We subsequently visited the city jail, to which reference is made in the letter below, and were able to confirm this statement from our own observation.
We left for Baltimore this afternoon. Although I had not succeeded in presenting the address before-mentioned to the President, I little regretted the failure, being convinced that it would not be less generally read by the public on that account, and in this I have not been disappointed. I proceeded at once, the next morning, to Philadelphia; and here I concluded to print and publish the following letter, which, was sent, through the post, to the President, and to each member of the Senate and House of Representatives.
"To the Abolitionists of the United States.
"I was commissioned by the committee of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, to present a memorial from them to your President, and proceeded to Washington, a few days ago, accompanied by John G. Whittier, of Massachusetts, and a friend from the State of Delaware.
"It was my first visit to the seat of legislation of your great republic. On our arrival we went to the House of Representatives, then in session. A member from Maryland was speaking on our entrance, who was the author of a resolution, which had been carried in a former Congress, excluding nearly three millions of your countrymen, on whom every species of wrong and outrage is committed with impunity, from all right of petition, either by them selves or their friends. He was advocating the re-enactment of this very resolution for the present Congress, and stated that he had a letter from your President approving the measure. Although I believe I do not speak too strongly when I say an attempt to enforce such a resolution by any crowned head in the civilized world, would be inevitably followed by a revolution, yet it seemed evident that no small portion of your present members were in favor of it. It was with no ordinary emotion that I saw the venerable ex-president Adams at his post, nobly contending against this violation of the rights of his countrymen, and I could not but regret that, with one or two exceptions, be appeared to find little support from his younger colleagues of the free States.
"The same day we visited one of the well-known slave-trading establishments at Alexandria. On passing to it we were shewn the costly mansion of its late proprietor, who has lately retired on a large property acquired by the sale of native born Americans. In an open enclosure, with high walls which it is impossible to scale, with a strong iron-barred door, and in which we were told that there were sometimes from three to four hundred persons crowded, we saw about fifty slaves. Amongst the number thus incarcerated was a woman with nine children, who had been cruelly separated from their husband and father, and would probably be shortly sent to New Orleans, where they would never be likely to see him again, and where the mother may be for ever severed from every one of her children, and each of them sold to a separate master. From thence we went to the Alexandria city jail, where we saw a young man who was admitted to be free even by the jailer himself. He had been seized and committed in the hope that he might prove a slave, and that the party detaining him would receive a reward. He had been kept there nearly twelve months because he could not pay the jail fees, and instead of obtaining any redress for false imprisonment, was about to be sold into slavery for a term to reimburse these fees.
"The next morning I was desirous of handing to the President the memorial, of which the following is a copy:
"'Address to the President of the United States, from the Committee of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society.
"'SIR,—As the head of a great Confederacy of States, justly valuing their free constitution and political organization, and tenacious of their rights and their character, the Committee of the British and Foreign Anti-slavery Society, through their esteemed coadjutor and representative, Joseph Sturge, would respectfully approach you in behalf of millions of their fellow-men, held in bondage in the United States. Those millions are denied, not only the immunities enjoyed by the citizens of your great republic generally, and of the equal privileges and the impartial protection of the civil law, but are deprived of their personal rights, so that they cease to be regarded and treated, under your otherwise noble institutions, as MEN, except in the commission of crime, when the utmost rigor of your penal statutes is invoked and enforced against them; but are reduced to the degraded condition of "chattels personal in the hands of their owners and possessors, to all intents, constructions, and purposes, whatsoever."
"'This is the language and the law of slavery; and under this law, guarded with jealousy by their political institutions, the slaveholders of the South rest their claims to property in man But, sir, there are claims anterior to all human laws, and superior to all political institutions, which are immutable in their nature,—claims which are the birthright of every human being, of every clime, and of every color,—claims which God has conferred, and which man cannot destroy without sacrilege, or infringe without sin. Personal liberty is among these, the greatest and best, for it is the root of all other rights, the conservative principle of human associations, the spring of public virtues, and essential to national strength and greatness.
"'The monstrous and wicked assumption of power by man, over his fellow man, which slavery implies, is alike abhorrent to the moral sense of mankind; to the immutable principles of justice; to the righteous laws of God; and to the benevolent principles of the gospel. It is, therefore, indignantly repudiated by all the fundamental laws of all truly enlightened and civilized communities, and by none more emphatically than by that over which, Sir, it is your honor to preside.
"'The great doctrine, that God hath "created all men equal, and endowed them with certain inalienable rights, and that amongst these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," is affirmed in your Declaration of Independence, and justified in the theory of your constitutional laws. But there is a stain upon your glory; slavery, in its most abject and revolting form, pollutes your soil; the wailings of slaves mingle with your songs of liberty; and the clank of their chains is heard, in horrid discord with the chorus of your triumphs.
"'The records of your States are not less distinguished by their wise provisions for securing the order and maintaining the institutions of your country, than by their ingenious devices for riveting the chains, and perpetuating the degradation of your colored brethren; their education is branded as a crime against the State—their freedom is dreaded as a blasting pestilence—the bare suggestion of their emancipation is proscribed as treason to the cause of American independence.
"'These things are uttered in sorrow; for the committee deeply deplore the flagrant inconsistency, so glaringly displayed between the lofty principles embodied in the great charter of your liberties, and the evil practices which have been permitted to grow up under it, to mar its beauty and impair its strength. But it is not on these grounds alone, or chiefly, that they deplore the existence of slavery in the United States. Manifold as are the evils which flow from it—dehumanizing as are its tendencies—fearful as its reaction confessedly is on its supporters,—the reproach of its existence does not terminate on the institutions which gave it birth: the sublime principles and benign spirit of Christianity are dishonored by it. In the light of Divine Truth it stands revealed, in all its hideous deformity, a crime against God,—a daring usurpation of the prerogative and authority of the Most High! It is as a violation of His righteous laws, an outrage on His glorious attributes, a renunciation of the claims of His blessed gospel, that they especially deplore the countenance and support it receives among you; and, in the spirit of Christian love and fraternal solicitude, would counsel its immediate and complete overthrow, as a solemn and imperative duty, the performance of which no sordid reasons should be permitted to retard—no political considerations prevent. Slavery is a sin against God, and ought, therefore, to be abolished.
"'The utter extinction of slavery, and its sister abomination, the internal slave-trade of the United States, second only in horror and extent to the African, and in some of its features even more revolting, can only be argued, by the philanthropy of this country, on the abstract principles of moral and religious duty; and to those principles the people of your great republic are pledged on the side of freedom beyond every nation in the world!
"'The negro, by nature our equal, made like ourselves in the image of his Creator, gifted by the same intelligence, impelled by the same passions and affections, and redeemed by the same Savior, is reduced by cupidity and oppression below the level of the brute, spoiled of his humanity, plundered of his rights, and often hurried to a premature grave, the miserable victim of avarice and heedless tyranny! Men have presumptuously dared to wrest from their fellows the most precious of their rights—to intercept as far as they may the bounty and grace of the Almighty—to close the door to their intellectual progress—to shut every avenue to their moral and religious improvement, to stand between them and their Maker! It is against this crime the committee protest as men and as Christians, and earnestly but respectfully call upon you, Sir, to use the influence with which you are invested, to bring it to a peaceful and speedy close; and, may you in closing your public career, in the latest hours of your existence on earth, be consoled with the reflection that you have not despised the afflictions of the afflicted, but that faithful to the trust of your high stewardship, you have been "just, ruling in the fear of the Lord," that you have executed judgment for the oppressed, and have aided in the deliverance of your country from its greatest crime, and its chiefest reproach.
"'On behalf of the Committee,
"'British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, for the Abolition of Slavery and the Slave-trade throughout the world.
"'27, New Broad Street, London, March 5th, 1841.'
