Part 4 out of 5
There was committed about this time, a most shocking murder, in the London
district. A farmer who had a respectable family, consisting of a wife and
several children, became so addicted to the use of spirituous liquors,
that he neglected both his family and farm so much, that his friends felt
called upon to request the distiller, who was his near neighbor, to
furnish him with no more intoxicating drink. This, so exasperated the
poor, ruined and besotted wretch, that he raved like a madman--such as he
undoubtedly was--crazed and infuriated, by the contents of the poisoned
cup of liquid damnation, held to his lips by a neighboring distiller; a
fellow-being, who for the consideration of a few shillings, could see his
neighbor made a brute and his family left in destitution and sorrow.
Perhaps, however, he did not anticipate a termination so fearful; yet that
is but a poor excuse for one who lives by the sale of rum. When a
rumseller gives that to a man, which he knows will "steal away his
brains," and make him a maniac, how can he anticipate his future conduct?
And who is responsible? Ah, who?
When Severin found he could get no more intoxicating beverage, he in his
demoniacal rage, conceived the idea of despatching his whole family, and
set about his purpose by first snatching the young babe and casting it
into the fire! When the poor wife and mother came shrieking to the rescue
of her darling infant, he with one furious blow, laid her a bleeding
corpse at his feet! Two other young children he next murdered, and left
them mingling their blood with that of their mother's, while he ran
furiously after the two older ones, who were endeavoring to escape to a
neighbor's for assistance; and overtaking, killed them both! When the
miserable wretch had completed his hellish design, he started for his
nearest neighbor, named Smith, and told him that there was a black and a
white man at his house, murdering his family, requesting him to go to
their assistance. Mrs. Smith, believing that Severin designed to murder
her husband, insisted on his calling his young men to assist him, which he
did; and on arriving at the scene of slaughter, a most horrid spectacle
was before them: five dead bodies weltering in blood, aside from that of
the innocent babe, whose little form lay roasted and charred, on the fatal
and bloody hearthstone of the drunkard! Victims all, of an intoxicated
husband and father! When the guilty man saw the mangled remains of his
household, he only increased his depravity by trying to make others
responsible for the wicked deed,--exclaiming in feigned anguish, "my dear
wife! my poor children! I was afraid they would murder you! Oh, my lost
family!" &c. Community was soon alarmed; Severin, arrested, tried,
convicted, and sentenced to suffer the extreme penalty of the law.
It is sufficient for us to say, that the evidence was clear and
conclusive, that he was the only murderer of his family; nor was it
doubted that Mrs. Smith's suspicion was correct; yet, with all the array
of positive testimony brought against him, he denied the commission of the
crime to the last moment of his life! When brought out for execution, he
was placed under the gallows, and the rope with its fatal noose adjusted
around his neck, when one of the attorneys arose, and with great
solemnity, addressed him, in the most impressive manner: "We have done,"
said he, "all in our power to save your life; but you are justly
condemned, and in a few minutes more, will enter the presence of the
All-seeing eye of Jehovah; now let me beseech you, in the name of God, to
tell the truth, before you die." Severin declared himself innocent of the
crime, for which he was about to suffer; but was consoled, he said, with
the belief that he should, in a few short moments, meet in blissful
re-union his dear, murdered wife and children in heaven, to part no more!
Prayers were read; and during the reading of the Lord's prayer, at the
words "Thy will be done," the hardened wretch was launched into eternity.
No room was left to doubt the fact, that Severin with his own hand
destroyed the life of his unhappy and abused wife, and also that of his
helpless family. Yet in one sense, may we say with the murderer, it was
not he who committed the awful and inhuman deed, but boldly and truthfully
charge it to man's bitterest foe--Rum! What but the maddening effects of
spirituous liquors, could so demoralize, so demonize a man, as to convert
the once loving husband and proud father, into a reckless fiend, a
heartless savage? Oh, Rum! earth contains not another so fell a foe!
Should any who may read these humble pages, find an effectual warning in
the unhappy end of Severin, one which shall induce them to pause in their
course, or at once and forever abandon the use of alcoholic drinks, I
shall gratefully feel that I have not written this incident in vain.
Before I left Wilberforce, the Rev. S.E. Cornish, made a visit, and
preached the Word of Life to the colony, greatly to the satisfaction and
comfort of the settlers. After distributing liberally of his abundance,
to his poor brethren, he departed for the States, attended by the prayers
and blessings of the Wilberforce colonists.
CHARACTER AND DEATH OF I. LEWIS.
I have spoken in the preceding chapter, of a visit from the Rev. S.E.
Cornish, to the colony. He had previously written me, concerning the
object of his proposed visit, which was to obtain the depositions of the
board of managers, relative to all the money received through their agents
for the colony. He was sent to Canada then, and once afterwards, for and
at the expense of A. Tappan, on business pertaining to the law-suit
instituted by I. Lewis against that gentleman, for defamation of
character. The depositions taken in the colony, with the expense of twice
sending an agent to Canada, must have made a round sum for that kind
gentleman to pay, merely for telling a truth already known!
Mr. Cornish had also been informed of my intention to leave the colony,
and that my family were already gone. He, knowing something concerning the
state of things, urged me to remain at least, until his arrival, as will
be seen by a reference to his letter in the appendix.
As I look back on those scenes of labor and trial, I find cause for
deep humiliation and gratitude to God, for His goodness and gracious
protection, over my frail life, through unseen dangers of various kinds,
and for his continued favors and unmerited blessings. Many of my fellow
men have fallen in death's cold embrace since that time, while my health
and life has been mercifully preserved.
Three of the leading characters of the Wilberforce colony are now dead.
Rev. Benjamin Paul, lies in the silent grave-yard in Wilberforce, C.W. His
brother, Rev. Nathaniel Paul, also sleeps the dreamless sleep of death,
and his dust rests in the beautiful cemetery in Albany, N.Y.
Israel Lewis has also finished his earthly career after robbing the poor
of their just dues, and persecuting those who endeavored to defend them;
after living in extravagance--"faring sumptuously every day,"--he became
reduced in circumstances; despised and dishonored, his proud spirit was at
last broken. His health gave way; when at length, unattended and alone, he
found his way to a hospital in Montreal, where he soon after died, leaving
not enough of all his gains to afford him a decent burial!
Oh, what a reward "for all his labor under the sun!" His fame, his wealth,
and his law-suits, all have perished with his memory. Poor man!
Israel Lewis was born a slave, raised on a Southern plantation, and
subjected to all the cruelties and deprivations of a bondman. His natural
abilities were above mediocrity, but having never had the advantages of an
education, or the privileges of a society calculated to cultivate and
refine his natural aspiring intellect, and to direct his indomitable will
in the acquirement of the more imperishable graces of the human heart, he
had come to manhood with a determined, selfish disposition, to accomplish
whatever gratified his vanity or administered to the wants of his animal
And may we not, with propriety here inquire, whether our common Father,
who has declared himself to be "no respecter of persons," has endowed men
with enlarged capacities for the attainment of that knowledge and wisdom,
so requisite to the elevation of character,--for the express purpose
of seeing them made beasts of burden, and their superior faculties
prostituted by the sensuality imposed by Slavery, and to be sold as
chattels, with impunity? I tell you, nay. The day when Almighty God will
avenge the work of his own hands, hasteth greatly! Were it not so, we
might rejoice in the ignorance of the poor slaves, and pray that none of
them may ever be endowed with a superior intellect to that of the brutes
they are made to resemble. Then would the proud spirit no longer chafe,
and manhood writhe in the unbroken chain; but, like the ox to the yoke or
the horse to the harness, they might submit, without a conscious violation
of their dearest and God given rights. But we were speaking of Israel
A natural energy and strength of character, he had inherited; a malicious,
selfish, and consequently a deceptive disposition, his life as a slave had
undoubtedly bestowed upon him. Intellect must have scope, and when nothing
is left within its grasp but vice, can we wonder that the slave possessing
the most talent, should generally prove the greatest villain.
Uneducated as was Lewis, his quick perception, his ungoverned passions,
and his native independence, not only made him a dangerous slave, but an
unfaithful and overbearing companion. He, however, took a wife--a slave
like himself,--whose devotedness and good sense, cannot be made manifest,
more than in her willingness to leave all that was dear to her on earth,
and flee from their birth-place, she knew not whither; but confiding in
the professed love and protection of her husband, she cheerfully followed
him to the dense forest, in search of that freedom, denied them in their
native country,--submitting herself gladly to all the hardships and
fearful anxieties of a fugitive slave. What to her were horsemen, armed
with dirk and rifle! What though the trained and inhuman blood-hound bayed
upon their track! Was not he who had sworn a life-long allegiance to her
by her side! Should he be killed or retaken, what could she desire, but to
be his companion still! Slavery even, bitter as was the cup, might contain
for her _one sweet drop_, while connubial love lighted up their rude
cabin, and sweetened their daily toil; but the additional anticipation of
LIBERTY, to their domestic happiness--oh blessed hope! How it quickened
their weary footsteps, and, with fixed eyes upon the star of the North,
they pressed forward through every difficulty, until they finally reached
Cincinnati, O. There they lived quietly, and with others, suffered the
terrors of the mob, where also he was chosen agent, to seek a more safe
and quiet home for his afflicted and outcast countrymen. The office was
accepted, and Lewis became the founder of the Wilberforce colony.
The personal appearance of Israel Lewis was prepossessing; his manner and
address easy and commanding. To those unacquainted with his private life,
his ungoverned passions, and his unprincipled, revengeful disposition, he
could appear the gentleman, the philanthropist, and the Christian.
His education was limited; yet he had managed to gather a sufficient
knowledge of the sciences to enable him to read and write, together with
quite a fund of general information; and then his shrewdness and tact
accomplished all the rest. To strangers he could appear a ripe scholar, if
left unquestioned. He was a good speaker, and once spake with eloquence
and marked effect before the Legislature, assembled in the Senate Chamber,
at Albany, N.Y.
Had the childhood of Mr. Lewis been passed under more favorable auspices;
had his intellectual faculties been so cultivated as to predominate over
his animal propensities, and his towering aspirations directed toward the
accomplishment of acts, lofty in their benevolence, noble in their
sacrifice, high in their honorable purpose, and great in their purity; I
can but believe that his powerful intellect would have achieved the fame
of a Lundy, or would have bequeathed to his brethren a memory like that of
a Clarkson. Instead, we have found him devoting his energies to the
gratification of his avarice, pride, and ambition--characteristics
directly opposed to the deportment of the humble Christian, and such as
our Heavenly Father has never promised to prosper. How truly has "the wise
man" said, "He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house; but he that
hateth gifts shall live." How strikingly has this passage been verified in
the course of Lewis! For a few paltry sums of gain, could he consent, not
alone to rob the poor, for whom it was kindly given as unto the Lord, but
to turn scornfully away from that poor, illiterate, and humble slave wife,
whom he had, in their mutual adversity, vowed to cherish in _prosperity_
as well as in all other circumstances through life. That wife, who had
borne with him the sorrows of Slavery--the humble choice of a bondman!
