American Abolitionists and Antislavery Activists:
Conscience of the Nation

Updated April 4, 2021

l to r: Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, Wendell Phillips

Encyclopedia of Slavery and Abolition in the United States - C




Chapter: “Calhoun's Resolutions. --Atherton's Resolutions.--Ashburton Treaty,” by Henry Wilson, in History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, 1872.

The zeal and activity of the early Abolitionists, the evident impression they at first made upon the public conscience and reason, the rapidly increasing indications manifested by the press, State legislatures, and even by Congress, that antislavery ideas were spreading and gaining a stronger hold upon the popular mind and heart, gave no little concern to the champions of the Slave Power. Their unsuccessful attempts to secure penal enactments from Northern legislatures for the repression of free discussion, and organized efforts in behalf of emancipation, and the failure of riots and mobs to awe or subdue the rising spirit of liberty, impelled them to renewed activity at Washington to secure, if possible, the enunciation of principles and the adoption of measures by the general government which they had failed to extort from the State legislatures.

Animated by this purpose, Mr. Calhoun, the ever-watchful advocate, and guardian of slavery, was quick to detect the apparent drift of things and scent the danger from afar. With a mind of extraordinary acuteness, he drew conclusions from premises however furnished, whether by the principles of his own false philosophy, the concessions of the Constitution, or these popular demonstrations of the Northern States; and, at the same time, exhibited the spectacle of a strong and downright man, profoundly in the wrong, seeking boldly and without equivocation, on the arena of debate and legislation, ends others were pursuing by menace, violence, or indirection.

In December, 1837, he introduced a series of resolutions defining the relative powers of the general and State governments upon slavery. The first four referred to slavery in the States, and the fifth referred to it in the Territories and the District of Columbia. The latter emphatically declared that the intermeddling of any State or any of its citizens to abolish slavery in the District, or in any of the Territories, on the ground or under the pretext that it was “immoral or sinful," would be a “direct and dangerous attack on the institutions of all the slaveholding States." The resolutions did not deny the power of Congress to abolish slavery in the District, or any of the Territories; but simply denounced its exercise. Even Mr. Calhoun himself at that time did not defend or hold the dogma that Congress had no power to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia or in the Territories. Early in January, 1838, the Senate proceeded to the consideration of these resolutions. As ever, the North furnished its quota of recreants who, not content with withholding their support from its interests, fought actively and openly against them.

Mr. Norvell of Michigan desired to amend the first resolution, and proceeded to denounce the Abolitionists. He asserted that, under the pretext of its being a religious duty to extirpate slavery, "the incendiary leaders of abolitionism, in their fanatical exertions, will throw hack for fifty years every hope of emancipation. Their humanity only rivets the chains of slavery still tighter."

To the proposed modifications of the resolutions Mr. Calhoun assented, as he was willing to make any concession to the opponents of the doctrines of abolitionism. Mr. Hubbard of New Hampshire hastened to declare that the adoption of Mr. Calhoun's resolution would tend to allay the spirit of abolitionism in the North.

On the other hand, it was moved by Mr. Smith of Indiana to amend the resolutions so that nothing contained in them should be construed as expressing an opinion adverse to the sentiment that all men are created equal, to the freedom of speech and the press, and to the preservation of the Union. Referring to the remarks made relative to the punishment of Abolitionists, Mr. Morris of Ohio said he considered such avowals as subversive of all freedom and inimical to the institutions of the country. All men had an imprescriptible right, above all government, to freedom of speech and the right of petition. “I feel bound," he said, "to defend the rights of freedom of opinion, freedom of thought, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press, to the latest breath I may draw."

Mr. Wall of New Jersey questioned the right of the Senate to sit making creeds and drawing up abstract constitutional codes for the people; but Mr. Young of Illinois advocated the resolutions as they were, and comforted Mr. Calhoun with the assertion that in his State they set down as Abolitionists all who signed an abolition memorial. It was then proclaimed by Mr. Lumpkin of Georgia, that, if the wisdom of their friends in the non-slaveholding States could not devise ways to stay the fury of the Abolitionists, the slaveholding States must execute their laws, and punish the Abolitionists in the most exemplary manner.

The Senate, on motion of Mr. Allen of Ohio, modified Mr. Smith's amendment so as to declare that nothing in the resolutions was intended to recognize the tight of Congress to impair the freedom of speech within the States. Mr. Smith further opposed the resolutions, saying he would extend to the South the full force of their constitutional guaranties in the protection of their domestic institutions as they were. He wished the senators representing that interest to understand distinctly that he would “cavil on the ninth part of a hair on any question going to extend the principles or boundary of slavery one inch." Mr. Benton thought the resolutions should be referred to a select committee, to report at a future day. Mr. Calhoun objected to that suggestion, saying that they were reposing on a volcano; and that his resolutions presented the only ground on which the country could stand. " The assaults daily made," he said, " on the institutions of nearly one half of the States of the Union by the other will and must, if continued; make two people of one by destroying every sympathy between the two great sections." 

It was proposed by Mr. Preston of South Carolina to discard the words "immoral and sinful”; but Mr. Calhoun would not consent to do so, declaring abolitionism to be " nothing else than religious fanaticism." “The Abolitionists," he said,” assail slavery because it is wicked and sinful, and I wish to meet them distinctly on that point." Mr. Buchanan was in favor of referring the resolutions to a select committee. He, too, declared that the Abolitionists had postponed the cause of emancipation in three or four of the States for half a. century. He opposed emancipation in the District, and said if it were free it would become a city of refuge to the Abolitionists - a secure asylum, where they could scatter “arrows, firebrands, and death."

Mr. Davis of Massachusetts remarked that the worst that could be said of the Abolitionists by their bitterest enemies is what is actually said: that they are deluded, misguided philanthropists, fanatics, heated with an unbecoming zeal. Opprobrious epithets had been applied to them; but no one affirmed that they aimed at disunion, or imputed to them corrupt purposes. He said the slave interest held the destinies of the Republic in its hands; that it ruled, guided, and adapted public policy to its own views. Mr. Niles of Connecticut affirmed, if the abolition party should prevail, and abolition principles should triumph, there would follow reproaches, criminations and recriminations, agitation, alarm, and confusion, and real or supposed aggressions would be offered and repelled; but the Union would stand.

Mr. Bayard of Delaware thought he saw disunion in the resolutions, and he moved to strike out "the several States," and insert “the people of the United States."  Mr. Pierce of New Hampshire said there were indications in New England of a change of public sentiment, and he feared the elements of still greater changes were inactive operation. The Abolitionists proper were not gaining ground; but politics were beginning to mingle with that question.  The Abolitionists were making it a test; and he saw with profound regret, that individuals of both parties were submitting to their catechism. Mr. Crittenden pronounced the resolutions "vague and general abstractions, more calculated to produce agitation than to do good."

Mr. Clay had little confidence in the healing virtues of the resolutions. They had been offered to revive and rally the States Rights party; but he thought the slaveholding States ought not to place their interests in the exclusive keeping of any one party. He submitted a series of resolutions as an amendment. So much of Mr. Clay's resolutions as referred to the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia was adopted, in lieu of Mr. Calhoun’s. They did not deny the constitutional power of Congress to abolish slavery in the District, or prohibit it in the Territories, but based all opposition thereto on the expediency of such legislation at that time. It was during this debate, which excited at that time little attention, but the importance of which was afterward seen, that Mr. Calhoun admitted that he had been, in 1820, in favor of the Missouri Compromise, and had censured Mr. Randolph for his opposition. But he had been taught his error, he said, and he took pleasure in acknowledging it.

Although the domestic slave-trade was actively prosecuted in the District of Columbia, and scenes continued to be enacted there dishonoring a Christian people and outraging alike their sense of justice and their national pride, still the inexorable Slave Power persistently demanded that their prayers should remain unheeded, and that the voices of their representatives :Should not be heard. 

Source:  Wilson, Henry, History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, Vol. 1.  Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1872, 390-394.





CAMPBELL, Tunis Gulic, 1812-1891, African American abolitionist, Georgia political leader, moral reformer, temperance activist and lecturer.  Lectured with Frederick Douglass. Worked to help resettle recently-freed slaves near Port Royal, South Carolina.  Later was Bureau agent for Freedman’s Bureau on Georgia Islands.  Resisted acts to reverse gains made by African Americans by President Johnson administration during Reconstruction.

(Gates, Henry Louis, Jr., & Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, eds. African American National Biography. Oxford University Press, 2013, Vol. 2, p. 500; American National Biography, 2002, Vol. 4, p. 299.)


CARY, Lott, 1780-1828, Charles City co., Virginia, formerly enslaved individual.  Vice President, American Colonization Society, in 1828. 

(Burin, 2005, pp. 16-17, 67, 68; Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I, p. 548; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 2, Pt. 1, p. 555)


CARY, Lott, negro slave, b. in Charles City co., Va., in 1780; d. in Monrovia, Africa, 8 Nov., 1828. In 1804 he was sent to Richmond, and hired out as a common laborer. Gifted with a high order of native intelligence, he soon taught himself, with slight assistance, to read and write, and, having a remarkable memory and sense of order, he became one of the best shipping-clerks in the Richmond tobacco warehouses. Until 1807 he was an unbeliever, but during that year became converted to Christianity, and was ever afterward a leader among the Baptists of his own color. In 1813 he purchased his own freedom and that of his two children for $850. As a freeman he maintained his habits of industry and economy, and when the colonization scheme was organized had accumulated a sum sufficiently large to enable him to pay his own expenses as a member of the colony sent out to the African coast in 1822. He was with the colony during its early wars with the barbarous natives, and rendered invaluable services as a counsellor, physician, and pastor. He was elected vice-agent of the colonization society in 1826, and during the absence of Mr. Ashmun, the agent, acted in his place. On the evening of 8 Nov., 1828, he was making cartridges in anticipation of an attack from slave-traders, when an accidental explosion fatally injured him and seven of his companions. Appletons’ Cyclopædia of American Biography, 1888.


CHACE, Elizabeth Buffum, 1806-1899, Society of Friends, Quaker, women’s suffrage leader, penal reform leader, abolitionist leader.  Co-founder of the Ladies Anti-Slavery Society of Fall River, Massachusetts, 1836.  Member of the New England Anti-Slavery Society, founded by her father, Arnold Buffum, in 1832.  Contributed articles for abolitionist newspaper, Liberator.  Her home was a station on the Underground Railroad.  She resigned from the Society of Friends in 1843 as a result of its continuing pro-slavery position.  At the end of the Civil War, she was elected Vice President of the American Anti-Slavery Society.  She published her memoirs in 1891, Anti-Slavery Reminiscences. Her grandfather, parents, husband, two sisters, and two brothers-in-law were all abolitionists. 

(Drake, 1950, p. 158; Mabee, 1970, pp. 225, 280, 290, 424n54; Rodriguez, 2007, pp. 44, 218; Van Broekhoven, 2002, pp. 22, 37, 49-52, 58, 67, 69-71, 73, 159, 171, 191-192, 208-209, 219-221, 232n5; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 2, Pt. 1, p. 584; American Reformers: An H.W. Wilson Biographical Dictionary, New York, 1985, pp. 158-159; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 4, p. 609)


CHANDLER, Elizabeth Margaret, 1807-1834, poet, author, Society of Friends, Quaker, abolitionist.  Member of the Free Produce Society.  Co-founded the first anti-slavery society in Michigan, the Logan Female Anti-Slavery Society, in Lenawee County, Michigan Territory, October 8, 1832, with Laura Haviland.  Writer for Benjamin Lundy’s Genius of Universal Emancipation after 1829.  In 1836, Chandler’s anti-slavery writings were published.

(Dumond, 1961, pp. 279-281, 350-351; Van Broekhoven, 2002, pp. 90-91, 97, 111, 113, 120; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I, p. 573; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. II, Pt. 1, p. 613; Mason, Martha J. Heringa, ed. Remember the Distance That Divides Us. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press, 2004)


CHANDLER, Elizabeth Margaret, author, b. in Centre, near Wilmington, Del., 24 Dec., 1807; d. 22 Nov., 1834. She was the daughter of Thomas Chandler, a Quaker farmer, was educated at the Friends' school in Philadelphia, and began at an early age to write verses. Her poem “The Slave-Ship,” written when she was eighteen years old, gained the prize- offered by the “Casket,” a monthly magazine. She became a contributor to the “Genius of Universal Emancipation,” a Philadelphia periodical favoring the liberation of the slaves, and in it nearly all her subsequent writings appeared. In 1830, with her aunt and brother, she removed to a farm near Tecumseh, Lenawee co., Mich., and from there continued her contributions in prose and verse on the subject of slavery. A collection of her poems and essays was edited, with a memoir, by Benjamin Lundy (Philadelphia, 1836). Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I. pp. 573.


CHANDLER, Zachariah, 1813-1879, statesman, abolitionist.  Mayor of Detroit, 1851-1852.  U.S. Senator 1857-1875, 1879.  Secretary of the Interior, 1875-1877. Active in Underground Railroad in Detroit area.  Helped organize the Republican Party in 1854.  Introduced Confiscation Bill in Senate, July 1861.  Was a leading Radical Republican Senator.  Chandler was a vigorous opponent of slavery.  He opposed the Dred Scott U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding the Fugitive Slave Law.  In 1858, opposed the admission of Kansas as a slave state under the Lecompton Constitution.  Voted for Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery.

(Appletons’, 1888, Vol. I, pp. 574-575; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. II, Pt. 1, p. 618; Congressional Globe)


CHANDLER, Zachariah, senator, b. in Bedford, N. H., 10 Dec., 1813; d. in Chicago, Ill., 1 Nov., 1879. After receiving a common-school education he taught for one winter, at the same time managing his father's farm. He was noted when a youth for physical strength and endurance. It is said that, being offered by his father the choice between a collegiate education and the sum of $1,000, he chose the latter. He removed to Detroit in 1833 and engaged in the dry-goods business, in which he was energetic and successful. He soon became a prominent whig, and was active in support of the so-called “underground railroad,” of which Detroit was an important terminus. His public life began in 1851 by his election as mayor of Detroit. In 1852 he was nominated for governor by the whigs, and, although his success was hopeless, the large vote he received brought him into public notice. He was active in the organization of the republican party in 1854, and in January, 1857, was elected to the U. S. senate to succeed Gen. Lewis Cass. He made his first important speech on 12 March, 1858, opposing the admission of Kansas under the Lecompton constitution, and continued to take active part in the debates on that and allied questions. In 1858, when Senator Green, of Missouri, had threatened Simon Cameron with an assault for words spoken in debate, Mr. Chandler, with Mr. Cameron and Benjamin F. Wade, of Ohio, drew up a written agreement, the contents of which were not to be made public till the death of all the signers, but which was believed to be a pledge to resent an attack made on any one of the three. On 11 Feb., 1861, he wrote the famous so-called “blood letter” to Gov. Blair, of Michigan. It received its name from the sentence, “Without a little blood-letting this Union will not, in my estimation, be worth a rush.” This letter was widely quoted through the country, and was acknowledged and defended by Mr. Chandler on the floor of the senate. Mr. Chandler was a firm friend of President Lincoln, though he was more radical than the latter in his ideas, and often differed with the president as to matters of policy. When the first call for troops was made, he assisted by giving money and by personal exertion. He regretted that 500,000 men had not been called for instead of 75,000, and said that the short-term enlistment was a mistake. At the beginning of the extra session of congress in July, 1861, he introduced a sweeping confiscation-bill, thinking that stern measures would deter wavering persons from taking up arms against the government; but it was not passed in its original form, though congress ultimately adopted his views. On 16 July, 1862, Mr. Chandler vehemently assailed Gen. McClellan in the senate, although he was warned that such a course might be politically fatal. He was, however, returned to the senate in 1863, and in 1864 actively aided in the re-election of President Lincoln. He was again elected to the senate in 1869. During all of his terms he was chairman of the committee on commerce and a member of other important committees, including that on the conduct of the war. In October, 1874, President Grant tendered him the post of secretary of the interior, to fill the place made vacant by the resignation of Columbus Delano, and he held this office until President Grant's retirement, doing much to reform abuses in the department. He was chairman of the Republican national committee in 1876, and took an active part in the presidential campaign of that year. He was again elected to the senate in February, 1879, to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Isaac P. Christiancy, who had succeeded him four years before. On 2 March, 1879, he made a speech in the senate denouncing Jefferson Davis, which brought him into public notice again, and he was regarded in his own state as a possible presidential candidate. He went to Chicago on 31 Oct., 1879, to deliver a political speech, and was found dead in his room on the following morning. During the greater portion of his life Mr. Chandler was engaged in large business enterprises, from which he realized a handsome fortune. He was a man of commanding appearance, and possessed an excellent practical judgment, great energy, and indomitable perseverance. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I. pp. 574-575.


CHANNING, Reverend William Ellery, 1780-1842, Unitarian clergyman, orator, writer, strong opponent of slavery.  Active in the peace, temperance, and educational reform movements.  Published anti-slavery works, The Slavery Question, in 1839, Emancipation in 1840, and The Duty of the Free States, in 1842.

(Brown, 1956; Channing, “Slavery,” 1836; Dumond, 1961, pp. 273, 352-353; Filler, 1960, pp. 33, 34, 59, 80, 88, 93, 101, 128, 141, 184; Goodell, 1852, pp. 419, 560; Mabee, 1970, pp. 15, 16, 43, 51, 79, 105, 384n14; Pease, 1965, pp. xxxix-xl, lvii, lx, 114-118, 240-245; Rodriguez, 2007, pp. 43, 46, 162, 169; Sorin, 1971, p. 72; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I, pp. 576-577; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 2, Pt. 2, pp. 7-8; American Reformers: An H.W. Wilson Biographical Dictionary, New York, 1985, pp. 160-163; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 4, p. 680)


CHANNING, William Ellery, clergyman, b. in Newport, R. I., 7 April, 1780; d. in Bennington, Vt., 2 Oct., 1842. His boyhood was passed in Newport, where his first strong religious impressions were received from the preaching of Dr. Samuel Hopkins. As a youth, he appears, though small in person and of a sensibility almost feminine, to have been vigorous, athletic, and resolute, showing from childhood a marked quality of moral courage and mental sincerity. In his college life at Harvard, where he was graduated in 1798, he showed a singular capacity to win the ardent personal attachment of his fellows; and, though he was very young, his literary qualities seem even then to have been fully developed, his style being described by his classmate, Judge Story, as “racy, flowing, full, glowing with life, chaste in ornament, vigorous in structure, and beautiful in finish.” He was also conspicuous in the students' debating-clubs, and shared fully in the political enthusiasms of the day, refusing the commencement oration assigned him until granted permission to speak on his favorite theme. Among the authors of his choice at this time, Hutcheson appears to have inspired his profound conviction of “the dignity of human nature,” Ferguson (“Civil Society”) his faith in social progress and his “enthusiasm of humanity,” and Price (“Dissertations”) that form of idealism which “saved me,” he says, “from Locke's philosophy.” As a private instructor in Richmond, Va., in the family of D. M. Randolph, in 1798-1800, he felt “the charm of southern manners and hospitality,” and at the same time acquired an abhorrence of the social and moral aspects of slavery, then equally abhorred by the most intelligent men and women at the south. Here he became eagerly interested in political discussions growing out of the revolutionary movements in Europe, and a keen admirer of such writers as Godwin, Mary Wollstonecraft, and especially Rousseau; but, as if by a certain unconscious reaction against these influences, he gave special study to the historical evidences of Christianity, to which class of evidences he ever after strongly adhered, and was confirmed in his purpose to prepare for the ministry. He also disciplined himself by a vigorously ascetic way of life—exposure to cold, hardship, and fatigue, with scant diet (leading to permanent “contraction of the stomach” with painful dyspepsia), insufficient clothing, and excessive devotion to study. The ill-effect of these practices, aggravated by the exposures of his return voyage to Newport, followed him through life, and “from the time of his residence in Richmond to the day of his death he never knew a day of unimpaired vigor.” After a short stay in Newport, where the influences of early life were renewed and deepened, he returned to Cambridge as a student of theology, with the title and petty income of “regent,” a sort of university scholarship. At this period Bishop Butler and William Law were the writers that chiefly influenced his opinions; and he is represented as having had a tendency to Calvinistic views, though “never in any sense a Trinitarian.” His first and only pastoral settlement was over the church in Federal street, Boston, 1 June, 1803, which he accepted, in preference to the more distinguished place in Brattle square, partly on the ground that a smaller and feebler congregation might not overtax his strength. Here he was shortly known for a style of religious eloquence of rare “fervor, solemnity, and beauty.” His views at this time—and indeed, prevailingly, during his later life—are described as “rather mystical than rational”; in particular, as to the controverted doctrine of Christ's divinity, holding “that Jesus Christ is more than man, that he existed before the world, that he literally came from heaven to save our race, that he sustains other offices than those of a teacher and witness to the truth, and that he still acts for our benefit, and is our intercessor with the Father.” Early in his ministry, however, Mr. Channing was closely identified with that movement of thought, literary and philosophic as well as theological, which gave birth to the “Anthology Club,” and to a series of journals, of which those longest-lived and of widest repute were the “North American Review” and the “Christian Examiner.” Essays published in these journals, especially those on Milton and on the character of Napoleon, gave him literary reputation in Europe as well as at home. The intellectual movement in question was marked by an increasing interest in questions of theological and textual criticism, and by a leaning toward, if not identification with, the class of opinions that began about 1815 to be currently known as Unitarian. Though Mr. Channing was disinclined to sectarian names or methods, though he never desired to be personally called a Unitarian, and would have chosen that the movement of liberal theology should go on within the lines of the New England Congregational body, to which he belonged from birth, yet he became known as the leader of the Unitarians, and may almost be said to have first given to the body so called the consciousness of its real position and the courage of its convictions by his sermon delivered in Baltimore, 5 May, 1819, at the ordination of Jared Sparks. This celebrated discourse may be regarded less as a theological argument, for which its method is too loose and rhetorical, than as a solemn impeachment of the Calvinistic theology of that day at the bar of popular reason and conscience. And a similar judgment may be passed, in general, upon the series of controversial discourses that he delivered in the succeeding years. For about fifteen years, making the middle period of his professional life—a life interrupted only by a few months' stay in Europe (1822-'3) and a winter spent in Santa Cruz (1830-'31)—Mr. Channing was best known to the public as a leader in the Unitarian body, and the record of this time survives in several volumes of eloquent and noble sermons, which constitute still the best body of practical divinity that the Unitarian movement in this country has produced. Very interesting testimony to the habit and working of his mind at this period is also to be found in the volume of “Reminiscences” by Miss E. P. Peabody (Boston, 1880). A sermon on the “Ministry at Large” in Boston (1835) strongly illustrates the sympathetic as well as religious temper in which he now undertook those discussions of social topics—philanthropy, moral reform, and political ethics—by which his later years were most widely and honorably distinguished. From organized charity the way was open to questions of temperance and public education, which now began to take new shapes; and from these again, to those that lie upon the border-ground of morals and politics—war and slavery. Regarding the last, indeed, which may be taken as a type of the whole, it does not appear that he ever adopted the extreme opinions, or approved the characteristic modes of action, of the party known as abolitionists. But his general and very intense sympathy with their aims was of great moral value in the anti-slavery movement, now taking more and more a political direction. Of this the earliest testimony was a brief but vigorous essay on slavery (1835), dealing with it purely on grounds of moral argument; followed the next year by a public letter of sympathy to James G. Birney (“The Abolitionists”), who had just been driven from Cincinnati with the destruction of his press and journal; and again, in 1837, by a letter to Henry Clay on the annexation of Texas, a policy which the writer thought good ground to justify disunion. The event that, more than any other, publicly associated his name and influence with the anti-slavery party was a meeting held in Faneuil Hall, 8 Dec., 1837, after the death of Elijah P. Lovejoy, who was shot while defending his press at Alton, Ill., when for the first time Mr. Channing stood side by side, upon the public platform, with men in whom he now saw the champions of that freedom of discussion which must be upheld by all good citizens. His later writings on the subject are a letter on “The Slavery Question” (1839) addressed to Jonathan Phillips; a tract on “Emancipation” (1840), suggested by a work of J. J. Gurney's on emancipation in the British West Indies; and an argument (1842) on “The Duty of the Free States,” touching the case of the slaves on board the brig “Creole,” of Richmond, who had seized the vessel and carried her into the port of Nassau. His last public act was an address delivered in Lenox. Mass., 1 Aug., 1842, commemorating the West India emancipation. A few weeks later, while on a journey, he was seized with an attack of autumn fever, of which he died. Interesting personal recollections remain, now passing into tradition, of Channing's rare quality and power as a pulpit orator, of which a single trait may here be given: “From the high, old-fashioned pulpit his face beamed down, it may be said, like the face of an angel, and his voice floated clown like a voice from higher spheres. It was a voice of rare power and attraction, clear, flowing, melodious, slightly plaintive, so as curiously to catch and win upon the hearer's sympathy. Its melody and pathos in the reading of a hymn was alone a charm that might bring men to the listening like the attraction of sweet music. Often, too, when signs of physical frailty were apparent, it might be said that his speech was watched and waited for with that sort of hush as if one was waiting to catch his last earthly words.” Numerous writings of Dr. Channing were published singly, which were gathered shortly before his death (5 vols., Boston, 1841), to which a sixth volume was added subsequently, and also, in 1872, a volume of selected sermons entitled “The Perfect Life.” All are included in a single volume published by the American Unitarian association (Boston). A biography was prepared by his nephew, W. H. Channing (3 vols., Boston, 1848). Translations of Channing's writings “have been, either wholly or in part, published in the German, French, Italian, Hungarian, Icelandic, and Russian languages.” While in America he is best known as a theologian and preacher, his influence abroad is said to be chiefly as a writer on subjects of social ethics. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I. pp. 576-577.


CHAPLIN, William Lawrence, 1796-1871, abolitionist leader, Farmington, NY.  Manager, American Anti-Slavery Society, 1839-1840.  Agent of the New York Anti-Slavery Society.  He was known as “The General.”  (Dumond, 1961, p. 297; Goodell, 1852, pp. 246, 445, 463, 556; Sorin, 1971, p. 113. Radical Abolitionist; Wilson, 1872, Vol. 2, pp. 80-82)


Chapter: “Underground Railroad. - Operations at the East and in the Middle States,” by Henry Wilson, in History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, 1872.

The case of William L. Chaplin affords another example of what it cost in those days to be honest and humane, to listen to the voice of sympathy and to carry into action the simple precepts of Christian love. In the year 1836 this gentleman, a young lawyer of Eastern Massachusetts, just entering upon the practice of his profession, with generous ambition and flattering prospects, was invited, on the very threshold of what· he had marked out as his life's work, to relinquish all these prospects, that he might espouse the cause of the despised and downtrodden slave. Yielding to what he regarded the voice of duty, he relinquished his profession and its prospects, and for a quarter of a century devoted himself to the cause of the oppressed. Having served the national antislavery society for several months, he accepted the appointment of general agent of the New York State society. Possessing energy and marked executive ability, he devoted himself for four years, with large success, to the work of organizing the new forces of freedom in those early years of the reform.  Afterward, for several years in connection with others, he made a specialty of procuring and publishing antislavery tracts, documents, and volumes. In 1844 he assumed control of the Albany "Patriot," the paper which Mr. Torrey then in the Maryland penitentiary, had recently started. Becoming the Washington correspondent of his own paper, he often found occasion, during -his residence at the capital, to exhibit the philanthropy of his nature by aiding in the purchase of the relatives of those who had previously escaped to the North. During the session of 1850 he was persuaded to assist two young men, slaves of Robert Toombs and Alexander H. Stephens of Georgia, in their endeavor to escape. Being surprised in the attempt, he was arrested and cast into prison, on the charge of abducting slaves. Having lain in prison five months, he was released on the excessive bail of twenty-five thousand dollars.

But his alleged offences, according to the laws of the District of Columbia and of Maryland, would subject him, if convicted, to imprisonment for years, if not for life. The masters of the slaves he had aided were violent and most exacting in their demands, the country was intensely agitated, and the fate of. Torrey was fresh in memory. There was little doubt that,. if brought to trial, he would be convicted. It was deemed advisable, therefore, to prevent .a trial whose probable results would be thus serious, if not practically fatal; and it was determined by his friends that his bail, though so large, should be forfeited and paid. · To do this, his own little property was sacrificed and heavy contributions were made by his friends and the friends of the cause. In this work, Gerrit Smith of New York, with his usual and prompt sympathy, his large-hearted beneficence and princely munificence, became his surety, and contributed a large portion of the amount. And this was the price demanded by the nation, and paid by Mr. Chaplin and his friends, for performing the simple and neighborly act of aiding two young men to escape from the horrible bondage of chattel slavery. But he lived to see the day when those slaves, if living, were not only free, but enfranchised men, and those masters, stripped of all control over them and of their own rights of citizenship, were dependent upon the generosity of the nation for even the privilege of life.

Source:  Wilson, Henry, History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, Vol. 2.  Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1872, 80-82.


CHAPMAN, Maria Weston, 1806-1885, educator, writer, newspaper editor, prominent abolitionist leader, reformer.  Advocate of immediate, uncompensated emancipation.  Editor of the anti-slavery newspaper The Liberty Bell.  Also helped to edit William Lloyd Garrison’s newspaper, the Liberator.  Co-founded and edited the National Anti-Slavery Standard.  Leader and founder of the Boston Female Anti-Slavery Society (BFASS), which she founded and organized with twelve other women, including three of her sisters.  The Society worked to educate Boston’s African American community and to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia.  In 1840, Chapman was elected to the executive committee of the American Anti-Slavery Society.  She was Councillor of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society from 1841-1865.  Her husband was prominent abolitionist Henry Grafton Chapman.

(Dumond, 1961, p. 273; Filler, 1960, pp. 55, 76, 129, 143, 184; Mabee, 1970, pp. 62, 68, 72, 80, 105, 249, 259, 274; Pease, 1965, pp. xliv-l, li, lii, lxx, 205-212; Rodriguez, 2007, pp. 199, 367, 402; Van Broekhoven, 2002, pp. 97, 119, 123, 135, 137, 173, 185, 190-191, 206-208; Weston, “How Can I Help Abolish Slavery?, or Councels to the Newly Converted,” New York, 1855; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I, p. 581; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 2, Pt. 2, pp. 19-20; American Reformers: An H.W. Wilson Biographical Dictionary, New York, 1985, pp. 163-164; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 4, p. 710; The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. II. New York: James T. White, 1892, p. 315)


CHAPMAN, Maria Weston, reformer, b. in Weymouth, Mass., in 1806; d. there in 1885. She was a daughter of Warren Weston, of Weymouth. After being educated in her native town and in England, she was principal of the newly established Young ladies' high-school in Boston in 1829-'30. She was married in 1830, and in 1834 became an active abolitionist. Her husband died in 1842, and in 1848 she went to Paris, France, where she aided the anti-slavery cause with her pen. She returned to this country in 1856, and in 1877 published the autobiography of her intimate friend, Harriet Martineau.  Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I. pp. 581. 


CHAPMAN, Mary G., abolitionist leader, Boston Female Anti-Slavery Society (BFASS).

(Yellin, 1994)


CHASE, Salmon Portland, 1808-1873, statesman, Governor of Ohio, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, 1864-1873, abolitionist, member, Liberty Party, Free Soil Party, Anti-Slavery Republican Party.  “A slave is a person held, as property, by legalized force, against natural right.” – Chase.


“The constitution found slavery, and left it, a state institution—the creature and dependant of state law—wholly local in its existence and character.  It did not make it a national institution… Why, then, fellow-citizens, are we now appealing to you?...Why is it that the whole nation is moved, as with a mighty wind, by the discussion of the questions involved in the great issue now made up between liberty and slavery?  It is, fellow citizens—and we beg you to mark this—it is because slavery has overleaped its prescribed limits and usurped the control of the national government.  We ask you to acquaint yourselves fully with the details and particulars belonging to the topics which we have briefly touched, and we do not doubt that you will concur with us in believing that the honor, the welfare, the safety of our country imperiously require the absolute and unqualified divorce of the government from slavery.”

“Having resolved on my political course, I devoted all the time and means I could command to the work of spreading the principles and building up the organization of the party of constitutional freedom then inaugurated.  Sometimes, indeed, all I could do seemed insignificant, while the labors I had to perform, the demands upon my very limited resources by necessary contributions, taxed severely all my ability… It seems to me now, on looking back, that I could not help working if I would, and that I was just as really called in the course of Providence to my labors for human freedom as ever any other laborer in the great field of the world was called to his appointed work.”

(Blue, 2005, pp. 19, 30, 34, 61, 70-73, 76-78, 84, 123, 124, 177, 178, 209, 220, 225, 226, 228, 247, 248, 259; Dumond, 1961; Filler, 1960, pp. 142, 176, 187, 197-198, 229, 246; Mitchell, 2007, pp. 4-5, 8-9, 23, 24, 25, 27, 29, 33-36, 61-64, 67, 68, 70-72, 76, 87, 89, 94, 118, 129, 136, 156, 165, 166, 168-169, 177, 187, 191, 193, 195-196, 224, 228, 248; Pease, 1965, pp. 384-394; Rodriguez, 2007, pp. 46, 56, 58, 136, 173, 298, 353-354, 421, 655-656; Wilson, 1872, pp. 167-173; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I, pp. 585-588; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 2, Pt. 2, p. 34; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 4, p. 739; Hart, Albert Bushnell, Salmon Portland Chase, 1899)


Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

CHASE, Salmon Portland, statesman, b, in Cornish, N. H., 13 Jan., 1808; d. in New York city, 7 May, 1873. He was named for his uncle, Salmon, who died in Portland, and he used to say that he was his uncle's monument. He was a descendant in the ninth generation of Thomas Chase, of Chesham, England, and in the sixth of Aquila Chase, who came from England and settled in Newbury, Mass., about 1640. Salmon Portland was the eighth of the eleven children of Ithamar Chase and his wife Jannette Ralston, who was of Scottish blood. He was born in the house built by his grandfather, which still stands overlooking Connecticut river and in the afternoon shadow of Ascutney mountain. Of his father's seven brothers, three were lawyers, Dudley becoming a U. S. senator; two were physicians; Philander became a bishop of the Protestant Episcopal church; and one, like his father, was a farmer. His earliest teacher was Daniel Breck, afterward a jurist in Kentucky. When the boy was eight years old his parents removed to Keene, where his mother had inherited a little property. This was invested in a glass-factory; but a revision of the tariff, by which the duty on glass was lowered, ruined the business, and soon afterward the father died. Salmon was sent to school at Windsor, and made considerable progress in Latin and Greek. In 1820 his uncle, the bishop of Ohio, offered to take him into his family, and the boy set out in the spring, with his brother and the afterward famous Henry R. Schoolcraft, to make the journey to what was then considered the distant west. They were taken from Buffalo to Cleveland by the “Walk-in-the-Water,” the first steamboat on the great lakes. He spent three years in Worthington and Cincinnati with his uncle, who attended to his education personally till he went to England in 1823, when the boy returned home, the next year entered Dartmouth as a junior, and was graduated in 1826. He at once established a classical school for boys in Washington, D. C., which he conducted with success, at the same time studying law with William Wirt. Mr. Chase gave much of his leisure to light literature, and a poem that was addressed by him to Mr. Wirt's daughters was printed and is still extant. In 1830, having completed his studies, he closed the school, was admitted to the bar in Washington, and settled in Cincinnati, where he soon obtained a large practice. In politics he did not identify himself with either of the great parties; but on one point he was clear from the first: he was unalterably opposed to slavery, and in this sentiment he was confirmed by witnessing the destruction of the “Philanthropist” office by a pro-slavery mob in 1836. In 1837 he defended a fugitive slave woman, claimed under the law of 1793, and took the highest ground against the constitutionality of that law. One of the oldest lawyers in the court-room was heard to remark concerning him: “There is a promising young man who has just ruined himself.” In 1837 Mr. Chase also defended his friend James G. Birney in a suit for harboring a negro slave, and in 1838 he reviewed with great severity a report of the judiciary committee of the state senate, refusing trial by jury to slaves, and in a second suit defended Mr. Birney. When it became evident, after the brief administration of Harrison was over and that of Tyler begun, that no more effective opposition to the encroachments of slavery was to be expected from the Whig than from the Democratic party, a Liberty party was organized in Ohio in December, 1841, and Mr. Chase was foremost among its founders. The address, which was written by Mr. Chase, contained these passages, clearly setting forth the issues of a mighty struggle that was to continue for twenty-five years and be closed only by a bloody war: “The constitution found slavery, and left it, a state institution—the creature and dependant of state law—wholly local in its existence and character. It did not make it a national institution. . . . Why, then, fellow-citizens, are we now appealing to you? . . . Why is it that the whole nation is moved, as with a mighty wind, by the discussion of the questions involved in the great issue now made up between liberty and slavery? It is, fellow-citizens—and we beg you to mark this—it is because slavery has overleaped its prescribed limits and usurped the control of the national government. We ask you to acquaint yourselves fully with the details and particulars belonging to the topics which we have briefly touched, and we do not doubt that you will concur with us in believing that the honor, the welfare, the safety of our country imperiously require the absolute and unqualified divorce of the government from slavery.” Writing of this late in life Mr. Chase said: “Having resolved on my political course, I devoted all the time and means I could command to the work of spreading the principles and building up the organization of the party of constitutional freedom then inaugurated. Sometimes, indeed, all I could do seemed insignificant, while the labors I had to perform, and the demands upon my very limited resources by necessary contributions, taxed severely all my ability. . . . It seems to me now, on looking back, that I could not help working if I would, and that I was just as really called in the course of Providence to my labors for human freedom as ever any other laborer in the great field of the world was called to his appointed work.” Mr. Chase acted as counsel for so many blacks who were claimed as fugitives that he was at length called by Kentuckians the “attorney-general for runaway negroes,” and the colored people of Cincinnati presented him with a silver pitcher “for his various public services in behalf of the oppressed.” One of his most noted cases was the defence of John Van Zandt (the original of John Van Trompe in “Uncle Tom's Cabin”) in 1842, who was prosecuted for harboring fugitive slaves because he had overtaken a party of them on the road and given them a ride in his wagon. In the final hearing, 1846, William H. Seward was associated with Mr. Chase, neither of them receiving any compensation. 

When the Liberty party, in a national convention held in Buffalo, N.Y., in 1843, nominated James G. Birney for president, the platform was almost entirely the composition of Mr. Chase. But he vigorously opposed the resolution, offered by John Pierpont, declaring that the fugitive-slave-law clause of the constitution was not binding in conscience, but might be mentally excepted in any oath to support the constitution. In 1840 the Liberty party had cast but one in 360 of the entire popular vote of the country. In 1844 it cast one in forty, and caused the defeat of Mr. Clay. The free-soil convention that met in Buffalo in 1848 and nominated Martin Van Buren for president, with Charles Francis Adams for vice-president, was presided over by Mr. Chase. This time the party cast one in nine of the whole number of votes. In February, 1849, the Democrats and the free-soilers in the Ohio legislature formed a coalition, one result of which was the election of Mr. Chase to the U. S. senate. Agreeing with the Democracy of Ohio, which, by resolution in convention, had declared slavery to be an evil, he supported its state policy and nominees, but declared that he would desert it if it deserted the anti-slavery position. In the senate, 26 and 27 March, 1850, he made a notable speech against the so-called “compromise measures,” which included the fugitive-slave law, and offered several amendments, all of which were voted down. When the Democratic convention at Baltimore nominated Franklin Pierce for president in 1852, and approved of the compromise acts of 1850, Senator Chase dissolved his connection with the Democratic party in Ohio. At this time he addressed a letter to Hon. Benjamin F. Butler, of New York, suggesting and vindicating the idea of an independent democracy. He made a platform, which was substantially that adopted at the Pittsburg convention, in the same year. He continued his support to the independent democrats until the Kansas-Nebraska bill came up, when he vigorously opposed the repeal of the Missouri compromise, wrote an appeal to the people against it, and made the first elaborate exposure of its character. His persistent attacks upon it in the senate thoroughly roused the north, and are admitted to have influenced in a remarkable degree the subsequent struggle. During his senatorial career Mr. Chase also advocated economy in the national finances, a Pacific railroad by the shortest and best route, the homestead law (which was intended to develop the northern territories), and cheap postage, and held that the national treasury should defray the expense of providing for safe navigation of the lakes, as well as of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. 

In 1855 he was elected governor of Ohio by the opponents of the Pierce administration. His inaugural address recommended single districts for legislative representation, annual instead of biennial sessions of the legislature, and an extended educational system. Soon after his inauguration occurred the Garner tragedy, so called, in which a fugitive slave mother, near Cincinnati, attempted to kill all of her children, and did kill one, to prevent them from being borne back to slave-life in Kentucky. This and other slave-hunts in Ohio so roused and increased the anti-slavery sentiment in that place that Gov. Chase was re-nominated by acclamation, and was re-elected by a small majority, though the American or know-nothing party had a candidate in the field. In the national Republican convention, held at Chicago in 1860, the vote on the first ballot stood: Seward, 173½; Lincoln, 102; Cameron, 50½; Chase, 49. On the third ballot Mr. Lincoln lacked but four of the number necessary to nominate, and these were given by Mr. Chase's friends before the result was declared. When Mr. Lincoln was inaugurated president, 4 March, 1861, he made Gov. Chase secretary of the treasury. The difficulty that he was immediately called upon to grapple with is thus described by Mr. Greeley: “When he accepted the office of secretary of the treasury the finances were already in chaos; the current revenue being inadequate, even in the absence of all expenditure or preparation for war, his predecessor (Cobb, of Georgia) having attempted to borrow $10,000,000, in October, 1860, and obtained only $7,022,000—the bidders to whom the balance was awarded choosing to forfeit their initial deposit rather than take and pay for their bonds. Thenceforth he had tided over, till his resignation, by selling treasury notes, payable a year from date, at 6 to 12 per cent. discount; and when, after he had retired from the scene, Gen. Dix, who succeeded him in Mr. Buchanan's cabinet, attempted (February, 1861) to borrow a small sum on twenty-year bonds at 6 per cent., he was obliged to sell those bonds at an average discount of 9½ per cent. Hence, of Mr. Chase's first loan of $8,000,000, for which bids were opened (2 April) ten days before Beauregard first fired on Fort Sumter, the offerings ranged from 5 to 10 per cent. discount; and only $3,099,000 were tendered at or under 6 per cent. discount—he, in the face of a vehement clamor, declining all bids at higher rates of discount than 6 per cent., and placing soon afterward the balance of the $8,000,000 in two-year treasury notes at par or a fraction over.” When the secretary went to New York for his first loan, the London “Times” declared that he had “coerced $50,000,000 from the banks, but would not fare so well at the London Exchange.” Three years later it said “the hundredth part of Mr. Chase's embarrassments would tax Mr. Gladstone's ingenuity to the utmost, and set the [British] public mind in a ferment of excitement.” In his conference with the bankers the secretary said he hoped they would be able to take the loans on such terms as could be admitted. “If you can not,” said he, “I shall go back to Washington and issue notes for circulation; for it is certain that the war must go on until the rebellion is put down, if we have to put out paper until it takes a thousand dollars to buy a breakfast.” At this time the amount of coin in circulation in the country was estimated at $210,000,000; and it soon became evident that this was insufficient for carrying on the war. The banks could not sell the bonds for coin, and could not meet their obligations in coin, and on 27 Dec., 1861, they agreed to suspend specie payment at the close of the year. In his first report, submitted on the 9th of that month, Sec. Chase recommended retrenchment of expenses wherever possible, confiscation of the property of those in arms against the government, an increase of duties and of the tax on spirits, and a national currency, with a system of national banking associations. This last recommendation was carried out in the issue of “greenbacks,” which were made a legal tender for everything but customs duties, and the establishment of the national banking law. His management of the finances of the government during the first three years of the great war has received nothing but the highest praise. He resigned the secretaryship on 30 June, 1864, and was succeeded a few days later by William P. Fessenden. On 6 Dec., 1864, President Lincoln nominated him to be chief justice of the United States, to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Roger B. Taney, and the nomination was immediately confirmed by the senate. In this office he presided at the impeachment trial of President Johnson in 1868. In that year his name was frequently mentioned in connection with the Democratic nomination for the presidency, and in answer to a letter from the chairman of the democratic national committee he wrote: 

“For more than a quarter of a century I have been, in my political views and sentiments, a Democrat, and I still think that upon questions of finance, commerce, and administration generally, the old Democratic principles afford the best guidance. What separated me in former times from both parties was the depth and positiveness of my convictions on the slavery question. On that question I thought the Democratic party failed to make a just application of Democratic principles, and regarded myself as more democratic than the Democrats. In 1849 I was elected to the senate by the united votes of the old-line Democrats and independent Democrats, and subsequently made earnest efforts to bring about a union of all Democrats on the ground of the limitation of slavery to the states in which it then existed, and non-intervention in these states by congress. Had that union been effected, it is my firm belief that the country would have escaped the late civil war and all its evils. I never favored interference by congress with slavery, but as a war measure Mr. Lincoln's proclamation of emancipation had my hearty assent, and I united, as a member of his administration, in the pledge made to maintain the freedom of the enfranchised people. I have been, and am, in favor of so much of the reconstruction policy of congress as based the re-organization of the state governments of the south upon universal suffrage. I think that President Johnson was right in regarding the southern states, except Virginia and Tennessee, as being, at the close of the war, without governments which the U.S. government could properly recognize—without governors, judges, legislators, or other state functionaries; but wrong in limiting, by his reconstruction proclamations, the right of suffrage to whites, and only such whites as had the qualification he required. On the other hand, it seemed to me, congress was right in not limiting, by its reconstruction acts, the right of suffrage to the whites; but wrong in the exclusion from suffrage of certain classes of citizens, and of all unable to take a prescribed retrospective oath, and wrong also in the establishment of arbitrary military governments for the states, and in authorizing military commissions for the trial of civilians in time of peace. There should have been as little military government as possible; no military commissions, no classes excluded from suffrage, and no oath except one of faithful obedience and support to the constitution and laws, and sincere attachment to the constitutional government of the United States. I am glad to know that many intelligent southern Democrats agree with me in these views, and are willing to accept universal suffrage and universal amnesty as the basis of reconstruction and restoration. They see that the shortest way to revive prosperity, possible only with contented industry, is universal suffrage now, and universal amnesty, with removal of all disabilities, as speedily as possible through the action of the state and national governments. I have long been a believer in the wisdom and justice of securing the right of suffrage to all citizens by state constitutions and legislation. It is the best guarantee of the stability of institutions, and the prosperity of communities. My views on this subject were well known when the Democrats elected me to the senate in 1849. I have now answered your letter as I think I ought to answer it. I beg you to believe me—for I say it in all sincerity—that I do not desire the office of president, nor a nomination for it. Nor do I know that, with my views and convictions, I am a suitable candidate for any party. Of that my countrymen must judge.” 

