BECK index

US Slavery & Abolitionists 1801-44

by Sanderson Beck

Slavery Increases in the United States
Slave Revolts: Vesey, Turner & on Ships
Frederick Douglass & Slave Narratives
Abolitionists Lundy & Walker 1817-29
Garrison & The Liberator 1829-32
American Anti-Slavery Society 1833-34
Militant Abolitionists 1835-36
Abolitionists, Peace & Women 1837-40
Abolitionist Politics 1839-44

United States Democracy & Slavery 1801-1844 has been published as a book. For ordering information, please click here.

Slavery Increases in the United States

      The United States Census of 1800 reported that there were 5,308,483 people including 893,602 slaves. In 1810 these numbers increased to 7,239,881 people with 1,191,362 of these slaves. In 1820 the population was up to 9,638,453 with 1,538,022 slaves. All of these slaves were of African descent as in the United States this exploitation was a racist institution.
      In June 1805 in Thompson v. Wilmot a Kentucky court ruled that a contract which declared that a purchased slave must be freed within seven years was upheld, and the freed slave was awarded $691.25 in damages. In 1809 a higher court affirmed the decision, establishing a standard for the future emancipation of slaves.
      The profitable production of cotton increased the population of Alabama and Mississippi by five times from 1810 to about 200,000 in 1820, and 75,000 of those were black slaves. The United States admitted Mississippi as a slave state in December 1817 and Alabama in December 1819. The number of slaves in this region would grow to nearly a half million by 1840. The United States Census counted 1,538,022 slaves in 1820, 2,009,043 in 1830, and 2,487,355 in 1840.
      While the US was expanding its slavery system, in 1838 the British freed all slaves in their colonies including 700,000 slaves in the Caribbean. The US wealth in slaves went from $577 million in 1830 to $997 million in 1840. In 1827 the Consolidated Association of the Planters of Louisiana was chartered by the state legislature, and in 1828 they received $2.5 million in bond sales from Baring Brothers in Europe. From 1833 in four years 150,000 slaves were moved west from the old slave states to the new ones.
      In 1802 cotton had been 14% of US exports, but this tripled to 42% in 1820. By then the US controlled the world export market for cotton. From 1815 to 1819 settlers brought nearly 100,000 slaves to southern Louisiana, central Tennessee, and southwest Mississippi. Cotton production in the US went from 180 million bales in 1821 to 644 million in 1841, increasing the US share of world production from 29% to 62%. From an index of 100 in 1820 cotton picking grew to 168 in 1845 while spinning production went to 284 and weaving to 514. Torture was used to train cotton pickers to be more efficient. Enslavers demanded at least 50 pounds a day in 1805, but by the late 1820s the demand was up to 100 pounds and went up 30 pounds in the next five years. In the 1850s they would demand 200 pounds or more. This method enabled slaveholders to match the increasing mechanical ingenuity in textile mills.
      In 1817 a Tennessee law banned selling a slave who was suing for freedom, and a North Carolina law made killing a slave punishable as homicide. In 1818 the Illinois state constitution banned slavery even though there was a proslavery party there. By December when Missouri petitioned for statehood, 10,000 enslaved blacks had been moved there. The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church condemned slavery as a “gross violation” of human rights. Free blacks formed the Pennsylvania Augustine Society to educate blacks, and public schools were started in Philadelphia and Columbia.
      The United States acquired Florida in 1819 to reduce the danger of slaves near there from running away. In 1820 the US Census reported that 233,634 of the Negro population were free. The Maine Constitution gave all citizens regardless of race or color the right to vote and go to school. Occasionally rebellious slaves set fires, and blacks’ homes were burned in Philadelphia. In February 1820 the American Fire Insurance Co. of Philadelphia informed a man in Savannah, Georgia that they would no longer provide insurance for those in slave states.
      On 29 June 1820 the American ship Dallas captured the Spanish Antelope that was trying to smuggle 281 Africans into the United States. The litigation went on until July 1827 when Spanish claimants were awarded 37 surviving slaves, and the US got about 130 whom the American Colonization Society transported to Liberia.
      The interests of slave-owners enabled Missouri to be admitted as a slave state in 1821, but the compromise prohibited slavery in future states north of 36° 30′. After becoming a state Maine voided marriages between a white and a Negro, mulatto, or Indian. The First Negro Benevolent Society began in Baltimore, and by 1835 there were 35 societies. Also in 1821 the African Company began putting on Shakespearean and other plays in New York.
      In 1823 Mississippi law banned meetings of five or more blacks and teaching Negroes to read and write. Other southern states would pass similar laws. In October 1824 a mob of more than 400 whites in Providence, Rhode Island protested the employment of Negroes and ravaged homes in the blacks’ “Hard Scrabble” district. In 1826 a mob of whites tried to drive out the 690 blacks from Cincinnati. A study reported that the percentage of blacks in the prisons of Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania were about twelve times their percentage of the population. After another riot in Cincinnati in 1829 about 1,200 blacks left to go to Canada.
      Riots and attacks on blacks began occurring more often in 1829. In January 1830 hostile whites drove 80 of the 200 blacks out of Portsmouth, Ohio, a state which that year banned Negroes from the state militia. In 1831 whites, upset about blacks taking jobs, attacked a Negro neighborhood in Providence, Rhode Island. A black defending himself shot dead a white sailor. The next day violence brought out the militia who were stoned by the whites. On the fourth day the militia fired into a crowd, killing 4 and wounding 14; 18 houses had been destroyed.
      In the 1830 North Carolina v. Mann decision the state supreme court judge Thomas Ruffin ruled that a master’s power over his slave was absolute, and so slaveholders could not be guilty of committing a crime against a slave.
      The business of buying slaves cheaply and selling them to the new cotton states was handled by the firms of Woolfolk, Saunders, and Overly in Maryland and by Virginia’s Franklin and Armfield who in 1834 advertised they would pay higher prices than others for 500 blacks. Slave trading expanded from Baltimore, Washington, Richmond, Norfolk, and Charleston to Montgomery, Memphis, and New Orleans. Austin Woolfolk developed the slave trade in Baltimore. Slaveholders sent some slaves to jail and paid for their whipping and incarcerating. The Baltimore jail did not have separate quarters for males and females until 1830. The financial downturn of 1819 put thousands of slaves on the market. Maryland slaveholders gained cash while those in the southwest went into debt to buy slaves and land. Woolfolk shipped slaves to New Orleans. In the mid-1820s the price of slaves was 50% higher in New Orleans than in Charleston.
      Isaac Franklin and John Armfield formed a partnership in 1828 and bought slaves in Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware to sell them in southwestern slave states. They became the largest slave-trading firm in the US, but they sold their business in 1835. The Union Bank of Louisiana extended credit and financial service to Franklin and Armfield. In 1832 Louisiana banned selling slaves out of the state, but Franklin managed to leave New Orleans with 270. That year cholera epidemics in New York and London spread to Natchez by slave trading. Franklin had their bodies buried in banks of Mississippi River tributaries. They were discovered, and eighty citizens petitioned for slave traders to be expelled from New Orleans. The city council met and banned slave traders. Franklin blamed the overseer Samuel Johnson who died a week later.
      President Jackson’s policies greatly aided the slave traders as slave prices more than doubled between 1830 and 1836. Sale of federal land also increased from 1.2 million acres in 1829 to 20 million in 1836. Franklin left the business in 1835, and the panic of 1837 devastated the trade. At his death in 1846 Franklin had 10,000 acres in Louisiana and 600 slaves.
      Slaveholders encouraged breeding, and in 1832 Thomas Dew claimed that this helped him export 6,000 slaves a year. Dew was a college professor and argued in favor of slavery in his Review of the Debate in the Virginia Legislature of 1831 and 1832. Slave breeding was so profitable that girls began having children at the age of 13 and might bear ten or more children. Masters procreated mulattoes with their slaves, but a black man mating a white woman was dangerous and rare. Slaves were considered the property of their owners, and selling them often divided families. Louisiana passed a law that children under ten could not be separated from their mothers, though such laws were often disregarded. Yet breaking up families often led to more runaways.
      United States law had ended the African slave trade in 1808, and the British were also opposed. Yet the trade continued. In the 1830s slave traders transported about 90,000 slaves annually across the Atlantic to Havana and Rio de Janeiro. In 1836 the consul at Havana reported that more than a thousand slaves within a few months had been taken in American ships to Texas, where about 15,000 African slaves were arriving each year. Others were shipped to Florida, Louisiana, and other markets. North American shipbuilders sold 64 ships in Rio de Janeiro between 1841 and 1845, mostly for the slave trade.
      Slaves were also hired out under contracts between the owners. The cost of buying a slave fluctuated with the price of cotton, reaching a peak of more than a $1,000 in 1818, falling to under $800 in 1822, rising again to about $1,300 in 1838, and falling to around $700 in 1844. As their work become more valuable the price of slaves for sale or hire increased. In 1838 a corporation building a railroad from Jackson to Brandon, Mississippi hired 140 slaves for $159,000. Slaves worked on the docks of southern ports.
      During this era many slaves worked on farms with most in the fields and a few privileged to be house-slaves. The field overseers were usually poor whites who usually resented black slaves taking their work, and they could be quite cruel to instill discipline. A trusted black slave could also be a driver but was usually resented by the other slaves. One slave was needed to farm three acres of cotton, and they worked in gangs on large plantations. They worked long hours especially during the harvest which could be 18 hours a day. Excessively brutal beatings of slaves could cause them to run away. Fights often broke out between a cruel overseer and slaves.
      States in the South had Slave Codes to protect their human property that left slaves with practically no rights at all. Slaves could not sue or even testify in court except against another slave. A few could own property or make contracts. Slaves were punished for striking a white person, and masters and overseers often got away with killing a slave. The rape of a slave was prosecuted only as trespassing. Slaves must have authorization to leave the plantation. In the South whites could capture blacks and turn them in. Most slaves could not sell or buy goods. They could not entertain visitors and could only meet together if a white person was present. Slaves were punished for minor offenses by whipping and for serious crimes by branding, imprisonment, or death. Yet slave-owners were reluctant to kill profitable workers. Patrols were regularly organized to catch fugitives, and during attempted insurrections and after them innocent blacks were killed. The Cherokee and Choctaw nations passed similar laws that discriminated against Negroes. In November 1843 the Cherokees legalized their intermarriage with white men.
      Slaves were generally fed meal and salt pork, but house-slaves could eat what the whites had and were given better clothes. Slave quarters generally had no floor, windows, or beds. Young children of slaves were allowed to play, often with the masters’ children. Slaves got a little free time during the summer lay-by and for a week around Christmas. Slaves could attend church, but seating was segregated. Richmond, Charleston, and Lexington had churches for slaves. Songs about a better future in heaven were popular. Most plantations had at least one black preacher. Slaves might attend camp meetings of Methodists or Baptists, and these often used the Bible to justify slavery. Presbyterians and Quakers were more liberal about blacks and had few slaves or none. The Episcopal Bishop Leonidas Polk owned 111 slaves in 1840, the most in Maury County, Tennessee.