She, who fled with him anticipating additional happiness in a life of
freedom! Poor woman! Disappointment is of an earthly growth, yet God is
merciful; notwithstanding we have the same authority as above, for saying
that "Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord:
though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished."
In the hands of a righteous Judge we leave him, who, for the wealth that
perisheth,--who, for worldly honor and selfish gratification, could barter
his honesty and integrity, as "Esau, who sold his birth-right for a mess
To me the lesson is an impressive one, and I am thinking it would be well
for us all to examine the foundation on which we stand. If based upon the
solid and broad foundation of christianity, doing to others in all things
as we would they should do to us, sacrificing on all occasions our own
ease, and worldly honor, for the benefit of our fellow-men, and the
good of our country, then indeed, we need fear no evil; if the winds
of adversity howl about our dwelling, we shall find it will stand,
being founded on a ROCK. But if we build upon "the sands" of fame or
self-aggrandizement, and, like the towering oak, lift our insignificant
heads in proud defiance of the coming storm, we may expect that our
superstruction will fall! "And great will be the fall of it!"
MY RETURN TO ROCHESTER.
Having closed my business in Wilberforce, I prepared to leave on the
expiration of my term of office as township clerk, which was now near
at hand. Notwithstanding, I ever felt a sensation of relief and pleasure,
when I thought of returning to my old home and friends in the States, yet
as often as I look abroad over the settlement and remember all my glowing
hopes,--all my delightful anticipations of a prosperous future for those
poor, struggling colonists; when I recollected with what zeal and honest
purpose, with what sincerity and sacrifice I had prosecuted my labor among
them,--a dark shadow of disappointment would flit across my mind, however
welcome it might be. That I had firm and tried friends in the colony, I
had never the least reason to doubt, not to suppose their number less
after a five years residence with them; but our expectations had not been
realized. Our hope of settling a township, to be represented in Parliament
by one of our own people, was now forever blasted. I remembered too, that
many of the colonists had been unjustly incited against my course; but in
the retrospect my heart did not condemn me. Errors many, no doubt I had
committed; but I was grateful, when reviewing the whole ground, for a
conscience void of offence toward God and man; and I finally took my leave
of all, craving the choicest blessings of Heaven to rest upon that infant
colony and its interests.
On the nineteenth day of January, 1837, I left Wilberforce, passing
through Brantford, Hamilton, Queenston, Lewiston, and from thence
to Rochester. During my journey, I could not avoid feeling sad and
despondent, as my mind incessantly returned to the review of my mission,
upon which I could look with no other decision than that of an entire
failure. I had spent my time, wasted my substance for naught, and was now
returning to my dependant family,--that, with myself, had been stripped of
nearly every means of comfort and support.
What would my Rochester friends think of my conduct? Notwithstanding all
my despondency and evil foreboding at that time, I am now well satisfied
that my labor was not all in vain, but that some good did result from it.
As I drew near the city, a gloom like thick darkness overshadowed me: I
thought of the unfavorable transactions which had occurred between the
directors of the colony and my friends in Rochester, and fell to
wondering how they would receive me.
On the twenty-third of January, 1837, I finally re-entered the city
penniless; but as I soon found, not so friendless as my fears would have
it. Among, the first to welcome me back to my old home, was that friend
of "blessed memory," Everard Peck, who had been apprised of some of the
losses I had met and the trials I had passed through. This gentleman was
also one of the first to propose to be one of five men, who should loan me
one hundred dollars each, for five years. Through the disinterested
kindness of this worthy gentleman, I was in a few days after my arrival,
well established in a store of provisions and groceries. The five kind
gentlemen, to whom I was so deeply indebted for the loan, were: Everard
Peck, George A. Avery, Samuel D. Porter, Levi W. Sibley, and Griffith,
Brother & Co.
This noble act of generosity and kindness, on the part of my friends, to
furnish me with the means to commence business, especially when their
prospect was anything but flattering, regarding my ever being able to
refund their well-timed and gracious liberality,--affected me more deeply
than all the censure and persecution I had elsewhere received. Their frown
and displeasure, I was better prepared to meet than this considerate act
of Christian sympathy, which I am not ashamed to say melted me to tears,
and I resolved to show my appreciation of their kindness by an industry
and diligence in business hitherto unsurpassed.
E. Bardwell, then a merchant on Exchange Street, next laid me under a
lasting obligation by offering to sell me goods on credit; others
proffered assistance by promising their continual patronage, which was to
me the same as cash,--and soon the store I had opened on Main Street, was
doing an extensive business. My profits were small to be sure, and I had
a heavy rent to pay for my store and dwelling, yet I was making a
comfortable living for my family, and laying by something to reimburse the
kind friends who had helped me in the time of need, when I found that the
health of my family required more of my time and assistance than ever
before. My oldest daughter, who, I have before mentioned, having taken a
violent cold on Lake Erie, was now confined to her bed. All that could be
done to save the life of a darling child--our first born--was done; and if
we sometimes went beyond our means, it was a satisfaction to us to see her
enjoy some of the comforts of life of which my mission to Canada had
deprived her. One physician after another was employed to stay the
approach of the destroyer: some said they could cure her, if paid in
advance; to all of which I cheerfully acceded, but only to see our beloved
sink lower, and patiently pine away.
No one but a parent who has watched the rapid decline of a darling child,
and marked with a bursting heart the approaching footsteps of the spoiler,
can imagine how powerless we felt at that time. The wealth of the Indias,
had we possessed it, would have been freely given, although it would have
been unavailing, to shield that loved and gentle form from pain, and we
were obliged to look hopelessly on, while our little patient, suffering
daughter sank lower and lower every day. In vain were our parental arms
outstretched for her protection; from death we could not save her. She had
long since ceased to glide about the house, and soothe with her silvery
tones all the childish fears of the little ones. Helpless she now lay,
burning with fever, and wasting from our sight, "till soft as the dew on
the twilight descending," the cold damps of death gathered on her youthful
brow. One pleasant morning after passing a restless night, I observed her
to gaze earnestly upward, and a moment after I called her name but
received no answer.
"Her languishing head was at rest;
Its thinkings and achings were o'er;
Her quiet, immoveable breast,
Was heaved by affliction no more."
On the fifteenth day of April, 1837, she sweetly fell asleep, aged eleven
years. Sorrowfully we followed her remains to Mount Hope, where we laid
her down to rest until the resurrection morning. Death had now made its
first inroad in our family circle, and since then we have laid two other
loved ones by her side. We sorrowed, but not without hope.
My business continued to prosper, and I concluded to buy a small variety
store, containing some three or four hundred dollars worth of goods on the
corner of Main and North Streets, formerly owned by Mr. Snow, but, having
two stores on my hands, I did not make much by the trade.
The first summer after I returned to Rochester, the friends of temperance
made a fine celebration, and gave me the privilege of providing the
I considered it not only a privilege, but an honor, and felt very grateful
to the committee who conferred the favor upon me.
The celebration came off on the Fourth of July, and was indeed a splendid
affair. The multitude were addressed on the public square, by some of the
best speakers in the country. I laid in a large quantity of provisions of
every available kind, built a bower, hired waiters, and prepared seats for
five hundred to dine; but when the oration was over, and the multitude
came to the table, I found that as many more seats were wanted. We,
however, accommodated as many as we could, at one dollar each, and all
passed off well, to the great satisfaction of all concerned.
When all was over, and the friends learned that I had on hand a large
amount of cooked provision, they continued their kindness by purchasing
it, thus preventing any loss on my part.
My store on the corner of Main and North Streets, was at the head of the
market, and I was enabled to supply both of my stores with country produce
on the best possible terms. I kept two clerks at each store, and all
seemed prosperous for a time, when from some cause, which I could never
understand, my business began to fail. My family had ever lived prudently,
and I knew that was not the cause. I thought to better my circumstances by
taking a store in the Rochester House, but that proved to be a bad stand
for my business, and after one year, I removed to Buffalo Street, opposite
the Court House. I ought to say, that as soon as I found that my income
was getting less than my expenses, I went to the gentlemen who had loaned
me the five hundred dollars, and showed them the true state of my affairs,
and they kindly agreed to take fifty per cent., which I paid them.
After locating on Buffalo Street, I took in a partner, named John Lee, a
young man, active and industrious, who paid into the firm three hundred
dollars, with which we bought goods. With what I had on hand, this raised
the joint stock to about a thousand dollars, on which we were making
frequent additions, and on which we had an insurance of six hundred
dollars. Our business was now more prosperous than at any previous time,
and we began to look up with hope and confidence in our final success.
One night I returned to my home as usual, leaving Lee in the store. About
twelve o'clock, Mr. Morris awoke me with a few loud raps, and the
announcement that my store was on fire and a part of my goods in the
street! I hastened to the place, where I found, as he had said, what was
saved from the fire piled up in the street and the fire extinguished. The
building was greatly damaged and the goods they rescued were nearly
ruined. Now we were thrown out of business, and the firm was dissolved.
With the assistance of W.S. Bishop, a lawyer, we made out the amount of
damage, which was readily paid by the agent for the insurance company.
When the Fourth of July came round again, the temperance men resolved on
having another demonstration, and as before, I was requested to supply the
dinner, which I did, after the same manner as the year previous.
Having been thrown out of business by the fire, I began to examine my
pecuniary matters, and found that I was some three or four hundred
dollars in debt, which I had no means of paying. True, I had met with a
great misfortune, but I felt that to be an honest man I must meet all
obligations, whether legally bound to do so or not; yet it was beyond my
power at that time, and I finally concluded to leave the city, and try to
better my condition by some other business, or at least to clear myself
BISHOP BROWN--DEATH OF MY DAUGHTER.
I removed with my family to the village of Canandaigua, where I commenced
teaching a school for colored children, assisted by my daughter. The
school was sustained partly by the liberality of the citizens of the
village, and partly by donations from abroad. It was continued two years,
and the children made rapid progress while they were under our tuition.
Soon after I left Rochester, I visited New York city, and while there, I
joined "The African Methodist Episcopal Conference." Bishop Brown, of
Philadelphia, presided over the deliberations of that body, and appeared
to be a man of deep piety, as well as apt in business, and was a native of
one of the Carolinas. I found a pleasing acquaintance also, with Bishop
Walters of Baltimore, Md. He was small in stature; but a powerful speaker,
and discharged every duty with "an eye single to the glory of God." He has
now gone to give an account of his stewardship, and I pray that "his
mantle may fall" upon one as capable of leading our people as he. The
conference consisted of some sixty or seventy ministers of the gospel,
with these two Bishops at their head. The conference continued its session
ten days. When it was closed, Bishop Brown, with several others, started
on a visit to the West. They called at Rochester, and then passed over to
Canada, where a conference was to be holden. We arrived, after a pleasant
journey, at Hamilton, where the English government have a regiment of
black soldiers stationed. It was common, in passing through the streets of
Hamilton, to meet every few rods, a colored man in uniform, with a sword
at his side, marching about in all the military pomp allowed only to white
men in this _free republic_.