Judge Chase subsequently prepared a declaration of principles, embodying the ideas of his letter, and submitted it to those Democrats who desired his nomination, as a platform in that event. But this was not adopted by the convention, and the plan to nominate him, if there was such a plan, failed. In June, 1870, he suffered an attack of paralysis, and from that time till his death he was an invalid. As in the case of President Lincoln and Sec. Stanton, his integrity was shown by the fact that, though he had been a member of the administration when the government was spending millions of dollars a day, he died comparatively poor. His remains were buried in Washington; but in October, 1886, were removed, with appropriate ceremony, to Cincinnati, Ohio, and deposited in Spring Grove cemetery near that city. Besides his reports and decisions, Mr. Chase published a compilation of the statutes of Ohio, with annotations and an historical sketch (3 vols., Cincinnati, 1832). See “Life and Public Services of Salmon Portland Chase,” by J. W. Schuckers (New York, 1874). Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I. pp. 585-588.


Chapter: “John Quincy Adams. - William H. Seward. - Salmon P. Chase,” by Henry Wilson, in History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, 1872.

In the formation of the Liberty party Mr. Chase had taken an active part. From his pen were issued its platform and address, which have been regarded as the clearest and most discriminating papers of the struggle, upon the constitutional limits, provisions, and obligations concerning slavery and the slave States. This party, basing its action on moral grounds, the pioneer of all subsequent organizations which have been formed for the purpose of resisting slavery by political action, received nowhere else a more enthusiastic support: The nonresistant and non-voting policy found few adherents in Ohio; and the principle of meeting a political evil by political action encountered few who denied its soundness and necessity. 

Under these circumstances, and with the fruits of those years of earnest toil, the election of 1848 resulted in a vote of thirty-five thousand for the Free Soil candidate for the Presidency, and in the choice of a legislature in which the friends of freedom held the balance of power. The Senate was equally divided between the Whigs and the Democrats. In the House there were thirty-four Whigs and thirty-four Democrats, and two members elected, in opposition to both parties, as Free Soilers. Several Democrats and Whigs were elected, however, by the aid of Free Soil votes, or by the union of Free Soilers with Whigs or Democrats. The legislature, thus chosen, had nearly the whole appointing power of the State. A United States Senator was to be elected, two judges of the Supreme Court were to be chosen, and a large number of less important offices were to be filled. The existence of what were familiarly termed the “black laws” had been made the subject of discussion during the canvass; the Democrats generally defending them, a majority perhaps of the Whigs desiring a modification, and the Free-Soilers demanding their unconditional repeal. Such was the composition of that legislature, and such was the work to be accomplished. It was the purpose of the friends of human rights to use their power in such a manner as would best inure to the interests of freedom. The results amply vindicated the fidelity and sagacity of their course. Without ignoring the overruling hand of Providence in what secured such large results by numbers so insignificant, from means so seemingly inadequate, and in spite of agencies which threatened defeat, instead of triumph, there are revealed in, this election and its immediate results striking illustrations of what may be achieved by a brave and persistent adherence to principle and a wise use of even the most inconsiderable means.

Soon after the organization of the legislature, the Free Soil members, including Townsend and Morse, the two independent members, and eleven who had been elected by the union of Free Soil and Whig votes, held a caucus. At that meeting a motion was made that each member should attend all the subsequent meetings of the Free Soil caucus, and pledge himself to support its decisions in regard to all matters likely to come up for legislative action. The eleven supported the motion;  but the two, recognizing their paramount obligations to use their legislative powers only as fealty to freedom and their constituents demanded, refused to support the motion or to give the pledge. This refusal incensed their associates, who declared them to be no longer members of the Free Soil party of the House.

The meeting broke up without accomplishing the purpose for which it was called, and to the evident discomfiture of the Free Soil Whigs. The two independent members thereupon informed their Whig associates that, if they were not permitted to attend their meetings, they should constitute themselves the Independent Free Soil party of the legislature. This position gave them great power with both parties, and no doubt furnishes the key to the extraordinary results which two men, in a legislative body of one hundred and six members, were enabled to accomplish.

Holding the balance of power, they naturally became objects of solitude and electioneering effort with both Whigs and Democrats; the Whigs having the advantage, in that several of their members had been elected by the aid of Free Soil votes. The political objects of special interest and effort at that time were the election of a United States Senator, the proposed action in respect to the "black laws," and the election of judges of the Supreme Court. Of these objects the Democrats were specially solicitous concerning the election of judges, as there existed an impression that the question concerning election districts, in which they were particularly interested, might be brought before them for adjudication; the Free Soil members making it a condition precedent of their co-operation with any party that the “black laws " should be repealed.

The greatest triumph, however, of that remarkable election was found in the repeal of the “black laws," which disgraced the statute-book of the State, and which had been the objects of the special hostility of antislavery men, though they had found earnest Democratic defenders in the previous canvass.  

These laws required the colored people to give bonds for good behavior as a condition of residence, excluded them from the schools, denied them the right of testifying in courts of justice when a white man was party on either side, and subjected them to other unjust and degrading disabilities. As Mr. Chase had been an avowed opposer of these inhuman statutes, they very properly selected him as their adviser, and requested him to draught a proper bill. This he did by preparing one that would secure substantially their object, but at the same time excite as little as possible the hostility of members who had at heart small sympathy with the purpose in ,view. Aiming to make the most of the favorable conjunction of circumstances, he incorporated into the proposed bill provisions which the most hopeful hardly expected to be enacted. He was sanguine, however, the Free Soil members were resolute, and the circumstances propitious. It was submitted to the examination and criticism of the Democrats, who unexpectedly accepted it and agreed to support it. How much the considerations they were expecting or had exacted from the Free Soil members had to do with their decision, and how much their indignation at the recent election of General Taylor, a Southern slaveholder, over their Democratic candidate, and their consequent relief from the responsibility for a national administration may never be known. It is sufficient for this purpose to record their assent to its provisions, and its adoption in the House by a large majority. In the Senate it was referred to a committee, who modified it somewhat, and it was then passed. The House concurred, and the bill became a law. Thus, by this wise use of the power their position gave them, was a humane and just law enacted, somewhat, indeed, in advance of the popular sentiment and moral convictions of the people, and yet, being enacted, it was not likely to be reversed, while the very struggle needful to enact it and its presence on the statute-book tended to educate the popular mind and to lift it up to the plane on which it rested. It relieved the colored people from all their most onerous disabilities, gave them entrance into schools, and awakened hopes of the future which have been far more than realized. 

No question, however, of all that occupied and agitated public attention at that time excited deeper interest than that of the United States senatorship. The antislavery men were specially anxious to have a representative in the Senate, where the Slave Power had so long wielded an almost unquestioned sway, and where so few voices had ever been raised for freedom. Thomas Morris had spoken ably. In him Ohio had found a voice potential in behalf of human rights. Otherwise she had shared in the general recreancy, and had been either silent or had spoken at the behest of slavery. There was, indeed, John P. Hale, the Abolition Senator from New Hampshire, --strangely as those words sounded, -- that long-time stronghold of the Northern slavery-bestrode Democracy. But he was treated with contumely, and maintained his ground only by his talent and tact, by his unfailing wit and his unbounded good-humor.

Most earnestly, therefore, did the antislavery men, not only of Ohio but of the North, desire that advantage should be taken of this fortunate conjunction of affairs to select and send to the Senate some worthy coadjutor of the eloquent representative of the Granite State. The thoughts of many, perhaps most, of the friends of humanity and equal rights were instinctively turned to Joshua R. Giddings, who had for years maintained an unequal contest with the champions of aggression in the lower house of Congress. His incorruptible integrity, his stern and sturdy independence, his unflinching advocacy of the unpopular cause, pointed to him as the proper person to be selected for that high office, not only for the service to be performed, but for the honor richly deserved.

There were four candidates. The Democrats had selected William Allen; the Whigs, Thomas Ewing; and the two Free Soilers were divided in their choice between Mr. Giddings and Mr. Chase. Mr. Allen was not only proslavery in sentiment, but his views were extreme and violent. Mr. Ewing was of Southern birth, and though not antislavery in his opinions he was opposed to the extension of the peculiar institution. Mr. Giddings was an antislavery Whig. Mr. Chase, though Democratic in principle and sympathy, was not a member of the Democratic Party. He was decidedly antislavery in sentiment and action, and had rendered essential service to the cause of human rights.

In this state of the principal parties, it being understood that the Free Soil members would not give them their votes, it became evident that neither the Whigs nor the Democrats could elect their candidates. Nor could both of the Free Soil members be gratified with the choice of theirs. Some compromise must be effected. The Whigs, in order to defeat the election of the Democratic candidate, and, on the part of the antislavery portion, for the purpose of carrying out their views, were ready to substitute for Mr. Ewing some person of more pronounced antislavery sentiments. The two Free Soil members had agreed that either should vote for the candidate of the other whenever there should be a prospect of his election. The Whigs were ready, and most of them were anxious, with the exception of two members, to vote for Mr. Giddings. As, however, none of the Democrats would vote for him, and as the two recusant members obstinately refused to yield, after three unsuccessful ballotings his name was withdrawn. The Democrats, for the purpose of defeating the Whig candidate, and with the understanding that the Free Soil members would support their candidates for judges of the Supreme Court, having substituted the name of Hon. Rufus P. Spaulding, afterward Republican Representative in Congress, for that of Judge Read, whom they could not consistently support, expressed a willingness to cast their votes for Mr. Chase. By this arrangement he was elected on the fourth ballot. When the vote was announced, an enthusiastic antislavery man in the galleries exclaimed, "Thank God!"  to which were many answering responses wherever Mr. Chase was known, not only on account of the service he had already rendered, but for the confident expectation cherished of  the large additions of strength and prestige he would bring to the struggling cause on the wider and more conspicuous theatre of the United States Senate.

Many, however, were greatly disappointed that the choice did not fall on Mr. Giddings. Indeed, some of his friends felt that he had been deprived of a position to which, by his longer and more self-sacrificing service, he was fairly entitled. The cause, however, was evidently the gainer by the decision which was finally reached; for, from that time onward, freedom had two potent advocates in the councils ·of the nation, instead of one; both, too, occupying in their respective spheres positions to which each seemed best adapted, and in which each rendered yeoman's service, for which the slave and the slave's friends should ever hold them in grateful remembrance.

Source:  Wilson, Henry, History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, Vol. 2.  Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1872, 167-173.


CHEEVER, George Barrell, 1807-1890, Salem, MA, clergyman, author, reformer, abolitionist.  Advocate for African American citizenship and education.  Manager, American Anti-Slavery Society (AASS), 1835-1837. 

(Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I, p. 597; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 2, Pt. 2, p. 48)


Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

CHEEVER, George Barrell, clergyman and author, b. in Hallowell, Me., 17 April, 1807. He was the son of Nathaniel Cheever, who removed from Salem, Mass., to Hallowell and established the “American Advocate,” was graduated at Bowdoin in 1825, at Andover seminary in 1830, and was ordained pastor of Howard street Congregational church, Boston, in 1832. While at Andover and Salem he contributed prose and verse to the “North American Review,” “Biblical Repository,” and other periodicals. Engaging in the Unitarian controversy, he wrote a “Defence of the Orthodoxy of Cudworth,” and, espousing the temperance cause, published in a Salem newspaper in 1835 an allegory entitled “Inquire at Deacon Giles's Distillery.” The friends of the deacon made a riotous attack on Mr. Cheever, and he was tried for libel and imprisoned thirty days. Resigning his pastorate, he went to Europe, contributed letters to the “New York Observer,” and on his return in 1839 took charge of the Allen street Presbyterian church, New York city. He delivered lectures on the “Pilgrim's Progress,” and on “Hierarchical Despotism,” the latter being in answer to a discourse of Bishop Hughes. In 1843, in three public debates with J. L. O'Sullivan, he argued for capital punishment. He was in Europe in 1844 as corresponding editor of the New York “Evangelist,” of which he was principal editor after his return in 1845. From 1846 until he retired in 1870 he was pastor of the Church of the Puritans, which was organized for him, in New York, and was distinguished as a preacher for his rigorous and forcible application of orthodox principles to questions of practical moment, such as the Dred Scott decision, the banishment of the Bible from the public schools, the operation of railroads on Sundays, the war with Mexico, intemperance, and slavery. On retiring from the pulpit, Dr. Cheever gave his house in New York to the American board of commissioners for foreign missions and the American missionary association, to be held jointly, and fixed his residence at Englewood, N. J. He contributed much to the “Independent” and the “Bibliotheca Sacra.” Among his publications are “Commonplace Book of Prose” (Cooperstown, 1828); “Studies in Poetry” (Boston, 1830); an edition of the “Select Works of Archbishop Leighton” (1832); “Commonplace Book of Poetry” (Philadelphia, 1839); “God's Hand in America” (New York, 1841); “Lectures on Hierarchical Despotism”; “Lectures on the ‘Pilgrim's Progress’” (1844); “Wanderings of a Pilgrim in Switzerland” (1845-'6); “Defence of Capital Punishment” (1846); with J. E. Sweetser, “Christian Melodies, a Selection of Hymns and Tunes”; “Poets of America” (Hartford, 1847); “The Hill of Difficulty” (1847); “Journal of the Pilgrims, Plymouth, New England, 1620,” reprinted from the original volumes, with illustrations (1848); “Punishment by Death, its Authority and Expediency” (1849); “Windings of the River of the Water of Life” (New York, 1849); “The Voice of Nature to her Foster-Child, the Soul of Man” (1852); “Powers of the World to Come” (1853); “Thoughts for the Afflicted”; “The Right of the Bible in our Public Schools” (1854); “Lectures on the Life, Genius, and Insanity of Cowper” (1856); “God against Slavery, and the Freedom and Duty of the Pulpit to Rebuke it” (1857); “Guilt of Slavery and Crime of Slaveholding” (1860). Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I. pp. 597.


CHENEY, Abigail, New Hampshire, abolitionist.  Wife of abolitionist Moses Cheney.  Conductor on the Underground Railroad. 

(Cheney, 1907)


CHENEY, Ednah Dow Littlehale, 1824-1904, abolitionist, women’s rights activist.

(American Reformers: An H.W. Wilson Biographical Dictionary, New York, 1985, pp. 164-165; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 4, p. 777)


CHENEY, Moses, 1793-1875, New Hampshire, abolitionist, printer, state legislator from New Hampshire.  Cheney printed the abolitionist newspaper, The Morning Star, a Free Will Baptist newspaper.  He was a conductor on the Underground Railroad and an associate of African American abolitionist Frederick Douglass.  Husband of Abigail Cheney. 

(Cheney, 1907)


CHENEY, Oren B., 1816-1903, Maine, Free Will Baptist clergyman, state legislator in Maine, educator, newspaper editor, abolitionist.  Editor of The Morning Star.  Founder and President of Bates College.  Conductor on the Underground Railroad for seven years.  Son of abolitionists Moses and Abigail Cheney. 

(Cheney, 1907)


CHENEY, Person Colby, 1828-1901, Manchester, New Hampshire, statesman, Union Army officer, diplomat, abolitionist, businessman, paper manufacturer, Republican politician.  Cheney was the 35th Governor of New Hampshire 1875-1877, U.S. Senator 1886-1887.  His parents were abolitionists Moses and Abigail Cheney. 

(Cheney, 1907; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 2, Pt. 2, p. 54)


CHILD, David Lee, 1794-1874, Boston, Massachusetts, abolitionist, author, journalist.  Leader, manager, 1833-1840, and founding member of the American Anti-Slavery Society, December 1833.  Child served as a manager and a member of the Executive Committee of the AASS, 1840-1843, Vice-President, Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society, 1835-1836.  Published The Despotism of Freedom—or The Tyranny and Cruelty of American Republican Slaveholders.  Co-editor with his wife, Lydia, of The Anti-Slavery Standard

(Dumond, 1961, p. 269; Mabee, 1970, pp. 193, 327; Rodriguez, 2007, pp. 42, 398, 399; Abolitionist, Vol. I, No. XII, December, 1833; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I, pp. 603-604; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 2, Pt. 2, p. 65; American Reformers: An H.W. Wilson Biographical Dictionary, New York, 1985, pp. 165-166; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 4, p. 804; The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. II. New York: James T. White, 1892, p. 324)


CHILD, David Lee, journalist, b. in West Boylston, Mass., 8 July, 1794; d. in Wayland, Mass., 18 Sept., 1874. He was graduated at Harvard in 1817, and was for some time sub-master of the Boston Latin-school. He was secretary of legation in Lisbon about 1820, and subsequently fought in Spain, “defending what he considered the cause of freedom against her French invaders.” Returning to this country in 1824, he began in 1825 to study law with his uncle, Tyler Bigelow, in Watertown, Mass., and was admitted to the bar. He went to Belgium in 1836 to study the beet-sugar industry, and afterward received a silver medal for the first manufacture of the sugar in this country. He edited the “Massachusetts Journal,” about 1830, and while a member of the legislature denounced the annexation of Texas, afterward publishing a pamphlet on the subject, entitled “Naboth's Vineyard.” He was an early member of the anti-slavery society, and in 1832 addressed a series of letters on slavery and the slave-trade to Edward S. Abdy, an English philanthropist. He also published ten articles on the same subject (Philadelphia, 1836). During a visit to Paris in 1837 he addressed an elaborate memoir to the Société pour l'abolition d'esclavage, and sent a paper on the same subject to the editor of the “Eclectic Review” in London. John Quincy Adams was much indebted to Mr. Child's facts and arguments in the speeches that he delivered in congress on the Texan question. With his wife he edited the “Anti-Slavery Standard” in New York in 1843-'44. He was distinguished for the independence of his character, and the boldness with which he denounced social wrongs and abuses. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I. pp. 603-604.


CHILD, Lydia Maria Francis, 1802-1880, author, reformer, abolitionist, member Boston Female Anti-Slavery Society.  Wrote for the Liberty Bell.  Executive Committee, American Anti-Slavery Society.  Prolific writer and ardent abolitionist.  In 1840’s, edited National Anti-Slavery Standard newspaper.  Child published: Appeal in Favor of That Class of Americans Called Africans (1833), Romance of the Republic (1867), Authentic Accounts of American Slavery (1835), The Evils of Slavery, and the Cure of Slavery (1836), Anti-Slavery Catechism (1836), The Right Way, the Safe Way, Proved by Emancipation in the British West Indies and Elsewhere (1860), Freedmen’s Book (1865), and articles “The Patriarchal Institution” and “The Duty of Disobedience to the Fugitive Slave Law,” (1860), and edited Harriet Ann Jacobs’ Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861). 

(Drake, 1950, pp. 117, 176; Dumond, 1961, pp. 273, 281; Karcher, 1994; Mabee, 1970, pp. 37, 70, 108, 193, 320, 325, 359, 360; Meltzer, 1992; Meltzer & Holland, 1982; Nathan, 1991, p. 131; Pease, 1965, pp. 86-91; Rodriguez, 2007, pp. 44, 199, 221-222, 398, 399, 519; Van Broekhoven, 2002, pp. 97-98, 113-114, 185; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I, pp. 603-604; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 2, Pt. 2, p. 67; American Reformers: An H.W. Wilson Biographical Dictionary, New York, 1985, pp. 167-170; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 4, p. 806; The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. II. New York: James T. White, 1892, pp. 324-325)


CHILD, Lydia Maria, author, b. in Medford, Mass., 11 Feb., 1802; d. in Wayland, Mass., 20 Oct., 1880, was descended from Richard Francis, who came from England and settled in Cambridge in 1636. Miss Francis attended the common schools, and studied with her brother, Rev. Convers Francis, D. D., afterward professor in the divinity-school at Cambridge. When seventeen years of age she chanced to read an article in the “North American Review,” discussing the field offered to the novelist by early New England history. Although she had never thought of becoming an author, she immediately wrote the first chapter of a novel entitled “Hobomok,” and, encouraged by her brother's commendation, finished it in six weeks, and published it (Cambridge, 1821). From this time until her death she wrote continually. She had taught for one year in a seminary in Medford, Mass., and kept a private school in Watertown, Mass., from 1824 till 1828, when she was married. She began, in 1826, the publication of the “Juvenile Miscellany,” the first monthly periodical for children issued in the United States, and supervised it for eight years. In 1831 both Mr. and Mrs. Child became deeply interested in the subject of slavery, through the writings and the personal influence of William Lloyd Garrison. Mrs. Child's “Appeal for that Class of Americans called African” (Boston, 1833) was the first anti-slavery work printed in America in book-form, and was followed by several smaller works on the same subject. The “Appeal” attracted much attention, and Dr. Channing, who attributed to it part of his interest in the slavery question, walked from Boston to Roxbury to thank Mrs. Child for the book. She had to endure social ostracism, but from this time was a conspicuous champion of anti-slavery. On the establishment by the American anti-slavery society of the “National Anti-Slavery Standard” in New York city, in 1840, she became its editor, and conducted it till 1843, when her husband took the place of editor-in-chief, and she acted as his assistant till May, 1844. During her stay in New York, Mrs. Child was an inmate of the family of Isaac T. Hopper, the Quaker philanthropist. After leaving New York, Mr. and Mrs. Child settled in Wayland, Mass., where they spent the rest of their life. In 1859 Mrs. Child wrote a letter of sympathy to John Brown, then a prisoner at Harper's Ferry, offering her services as a nurse, and enclosing the letter in one to Gov. Wise. Brown replied, declining her offer, but asking her to aid his family, which she did. She also received a letter of courteous rebuke from Gov. Wise, and a singular epistle from the wife of Senator Mason, author of the fugitive slave law, threatening her with future damnation. She replied to both in her best vein, and the whole series of letters was published in pamphlet-form (Boston, 1860), and had a circulation of 300,000. Mrs. Child's anti-slavery writings contributed in no slight degree to the formation of public sentiment on the subject. During her later years she contributed freely to aid the national soldiers in the civil war, and afterward to help the freedmen. Wendell Phillips, in his address at Mrs. Child's funeral, thus delineated her character: “She was the kind of woman one would choose to represent woman's entrance into broader life. Modest, womanly, sincere, solid, real, loyal, to be trusted, equal to affairs, and yet above them; a companion with the password of every science and all literature.” Mrs. Child's numerous books, published during a period of half a century, include, besides the works already mentioned, “The Rebels, or Boston before the Revolution,” a novel containing an imaginary speech of James Otis, and a sermon by Whitefield, both of which were received by many people as genuine (Boston, 1822); “The First Settlers of New England” (1829); “The American Frugal Housewife,” a book of kitchen economy and directions (1829; 33d ed., 1855); “The Mother's Book,” “The Girl's Own Book,” and the “Coronal,” a collection of verses (1831); “The Ladies' Family Library,” a series of biographies (5 vols., 1832-'5); “Philothea,” a romance of Greece in the days of Pericles (1835); “Letters from New York,” written to the Boston “Courier” (2 vols., 1843-'5); “Flowers for Children” (3 vols., 1844-'6); “Fact and Fiction” (1846); “The Power of Kindness” (Philadelphia, 1851); “Isaac T. Hopper, a True Life” (1853); “The Progress of Religious Ideas through Successive Ages,” an ambitious work, showing great diligence, but containing much that is inaccurate (3 vols., New York, 1855); “Autumnal Leaves” (1856); “Looking Toward Sunset” (1864); the “Freedman's Book” (1865); “Miria, a Romance of the Republic” (1867); and “Aspirations of the World” (1878). A volume of Mrs. Child's letters, with an introduction by John G. Whittier and an appendix by Wendell Phillips, was published after her death (Boston, 1882). Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I. pp. 603-604. 



Chapter: “Workings of the Fugitive Slave Act,” by Henry Wilson, in History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, 1872.

But results like these were far from being common. The general rule was that the fugitive and his friends were over borne by superior force. He was remanded to slavery by courts in sympathy with the oppressor, while they were mulcted in fines and not unfrequently imprisoned themselves. On the llth of September, 1851, a case occurred in which, though the fugitive escaped and the pursuer fell, the friends of the former suffered for their simple purpose to help the pursued and to prevent the effusion of blood. On that day, Edward Gorsuch of Maryland, his son, a party of friends, and a United States officer, bearing the warrant of Commissioner Ingraham of Philadelphia, went to Christiana, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, in pursuit of a slave, believed to be his own son. They approached the house of William Parker, a colored man, demanded the slave, and fired two shots at the house. An alarm was given, the neighborhood aroused, and several armed colored men were soon upon the ground. Castner Hanway and Elijah Lewis, of the Society of Friends, coming to the spot, endeavored to preserve the peace by persuading both parties to disperse. The deputy-marshal ordered them to join his posse; but they urged him to withdraw his men for their own safety. Persisting in his attempt, Gorsuch and two of his party fired on the colored men, who re turned the shot, killing Gorsuch himself -and his son, and putting the rest of the party to flight. While the bloody work was in progress, the fugitive escaped.

The intelligence of this conflict created an intense excitement. A party of marines was ordered to the scene of conflict, houses were visited, and several were arrested, among whom were the two Friends, whose only offence was a too earnest endeavor to prevent the effusion of blood. The prisoners were taken to Philadelphia, committed on charge of treason, and the grand jury found indictments against them for that crime.

The trial of Castner Hanway commenced on the 24th of November, before Justice Grier, of the Supreme Court, and was continued more than ten days. District-Attorney Ashmead was assisted by the district-attorney of Maryland, and by Mr. Cooper, detailed on behalf of that State. Mr. Hanway was defended by Hon. John M. Read, Thaddeus Stevens, Joseph S. Lewis, and Theodore Cuyler. To Mr. Read was assigned the leading part, and his argument was one of great learning and of masterly power. Judge Grier saw that the indictment for treason against the peaceful Quakers, whose only offences were an earnest attempt to prevent bloodshed by persuading both parties to disperse, and a peremptory refusal to join the assailants, could not be sustained. His charge to the jury was so clear that they acquitted the prisoners within ten minutes after leaving their seats. The district-attorney declined to put the other parties on trial.

Source:  Wilson, Henry, History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, Vol. 2.  Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1872, 328-329.


CHRISTIANCY, Isaac Peckham, 1812-1890, Johnstown, New York, lawyer, jurist, soldier, newspaper editor, U.S. Senator, diplomat. 

(Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I; Dictionary of American Biography, Vol. 2, pt. 2, pp. 96-97)


Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

CHRISTIANCY, Isaac Peckham, senator, b. in Johnstown (now Bleecker), N. Y., 12 March, 1812. He was educated at the academies of Kingsborough and Ovid, N. Y., and when thirteen years old became the main support of his father's family. After teaching school he studied law with John Maynard till 1836, when he removed to Monroe, Mich., and, on the completion of his law studies, was admitted to the bar. He was prosecuting attorney for Monroe county from 1841 till 1846, and in 1848 was a delegate to the Buffalo free-soil convention, having left the democratic party on the question of slavery. He was a member of the state senate from 1850 till 1852, and in the latter year was the free-soil candidate for governor. He was one of the founders of the republican party in Michigan, and was a delegate to its first national convention in Philadelphia in 1856. He purchased the Monroe “Commercial” in 1857, and became its editor, and in the same year was an unsuccessful candidate for U. S. senator. He was elected a judge of the State supreme court in 1857, re-elected in 1865 and 1873, both times without opposition, and became chief justice in January, 1872. He was elected U. S. senator in 1875, and, resigning in February, 1879, on account of ill health, was sent as minister to Peru, where he remained for two years. During the civil war Judge Christiancy was for a time on the staff of Gen. Custer and that of Gen. A. A. Humphreys. His judicial opinions, which are to be found in the “Michigan Reports” from volumes 5 to 31, inclusive, contain the best work of his life. Appletons’ Cylcopædia of American Biography, 1888, Vol
. I.



Chapter: “Influence of Christian Churches and Associations,” by Henry Wilson, in History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, 1878.

The South, at the opening of the Rebellion, was far from being a unit on the subject of secession. It is indeed claimed that the majority was opposed to that extreme measure, and were only dragooned into it by the violence and skilful management of their leaders. Of the means employed, strangely as it may sound, were earnest appeals to the Christian churches, and an adroit use of the pulpit and religious press. We have the testimony of Dr. R. L. Stanton, a Southern clergyman and late professor in the Theological Seminary of the Presbyterian Church in Danville, Kentucky, in an elaborate work, entitled "The Church and the Rebellion," that these were among the most active and potential forces which precipitated and made inevitable that fearful revolt. Alluding to the great speech of Alexander H. Stephens dissuading his fellow-citizens from going into the Rebellion, he said : "While the foremost statesman of the South was thus truthfully portraying before the Georgia legislature the blessings of the Union and the great prosperity and good of every kind, to every part of the country, resulting from the action of the general government, the leading clergymen of the South, in that very month of November, were, from the pulpit and the press, striving to bring that government into contempt in the eyes of all men, and were exhorting to treason and rebellion against it, braving defiantly all the horrors of war."

The severity of this arraignment, unequivocal and strong as is its language, is less, and less damaging than is the record he adduces of those ministers and churches against whom he prefers accusations so severe and sweeping. Charging Dr. James H. Thornwell of South Carolina, — the leading Presbyterian clergyman of the South, who for his ability and devotion to slavery was called the "Calhoun of the Church,"—with being largely responsible "for bringing the Church" to indorse and aid the Rebellion, he gives, among other evidences, extracts from a Fast-Day discourse preached fifteen days after Mr. Lincoln's election. In it Dr. Thornwell speaks of the Union as "on the verge of dissolution" because of this triumph of the Republicans. Among the grave charges he prefers against "the non-slaveholding States" was that "they have been reluctant to open the Territories to the introduction of slaves, and have refused to restore fugitives to their masters." Alluding to the possibility that they might be obliged to vindicate their claims to the institution by war, and that "our path to victory may be through the baptism of blood," he welcomed the conflict, assuring his hearers that they would love their State " the more tenderly and the more intensely the more bitterly she suffers." Subsequently, soon after the ordinance of secession, in an elaborate article for a religious quarterly, so highly esteemed by the leaders that several editions were published and scattered broadcast over the South, he spoke of secession as " not only a right, but a bounden duty." "The triumph of the principles which Mr. Lincoln is pledged to carry out," he said, "is the death-knell of slavery…. Let us crush the serpent in the egg…. We prefer peace, but if war must come, we are prepared to meet it with unshaken confidence in the God of battles." At a public ratification meeting in Columbia of the doings of the Charleston convention, five clergymen addressed the assemblage, of whom three were professors of the theological seminary of that city, including Dr. Thornwell.

In the same search for proof Dr. Stanton brings forward the more signal example of Dr. Palmer, a distinguished Presbyterian clergyman of New Orleans. He prefaced his reference with an allusion to the strong Union sentiments which prevailed in that city at the outset of the Rebellion, and to the ill-success of Mr. Toombs and other Southern leaders in creating enthusiasm in their cause until they had conferred with Dr. Palmer and secured his powerful co-operation. In a Thanks giving discourse he not only enunciated the baldest treason, but vindicated slavery as a system approved of God and worthy of the sacrifices that war demands. Alluding to "the triumph of a sectional majority," "the probable doom of our once happy and united confederacy," and "the juncture so solemn as the present," and saying that he represented "a class which seeks to ascertain its duty in the light simply of conscience and religion," and that "the question which now places us upon the brink of revolution is, in its origin, a question of morals and religion," he said, "whoever may have influence to shape public opinion at such a time must lend it, or prove faithless to a trust as solemn as any to be accounted for at the bar of God." He, too, welcomed war, if need be, "to preserve and transmit our existing system of domestic servitude." To his large personal and professional influence was added all that his fervid rhetoric and impassioned eloquence could bring to his determined purpose to "fire the Southern heart" and persuade his fellow-citizens to hate their government and trample on its world-honored flag. Indeed, no cause could be so high and holy as to demand or justify greater devotion and self-sacrifice than he bespoke for the slaveholding Rebellion. "I am impelled," he said, "to deepen the sentiment of resistance in the Southern mind, and to strengthen the current now flowing toward a union of the South in defence of her chartered rights. It is a duty which I shall not be called to repeat, for such awful junctures do not occur twice in a century…. The position of the South is at this moment sublime. If she has grace given her to know her hour, she will save herself, the country, and the world. .... But I warn my countrymen, the historic moment, once passed, never returns,"

All this, however, was but typical, and these were but representative men. Every Southern State and every denomination furnished many such, seemingly emulous of each other in their mad attempts to desecrate the Church and destroy their country. "Other ministers of every denomination all over the South," says Dr. Stanton, "joined in urging on the Rebellion, and some of the more distinguished of them were as early in the work as those we have mentioned." And after the Rebellion had culminated in civil war, the clergy gave it all the moral aid and support within their power. From the pulpit and press, in public meetings, and by the utterances of religious bodies, they furnished essential help to keep up the waning courage and hopes of those who were fighting the battles of the Confederacy. In the spring of 1863 all the leading religious bodies of the South united in "an address to Christians throughout the world," in which they say: "The recent Proclamation of the President of the United States, seeking the emancipation of the slaves of the South, is in our judgment occasion of solemn protest on the part of the people of God."

And this helpfulness was not only claimed by them, but unequivocally admitted by others. Dr. Palmer, after New Orleans was occupied by the national forces, went on a mission to the Rebel army in Northern Mississippi and harangued the troops at various points, and one of the generals in command gave it as his opinion that "his services were worth more to the Rebel cause than a soldiery of ten thousand men," A general in the Rebel army sent a communication to the " Southern Presbyterian," in which he affirmed that "this revolution has been accomplished mainly by the churches"; that without their agency "the enterprise would have been a failure." "Let the Church know this," he added, "and realize her strength. She should not now abandon her own grand creation." The editor, while indorsing his correspondent's assertion, adds: "Much as is due to many of our gifted and sagacious politicians, they could effect nothing until they received the moral support and co-operation of Southern Christians."

This is an amazing record, and these are astounding facts. They seem incredible, and can be believed only on the most irrefragable testimony; and all the more because they are but typical and representative, the legitimate outcome of agencies long at work, the fruit of seed long sown. That the aid of a religion which had for its author the Prince of Peace should be invoked for such a war, waged for such an avowed purpose, and carried on in such a way; that a gospel whose underlying idea and dominating principle were declared to be good-will to man should have been claimed by its friends and professors as not only permitting but demanding the support of a system at war with every requirement of the Decalogue; and that the Church, founded on the Rock of Ages, should become the "Bulwark of American Slavery," passes comprehension, and may well tax credulity and justify skepticism.

Yet this testimony is not other or different, though perhaps more specific and pronounced, than much that had previously been borne concerning the Southern churches, and their attitude towards slavery and its adjuncts charged upon them by their censors, and recognized as true by their own claims and admissions. For years there had been a growing defection from the faith of the fathers, and increasing success in moulding their belief into conformity with their determination to hold on to the system. They felt the necessity of shaping their avowed sentiments to their open and persistent practice, and they succeeded in wiping out the shocking inconsistency of branding slavery as a monstrous evil, in pulpit and press, by ecclesiastical "deliverances" and books of discipline, and yet resisting all attempts to remove or even modify what they had so severely censured. Thus, in 1853, the Presbyterian Synod of Mississippi entered upon its minutes an obituary notice of one of its deceased members who had, twenty years before, been one of the first to teach the doctrines that "the Bible did not forbid the holding of slaves, and that it was tolerated in the primitive Church, — doctrines now received as true both North and South, and which constitute the basis of action of the most respectable religious bodies even in the North itself." "These teachings of Scriptures which he had "found," the Synod says in another part of the paper, "were greatly at variance with the popular belief "; and so he was held in greater honor for his boldness and courage in promulgating the new gospel.

These, then, seem to be the facts. During the first years of the Republic the Church had shared in the general conviction of the fathers that the system of slavery was wrong, and its presence an evil, but an entailed and irremediable evil. Not, however, being responsible for its existence, and hopeless of its removal, its members felt themselves to be guilty only of such improper treatment as they might subject their slaves to; on the same principle, and no other, that obtained in their relations to their children and other dependants. They professed, too, to find some compensation for the evils of slavery in the humanizing influence of the system, by which they made themselves believe that it became a "blessing in disguise," transferring the inhabitants of Africa, even though by the rough handling of the slave-trade and "the middle passage," from their native land to the civilization of Christian America. But that fallacious, though specious argument failed to satisfy thinking and candid minds, who were not long in coming to the conclusion that if this were all which could be said in favor of the system, they must relinquish both the argument and the system. But, not prepared to yield the system, they preferred to accommodate their theories to their practice, and they drifted into the idea that slavery was not an evil, but the normal condition of an inferior race. Christianity, they contended, exhausted its requirements when it secured kind treatment to the slaves and proper provision for their physical necessities and religious instruction.

In considering the process or mode by which this change or defection was brought about, it is to be noted that the impulse proceeded rather from the upper than the lower stratum of society. It was no apostasy of the common people that afforded the leaders even the quasi apology of being obliged to conform to the popular sentiment in extenuation of their course. It was the latter who led, and the former who, not without misgivings, followed. This influence of the leaders was developed and exerted in two ways, — by the associated action of representative bodies, and through the authority of names. Contributing largely to this result was the course of the clergy. Their avowal and indorsement of these new doctrines led the way for their general adoption. Had they remained faithful, it can hardly be doubted that the churches would have heeded their instructions. Had these exponents of the gospel and leaders of public opinion remained loyal to truth and justice, rightly interpreted the text-book of their faith, and employed their powers and influence in opposition to and not in defence of slavery, the nation and the world would have been spared the sad result. The members at large of these churches, busily engaged in their various pursuits and pleasures, with little time or taste for the study of religious or ethical subjects, and always exposed to the strong temptation of interest and the pressure of popular opinion, looked to their pastors and the class they represented for counsel and guidance. Their own instincts and plain common-sense saw the matter, no doubt, as the fathers saw it, and would have thought of nothing other or worse than that slavery was a sin, which, like any other sin condemned by God's word, must be eschewed by everyone who took the Bible as his rule of faith and practice. But when the leaders faltered, there was naturally hesitation among the followers; when the standard-bearers wavered, it was to be expected that there would be uncertainty and demoralization in the ranks. On this point Dr. Stanton expresses the opinion that the general Southern mind was led to abjure its former sentiments and adopt the so called "corner-stone "faith" by its clergymen in the pulpit and through the press."

Whether or not this opinion be correct, — and certainly Dr. Stanton had ample means for forming a correct judgment, — there are abundant reasons for the belief that the leading clergy, North and South, did exert a most pernicious influence upon the common mind of the Church and country in regard to slavery, and the duties of American citizens concerning it. When trusted leaders and recognized expounders of God's Word indorsed slavery as one of God's "ordained" agencies for the mutual benefit of superior and inferior races, being not only not an "evil," but a good, recognized in the Scripture and provided for in the providential arrangement of society, there surely can be little wonder that the common people, if they did not hear them gladly, were greatly influenced by such teachings from such teachers.

Dr. Thornwell of South Carolina said that " the relation betwixt the slave and his master was not inconsistent with the Word of God." This, he said, "we have long since settled. We cherish the institution, not from avarice, but from principle.'''' " Must we give up what we conscientiously believe to be the truth? The thing is absurd." Dr. Ross of Alabama published a work entitled "Slavery Ordained of God," classing the system in "the same category as those of husband and wife, parent and child." Dr. Smythe of Charleston said: “The war now carried on by the North is a war against slavery, and is, therefore, treasonable rebellion against the Constitution of the United States, and against the Word, providence, and government of God." Is there wonder that the people who listened to such teachings from such men, and whose interests and preferment were thought to be so closely interwoven with the perpetuation of the system of servitude, should have permitted their own views to become sensibly modified and changed thereby?

Less outspoken, perhaps, but hardly more equivocal, were Northern utterances. Said Bishop Hopkins of Vermont: "The slavery of the negro race, as maintained in the Southern States, appears to me fully authorized both in the Old and New Testaments, which, as the written Word of God, afford the only infallible standard of moral rights and obligations." Dr. Seabury of New York said he could see "no reason why the relation of master and servant should not have existed in a state of innocence [in Paradise] as well as that of husband and wife, parent and child." Reviewing the book in which the above sentiment is contained, the "True Presbyterian" said of slavery: "There is no debasement in it. It might have existed in Paradise, and may continue through the Millennium." Dr. Adams, who occupied both a prominent pulpit and leading positions on the American Board of Foreign Missions and on the publishing committee of the American Tract Society, in his "South Side View of Slavery," said: "The gospel is to slavery what the growing of clover is to sorrel. Religion in the masters destroys everything in slavery which makes it obnoxious; and not only so, it converts the relation of the slave into an effectual means of happiness The conviction forced itself on my mind at the South, that the most disastrous event to the colored people would be their emancipation, to live on the same soil with the whites Instead of regarding the South as holding their fellow-men in cruel bondage, let us consider whether we may not think of them as the guardians, educators, and saviors of the African race in this country." He spoke deprecatingly of the laws that prevented Southern masters from bringing their slaves to the North, and said that "we must put a stop to the unlawful seizures of colored servants passing with their masters through the Free States." Alluding to the case of Philemon and Onesimus, he sneeringly remarked: "True, the disciples had not enjoyed the light which the Declaration of American Independence shed on the subject of human rights." This was his mode of expressing contempt for the self-evident truths of the Declaration. Rufus Choate, his great parishioner, achieved a similar though not very enviable pre-eminence by calling the same great truths "glittering generalities," the passionate utterances of a revolutionary manifesto. That a leading clergyman could say all this and still retain his position and prestige among the prominent men and the commanding influences of Northern churches, was both a sign and cause of the widespread defection and demoralization of the churches.

