Newhaven. --Cemetery. --Grave of Ashmun. --"Potter's Field:' --Yale College. --Hartford. --Christian Promise and Performance. --Liberty of Speech imprudent in the United States --Second Edition of "Canterbury Tale." --Bishop of Charleston's Letter to Daniel O'Connell. --Providence. --Interview with Dr. Channing. --Philanthropy of the Unitarians, and Philanthropy of Moses Brown. --Contrasted Industry.
ON the 9th of August, I left Philadelphia for New York, and proceeded from the latter place, on the 15th, to Newhaven, in Connecticut. This is one of the prettiest towns in the Union; the streets being shaded by avenues of trees, the tops of which, when viewed from a distance, appear to be interlaced with each other presenting, at every turn, beautiful and varied illustrations of those curves, which are supposed to have suggested the Gothic arch. The gardens attached to the houses are, in general, neatly kept, and give an air of comfort and privacy to the families of their proprietors; while they break the uniformity which the too frequent recurrence of straight lines produces.
There is a spacious cemetery near the town, or rather forming a part of it, where the inhabitants find a last home. The pride of caste, in pushing its folly beyond the grave, has effected an approximation, by attempting a disjunction between the two races. The ground is divided into two lots, each thirty feet by twenty, the price of which is about twenty-five dollars. A portion of these had been purchased by the "people called Africans," as Mrs. Child, in her very interesting work*,
has appropriately termed them. In process of time, as the population of the town increased, more land was added to the burying-ground, and monuments were erected, beyond that portion appropriated to the "outcasts." So that they who were once on the outside, are now in the midst of their skin-proud revilers. Among the former, lies Ashmun, the first governor of Liberia; in death, as in life, the friend and the companion of the black man. Beyond is the Potter's Field, where the dead bodies of the poor are deposited. The paupers of Newhaven are reminded, when they visit the graves of their departed friends, that the purity of their blood is a matter of deep interest and concern to their "betters"; and that the contamination of "bad company" will not be allowed to "corrupt" their "good manners," while reposing beneath the few feet of sod allotted to them by the hand of charity. It is thus that the earliest and the latest associations of life, --the first impressions of the cradle, and the last monitions from the grave, are made to perpetuate an antipathy, opposed alike to the innocence of the one, and to the humility of the other. The blood of the black man cries from the ground against his brother. The heart of the white man is hardened against him. May the Father of both look with pity and mercy upon them!
* An Appeal in favor of that class of Americans called, Africans, by Mrs. Child, &c., Boston, 1833.
The singular distribution of the graves in the burying ground, was pointed out to me by the Rev. Mr. Jocelyn, of Newhaven --one of those who are pre-eminently entitled to the appellation of " fanatics"; --men, who, in every age and country, catch, from the elevated situation they have assumed, the first rays of that divine light which has not yet reached the crowd below; --men who are honorably distinguished by the hatred and compassion of the wicked and the weak, --the enemies of that reform they will one day boastingly advocate*;
--men, whose zeal in the cause of humanity is at once the result and the reproach of the selfishness around them; men, who, in the confederated republics of North America, are a butt and a by-word for the ribaldry of the vilest and most venal journalists in the world:
* The nature and progress of national reform, may be seen in the conduct of its opponents. They begin by stigmatizing its leaders as the vilest of the vile, that it may be thought bad advocates cannot have a good cause: --and they end by becoming its friends, that it may be thought a good cause cannot have bad advocates. Great men belong to the first period: great statesmen to the second. It is unjust to confound them, and to expect principle where there never has been any thing but expediency. American emancipation is pure from all political taint. She has had her martyrs: she is not yet disgraced by demagogues.
"By whom to be disprais'd is no small praiseFrom this place Mr. Jocelyn accompanied me to Yale College; one of the professors of which (Mr. Goodrich) very politely took me about the building to shew me the library, the lecture-rooms, and the cabinet of mineralogy: --the latter of which contains a most valuable collection of specimens from all quarters of the globe; admirably arranged for the purposes of reference and study, and accompanied with models of the various forms which crystallization assumes in its development.
Their lot who dare be singularly good."
The college is under the care of the President, who is not exempted from the labors of tuition, six professors, and eight tutors. Chemistry, with mineralogy and geology; --mathematics, including astronomy, &c.; rhetoric, divinity, the Latin and the Greek languages, have each its professor. The whole course of instruction embraces four years, of which each contains three terms. The average age of admission is sixteen; the lowest being fourteen. The period of residence for the year is altogether forty weeks, at an average expense, for board, fuel, &c., of 175 dollars. One sitting-room, with two bedchambers, is, as at Harvard College, appropriated to two students; who take their meals at a common table, with the rest of the community. There are two halls, at one of which the board is about one dollar, seventy-five cents per week --at the other, one dollar, twenty-five cents. The number of the under-graduates was 376; there were besides these, fifty-five graduates who were studying divinity, thirty-nine law, and about seventy-one medical students.
Having visited the establishment, we saw an exhibition of paintings by Trumbull --the subjects of which are chiefly national. The proceeds from the fees paid by visitors form an annuity for the artist, and, after his death, are to belong to the college, on the premises of which it is placed. In the afternoon I went on to Hartford, and put up at the same hotel, in which I was the year before --the first I had ever slept in during my sojourn in America, and one of the best for quiet, civility, and cleanliness.