All being in readiness, Bishop Brown opened the conference under the
authority of Her Britannic Majesty, with great solemnity, which seemed
to be felt by the whole assembly. This meeting appeared to me far
more interesting than the one we had attended in New York city. The
colored people were much more numerous in Hamilton, and in far better
circumstances than in New York. It is a hard case to be poor in any large
city, but to be both poor and black, as was the condition of the majority
of our friends in New York, was indeed a terrible calamity. Every class,
no matter how worthless they might be, would be allowed to rent a house in
preference to a colored man. The consequence was, our people were crowded
back into the most unhealthy alleys, in old dilapidated tenements unfit
for human beings to dwell in, and such as could not be disposed of to any
other class of people. I am happy to say, however, that a favorable change
has taken place in New York, since the time of which I am speaking.
Capitalists have noted the good reputation of the colored people as
tenants, and have of late erected good dwellings for their accommodation.
In Hamilton there was none of that wretchedness and squalid poverty, nor
any of that drunken rowdyism so common in Eastern cities, perceivable
among the colored people.
Our conference was largely attended by all classes, both black and white,
--many of the latter invited the Bishop with his associates to their
dwellings to dine, indeed we seldom took a meal at our lodgings, so
constantly were we solicited by friends to accompany them home.
We also found many fugitive slaves in that city, many of whom were
intelligent mechanics. Some of them took us about the place, showing us
the different buildings they were engaged in erecting; quite a number
were employed in building a church which appeared to be done in a
In the meantime our meeting was progressing in a very interesting
manner, and when the closing services were commenced, the house was filled
to overflowing; still many could not be accommodated. The preaching was
solemn and impressive, and it really seemed to me that the glory of God
filled the house in which we worshipped; saints rejoiced and shouted
"glory to God, in the highest," while sinners trembled and cried out,
"what must we do to be saved from the wrath to come." There were several
hopeful conversions during the session of conference; and after its close
we spent one day in making social calls, and viewing the city and its
Burlington Bay makes an excellent harbor for shipping, while Burlington
Heights loom up on the north in all their wild and terrific grandeur. Near
the bay resides Mr. McNab, so notorious in the history of the Canadian
revolution. We went in a large company to look at his beautiful grounds
and residence, over which we were politely conducted by his amiable lady.
It was indeed a lordly mansion, with its surroundings laid out in the
English style of princely magnificence.
On our return to the city at evening, we were invited to attend a grand
soiree, got up in honor of the Bishop's first visit to that place. Several
families of colored people combined to provide the splendid entertainment,
while one lady presided at the board. She was very beautiful and very
dark; but a complete model of grace and elegance, conversing with perfect
ease and intelligence with all, both black and white ministers, who
surrounded the festive board, as well as our Irish friends, not a few of
whom were present. One honest son of the Emerald Isle entered, and not
understanding the matter, inquired of his brother "Pat," in rather a loud
whisper, "What's all them nagurs setting to that table for?" He, however,
soon satisfied himself, and all passed off quietly and in excellent order.
At a late hour the company, after a benediction, withdrew and dispersed.
We left Hamilton the following morning, feeling grateful and pleased with
our meeting and visit.
It was a beautiful morning; the lake was still, no sound was heard but the
rushing waves, as our boat moved on through its placid waters, toward our
destination, then called Fort George, now Niagara, where we took stage for
At that place of resort, we stopped to view the stupendous work of
Almighty God, and listen to the ceaseless thundering of the cataract. How
tame appear the works of art, and how insignificant the bearing of proud,
puny man, compared with the awful grandeur of that natural curiosity. Yet
there, the rich from all parts of the world, do congregate! There you will
find the idle, swaggering slaveholder, blustering about in lordly style;
boasting of his wealth; betting and gambling; ready to fight, if his
slightest wish is not granted, and lavishing his cash on all who have the
least claim upon him. Ah, well can he afford to be liberal,--well can he
afford to spend thousands yearly at our Northern watering places; he has
plenty of human chattels at home, toiling year after year for his benefit.
The little hoe-cake he gives them, takes but a mill of the wealth with
which they fill his purse; and should his extravagance lighten it
somewhat, he has only to order his brutal overseer to sell--soul and body
--some poor creature; perchance a husband, or a wife, or a child, and
forward to him the proceeds of the sale. While the wretched slave marches
South with a gang, under the lash, he lavishes his funds in extravagant
living,--funds gathered from the tears and blood of a helpless human
being. Have you, dear reader, ever watched the slaveholder at such places
as I have, gliding through the shady groves, or riding in his splendid
carriage, dressed in the richest attire, and with no wish ungratified that
gold can purchase; and have you ever been guilty of envying him, or of
wishing yourself in his condition? If so, think of the curse which rests
on him who grinds the face of the poor. Think of his doom in the day of
final retribution, when he shall receive at the bar of a righteous Judge,
"according to the deeds done in the body," and not according to his wealth
and power. Think you, that the prayers, cries, and pleadings of the
down-trodden slave that for years have been ascending to the throne of a
just God, will never be avenged? Yea, verily, the day of reckoning hastens
on apace, and though, "He bear long with them; He will surely avenge them
of their adversaries; and that speedily!"
As we pursued our journey to Buffalo, we passed Grand Island, from whence
Mordecai Emanuel Noah, some years ago issued a proclamation, calling on
the Jews to come and build on that island the "City of Refuge," but which
I believe was not responded to, as I saw it remained in its native
wildness. He had also a monument erected there at the time, which might be
seen from the highway and canal, consisting of a white marble slab, six
feet in height, with a suitable inscription upon it, to direct the poor
Jew to the City of Refuge.
It was quite conspicuous, but not so magnificent as Gen. Brock's at
Arrived at Buffalo, we held several meetings which were very interesting.
The colored people were then numerous in that city, and owned one of the
largest churches in Western New York. We found a large and prosperous
society under the superintendence of Elder Weir, who was a good and
talented man, setting a godly example for his flock to imitate. At Buffalo
I parted with my pleasant and instructive traveling companion, Bishop
Brown, never to meet again on the shores of time. Soon after that pleasant
journey he died, and passed from his labor to reward.
Buffalo was then, as now a great place for business. Vessels from all
parts of the country crowded the docks, and I then thought that it must in
time become one of the largest cities in the Union. After a pleasant visit
with our people there, I returned to my home in Canandaigua, where I now
began to feel quite settled.
I had been requested to act as agent for the "Anti-Slavery Standard," with
which I complied, and leaving my daughter to teach the school, I spent the
most of my time in traveling through the country to advance the interests
of that paper.
When I returned from Buffalo, she was complaining of poor health, nor was
it long before we saw that she was rapidly declining.
This beloved daughter, I had spared no pains nor money to educate and
qualify for teaching. I had encountered all the trials and difficulties
that every colored man meets, in his exertions to educate his family. I
had experienced enough to make me fear that I should not always be able to
get my children, into good schools, and therefore determined at whatever
cost, to educate this child thoroughly, that she might be able, not only
to provide for her own wants, but to teach her younger brothers and
sisters, should they be deprived of the advantages of a good school.
Well had she rewarded my labor; well had she realized all my fondest hopes
and expectations,--but alas! for human foresight and worldly wisdom! The
accomplishments and qualifications of a teacher were attained; and proudly
we looked for the achievement of our long-contemplated design. How hard to
believe that the fell destroyer was upon her track! Her education had
qualified her for teaching the sciences; but now I saw, that her faith in
the religion of the blessed Christ, was assisting her to teach her own
heart a lesson of patience, and quiet submission to the will of Him who
holds the issues of life,--and Oh, how difficult for us to learn the
solemn lesson, that her wasting form, her gradual sinking away, was
hourly setting before us.
Slowly her strength failed; she, however, saw our sorrowful anxiety, and
would try to relieve it with a cheerful appearance. One day perhaps she
would be able to walk about, which would revive our wavering hope; the
next she was prostrate and suffering; then hope died and we were sad! All
the spring time she languished; the summer came, the roses bloomed, and
the grain began to ripen, but she was wasting away. The orchard yielded
its golden harvest; the birds sang merrily on the trees, but a dark shadow
had fallen on our hearthstone, and a gloom, like the pall of death, rested
on our household. Her place at table was already vacant; no longer she
called the little ones about her to hear them repeat their tasks,--all of
which admonished us, that soon the bed where we could now see her, would
be vacated; and we should no longer witness her patient smile, and know
that she was still with us. The pastor of the Baptist church often called
to pray with, and for, the quiet sufferer, which she appreciated very
highly, for she was a Christian in every sense of the word.
On the thirtieth day of August, at about eleven o'clock, A.M., without a
struggle or a groan, her spirit returned to God who gave it. "Sweetly as
babes sleep," she sank into the embrace of death. Happily, triumphantly,
had she seen the grim messenger approach; but she knew whom she had
believed, and that He was able to keep that which she had committed to
Him, unto the resurrection of the just.
She had previously made a confession of her faith in Christ, and had been
buried with Him in baptism. A few days after her demise, a long, sad train
wound its way to the village church yard, where we deposited the remains
of our beloved,--Patience Jane Steward, in the eighteenth year of her age;
and then returned to our desolate house, to realize that she had left a
world of pain and sorrow, where the fairest rose conceals a thorn, the
sweetest cup a bitter drop, for a home where the flowers would never fade,
and where pain, sorrow and death will never come. We all felt the solemn
and impressive warning, "Be ye also ready, for in such an hour as ye think
not, the Son of Man cometh."
As often as I recalled her triumphant, peaceful death, her firm reliance
on God, and sweet submission to His will, I could not forbear contrasting
her departure with that of Mrs. Helm, whose death I have elsewhere
described; and could fervently pray, that I might live the life of the
righteous, that my last end might be like hers.
"Behold the Western evening light,
It melts in deep'ning gloom;
So calmly Christians sink away,
Descending to the tomb.
The winds breathe low, the withering leaf
Scarce whispers from the tree,--
So gently flows the parting breath,
When good folks cease to be.
How beautiful on all the hills,
The crimson light is shed;
'Tis like the peace the Christian gives,
To mourners round his bed.
How mildly on the wandering cloud,
The sunset beam is cast,--
'Tis like the mem'ry left behind,
When loved ones breathe their last.
And now above the dews of night,
The yellow star appears;
So faith springs in the breast of those,
Whose eyes are bathed in tears.
But soon the morning's happier light,
Its glory shall restore;
And eyelids that are sealed in death,
Shall wake to close no more."
CELEBRATION OF THE FIRST OF AUGUST.
The anti-slavery friends in Canandaigua, had resolved to celebrate the
anniversary of the West India emancipation, in suitable manner in that
village, for which funds had been unsparingly collected, to defray the
expenses of the coming demonstration. The first of August, 1847, fell on
Sunday, and our people concluded to devote that day to religious meetings,
and the second to their proposed celebration.
Frederick Douglass and Mr. Van Loon, from Poughkeepsie, addressed the
people on the Sabbath; and also, on the same evening, a large concourse at
the Court House. The day following, there were not less than ten thousand
people assembled on the beautiful grounds, belonging to the village
Academy-attentive listeners all to the eloquent speeches delivered, and
interested spectators of the imposing exercises.