      The slave Henry Blair of Maryland invented and patented corn harvesters in 1834. Some slaves mutilated their hands or feet so that they would not have to work, and suicides were common. As more slaves ran away to the “underground railroad,” patrols were strengthened. The Fugitive Slave law became a controversial issue that divided the North and South.
      By 1830 the United States had 319,000 free blacks. The census reported that the states with the most free blacks were the following: 52,938 in Maryland, 47,348 in Virginia, 44,870 in New York, 37,930 in Pennsylvania, 19,543 in North Carolina, 18,303 in New Jersey, and 15,855 in Delaware. In 1829 Georgia banned them from being typesetters. In 1831 North Carolina required blacks engaged in selling to get a license, and South Carolina prohibited blacks from being clerks.
      Connecticut disenfranchised blacks in 1818. In 1821 the New York Constitution required blacks to have property worth $250 and three years residency in order to vote. In 1822 the Rhode Island Constitution disenfranchised blacks. Florida restricted voting to whites in 1827. Tennessee disenfranchised blacks in 1834, and the next year North Carolina did so. In 1838 Pennsylvania let only white males vote.
      Baltimore had blacks studying in 1820. That year Boston put black children in separate schools, and other towns in Massachusetts followed. In 1824 the New York Common Council began supporting African Free Schools. New Jersey had schools for black children, and Pennsylvania increased their public and private schools for blacks.
      On 21 December 1816 at a Washington hotel Henry Clay, John Randolph of Roanoke and Robert Finley had organized the American Colonization Society to promote the migration of blacks to Africa, and Bushrod Washington became the first president. Present also were James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, Francis Scott Key, and the only non-slaveholder Daniel Webster. Less than a month later free Negroes in Richmond and Philadelphia announced their opposition to deportation plans. The recently formed American Bible Society provided missionary workers. The colony of Liberia was founded in 1822, and the African Repository began publishing in 1825.
      After New York liberated 10,000 slaves in 1827, some were shipped to Liberia which had 1,420 blacks by 1830. In 1829 wealthy Gerrit Smith supported the forming of the New York State Colonization Society. Over a dozen state legislatures approved the society by 1832, the year William Lloyd Garrison published a book against the project that other abolitionists also opposed. In 1833 the Maryland State Colonization Society founded a new colony in West Africa south of Liberia. Over the years the American Colonization Society helped about 12,000 of the 15,000 black Americans who migrated. Black abolitionists attended large anti-colonization meetings in New York on 20 December 1838 and 8 January 1839, and they passed a resolution denouncing the scheme as “anti-republican, anti-christian, and anti-humane.”
      In 1835 South Carolina Governor George McDuffie spoke to the legislature and said that the African Negro is “destined by Providence” to occupy a condition of servile dependence.
      In 1837 free blacks in New York City owned real estate worth $1,400,000 and had $600,000 in banks. Philadelphia’s 18,768 blacks had property worth about $1,800,000, and they had 16 churches with more than 4,000 members. Yet in July the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decided that they could not vote. A mob in Philadelphia burned a shelter for black orphans and attacked two black churches. A protest in Philadelphia on 14 March 1838 produced the pamphlet, Appeal of Forty Thousand Citizens, Threatened with Disfranchisement to the People of Pennsylvania. Blacks in Cincinnati founded the School Fund Institute of Ohio. Rev. Hosea Easton published his Treatise on the Intellectual Character and Political Condition of the Colored People of the U.S. in Boston. Canada allowed blacks to vote and to serve on juries.
      A riot in New York City in 1834 destroyed the homes of blacks and Lewis Tappan and abolitionist churches. One month later 450 whites harassed a black neighborhood of Philadelphia. That year and in 1839 riots broke out in Columbia, Trenton, Rochester, three towns in New Jersey, Utica, and Palmyra. Also in 1839 whites burned the houses of blacks in Pittsburgh. Ohio enacted a severe fugitive slave law.
      Between 1830 and 1836 the US economy grew at an average annual rate of 6.6%. Southern planters and slave traders preferred a capitalistic free market to the protectionism favored by northern manufacturers. In the years 1828-36 about $400 million was invested in expanding the slave system by moving 250,000 slaves, selling 48 million acres of public land, removing Indians, and increasing southwestern financing. After the financial panics of 1837 and 1839 people in Mississippi had doubled their debts to owe $48 million to the state’s banks. The price of cotton fell from 14 cents a pound in the spring of 1839 to 10 cents by September. Biddle’s US Bank of Pennsylvania closed in October, causing other institutions to fail. After that most southwestern banks never opened. Wall Street and New York bankers blamed the southwestern frontier for stealing their money.
      Over 27,000 slaves were moved across the Sabine River into the Texas Republic between 1837 and 1845. The 1840 US Census counted 2,873,648 Negroes, but only 386,293 of them were free. New York and Vermont granted jury trials to alleged fugitive slaves. Massachusetts repealed the law against whites marrying blacks or Indians.
      New Orleans had schools for free blacks, and in 1840 Thomy Lafon, Madam Couvent, and Aristide provided $5,000 for the Ecole des Orphelins Indigents.
      In August 1841 two blacks killed a German farmer near Cincinnati, and on the 29th a fight broke out in the city between whites and blacks that lasted five days. The state militia was called out, and about 300 black men went to jail and were told their families would be protected; but a mob attacked them, and none of the white men were punished.
      Rhode Island extended the right to vote to blacks in 1842. In January of that year the US Supreme Court upheld the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 in Prigg v. Pennsylvania, and they declared Pennsylvania’s personal liberty law of 1826 unconstitutional, though they advised that the federal government could not make states enforce the federal law.
      Charles Dickens toured the United States in 1842, and that year he published his American Notes for General Circulation. He commented on the effects of banning the education of slaves, writing,

All men who know that there are laws against instructing slaves,
of which the pains and penalties greatly exceed in their amount
the fines imposed on those who maim and torture them,
must be prepared to find their faces
very low in the scale of intellectual expression.1

      In 1844 New Jersey’s new constitution limited voting to white men. L. W. Paine was a white machinist from Rhode Island who worked in Georgia to help slaves escape, but in 1844 he was caught and imprisoned for six years.

Slave Revolts: Vesey, Turner & on Ships

      In the spring of 1819 slaves in Augusta, Georgia conspired to burn the town, but the leader Coot was caught and put to death. In March 1820 convicted slaves from Jamaica, who were sold to Mr. Houston on Talbot Island in Florida, broke into a store-room and took provisions, arms, and ammunition. Mrs. Houston asked for help from Amelia Island, and federal troops were sent to put down the rebellion.
      Denmark Vesey was brought to Charleston, South Carolina in 1785 but managed to hire himself to work as a carpenter. He could read and write and spoke several languages. At the age of 32 in 1799 he won $1,500 in the city lottery, and he purchased his freedom in 1800. He believed in equality and wanted to liberate slaves. He and his friends began meeting in 1818. They gathered and made weapons, and he asked Haiti for aid. By 1820 there were 3,615 free blacks in the county, and by 1822 he had saved $8,000. He studied the debates over slavery and had a copy of Rufus King’s speech condemning slavery. Vesey organized a slave revolt that was to start on Bastille Day, claiming he had 9,000 followers. They planned to attack the city arsenal and gun stores, and they aimed to kill whites and blacks who refused to join them. However, on 25 May 1822 a slave informed his master about the conspiracy. An investigation began, and on June 14 another slave reported that they were organizing around the Hampstead AME church. Troops arrested 135 people: 38 were not charged; a special tribunal acquitted 15, had 43 transported and sold, and hanged 35 including Vesey between June 18 and August 9. Two slaves and two free blacks were rewarded for informing. In response Charleston restricted black religious meetings, and the Seamen’s Acts allowed them to lock up free black sailors temporarily until their ships sailed. This was enforced there and in other places until the Civil War.
      In September 1826 the slave-traders Edward and Howard Stone with three other whites were transporting 77 slaves from Bourbon County, Kentucky down the Ohio River when about 90 miles south of Louisville the slaves managed to break out, get arms, and killed the five white men. They went to Indiana, but reports claimed all were captured. Five of them were executed on November 29, and most of the others were sold in the deep South. Also that year 29 slaves were shipped from Maryland to Georgia by Austin Woolfolk. They rebelled and killed two of the crew on the Decatur. They demanded to be taken to Haiti, but the ship was captured and taken to New York where they all escaped except for William Bowser who was caught and hanged in New York City on December 15.

      The slave Nat Turner was born on 2 October 1800 on a plantation in Southampton, Virginia. His parents and Nat believed that he would be a prophet. He had an active mind and quickly learned to read and spell words. Others recognized his superior judgment which he believed was “perfected by Divine inspiration.” His father ran away. Nat was especially influenced by the admonition, “Seek ye the kingdom of Heaven, and all things shall be added to you.” He believed that God ordained him for some great purpose, and over many years this belief was strengthened. He shared revelations that he said came from God. When he was 21, he ran away and lived in the woods for thirty days before returning as guided to “be beaten with many stripes.” Next he had a vision of “white spirits and black spirits engaged in battle.” The sun was darkened, and blood flowed. He preached for three years, but white people would not let them be baptized in their church. They went down to the water and were baptized by the Spirit. On 12 May 1828 he had another vision, and Spirit told him that “the Serpent was loosened and that he should take up the yoke of the Christ and “fight against the Serpent.” He took the eclipse of the sun in February 1831 as a sign that they should prepare to “slay my enemies with their own weapons.”
      On Saturday August 21 in the afternoon six friends and Nat had a dinner in the woods. That night they murdered their owners, the Travis family, while they were sleeping. They went from farm to farm killing whites as the number of blacks revolting increased to about seventy. They killed at least 55 whites and about as many slaves in forty hours. Soldiers, militia, and sailors formed an army of 3,000 men who suppressed the revolt on the evening of the 23rd. Whites continued the violence against the blacks in the region for two weeks, killing an estimated 120 slaves and free blacks. The state accused 56 slaves of participating in the conspiracy and convicted 32. Twelve were removed from the state, and twenty were executed. Virginia compensated their owners. Turner hid in the woods and was captured on October 30. In court he pleaded not guilty, though he told his lawyer “that he did not feel so.” When asked to speak before sentencing, Turner said, “I have made a full confession to Mr. Gray, and I have nothing more to say.”2 The Confession of Nat Turner edited by his attorney Thomas Ruffin Gray was published in Baltimore about two weeks after Turner was hanged on November 11. About 50,000 copies of the Confession were printed before the Civil War.
      In the narrative of his life Moses Grandy reported that slaves, who formerly were allowed to have religious meetings, no longer were allowed to do so after the Turner rebellion, though they could go to the churches of the whites.
      In response to this crisis Thomas Roderick Dew, a professor of political economy at the College of William and Mary, defended slavery by arguing that getting rid of it would cause “greater injury to both the master and the slaves.” Yet this would be temporary, and anyone with a conscience can see that slavery is extremely unjust and that letting everyone be free is much more just.
      In Mississippi 21 conspirators were hanged in 1835. That year in Louisiana two whites suspected of planning an uprising were also hanged. The Michigan constitution limited voting to whites, and so did North Carolina which also outlawed whites teaching free blacks. Charleston, South Carolina closed down black Daniel Payne’s school for free blacks.
      The New Orleans Picayune reported on 1 September 1840 that about 400 slaves rose up in Iberville and were put down with forty imprisoned and twenty sentenced to be hanged. In November 1842 the Picayune reported that about 300 Negroes ran away from the Concordia, Madison, and Carroll parishes into the swamps. About 15 or 20 blacks were arrested and questioned. Many other rebellions and escapes occurred.

