up the type and struck off
the first issue with his own hands.

In the initial number the proprietor of the _Liberator_ outlined his
proposed policy in these words: "I will be as harsh as truth; as
uncompromising as justice. I am in earnest. I will not excuse; I will
not retreat a single inch; and I will be heard."

The first issue of the paper brought in a contribution of fifty
dollars from a colored man and twenty-five subscribers. It was not,
therefore, a failure, but its continuance involved a terrible strain.
Garrison and one co-worker occupied one room for work-shop,
dining-room, and bedroom. They cooked their own meals and slept upon
the floor. It was almost literally true, as pictured by Lowell, the

"In a small chamber, friendless and unseen,
Toiled o'er his types one poor unlearned young man.
The place was dark, unfurnitured and mean,
Yet there the freedom of a race began."

The effects produced by Garrison's unique production were simply
wonderful. In October of its first year the Vigilance Association of
South Carolina offered a reward of fifteen hundred dollars for the
apprehension and prosecution to conviction of any white person who
might be detected in distributing or circulating the _Liberator_.
Georgia went farther than that. Less than a year after Garrison had
established his paper, the Legislature of that State passed an act
offering a reward of five thousand dollars to whomsoever should
arrest, bring to trial, and prosecute its publisher to conviction. The
_Liberator_ was excluded from the United States mails in all the slave
States, illegal as such a proceeding was.

There was, however, opposition nearer home. The _Liberator_
establishment was wrecked by a mob, and Garrison, after having been
stripped of nearly all his clothing, was dragged, bareheaded, by a
rope round his body through the streets of Boston until, to save his
life, the authorities thrust him into jail.

No man in this country was so cordially hated by the slaveholders as
Garrison. Of the big men up North--the leaders of politics and
society--they had no apprehension. They knew how to manage them. It
was the little fellows like the editor of the _Liberator_ that gave
them trouble. These men had no money, but they could not be bought.
They had no fear of mobs. They cared nothing for the scoldings of the
church and the press. An adverse public sentiment never disturbed
their equanimity or caused them to turn a hair's breadth in their

It is true that Lundy and Garrison had very little to lose. They had
neither property nor social position. That, however, cannot be said of
another early Abolitionist, who, in some respects, is entitled to more
consideration than any of his co-workers.

James Gillespie Birney was a Southerner by birth. He belonged to a
family of financial and social prominence. He was a gentleman of
education and culture, having graduated from a leading college and
being a lawyer of recognized ability. He was a slave-owner. For a time
he conducted a plantation with slave labor. He lived in Alabama, where
he filled several important official positions, and was talked of for
the governorship of the State. But having been led to think about the
moral, and other aspects of slaveholding, he decided that it was wrong
and he would wash his hands of it. He could not in Alabama legally
manumit his slaves. Moreover, his neighbors had risen up against him
and threatened his forcible expulsion. He removed to Kentucky, where
he thought a more liberal sentiment prevailed. There he freed his
slaves and made liberal provision for their comfortable sustenance.
But the slave power was on his track. He was warned to betake himself
out of the State. The infliction of personal violence was meditated,
and a party of his opposers came together for that purpose. They were
engaged in discussing ways and means when a young man of commanding
presence and strength, who happened to be present, announced that
while he lived Mr. Birney would not be molested. His opposition broke
up the plot. That young man became a leading clergyman and was
subsequently for a time Chaplain of the United States Senate.

Birney went with his belongings to Ohio, thinking that upon the soil
of a free State he would be safe from molestation. He established a
newspaper in Cincinnati to advocate emancipation. A mob promptly
destroyed his press and other property, and it was with difficulty
that he escaped with his life. More sagacious, although not more
zealous, than Lundy and Garrison and a good many of their followers,
Birney early saw the necessity of political action in the interest of
freedom. He was the real founder of the old "Liberty" party, of which
he was the presidential candidate in 1840 and in 1844.

Of course, there were other early laborers for emancipation that, in
this connection, ought to be mentioned and remembered. They were
pioneers in the truest sense. The writer would gladly make a record of
their services, and pay a tribute, especially, to the memories of such
as have gone to the spirit land, where the great majority are now
mustered, but space at this point forbids.



If I were asked to name the man to whom the colored people of this
country, who were slaves, or were liable to become slaves, are under
the greatest obligation for their freedom, I would unhesitatingly say
Salmon Portland Chase.

If I were asked to name the man who was the strongest and most useful
factor in the Government during the great final contest that ended in
the emancipation of the black man, I would say Salmon Portland Chase.