When the vast multitude had convened, the exercises were commenced by the
Rev. S.R. Ward, who addressed the throne of grace, after which, Mr.
Frederick Douglass delivered an oration, in a style of eloquence which
only Mr. Douglass himself can equal, followed by a song from the Geneva
choir, and music by Barring's band. Rev. H.H. Garnet, editor of "The
National Watchman," next spake, and with marked effect, followed by
Messrs. Ward and Douglass; after which, the assemblage formed a
procession, and marching to the Canandaigua Hotel, partook of a sumptuous
dinner, provided by the proprietor of that house. At six P.M., they again
assembled on the square, and were most eloquently addressed by both Ward
and Garnet; at the close, they repaired to the ladies' fair, where they
found everything in a condition which spake well for the enterprise and
industry of our colored sisters. Their articles for sale, were of a choice
and considerate selection, and such as sold rapidly and at fair prices.
When all was pleasantly over, the ladies contributed twenty dollars
toward paying the speakers present.
A most beautiful ode was composed by a warm and generous friend of the
cause, which was sung in the grove, in a spirit which produced a thrilling
interest. Gladly would I give the reader the whole composition, but its
length makes it objectionable for this place, but should they happen to
hear a soul-stirring and sublime ode, commencing with,
"Hail! to this day returning;
Let all to Heaven aspire," &c.,
they may know it is the one to which I refer.
It was indeed, a glorious day for the colored population generally; and
many were the indications of a diminution of that prejudice so prevalent
everywhere. Some, who had supposed the colored man so inferior to
themselves as to be incapable of making an interesting speech, were
convinced of their error, after hearing Messrs. Douglass, Ward and Garnet.
Mr. Van Loon was a white clergyman, but a brother indeed; his soul
illumined by the pure light of the gospel of peace; his heart full of
sympathy for the oppressed; his tongue pleading eloquently for equal
rights; and his hands busily engaged in breaking every yoke, resting on
the necks of poor humanity. So vigorously, so zealously did he unfold the
horrors of the slave system; so truthfully and faithfully did he expose
the treachery of northern politicians, and so pathetically did he appeal
to the humanity of every professed Christian to speak out boldly for the
dumb; to shield, by the holy principles of their religion, the poor,
bound, illiterate slave, from Southern cruelty and bondage,--that some of
our aristocratic citizens, some of our white savans, repaid his truthful
eloquence, by visiting upon him the bitterest maledictions. From the
negro, said they, we will accept these statements as true,--from him, they
are pertinent and forcible; but when such unpalatable truths are uttered
by a white clergyman, we cannot abide, nor will we listen to them!
Let consistency blush, and justice hang down its head! Is not truth the
same, whether proclaimed by black or white,--bond or free? Is a falsehood
to be pardoned because uttered by a negro? If indeed, as was admitted, the
sentiments expressed by our eloquent colored speakers, were _true_, could
they be false, when enforced by our intellectual friend, Van Loon?
Certainly not; nor would the case have been so decided by these Solons, in
any other case: or where the prejudice against color had not warped and
blinded their otherwise good judgments. Our speaker, however, performed
his duty faithfully, and with great satisfaction to the colored people and
their true friends present.
The remains of this fearless champion of liberty; this humble disciple of
the despised Nazarene, now sleeps in death, beside the placid waters
of the Hudson, while his cherished memory lives in the affections of
thousands, who "are ready to perish," and is honored by the pure in heart,
wherever his name has been known throughout the land. In the day of final
reckoning, think you, he will regret having plead the cause of the
bondman? Ah, no; nor can we doubt that to him will be rendered the
welcome plaudits: "Well done, good and faithful servant; enter thou into
the joy of thy Lord. Thou hast been faithful over a few things; I will
make thee a ruler over many things." What then are the few light
afflictions endured in this life, when compared with "an eternal weight
of glory," awarded to the faithful in that which is to come?
Pleasant, happy, and beneficial, as had been the reunion of old and tried
friends, to celebrate a glorious event, yet, like all earthly enjoyments,
it was brought to a termination, reluctant as were the friends to
separate. Since that day, many have been the demonstrations of grateful
joy and gladness on the glorious anniversary of the emancipation of slaves
on the West India Islands; and yet, in this boasted "land of the free, and
home of the brave;" this famous and declared _free_ Republic,--the
American slave still clanks his heavy chain, and wears the galling yoke
of the bondman!
For several years past, anti-slavery truth has been spreading, and in
proportion as light has shone upon the "peculiar institution," exposing to
the world its crimes and blood,--enstamping upon its frontlet, "THE SUM OF
ALL VILLAINIES,"--has the wrath of the impious slaveholder been kindled,
and his arm outstretched to strengthen the chain, and press closer the
yoke upon the helpless slave, proving conclusively that he loves darkness
because his deeds are evil. Nor is this all; he and his apologists will
insolently tell you, that _you_ are the guilty ones who have tightened the
bonds of the slave, increased his hardships, and blighted his prospect of
freedom, by your mistaken kindness, in showing the slaveholder the
enormity of his sin! Can this be so? Have we any direct influence over his
human chattels? None. Then who is it that rivets the chain and increases
the already heavy burden of the crushed slave, but he who has the power to
do with him as he wills? He it is, who has been thrust, unwillingly
perhaps, into sufficient light to show him his moral corruption, and the
character of the sin he is daily committing; he it is, whose avarice and
idleness induces to hold fast that which is to him a source of wealth,--
and by no means to allow the same light to fall in upon the darkened
intellect of his slave property, lest his riches "take to themselves
wings;" or, as may be more properly said, _take to themselves legs and run
What stronger proof can we ask in favor of our position, than the
intolerant spirit of the South? If the system and practice of Slavery is a
righteous one, instituted by an All-wise God, certainly no human power--
especially one so impotent and futile as the abolition power is said to be
--can ever overthrow it. Why then are the mails so closely examined, and
fines imposed on prohibited anti-slavery documents? Is it beyond their
power to confute the arguments adduced, or are they fearful that a ray of
Northern light may fall on the mind of some listening slave, and direct
him to the depot of an under-ground railroad? Judge ye!
What but this same fearful and intolerant spirit,--this over-bearing,
boasting spirit, was it, that cowardly attacked a Christian Senator, while
seated unsuspectingly at his desk, and felled him to the floor, bleeding
and senseless? Was not the villainous blow which fell upon the honored
head of CHARLES SUMNER, dealt by the infamous Brooks of South Carolina,
aimed at the free speech of the entire North? Was it, think you, a
personal enmity that the cowardly scoundrel had toward our worthy Northern
Senator, which induced the attack? No, no. Brooks spake for the South, and
boldly has it responded--Amen!
It has said through its representatives, that you Northerners are becoming
too bold in speaking of our sin, and we will use brute force to repel it--
an argument with which we are familiar. You have told us that we ought not
to hold slaves, nor extend slave territory, which will in a measure
destroy our slave market, and prove injurious to our slave-breeding
population. You have told us we have no right to usurp Kansas,--no right
to murder "Free State men," and no right to sustain there, a set of
"ruffians" to make Kansas a slave State. You have told us, that we have
no right to live on the unrequited toil of our slaves; nor to sell
them to the highest bidder; nor spend the proceeds of the sale in idle
extravagance. Now know, all ye Northerners, by this cowardly blow on the
devoted head of your honored and respected Senator, that we shall no
longer permit you to tell us such unpalatable truths, nor allow you the
privilege of free speech! We have too long held the balance of power in
the government to yield it now; and we give you to know, that whatever we
ask of this government, we expect to obtain; nor will we hear any of your
objections. When we desire you to turn blood-hound, and hunt for us our
fugitive slaves, we expect you to do it, and to see them returned to their
masters, without a murmur on your part. Should you object or dare refuse,
we shall certainly _cane somebody_, or else do what we have threatened for
the last quarter of a century,--"DISSOLVE THE UNION!" Bah!
My house has ever been open to the fugitive slaves; but more particularly
when I resided in Rochester, did I have occasion to see and feel the
distresses of that class of persons; and it appears to me, that the heart
must be of adamant, that can turn coldly away from the pleadings of the
poor, frightened, flying fugitive from Southern bondage.
For many years past, I have been a close and interested observer of my
race, both free and enslaved. I have observed with great pleasure, the
gradual improvement in intelligence and condition of the free colored
people of the North. In proportion as prejudice has diminished, they have
gradually advanced; nor can I believe that there is any other great
impediment in the way to a higher state of improvement. That prejudice
against color is not destroyed, we very well know. Its effects may be
seen in our down-cast, discouraged, and groveling countrymen, if no where
else. Notwithstanding the late diminution, it exists in many of our
hotels: some of them would as soon admit the dog from his kennel, at
table, as the colored man; nevertheless, he is sought as a waiter;
allowed to prepare their choicest dishes, and permitted to serve the white
man, who would sneer and scorn to eat beside him. Prejudice is found also,
in many of our schools,--even in those to which colored children are
admitted; there is so much distinction made by prejudice, that the poor,
timid colored children might about as well stay at home, as go to a school
where they feel that they are looked upon as inferior, however much they
may try to excel.
Nor is that hateful prejudice--so injurious to the soul, and all the best
interests of the negro--excluded from the professed church of Christ. Oh,
no; we often find it in the house of worship, in all its cruel rigor.
Where people assemble to worship a pure and holy God, who can look upon no
sin with allowance--the creator of all, both white and black,--and where
people professing to walk in the footsteps of the meek and quiet Jesus,
who has taught us to esteem others better than ourselves; we often see the
lip of some professed saint, curled in scorn at a dusky face, or a scowl
of disapprobation if a colored person sits elsewhere than by the door or
on the stairs. How long, O Lord, must these things be!
Of my enslaved brethren, nothing so gratifies me, as to hear of their
escape from bondage; and since the passage of that iniquitous "Fugitive
Slave Bill," I have watched with renewed interest the movements of the
fugitives, not only from Slavery direct, but those who have been compelled
to flee from the nominally free States, and ask the protection of a
monarchial government, to save them from their owners in a land of boasted
The knowledge I have of the colored men in Canada, their strength and
condition, would cause me to tremble for these United States, should a war
ever ensue between the English and American governments, which I pray may
never occur. These fugitives may be thought to be a class of poor,
thriftless, illiterate creatures, like the Southern slaves, but it is not
so. They are no longer slaves; many of whom have been many years free men,
and a large number were never slaves. They are a hardy, robust class of
men; very many of them, men of superior intellect; and men who feel deeply
the wrongs they have endured. Driven as they have been from their native
land; unprotected by the government under which they were born, and would
gladly have died,--they would in all probability, in case of a rupture,
take up arms in defense of the government which has protected them and the
country of their adoption. England could this day, very readily collect a
regiment of stalwart colored men, who, having felt the oppression of our
laws, would fight with a will not inferior to that which actuated our
And what inducement, I ask, have colored men to defend with their lives
the United States in any case; and what is there to incite them to deeds
Wherever men are called upon to take up arms in defense of a country,
there is always a consciousness of approaching wrong and oppression, which
arouses their patriotism and incites to deeds of daring. They look abroad
over fields of their own cultivation; they behold too, churches, schools,
and various institutions, provided by their labor, for generations yet to
come; they see their homes, their cherished hearthstone, about to be
desecrated, and their wives and little ones, with their aged sires,
exposed to the oppression of a ruthless foe. Then, with what cheerful
and thrilling enthusiasm, steps forward the husband, the father, the
brother, and bares his bosom to the sword,--his head to the storm of the
battle-field, in defence of his country's freedom, and the God-given
rights of himself and family! But what sees the oppressed negro? He sees a
proud and haughty nation, whose Congressmen yearly meet to plot his ruin
and perpetuate his bondage! He beholds, it is true, a few Christ-like
champions, who rise up with bleeding hearts to defend his cause; but while
his eye kindles with grateful emotion, he sees the bludgeon of the South--
already reeking in the blood of freemen--raised and ready to fall with
murderous intent upon the head of any one, who, like the illustrious
Sumner, dare open his mouth in defence of Freedom, or speak of the wrongs
of the poor negro, and the sins of the Southern autocrat!