      In 28 June 1839 the Spaniards José Ruiz and Pedro Montes left Havana on the Spanish La Amistad with 53 Africans taken from the slave-ship Tecora. Four days later Mende chief Cinqué managed to unlock his collar and led a revolt. They killed the captain and the cook and captured the Spaniards while the crew jumped overboard. Cinqué ordered Montes to sail toward Africa, but at night he reversed the course. Ten blacks died from drinking medicine. On August 26 Lt. Gedney of the USS Washington captured them by Long Island and took them on La Amistad to New Haven. Abolitionists set up a committee led by Lewis Tappan who hired lawyer Roger S. Baldwin to defend the Africans whom they did not consider slaves. Spain demanded the ship, cargo, and the slaves based on the treaties with the US in 1795 and 1819. President Van Buren agreed with his cabinet’s acceptance of this even though returning the Africans to Cuba would mean execution for rebellion. In the US court Baldwin argued that the Africans were not property. John Quincy Adams agreed to provide legal advice, and he held that the Africans were self-emancipated. Tappan arranged civil suits against Ruiz and Montes for assault and false imprisonment. Cinqué said they were driven by hunger and thirst to act.
      The Amistad trial before Judge Judson began on November 19. Baldwin questioned jurisdiction, and he argued that the Africans had been kidnapped unlawfully by slave traders. James Covey knew Mende and English, and he acted as interpreter. Baldwin argued that Africans have natural rights. Cinqué testified how he had been recently stolen away from his family in Africa and that Ruiz had treated them cruelly. Judson dismissed the property claims by the Spaniards and the US, and he ordered the US President to return the blacks to Africa. The United States appealed to the Supreme Court which heard arguments on 22 February 1841. US Attorney General Gilpin spoke first, and Baldwin suggested that international law also protects Africans and that the US had no power to establish slavery. Adams became senior counsel and spoke for more than eight hours, criticizing the Spaniards’ claims and Van Buren’s, and he argued the Africans had the right to free themselves. On March 9 Chief Justice Joseph Story spoke for the 8-1 majority that upheld Judson’s ruling, affirming the right of self-defense by those held illegally. Abolitionists and the Union Missionary Society raised money so that the 35 African survivors finally could be returned to Africa in January 1842.
      In late October 1841 the Creole left Virginia with the captain and his family, ten crew, and at least 135 slaves. The arrogance and sexual assaults by the enslavers provoked a slave revolt led by head cook Madison Washington on November 7 that took over the Creole. Other slaves wanted to execute the crew, but Washington persuaded them to stop the bloodshed after the killing of John Hewell. The captain had also been stabbed but survived. His dog bit several slaves before it was killed. They went to Nassau in the Bahamas where slavery had been abolished and was unpopular. Washington had gathered the weapons and threw them overboard except for a pistol and a musket. First mate Gifford told the US consul John Bacon about the revolt. They went to Col. Francis Cockburn who governed the Bahamas, and he promised to investigate. The 19 mutineers were arrested. The Governor’s Council wrote that they did not have jurisdiction, and they advised asking the British Secretary of State in London whether or not to turn over the detainees to the US government. Gifford and Bacon tried to buy guns in Nassau, but no one sold them any. The British detained 19 suspected of killing Hewell. Some of the ex-slaves were sent to Jamaica in November, and on 18 April 1842 the court freed the 17 who survived detention.

Frederick Douglass & Slave Narratives     

      The autobiographical Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass described his life up to his escape to freedom in 1838. Frederick Bailey was born in February 1818, and all he knew about his father was that he was a white man. His mother, Harriet Bailey, was a slave, and he was separated from her in infancy; he saw her only four or five times briefly at night. His first seven years were with his maternal grandparents in Talbot County, Maryland on the plantations of Col. Edward Lloyd who owned about a thousand slaves. Frederick’s grandfather was a freed black.
      Frederick was under the overseer Aaron Anthony for a year, and he witnessed the murder of a slave who had been whipped and had become “unmanageable;” but the overseer was not charged. After Anthony’s death he was taken to Baltimore and Lucretia Auld who was pleasant to her first slave and taught him letters; but after Hugh Auld instructed her that it was unlawful and unsafe to teach a slave to read, she became mean. He was carefully watched to keep him from reading books. On the street Frederick got white boys to teach him how to read, and he used Webster’s Spelling Book. At the age of 12 he earned 50 cents. He used it to buy The Columbian Orator and read it whenever he could.
      At Kennard’s wharf Frederick saw chained slaves put on ships going to New Orleans, and he resolved that he would do whatever he could to free his race. Eventually he learned what “abolition” meant for slaves. He wanted to escape, but he knew that some white men encouraged slaves to escape so that they could catch them and get the reward. After the death of Lucretia and Andrew Auld, Frederick was sent to live with Thomas Auld at St. Michael’s in March 1832. The abuse he received from Thomas led Frederick to justify his right to fight back against the injustice. He wrote,

I am not only the slave of Master Thomas,
but I am the slave of society at large.
Society at large has bound itself, in form and in fact,
to assist Master Thomas in robbing me of my rightful liberty,
and of the just reward of my labor;
therefore, whatever rights I have against Master Thomas,
I have, equally, against those
confederated with him in robbing me of liberty.
As society has marked me out as privileged plunder,
on the principle of self-preservation
I am justified in plundering in turn.
Since each slave belongs to all;
all must, therefore, belong to each….
Within the bounds of his just earnings, I hold that
the slave is fully justified in helping himself
to the gold and silver, and the best apparel of his master,
or that of any other slaveholder;
and that such taking
is not stealing
in any just sense of that word.

The morality of free society
can have no application to slave society.
Slaveholders have made it almost impossible
for the slave to commit any crime,
known either to the laws of God or to the laws of man.
If he steals, he takes his own;
if he kills a master,
he imitates only the heroes of the revolution.
Slaveholders I hold to be individually and collectively
responsible for all evils which grow out of the horrid relation,
and I believe they will be so held at the judgment,
in the sight of a just God.
Make a man a slave,
and you rob him of moral responsibility.
Freedom of choice is the essence of accountability.3

In August his master attended a Methodist camp meeting and become religious, but he still treated his slaves cruelly. A young white man began to teach a few slaves and Frederick about the New Testament, but after three meetings it was forbidden.
      Thomas sent Frederick to live with Mr. Covey in January 1833, and for the first time he had to work as a field hand. He was whipped nearly every week. They worked as long as there was daylight but got leisure time on Sundays. Frederick felt “broken in body, soul, and spirit.” He prayed for God to deliver him, and he decided to run away. After six months Frederick was over-worked, collapsed, and after being wounded on the head he ran into the woods. He went back to Thomas who said that Mr. Covey would not kill him. Frederick returned, and he decided not to let himself be whipped but to resist. He considered this a turning point in his life. He fought back, and he was not whipped again. Covey could have had him whipped in public, but Frederick believed he did not want to damage his reputation as a Negro-breaking overseer. Slaveholders allowed slaves to have leisure from Christmas to New Year, but they connived to make them drunk to demoralize them.
      Frederick went to live with William Freeland in January 1834 and found him to be the best master he had prior to freedom. He let Frederick hold a Sabbath school in the house of a free black. Frederick returned to Baltimore after three years away because Freeland feared his enemies would kill him. Hugh Alder let a shipbuilder hire Frederick, and he learned how to caulk. After eight months he got into a fight with white apprentices who feared free blacks would take their jobs. They beat him, and he fled home to Master Hugh. He let Frederick work at a job but compelled him to hand over his pay.
      In April 1836 Frederick and other slaves planned to take a canoe and go north down the Chesapeake; but one man revealed the plan, and they were taken in chains to the Talbot County jail. His master refused to let them ship him to New Orleans, and he sent Frederick back to Baltimore, promising to free him when he became 25 if he cooperated. He spent the next two years working in Baltimore shipyards as an apprentice and then as a trained caulker. In May 1838 Frederick got a job for more money and promised to give his master $3 a week, but he had to pay for his board and clothing. As a slave he could not participate in benevolent organizations for free Negroes, though he was allowed to join the East Baltimore Improvement Society where he engaged in debates and met black Anna Murray who was born free. She worked as a domestic servant and assisted him financially.
      Frederick on a Saturday night in August went to a camp meeting without paying Hugh who got angry. Frederick did not work the next week, and Hugh said he would not hire him out any more. Frederick worked for three more weeks to avoid suspicion, and on September 3 he ran away to New York. Black David Ruggles was secretary of the New York Vigilance Committee, and he helped and advised him to go to New Bedford to practice his trade. On September 15 the black minister James Pennington performed the wedding of Frederick and Anna Murray, and Ruggles gave them $5. They went to the Johnsons at New Bedford, and Mr. Johnson suggested that Frederick take the name Douglass from Walter Scott’s poem Lady of the Lake. He discovered that white caulkers prevented him from getting a job as a caulker. So he had to take low-paying odd jobs at the wharves and made about a $1 a day. His wife Anna found work as a domestic servant. He subscribed to The Liberator which he said set his soul on fire.
      On 12 March 1839 Douglass spoke to an anti-colonization meeting of black citizens in New Bedford, saying

That we are American citizens
born with natural, inherent and just rights;
and that the inordinate and intolerable scheme
of the American Colonization Society
shall never entice or drive us from our native soil.4

In June 1841 he chaired a meeting that criticized the Maryland Colonization Society because they were planning to deport free colored people by force. On August 9 he heard William Lloyd Garrison speak for the first time at the annual meeting of the Bristol Anti-Slavery Society. The next day Douglass attended the anti-slavery convention in Nantucket, and he addressed them on the 12th and 13th. The Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society hired him as an abolitionist lecturer for a three-month tour of New England where he lectured in more than 60 towns and villages from September to November. In December he spoke to the Plymouth County Anti-Slavery Society and criticized prejudice in the North as well as slavery in the South. He had been thrown off railway cars after paying full railroad fares in Massachusetts. In January 1842 Douglass gave a speech in Boston’s famous Faneuil Hall that impressed Garrison and Wendell Phillips. In April he visited the idealistic communities of Hopedale and Florence where he met Ruggles again. The American Anti-Slavery Society paid Douglass to tour western New York from August through October.
      That society in 1843 planned to hold one hundred antislavery meetings. Douglas spoke at nearly that many as he toured New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Ohio, Indiana, and Pennsylvania for six months. By 1844 his wife Anna had given birth to four children.
      William Lloyd Garrison wrote the preface and Wendell Philips contributed a letter to the 125-page Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass which was published in the spring of 1845 and sold for 50 cents. In three years 11,000 copies were printed.
      James Williams escaped to Philadelphia, and the American Anti-Slavery Society published the first slave narrative in 1838 with an introduction by the poet Whittier as Narrative of James Williams, an American Slave, Who Was for Several Years a Driver on a Cotton Plantation in Alabama.
      Moses Roper was born in North Carolina as the son of an Englishman and an African-Indian mother. To expose the cruelty of slavery he wrote and in 1838 published in England A Narrative of the Adventures and Escape of Moses Roper, from American Slavery.
      Lunsford Lane (1803-79) managed to earn money as a slave in North Carolina, and in 1835 he went to New York where he was granted his freedom. In 1842 he went back to Raleigh to purchase his wife and children, but he was arrested and tarred and feathered. White friends helped him escape, and that year he published his narrative which was reprinted three times. Moses Grandy was hired out, saved money, and eventually bought his freedom. The abolitionist George Thompson helped Grandy publish his narrative at London in 1843.