During this educating process, as it was an important part of the same. President Fisk, of the Methodist University in Connecticut, wrote to Professor Moses Stuart, of Andover Theological Seminary, "with the avowed purpose of eliciting his views for publication. In this letter of inquiries, he expressed his own sentiments, affirming that the "general rule of Christianity not only permits, but in supposable cases enjoins, a continuance of the master's authority." He also asserted that "the New Testament enjoins obedience upon the slave, as an obligation due to present rightful authority." Professor Stuart, who has been styled "the father of biblical criticism in America," responded in the same vein, indorsing his correspondent's sentiments, declaring that "the precepts of the New Testament respecting the demeanor of slaves and of their masters, beyond all question, recognize the existence of slavery," and referring at the same time to Paul's sending Onesimus to Philemon as proof and illustration of the latter's rightful claim upon the former.

Similar assertions and admissions were made by leading clergymen in connection with the numerous discussions and debates that arose during, and which constituted a part of, the irrepressible conflict, that not only distressed the avowed friends of freedom, gave aid and comfort to the enemy, but greatly strengthened those who were seeking, or at least were willing to find, excuses for not adopting or adhering to the requirements and prohibitions of the great law of equity, in its practical application to the doctrine of human equality. Thus, in the great antislavery debates which took place in the American Board of Foreign Missions on the question of ab solving that institution from all further complicity with slavery. Dr. Tyler, president of a theological seminary in Connecticut, said that "the Apostles admitted slaveholders to the Church, and for this Board to decide against it would be to impeach the Apostles." Dr. Leonard Bacon contended that the Board ought to make a distinction between slavery and slaveholding, — a difference (he deemed) extremely obvious. "The master does not make the man a slave," he said; "but the laws and constitution of society." Dr. Edward Beecher, then of Boston, who had so distinguished himself in the earlier days of antislavery agitation in Illinois, and who bore himself so bravely when Lovejoy was murdered, when and where to be an Abolitionist exposed him to rougher usage than that of words, felt constrained so far to yield to the pressure of the hour as to be found acting with the apologists rather than with the opposers of slavery. He said that "masters and slaves existed in primitive churches, and it was allowed by Christ and his Apostles. Slavery is an organic sin, made by law, and therefore not dealt with as other sins."

Another illustration of the manner in which the authority of names was made to inure to slavery and its defences was afforded by the manner in which Mr. Webster's 7th of March speech was received by a portion of the leading men at the North. In that speech Mr. Webster had coupled his condemnation of Abolitionism with the most unsparing denunciation of the Abolitionists. Hardly confining himself to courtly phrase or parliamentary language, he poured the vials of unmeasured condemnation upon those whose only offence was that they sought to convince their countrymen of the guilt, danger, and duty, involved in American slavery. The professors of Harvard College and Andover Theological Seminary headed a paper, on which there were the names of many leading members and ministers of New England churches, thanking him with fulsome flattery for the speech; while scores of clergymen preached and published discourses defending the Fugitive Slave Act and counselling submission to its inhuman behests. Professor Stuart prepared an elaborate defence of Mr. Webster, his speech, and the compromise measures, in a pamphlet of some one hundred and twenty pages, entitled "Conscience and the Constitution." In that defence, writing of the Fugitive Slave Act, he declared that "it must be obeyed," and that it was "useless to talk about conscience in setting it aside."

Of the power of associated influence in securing this downward tendency, the representative bodies of the different denominations and the great benevolent and missionary organizations afforded signal illustrations. Two or three examples will sufficiently indicate and illustrate both the fact and mode of this unhappy result. The Presbyterian Church embraced very largely in its ranks the more serious, thoughtful, and cultivated portions of the Middle and Southern States. Its creed, too, was the stern theology of the Calvinistic school, — that faith which has received the high commendation of Hume and Bancroft, though neither accepted it as his own, that to it England owed, more than to any other cause, her principles of civil and religious liberty. A church composed of such materials, with such a creed, could not well rest under the bald inconsistency of having on its Book of Discipline the emphatic declaration that they were "men -stealers," who bought, sold, or held slaves, and yet retain in its communion thousands and tens of thousands who still persisted in that very thing. Its members, too, as others, were brought to con front the alternative of mending their practice or changing their creed and bringing it into nearer conformity to that practice. They chose the latter alternative, and in 1816 deliberately erased the condemnatory words from their Book of Discipline. They had not, however, fallen to the level the denomination subsequently reached. They were too near the days of the Revolution, with its self-evident truths; they had still too much simplicity of faith. As they read the charter of their religious belief and hopes, they still saw too clearly the wide discrepancy between the code of the gospel and the code of slavery to use mild words concerning the barbarous and unchristian system. The gross inconsistency of retaining such damaging admissions against a system they were still determined to cling to could no longer be allowed, though they were not prepared to entirely discard the traditional policy of using hard words concerning the system of human chattelhood. They therefore narrowed the space between profession and practice, though, for a communion which intended to persist in slaveholding, their language was still strangely inconsistent.

In their testimony of 1818, though moderate as compared with the utterances of 1794, the Presbyterians still characterized slavery "as a gross violation of the most sacred rights of human nature, as utterly inconsistent with the law of God, .... as totally irreconcilable with the spirit and principles of the gospel of Christ." It acknowledged it to be the duty of Christians "to efface this blot on our holy religion and obtain the complete abolition of slavery throughout Christendom." It closes with the solemn assertion "that the manifest violation or disregard of the injunction here given in its true spirit and intention ought to be considered just ground for the discipline and censure of the church."

This act of 1818 was never repealed. It simply stood a "dead letter," and the denomination never put itself so much in the right as to escape these words, designed to be words of commendation, from the "Southern Presbyterian Review," one of the ablest and most intense exponents of Southern, opinion: "The action of 1818 still stands upon her records, not as a law, but the history of the subject; and Southern Presbyterians are well content it should so stand." The purport and significance of this language cannot well be misapprehended, admitting and applauding, as it does, this change of sentiment. The Synod of Kentucky declared in 1834 that cases occurred in its communion "where professors of the religion of mercy have torn the mother from the children and sent her into a merciless and returnless exile. Yet acts of discipline have rarely followed such conduct." Mr. Birney, long a resident in Kentucky, declared that cases of discipline never occurred. Even Mr. Barnes himself testified, in 1856, that " in neither branch of the Presbyterian Church, perhaps in almost no other church in the land, could such resolutions now be carried unanimously, or carried at all, without solemn protests and warnings against the exciting and disorganizing tendencies of such doctrines."

In 1838 occurred the disruption of the Presbyterian Church, by which it was divided into what were termed the Old School and New School. In the subsequent policy of the two assemblies, while much more favor was shown to antislavery action in the New School than in the Old School, in neither was slaveholding made a bar to church membership, nor was it ever made a subject of discipline. Indeed, at the meeting of 1846, as the two assemblies were sitting in the same city, the New School extended an invitation to the Old School to celebrate the Lord's Supper together, notwithstanding the open and decided proslavery action of the latter, — so open and pronounced as to receive the damaging commendation of the "Southern Presbyterian Review," that the Old School Presbyterian Church "has had the wisdom given her to understand the progress of events and to keep fully abreast of the age." By this language it was meant that it had outlived the antislavery utterance of 1818, and was ready to denounce as gratuitous and fanatical what was then adopted with so much consideration and unanimity. In the general policy, receiving this Southern indorsement, was the action of the Old School Assembly in 1845, when, among other resolutions, it resolved that "the petitions that ask the Assembly to make the holding of slaves in itself a matter of discipline virtually do require this judicatory to dissolve itself," beside "tending to the dissolution of the union of our beloved country." This sentiment was more bluntly expressed by one, who said that "the two strongest hoops which held the Union together were the Democratic party and the Old School Presbyterian Church."

Tending in the same direction and contributing to the same result, was the policy of the great benevolent and missionary associations. Formed to execute the Saviour's great commission, its "on earth peace, good-will to men," it was deemed by the antislavery leaders but a legitimate part of their self-assumed work to lend their influence and aid to undo the "heavy burdens" of American slavery and to "let the oppressed go free," — at least, to bear their testimony and affix the brand of " sin " on the accursed system. Societies formed for the publication of religious works — like the Tract Societies, American Sunday School Union, and Methodist Board of Publication—had carefully expunged, at Southern dictation, from the books published all condemnatory allusions to the sin of slavery. Even the American Bible Society had betrayed its sympathies with the oppressor, rather than with his victim, by retaining slaveholders on its list of recognized officials, and looking with extreme coldness and aversion upon proffers made to circulate the Scriptures among slaves. The American Home Missionary Society was besieged for years, but never with complete success, with petitions to withhold appropriations from slaveholding churches.

The most notable contest, however, was with the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. The form of its complicity was threefold, — having slaveholders among its members, and receiving contributions from such; employing a slaveholder as a missionary; and permitting members of churches among the Indian missions to hold slaves, and its missionaries to employ slaves. For years, memorials were sent to it praying that it would change its policy and relieve the holy cause from the deserved imputation of thus sanctioning this great wrong and of extending the hand of Christian fellowship to those implicated therein. While it repeatedly affirmed that "the Board can sustain no relation to slavery which implies approbation of the system," it nevertheless refused to take the action prayed for, or such as squarely committed itself to the cause of freedom as against that of oppression; though it subsequently disconnected itself from the Indian missions where slavery existed, by assenting to their transfer to the Board of the Presbyterian Church.

Other modes of influence were resorted to, less worthy and less in keeping with the pretensions of those called by the Christian name and professedly relying upon the power of truth and the grace of God. Among them was a kind of personal odium, social ostracism, and sometimes ecclesiastical censure, which with some were more potent than argument, and with all hard to bear and difficult to parry or meet. Less violent and noisy than a Tammany mob; more decorous than the surging crowd, led or urged on by "gentlemen of property and standing," which dragged Mr. Garrison through the streets of Boston; less violent in speech than were some members of Congress, lawyers, and merchants of cities, it was not seldom that ministers and members of churches exhibited an opposition and hostility equally acrimonious and determined. Indeed, some of the heaviest blows and hardest to be borne fell from consecrated hands, and were aimed by the "brethren" who professed the same or a "like precious faith." Unhappily, the evidence is far too abundant for the parallel, exhibiting the opposition of those days from men who did and men who did not belong to churches, in which it was hard to see that a Christian profession did much to either modify or mollify the hard censures of the tongue and pen, or the acts that emphasized and embodied the unconcealed bitterness and rancor of the feelings.

Lewis Tappan experienced the opposition from outside of the Church in the sacking of his house by a New York mob; from the inside, when, proposing to make a donation to the American Bible Society for the circulation of the Scriptures among the slaves, he was treated with the utmost rudeness and discourtesy by the directors, though he himself was one. It was thought a presumptuous demand of the Virginia legislature when it requested the legislatures of Northern States " to adopt such penal enactments as will effectually suppress all associations having the character of Abolition societies"; and yet Dr. Leonard Woods, Jr., a distinguished Congregational clergyman, president of a college and editor of a review, said in its pages:"Abolitionists are justly liable to the highest civil penalties and ecclesiastical censure." In what has the latter the advantage over the former? Governor Everett incurred great odium because, in transmitting the Virginia resolutions to the Massachusetts legislature, he expressed the opinion that Abolition measures might "be prosecuted as a misdemeanor at common law." How much worse was that opinion than a vote of the Methodist General Conference censuring two of its members for simply lecturing "in favor of modern Abolitionism"?

Such were some of the modes by which this mournful decadence and defection were produced. It could not, however, have been effected without great internal struggles, misgivings, and trials of feeling. The change was too radical, — the fall too great. Nevertheless, it was effected. Reluctantly but gradually, slowly, but surely, did men succumb to the pressure, yielding one point after another, until the utterances of the fathers were disowned by the sons, and the sentiments of one generation were discarded by another. Indeed, the deterioration had proceeded so far that a Presbyterian clergy man, thirty years ago, could vauntingly proclaim, as if it carried with it no dishonor: "If slavery be a sin, and advertising and apprehending slaves with a view to restore them to their masters is a direct violation of the Divine law, and if the buying and selling and holding a slave for the sake of gain is a heinous sin and scandal, then verily three fourths of all the Episcopalians, Baptists, Methodists, and Presbyterians in eleven States of the Union are of the Devil. They hold, if they do not buy and sell, slaves, and (with few exceptions) they hesitate not to apprehend and restore runaway slaves when in their power." This testimony is conclusive of the Church South. The Church North had not deteriorated to that extent, nor had it descended so low; but the hand of ecclesiastical fellowship extended by Northern churches to their brethren of the South, and the fraternal feeling accompanying it, indicated the prevailing tone of thought among the leaders and too largely among the members.

Of this general attitude of the American Church towards slavery during the closing years of its existence and power, there is on record abundant and incontrovertible evidence. In 1850 there was held in Cincinnati a large and imposing Christian antislavery convention of the leading denominations of the country. To its call were appended two thousand names, and its sessions continued four days. In that call was contained the following testimony and comments: "A large body of American professors, influential from their numbers, wealth, and social rank, have deliberately chosen and publicly declared their position. They enshrine slaveholding in the Church, and cherish and defend it as a practice agreeable to the spirit of the gospel We believe the influence of the Church to be so great that no earthly power can destroy this sin while, as now, it finds countenance and protection among the professed people of God." In the Address it is said: "Alas for the American Church! The sufferer she neglects is the victim her own sons have robbed and lacerated and left bleeding at her feet. Six hundred thousand living witnesses can testify to this fact, — six hundred thousand slaves held in bondage by American church-members, 'in good and regular standing,' without hindrance or rebuke. America may be truly called the land of Christian barbarity. The chattel system, with all the inseparable cruelties that belong to it, receives the sanction and fellowship of the American Church and her sacred ministry." Later, and but a few years before the Rebellion, Albert Barnes bore this suggestive testimony: "Let the time come, when in all the mighty denominations of Christians it can be announced that the evil is ceased with them forever; and let the voice of each denomination be lifted in kind but firm and solemn testimony against the system, with no mealy words, with no attempt at apology, with no wish to blink it, and no effort to throw the sacred shield of religion over so great an evil, and the work is done. There is no public sentiment in the land, there can be none created, that would resist the power of such a testimony. There is no power out of the Church that could sustain slavery an hour if it were not sustained in it."

Of the Episcopal Church, John Jay, an honored member, said: "She has not merely remained a mute and careless spectator of this great conflict of truth and justice with hypocrisy and cruelty, but her very priests and deacons may be seen ministering at the altar of slavery, offering their talents and influence at its unholy shrine, and openly repeating the awful blasphemy that the precepts of our Saviour sanction the system of American slavery." Of the Northern clergy he added that they "rebuke it neither in public nor in private."

Denominationally there was no great difference; nor is there much to choose as we follow the leading sects from the high moral ground and Christian position held, at least in theory, at the beginning of the government, through the successive steps of their mournful decadence. Substantially, all, with few exceptions, shared in the defection and joined the great apostasy. Sectionally, as was natural, the Southern churches were more pronounced in their adhesion to the new doctrines of the extreme proslavery school; though, as seen by the testimonies already quoted, the majority of Northern churches still retained their ecclesiastical connection with them, modified their opinions and utterances, as they were compelled to do, and accommodated their ethics to the new position assumed by their slaveholding brethren.

But this adhesion, though too unquestioning, was far from being unquestioned. For there were many dissentients, who entered their earnest protest against principles and practices so radically wrong and at variance with the spirit and requirements of the gospel. From the first and at the beginning of the government, many denounced the compromises of the Constitution even with all the disclaimers of those early days, and with the confident hopes that slavery was a temporary evil, soon to pass away. As the slaveholders became more arrogant, changed the language of apology to that of assertion, and substituted for the avowed expectation that slavery was to be but temporary the expressed determination that it should be perpetual, the numbers increased who rejected the new and vaunted heresy and sought in various ways to absolve themselves from the shameful complicity. It was therefore at a frightful cost that Northern churches maintained their fealty to their Southern dictators. They laid upon the altar of this devotion, as their offering, sacrifices of both denominational integrity and fraternal harmony. Rather than bear a faithful testimony against the great crime of the century, they were willing to see the ploughshare of division and disruption run through their ranks, separating friends and arraying in hostile factions those who should have remained in loving and harmonious co-operation for a common cause. It was a ruthless betrayal of principle, and a wanton sacrifice of the priceless interests of Christian unity and a consistent faith. But how came it to pass that "the Church of the Living God, the pillar and ground of the truth," the ministry, too, "set for the defence of the gospel," instead of bearing their firm, unabated testimony against the giant wrong, should have joined hands with the oppressor; instead of undoing the heavy burdens, and letting the oppressed go free, should have made them heavier, joined in the hunt for the fleeing fugitive, and counselled others to do the same? How did it happen that, instead of helping the slave, they cast the weight of their influence, moral, social, and numerical, against him; that instead of laboring to hasten the day of his deliverance, they conspired with his oppressor to make his bondage perpetual?

No full and complete answer can be given to such questionings. Beyond all human ken must exist many of the reasons which contributed to that sad and humiliating result; though there are considerations within reach it may be neither amiss nor unprofitable to note. The answer often given was that it was sheer hypocrisy that cither prompted or allowed it; that there was no sincerity in the professed faith which coexisted with a practice so inconsistent and strange. But this could not have been a correct solution. At least, it could not have been with many a matter of conscious hypocrisy. It was not because they meant to deceive that they so lamentably failed in this trial of their faith. Inconsistent and reprehensible as was their conduct in the premises, as little of the spirit of the Master as was often manifested in their course, the imputation of such hypocrisy will not satisfy the candid mind nor fully explain their position. No doubt, many were honest and thought they were doing God service. For in other departments of life they were respectable and high-minded citizens, performing its duties and accepting, at least in a general way, its responsibilities. They were circumspect and useful members of the family and of society. In them learning found advocates, virtue defenders, and the institutions of the gospel and of Christian benevolence reliable and generous supporters. They were the friends and promoters of revivals and missions, intelligent supporters of the school and college. Manifestly, theirs was not the stuff that hypocrisy is made of. They were, indeed, imperfect. They had not come up to that standard of Christian completeness which the exigencies of the situation demanded. It was a strain on their Christian principle, faith, and wisdom they could not or did not bear.

It should also be borne in mind that the subject was beset with difficulties, and that the circumstances were most unpropitious. To decide what one's duty was and to perform it were never an easy task. It seems as if fiendish ingenuity itself could go no further nor concoct a scheme more essentially diabolical than was that extorted from the framers of the Constitution by the slaveholders of South Carolina and Georgia, by which, says John Quincy Adams, "the venom of slavery was infused into the Constitution of freedom," which, he adds, was so "saturated with the infection of slavery that no fumigation could purify, no quarantine could extinguish" ; thereby "making the preservation, propagation, and perpetuation of slavery the vital and animating spirit of the national government." Indeed, so hampered and harassed has the nation been by these compromises and consequent legislation that even now, with all the light shed by the Rebellion, its known causes and consequences, it. is difficult to decide upon past questions of duty, in the premises as then existing. This, at least, is true, — many who were in the antislavery struggle, and who then thought they saw clearly the requirements of piety, patriotism, and philanthropy, now, as they comprehend more fully the situation, doubt. Political principles and apothegms which passed current then do not appear quite so clear to-day. There was no position possible in Church or State, in the Church or out of it, in a national party with its "Southern wing," in a "third party " without such "wing," or in "no party," that was without its difficulties. Each position, though free from others, had difficulties of its own. In shunning Scylla, there was always danger of falling upon Charybdis. The nation had put fetters upon itself which it could not break; the North had accepted conditions it could not with honor or safety fulfil. Nor was there help or hope, only as God interposed, and, through the madness of the national oppressors themselves, snapped asunder those cords with which the youthful giant had allowed his limbs to be bound. In that dilemma there never was any probability, hardly a possibility, of a peaceful solution of the fearful problem through moral means alone; and the agitation of a generation and its results did but prove it. War alone could strike the chains from four millions of slaves, and the nation could only expiate its heaven-defying crime in blood.

But these difficulties, however great, did not excuse wrongdoing; and Christians should have obeyed God rather than man. Even with them they should have shown fealty to that "higher law that sits enthroned above all human enactments." Certainly they did not excuse that gratuitous homage to constitutional obligations which did not really exist; that super serviceable zeal which went beyond what was written, and which characterized so many ministers and members of Northern churches, — men who volunteered defences of what even Southern statesmen condemned; of what, too, the recent Rebellion revealed to be more horrible in spirit and more disastrous in results than had ever been laid to the charge of slavery by the sternest of its opposers. For such the verdict of the future must be that of condemnation, if not of contempt.

But, while truth demands this general censure, historic justice demands the counter-statement that in the long antislavery struggle now under review ministers and members of these very churches took a prominent and leading part. It has been fashionable to couple the charge of infidelity with the mention of the Abolition effort. Nothing could be more unjust or untrue. Antislavery was the child of Christian faith. Its early and persistent defenders and supporters were men who feared God and called upon his name. Till the years 1836 and 1837 there was not even a shadow of excuse for such an imputation. Up to that time Mr. Garrison himself was depending and calling upon the churches and ministers for help; and it was not until he had been engaged nearly ten years, and had received rebuffs and bitter opposition, instead of encouragement and help, from both parties and sects, that he and his immediate followers adopted the policy they afterward pursued. But they never constituted more than a fraction of the antislavery host. The veteran William Goodell estimated their numbers at about one eighth. The large majority of Abolitionists retained their connection with both the ecclesiastical and political organizations of the land. As Christians they did not feel that it was left optional with them whether or not they should connect themselves with some form of church organization; as citizens, with the right of suffrage, they regarded it a duty to use it, a duty they should neither neglect nor ignore. Estimating aright the immense influence of these organizations, they saw clearly that it should be wielded for the slave, and not against him. And they were abundant in such labors. That they failed of accomplishing all they undertook shows rather the greatness of the task they attempted and the inveteracy of the evil they sought to remove than any special delinquency upon their part.

Could the unwritten history of this long, persistent, and varied conflict be fully and faithfully given, it would be seen that, though the majority faltered and failed, a struggling minority was never wanting to proclaim their opposition and to leave on record their earnest protest. This was shown in numberless forms of effort. From the earnest talks of neighbor with neighbor, the Fast-Day and Thanksgiving discourses and "Monthly Concert for the Oppressed" in some rural parish, to the burning utterances of Lovejoy and Cheever; from the little meeting of an individual church to the protracted and imposing discussions of the great religious assemblies, conventions, and associations of the land; from individual contributions in a congregation, withheld from some good and cherished missionary board by a few earnest and conscientious Christians, not without sore trials of feeling and many prayers, to the disruption of some national organization and the formation of a new one on the single issue of slavery and antislavery, there were always those who pressed the paramount claims of humanity, pleaded for freedom and right, and besought their respective denominations to withdraw everything like a formal recognition of Christian fellowship from all who were involved in this great wrong. But their success was small. Indeed, the story of their approaches and their results afford but a sorry record of human fallibility even with the most generous gifts and the largest pretensions; of the power of interest, passion, and prejudice over the decisions of the judgment; and the difficulty of keeping the practice of life up to the high plane of its professions.

They approached, too, the missionary boards and benevolent societies, then demanding and occupying a large share of public attention. Though membership and support were not regarded as obligatory in them as in the churches, yet those organizations were exponents of some of the grandest elements of Christian faith and hope on earth. Born of the holiest impulses and aspirations of the sanctified soul, they brought into exercise the practical workings of hearts most loving and most loyal. The generation that conceived and planned the scheme of modern missions has mostly passed away; but its Christian men and women have left abundant traces of their solemnity of thought and feeling in view of the trust, long neglected, they felt called upon to take up. These appear not only on the printed pages transmitting its record, but in the many missionary names with which they christened their children, and which bear by their daily utterance their ever present testimony to the spirit and purpose of the fathers. When, therefore, the Christian Abolitionists found that these associations — linked with such sacred memories and animating hopes, in which were garnered so many prayers and thanksgivings, in which, too, were invested so many alms — were strengthening the bonds of slavery at home, though pro fessing to break the chains of error and superstition abroad, their sorrow and alarm were great. Among the cruelties of slavery were these severe trials of feeling and faith which it cost those who loved alike the cause of freedom and of missions, as they were compelled to adjust the jarring issues it raised, to settle the questions of duty it rendered necessary, and oftentimes to sunder tics the most sacred and tender.

The answers given varied according to the different circumstances and characteristics of those who gave them. Large numbers, becoming wearied with the contest, deemed it best to form new organizations. In the Presbyterian denomination was formed "The Free Presbyterian Assembly and Synod "; in the Methodist Church, "The Wesleyan Conference," besides the split into the "Church North " and " Church South." In the Baptist denomination the disruption took place in their Board of Missions. Among the Congregationalists it resulted mainly, other denominations being involved to some extent, in the formation of the "Reform Book and Tract Society" and in the division in the American Tract Societies. But the idea of missions, especially foreign, had taken strong hold of the Christian mind; and, though thus repelled from the recognized agencies of the leading denominations, there were many who were desirous of some agency or channel through which their prayers and alms could reach some part of " the field which is the world." Accordingly, there were formed "The Committee of West India Missions,” “The Western Missionary Association," "The Amistad Committee" and the "Union Missionary Society," — the first three indicating their origin and purpose by their names; the last being composed mainly, though not entirely, of colored persons.

But these objects were special and their range was limited. They did not fully meet the desire or carry out the missionary idea, so firmly fixed in the Christian mind of that day. "The field is the world," and an organization was desired that should be restricted to no merely special object. A board was demanded uncontaminated by any contact or complicity with slavery and yet world-wide in the range of its proposed effort. Accordingly, early in 1816, a convention of "the friends of Bible missions" was held at Syracuse, New York. From its proceedings originated a call for a larger convention, which met in Albany early in the fall of the same year, at which the "American Missionary Association" was formed. Into it these smaller associations were merged. It had a home and foreign department, and maintained missions not only in this country, but in Africa, Asia, and the Sandwich Islands, with increasing receipts and evidences of use fulness. Since the abolition of slavery, not withdrawing entirely from the foreign field, it has turned its attention mainly to the education of the freedmen, and its receipts and disbursements have been largely increased.

While this separatist line of policy was pursued by numbers, those who remained within their respective communions were no less resolute in carrying out their principles, not only by their persistent antislavery demands within those denominations, but by general Christian antislavery conventions in different parts of the country, — conventions largely attended and sometimes continuing several days. These conventions and their published proceedings exerted no small influence upon the popular mind and heart. In 1859, in obedience to a call extensively circulated, a Christian convention was held in Worcester, Mass., continuing its session two days. At this meeting the "Church Antislavery Society" was formed, which did something in the same direction by its annual meetings, published proceedings, and tracts, though its range of operations was limited, and its influence was never great. Indeed, its history may be regarded as more noteworthy and instructive for what it failed to do than from any actual accomplishment, rather as a sign than a factor of the great problem it vainly sought to solve. It was the result of an earnest desire of Christian antislavery men to combine the churches of the North in some aggressive movement against an institution which, notwithstanding the agitation and discussions of a generation, was becoming every day more grasping and audacious, stronger and more successful. To accomplish this and to relieve Abolitionism of that irreligious tendency, or accompaniment, freely charged upon it, and for which the course of some of its advocates gave too much color, they proposed an association distinctively religious, on whose platform all Christians might stand, proposing their own modes of effort and drawing their weapons of assault from the armory of the gospel itself. Assuming as their postulates the inherent sinful ness of slavery, with which Christians could have no rightful complicity, they invited their brethren of every denomination to unite for the purpose of ridding themselves of all such complicity and of bringing the whole moral power of the Christian Church to secure its thorough and immediate abolition. That so few accepted this invitation and joined in the proposed effort revealed the fact that there were other reasons why the churches so generally stood aloof from the antislavery cause than the character of the men engaged in it, or their modes of action. The Rebellion soon intervening, the public attention was absorbed in the more direct and decisive operations of that terrible strife, by which the sword of battle secured in a few months what the moral warfare of a generation had so unsuccessfully endeavored to effect.

Thus through various organizations and instrumentalities were kept alive both antislavery feeling and action. Though some particular forms and phases of effort were given up or fell into disuse, though many once earnest and active became weary or recreant, there were always those who remained faithful to the cause of human rights and who in various ways and by diversified agencies doubtless did much — how much Omniscience alone can estimate — in preparing the public mind for those political movements which resulted in the formation of the Republican party, which gave so large a vote to Mr. Fremont in 1856, and which secured the election of Mr. Lincoln in 1860. The Protestant clergy and the membership of the Protestant churches in the free States aided, with few exceptions, in the election of Mr. Lincoln, gave large and generous support to his administration, earnestly demanded and vigorously sustained his policy of emancipation.

While, however, much is hidden from human view, and men can only speculate, there are some things, as has been shown, fixed as matters of historic record. Among them, as has been seen, is the humiliating fact that, while the churches of America furnished many able and earnest advocates and valiant defenders of the great doctrines of liberty, equality, fraternity, their leading men and influences (at the South entirely, at the North largely), the great organizations, ecclesiastical and missionary, the colleges and seminaries of learning, though almost exclusively under religious and even clerical control, were not thus true. In that great trial of their faith and test of their principles they faltered and failed.

This mournful history, then, has its lessons of warning and duty, which should not pass unheeded. The history of slavery and the Slave Power has been but the history of human nature. They were but the occasion of its strange developments, and not the cause, — only the symptoms, not the disease; and though the one has been destroyed and the other dethroned, the cause, the disease, still remains. Though it is to be hoped 'that nothing quite so hideous and revolting as slavery shall ever appear again on American soil, there is every reason to fear that so long as like causes remain there will be like results. In the future, as in the past, there will rankle and burn in the human heart the same passions, the same love of "power and self”; there will remain the same "saint-seducing gold " and the same "vaulting ambition"; there will be those who " fear not God nor regard man," and who mock at the "higher law"; there will live those who will join hand in hand to oppress the poor and circumvent the good; and it will still be as necessary that "the Church of the Living God" should be "the pillar and ground of the truth." The Christian ministry now, as ever, "set for the defence of the gospel," should always prove true and faithful to its high commission; and yet there is great reason to fear that there will be the same stress and strain upon the conscience, the same temptation on the part of the ministry rather to confer with flesh and blood than to "preach the preaching" that is "bid," and on the part of members the same slowness to heed the inspired direction, "Be not conformed to this world," the same forgetfulness of the divine injunction that " we should obey God rather than men." For such the history of slavery and the Slave Power is full of both instruction and warning, that can be neither wisely nor safely forgotten or ignored.

Source:  Wilson, Henry, History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, Vol. 3.  Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1878, 697-724.


CINQUE, b. circa 1800, Caw-Mendi, Africa.


CINQUE, chief of the Mendi Africans, b. in Caw-Mendi, Africa, about 1800. In the spring of 1839 he was captured by slave-traders, with a large company of his countrymen and women, and taken to Havana, Cuba. Fifty-two of them were purchased by Montes and Ruiz, two Cuban planters, and shipped for a port on the southern coast of Cuba, on the schooner “Amistad.” Cinque organized a plan for regaining the freedom of the captives, and, when four days out from Havana, gave the prearranged signal for revolt. The captain of the schooner was killed with one of his crew, and two others were wounded in the fight that followed, while the rest surrendered. The passengers and crew were treated kindly and sent ashore; but Montes and Ruiz; the nominal owners, were retained on board and given to understand that they must navigate the vessel to Africa. The Spaniards managed to steer northward by night and during foggy weather, and after a few days sighted Montauk Point, L. I., where they anchored, and were presently taken in charge by the U. S. coast survey schooner “Washington,” whose commander, Lieut. Gedney, claimed salvage for vessel and cargo, Montes and Ruiz, through the Spanish minister, claimed the Africans as their property. The whole company was sent to Farmington, Conn., where quarters were provided for them pending the decision of the courts. The philanthropists of New England took an active interest in the case, engaged Roger Sherman Baldwin and other eminent lawyers as counsel, and began energetically to educate and convert the heathen thus brought to their doors. It is noteworthy that the residents of the little village where this strange colony was planted soon outgrew their dread of the Africans, and during the months of their stay learned to regard them without apprehension. Cinque exercised a stern rule over them, and would permit no transgression. Many of them, including their chief, learned to read and write a little, and acquired some ideas of civilization. In the mean time the case came up before the U. S. district court for the state of Connecticut, the U. S. district attorney appearing on behalf of Montes and Ruiz as well as of the Spanish minister. Never before had the country been so sharply divided on a question touching slavery. All trials for violation of the law prohibiting the slave-trade had until this time been held before southern courts, and no one had been convicted. The pro-slavery party regarded with natural apprehension the result of such a trial on the soil of a free state. Mr. John Quincy Adams, who was the anti-slavery leader in the house of representatives at the time, introduced resolutions calling on the president to communicate to congress the process or authority by which these Africans, charged with no crime, were kept in custody. Further than this, it was held by the advanced anti-slavery leaders that slavery and slave-dealing constitute a perpetual war between the enslaver and the enslaved. They alleged the right of persons held as were the “‘Amistad’ captives,” not only to overpower their guards whenever they could do so, but to hold them as prisoners and the ship and cargo as their lawful prize. They held that the U. S. government had no right to interfere between the Africans and the Cuban planters, and that the former had a valid claim to the ship and her cargo. After a protracted investigation the Connecticut court decided against the libellants, who promptly appealed to the U. S. supreme court. The venerable John Quincy Adams appeared with Mr. Baldwin as counsel. The progress of the trial was watched with intense interest by the pro-slavery and anti-slavery factions throughout the country. The court eventually declared in substance that these Africans were born free, that they had never been legally held as slaves, and that they were amenable to no punishment for anything they had done. They were sent back to their native land at the public expense, and a Mendi mission was established and is still maintained for their benefit by the American missionary association not far from Sierra Leone. Appletons’ Cylcopædia of American Biography, 1888.



Chapter: “No Exclusion From Cars. — Colored Testimony Allowed. — Colored Persons May Carry Mails,” by Henry Wilson, in History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, 1878.

Though the greed of gain and the lust of power and personal indulgence were unquestionably the largest factors, the most controlling motives in the production and perpetuation of the slave system, the principle and pride of caste had much to do therewith. Indeed, had not men persuaded themselves that the African belonged to an inferior race, that he occupied a lower plane of humanity than that on which they stood, they could never have found justification, even to themselves, for a system so full of injustice, so pregnant with evils to all and everything concerned, to the master as well as the slave, to society as well as the individual, to the religion as well as the civilization of any people who accepted it as a recognized institution. But accepting the postulate they were led and prepared to accept its natural inferences. Among them was the social ostracism which followed the poor victims of its proscription everywhere. No matter how much of worth and culture shone forth in the character; no matter what wealth of affections reposed beneath the dusky skin, or how piteously the tender sensibilities of the soul entered their protest against such exclusion; no matter how sternly and authoritatively Christianity proclaimed the universal fatherhood of God and brotherhood of man, the least infusion of color, so slight as to elude any but a microscopic vision, constituted a ban nothing could remove, a bar that no one could overleap. At home and abroad, in the house and by the way, in the realms of pleasure and in the sacred precincts of religion, everywhere the negro was made to feel his inferiority, and, in the hateful parlance of the hour, to know his place. This aspect of its essential wickedness and unreason was seen in the exclusion of colored persons from public conveyances. That there was no reason in nature for this exclusion was seen from the accompanying fact, that they who were thus proscribed as per sons were proudly allowed to travel as servants and attendants of the lordly class.

Among the reforms, therefore, demanded by the removal of slavery, the dethronement of the Slave Power, and the general abrogation of the hateful slave codes, was the discontinuance of this most unjust and provoking ostracism. The attention of Congress was early called to it, and in the debates which accompanied the effort were very clearly foreshadowed the principles and arguments which were afterward so thoroughly and persistently urged and combated in connection with the civil rights bills of subsequent sessions. Nor was there any great advance or addition in the argument made in those subsequent discussions that occupied so much time and developed such acrimonious and determined opposition in the successive debates of Congress upon this general subject. Too axiomatic, the subject did not admit of much argument; too nearly a self-evident truth, it could not be made much plainer by any process of reasoning or demonstration. From the first it was little more than a question between right and wrong, principle and prejudice, and there was not large room or encouragement for mere argument, and what there was could hardly be other than brief. There was room for amplification, and it was improved. Illustrations could be multiplied, while rhetoric and eloquence found ample range for the exercise of their choicest and most impressive appeals. And yet it was little more than the ringing of the possible changes upon those great and fundamental principles of human conduct and accountability, — wrong doing and its perils, right doing and its rewards.

On the 27th of May, 1863, Mr. Sumner moved to amend the bill for extending the charter of the Washington and Alexandria Railroad by adding a provision "that no person should be excluded from the cars on account of color "; and, singularly enough, in view of subsequent opposition to the principle involved, it passed both houses without debate, and was approved by the President on the 3d of March, 1863.

On the 16th of March, 1864, Mr. Sumner moved to amend a bill incorporating the Metropolitan Railroad of Washington City by inserting a similar provision. He did not make any protracted remarks on its introduction, though it led to a brief but earnest and suggestive debate. Mr. Johnson of Maryland made an able and, considering that he was from a slaveholding State, a singular and noteworthy speech. He argued with legal acumen that the amendment was unnecessary because the company had no right to exclude any one on account of color. " There is no more right," he said, "to exclude a black man from a car designated for the transportation of white persons than there is a right to refuse the transportation in a car designed for black persons to white men." And yet he admitted that for prudential reasons it might be " convenient" for the company to provide separate cars, because, he said, it would " meet with the public wish and the public tastes of both classes." Concerning slavery, his views were very decided. Of it, he said, " if it is not dead it has upon it the wound of death"; and, though there might be, he admitted, "conscientious" men who believed "it to be an institution to be preserved, they will soon find in the judgment of Christendom, outside of their own limits, and in the silent influences of the Christian's faith which has done so much to humanize society, an obstacle to its continuance which no purpose of man can much longer restrain." But while he was thus outspoken and emphatic on the legal rights of colored men; while he so fully admitted the contrariety of Christianity to slavery, and his belief that before the mild and benignant sway of the one, the other must soon yield and pass away, he gave utterance to extremest opinions in the matter of caste, and endorsed sentiments as really in conflict with the spirit of the Christian religion as anything in the slavery he had just predicted must yield thereto. "When we come," he said, "to political rights and social enjoyment, there are other considerations that enter into such inquiries." He spoke deprecatingly of anything like political or social equality, and pronounced them "very perilous." Of the prejudice against color, he said, "it is a prejudice that comes from our Creator." Of the supposition, so often urged by the advocates of this caste of color, that a man's daughter should wed a colored man, he used these strong, not to say extravagant words: "A man can meet death, if he be a man, in a just cause; but no man can meet a calamity, such as I suppose that would be felt by every man, with anything but continued trembling anxiety, depressing, harassing, crushing fear."

But as no Senate debate at that time, involving the negro and his cause, would have been deemed complete without participation therein by the Senator of Delaware, the voice of Mr. Saulsbury was heard with his words of bitter scorn, denouncing the African race and discountenancing all efforts for its protection and improvement. He took issue with Mr. Johnson on several points. He contended, "as a man who has humbly assayed the pathway of law for twenty years," that the railroad company had the right to make the discrimination complained of; that slavery was not dead, and he expressed the hope that it would not die; and, if it was dead, he wanted a slave code for his State, to keep out presuming men of color. He contended, too, that slavery was the natural condition of the race, and that under it slaves had " prospered and been happy beyond the experience of any class of people of inferior character in the world's history." Free them, he said, " and the story of the poor Indian will be theirs." He declared this difference in character and condition of the two races to be divinely ordered. "It is," he said, " in the ordination of God's providence." He spoke quite theologically of the matter, and exclaimed: " Sir, the finger of God Almighty has de creed the distinction between the races; and Abolitionism is infidelity, it is war upon the ordinance of God's providence." He inveighed bitterly against the attempts, " in the last three years," to " raise to their own elevation an inferior race, or to degrade themselves to an equality of an inferior race, as we have done." He said, if the nation must fall, this would be its epitaph: "Here lie thirty million white men, women, and children who lost their liberties in trying to equalize with themselves four million negroes." Others opposed the amendment; Mr. Doolittle, on the ground that railroads had the right to make the discrimination objected to, and Mr. Carlile on the ground that the subject might be better left to the courts.

In reply, Mr. Sumner agreed with Mr. Johnson in the proposition that " colored people have the legal right to enter the cars, and the proprietors are trespassers when they undertake to exclude them "; but he inquired of what use or benefit such a right can be to a colored man, poor and without position. He said that Congress should pass "a declaratory act," and he quoted parliamentary authority for the opinion, that in cases of doubt it should, in this way, interpret its meaning. Mr. Morrill of Maine replied with great force and beauty of expression to the remark of Mr. Saulsbury, that it would be better to leave the whole matter to the gentlemanly instincts of the superior race and to the principles of Christianity. Reminding him that " under the influence of these gentlemanly instincts of the superior race slavery has come to be cherished, — cherished as a benefaction to the race; cherished as a great social good; cherished as the corner-stone upon which you are to rear American institutions, — the cornerstone of civil and religious liberty," he asked for the grounds of hope that such principles would be any more effective in the future than in the past. "Could this question," he said, "be remanded to the tribunal of Christianity, there would be neither difficulty nor doubt in reaching a satisfactory and safe conclusion, for wherever that influence has prevailed slavery has melted away and disappeared among the nations of the earth. Why, sir, the spirit of Christianity is the spirit of freedom and brotherly love, and where these exist there is perfect liberty; slavery cannot exist. He who spake as never man spake proclaimed the essential brotherhood of the race, and taught the great lesson that to do unto others as we would that they should do unto you was the sum of practical human duty… Christianity is an inspiration of love and good-will to man, purifying, elevating, and emancipating; not a law of force, binding and enthralling… The spiritual and moral forces which underlie this nation are in harmony with the Christian civilization of the last three centuries; in harmony with the providence of Heaven in its great purposes in this western world; and will ultimately give us the victory over all forms of oppression over the limbs or minds of men." The question was taken on the amendment, and it was adopted by a vote of nineteen to seventeen; the House concurred therein, and the President, on the 1st of July, approved the bill, as thus amended. Subsequently an amendatory act, though substantially the same, was adopted.

On the 21st of June, Mr. Sumner moved a similar amendment of the charter of the Washington and Georgetown Railroad. As in the previous discussions, this gave rise to various and similar objections, though there was little additional argument, either for or against it. Among the objectors, Mr. Trumbull of Illinois contended that it would afford no additional right to the negro. In reply, Mr. Sumner said, "I always regarded the Wilmot Proviso, if the Constitution were properly interpreted, surplusage; yet I never hesitated, in season and out of season, to vindicate it; and I believe the Senator never hesitated, in season and out of season, to do the same and, on the same principle, I insist that this proviso also should be adopted." "The Senator from Illinois tells us," said Mr. Wilson, "that the colored people have a legal right to ride in these cars now. We know it; nobody doubts it; but this company into which we breathed the breath of life outrages the rights of twenty-five thousand colored people in this District, in our presence, in defiance of our opinions." Though such action, he said, might offend the prejudices of some, he thought it of greater importance to protect the rights of the poor and lowly. " I trust," he said, "we shall protect rights, if we do it over prejudices and over interests, until every man in this country is fully protected in all the rights that belong to beings made in the image of God. Let the free man of this race be permitted to run the career of life; to make of himself all that God intended he should make, when he breathed into him the breath of life." He expressed the opinion that decency as well as justice required action. "Some weeks ago," he said, "I rode to the Capitol in one of these cars. On the front part of the car, standing with the driver, were, I think, five colored clergymen of the Methodist Episcopal Church, dressed like gentlemen, and behaving like gentlemen. These clergymen were riding with the driver on the front platform; and inside the car were two drunken loafers, conducting and behaving themselves so badly that the conductor threatened to turn them out."

In default of argument, the opposers resorted to ridicule. "Poor, helpless, and despised inferior race of white men," exclaimed Mr. Saulsbury, "you have very little interest in this government; you are not worth consideration in the legislation of the country; but let your superior. Sambo's interests come in question, and you will find the most tender solicitude in his behalf! What a pity it is there is not somebody to lampblack white men, so that their rights could be secured! " Mr. Powell of Kentucky counselled Mr. Sumner to volunteer in behalf of his "Ethiopian friends," and bring an action in the courts against "this heartless corporation." "The Senator," he said, "has indicated to his fanatical brethren — those people who meet in free-love societies, the old ladies, the sensation preachers, and those who live on fanaticism — that he has offered his amendment; and I see no reason why we should take up the time of the Senate with eternally squabbling over the Senator's amendments, and introducing the negro into every wood-pile that comes along." But notwithstanding the ridicule and arguments against the amendment it was adopted, and the company was restrained from further pandering to unjust and inhuman prejudices, by flaunting before the public eye the "colored" car.

