ePub 版

Tappan was asked to preside over an in- tively young men, some in middle age, formal meeting preparatory to the open- and a few beyond that period. They were ing of the convention. A handsome, in- nearly all plainly dressed, with a view to tellectual-looking man, in the prime of comfort rather than elegance. Many of life, responded to the invitation, and in a the faces turned towards me wore a look clear, well-modulated voice, the firm tones of expectancy and suppressed enthusiasm. of which inspired hope and confidence, All had the earnestness which might be stated the objects of our preliminary coun- expected of men engaged in an enterprise cil, and the purpose which had called beset with difficulty and perhaps with us together, in earnest and well - chosen peril. The fine, intellectual head of Garwords. In making arrangements for the rison, prematurely bald, was conspicuous. convention, it was thought expedient to The sunny-faced young man at his side, secure, if possible, the services of some in whom all the beatitudes seemed to citizen of Philadelphia of distinction and find expression, was Samuel J. May, high social standing to preside over its mingling in his veins the best blood of deliberations. Looking round among our. the Sewalls and Quincys-a man so excepselves in vain for some titled civilian ortionally pure and large-hearted, so genial, doctor of divinity, we were fain to confess tender, and loving, that he could be faiththat to outward seeming we were but “a ful to truth and duty without making feeble folk,” sorely needing the shield of an enemy. a popular name. A committee, of which

“ The de'il wad look into his face, I was a member, was appointed to go in

And swear he couldna wrang him." search of a president of this description. We visited two prominent gentlemen, That tall, gaunt, swarthy man, erect; eagleknown as friendly to emancipation and of faced, upon whose somewhat martial figure high social standing. They received us the Quaker coat seemed a little out of with the dignified courtesy of the old place, was Lindley Coates, known in all school, declined our proposition in civil eastern Pennsylvania as a stern enemy terms, and bowed us out with a cool po- of slavery. That slight, eager man, inliteness equalled only by that of the senior tensely alive in every feature and gesture, Winkle towards the unlucky deputation was Thomas Shipley, who for thirty years of Pickwick and his unprepossessing com- had been the protector of the free colored panions. As we left their doors, we could people of Philadelphia, and whose name not refrain from smiling in each other's was whispered reverently in the slave faces at the thought of the small induce. cabins of Maryland as the friend of the ment our proffer of the presidency held black man, one of a class peculiar to old out to men of their class. Evidently, our Quakerism, who in doing what they felt company was not one for respectability to be duty and walking as the Light withto march through Coventry with. in guided them knew no fear and shrank

On the following morning we repaired from no sacrifice. Braver men the world to the Adelphi Building, on Fifth Street, has not known. Beside him, differing in below Walnut, which had been secured for creed, but united with him in works of

Sixty-two delegates were found love and charity, sat Thomas Whitson, to be in attendance. Beriah Green, of of the Hicksite School of Friends, fresh the Oneida (N. Y.) Institute, was chosen from his farm in Lancaster county, dresspresident, a fresh - faced, sandy - haired, ed in plainest homespun, his tall form rather common-looking man, but who had surmounted by a shock of unkempt hair, the reputation of an able and eloquent the odd obliquity of his vision contrastspeaker. He had already made himself ing strongly with the clearness and directknown to us as a resolute and self-sacri- ness of his spiritual insight. Elizur ficing abolitionist. Lewis Tappan and Wright, the young professor of a Western myself took our places at his side as sec- college, who had lost his place by his retaries, on the elevation at the west end bold advocacy of freedom, with a look of of the hall.

sharp concentration in keeping with an inLooking over the assembly, I noticed tellect keen as a Damascus blade, closely that it was mainly composed of compara- watched the proceedings through his spec.

our use.