Abolitionists Lundy & Walker 1817-29

      Charles Osborn began an abolitionist society in Tennessee in 1815. He moved to Mount Pleasant, Ohio in 1816 and in September 1817 started the anti-slavery newspaper The Philanthropist which circulated in Ohio and Pennsylvania until 1822. Jacob Oson gave the lecture “A Search for Truth; or, An Inquiry for the Origin of the African Nation” at New-Haven in March 1817 and at New York in April. He criticized European Christians for enslaving Africans based on racial prejudice. Jesse Torrey published A Portraiture of Domestic Slavery in the United States to persuade slaveholders to abolish slavery to save themselves. He suggested they could educate blacks and make them indentured servants.
      The United States Congress passed the Anti-Slave Trade Act funded by $100,000 in 1819. By then an “underground railroad” was helping slaves escape from North Carolina. Levi Coffin met his wife Catherine White at the Hopewell Friends Meetinghouse in North Carolina. They moved their family to Wayne County, Indiana in 1826. Their store helped runaway slaves who stayed in their home. Even when it became more dangerous in the 1840s, he continued this work. He became known as the “President of the Underground Railroad,” and their home was called “Grand Central Station.” Coffin helped at least 3,000 slaves escape.
      Quaker Benjamin Lundy was born on 4 January 1789 in New Jersey. He moved to Ohio and began working for the abolition of slavery in 1815 when he and five others formed the Union Humane Society which soon expanded to 500 members. Lundy joined Charles Osborn to work on the Philanthropist. In 1817 the American Convention of Abolition Societies resolved that the emancipation of all persons of color and their education are more important than sending them to colonies in Africa. Lundy supported colonization to Africa, but he also worked to colonize Negroes in Canada, Texas, and especially Haiti.
      In May 1818 the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church demanded the abolition of slavery in America. In February 1819 New York representative James Tallmadge offered an amendment to prohibit slavery in Missouri, but it was defeated in the US Senate. New York Senator Rufus King was concerned that the southern states were dominating the government, and his summary of his speeches was printed in Niles’ Weekly Register in December. He complained that Virginia had seven extra representatives because three-fifths of the slaves were counted as persons even though slaveholders considered them property. He warned that if slavery was extended, government would be given more powers that could threaten public liberties. In 1820 the Mayflower of Liberia ship took 86 blacks to Sierra Leone, the colony which British abolitionists established for liberated slaves.
      In 1819 Lundy urged a free Missouri and suggested abolishing slavery in the District of Columbia, admitting no more slave states, banning the internal slave trade, and repealing the Constitution’s three-fifths compromise. In January 1821 Lundy founded The Genius of Universal Emancipation newspaper, and it would continue until his death in 1839. In ten years he traveled 25,000 miles, including 5,000 on foot. In 1824 he organized the Haitian Emigration Society in Philadelphia. He moved to Baltimore and helped found the Maryland Anti-Slavery Society with Daniel Raymond as president in 1825. That year Lundy accompanied some freed slaves from North Carolina to Haiti. North Carolina had made manumission of slaves illegal, but in 1826 the Society of Friends (Quakers) agreed to help 700 blacks emigrate to Haiti.
      Lundy criticized Woolfolk’s slave-trading in his newspaper, and in 1826 he publicized the revolt by Woolfolk’s slaves on the Decatur. The slave William Bowser was convicted and executed for killing shipmaster Walter Galloway, but the others were found not guilty. Lundy eulogized the forgiving Bowser. In January 1827 Woolfolk and Lundy encountered each other by the post office. They argued, and Woolfolk beat Lundy and stamped on his head. The judge said Lundy deserved it, and he fined Woolfolk only $1 and court costs.
      The American Convention first met in Baltimore in 1826, and Lundy publicized an adjourned session of the Convention in 1828. He led the Convention’s mass petition campaign to ban slavery in the District of Columbia from 1827 to 1829. Thousands of abolitionists signed the petitions in the northern states.
      In 1822 the Kentucky Abolition Society had 250 members, and John Finely Crowe began publishing the Abolition Intelligencer. The Tennessee Manumission Society petitioned the US Congress to abolish slavery in Washington, DC, and by the next year their society had more than 600 members in 20 branches.
      In 1826 Pennsylvania’s Society for the Abolition of Slavery influenced the legislature to ban taking a Negro from the state to enslave him. By then the Manumission Society of North Carolina had 40 branches with more than 2,000 members. The death of Thomas Jefferson on July 4 freed five Heming slaves, but he left the others to his heirs who sold 130 in 1827.
      John Rankin published his influential Letters on Slavery that Garrison would reprint in The Liberator in 1832. He wrote the letters for his brother who had purchased slaves but was persuaded to free them and move to Ohio. In 1829 Rankin and his family moved to a house where he could be an effective “conductor” for the Underground Railroad in Ohio.
      In March 1827 Samuel Cornish and John Russworm began editing the first Negro newspaper Freedom’s Journal. In the issue on August 10 an anonymous “Matilda” pleaded for female education. On July 4 New York freed 10,000 slaves without compensation for their previous owners. By 1827 there were about 140 anti-slavery societies with 106 in slave states, though those had little influence.
      Zephaniah Kingsley was a Quaker, but he became a slaveholder in Florida. He married an African woman after buying her at Havana, and he had children by three other slaves whom he freed. He tried to smuggle slaves. In 1826 he published A Treatise on the Patriarchal, or Cooperative System of Society, with its Necessity and Advantages. He considered cruel slavery an abomination, but he argued that slavery could be benevolent and just. He urged the Florida government to support the rights of free blacks, and he promoted emigration to Haiti. Because his wives and children could not inherit his estate, he moved his family to Haiti.
      In January 1827 Quakers in Philadelphia began the Free Produce Society of Pennsylvania to boycott slave products and encourage free-labor goods. Some Quakers had started boycotting slave-worked sugar in the 18th century. Also in Philadelphia the Female Association for Promoting the Manufacture and Use of Free Cotton was organized in January 1829. That year black George Moses Horton of North Carolina published his abolitionist poetry as The Hope of Liberty.
      In 1829 Mexico ended slavery, and a Virginia constitutional convention considered its abolition. Yet fears of insurrections led to the South making a closed system of slavery that treated black slaves as property and potential revolutionaries. This is in contrast to the open system in Latin America where they were more willing to mix and intermarry. Thus they managed to abolish slavery without a civil war. After Nat Turner’s rebellion threatened the safety of the slave system, the Virginia legislature debated the issue in 1831-32. Patrick Henry’s grandson William Roane presented a Quaker petition for the gradual abolition of slavery, and Thomas Jefferson’s grandson Thomas Randolph proposed that and the deportation of free Negroes. However, slaveholders blocked these and got a law passed that limited the rights of free blacks, and they recommended colonization to deport them.
      David Walker was the son of a slave but was born free in North Carolina and moved to Boston. In September 1829 he published An Appeal to the Coloured Citizens of the World urging blacks to rise up against the oppression of slavery, and the pamphlet was distributed on the Atlantic coast. He wrote,

Remember Americans, that we must and shall be free
and enlightened as you are, will you wait until we shall,
under God, obtain our liberty by the crushing arm of power?
Will it not be dreadful for you?
I speak Americans for your good.
We must and shall be free I say, in spite of you.
You may do your best to keep us in wretchedness and misery,
to enrich you and your children,
but God will deliver us from under you.
And wo, wo, will be to you
if we have to obtain our freedom by fighting.
Throw away your fears and prejudices then,
and enlighten us and treat us like men,
and we will like you more than we do now hate you.5

      Walker also emphasized the value of education and religion for black liberation. He asked readers to compare the language of the American Declaration of Independence to the cruelties and murders inflicted on Africans. In his fourth article he opposed colonization in Africa. Southern states banned such publications, and slave-owners offered a reward of $3,000 for Walker’s death and then $10,000 to deliver him alive. The Georgia, Louisiana, and North Carolina legislatures reacted by passing strict laws against black literacy and gatherings. Walker died on August 6 probably from tuberculosis, but some suspected he was poisoned.
      The black Robert Alexander Young in 1829 published his 10-page Ethiopian Manifesto, Issued in Defense of the Blackman's Rights, in the scale of Universal Freedom that condemned slavery and prophesied that a black messiah would come to liberate his people.
      James Pennington escaped from slavery in Maryland when he was 19 and went to Brooklyn. He attended Yale University and became a Congregational and then a Presbyterian minister. He was secretary of the Brooklyn Temperance Society founded in 1830, and he wrote the constitution for the Colored American Conventional Temperance Society. At their 1831 convention in New York their President William Hamilton warned against the “demon of prejudice and persecution” that threatened free blacks. Their Declaration of Sentiment referred to “three centuries on the American continent” of a nation with three million people, who had their country pillaged, parents stolen, and nine generations wasted by oppressive cruelty.

Garrison & The Liberator 1829-32

      William Lloyd Garrison was born into a poor family in Newburyport, Massachusetts on 5 December 1805. In 1818 he began a seven-year apprenticeship as a printer with the Newburyport Herald. From March to September 1826 he owned, edited, and printed the Newburyport Free Press. In January 1828 Garrison became the editor of the National Philanthropist in Boston, and he met Benjamin Lundy in March. Garrison edited the Journal of the Times in Bennington, Vermont that promoted the re-election of President John Quincy Adams.
      On 4 July 1829 Garrison gave “The Dangers of the Nation” address. He asked if it is republican to believe that the majority can do no wrong. He spoke for the liberation of two million wretched beings in hopeless bondage, and he aimed to define the duty of Christians and philanthropists: that slaves deserve redress as much as anyone, that free states are involved by adhering to the national compact that sanctions slavery, and that there is no justification for perpetuating slavery. He went to Baltimore in August 1829 to become co-editor of The Genius of Emancipation with Lundy who in September converted him to the radical position of immediate emancipation of slaves. He realized that the theory of gradualism was perpetuity in practice. The next month he opposed compensating slave owners because it would be like paying a thief to give up stolen property.
      At age 24 Garrison refused to appear at a militia muster and paid a fine of four dollars. He also supported other reforms such as peace, temperance, women’s rights, vegetarianism, the use of tobacco, and abolishing capital punishment of criminals and corporal punishment of children. Garrison was sentenced to six months in prison for criminal libel when he did not pay the $50 fine for calling Francis Todd a “highway robber and murderer” for being involved in the slave trade. Held in the warden’s home, Garrison wrote a pamphlet that Lundy published, and after seven weeks the wealthy Arthur Tappan of New York paid his fine, enabling Garrison to return to Boston. When Garrison gave an impassioned speech, the saintly Unitarian pastor Samuel J. May called him a prophet who will shake slavery out of the nation.
      Garrison called Austin Woolfolk “the most notorious of the Baltimore Negro-buyers” and challenged him to debate. Garrison in the November 1829 Genius accused his former neighbor Francis Todd of using his ship to pick up slaves from Woolfolk to take them to New Orleans. In February 1830 a Maryland grand jury indicted Garrison and Lundy for “gross and malicious libel.” A jury quickly found Garrison guilty, and he was ordered to pay $70 or spend six months in jail. Garrison refused to pay, and the warden treated him as a political prisoner. Woolfolk’s nefarious dealings enabled him to build up an estate of $422,828 that he left behind when he died in February 1847.
      In The Genius of Emancipation on 12 February 1830 Garrison wrote that he denied that God made “one portion of the human race superior to another.” He criticized a slave carrier from Newburyport, was convicted of libel, and fined $50 and nearly as much for court costs. He went to jail on April 17 until Arthur Tappan paid his fine.
      In 1830 the first National Negro Convention was held at Philadelphia in the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, and they formed a Free Produce Society to support free labor by boycotting goods produced by slaves. Quakers owned 402 slaves in North Carolina given to them so that they could send them to free states. By 1830 there were 50 black anti-slavery societies in the United States.
      On 1 January 1831 Garrison began publishing The Liberator under the motto “Our Country Is the World—Our Countrymen Are Mankind.” Having recanted on gradual abolition, he promised in the first editorial to be “as harsh as truth and as uncompromising as justice,” and he declared, “I am in earnest—I will not equivocate—I will not excuse—I will not retreat a single inch—AND I WILL BE HEARD.” In that issue was Garrison’s poem “Universal Emancipation.”

Though distant be the hour, yet come it must—
Oh! hasten it, in mercy, righteous Heaven!
When Afric’s sons, uprising from the dust,
Shall stand erect—their galling fetters riven;
When from her throne Oppression shall be driven,
An exiled monster, powerless through all time,
When freedom—glorious freedom, shall be given
To every race, complexion, cast and clime,
And nature’s sable hue shall cease to be a crime!