"I thought it most candid to address a letter to the President informing him of the character of the foregoing memorial, rather than take advantage of a merely formal introduction to present it, without a previous explanation. To this letter no reply was received, and no allusion was made to it by the President at a subsequent introduction, which we had to him. It may be proper to mention in this connection, that memorials of a similar character, bearing upon slavery and the slave-trade, signed by the venerable Clarkson, have been presented to different Heads of Governments, in other parts of the world, and have been uniformly received with marked respect.
"Previous to our departure, we visited a private slave-trading establishment in the city, and looked in upon a group of human beings herded together like cattle for the market, within an enclosure of high brick walls surrounding the jail. The young man in attendance, informed us that there were five or six other regular slave-dealers in the city, who, having no jails of their own, either placed their slaves at this establishment, or in the public CITY PRISON. The former was generally preferred, on account of its superior accommodations in respect to food and lodging. On my making some remarks to the young man on the nature of his occupation, he significantly, and as I think, very justly replied, that he knew of no reasons for condemning slave-traders, which did not equally apply to slave-holders. You will bear in mind that this was said within view of the Capitol, where slave-holders control your national legislation, and within a few minutes' walk of that mansion where a slave-holder sits in the presidential chair, placed there by your votes; and it is certainly no marvel, that, with such high examples in his favor, the humble slave-dealer of the District should feel himself in honorable company, and really regard his occupation as one of respectability and public utility.
"From thence we proceeded to the city prison, an old and loathsome building, where we examined two ranges of small stone cells, in which were a large number of colored prisoners. We noticed five or six in a single cell, barely large enough for a solitary tenant, under a heat as intense as that of the tropics. The keeper stated that in rainy seasons the prison was uncomfortably wet. The place had to us a painful interest, from the fact that here Dr. Crandall, a citizen of the free States, was confined until his health was completely broken down, and was finally released only to find a grave, for the crime of having circulated a pamphlet on emancipation, written by one of the friends who accompanied me.[A] On inquiry of the keeper, he informed us that slaves were admitted into his cells, and kept for their owners at the rate of thirty-four cents per day, and that transfers of them from one master to another sometimes took place during their confinement; thus corroborating the testimony of the keeper of the private jail before mentioned, that this city prison, the property of the people of the United States, and for the rebuilding of which, a large sum of your money has been appropriated, is made use of by the dealers in human beings as a place of deposit and market; and thus you, in common with your fellow citizens, are made indirect participators in a traffic equal in atrocity to that foreign trade, the suppression of which, to use the words of your President in his late message, 'is required by the public honor, and the promptings of humanity.'
[Footnote A: On being released from prison, Dr. Crandall went to Kingston, Jamaica, to recruit his health. A gentleman of that city, W. Wemyss Anderson, found him in his lodgings, solitary and friendless, and rapidly sinking under his disease. He took him, though a perfect stranger, into his own house; and the last days of Dr. Crandall were soothed by the kind sympathy and attentions of a Christian family. It was also manifest, that he enjoyed the sunshine of inward peace, and the rich consolations of the gospel. His kind host, whom I count it a privilege to call my friend, obeyed, in this instance, the apostolic injunction, and experienced the consequent reward, "Be not forgetful to entertain strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares."]
"As one who has devoted much of his humble labors to the cause you wish to promote, I perhaps shall be excused for thus stating these facts to you, as they all passed before my personal observation in the course of a few hours. I shall deem it right to publish them in Europe, where I am about shortly to return. Recollect, they all occurred and exist within the District of Columbia, and that those who elect the legislators who uphold the slave system, are justly responsible for it in the sight of God and man. Is it not all the natural consequence of your electing slave-holders and their abettors to the highest offices of your State and nation? Some of your most intelligent citizens have given it as their opinion that fully two-thirds of the whole population of the United States are in favor of the abolition of slavery; and my own observation, since I landed on these shores, not only confirms this opinion, but has convinced me that there is a very rapid accession to their numbers daily taking place; and yet we have the extraordinary fact exhibited to the world, that about two hundred and fifty thousand slave-holders—a large proportion of whom, bankrupt in fortune and reputation, have involved many of the North in their disgrace and ruin—hold in mental bondage the whole population of this great republic, who permit themselves to be involved in the common disgrace of presenting a spectacle of national inconsistency altogether without a parallel. I confess that, although an admirer of many of the institutions of your country, and deeply lamenting the evils of my own government, I find it difficult to reply to those who are opposed to any extension of the political rights of Englishmen, when they point to America and say, that where all have a control over the legislation but those who are guilty of a dark skin, slavery and the slave-trade remain not only unmitigated, but continue to extend; and that while there is an onward movement in favor of its extinction, not only in England and France, but even in Cuba and Brazil, American legislators cling to this enormous evil, without attempting to relax or mitigate its horrors. Allow me, therefore, to appeal to you by every motive which attaches you to your country, seriously to consider how far you are accountable for this state of things, by want of a faithful discharge of those duties for which every member of a republican government is so deeply responsible; and may I not express the hope that, on all future occasions, you will take care to promote the election of none as your representatives who will not practically act upon the principle that in every clime, and of every color, 'all men are equal?'
"Your sincere friend,
"Philadelphia, 6th Month 7th, 1842."
This letter was extensively reprinted, not only in the anti-slavery but in pro-slavery newspapers, both in the North and South. In the numerous angry comments upon it, no attempt that has come to my knowledge was made to deny any one of my statements. One of the papers intimates that the vote by which the house soon after refused to adopt a specific and exclusive rule against abolition petitions, was brought about by "the sinister influence of Mr. Sturge." I need not add how happy I should have been to have possessed the influence with which this writer has so liberally invested me, and that I should have regarded it as a talent to be employed and improved to the very utmost.
I spent from the 5th to the 11th of the Sixth Month, (June) in Philadelphia and the vicinity, during which time, I made numerous calls, and met several large parties in private.
During this stay, in company with John G. Whittier, I paid a visit to my excellent friend, Abraham L. Pennock, at his residence in Haverford, Delaware county, about ten miles from the city. He is an influential member of the Society of Friends, and until recently he has been a resident in the city. He has, for many years, been an uncompromising abolitionist, and an active member and officer of anti-slavery societies; yet he appears to enjoy the respect and confidence not only of his anti-slavery associates, but of the Society of Friends, and the community generally. I found him a warm advocate, in practice as well as theory, of entire abstinence from the products of slave labor, as well as of independent political action on the part of abolitionists. He expressed much regret that he was unable to attend the General Anti-Slavery Convention, in London, and gave his cordial approbation to its proceedings.[A]
[Footnote A: See Appendix H.]
We reluctantly bade farewell to our kind friend and his interesting family, all the members of which appear to share his zeal and untiring devotion to the cause of the oppressed, and returned to our lodgings in the city. Even now I look back to this visit as among the most grateful recollections of my sojourn in the United States.
I may mention, in this connection, that A.L. Pennock, as well as others with whom I conversed on the subject, spoke with much regret of the want of faithfulness on the part of members of the Society of Friends, in maintaining their testimony against slavery, while exercising their civil rights as citizens and electors. From all I could learn, I have been led to fear that "Friends" in the United States, with few exceptions, are in the practice of voting for public officers, without reference to their sentiments on the important subject of slavery. At the late Presidential election it is very evident that the great body of "Friends" who took any part in it, voted for John Tyler, the slaveholder.
Among the active friends of emancipation, who occupy a high station in our society, I can scarcely omit mentioning Enoch Lewis, of Chester county, Pennsylvania, whose talents and literary acquirements, devoted as they are, to the maintenance and promulgation of the principles and Christian testimonies of our religious society, deservedly command a high degree of respect.
Among the members of the society which have separated from "Friends" in Philadelphia and elsewhere, I met with many warm and steady friends of emancipation, some of whom have proved their sincerity by great sacrifices. Amongst these I cannot omit mentioning James and Lucretia Mott, James Wood, Dr. Isaac Parish, and Thomas Earle, of this city.