What inducement then, has the slave to shoulder his musket, when the
American drum beats the call, "To Arms! To Arms!" Does he not remember
that the wife of his bosom; the children,--"bone of his bone, and flesh of
his flesh,"--and the rude hearth-stone they for a time are allowed to
surround, belong not to himself, but to the tyrannical master, who claims
dominion over all he possesses. As his property then, let the slave owner
go forth in defence of his own, and lay down his life if he please; but
the poor slave has no home, no family to protect; no country to defend;
nor does he care to assist in sustaining a government that instead of
offering him protection, drives him from the soil which has been
cultivated by his own labor,--to beg at the hand of England's Queen,
"life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
Humiliating as it is for an American citizen to name these things, they
are nevertheless true; and I would to God that America would arise in her
native majesty, and divest herself of the foul stain, which Slavery has
cast upon her otherwise pure drapery! Then would she be no longer a
hissing and by-word among the nations; but indeed what she professes to
be, "the land of the free, and the home of the brave;" an asylum for the
oppressed of every clime.
But should the monarchial government of England call for the services of
the colored man, freely would his heart's blood be poured out in her
defence,--not because he has a particular preference for that form of
government; not because he has ceased to love his native country,--but
because she has acknowledged his manhood, and given him a home to defend.
Beneath the floating banner of the British Lion, he finds inducements to
lay down his life, if need be, in defence of his own broad acres, his
family and fireside,--all of which were denied him under the Stars and
Stripes of his fatherland. But a short time ago, the colored men of
Cincinnati, O., were promptly denied the privilege they had solicited, to
join with other citizens, in celebrating the anniversary of WASHINGTON'S
Birth Day! Oh, no; there must be no colored man in the company, met to
honor him who still lives in the heart of every American citizen,--"the
father of his country,"--and yet, who scorned not to sleep beside his
faithful negro! Nor did the nephew of the illustrious General, despise the
command of the black regiment, which Gen. Jackson so proudly commended for
their bravery, and bestowed upon it his personal thanks, for their
services on the field of battle.
Do the Northern or Free States of the Union think to clear their skirts of
the abomination of Slavery, by saying that they own no slaves? Very true.
But is the poor, flying fugitive from the house of bondage, safe one
moment within your borders? Will he be welcomed to your homes, your
tables, your firesides? Will your clergymen bid you clothe and feed him,
or give him a cup of cold water, in the name of a disciple of that holy
Christ, who has said,--"inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least
of these little ones, ye have done it unto me?"--Or will your own
miserable Fugitive Slave Law, close the mouth of your clergy; crush down
the rising benevolence of your heart; and convert you into a human
blood-hound, to hunt down the panting fugitive, and return him to the
hell of Slavery? Oh, my God!--the fact is too horrible to acknowledge,
and yet it is a stubborn one. Not on one foot of land under the broad
folds of Columbia's banner, can the slave say, "I am free!" Hungry, naked,
and forlorn, he must flee onward; nor stop short of the outstretched arms
of an English Queen. Yet, thanks be to our Heavenly Father, that all have
not bowed the knee to the Southern autocrat or slave power. A few noble
souls, thank God, remain, who, in defiance of iniquitous laws, throw open
wide their doors to the trembling, fleeing bondman, whose purses are
freely emptied to supply his wants, and help him on in his flight to the
British dominion. But can these out-gushings of a benevolent heart--the
purest impulses of a noble nature--be permitted to flow out spontaneously,
in open daylight? Alas, no! You must be quiet; make no noise, lest an
United States' Marshal wrest from you the object of your Christian
sympathy, and impose on you a heavy fine, for your daring to do to another
as you would he should do to you.
Is not the necessity of an "_under ground railroad_," a disgrace to the
laws of any country? Certainly it is; yet I thank God, that it does afford
a means of escape to many, and I pray that the blessings of Heaven may
ever rest upon those who willingly superintend its interests. Oh, my
country! When will thy laws, just and equal, supersede this humiliating
Is my reader about to throw the blame of our nation's wrong on England,
and accuse her of first tolerating Slavery? We admit it; but did she not
repent of the evil she had done, and speedily break every yoke, and let
the oppressed go free? Certainly; no slave now breathes in England's
atmosphere. But, say you, her white poor are slaves to the aristocracy,
from which sentiment I beg leave to differ. Oppressed they may be, and
doubtless are, as the poor are apt to be in any and every country; but
they are not sold in the market, to the highest bidder, like beasts of
burden, as are the American slaves. No Englishman, however poor,
destitute, or degraded he may be, but owns himself, his wife and children;
nor does he fear that they be sold and torn from his embrace, while he is
laboring for their support. Poverty, my friend, does not comprise the
bitterness of Slavery, no more than "one swallow makes a summer,"--nor
does it consist solely in ignorance and degradation. Its bitterness arises
from a consciousness of wrong; a sense of the violation of every right God
has given to man, and the uncertainty of his future, over which he has no
If the American people flatter themselves with the idea of getting rid of
the hated negro race, by colonizing them on the sickly soil of Liberia,
or any other country, they will surely find themselves mistaken. They
are Americans; allied to this country by birth and by misfortune; and here
will they remain,--not always as now, oppressed and degraded,--for all who
have any interest in the matter, well know that the free colored people,
are rapidly advancing in intelligence, and improving their condition in
every respect. Men of learning and genius, are now found among those with
fleecy locks, and good mechanics with dusky complexion.
This marked improvement in the condition and rapid advancement in
intelligence among our people, seems to have alarmed the colonizationists,
and made them fearful that those very down-trodden slaves, who have for
years labored for nought; whose blood and tears have fertilized the
Southern soil, may, perchance, become their equals in intelligence, and
take vengeance on their oppressors for the wrongs done them; and lest
they should do so, they would gladly remove them to some far-off country.
Yet here, in North America, will the colored race remain, and ere long in
my opinion, become a great people, equal with the proud Anglo-Saxon in all
things. The African has once been a powerful nation, before Christian
Englishmen invaded her coasts with rum, and incited her chiefs to war, by
purchasing with gaudy, but worthless trinkets, her conquered captives; and
we have every reason to believe, that though her glory as a nation has
departed, that her sons will yet be acknowledged free men by the white
population of this country.
There have been black generals in the world before Napoleon was born, and
there may be again; and to-day, notwithstanding all the prejudice against
color, that everywhere exists in this guilty nation, there are men of
talent among us, inferior to none on the earth; nor are their numbers few,
though rapidly increasing.
Well may the South arouse herself, form societies, replenish its treasury
with a tax imposed on the free colored people, to defray the expense of
sending manumitted slaves to Liberia!
Listen a moment to the cant of the colonizationist. Hear him talk of the
duty he owes to Africa, and how happy, how intelligent, how prosperous
everything is in Liberia. But when that delightful country asks to be
taken into fellowship with the United States, and to have her independence
recognized--ah, then he lifts his hands in horror and begs to be excused
from so close a relation.
This is all cant, in my humble opinion; and when I see men so anxious to
send the negro out of their sight, I feel quite certain that they are
conscious of having deeply wronged him, and think to remove him, to atone
for their guilty consciences. Would they refuse to acknowledge the
independence of Liberia, if their interest in the colored people was
genuine, especially when several other nations had done so? Oh, no. But
that is not "_the rub_." How could one of our lordly nabobs of the South,
sit in Congress with perhaps one of his own manumitted slaves as a
representative from Liberia or Hayti! He would die of mortification. Very
well then; but let him talk no more of sending colored men to that country
to make them free men.
The colored people generally, I am happy to say, have a right conception
of the colonization plan, and will never be induced to go to Africa,
unless they go as missionaries to the heathen tribes, who certainly
should have the gospel preached to them. Some, from a sense of duty, may
go as teachers,--which is all well enough,--but certain it is, that no
amount of prejudice or abuse, will ever induce the colored race to leave
this country. Long have they been oppressed; but they are rising-coming
up to an elevated standard, and are fast gathering strength and courage,
for the great and coming conflict with their haughty oppressors.
That there must be ere long, a sharp contest between the friends of
Freedom and the Southern oligarchy, I can no longer doubt.
When our worthy ministers of the gospel, are sent back to us from the
South, clothed with a coat of tar and feathers; when our best and most
sacrificing philanthropists are thrown into Southern dungeons; when our
laboring men are shot down by haughty and idle Southern aristocrats, in
the hotels of their employers, and under the very eye of Congress; when
the press is muzzled, and every editor, who has the manliness to speak
in defence of Freedom, and the wickedness of the slaveholder, is caned or
otherwise insulted by some insignificant Southern bully; and when at last,
our Mr. SUMNER is attacked from behind, by a Southern, cowardly scoundrel,
and felled senseless on the floor of the Senate chamber, for his defence
of Liberty,--then, indeed, may Northern men look about them! Well may they
be aroused by the insolence and tyranny of the South!
And for what _is_ all this? Do not our Southern men know, that if light
and truth are permitted to reach the minds of the people, that Kansas will
be lost to them as slave territory, wherein the Southern slave-breeder can
dispose of his own flesh to the highest bidder! Hear them talk as they do,
in their pious moments, with upturned faces, in solemn mockery, of
returning the negro to his _native_ Africa! How many pure Africans, think
you, can be found in the whole slave population of the South, to say
nothing of their nativity? Native Africa, indeed! Who does not know, that
in three-fourths of the colored race, there runs the blood of the white
master,--the breeder of his own chattels! Think you, that a righteous God
will fail to judge a nation for such flagrant sins? Nay, verily. If the
All-wise God, who has created of one blood all nations of the earth, has
designed their blood to commingle until that of the African is absorbed in
that of the European,--then is it right, and amalgamation of all the
different races should be universally practiced and approved. If it be
right for the Southern slaveholder, to cruelly enforce the mixture of the
races, to gratify his lust, and swell the enormity of his gains, certainly
it cannot be wrong to amalgamate from choice and affection. Let us ask
then, why did our Omnipotent Creator make the marked distinction?