tacles, opening his mouth only to speak never seen a finer face and figure; and his directly to the purpose. The portly form manner, words, and bearing were in keepof Dr. Bartholomew Fussell, the beloved ing. “Who is he?" I asked of one of the physician, from that beautiful land of Pennsylvania delegates. “Robert Purvis, plenty and peace which Bayard Taylor of this city, a colored man,” was the has described in his Story of Kennett, answer. He began by uttering his heartwas not to be overlooked. Abolitionist in felt thanks to the delegates who had conheart and soul, his house was known as vened for the deliverance of his people. the shelter of runaway slaves; and no He spoke of Garrison in terms of warmest sportsman ever entered into the chase culogy, as one who had stirred the heart with such zest as he did into the arduous of the nation, broken the tomb-like slumand sometimes dangerous work of aiding ber of the Church, and compelled it to their escape and baffling their pursuers. listen to the story of the slave's wrongs. The youngest man present was, I believe, He closed by declaring that the friends of James Miller McKim, a Presbyterian min- colored Americans would not be forgotten. ister from Columbia, afterwards one of “Their memories," he said, will be our most efficient workers. James Mott, E, cherished when pyramids and monuments L. Capron, Arnold Buffum, and Nathan shall have crumbled in dust. The flood of Winslow, men well known in the anti- time, which is sweeping away the refuge slavery agitation, were conspicuous mem- of lies, is bearing on the advocates of our bers. Vermont sent down from her moun. cause to a glorious immortality.” tains Orson S. Murray, a man terribly in The committee on the constitution made earnest, with a zeal that bordered on fa- their report, which after discussion was 'naticism, and who was none the more ge. adopted. It disclaimed any right or innial for the mob-violence to which he had tention of interfering, otherwise than by been subjected. In front of me, awakening persuasion and Christian expostulation, pleasant associations of the old homestead with slavery as it existed in the States, in Merrimac valley, sat my first school- but affirming the duty of Congress to teacher, Joshua Coffin, the learned and abolish it in the District of Columbia and worthy antiquarian and historian of New- Territories, and to put an end to the bury. A few spectators, mostly of the domestic slave-trade. A list of officers of Hicksite division of Friends, were present, the new society was then chosen: Arthur in broad brims and plain bonnets, among Tappan, of New York, president, and them. Esther Moore and Lucretia Mott. Elizur Wright, Jr., William Lloyd Gar

Committees were chosen to draft a con- rison, and A. L. Cox, secretaries. Among stitution for a national anti-slavery so the vice-presidents was Dr. Lord, of ciety, nominate a list of officers, and pre- Dartmouth College, then professedly in pare a declaration of principles to be favor of emancipation, but who aftersigned by the members. Dr. A. L. Cox, wards turned a moral somersault, a selfof New York, while these committees were inversion which left him ever after on his absent, read something from my pen eulo. head instead of his feet. He became a gistic of William Lloyd Garrison; and querulous advocate of slavery as a divine Lewis Tappan and Amos A. Phelps, a institution, and denounced woe upon the Congregational clergyman of Boston, abolitionists for interfering with the will afterwards one of the most devoted labor. and purpose of the Creator. As the cause ers in the cause, followed in generous of freedom gained ground, the poor man's commendation of the zeal, courage, and heart failed him, and his hope for Church devotion of the young pioneer. The presi- and State grew fainter and fainter. A dent, after calling James McCrummell, sad prophet of the evangel of slavery, he one of the two or three colored members testified in the unwilling ears of an unof the convention, to the chair, made some believing generation, and died at last, eloquent remarks upon those editors who despairing of a world which seemed dehad ventured to advocate emancipation. termined that Canaan should no longer be At the close of his speech a young man cursed, nor Onesimus sent back to Philerose to speak, whose appearance at once arrested my attention. I think I have The committee on the declaration of


[ocr errors][merged small]

principles, of which I was a member, It maintained that no compensation
held a long session discussing the proper should be given to planters emancipating
scope and tenor of the document. But slaves, because that would be a surrender
little progress being made, it was finally of fundamental principles. “Slavery is a
decided to intrust the matter to a sub- crime, and is, therefore, not an article to
committee, consisting of William L. Gar- be sold”; because slave-holders are not
rison, S. J. May, and myself; and, after just proprietors of what they claim; be-
a brief consultation and comparison of cause emancipation would destroy only
each other's views, the drafting of the nominal, not real, property; and because
important paper was assigned to the compensation, if given at all, should be
former gentleman. We agreed to meet given to the slaves.
him at his lodgings in the house of a

It declared any "scheme of expatriacolored friend early the next morning. tion” to be “delusive, cruel, and dangerIt was still dark when we climbed up to ous.” It fully recognized the right of his room, and the lamp was still burning each State to legislate exclusively on the by the light of which he was writing the subject of slavery within its limits, and last sentence of the declaration. We read conceded that Congress, under the present it carefully, made a few verbal changes, national compact, had no right to interand submitted it to the large committee, fere, though still contending that it had who unanimously agreed to report it to the power, and should exercise it, “ to the convention.

suppress the domestic slave-trade between The paper was read to the convention the several States," and “to abolish by Dr. Atlee, chairman of the committee, slavery in the District of Columbia, and and listened to with the profoundest in- in those portions of our territory which terest.