Throughout the Union, there is, perhaps, no city, containing the same amount of population, where the blacks meet with more contumely and unkindness than at this place. Some of them told me it was hardly safe for them to be in the streets alone at night. One man assured me that he never ventured out after day-light, without some weapon of defence about him. No young woman of that race, if she would avoid insult, dare pass through the town, in the dusk of the evening, without a man to protect her. To pelt them with stones, and cry out nigger! nigger! as they pass, seems to be the pastime of the place. I had seen and heard so much of the indignities and cruelties heaped on the heads of this persecuted race, that I had ceased to feel surprise at any thing I was told on the subject. Indignation, I trust, I shall never cease to feel; and I blame myself for not having spoken more strongly and more frequently against these enormities. I could perceive that I had given great offence in several quarters, by the expression of my sentiments. It would be more to my honor if I had given more reason for it.
A stranger can declare his opinions on any matter with much greater freedom in France or England --I believe I might add in Austria or Turkey --than in America, --the only country on the surface of the globe, where philanthropy is persecuted or sneered at, and where "high and low, rich and poor," have conspired together to put down humanity.
At Hartford I was confined to my bed several days by illness; during which I met with much attention from the people of the hotel. On the 26th I went to Brooklyn, passing over the same ground I had travelled the year before.
I found, on my arrival, that "war had smoothed his wrinkled front" at Canterbury; and that a more agreeable deity had been both there and at Brooklyn that Miss Crandall had become a bride, and one of the young ladies whom I had seen on my former visit, was about to be married to W. L. Garrison.
The next morning one of the brothers of the betrothed, drove me over to the school. Neither the late, nor the present, Miss Crandall was at home. Mrs. Philleo was passing the honey-moon at Philadelphia; and Miss Almira was out on a visit. A young man, however, of the name of Burleigh, who assisted in teaching the pupils, received us very cordially. In requital of his kind offices to a persecuted woman, he was then under an indictment, as an infringer of the same enactment under which she had been subjected to such unmanly and harassing proceedings. His trial --if there is to be a trial --was to come on in December. The object of the information was, most probably, to intimidate him, and deter others from taking any share in the tuition of a school, which had become more odious to its enemies in proportion to their failure in trying to put it down with or without law. Reflection had had time enough to see, that the Federal Court, as long as it had any regard for its own reputation, or any respect for the constitution of the country, would never confirm the validity of a law, that must strike a fatal blow at both. If free blacks be citizens, --and it will be no easy matter to prove they are not so --they are entitled, in moving from one commonwealth to another, to the same privileges that are granted, by the terms of their union with the rest, to the citizens of the latter*.
There were twenty pupils in the school --there had been as many as thirty. On the mantel-piece of the room, into which we were shewn, was lying a stone, twice as large as that I saw the year before. It had been used for the same purpose. It was thrown into the house through one of the windows. The weight of it must have been at least two pounds: There were ten panes of glass completely destroyed by a long pole, which had been left on the premises, and which I saw. Part of the window-sash had been broken in. There were two windows in this state; both in the sitting room. On the table were lying Baxter's Bible and Cruden's Concordance; beautifully bound in russia: the former in two volumes octavo --the latter in one. They had been brought over from Scotland by Mr. Charles Stuart, the great "malleus" of the Colonization imposture. In each volume was the following inscription:
* The citizens of each State shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States. --Constitution of the United States, Article 4, Section 2.
"Presented to Miss Crandall by the Ladies of Edinburgh, as a mark of the respect with which they regard the Christian courage of her conduct towards their colored sisters in the United States; and from a, conviction that such consistent love and strength, could only be derived from the DIVINE AUTHOR of the SACRED VOLUME."Below were quotations from St. John xxi. 15, and Psalm xl. 1, 2, dated Edinburgh, March 5,1834. The expenses of the prosecution had already cost Mrs. Philleo upwards of 600 dollars. Legal eloquence is by no means cheap --not that it is scarce, but that the seller too often puts his own price upon it. Mr. Ellsworth, of Hartford, the counsel for the defendant, charged 200 dollars for the last pleadings. Cheap law may encourage litigation: but dear law is undoubtedly a premium upon persecution. Il faut que chacun vive; and disinterestedness is not the characteristic of every profession. Till I visited Canterbury, personal experience had led me to think that physicians might fairly claim it as their own peculiar virtue. But the behavior of Dr. Harris, the opposite neighbor of Mrs. Philleo, dispelled this "amabilis error." When called upon to render medical assistance to one of the pupils, who was suffering severe pain, he flatly refused to cross the road; told Mr. Burleigh that he might publish his refusal to the whole world and declared that he looked upon the request as a personal insult. No other medical advice was to be had within three miles!
Another information for harboring, --the former was for teaching colored children, was hanging over the head of this meritorious woman. It ought to be mentioned, that her sister had nobly supported her under her trials --had never shrunk from the task she undertook: and, though but twenty years of age, had remained firmly at her post, alone, and surrounded by enemies against whom even her life could hardly be considered safe.