Certainly not for the purpose that one race might enslave and triumph
over another; but evidently, that each in his own proper sphere might
glorify God, to whom their respective bodies and spirits belong. Why,
indeed, was the black man created, if not to fulfil his destiny _as a
negro_, to the glory of God?
Suffer me then to exhort you, my countrymen, to cease looking to the white
man for example and imitation. Stand boldly up in your own national
characteristics, and show by your perseverance and industry, your honor
and purity, that you are men, colored men, but of no inferior quality. The
greatest lack I see among you, is unity of action, pardonable, to be sure,
in the eyes of those who have seen your oppression and limited advantages;
but now that many of you have resolved to gain your rights or die in
the struggle, let me entreat you to band yourselves together in one
indissoluble bond of brotherhood, to stand shoulder to shoulder in the
coming conflict, and let every blow of yours tell for Freedom and the
elevation of your race throughout the land. Speak boldly out, for the dumb
and enslaved of your unfortunate countrymen, regardless of the frowns and
sneers of the haughty tyrants, who may dare lift their puny arm, to
frustrate the design of the Almighty, in preserving you an unmixed and
powerful race on the earth.
While I would not that you depend on any human agency, save your own
unyielding exertion, in the elevation of our race; still, I would not have
you unmindful of, nor ungrateful for, the noble exertions of those kind
white friends, who have plead the cause of the bondman, and have done all
in their power to aid you, for which, may the God of the oppressed
abundantly bless them.
Let your attention be given to the careful training and education of the
rising generation, that they may be useful, and justly command the respect
of their fellow-men. Labor for a competency, but give not your whole
attention to amassing the wealth that perishes; but seek to lay up for
yourselves "treasures where moth doth not corrupt, nor thieves break
through and steal."
Suppose not, my brethren, that your task is a light one, or one that can
be performed without years of patient toil and unyielding perseverance.
Our oppressors are not very ready to credit our exertion,--too often
forgetting the effects of our long degradation, and vainly expecting to
see us arise at once, to the highest standard of elevation, able to cope
successfully with those who have known no such discouragements or
disadvantages, as has been our lot to bear.
These and many other obstacles must be bravely met, and assiduously
removed,--remembering that Slavery has robbed some of us, and prejudice
many others, of that perseverance so necessary to the accomplishment of
any enterprize; but in the elevation of ourselves and race, let us never
falter and grow weary, until we have reached the elevated station God
designed us to occupy, and have fitted the rising generation to fill and
improve it after our earthly course is finished and we leave to them the
stage of action.
Allow me, however, to entreat, that no success which may attend your
determined efforts; no position which you may attain,--may ever so occupy
your mind, as to cause you to forget for one moment, the afflictions of
your countrymen, or to cease to remember the groaning millions in bonds,
until every slave shall triumphantly chant the song of deliverance from
Slavery's dark prison house.
Bear with me, my dear brethren, while I claim a friend's license, to say,
that I would not that you place implicit confidence in any of the
political organizations of the present time; but remember that the
majority of those parties are diligently laboring for their own interest.
Look you then to yours; are you less capable of securing your rights than
they? Never was there a time when indolence and supineness among us, would
be so unpardonable as now, nor when so much depended on our active and
Let us not forget, that in the past, we could and did truthfully complain,
that we had no helper,--bound and crushed beneath an overwhelming weight
of prejudice and ignorance, we lay helpless at the feet of our political
spoilers. A favorable change has since been effected in the public
sentiment; and now that we see thousands who are willing to aid us, and
as many more who will not hinder our labor,--shall we fold our hands in
idleness?--or shall we renew our energies, in the cause of freedom and of
our own advancement? Although we may not implicitly rely upon the
political exertion of others, let us not fear to co-operate with the
friends of liberty everywhere, as far as a good conscience will permit,
and our limited privileges will allow, by our determined zeal for the
right, make our influence felt in the nation. See what wrong and
oppression our white brethren have met in Kansas, from the slave power;
and let their noble deeds of patriotism; their liberal sacrifices for
freedom, be not only our example, but an incentive to do our duty. Have
they more at stake in that mighty struggle than we, that they should leave
their homes of refinement and comfort, take their lives in their hands and
bravely contend for their rights, surrounded by scenes of blood and
carnage? Certainly not. No people on the earth can have greater incentives
to arouse them to action, than the colored people of this country now
have; I trust therefore, that our future independence and prosperity, will
suffer nothing from the inactivity of our race.
Some may entertain the belief that the African slave trade is entirely
abandoned. I think not. Often are seen strange, suspicious looking
vessels, lying along the African coast, for no other purpose than that
of kidnapping the poor, ignorant natives. Stealthily the slave-trader
lands his wicked crew, in the vicinity of some negro village or cluster of
huts, and when a favorable opportunity occurs, he and his men rush upon
the frightened African, burn their huts, and amid the shrieks of the
captives, and the groans of the helpless and aged, who have been trampled
down in their rude haste to secure the young and able-bodied natives, bear
them to the vessel, where they are stowed away in the hold of the ship,
which bears them to Christian (?) America, where they are sold as slaves.
Some years ago, a woman engaged in washing clothes, near the sea coast,
had a lad with her to take care of her two younger children--one a young
babe--while she was at work. They wandered away a short distance, and
while amusing themselves under some bushes, four men, to them strange
looking creatures, with white faces, surrounded them; and when the lad
attempted to run away, they threw the infant he held in his arms, on the
ground, and seizing the other two children, bore them screaming with fear,
to the ship. Frantic and inconsolable, they were borne to the American
slave market, where they were sold to a Virginia planter, for whom they
labored sorrowfully and in tears, until old age deprived them of farther
exertion, when they were turned out, like an old horse, to die; and did
die destitute and uncared for, in their aged infirmity, after a long life
of unrequited toil. That lad, stolen from Africa's coast, was my
It is not, however, necessary for us to look beyond our own country, to
find all the horrors of the slave traffic! A tour through the Southern
States will prove sufficient to satisfy any one of that fact; nor will
they travel over one of them, before--if they have a heart of flesh--they
will feel oppressed by the cruel outrage, daily inflicted on their
fellow-beings. The tourist need not turn aside to seek evidences: he will
very readily observe the red flag of the auctioneer floating over the
slave pen, on which he may read in large letters, waving in the pure
air of heaven, "SLAVES, HORSES, AND OTHER CATTLE, _in lots to suit
purchasers!_" He may halt a moment, and look at the multitude, collecting
under the folds of that infamous banner, where will be found a few
gentlemanly appearing slave holding planters, superbly mounted, and
perhaps with their servants in waiting; but the larger number he will find
to be drunken, coarse, brutal looking men, swaggering about in the
capacity of slave-traders.
Let him enter the low, dingy, filthy building, occupied by human
merchandize, and he will there behold husbands and wives, parents and
children, about to be sold, and perhaps separated forever! See the trader,
as he examines with inhuman indifference the bones and sinews, the teeth
and joints of the _articles_ on hand, even of females, and hear him make
inquiries concerning her capabilities, that would make a savage blush! And
see the miserable woman lift her red and swollen eyes to the face of the
heartless trader, and the next moment cast a despairing glance over the
motley crowd, in search of a compassionate look--a pitying eye. Should she
see one countenance wearing a kind, humane expression, it will most likely
bring her frantically to his feet, where, kneeling, with uplifted hands,
she pleads: "Oh, Massa, do buy me! Do buy me and little Sam! He be all of
the chil'ens I got left! O, Lord! O, Lord! Do, Massa, buy me, and this one
baby! Oh, do Massa!" But the weight of the cow-hide drives her to the
auction block, where in mock solemnity she is represented as "an article
of excellent breed, a good cook, a good seamstress, and withal a good
Christian, a ra'al genewine lamb of the flock!"--and then she is struck
off to the highest bidder, who declares that he "won't have the young'un
any how, 'cause he's gwine to drive her down to Lousianny."
He may see, too, the wild, despairing look of some frightened young slave
girl, passing under the lustful gaze of some lordly libertine, who
declares himself "in search of a fancy article for his own use!"
One after another is taken from the block, until all are disposed of, amid
the agonized wail of heartbroken wives and mothers, husbands and fathers,
and the piercing screams of helpless children, torn from a parent's
embrace, to be consigned to the care of strangers.
Nor need I inform our traveler of the inhuman method generally approved,
in hunting with trained blood-hounds, kept and advertised for the purpose
of recapturing any poor slave who may attempt to escape from this cruel
bondage. He may perchance, come across the mangled and lifeless body of
some fugitive, which has just been run down and torn in pieces by the dogs
of the hunter! Should he stop a few moments, he will soon see a hole dug
in the ground, and the remains of the slave pitched into it, covered
sufficiently to hide the unsightly mass from view, and there will be an
end of the whole matter! "Shall I not visit for these things? saith the
Lord; and shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?"
In giving to the public this unvarnished, but truthful narrative, of some
of the occurrences of my humble and uneventful life, I have not been
influenced by a vain desire for notoriety, but by a willingness to gratify
a just and honorable request, repeatedly made by numerous and respected
friends, to learn the truth concerning my connection with the Wilberforce
colony; the events which there transpired during my stay, and the cause of
my losing a hard-earned property. Regarding the affairs of the colony, I
have, therefore, endeavored to be particular,--believing that duty to
myself and brethren, required me to give them the within information; but
nothing have I set down in malice. Much more might have been said relative
to some of the leading characters in that settlement, had I not been
fearful of its assuming the character of a personal enmity or retaliation.
He who knows and will judge the actions of men, will bear me witness, that
I have cherished no such feelings toward any of those who then lived, but
now sleep in death.
In justification, however, of my statements regarding the character of Mr.
Lewis, I will call the attention of the reader to some of the many letters
received from good and eminent men, to show that I was not alone in the
low estimate of his virtues. Gladly I leave that unpleasant subject,
hoping that nothing in our past history will serve to becloud the bright
future beginning to dawn on the prospects of our disfranchised and
LETTER FROM A. STEWARD TO WM. L. GARRISON.
Dear Sir:--In a recent examination of the business transactions between
the Board of Managers of the Wilberforce Colony, and their agent Rev. N.
Paul, I find a charge made by him, and allowed by the board, of the sum of
two hundred dollars, which he paid to yourself. Finding no receipt or
acknowledgment from you, I write to ask you to favor me with one, or an
explanation of the facts in the case, either of which will greatly oblige
me, as I design to make it public. Truly Yours, &c.,
Canandaigua, N.Y., May, 1856.
* * * * *
MR. GARRISON'S REPLY TO A. STEWARD.