I republished in Philadelphia, with the permission of the author, in two separate pamphlets, for distribution amongst those to whom it was addressed, "A Letter to the Clergy of various Denominations, and to the Slave-holding Planters in the Southern parts of the United States of America, by Thomas Clarkson." This remarkable production was written after its venerable author had attained his eightieth year, and has been pronounced by a very competent judge the most vigorous production of his pen. As its circulation had but just commenced when I left the United States, I could not judge of the effect produced by this energetic appeal from one whose name must command respect, even from the slave-holders; but I have since been informed it has been read with interest and attention.
I had several conferences with "Friends" who were interested in the cause, to discuss the best mode of engaging the members of the Society to unite their efforts on behalf of the oppressed and suffering slaves; and though no immediate steps were resolved on, yet I found so much good feeling in many of them, that I cannot but entertain a hope, that fruit will hereafter appear. I had spent much of my time and labor in Philadelphia, particularly among that numerous and influential body with whom I am united in a common bond of religious belief, and I trust of Christian affection. Of the kindness and hospitality I experienced I shall ever retain a grateful recollection; yet I finally took my leave of this city, under feelings of sorrow and depression that so many of the very class of Christian professors who once took the lead in efforts for the abolition of slavery, efforts evidently attended with the favor and sanction of the Most High, should now be discouraging, and holding back their members from taking part in so righteous a cause. Among the warmest friends of the slave, sound both in feeling and sentiment, are a few venerable individuals who are now standing on the brink of the grave, and whose places, among the present generation, I could not conceal from myself, there were but few fully prepared to occupy. I had found in many Friends much passive anti-slavery feeling, and was to some extent cheered by the discovery. May a due sense of their responsibility rest upon every follower of Christ, to remember them that are in bonds, and under affliction, not only with a passive, but with an active and self-denying sympathy, a sympathy that makes common cause with its object.
Apart from the fact, that Philadelphia is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, to a member of the Society of Friends it must ever be an object of peculiar interest. Here William Penn made his great experiment of a Christian government. Here, to the annual assemblies of Friends, came Warner Mifflin, and John Woolman, and James Pemberton, and George Dillwyn, and other worthies of the past, who have now gone from works to rewards. A few miles distant, in Frankford, is still to be seen the residence of the excellent Thomas Chalkley. Here Benezet exemplified, in the simplicity, humility, and untiring benevolence of his daily life, the lessons inculcated in his writings. And here, at this day, are a larger number of members of our religious society than can be found congregated elsewhere, within an equal space of territory. They are, in general, in easy circumstances, many of them wealthy, and occupying a high rank in the community.
Who can recur, without a lively feeling of interest, to the hopes and prayers of the benevolent founder of the city, as expressed in affecting terms in his farewell letter, written as he was about taking his final departure for England.
"And thou, Philadelphia, the virgin settlement of this province, named before thou wert born, what love, what care, what service, and what travail has there been to bring thee forth, and preserve thee from such as would defile thee! Oh, that thou mayest be kept from the evil that would overwhelm thee! that faithful to the God of Mercies, in a life of righteousness, thou mayest be preserved to the end!"
On the 11th, with John G. Whittier, I left for New York, and the next day we proceeded by steam packet to Newport, on Rhode Island, to attend the New England yearly meeting of the Society of Friends, which was to be held the next week. We arrived about seven o'clock in the morning. I found the change of climate particularly refreshing and agreeable. During the last fortnight, the range of the thermometer had frequently reached 94 degrees or 96 degrees in the shade: a tropical heat, without those alleviations which render the heat of the tropics not only tolerable, but sometimes delightful. In Rhode Island, the climate, while we were there, was almost as temperate as an English summer.
Some parts of the New England States are much resorted to by southern families of wealth; and their annual migrations have the effect of materially adding to the vast amount of complicated pro-slavery interests which exist in the free States, as well as of diffusing pro-slavery opinions and feelings throughout the entire community. We may hope this current will soon set in the opposite direction. The season was too early for the arrival of these visitors, and the hotels were generally filled with "Friends," collected from near and distant places, to attend the yearly meeting. There were upwards of a hundred boarding at the same house with ourselves. Soon after our arrival I addressed a letter, making the same application for the use of the meeting house for my friend, John Candler, who was also here, and myself, which had been complied with at New York, forwarding at the same time my credentials. My request, however, in this instance was not granted. Yet there was plainly a willingness on the part of many to receive information, and we caused it to be known that we should be at home at our hotel, on the evening of the sixteenth. About two hundred friends assembled, and appeared interested in a brief outline of the state and prospects of the cause in Europe which I endeavored to give them.
The subject of slavery was brought before the yearly meeting by a proposition from one of its subordinate, or "quarterly meetings," to encourage more action, on the part of the society, for its abolition. A proposal was immediately made, and assented to without discussion, that the consideration of it should be referred to a committee. On the reading of the address on slavery from the London yearly meeting, it was, in like manner, immediately proposed and agreed to, that it should be referred to the same committee. At a subsequent sitting, this committee reported, that they should recommend the whole subject to be left under the care of their "Meeting for Sufferings," which was adopted. With the exception of reading the documents, and going through the necessary forms of business, these proceedings passed almost in silence; yet, in the several epistles drawn up to be forwarded to the other yearly meetings, allusion was made to the deep exercise of Friends at this meeting, on the subject of slavery, and their strong desire and wish to encourage others to embrace every right opening for promoting its abolition; with a plain intimation, however, in their epistle to Great Britain, of their disapproval of Friends uniting with any of the anti-slavery associations of the day. These passages in the epistles passed without remark or objection. The Meeting for Sufferings, of Rhode Island, has thus virtually undertaken to do, or at least to originate, all that is to be done, during the present year, by Friends of New England, to help the helpless, and to relieve the oppressed slaves. Sincerely do I desire, that it may not incur the responsibility of neglecting so solemn a charge. I subsequently met, on board the steamer in which we left Newport, many members of this body; with one of whom I had some conversation, in the presence of other Friends, to whom I felt it right to state, that the declarations of sympathy for the slaves, in the epistles which had been sent out, were stronger, in my judgment, than was justified by any thing which had been expressed, or had been manifested, in the Yearly Meeting. This conviction I yet retain. I afterwards obtained some authentic extracts from the laws of Rhode Island, affecting the people of color, and under which slavery is very distinctly recognized and sanctioned, even in this free State. I felt it my duty to forward a copy of these to the "Meeting for Sufferings," accompanied by the following letter:—
"To the Meeting for Sufferings of New England
Yearly Meeting of Friends.
"On passing through Providence, from the Yearly Meeting at Rhode Island, a solicitor of that place kindly furnished me with the annexed extracts from the laws of the State of Rhode Island. I thought it best to send a copy to you, as it is probable some members of your meeting may not be aware of their precise nature; and it is a source of regret to me, and I know it will be so to my friends in England, to know that in the State in which your Yearly Meeting is held, slavery is fully legalized, if the slaves are the property of persons not actually citizens of that place;—the most odious distinctions of color also remain on the statute book, including one (Section 10, No. 2,) which is a disgrace to any civilized community. I may add, that two very respectable solicitors in Providence expressed their decided opinion, that if Friends heartily promoted the repeal of these obnoxious laws, which throw all the moral influence of the State on the side of slavery, it might easily be accomplished. I cannot but hope the subject will receive your prompt attention.
"Truly your friend,
To soften the impression which I fear the preceding detail will give, I may remark, that I am convinced, from extensive private communication with Friends in New England, that there is yet among them much genuine anti-slavery feeling, especially where the deadening commercial intercourse with the South does not operate; and though, at present, with some bright individual exceptions, this is a talent for the most part hidden or unemployed, I trust that many faithful laborers in this great cause will yet be found among them.