the Constitution has placed under its exCommencing with a reference to the clusive jurisdiction.” time, fifty-seven years before, when, in After clearly and emphatically avowthe same city of Philadelphia, our fathers ing the principles underlying the enterannounced to the world their Declaration prise, and guarding with scrupulous care of Independence-based on the self-evident the rights of persons and States under truths of human equality and rights, the Constitution, in prosecuting it, the and appealed to arms for its defence, it declaration closed with these eloquent spoke of the new enterprise one words: “without which that of our fathers is “ We also maintain that there are at incomplete," and as transcending theirs in the present time the highest obligations magnitude, solemnity, and probable re. resting upon the people of the free States sults as much as moral truth does phys- to remove slavery by moral and political ical force." It spoke of the difference of action, as prescribed in the Constitution the two in the means and ends proposed, of the United States. They are now living and of the trilling grievances of our under a pledge of their tremendous physfathers compared with the wrongs and ical force to fasten the galling fetters of sufferings of the slaves, which it forcibly tyranny upon the limbs of millions in the characterized as unequalled by any others Southern States; they are liable to be on the face of the earth. It claimed that called at any moment to suppress a genthe nation was bound to repent at once, eral insurrection of the slaves; they auto let the oppressed go free, and to admit thorize the slave-holder to vote on threethem to all the rights and privileges of fifths of his slaves as property, and thus others; because, it asserted, no man has enable him to perpetuate his oppression; a right to enslave or imbrute his brother; they support a standing army at the because liberty is inalienable; because South for its protection; and they seize there is no difference in principle between the slave who has escaped into their terslave-holding and man-stealing, which the ritories, and send him back to be tortlaw brands as piracy; and because no ured by an enraged master or a brutal length of bondage can invalidate man's driver. This relation to slavery is crimclaim to himself, or render slave laws inal and full of danger. It must be broken anything but “an audacious usurpation.” up.

[merged small][ocr errors]


[ocr errors][merged small]


“ These are our views and principles, and humanity, or perish untimely as these our designs and measures. With martyrs in this great, benevolent, and entire confidence in the overruling justice holy cause." of God, we plant ourselves upon


The reading of the paper was followed Declaration of Independence and the by a

discussion which lasted several truths of divine revelation as upon the hours. A member of the Society of everlasting rock.

Friends moved its immediate adoption. “ We shall organize anti-slavery so- “We have,” he said, “all given it our ascieties, if possible, in every city, town; sent: every heart here responds to it. It and village in our land.

is a doctrine of Friends that these strong “We shall send forth agents to lift up and deep impressions should be heeded.” the voice of remonstrance, of warning, of The convention, nevertheless, deemed it entreaty and rebuke.

important to go the declaration “We shall circulate unsparingly and carefully, paragraph by paragraph. extensively anti-slavery tracts and peri- During the discussion one of the specodicals.

tators asked leave to say a few words. “We shall enlist the pulpit and the A beautiful and graceful woman, in the press in the cause of the suffering and the prime of life, with a face beneath her dumb.

plain cap as finely intellectual as that of “ We shall aim at a purification of the Madame Roland, offered some wise and churches from all participation in the valuable suggestions, in a clear, sweet guilt of slavery.

voice, the charm of which I have nev“We shall encourage the labor of free. er forgotten. It was Lucretia Mott, of men over that of the slaves, by giving a Philadelphia. The president courteously preference to their productions; and thanked her, and encouraged her to take

“ We shall spare no exertions nor means a part in the discussion. On the morning to bring the whole nation to speedy re- of the last day of our session the declarapentance.

tion, with its few verbal amendments, “Our trust for victory is solely in carefully engrossed on parchment, was God. We may be personally defeated, but brought before the convention. Samuel our principles never. Truth, justice, J. May rose to read it for the last time. reason, humanity, must and will glori- His sweet, persuasive voice faltered with ously triumph. Already a host is coming the intensity of his emotions as he reup to the help of the Lord against the peated the solemn pledges of the conmighty, and the prospect before us is full cluding paragraphs. After a

season of of encouragement.