Woe if it come with storm, and blood, and fire,
When midnight darkness veils the earth and sky!
Woe to the innocent babe—the guilty sire—
Mother and daughter—friends of kindred tie!
Stranger and citizen alike shall die!
Red-handed Slaughter his revenge shall feed,
And Havoc yell his ominous death-cry,
And wild Despair in vain for mercy plead—
While hell itself shall shrink, and sicken at the deed!

Thou who avengest blood! long-suffering Lord!
My guilty country from destruction save!
Let Justice sheath his sharp and terrible sword,
And Mercy rescue e’en as from the grave!
O, for the sake of those who firmly brave
The lust of power—the tyranny of law—
To bring redemption to the perishing slave—
Fearless, though few—Thy presence ne’er withdraw,
But quench the kindling flames of hot, rebellious War!

And ye—sad victims of base Avarice!
Hunted like beasts and trodden like the earth;
Bought and sold daily, at a paltry price—
The scorn of tyrants, and of fools the mirth—
Your souls debased from their immortal birth!
Bear meekly—as ye’ve borne—your cruel woes;
Ease follows pain; light, darkness; plenty, dearth:
So time shall give you freedom and repose,
And high exalt your heads above your bitter foes!

Not by the sword shall your deliverance be;
Not by the shedding of your masters’ blood;
Not by rebellion, or foul treachery.
Upspringing suddenly, like swelling flood:
Revenge and rapine ne’er did bring forth good.
God’s time is best!—nor will it long delay:
Even now your barren cause begins to bud,
And glorious shall the fruit be!—Watch and pray,
For lo! the kindling dawn, that ushers in the day!6

      Arthur Tappan provided $1,000, and in the first year of The Liberator most of the subscribers were blacks. The periodical was excluded from the South, but the number of subscribers grew gradually to 3,000 by 1837 and stayed at that level until all slaves were emancipated in 1865.
      In June 1831 the first Annual Convention of the People of Color met at the Wesleyan Church in Philadelphia, and they resolved to:

1) study conditions of free Negroes;
2) study settlement in Canada;
3) recommend annual conventions of free Negroes;
4) oppose the American Colonization Society;
5) approve raising of money for a proposed industrial college in New Haven.7

That month Garrison published his Address, Delivered Before the Free People of Color, in Philadelphia, New York, and Other Cities. He said that the greatest gift parents can give to their children is to teach them letters because those who can read may rise above “kingly blockheads.”
      In October the Georgia legislature offered a reward of $4,000 to arrest Garrison. Arthur Tappan’s capture was worth $12,000 in Macon and $20,000 in New Orleans. South Carolina’s Vigilance Committee would pay $1,500 for the arrest of anyone who distributed The Liberator or Walker’s Appeal.
      Also in 1831 black Maria Stewart wrote Religion and the Pure Principles of Morality. She not only denounced slavery but also pleaded for the education of women and urged blacks to have self-respect and speak out. She lectured to blacks and to mixed audiences.
      In 1832 Garrison organized the New England Anti-Slavery Society and published the 240-page pamphlet Thoughts on African Colonization, in which he exposed the contradictions of the Colonization Society and called for the immediate liberation of all slaves in the United States and recognized their right to live where they choose. Garrison laid out his basic liberation policies as follows:

I assume as distinct and defensible propositions,
I. That the slaves of this country, whether we consider
their moral, intellectual or social conditions,
are preeminently entitled to the prayers, and sympathies,
and charities, of the American people;
and their claims for redress are as strong as those
of any Americans could be in a similar condition.
II. That, as the free States—
by which I mean non-slave-holding States—
are constitutionally involved in the guilt of slavery,
by adhering to a national compact that sanctions it;
and in the danger, by liability to be called upon
for aid in case of insurrection;
they have the right to remonstrate against its continuance,
and it is their duty to assist in its overthrow.
III. That no justificative plea for the perpetuity of slavery
can be found in the condition of its victims;
and no barrier against our righteous interference,
in the laws which authorize the buying,
selling and possessing of slaves,
nor in the hazard of a collision with slaveholders.
IV. That education and freedom will elevate
our colored population to a rank with the white—
making them useful, intelligent and peaceable citizens.8

      William Jay, a jurist like his famous father John Jay, wrote an even more devastating book against African colonization, publishing An Inquiry into the Character and Tendency of the American Colonization and American Anti-Slavery Societies in 1835.
      Also in 1832 William Paul Quinn, who was born in India to an Egyptian mother and Spanish father, became a circuit preacher and missionary for the AME Church in Western Pennsylvania, and by 1844 he had helped establish 47 churches there and in Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois.

American Anti-Slavery Society 1833-34

      In May 1833 Garrison and black Nathaniel Paul visited England to raise money for manual training of Negroes. That project failed; but they persuaded British abolitionists to oppose colonization, and they met anti-slavery lecturer George Thompson and the Irish reformer Daniel O’Connell. The British House of Commons approved compensation, using £20,000 saved for the abolition of slavery in the Empire on 26 July 1833; it would be gradually implemented in the next six years.
      The Quaker poet John Greenleaf Whittier published the pamphlet, Justice and Expediency, calling for the abolition of slavery without “violence or blood.” Arthur Tappan paid for the printing of 5,000 copies. Whittier noted that slavery in the United States is protected by the Constitution, the standing army, and even by the militias in the free states. He described the following methods that failed to abolish slavery: making slaves serfs, gradual abolition, boycotting products of slave labor, and colonization in Africa. He warned that a few months earlier they were on the verge of civil war “between the North and the South” and that the danger “still hangs above us.” He concluded that the only practical and just plan for emancipation was the immediate abolition of slavery.
      Prudence Crandall was born into a Quaker family on 3 September 1803, and she went to Quaker schools. She became a school-teacher and in 1831 she bought a house and started Canterbury Female Boarding School in Connecticut. She read and liked The Liberator. In November 1832 she accepted the black Sarah Harris as a student. On 29 January 1833 Crandall went to Boston and met with William Lloyd Garrison, and he supported her plan to transform her school into a college for colored girls. On the first of April 1833 her school accepted about 20 colored young ladies. The village reacted negatively to her. They closed their doors to her, refused to listen to her, and threatened her with violence. Shops, doctors, and churches turned away her and her pupils, and they were insulted in the streets. Several times she was forced to defend her actions in court against determined harm of the powerful.
      On May 24 Connecticut passed a law against teaching blacks from outside the state. Crandall was arrested in July and tried in late August. Appeals eventually reached the Connecticut Supreme Court which overturned the verdict. Vandals broke 90 window panes on 9 September 1834, and the next day she closed the school. Connecticut repealed that Black Law in 1838. The racially integrated Noyes Academy in Canaan, New Hampshire also admitted women and was destroyed by a mob in 1835.
      Arthur Tappan’s money helped the Unitarian minister Samuel J. May to hire lawyers for Crandall, and she and Tappan published the abolitionist newspaper, The Unionist in August 1833. That year May wrote The Right of the Colored People to Education Vindicated in which he criticized the “prejudices of whites against those of African descent” and the United States for being an “aristocracy of color.”
      Between 1825 and 1835 the Presbyterian minister Charles Grandison Finney preached in New York and inspired religious revival meetings in what is called America’s “Second Great Awakening.” He promoted the abolition of slavery and the education of women and Negroes.
      Lydia Maria Child published An Appeal in Favor of That Class of Americans Called Africans in July 1833. She described many forms of racial prejudice, gave reasons for equal treatment, and noted successful inter-racial marriages. She suggested that the US Constitution can be changed. Yet she felt that “fear of dissolving the Union” was preventing a solution to the slavery problem. The next year she published Authentic Anecdotes of American Slavery and in 1836 the Anti-Slavery Catechism and The Evils of Slavery and the Cure of Slavery.
      Arthur Tappan had founded The Emancipator at New York in March 1833. Garrison and 63 delegates met on December 3 in Philadelphia with Quakers and moderate abolitionists from New York led by Arthur and Lewis Tappan to form the American Anti-Slavery Society with this constitution:

Whereas the Most High God “hath made of one blood
all nations of men to dwell on all the face of the earth,”
and hath commanded them to love their neighbors as themselves;
and whereas, our National Existence is based upon this principle,
as recognized in the Declaration of Independence,
“that all mankind are created equal, and that they are
endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights,
among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness;”
and whereas, after the lapse of nearly sixty years,
since the faith and honor of the American people
were pledged to this avowal, before Almighty God and the World,
nearly one-sixth part of the nation
are held in bondage by their fellow citizens and whereas,
Slavery is contrary to the principles of natural justice,
of our republican form of government, and of the Christian religion,
and is destructive of the prosperity of the country,
while it is endangering the peace, union, and liberties of the States;
and whereas, we believe it the duty and interest of the masters
immediately to emancipate their slaves,
and that no scheme of expatriation,
either voluntary or by compulsion,
can remove this great and increasing evil;
and whereas, we believe that it is practicable,
by appeals to the consciences, hearts, and interests of the people,
to awaken a public sentiment throughout the nation
that will be opposed to the continuance of Slavery
in any part of the Republic,
and by effecting the speedy abolition of Slavery,
prevent a general convulsion;
and whereas, we believe we owe it to the oppressed,
to our fellow-citizens who hold slaves,
to our whole country, to posterity, and to God,
to do all that is lawfully in our power
to bring about the extinction of Slavery,
we do hereby agree, with a prayerful reliance on the Divine aid,
to form ourselves into a society,
to be governed by the following Constitution:-

ARTICLE I.–This Society shall be called

ARTICLE II.–The objects of this Society are
the entire abolition of Slavery in the United States.
While it admits that each State, in which Slavery exists,
has, by the Constitution of the United States,
the exclusive right to legislate
in regard to its abolition in said State,
it shall aim to convince all our fellow-citizens,
by arguments addressed to their understandings and consciences,
that Slaveholding is a heinous crime in the sight of God,
and that the duty, safety, and best interests of all concerned,
require its immediate abandonment, without expatriation.
The Society will also endeavor, in a constitutional way,
to influence Congress to put an end to the domestic Slave trade,
and to abolish Slavery in all those portions of our common country
which come under its control,
especially in the District of Columbia,–
and likewise to prevent the extension of it to any State
that may be hereafter admitted to the Union.

ARTICLE III.–This Society shall aim
to elevate the character and condition of the people of color,
by encouraging their intellectual, moral,
and religious improvement, and by removing public prejudice,
that thus they may, according to their intellectual and moral worth,
share an equality with the whites, of civil and religious privileges;
but this Society will never, in any way, countenance the oppressed
in vindicating their rights by resorting to physical force.

ARTICLE IV.–Any person who consents
to the principles of this Constitution,
who contributes to the funds of this Society,
and is not a Slaveholder, may be a member of this Society,
and shall be entitled to vote at the meetings.

