Tag Archives: abolitionists

Lewis C. Gunn’s 1838 Address to Abolitionists

We are not about to tell you of the existence of slavery in our “land of the free,” or to inform you that nearly three millions of your countrymen are the victims of systematic and legalized robbery and oppression. This you know full well, and the knowledge has awakened your strong sympathy with the sufferers, and your soul-deep abhorrence of the system which crushes them.

We mean not to prove that this system is condemned by every principle of justice, every precept of the Divine law, and every attribute of the Divine character, — or that no man can innocently sustain to his fellow man the relation it has established. You already believe this proposition, and build upon it, as a fundamental doctrine, the whole superstructure of your anti-slavery creed and plan of operations. It is not our purpose to convince you that the slave, as your brother man, has a right to your compassion and assistance. You acknowledge his claim, and profess to be his fast and faithful friends. But we would propose to you a question of weight and serious import. Having settled your principles, in the clear light of truth, by fair and thorough investigation, do you practically carry them out in your daily life and conduct? To one point we would direct your attention. Do you, into whose hands this address has fallen, faithfully abstain from using the products of the slave’s extorted and unpaid labor ? If not, having read thus far, do not immediately throw aside this address with an exclamation of contempt or indifference, but read it through with candor.

Before entering upon a discussion of the question, whether our use of the products of slave-labor does not involve us in the guilt of slave-holding, we ask your attention to the two following propositions, viz.: The love of money is the root of the evil of slavery — and the products of slave-labor are stolen goods.
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Practical illustration of the Fugitive Slave Law

Aryannah Pendleton: A Fugitive Slave Case

This article about Miss Pendleton’s case was published in the National Anti-Slavery Standard on October 15, 1840.

A trial which excited much interest, was held in this town on Thursday last, before Hon. Joseph Eaton, Judge of the County Court, for the purpose of recovering a colored girl, by the name of Aryannah Pendleton, claimed to be a fugitive slave belonging to a Mrs. Price, of Richmond, Virginia.

The girl, it seems, came to New-York with Mrs. Price, and although strictly guarded, found means, prompted by the love of Liberty, of escaping to Hartford, and from there to Hampton, where she has resided for about three years past, and until arrested at the instigation of Doctor Price, son of the above named Mrs. Price, on a writ of Habeas Corpus and brought before Judge Eaton for trial.

The residence of this girl, it appears from what information we can collect, was made known to Doctor Price, by a contemptible fellow named Fuller, formerly a resident of Hampton, but now of the South, to whom, it is said, Doctor Price is indebted, and that the girl was, if found a slave, to be sold to satisfy such demand.

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William Lloyd Garrison at National Portrait Gallery

William Lloyd Garrison on Non-Resistance

William Lloyd Garrison was a journalistic crusader who advocated for the immediate emancipation of all slaves and gained a national reputation for being one of the most radical of American abolitionists. The Liberator denounced the Compromise of 1850, condemned the Kansas-Nebraska Act, damned the Dred Scott decision and hailed John Brown’s raid as “God’s method of dealing retribution upon the head of the tyrant.”

The slaveholders in the South demanded the end of the incendiary paper and the state of Georgia offered a $5,000 reward for Garrison’s capture. He died in New York City on May 24, 1879.

Accessible Archives subscribers have access to the complete run of The Liberator.

Almost thirty-five years after his death his daughter, Fanny Garrison Villard, published William Lloyd Garrison On Non-Resistance: Together With a Personal Sketch. The short volume includes her own memories of her father as well as chapters like What I Owe to Garrison, by Leo Tolstoi and William Lloyd Garrison as Seen by a Grandson.

The preface is included here in its entirety and the full volume can be read below.

From the Preface

I am in earnest — I will not equivocate — I will not excuse — I will not retreat a single inch — AND I WILL BE HEARD. — William Lloyd Garrison

My inherited principles of Non-Resistance, which seem as essential to me as the breath of life and paramount to all others, and filial affection have made me yield to the urgent requests of many friends to state as best I may what part a belief in Non-Resistance played in the life of my father, William Lloyd Garrison. His undying faith in the invincible power of Non-Resistance, more than all else, in my estimation, entitles him to the gratitude of his fellowmen. “Doing evil that good may come,” he ever regarded as a false and pernicious doctrine. Therefore, his language had, he felt, to be “as harsh as truth and as uncompromising as justice.”

After one of Mr. Garrison’s impassioned utterances, a warm sympathizer said to him, “Oh my friend, do try to moderate your indignation and keep more cool; why you are all on fire.” Mr. Garrison replied, “I have need to be all on fire, for I have moun- tains of ice about me to melt.” This is perhaps more true of Non-Resistance than of almost any other cause.

