Slave Manumission: A Case in Point

We cannot free our slaves if we would.” — Slaveholders.

MR. EDITOR, – How many endeavor to cover their sins, in holding slaves, under the pretext that “The laws of the state in which they reside, will not allow Manumission.” The following anecdote, related to me lately, by a person who could have no reason for wishing to deceive, and who had himself been a slave overseer, will throw some light on the subject:

While walking out, he observed an old, gray-headed negro, sitting on the bank of a river, and thus addressed him: “What are you doing, boy?” The old man replied, “Trying to catch fish, master.” “Whose boy are you?” “Squire Smith’s I used to be, but now I am free – my master gave me free.”

The person who told me of the circumstance, being impressed with the injustice of turning off an old servant, under the false pretense of making him free, and being himself acquainted with Sqr. Smith, who was an influential member of the Methodist Society in N.C., determined to speak to him on the subject.

He soon had an opportunity to do this: asking the Squire how it was that he could free his slaves, contrary to the law of the State, – “Oh,” said this Christian slaveholder, “when they are old and useless, we let them shift for themselves – they’re no good to us!” He continued to remonstrate with the Squire, showing the injustice of it, and with such faithfulness, that Squire Smith, notwithstanding he endeavored to evade the charge, felt his conscience smite him.

“Do you think that on a dying bed,” said his friend to him, “should you have your reason, you will approve of such conduct?  Can you act in such a way to a fellow being, and yet consider yourself a Christian?”

The Squire begged that he would say no more about such an unpleasant subject, and very condescendingly invited him to ride out to his plantation with him.

This item, and others like it, can be found in Accessible Archive’s African American Newspapers Collection. This enormous collection of African American newspapers contains a wealth of information about cultural life and history during the 1800s and is rich with first-hand reports of the major events and issues of the day.

Source: The Colored American, August 19, 1837

Photo: “Ex-slave with a long memory, Alabama” by Dorthea Lange in 1937 or 1938.

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Reverend Wayland’s Model Woman

The following from the pen of the Rev. H. L. Wayland should not be a mere fancy sketch, but the reality with every born woman. He knows one such he tells us. Let that one stand the prophecy of all women in the future. We do not expect much of humanity, and so do not realize much in man or woman. “According to your faith be it unto you,” is one of the truest and sublimest utterances in human language, and one of the most important. And the principle runs through all human action and aspiration. We expect nothing, we aim at nothing, we arrive at nothing, is true of an awful proportion of the human race. The Hot Wells of Bath, England, have brought multitudes there to die as well as to be cured during the centuries, and the Old Abbey church is filled with mural and other monuments of the departed, but scarcely a name known to fame appears among them all. And a satirist there has left this tracing to be read as his estimate of them:

“These walls adorned With monument and bust,
Show how Bath’s waters serve to lay the dust.”

Over how many cemetery gates might not the substance of this be placed? And the satire will be just until loftier ideas of human possibility and perfection are entertained.

Men sometimes say of a caged lion, if he only knew his strength, how soon he would be free! So of the man, if he only knew his power, his possibilities, how quickly he would burst the second death cements that now hold him, and leap to loftier life and action? Who shall speak the new word of life to stir the stagnant souls of these unburied dead, that make our nation and the world of man so like the vision of the Hebrew prophet: a valley of dry bones! Who shall cry with his fervor and his faith too, “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live!”

But our readers shall not lose Mr. Wayland in these musings of our own. It should be impressed on the mind and heart of universal humanity that the rare models like this described below, and all the sublimest attainments ever yet reached by saint or sage, are but the beginning, not the end, of what every mortal man and woman will one day reach in the earthly life, not the heavenly, where it doth not yet appear, even in a few models, what we shall be.