Their goals were to organize anti-slavery societies, employ agents, publish anti-slavery literature, reform pro-slavery churches, and boycott products made by slaves. Arthur Tappan was elected president, and Garrison became Secretary of Foreign Correspondence.
      In October prominent men in the cotton trade led a mob that forced the Tappan brothers to move their first meeting of the New York Anti-Slavery Society. The founding members adopted a constitution that declared the society would never “countenance the oppressed in vindicating their rights by resorting to physical force.”9
      Garrison wrote a “Declaration of Sentiments” that was modified and signed by all the founding members on December 6. This document contrasted their nonviolent methods with the shedding of blood in the American Revolution, saying that their principles forbid doing evil that good may come. Thus they advised the oppressed to reject all carnal weapons and use the power of love to overthrow prejudice with the truth. They argued that Jesus Christ had abrogated the penal code of an “eye for an eye” with the new covenant of forgiveness and nonresistance, which means not responding with violence. They declared that all laws supporting slavery were before God null and void. The Anti-Slavery Society grew quickly, and by 1838 there were 1,350 societies with about 250,000 members.
      In October 1833 the Boston Female Anti-Slavery Society was founded, and one in Philadelphia began in December. Their first convention was held in New York City in May 1837. By then Massachusetts had more than forty female anti-slavery societies, and by 1838 Ohio had thirty.
      Also in 1833 David Lee Child, who had married Lydia Maria Francis in 1828, published The Despotism of Freedom; or The Tyranny and Cruelty of American Republican Slave-Masters Shown to be the Worst in the World that criticized racism and its cruelty and “ferocious prejudice.”
      The American Anti-Slavery Society made Theodore Weld their agent for the year 1834 and sent instructions advising him to demand immediate abolition of slavery, Garrison arguing that “what ought to be done can be done.” Weld lectured often until 1836 when a mob encouraged by the mayor and police removed him from a church in Troy, New York and stoned him, causing a concussion that ended his speaking career.
      In 1834 the American Anti-Slavery Society in its first annual report issued the “Declaration of the National Anti-Slavery Convention” promising a “moral war” against slaveholders and demanding the immediate abolition of slavery without compensation in order to grant Negroes freedom, equality, and protection of the law. They laid out their plans to bring about abolition. Influenced by Child’s Despotism of Freedom, Garrison also called for an end to “all unequal laws.”
      The backlash against abolitionists erupted in New York in early July 1834 when mobs stormed their meeting halls, black homes and churches, and plundered Arthur Tappan’s store and Lewis Tappan’s house.
      Elizur Wright, who wrote “Sin of Slavery and Its Remedy” in 1833, publicized the illegal abduction of free blacks in his “Chronicles of Kidnapping in New York.” The next year Ruggles became the secretary of the New York Committee of Vigilance that exposed kidnappers and slave catchers by publishing an annual report in 1837. He claimed he aided 600 fugitive slaves toward freedom. Ruggles was assaulted and had his bookshop destroyed by arson. He lost his eyesight and suffered poor health but regained it by using hydrotherapy. He died at 39 in 1849.

Militant Abolitionists 1835-36

      The blacks William Whipper and Robert Purvis of Pennsylvania persuaded the Negro national convention at Philadelphia in June 1835 to use peaceful methods in disobeying the fugitive slave law. The American Anti-Slavery Society funded the distribution of anti-slavery tracts in the South, and by summer they had printed and sent 25,000 copies of Slave’s Friend (for young readers) and 50,000 each of Human Rights, the Anti-Slavery Record, and The Emancipator. Thefirst issue of the Human Rights monthly declared that slavery is “the greatest possible violation of human rights.” The anti-slavery materials that were sent to Charleston, South Carolina were sorted by the postmaster Alfred Huger and put into a bag that a band called the “Lynch Men” stole on June 29. The next day a crowd of 2,000 people watched as the contents were burned on the parade grounds. During the summer of 1835 of the 109 riots that disturbed the United States 35 were aimed at abolitionists.
      That summer in Washington police arrested slave Arthur Bowen for threatening his master with an axe while demanding freedom and also Prudence’s brother Reuben Crandall, a physician. District Attorney Francis Scott Key arrested them both and charged Crandall with sedition. Before the grand jury returned a verdict of not guilty on Crandall, he had spent eight months in jail because of high bail. He contracted tuberculosis which killed him 1838.
      The abolitionist lawyer Alvan Stewart and the Rev. Beriah Green of the Oneida Institute called for a New York state convention in Utica on 21 October 1835. Not getting permission to use a courtroom, they announced a meeting at a Presbyterian church at 10 a.m. They started the meeting at 9 and formed the New York Anti-Slavery Society. By 10 many anti-abolitionists had gathered there and demanded that the convention disband the society. The abolitionists refused to leave, and a riot occurred. The moderate Gerrit Smith attended and was moved to offer his estate at Peterboro 27 miles away, and they met at the Peterboro Presbyterian Church the next day and elected the now more militant Smith chairman. Green and others started Oneida County’s underground railroad.
      William Thomas using the name “Defensor” published The Enemies of the Constitution Discovered, or, An Inquiry into the Origin and Tendency of Popular Violence: Containing a Complete and Circumstantial Account of the Unlawful Proceedings in the City of Utica, October 21st, 1835: The Dispersion of the State Anti-Slavery Convention by the Agitators, the Destruction of a Democratic Press, and the Causes which Led Thereto, together with a Concise Treatise on the Practice of the Court of His Honor Judge Lynch. In a footnote Thomas described the agitators this way:

The agitators are those who are endeavoring,
by deception and fraud, to subvert the constitution,
and change the settled policy of this country.
These fanatics, by means of their incendiary meetings
and publications, have long been laboring
to inflame the public mind against the abolitionists,
by misrepresenting their sentiments and designs.
They have industriously circulated
throughout the southern states publications
of the most inflammatory and incendiary character,
calculated to produce an insurrection
among the slave-holders,
and a dissolution of the union.10

Thomas called the South Carolina Governor Robert Hayne the “arch nullifier,” and he criticized US Postmaster General Amos Kendall for permitting Charleston’s postmaster to help destroy abolitionist mail on July 29. He noted that Thomas Jefferson had asked the Virginia legislature to pass a bill permitting the emancipation of slaves at the risk of “public odium.” Thomas also denounced the violence in the “Lynch Law system.” Not only are American liberties endangered, but also the government is dishonored.
      Also on October 21 a mob led by property owners disrupted a meeting of the Female Anti-Slavery Society in Boston at which the British abolitionist George Thompson was to speak. A handbill was distributed by opponents offering a $100 reward for the first person to “lay violent hands on Thompson” and urging “Friends of the Union, be vigilant!” A mob of 5,000 people in the streets shouted against Thompson. May Theodore Lyman told them that Thompson had left Boston, and he urged them to disperse. Instead rioters attacked the hall, looking for Garrison. The mayor told the ladies to go home. Maria Weston Chapman said, “If this is the last bulwark of freedom, we may as well die here as anywhere.”11 The ladies did retire, diverting the mob for a while.
      The mob went after Garrison, shouting, “Lynch him!” Some rioters prevented others from throwing him out the window, and they tied a rope around him. The mayor persuaded powerful men to bring him to his office, and he was arrested for disturbing the peace. He was hounded as they took him to the jail. A deputy sheriff drove him to Canton, and he took a train to Providence. This incident was witnessed by 24-year-old Wendell Phillips, who later became the abolitionists’ finest orator. Garrison returned to Boston two weeks later. Whites also broke up abolitionist meetings, destroyed their presses, and terrified Negro neighborhoods in Hartford, Utica, Washington, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati.
      Garrison said that slavery cannot exist with free discussion, but without it liberty cannot breathe. He announced that three-quarters of Liberator subscribers were Negroes. On November 18 he attended the meeting of the Boston Female Anti-Slavery Society, and the English writer Harriet Martineau announced her agreement with the abolitionists.
      The Colored American Conventional Temperance Society at their annual convention became the American Moral Reform Society dedicated to the struggle for human rights and against racial discrimination. They looked to solutions through education, temperance, economy, and universal liberty. This black abolitionist group would meet annually until 1841, and they passed a resolution against the annexation of Texas in 1837, the year abolitionists sent 180,000 petitions to the US Congress opposing the admission of Texas as a slave state.
      Also in 1835 William Ellery Channing published Slavery, arguing that it is irrational, immoral, and undemocratic. As a young tutor Channing had lived in Richmond, Virginia for a year and a half. In September the Richmond Whig urged a boycott of trade with the North until abolitionist activity stopped.
      President Jackson in December accused abolitionists of instigating slaves to insurrection. Abolitionists responded on the 26th in a letter that was published in which they concluded,

When convinced that our endeavors are wrong,
we shall abandon them;
but such conviction must be produced by other arguments
than vituperation, popular violence, or penal enactments.12

In 1835 at Georgetown a mob tried to lynch Reuben Crandall for circulating abolitionist newspapers. They failed but then attacked the homes and churches of free blacks.
      On 4 March 1836 William Lloyd Garrison, Samuel May, and other abolitionists testified to a Massachusetts legislative committee that was hostile to them. Garrison emphasized the peaceful approaches of forgiveness and non-resistance. He noted that they were not free to travel safely in half the country, and he suggested that the Union was “now virtually dissolved.”
      In July a bipartisan effort in the US Congress passed a new postal law to protect the mail. Militant abolitionists launched a campaign to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia, and that year thousands of petitions were sent to the US Congress. Conservative northerners joined with southerners in the House to impose the Gag Rule which blocked any debate on all the anti-slavery petitions. In February 1837 John Calhoun urged the US Senate to adopt a similar policy because abolitionists were endangering the Union. Yet it was pro-slavery South Carolinians who were threatening secession. Calhoun owned more than one hundred slaves, gold mines in Georgia, and a labor camp in Fort Hill, South Carolina. By 1839 the Congress had received more than 400,000 petitions. Every year John Quincy Adams argued against the Gag Rule until it was rescinded in December 1844.
      In 1836 a North Carolina law made freeing a slave difficult by requiring a $1,000 bond to assure exit from the state within 90 days. The African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church had 7,594 members in 86 churches, and they began publishing a quarterly magazine. Blacks in Baltimore organized the Providence Baptist Association.
      Angelina Grimké published An Appeal to the Christian Women of the South. After describing the evils of slavery she wrote,

The women of the South can overthrow this horrible system
of oppression and cruelty, licentiousness and wrong.
Such appeals to your legislatures would be irresistible,
for there is something in the heart of man
which will bend under moral suasion….
Are not the Christian negroes of the south
lifting their hands in prayer for deliverance,
just as the Israelites did
when their redemption was drawing nigh?
Are they not sighing and crying by reason of the hard bondage?
And think you, that He, of whom it was said,
“and God heard their groaning,
and their cry came up unto him by reason of the hard bondage,”
think you that his ear is heavy
that he cannot now hear the cries of his suffering children?
Or that He who raised up a Moses, an Aaron, arid a Miriam,
to bring them up out of the land of Egypt from the house of bondage,
cannot now, with a high hand and a stretched out arm,
rid the poor negroes out of the hands of their masters?...
And see you not how the mighty engine of moral power
is dragging in its rear the Bible and peace societies, anti-slavery
and temperance, sabbath schools, moral reform, and missions?
or to adopt another figure, do not these seven philanthropic
associations compose the beautiful tints in that bow of promise
which spans the arch of our moral heaven?...
In 1834, when Great Britain determined
to liberate the slaves in her West India colonies,
and proposed the apprenticeship system;
the planters of Bermuda and Antigua,
after having joined the other planters in their representations
of the bloody consequences of Emancipation,
in order if possible to hold back the hand
which was offering the boon of freedom to the poor negro;
as soon as they found such falsehoods were utterly disregarded,
and Abolition must take place, came forward voluntarily,
and asked for the compensation which was due to them,
saying, they preferred immediate emancipation,
and were not afraid of any insurrection.13

      Rev. Hosea Easton criticized racism by exposing its language. In 1836 mobs burned down his Congregational Church in Hartford. He spent his last year raising money to rebuild it, and in 1837 his father, James Easton, published a treatise on racism that Garrison helped publish. Robert Benjamin Lewis had published Light and Truth, a history of the “colored and Indian race” in 1836, and black businessmen in Boston got it republished in 1844. James Pennington took over Easton’s church in Hartford and worked on a history of black people focusing on human rights. He explained how inferiority based on race is false and absurd because the intellect is the same in all humans. Foreshadowing Darwin’s theory of evolution, he suggested that differences in color occurred because of climate and environment. (Those moving north needed whiter skin to survive lack of vitamin D.) Pennington argued that racism came from “extreme selfishness” and led to ill will, brutish manners, and violence. In 1842 he gave a sermon to his Hartford congregation on “Covenants Involving Moral Wrong are not Obligatory Upon Man.”