During our stay in Rhode Island, we twice visited Dr. Channing, at his summer residence, a few miles from Newport. The delicacy which ought ever to protect unreserved social intercourse, forbids me to enrich my narrative with any detail of his enlightened and comprehensive sentiments; yet I cannot but add, that, widely differing from him as I do, on many important points, I was both deeply interested and instructed by his modest candor and sincerity, and by the spirit of charity with which he appeared habitually to regard those of opposite opinions. Our conversation embraced various topics. I may be allowed to mention, that he highly approved of Judge Jay's suggestion for the promotion of permanent international peace. He also made a practical suggestion on the anti-slavery movement, which I trust will be acted on—That petitions should be sent to Congress, praying that the free States should be relieved from all direct or indirect support of slavery. As the South has loudly complained of Northern interference, this will be taking the planters on their own ground.
Sixth Month, (June) 19th.—We went on to New Bedford, where, the next day, we called on a number of persons friendly to abolition, and met a large party of them the same evening, at the house of a Friend. A public meeting for worship was appointed during our stay, at the request of a minister of the Society of Friends from Indiana, which we attended. I had the pleasure of witnessing the colored part of the audience, placed on a level, and sitting promiscuously with the white, the only opportunity I had of making such an observation in the United States; as, on ordinary occasions, the colored people rarely attend Friends' meetings. One of the waiters at our hotel told me he had escaped from slavery some years before. The idea of running away had been first suggested to his mind, by reflecting on his hard lot, being over-worked, and kept without a sufficiency of food, and cruelly beaten, while his owner was living in luxury and idleness, on the fruits of his labor. He had been flogged for merely speaking to one of his master's visitors, in reply to a question, because it was suspected he had divulged matter that his master did not wish the stranger to know.
On the 21st, we arrived at Boston, and stopped at the Marlborough hotel. One of the first things noticed by a visitor to the States is the number and extent of the hotels, almost all of which are on the principle of the English boarding houses. Besides the number of casual visitors in a population which travels from place to place, perhaps more than any other in the world, the hotels are the permanent homes of a numerous and important class of unmarried men, engaged in business, and often indeed of young married persons, who choose to avoid expense and the cares of housekeeping. At many, if not most of the hotels, cleanliness, regularity, and order, pervade all the arrangements, and as much comfort is to be found as is compatible with throng and publicity. Still the domestic charm of private life is wanting, and its absence renders the system of constant residence most uncongenial to English habits and feelings. An unsocial reserve lies on the surface of English character, and the love of privacy, or at least of a retirement which can be closed and expanded at will, is an extensive and deep-seated feeling. Yet the Anglo-American, even of the purest descent, has early lost the latter characteristic, while he often retains the first unimpaired. What law governs the hereditary transmission of such traits? Several first rate hotels in New England are strictly on the temperance plan, and among them is the Marlborough, in Boston, the second in extent of business in this important city, and which makes up from one hundred to two hundred beds. No intoxicating liquor of any kind can be had in the house. Printed notices are also hung up in the bed rooms, that it is the established rule to take in no fresh company and to receive no accounts on the first day of the week, and the cooking and other preparations are as much as possible performed before hand, that the servants may enjoy the day of rest, and partake of the moral and Spiritual benefit of a weekly pause from the whirl and turmoil of secular engagements.
I had scarcely ventured to hope that I should ever witness a large hotel like this, conducted on such principles; but having now seen it, it adds additional strength to my conviction, that in proportion as Christianity is carried out in common life, in the same proportion is the lost happiness of man recovered. Too many in the present day, who are not behind-hand in profession, keep their principles more for show than use. They acknowledge the purity of them, and have some faint perception of their moral beauty, but secretly believe, and sometimes, openly avow them to be impracticable in the present state of the world. They who exhibit proof of the contrary, are benefactors to their fellow men; and among these, justly deserves to be classed Nathaniel Rogers, the proprietor of the Marlborough Hotel, in Boston.
We called upon several of our anti-slavery friends on the day of our arrival, and in the evening, took tea with a number of those who approve of the proceedings of the London Convention, and who concur in the principles of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society. The subjects discussed were the time and place of a future convention of the friends of the slave of different nations. London was unanimously approved as the place, and the preponderance of sentiment was in favor of 1842 as the time.
On the 22d we went on to Lynn. Here are a very considerable number of the Society of Friends, who are desirous of taking part in active anti-slavery exertion, when they can do so without compromise of principle. It is greatly to be regretted that in this vicinity, a few individuals, formerly members of our religious society, have embraced, in connection with their abolition views, the doctrines of non-resistance, or non-government, in church and state, and thus greatly added to the difficulties in the way of efficient action on the part of consistent members; but whatever may be the errors and indiscretions of these individuals, they furnish no valid excuse for the apathy and inaction on the part of "Friends," nor lessen, in the slightest degree, their responsibility for the firm and faithful maintenance of our Christian testimony against oppression. We proceeded, the same evening, to Amesbury, where the family of my friend and companion John G. Whittier reside, in whose hospitable and tranquil retreat we remained till the 25th. Here I found myself in a manufacturing district, and paid a visit to a large woollen mill, and was much pleased with the cleanliness and order displayed, and with the evident comfort and prosperity of the working people, who are chiefly young women, none of whom are admitted under sixteen years of age. Any person given to intoxication would be instantly discharged. All the manufactories in this place are joint-stock companies, and the mills are worked by water power, of which there is an abundant supply.
I had agreed, on my return to Boston, to meet my abolition friends at a tea party, and found an entertainment provided from the Marlborough Hotel, in a large room adjoining one of the chapels, on a scale of great profusion, a little to my disappointment, as I had anticipated one of a social rather than of a public character, though I could not but feel the kindness which it was intended to manifest. Charles Stewart Renshaw, from Jamaica, was opportunely present, and his information on the state of that Island added much interest to the evening, the proceedings of which, I hope, gave pretty general satisfaction. In condescension to my wish, my valued friend, Nathaniel Colver, suggested to the company to dispense with the usual form of public prayer, and substitute an interval of silence, after the reading of a portion of scripture, which was kindly complied with.
Before leaving Boston, I had a long interview with William Lloyd Garrison. His view of "women's rights" is so far a matter of conscience with him, as to be made an indispensable term of union; yet though widely differing on this, and other important points, we parted, I trust, as we met, on personally friendly terms; and certainly on my part with a desire to promote a spirit of forbearance, and with a deeper and stronger conviction that the friends of the bleeding and oppressed slave, should not spend their strength in unprofitable contention upon points in regard to which both parties claim to act conscientiously, while the common cause requires their undivided energies.
On the 28th I left Boston for the beautiful town of Worcester, about forty miles distant, on the principal line of railway to New York, where I had the pleasure of visiting, at his own residence, my friend, Cyrus P. Grosvenor, one of the delegates to the Anti-Slavery Convention last year. There are here a considerable number of sincere abolitionists, of whom we met a small company in the evening, in a room used as the Friends' meeting house. I gave them a brief account of the state of the anti-slavery cause in other parts of the world. In company with John M. Earle, editor of one of the Worcester papers, with whom I had formed a previous acquaintance at the Yearly Meeting, I also called on the Governor of the State of Massachusetts, who resides in this place. We had some friendly conversation, but he seemed cautious on the subject of abolition. The temperance cause in Worcester has made so much progress that at the three largest and best hotels, which make up nearly one hundred beds each, no intoxicating liquor of any kind is sold. A people thus willing to carry out their convictions, to the sacrifice of prejudice, appetite, and apparent self-interest, cannot long remain a nation of slave-holders. In common with the rest of New England, this town is remarkable for the number, size, and beauty of its places of worship. I calculated, with the aid of a well-informed inhabitant, that if the entire population were to go to a place of worship, at the same hour, in the same day, there would be ample accommodation, and room to spare. Yet here there is no compulsory tax to build churches, and maintain ministers. By the efficacy of the voluntary principle alone is this state of things produced.