All human laws "owe their force and all their authority," says Blackstone, " to the law of nature and the law of revelation," and it naturally follows that they must be interpreted on the principle that none arc of binding force that "contradict these." But when slavery became the subject of legislation, different principles obtained, and an opposite course was pursued. Then, to ignore such claims seemed to be the rule, and to discard their injunctions became the purpose. In itself unnatural and a system of violence, slavery demanded a course of legislation which, by enactment and interpretation, set at naught all distinctions of right and wrong, turned a deaf ear to the voice of conscience, and treated with the most profound indifference every claim of justice and humanity. Among the statutes in which this was seen was that which refused not only to the colored man the right to testify, but to the white man the benefit of his testimony when, as it often happened, such testimony was all that could be obtained.

The first movement in Congress for the removal of this disability because of color was a bill offered by Mr. Wilson in December, 1861, for the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia, providing that every claimant for the service of a slave should be examined on oath, and that he for whose service compensation was claimed might also be examined. Mr. Sumner moved to amend the bill by empowering the commissioners to take testimony " without the exclusion of witnesses on account of color," and it was adopted by a vote of twenty-six to ten. On the 7th of July, on a supplementary bill for the release of certain persons of color, Mr. Sumner offered as an amendment a new section, providing " that in all judicial proceedings in the District of Columbia there shall be no exclusion of any witness on account of color"; and it was adopted by a vote of twenty-five to eleven.

Near the close of the session in 1864 Mr. Sumner moved to amend the Civil Appropriation Bill by adding "that in the courts of the United States there shall be no exclusion of any witnesses on account of color." Objections were made by Mr. Sherman, who approved of the principle, but who deprecated its introduction, "to load down this, the last of the appropriation bills," and thus be likely to create controversy between the two houses. Mr. Carlile also besought the mover to withdraw it. Mr. Buckalew moved to amend the amendment by adding the words, "or because he is a party to or interested in the issue tried," which was adopted.

Mr. Sumner advocated its adoption. "It is hard," he said, "to be obliged to argue this question. I do not argue it. I will not argue it. I simply ask for your votes. Surely Congress will not adjourn without redressing this grievance. The king, in Magna Charta, promised that he would deny justice to no one. Congress has succeeded to this promise and obligation." "Is it to be presumed, at the outset," said Mr. Howard of Michigan, "that, because a man has a black skin, he either cannot or will not tell the truth in court? It seems to me that those persons who object to the examination of black persons as witnesses on the ground that they are black put it upon this most unphilosophical, and, I may add, most inhuman and cruel presumption, that a negro either cannot or will not tell the truth in any case. I shall be guilty of presuming no such thing." Mr. Saulsbury could not allow the opportunity to pass without putting himself on record not "only against this particular proposition, but against the subject of its pro vision. Though he did not wish, he said with elegant phrase, " to say anything about the ' nigger ' aspect of the case, it is here every day; and I suppose it will be here every day for years to come, till the Democratic party comes into power, and wipes out all legislation on the statute-book of this character, which I trust in God they will soon do." The opposition, however, did not avail, and the amendment was adopted by both houses; and on the bill receiving the signature of the President, another relic of the Slave Power's rule passed away, and the negro as well as the white man was permitted to testify in the courts of justice.

Closely allied to this action, because the principle of negro testimony was involved in the evil complained of, was the attempt and its final success to repeal the legislation that made color a disqualification for carrying the mails. On the 18th of March, 1862, Mr. Sumner introduced a bill to remove all such disqualification of color for the purpose aforesaid, making special mention of a section of the act, adopted in 1825, for the purpose of "establishing and regulating the Post-Office Department," which enacted "that no other than a free white person shall be employed in conveying the mail; and any contractor who shall employ or permit any other than a free white person to convey the mail shall, for every such offence, incur a penalty of twenty dollars." It came up on the 11th of April, and after a brief discussion it was adopted by a vote of twenty-four to eleven.

It was reported in the House, from the Committee on the Post-Office and Post-Roads, by Mr. Colfax of Indiana, with a recommendation that it do not pass. He briefly explained the reasons which had led the committee to its conclusion. Among them were the facts that it did not "affect exclusively the blacks of the country " ; that it would " throw open the business of mail contracting and of thus becoming officers of the Post-Office Department," not only to the blacks but to the Indians and Chinese; that it would allow "the employment by the slaveholder of his slaves to carry the mail " ; and that, "because colored men were not allowed to testify in the courts of many of the States," the government would be deprived of their testimony "to convict mail depredators." In the course of the debate upon the report, Mr. Wickliffe of Kentucky stated that the section proposed to be repealed was enacted because slaveholders were "in the habit of obtaining mail contracts, and employing their negroes to drive their stages and carry their mails." The bill failed of passage, a motion to lay it on the table prevailing by a vote of eighty-two to forty-five.

In January, 1864, Mr. Sumner introduced a similar bill, and it was referred to the committee, which reported it with an amendment "that in the courts of the United States there shall be no exclusion of any witness on account of color." Mr. Collamer, in reporting the bill, said: "The bill is sufficiently explicit in itself; but the committee were of the opinion, that if persons of color were to be employed, and rendered eligible to be employed, as carriers of the mail, by those who have contracted to carry it, and who wish to employ them, it would be unsafe to commit to their hands the mail, when they could not themselves be witnesses against those who should violate that mail, steal it, rob it, and commit depredations upon it."

The measure, however, encountered severe criticism and op position. Mr. Johnson of Maryland regretted its introduction, but expressed the hope that, if adopted, it would be confined to "free persons of color"; Mr. Powell denounced it as "fanatical and radical legislation" ; Mr. Saulsbury declared that "we are legislating against reason, against our own race, by such enactments"; and Mr. Hendricks, though a Northern man, was not unwilling to leave on record that he was not " content to see a law passed by the Congress of the United States placing the negro upon the platform of equality with the white race in the courts of the country, the sanctuary of our rights. Standing alone, the white race has progressed for a thousand years, without a step backward. Standing alone, the negro race has gone downward and downward for a thousand years."

The bill, however, did not reach a vote before adjournment. At the next session it came up again, and was passed on the 19th of December, only five Senators recording their votes against it. In the House it passed by acclamation on the 2d of March, 1865, and it received the President's signature the next day. As finally passed, it enacted, "that from and after the passage of this act no person, by reason of color, shall be disqualified from employment in carrying the mails, and all acts and parts of acts establishing such disqualification, including especially the seventh section of the act of March 3, 1825, are hereby repealed." That such an act, so sweeping in its provisions, should pass both houses of Congress by so nearly a unanimous vote, not only betrayed the absence of the seceding Southern members, but revealed, for the time being at least, a great change in the Northern sentiment.

Source:  Wilson, Henry, History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, Vol. 3.  Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1878, 505-515.


CLAFLIN, Horace Brigham, 1811-1885, Milford, Massachusetts, merchant, philanthropist, opponent of slavery. 

(Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I, p. 618; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 2, Pt. 2, p. 110)


CLAFLIN, Horace Brigham, merchant, b. in Milford, Mass., 18 Dec., 1811; d. in Fordham, N. Y., 14 Nov., 1885. He was the son of John Claflin, a general country storekeeper, farmer, and justice of the peace, and received his education at the common school and Milford academy. His first business experience was as a clerk in his father's employ, and in 1831, with his brother Aaron and his brother-in-law, Samuel Daniels, he succeeded to his father's business. In 1832 they opened a dry-goods store in Worcester, in connection with their establishment in Milford. This venture proved successful, and in 1833 Aaron took the Milford store, leaving the other partners in exclusive possession of the Worcester business. In 1843 Horace removed to New York, and, with William F. Bulkley, organized the house of Bulkley & Claflin and began a wholesale dry-goods business at No. 46 Cedar street. In 1850 the firm built a store at No. 57 Broadway, which they occupied from January, 1851, until 1853. Mr. Bulkley retired from the partnership in July, 1851, when, with William H. Mellen and several of his principal clerks, he continued his business as Claflin, Mellen & Co. Meanwhile their trade increased very rapidly, and larger accommodation became necessary. Mr. Claflin, with others, then erected the Trinity building, at No. 111 Broadway, whither the business was transferred. In 1861 another change was necessary, and the enormous warehouse on Worth street, extending from Church street to West Broadway, was secured. The beginning of the civil war, coming suddenly at this time, found the firm's assets largely locked up and rendered almost worthless, and they were compelled to ask from their creditors an extension of time in which to settle their accounts. These liabilities were subsequently paid with interest long before maturity, and the house entered upon a career of unparalleled prosperity. At the beginning of 1864 Mr. Mellen retired from the firm, which then adopted the style of H. B. Claflin & Co. The panic of 1873 again caused the firm to ask their creditors for an extension of five months, with interest added in settlement of their open accounts. Notwithstanding the enormous amounts that they were unable to collect at that time, no paper with their name on it went to protest, and their notes were all paid in three months, sixty days before maturity. During a single year the sales of this house have amounted to $72,000,000; and the ability of Mr. Claflin may be judged by the magnitude of the business, which from 1865 to the time of his death far exceeded that of any other commercial house in the world. He was a man of domestic habits and of exemplary life, fond of books and of horses. Almost daily, no matter what the weather might be, he drove from ten to twenty miles. He was prominently associated with Mr. Beecher's church in Brooklyn, where he resided during the winter. His acts of charity were frequent and unostentatious, and to many of the benevolent institutions of Brooklyn he was a liberal donor. It was a great satisfaction to him to assist young men, and probably no other person in the United States aided so many beginners with money and credit until they were able to sustain themselves. In politics he was a strong republican until the canvass of 1884, when he supported the democratic candidate for the presidency. Mr. Claflin was a man of very strong convictions, and in 1850, when it cost something to be known as an opponent of slavery, he was an uncompromising friend of freedom. See “Tribute of the Chamber of Commerce to the Memory of Horace B. Claflin” (New York, 1886). Appletons’ Cylcopædia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I, p. 618.


CLAFLIN, Jehiel C., abolitionist, West Brookfield, Vermont, American Anti-Slavery Society, Vice-President, 1855-1853.  Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society, Vice President, 1841-1860.


CLAFLIN, William, 1818-1905, Massachusetts, Governor of Massachusetts, opponent of slavery, member of the Free Soil Party. 

(Appletons’ Cylcopædia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I, p. 618; Dictionary of American Biography, Vol. 2, pt. 2, pp. 110-111)


CLARK, Daniel, 1809-1891, lawyer, jurist, organizer and founder of the Republican Party, U.S. Senator from New Hampshire, ardent supporter of the Union.  Voted for Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery

(Appletons’, 1888, Vol. I, p. 625; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 2, Pt. 2, p. 125; Congressional Globe)


Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

CLARK, Daniel, senator, b. in Stratham, Rockingham co., N. H., 24 Oct., 1809. He was graduated at Dartmouth in 1834 with the highest honors of his class, studied law, and began practice at Epping, N. H., in 1837. He removed to Manchester, N. H., in 1839, and was a member of the legislature for five years. He was elected U. S. senator in 1857 for the unexpired term of James Bell, deceased, and was re-elected in 1861, serving till he resigned in July, 1866. He was president pro tem. of the senate for some time in 1864-'5. On 11 July, 1861, Senator Clark offered a resolution, which was adopted, expelling from the senate the southern senators who had left their seats on the secession of their states. He took an active part in the debates of the senate, and was a steadfast supporter of the government during the civil war. On his resignation, he was appointed by President Johnson U. S. judge for the district of New Hampshire. He was president of the New Hampshire constitutional convention of 1876. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I. pp. 625. 


CLARK, John, 1758-1833, b. Inverness, Scotland, clergyman, anti-slavery activist.  (Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I, p. 628)


CLARK, John, clergyman, b. in Petty, near Inverness, Scotland, 29 Nov., 1758; d. in St. Louis. Mo., 11 Oct., 1833. He received a common-school education, worked for a few years as a copyist in public offices in Inverness, and in 1778 shipped as a sailor on board a transport. He then served one year on a privateer, sailed as second mate to the West Indies, and was impressed into the British navy at Barbadoes. He deserted and shipped on board a merchantman, which was captured by the Spanish, and Clark was for nineteen months a prisoner at Havana. Soon after he was released he was again impressed, but escaped by swimming two miles to shore, when the vessel was off Charleston. S. C. After various adventures, he taught a backwoods school in South Carolina, and then in Georgia, where he was also appointed a class-leader among the Methodists. After a visit to his home, which he reached by working his way before the mast, he returned to the United States in 1789 and became an itinerant Methodist preacher in Georgia. He had scruples on the subject of slavery, and once refused his yearly salary of $60 because it was the proceeds of slave labor. He withdrew from the Methodist church in 1796 on account of doctrinal differences, and went to Illinois, where he taught, preached, and finally joined the anti-slavery Baptists calling themselves “The Baptized Church of Christ: Friends of Humanity.” When not teaching, “Father Clark,” as he was called, made long preaching tours. One of these, in 1807, was to the “Florida Parishes” in Louisiana, a journey of 1,200 miles, which was performed alone, in a frail canoe. He returned to Illinois on foot, and revisited Louisiana in 1811. Father Clark preferred to travel on foot, and on one occasion, when he was seventy years old, walked all night to fulfil an appointment, going sixty-six miles over a muddy road. Unlike many western pioneer preachers, he was neat in his dress and quiet in his manner. A sketch of him has been published by an old pioneer (New York, 1855). Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I. pp. 628. 


CLARK, Myron Holley, 1806-1892, Governor of New York State. 

(Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I, p. 630; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 2, Pt. 2, p. 138)


Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

CLARK, Myron Holley, governor of New York, b. in Naples, Ontario co., N. Y., 23 Oct., 1806. His grandfather, Col. William Clark, removed from Berkshire county, Mass., to Ontario county, N. Y., in 1790. Myron was educated in a district school at Naples, attending from three to four months annually, when between six and seventeen years old. After filling several offices in his native town, and becoming lieutenant-colonel of state militia, he was sheriff of Ontario county for two years, and, having removed to Canandaigua, was president of that village in 1850 and 1851, and state senator from 1852 till 1854. During Mr. Clark's first term as senator in 1852-'3, the law was passed consolidating the several railroads now forming the New York central, and it was largely by his persistent firmness that the provision limiting passenger fares to two cents a mile was adopted. As chairman of the committee on the subject, he was influential in securing the passage of the prohibitory liquor law that was vetoed by Gov. Seymour. In 1854 the anti-slavery wings of both the whig and democratic parties, the prohibitionists, and several independent organizations separately nominated Mr. Clark for governor, and he was elected by a small majority, his supporters in some of their state organizations taking the name of “republicans,” thus making him the earliest state candidate of that party. During his administration a new prohibitory law was passed, and signed by him. It remained in force about nine months, when it was set aside by the court of appeals. Appletons’ Cylcopædia of American Biography, 1888.


CLARK, Peter H., 1829-1925, free African American, Ohio, abolitionist, publisher, editor, writer, orator.  Published anti-slavery newspaper, The Herald of Freedom, in Ohio.

(Rodriguez, 2007, p. 58)


CLARKE, Augustine, 1771-1841, Danville, Vermont, attorney, banker, politician, abolitionist.  Manager, 1833-1836, and founding member of the American Anti-Slavery Society, December 1833.

(Abolitionist, Vol. I, No. XII, December, 1833)


CLARKE, James Freeman, 1810-1888, clergyman, author, essayist, opponent of slavery. 

(Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I, p. 633-634)


CLARKE, Lewis G., 1815-1897, African American, anti-slavery lecturer, author, escaped slave.  Dictated his recollections of slavery to abolitionist Joseph C. Lovejoy in 1845.  Published as Narratives of the Sufferings of Lewis and Milton Clarke…

(Gates, Henry Louis, Jr., & Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, eds. African American National Biography. Oxford University Press, 2013, Vol. 3, p. 100; American National Biography, 2002, Vol. 4, p. 979)


CLARKSON, Matthew, 1758-1825, Regent of the State University of New York, member of the New York Manumission Society.  Petitioned Congress against slavery on behalf of the New York Manumission Society.  Introduced bill to end slavery in New York Assembly.

(Goodell, 1852, p. 95; Zilversmit, 1967, pp. 160, 166; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 2, Pt. 1, p. 166)


CLARKSON, Thomas, abolitionist

(Basker, 2005, pp. 3, 57, 128, 132, 148, 162, 169 170, 241; Bruns, 1977, pp. 79, 145, 314; Goodell, 1852, pp. 56-59, 66, 355-360, 393, 444)


CLAY, Cassius Marcellus, 1810-1903, Madison County, Kentucky, anti-slavery political leader, emancipationist, large landowner, statesman, lawyer, diplomat, soldier, newspaper publisher. Prominent anti-slavery activist with Kentucky State legislature and member of the Republican Party.  Published anti-slavery paper, True American, in Lexington, Kentucky.

(Blue, 2005, pp. 151, 171; Clay, 1896; Dumond, 1961, p. 258; Filler, 1960, pp. 213, 221, 248, 256, 272; Mabee, 1970, pp. 4, 237, 258-259, 327, 336, 372; Mitchell, 2007, pp. 5, 63, 64, 71, 107, 147, 156, 199; Rodriguez, 2007, pp. 380, 619; Smiley, 1962; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I, pp. 503, 577, 639-640; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 2, Pt. 2, p. 18; American Reformers: An H.W. Wilson Biographical Dictionary, New York, 1985, pp. 171-173; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 4; The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. II. New York: James T. White, 1892, pp. 311-312)


Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

CLAY, Cassius Marcellus, politician, b. in Madison county, Ky., 19 Oct., 1810, studied at Transylvania university, but afterward entered the junior class at Yale, and was graduated there in 1832. While in New Haven he heard William Lloyd Garrison, and, although his parents were slave-holders, became an earnest abolitionist. He began to practise law in his native county, and was elected to the legislature in 1835, but was defeated the next year on account of his advocacy of internal improvements. He was again elected in 1837, and in 1839 was a member of the convention that nominated Gen. Harrison for the presidency. He then removed to Lexington, and was again a member of the legislature in 1840, but in 1841 was defeated, after an exciting canvass, on account of his anti-slavery views. The improved jury system and the common-school system of Kentucky are largely due to his efforts while in the legislature. Mr. Clay denounced the proposed annexation of Texas, as intended to extend slavery, and in 1844 actively supported Henry Clay for the presidency, speaking in his behalf in the northern states. On 3 June, 1845, he issued in Lexington the first number of an anti-slavery paper entitled “The True American.” Mob violence had been threatened, and the editor had prepared himself for it. He says in his memoirs: “I selected for my office a brick building, and lined the outside doors with sheet-iron, to prevent it being burned. I purchased two brass four-pounder cannon at Cincinnati, and placed them, loaded with shot and nails, on a table, breast high; had folding-doors secured with a chain, which could open upon the mob and give play to the cannon. I furnished my office with Mexican lances, and a limited number of guns. There were six or eight persons who stood ready to defend me. If defeated, they were to escape by a trap-door in the roof; and I had placed a keg of powder with a match, which I could set off and blow up the office and all my invaders; and this I should most certainly have done in case of the last extremity.” In August, while the editor was sick, his press was seized by the mob and taken to Cincinnati, and he himself was threatened with assassination; but, notwithstanding all opposition, he continued to publish the paper, printing it in Cincinnati and circulating it through Kentucky. This was not his only narrow escape. He was continually involved in quarrels, had several bloody personal encounters, and habitually spoke in political meetings, with a bowie knife concealed about him, and a brace of pistols in the mouth of his grip-sack, which he placed at his feet. When war with Mexico was declared, Mr. Clay entered the army as captain of a volunteer infantry company that had already distinguished itself at Tippecanoe in 1811. He took this course because he thought a military title necessary to political advancement in a “fighting state” like Kentucky. On 23 Jan., 1847, while in the van, more than 100 miles in advance of the main army, he was taken prisoner, with seventy-one others, at Encarnacion, and marched to the city of Mexico. On one occasion, after the escape of some of the captives, the lives of the remainder were saved by Capt. Clay's gallantry and presence of mind. After being exchanged, he returned to Kentucky, and was presented by his fellow-citizens with a sword in honor of his services. He worked for Gen. Taylor's nomination in the convention of 1848, and carried Kentucky for him. He called a convention of emancipationists at Frankfort, Ky., in 1849, and in 1850, separating from the whig party, was an anti-slavery candidate for governor, receiving about 5,000 votes. He labored energetically for Frémont's election in 1856, and for Lincoln's in 1860, but took pains to separate himself from the “radical abolitionists,” holding that all interference with slavery should be by legal methods. On 28 March, 1861, he was appointed minister to Russia. He returned to this country in June, 1862, having been commissioned major-general of volunteers, and shortly afterward made a speech in Washington, declaring that he would never draw his sword while slavery was protected in the seceding states. He resigned on 11 March, 1863, and was again sent as minister to Russia, publicly supported the revolutionary movement in Cuba, and became president of the Cuban aid society. In 1871 he delivered an address by invitation at the St. Louis fair, urging speedy reconciliation with the north, and at the same time attacking President Grant's administration. He was identified with the liberal republican movement in 1872, and supported his old friend Horace Greeley for the presidency. He afterward joined the democratic party, and actively supported Samuel J. Tilden in 1876, but advocated Blaine's election in 1884. In 1877 Mr. Clay shot and killed a negro, Perry White, whom he had discharged from his service and who had threatened his life. Mr. Clay was tried, and the jury gave a verdict of “justifiable homicide.” A volume of his speeches was edited by Horace Greeley (1848), and he has published “The Life, Memoirs, Writings, and Speeches of Cassius M. Clay” (2 vols., Cincinnati, 1886). Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I. pp. 503, 577, 639-640.

Chapter: “Vermont and Massachusetts. --John P. Hale. -- Cassius M. Clay,” by Henry Wilson, in History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, 1872.

While Mr. Hale was making his gallant and successful fight in New Hampshire, by which he placed himself at once among the foremost advocates of liberty, freedom found another champion, on the very soil of slavery itself, in the person of Cassius M. Clay. Belonging to an eminent family, reared under the influences of slavery, he was identified with it by birth, inheritance, and position. From personal knowledge and his affiliations of family, party, and business, he had spoken during the presidential canvass of 1844 with authority upon the subject of slavery, revealing to thousands the inner life and workings of the system.

Mr. Clay was a native of Kentucky. Educated at Yale; he had soon learned to recognize the difference between the slave and the free States, while the antislavery discussions that were rife during his stay in New England greatly excited his feelings and changed his sentiments; and at an early day he determined to emancipate his slaves. Entering the Kentucky legislature in 1835, he at once introduced and became the champion of a common-school system for his native State. But he soon learned that such a system was incompatible with the presence and power of slavery wherever the latter was established, and was giving tone to the thought and feeling of society.

In 1841 an act was introduced into that legislature for the repeal of a law adopted in 1833 to prevent the importation of slaves into the State. He, of course, arrayed himself against the repeal, and denounced in fitting language this reactionary measure. Such a demonstration from one occupying his position naturally excited surprise, and provoked that kind and style of opposition in which the slave-masters were accustomed to indulge toward any who opposed their policy or condemned their cherished system. But he declared that denunciation could not silence him; that epithets and the cry of abolition had no terrors for him; and that bowie-knives, pistols, and mobs could not force him to desist. He said that his blood was ready for the sacrifice, though he warned gentlemen that he should not be "a tame victim of either force or denunciation." He affirmed that there was a party in the country which was .the advocate of perpetual slavery, and in favor of destroying the Union. He protested against what he termed the treasonable scheme of the disunionists; and he asserted that on the day when this should be seriously attempted or consummated there should be "one Kentuckian shrouded under the stars and stripes; one heart undesecrated with the faith that slavery is the basis of civil liberty; one being who could not exist in a government denying the right of petition, the liberty of speech and of the press; one man who would not be the outlaw of nations or the slave of a slave."

Entertaining such sentiments, and believing that the proposed annexation of Texas was for “the extension of slavery among men," he interposed a most determined opposition. In a speech in December, 1843, in reply to ex-Vice-President Richard M. Johnson, he made an impassioned appeal to the people of Kentucky to enter their solemn protest against this most unholy scheme. He reminded them, if this project was carried out for the purposes for which it was formed, they could no longer cover themselves, when reproached for the existence of slavery, under the plea that it was an entailed evil for which they could not be held responsible. If they supported this scheme, with this the real and avowed object, they would commit themselves anew to the system it was thus proposed to strengthen and extend.

Holding these ideas of annexation, and deeply impressed with the magnitude of the interests at stake and the gravity of the impending peril, he entered with great earnestness into the presidential contest of 1844. He traversed the free States, urging the claims of Henry Clay. He was especially urgent that antislavery men should give him their votes, as the only way by which annexation could be prevented. Affirming that Mr. Clay had virtually pledged himself to oppose the admission of Texas, by making the conditions of his “support such as could not be fulfilled, he contended that they themselves held the power in their hands to prevent it. Among those conditions was the “common consent of the Union." " So long, then," he said, in one of his speeches, "as the vestal flame of liberty shall burn in your bosoms, eternal and inextinguishable, so long is Mr. Clay, three several times, in the most solemn manner, before the nation and all mankind, irrevocably bound to oppose the annexation of Texas to the United States." " Of all men," he continued, " now present I have the greatest cause to take care that I am not deceived in this matter ; but I can go --I say it before God and man -- with a good conscience for him, because I believe it will save my country from ruin if we shall secure his election." His labors in the canvass were arduous, his feelings were deeply enlisted in the issues at stake, and his consequent disappointment in view of defeat was very great.

The defeat of Mr. Clay, however, while it made annexation certain, did not discourage him. His spirit rose with the occasion, and his purpose to war against the cause of all this scheming and plotting seemed to be strengthened.  Returning to Kentucky, he issued, in January, 1845, an address to the people of his State, in which he portrayed the baleful effects of slavery, even upon that " young and beautiful Commonwealth," to whose " Italian skies " and· " more than Sicilian verdure" he mournfully referred as being blighted and clouded by this terrible curse. " Her fields," he says, " relapse into primitive sterility; her population wastes away, manufactures recede from her infected border, trade languishes, decay trenches upon her meagre accumulations of taste or utility, gaunt famine stalks into the portals of the homestead, sullen despair begins to display itself in the careworn faces of men, the heavens and the earth cry aloud, the eternal laws of happiness and existence have been trampled underfoot …Agriculture drags along its slow pace with slovenly, ignorant, and reckless labor. Science, literature, and art are strangers here. Poets, historians, artists, and machinists; the lovers of the ideal, the great, the beautiful, the true, and the useful,--flourish where thought and action are untrammeled… A loose and inadequate respect for the rights of property, of necessity, follows in the wake of slavery. Duelling, bloodshed, and lynch-law leave but little security to person. A general demoralization has corrupted the first minds in the nation, its hot contagion has spread among the whole people; licentiousness, crime, and bitter hate infest us at home; repudiation and the forcible propagandism of slavery is arraying against us the world in arms."

He urged upon them to choose delegates to a convention for amending the Constitution, and to repeat the attempt "until victory shall perch on the standard of the free."

While the struggle was in progress in both Congress and the country for the expansion of slavery, he issued proposals for the establishment of a paper to advocate its “overthrow “in Kentucky. Its publication was commenced at Lexington, and on the 3d of June was issued the first number of the “True American." In it he discussed with great vigor the evils and remedies existing and proposed. The general tone and character of its utterances were very offensive to the slaveholders of the State, whose course he condemned, and whose interests, they felt, he was putting in peril. This indignation was specially increased and intensified by articles that appeared 11 the 12th of August, in which the writer referred not only to the general principles of the contest, but to certain contingencies and possibilities, and which very naturally and very greatly excited their ire.

In those articles not only was emancipation advocated, but the securing of the civil and political rights to the colored people was vindicated. The pride and selfishness of the slave-master, too, was referred to; and the charge was made that, in his esteem, national character, conscience of the people, and sense of duty weighed nothing against that pride and selfishness. The warning, too, was given that the Abolitionists were becoming quite as reckless as the slaveholders themselves; and, when provoked by injustice and wrong, they might manifest something of the same spirit. “It is in vain," it was said,” for the master to try to fence his dear slaves in from all intercourse with the great world, to create his little petty and tyrannical kingdom on his own plantation, and keep it for his exclusive reign. He cannot shut out the light of information any more than the light of heaven. It will penetrate all disguises, and shine upon the dark night of slavery. He must recollect that he is surrounded. The North, the East, the West, and the South border on him, --the free West-Indian, the free Mexican, the free Yankee, the more than free Abolitionists of his own country. Everything trenches upon his infected district, and the wolf looks calmly in upon his fold."

The slaveholders were greatly exasperated, too, by these words: "But we are told the enunciation of the soul-stirring principles of Revolutionary patriots is a lie; that slavery the most unmitigated, the lowest, basest that the world has· seen; is to be substituted forever for our better,, more glorious, holier aspirations. The torn and trampled underfoot, justice and good faith in a nation are divided, brute force -is substituted in the place of high moral tone, all the great principles of national liberty which we inherited from our British, ancestry are yielded up, and we are left without God or help in the world. When the great-hearted of our land weep, and the man of reflection maddens in the contemplation of our national apostasy, there are men, pursuing gain and pleasure, who smile with contempt and indifference at their appeals. But remember, you who dwell in marble palaces, that there are strong arms and fiery hearts and iron pikes in the streets, and panes of glass only between them and the silver plate on the board and the smooth-skinned woman on the ottoman. When you have mocked at virtue, deified the agency of God in the affairs of men, and made rapine your honeyed faith, tremble, for the day of retributio1ds at hand, and the masses will be avenged."

The establishment of such a paper by such a man, with views so radical and a purpose so determined, was naturally regarded by the slaveholders as a challenge to them to come to the defence of their cherished and menaced system. It was, therefore, doomed from the start. Probably no journal, however mildly and courteously conducted, that contemplated and advocated emancipation, would have remained unmolested. Certainly one with sentiments so decided and uncompromising might naturally expect resistance. It came in the form of a committee, which waited upon him on the 14th of' August, while confined to a bed of sickness, requiring him to suspend the publication of his paper, "as," they say in their note, "its further continuance, in our judgment, is dangerous to the peace of the community, and to the safety of our homes and families."

His reply was very decided and defiant. Alluding to the phrase in their letter that they had “been appointed as a committee on the part of a number of the respectable citizens of the city of Lexington," he wrote: "I say, in reply to your assertion that you are a committee appointed by a respectable portion of the community, that it cannot be true. Traitors to the laws and Constitution cannot be deemed respectable by any but assassins, pirates, and highway robbers." After reminding them that their meeting was unknown to the laws and Constitution, and that its “proceedings" were secret, and its purposes were “in direct violation of every known principle of honor, religion, or government," he added: "I treat them with the burning contempt of a brave heart and a loyal citizen. I deny their power and defy their action …Your advice with regard to my personal safety is worthy of the source whence it emanated, and meets with the same contempt from me which the purposes of your mission excite. Go, tell your secret conclave of cowardly assassins that Cassius M. Clay knows his rights, and how to defend them."

He then issued an appeal to the people of Kentucky to stand by him in his conflict with the enemies of law in the defence of the civil and political rights of all. On the 18th of August a meeting was called to consider the question of suppressing the “True American." To this meeting he sent a communication, in which he endeavored to remove some false constructions which had been placed upon the articles in question, and in which he made some further statements concerning the purposes and plans of his paper, concluding with the solemn and unequivocal averment that his constitutional rights he should never "abandon." 

The meeting, unmoved by his appeal, proceeded to the consummation of the purpose for which it was convened, by choosing a committee of sixty, which proceeded to the office of the offending journal, boxed up its press, and sent it out of the State. It also unanimously adopted an address to the people of Kentucky, reported by Thomas F. Marshall. In this address it was charged that a formidable party had arisen in the North which held that slavery was "opposed to religion, morals, and law," and that the negro was entitled to his freedom. It asserted, too, that the aim of this party was the abolition of slavery in America. It charged Mr. Clay with being in full sympathy with this party; that he had visited the North, and, having been "received there in full communion by the abolition party, caressed and flattered and feasted, hailed in the stages of his triumphal progress by discharges of cannon, and heralded in the papers devoted to the cause as the boldest, the most intrepid, the most devoted of its champions, he returned to his native State, the organ and agent of an incendiary sect, to force upon her principles fatal to her domestic repose, at the risk of his own life and the peace of the community."

Stigmatizing an abolition paper in a slave State as a " nuisance of the most formidable character," a blazing brand in the hands 1of an incendiary or madman, which might scatter ruin, conflagration, revolution, crime unnamable over everything dear in domestic life, sacred in religion, or respectable in modesty, it denounced the " True American " as an example of the worst type of such papers. Representing Abolitionists as traitors to the Constitution, and abolition principles in a slave State as "fire in a magazine of powder," the address urged these considerations as the justification of its authors for the summary measures they adopted.

Mr. Clay also issued several appeals to the people of Kentucky, calling upon them to vindicate their rights, stricken down in his person. But though overpowered, he exhibited the same defiant spirit and unconquerable purpose, as he, dedicated himself anew to the liberty of his country and of mankind, and called upon Americans to “rise up in the omnipotency of the ballot, and peaceably overthrow the slave despotism of the nation."

He re-established his paper, which, though published in Lexington, was printed in Cincinnati. But when the war with Mexico opened, he, to the great regret of many and the sharp censures of others, entered the army; and, under the plea of standing by the flag of his country in the day of battle, volunteered his services for that most indefensible war. After his return he renewed and continued his warfare on slavery until it ceased to exist.

Source:  Wilson, Henry, History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, Vol. 1.  Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1872, 628-635.


CLAY, Henry, 1777-1852, Kentucky, statesman, political leader, U.S. Senator, Congressman, Speaker of the House of Representatives, 12th, 13th, and 18th Congress, Presidential candidate.  Founder of the American Colonization Society and its President from 1837-1852, Vice President, 1833-1837. 

(Blue, 2005, pp. 11, 24, 27, 29, 47, 50-51, 55, 123-124, 166-167; Burin, 2005, pp. 1, 14, 17, 22, 23, 25, 27, 38; Campbell, 1971, pp. 7, 10, 203; Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I, p. 640; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 2, Pt. 2, p. 173; Staudenraus, P. J. The African Colonization Movement, 1816-1865. New York: Columbia University Press, 1961, pp. 27-29, 30, 113, 116, 139, 143, 174, 184-187, 207, 245)


Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

CLAY, Henry, statesman, b. in Hanover county, Va., in a district known as “The Slashes,” 12  April, 1777; d. Washington, D. C., 29 June, introduced resolutions expressing approval of the 1852. His father, a Baptist clergyman, died when Henry was four years old, leaving no fortune.  Henry received some elementary instruction in a log school-house, doing farm and house work when not at school. His mother married again and removed to Kentucky. When fourteen years of age he was placed in a small retail store at Richmond, and in 1792 obtained a place in the office of Peter Tinsley, clerk of the high court of chancery. There he attracted the attention of Chancellor Whyte, who employed him as an amanuensis, and directed his course of reading. In 1796 he began to study law with Robert Brooke, attorney-general of Virginia, and in 1797, having obtained a license to practise law from the judges of the court of appeals, he removed to Lexington, Ky. During his residence in Richmond he had made the acquaintance of several distinguished men of Virginia, and became a leading member of a debating club. At Lexington he achieved his first distinction in a similar society. He soon won a lucrative practice as an attorney, being especially successful in criminal cases and in suits growing out of the land laws. His captivating manners and his striking eloquence made him a general favorite. His political career began almost immediately after his arrival at Lexington. A convention was to be elected to revise the constitution of Kentucky, and in the canvass preceding the election Clay strongly advocated a constitutional provision for the gradual emancipation of the slaves in the state; but the movement was not successful. He also participated vigorously in the agitation against the alien and sedition laws, taking position as a member of the republican party. Several of his speeches, delivered in mass meetings, astonished the hearers by their beauty and force. In 1799 he married Lucretia Hart, daughter of a prominent citizen of Kentucky. In 1803 he was elected to a seat in the state legislature, where he excelled as a debater. In 1806 Aaron Burr passed through Kentucky, where he was arrested on a charge of being engaged in an unlawful enterprise dangerous to the peace of the United States. He engaged Clay's professional services, and Clay, deceived by Burr as to the nature of his schemes, obtained his release.   In the winter of 1806 Clay was appointed to a seat in the U. S. Senate to serve out an unexpired He was at once placed on various committees, and took an active part in the debates, especially in favor of internal improvements. In the summer of 1807 his county sent him again to the legislature, where he was elected speaker of the assembly. He opposed and defeated a bill prohibiting the use of the decisions of British courts and of British works on jurisprudence as authority in the courts of Kentucky. In December, 1808, he introduced resolutions expressing approval of the embargo laid by the general government, denouncing the British orders in council, pledging the general government the active aid of Kentucky in anything determined upon to resist British exactions, and declaring that President Jefferson was entitled to the thanks of the country. He offered another resolution, recommending that the members of the legislature should wear only clothes that were the product of domestic manufacture. This was his first demonstration in favor of the encouragement of home industry. About this resolution he had a quarrel with Humphrey Marshall, which led to a duel, in which both parties were slightly wounded. In the winter of 1809 Clay was again sent to the U. S. senate to fill an unexpired term of two years. He made a speech in favor of encouraging home industries, taking the ground that the country should be enabled to produce all it might need in time of war, and that, while agriculture would remain the dominant interest, it should be aided by the development of domestic manufactures. He also made a report on a bill granting a right of pre-emption to purchasers of public lands in certain cases, and introduced a, bill to regulate trade and intercourse with the Indian tribes, and to preserve peace on the frontier, a subject on which he expressed very wise and humane sentiments. During the session of 1810-'1 he defended the administration of Mr. Madison with regard to the occupation of West Florida by the United States by a strong historical argument, at the same time appealing, in glowing language, to the national pride of the American people. He opposed the renewal of the charter of the U. S. bank, notwithstanding Gallatin's recommendation, on the ground of the unconstitutionality of the bank, and contributed much to its defeat.  On the expiration of his term in the senate. Clay was sent to the national house of representatives by the Lexington district in Kentucky, and immediately upon taking his seat, 4 Nov., 1811, was elected speaker by a large majority. Not confining himself to his duties as presiding officer, he took a leading part in debate on almost all important occasions. The difficulties caused by British interference with neutral trade were then approaching a crisis, and Clay put himself at the head of the war party in congress, which was led in the second line by such young statesmen as John C. Calhoun, William Lowndes, Felix Grundy, and Langdon Cheves, and supported by a strong feeling in the south and west. In a series of fiery speeches Clay advocated the calling out of volunteers to serve on land, and the construction of an efficient navy. He expected that the war with Great Britain would be decided by an easy conquest of Canada, and a peace dictated at Quebec. The Madison administration hesitated, but was finally swept along by the war furor created by the young Americans under Clay's lead, and war against Great Britain was declared in June, 1812. Clay spoke at a large number of popular meetings to fill volunteer regiments and to fire the national spirit. In congress, while the events of the war were unfavorable to the United States in consequence of an utter lack of preparation and incompetent leadership, Clay vigorously sustained the administration and the war policy against the attacks of the federalists. Some of his speeches were of a high order of eloquence, and electrified the country. He was re-elected speaker in 1813. On 19 Jan., 1814, he resigned the speakership, having been appointed by President Madison a member of a commission, consisting of John Quincy Adams, James A. Bayard, Henry Clay, Jonathan Russell, and Albert Gallatin, to negotiate peace with Great Britain. The American commissioners met the commissioners of Great Britain at Ghent, in the Netherlands, and, after five months of negotiation, during which Mr. Way stoutly opposed the concession to the British of the right of navigating the Mississippi and of meddling with the Indians on territory of the United States, a treaty of peace was signed, 24 Dec., 1814. From Ghent Clay went to Paris, and thence with Adams and Gallatin to London, to negotiate a treaty of commerce with Great Britain. 

After his return to the United States, Mr. Clay declined the mission to Russia, offered by the administration. Having been elected again to the house of representatives, he took his seat on Dec. 4, 1815, and was again chosen speaker. He favored the enactment of the protective tariff of 1816, and also advocated the establishment of a U. S. bank as the fiscal agent of the government, thus reversing his position with regard to that subject. He now pronounced the bank constitutional because it was necessary in order to carry on the fiscal concerns of the government. During the same session he voted to raise the pay of representatives from $6 a day to $1,500 a year, a measure that proved unpopular, and his vote for it came near costing him his seat. He was, however, re-elected, but then voted to make the pay of representatives a per diem of $8, which it remained for a long period. In the session of 1816-'7 he, together with Calhoun, actively supported an internal improvement bill, which President Madison vetoed. In December, 1817, Clay was re-elected speaker. In opposition to the doctrine laid down by Monroe in his first message, that congress did not possess, under the constitution, the right to construct internal improvements, Clay strongly asserted that right in several speeches. With great vigor he advocated the recognition of the independence of the Spanish American colonies, then in a state of revolution, and severely censured what he considered the procrastinating policy of the administration in that respect. In the session of 1818-'9 he criticised, in an elaborate speech, the conduct of Gen. Jackson in the Florida campaign, especially the execution of Arbuthnot and Ambrister by Jackson's orders. This was the first collision between Clay and Jackson, and the ill feelings that it engendered in Jackson's mind were never extinguished. At the first session of the 16th congress, in December, 1819, Clay was again elected speaker almost without opposition. In the debate on the treaty with Spain, by which Florida was ceded to the United States, he severely censured the administration for having given up Texas, which he held to belong to the United States as a part of the Louisiana purchase. He continued to urge the recognition of the South American colonies as independent republics. 

In 1819-'20 he took an important part in the struggle in congress concerning the admission of Missouri as a slave state, which created the first great political slavery excitement throughout the country. He opposed the “restriction” clause making the admission of Missouri dependent upon the exclusion of slavery from the state, but supported the compromise proposed by Senator Thomas, of Illinois, admitting Missouri with slavery, but excluding slavery from all the territory north of 36° 30, acquired by the Louisiana purchase. This was the first part of the Missouri compromise, which is often erroneously attributed to Clay. When Missouri then presented herself with a state constitution, not only recognizing slavery, but also making it the duty of the legislature to pass such laws as would be necessary to prevent free negroes or mulattoes from coming into the state, the excitement broke out anew, and a majority in the house of representatives refused to admit Missouri as a state with such a constitution. On Clay's motion, the subject was referred to a special committee, of which he was chairman. This committee of the house joined with a senate committee, and the two unitedly reported in both houses a resolution that Missouri be admitted upon the fundamental condition that the state should never make any law to prevent from settling within its boundaries any description of persons who then or thereafter might become citizens of any state of the Union. This resolution was adopted, and the fundamental condition assented to by Missouri. This was Clay's part of the Missouri compromise, and he received general praise as “the great pacificator.” 

After the adjournment of congress, Clay retired to private life, to devote himself to his legal practice, but was elected to the 18th congress, which met in December, 1823, and was again chosen speaker. He made speeches on internal improvements, advocating a liberal construction of constitutional powers, in favor of sending a commissioner to Greece, and in favor of the tariff law, which became known as the tariff of 1824, giving his policy of protection and internal improvements the name of the “American system.” 

He was a candidate for the presidency at the election of 1824. His competitors were John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, and William H. Crawford, each of whom received a larger number of electoral votes than Clay. But, as none of them had received a majority of the electoral vote, the election devolved upon the house of representatives. Clay, standing fourth in the number of electoral votes received, was excluded from the choice, and he used his influence in the house for John Quincy Adams, who was elected. The friends of Jackson and Crawford charged that there was a corrupt understanding between Adams and Clay, and this accusation received color from the fact that Adams promptly offered Clay the portfolio of secretary of state, and Clay accepted it. This was the origin of the “bargain and corruption” charge, which, constantly repeated, pursued Clay during the best part of his public life, although it was disproved by the well-established fact that Clay, immediately after the result of the presidential election in 1824 became known, had declared his determination to use his influence in the house for Adams and against Jackson. As secretary of state under John Quincy Adams, Clay accepted an invitation, presented by the Mexican and Colombian ministers, to send commissioners of the United States to an international congress of American republics, which was to meet on the Isthmus of Panama, to deliberate upon subjects of common interest. The commissioners were appointed, but the Panama congress adjourned before they could reach the appointed place of meeting. In the course of one of the debates on this subject, John Randolph, of Roanoke, denounced the administration, alluding to Adams and Clay as a “combination of the Puritan and the blackleg.” Clay thereupon challenged Randolph to a duel, which was fought on 8 April, 1826, without bloodshed. He negotiated and concluded treaties with Prussia, the Hanseatic republics, Denmark, Colombia, Central America, and Austria. His negotiations with Great Britain concerning the colonial trade resulted only in keeping in force the conventions of 1815 and 1818. He made another treaty with Great Britain, extending the joint occupation of the Oregon country provided for in the treaty of 1818; another referring the differences concerning the northeastern boundary to some friendly sovereign or state for arbitration; and still another concerning the indemnity to be paid by Great Britain for slaves carried off by British forces in the war of 1812. As to his commercial policy, Clay followed the accepted ideas of the times, to establish between the United States and foreign countries fair reciprocity as to trade and navigation. He was made president of the American colonization society, whose object it was to colonize free negroes in Liberia on the coast of Africa. 