Some time before, the house was discovered to be on fire; and a colored man, who happened to be there at the time, was accused, and tried for an offence which, if proved, would have subjected him to perpetual imprisonment. Not a particle of evidence, however, could be produced against him; and he was immediately acquitted. The poor fellow had to pay one hundred dollars for his innocence. There is every reason to believe that the fire was the work of an incendiary; as the Windham County Advertiser had, a short time before, informed the public, that Miss Crandall's school would soon be totally broken up. All attempts to obtain from the Editor an explanation of his mysterious words failed.
Though some of the young women had certificates from the congregational churches to which they belonged, yet they were not admitted to the Canterbury meeting-house, where the same religious society assemble. They were forced to attend worship at a place two miles off, and were frequently insulted on their way thither and on their return. The lapse of a year had not produced either a relaxation of persecution, or an advance towards a truce, on the part of the oppressor. The same dark and fanatical spirit still cast his baneful shadow over a village, that one would have expected, from its secluded and beautiful situation, to be the abode of charity and good neighborhood. The assistant teacher could scarcely walk out, without hearing something intended to wound his feelings, and provoke a retort. That manly calmness, however, which the noble task he had assumed demanded and supposed was never wanting; and the consciousness of a good cause tempered the zeal of youth with the composure of mature years. Visitors even were not secure from insult. The traces of the harness, when they were about to leave, were sometimes found to be cut; and practices were resorted to, that would have disgraced the most brutal tribe of savages.
When the day, on which Miss Crandall was to be married, had arrived, the minister of the place, who had published the banns, and had promised, "if Providence would permit him," to perform the ceremony, wrote her a note declining to officiate under existing circumstances: He had that morning received a letter, enclosing some money, and requesting he would not unite the parties in matrimony. They were compelled to go to Brooklyn, where the marriage took place. He had bitterly repented his conduct, I was told; the majority of his congregation having become displeased with him. His mortification must have been great, as he had been appointed just when former dissensions, that had so far separated his flock into feuds, as to occasion the dismissal of five or six pastors in about twice as many years, had been merged in a common feeling of animosity against the unwelcome institution for teaching A, B, C, to an outlawed race. Party feeling had put its own construction on his proceedings. In sooth, the little village of Canterbury contains within its bosom a set of self-tormentors, that seem determined to sting every thing, and every body, that comes near them. There was a little English girl, of six or seven years of age, in the school. Her aunt was staying there. She had been but two years from the old country, and was much shocked at the unnatural conduct she had witnessed in a Christian people towards their fellowmen. The little girl had been sent by her father from Utica (New York) to Canterbury; from a feeling of abhorrence to tyranny.
In the room where we were sitting, I observed a lithographic portrait of O'Connell --a name that no descendant of Africa can pronounce without feelings of deep respect. That the expression is not too strong may be seen in the following letter, as it was published in America, the most honorable testimony that could well be paid to the value of that influence against which it was directed. The writer of this "verbosa et grandis epistola" was lately sent, if rumor is to be believed, on a spiritual mission from the Pope to Hayti!
"I wrote a few weeks since from Baltimore a letter, which you cannot, I suppose, have yet received; in which I alluded to the injustice which you thoughtlessly did to a people, of whom you know so little as you do of the slave-holding Americans. But this day I have had an imperfect view of a letter, which you appear to have written from Derrynane, in last September, upon the subject of our cruelty and injustice. That view, imperfect as it was, was to my eye more blasting than any I have for years beheld. I now tell you that a more wanton piece of injustice has never been done to a brave and generous people than this, which you, ignorant of our situation, of our history, of our laws, of our customs, and of our principles, have dared to perpetrate. You have not only been guilty of gross injustice to a people, whom you know not, and who aided you with a noble and disinterested enthusiasm; but you have heaped shame and confusion upon your own countrymen, and those who were once your admirers; and would still, if you permitted it, be your friends.
"Do you believe that we, who love freedom and our fellow-men, are the heartless wretches that you describe, because we cannot at once do all that your imagination conceives to be perfection, and which we, who have the experimental knowledge, have the irrefragable evidence to be destructive folly? You have, in the unfortunate moment when you sent forth that document (if it be yours) done an evil, which no contrition can repair, no service can redeem. As a Carolinian, I cannot reason with you upon facts, of which you are ignorant. As an Irishman, I bewail your infatuation. And, whilst I am doomed to meet a variety of trials, one of the keenest and bitterest of my feelings will be, that the most contumelious insult, which was flung upon the land of my adoption, was ungratefully and wantonly given in the moment when she was flushed with a victory won by American aid, by one whom I once valued as a dear friend in the country of my birth.
"Should the Derrynane manifesto against the proud Americans and their slave-holding States be a forgery, I should rejoice to learn the fact from yourself. Should it be your production, I would say --in me you shall find one amongst thousands of your countrymen, who will not succumb to your insult, nor quail before your threat.
"I shall make no parade of my love of liberty, nor send you homilies upon my humanity. But whilst, with every Carolinian that I know, I lament an evil, which Britain has superinduced, and which we cannot at once remedy, I deny your right to interfere; and I pray you might succeed in raising the ruined population of Ireland to the level of the comforts of the Carolinian slave. Should you live to behold this result of your labors, you will have accomplished more than is expected by
"JOHN, Bishop of Charleston.
"To Daniel O'Connell, Esq."