My dear friend, John G. Whittier returned home from Worcester on account of increased indisposition, while I proceeded alone to New York. The journey from Boston to the latter city is a remarkably pleasant one. Leaving Boston at four in the afternoon, we proceed on one of the best railways in the States, at the rate of upwards of twenty miles an hour, through a very beautiful and generally well cultivated country, to the city of Norwich, in the State of Connecticut, where the train arrives about eight in the evening, and the passengers immediately embark on a handsome steamer, for New York, enjoying, as long as daylight lasts, the fine scenery on the banks of the Thames. The night I went was moonlight; and, after long enjoying the coolness of the evening on deck, the company retired to their berths, and arrived at New York at the seasonable hour of six the following morning.
I remained in New York until the 7th of the Seventh Month (July). My friends, William Shotwell and wife, had left the city during the hot months, but very kindly placed their town house at my service, and I found the retirement thus at my command both refreshing and very serviceable, in enabling me to bring up arrears of writing. During this interval, I spent one very pleasant day with Theodore and Angelina Grimke Weld, and their sister, Sarah Grimke, who reside on a small farm, a few miles from Newark. To the great majority of my readers these names need no introduction; yet, for the benefit of the few, I will briefly allude to their past history. When the American Anti-Slavery Society was formed, in 1833, Theodore D. Weld was at the Lane Seminary, near Cincinnati, Ohio. He was unable to attend on that occasion, but wrote a letter, declaring his entire sympathy with its object. Soon after, through the influence and exertions of himself and Henry B. Stanton, a large majority of the students at Lane Seminary, comprising several slave-holders and sons of slave-holders, became members of an Anti-Slavery Society. The Faculty opposed the formation of this society, and finally expelled its members from the seminary. For two or three years after, Theodore Weld was engaged in anti-slavery effort, principally in the States of Ohio and New York. His voice failed at last, and for several years he was unable to address a public assembly. Angelina Grimke Weld, and her sister, Sarah Grimke, were natives of South Carolina, the daughters of a distinguished Judge of that State; for several years they resided in Philadelphia. Having long felt a deep interest in the condition of the slaves, in the year 1837 they, in accordance with what they believed to be a sense of religious duty, visited New York and New England, to plead the cause of those, with whose sorrows, degradation, and cruel sufferings, they had been familiar in their native State. They are evidently women of superior endowments, kind-hearted and energetic, and still retain something of the warmth and fervor of character peculiar to the South.
Few, even of the well informed abolitionists of England, have an adequate idea of the extent, variety, and excellence of the anti-slavery literature of the United States, or of the amount of intellectual power which has been willingly consecrated to this service. Of the cause itself, with all its exigencies, we may adopt, in a yet more limited sense, the sentiment of the Christian poet, on the transient nature of all sublunary things,
"These, therefore, are occasional, and pass."
The time approaches when the shackles of the slave will fall off—when his suffering and despairing cry will be no more heard. Slavery itself is a temporary exigency; but its removal has called, and will yet call forth, works bearing the impress of intellectual supremacy, which will be embodied in the permanent literature of the age, and will contribute to raise the character, and to extend the reputation, of that literature. The names of Channing, Jay, Child, Green, and Pierpont, are already their own passport to fame. Other names might be mentioned; but, one instance excepted, selection might be invidious. That exception is Theodore D. Weld, whose palm of superiority few would be disposed to contest. His principal works are, "The Bible against Slavery;" "Power of Congress over Slavery in the District of Columbia;" and "Slavery as it is."
All his writings are marked by varied excellence; yet their chief characteristic is an irresistible and overwhelming power of argument. Although brief and compressed in style, he exhausts his subject; and his two principal works, though on warmly controverted topics, have never been replied to. He would be a bold antagonist who should enter the lists against him: he would be a yet bolder ally who should attempt to go over the same ground, or to do better what has been done so well.
One of the most voluminous and popular writers that ever lived, observed to a friend, "that he was more proud of his compositions for manure, than of any other compositions with which he had any concern." My friend, has the same love of rural occupations, and has found severe manual labor essential for the recovery of health, broken by labor of another kind. I found him at work on his farm, driving his own wagon and oxen, with a load of rails. When he had disposed of his freight, we mounted the wagon, and drove to his home. Two or three of his fellow-students at the Lane Seminary arrived about the same time, and we spent the day in agreeable, and, I trust, profitable intercourse. In the household arrangements of this distinguished family, Dr. Graham's dietetic system is rigidly adopted, which excludes meat, butter, coffee, tea, and all intoxicating beverages. I can assure all who may be interested to know, that this Roman simplicity of living does not forbid enjoyment, when the guest can share with it the affluence of such minds as daily meet at their table. The "Graham system," as it is called, numbers many adherents in America, who are decided in its praise.
My friends, Theodore D. and Angelina Weld, and Sarah Grimke, sympathize, to a considerable extent, with the views on "women's rights," held by one section of abolitionists; yet they deeply regret that this, or any other extraneous doctrine, should have been made an apple of discord; and, since the rise of these unhappy divisions, they have held aloof from both the anti-slavery organizations, though, as among the most able and successful laborers in the field, they may justly be accounted allies by each party. Difference of opinion on these points did not, for a moment, interrupt the pleasure of our intercourse; and I could not but wish, that those, of whatever party, who are accustomed to judge harshly of all who cannot pronounce their "shibboleth," might be instructed by the candid, charitable, and peace-loving deportment of Theodore D. Weld.
During my visit to New York, I became acquainted with many who were deeply interested in the abolition cause, not a few of whom were members of my own religious society. Among these, I may particularly mention my venerable friends, Richard Mott and Samuel Parsons. I paid a second visit to the residence of the latter at Flushing, but regret to say, I found him too unwell to enjoy company.[A] His sons are anxiously desirous of furthering the abolition cause on every suitable occasion. One evening I spent with a respectable minister, who is a man of color, and who assured me that most of the intelligent persons of his class in New York approve of the course pursued by the late Convention in London, and the Committee of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society. I saw at his house a man who had purchased his freedom for twelve hundred dollars, intending to remain in the same State, but, as in a precisely similar case already noticed, he afterwards found he had no alternative but to emigrate, leaving his still enslaved family behind him, or to be again sold into slavery himself, under the laws enacted to drive out free people of color. He was trying to raise the large sum of fourteen hundred dollars, to purchase his wife and four children.
[Footnote A: This illness terminated fatally. One of his intimate friends in this country, has favored me with the following communication respecting him. "Samuel Parsons had been from early life, a warm friend to the African race; his love of peace rendered him at the first accessible to prejudice against the American Anti-Slavery Society, through the misrepresentations respecting its violent and rash measures; which misrepresentations it was much more easy to believe than to investigate. Yet his interest for the negro and colored population of the United States continued, and he extended acts of protection and kindness towards them, whenever opportunity for it was afforded. In the Eleventh Month, last year, I find the following paragraph in one of his letters to us, viz. 'Though sensible that I am drawing towards the close of time, I cannot avoid taking a deep interest in the moral reformation, relative to slavery and intemperance, which is progressing in the earth; my son Robert and I look at these publications as they appear, with deep solicitude. The proceedings of the Anti-Slavery Convention of the world, and its movements, are of great moment to the whole civilized world. The anti-slavery cause, has not, I fear, advanced much the last year; the separation in the National Society, and the truckling to the South of the politicians of both sides, during the late Presidential election, has for a time marred the work; but the anti-slavery banner of a third party is still displayed, and it will probably continue to nominate till it seriously influences the elections. In the mean time, the individual States, one after another, are freeing the colored people from part of their civil disabilities. A hard battle is to be fought, but mighty is truth, and must prevail.'"]