In 1828 Andrew Jackson was elected president, and after his inauguration Clay retired to his farm of Ashland, near Lexington, Ky. But, although in private life, he was generally recognized as the leader of the party opposing Jackson, who called themselves “national republicans,” and later “whigs,” Clay, during the years 1829-'31, visited several places in the south as well as in the state of Ohio, was everywhere received with great honors, and made speeches attacking Jackson's administration, mainly on account of the sweeping removals from office for personal and partisan reasons, and denouncing the nullification movement, which in the mean time had been set on foot in South Carolina. Yielding to the urgent solicitation of his friends throughout the country, he consented in 1831 to be a candidate for the U. S. senate, and was elected. In December, 1831, he was nominated as the candidate of the national republicans for the presidency, with John Sergeant, of Pennsylvania, for the vice-presidency. As the impending extinguishment of the public debt rendered a reduction of the revenue necessary, Clay introduced in the senate a tariff bill reducing duties on unprotected articles, but keeping them on protected articles, so as to preserve intact the “American system.” The reduction of the revenue thus effected was inadequate, and the anti-tariff excitement in the south grew more intense. The subject of public lands having, for the purpose of embarrassing him as a presidential candidate, been referred to the committee on manufactures, of which he was the leading spirit, he reported against reducing the price of public lands and in favor of distributing the proceeds of the lands' sales, after certain deductions, among the several states for a limited period. The bill passed the senate, but failed to pass the house. As President Jackson, in his several messages, had attacked the U. S. bank, Clay induced the bank, whose charter was to expire in 1836, to apply for a renewal of the charter during the session of 1831-'2, so as to force the issue before the presidential election. The bill renewing the charter passed both houses, but Jackson vetoed it, denouncing the bank in his message as a dangerous monopoly. In the presidential election Clay was disastrously defeated, Jackson receiving 219 electoral votes, and Clay only 49. 

On 19 Nov., 1832, a state convention in South Carolina passed an ordinance nullifying the tariff laws of 1828 and 1832. On 10 Dec., President Jackson issued a proclamation against the nullifiers, which the governor of South Carolina answered with a counter-proclamation. On 12 Feb., 1833, Clay introduced, in behalf of union and peace, a compromise bill providing for a gradual reduction of the tariff until 1842, when it should be reduced to a horizontal rate of 20 per cent. This bill was accepted by the nullifiers, and became a law, known as the compromise of 1833. South Carolina rescinded the nullification ordinance, and Clay was again praised as the “great pacificator.” In the autumn of 1833, President Jackson, through the secretary of the treasury, ordered the removal of the public deposits from the U. S. bank. Clay, in December, 1833, introduced resolutions in the senate censuring the president for having “assumed upon himself authority and power not conferred by the constitution and laws.” The resolutions were adopted, and President Jackson sent to the senate an earnest protest against them, which was severely denounced by Clay. During the session of 1834-'5 Clay successfully opposed Jackson's recommendation that authority be conferred on him for making reprisals upon French property on account of the non-payment by the French government of an indemnity due to the United States. He also advocated the enactment of a law enabling Indians to defend their rights to their lands in the courts of the United States; also the restriction of the president's power to make removals from office, and the repeal of the four-years act. The slavery question having come to the front again, in consequence of the agitation carried on by the abolitionists, Clay, in the session of 1835-'6, pronounced himself in favor of the reception by the senate of anti-slavery petitions, and against the exclusion of anti-slavery literature from the mails. He declared, however, his opposition to the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia. With regard to the recognition of Texas as an independent state, he maintained a somewhat cold and reserved attitude. In the session of 1836-'7 he reintroduced his land bill without success, and advocated international copyright. His resolutions censuring Jackson for the removal of the deposits, passed in 1834, were, on the motion of Thomas H. Benton, expunged from the records of the senate, against solemn protests from the whig minority in that body. 

Martin Van Buren was elected president in 1836, and immediately after his inauguration the great financial crisis of 1837 broke out. At an extra session of congress, in the summer of 1837, he recommended the introduction of the sub-treasury system. This was earnestly opposed by Clay, who denounced it as a scheme to “unite the power of the purse with the power of the sword.” He and his friends insisted upon the restoration of the U. S. bank. After a struggle of three sessions, the sub-treasury bill succeeded, and the long existence of the system has amply proved the groundlessness of the fears expressed by those who opposed it. Clay strongly desired to be the whig candidate for the presidency in 1840, but failed. The whig national convention, in December, 1839, nominated Harrison and Tyler. Clay was very much incensed at his defeat, but supported Harrison with great energy, making many speeches in the famous “log-cabin and hard-cider” campaign. After the triumphant election of Harrison and Tyler, Clay declined the office of secretary of state offered to him. Harrison died soon after his inauguration. At the extra session of congress in the summer of 1841, Clay was the recognized leader of the whig majority. He moved the repeal of the sub-treasury act, and drove it through both houses. He then brought in a bill providing for the incorporation of a new bank of the United States, which also passed, but was vetoed by President Tyler, 16 Aug., 1841. Another bank bill, framed to meet what were supposed to be the president's objections, was also vetoed. Clay denounced Tyler instantly for what he called his faithlessness to whig principles, and the whig party rallied under Clay's leadership in opposition to the president. At the same session Clay put through his land bill, containing the distribution clause, which, however, could not go into operation because the revenues of the government fell short of the necessary expenditures. At the next session Clay offered an amendment to the constitution limiting the veto power, which during Jackson's and Tyler's administrations had become very obnoxious to him; and also an amendment to the constitution providing that the secretary of the treasury and the treasurer should be appointed by congress; and a third forbidding the appointment of members of congress, while in office, to executive positions. None of them passed. On 31 March, 1842, Clay took leave of the senate and retired to private life, as he said in his farewell speech, never to return to the senate. 

During his retirement he visited different parts of the country, and was everywhere received with great enthusiasm, delivering speeches, in some of which he pronounced himself in favor hot of a “high tariff,” but of a revenue tariff with incidental protection repeatedly affirming that the protective system had been originally designed only as a temporary arrangement to be maintained until the infant industries should have gained sufficient strength to sustain competition with foreign manufactures. It was generally looked upon as certain that he would be the Whig candidate for the presidency in 1844. In the mean time the administration had concluded a treaty of annexation with Texas. In an elaborate letter, dated 17 April, 1844, known as the “Raleigh letter,” Clay declared himself against annexation, mainly because it would bring on a war with Mexico, because it met with serious objection in a large part of the Union, and because it would compromise the national character. Van Buren, who expected to be the democratic candidate for the presidency, also wrote a letter unfavorable to annexation. On 1 May, 1844, the whig national convention nominated Clay by acclamation. The democratic national convention nominated not Van Buren, but James K. Polk for the presidency, with George M. Dallas for the vice-presidency, and adopted a resolution recommending the annexation of Texas. A convention of anti-slavery men was held at Buffalo, N. Y., which put forward as a candidate for the presidency James G. Birney. The senate rejected the annexation treaty, and the Texas question became the main issue in the presidential canvass. As to the tariff and the currency question, the platforms of the democrats and whigs differed very little. Polk, who had the reputation of being a free-trader, wrote a letter apparently favoring a protective ta riff, to propitiate Pennsylvania, where the cry was raised. “Polk, Dallas, and the tariff of 1842.” Clay, yielding to the entreaties of southern whigs, who feared that his declaration against the annexation of Texas might injure his prospects in the south, wrote another letter, in which he said that, far from having any personal objection to the annexation of Texas, he would be “glad to see it without dishonor, without war, with the common consent of the Union, and upon fair terms.” This turned against him many anti-slavery men in the north, and greatly strengthened the Birney movement. It is believed that it cost him the vote of the state of New York, and with it the election It was charged, apparently upon strong grounds that extensive election frauds were committed by the Democrats in the city of New York and in the state of Louisiana, the latter becoming famous as the Plaquemines frauds; but had Clay kept the anti-slavery element on his side, as it was at the beginning of the canvass, these frauds could not have decided the election. His defeat cast the whig party into the deepest gloom, and was lamented by his supporters like a personal misfortune. 

Texas was annexed by a joint resolution which passed the two houses of congress in the session of 1844-'5, and the Mexican war followed. In 1846, Wilmot, of Pennsylvania, moved, as an amendment to a bill appropriating money for purposes connected with the war, a proviso that in all territories to be acquired from Mexico slavery should be forever prohibited, which, however, failed in the senate. This became known as the “Wilmot proviso.” One of Clay's sons was killed in the battle of Buena Vista. In the autumn of 1847, when the Mexican army was completely defeated, Clay made a speech at Lexington, Ky., warning the American people of the dangers that would follow if they gave themselves up to the ambition of conquest, and declaring that there should be a generous peace, requiring no dismemberment of the Mexican republic, but “only a just and proper fixation of the limits of Texas,” and that any desire to acquire any foreign territory whatever for the purpose of propagating slavery should be “positively and emphatically” disclaimed. In February and March, 1848, Clay was honored with great popular receptions in Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York, and his name was again brought forward for the presidential nomination. But the whig national convention, which met on 7 June, 1848, preferred Gen. Zachary Taylor as a more available man, with Millard Fillmore for the vice-presidency. His defeat in the convention was a bitter disappointment to Clay. He declined to come forward to the support of Taylor, and maintained during the canvass can attitude of neutrality. The principal reason he gave was that Taylor had refused to pledge himself to the support of whig principles and measures, and that Taylor had announced his purpose to remain in the field as a candidate, whoever might be nominated by the whig convention. He declined, on the other hand, to permit his name to be used by the dissatisfied whigs. Taylor was elected, the free-soilers, whose candidate was Martin Van Buren, having assured the defeat of the democratic candidate, Gen. Cass, in the state of New York. In the spring of 1849 a convention was to be elected in Kentucky to revise the state constitution, and Clay published a letter recommending gradual emancipation of the slaves. By a unanimous vote of the legislature assembled in December, 1848, Clay was again elected a U. S. senator, and he took his seat in December, 1849. 

By the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, New Mexico and California, including Utah, had been acquired by the United States. The discovery of gold had attracted a large immigration to California. Without waiting for an enabling act, the inhabitants of California, in convention, had framed a constitution by which slavery was prohibited, and applied to congress for admission as a state. The question of the admission of California as a free state, and the other question whether slavery should be admitted into or excluded from New Mexico and Utah, created the intensest excitement in congress and among the people. Leading southern men threatened a dissolution of the Union unless slavery were admitted into the territories acquired from Mexico. On 29 Jan., 1850, Clay, who was at heart in favor of the Wilmot proviso, brought forward in the senate a “comprehensive scheme of compromise,” which included (1) the speedy admission of California as a state; (2) the establishment of territorial governments in New Mexico and Utah without any restriction as to slavery; (3) a settlement of the boundary-line between Texas and New Mexico substantially as it now stands; (4) an indemnity to be paid to Texas for the relinquishment of her claims to a large portion of New Mexico; (5) a declaration that slavery should not be abolished in the District of Columbia; (6) the prohibition of the slave-trade in the district; and (7) a more effective fugitive-slave law. These propositions were, on 18 April, 1850, referred to a special committee, of which Clay was elected chairman. He reported three bills embodying these different subjects, one of which, on account of its comprehensiveness, was called the “omnibus bill.” After a long struggle, the omnibus bill was defeated; but then its different parts were taken up singly, and passed; covering substantially Clay's original propositions. This was the compromise of 1850. In the debate Clay declared in the strongest terms his allegiance to the Union as superior to his allegiance to his state, and denounced secession as treason. The compromise of 1850 added greatly to his renown; but, although it was followed by a short period of quiet, it satisfied neither the south nor the north. To the north the fugitive-slave law was especially distasteful. In January, 1851, forty-four senators and representatives, Clay's name leading, published a manifesto declaring that they would not support for any office any man not known to be opposed to any disturbance of the matters settled by the compromise. In February, 1851, a recaptured fugitive slave having been liberated in Boston, Clay pronounced himself in favor of conferring upon the president extraordinary powers for the enforcement of the fugitive-slave law, his main object being to satisfy the south, and thus to disarm the disunion spirit.

After the adjournment of congress, on 4 March, 1851, his health being much impaired, he went to Cuba for relief, and thence to Ashland. He peremptorily enjoined his friends not to bring forward his name again as that of a candidate for the presidency. To a committee of whigs in New York he addressed a public letter containing an urgent and eloquent plea for the maintenance of the Union. He went to Washington to take his seat in the senate in December, 1851, but, owing to failing health, he appeared there only once during the winter. His last public utterance was a short speech addressed to Louis Kossuth, who visited him in his room, deprecating the entanglement of the United States in the complications of European affairs. He favored the nomination of Fillmore for the presidency by the whig national convention, which met on 16 June, a few days before his death. Clay was unquestionably one of the greatest orators that America ever produced; a man of incorruptible personal integrity; of very great natural ability, but little study; of free and convivial habits; of singularly winning address and manners; not a cautious and safe political leader, but a splendid party chief, idolized by his followers. He was actuated by a lofty national spirit, proud of his country, and ardently devoted to the Union. It was mainly his anxiety to keep the Union intact that inspired his disposition to compromise contested questions. He had in his last hours the satisfaction of seeing his last great work, the compromise of 1850, accepted as a final settlement of the slavery question by the national conventions of both political parties. But only two years after his death it became evident that the compromise had settled nothing. The struggle about slavery broke out anew, and brought forth a civil war, the calamity that Clay had been most anxious to prevent, leading to general emancipation, which Clay would have been glad to see peaceably accomplished. He was buried in the cemetery at Lexington, Ky., and a monument consisting of a tall column surmounted by a statue was erected over his tomb. The accompanying illustrations show his birthplace and tomb. See “Life of Henry Clay,” by George D. Prentice (Hartford, Conn., 1831); “Speeches,” collected by R. Chambers (Cincinnati, 1842); “Life and Speeches of Henry Clay,” by J. B. Swaim (New York, 1843); “Life of Henry Clay,” by Epes Sargent (1844, edited and completed by Horace Greeley, 1852); “Life and Speeches of Henry Clay,” by D. Mallory (1844; new ed., 1857); “Life and Times of Henry Clay,” by Rev. Calvin Colton (6 vols., containing speeches and correspondence, 1846-'57; revised ed., 1864); and “Henry Clay,” by Carl Schurz (2 vols., Boston, 1887). Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I.


Biography from National Portrait Gallery of Distinguished Americans:

“If all this be as is now represented, he has acquired fame enough.”


IN every country, an active politician must occupy a conspicuous place in the public eye. In every country, and in our own, especially, the more conspicuous he is rendered by his talents, energy, decision of character, or peculiar principles, the more will he become the favorite of some, and the object of reproach to others. Where men and principles must be tried at the bar of public opinion, as in our country, or in Great Britain, and we may now add, in France, it is impossible to prevent this result. Nor, is it desirable that it should be otherwise, saving, the bitterness and coarseness of invective, with which political opponents are too often assailed, in the eager strife of parties. To such an extent does this prevail in our land of free presses, that it is to moderate politicians often a subject of deep mortification and regret. To most of those who have been the prominent men of our country these remarks are applicable, and yet, no sooner are they removed from the stage of action, than their country remembers their services with a just regard. Is it right that public men should struggle through a life of anxious toil and unfaltering patriotism, with only the hope of posthumous justice to their integrity and their talents? Certainly not;—we shall therefore make our selections, alike from the distinguished living and the illustrious dead.

Among the names which belong to, and are interwoven with, the history of the United States, that of HENRY CLAY stands in bold relief. Like many others in our country, he has been the builder of his own fortunes; having risen from poverty and obscurity to professional eminence and political dignity, by the energetic and assiduous exercise of his intellectual powers.

HENRY CLAY was born on the 12th of April, 1777, in Hanover county, Virginia. His father, who was a respectable clergyman, died while HENRY was quite young; in consequence of which, he received no other education, than could be acquired at a common school. He was placed at an early age in the office of Mr. Tinsley, clerk of the high court of chancery, at Richmond, where his talents and amiable deportment won for him, the friendship of some of the most respectable and influential gentlemen in the state. At nineteen, he commenced the study of the law, and was admitted to practice when twenty years of age. He soon after removed to Lexington, Kentucky, and continued his studies there about a year longer; during which time he practised public speaking in a debating society. In his first attempt he was much embarrassed, and saluted the president of the society with the technical phrase, gentlemen of the jury; but gaining confidence as he proceeded, he burst the trammels of his youthful diffidence, and clothing his thoughts in appropriate language, gave utterance to an animated and eloquent address. He soon obtained an extensive and lucrative practice; and the reputation which the superiority of his genius acquired, was maintained by his legal knowledge and practical accuracy.

Mr. CLAY’S political and professional career began nearly at the same time; but as we cannot give the details of his varied and busy life within the limits of this sketch, we shall only mark the most prominent points, particularly, where he has taken a stand in support of his favorite principles and measures.

In 1798, when the people of Kentucky were preparing to frame a constitution for the state, a plan was proposed for the gradual emancipation of slaves. Mr. CLAY zealously exerted his talents in favor of it; he wrote for the journals, and declaimed at the public meetings, but his efforts failed of success.

The next great question of a public character in which he took a part, found him arrayed with the popular party, in vindicating the freedom of the press, and in opposition to the sedition law, which was viewed by one political party, as an attempt to control it. His speeches on the subject are said to have exhibited much of that energy of character and power of eloquence, which have since distinguished him on all great public occasions.

In 1803, he was elected a member of the legislature, and soon took rank among the ablest men of the state. In 1806, General Adair resigned his seat in the senate of the United States, and Mr. CLAY was elected to fill the vacancy for one year. He made his debut, in a speech in favor of the erection of a bridge over the Potomac at Georgetown, which is said to have decided the question in favor of the measure, and is the first of his efforts in support of his favorite principle of internal improvement. On his return to Kentucky, he was reëlected to the state legislature, and at the next session was chosen speaker, by a large majority. He held that station for several years, during which he frequently took a part in the debates. He particularly distinguished himself at the first session after his return from congress, by a powerful speech in defence of the common law. A resolution had been introduced to forbid the reading of any British decision, or elementary work on law, in the Kentucky courts. The prejudices of the people, and of a majority of the assembly, were believed to be in favor of the motion; Mr. CLAY moved an amendment, the effect of which was, to exclude those British decisions only, which are of a subsequent date to the declaration of independence. The prejudices against which he contended, were removed by his masterly exposition of the subject. The common law, which viewed in the darkness of ignorance, appeared mysterious and inexplicable; locked up, as was supposed, in a thousand musty volumes; was shown to be simple and easy of comprehension, by the application of a few plain principles. On this occasion, by one of the most extraordinary efforts of his genius, and a brilliant exhibition of his legal knowledge and oratorical powers, Mr. CLAY succeeded in carrying his amendment, by an almost unanimous vote.

In 1809, Mr. CLAY was again elected to the United States’ senate for two years, in the place of Mr. Thurston. At this time, the country had arrived at one of those periods, when the strength of its institutions was to be tried, by the menaces and impositions of foreign powers. The policy of the United States has ever been, a noninterference in the affairs of Europe; but notwithstanding the neutrality of the government, to such a height had the animosity of the belligerent European powers arrived, that each strove to injure the other, even at the expense of justice, and by a violation of our neutral rights. Several expedients had been resorted to, by which it was hoped an appeal to arms might be averted, our commercial rights respected, and our national honor remain untarnished; but at the same time a just apprehension was felt, that after all, our pacific measures might prove abortive, and that it was necessary to prepare for war. To this end, a bill was brought into the senate, to appropriate a sum of money for the purchase of cordage, sail cloth, and other articles; to which an amendment was offered giving the preference to American productions and manufactures. It was on this occasion Mr. CLAY first publicly appeared as the advocate of domestic manufactures, and of the protective policy which has since been called “the American system.” Mr. CLAY also participated in other important questions before the senate, and amongst them, that respecting the title of the United States to Florida, which he sustained with his usual ability.

His term of service in the senate having expired, he was elected a member of the house of representatives, and in the winter of 1811 took his seat in that body, of which he was chosen speaker, by a vote that left no doubt of the extent of his influence, or of the degree of respect entertained for his abilities. This station he continued to hold until 1814. Previous to the time when the preparations for war, before alluded to, became a subject of interest, Mr. CLAY had been rather a participator in the discussion of affairs, than a leader, or originator of any great measures, such as have since characterized the national policy; but from that period, he is to be held responsible as a principal, for the impulse which he has given to such of them, as will probably be left to the calm judgment of posterity. As early as 1811, we find him in his place advocating the raising of a respectable military force. War he conceived inevitable,—that in fact, England had begun it already; and the only question was, he said, whether it was to be “a war of vigor, or a war of languor and imbecility.” “He was in favor of the display of an energy correspondent to the feelings and spirit of the country.” Shortly afterward, with equal fervor, he recommended the gradual increase of the navy; a course of national policy, which has fortunately retained its popularity, and still remains unchanged.

In 1814, Mr. CLAY was appointed one of the commissioners, who negotiated the treaty of Ghent. When he resigned the speaker’s chair on the eve of his departure to Europe, he addressed the house in a speech, “which touched every heart in the assembly, and unsealed many a fountain of tears”; to which the house responded by passing a resolution, almost unanimously, thanking him for the impartiality, with which he had administered the arduous duties of his office. In the spring, after the termination of the negotiations at Ghent, he went to London with two of his former colleagues, Messrs. Adams and Gallatin; and there entered upon a highly important negotiation, which resulted in the commercial convention, which has been made the basis of most of our subsequent commercial arrangements with foreign powers. On his return to his own country, he was every where greeted with applause, and was again elected to the house of representatives in congress, of which he continued to be a member until 1825, when he accepted the appointment of secretary of state under President Adams.

One of the great results of our foreign policy, after the war, was the recognition of the independence of the Spanish colonies. On this subject, Mr. CLAY entered with all his heart and soul, and mind and strength,—he saw “the glorious spectacle of eighteen millions of people struggling to burst their chains and to be free”; and he called to mind the language of the venerated father of his country: “Born in a land of liberty, my anxious recollections, my sympathetic feelings, and my best wishes, are irresistibly excited, whensoever, in my country, I see an oppressed nation unfurl the banners of freedom.” We regret that we cannot enter into the details of his efforts in that cause; it must suffice to notice, that at first they were not successful, yet he was not discouraged, but renewed them the following year, when he carried the measure through the house of representatives. The president immediately thereafter, appointed five ministers plenipotentiary to the principal Spanish American states. While on this subject, we must not permit the occasion to pass without remarking; that much as we admire those British statesmen, who are bending the powers of their noble minds and splendid talents, to the great cause of human liberty and human happiness, we cannot allow them, nor one of them, to appropriate to himself the honor of having “called a new world into existence.” That honor belongs not to George Canning, as a reference to dates will show. If there be glory due to any one mortal man more than to others, for rousing the sympathies of freemen for a people struggling to be free, that glory is due to HENRY CLAY; although he has never had the vanity to say so himself. His exertions won the consent of the American people, to sustain the president in the decisive stand which HE took, when the great European powers contemplated an intervention on behalf of Spain; and it was THAT which decided Great Britain, in the course which she pursued. The Spanish American states have acknowledged their gratitude to Mr. CLAY by public acts; his speeches have been read at the head of their armies; and his name will find as durable a place in the history of the South American republics, as in the records of his native land.

In the domestic policy of the government, there have been two points, to which Mr. CLAY’S attention has been particularly directed, since the late war; both of them, in some degree, resting their claims on the country, from circumstances developed by that war. We are not about to discuss them, but merely to indicate them as his favorite principles, to support which his splendid talents have been directed. These are internal improvements, and the protection of domestic manufactures by means of an adequate tariff. With regard to these measures, the statesmen, and the people of the country, have been much divided,—sometimes, there has been a difference of opinion as to the expediency of them, and sometimes, constitutional objections have been advanced. He has been, however, their steadfast champion, and has been supposed to have connected them, with the settled policy of the country. How far this may prove true, time only can decide.

The right, claimed by South Carolina, to nullify an act of Congress, the warlike preparations made by that state to resist compulsion, and the excitement throughout the country, occasioned by the conflict of interests and opinions, and the hopes and fears of the community, will never be forgotten by the present generation. A civil war and the dissolution of the union, or the destruction of the manufacturing interests, which had grown up to an immense value under the protective system; for a time seemed the only alternatives. During the short session of congress in 1832-3, various propositions were made to remove the threatened evils, by a rëadjustment of the tariff; but the time passed on in high debate, and the country looked on in anxious hope, that some measure would be devised, by which harmony and security might be restored. Two weeks only remained to the end of the session, and nothing had been effected; when Mr. CLAY, “the father of the American system,” himself brought in the olive branch. On the 12th of February, he arose in his place in the senate, and asked leave to introduce a bill, to modify the various acts, imposing duties on imports; he at the same time addressed the senate in explanation of his course, and of the bill proposed. “The basis,” Mr. CLAY said, “on which I wish to found this modification, is one of time; and the several parts of the bill to which I am about to call the attention of the senate, are founded on this basis. I propose to give protection to our manufactured articles, adequate protection, for a length of time, which, compared with the length of human life, is very long, but which is short, in proportion to the legitimate discretion of every wise and parental system of government—securing the stability of legislation, and allowing time for a gradual reduction, on one side; and on the other, proposing to reduce the rate of duties to that revenue standard for which the opponents of the system have so long contended.”

The bill was read, referred to a committee, reported on, and brought to its final passage in the senate within a few days. In the mean time, it had been made the substitute for a bill under discussion, in the house of representatives, and was adopted in that body by a large majority and sent to the senate, where it had its final reading on the 26th, and when approved by the president became a law.

We should not, in this place, have alluded to the course pursued by one of the states, to effect a modification of the tariff, had it not been so inseparably connected with, what we doubt not, will be hereafter considered one of the most important acts of Mr. CLAY’S public life. “He expressly declared that he thought the protective system in extreme danger; and that it would be far better for the manufacturers, for whose interests he felt the greatest solicitude, to secure themselves by the bill, than take the chances of the next session of congress, when, from the constitution of both houses, it was probable a worse one would be passed.” On the other hand, he urged the proposition “as a measure of mutual concession,—of peace, of harmony. He wanted to see no civil war; no sacked cities; no embattled armies; no streams of American blood shed by American arms.” We trust, that the crisis is passed, and that we shall continue for ever a united, prosperous, and happy people.

The tariff has had its effect so far, that a new era has commenced, and it is very probable, that the revenue of the country will finally be settled down to a standard, only sufficient, to meet the expenses of the government. In connection with this subject, we wish to preserve the following extract from the speech of Mr. Verplanck, in January, 1833, in support of a bill to reduce the tariff, reported by him to congress:

“The last war left the nation laboring under a weight of public debt. The payment of that war debt was one of the great objects of the arrangement of our revenue system at the peace, and it was never lost sight of in any subsequent arrangement of our tariff system. Since 1815, we have annually derived a revenue from several sources, but by far the largest part from duties on imports, of sometimes twenty, sometimes twenty-five, and recently thirty-two and thirty three millions of dollars a year.

“Of this sum, ten millions always, but of late a much larger proportion, has been devoted to the payment of the interest and principal of the public debt. At last that debt has been extinguished. The manner in which those burthens were distributed under former laws, has been, heretofore, a subject of complaint and remonstrance. I do not propose to inquire into the wisdom or justice of those laws. The debt has been extinguished by them—let us be grateful for the past.”

Many other interesting incidents are presented in the public life of Mr. CLAY, to which we shall only advert; such, as the part he took in the Missouri question; in the election of Mr. Adams; on the subject of sending a commissioner to Greece; on the colonization of the negroes; and more recently, his labors in favor of rechartering the United States Bank, and for the distribution of the proceeds of the public lands for the purposes of internal improvement, education, &c.

Mr. CLAY received from Mr. Madison the successive offers of a mission to Russia, and a place in the cabinet; and from Mr. Monroe a situation in his cabinet, and the mission to England; all of which he declined.

On the great Cumberland road, there has been erected a large and beautiful monument, surmounted by a figure of Liberty, and inscribed “HENRY CLAY.” These are evidences of the estimation in which Mr. CLAY has been held by his contemporaries; others might be adduced, but they would be superfluous.

Twice he has been nominated for the presidency, but without success. We trust that he is too firm in his republican principles to murmur, and that his friends will in some measure be consoled, by reflections similar to that, which we have adopted as a motto to this article.

Source: National Portrait Gallery of Distinguished Americans, 1839, Vol. 1.


CLOTHIER, Caleb, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Society of Friends, Quaker, abolitionist, member of the Association of Friends for Advocating the Cause of the Slave, and Hicksite Anti-Slavery Association.

(Drake, 1950, pp. 154, 156, 172)


COATES, Lindley, 1794-1856, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Society of Friends, Quaker.  Manager, 1833-1840, and founding member of the American Anti-Slavery Society, December 1833.  Ardent abolitionist who helped escaped slaves.  Member of the Underground Railroad.  Petitioned Congress on November 19, 1835, to “Secure the rights of freedom to every human being residing within the constitutional jurisdiction of Congress, and [to] prohibit every species of traffic in the persons of men [i.e., the internal slave trade], which is as inconsistent in principle and inhuman in practice as the foreign slave trade.”

(Drake, 1950, pp. 146, 149; Abolitionist, Vol. I, No. XII, December, 1833)


COATES, Samuel, 1748-1830, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Society of Friends, Quaker, merchant, director of the First Bank of the United States, member and delegate of the Pennsylvania Abolitionist Society (PAS), Committee of Twenty-Four.

(Basker, 2005, pp. 223, 224, 238, 240n15; Nash, 1991, p. 129; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 2, Pt. 2, p. 238)


COBB, Sylvanus, 1798-1866, Norway, Maine, clergyman, newspaper editor, temperance and anti-slavery leader.  Editor of the Christian Freeman for 20 years. 

(Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I, p.668; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 2, Pt. 2, p. 245)


Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

COBB, Sylvanus, clergyman, b. in Norway, Me., in July, 1799; d. in East Boston, 31 Oct., 1866. In 1828 he was settled over Universalist churches at Malden and Waltham, Mass., and in 1838 took charge of the “Christian Freeman,” which he edited for more than twenty years. He was for many years a leader in the anti-slavery and temperance movements. Dr. Cobb's published works include “The New Testament, with Explanatory Notes” (Boston, 1864); “Compend of Divinity” and “Discussions.” Appletons’ Cylcopædia of American Biography, 1888.


COBURN, John P., 1811-1873, African American, abolitionist, businessman.

(Gates, Henry Louis, Jr., & Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, eds. African American National Biography. Oxford University Press, 2013, Vol. 3, p. 146)


COCHRANE, Clark B., 1817-1867, New Boston, New Hampshire, lawyer, U.S. Congressman. 

(Appletons’ Cylcopædia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I)


Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

COCHRANE, Clark B., lawyer, b. in New Boston. N. H., in 1817; d. in Albany, N. Y., 5 March, 1867. He was graduated at Union, and devoted himself to the study of law. In 1844 he was chosen a member of the assembly, on the democratic ticket, from Montgomery county. He was one of the primitive barnburners, supported Van Buren and Adams in 1848, and in 1854 vigorously opposed the Kansas-Nebraska bill, after which he acted with the republican party. In 1856 he was elected to congress from the Schenectady district, and in 1858 was re-elected. The following year, his health becoming affected by the excitement of congressional life, he was obliged to return home for temporary rest, and after the expiration of his term resided in Albany, devoting himself to his profession. In 1865 he accepted a nomination for the legislature. He was the acknowledged leader of the house, and his tact in quieting angry debate gave him the title of “The Great Pacificator.” Appletons’ Cylcopædia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I.


CODDING, Ichabod, 1811-1866, born in Bristol, New York, clergyman, anti-slavery agent, commissioned in 1836.  Lectured against slavery. 

(Blue, 2005, pp. 119, 120; Dumond, 1961, p. 186; Filler, 1960, pp. 152, 232, 247; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I, p. 673)


COFFIN, Joshua, 1792-1864, Tyngborough, PA, educator, author, ardent abolitionist, founder of the New England Anti-Slavery Society in 1832.  He was its co-founder and first recording secretary.  Manager of the American Anti-Slavery Society, 1834-1837.

(Coffin, 1860; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I, 675)


Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

COFFIN, Joshua, antiquary, b. in Newbury, Mass., 12 Oct., 1792; d. there, 24 June, 1864. He was graduated at Dartmouth in 1817, and taught for many years, numbering among his pupils the poet Whittier, who addressed to him a poem entitled “To My Old School-Master.” Mr. Coffin was ardent in the cause of emancipation, and was one of the founders of the New England anti-slavery society in 1832, being its first recording secretary. He published “The History of Ancient Newbury” (Boston, 1845), genealogies of the Woodman, Little, and Toppan families, and magazine articles. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I. pp. 675.


COFFIN, Levi, 1798-1877, Newport, Indiana, philanthropist, Society of Friends, Quaker, philanthropist, author, abolitionist, conductor Underground Railroad, established Indiana Yearly Meeting of Anti-Slavery Friends.  Active in Free Labor Movement, which encouraged people not to trade in goods produced by slave labor.  Helped start the Western Freedman’s Aid Commission.  Wrote Reminiscences of Levi Coffin, Reputed President of the Underground Railroad, Cincinnati, OH: Western Tract Society.  Helped three thousands slaves to freedom.  Coffin was a manager of the American Anti-Slavery Society (AASS). 

(Drake, 1950, pp. 162, 165, 186, 187, 197; Dumond, 1961, pp. 90, 92; Mabee, 1970, pp. 141, 225, 273, 280, 283; Rodriguez, 2007, pp. 75, 231-232, 488, 489; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I, p. 675; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936; American Reformers: An H.W. Wilson Biographical Dictionary, New York, 1985, pp. 177-178; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 5, p. 148)


Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

COFFIN, Levi, philanthropist, b. near New Garden, N. C., 28 Oct., 1798; d. in Avondale, Ohio, 16 Sept., 1877. His ancestors were natives of Nantucket. He assisted on his father's farm and had but little schooling, yet he became a teacher. The cruel treatment of the negroes, and the Quakers principles under which he was reared, enlisted his sympathies in favor of the oppressed race, and at the age of fifteen he began to aid in the escape of slaves. Subsequently he organized a Sunday-school for negroes, and in 1822 opened his first school. In 1826 he settled in Wayne county, Ind., where he kept a country store. Being prosperous in this undertaking, he soon enlarged his business in various lines, including also the curing of pork. In 1836 he built an oil-mill and began the manufacture of linseed-oil. Meanwhile his interest in the slaves continued, and he was active in the “underground railroad,” a secret organization, whose purpose was the transportation of slaves from member to member until a place was reached where the negro was free. Thousands of escaping slaves were aided on their way to Canada by him, including Eliza Harris, who subsequently became known through “Uncle Tom's Cabin.” The question of using only “free-labor goods” had been for some time agitated throughout the United States, and in 1846 a convention was held in Salem, Ind., at which Mr. Coffin was chosen to open such a store in Cincinnati. Accordingly he moved to that city in April, 1847. The undertaking proved successful, and he continued to be so occupied for many years. His relations with the “underground railroad” were also continued, and he became its president. In 1863 he was associated in the establishment of the freedmen's bureau, and during the following year was sent to Europe as agent for the Western freedmen's aid commission. He held meetings in all of the prominent cities in Great Britain, enlisted much sympathy, and secured funds. Again in 1867 he visited Europe in the same capacity. When the colored people of Cincinnati celebrated the adoption of the fifteenth amendment to the United States constitution, he formally resigned his office of president of the “underground railroad,” which he had held for more than thirty years. The story of his life is told in “Reminiscences of Levi Coffin, the Reputed President of the Underground Railroad” (Cincinnati, 1876). Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I. pp. 675.


COLDEN, Cadallader David, 1769-1834, New York, lawyer, soldier, opponent of slavery, 54th Mayor of New York City, U.S. Congressman 1821-1823.  President of the New York Manumission Society (established 1785). 

(Biographical Dictionary of the U.S. Congress; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 2, Pt. 2, p. 287)


COLEMAN, Elihu, d. 1789, Nantucket, carpenter, Society of Friends, Quaker.  Early Quaker opponent of slavery.  Wrote pamphlet, “A Testimony Against that Anti-Christian Practice of Making Slaves of Men.”  Cole believed that slavery was un-Christian and against the precepts of the Golden Rule.

(Bruns, 1977, pp. 39-45; Drake, 1950, pp. 34, 37-39, 49, 63; Locke, 1901, pp. 24, 25, 33; Rodriguez, 2007, p. 12)


COLFAX, Schuyler, 1823-1885, Vice President of the United States, statesman, newspaper editor.  Member of Congress, 1854-1869.  Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives from Indiana.  Secretary of State.  Opposed slavery as a Republican Member of Congress. Voted for Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery. 

(Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I, pp. 687-688; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 2, Pt. 2, p. 297; Congressional Globe; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 5, p. 297)


Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

COLFAX, Schuyler, statesman, b. in New York city, 23 March, 1823; d. in Mankato, Minn., 13 Jan., 1885. His grandfather was Gen. William Colfax, who commanded the life-guards of Washington throughout the Revolutionary war. His father died a short time before the son's birth, and in 1834 his mother married George W. Matthews. After attending the public schools till he was ten years of age, and serving three years as clerk in his step-father's store, Schuyler went with the family to Indiana in 1836, and settled in New Carlisle, St. Joseph co., where Mr. Matthews soon became postmaster. The boy continued to serve as his clerk, and began a journal to aid himself in composition, contributing at the same time to the county paper. His step-father retired from business in 1839, and Colfax then began to study law, but afterward gave it up. In 1841 Mr. Matthews was elected county auditor, and removed to South Bend, making his step-son his deputy, which office Colfax held for eight years. In 1842 he was active in organizing a temperance society in South Bend, and continued a total abstainer throughout his life. At this time he reported the proceedings of the state senate for the Indianapolis “Journal” for two years. In 1844 he made campaign speeches for Henry Clay. He had acted as editor of the South Bend ·”Free Press” for about a year when, in company with A. W. West, he bought the paper in September, 1845, and changed its name to the “St. Joseph Valley Register.” Under his management, despite numerous mishaps and business losses, the “Register” quadrupled its subscription in a few years, and became the most influential journal, in support of whig politics, in that part of Indiana: Mr. Colfax was secretary of the Chicago harbor and river convention of July, 1847, and also of the Baltimore whig convention of 1848, which nominated Taylor for president. The next year he was elected a member of the convention to revise the constitution of the state of Indiana, and in his place, both by voice and vote, opposed the clause that prohibited free colored men from settling in that state. He was also offered a nomination for the state senate, but declined it. In 1851 he was a candidate for congress, and came near being elected in a district that was strongly democratic. He accepted his opponent's challenge to a joint canvass, travelled a thousand miles, and spoke seventy times. He was again a delegate to the whig national convention in 1852, and, having joined the newly formed republican party, was its successful candidate for congress in 1854, serving by successive re-elections till 1869. In 1856 he supported Fremont for president, and during the canvass made a speech in congress on the extension of slavery and .the aggressions of the slave-power. This speech was used as a campaign document, and more than half a million copies were circulated. He was chairman of several important committees of congress, especially that on post-offices and post-roads, and introduced many reforms, including a bill providing for a daily overland mail-route from St. Louis to San Francisco, reaching mining-camps where letters had previously been delivered by express at five dollars an ounce. Mr. Colfax favored Edward Bates as the republican candidate for the presidency in 1860. His name was widely mentioned for the office of postmaster - general in Lincoln's cabinet, but the president selected C. B. Smith, of Indiana, on the ground, as he afterward wrote Colfax, that the latter was “a young man running a brilliant career, and sure of a bright future in any event.” In the latter part of 1861 he ably defended Fremont in the house against the attack of Frank P. Blair. In 1862 he introduced a bill, which became a law, to punish fraudulent contractors as felons, and continued his efforts for reform in the postal service. He was elected speaker of the house on 7 Dec., 1863, and on 8 April, 1864, descended from the chair to move the expulsion of Mr. Long, of Ohio, who had made a speech favoring the recognition of the southern confederacy. The resolution was afterward changed to one of censure, and Mr. Colfax's action was widely commented on, but generally sustained by Union men. On 7 May, 1864, he was presented by citizens of Indiana then in Washington with a service of silver, largely on account of his course in this matter. He was twice re-elected as speaker, each time by an increased majority, and gained the applause of both friends and opponents by his skill as a presiding officer, often shown under very trying circumstances. In May, 1868, the republican national convention at Chicago nominated him on the first ballot for vice-president, Gen. Grant being the nominee for president, and, the republican ticket having been successful, he took his seat as president of the senate on 4 March, 1869. On 4 Aug., 1871, President Grant offered him the place of secretary of state for the remainder of his term, but he declined. In 1872 he was prominently mentioned as a presidential candidate, especially by those who, later in the year, were leaders in the liberal republican movement, and, although he refused to join them, this was sufficient to make administration men oppose his renomination for the vice-presidency, and he was defeated in the Philadelphia convention of 1872. In December, 1872; he was offered the chief editorship of the New York “Tribune,” but declined it. In 1873 Mr. Colfax was implicated in the charger of corruption brought against members of congress who had received shares of stock in the credit mobilier of America. The house judiciary committee reported that there was no ground for his impeachment, as the alleged offence, if committed at all, had been committed before he became vice-president. These charges cast a shadow over the latter part of Mr. Colfax's life. He denied their truth, and his friends have always regarded his character as irreproachable. His later years were spent mostly in retirement in his home at South Bend, Ind., and in delivering public lectures, which he did frequently before large audiences. His first success in this field had been in 1865 with a lecture entitled “Across the Continent,” written after his return from an excursion to California. The most popular of his later lectures was that on “Lincoln and Garfield.” Mr. Colfax was twice married. After his death, which was the result of heart disease, public honors were paid to his memory both in congress and in Indiana. See “Life of Colfax” by O. J. Hollister (New York, 1886). Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I. pp. 687-688.


COLLINS, John Anderson, 1810-1879, abolitionist, social reformer.  General Agent and Vice President, Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society.  Edited anti-slavery magazine, Monthly Garland

(Filler, 1960, pp. 24, 110, 135; Mabee, 1970, pp. 76, 80, 81, 82, 88, 112, 114, 119, 120, 123, 124, 125, 212, 264, 394n30, 394n31, 398n13; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 2, Pt. 2, p. 307; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 5, p. 253)


COLMAN, Lucy Newhall, 1817-1906, Rochester, New York, abolitionist.  Lectured against slavery in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois.  Helped and supported by Frederick Douglass. 

(Sernett, 2002, pp. 55-56; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 2, Pt. 2, p. 313; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 5, p. 260)


COLVER, Nathaniel, 1794-1870, Boston, Massachusetts, abolitionist, clergyman, anti-slavery agent.  Baptist minister.  Lectured against slavery in New York State.  Counsellor, Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society, 1839-1840. 

