AT Boston, to which place I went on the 1st of September, I saw a cousin of Peter Vicey. She gave the same account of what passed in Virginia, on the establishment of their claim to liberty, as was given me by the colonists in Ohio. She was married to a man, of whom I heard a very favorable report from Mr. Child. She stated that she had had great difficulty in obtaining her papers of freedom from the agent, William Wickham, as he refused to let her have them, because she would not accompany the party who had gone into Ohio. When she had at last succeeded in her object, he told her there was money due to her, and he would remit it to her at Boston, whither she was going. She applied for it several times, through a lawyer; but not one cent did she ever get from William Wickham. Her husband informed me that a friend had once seen a copy of Mr. Gist's will in Virginia, but had forgotten the contents.
Among the many instances which I was doomed to hear of the national bigotry, were one or two particularly deserving of notice. It is an established fact that blindness is more prevalent among the blacks than the whites; yet none of them are allowed to partake of the benefits which the asylum, lately established at Boston, affords to those who are afflicted with this infirmity. There was an application made for admission, by persons who had befriended a poor colored child that was blind, --but without effect, though the inhabitants of the town where he lived, petitioned the legislature in his favor. Those with whom the election rested decided against him. A letter from one of the poor boy's friends, (Benjamin Davenport,) to a member of the legislature says, "the reason assigned was because he had a colored skin. The Governor informed me that he had no objection to granting him a certificate; but the Trustees objected. He also informed me, that the Institution received nearly 3000 dollars last year from the unexpended appropriation to the deaf and dumb, making about 9000 dollars from the State last year. I understand the objection made by Dr. Howe, who seems to be the Principal of the Institution, is, if they should have pupils from the South, their parents or friends would not like to have them in the same school with colored children. I am not aware that the legislature intended any distinction of color, when they made the grant; nor do I believe they would countenance it." The boy, thus rejected, was remarkable for goodness of disposition and acuteness of mind. Dr. Howe is well known in America as a Philhellenist.
Another instance refers to the case of juvenile offenders, who were declared to be inadmissible at the house of reformation, on account of their complexion. But, perhaps, the strongest example of this vile feeling is to be seen in the conduct of Judge Story, while addressing a jury, who were trying a white man on a charge of murder. The victim of his savage ferocity was the steward or cook of a vessel he commanded. He had beaten and flogged him till he died. Three colored men of unexceptionable character deposed to the fact, of which they had been eye-witnesses. All suspicion of concert or collusion between the witnesses was precluded by the variation in its details of the evidence they gave. The defence was that the deceased had died from the effects of sickness, and not from the blows he had received. His wife, however, swore that he was in good health when he left her; that she had never heard of his having been ill; and that he had always had an excellent constitution. The prisoner was acquitted; the judge having told the jury they must deduct from the weight of testimony, pruduced by the witnesses, the probable iufluence of their prejudices aganst a man of a different color from their own. No allusion whatever was made to a similar feeling on the other side; though it was just as likely to operate in favor of a white man as against him. Any one unaquainted with the state of the public mind and the character of the judge, would have supposed that the whites alone, were the victims of an unreasonable, prejudice.
Such an observation from the bench, in open court, in a trial for a brutal assault, accompanied with fatal effects, and very suspicious circumstances proclaims more clearly and more strikingly the diabolical spirit which pervades the nation, than a thousand anecdotes illustrative of what is practised, by individuals in private life. Public opinion took part with the accused, and the judge congratulated him on an acquittal, by which his "character was fully vindicated."
When the examination of the public schools took place last year, the African schools, as they are called, were omitted in the list advertised, though it was particularly requested that a notice, relative to them, should be inserted at the same time in the papers. The pupils that attend them were not allowed to join in the procession, which greeted the President when he arrived in the city on his tour. The reason alleged was, that it would be offensive to a southerner if the colored children should turn out to receive him. A white man, who had the care of one of these schools, was convicted of having been in the habit of corrupting the morals of the young women under his care. He protested his innocence, and complained that all his predecessors had labored unjustly under the same imputation. The proofs against him were conclusive of his guilt, yet he was continued in his place under some pretence or other. His predecessors were probably as bad as himself. Few care for these children; their virtues are a reproach to those who despise them. Why should they be punished or checked by the scorner, who encourage and promote those vices that give him an excuse for his contempt? He ought to thank them for helping him to keep the "niggers" down. A proper teacher is now appointed to the school in question.