Mr. Wayland says:

I know one lady (I use the singular number not unadvisedly), and she is not compelled by her circumstances, who makes housekeeping an art, who studies chemistry and physiology, that she may adapt her table to the comfort and health of her family; who is the mistress of her servants, and not their unpaid dependent; who knows when the work of the house is done, and if it is not done is able to show the servants the reason of their failure; and with all this, she is not a drudge, with a soul confined to pots and pans, but a sensible, pleasing and truly religious woman, who, while enhancing the happiness of her family and doubling the income of her husband, alike by reducing his expenses and freeing his mind from vexing cares, yet is also reading the best books, is serving God, and dispensing charity to man. One such woman I know; pray how many do you know?

Source: The Revolution, August 13, 1868.

This item, and others like it, can be found in Accessible Archive’s Newspapers Collection. We can provide access to fully searchable newspapers by and for women including The Lily, The Revolution, and the National Citizen and Ballot Box.

Top Image:  Brooklyn sanitary fair in 1864  as shown in New England Kitchen.

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Pioneer History of Coos and Curry Counties

The Pioneer History of Coos and Curry Counties (Oregon) by Orvil Dodge is now searchable within Accessible Archives. This volume can be found in American County Histories: The West. The West includes local histories from Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. This collection is under active development and is growing quickly.

About the Author

This pioneer historian (Orvil Dodge) had an interesting and colorful life. He was born January 5, 1839, at Gerard, Pennsylvania. His mother, Deborah, died when he was two years old; his father, Norman, soon remarried. When he was five, Orvil moved to the home of his uncle, David Dodge, only to return to his father’s new home in Portage County, Ohio, a year later. In 1850, William Press, his grandfather, visited the family and took Orvil with him to Point Peter, New York. At age sixteen, Dodge journeyed to Fort Wayne, Indiana, where he became a stage driver. After a severe bout with malaria, he located in Sycamore, Illinois, where he married Alice Walrod.

Orvil and his wife crossed the continent to California by mule and horse team in 1860. They settled on the upper Sacramento River where Dodge operated a sawmill. Within three months the Indians in that region swept through the country, burning Dodge’s mill and his lumber piles. Discouraged but undaunted, Orvil moved on to Oregon, locating in Jackson County where he planned to become a gold miner.


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Ann Bailey

Mad Anne Bailey

Ann Bailey, one of the most picturesque characters in American border history, was known as “Mad Ann,” because of her waspish temper. Her maiden name was Dennis, and she was a native of Liverpool, England. Like many other persons of her time, she came to Virginia as an indentured servant, and paid the cost of her passage across the Atlantic by being bound into servitude for several years. During this period in her life she was at Staunton.

At the age of twenty-three she married James Trotter, who was killed nine years later in the battle of Point Pleasant. William Trotter, her only child, was born near the present village of Barber in 1767.

After Trotter was killed the widow resolved to avenge his death. She left her boy with Mrs. Moses Mann, put on masculine apparel, and became a hunter and scout. She rode a black horse that she called “Pool,” an abbreviation of Liverpool. Her other horse she named “Jennie Mann.”

It is said of Ann Bailey that she put more than one Indian out of the way. On one occasion her lead horse was stolen from her.

Source: A Centennial History of Alleghany County Virginia.

This chapter would not be complete without some mention of that eccentric and masculine woman, known to American border history as Mad Ann Bailey. She was given this name because of her irascible Welsh temper. Her maiden name was Dennis, and she was a native of Liverpool. She came to Staunton at the age of 13, and ten years later wedded James Trotter, who was killed at Point Pleasant. The pair had a son named William, who was born in 1767.

Ann Bailey left her child with Mrs. Moses Mann, a near neighbor, put on masculine apparel, and for several years was a hunter and scout. One of her reasons for adopting such an unfeminine career was to avenge the death of her husband. According to tradition she took more than one scalp.

Her most famous exploit was her relief of Fort Lee, which stood where the city of Charleston, West Virginia, afterward arose. The stockade was besieged by Indians, the powder gave out, and it was very dangerous for a courier to get past the assailants. But Mad Ann volunteered, rode swiftly on her horse “Liverpool” to Fort Union–now Lewisburg,–and came back with an extra horse with a fresh supply of powder. This was in 1791, when she was 49 years of age.