"The fourth of July," the anniversary of the independence of the United States, fell this year on the first day of the week, and was therefore celebrated the day following. It is still marked by extravagant demonstrations of joy, and often disgraced by scenes of intemperance and demoralization. The better part of the community wisely counteract the evil, to a great extent, by holding, on the same day, temperance meetings, school examinations, opening their places of worship, et cet. I accompanied my friend Lewis Tappan to attend an anti-slavery meeting at Newark, in which Theodore Weld was expected to take a part for the first time after an interval of five years' discontinuance of public speaking. Several years before, he had been carried away by the stream in crossing a river, and had very narrowly escaped drowning. This accident caused an affection of the throat, and eventually disqualified him for public labor except with the pen, to which, though deemed a great loss at the time by his fellow-laborers in the anti-slavery cause, we probably owe the invaluable works before referred to. It was on the same anniversary, five years ago, that he had spoken last, a circumstance to which he made a touching allusion: he spoke very impressively for more than half an hour without serious inconvenience, and I hope it may please Providence to restore his ability to plead, as he was wont to do with great power, for the cause of the oppressed.
In the afternoon there was a public examination of the scholars belonging to the place of worship in which the preceding meeting was held, and in connection with this a little incident occurred, which may serve to illustrate the state of public feeling. Newark, from its extensive trade with the south, is much under pro-slavery influence. But the congregation of this chapel are generally anti-slavery, and have several colored children in their school. One of these, a little black girl, was qualified to take part in the public examination; but this, in the estimation of some of the parents of white scholars, and several even of the trustees, could not be borne. Others, on the contrary, resolved to battle with the prejudice of caste, and to call for her, if she were not brought forward; and, finally, I suppose, by way of compromise, she was brought on the platform to recite alone, after the little scholars who could rejoice in the aristocratic complexion had performed their parts, without suffering the indignity of a public association with a colored child. Even this was, however, considered a victory by the anti-prejudice party.
I left on the seventh for Niagara, being desirous to see the celebrated Falls, and to visit some friends living in the western part of this State, as well as to find relief from the oppressive and tropical heat. I hoped also to fall in with my friends and fellow laborers, J. and M. Candler, who had gone with a party in the same direction. I need not describe a route so often traversed by Europeans. One of its agreeable incidents was an accidental meeting with John Curtis, of Ohio, on his way, on a free trade mission, to Great Britain, from motives which I believe to be disinterested and philanthropic. His labors, which are principally intended to show the evils of our taxes upon food, will not be in vain; though he will find many in England, as I found in America, who have no ear for truth when it opposes their prejudices or imaginary self-interest. He gave me a most cheering account of the march of abolition in Ohio, and said he had lately attended a meeting held at the invitation of the abolitionists, on the 5th of July, at which there were three thousand persons, who had come to the place of meeting in nine hundred vehicles of different kinds. He said he had never witnessed a more enthusiastic meeting. Another gentleman and his wife made themselves known to me, in the railway carriage, as warm abolitionists, and spoke favorably of the prospects of the cause in this part of the State of New York. The gentleman said he had lately had a discussion with a deacon of a church he attended, who defended the admission of slave-holders to the communion. On being asked, however, whether he would admit sheep-stealers, he acknowledged this was not so great a crime as man-stealing, and pleaded no further in favor of church-fellowship with slave-holders.
The journey from New York to the Falls of Niagara, a distance of 480 miles, is performed in about forty-eight hours, and when the railway communication is further completed, and the speed raised to the standard of the best English lines, it will probably be accomplished in less than thirty hours. The railway passed for many miles through the original forest, in which I observed very lofty trees, but none of an extraordinary girth. In many places the ground was crowded with fallen trees, in every stage of decay. I found my friends at the Eagle Hotel, at Niagara, where I remained till the twelfth, enjoying with them the views and scenery of "the Falls," a spectacle of nature in her grandest aspect, which mocks the limited capacity of man to conceive or to describe.
On the eleventh, being the first day of the week, we held a meeting for worship, at our hotel, and were joined by an Irish lady and her three daughters, who had been living here some months. This lady told me she was present when M'Leod was arrested in this hotel. From all I have been able to learn, there are a number of reckless men on both sides the border line, who are anxious to foment war for the sake of plunder; but the great bulk of the American people, I am persuaded, are for peace, and especially for peace with England, a feeling which time is strengthening.
On the twelfth, our whole party left for Buffalo, by railway, getting a transient view of Lake Ontario before entering the city. Here we parted company, they proceeding to Toronto, by steam packet, and I to Syracuse by coach. The American vehicle of this name, carries nine inside passengers on three cross seats. It is hung on leather springs, so as to be fitted to maintain the shocks of a corduroy road. Wishing to see the country, I mounted the box, by the side of the coachman, but at times had some difficulty in retaining my seat. The value of land in this part of the country, when cleared and in cultivation, I understood to be from thirty to fifty dollars per acre. A large breadth of wheat is grown, of which the yield is generally good; but this year there will be, in many cases, a short crop, from the extreme drought in the two preceding months. I went forward from Syracuse to Rochester by railway, and thence, with the exception of twelve miles by coach, by the same conveyance to Auburn, where we arrived at two o'clock in the morning. One of my fellow-passengers had been a soldier in the so-called "patriot" army, which enlisted against Santa Anna, in the revolt of Texas. He stated, that some planters were emigrating from Mississippi, with as many as two hundred "hands," (slaves,) and plainly said, it was intended to plant the Anglo-Saxon flag on the walls of Mexico. If half what he asserted was true, the worst apprehensions of the abolitionists are too likely to be realized by the Texian revolution, and the establishment of a new slave-holding power on the vast territory claimed by that piratical band of robbers, and forming the South-western frontier of the United States.
At Auburn I paid a visit to the celebrated State Prison, and though, from want of time to call upon a gentleman in the city for whom I had a letter, I was unprovided with an introduction, I was politely admitted by the superintendent, who refused to receive the fee customarily paid by visitors, when he found, from the entry of my name and address, I was an Englishman. I passed through the different workshops, in which nearly all handicraft trades are carried on, and very superior work is frequently executed by the prisoners. Besides other less complicated machines, one complete locomotive engine has been constructed within these walls. As the system of discipline adopted here is the same as at Sing Sing, also in this State, I defer for the present, any remarks upon its character and success.
I left Auburn, in a hired carriage, for Skaneateles, to pay a visit to my friend, James Cannings Fuller. He has a rich farm of 156 acres, with a good house upon it, about a quarter of a mile west of the large and flourishing village of Skaneateles, which overlooks a beautiful lake of the same name, sixteen miles in length, and in some places two miles wide. James C. Fuller left England about seven years ago, and has carried his abolition principles with him to his adopted country. He told me that there had been a great change for the better in the public mind since his residence in this neighborhood. Abolitionism was once so unpopular, that he has been mobbed four times in his own otherwise quiet village. On one occasion he was engaged in a public discussion on slavery, and a mob so much disturbed the meeting, by the throwing of shot, and yells the most discordant the human voice could make, that his opponent moved an adjournment, and afterwards accompanied him on his way to his own house, with many other persons, as a body-guard. They were followed by a large number of other persons, who attempted to throw him down, and were very free in the use of missiles and mud; the mob were so vociferous, that their shoutings were heard two and a half miles distant, many persons leaving their houses to endeavor to ascertain the cause of such an uproar. On James C. Fuller's entering his house, the mob surrounded his parlor windows, and these would, most probably, have been smashed in pieces, and the building defaced, had not one of the assailants been seized with a fit, and in that state conveyed into James C. Fuller's parlor, where he lay insensible for three quarters of an hour. This sudden seizure diverted the attention of the mob from my friend and his property to their own companion.
James C. Fuller informed me that mobs in America are generally, if not always, instigated by "persons of property and standing;" and the most blameable, in his case, were not those who yelled, et cet., et cet., but others who prompted the outrage. Happily this state of things is now altered: as much order and decorum, with fixed attention, is now witnessed at an abolition lecture as at any other lecture; and a colored man can now collect a larger meeting in Skaneateles than a white man, and the behavior of the audience is attentive, kind, and respectful. My friend, John Candler, who was here a fortnight before me, collected a large assembly to hear his account of the effects of emancipation in our West India Islands, and many expressed themselves much gratified with his narrative.