In expressing the opinions above given, no reproach for Abraham
Lincoln, nor for any of the distinguished members of his Cabinet, is
intended or implied. Inferiority to Salmon P. Chase was not a
disgrace. Physically he rose above all his official associates, which
was no discredit to them, and in much the same way he towered
intellectually and administratively. His was the most trying, the most
difficult position, in the entire circle of public departments. It was
easy to get men to fight the battles of the Union if there was money
to pay them. It was easy to furnish ships and arms and supplies in
sufficient quantity, notwithstanding the terrible drain of the
greatest of civil wars, as long as the funds held out. Everything
depended on the treasury. Failure there meant irretrievable disaster.
It would not answer to have any serious mistakes in that quarter, and
in fact no fatal mistakes were there made. In all other departments
there were failures and blunders, but the financial department met
every emergency and every requisition. Chase's financial policy it was
that carried the country majestically through the war, and that
afterwards paid the nation's debts.

There is a circumstance that has not been mentioned, as far as the
writer knows, by any of Mr. Chase's biographers, which seems to him to
be significant and worth referring to. During the Civil War, Walter
Bagehot was editor of the _Economist,_ the great English financial
journal. His opinion in financial matters was regarded as the highest
authority. It was accepted as infallible. He discussed the plans of
Mr. Chase with great elaborateness and great severity. He predicted
that they were all destined to failure, and proved this theoretically
to his own satisfaction and the satisfaction of many others. The
result showed that Mr. Chase was right all the time, and the great
English economist was wrong.

The entrance of such a man into the Abolitionist movement marked an
era in its history. It was the thing most needed. He gave it a leader
who, of all men then living, was most competent for leadership. From
that time he was its Moses.

The greatest service rendered to the Abolition cause by Salmon P.
Chase was in pushing it forward on political lines. There was a
contest for the mastery of the Government from the hour he took
command. The movement was to be slow, sometimes halting and apparently
falling back, in some respects insignificant, in all respects
desperate, but there was to be no permanent defeat and no compromise.

The espousal of Abolitionism by Mr. Chase was a remarkable
circumstance. He was not an enthusiast like Garrison and Lundy and
many other Anti-Slavery pioneers, but precisely the opposite. He was
cold-blooded and cool-headed, a deliberate and conservative man. His
speeches were described as giving light but no heat. His sympathies
were seemingly weak, but his sense of justice was immense. Apparently,
he opposed slavery because it was wrong rather than because it was
cruel. He had a big body, a big head, and a big conscience, the
combination making a strong man and a good fighter.

That he did, in fact, sympathize with the slaves was shown by his
professional work in their behalf, more particularly in pleading
without fee or other reward the cases of escaped fugitives in the
courts. So numerous were his engagements in this regard that his
antagonists spoke of him sneeringly as the "Attorney-General for
runaway niggers." Upon some of his Anti-Slavery cases he bestowed an
immense amount of work. His argument in the case of Van Zant--the
original of Van Tromp in Mrs. Stowe's _Uncle Tom's Cabin_,--an old man
who was prosecuted and fined until he was financially ruined for
giving a "lift" in his farm wagon to a slave family on its way to
Canada, was said at the time to have been the most able so far made
in the Supreme Court of the United States. That and other similar
utterances by Mr. Chase were published for popular reading, and were
widely distributed by friends of the cause.

It is possible that, in performing this arduous labor, Mr. Chase, who
was not without personal ambition, was able, with his great native
sagacity, to foresee, although it must have been but dimly, the
possibilities of political development and official promotion, but at
the same time, for the same reason, he could the more clearly realize
the wearisome, heart-breaking struggle that was before him.

It was an enormous sacrifice that he made. Journeymen printers and
saddlers, like Garrison and Lundy, who had never had as much as one
hundred dollars at one time in their lives, and who had no social
position and no influential kinsfolks, had little to lose. But it was
very different with Chase. He had a profession that represented great
wealth. He had distinguished and aristocratic family connections. He
had a high place in society. All these he risked and largely lost.

In speaking of his sacrifices at that time in a subsequent letter to a
friend, he wrote:

"Having resolved on my political course, I devoted all the time
and means I could command to the work of spreading the principles
and building up the organization of the party of constitutional
freedom then inaugurated. Sometimes, indeed, all I could do seemed
insignificant, while the labors I had to perform, and the demand
upon my very limited resources by necessary contributions, taxed
severely all my abilities."

The writer hereof was a witness to one incident that showed something
of the loss that Mr. Chase sustained in a business way because of his
principles. While a law student in a country village he was sent down
to Cincinnati to secure certain testimony in the form of affidavits.
During his visit he called at Mr. Chase's law office, introduced
himself, and was very pleasantly received. He noticed that there was a
notary public in the office.