Abolitionists, Peace & Women 1837-40

      In March 1837 the Weekly Advocate became the Colored American and demanded immediate emancipation, and they opposed segregation of schools and other institutions. In May the Anti-slavery Women of America held their first convention at New York.
      Elijah Lovejoy edited the St. Louis Observer and advocated immediate abolition. On 5 November 1835 he published a letter to his fellow citizens, and he asked if any citizen has the right to discuss under the US Constitution that tacitly accepted slavery the “comparative merits of despotism and liberty?” In April 1836 the mulatto sailor Francis McIntosh was arrested by two policemen, and he stabbed to death one and injured the other. Then a mob burned him to death, but no one was convicted. The judge blamed Lovejoy and the Observer for inciting McIntosh, and Lovejoy moved to Alton, Illinois. Mobs there destroyed his printing press three times and invaded his house even more often, driving his wife to distraction. The mayor said he would not defend the new press, but in 1837 he permitted Lovejoy to guard it with arms. When a mob arrived to destroy it on November 7, both sides fired; one person in the mob was killed. The mayor ordered them to go home, but they refused. When someone climbed a ladder with a torch to set the roof in fire, Lovejoy aimed his gun and was shot dead.
      Garrison responded to this tragedy by observing that if freedom of speech is destroyed, the nation will be in bondage. Yet if it remains, southern slavery must end soon. This incident led him and others to emphasize not resisting violence as Jesus taught in the sermon on the mount. Thomas S. Grimké’s sisters Sarah and Angelina were won over to Garrison’s nonresistance. Channing, who did not adopt nonresistance, advised the abolitionists that they could not use violence successfully. Most abolitionists agreed, and their efforts in this era were primarily nonviolent. Nonetheless the tolerant view of Garrison and Lewis Tappan prevailed that there should be no specific test regarding nonresistance for membership in the Anti-Slavery Society.
      The abolitionist James C. Alvord challenged the constitutionality of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793, and Massachusetts restored the right of fugitive slaves to a jury trial. New York would do so in 1840. After having informal meetings for a year the New York Committee met officially in November 1837, and the bookstore owner and journalist David Ruggles acted as secretary. In the next two years they would protect 335 people from enslavement. Arthur Tappan financed the committee, and his brother Lewis considered it the model for the underground railroad. Ruggles claimed that he helped 600 fugitive slaves find freedom including Frederick Douglass in October 1838.
      In The Liberator on 15 December 1837 Garrison wrote “No Union with Slaveholders,” still proclaiming “Our country is the world, our countrymen are all mankind.” He prophesied that after the “overthrow of slavery the cause of PEACE will command our attention.” He concluded the article with this:

As our object is universal emancipation,—
to redeem woman as well as man
from a servile to an equal condition,—
we shall go for the RIGHTS OF WOMAN
to their utmost extent.14

      That year Garrison organized and wrote a “Declaration of Sentiments” for the New England Non-Resistance Society that was open to all regardless of color or sex or creed who accepted their principle of renouncing all violence. The founders considered themselves “a few obscure, moneyless, uninfluential men and women.” One of the outspoken leaders was the Quaker Lucretia Mott. Novelist Lydia Maria Child did not like to attend meetings, but she wrote that the idea of nonresistance is what distinguishes the gospel of Christ from other philosophies and makes it holy.
      Also in 1837 black William Whipper gave “An Address on Non-violent Resistance to Offensive Aggression.” He argued that this was “the surest method of obtaining a speedy triumph of the principles of universal peace.”15
      The first editorial in the black abolitionist newspaper Weekly Advocate was on “Universal Suffrages and Universal Education,” promising opposition to monopolies that oppress the poor and working classes.
      Abolitionists Lewis Gunn of New York and Charles Burleigh of Connecticut went to Haiti in the winter of 1837-38, and for six months they studied that nation of liberated Africans. In September the Requited Labor Convention assigned Gunn to give an address on abstention from buying products based on slave labor, and he described the ethical principles of the American Free Produce Association. That organization reached the peak of its effort in 1839. Several delegates attended the World Anti-Slavery Convention at London in June 1840, but the apathy toward the boycott of slave labor marked the beginning of that campaign’s decline in the 1840s. Garrison had supported the boycott but had come to view it as a distraction from the demand for immediate abolition.
      The Anti-Slavery movement used many nonviolent methods to protest racial prejudice and pressure people to abolish slavery. For a time Garrison devoted himself primarily to the cause of nonresistance, and Henry Wright went on speaking tours. In 1838 they formed the New England Nonresistance Society, and they published the Non Resistant.
      In the “Declaration of Sentiments” adopted by the Peace Convention in Boston in September 1838 Garrison wrote,

We love the land of our nativity,
only as we love all other lands.
The interests, rights, and liberties
of American citizens are no more dear to us,
than are those of the whole human race.16

He even went so far as to renounce allegiance to any government that uses force, asserting that they consider God as the only Judge and Ruler of mankind. They affirmed no distinction of rank nor inequality of sex. They proclaimed equal love for all lands and that the rights and liberties of the entire human race are as important to them as those of American citizens. They denied that any nation has the right to defend itself or punish. They opposed all wars and preparations for war. Since human governments are upheld by force, they stated they could not hold any office. They held that the old penal code of “an eye for an eye” had been abrogated by the new covenant of forgiveness taught by Jesus Christ. They believed that the meek shall inherit the Earth because the violent resorting to weapons will perish by them. They had faith that God would protect them if they adopted the nonresistance principle. They would obey all requirements of government except those contrary to the Gospels, and they would meekly submit to any penalties for their disobedience. Although they submit passively to enemies, they promised to act and speak boldly for the cause of God “to assail iniquity in high places and in low places.” Thus they would employ lecturers and circulate publications for universal peace. Having withdrawn from human protection, they put their trust in God.
      The abolitionists of the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society built Pennsylvania Hall and dedicated it on 14 May 1838. Two days later the Anti-Slavery Convention of American Women was attended by nearly 3,000 people. A mob heckled them and broke the windows. The abolitionists asked for protection; but the next day the anti-abolitionists burned down the building as the mayor, police, and firemen watched. The poet Whittier went in and saved the galley proofs of his Pennsylvania Freeman before the new Hall burned to the ground. The writings of abolitionist Benjamin Lundy were destroyed in the fire. Yet this event influenced some gentlemen of property to turn away from the violent suppression of abolitionism.
      Also in Philadelphia black Robert Purvis became president of an organization of those working for the “underground railroad.” That city had a hundred benefit societies and nine free schools for blacks. Pennsylvania’s new constitution restricted voting to white men, and Purvis led the committee that released an Appeal of Forty Thousand Citizens Threatened with Disfranchisement to the People of Pennsylvania. Connecticut gave jury trials to Negroes who appealed being seized as fugitives. The Baptist abolitionist William Yates of Troy, New York published Rights of Colored Men to Suffrage, Citizenship and Trial by Jury. Charles Remond was the first black that the New England Anti-slavery Society paid to lecture.
      In 1838 the Connecticut legislature repealed the law they had passed to persecute the inter-racial school. Abolitionists boycotted segregated schools. Educational reformer Horace Mann was an abolitionist and did much to improve public schools in Massachusetts. Oberlin College in Ohio had been founded in 1833 and accepted Negroes, and in 1840 their students formed a branch of the Non-Resistance Society.
      Theodore Weld was a very influential abolitionist. In 1837 and 1838 he published The Bible Against Slavery: An Inquiry into the Patriarchal and Mosaic Systems on the Subject of Human Rights. He worked with the Grimké sisters, and he married Angelina in May 1838. His 1839 pamphlet, American Slavery As It Is: Testimony of a Thousand Witnesses, sold more than 100,000 copies and was used as a source by Harriet Beecher Stowe for her novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin. In that work he wrote,

As slaveholders and their apologists are volunteer witnesses
in their own cause, and are flooding the world
with testimony that their slaves are kindly treated;
that they are well fed, well clothed,
well housed, well lodged, moderately worked,
and bountifully provided with all things needful for their comfort,
we propose—first, to disprove their assertions
by the testimony of a multitude of impartial witnesses,
and then to put slaveholders themselves
through a course of cross-questioning
which shall draw their condemnation out of their own mouths.
We will prove that the slaves in the United States
are treated with barbarous inhumanity;
that they are overworked, underfed, wretchedly clad and lodged,
and have insufficient sleep;
that they are often made to wear round their necks
iron collars armed with prongs,
to drag heavy chains and weights at their feet
while working in the field,
and to wear yokes, and bolls, and iron horns;
that they are often kept confined in the stocks
day and night for weeks together,
made to wear gags in their mouths for hours or days,
have some of their front teeth torn out or broken off,
that they may be easily detected when they run away;
that they are frequently flogged with terrible severity,
have red pepper rubbed into their lacerated flesh,
and hot brine, spirits of turpentine, &c.,
poured over the gashes to increase the torture;
that they are often stripped naked,
their backs and limbs cut with knives,
bruised and mangled by scores and hundreds of blows
with the paddle, and terribly torn by the claws of cats,
drawn over them by their tormentors;
that they are often hunted with blood hounds
and shot down like beasts, or torn in pieces by dogs;
that they are often suspended by the arms
and whipped and beaten till they faint,
and when revived by restoratives,
beaten again till they faint, and sometimes till they die;
that their ears are often cut off, their eyes knocked out,
their bones broken, their flesh branded with red hot irons;
that they are maimed, mutilated
and burned to death over slow fires.
All these things, and more, and worse, we shall prove.
Reader, we know whereof we affirm, we have weighed it well;
more and worse WE WILL PROVE.17

They found items in southern newspapers showing these evils of slavery and publicized them. Weld noted that the US had 2,700,000 persons in slavery even though the human rights case against slavery had been “adjudicated in the court of conscience” so many times. He converted James G. Birney, Henry Ward Beecher, and his sister Harriet who would write Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Weld said that arbitrary power can intoxicate the mind just as alcohol affects the body. In 1838 during the petition campaign to abolish slavery in the capital Weld published The Power of Congress over the District of Columbia.
      In May 1839 at a meeting of the American Anti-Slavery Society 120 members had complained that women were given an equal status with men, but they were outvoted 180-140. Garrison approved integrating women but printed their protest against this in The Liberator on the 31st with notes on equality.
      At the meeting of the American Anti-Slavery Society in May 1840 Garrison brought many women delegates from Lynn, and they won a test vote 557-451 nominating Abby Kelley for the Business Committee. In reaction Lewis Tappan led more than 400 delegates to the basement where they founded the American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society that excluded women, and they published The Emancipator. Then the Garrisonians replaced those men on the Executive Committee by electing Lucretia Mott, Lydia Maria Child, and Maria Weston Chapman.
      Garrison started in New York the National Anti-Slavery Standard run by Nathaniel Rogers and Lydia Maria Child. The abolitionists reached a peak in 1840 with more than 2,000 societies and about 200,000 members. The Liberator also drew attention to the mistreatment of blacks on railways and steamboats.