(Dumond, 1961, pp. 188, 393n22; Goodell, 1852, pp. 505-506; “The Friend of Man,” March 27, 1837; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I, p. 699; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 2, Pt. 2, p. 324)


Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

COLVER, Nathaniel, clergyman, b. in Orwe11, Vt., 10 May, 1794; d. in Chicago, 25 Dec., 1870. His father, a Baptist minister, removed, while Nathaniel was a child, to Champlain, in northern New York, and thence to West Stockbridge, Mass., where the son was converted and decided to enter the Baptist ministry. Though he had but slender opportunities of early education, he made himself a respectable scholar. After brief pastorates in various places he was called in 1839 to Boston, where he co-operated in organizing the church since famous as Tremont Temple. His ministry here was remarkable for its bold, uncompromising, and effective warfare upon slavery and intemperance, as well as for its directly spiritual results. On leaving Boston in 1852, Mr. Colver was pastor at South Abingdon, Mass., at Detroit, at Cincinnati, and finally, in 1861, at Chicago. While in Cincinnati he received from Denison university the degree of D. D. In Chicago he was invited to take the professorship of doctrinal theology in the theological seminary in process of organization in that city. In 1867-'70 he was president of the Freedman's institute in Richmond, Va. Dr. Colver bore a conspicuous part in the anti-masonic, anti-slavery, and temperance movements of his day. He wrote much for the press, and published, besides occasional addresses, three lectures on Odd-fellowship (1844). Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I. pp. 699.   


COLWELL, Stephen, 1800-1872, Pennsylvania, political economist, philanthropist, author, businessman, lawyer.  Director of the American Colonization Society, 1839-1841.  Contributed funds to the Freedman’s Aid Society. 

(Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I, p. 700; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 2, Pt. 2, p. 327; Staudenraus, P. J. The African Colonization Movement, 1816-1865. New York: Columbia University Press, 1961)


Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

COLWELL, Stephen, author, b. in Brooke county, Va., 25 March, 1800; d. in Philadelphia, Pa., 15 J an., 1872. He was graduated in 1819 at Jefferson college, Pa., studied law, and was admitted to the bar of Virginia in 1821. Removing to Pittsburg, Pa., he practised law for ten years, when he became an iron merchant in Philadelphia. He devoted much of his time to the study of political economy, and soon began to write for the press. He acquired large wealth, which he devoted to charitable purposes, to the endowment of professorships, to the encouragement of scientific investigation, and to the collection of a large and valuable library, including a very complete selection of works on his favorite topics of political and social science. During the civil war Mr. Colwell was among the foremost supporters of the National government in its struggle against secession. He lent his name and his money to the cause, and strengthened the hands of the administration by every means in his power. He was one of the founders of the Union league of Philadelphia, and an associate member of the U. S. sanitary commission. After the war he was appointed a commissioner to examine the whole internal revenue system of the United States, with a view to suggesting such modifications as would distribute and lighten the necessary burdens of taxation—a problem of peculiar importance at that crisis of the nation 's history. To this work he devoted much time and study, and his advice had due weight in determining the financial policy of the government. He bequeathed his library to the University of Pennsylvania with an endowment for a professorship of social science. His first published work, under the signature of “Mr. Penn,” was entitled “Letter to Members of the Legislature of Pennsylvania on the Removal of Deposits from the Bank of the United States by Order of the President” (1834). Still concealing his identity under the name of “Jonathan B. Wise,” he published “The Relative Position in our Industry of Foreign Commerce, Domestic Production, and Internal Trade” (Philadelphia, 1850). He was the author of “New Themes for the Protestant Clergy” (1851); “Polities for American Christians” (1852); “Hints to Laymen,” and “Charity and the Clergy” (1853); “Position of Christianity in the United States, in its Relation with our Political System and Religious Instruction in the Public Schools” (1855); “The South; a Letter from a Friend in the North with Reference to the Effects of Disunion upon Slavery” (1856). The same year he edited, with notes, “List's Treatise on National Economy.” His last and most important work is “The Ways and Means of Commercial Payment” (1858). Besides these publications in book-form, he was the author of a noteworthy article in the “Merchant's Magazine,” entitled “Money of Account” (1852), and another essay on the same subject in the “Banker’s Magazine” (1855). Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I. pp. 700.  


COMINGS, Benjamin, abolitionist, New Hampshire, American Anti-Slavery Society, Manager, 1847-48, Vice-President, 1848-54.



Chapter: “Aiding The Border States,” by Henry Wilson, in History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, 1878.

The difficult and delicate task imposed upon President Lincoln in attempting to adjust his policy in the matter of slavery to the jarring interests and conflicting claims of Northern antislavery and Southern Unionism has been frequently referred to in the preceding pages. Beginning his administration with the simple purpose to save the Union, without regard to slavery except to fulfil with punctilious exactness all constitutional obligations, but gradually awaking to what soon became incontrovertible, that the nation could no more be saved than it could " endure half slave and half free," he was confronted with the grave problem of so far satisfying and conciliating both extremes as to keep them actively and vigorously engaged in the work of prosecuting the war, with its immense cost and fearful sacrifices. Plainly he could not satisfy both, if either. " Few great public men," it has been said, " have ever been the victims of fiercer denunciations than Abraham Lincoln was during his administration. He was often wounded in the house of his friends. Reproaches came thick and fast from within and "without, and from opposite quarters. He was assailed by Abolitionists; he was assailed by slaveholders; he was assailed by the men who were for peace at any price; he was assailed by those who were for a more vigorous prosecution of the war; he was assailed for not making the war an Abolition war; and he was most bitterly assailed for making the war an Abolition war."

During the first year he did not relinquish the ruling idea, so firmly and freely expressed at the outset by both himself and party, that the only end for which the war was prosecuted was the vindication of the authority of the Federal government and the maintenance of the Union, with no designs whatever upon the peculiar institutions of the South. Indeed, for that time the policy of his administration had been so sedulously guarded in that direction that it was deemed far more favor able to the Southern than to the Northern side of the great question at issue. So far had this purpose given color and direction to his policy that he felt constrained to take special pains to disavow by words and actions any intention of interfering with the system, not only allowing generals to return fugitives to their masters, but modifying the proclamation of Fremont, who had declared the slaves of Rebels free, and relieving him of his command. General Hunter in South Carolina had gathered from the slaves, whose masters were fugitives, a regiment of colored soldiers; but Congress adopted a resolution calling him to account therefor. Before that, too, Mr. Seward, as Secretary of State, had been still more explicit in his despatch to Mr. Dayton, Minister to France. After saying that "the condition of slavery in the several States will remain just the same whether the war succeed or not," he added "to this incontestable statement the further fact that the new President, as well as the citizens through whose suffrages he has come into the administration, has always repudiated all designs whatever and whenever imputed to him and them, of disturbing the system of slavery as it is existing under the Constitution and the laws."

But the progress of events and the purposes of Providence were stronger than the plans and policies of politicians; and the administration, if so disposed, could no longer repress or ignore this growing sentiment of the loyal States that this immunity of slavery should be at least considered, and made the subject of discussion. But the difficulty in the way of either moving or standing still was great and every way serious. "Mr. Lincoln," said Mr. Hickman of Pennsylvania, "has found himself between two swords, — the sword of the party looking to a particular policy to be pursued towards a Rebellion springing from slavery; and the sword in the hands of the border States, who insist all the time that the war shall be prosecuted in such a way as to save their peculiar, divine, and humanizing institution."

But Mr. Lincoln, more cautious and chary, if not wiser, than his censors and assailants, sought the object desired by more gradual approaches. He would persuade and aid the slaveholders of the border States to do voluntarily what he hesitated to attempt by coercion. On the 6th of March, 1862, he sent a special message to Congress recommending the adoption of a resolution pledging the United States government to co-operate, by appropriate legislation and pecuniary aid, "with any State which would adopt a system of the gradual abolishment of slavery." In this message, after saying that if the proposition did not " meet the approval of Congress and the country, there is the end," he frankly avowed his purpose, and gave his reasons for making such a recommendation. Alluding to the hope of " the leaders of the insurrection" that the Federal government would be obliged to acknowledge the independence of some part of the disaffected region, and that, in that case, " the slave States north of that part" would choose to "go with the Southern section," he said he would disappoint that hope if possible by persuading these border States to abolish slavery, which would " make it certain to the more Southern that in no event will the former ever join the latter in the proposed confederacy…. To deprive them of this hope substantially ends the Rebellion." To guard against the assumption that its ultimate purpose was universal emancipation, he said: " The point is, not that all the States tolerating slavery would very soon, if at all, initiate emancipation, but that, while the offer is equally made to all, the more Northern, by such initiation" will show that all hope of their joining the Rebel slave holders must be vain. Expressing the hope that such initiatory measures might "lead to important practical results," he closed by the solemn asseveration that he did it "in full view of his great responsibility to God and his country"; and he earnestly begged "the attention of Congress and the people to the subject."

The proposition thus solemnly brought to the consideration of Congress and the country evoked a varied response, not only on account of the different standpoints from which it was viewed, and of the different convictions and prepossessions entertained, but because it was a subject so confessedly new, difficult, and without precedent, that men of equal ability and equal honesty would very naturally differ concerning it. There were at least four classes of opinion and feeling existing, with many shades of difference between them; those respectively of the thoroughgoing antislavery men, the conservatives, the Democracy, mostly proslavery, and the border State men, who loved both the Union and slavery, and who were determined, if possible, to maintain each.

While there was a majority of both houses who were willing to vote for anything that even gave promise of relief, — and this proposition certainly did that, — there were many to oppose; some on constitutional grounds, and some because it seemed to be a measure of interference with slavery, if not, as charged, a covert attack upon the system itself. Others regarded it as having no promised vigor of action, — a project that could not effect the object professedly aimed at. A few days after the reception of the message, Mr. Conkling in the House moved the reference of the proposed resolution to the Committee of the Whole. It at once encountered Democratic opposition, Benjamin Wood of New York objecting to its reception. Mr. Richardson of Illinois opposed the resolution. "My people," he said, "are not prepared to enter upon the proposed work of purchasing the slaves of other people, and turning them loose in their midst." "I have taken my stand," said Mr. Voorhees of Indiana, "in the name of the people I represent, against it. If there is any border-slave State man there who is in doubt whether he wants his State to sell its slaves to the government or not, I represent a people that is in no doubt as to whether they want to become purchasers. It takes two to make a bargain; and I repudiate, once and forever, for the people whom I represent on this floor, any part or parcel in such a contract."

The Border-State men were divided; or, at least, they were not all equally opposed to the resolution. Wickliffe, Wadsworth, and Crittenden of Kentucky opposed it. The latter, after according purity of intention to the President, and no disposition to interfere with slavery in the States, added: "Do I not know, that although the President will abstain from interfering, there are many others, who, knowing it is a favorite policy of his, desiring themselves to be in his favor, would stir up an emancipation party" in these border States? Mr. Fisher of Delaware announced his purpose to vote for the resolution. Mr. Grider of Kentucky remarked that he had not decided how he should vote, and Mr. Mallory of the same State asked for time in which the representatives of the border States might consult.

Several Republicans opposed it very strenuously. Thaddeus Stevens thought it " the most diluted, milk-and-water-gruel proposition that was ever given to the American nation." Mr. Hickman said it was " rather an excuse for non-action than an avowed determination to act." "Neither the message nor the resolution," he said, "is manly and open. They are both covert and insidious. They do not become the dignity of the President of the United States. The message is not such a document as a full-grown, independent man should publish to the nation at such a time as the present, when positions should be freely and fully defined." He made the important statement that he could " not discover a difference in views" on slavery "between a man from Maryland and a man from South Carolina Wherever the negro is, there is an undivided loyalty to slavery; and every day's proceedings here show it." 

But the message and resolutions had able advocates. Mr. Bingham of Ohio, in answer to the question where in the Constitution could be found the clause giving to Congress the power to "appropriate the treasure of the United States to buy negroes or to set them free," referred to the words of Madison, the "father of the Constitution," that the power conferred on the national legislature by that instrument for the common defence had "no limitation, express or implied"; that "it is in vain to oppose constitutional barriers to the impulse of self-preservation; it is worse than in vain." Mr. Diven of New York hailed " the introduction of this, coming from the executive of the country, as a bow of hope and promise," and he called upon the loyal men of the border States to rally around the President, who "never thought of violating one of their constitutional rights," to bring this country out from this fiery ordeal unscathed, with every star upon her flag undimmed. "What is this resolution, in its whole scope and intent? " asked Mr. Olin of New York. "Why, simply, that if you gentlemen of the slave States are willing to get rid of slavery, the general government will aid you to do it by giving you a compensation for any loss you may sustain." And this he characterized as "the magnanimous, the great, the godlike policy of the administration." The resolution was passed by a vote of eighty-nine to thirty-four.

It was reported to the Senate on the 20th, and made the subject of debate on the 24th. Mr. Saulsbury of Delaware made a furious speech against it. "It is," he said, "the most extraordinary resolution that was ever introduced into an American Congress; extraordinary in its origin, extraordinary in the object which it contemplates, mischievous in its tendency; and I am not at all sure that it is anywise patriotic even in its design." Mr. Powell of Kentucky, remarking that he regarded the message as artfully and cautiously worded, really containing a threat of ultimate coercion if the proffered aid was not accepted, said: "I regard the whole thing, so far as the slave States are concerned, as a pill of arsenic, sugar coated." Mr. Latham, though he regarded the President's motion "a proper and patriotic one," was not prepared to pledge the people of the Pacific States "to submit to any kind of taxation that the government may see fit to impose in a general scheme of emancipation." Mr. McDougall of the same State urged the same objection, and he denied the right of Congress to tax the people on the shores of the Pacific "for the purpose of emancipating the slaves of Kentucky, Missouri, and Maryland." Mr. Davis of Kentucky offered an amendment which coupled the idea of colonization with that of emancipation; but it was rejected.

The debate in the Senate was brief, and yet the considerate and conciliatory proposition of the President found advocates who spoke earnestly and effectively. "I cannot conceive," says Mr. Morrill of Maine, "that such a proposition is offensive, or can be offensive, to any man or any class of men who have not made up their minds that, above all things, — Constitution, country, everything, — they hold slavery to be supreme, and that they will stand on that, no matter what becomes of the country." Treating with scorn and contempt "every invitation to consider the subject, "Senators" are indignant that the President proposes that these States in their own way shall consider whether it is not expedient to get rid, in the future, of the cause of our present troubles." Even the slave State of Missouri found voice, and spoke words of commendation in a speech of Mr. Henderson. "I regard it," he said, "as no insult to the people of my State, no threat, but a measure conciliatory and looking to the future peace and harmony of the country, and to the early restoration of the Union. If this spirit had been more largely cultivated in days gone by, we would not this day be forced to witness a ruined South and a deeply oppressed North. Why, sir, ninety-six days of this war would pay for every slave in the States of Kentucky, Missouri, Maryland, and the District of Columbia." On the conclusion of the debate the resolution was adopted by a vote of thirty-two to ten; and it received the President's approval April 10, 1862. While this resolution was before Congress there were various other propositions of a like tenor introduced and considered. As they all failed, or were superseded by the President's Proclamation of Emancipation, issued on the 22d of the following September, they require notice mainly as showing the current of popular thought and feeling at that time. That they were really inchoate and tentative, and exhibited much conflict of opinion even among those agreeing in the essential points at issue; that the able and earnest men who engaged in those discussions did not and could not fully comprehend the situation; that they spent weeks and months in debating propositions and maturing schemes that were all to be swept away by the rush of events then near at hand, only proved that they were not omniscient and could not pierce the darkness of the future. In the "dark and troubled night" that had fallen upon, the nation, when the land was full of suffering and sorrow, of griefs for the past and apprehensions for the future; when

"The air was full of farewells to the dying

And mournings for the dead";

when all men "knew of agony" was crowded into the passing days and weeks; when the wisest and the strongest, ignorant of the Divine purpose, could not forecast the final outcome of all they were suffering and passing through, it is no reflection upon the statesmen of the XXXVIIth Congress that their debates during the winter and spring of 1862 came to no practical result. But, for all that, the record of those days was a worthy one, honorable and instructive. It reveals a growing sense of justice, and a reverent feeling of dependence on the Divine favor; a magnanimity of purpose that made members tolerant and just even towards those who were inflicting such untold and irreparable injuries on themselves and country; the unconquered will and the heroic self-sacrifice that animated and sustained them in that supreme moment of the nation's life.

On the 7th of March Mr. Wilson of Massachusetts asked leave to introduce a joint resolution to grant aid to the States of Delaware and Maryland to emancipate their slaves. Objection being made by Mr. Saulsbury, who announced his purpose to "object to the proposition at every stage, and to fight it at every stage," it was laid over, and on the 10th it was read and passed to a second reading, but was never called up again. On the 19th of the same month Mr. Henderson of Missouri introduced a bill granting aid to his State to emancipate its slaves. It was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, which subsequently reported it with a recommendation that it should not pass.

In the House the subject had been introduced on the 7th of April, 1862, by a resolution, offered by Mr. White of Indiana, for the appointment of a select committee of nine members, the chairman and a majority of whom should be members from the States of Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Missouri, to make inquiry and to report a plan for the gradual emancipation of slaves and extinction of slavery in those States. It was also authorized to "extend the same inquiries as to the other slaveholding States, and to report thereon." But it, too, encountered Democratic opposition from the start, Mr. Mallory denouncing it as "an unconstitutional absurdity." The resolution was adopted by a majority of fifteen, and White of Indiana, Blair of Missouri, Fisher of Delaware, Lehman of Pennsylvania, Leary of Maryland, Whaley of Virginia, Wilson of Iowa, Casey of Kentucky, and Clements of Tennessee were appointed members of that committee. On the 16th of July the committee reported a bill for a system of emancipation of slaves and colonization of free negroes. The bill provided that, whenever the President shall be satisfied that any State shall have emancipated the slaves therein, he shall deliver to such State an amount of United States bonds "equal to the aggregate value of all its slaves at the rate of three hundred dollars each," excluding any owner who had given aid to the Rebellion, said sums "to be delivered at once if the emancipation shall be immediate, or in rat able instalments if it shall be gradual." In his accompanying speech, Mr. White said that the committee had adopted it with great unanimity, differing only in matters of detail. "It is addressed," he said, "not to the politician of an hour, but to historic men, conscious of the peril of their country, who know that great sacrifices must be made to save it, and look upon this as the most hopeful, as it will be the noblest, in its results." The bill, however, never came up for action.

On the 15th of December Mr. Noell of Missouri introduced a bill to secure the abolishment of slavery in his State and provide for the compensation of "loyal persons therein who own slaves." This was referred to the Select Committee on Emancipation, which reported it back, without amendment, on the 6th of January succeeding. It provided that the United States should furnish the sum of ten million dollars, in its bonds, as soon as Missouri should, in good faith and by an irrepealable act, emancipate her slaves. Mr. Clements made a verbal minority report, in which he indorsed the principle, embodied in a previous report of the committee, of the measure of aiding the border States to abolish by "aid from the national treasury," as something deserving the thanks of all mankind; but he opposed that particular bill, as being "of a sectional character," providing for one State only, when there were others equally needy and desirous. The brief debate on so important a measure, hardly exceeding an hour, and the decisive vote by which it was carried, seventy-three to forty-six, was very suggestive of the opinion and purpose that prevailed. There was some difference of opinion as to the amount required, though Mr. Noell expressed the belief that ten millions would pay for all the slaves of the loyal men of Missouri, which he represented as not more than one fourth of the whole. He said, too, that the people had had the subject regularly before them, and that they had " decided in favor of getting rid of the institution of slavery." Mr. Clements was in favor of the more comprehensive scheme proposed in the previous report, recommending the appropriation of one hundred and eighty million dollars for the payment for emancipated slaves, and twenty million for the purposes of colonization. He said that in reporting that bill they "were not influenced so much by a desire for emancipation as by a desire to support the government." Speaking of the slaveholders in the States enumerated, he said: "At present they are looking for the preservation of slavery to the cotton States as the means of protecting their interests in slaves. If we pass such a bill as was reported last session, it will form a basis of valuation, of slaves, and their value will not go below it. By such a measure we will, in time, get rid of the evil of slavery in all the border States, and finally of the institution throughout the government." During the debate a statement was made by Wickliffe, if true, of great historic value. Indeed, as it stands, it is the testimony of a prominent Southerner to the little progress that had been made toward the removal of slavery by moral means alone, — to the utter demoralization of the Southern mind, even among the Union men of the most intelligent of the border States, on the subject of human rights. Denying that there had been any change "in favor of these miserable Abolition schemes," he declared "in the face of Heaven," before Congress and the nation, that there was "not one in every three hundred men in Kentucky in favor of such a measure." "There is no division of sentiment," he said, "on this question of emancipation, whether it is to be brought about by force, by fraud, or by purchase of slaves out of the public treasury."

The bill was reported in the Senate, with an amendment substituting "twenty millions" for "ten millions," and leaving out so much of the original bill as referred to the "deportation of such emancipated slaves." Mr. Henderson, after saying that the bill now before them was substantially the one he had introduced, made an eloquent plea for its adoption. "The decree," he said, "has gone forth that slavery must be destroyed." Saying that Missouri presented her "regrets " for any agency of hers in bringing about "the unfortunate feud," he added: " She may at least claim the honor of fidelity to her pledge in the darkest hour of the nation's existence. If it be said that slavery is the cause of this Rebellion, she answers by placing slavery upon the altar of the country."

The bill was, of course, opposed by the few remaining Democrats in the Senate. Garrett Davis declared that negroes were "reclaimed savages," and yet, he said, "you want to put them in a position where they will relapse into savagism." Mr. Powell asked: "Is there any morality in it? What kind of morality is that, that will take from the people of a State, against their will, their property, not for the purpose of benefitting the State, but for the purpose of gratifying the fanatical zeal of a party temporarily in power." "Let us alone," said Kennedy of Maryland; "the laws of political economy, of inevitable destiny, are working out a remedy for slavery there. Do not trammel us with questions that may precipitate issues that we cannot control, and which may involve our beloved State in the horrid scenes of fratricidal war." Mr. Turpie of Indiana deprecated this interference with the sovereignty of the States. "Do Senators," he asked, "still desire to continue to agitate this dangerous and disgraceful element in the political history of our country? If they do, let them vote for the Missouri bill." Mr. Wall of New Jersey opposed the bill, as also did Mr. Richardson of Illinois. The latter cast the disingenuous reflection upon Attorney-General Bates, of giving an opinion "at the instance of the President." He said that it had been declared "for the first time from any national official position in this country, that Africans born here are citizens," though in disregard of the Dred Scott decision. This opinion was "wanted" by the President for a "purpose," and that purpose was, he sneeringly remarked, for the advantage of the "free American of African descent." He added that the President "has thought of nothing else, wrote of nothing else, talked of nothing else, dreamed of nothing else, since his election to the Presidency; and I fear he will think of nothing else until our Union is dissolved, our Constitution destroyed, and our nationality lost."

The main points of difference and of debate with the majority were questions of amount to be appropriated, and of the time when the proposed emancipation should take place, — whether, in fact, emancipation should be immediate or gradual. To the fact of making some appropriation for the purpose at some time, there was only Democratic opposition. The great thought and purpose seemed to be that any sacrifice of feeling or of property should be made for even the chance of good, even a remote hope of crippling the giant wrong that had inflicted such evils, and which still threatened such harm. Nor this alone. If other evidences were wanting, this single debate is sufficient to disprove the charges of Northern malignity and injury so freely and recklessly made. Notwithstanding the long account of wrong and outrage standing against their Southern brethren, culminating at length in a Rebellion as causeless as it was terrible, how noticeable is the absence of all traces of angry and vengeful feelings in members from the free States, how marked their magnanimity of purpose to make common cause in ridding the nation of an evil foreign to themselves and for which they were at most only remotely responsible!

Mr. Harris of New York said he regarded it as the most important measure of the session. " Forty years ago," he said, "the first great conflict between slavery and freedom took place in reference to the admission of the State of Missouri. In that conflict slavery was successful. It se cured a predominance of political power which was never effectually checked until the election of 1860. I desire exceedingly that in reference to this very State, we should begin to roll back the tide of slavery. There is a peculiar fitness in it." "If Missouri," said Mr. Morrill of Maine, "that great State lying in the centre of the continent, would speak the word, ' We are on this side in this great contest; we are on the side of freedom, free men, and free labor,' it would be worth ten million dollars to have the word spoken, and have it spoken now, and would place that State on the side of the government of the country." "I believe," said Mr. Sherman of Ohio, "that the condition of slavery, as a fixed and permanent relation in Missouri, tends to keep up civil war in the State; and that the very moment she enters upon the path of gradual emancipation, all her sympathies and all her interests will be opposed to the present Rebellion, and in favor of the preservation of the Union." For this purpose, he said, he was willing to vote the money of the people to aid in this object; though he thought the object desired would be better accomplished by gradual than by immediate emancipation. "In my opinion," said Mr. Foster of Connecticut, "no more grave question can be raised in this body. I think the decision of that question affects directly, more directly than any other question before us, the existence and perpetuity of the government If we actually make Missouri a free State, we do more to perpetuate the existence of the Republic than we can do in any other way."

But the questions of time and amount seemed to awaken the most lively interest, and call forth the most earnestness. Some who were strongly in favor of the policy of emancipation made it a condition precedent that it must be gradual; Mr. Henderson saying that, as earnestly as he desired emancipation, if Congress were to appropriate ten million dollars and demand immediate emancipation, he should ask his legislature to reject it, and adopt itself a process of gradual extinction of slavery. The time named in the bill for the act to take effect was 1876. Various amendments were offered, — one to make the time 1865; another, by Mr. Sumner, that it be 1864; another, by Mr. Henderson, making it 1885; while Mr. Willey of Virginia thought it would be better for Missouri to put the time at 1900. Mr. Sumner urged, as a reason for his amendment, that being "a bill of peace, to bring tranquillity to a disturbed State," its execution should be "at the nearest possible day." "If it were merely a question of economy or a question of policy," he said, "then the Senate might properly debate whether the change shall be instant or gradual; but considerations of economy and policy are all absorbed in the higher claims of justice and humanity. There is no question whether justice and humanity shall be immediate or gradual." Concerning the proposition to make it 1885, Mr. Howard of Michigan said that twenty-two years seemed an "unnecessarily long period " within which to bring about emancipation. "1876," he said, " will be a great epoch in the history of this nation, as I trust, if the people are true to themselves, true to their own interests, true to that tutelary Constitution under which we have lived and prospered for eighty long years past. .... I want, when that great day shall arrive, to have the pleasure of joining in its festivities, and listening to the roar of cannon, and to the joy and shouts of the people of the whole United States, that not only Missouri, but every other slaveholding State, is that day, at least, free, redeemed, emancipated from the pestilence." Sooner far, however, came the consummation he so devoutly wished, and in a way far different and more summary than any he predicted or could have conceived of. He lived to see slavery abolished, but not to join in those centennial " festivities " he so exultingly fore casted.

The amount to be paid was the subject of various amendments; one proposing to substitute for the "twenty millons" of the bill "ten millions," another " eleven millions," another " fifteen millions," and another still " twenty-five millions." Those who were in favor of immediate emancipation proposed to graduate the amount given by the time employed. Mr. Clark of New Hampshire said he was willing to give more for immediate than for gradual emancipation, and he offered as an amendment, giving fifteen millions for immediate emancipation, and ten for emancipation in 1876. Mr. Wilson said, he wished the "alternative" to be presented: "Emancipation in 1865, twenty million dollars; emancipation, 1876, ten million dollars." He had said in regard to the main proposition: " I am ready to give my vote to tax the toiling men of my State — to tax the farmers, the mechanics, the merchants, the fishermen on the coasts of New England — to blot slavery out of the State. Yes, sir, I am ready to tax my own barren New England, so as to more effectually crush out this Rebellion, give domestic tranquillity, increase of population and of wealth to that great 'Empire State' of the West; but, sir, it must be emancipation now or within a few years. I care far less for the money than for the time. I am for making it a free State with free influences in my day and generation." On another occasion he said: "Let us stamp upon her now desolated fields the words, ' Immediate emancipation,' and these blighted fields will bloom again; and law and order and peace will again bless the dwellings of her people."

Mr. Cowan having expressed his doubt as to the need of any appropriation in a system of gradual emancipation, because the "usual mode" was to declare children free, born after a certain period, and Mr. Sherman having responded by affirming that "the right to the increase of slaves" was "a property right," Mr. Wilson replied to the latter: "The Senator announces that he is willing to tax the people of America to pay for children not yet born; no, not yet begotten. I am not. The Senator talks of our extreme views, of our radicalism; while lie accepts the abhorrent dogma, that slave-masters have a right to the unborn, unbegotten issue of their slaves, — a right for which he is willing to tax the people of Ohio to pay. I, sir, give no such vote." Mr. Sumner closed the debate by urging immediate action, saying that procrastination was not only a thief of time, but a thief of virtue itself. The question was then taken, and the bill, or the substitute, reported by the Judiciary Committee for the House bill, was passed by a vote of twenty-three to eighteen.

The bill was taken up in the House on the 3d of March. But as it could not be acted on until considered in the Committee of the Whole, and as it required a two-thirds vote to suspend the rules for that purpose, and as the requisite vote could not be secured, the bill was lost in the House during the closing hours of the XXXVIIth Congress.

The President felt intensely, and had set his heart very much upon the acceptance by the border States of this proffer of the government in aid of emancipation, believing, as he said afterward, that " the indispensable necessity for military emancipation and arming the blacks would come, unless averted by gradual and compensated emancipation." Conversing with two of his Illinois friends near the close of the session, he exclaimed: "O, if the border States would accept my proposition! Then you, Lovejoy, and Arnold, and all of us, would not have lived in vain! The labor of your life, Lovejoy, would be crowned with success; you would live to see the end of slavery." In addition to his message to Congress making the proposition, he invited an interview with the Congressional delegations of Kentucky, Missouri, Maryland, Virginia, and Delaware, urging upon them the adoption of the plan of compensated emancipation; though he met with little encouragement.

But he did not despair nor remit exertion. On the 12th of July he invited the same gentlemen to another interview and addressed them with a written communication, still urging upon them the adoption of his plan. Saying that in his judgment the Border-State representatives "held more power for good than any other equal number of members," he told them that the measure proposed would prove "one of the most potent and swift measures of ending the war." The seceding States, he said, seeing that the border States, having abolished slavery, or adopted measures looking to that end, would never of course join them, the former could not " much longer maintain the contest." "Can you," he asked, "for your States do better than to take the course I ask? Discarding punctilio and maxims adapted to more manageable times, and looking only to the unprecedentedly stern facts of our case, can you do better in any possible event? " Alluding to their claim and desire that the constitutional relation of the States should be restored "without disturbance of the institution," he reiterated his wish that it should be so effected; but he added: "If the war continues long, as it must, if the object be not sooner attained, the institution in your States will be extinguished by mere friction and abrasion, by the mere incidents of war. It will be gone, and you will have nothing valuable in lieu of it." He then expressed in terse and timely phrase the true and sensible policy, as the event so abundantly proved, of seizing the opportune moment, while their slave property had a commercial value and the nation was willing to be a purchaser, to realize something of that value, and not to wait until it should be wholly destroyed by that "friction and abrasion" produced by the fratricidal war, every hour assuming larger and more alarming proportions. Saying that he did "not speak of emancipation at once, but of a decision at once to emancipate gradually," and hinting that there was plenty of room in South America for colonization, he begged of them, before they left the capital, to consider and discuss it among themselves, and to commend it to the consideration of their "States and people." Appealing to them as "patriots and statesmen," he urged them with mingled pathos and dignity to address themselves to the great work of saving the imperilled government. "Once relieved," he said, " its form of government is saved to the world, its beloved history and cherished memories are vindicated, and its happy future fully assured and rendered inconceivably grand. To you, more than any others, the privilege is given to assure that happiness and swell that grandeur, and to link your own names therewith."

But his appeals met no answering response, his overtures were received with apathetic indifference, and no attempts were made to persuade their constituents to accept the proffered measure of deliverance. In the midst of the appalling dangers that beset the Republic, which they could not fail to see, if they did not fully comprehend, they preferred to cling to their cherished system and take the fearful risks involved. They met in council to deliberate on their reply. On the 14th they sent a long and elaborate paper signed by twenty of the twenty-seven present. Among the names appended were those of Wickliffe, Davis, Crittenden, and Mallory of Kentucky, Crisfield and Thomas of Maryland, Phelps and Price of Missouri. This paper seemed, more than the individual utterances on the floor of Congress, the final and deliberate conclusion of its members, a kind of pronunciamento of the border slave States to their countrymen in this supreme moment of the nation's history. They spoke in respectful terms of the President and of his "earnestness," of "the overwhelming importance of the subject," of "the dangerous heresies of the secessionists," and of the wickedness of the war they were waging. They spoke approvingly of the President's opening message and the policy of the war he announced therein, and of their readiness "to vote all supplies necessary to carry it on vigorously." They spoke of the enlistments they had encouraged, and of "the cheerfulness and alacrity" with which their people were bearing the burdens of the war. But, they added, "we have done all this under the most discouraging circumstances and in face of measures most distasteful to us and injurious to the interests we represent, and in the hearing of doctrines, avowed by those who claim to be your friends, most abhorrent to us and our constituents." Admitting that a few of the Border-State representatives had voted for the President's proposed resolution, but that "the greater portion of us did not," they proceeded to assign their reasons for their refusal. They were, substantially, that, though proposing "a radical change of our social system," it was "hurried" through Congress without sufficient time for its consideration; that it proposed " interference with what exclusively belonged to the States "; that they doubted "the constitutional power of Congress" to make such an appropriation; that "our finances are in no condition to bear the immense outlay "; and that the resolution was rather "the annunciation of a sentiment" than a "tangible proposition." They took issue with the President's assertion, that had they voted for his resolution, the war would be "substantially ended," and gave their reasons for so believing; as also their doubts of the President's declaration that slavery was "the lever" of the Rebels' "power." They urged upon the President the importance of confining himself and his subordinates within the limits of " constitutional authority," and the necessity of conducting the war "solely for the purpose of restoring the Constitution to its legitimate authority." "Do this" they said, " and we are wedded to you by indissoluble ties, and you touch the American heart and invigorate it with new hope." They closed, however, by assuring the President that if Congress would make a definite and distinct proposition, and provide the necessary funds for carrying it into effect, their States would "take it into respectful consideration." Seven members sent another and different paper. Without admitting all the President had said, but asserting that there could be no successful prosecution without hearty union and co-operation between all loyal citizens, they professed their willingness to "ask the people of the border States calmly, deliberately, and fairly to consider your recommendations." But that was not the Divine method; nor was it the way in which slavery was to be removed. Consequently, neither the proposition of the President nor this response of the minority ever resulted in anything further. It was a knot no peaceful measures, however patriotic and patient, could untie. The sword of war could alone cut it.

Source:  Wilson, Henry, History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, Vol. 3.  Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1878, 301-319.





See also US Congress Debates on Slavery, 31st Congress

SOME aspects of the unfinished work of the Polk administration demanded prompt attention. In default of congressional action, slavery and the slave-trade might still exist in the District of Columbia, as they had existed from its earliest settlement; fugitive slaves might continue to be withheld from their owners as they had been in the past; and the broad waste along the border of Texas and New Mexico might yet remain a sufficient boundary; but some provision must be made for the government of the territories acquired by the war. The discovery of gold in California had carried thither a population that could not remain politically unorganized, nor could the status of New Mexico be allowed to go unchanged without grave inconvenience and peril. Something must be done, and that quickly.

During the interval between the final adjournment of the thirtieth Congress and the assembling of the thirty-first the case of California took on a very different aspect. President Taylor sent agents thither and to New Mexico with instructions to inform the people of these territories of his desire that they should form constitutions for themselves and apply for admission to the Union as states.1 But before the agent sent to California reached his destination· the movement desired by the president was already begun.

The conditions, in fact, made such action a necessity. On January 24, 1848, gold was discovered in the lower Sacramento Valley; and when the news spread a mad rush thither began by land and sea from all parts of the world. The settlers already in California left their business to engage in mining, and soldiers and sailors deserted from the service of the United States government to do the same. Everything was neglected except the search for gold, and labor rose at once to inordinate prices.2 Among the crowd attracted to California was a large proportion of reckless adventurers, who would have made it difficult to preserve order under almost any conditions; and under a government as weak and ill-established as that of the conquered province, the result was practical anarchy. An immediate remedy was found in the rough methods of popular tribunals; 3 but the civic instincts of the settlers in California, as well as of the people of the United

1 Senate Docs., 31 Cong., 1 Sess., IX., No. 18, p. 10; Richardson, Messages and Papers, V., 26.

2 W. T. Sherman, Memoirs, I., 74, 82.

3 Hittell, California, II., 724-726.

States, forbade any continued dependence on a procedure so contrary to Anglo-Saxon traditions, and it was soon decided to adopt the plan which had been recommended by Benton.1 Governor Riley, the head of the de facto government left by the conquest, on hearing that Congress had adjourned without providing a government for California, called a convention to undertake this duty. The convention was held in September, 1849, and a constitution prohibiting slavery was adopted; and in due course of time a state government was set up to which Riley resigned his authority. It remained only for Congress to recognize what had been done.

In his annual message at the opening of Congress in December, 1849, written before the constitution of California had been received at Washington, President Taylor spoke of the movement to organize a state government there and of the prospect that a similar movement would soon take place in New Mexico, and suggested that Congress should await the action, avoiding meanwhile "the introduction of those exciting topics of a sectional character which have hitherto produced painful apprehensions in the public mind." January 23, 1850, in answer to a resolution of the Senate, he transmitted fuller information as to what was happening in the southwest and what he had done to bring it about. 2

1 See p. 307, above.

2 The message and accompanying documents are printed in full in Senate Docs., 31 Cong., 1 Sess., IX., No. 18.

The beginning of the thirty-first Congress, in December, 1849, was marked by a prolonged and fierce contest in the House over the speakership. The difficulty of making a choice lay in the fact that the thirteen Free-Soilers holding the balance of power were unwilling to allow the election of either the Democratic candidate, Cobb of Georgia, or the Whig candidate, Winthrop of Massachusetts. At one time W. J. Brown, a Democrat from Indiana, was about to be elected; but that prospect was dissipated by the revelation of the fact that he had made terms with the Free-Soilers. 1 In the course of the struggle Toombs of Georgia declared: " I do not ... hesitate to avow before this House and the country, and in the presence of the living God, that if by your legislation you seek to drive us from the territories of California and New Mexico, purchased by the common blood and treasure of the whole people, and to abolish slavery in this District, thereby attempting to fix a national degradation upon half the States of this Confederacy, I am for disunion.'' 2 To which Baker of Illinois replied: "In the name of the men of the North so rudely attacked, and speaking what I know to be their sentiments, I say a dissolution of this Union is, must be, shall be, impossible, as long as an American heart beats in an American bosom, or the Almighty sends His wisdom and His goodness to guide and to bless us.'' 3

1 Cong. Globe, 31 Cong., 1 Sess., 19-24.

2 Ibid., 28.

3 Ibid., 29. 

The chamber rang with applause for both. Like speeches were made by others, and it was evident that the outlook was becoming dangerous. At the end of three weeks spent in balloting, after a scene of the wildest disorder, Cobb was finally elected by a plurality vote, December 22, 1849.

While, however, the contest over the speakership was at last decided, the issue relative to slavery was not. Some action by Congress in regard to the organization of California and New Mexico was urgently demanded; but every approach to the subject now stirred up the fiercest sectional antagonism, and conservative men and lovers of the Union throughout the country were becoming deeply alarmed. So far as the territorial question was concerned, the issue was both simplified and concentrated by the action of California; for the state constitution fixed the boundaries of the new commonwealth as stretching along the Pacific coast from Oregon to Mexico, and hence there was no longer opportunity for extending the Missouri Compromise line. If California were admitted as a state, the only things left to contest were the extent of New Mexico, as against the claims of Texas, and the status of New Mexico (which included Utah) with regard to slavery. If New Mexico were really free, it was desirable for the South to push the boundaries of Texas westward; if New Mexico were not free, then the organization act ought to show that fact. The Mormons who had gone out to the Salt Lake Region in 1846 had no interest in slavery, and they, therefore, presented another complication.

The crisis brought to the front the veteran political leader Clay, again in the Senate, for the last great effort of his strenuous life. A resolution looking to the organization of that part of the Mexican cession east of the Sierra Nevada as a territory with slavery excluded had already been introduced in the House; 1 and senators had introduced separate bills for the more effectual execution of the constitutional provision concerning fugitive slaves, for the formation of the whole Mexican cession into three territories, and for the reduction of the limits of Texas with her own consent,2 when Clay, January 29, 1850, introduced in the Senate a series of eight resolutions looking towards the compromise that alone could make the much-needed legislation possible.

These resolutions provided that California should be admitted as a state and the remainder of the Mexican cession should be organized into territories without restriction as to slavery. The Texas debt contracted previous to annexation, up to an amount to be fixed by Congress, was to be paid by the United States -since Texas had surrendered its revenue from customs-but the condition was annexed that the territorial claims of the state on New Mexico should be given up. Slavery in the District of Columbia and the interstate slave-trade were not to be interfered with, but the importation of slaves

1 Cong. Globe, 31 Cong., I Sess., 9 I.

2 Ibid., 165-171.

into the district for sale should be prohibited. Finally, more effectual provision was to be made for the return of fugitive slaves.1

The debate on the resolutions was memorable. It was the last meeting in forensic struggle of the three intellectual giants, Clay, Calhoun, and Webster, who had entered Congress practically together nearly forty years before. It was also the first appearance in the Senate of two young men who were destined to become notable figures, in subsequent years-Chase and Seward. Clay and Webster exhausted their surpassing eloquence on behalf of the compromise, while Calhoun gathered his failing energies for one desperate struggle against it, in which, from widely different motives to his own, he was joined by Chase and Seward. Each spoke for a large following; and in their arguments and appeals were well summed up the thought and feeling of the various sections of the· Union. The de-nationalizing influence of slavery, if not fully portrayed, was at least abundantly and strikingly illustrated. The dissatisfaction of the North with the Federal ratio, and of the South with the share which it had obtained by compromises already made in the territory, added by annexations to the United States, were strongly expressed; and the determination prevailing among those who opposed slavery on moral grounds to disregard as far as possible, the laws by which it was supported was boldly avowed.

1 Cong. Globe, 31 Cong., 1 Sess., 246.  

Clay's speech in support of his resolutions was made February 5 and 6, 1850. He was seventy three years of age and in feeble health; but he now faced the Senate once more, after an absence of eight years, 1 with the prestige of long-acknowledged political leadership and the confidence of one who had been looked to for advice and had been trustfully followed by the rank and file of his party in many a similar crisis. Beginning with a few words relative to the importance of the occasion, he went on to say that Congress and the state legislatures were "twenty-odd furnaces in full blast in generating heat, and passion, and intemperance, and diffusing them throughout the whole extent of this broad land '' ; and expressed his anxiety to restore "concord, harmony, and peace.'' If Congress sought to overthrow slavery in the state, his voice would be for war, and the slave states would have the good wishes ·of all who loved justice and truth; but no sympathy would be extended them in a war "to propagate wrongs'' in the territory acquired from Mexico. Appealing to the men of the North, he cried: ''What do you want? What do you want? --you who reside in the free States. Do you want that there shall be no slavery introduced into the territories acquired by the war with Mexico? Have you not your desire in California? And in all human probability you will have it in New Mexico also. What more do you want? You have got what is

1 See p. 66, above. 

worth more than a thousand Wilmot provisos. You have nature on your side-facts upon your side-and this truth staring you in the face that there is no slavery in those territories." The abolition of the slave-trade in the District of Columbia Clay regarded as no concession, but as something on which both sides should unite. As to the failure to execute the fugitive-slave law, he thought the South had "serious cause of complaint against the free States"; but disunion would furnish no remedy for any southern grievance. He was "directly opposed to any purpose of secession, of separation''; he thought there was "no right on the part of one or more of the States to secede''; in the Union he meant "to stand and die." 1

On March 4 came the reply of Calhoun. The shadow of death was already upon him, and the speech which he was himself too ill to deliver was read by Senator Mason of Virginia; but the effect of the reading was enhanced by Calhoun's presence. He explained the discontent of the South as due to northern aggression, which had overthrown the equilibrium of the sections by excluding slavery from about three-fourths of the territory added to the original states; and by using a protective tariff to transfer wealth from South to North, with the effect of attracting immigration mainly to the latter, had changed the character of the United States government from a federal republic to a consolidated

1 Cong. Globe, 31 Cong., 1 Sess., App., 115-127.

democracy; and had begun to agitate the complete abolition of slavery. "Indeed," said he, "as events are now moving, it will not require the South to secede to dissolve the Union. Agitation will of itself effect it." The proposed compromise could not save the Union; nor could the “Executive proviso"--President Taylor's proposition--of allowing the people of the territories themselves to decide the question of slavery within their limits, which must result in its exclusion. The Union could be saved only "by conceding to the South an equal right in the acquired territory, ... by causing the stipulations relative to fugitive slaves to be faithfully fulfilled-to cease the agitation of the slave question, and to provide for the insertion of a provision in the Constitution, by an amendment, which . . . [would] restore to the South in substance the power she possessed of protecting herself, before the equilibrium between the sections was destroyed by the action of this Government." 1

On March 7, 1850, was delivered the speech of Webster, beginning with a magnificent exordium: "Mr. President, I wish to speak to-day, not as a Massachusetts man, nor as a northern man, but as an American, and a member of the Senate of the United States. . . . The imprisoned winds are let loose. The East, the West, the North, and the stormy South, all combine to throw the whole ocean into commotion, to toss its billows to the skies, and

1 Cong. Globe, 31 Cong., 1 Sess., 451-455.

to disclose its profoundest depths … I have a duty to perform, and I mean to perform it with fidelity --not without a sense of surrounding dangers, but not without hope  ... I speak to-day for the preservation of the Union. ‘Hear me for my cause.' ... “He then gave a historical review of slavery, referring to the expectation prevailing in the earlier years of the United States that when the importation of slaves ceased the institution would begin to die away, and showing how the prospect was changed by the development of cotton culture. He had his humorous fling at the northern Democrats who had voted "to bring in a world here, among the mountains and valleys of California and New Mexico, or any other part of Mexico, and then quarrel about it-to bring it in, and then endeavor to put upon it the saving grace of the Wilmot proviso."