During the preceding summer the spirit of insubordination had exhibited itself at Harvard University, with a degree of violence that called for strong measures of repression. One of the Freshman-class had insulted the Greek tutor, by telling him, when informed that it was expected he would translate whatever passage or word was proposed to him, that "he should pay no attention to the request." "I do not recognise your authority," was his expression. He refused to make any apology, and left the college, with permission, and without censure from the authorities. The junior class, though urged by him not to interfere, espoused his cause with great warmth, and proceeded, from one step to another, in a course of outrage and annoyance, inconsistent with every principle of academical discipline. They broke the windows and furniture of the offending teacher, assaulted both the officers of the institution and the watch employed to protect the property of the college; and interrupted at various times, by noises and brawlings, the religious services of the place. This rebellious disposition extended itself to the whole body of the undergraduates; and the senior class issued a circular, with no address, but with ample meaning. By this document, they came forward as the vindicators of their younger associates, and the accusers of the president, who had threatened an appeal to the legal tribunals of the country, if the riots were not discontinued. This resolution they characterised as indiscreet, and incompatible with the relation in which he stood of father to the pupils. After much discussion on both sides, with the usual accompaniments of misrepresentation and disingenuousness imputed and retorted, the whole Sophomore (or second-year) class, except three, were dismissed, -- re-admissible, however, after the ensuing commencement, on passing a fresh examination and producing certificates of good conduct. Of the freshman-class several were dismissed for various periods, and for various offences. Indictments were found against three of the Sophomores for trespass, and another against one of them for an assault upon the college-watch at night. Seven of the senior class were dismissed for an indefinite time; or, as the phrase is with us, rusticated sine die.
All these matters were laid before the Board of Overseers, who appointed a committee of inquiry, adopted the report it laid before them, and resolved, at a meeting held by them at the council chamber, Aug. 25th, 1834, -- ''1st. That the students of Harvard University have no just or equitable claim to exemption from prosecution before the civil and criminal tribunals of the commonwealth for trespasses upon property or against persons, whether belonging to the University or otherwise. 2dly. That the proceedings of the President ,and Faculty of Harvard University, on the occasion of the recent riots and disturbances among the students at that seminary, meet with the entire approbation of the board. 3dly. That the circular published in the name of the senior class of Harvard University, relating to the recent riotous disturbances among the students at that seminary, is of a disorderly character, and entirely inconsistent with the station and duties of undergraduates at the University."
The committee, while it condemned the conduct of the students, employed language as little appropriate to the rank of its members as to the object they profess to have in view -- of calming and preventing the effervescence of juvenile irritability. The following passage from the report will shew how little the excited state of feeling had cooled down among those who framed or adopted it. "It is time that all the students of Harvard University should distinctly understand, that they have no privilege of immunity for acts of violence and outrage against persons or property, even though belonging to the University. That if one portion of them will brutalize themselves by deeds fit only for the most debased of the human species, and if the other portion of them, to screen them from detection and punishment, will have neither eyes to see nor ears to hear, nor a tongue to speak the truth, there are tribunals in the country armed with powers not only to repair the damages of property destroyed or purloined, but to compel the delivery of testimony, and to tear from their bosoms, upon the pains and penalties of perjury, the guilty secret of crimes committed by their associates. That the exemption from the grasp of these tribunals is an indulgence always within the discretion of the government of the University to withdraw; and that, if they claim from the president and instructors, who superintend their education, the tenderness and forbearance of parents towards their children, it must be upon the just and equitable condition, that they shall fashion their conduct towards those, their adopted parents, by the rules of subordination and of submission enjoined by the laws of God and man upon the dutiful child."