The day after my visit to Canterbury, I removed from Brooklyn to Providence, Rhode Island. I had received from Mr. May a letter of introduction to Dr. Channing, who was at his country seat about thirty or forty miles from the city. Thither I proceeded to visit him, entirely at the suggestion of others; for, though he had been represented to me as a man of an expanded mind, who would probably be desirous of hearing the sentiments entertained in Europe on the conduct of those Americans, who had restricted the blessings of freedom to mere physical enjoyment, "and despised others" on account of their skins, yet I thought it more complimentary to the Doctor, to apply to him what Dr. Bentley has remarked in the case of an epidemical illusion. "All honorable men and good citizens would prefer to be considered as participating in the excitement, than as having been free from it, and opposed to it, without ever daring to resist, or check, or reduce it."
After some common-place observations, which the ceremony of introduction drew on, I stated, in allusion to something in the letter I had bought with me, that I had, during my residence in America, felt deeply interested in the condition of a large portion of the community, who appeared to be condemned, from no fault or crime on their part, to a state of degradation, of which no one who has never been out of Europe, could form an adequate concept.
I referred, among other instances, to the separation at meals between the two races. The Doctor asserted, in reply, that the feeling, which induced the white man to reject his colored brother from his table, was the same with that which excluded the servant from his master's society; and that the prejudice, which the feudal lord entertained against his serf, was analogous to the antipathy of which I had given an example. To this I objected, that the distinction, of which I spoke, was that of color not of rank: that the qualification, required for admittance to equality, might be obtained by the domestic, or his descendants, but was out of the reach of the Africo-American, till the Ethiopian was enabled to change his skin; and that I could not admit the analogy, without admitting that the persons, to whom it was applied, were to remain and be treated as servants, the very thing against which I was contending: --the end I had in view being to classify men according to their character and condition, and not to confound the learned with the illiterate, or the wealthy with the indigent; --an arrangement that would be sure to mortify one party and embarrass the other. As for the serf, he had none of those political rights which the free black possessed: --he had the advantages neither of property nor of education. He was not excluded from social intercourse with freemen of the same class, and was subject to no further disabilities than were to be found in most communities during their progress to refinement. He was not marked as an object of insult and contempt, wherever he went --he was as much a man as his lord --he was not an outcast --a Pariah.
There were other prejudices in the world, I was told, equally painful to their objects, and equally deserving of our attention. The answer was that they were neither permanent nor general --that they were neither so odious to those who suffered from them, nor so disgraceful to those who cherished them that few would defend, and none were afraid to condemn them, and that little improvement of the human mind could be looked for, while a superstition so degrading was permitted to weaken its powers and sully its attainments.
I was assured, that all those colored persons, who had come under the notice of the Doctor, were men of indifferent character; that the whole race were remarkable for want of sympathy with one another's misfortunes: and that, according to the evidence of a correspondent in Philadelphia, the generality of those of African descent in that city, were degraded to the lowest state.
To the first assertion I could merely object, that the experience of one man ought not to settle a question, involving the character and condition of millions; and that a comprehensive conclusion could not be drawn from a few limited cases. To the second, I replied, that all I had ever heard upon the subject from men who differed widely upon other points, concurred in ascribing qualities directly the reverse of those imputed by him, and that a contrary opinion was so prevalent as to throw suspicion on the free blacks, as assistants or accessaries in almost every case of escape from slavery. As for the testimony of the Philadelphian, little credit is due to a man, who deposes to facts that may be proved to be false by official documents, to be ignorant of which, is to be guilty of injustice towards those he condemns.
The Doctor stated, that he entertained no prejudice himself, being willing to sit at the same table with any one, and having remonstrated with the driver of a stage for not admitting his colored servant into his coach.
I was at a loss how to express myself upon a general subject before a person, who thus, as he had frequently done before, applied my observations to his own conduct. I contented myself with assuring him, that I should not have entered so fully into the subject, if he had not said that he was exempt from the prejudice in question*;
* The Doctor must have deceived himself here, or forgotten what he said to Mrs. Child, when he pronounced his judgment of her work on the Africo-Americans. He agreed, he told her, with her sentiments on slavery, but he disapproved of what she had written about equal rights. Such a concession, he thought, would lead to amalgamation --an event which he was surprised she should view with no abhorrence. Dr. Beecher, of Cincinnati, made a similar observation to me. "Would you," said he, "have us sully the pure blood we have received from our English ancestors, by such alliances as a closer intimacy with the other race would produce?"
A hint was then given that there were different races of men, with various degrees of intellect, according to the discoveries of phrenology *.
* "We undoubtedly feel ourselves to be all of one race; and this is well: we trace ourselves up to one pair, and feel the same blood flowing in our veins. But do we understand our spiritual brotherhood? Do we feel ourselves to be derived from one Heavenly Parent, in whose image we are all made, and whose perfection we may constantly approach? Do we feel that there is one divine life in our own and in all souls? This seems to me the only true bond of man to man. Here is a tie more sacred, more enduring, than all the ties of this earth. Is it felt? and do we in consequence truly honour one another?"
--Dr. Channing's Discourses.
My remarks were declared to be erroneous or irrelevant. There was no reason, it was added, to suppose that any pain or humiliation was inflicted by these national customs *.