Nature, he claimed, had excluded slavery from the acquired territory; and in oft-quoted words, upon the framing of a territorial government for New Mexico, he said: '' I would not take pains to reaffirm an ordinance of nature, nor to reenact the will of God. And I would put in no Wilmot proviso, for the purpose of a taunt or a reproach." As to the return of fugitive slaves, he thought "that the South is right, and the North is wrong''; but this was the only southern grievance that could be redressed by Congress. Peaceable secession was impossible, and he prayed his hearers to come out from such "caverns of darkness" into "the fresh air of liberty and union.'' 1

March 11, 1850, Seward, addressing the Senate in relation especially to the status of California, was naturally led to cover the whole ground of the proposed compromise. He was opposed to it because he thought "all legislative compromises radically wrong and essentially vicious." Quoting the fugitive-slave provision of the Constitution, he asserted: "The law of nations disavows such compacts; the law of nature, written on the hearts and consciences of freemen, repudiates them.'' '' It is true, indeed,'' said he, "that the national domain is ours; it is true, it was acquired by the valor and with the wealth of the whole nation; but we hold, nevertheless, no arbitrary power over it .... The Constitution regulates our stewardship; the Constitution devotes the domain to union, to justice, to defence, to welfare, and to liberty. But there is a higher law than the Constitution, which regulates our authority over the domain, and devotes it to the same noble purpose." He denied that the Constitution recognized chattel slavery, and averred that there was "no climate uncongenial to slavery," and that the Wilmot Proviso was necessary for its exclusion from New Mexico and California. 2

Chase's speech, delivered March 26 and 27, declared the duty of Congress to be non-interference

1 Cong. Globe, 31 Cong., 1 Sess., App., 269-276.

2 Ibid., App., 262-269.

with slavery in the states and prohibition in the territories. He agreed with. Seward that the Constitution did not recognize chattel slavery, and he characterized the temporary protection extended by the Constitution to the slave-trade as ''the first fruit of intimidation on the one side, and concession and compromise on the other." The three-fifths rule of slave representation he declared to be one reason for the attachment of the South to its peculiar domestic institutions. But for the Northwest Ordinance, he claimed, all the states west of the Alleghenies would have had slavery; and he endeavored to show that the slave states, instead of getting less than their share of acquired territory, as Calhoun argued, had received far more. The cry of disunion he regarded as “stale," and it did not alarm him.1

Webster has been freely charged by the zealous anti-slavery men of those and later days with sacrificing his conscience to his desire for the presidency; but it is doubtful whether those from whom the charge has come have fully understood his real character or the real significance of his career. 2 The mission which he felt the circumstances of his era had committed to him was to defend the Union till the bonds had grown too strong to break.

1 Cong. Globe, 31 Cong., 1 Sess., App., 468-480 ; Hart, Chase, 125-130.

2 For a sympathetic view, see Rhodes, United States, I., 137-161; distinctly partisan, Curtis, Webster, II., 402--433.

The anti-slavery crusade must fall to the men of a younger generation, whose work, had it come sooner, would have placed American nationality in deadlier peril than was brought by the Civil War. For Seward's appeal to the "higher law" by which he justified· the refusal of constitutional· protection to slavery meant one law for the North and another for the South-the very foundation of the "irrepressible conflict," but, from the stand-point of Webster and of Clay, dangerous as precipitating a crisis for which the time was not ripe.

April 18, 1850, the compromise resolutions were referred to a committee of thirteen, with Clay as chairman. Seven members of the committee were Whigs and six Democrats; seven were from slave and six from free states, and all but two were moderates.1 May 8 the committee reported two bills, together with an amendment to the fugitive-slave bill already pending in the Senate,2 which collectively would accomplish nearly all of what Clay proposed. The first of these bills, which because of the variety of subjects it dealt with was called " the Omnibus Bill," provided for the admission of California into .the Union, for the organization of the remainder of the Mexican cession into the two territories of Utah and New Mexico, and for a proposition to the state of Texas to fix its boundaries so as to exclude what it had claimed from

1 Cf. Rhodes, United States, I., 171.

2 Cong. Globe., 1 Cong., 1 Sess., 944-948, 

New Mexico and to receive therefor a sum of money from the United States. The other bill provided for the suppression of the slave-trade in the District of Columbia; and the amendment to the Senate bill for the return of fugitive slaves was intended to make that measure more effective. The Omnibus bill was under consideration in the Senate for nearly two months, and was amended until all that was left of it when it was passed on August 1 was the provision for the territorial organization of Utah.

Meanwhile various circumstances and influences worked in favor of the compromise. The self-assertive disposition of the South found expression in a convention of the slave-holding states which met at Nashville June 3, 1850, and in which nine states were represented. The movement took on no great 1 importance except as an indication of potential mischief, but it thus helped to increase the desire for an agreement. 1 July 9, Taylor died, and the presidency devolved on Fillmore, who was more under the influence of Clay, and therefore the more inclined to favor the compromise himself.  Immediately after he took up his executive duties there arose grave danger of a clash between the national government and that of Texas over the claims of the latter to New Mexico east of the Rio Grande. In a message on the subject, dated August 6,

1 Smith, Parties and Slavery (Am. Nation, XVIII.), chap. 1.; Rhodes, United States, I.. 173; Benton, Thirty Years’ View, II.1 780-785.

President Fillmore communicated information to the effect that Texas was preparing to assert jurisdiction over the disputed part, and indicated his determination to resist such attempt by force. He suggested, however, that the difference might be settled by an indemnity to the state for the surrender of its claim. This, in fact, was one of the features of the compromise, and the efforts of Fillmore were now joined to those of Clay and others who were striving for the proposed adjustment. The various measures which went to make it up were embodied in separate bills which were passed one after another by both the Senate and House, in most cases by a decisive majority. The votes in opposition were cast by the radicals both North and South, and in several cases the result was attained by refusals of opponents to vote at all. Six senators and twenty-seven representatives from slave states voted· for the California bill; three senators and thirty-one representatives from free states for the fugitive-slave bill; and six senators and three representatives from slave states for the bill to abolish the slave-trade in the District of Columbia. On the whole, the determining vote for the compromise came from the Ohio Valley states, together with Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Missouri. For the rest, the voting followed in the main the lines of sectional interest.1

The actual compromise included so many details

1 Cf. Rhodes, United States, I., 181-185.

that it is hard to know just where and to what degree the two sides gave way. The new fugitive-slave law, with its more drastic penalties for aid ' and rescue, and its ''summary process'' of taking testimony, was balanced by the provision for the restriction on the slave -trade in the District of Columbia. Texas accepted a diminution of the boundaries claimed in 1836, leaving Santa Fe in New Mexico. A division of that territory into a northern half, Utah, and a southern, New Mexico, at the line of 37° seemed an indirect method of asserting the old principle of the compromise line. The crux of the compromise was the territorial clause of the New Mexico and Utah acts, which read as follows: Provided that, when ready for statehood, "the said Territory ... shall be admitted into the Union, with or without slavery, as their Constitution may prescribe at the time of admission."

Was disunion, absolute and permanent, the only alternative of compromise? The question may now be lightly dismissed; but in 1850 it was more pressing and important. It is no easy matter to look back from the stand-point of present conditions and see the struggle of that year in its true perspective. But as one recalls the evident indisposition of the North to resist secession in 1861, the willingness to '' let the erring sisters depart in peace'' that disappeared only when Fort Sumter was attacked .1-and this after the fugitive-slave law and

1 Hart, Am. Hist. Told by Contemps., IV., 186.

the contest over Kansas had done their work towards quickening the animosity of the fast diverging sections-it does not seem so difficult to believe that peaceful and successful secession in 1850 would have been entirely possible. The compromise, however, both saved the bond and lighted the fire the heat of which was to weld the Union.

The expansion impulse, in spite of the weakening influence of sectional divergence, had accomplished its ends. The boundary of the United States rested at length on the shore of the Pacific, and the territory thus won was given legal state and organized governments. The movement led to occasion of great political discord, and undoubtedly served to emphasize the threatening diversity of interest between North and South. The real causes, however, of the discord were older and deeper, and it would have come without the annexation of Texas or the Mexican War; for neither of these was the necessary antecedent of the struggle for Kansas; the sectional party organization of 1856, the Republican victory of l 860, and the secession which followed. It is well for the Union and for American interests that the quarrel between the sections did not develop so rapidly as to prevent or seriously to delay the last great wave of westward extension.

Source:  Garrison, George Pierce, Westward Extension. In Hart, Albert Bushnell, ed., The American Nation: A History, Vol. 17, 315-332. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1906.



Chapter: “Organization of Southern Confederacy,” by Henry Wilson, in History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, 1878.

On the 4th of February, 1861, the delegates of six seceding States, chosen by secession conventions, but without the expressed consent of the people, met in the State House at Montgomery, Alabama. Forty-two in number, they represented South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Florida. Howell Cobb was chosen president. In addressing the convention on taking the chair, he declared that the separation of the States they represented from the Union was "a fixed and irrevocable fact”; that it was " perfect, complete, and perpetual." Expressing a desire to maintain friendly relations with their " late sister States as with the world," he counselled the delegates to assume the responsibility of establishing a government for the seceded States, and to inaugurate for the South "a new era of peace, security, and prosperity." The sessions of the convention were generally held in secret. Mr. Memminger of South Carolina offered resolutions in favor of forming a confederacy of the seceded States, and he moved that a committee of thirteen be appointed to report a plan for a government on the basis of the Constitution of the United States. A resolution was received from the legislature of Alabama, and the proffer was accepted, placing at the disposal of the " provisional government of the confederacy of the seceding States a loan of five hundred thousand dollars."

Mr. Memminger, chairman of the committee to report a plan for the new government, submitted a report on the 7th of February. The Constitution of the United States, with some modifications, was temporarily adopted as a form of government for the " Confederate States of America." It provided that the convention was a Congress, vested with legislative powers; that the African slave-trade should be prohibited; that Congress should be empowered to prohibit the introduction of slaves from any State not a member of the Confederacy. The word "slave" was used in this instrument where the thing was meant in the Constitution of the United States. This constitution received the unanimous vote of the convention, though its provisions concerning slavery were bitterly denounced by a portion of the South Carolina delegates and presses.

On the 9th of February the members of the convention took the oath of allegiance to the provisional constitution they had framed. They then proceeded to the election of a President and Vice-President; Jefferson Davis receiving six votes for President and Alexander H. Stephens the same number for Vice-President. The result was received by the people with enthusiastic applause, by the firing of cannon, and other demonstrations of delight. A committee of twelve, two from each State, was appointed to report a constitution for the permanent government of the Confederate States. While this committee had the subject under consideration. Congress proceeded to consider the question of a national flag. Several designs or patterns were submitted by members, and a committee of one from each State was appointed to consider and make report. Some wished to preserve as far as they could something of the old flag; though William Porcher Miles of South Carolina, the chairman of the committee, declared that he gloried rather in the palmetto flag, for he had regarded "from his youth the Stars and Stripes as the emblem of oppression and tyranny." The committee made an elaborate report. Though expressing no attachment to the Stars and Stripes, it recommended a flag having some resemblance to the one they still professed to regard as the ensign of a consolidated and oppressive nationality. The design was adopted, and on the 4th of March the new flag first waved over the capitol at Montgomery.

In framing the permanent constitution of the new government, its authors, in nearly all its parts, adopted the precise language of the Constitution of the United States, and followed the same order of arrangement in its articles and sections throughout, though the two instruments differed in several particulars, that of the Confederates being made to conform to their dominating ideas on the subject of slavery, State-rights, and the reserved privilege of secession. Thus in the preamble the words "United States" are stricken out, and the words "Confederate States, each State acting in its sovereign and independent character" are incorporated; for the words " more perfect Union," "permanent federal government " are substituted; the words "provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare "are stricken out entirely, and the words" invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God" are inserted. The Ninth Section, Article I., of the old Constitution was changed by striking out the whole paragraph that relates to the importation of slaves, that was "not to be prohibited by Congress prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight," and inserting the following: "The importation of negroes of the African race from any foreign country other than the slaveholding States or Territories of the United States of America, is hereby forbidden; and Congress is required to pass such laws as shall effectually prevent the same. Congress shall also have power to prohibit the introduction of slaves from any State not a member of, or Territory not belonging to, this Confederacy." This provision, it is said, was adopted by the votes of the States of Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi, against those of South Carolina and Florida. It also provided that in all new States that might hereafter be formed from "new territory" acquired, "the institution of negro slavery as it now exists in the Confederate States shall be recognized and protected by Congress," as also in any territory held by the Confederacy. Article VI. was preceded by this paragraph: "The government established by this Constitution is the successor of the Provisional Government of the Confederate States of America, and all laws passed by the latter shall continue in force until the same shall be repealed or modified; and all the officers appointed by the same shall remain in office until their successors are appointed and qualified, or the offices abolished."

On the 12th of February the convention, having under consideration the question relating to the occupation of forts, arsenals, navy-yards, and other public establishments within the domain of the sovereign States of the Confederacy, and hitherto under the government of the United States, resolved that they should be under the charge of the new government; and the president of the convention was requested to communicate this resolution to the governors of the several States. This action was offensive to the South Carolina leaders, and the Charleston "Mercury" declared that Fort Sumter belonged to South Carolina; that after two efforts to obtain peaceable possession and its submission for two months to the insolent military domination of a handful of men, the honor of the State required that no further intervention from any quarter should be tolerated, and that this fort should be taken, and taken by South Carolina alone.

On the 13th the convention took the initiative and commenced preparation for war by instructing the military and naval committees to report plans for the organization of an army and navy.

Mr. Davis, who was at his home near Vicksburg when informed of his election, made a series of twenty-five speeches on his way to Montgomery. He was formally received at the railway-station amid the thundering of cannon and the enthusiastic shouts of the people. In his response, he said that the time of compromises had passed; that they asked nothing, wanted nothing, and would have no complications. "Our separation," he said, " from the old Union is complete, and no compromise, no reconstruction, can now be entertained." He declared that they would maintain the position they had assumed, and " make all who oppose us smell Southern powder and feel Southern steel."

On the 18th of February the inaugural ceremonies took place in front of the State House. In his inaugural address to the excited and enthusiastic thousands before him, Mr. Davis declared that if " passion or lust of dominion should cloud the judgment or inflame the ambition of those States, "we must prepare to meet the emergency, and maintain, by the final arbitrament of the sword, that position which we have assumed among the nations of the earth." He recommended the immediate organization of the army and navy, and reminded them that privateering, " the well-known resources of retaliation upon the commerce of an enemy, will remain to us." Robert Toombs of Georgia was appointed Secretary of State; Charles G. Memminger of South Carolina, Secretary of the Treasury; Leroy Polk Walker of Alabama, Secretary of War; Stephen R. Mallory of Florida, Secretary of the Navy; John H. Reagan of Texas, Postmaster-General; and Judah P. Benjamin of Louisiana, Attorney-General.

Source:  Wilson, Henry, History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, Vol. 3.  Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1878, 117-121.



Please note that this entry includes two chapters:

·        Wilson, “Slaves Used for Military Purposes Made Free,” 1878

·        Wilson, “Regular Session. — Message, and Reports of the Departments,” 1878

Chapter: “Slaves Used for Military Purposes Made Free,” by Henry Wilson, in History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, 1878.

Man proposes, but God disposes." Seldom have these words of the good Thomas à Kempis received a more marked exemplification than was afforded by the purposes, progress, and final outcome of the late war of the Rebellion. From the President downward all were ready to admit that as it advanced it assumed dimensions and characteristics, developed dangers and duties, that both greatly surprised and rendered necessary policies which had been not only not avowed, but clearly disavowed. In nothing was this more manifest than in the matter of slavery. It had been asserted in the plat form of the Republican party on which President Lincoln had been elected; it had been proclaimed by him in his message, and by other forms of utterance; and it had been reiterated by prominent members of the party, that no ulterior designs upon the system were entertained. It was asseverated, too, in the most emphatic and solemn manner, that the war itself had but one object, the vindication of the authority of the government and the preservation of the Union. As late as the 11th of February, 1861, the House of Representatives adopted the resolution, without one dissenting vote, " That neither Congress, nor the people or government of the non-slave-holding States, have a constitutional right to legislate upon or interfere with slavery in any slaveholding State of the Union." Nor is it doubtful that this purpose was as sincere as it was publicly and even legislatively announced. For, whatever may have been the personal views and convictions, hopes and fears, of its members, policy seemed to demand of the administration that the Unionists of the border States should, if possible, be reassured as to its pacific purposes towards them and their special interests, and be convinced that they could remain loyal to the Union without putting in peril their cherished system.

It is not enough, however, to say, nor does it fully explain the serious complications of the contest, that Northern men were restrained from interfering with what were claimed to be the rights of the slave-masters by mere constitutional scruples and an unwillingness to embarrass the Unionists of the border slave States. The plain historic truth is, and it should be borne in mind, that the proslavery or conservative sentiments of the country were by no means confined to the slave States. They too largely pervaded not merely the North, but the Republican party as well. Large numbers whose loyalty to the Union was unquestioned, who joined the Republican party because of that loyalty, and who would make any sacrifices to maintain the government, had no real sympathy with antislavery. They had learned to distrust and dread the longer domination of the Slave Power over the nation, sighed for a release from its disgraceful and dangerous control, and were honestly opposed to slavery extension, but they had no very strong desires for the emancipation of the slaves. They would accept Abolition rather than disunion, but they did not desire it. The prejudices against the negro — the growth of two generations — could not be so easily dispelled, and the convictions of his inferiority, that had been so often and so earnestly inculcated from every quarter during the long antislavery conflict, could not be at once unlearned. The soldier who wished it to be understood that he enlisted for the Union, and " not to fight for the nigger "; the Union-loving but conservative lady, who was "willing" the slaves should be freed, if that was necessary, were representatives of large numbers in all the free States, —how large a proportion Omniscience only knows. Mr. Lincoln was sharply criticised for his famous utterance to Mr. Greeley because of its seeming indifference to the sad necessities of the slave. "My paramount object," he said, " is to save the Union, and not either to save or destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it; if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some, and leaving others alone, I would do it." If in these words the President did not represent the majority of his party, the failure lay rather in his not expressing reluctance in view of even the apprehended necessity of touching slavery at all, than, in taking too advanced a position.

Doubtless the army of freedom had been largely increased by the addition of those who accepted in good faith its principles, and were earnest in their support. Though coming in at the eleventh hour, they labored heartily for its triumph. Relieved from constitutional scruples which had hitherto held them back, and thoroughly cured by the atrocities with which the Rebellion had been inaugurated and by which it was accompanied of all sympathy with the slave-masters, they found themselves prepared, with more teachable spirits, to learn the lessons of the war, and accept as practical principles the primal rights of man. The fires that had burned up their prejudices and destroyed the sophistries of the past had so illumined the characters in which those lessons were written, that they found it less difficult to read them aright and to accept the conclusions to which they led. They, especially, who believed in a superintending Providence, and found in the Christian Scriptures their religious faith, rules, and motives of action, saw more clearly the national complicity with the sin of slavery, and were ready, as never before, to accept their teachings who contended that the nation could not rationally hope for victory until that sin was repented of and put away.

The number, however, who were prepared thus thoughtfully, dispassionately, and wisely to reason, it is to be feared, were in a minority, even of those who voted the Republican ticket, and accepted in form at least the principles enunciated in its platform and proclaimed by its advocates and leaders. Accepting them as a military or political necessity, forced upon them by the exigencies of the war, was altogether another and different affair than yielding to the impulse of moral convictions with an honest, well-considered indorsement of the fundamental doctrines of human equality and its consequent rights.

This, then, was the practical problem with which Mr. Lincoln and his administration were confronted, these the difficulties with which they had to contend. They were required to persuade and hold the free States to the terrific sacrifices and expenditures of blood and treasure for the support of a war whose logical results were the vindication of the principles and the realization of the purposes which the great majority had been accustomed to oppose and treat with scorn during the long years of the antislavery struggle. More difficult still, they were required not only to retain the border slave States in the Union, but to secure from them quotas of men and means to fight the battles of a war for which they had defiantly refused at the outset to meet the requisitions of the government, — a war that was destined, if not designed, to destroy the very system they cherished equally with the seceding States, and for whose conservation the war was made. Is it wonderful that Mr. Lincoln's course should sometimes have seemed too hesitating and equivocal? But is not the wonder greater, that, surrounded with difficulties so great and peculiar, the struggle should have been so wisely managed, and that a conclusion so satisfactory should have at length been reached?

It soon became manifest, therefore, that an indeterminate policy could not be safely maintained, and that it would be impossible to strike effective blows against the Rebellion, and at the same time leave the guilty cause unharmed. Among the first developments that forced this subject upon the government was the escape of slaves within the lines of the Union forces. Several having come to the quarters of General Butler, general commanding in the department of Eastern Virginia, a Confederate officer in the neighborhood demanded their restoration. The general refused on the ground that they were contraband of war and could not be given up. Flocking to him, however, in such numbers, he was compelled to report the case at Washington, and ask for instructions. The Secretary of War, while approving of his action, took occasion to define the position maintained by the government at that time. " The government," he said, "cannot recognize the rejection by any State of the Federal obligations, nor can it refuse the performance of the Federal obligations resting upon itself. Among these Federal obligations, however, none can be more important than that of suppressing and dispersing armed combinations formed for the purpose of overthrowing its whole constitutional authority. While, therefore, you will permit no interference, by persons under your command, with the relations of persons held to service under the laws of any State, you will, on the other hand, so long as any State within which your military operations are conducted is under the control of such armed combinations, refrain from surrendering to alleged masters any persons coming within your lines."

Another illustration of Northern misapprehension was afforded by the general opinion that slavery, in the case of war, would become a source of weakness to the States in which it existed. On the contrary, however, it soon became manifest that it was a source of strength and added materially to the effectiveness of their assault upon the government. Instead of availing themselves of their masters' treason to assert and vindicate their own rights by helping to maintain those of the Union, it was soon discovered that the slaves were aiding the conspirators, and that their help was utilized in various ways, by working on forts, by performing menial services for officers and privates even in the Rebel armies, and especially by remaining at their homes to perform the ordinary labor on farms and plantations, thus allowing the white population to repair to the seat of actual hostilities. How this difficulty should be met, and how slaves thus employed should be treated, became, therefore, for the moment, mainly a military question, though its moral and political elements could not be hidden from view, even if in practice they should be in great degree ignored.

In the Senate, on the 20th of July, 1861, Mr. Trumbull of Illinois, chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary, reported, by order of that committee, a bill to confiscate the property used for insurrectionary purposes. The bill provided that, if during the present or any future insurrection against the government of the United States, after the President shall have declared by proclamation that the laws of the United States are opposed, and the execution obstructed, by combinations too powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings, any person or persons, his, her, or their agent, attorney, or employee, shall purchase or acquire, sell or give, any property, of whatsoever kind or description, with intent to use or employ the same, or suffer the same to be used or employed, in aiding, abetting, or promoting such insurrection, or any person or persons engaged therein; or if any person or persons, being the owner or owners of any such property, shall knowingly use or employ, or consent to the use or employment of, the same, all such property is to be declared to be lawful subject of prize and capture wherever found.

He also added, by way of amendment, an additional section, —

" That whenever any person claiming to be entitled to the service or labor of any other person under the laws of any State, shall employ such person in aiding or promoting any insurrection, or in resisting the laws of the United States, or shall permit or suffer him to be so employed, he shall forfeit all right to such service or labor; and the person whose labor or service is thus claimed shall be henceforth discharged there from, any law to the contrary notwithstanding."

On the 22d, the day after the battle of Bull Run, the resolution was taken up for consideration. Mr. Breckinridge characterized the amendment as " very objectionable," though he expressed the conviction that it would " command a decided majority in the Senate." He closed by calling for the yeas and nays. Mr. Trumbull replied by explaining the provisions of the amendment he had offered, and indicating the spirit and purpose that prompted it and the line of argument by which it was to be, and was, sustained. The amendment provides, he said, that if ever any slave is employed " in aid of this Rebellion, in digging ditches or intrenchments, or in any other way, or if used for carrying guns, or if used to destroy this government, by the consent of his master, his master shall forfeit all right to him, and he shall be forever discharged; and I am glad the yeas and nays are called, to let us see who is willing to vote that the traitorous owner of a negro shall employ him to shoot down the Union men of the country, and yet insist upon restoring him to the traitor that owns him. I understand that negroes were in the fight which has recently occurred. I take it that negroes who are used to destroy the Union, and to shoot down the Union men by the consent of traitorous masters, ought not to be restored to them. If the Senator from Kentucky is in favor of restoring them, let him vote against the amendment." To these remarks of Mr. Trumbull Mr. Breckinridge replied, with some warmth of manner, " The line of remarks made by the Senator appears to me to be altogether uncalled for. I expect to do my duty here as a Senator, upon my own conscience and upon my own judgment, according to the Constitution. I shall enter into no argument in reply. I showed my willingness to vote by asking for the yeas and nays. In my opinion, the amendment will be one of a series which will amount, before we are done with it, — if, unhappily, we have no settlement or adjustment soon, — to a general confiscation of all property, and a loosing of all bonds. The inferences the Senator draws are not deducible from my motives and purpose in calling for the yeas and nays on this amendment, and the vote I shall give."

"I shall vote," said Mr. Wilson of Massachusetts, " with more heart than I vote for ordinary measures, for this proposition. I hope the Senate and the House of Representatives will sustain it, and that this government will carry it out with an inflexibility that knows no change. The idea that men who are in arms destroying their country shall be permitted to use others for that purpose, and that we shall stand by and issue orders to our commanders that we should disgrace our cause and our country by returning such men to their traitorous masters, ought not longer to be entertained. The time has come for that to cease; and by the blessing of God, as far as I am concerned, I mean it shall cease. If there is anybody in this chamber that chooses to take the other path, let him do it; let him know what our purpose is. Our purpose is to save this government, and save this country, and to put down treason; and if traitors use bondmen to destroy this country, my doctrine is that the government shall at once convert those bondmen into men that cannot be used to destroy our country. I have no apologies to make for this position. I take it proudly. I think the time has come when this government, and the men who are in arms under the government, should cease to return to traitors their fugitive slaves, whom they are using to erect batteries to murder brave men who are fighting under the flag of their country. The time has come when we should deal with the men who are organizing negro companies, and teaching them to shoot down loyal men for the only offence of upholding the flag of their country. I hope further, sir, that there is a public sentiment in this country that will blast men who will rise in the Senate, or out of it, to make apologies for treason, or to defend or to maintain the doctrine that this government is bound to protect traitors in converting their slaves into tools for the destruction of the Republic."

Mr. McDougall of California, regarding the amendment " to be in the nature of confiscation for treason," favored its adoption. Mr. Ten Eyck of New Jersey said that on the previous Saturday he had voted, in the Committee on the Judiciary, against the amendment, for two reasons: first, his disbelief that the Rebels would employ slaves for the purposes indicated, and, second, because he did not know what was to become of the poor wretches if they were discharged. " God knows," he said, " we do not want them in our section of the Union. But, sir, having learned, and believing that these persons have been employed with arms in their hands to shed the blood of Union-loving men of this country, I shall now vote in favor of that amendment, with less regard to what may become of these people than I had on Saturday."

The Border-State Unionists found voice in a speech of Mr. Pearce of Maryland. "It will not be surprising to the Senate," he said, " if those who come from the section of the country in which I reside should be a little sensitive at anything which proposes, as this amendment does, an act of emancipation, however limited and qualified. That is my objection to it. Besides, I think it will be brutum fulmen. Nothing will come of it but more of that irritation of which it is my earnest prayer there shall be as little as possible. I think it is the part of statesmen, in managing the concerns of the country at this dreadful crisis, to observe all possible toleration, all conciliation, all liberality; not looking merely at the events of the day, but at the great events that may crowd upon us for years, and upon which the fate of the country, for weal or for woe, may depend for a century. I am not insensible to the magnitude of this occasion. I look at all its aspects, and at all the consequences which may result from that which is now in progress. No man deplores it more deeply than I do. No man sought more earnestly to shun it. I only ask now, that this measure, which cannot be of any very active force, may not be adopted; because it will only add one more to the irritations which are already exasperating the country to far too great an extent. It will inflame suspicions which have had much to do with producing our present evils; will disturb those who are now calm and quiet, inflame those who are restless, irritate numbers who would not be exasperated by anything else: and will, in all probability, produce no other real effect than these. Being, then, useless, unnecessary, and irritating, it is, in my opinion, unwise."

The amendment was then adopted by a vote of thirty-three to six, and the bill as thus amended passed the Senate.

It was reported in the House by Mr. Bingham of Ohio, chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary, with an amendment in the form of a substitute. The substitute was, however, rejected, and the bill as it passed the Senate was before the House. This bill, said Mr. Bingham, " is a sweeping declaration, that whenever any person claiming to be entitled to the service or labor of any other person, under the laws of any State, shall employ such person in aiding or promoting any insurrection, or in resisting the laws of the United States, or shall permit him to be so employed, he shall forfeit all right to such service or labor; and the person whose labor or service is thus claimed shall be thenceforth discharged therefrom, any law to the contrary notwithstanding."

To the charge of Mr. Burnett of Kentucky that it was tantamount "to a wholesale emancipation of the slaves in the seceding and rebellious States," Mr. Bingham replied that no just court would ever so construe it, should it become a law." By the express words of the bill," he said, "it is limited in its effect to those persons who themselves, by their own direct acts, for the purpose of overturning the powers of the government, employ, or consent that others employ, the services of slaves to that end. I aver that a traitor should not only forfeit his slaves, but he should forfeit his life as well."

The bill was strenuously opposed by Mr. Crittenden of Kentucky, who had then become a member of the House. "It has been conceded," he said, " in all time that the Congress of the United States had no power to legislate upon the subject of slavery within the States. Absence of all power of legislation in time of peace must be the absence of the same power at all times. You have no power, by your Constitution, to touch slavery at all."

To the arguments urged by Mr. McClernand, a Democratic member from Illinois, and Mr. Kellogg, a Republican of the same State, that a traitor could forfeit his claim to his slave equally as to his horse, " and yet not at all conflict with or abrogate the law that authorizes the holding of slaves," he replied, " If you have no power, there the question ends. Well, have you a power to legislate concerning a slave in Kentucky, as to his rights, present or future? Have you a right to impose any terms or conditions on the master, in time of peace, on which the slave shall be entitled to his liberty? .... This provision of the bill will be considered and interpreted abroad as assuring to Congress a power over slavery. If you can, on conditions, in time of war, abrogate and abolish slavery, it may be asked whether you cannot do it in time of peace, on similar conditions of supposed future crime? Are we in a condition now, gentlemen, to hazard this momentous, irritating, agitating, revolutionary question? Is it politic to wage such a war as that? . . . . You know as well as I do the peculiar sensitiveness which exists upon the peculiar species of property to which this bill applies. I do not appear to speak for the cause of the slaveholder. I am here to plead for my country; and with an honest and sincere heart, with all the earnestness of my nature do I implore you to forego the passage of this bill, and to dismiss it from your deliberations. The eyes of the world are upon you. You are in the presence of events that will be of deeper interest in history than any that have occurred in a hundred years; of as great importance, it seems to me, as can occur to the human race." After reminding the House that the history of events and acts of which they were then the "active agents " would be " written by an impartial hand," he implored its members to act their part "like men," and give their enemies " no pretext for misrepresenting the purposes and objects of this war," and added, " We have declared that this war is not for the subjugation of the South, not for the overthrow of slavery, nor for the overthrow of their social institutions, but simply for the noble purposes of restoring our country and preserving the Union. That is our object. Let the means with which we pursue that object be as noble and elevated as the object itself. Let us raise ourselves to that high level."

It was a new question, and Republicans, while admitting the importance of wrenching from the Rebels this source of strength which the slaves were so unexpectedly showing themselves to be, were not agreed as to the best method of reaching such a result. These views were thus expressed by Mr. Diven of New York. "I may be asked," he said, " what would you do with negroes taken in actual arms against the country? What would you do with negroes found employed in building ships-of-war, fighting battles against the country, rearing fortifications from which shots are to be fired on the soldiers of the Union? Why, sir, I would treat them as men in arms against the country. I would treat them as prisoners of war. Then I admit that a question, entirely novel in the usages of war, at once occurs. You have then got a species of men as prisoners whom the usages of war, in no place that I have ever seen, treat as such. I proposed in committee, as a substitute for this bill, to relieve the government and the war-power of the country from the attitude in which the seizure of these men thus employed against the government would place them, by providing the simple penalty, that any man taken in arms against the government is taken as a prisoner of war, .... whatever his complexion. Afterward, when you come to determine on an exchange of prisoners, you can determine on what terms they shall be released."

In response not only to the argument of the Southern Unionists, but to the hesitating policy advocated and represented by Mr. Diven, Thaddeus Stevens replied with his usual directness and force. "When a country," he said, " is in open war with an enemy, every publicist agrees that you have the right to use every means which will weaken him. Vattel says, that in time of war, if it be a just war, and there be a people who have been oppressed by the enemy, and that enemy be conquered, the victorious party cannot return that oppressed people to the bondage from which they have rescued them. I wish gentlemen would read what Vattel says upon this subject. I wish the gentleman from New York, especially, would read the remark of Vattel, that one of the most glorious consequences of victory is giving freedom to those who are oppressed." "I agree to it," replied Mr. Diven. "Then how is it," asked Mr. Stevens, " that if we are justified in taking property from the enemy in war, when you have rescued an oppressed people from the oppression of that enemy, by what principle of the law of nations, by what principle of philanthropy, can you return them to the bondage from which you have delivered them, and rivet again the chains you have once broken? It is a disgrace to the party which advocates it. It is against the principle of the law of nations. It is against every principle of philanthropy. I, for one, shall never shrink from saying, when these slaves are once conquered by us, ' Go and be free.' God forbid that I should ever agree that they should be restored again to their masters! I warn Southern gentlemen, that, if this war is to continue, there will be a time when my friend from New York will see it declared by this free nation, that every bondman in the South — belonging to a Rebel; recollect, I confine it to them — shall be called upon to aid us in war against their masters, and to restore this Union." To a question of Mr. Logan of Illinois, how they who had taken an oath to support the Constitution could rightfully violate that oath, even though Rebels had vacated their rights under that Constitution by their treason, Mr. Stevens replied: " The law of nations is plain to those who have read it, on this point. The law established in the days of Cicero, Inter arma silent leges, is a law that has been in force down to the present time; and any nation which dis regards that law is a poor, pusillanimous nation, which submits its neck to be struck off by the enemy."

On motion of Mr. Pendleton the bill was recommitted. But it was immediately reported again, substantially the same, though slightly amended, the gist of the amendment being expressed in the closing clause to the effect that " whenever thereafter the person claiming such labor or service shall seek to enforce his claim, it shall be a full and sufficient answer to such claim, that the person whose service or labor is claimed had been employed in hostile service against the government of the United States, contrary to the provisions of this act." Thus amended, notwithstanding several dilatory motions, the Senate bill for " making free slaves used by Rebel forces " passed the House by a vote of sixty to forty-eight, and received the approval of the President on the 6th of August. Such was the beginning of the end, and it did become, in the words of Mr. Breckinridge, the first "of a series of measures loosing all bonds."

Source:  Wilson, Henry, History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, Vol. 3.  Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1878, 232-244.

Chapter: “Regular Session. — Message, and Reports of the Departments,” by Henry Wilson, in History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, 1878.

Referring to slaves who, having been freed by the confiscation act passed at the special session, " must be provided for in some way," and to the possibility that others might be released by similar enactments in some of the States, and " thrown on them for disposal," he recommended that some plan of colonization should be formed for them, as also for any other " free people of color already in the United States." Concerning the policy of freeing the slaves of Rebel owners, though saying that "the Union must be preserved, and hence all indispensable means must be employed," he added, as very clearly indicating the drift of his thought and purposes upon the subject : "We should not be in haste to determine that radical and extreme measures, which may reach the loyal as well as the disloyal, are indispensable," so fearfully did the Southern Unionists, at least large numbers of them, embarrass the government in that hour of supreme peril. Though their loyalty depended so largely on the conservation of the slave system, it was deemed in the highest degree important to conciliate and commit them to the Union cause. And yet to do it required a course upon the part of the government that seemed to many equivocal and vacillating, breathing too much of policy and too little of principle, as ready to surrender the just claims and primal rights of the many to the imperious and wicked demands of the few.

Source:  Wilson, Henry, History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, Vol. 3.  Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1878, 247.







Chapter: “Slavery Aggressions. – ‘Conscience’ Whigs. – ‘Barnburners,’” by Henry Wilson, in History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, 1872.

But though resolutions could be forced through the legislature and conventions of the party, it was very evident ·that there was little harmony of feeling and purpose between the two sections. While the " Cotton " Whigs, who were determined to adhere to the national organization, and to sacrifice, if need be, any claim of freedom for that purpose, regarded the action of the " Conscience " Whigs, as the antislavery men were called, factious and disorganizing, the latter began more clearly to comprehend the drift of things; and the position to which the party was tending, and to realize the hollowness of many of the professions that had been made. They saw that many of the resolutions which were often crowded through the one or the other of these bodies were rather strategical than hearty or honest, more for show than use; not fitted, and never intended, to bind the party or to resist the strain of political necessity.

The Whig State convention was held at Springfield in September, 1847. George Ashmun of that city presided, and Joseph Bell of Boston was chairman of the Committee on Resolutions. The leaders of both sections were there in force, and a severe struggle ensued. Mt. Palfrey moved, as an amendment to the resolutions of the committee, one declaring that the Whigs would support no candidate for the Presidency not known by his acts and declared opinions to be opposed to the extension of slavery. It gave rise to an exciting debate; Mr. Winthrop sturdily opposing it, and Mr. Adams, Mr. Sumner, Mr. Allen, and Mr. Dwight as earnestly supporting it. Mr. Adams declared that he would rather vote for a Democrat opposed to the extension of slavery than for a Whig in favor of it. The amendment was rejected; though, as a partial compensation, Mr. Phillips secured by a small majority a vote that the convention should not put in nomination a candidate for the Presidency. Mr. Webster was present, and made a speech, in which he took strong ground against slavery extension, claiming the Wilmot proviso as his own. “Sir," said he, “I feel something of a personal interest in this. I take the sentiment of the Wilmot proviso to be that there shall be no annexation of slave territory to this Union. Did I not commit myself to that in the year 1838 fully, entirely? And have I ever departed from it in the slightest degree? I must be permitted, sir, to say that I do not consent that more recent discoverers shall take out a patent for the discovery. I do not quite consent that they shall undertake to appropriate to themselves all the benefit and honor of it. Allow me to say, sir, it is not their thunder." The, antislavery Whigs were again defeated. They, however, went away from that convention more determined and resolute than ever. They felt that a rupture was inevitable, and that it was but a question of time.

As the time for the convention drew near, indications increased that General Taylor would receive the nomination, and that the policy of slavery restriction would be abandoned. Some of the friends of freedom took the alarm, and at once entered upon the adoption of measures to prevent, if possible, such a result, and, in case of failure, to mark out such a course as the exigencies of the case might demand. Charles Allen and Henry Wilson were chosen as delegates to the convention. Their antecedents and generally recognized proclivities made it probable and a matter of popular belief that they would not vote for. General Taylor unless he were pledged to the principles of the Wilmot proviso.

Conferences were at once held by those Whigs who had striven to the last to prevent, the annexation of Texas and the adoption of a reactionary policy. On the 27th of May a meeting was held at the office of Charles Francis Adams. There were present Mr. Adams, Stephen C. Phillips, Charles Sumner, E. Rockwood Hoar, Edward I. Keyes, Francis W. Bird, Edward Walcutt, and Henry Wilson. Though they were not ignorant of the sacrifices implied and involved in their action, they resolved at any and every hazard to abide by their principles. It was unanimously determined, if the convention nominated General Taylor, or any candidate not known by his acts and declared opinions to be opposed to the extension of slavery, that “an organized opposition " should be made and at once begun in Massachusetts. It was agreed to call a State convention of Whigs and of all others who would co-operate in such an effort. On the 5th of June a call, which had been prepared by E. Rockwood Hoar was agreed upon, and held for signature in the event of General Taylor's nomination.

The State of New York had generally exerted a powerful influence on national affairs. Imperial in extent and resources, ably represented by its strong men, occupying a commanding position in the commercial and political world, its voice and. votes had ever exerted a large, if not a controlling influence, sometimes for good, but oftener for evil. This was always and necessarily true. But in 1848, and in connection with the presidential election of that year, there were special reasons therefor. Certain causes had produced disaffection with the national Democracy; and a tendency to revolt, which for a long time had been gathering strength, culminated during that year.

In addition to general reasons was the special motive afforded by the treatment which Mr. Van Buren had received from the national convention of 1844, and the gross ingratitude of those States to whose interests and institutions he had given such evidences of fealty. Mr. Van Buren had made great sacrifices for the South. Though he signalized the earlier years of his public life by giving his voice and vote, in the legislature of his State, against the admission of Missouri as a slave State, he soon yielded to the reactionary movement which followed that violation of the ordinance of '87, and devoted himself so faithfully to slaveholding interests as to merit and receive the name of "a Northern man with Southern principles." And yet, because he faltered in the single matter of Texan annexation, he was abandoned and deprived of the nomination, which not only he, but a decided majority of his party, desired and expected. This was neither forgotten nor forgiven. It intensified the bitter feud then raging between the " Hunker" and'" Barnburner" wings of the New York Democracy, and resulted in the defeat of Silas Wright, whose candidacy for-the gubernatorial chair in 1844 had unquestionably secured the electoral vote of the State for Mr. Polk. His death, occurring soon afterward, added to the indignation already felt in view of his defeat and of the means through which that defeat had been accomplished.

It was under such circumstances that the primary meetings were held at which delegates were chosen for the Democratic State convention to meet in Syracuse in October, 1847. On the assembling of the convention, it was found that there was a large number of contested seats. An informal agreement was entered into between the leaders of the radical and conservative wings of the party that a temporary organization should be effected, for the purpose of disposing of the “frivolously contested" cases, which, it was understood, were to be forced upon the convention. But that agreement was disregarded by the conservatives, a breach of faith that embittered the minority, and led such men as Preston King, James S. Wadsworth, and other leading “Barnburners” to refuse to act as officers of the convention. Indeed, it was claimed by the New York "Evening Post" that it was only this determination to ignore the agreement that gave the conservatives the control of the convention.

The Wilmot proviso was the exciting and controlling issue. The discussion was conducted with great spirit, and ability. A resolution, prepared by James R. Doolittle, afterward United States Senator from Wisconsin was offered by David Dudley Field as an amendment to the report of the Committee on Resolutions. This amendment, while promising fidelity to + '' the compromises of the Constitution" and to “the reserved rights of the States," pledged " uncompromising hostility to the extension of slavery into territory now free."' Mr. Field made' a powerful speech in its support. '"I am willing," he said," that our victorious standard should  be borne to the Isthmus of Darien or planted on the highest peak of the Polynesian Islands.; but the soil on which it advances must be free! Ay, as free as the untrammeled soil on which we stand!"