The circular of the senior class is composed in a tone of defiance and accusation, that even the intemperate language it elicited from the authorities; would not have justified. Some of the passages are curious; as they illustrate, in a most striking manner, the deep-rooted alienation that exists between the northern and southern sections of the Union. "We understand," say these youthful malcontents, that the president has publicly denied ever having declared to southerners that he did not wish any of them in the college, or advised them to go somewhere else; but, on investigation, we find that there are many, who are willing to testify on oath, when it shall be required, that he has used such language towards them. Such observations may be forgotten by those who make them; but they are not soon or readily effaced from the memory of those to whom they are addressed." The circular terminates with these words: "After a careful investigation of facts, we are of opinion that the late disturbances in the University have not been altogether `without cause or apology,' as stated in the president's circular; and, although we declare our decided disapprobation of all the depredations and outrages which have been committed, yet we must say, they are not without provocation, and that the guilt lies by no means upon the students alone.
"Perhaps the circumstances which we have related, have been only the immediate occasion of the recent disturbances. The causes have been long in operation. Besides the local prejudices to which we have above alluded, the manners of President Quincy towards many of the students have not been such as to conciliate their esteem or affection. His defective memory, and the natural impetuosity of his character, often give him the appearance of acting in an arbitrary and capricious manner; and though his friends allow his sincerity and integrity, yet it cannot be wondered at, that many of the students, whom he has not made his friends, should entertain a different opinion. In relating these circumstances, we have endeavoured to be as impartial as possible, and have stated no fact, for the truth of which we have not obtained positive evidence."
One of the riotous students, having entered a plea of nolo contendere, was fined twenty dollars and costs on one indictment, and ten dollars with costs on another. Other punishments followed -- to what amount or in how many cases I know not. Discipline was restored, and nothing occurred to prevent or disturb the "Commencement."
On the 8th I left Boston, with two friends, for Concord, in New Hampshire, and proceeded next day to Canaan, through Andover -- upwards of 100 miles from the former city. Part of the way the driver of the stage had six horses in hand. He told me he sometimes drove eight in that way. As we came out of Boston, we passed the ruins of a Catholic convent, which had not long before been destroyed by a mob, excited by a spirit of religious intolerance against an innocent community of helpless women and children. They had been told that a young person was forcibly confined there; and, having been prepared for any kind of violence by some inflammatory sermons that had just been preached from an orthodox pulpit, these advocates for summary conviction, and speedy punishment, assembled in full force and fury at the doors of the hated building, and set fire to it. The inmates, who were allowed some sort of warning, fled with the utmost fear and precipitation, and escaped with the loss of all their property, but the little they had on them; having suffered much in their attempts to get away.*
These outrages were but a continuance, in another form, of what had been enacted at New York, Philadelphia, and other places. The monster, which the public press had unmuzzled and unchained, was roaring for his prey; and those who had turned him out of his den, now began to tremble for themselves. Various schemes were devised to tame him; and a municipal force, was talked of against evils, which were no longer to be tolerated because they were indiscriminate. The nation, it was said, was disgraced by such proceedings; and the same men, who had urged the populace to put down discussion by force, now complained that religious liberty was endangered by the excesses they had themselves suggested and sanctioned.
* Some of the pupils were Protestants. One of them, when she first went to the convent, objected to the temp "Superior." She acknowledged no superior, she said. Perhaps she thought that as "Governor" does not mean Superior, "Superior" could not mean Governess. "Subject" sounds harsh and insulting to American ears, though its correlative "government" is in constant use.
There were about sixty female children, besides adults, in the Charleston convent when it was attacked.: -- one of the latter in the last stage of consumption, another subject to convulsion fits, and the unconscious cause of the riot in a state of delirium, brought on by the violence committed. When the fire-engines arrived from the city, those who had the charge of them refused to work them. All this was, as the Committee of Inquiry reported, "perpetrated in the presence of men vested with authority, and of multitudes of citizens, while not one arm was lifted in defence of helpless women and children, or in vindication of the violated laws of God and man. The spirit of violence, sacrilege, and plunder, reigned triumphant. Crime alone seemed to confer courage, while humanity, manhood, and patriotism, quailed or stood irresolute and confounded in its presence," The committee speak of the outrage as "an event of fearful import, as well as the profoundest shame and humiliation." "It has come upon us," they say, "like the shock of an earthquake, and has disclosed a state of society and of public sentiment, of which we believe no man was before aware." No wonder, indeed, that the profoundest ignorance of the true state of the country should prevail, when such sentiments as the following could be addressed to the community by those, who were expressly appointed to investigate the causes of this attack upon its tranquillity:-- sentiments, that pay homage to vulgar prejudice at the very moment its bitter fruits are reprobated-sentiments, that encourage religious intolerance, while those, who utter them, would arrest the hand it has put in motion. "They lay aside"-- I quote the very words of the Committee,--."they lay aside all questions of indemnifying the sufferers, as means of aiding in the support of the Catholic faith. Of their individual feelings and opinions upon that subject, their fellow-citizens can have no doubt; but they look upon the obligations of justice as of higher import, and more deeply affecting our welfare as a political community." The first prisoner tried on a capital indictment for this riot was acquitted.