Abolitionist Politics 1839-44

      Henry B. Stanton and John Greenleaf Whittier urged the US Congress to end the domestic slave trade. Stanton would write for the New York Tribune until its editor Horace Greeley died in 1872. In 1839 he wrote,

The internal slave trade is the great jugular vein of slavery;
and if Congress will take the same weapon
with which they cut off the foreign trade, and cut this vein,
slavery would die of starvation in the southern,
and of apoplexy in the northern slave states.18

      In 1839 William Whipple published the 16-page pamphlet “Evils of the Revolutionary War” because patriotic feelings about this often kept people from accepting nonresistance. He agreed with the aims of the revolutionaries but suggested they could have obtained independence as effectively and as quickly with more honor and in better circumstances by not resorting to arms. Patriots could have refused to carry out unjustified demands or pay taxes and boycott imported tea and other products. Even if they had taken leaders to England and hanged them, continued peaceful resistance would surely have aroused public opinion to change British policy eventually. Instead of an independent government based on force, a successful nonviolent revolution would have produced a much better society in which slavery, the child of war, would have to be abolished, and Indians would have been treated better.
      James G. Birney had freed the last of his slaves from Alabama in 1834 and became an abolitionist. He moved to Cincinnati, and on September 2 he sent his Letter to the Minister and Elders, on the Sin of Holding Slaves and the Duty of Immediate Emancipation addressed to the Presbyterian Church of Kentucky. In October 1835 he began publishing The Philanthropist, but a mob led by the mayor destroyed his printing press in 1836. In May 1839 he published “A Letter on the Political Obligations of Abolitionists” in the Emancipator in which he rejected Garrison’s no-government theory as a fallacy, and he urged political action. The Emancipator reached a circulation of 3,800.
      Birney organized the Liberty Party, and he ran for the US presidency as their candidate in 1840 and got 62,300 votes mostly in New England. That year he published The American Churches the Bulwarks of American Slavery in England for the London World Anti-Slavery Conference, and it was issued in the United States in 1842. He noted that the slave states of Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri, and Tennessee were “slave-selling states” while the other eight slave states in the deep South were “slave-buying and slave-consuming states.”
      Birney ran for President as the Liberty Party nominee again in 1844, and divorcing the federal government from slavery became part of the platform with the slogan “Denationalization of Slavery.” However, Birney’s 62,103 votes contributed to the defeat of the Whig Clay against the pro-slavery Democrat Polk who won New York by only 5,106 votes. One third of Birney’s 15,812 votes in New York would have given Clay that state and an electoral college victory.
      In 1841 anti-slavery whites and blacks began riding railroads to protest racial segregation. Efforts were made to integrate segregated churches and to get people to leave churches that countenanced slavery. In addition to the schools in the socialist communities, others also offered education to Negroes.
      Henry Wright published his Duty of Abolitionists to Pro-Slavery Ministers and Churches, stating that he could no longer hold Christian fellowship with men-stealers. He observed that fathers sell their own children. He considered it his duty to excommunicate a Church which countenanced slavery and opposed abolition.
      Charles L. Reason became the first black professor in America at Central College in New York, and he wrote Freedom, describing the long struggle for liberty. Also in 1841 an anonymous black published Sketches of the Higher Classes of Colored Society in Philadelphia, and Ann Plato became the first black woman to publish a book of Essays in which she discussed moral issues such as education, employment, benevolence, and religion. She also published poems in the Colored American.
      The black Charles Remond represented the American Anti-Slavery Society at the London Anti-Slavery Conference, and for two years he lectured in England and Ireland where he persuaded Daniel O’Connell and many Irish Catholics to support the cause of the slaves. When Remond returned to Massachusetts, he found the railroad segregated. In February 1842 he testified to a Massachusetts House of Representatives committee, and he noted that he was “the first person of color” to address such a body there. On the 25th his criticism of segregation in transportation systems was reprinted in The Liberator. He said,

There is a marked difference between social and civil rights.
It has been well and justly remarked,
by my friend Mr. Phillips,
that we all claim the privilege
of selecting our society and associations;
but, in civil rights, one man has not the prerogative
to define rights for another.
For instance, sir, in public conveyances,
for the rich man to usurp the privileges to himself,
to the injury of the poor man,
would be submitted to in no well regulated society.
And such is the position suffered by persons of color….
Finally, Mr. Chairman, there is in this and other States
a large and growing colored population,
whose residence in your midst has not been from choice
(let this be understood and reflected upon),
but by the force of circumstances
over which they never had control.
Upon the heads of their oppressors and calumniators
be the censure and responsibility.
If to ask at your hands redress for injuries,
and protection in our rights and immunities,
as citizens, is reasonable,
and dictated alike by justice, humanity and religion,
you will not reject, I trust, the prayer of your petitioners.19

Also in 1842 Maryland made it a felony to ask for or receive any abolitionist writings.
      Charles Turner Torrey (1813-46) at Yale University decided to dedicate his life to Jesus Christ, and he became a Congregational minister. At Andover Theological Seminary he learned about abolishing slavery, and he joined the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society. Torrey advocated women’s rights before Garrison did. In 1840 he became an organizer for the Liberty Party, and in 1841 was a founder of the Boston Vigilance Committee that protected escaped slaves. Torrey wrote for several abolitionist newspapers and was arrested at a Maryland convention of slaveholders in January 1842 and spent four days in jail. Then he and black Thomas Smallwood organized the Underground Railroad in Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Albany working with safe houses owned mostly by Quakers. They rented wagons to transport groups of runaways, and they especially selected slaves of southern members of Congress. Wanted by the police in Washington, Torrey moved to Albany. By the spring of 1843 Smallwood had liberated about 400 slaves. Then he moved north too. Gerrit Smith of Syracuse provided much funding. Torrey and Smallwood returned to Washington in November and were almost arrested. Smallwood moved to Toronto while Torrey went to Baltimore. Torrey was arrested again in June 1844, and he almost escaped in September. He wrote that he would put Maryland and Virginia on trial. In December he was sentenced to six years in prison where he caught tuberculosis and died in May 1846.
      In the last eight months of 1842 the former slave William Wells Brown operated a steamboat that carried 69 fugitive slaves across from Buffalo or Detroit to Canada. He also started a Temperance Society in Buffalo that quickly gained 500 members. In 1847 Brown published a narrative of his life as a slave.
      Vermont and New York in 1840 had allowed fugitives jury trials with a lawyer. In January 1842 the US Supreme Court and Chief Justice Joseph Story ruled 8-1 in Prigg v. Pennsylvania that the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 and the supremacy clause made unconstitutional an old 1788 Pennsylvania law, though states could prevent state officials from cooperating in the return of slaves. Massachusetts and Vermont then passed Personal Liberty Laws in 1843 followed by Pennsylvania in 1847 and Rhode Island in 1848. In late January 1842 J. Q. Adams presented a petition asking Congress to dissolve the union because abolitionists in Massachusetts could not tolerate the slave-owning South. After a two-week debate over whether to censure Adams in the House, they tabled the matter on February 7.
      By 1843 there were 26 abolitionist weeklies. Stephen S. Foster criticized the pro-slavery churches in his Brotherhood of Thieves; or A True Picture of the American Church and Clergy. He suggested that the church, slavery, and the mob made a “queer trinity,” and he accused these clergy of being “thieves, adulterers, man-stealers, pirates, and murderers.”
      Henry Highland Garnet (1815-82) was a child when his family escaped to New York where he attended the African Free School and the Phoenix High School for Colored Youth. In 1835 he went to the Noyes Academy in Canaan, New Hampshire and then the Oneida Institute in New York. He became a Presbyterian pastor in 1842. In August 1843 he delivered a revolutionary plan for rebellion in his “Address to the Slaves of the United States” at the National Convention of Colored Citizens in Buffalo. Male and female abolitionists criticized Garnett for advocating both bullets and ballots. He claimed he was the first black to join the Liberty Party, and he noted that his wife Julia helped write his speech.
      Also in 1843 the United States and Britain agreed to intercept slave ships off the west coast of Africa. A former slave from New York used the name Sojourner Truth and started traveling to preach and lecture. Rev. Hiram Gilmore founded a high school for blacks in Cincinnati in 1844.
      Garrison had realized as early as 1841 that slavery would not be abolished under the current US Constitution, and he felt that the North may need to secede from the Union. The Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society adopted this policy in January 1843, and at the American Anti-Slavery Society annual meeting in May 1844 they voted 59-21 to endorse disunion by adopting the following resolution:

Resolved, that secession from the present United States government
is the duty of every Abolitionist;
since no one can take office or throw a vote for another to hold office,
under the United States Constitution,
without violating his anti-slavery principle
and rendering himself an abettor of the slaveholder in his sin.20

This position was opposed by Lydia Maria Child and James Gibbon who were on the Executive Committee of the National Society, though Wendell Phillips, Stephen S. Foster, Abby Kelley, and two others agreed with Garrison.
      On May 21 Joshua Giddings spoke in the US House of Representatives against the annexation of Texas because it would allow the southern slave states to “control the policy and destiny of this nation.” The lawyer Wendell Philips wrote The Constitution a Pro-Slavery Compact.
      The abolitionist Orange Scott published his “Appeal to the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1838, and Methodists at Utica, New York formed the Wesleyan Methodist Connection in 1843. The Free Will Baptist sect, started in 1780, had in 1839 in the North about 50,000 who refused to be in fellowship with slaveholders. In 1844 the Methodists in the US had 1,068,525 members including 7,730 local preachers and 3,988 itinerant preachers. The American Baptist Anti-Slavery Convention met in New York in 1840, and in 1843 they became the American Baptist Free Missionary Society. In 1845 both the Methodists and Baptists became so divided over the issue that the southerners in each denomination seceded to form the Methodist Episcopal Church South and the Southern Baptist Convention.


1. American Notes by Charles Dickens, p. 147 quoted in Slavery in the United States of America ed. Louis Filler, p. 114.
2. Slave Narratives ed. William L. Andrews and Henry Louis Gates Jr., p. 264.
3. My Bondage and My Freedom by Frederick Douglass, p. 119.
4. The Life and Writings of Frederick Douglass, Volume 1 by Philip S. Foner, p. 25.
5. Walker’s Appeal in Four Articles, p. 79 quoted in Eyewitness: A Living Documentary of the African American Contribution to American History ed. William Loren Katz, p. 170.
6. Selections from the Writings and Speeches of William Lloyd Garrison, p. 64-65.
7. The Chronological History of the Negro in America by Peter M. Bergman, p. 140-141.
8. Selections from the Writings and Speeches of William Lloyd Garrison, p. 51.
9. Black Freedom by Carleton Mabee, p. 21.
10. Slavery in North America: From the Colonial Period to Emancipation, Volume 3: The Antebellum Period ed. Jonathan Daniel Wells, p. 49.
11. William Lloyd Garrison: The Abolitionist by Archibald H. Grimké, p. 223.
12. The Negro in American History, Vol. 3: Slaves and Masters 1567-1854, p. 227.
13. Black Protest: History, Documents, and Analyses 1619 to the Present ed. Joanne Grant, p. 76-78.
14. Slavery Attacked: The Abolitionist Crusade ed. John L. Thomas, p. 79.
15. Eyewitness: A Living Documentary of the African American Contribution to American History ed. William Loren Katz, p. 143.
16. Selections from the Writings and Speeches of William Lloyd Garrison, p. 72.
17. Black Protest: History, Documents, and Analyses 1619 to the Present ed. Joanne Grant, p. 72-73.
18. The Business of Slavery and the Rise of American Capitalism, 1815-1860 by Calvin Schermerhorn, p. 143.
19. Black Protest: History, Documents, and Analyses 1619 to the Present ed. Joanne Grant, p. 94-96.
20. Anti-Slavery Examiner, No. 13, New York, 1845 in The Annals of America, Volume 7, p. 261.

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United States & Civil War 1845-1865

Jeffersonian Democracy 1801-1809
Madison & the War of 1812
US Era of Monroe & J. Q. Adams 1817-29
Native Tribes, Removal & the West
Jacksonian Democracy 1829-37
US Depression, Van Buren & Tyler 1837-44
US Slavery & Abolitionists 1801-44
Women Reforming America 1801-44
American Philosophy & Religion 1801-44
Emerson’s Transcendentalism
Literature of Irving, Cooper & Whittier
Summary & Evaluating America 1801-44

World Chronology to 1830
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