* "We have spoken of the inferiority and worthlessness of that dominion over others which has been coveted so greedily in all ages. We should rejoice could we convey some just idea of its moral turpitude . . . . . . No outrage, no injury can equal that which is perpetrated by him who would break down and subjugate the human mind; who would rob men of self-reverence; who would bring them to stand more in awe of outward authority, than of reason and conscience in their own souls; who would make himself a standard and law for his race; and shape, by force or terror, the free spirits of others after his own judgement and will."
-Dr. Channing on Napoleon Bonaparte.
* Negroes were once not only thought inferior to us, but excluded from the rights of humanity. Fuller, in his "Holy State," while drawing a picture of a religious sailor, says: "In the taking of a prize he most prizeth the men's lives whom he takes; though some of them may chance to be negroes or savages; and it is the custom of some to throw them overboard. But our captain counts the image of God nevertheless his image, cut in ebony as if done in ivory."
If, said I, a man is despised not for his crimes, but for his own or his father's misfortunes, such injustice ought not to go unpunished or unexposed. The Doctor thought the best way to combat the prejudice was to elevate its object. This method conceived was impracticable, as the rejection of moral distinctions was the very evil complained of. No impression, I was told, could be made by entreaty or remonstrance on habits so long formed; and that, therefore, it must be left to time and the better conduct of the aggrieved, to convert contumely into respect, and obtain those rights which are now denied.
I could not see how the white man's mind was to be enlightened from without, when no corrective was applied within*,
* "The energy which is to carry forward the intellect of a people, belongs to private individuals, who devote themselves to lonely thought, who worship truth, who originate the view demanded by their age, who help us to throw off the yoke of established prejudices," &c.
-Dr. Channing on Napoleon.
"Among these will be ranked, perhaps on the highest throne, the moral and religious reformer, who truly merits that name; who rises above his times; who is moved by a holy impulse to assail vicious establishments sustained by fierce passions and inveterate prejudices."
-Dr. Channing on Milton.
I mentioned that I should probably publish an account of what I had seen of the colored race in America, as, now that our colonial system had been changed, the subject would be interesting to many in England. The Doctor observed, that he, for one, had not the slightest objection that Europe should be minutely acquainted with the condition of the United States, if the account were just and fair. He had just before remarked, that it would be as well if the zealous friends of the African race would bestow some of their care upon those whom difference of rank subjects to exclusion and mortification. I made no answer: I could not apply the charge to myself without being guilty of discourtesy by imputing it. A suggestion was then made that rather surprised me. The Doctor thought that if some great genius were to appear among the colored people, the reputation he would obtain might be extended to his brethren, and their lot be ameliorated through the admiration and sympathy he would excite for himself and his race. It seemed hard indeed that the destiny of nearly three millions of human beings should be contingent on the appearance of a miracle; and the redemption of a whole nation be made to wait for the Avatar of "a faultless monster."
The Doctor informed me he had just heard that what he had predicted had occurred in our colonies --that the transition from forced to free labor was likely to throw many persons out of employment, and that freedom would thus be an injury instead of a benefit to a large portion of its objects. I replied, that the event alluded to, if it should take place, would confirm what the abolitionists had asserted, and the planters denied; since it would shew that the labor of slaves was more costly than that of free men, and that the same quantity of work could be done with fewer hands under the stimulus of wages; that the evil, if it was one, would find its own remedy, as the surplus number would soon be provided for out of that increase of capital which the compensation money, as well as a more profitable mode of agriculture, will create. The difficulty, however, that was anticipated has no existence; for the planters complain that the apprentices demand too high wages --a proof that labor is not redundant; --and are absolutely importing European workmen, --a proof that they wish it were so.
In the course of our discussion, the Doctor declared it, as the result of all his reflections on the matter, to be his firm conviction, that the best, and only way to assist the colored people, (I am obliged to repeat this odious expression,) would be to educate them in separate schools --in other words, to destroy the distinction by continuing it; and that the abolitionists had injured their cause by their imprudence. It was hardly worth while to answer, that no reform, religious or political, had ever been carried on by the "meek and gentle": that the violence complained of was the result, and not the occasion, of the opposition the cause had met with; and that it would be unjust to punish the client for the faults of his advocate*.
* "Men of natural softness and timidity, of a sincere but effeminate virtue, will be apt to look on these bolder, hardier spirits as violent, perturbed, and uncharitable; and the charge will not be wholly groundless. But that deep feeling of evils, which is necessary to effectual conflict with them, and which marks God's most powerful messengers to mankind, cannot breathe itself in soft and tender accents. The deeply moved soul will speak strongly, and ought to speak strongly, so as to move and shake nations." --Dr. Channing on Milton.
Throughout the whole of this protracted discussion, my opponent seemed to take it for granted that it turned upon the claims of a race naturally inferior to our own, --a method of begging the question more suited to the predilections of the disputant, than the common rules of logic. That they were doomed to be "hewers of wood and drawers of water" appeared to be a reasonable postulate. They were invariably spoken of as "servants," whose proper place was in the kitchen; where they were to take their meals apart, because they did not complain of a distinction, which complaint would render more galling; and because no white servant would remain in the establishment, if it were otherwise arranged, --a determination so utterly unworthy of notice, that no man who wishes to be respected by his domestics, would allow them to decide upon the usages of his own house, and no great or good mind would for a moment place personal convenience in collision with a sense of duty, or sacrifice principle to vulgar malevolence.