For a year or so, she lived in a hut on Mad Ann’s Ridge, on the south side of Falling Spring Run. On one occasion her black horse went on to Mann’s without his rider. A party from the stockade went out to follow the trail, and located Mad Ann by airholes in the snow. She had failed asleep, either from liquor or drowsiness.

According to Ann Royall, who knew her in her old age, she could both drink and swear.

Source: Annals of Bath County Virginia

More recent references spell her name as Anne instead of Ann. The Anne Bailey Elementary School in St. Albans, West Virginia, is named for “Mad Anne” Bailey as is the Daughters of the American Revolution chapter in Charleston, West Virginia and a lookout tower in Watoga State Park.

The full-text search capability of the American County Histories database permits the student/researcher to explore all the publications of a particular county by using a single query. In addition, those wishing to read or browse the text on a page by page basis may do so in the original format merely by scrolling down the screen and then continuing to the next chapter.
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News for Women, by Women

Accessible Archives subscribers have access to three of America’s oldest newspapers published by and for women: The Lily, The Revolution, and National Citizen and Ballot Box.


Amelia Bloomer

Amelia Bloomer

The Lily, the first newspaper for women, was issued from 1849 until 1853 under the editorship of Amelia Bloomer (1818-1894). Published in Seneca Falls, New York and priced at 50 cents a year, the newspaper began as a temperance journal for “home distribution” among members of the Seneca Falls Ladies Temperance Society, which had formed in 1848.

Bloomer felt that as women lecturers were considered unseemly, writing was the best way for women to work for reform. The paper encountered a number of early obstacles and the Society’s enthusiasm died out, but Bloomer felt a commitment to publish and assumed full responsibility for editing and publishing the paper.

Originally, the title page had the legend “Published by a committee of ladies“, but after 1850 only Bloomer’s name appeared on the masthead.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton (seated) and Susan B. Anthony

Elizabeth Cady Stanton (seated) and Susan B. Anthony

The Revolution, a weekly women’s rights newspaper, was the official publication of the National Woman Suffrage Association formed by feminists Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony to secure women’s enfranchisement through a federal constitutional amendment.

Published between January 8, 1868 and February, 1872, it was edited by Stanton and Parker Pillsbury and initially funded by George Francis Train, a wealthy and eccentric Democrat, and David Melliss, financial editor of the New York World newspaper. Coincidentally, The Revolution was run out of a small office in the same building that housed the New York World.

The Revolution’s motto, printed on the masthead of the first edition’s front page, was, “Principle, not policy; Justice, not favors.” Beginning with the second edition, the following was added: “Men, their rights and nothing more; Women, their rights and nothing less.” Later editions had this motto: “The True Republic–Men, their rights and nothing more; Women, their rights and nothing less.”

Although its circulation never exceeded 3,000, The Revolution’s influence on the national woman’s rights movement was enormous.

Matilda Joslyn Gage

Matilda Joslyn Gage

The National Citizen and Ballot Box was a monthly journal deeply involved in the roots of the American feminist movement. It was owned and edited by Matilda Joslyn Gage, American women’s rights advocate, who helped to lead and publicize the suffrage movement in the United States.

Gage bought The Ballot Box, a publication of a Toledo, Ohio suffrage association, in 1878 when its editor, Sarah R.L. Williams, decided to retire.

Gage renamed it the National Citizen and Ballot Box, and included her intentions for the paper in a prospectus: “Its especial object will be to secure national protection to women citizens in the exercise of their rights to vote…it will oppose Class Legislation of whatever form…Women of every class, condition, rank and name will find this paper their friend.”

Gage became the National Citizen and Ballot Box’s primary editor for the next three years (until 1881), producing and publishing essays on a wide range of issues. Each edition bore the motto “The Pen Is Mightier Than The Sword”, and included regular columns about prominent women in history and female inventors.

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