There is a bitter feeling of animosity in many parts of the Union against the Catholics. The Secretary of the Hartford County Education Society said in his report in 1833: "Who that loves his country or the true church of God, can be willing to see Popery spread over the land?- a religion essentially at variance with all our civil and our religious institutions: --a religion, of which it has been truly said, that if it does not find a people vicious, it will soon make them so." "Beloved brethren," says Dr. Scudder to the pious young men of the Methodist, Baptist, &c., "you may live to see the day when the Popish Inquisition shall be transferred to America. You may live to see the day, when your Protestant brethren in the West will be obliged to lay down their lives by refusing to pay their supreme adorations to a piece of bread, You may live to see the day, when the blood-thirsty Roman Priests, who have sworn to do all they can to extirpate those out of their communion, plunge their daggers into their bosoms, and witness rivers of blood flowing down your streets. You may live to see the day, when another Papal monster, just made drunk with the blood of saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus; will go, at the head of a procession; to the Church of Saint Mark, to return thanks to Almighty God for such a horrible massacre," &c.
The above extracts are from a work printed and published at Boston in 1833. A passage in one of the notes may almost be supposed to have led to the Charleston outrage. "It is a subject which demands the most serious consideration of the judicial department of our nation, whether they should allow Roman Catholic priests to establish nunneries where the 'black veil' is taken. Such, in fact, are prisons in which females are kept locked up for ever. It is true they enter them voluntarily at first; but the question is, do they voluntarily remain there? It should be remembered that they are introduced into them at a tender age, &c. They have no hopes of escape. The bare mention of a wish to leave, might, in many instances, be followed with a deadly poisonous draught."
Allusions are made of a nature too indelicate to be quoted. The Catholics are not behind their opponents in illiberality, if we may judge from certain resolutions they lately passed at New Orleans, against a Presbyterian minister, for slandering them in an address he had delivered at Hartford, in Connecticut. After stating that his congregation had not succeeded in exculpating him from the charge, they resolved, that his residence among them was fraught with danger to the peace of the community;-- that he be requested to leave the city;-- and that, "notwithstanding the people of New Orleans would be pleased to enjoy the favorable opinion of their Northern brethren, yet they will never consent to sacrifice their own self-respect by adopting their opinions, and by becoming the dupes of a fanatical and aspiring priesthood."
A New Orleans paper calls the meeting on this occasion "one of the largest, decidedly, which ever took place" in that city.
Had it not been for the Catholic Bishop, the Irish at Boston and in the neighborhood would have retaliated on the Protestant churches, and the college at Cambridge, for the insult thus offered to their religion. It was said they had provided themselves with arms. The dislike which prevails almost universally against the Irish, does not originate entirely in religious differences. One of its most fruitful sources is the jealousy of the working-classes, who consider them intruders, and complain that they take the bread out of their mouths, by overstocking the labor-market. One man observed to me, that a law ought to be passed to send them back to Europe: -- another said that such a law had passed. Sentiments of this kind met my, ear wherever I went. Scarcely any one stood up in defence of a people whose faults would cease or be softened down by the removal of those insults which aggravate, if they have not produced, them.