When I was told that the prejudice was invincible, and that no effort, therefore, should be made to subdue it, I could not admit either the premises or the conclusion, unless it were demonstrated that truth and reason had lost their influence on the national mind; and that it was the result, not the motive, of human actions, that ought to determine the line of our conduct, and regulate the conscience*.
* "It is an important branch of the minister's duty, to bring home the general principles of duty to the individual mind; to turn it upon itself; to rouse it to a resolute impartial survey of its own responsibilities and ill-deserts. And is not energy needed to break through the barriers of pride and self love, and to place the individual before a tribunal in his own breast, as solemn and as searching as that which awaits him at the last day?"
-Dr. Channing's Discourses.
The Doctor alleged as a proof of his regard for the swarthy part of his fellow-citizens, that the "African schools" of Boston had originated with him --a manifestation of kindness little in accordance with a wish to abolish distinctions which it is calculated to perpetuate*.
* A large majority of citizens, at a public meeting at Salem, (Massachusetts,) lately resolved, "that the school committee be instructed to provide a school in some convenient place for the instruction of colored children, belonging to the town; and to remove said children, now in the public schools, to said school." In the cities, where this class of people are more numerous, the schools they attend, are distinct from the rest. Where, from reasons of economy, a different arrangement prevails, it seems that additional expense is to be incurred, with the view of gratifying the abominable jealousies of the white people. It is easy to see both the motives and the effects of this public announcement. It encourages the evil-disposed by the example it gives; and points out the intended victim of their brutality, by driving deeper in the brand that marks him. The "higher orders" are guiltless of the slaughter; --they merely put up the game.
The most striking feature in what passed, during this interview, was the attempt of a philosopher, to find in the extent and intensity of a prejudice a reason for its continuance, --to confound the subject of superstition with its victim, (as if the best way to cure Cotton Mather of witch-finding would have been to teach the old women of Salem divinity, or as if a monomaniac could be restored to reason by placing the object of his illusion in a new position,) and to leave the task of correction not to the conscience of the proud man, but the conduct of him whom he scorns for not having the "wedding garment" he wears himself. "I should be sorry," said the reverend Doctor, "to say any thing that may lessen the sympathy you feel for the blacks." I assured him that I did not feel for them, because they differed from me in complexion, but because they resembled me in mind. As one branch of the human family, they are entitled to my sympathy, as much as any other. The humblest of them is one of those "little ones," to offend whom, is to offend the great Father of all. The conversation concluded with an observation, from the other side, that prejudices and follies existed in every country, and that this was one of the consequences of the existing state of society: --a truism I was so little inclined to controvert, that it had formed the ground-work of all that I had been saying.
for the inequalities which prevail in the world, whatever grievances may
attend them fall indiscriminately on all, as the wealth, and rank, and
vanity, and ambition, in which they originate, change hands. One evil can
never sanction another; nor is it a valid objection to the reformation
of an abuse, that it cannot embrace all. I had spoken with considerable
warmth and earnestness; but, I trust, without forgetting what was due from
a stranger to a distinguished man in his own house. I
thought it right, however, to apologize for the excess which had appeared
on my part, both of zeal and of loquacity. I should probably have exhibited
less of the former, if there had been more of the latter on the other side.
But the Doctor throughout was extremely cold and reserved, and seemed to
weigh every word before he gave it utterance; --urging me to continue, as if to take time for reflection. Having declined to partake of the refreshment which was politely offered me, I took my leave of this celebrated writer.
I have related the details of what passed on this occasion with the same object that would lead an Eastern traveller to record the opinions of a high-caste Brahmin. What an humiliating contrast does the acknowledged cradle of civilization present with its boasted asylum! How great is the difference between the convert to Unitarianism in the east, and its champion in the west! --between Rammohun Roy and Dr. Channing! The Shaster could not take away moral courage from the one, nor the Bible give it to the other. In the darkest ages of cruelty and ignorance, the cause of truth and justice has found its friends and martyrs. But who, in the whole compass of American literature, has stood up against the brutal superstition of his country? What will posterity say, when they see, among the most distinguished of her writers, not one solitary instance of a man who was willing to sacrifice the paltry ambition of the hour to principle; --not one who could rise above the infected atmosphere around him; --not one who had mind enough to perceive the gross idolatry of his contemporaries, or heart enough to denounce it? --while the few who are destined to take the lead as moral teachers, have been reproved for their boldness by those who have usurped the throne, and are repelled from a nearer approach by the very persons, who ought to have honored them with their applause, and aided them with their co-operation.
A few days after my visit to Dr. Channing, I was informed by one of his friends, who had just seen him, that he had called me an "enthusiast": --an appellation that implies the same difference between his feelings and mine, that the word "heretic" does between his opinions and those of his orthodox opponents.