Among other instructions he had been directed to get the affidavit of
a leading business man in Cincinnati, a railroad president. The
document was prepared and signed, but there was no one at hand before
whom it could be sworn to. The writer remarked that he knew where
there was a notary in a near-by office. We proceeded to Mr. Chase's
chambers, and were about to enter when my companion noticed the name
on the door. He fell back as if he had been struck in the face. "The
---- Abolitionist," he exclaimed, "I wouldn't enter his place for a
hundred dollars!" We went elsewhere for our business, and on the way
my companion expressed himself about Mr. Chase. "What a pity it is,"
he said, "that that young man is ruining himself. He is a bright man,"
he went on, "and I employed him professionally until he went daft on
the subject of freeing the niggers whom the Lord made for the purpose
of serving the white people."

Like pretty much all the early Abolitionists, Mr. Chase had a taste of
mob violence. He had one singular experience. When the mob destroyed
the printing establishment of James G. Birney in Cincinnati, Chase
mingled with the crowd. He discovered that personal violence to Mr.
Birney was contemplated and that his life was in danger. He made all
haste to Birney's residence and gave him warning of his peril. Then he
took his stand in the doorway of the building and calmly awaited the
coming of the rabble. Those who knew Chase will remember that in size
he was almost a giant, and his countenance had a stern, determined
look. The multitude, finding itself thus unexpectedly confronted,
paused and entered into a parley that gave the hunted man an
opportunity to reach a place of safety.

Chase had an appointment to speak in the village in which the writer
lived, and the opposers of his cause arranged to give him a warm
reception. Something prevented his attendance, and a very mild and
amiable old clergyman from an adjoining town, who took his place,
received the shower-bath of uncooked eggs that had been intended for
the Cincinnati Abolitionist.

Chase's great work for the Anti-Slavery cause was in projecting and
directing it on independent political lines. Up to that time most
Anti-Slavery people opposed separate party action. Garrison and his
_Liberator_ violently denounced such action. Moral suasion was urged
as the panacea. Chase himself had not been a "third party" man. In
1840, when there was an Abolition ticket in the field, headed by his
personal friend, James G. Birney, he had not supported it. But soon
afterwards, becoming firmly convinced that Anti-Slavery people had
nothing to hope for from either of the old parties, he set about the
work of building a new one. The undertaking was with no mental
reservation on his part. When he put his hand to that plow there was
no looking back, notwithstanding that a rougher or more stony field,
and one less promising of returns for the laborer than that before
him, would be difficult to imagine.

In 1841 he headed a call for a convention at Columbus, the State
capital, to organize the Liberty party in the State of Ohio, and at
the same time nominate a State ticket. Less than a hundred
sympathizers responded to the call, and the ticket put in nomination
received less than one thousand votes.

Among the attendants at the Columbus meeting was a near kinsman of the
author. On his return, in describing the proceedings, he said that
pretty much everything was directed by a Mr. Chase (Salamander Chase
was his name, he said), a young Cincinnati lawyer. That young man, he
declared, would yet make a mark in the world.

From that time every important move was directed by Chase. He prepared
the calls for important meetings. He wrote their addresses and their
platforms. He made the leading speeches. He presided at the great
convention at Buffalo in 1848, which formulated the "Free-Soil"
party--successor to the Liberty party--and wrote the platform which it

In speaking of Chase's share in the independent organization of this
time, William M. Evarts says: "He must be awarded the full credit of
having understood, resolved upon, planned, organized, and executed
this political movement."

The movement thus conducted by Mr. Chase was slow and tremendously
laborious, but it was effective. In the presidential elections of 1844
and 1848 it held the balance of power and turned the scale to further
its purposes. In 1852 it shattered and destroyed one of the old
pro-slavery parties, and became the second party in the country
instead of the third. In eight years more it was the first.

The charge has been made against Mr. Chase that, while a member of
Lincoln's Cabinet, he aspired to supersede his chief in the
Presidency. But did he not have a right to seek the higher office,
especially when the policy pursued by its incumbent did not meet his
full approval? He merely shared the sentiment that was then
entertained by nearly all the radical Anti-Slavery people of the
country. It is not unlikely that Chase felt somewhat envious of
Lincoln. After, as he stated in his letter of congratulation to Mr.
Lincoln on his first election, he had given nineteen years of
continuous and exhausting labor to the freedom movement, it would be
but natural that he should feel aggrieved when he saw that the chief
credit of that movement was likely to go to one who had, to his own
exclusion, come up slowly and reluctantly at a later day to its
support. If he were somewhat jealous, it would be hard not to
sympathize with him.



If I were asked to name the man who, next to Salmon P. Chase, most
effectually and meritoriously contributed to the liberation of the
black man in this country, I should unhesitatingly say John Quincy

By the great majority of those now living Mr. Adams is known only as
having once been President of the United States and as belonging to a
very distinguished family. His name is rarely mentioned. There was a
time, however, when no other name was heard so often in this country,
or which, when used, excited such violent and conflicting emotions. It
can justly be said that for many years John Quincy Adams, individually
and practically alone, by his services in Congress, sustained what
Anti-Slavery sentiment there was in the nation. It was but a spark,
but he kept it alive and gradually extended its conflagration.