We passed through Lowell, -- the embryo-Manchester of the United States. The persons employed in the factories were well-dressed, and appeared to be in easy circumstances. A committee, appointed by the Friends of American Industry, to inquire into the state of the cotton manufactures, reported, in 1832, that "In many factories the proprietors have instituted savings' banks, to encourage the economy of the operatives, by enabling them to deposit such portions, however small, of their earnings, as they could spare; the proprietors allowing a moderate rate of interest, and being responsible for the safety of the capital. In one factory, which has made a return on this subject to the committee, where the wages amount to about 60,000 dollars per annum, the fund thus laid by has accumulated, in four years, to the sum of 26,400 dollars, or about eleven per cent. on the whole amount of wages paid."Two things recorded in this document are highly honorable to the national character. One is, that three months in the year are generally allowed, for the purposes of education, to the children employed; and, in the larger factories, schools are maintained at the expense of the establishment, for all persons connected with them. The other is, that many instances had occurred, within the personal knowledge of some of the committee, of young women applying what they had saved from their wages to pay off the mortgages upon their fathers' farms.
The Americans are trying to force manufactures; forgetting that their perfection too often proceeds from the low value of human labor, and is accompanied with a large mass of human misery. An exhibition of hothouse skill may gratify national pride; but national wealth would increase by the same industry, if left to itself, which, when employed in erecting pyramids, impoverishes the country it embellishes. The phrase "American system", like the words "patriotic" and "conservative", acts as a charm on those whose sentiments are in perfect accordance with the presumed correctness of the idea to be conveyed.
The exports of domestic produce from the United States amounted, in 1833, to 70,642,030 dollars, --having increased, beyond the preceding year's estimate, by the sum of 7,504,560 dollars. During the same period, the corresponding augmentation of imports was, in round numbers, eight millions on a total of one hundred and nine millions, --thirty-four of which were from articles free of duty. We are punishing ourselves and each other by our shortsighted policy. Had it not been for the tariff and the corn-laws, each would have found, in a profitable interchange of labor, that benefit which its detention has afforded to neither. The queen issues a writ, "Ne exeat regno"; and the bees are to make honey out of the straw that covers them. "Protection" has done for the Lowell manufacturer what it has done for our farmer: --it has lowered profits by inviting capital. This is all very true in theory: --but America is a new country, without any debt; and England is an old country, with a very heavy one. The one must have leading-strings, and the other crutches!
The object my friends and myself had, in visiting Canaan, was to be present at a meeting of the trustees of a school lately formed there. The Noyes Seminary had obtained a charter of incorporation from the legislature of New Hampshire; and the building being nearly completed, all that remained was, to settle the terms of admission, and provide for the appointment of a teacher, and the requisite control over the management and discipline of the institution.
A spirit of liberality unknown, or at least unheard of, in any other part of the Union, had inspired the townsmen of this sequestered spot with the noble resolution of opening the school they had founded with their donations and subscriptions, to the children of all whose means would enable them to enjoy its benefits, without distinction. No curicular test was to be demanded as a qualification for entrance; --no disability was to be sought in impurity of blood: --exclusion or expulsion was to be based upon those considerations alone which would carry with them their own justification in the eyes of every liberal and impartial man.
While at Concord, a newspaper fell into our hands, containing an advertisement that menaced a determined opposition to the scheme. It was hardly, indeed, to be expected, that any plan so much in advance of the feeling that pervaded the whole country, should be suffered to go unmolested into operation. The resolutions, however, to which I refer, were passed at a meeting got up for the occasion, against the wishes of more than four-fifths of the voters in the town, if a fair judgment may be formed from the number of those who signed their names to the document. Just before we quitted the village, we were informed that not more than six opponents remained in the place: --thanks to the persuasive eloquence of my companions, who explained to an attentive audience, the day after our arrival, the principles and objects which the academy was to maintain and promote.
On our way to Canaan we passed through the district in which Daniel Webster was born and spent his youthful years. We heard many anecdotes of his kindness and attention to the friends and companions of his humbler fortunes; his annual visits to whom were signalized by some mark of his sympathy for the distressed, and his recollection of old scenes and attachments. They, in their turn, are justly proud of a man, whose master-mind would do honor to any country.
Our approach and departure from this delightful spot were enlivened by the most picturesque scenery, that the greatest profusion and diversity of mountain eminences, with the finest contours and outlines, could produce, in addition to miniature lakes studded with verdant islets, and indenting their rocky shores with innumerable sinuosities. The people at Canaan were hospitable, intelligent, and disinterested; simple in their habits, and frank in their manners. They seemed to love their native land with a rational affection, and to wish their attachment should recommend itself to the world by the efforts it led them to make for the adoption of a noble and benevolent policy to all its inhabitants.