Before I left America, the Doctor preached a sermon against slavery, --in consequence, I was told, of what had passed between us. But that could not be the case, as I had said nothing to him on the subject; having purposely separated the question as it bears on the South and on the North and confining my observations to the prejudice that prevails in the latter, --a point, I think, of greater importance, because I believe the other hangs upon it. The distinction was well drawn by a Haytian, while conversing with an American, from whom I had the anecdote. "If I were a white," said he, "I would submit to treatment from the Algerines or Tripolitans, from which neither William of England, not Louis Philip of France, would be exempted: but I would rather die than suffer the infliction of chains on account of my skin." The first case he viewed as a chance of war --a right of conquest: the other an outrage to humanity --a personal insult.
An incident that occurred some years back in Kentucky, shews how completely the very existence of American slavery depends upon the prejudice against color, --diverting the sense of justice, and the sympathy due to human suffering, from their natural channels. "A laudable indignation", says the Emporium of Louisville, "was universally manifested among our citizens, and even among our blacks, on Saturday last, by the exposure of a woman and two children for sale by public auction, at the front of our principal tavern. This woman and children were as white as any of our citizens: indeed, we scarcely ever saw a child with a fairer or clearer complexion than the younger one. That they were not slaves, we do not pretend to say; but there was something so revolting to the feelings at the sight of this woman and children exposed to sale by their young master, --it excited such an association of ideas in the mind of every one, --it brought to recollection so forcibly the morality of slave-holding States, --that not a person was found to make an offer for them."
The account of this interview, which I had read from my journal to some of the Doctor's friends, I was particularly requested not to publish; as they thought it might injure our cause, by exciting a feeling of hostility to it among those who are attached to him. This consideration, if it be valid, affords an additional reason why I should publish it; as it shews what are the chief obstacles that obstruct a fair and impartial inquiry into this momentous subject. If friendship is to stand in the way of justice, and humanity wait upon personal feeling, --let it be known, that we may not over-rate our forces. I replied, that I never would admit such a principle: we must look to Truth, and not to Socrates. The greater part of my manuscript was seen by several of my American friends, and they approved of it. Any alterations it may have undergone, were made with a view to soften what might be thought harsh. I mention this to prove honesty of intention. I insist on it no further. If I am to lose their respect, be it so. I shall at least retain my own. If I have done any man injustice, the same motive which led to an unintentional wrong, will prompt a free and an open reparation.
That the Unitarians, as a body, should, while they profess to be the fearless and unbiassed advocates of freedom, have as yet done nothing to shew their sincerity, by putting into practice those principles which have cost nobler men their lives or their fortunes, is, however discreditable to America, no matter for surprise. What Jew will admit ham to his table, when the High Priest will not eat pork? Parties, coteries, and sects are governed by their leaders. Whether in politics, literature, or religion, "man-worship," as it is termed, seems to be the fashion of the country. People admire the dial-plate, and forget the works which alone give it value. The Unitarians know their duty, but they dare not act up to it*.
* The Pope at Rome was more liberal two hundred years ago, than the "liberals" at Boston are now. The Catholic missionaries in Africa received instructions from home, in 1633, requiring them to put a stop to the slave-trade. - Les missionaires capuchins recurent une lettre du Cardinal Cibo, au nom du sacre college. Elle contenait des plaintes ameres sur la continuation de la vente des esclaves, et des instances pour faire cesser enfin set odieux usage. Mais ils virent peu d'apparence de pouvoir executer les ordres du Saint Siege, parse que le commerce du pays consiste uniquement en ivoire et Bans la traite des esclaves."-Prevot. Histoire Generale des Voyages, 12. 186.
The missionaries succeeded in excluding the English from the trade. --The latter "made up " for the interruption afterwards.
Before I left Providence, I had the pleasure of being introduced to the venerable Moses Brown, then in his ninety-sixth year --a consistent member of the Society of Friends, who, when the rights of the negro were little known and less cared for, carried out into unrestricted practice, more than sixty years ago, the great principle that "all men are to be protected in the possession of personal liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Not only did this upright Quaker emancipate his slaves: he scrupulously paid them the difference between the value of the labor he had drawn from them, while in his "service," and the food and clothing he had given them. I was presented by one of the most active abolitionists in the city (George Benson) with a copy of the manumission papers, drawn up by him and properly attested, on this occasion. The document is dated the 10th of the 11th Month, 1773.
In the preamble the writer says: "Whereas I am clearly convinced that the buying and selling men of what color soever as slaves, is contrary to the Divine mind, manifest in the consciences of all men, however some may smother and neglect its reprovings, and being also made sensible that the holding negroes in slavery, however kindly treated by their masters, has a great tendency to encourage the iniquitous traffic and practice of importing them from their native country, and is contrary to that justice, mercy, and humility, enjoined as the duty of every Christian, I do therefore," &c.
Speaking of one, a child of two years of age, he says; "She having the same natural right, I hereby give her the same power, as my own children, to take and use her freedom, enjoining upon my heirs a careful watch over her for her good, and that they, in case I be taken hence, give her suitable education; or, if she be bound out, that they take care in that and all other respects as much as to white children," &c. Addressing the objects of his kindness, he thus expresses himself. "For the encouragement to such sober prudence and industry, I hereby give to the first six named, the other three having good trades, the use of one acre of land, as marked off on my farm, as long as you improve it to good purpose. I now no longer consider you as slaves, nor myself as your master but your friend; and so long as you behave well, may you expect my further countenance support, and assistance, &c." Receive your liberty with a, humble sense of its being a favor from the great King of heaven and earth, who, through his light that shines upon the consciences of all men, black as well as white, thereby sheweth us what is good, and that the Lord's requiring each of us to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God, is the cause of this my duty to you. Be therefore watchful and attentive to that divine teaching in your own minds," &c.