Being anxious to proceed to Peterboro', to visit Gerrit Smith, I accepted James C. Fuller's kind offer to take me in his carriage. The distance is nearly fifty miles, and the roads were, in some parts, very rough; but they intersect a fine country. Much wheat is grown in many places, and here the crop appeared generally good.
Having started rather late in the afternoon, we were benighted before we reached Manlius Square, where we lodged. Though my kind friend would not permit me to pay my share of the bill, yet, to gratify my curiosity, he communicated the particulars of the charge, as follows: Half a bushel of oats for the horses, 25 cents; supper for two persons, 25 cents; two beds, 25 cents; hay and stable-room for the two horses, 25 cents; total, one dollar, or about 4s. 2d. sterling.
We arrived at Peterboro' early the following morning, where I remained till the sixteenth, at the house of Gerrit Smith. He was once a zealous supporter of the Colonization Society, but when convinced of the evil character and tendency of that scheme, he withdrew from it, and became a warm and able advocate of the immediate abolition of slavery. He is one of the few Americans who have inherited large property from their parents, and he has contributed to this cause with princely munificence. Gerrit Smith and Arthur Tappan have, each on one or more occasions given single donations of ten thousand dollars (upwards of two thousand pounds sterling) to promote anti-slavery objects. His wife, Ann Carroll Smith, who is a native of Maryland, and his daughter, an only child, share in my valued friend's ardent sympathy for the sufferings of the slave. During my stay, he received a letter from Samuel Worthington, of Mississippi, who held in slavery Harriet Russell. Harriet was formerly the slave of Ann Carroll Smith, having been given to her when they were both children. Ann C. Smith was but twelve years old when, with her father's family, she removed from Maryland to New York. Harriet was left in Maryland. Shortly after Ann C. Smith's marriage, and when she was about eighteen years of age, her brother, James Fitzhugh, of Maryland, wrote to ask her to give Harriet to him, stating that she was, or was about to be, married to his slave, Samuel Russell. She consented: and her brother soon after emigrated to Kentucky, taking Samuel and Harriet with him. After this Samuel and Harriet were repeatedly sold.
Some years ago, Gerrit and Ann C. Smith having become deeply impressed with the great sin of slavery, were anxious to learn what had become of Harriet. But they did not succeed in ascertaining her residence, until the letter received during my visit informed them of it, and which also stated that Harriet and her husband were living, and that they had several children. The price put upon the family was four thousand dollars.
James C. Fuller having kindly offered to go into Kentucky, where Samuel Worthington then resided, to negotiate with him for the purchase of the family, G. Smith gladly accepted the offer of one so well qualified for this undertaking. James C. Fuller succeeded in purchasing the family for three thousand five hundred dollars, exclusive of his travelling expenses, and those of the slave family, which amounted to about two hundred and eighty dollars. He has published a very interesting account of his journey, in a letter addressed to myself, from which some extracts are given in the Appendix.[A] Eighteen months ago, G. and A.C. Smith united with other children of her father, the late Col. Fitzhugh, in purchasing, at the cost of four thousand dollars, the liberty of ten slaves, who, or their parents, were among the slaves of Colonel Fitzhugh when he left Maryland. I have recently learned that they are negotiating the purchase of the liberty of other slaves, who formerly belonged to Colonel Fitzhugh. It is nearly seven years since Gerrit Smith and his family adopted the practice of total abstinence from all slave produce, thus additionally manifesting the sincerity of those convictions which have induced him to contribute so largely of his wealth both to the anti-slavery funds, and for the liberation of all slaves with which his family property had the most remote connection.
[Footnote A: See Appendix I.]
Here, I had some expectation of again meeting my friend, James G. Birney, who was gone on a journey to Ohio, and is well known to English abolitionists, by his able assistance at the great Anti-Slavery Convention, as one of its vice-presidents, and by his subsequent labors, which are thus acknowledged, on his return to America, by the Committee of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society:—
"That this committee are deeply sensible of the services rendered to the anti-slavery cause by their esteemed friend and coadjutor, James Gillespie Birney, Esq., whilst in this country, in a course of laborious efforts, in which his accurate and extensive information, his wise and judicious counsels, and his power of calm and convincing statement, have become eminently conspicuous.
"The committee also take the present occasion to record their sense of his zealous and disinterested labors in defence of the rights of outraged humanity in his own country, during a period of great excitement and opposition: and of the proof he has given of his sincerity, in having twice manumitted the slaves that had come into his possession; a noble example, which they trust others will not be slow to follow."
Whilst J.G. Birney was in this country, in addition to his arduous labors, in addressing large assemblies in many of the cities of the United Kingdom, he prepared and published his excellent work, "The American Churches the Bulwark of American Slavery," which is eminently deserving of the attentive perusal of all Christian readers. The estimation in which James G. Birney is held by American abolitionists, is marked by his having been twice unanimously selected by the "Liberty Party," as a candidate for the Presidential chair.
I found G. Smith as much interested in the subject of temperance, as in that of slavery. No person in the whole of the township in which he lives is licensed to sell drams. For an innkeeper to sell a glass of spirits, or even of strong beer, is illegal, and exposes him to a heavy fine.
The next morning I left early for Utica, where I had the pleasure of again meeting the friends I had parted from at Buffalo, with whom I paid a visit to the Oneida Institute, about two miles from Utica. This college was the first in the United States to throw open its doors to students, irrespective of color. It was also one of the earliest institutions to combine manual labor with instruction. The principle is adopted partly from a motive of economy, but principally because intellectual vigor is believed to depend on bodily health, and that these can be best secured and preserved by exercise and labor, especially out of door and agricultural employments. The labor of the students defrays a considerable part of the expense of their support, but as the severe pressure of the times has limited the means of many liberal benefactors of Oneida, the establishment, which usually comprises one hundred young men, is now limited to about one-third of the number. Several of these are colored. The Oberlin Institute in Ohio is on a much larger scale than this, and is on an equally liberal footing with regard to color. I much regretted being unable, from want of time, to comply with the urgent request of my friend, Wm. Dawes and others, to visit this important and interesting establishment. The number of students at Oberlin last year was five hundred and sixty, including those in the department for females.
I was much pleased to have the opportunity of becoming further acquainted with the President of Oneida, Beriah Green, and with his friend, Wm. Goodell, who resides in the neighborhood. Their names will be reverenced by the abolitionists of America as long as the memory of anti-slavery efforts shall survive. Before we left, we had an opportunity of meeting the students together, who appeared much interested with my friend John Candler's details of the results of emancipation in Jamaica. I was disappointed in not finding at home Alvan Stewart, one of the ablest and most zealous friends of the Anti-Slavery cause; but Beriah Green kindly accompanied me to call upon several of their abolition friends in the city.
My limited time prevented my paying a visit to Henry B. Stanton, who was residing not far from Utica, and whose acquaintance I had the pleasure of making in England. He also will be remembered for his able assistance at the Convention, and by his eloquent addresses at public meetings in this country. The following record of his services is made by the Committee of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society:—
"That this Committee, in taking leave of their friend and fellow-laborer in the cause of universal emancipation, Henry Brewster Stanton, Esq., record their high estimate of the valuable services rendered by him to that cause, whilst in Great Britain, by his eloquent and powerful advocacy; and, in tendering him their thanks, they express their sincere desire for his success in the great work to which he has devoted himself."
The name of Henry B. Stanton previously occurs in conjunction with that of Theodore D. Weld, as having left Lane Seminary with many other students, rather than be silent on the abolition question: becoming from that time a strenuous and powerful anti-slavery advocate.
I proceeded in the evening to Albany, and thence to New York the next morning; where I remained from the 17th to the 26th instant, and, during this time, I put in circulation the following address:—
"To the Members of the Religious Society of Friends in the United States of America.