The village, which is situated in the county of Grafton, and is likely to be connected with Boston by means of a rail-road, is admirably adapted to the purposes of this praiseworthy project. The climate is remarkably healthy; the water excellent; and the soil, though thin and rocky, well suited to pasturage. The vicinity abounds in fine views, such as the "Granite State" might be expected to present to the lovers of picturesque nature. Provisions are cheap; and the whole expense of education, including board and lodging, would not exceed 100 dollars for a pupil who should reside there the whole year. The scholars are to board with the inhabitants. There will be room for 100 boys. We had two public meetings; both opened and closed with prayer, --two ministers being present; one of them a trustee and a friend to the objects of the establishment; the other unconnected with it. The prayer, however, he offered up at the termination of the last meeting, breathed nothing but charity and goodwill, in language that promised a hearty co-operation or a generous neutrality. It was chiefly among the old people that hostility to the new school manifested itself; though some venerable revolutionists, who cheerfully bore testimony to the services of the colored soldiers during the war with the mother country, formed an exception. The younger part of the community, particularly the boys, were indignant at the narrow spirit of proscription, and were impatient to shew a better feeling, by entering their names as scholars. Taking all the circumstances of our reception into consideration, I had good reason to be pleased with what I had witnessed. I had seen in the West and in the East the same devotion to humanity --the same sacrifice of deep-rooted prejudice on the altar of justice; and I could not but foresee, in the alumni of Lane Seminary and of Noyes Academy an honorable rivalry in high thoughts and good deeds. Events have since occurred that have rendered this hope unavailing. The students of Lane Seminary, who had formed themselves into an abolition society, have dissolved their connexion with the institution, to the number of forty-one; and others, who were absent at the time, agreed in the "statement", though they were unable to affix their names to it. The Principal, during a visit he made to Boston last autumn, declared that he would, on his return, put a stop to the anti-slavery proceedings. The Executive Committee of the Seminary, four-fifths of whom are colonizationists, subsequently resolved that the society in question should be dissolved. No event could have happened more favorable to the cause of freedom, than the result of this threat. Every student whom it has driven from the establishment, will now form the nucleus of a new association, animated with all the zeal and energy that sympathy for persecution never fails to excite in great national controversies. The same feelings have struck their deep roots in the minds of the scholars at Amherst and Andover, in Massachusetts.
No man, who is attached to his country, whatever his opinions may be, can approve of such methods to stop and stifle inquiry as have been adopted at the Seminary. The Committee, whose report is dated August 24,1834, stated (a very important admission) that the Colonization Society of Lane Seminary was instituted "merely with a view to counteract the peculiar sentiments of their opponents" --in other words to support slavery, --and recommended the following resolution: --"That rules should be adopted, prohibiting the organization in the seminary of any association or society of the students, without the approbation of the faculty, --prohibiting the calling or holding of meetings among the students, without the approbation of the faculty; prohibiting students from delivering lectures or public addresses, public statements or communications to the students when assembled at meals, or on ordinary occasions, &c.; requiring the two rival societies to be abolished; and prohibiting any student from being absent from the seminary at any time in term time, without leave; and providing for discouraging and discountenancing, by all suitable means, such discussions among the students as are calculated to divert their attention from their studies, excite party animosities, stir up evil passions among themselves, or in the community, or involve themselves with the political concerns of the country: --also providing for the dismissal of any student not complying with these regulations."
The board of Trustees acted upon these suggestions; and the students, finding that the promise made but a short time before by the Faculty, in a public declaration, to "protect and encourage free inquiry and thorough discussion," was thus violated, and that the executive committee could dismiss "any student when they think it necessary to do so," broke off all connexion with the institution. Matters seem rapidly approaching to that point of national determination, when no other alternative remains but the complete adoption of personal freedom or political slavery. Academical coercion and republican forms of government cannot long exist together. Monarchy may continue while freedom of associations is permitted, and perhaps, because it is permitted, in its universities: but democracy cannot long survive when it has left them.
On the 11th our party separated, and one of my companions (Mr. Child) returned with me to Boston, which we reached by another route on the 14th.