Moses Brown was a member of the Pennsylvania Society, incorporated by the legislature of the State in 1789, for promoting the abolition of slavery His name appears on the list among those of Franklin, Rush, Jay, Benjamin West, Granville Sharp, Thomas Day (author of Sandford and Merton), Thomas Clarkson, Richard Price, David Barclay, William Pitt, J. C. Lettsom, l'Abbe Raynal, and le Marquis de la Fayette.
The act which passed, in 1780, for the gradual abolition of slavery in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has this sentiment in the preamble. "Weaned by a long course of experience from those narrow prejudices and partialities we had imbibed, we find our hearts enlarged with kindness and benevolence, towards men of all conditions and nations; and we conceive ourselves at this particular period extraordinarily called upon by the blessings we have received to manifest the sincerity of our profession and to give a substantial proof of our gratitude."*
* Henry the Eighth of England, in emancipating two of his villeins, made use of an expression closely resembling what may be found in the above document. --Whereas God created all men free; but afterwards the laws and customs of nations subjected some under the yoke of servitude, we think it is pious and meritorious with God, to manumit Henry Knight, a tailor, and John Herne, a husbandman, our natives, as being born within the manor of Stoke Clymmysland, in our county of Cornwall," &c.
"At a general court, held at Warwick, the 18th of May, 1652. Whereas there is a common course practised among Englishmen to buy negroes to that end they may have them for service or slaves for ever: for the preventing of such practices among us, let it be ordered, that no black mankind, or white being, shall be forced by covenant, bond, or otherwise to serve any man or his assignees, longer than ten years, or until they come to be twenty-four years of age, if they be taken in under fourteen, from the time of their coming within the liberties of this colony; --at the end or term of ten years to set them free, as the manner is with the English servants. And that man, that will not let them go free, or shall sell them away elsewhere, to that end they may be enslaved to others for a longer time, he or they shall forfeit to the colony forty pounds." Moses Brown gives the names of the members from whom this memorable enactment proceeded. It appears, from it, that whites as well as blacks were slaves, and distinguished from the "redemptioners." It was at that time, and long after, the policy of European governments to prohibit the emigration of mechanics and artisans. Labor was therefore extremely scarce in the new world; and its high price led to the enormity, which the law thus attempted to prevent.
Though Rhode Island was the first to abolish slavery, it was the last to give up the profits of the slave-trade, and still encourages the system by punishing, with a fine of 300 dollars and five or three years' imprisonment, any one who assists a slave to escape. The citizens of this State carried on the abominable traffic long after it had been declared illegal by the general government. About ten years ago, a vessel belonging to a Rhode-islander, was seized and condemned for having been engaged in the slave-trade. No buyer, however, could be found, when the sale took place, among his fellow-citizens; till the confiscated goods were at last purchased by a Bostonian, who had come from Massachusetts for the express purpose. Such was the general indignation against this man for daring to brave public opinion, which had manifested itself so strongly in favor of the slave-trader, that he was seized by the people, who had assembled on the occasion, and his ears were cut off. This anecdote was told me by Mr. Peter A. Jay*,
* Mr. Peter A. Jay, who is descended from a Huguenot family, which the fame of his father, during the struggle for American liberty, has rendered illustrious, is well known in New York for the active aid he affords to its numerous charities. His brother (Mr. William Jay) has just excited an extraordinary interest in America, by a work entitled "An Inquiry into the Colonization and Anti-Slavery Societies". It will probably be republished in this country; and the proceeds of the sale will form a scholarship for a colored student at the Auburn Theological Seminary.
The following is extracted from a memorial presented to the legislature of Connecticut in 1834, and signed by a long list of its most distinguished constituents. "The white man cannot labor upon equal terms with the negro. Those who have just emerged from a state of barbarism or slavery have few artificial wants. Regardless of the decencies of life, and improvident of the future, the black can afford his services at a lower price than the white man. And as he is, in caste, below the influence of public opinion, he seldom hesitates in supplying any contingent wants, without the ceremony of contracts, or the efforts of toil. If native indolence should deter him from this course, he has no compunctions in supplying himself from the public store-house, as a legal pauper. Whenever they came into competition, therefore, the white man is deprived of employment, or is forced to labor for less than he requires. He is compelled to yield the market to the African, and, with his family, ultimately becomes the tenant of an alms-house, or is driven from the State, to seek a better lot in Western wilds. Thus have thousands of our most valuable citizens been banished from home and kindred, for the accommodation of the most debased race that the civilized world has ever seen, and whom the false philosophy of enthusiasts is hourly inviting to deprive us of the benefits of civilized society."
above picture will be rather a "poser" to our protesting peers, --Instead
of the whites driving away the blacks, the blacks are driving away the
whites. What a curious country! the same people are driven from the South
because the negro is a slave, and from the North, because he is free. The
West, however, gains by it. Here they may mingle their tears, together,
and exchange consolation. But they will not escape, even in the wilderness;
the horrid black man will find them some day. It is a hard case: --the
African is the evil genius of the American.