You state that Rev. N. Paul, as agent for the Wilberforce Settlement,
U.C., in rendering his accounts on his return from England, charged the
Board of Managers with the sum of two hundred dollars, paid by him to me
while in England; that said sum was allowed by the board; adding that you
do not recollect of my acknowledging or giving credit to the Settlement
In reply, I can only assure you that there must be a mistake in regard to
this item. I borrowed no money, nor had I any occasion to ask a loan of my
friend Paul, my expenses being defrayed by funds contributed by friends in
this country; nor could I with propriety receive, nor he give me any part
of the money contributed for the benefit of the Wilberforce Settlement;
hence, a loan or gift from him, could have been nothing more than a
personal matter between ourselves. Moreover, had he at that time or
any other, given me in good faith the sum named as belonging to the
Settlement, (believing that as we were laboring together, for the interest
of one common cause, the board would not hesitate to allow it,) he would
certainly have demanded a receipt, which it would have pleased me to give,
of course, that he might satisfy the board that their liberality had been
disbursed according to their wishes, or his judgment. But receiving no
money from your agent, will be a sufficient reason for not acknowledging
it, or giving due credit to the Settlement.
I can account for this charge on his part, in no way, except that as he
was with me a part of the time I was in London, and we traveled together
a part of the time, during which, he ably and effectively assisted me in
exposing that most iniquitous combination, "The American Colonization
Society,"--he charged to me, (that is, to my mission) sundry items of
expense which he undoubtedly believed justly incurred by his helping me
to open the eyes of British philanthropists to the real design of that
society; and I shall ever remember with gratitude, his heartiness and zeal
in the cause and in my behalf. I owe much to the success that so signally
crowned my mission, to his presence, testimony, and eloquent denunciation
of the colonization scheme. I, however, received no money from him, and
can but think that the above explanation was the occasion of his making
the charge, and which I trust will leave on his memory, no intentional
[final word missing from text].
* * * * *
FROM MR. BAKER TO A. STEWARD.
MR. A. STEWARD,
Dear Sir:--Israel Lewis, the former agent of your Settlement, last spring
represented to me the suffering condition of your poor, and requested that
I should forward some goods, for which I should be paid; I did so,
and sent goods to the amount of one hundred thirty-six dollars and
ninety-eight cents. The goods were sold at cost.
I am also endorsed on a note for two hundred thirteen dollars and ten
cents, which falls due 24th of this month, and which I shall have to pay.
This note was given by Lewis for the purpose of raising money to fit out
Mr. Paul, on his mission to England. I was promised that the money should
be here to meet it.
I have heard nothing from Lewis or this business since, and as I
understand you are the agent, I must look to you to make provision to meet
the note, and pay for the goods. Good faith requires that all contracts by
your agency be fulfilled.
New York City, Dec., 1833.
* * * * *
FROM MR. L.A. SPALDING TO A. STEWARD
In August last, Israel Lewis, accompanied by Rev. Nathaniel Paul called
upon me and exhibited a power of attorney, signed by you as president of
the trustees of the colony, authorizing Lewis to take loans, &c., for the
benefit of the colony.
Feeling a deep interest in the progress of the colony, I agreed to become
security with E. Peck, at the Bank of Rochester, for the payment of seven
hundred dollars, which soon was raised by Lewis on the note, for the
benefit of the colony. I was in hopes to have seen you. E. Peck and
myself, both are willing to aid you in your noble enterprise,--and may
others feel the same disposition. But as we have families and friends, who
look to us for support and protection, it is proper that we should have
your personal pledge to save us from embarrassment.
We know your character _well_, and we have also great confidence in Israel
Lewis, and the others engaged with you,--but none of them are so
thoroughly known to us as yourself.
Our asking for your personal pledge, does not arise from any fears that
the note will not be paid; but as it was signed to aid you, we think it
proper that you should respond by guaranteeing that we shall not be
I accordingly copy the note in question, and write a guarantee which I
wish you to sign and hand to my brother.
I feel much anxiety in regard to your progress; in your forming schools;
religious and temperance societies; and in your taking every measure to
elevate the unfortunate colored man who may go to your colony for
protection and improvement.
Very Respectfully Yours,
LYMAN A. SPALDING.
Lockport, N.Y. 1831.
* * * * *
FROM THE CONVENTIONAL BOARD, PHILADELPHIA, PA., TO A. STEWARD.
MR. AUSTIN STEWARD, Wilberforce, U.C.,
Esteemed Friend:--I am charged by the conventional board, to inform you
that at the last session of the general convention, you was duly elected
their _General Corresponding Agent_, for the Wilberforce Settlement and
parts adjacent. Respectfully and in an official capacity, would I ask you
to accept the appointment.
And in pursuance of the said appointment, the board would be happy to have
at least a monthly correspondence from you, on all such matters as may, in
your opinion, be thought conducive to the prosperity of the settlement,
the elevation and future happiness of the free people of color.
In particular, we would wish you to give as accurate an account as
possible, of the number of settlers; the number of acres as purchased; at
what price; what number are improved and under culture; what number of
houses or tenements are in the Settlement, &c., &c.
What are your present prospects in regard to crops; your political
advantages or disadvantages.
We would also respectfully ask you to inform us, what number of settlers
might emigrate there each year, without injuring the Settlement. Also,
what kind of machines you most need; also, what are the terms for which
laborers are contracted for and how paid.
The board have been thus particular, because they rely with full
confidence on your _patriotism_ and capability, which have been
unanimously assigned to you.
You will perceive our object is, to contribute, as far as lays in our
power, pecuniary_ aid, and assist in securing you such _agricultural_ and
_mechanical_ emigrants as, in your opinion, the Settlement may need; and
in all our recommendations to you, we shall endeavor to have an eye to
character, knowing full well that by that alone you must _stand_ or
We have been informed here by a letter (purporting to be written by a Mr.
Stover), that the Canada Company actually refuses to sell land to colored
persons; and that they are anxious to buy out the colored settlers at
Be pleased to inform me if that be a fact, with its particulars; and if
there be any disadvantages in purchasing land by colored emigrants.
The board would be happy to know if you have had any news from your agent
in England. If any, what are his prospects?
You will please be particular and candid in stating your wants (as well as
disadvantages) to us, as we will do our utmost to satisfy them, as well
as promote the happiness of the settlers, and the prosperity of the
Be pleased to answer as soon as possible, for we as brothers in common,
feel deeply interested.
With sentiments of sincere friendship,
I remain, yours,
JUNIUS C. MORRELL.
A true copy from the record.
* * * * *
RESOLUTIONS PASSED BY THE BOARD OF MANAGERS OF THE WILBERFORCE COLONY.
At a meeting of the Board of Managers, held September 30th, 1831, to call
the Agents to an account:
Resolved, That the Report of N. Paul be accepted, and unanimously agreed
At a meeting of the Board of Directors, all the members present, March
Resolved, That we disapprove of the conduct of Israel Lewis, in his being
absent so long, and also his not communicating with the Board of
Directors, and not informing them from time to time, how he is prosecuting
Resolved, That the chairman of this board be instructed to write to said
Lewis, to return home, and lay before this board his doings.
At a meeting of the Board, held April 1st, 1832, all the members and
Israel Lewis present with them, he made the following Report, and resigned
his office as agent, which was accepted:
Lewis said that seven hundred dollars was all that he had collected. That
he paid one hundred and fifty dollars for board in New York, thirty-five
dollars for clothes, and two hundred dollars to N. Paul, as an out-fit for
* * * * *
THE BOARD OF MANAGERS FOR THE COLONY,
_To the Christians and Philanthropists in the United States:_
We, the undersigned inhabitants and Board of Managers for the Colony of
Wilberforce, beg leave to state that the frost cut off the crops in this
part of the country last year, and some of the colonists are in great
need of assistance. And we flatter ourselves that when the peculiar
circumstances of this infant Settlement are duly considered, this appeal,
to a generous and discriminating public, will not be made in vain.
The board are sensible from the cause above stated, that the inhabitants
of Wilberforce will be _compelled_ to ask _aid_ from the friends of
humanity in the States, or they must _suffer_.
Under these circumstances they commissioned the Rev. James Sharp, as
their agent, and sent him to the States; but owing to the opposition of
Israel Lewis,--who had been formerly employed as agent, but was removed
from the agency--his labors were almost wholly lost to the board.
We would simply say, that Lewis was acting for a _certain_ company here;
but we have made inquiries, and find but _one man_ in Wilberforce that
belongs to said company, and he is an old man, in his dotage. That man is
_Simon Wyatt_. We might say _more_, but we think there has been enough
written to satisfy the public.
In consequence of the unfaithfulness of Israel Lewis, and the numerous
agents that may be looking around the country after him, the board have
come to the conclusion to dispense with a traveling agent for the present.
And we would humbly request Lyman A. Spalding, Esq., of Lockport; E. Peck,
Esq., of Rochester; Rev. Dr. Budd, of Auburn; Charles Davis, Esq., of
Ludlowville, Tompkins County, N.Y.; Arthur Tappan, Esq., city of New
York; to act as receivers for the Colony. The above named gentlemen, will
see that the funds which they may receive, be faithfully applied according
to the wishes of the donors.
All money placed in each of the banks at Rochester and a duplicate sent on
to the Colony, may be cashed here without any discount.
To Christians we appeal: by the brotherhood of Christ, and by their own
hopes of being united in him, to extend to us the means of obtaining
bread; give us, in the name of Jesus, of your abundance; give us, as God
has blessed you, for the poor among us want bread and clothing.
It is to be hoped that every clergyman in the States, will lay this
circular before their respective congregations, and give every person an
opportunity to throw in their mite into the treasury of the Lord!
AUSTIN STEWARD, _Pres't_
JOSEPH TAYLOR, _Sec'y._
* * * * *
FROM REV. J. BUDD TO A. STEWARD AND OTHERS.
MESSRS. PAUL AND STEWARD:
I have ever taken a great degree of interest in the welfare of your
colony, and have in various ways, brought it before the public.
It has pained me deeply to learn that there are divisions among you. The
whole deportment and manner of Lewis, who has been here, has evidently
impressed the public in his favor. Although I do not wish to take ground
as his advocate, to the extinction of others, I am not inclined to think
him dishonest from the testimony now before me.
But, apart from him, my present impression is that the most effectual way
for you to promote the cause of the Colony, is not, at this stage of the
business, to appear before the public in a hostile attitude to Lewis.
I know some excellent and prominent gentlemen in this quarter, who think
he is unkindly treated; at any rate, while the investigation, lately
commenced at Albany, is going on, it appears to me not wise in you to put
forth any further publication reflecting upon Lewis. He may have acted
imprudently; but he has excited himself very much, and should the idea
prevail that you and he are in a state of collision, it would be very bad
I consider your Colony as a very important matter, and will do all in my
power to promote your welfare, but it is very material not to prejudice
the public against you.
Before I move in the matter, I wish to know the real state of the matter
between Lewis and the Colony. As soon as I can know that he has defrauded
you and deceived the public, I will not hesitate to give my views on the
subject, and put forth any efforts in my power for your advancement.
There should no sectarian or party feeling be allowed to creep into your
I thank you for naming me as a receiver for your Colony, and should
anything come to me, I shall hand it over to James S. Seymour, Esq.,
Cashier of the Bank of Auburn, who should have been named instead of me. I
hope you will put his name in my place, or at any rate, name him with me,
for he has been from the first, much interested in your behalf.