silence, David Thurston, of Maine, rose “ Submitting this declaration to the as his name was called by one of the seccandid examination of the people of this retaries, and affixed his name to the docucountry and of the friends of liberty all ment. One after another passed up to over the world, we hereby affix our signa- the platform, signed, and retired in tures to it, pledging ourselves that, under silence. All felt the deep responsibility the guidance and by the help of Almighty of the occasion: the shadow and forecast God, we will do all that in us lies, con- of a lifelong struggle rested upon every sistently with this declaration of our countenance. principles, to overthrow the most execra- Our work as a convention was ble system of slavery that has ever been done. President Green arose to make the witnessed upon earth, to deliver our land concluding address. The circumstances from its deadliest curse, to wipe out the under which it was uttered may have foulest stain which rests upon our na- lent it an impressiveness not its own; tional escutcheon, and to secure to the but, as I now recall it, it seems to me the colored population of the United States most powerful and eloquent speech to all the rights and privileges which belong which I have ever listened. He passed in to them as men and as Americans, come review the work that had been done, the what may to our persons, our interests, constitution of the new society, the declaor our reputations, whether we live to ration of sentiments, and the union and witness the triumph of justice, liberty, earnestness which had marked the pro

now 1

ceedings. His closing words will never be lar, inviting me to attend the commemoforgotten by those who heard them: ration of the thirtieth anniversary of the

“ Brethren, it has been good to be here. formation of the American Anti-slavery In this hallowed atmosphere I have been Society at Philadelphia. It is with the revived and refreshed. This brief inter- deepest regret that I am compelled by the view has more than repaid me for all that feeble state of my health to give up all I have ever suffered. I have here met hope of meeting thee and my other old and congenial minds. I have rejoiced in sym- dear friends on an occasion of so much pathies delightful to the soul. Heart has interest. How much it costs me to acbeat responsive to heart, and the whole quiesce in the hard necessity thy own work of seeking to benefit the outraged feelings will tell thee better than any and despised has proved the most blessed words of mine. employment.

I look back over thirty years, and call “But now we must retire from these to mind all the circumstances of my balmy influences, and breathe another at. journey to Philadelphia, in company with mosphere. The chill hoar-frost will be thyself and the excellent Dr. Thurston, upon us. The storm and tempest will rise, of Maine, even then as we thought an and the waves of persecution will dash old man, but still living, and true as ever against our souls. Let us be prepared for to the good cause. I recall the early gray the worst. Let us fasten ourselves to the morning when, with Samuel J. May, our throne of God as with hooks of steel. If colleague on the committee to prepare a we cling not to Him, our names to that declaration of sentiments for the condocument will be but as dust.

vention, I climbed to the small “upper “Let us court no applause, indulge in chamber” of a colored friend to hear thee no spirit of vain boasting. Let us be as. read the first draft of a paper which will sured that our only hope in grappling live as long as our national history. I with the bony monster is in an Arm that see the members of the convention, solis stronger than ours. Let us fix our emnized by the responsibility, rise one gaze on God, and walk in the light of His by one and solemnly affix their names to countenance. If our cause be just-and we that stern pledge of fidelity to freedom. know it is—His omnipotence is pledged Of the signers many have passed away to its triumph. Let this cause be entwined from earth, a few have faltered and around the very fibres of our hearts. Let turned back; but I believe the majority our hearts grow to it, so that nothing still live to rejoice over the great triumph but death can sunder the bond."

of truth and justice, and to devote what He ceased, and then, amidst a silence remains of time and strength to the broken only by the deep-drawn breath of cause to which they consecrated their emotion in the assembly, lifted up his youth and manhood thirty years ago. voice in prayer to Almighty God, full of For, while we may well thank God and fervor and feeling, imploring His blessing congratulate one another on the prospect and sanctification upon the convention of the speedy emancipation of the slaves and its labors. And with the solemnity of the United States, we must not for of this supplication in our hearts we a moment forget that from this hour new clasped hands in farewell, and went forth and mighty responsibilities devolve upon each man to his place of duty, not know- us to aid, direct, and educate these milling the things that should befall us as ions left free, indeed, but bewildered, ig. individuals, but with a confidence never norant, naked, and foodless in the wild shaken by abuse and persecution in the chaos of civil war. We have to undo the certain triumph of our cause.

accumulated wrongs of two centuries, to Formation of the American Anti-slavery remake the manhood which slavery has Society.-A letter to William Lloyd Gar- wellnigh unmade, to see to it that the rison, president of the society:

long-oppressed colored man has a fair field

for development and improvement, and to AMESBURY, Vor. 2!, 1863. tread under our feet the last vestige of MY DEAR FRIEND,—I have received thy that hateful prejudice which has been kind letter with the accompanying circu- the strongest external support of Southern


« 上一頁繼續 »