"Dear Friends,—Having for many years believed it my duty to devote a considerable portion of my time and attention to the promotion of the abolition of slavery and the slave-trade, I have acted in cordial co-operation with the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society since its formation. The principles of that Society may be briefly explained by the following extract from its constitution: 'That so long as slavery exists, there is no reasonable prospect of the annihilation of the slave-trade, and of extinguishing the sale and barter of human beings: that the extinction of slavery and the slave-trade will be attained most effectually by the employment of those means which are of a moral, religious, and pacific character: and that no measures be resorted to by this society in the prosecution of their objects, but such as are in entire accordance with these principles.'
"My visit to this country had reference, in a great measure, to the objects for which this society was established; but, although I left my native land with the general approbation and full unity of my friends, they concurred with me in opinion, that any official document, beyond a certificate from 'my monthly meeting,' expressive of sympathy with my engagement, might rather obstruct than promote the end I had in view. I was desirous of a personal interchange of sentiment with many of the abolitionists in this land, upon matters having an important bearing upon our future exertions. The warm attachment which I have ever felt to the religious society with which I am connected, and the ready co-operation of its members with their Christian neighbors in promoting this cause in Great Britain, inclined me to embrace every suitable opportunity to communicate with Friends in this country. And I have been encouraged, not only by the great personal kindness I have received from them generally, but also by the lively interest expressed by most, on the subject of emancipation, wherever I have introduced it.
"A further acquaintance with Friends in the compass of the three or four 'Yearly Meetings,' in which my lot has been cast, and my inquiries respecting the state of the other Yearly Meetings, has convinced me that a large number of their most consistent members, including many aged and universally respected Friends, are desirous of embracing every right opening, both individually and collectively, for the promotion of the abolition cause. And while they are fully aware that there are reasons growing out of the existing state of things, which render great circumspection necessary, they can see no good ground for believing that the manner in which Friends of this country, of a former generation, labored for the liberation of the slave, was not under the guidance of the Spirit of truth.
"This is now the course pursued by Friends generally in England. That there may be no misapprehension as to the conduct of Friends, with regard to this subject, in Great Britain, I may mention, that I am the bearer of a document expressive of unity with my visit, signed by William Allen, Josiah Forster, William Forster, George Stacey, Samuel Fox, George W. Alexander, and Robert Forster, who declare themselves fellow members with myself of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Committee. This committee is composed of persons of various religious denominations, amongst whom it will be seen are many of the prominent members of our meeting for sufferings. Upon the list of delegates to the late Anti-Slavery Convention, in London, are the names of nearly one hundred well known Friends, including those of four who are, or have been clerks of the yearly meeting; and the present clerk of that meeting, my esteemed friend, George Stacey, took an active part, and rendered essential service in the Convention. The meeting house in Gracechurch Street was freely granted by Friends in London, who have charge of it, for the use of the Convention, and the concluding sittings of that body were held in it.
"In fact, Friends generally in England think it their duty to render every aid in their power to the anti-slavery cause, whether in their collective capacity, or individually uniting with their fellow-citizens, when they can do so without any compromise of our religious principles and testimonies. I speak more explicitly on this point, because I have ascertained with much concern, that there is an influential portion of the Society, including, I have no doubt, some sincere abolitionists, who have been so fearful that the testimonies of the Society might suffer by any union with others, that they have not only avoided such a co-operation themselves, but have dissuaded those of their brethren, who have believed it incumbent upon them to act otherwise; and in one 'Yearly Meeting,' at least, I have too much reason to fear they have tacitly, if not actively sanctioned the omission of the names of Friends on meeting appointments,—however consistent in their conduct, and concerned for the welfare of the society—simply because they have felt it their duty to act with persons of other denominations in promoting the abolition of slavery; thus, in appearance at least, throwing the whole weight and influence of the society, in its collective capacity, against a movement, which, although doubtless partaking of the imperfections attendant upon all human instrumentality, has already aroused the whole country to a sense of the wrongs of the slave, and secured to the nominally free colored citizens, in many of the States, rights of which they have been so long and so unjustly deprived.
"Though I can hardly expect that any thing from one entertaining my view of the subject, can have much weight with those Friends, who, with a full understanding of the heavy responsibility they were assuming, have discountenanced anti-slavery exertions, and the use of our meeting houses, even by consistent members, for the purpose of giving information on the subject:[A] yet, as it has occasioned me no small degree of anxiety, both in reference to the anti-slavery cause, and the Society of Friends itself, I believe I cannot return to my native land with peace of mind, without earnestly and affectionately pressing upon such Friends, the great importance of a careful examination of the ground which they have taken. Our unwearied adversary is sometimes permitted to lead us into the most fearful errors, when he assumes the appearance of an angel of light. And is there not great danger, in encouraging the young and inexperienced to suppose that the maintenance of any of our testimonies may be neglected, except when we feel a Divine intimation to uphold them, and may it not open the door to great laxity in our practice? While I fully believe that the true disciple of Christ will be favored with the immediate guidance of the Holy Spirit whenever it is needful to direct his steps; it appears to me especially important, that, in matters of self-sacrifice and conflicting with our worldly interest or reputation, we should guard against being deluded into a neglect of duty, by waiting for this direct Divine intimation, where the path of duty is obvious and clearly understood, and when testimonies are concerned, which we have long considered it our duty, on all occasions, to support. If, under such a view of the subject, we do believe it our duty to cease to act ourselves, and discourage our brethren from laboring in the cause of the slave; a close self-examination surely is needful, in order to ascertain if we are consistently carrying out the same principle in our daily walk in life—in our mercantile transactions—our investments of property—in our connection with public institutions,—and with political parties.
[Footnote A: "It is right to state, that I was much encouraged by the lively expression of sympathy in the anti-slavery cause in the Yearly Meetings of Philadelphia and New York: that at the former place Friends opened a room at the meeting house for my friend John Candler to give some information on the subject, and at New York the large meeting house was not only readily granted to him and me for the same purpose, but the clerks of the Yearly Meeting kindly gave notice and invited Friends to attend."]
"It should be borne in perpetual recollection, that we are in no small danger of shrinking from a faithful maintenance of those testimonies which are unpopular with the world, as well as of not seeing our own neglect of duty, while censuring the zeal or supposed indiscretion of others. Besides, if this good cause be really endangered by popular excitement, and the indiscretion of its imprudent advocates, the obligation of consistent Friends to be found at their posts, faithfully maintaining the testimony of truth on its behalf, is greatly increased; and it is under such circumstances that I think I have seen the peculiar advantage and protection to our young friends in England, of having their elder brethren with them, aiding them by their sympathy, as well as by their advice and counsel. I am persuaded that those who are called to occupy the foremost ranks in society cannot be too careful not to impose a burden upon tender consciences, by discouraging, either directly or indirectly, a course of conduct which is sanctioned by the precepts and examples of our Divine Master, lest they alienate from us some of His disciples, and thereby greatly injure the society they are so laudably anxious to 'keep unspotted from the world.'
"We are told, on the highest authority, that 'by their fruits' we are to judge of the laborers in the Christian vineyard; and, while I am fully aware of the greater difficulties in the way of emancipation here, as compared with Great Britain, I have been almost irresistibly led to contrast the difference in the results of the course pursued by Friends in the two countries. In America, during the last twenty-five years, it is evident that slavery and the slave-trade have greatly increased; and even where the members of our society are the most numerous and influential, the prejudice against color is as strong as in any part of the world,[A] and Friends themselves, in many places, are by no means free from this prejudice. In Great Britain, Friends, by society action, and by uniting with their fellow-countrymen, not only contributed, under Providence, in no small degree, to the passage of the act of 1834, for the abolition of slavery in the British West Indies; but, when it was found that the system of apprenticeship which this act introduced, was made an instrument of cruel oppression to the slaves, a renewal of similar labors for about twelve months, resulted in the complete emancipation of our colored brethren in those colonies.