When Adams entered Congress opposition to slavery was at its lowest
ebb. It was almost extinct. The victory of the slaveholders in the
Missouri contest had elated them most tremendously and had
correspondingly depressed and cowed their adversaries. As a general
thing, the latter had given up all idea of making any further fight.
Northern Presidents, Northern Congressmen, Northern editors, Northern
churchmen, were the most ready and servile supporters slavery had.
Anti-Slavery societies had been abandoned. Anti-Slavery journals had
perished. Disapprovers of the "institution," with the exception of a
few men of the Lundy stamp and the Lundy obscurity, were silent. There
was one magnificent exception.

It was at that crisis that John Quincy Adams entered Congress and
began a fight against slavery that, covering a period of seventeen
years, literally lasted to the last day of his life. He was carried
helpless and dying from the floor of Congress, where he had fallen
when in the discharge of his duties.

The position of Mr. Adams, who had been elected as an independent
candidate, was unique. He owed his official place to no political
party, and was, therefore, free from party shackles in regulating his
course. He took up the fight for the black man's freedom as one who
was himself absolutely free. Most wonderfully did he conduct that
fight. There was nothing in the eloquence of Demosthenes in Athens, of
Cicero in Rome, of Mirabeau in France, of Pitt or Gladstone in
England, that surpassed the force and grandeur of the philippics of
Adams against American slavery. Alone, for the greater part of his
service in Congress, he stood in the midst of his malignant assailants
like a rock in a stormy sea. Old man that he was, plainly showing the
in-roads of physical weakness, he was in that body of distinguished
and able men more than a match for any or all of his antagonists. He
was always "the old man eloquent." Says one of our leading historical

"As a parliamentary debater he had few, if any, superiors. In
knowledge and dexterity there was no one in the House that could
be compared with him. He was literally a walking cyclopedia. He
was terrible in invective, matchless at repartee, and insensible
to fear. A single-handed fight against all the slaveholders in the
House was something upon which he was always ready to enter."

Speaking of his effectiveness in congressional encounters another
Congressman writes:

"He is, I believe, the most extraordinary man living. I have with
my own eyes seen the slaveholders literally quake and tremble
through every nerve and joint, when he arraigned before them their
political and moral sins. His power of speech has exceeded any
conception I have heretofore had of the force of words or logic."

At last his enemies in Congress decided that they would endure his
attacks no longer. They took counsel together and agreed upon a plan
of operations looking to his expulsion from that body. As one of his
biographers, also a distinguished Congressman, expressed it: "It was
the preconcerted and deliberate purpose of the slave-masters to make
an example of the ringleader of political Abolitionism. They meant to
humiliate and crush him, and this they did not doubt their power to

Mr. Adams submitted a petition, without giving it his personal
endorsement, asking for a dissolution of the Union. That furnished the
pretext his enemies wanted. They accused him of treason in
countenancing an assault upon the Union, although they were at the time
engaged in laying the foundation of a movement looking to its ultimate
overthrow. The outcome of this undertaking was one of the most
thrilling scenes ever witnesssd in the American Congress; or, for that
matter, in any other deliberative assembly.

Preparations for the affair were made with great elaborateness. The
galleries were filled with the friends, male and female, of
pro-slavery Congressmen. The beauty and chivalry of the South were
there. They had come to witness the abasement of the great enemy of
their most cherished institution. They were to see him driven from the
nation's council chamber, a crushed and dishonored man. Not one
friendly face looked down upon him as he sat coolly awaiting the
attack, and upon the floor about him were few of his colleagues that
gave him their sympathies.

The two most eloquent Congressmen from the South were selected to lead
the prosecution. One was the celebrated Henry A. Wise, of Virginia;
the other "Tom" Marshall, of Kentucky. The latter opened the
proceedings by offering a resolution charging Mr. Adams with
treasonable conduct and directing his expulsion. He supported it with
a speech of much ingenuity. Wise followed in a fiery diatribe. Both
speakers imprudently indulged in personal allusions of a somewhat
scandalous nature, thus laying themselves open, with episodes in their
careers of questionable propriety, to retaliation from a man who
thoroughly knew their records. At this point we have the testimony of
an eye-witness:

"Then uprose that bald, gray old man of seventy-five, his hands
tremulous with constitutional infirmity and age, upon whose
consecrated head the vials of tyrannic wrath had been outpoured.
Unexcited he raised his voice, high-keyed, as was usual with him,
but clear, untremulous, and firm. Almost in a moment his
infirmities disappeared, although his shaking hand could not but

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