If you will allow me, I will briefly say, that my opinion is, your best
way to relieve your immediate wants, would be to issue a brief circular,
stating the failure of your crops, your newness of settlement, &c., &c.;
and call upon the public for help, without naming Lewis or alluding to
your difficulty with him; let your papers be properly authorized, and say
that the agent you employ is not engaged in getting funds to pay for land,
found schools, &c., but to get _immediate_ provisions for the Colony.
If you will send an agent here and prepare your circular in this way--let
it be short--and I will print it and give copies of it to him for
circulation, free of charge.
With many prayers for the prosperity of your Colony,
I am your Friend,
Auburn, N.Y., May, 1833.
* * * * *
REPLY TO J. BUDD BY A. STEWARD.
To THE REV. J. BUDD,
Sir:--We feel under renewed obligation to you, for you friendly advice;
but we have already sent out several copies of our circular to different
places, and probably some of them have been printed before this time.
We have no object in view, but truth, justice,--the greatest good of the
Settlement, and of our brethren in general. Israel Lewis has, however,
collected large sums of money, for our relief, of which we have not had
the benefit. Nearly two years ago, he was appointed agent for the Colony,
to collect funds to build a meeting-house, to endow schools, &c. In less
than one year he received more than two thousand dollars, which he
squandered; and we have neither _meeting-house_ nor _schools_, nor never
_will have_, so long as the money goes into the hands of Lewis. All that
we would have forgiven him gladly, if he would consent to be _still_ and
not _usurp_ the agency _against_ the wishes of the people.
Sir, is it not expected that he would appear well; as you say, that "the
whole deportment and manner of Lewis, who has been in this place,
evidently have impressed the people in his favor,"--while collecting
money with the eye of the public upon him. But follow him home into
another kingdom, and there see the man in his true character; stripped
of his borrowed plumage,--and we will guarantee that you would agree with
us, in believing that he _is_ an _arch hypocrite_.
We should be sorry to prejudice the public against our Settlement, more
especially when we are actuated by the purest motives,--that of preventing
the Christian public from being imposed upon, by drawing large sums from
them for us, as they suppose, when in _truth_ such sums _never_ reach us
Sir, we know that you are actuated by the purest motives, but you are
deceived in the character of the man, (Lewis). When I was living in
the States and only saw him there, collecting money for the poor, I
thought him honest as you now do; but two or three years' residence in
Wilberforce Colony, has abundantly satisfied me that his object is to
get money, that he may live in a princely style, and not for the benefit
of the poor as he pretends.
Such are the true facts in the case. We should be glad to have the name of
James S. Seymour, Esq., added to the list, and any other prominent citizen
you may think would help the cause.
In regard to the investigation at Albany, we do not see how the public are
to arrive at the facts in the case from any statement Lewis may make; for
all his statements that I have seen in print, are positively void of
truth, in the most essential part, so that they are of little or no
importance at all unless substantiated by other testimony.
The circular contains no testimony that has not been heretofore laid
before the public. Mr. Benjamin Paul recently wrote a letter to the
editors of "The Baptist Register," in which he stated that Lewis had fed
and clothed the colonists like a father, which is not true; and so
sensible was Paul of the fact, that when the letter reached here, together
with the surprise it created wherever Lewis was known, that Paul
cheerfully contradicted it, confessed that he was mistaken, and thus made
it known to the public.
We certainly have no sectional feelings in the matter, though Lewis has
labored hard to impress the public with a contrary belief; and he has even
brought false charges of the basest kind against our more respectable
citizens, all to draw the attention of the public from the true facts in
It is a general time of health here in the Colony. The season is very
favorable; our crops look well, and with the blessings of God we shall
raise enough to supply our wants this year.
Yours, with due respect,
In behalf of the Colonists,
Wilberforce, June, 1833.
* * * * *
FROM A. STEWARD TO G. BANKS AND OTHERS.
MESSRS. BANKS, WILBER, BROCKENBERG & HARRIS:
I have received a communication through your corresponding secretary, Mr.
James C. Brown, and I hasten to answer it. The last communication I have
received from Mr. N. Paul, was in December, 1833, at which time he was
vigorously prosecuting his mission, as will more fully appear by the
annexed copy of said letter, which I cheerfully send you. His return is
[Copy OF N. PAUL'S LETTER.]
MY DEAR BROTHER STEWARD:
When I last addressed you, I informed you that I expected to leave this
country before a return letter from you could be expected. I therefore
stated, if I remember correctly, that you need not write.
I now find that I shall be detained much longer than I then calculated;
and this detention is owing to the Slavery question. The friends of the
cause, advised me to forego my object, until that question was settled;
and then they would turn their attention to my cause, and render me what
assistance they could.
All their united strength was needed now, while that question was
pending. But thanks be to God, that is now settled. On the first day of
August next, will be the proudest day that ever Britain knew; for from
that time henceforth, there will not remain a single slave throughout His
The friends of the cause are now turning their attention to Slavery in the
United States, and are about to form a society for the abolition of
Slavery throughout the world. They all think highly of our Settlement, and
will give it their cordial support.
The leading abolitionists have given me letters of recommendation
throughout the Kingdom, and have appointed one of their most effective men
to travel with me,--his name is John Scoble, a very ready, intelligent,
earnest, and an eloquent speaker. I think I can do more now in one month,
than I could in three before the question was settled in regard to their
You will at once see that although the people concluded my object to be an
important one, yet, they generally thought that they ought to lend all
their aid in removing the stain from their own land first This stain is
now effectually effaced, and my meetings are exceedingly crowded. I
addressed an audience at Norwich of from three to four thousand persons,
week before last, when about five hundred dollars was collected. So you
see I am getting on. I start, the Lord willing, next week for Scotland,
and shall spend the winter there and in the North of England. In the
spring I shall return and take passage for Canada. I doubt not, that you
are anxiously looking for my return; yet, you cannot want to see me more
than I want to return; but I tell you now as I have told you before, that
I shall not return until I have done all that can be done by my labor.
The above copy will give you all the recent information we have received
concerning the mission of our foreign agent.
Please accept my kindest regards, with my acknowledgments of your
distinguished consideration, while I remain,
* * * * *
FROM A. STEWARD TO MR. NELL.
We are glad to acknowledge your favor of October last, and to hear of your
safe arrival in England, your health and fair prospects.
Since my removal to Wilberforce, I have opened a school, which Mrs.
Steward has engaged to teach for one year; while I shall probably devote
my time to traveling through the States, for the benefit of the Colony,
which is indeed poor, and in want of some assistance; and yet, not a
dollar have we in the treasury to help them with.
Mr. Paul has not returned, though we are daily expecting him. Our friends
in New York, still have confidence in his pledge to do right; and we are
anxiously expecting its fulfilment.
Your wife, Mrs. Nell, and the children are well, and we are still doing
all in our power for their comfort; but my means, in consequence of having
been so much abroad the past season, are limited; by which you will see,
my dear Sir, the necessity of remitting funds to me, that I may make your
family more comfortable in all things, without distressing my own.
The settlers are well, and are looking with hopeful expectancy for you to
do something handsome for them, in which I do hope they may not be
disappointed. Lewis is still in New York. We have appointed another agent,
named Scott, but who is doing nothing for the Colony now.
May the blessings of God rest upon you, and your endeavors; your good
deportment put to silence your enemies; may they who foresee that you will
cheat the poor colored children, be sadly mistaken, and your good deeds
finally enrol your name on the proud list of philanthropists, headed by a
Wilberforce and a Clarkson.
Yours, in great haste,
Wilberforce, Dec., 1835.
* * * * *
FROM L.A. SPALDING TO A. STEWARD AND OTHERS.
I have received a letter from Israel Lewis, New York, requesting me to
forward fifty dollars to the treasurer of the Wilberforce Colony, which
I will do at the first convenience. I sent fifty dollars some time since,
which I presume was received.
I have also received a letter from B. Lundy, who speaks very flatteringly
of the Settlement; but gives me some information relating to Lewis, which
will injure you, unless you act wisely.
Now I suggest for your consideration, whether it would not be best to keep
perfectly quiet relative to him, until after he returns and settles with
the directors. If he cannot then satisfy you, he will no doubt surrender
up his documents and agency like a man, and leave you to appoint another.
By all means you must agree among yourselves, not suffering any difference
of opinion to become public. Your enemies will seize upon this, and injure
your prospects; besides, you gain nothing by it. Your friends too, could
then say that you acted imprudently. I hope to have a good account of the
settlement of your difficulties if any should exist.
Respectfully your Friend,
LYMAN A. SPALDING.
AUSTIN STEWARD & BENJ. PAUL.
Lockport, N.Y., 2d Mo., 4th, 1832.
* * * * *
FROM REV. S.E. CORNISH TO A. STEWARD.
I have this day received your letter, and God willing, I will be with you
in the course of ten or twelve days. Please to keep your people together,
until I come. I will see that they be not oppressed by that notorious
Israel Lewis. I believe him to be one of the worst men living, whose deeds
will yet come to light. Do stay in the Colony and keep all things as they
are until I come.
Yours, with high esteem,
SAMUEL E. CORNISH.
P.S.--I am glad that Mrs. Steward is in Rochester; your Colony is by no
means suited to her talents and refined mind. She never could be happy
there. My love to all the Colonists; I will do every thing for them in my
* * * * *
FROM B. LUNDY TO A. STEWARD AND OTHERS.
Again I take this method of communicating some private information to my
personal friends, relative to my proceedings in Mexico. My last visit to
that country, (like the one preceding), having been prolonged far beyond
the time which I had anticipated, I feel it incumbent on me to explain the
causes thereof especially to such as take an interest in the enterprize in
which I have engaged, and those who have kindly assisted me with, means to
defray the expenses of my journey, &c.
Soon after the date of my last printed letter, which was issued from this
place, I went to New Orleans, with the intention of taking a passage by
sea, to some port in Mexico; but after waiting in that city about two
weeks, and finding no opportunity to obtain one, I proceeded up the Red
River, and journeyed through Texas again by land. My health continued very
good for some length of time; but when I reached the middle part of the
Texas country, it was my misfortune to come again in contact with the
direful "cholera," and again I was the subject of its virulent attacks. My
detention was great, and affliction severe; though I finally expelled the
disorder as I had done before. My sufferings were somewhat aggravated in
several instances, by the fearful prejudices of the people among whom I
traveled. I was very anxious to get through my journey, and often assayed
to travel before I was in fact well enough. The consequence was, that I
frequently took relapses, and sometimes had to lie out under trees, even
in time of rain, within sight of houses, the people being unwilling to
give me shelter therein, fearing that my disorder was contagious.
At length I reached the Mexican town of San Antonio de Bexar, and there I
tarried, until I had got pretty well rid of the cholera. I then pursued my
journey to Monclova, the seat of government for the State of Coahuila and
Texas, in company with several Mexican gentlemen and foreigners. Previous
to this time, I had traveled several hundred miles entirely alone, and
generally encamped in the woods or plains at night. On my arrival at
Monclova, I was doomed to encounter "misfortune" of a very different
character. Here I found that the Englishman, (mentioned in my other
letter), with whom I had contracted to petition for two grants of land,
_had totally failed in his application_. The petition had been laid before
the Governor, and he was about issuing the grants, when he received a