It was early given to Mr. Garrison to put his Non-Resistant principles to the test in a way that left no question as to his sincerity or as to his readiness to face death for his beliefs. On October 21, 1835, a “broadcloth” mob consisting of “5000 gentlemen of property and standing” gathered in Boston to tar and feather the English Abolitionist, George Thompson.

William Lloyd Garrison

William Lloyd Garrison

Unable to find Mr. Thompson, who had yielded to Mr. Garrison’s urgent request to leave the city, the mob surrounded the building in which Mr. Garrison was addressing the meeting of the “Female Anti-Slavery Society” although he had been warned in advance and urged to avoid danger. u In the middle of the uproar,” my father later wrote, “an Abolition brother whose mind had not been previously settled on the peace question, in his anguish and alarm for my safety, and in view of the helplessness of the civil authority, said: ‘I must henceforth repudiate the principle of non-resistance. When the civil arm is powerless, my own rights are trodden in the dust, and the lives of my friends are put in imminent peril by ruffians, I will hereafter prepare to defend myself and them at all hazards.’

Putting my hand upon his shoulder, I said, ‘Hold, my dear brother! You know not what spirit you are of. This is the trial of our faith, and the test of our endurance. Of what value or utility are the principles of peace and forgiveness, if we may repudiate them in the hour of peril and suffering? Do you wish to become like one of those violent and bloodthirsty men who are seeking my life? Shall we give blow for blow, and array sword against sword? God forbid! I will perish sooner than raise my hand against any man, even in self-defence, and let none of my friends resort to violence for my protection. If my life be taken, the cause of emancipation will not suffer. God reigns — his throne is undisturbed by this storm — he will make the wrath of man to praise him, and the remainder he will restrain — his omnipotence will at length be victorious.’ ”

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The First Chapter of Uncle Tom’s Cabin was published on June 5, 1851

On June 5, 1851, Uncle Tom’s Cabin; or, Life Among the Lowly began to appear in serial form in The National Era — an abolitionist weekly.  Harriet Beecher Stowe’s anti-slavery story was released in forty installments over the next ten months. Mrs. Stowe was paid $300 for the rights to publish the story.

In 1951 The National Era had a fairly limited circulation, but readership increased rapidly as reader after reader passed their copies along to friends and family. In 1852 a Boston publisher decided to issue Uncle Tom’s Cabin as a book and it became an instant best seller. Three hundred thousand copies were sold the first year. Folks all over America debated the book and discussed the most pressing issue of the day dramatized in its narrative and brought the debate over slavery into many new homes.

Because Uncle Tom’s Cabin so polarized the abolitionist and anti-abolitionist debate, some claim that it is one of the causes of the Civil War. Indeed, when President Lincoln received its author, Harriet Beecher Stowe, at the White House in 1862, legend has it he exclaimed, “So this is the little lady who made this big war?”

The National Era can be found in our African American Newspapers Collection.  

Copyright Secured by the Author for the National Era.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin: Or, Life Among the Lowly by Mrs. H.B. Stowe

CHAPTER I. In which the Reader is introduced to a Man of Humanity

Late in the afternoon of a chilly day in February, two gentlemen were sitting alone over their wine, in a well-furnished dining parlor, in the town of P—–, in Kentucky. There were no servants present, and the gentlemen, with chairs closely approaching, seemed to be discussing some subject with great earnestness.

For convenience sake, we have said, hitherto, two gentleman. One of the parties, however, when critically examined, did not seem, strictly speaking, to come under the species. He was a short, thick-set man, with coarse, commonplace features, and that swaggering air of pretension which makes a low man who is trying to elbow his way upward in the world. He was much over-dressed in a gaudy vest of many colors, a blue neckerchief, be dropped gaily with yellow spots, and arranged with a flaunting tie, quite in keeping with the general air of the man. His hands, large and coarse, were plentifully bedecked with rings, and he wore a heavy gold watch-chain with a bundle of seals of portentous size and a great variety of colors attached to it which, in the ardor of conversation, he was in the habit of flourishing and jingling with evident satisfaction. His conversation was in free and easy defiance of Murray’s grammar, and was garnished at convenient intervals with various profane expressions, which not even the desire to be graphic in our account shall induce us to transcribe.

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Uncle Tom in Russia – Reported in The Liberator

A correspondent of the London Daily News writes from Moscow as follows:—

‘The celebrated ‘Uncle Tom,’ that remarkable negro who has already encountered so many strange adventures, continues his course through the world. In Russia he is becoming known through the medium of a very negligent translation of Mrs. Stowe’s book, and enjoys a great reputation. The police do not interfere, although the circulation of the work remains as yet unauthorized. In Russia, you are aware, enfranchisement is the order of the day; perhaps this has somewhat to do with the non-interference of the officials.

‘As soon as the first copies of the work arrived, there were so few of them that they made the tour of the town, being let out to hire for two hours at a time, and thus passing from one hand to another of the Muscovite aristocracy.
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