The amendment was rejected and the resolutions were adopted, though it was, claimed that the latter and the nominations were carried not only by an irregularly organized convention, but by a convention without a quorum. Defeated at Syracuse, the radical Democrats met in convention on the 26th of October, at Herkimer, “to avow their principles and consult as to future action." It was strong in numbers, in talent, and in character, both personal and political. Churchill C. Cambreling was made president, John Van Buren was appointed chairman of the Committee on the Address to the People, and David Dudley Field chairman of the Committee on Resolutions.

The address began by a recital and condemnation of the action of the Syracuse convention, which, it averred, after “its unjust and arbitrary decisions, sustained by partial reports,..shrunk to a little more than a third of its original size and expired." Adverting to its repression of the true sentiments of the people, and also alluding to the early antislavery history of New York, it claimed that, while that great State was “loyal to the Constitution," it was” true to freedom." It also referred to the great change which had taken place in public sentiment since the days of the Fathers; and it entered its protest against the promulgation of opinions so abhorrent in themselves so aggressive in their influence, and leading to "the extension of an institution which is a source of insecurity and poverty in peace and of embarrassment and danger in war." Referring to the fidelity of the Democratic party of New York to the "real rights of the South" as an evidence of its devotion to the Constitution, it proclaimed its purpose to resist aggression from the opposite direction. 

Having discarded the action at Syracuse, the convention declined to nominate candidates for the ensuing election, leaving the matter in the hands of the people. Mr. Field reported a series of resolutions, which were unanimously adopted. Among them was one which had been rejected at Syracuse, and which pledged the uncompromising hostility of the Democracy of New York to the extension of slavery into free territory, then or thereafter to be acquired.

Though defeat followed these dissensions, proceedings equally uncompromising marked the action of that section of the party in regard to the presidential election, then close at hand. Two sets of delegates were chosen to attend the national nominating convention at Baltimore, each claiming to be the sole representatives of the party, and the contest was transferred to the wider theatre of the national organization.

Source:  Wilson, Henry, History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, Vol. 2.  Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1872, 123-128.



Slave labor always depends upon physical force abundant enough, swift enough, and thorough enough to compel obedience and to break down insubordination; and the slave system was backed up ) by a large body of statutory law and a private system for punishing offences. The slave codes included much of the law applicable to the free negro,1 with special provisions applicable only to bondmen.2 In selecting out of the mass of legislation some of the most characteristic provisions, it should be remembered that the slave codes were always more severe in the communities having the largest number of slaves--that is, in the lower south.

In part, the slave codes were intended for the protection of the slave against ill-usage. Several states had laws against Sunday work, others against undue tasks, others provided for a minimum ration, or for a mid-day rest. All the slave-holding states made the malicious and unnecessary killing of a

1 See above, chap. vi.

2 Hurd, Law of Freedom and Bondage, I., §§ 216-230. 

slave a capital offence, but the master was allowed to exercise authority sufficient to protect his life and enforce his commands; and the Tennessee laws of 1836 specifically provided that "any slave dying under moderate correction" could not be held to be murdered.1  Statutes also forbade the maiming or branding of a slave by the master. On the other hand, the slave codes recognized the master as sole owner of such property as a slave might nominally possess. Whether taken as real-estate, which in several states the negro was legally held to be for purposes of mortgage and inheritance, or as a chattel, the law upheld the master in such leases or sale of the slave as seemed to him desirable; and a slave was liable to forced sale in payment of the master's debts. The spirit of the law was throughout to emphasize the power, authority, and right of the master.

Slaves were subject to a body of statutory law against assembling. In Delaware, six men slaves meeting together, not belonging to one master, might be whipped for that offence. To keep a gun was punishable, in Virginia, with thirty-nine lashes; to be on horseback without the written permit of a master meant twenty-five. lashes; fishing with a seine in certain waters, thirty-nine lashes.2 Furthermore, for some offences, such as arson, the punishment of the slave was more severe than of a white or a free negro. One of the unforgivable crimes was the killing of a white man by a slave; and

1 Stroud, Slave Laws, 61.

2 Ibid., 162, 166, 167.

though the courts sometimes humanely stepped in to save the negro who had taken life simply to defend his own life, public sentiment usually demanded the death of the assailant.1

The ever-present fear of insurrections caused most of the southern states to make special provisions against the movement of the negroes, especially at night; hence some of the cities had curfew laws, and throughout the south there was stringent legislation against negroes being away from their own plantation without written permission from the master or his representative.2 To make these laws effective, there was a system of patrols, "the patter rollers," with whom Uncle Remus threatened little boys. The vigilance exercised in a town is described by a contemporary: "Last night a slave passing the jail was ordered by Esq. Wilson to stop 'Where are you going?' 'My master sent me after the doctor.' 'It is a d-d lie,' said Wilson, 'pull off your shirt.' I can't do that,' said the slave and took hold of Wilson. The guards came to his help and held the slave while Wilson gave him twenty lashes. 'Now go home,' said he. 'I shan't; I shall go after the doctor,' replied the slave, and ran, Wilson pursuing him." 3

The patrol was really a kind of police-militia made up of men of the neighborhood, who rode the high-

1 Hurd, Law of Freedom and Bondage, II., chaps. xvii.-xix.; Stroud, Slave Laws, 169-188.

2  Adams, Southside View, 24; Burke, Reminiscences, 17; Olmsted, Seaboard Slave States, 558, 592; Northup, Twelve Years a Slave, 157.

3 Thompson, Prison Life, 60.

ways in bands, received a small payment for each night of service, and freely stopped all negroes whom they found on the roads, whipping those whom they recognized as out without leave, and detaining unknown negroes as probable runaways. Imprisonment was no penalty for a slave, who could not be kept employed and who must be fed; and therefore the minor delinquencies of laziness and neglect were usually visited by the whip of the master or mistress or overseer. More serious offences, such as theft, small personal injuries to other negroes, and the like, though punishable by the courts, were commonly taken care of in the same way; and aggravated offences of insubordination, or of running away, were treated with greater severity of the same kind. Mild-tempered mistresses and even masters often sent household slaves to the calaboose, which was the local jail, with instructions that they should be whipped by the jailer for a small fee. Thus De Bow could truthfully say: "On our estates we dispense with the whole machinery of public police and public courts of justice. Thus we try, decide, and execute the sentences in thousands of cases, which in other countries would go into the courts." 1 For man, woman, and child, the only ultimate sanction for a command was force, and the community did not feel kindly towards masters who spoiled their slaves by leaving them uncorrected. 2

1 De Bow, Industrial Resources, II., 249.

2 Olmsted, Seaboard Slave States, 194, 195.

The spirit and extent of slave punishments depended upon a combination of two conceptions: the negro was treated as a child who must be thumped into obedience; at the same time he was looked upon as an adult, capable of understanding responsibility and of willfully defying his master: No cold-blooded reason could fairly apportion punishment under such contradictions. If a task was set, not to complete it must be, according to the temper of the overseer, either a child's shirking or a man's insubordination; if a negro was reproved, his explanation might lie only a silly subterfuge or a desperate defiance; an · attempt to run away, in order· to avoid a thrashing, was either a piece of boyish folly or a willful aggravation of the original offence; and to put out the hand to ward off a blow might be an involuntary act or the unpardonable sin of resistance to a white man.1

The most common instrument of punishment was the cowhide or the black-snake whip of leather, which could be used freely in the fields; but the cowskin, if used with determination, was likely to cut into the skin and leave indelible scars; hence there were advocates of the rival strap or paddle. For a thoroughgoing whipping, the slave was usually triced up, often hung by the thumbs, with his or her toes just touching the ground, or made helpless

1 Douglass, Narrative, 78; Kemble, Georgian Plantation, 289; Olmsted, Seaboard Slave States, 438, 484; Olmsted, Back Country, 82.

by a stick tied under the knees, or he was " staked out." 1 "A mere whipping" or "a good thrashing " or " a dose" were euphemisms for the torture of the lash. Yet flogging was in this period the normal punishment in the navy and merchant - marine, had barely disappeared from the army, was still legal towards apprentices, and in some communities towards wives, and was a common punishment throughout the south for the less serious crimes of whites. To most slaves the sight of the lash was too familiar to make it a disgrace. If slavery was allowed at all, perhaps whipping was as mild a means of enforcing it as could be devised.

To whip big, men, whose hides had been tanned by a dozen floggings, was one thing; but people brought up with a sense of the dignity of the human body thought frightful "the brutal inhumanity of allowing a man to strip and lash a woman, the mother of ten children, to exact from her toil which was to maintain in luxury two idle young men, the owners of the plantation." 2 Somehow the sight of a girl found skulking in a ditch, upon whom the overseer most indecently bestowed fifty or sixty blows, "well laid on as a boatswain would thrash a skulking sailor or as some people break a balking horse," turned the stomach of Olmsted; and we can hear her, as he did, writhing, grovelling, and screaming--" Oh, don't, sir! oh, please stop, master! Please,

1 Pickard, Kidnapped and Ransomed, 35, 39.

2 Kemble, Georgian Plantation, 125.

sir! please, sir! oh, that's enough, master! oh Lord! oh master, master! oh, God, master, do stop! oh God, master! oh God, master!" 1

Even such brutal floggings belong to the milder side of slave discipline. For crimes committed either by free negroes or by slaves there was the machinery of the law. The general impression was that the free negroes, though guilty of many small offences, seldom committed serious crimes; 2 and they were tried by the usual tribunals even in such serious matters as insurrection. Slaves guilty of assaults and murders also usually went to the regular courts. The master was always interested in defending his own slave from an unjust accusation or unlicensed punishment, and it does not appear that courts were unduly prejudiced against the slave; but the universal rule that no testimony of negroes, slaves or free, could be received against a white man made justice difficult in cases involving both whites and negroes.

 A great number of crimes not capital when committed by whites were punishable by death if committed by a slave, including arson, rape, conspiracy to rebel, striking a master or any member of the master's family, resisting legal arrest or punishment, and burglary.3 The difficulty was that an execution destroyed a valuable piece of property,

1 Olmsted, Back Country, 83-88. 

2 Adams, Southside View, 41.

3 Stroud, Slave Laws, 170-184.

for which the master of the slave must be paid be  government; and in many cases the real penalty was that the negro was sold into some other county or state. As late as 1808 slaves were burned alive by order of a court in Charleston ; and for supposed complicity in setting a fire in Augusta, in 1830, a slave woman was executed and quartered.1

In several states summary tribunals were provided by law to take cognizance of slave offences. For example, in South Carolina there was a justice and freeholders court of three members, which was judge, prosecuting attorney, and jury in one. Such courts, in South Carolina, could even inflict the punishment of death, and in 1832 "sentenced and caused the execution of thirty-five slaves on a charge of insurrection." 2 That the system was not satisfactory was shown by a protest of the governor of South Carolina, in 1853, who held up the decision of such courts as "rarely in conformity with justice and humanity." 3

Beyond these regular and special courts was a system of dealing with both slaves and free negroes by lynch law, commonly for murder of whites or for violent crimes against white women; for such crimes were considered a kind of rebellion of the inferior race against the superior, the serpent biting the heel ; among thirty recorded cases of the burning

1 Stuart, North America, II., 82; Olmsted, Seaboard Slave States, 499.

2 Jay, Miscellaneous Writings, 133.

3 Olmsted, Seaboard Slave States, 499.

a negro by a mob, between 1825 and 1860, the most conspicuous was that of Mcintosh in 1835: a mulatto, who, for killing an officer of the law who was trying to arrest him, was taken out of jail by a mob in St. Louis, tied to a tree and burned to death. Judge Lawless, the county magistrate, charged the grand jury that if this lynching "was the act ... of the many--of the multitude, in the ordinary sense of these words, ... of congregated thousands, seized upon and impelled by ... frenzy, ... then I say, act not at all in the matter; the case then transcends your jurisdiction--it is beyond the reach of human law." 1

As the years went by, the number of such lynchings increased, although in the decade between 1850 and 1860, of forty-six recorded negro murders of owners or overseers, twenty were legally executed and twenty-six were lynched, of whom nine were burned at the stake; for rape, five negroes were legally executed and twelve were lynched, of whom four were burned; although many other cases of rape received a lighter punishment.2 Another series of legal offences could be committed by white people with reference to slaves. Consorting with negroes, free or slave, was a serious offence strictly prohibited; trading with slaves was also forbidden, for a constant complaint of planters

1 Lovejoys, Lovejoy, 168-178; Cutler, Lynch Law, 108; criticised in Lincoln, Works, I., 10.

2 Cutler, Lynch Law, 126- 128; data prepared for the author by G. T. Stephenson, of Pendleton, North Carolina.

was that their supplies and crops disappeared and were turned into luxuries or whiskey by exchange with low-down white men in the neighborhood.1 Another crime was the heinous one of slave-stealing, akin in malevolence to horse-stealing on the frontier. Inasmuch as the slave could tell where he came from, it was hard to carry it out successfully without the collusion of the negroes, who were sometimes. persuaded to run away by a promise to take them to Canada, and sometimes entered into a conspiracy by which they were sold, ran away, and returned to the confederate, who sold them again.2 Helping a slave to escape was also slave-stealing, as the for abolitionists found who were detected in the act. 3 

One offence totally unknown to the law of the northern states, was the teaching of negroes, and especially of slaves, to read; in North Carolina it was a misdemeanor to sell or give a slave any book or pamphlet. That the laws were no dead-letter was shown when Mrs. Anne Douglass, a South Carolina woman living in Norfolk, Virginia, set up a little school for teaching colored children. In 1853 she was arrested, convicted, and imprisoned for thirty days for breaking a law, of the existence of which she had no knowledge.4

Wherever there was as many as twenty slaves it

1 Olmsted, Seaboard Slave States, 349, 634.

2 Marryat, Diary in America (American ed.), 127; 2d series, 89-92.

3 See chap. xx., below. 4 Chambers, American Slavery and Colour, 190; Massie, America, 88.

was common to employ an overseer, and on-large plantations there must, under the law, be several white men. Many of the cruelties and excesses of slavery came from this almost universal system of delegating authority, even when the master was on the plantation. The calling of the overseer was disreputable, and was almost never sought by members of the large slave-holding families; hence the immediate care of the slaves fell upon members of the poor white class, rough, uneducated, and brutal. The main purpose of the overseer was to "make his crop," and where the land-owner was absent the whole or the greater part of the year, his judgment of the overseer depended upon the surplus available for his own support. The overseer was paid an annual salary, up to about one thousand dollars a year, and sometimes had a share of the profits. He had little or nothing to do with the household slaves, but otherwise occupied the combined responsibility of a farm manager, the warden of a jail, and the elder brother in a rude and tumultuous family.

To get good overseers was hard. A man on a plantation described them as "passionate, careless, inhuman, generally intemperate, and totally unfit for the duties of the position." 1 He was in general opposed to improvement in the processes of agriculture; his system of management was severe, and his moral influence upon the negroes unwholesome.

1 Olmsted, Back Country, 44, 51-64; Olmsted, Seaboard Slave States, 485-487; Chesnutt, Conjure Woman.

He set few of those examples of refinement and Christianity which the house servants often enjoyed, and was a standing refutation of the theory that slavery tended to raise the negro through his contact with superior white people.

On a few plantations there was a negro foreman, who was practically the manager of the estate.1 Such men must be carefully distinguished from the so-called "slave-drivers," who were simply gang-bosses relieved from physical labor, armed with a whip, and set among the slaves to see that their tasks were performed.2 The drivers had to justify their being by urging their fellows to work, and were liked by neither side.

How far slavery, as a system, was inhuman and barbarous is difficult to decide. Charges of cruelty were fiercely pressed by the abolitionists, who threw out a drag-net for every case that came to their knowledge; and they proved beyond question that there were many awful instances of barbarity which  public opinion did not check. Take the case of Madame Lalaurie, of New Orleans, in 1834, who forced a little slave girl with a whip to the roof of her house, where, in despair and terror, the child fell off and was killed ; and chained her cook to the wall, till the woman, in utter despair, set fire to the

1 Pickard, Kidnapped and Ransomed, 155; Olmsted, Seaboard Slave States, 426. 

2 Olmsted, Seaboard Slave States, 205-208, 436-438; Olmsted, Back Country, 48.

house, and the fire-company discovered the miserable story. The woman had to flee for her life from the city, to which she never returned, but she had for years been known to be a cruel mistress.1

On the other hand, the defenders of slavery pointed out that the slaves were protected by the master's self-interest; "who but a drivelling fanatic," asks one, "has thought of the necessity of protecting domestic animals from the cruelty of their owners?"; and another pointed to the unpopularity of the harsh and brutal slave-owner. Nevertheless, people perfectly well known to be habitually cruel to their slaves were not excluded from good society.2 What the abolitionists complained of was not cruelty in itself, but a system in which cruelty was held to be an indispensable element.

The worst excesses came from that disregard of a man's interest in his own property which is roused in any owner of a balky horse and which was immensely aggravated by the fact that the negro could speak, reason, and remember. Those travellers most disposed to see the bright side of slavery record instances of masters who killed their own slaves or who lost them by abuse and neglect.3

1 Cable, Strange True Stories of La., 200-219; Bremer, Homes of the New World, II., 244.

2 Harper and Simms, in Pro-Slavery Argument, 31, 228; cf. Smedes, Memorials of a Southern Planter, 105; Bremer, Homes of the New World, II., 511.

3 Hodgson, Letters, 186-189; Burke, Reminiscences, 169-174; Olmsted, Seaboard Slave States, 569-571.

They also saw cases where white men were prosecuted for the murder or ill-usage of their own slaves or of other negroes,1 but such checks acted slowly and irregularly.  The control of the slaves by any severity necessary to preserve slavery was deeply inwrought into the whole fabric of southern law and society. Its worst features began in colonial times, when like harsh and brutal treatment was accorded to white servants and to negro slaves. The ferocious legal punishments of slaves were not unlike those of the English common law. White convicts were habitually governed by the lash as the slaves were. To the minds of the southern people, therefore, slavery did not present a case of a deliberate building-up of a cruel regime; it was rather a continuance of a state of things not exactly comfortable, but without which slavery could not exist; barbarities, fierce and sanguinary punishments, lynchings, did not seem abnormal to the slave-holders; and if slavery itself was allowable in a Christian and enlightened, community, any method necessary to keep it up - was justified. The indictment of slavery was that it was a deliberate refusal to go along with the rest of the world in the enjoyment of a more humane spirit than that of the eighteenth century.

1 Adams, Southside View, 37-40; Child, Oasis, 242-250.

Source:  Hart, Albert Bushnell, Slavery and Abolition. In Hart, Albert Bushnell, ed., The American Nation: A History, Vol. 16, 109-122. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1906.


CONWAY, Moncure Daniel, 1832-1907, abolitionist, clergyman, author, women’s rights advocate. Unitarian minister.

(Drake, 1950, p. 175; Mabee, 1970, pp. 322, 329, 336, 343, 363-365, 366, 369, 372; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I, pp. 711-712; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 2, Pt. 2, p. 364)


Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

CONWAY, Moncure Daniel, author, b. in Stafford county, Va., 17 March, 1832. His father was a magistrate and a member of the Virginia legislature; his mother a daughter of Surgeon-General Daniel. He received his early education at Fredericksburg academy, and was graduated at Dickinson college, Pa., in 1849, where he united with the Methodist church. He began the study of law at Warrenton, Va., and while there wrote for the Richmond “Examiner,” of which his cousin, John M. Daniel, was editor, in support of extreme southern opinions. He abandoned the law to enter the Methodist ministry, joined the Baltimore conference in 1850, was appointed to the Rockville circuit, and in 1852 to Frederick circuit. He was a contributor to the “Southern Literary Messenger” and published a pamphlet entitled “Free Schools in Virginia,” in which he advocated the adoption of the New England common-school system. Having undergone a change of political and religious convictions, partly through the influence of a settlement of Quakers among whom he lived, he left the Methodist ministry and entered the divinity-school at Cambridge, Mass., where he was graduated in 1854. He then returned to Virginia, in the hope of preaching his humanitarian ideas and transcendental and rationalistic doctrines; but upon reaching Falmouth, where his parents resided, was obliged by a band of neighbors to leave the state under threats because he had befriended Anthony Burns, a fugitive slave from the same district. The same year he became pastor of the Unitarian church in Washington, D. C., where he preached until he was dismissed on account of some anti-slavery discourses, especially one delivered after the assault on Senator Sumner. In 1857 he was settled over the Unitarian church in Cincinnati, Ohio. There he published, among other pamphlets, “A Defence of the Theatre” and “The Natural History of the Devil.” The publication of books on slavery and its relation to the civil war led to an invitation to lecture on this subject in New England, as he had already lectured gratuitously throughout Ohio. During the war his father's slaves escaped from Virginia and were settled by him in Yellow Springs, Ohio. He was for a time editor of the Boston “Commonwealth.” In 1863 he went to England to enlighten the British public in regard to the causes of the war, and there wrote and lectured as a representative of the anti-slavery opinions of the north. He also contributed to “Fraser's Magazine” and the “Fortnightly Review.” Toward the close of 1863 he became the minister of South Place religious society in London, remaining there until he returned to the United States in 1884. He was long the London correspondent of the Cincinnati “Commercial.” “The Rejected Stone, or Insurrection versus Resurrection in America,” first appeared under the pen-name “A Native of Virginia,” and attracted much attention before the authorship became known. “The Golden Hour” was a similar work. Mr. Conway was a frequent contributor to the daily liberal press in England, and has written extensively for magazines in that country and in the United States. A series of articles entitled “South Coast Saunterings in England” appeared in “Harper's Magazine” in 1868-'9. He has published in book form “Tracts for To-day” (Cincinnati, 1858); “The Rejected Stone” (Boston, 1861); “The Golden Hour” (1862); “Testimonies concerning Slavery” (London, 1865); “The Earthward Pilgrimage,” a moral and doctrinal allegory (London and New York, 1870); “Republican Superstitions,” a theoretical treatise on politics, in which he objects to the extensive powers conferred on the president of the United States by the Federal constitution, and advocates, with Louis Blanc, a single legislative chamber (London, 1872); “The Sacred Anthology,” a selection from the sages and sacred books of all ages (London and New York, 1873); “Idols and Ideals” (London and New York, 1877); “Demonology and Devil-Lore” (1879); “A Necklace of Stories” (London, 1880); “The Wandering Jew and the Pound of Flesh” (London and New York, 1881); “Thomas Carlyle” (1881). Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I. pp. 711-712.


CONWAY, Ellen Davis Dana, abolitionist, feminist wife of Daniel M. Conway.


CONWAY, Martin Franklin, 1827-1882, Hartford County, Maryland.  U.S. Congressman, diplomat, abolitionist.  Supported Kansas Free-State Movement. 

(Biographical Dictionary of the U.S. Congress; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 2, Pt. 2, p. 363)


COOPER, David, New Jersey, farmer, abolitionist, Society of Friends, pamphleteer, wrote, A Mite Cast into the Treasury: or, Observations on Slave Keeping, published 1772, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Petitioned Congress three times to abolish slavery, even lobbied President George Washington. Also wrote, A Serious Address to the Rulers of America, on the Inconsistency of their Conduct Respecting Slavery, Trenton, 1783. 

(Basker, 2005, pp. ix, 31-77; Bruns, 1977, pp. 184-191, 440, 475; Dumond, 1961, pp. 24, 76; Rodriguez, 2007, p. 372; Zilversmit, 1967, pp. 94, 152, 159)


COOPER, Peter, 1791-1883, New York anti-slavery activist, Native American rights advocate, industrialist, inventor, philanthropist. 

(Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I, pp. 730-732; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 2, Pt. 2, p. 409)


Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

COOPER, Peter, philanthropist, b. in New York city, 12 Feb., 1791; d. there, 4 April, 1883; His mother was the daughter of John Campbell, a successful potter in New York, who became an alderman of the city and was deputy quartermaster during the Revolutionary war. Mr. Campbell contributed liberally to the cause of American freedom, and received in acknowledgment a large quantity of Continental money. On his father's side Mr. Cooper was of English descent, and both his grandfather and his father served in the Continental army. The latter, who became a lieutenant during the war, was a hatter, and at the close of the war resumed his business in New York. Peter was born about this period, and he remembered the time when, as a boy, he was employed to pull hair out of rabbit-skins, his head being just above the table. He continued to assist his father until he was competent to make every part of a hat. The elder Cooper determined to live in the country, and removed to Peekskill, where he began the brewing of ale, and the son was employed in delivering the kegs. Later, Catskill became the residence of the family, and the hatter's business was resumed, to which was added the making of bricks. Peter was made useful in carrying and handling the bricks for the drying process. These occupations proved unsatisfactory, and another move was made, this time to Brooklyn, where the father and son again made hats for a time, after which they settled in Newburg and erected a brewery. Peter meanwhile acquired such knowledge as he could, for his schooling appears to have been limited to half days during a single year. In 1808 he was apprenticed to John Woodward, a carriage-maker, with whom he remained until he became of age. During this time he constructed a machine for mortising the hubs of carriages, which proved of great value to his employer, who at the expiration of his service offered to establish him in business. This, however, was declined, and Cooper settled in Hempstead, L. I., where for three years he manufactured machines for shearing cloth, and at the end of this engagement he had saved sufficient money to buy the right of the state of New York for a machine for shearing cloth. He began the manufacture of these machines on his own account, and the enterprise was thoroughly successful, largely owing to the interruption of commercial intercourse between the United States and Great Britain by the war, and also on account of an improvement devised by himself. At this time he married Sarah Bedel, of Hempstead, who proved a devoted wife during fifty-six years of married life. With the cessation of hostilities the value of this business depreciated, and he turned his shop into a factory for making cabinet-ware. Later he entered the grocery business in New York, but soon afterward the profits acquired by the sale of his machines and in the grocer's shop were invested in a glue-factory, which he purchased with all its stock and buildings then on a lease of twenty-one years. These works were situated on the “old middle road,” between 31st and 34th streets, New York city, and there the business of manufacturing glue, oil, whiting, prepared chalk, and isinglass was continued until the expiration of the lease, when he bought ten acres of ground in Maspeth avenue, Brooklyn, where the business has since been continued. In 1828 he purchased 3,000 acres of land within the city limits of Baltimore, and he erected the Canton iron-works, which was the first of his great enterprises tending toward the development of the iron industry in the United States. This purchase was made at a time when there was great commercial excitement in Baltimore on account of the building of the Baltimore and Ohio railroad. It was feared that the many short turns in the road would make it useless for locomotive purposes. The stockholders had become discouraged, and the project seemed about to be abandoned, when Peter Cooper came to the rescue and built, in 1830, from his own designs, the first locomotive engine ever constructed on this continent. By its means the possibility of building railroads in a country with little capital, and with immense stretches of very rough surface, in order to connect commercial centres, without the deep cuts, tunnelling, and levelling that short curves might avoid, was demonstrated, and the Baltimore and Ohio railroad was saved from bankruptcy. He determined to dispose of his Baltimore property, and a portion of it was purchased by Horace Abbott, which in time became the Abbott iron company. The remainder was sold to Boston capitalists, who formed the Canton iron company. He received part of his payment in stock at $44 a share, which he subsequently sold at $230. He then returned to New York and built an iron-factory, which he afterward turned into a rolling-mill, where he first successfully applied anthracite coal to the puddling of iron, and made iron wire for several years. In 1845 he built three blast-furnaces in Phillipsburg, near Easton, Pa., which were the largest then known, and, to control the manufacture completely, purchased the Andover iron-mines, and built a railroad through a rough country for eight miles, in order to bring the ore down to the furnaces at the rate of 40,000 tons a year. Later the entire plant was combined into a corporation known as the Ironton iron-works. At these works the first wrought-iron beams for fireproof buildings were made. The laying of the Atlantic cable was largely due to his persistent efforts in its behalf. He was the first and only president of the New York, Newfoundland, and London telegraph company. It became necessary to expend large sums in its construction, much of which came directly from Mr. Cooper. The banks were unwilling to trust the corporation, and invariably drew on the president as claims matured. The company was frequently in his debt to the extent of ten to twenty thousand dollars. The first cable lasted scarcely a month, and a dozen years elapsed before the original investments were recovered. In spite of public ridicule and the refusal of capitalists to risk their money, Mr. Cooper clung to the idea, until at last a cable became an assured success. The original stock, which had been placed on the market at $50 a share, was then disposed of to an English company at $90. Mr. Cooper served in both branches of the New York common council, and strongly advocated, when a member of that body, the construction of the Croton aqueduct He was a trustee in the Public school society first founded to promote public schools in New York, and when that body was merged in the board of education he became a school commissioner. But he is most widely known in connection with his interest in industrial education. His own experience early impressed him with the necessity of affording proper means for the instruction of the working classes. With this idea he secured the property at the junction of 3d and 4th avenues, between 7th and 8th streets, amd from plans of his own making “The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art” was erected. In 1854 the corner-stone was laid, and five years later, on its completion, a deed was executed in fee simple transferring this property to six trustees, who were empowered to devote all rents and income from it “to the instruction and improvement of the inhabitants of the United States in practical science and art.” A scheme of education was devised which should include “instruction in branches of knowledge by which men and women earn their daily bread; in laws of health and improvement of the sanitary conditions of families as well as individuals; in social and political science, whereby communities and nations advance in virtue, wealth, and power; and finally in matters which affect the eye, the ear, and the imagination, and furnish a basis for recreation to the working classes.” Free courses of lectures on social and political science were established; also a free reading-room; and collections of works of art and science were provided, and a school for instruction of women in the art of design by which they may gain an honorable livelihood. When sufficient funds have been collected, it is proposed to establish a polytechnic school. The building with its improvements has cost thus far nearly $750,000. It has an endowment of $200,000 for the support of the free reading-room and library. The annual expense of the schools varies from $50,000 to $60,000, and is derived from the rents of such portions of the edifice as are used for business purposes. Mr. Cooper devoted much careful thought and study to questions of finance and good government. He became active in the greenback movement, and published several political pamphlets on the subject of the currency. In 1876 he was nominated by the national independent party as their candidate for president, and in the election that followed received nearly 100,000 votes. In all affairs concerning the advancement and welfare of New York city Mr. Cooper was prominent. No public gathering seemed complete without his well-known presence on the platform. He was a regular attendant of the Unitarian church, and liberal in his donations to charitable institutions, to many of which he held the relation of trustee. His various addresses and speeches were collected in a volume entitled “Ideas for a Science of Good Government, in Addresses, Letters, and Articles on a Strictly National Currency, Tariff, and Civil Service” (New York, 1883). Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I. pp. 730-732.           


CORNISH, Reverend Samuel Eli, 1795-1858, free African American, New York City and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, abolitionist leader, clergyman, publisher, editor, journalist. Presbyterian clergyman. Published The Colonization Scheme Considered and its Rejection by Colored People and A Remonstrance Against the Abuse of Blacks, 1826.  Co-editor, Freedom’s Journal, first African American newspaper.  Editor, The Colored American, 1837-1839.  Leader and founding member of the American Anti-Slavery Society (AASS), Manager, AASS, 1834-1837.  In 1840, joined the American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society (AFASS).  Executive Committee, AFASS, 1840-1855.

(Dumond, 1961, pp. 170, 328, 330; Mabee, 1970, pp. 51, 58, 93, 104, 129, 134, 150, 159, 190, 277, 278, 294, 398n20, 415n14, 415n15; Rodriguez, 2007, pp. 38-39, 47; Sorin, 1971, pp. 82, 83, 90, 92-93; Abolitionist, Vol. I, No. XII, December, 1833; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 5, p. 527)


CORWIN, Thomas, 1794-1865, Lebanon, Ohio, attorney, statesman, diplomat, opposed slavery, U.S. Congressman, Governor of Ohio, U.S. Senator, Secretary of the Treasury.  Director of the American Colonization Society, 1833-1834.  Opposed the war with Mexico.  Called for the end of slavery in the Territories.  

(Mitchell, 2007, p. 33, 35, 160, 172, 173, 266n; Rodriguez, 2007, p. 403; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I, p. 751; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 2, Pt. 2, p. 457; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 5, p. 549; Staudenraus, P. J. The African Colonization Movement, 1816-1865. New York: Columbia University Press, 1961, pp. 138, 207)


Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

CORWIN, Thomas, statesman, b. in Bourbon county, Ky., 29 July, 1794; d. in Washington, D. C., 18 Dec., 1865. In 1798 his father, Matthias, removed to what is now Lebanon, Ohio, and for many years represented his district in the legislature. The son worked on the home farm till he was about twenty years old, and enjoyed very slender educational advantages, but began the study of law in 1815, and was admitted to the bar in May, 1818. His ability and eloquence as an advocate soon gained him an extensive practice. He was first chosen to the legislature of Ohio in 1822, serving seven years, and was chosen to congress in 1830, from the Miami district as a whig, of which party he was an enthusiastic member. His wit and eloquence made him a prominent member of the house of representatives, to which he was re-elected by the strong whig constituency that he represented for each successive term till 1840, when he resigned to become the whig candidate for governor of Ohio, and canvassed the state with Gen. Harrison, addressing large gatherings in most of the counties. He was unsurpassed as an orator on the political platform or before a jury. At the election he was chosen by 16,000 majority, Gen. Harrison receiving over 23,000 in the presidential election that soon followed. Two years later, Gov. Corwin was defeated for governor by Wilson Shannon, whom he had so heavily beaten in 1840. In 1844 the Whigs again carried the state, giving its electoral vote to Mr. Clay, and sending Mr. Corwin to the U. S. senate, where he made in 1847 a notable speech against the war in Mexico. He served in the senate until Mr. Fillmore's accession to the presidency in July, 1850, when he was called to the head of the treasury. After the expiration of Mr. Fillmore's term he returned to private life and the practice of law at Lebanon, Ohio. In 1858 he was returned once more a representative in congress by an overwhelming majority, and was re-elected with but slight opposition in 1860. On Mr. Lincoln's accession to the presidency he was appointed minister to Mexico, where he remained until the arrival of Maximilian, when he came home on leave of absence, and did not return, remaining in Washington and practising law, but taking a warm interest in public affairs, and earnestly co-operating in every effort to restore peace. His style of oratory was captivating, and his genial and kindly nature made him a universal favorite. His intemperate speech against the Mexican war hindered his further political advancement. He was a faithful public servant, led a busy life, lived frugally, and, although he had been secretary of the U. S. treasury, failed to secure a competency for his family. See the “Life and Speeches” of Thomas Corwin, edited by Isaac Strohn (Dayton. 1859).—His brother, Moses B., b. in Bourbon county, Ky., 5 Jan., 1790; d. in Urbana, Ohio, 7 April, 1872, received a common-school education, studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1812, and practised at Urbana. He was a member of the legislature in 1838-'9, and was elected as a whig to congress in 1848, against his son, John A., who was nominated as a Democrat. He was again elected in 1854.  Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I. pp. 751





COWLES, Betsy Mix, 1810-1876, educator, reformer, abolitionist.  Organized the Ashtabula County Female Anti-Slavery Society.  Worked closely with abolitionist leader Abby Kelley in the Western Anti-Slavery Society (WASS).  African American and women’s civil rights advocate. 

(American National Biography, 2002)


COX, Hannah Pierce [Pearce], 1797-1876, Pennsylvania, abolitionist leader, Underground Railroad activist.

(Hersch, 1978; Rodriguez, 2007, pp. 53, 246; Smedley, 1969; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I, p. 758; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 2, Pt. 2, p. 474)


Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

COX, Hannah, abolitionist, b. in Longwood, near Philadelphia, in 1796; d. there, 15 April, 1876. She joined the first movement in favor of emancipation, being a co-laborer with Benjamin Lundy, Garrison, Lucretia Mott, and John G. Whittier. For years she and her husband, who survived her in his 91st year, received fugitive slaves. Their golden wedding was celebrated in 1873, when poems were sent by Whittier and Bavard Tavlor. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I, pp. 758.


COX, Samuel Hanson, 1793-1880 New York, radical abolitionist leader, temperance advocate, Presbyterian clergyman, educator, orator. American Anti-Slavery Society.

(Sorin, 1971, pp. 74, 114; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 2, Pt. 2, p. 481; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 5, p. 630; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I, p. 760; Staudenraus, P. J. The African Colonization Movement, 1816-1865. New York: Columbia University Press, 1961, p. 228)


Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

COX, Samuel Hanson, clergyman, b. in Rahway, N. J., 25 Aug., 1793; d. in Bronxville, Westchester co., N. Y., 2 Oct., 1881. His father, who at the time of his death, in 1801, was engaged in mercantile enterprises in New York city, was descended from a family that in the 17th century settled on the eastern shore of Maryland, where the name, diversely spelled, has been long connected with the Quakers of Talbot county. By intermarriages with other families of the peninsula, this connection was rendered nominal at different periods; but, as the father of Dr. Cox had maintained his relations with the society, he received his academic education at their high-school or college at Westtown, near Philadelphia. He also received private instruction in Philadelphia, and was a law-student in Newark, N. J., in 1812, when, with Southard, Frelinghuysen, and others that became eminent, he organized a volunteer corps of riflemen, which occasionally served in the war, notably at Fort Green, L. I. He studied theology in Philadelphia under Dr. Wilson, a distinguished Presbyterian clergyman. The degree of M. A. was conferred upon him by Princeton, and that of D. D. by Williams. He was ordained in 1817, and accepted the pastorate of Mendham, Morris co., N. J. In 1821 he removed to New York as pastor of the Presbyterian church in Spring street, and thence to Laight street in 1825. His congregation here was largely composed of wealthy merchants. He took a leading part in the foundation of the University of the city of New York and in literary conventions, one of which was presided over by John Quincy Adams, called to aid in its organization. He was appointed to open the instructions of the university with the late Dr. McIlvaine, afterward bishop of Ohio, and delivered one of the two memorable courses of lectures in the winter of 1831-'2, his department being that of moral philosophy. During the cholera season of the latter year he remained at his post until stricken down by the disease. In impaired health Dr. Cox went to Europe in 1833, where a speech, delivered at the anniversary of the British and foreign Bible society in London, gained him distinction and opened the way to honors and attentions in Europe. The anti-slavery sentiment then predominant in England made a great impression on Dr. Cox, and he publicly defended his country, when it was gratuitously assailed on that point, and delivered a celebrated sermon against slavery, soon after his return, which, though moderate in tone, drew upon him a great share of the violence with which the agitators were then visited. He was never identified with their extreme measures, and afterward took a leading conservative position in all questions connected with the south, which for a long time disturbed the Presbyterian church. In recognition of this service to the counsels of his brethren, he received the degree of LL. D. from a southern college. In other questions his theological standing was with the new school, of which he was a prominent champion. In the order and discipline of his church, however, he maintained the highest and most thorough old-school position. He was elected professor of pastoral theology in the Theological seminary at Auburn in 1834, but in 1837 became pastor of the 1st Presbyterian congregation in Brooklyn, L. I., where he built a new church in Henry street. In 1845 Dr. Cox attended the Evangelical alliance in London. In 1852, his health declining, he visited Nassau, but with so little good effect that, against the remonstrances of his people and the most liberal proposals on their part, he resigned his charge, and retired to a pleasant property, which they enabled him to purchase, at Owego, N. Y. He considered his career as a pastor at an end, but frequently delivered lectures and appeared in pulpits in New York for several years subsequently. He was for many years professor of ecclesiastical history in the Union theological seminary of New York. His contributions to periodicals and journalistic literature were numerous. His work on “Quakerism” (1833) is in part an autobiography. In connection with the duties of his chair, he edited Bower's “History of the Popes” (New York, 1847). He also presided for a time over the Ladies' college at Le Roy, N. Y. For the last twelve years of his life he lived in retirement in Westchester county. Although much criticised for personal eccentricities, he was generally recognized as a man of high character and commanding talents, of great boldness in expressing his strong convictions, and of singular power as an orator. Dr. Cox was the eldest of three sons, all of whom attained professional eminence. JAMES died prematurely in Philadelphia in 1830. ABRAHAM LIDON, after a brilliant practice in New York, where he became professor of surgery in the medical college now connected with the New York university, of which he was one of the founders, died in the service of his country near Chattanooga in 1863. Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888. 


COXE, John D., abolitionist leader, founding member of the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1787.

(Basker, 2005, pp. 92, 102; Bruns, 1977, p. 514)


COXE, Tench, 1755-1824, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, political economist, abolitionist leader.  Founding member and secretary of the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1787.

(Basker, 2005, pp. 80, 81-85, 92, 101-102; Bruns, 1977, pp. 384, 510-512, 514; Nash, 1991, pp. 124-125, 141; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I, p. 762; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 2, Pt. 2, p. 488; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 5, p. 636)


Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

COXE, Tench, political economist, b. in Philadelphia, Pa., 22 May, 1755; d. there, 17 July, 1824. His mother was a daughter of Tench Francis. His father came of a family well known in American affairs. One ancestor was a proprietor of the province of West Jersey, and sent out the first ship that ever entered the Mississippi from the gulf. Another wrote “A Description of the Province of Carolana,” and drew that scheme for the union of the colonies against French aggression which Franklin copied in the “Albany Plan.” Tench received his education in the Philadelphia schools, and intended to study law; but his father determined to make him a merchant, and he was placed in the counting-house of Coxe & Furman, becoming a partner at the age of twenty-one. Those were the times that tried men's souls, and the boy proved unequal to the trial. In 1776 he resigned from the militia, turned royalist, left the city to join the British, and came back in 1777 with the army under Howe. When Howe left, Coxe was arrested and paroled. He now turned whig, and began a long political career. In 1786 he was sent to the Annapolis convention, and in 1788 to the Continental congress. He next became a federalist, and was made assistant secretary of the treasury in 1789, and commissioner of the revenue in 1792; but from this place Adams removed him. He then turned republican, and in the canvass of 1800 published Adams's famous letter to him regarding Pinckney. For this he was reviled by the federalists as a renegade, a tory, and a British guide, and was rewarded by Jefferson in 1803 with the place of purveyor of public supplies, which he held till 1812. In 1804 Coxe organized and led a party at Philadelphia opposed to the election to congress of Michael Lieb, and this brought him again into public notice. Though a republican, he was for three months daily abused by the “Aurora”; was called a tory, a Federal rat, a British guide who had entered Philadelphia in 1777 with laurel in his hat, and his party was nicknamed the “quids.” The term is commonly supposed to have been first applied to the little band led by John Randolph in 1806, but this is a mistake. The claims of Tench Coxe to remembrance are his labors in behalf of American manufactures, and his statistical writings on political economy. He deserves, indeed, to be called the father of the American cotton industry. He it was who first attempted to bring an Arkwright machine to the United States, and first urged the people of the south to give their time to raising cotton. His speech before the delegates of the constitutional convention is in the “American Museum” of September, 1787. His treasury papers are in the “American State Papers” (vol. i., Finance). His chief works are: " An Inquiry into the Principles for a Commercial System for the United States” (1787); “Examination of Lord Sheffield's Observations on the Commerce of the United Provinces” (1792); “View of the United States” (1787-'94). He wrote also on naval power, on encouragement of arts and manufactures, on the cost, trade, and manufacture of cotton, on the navigation act, and on arts and manufactures in the United States. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I, pp. 762.


CRAFT, Ellen, 1827-1900, African American, author, former slave who escaped to freedom in 1848 with William Craft.  Wrote Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom: Or the Escape of William and Ellen Craft from Slavery, 1860. 

(Drake, 1950, pp. 137-138; Hersch, 1978; Mabee, 1970, pp. 285-286, 290, 302, 303, 316, 336; Rodriguez, 2007, pp. 53, 246; Smedley, 1969, pp. 51, 184, 209, 246-247, 464, 489; Still, 1883; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 5, p. 647; Gates, Henry Louis, Jr., & Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, eds. African American National Biography. Oxford University Press, 2013, Vol. 3, p. 315)


CRAFT, William, c. 1826-1890, African American author, former slave who escaped to freedom in 1848 with Ellen Craft.  Wrote Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom: Or the Escape of William and Ellen Craft from Slavery, 1860. 

(Drake, 1950, pp. 137-138; Hersch, 1978; Mabee, 1970, pp. 285-286, 290, 302, 303, 316, 336; Rodriguez, 2007, pp. 53, 246; Smedley, 1969, pp. 51, 184, 209, 246-247, 464, 489; Still, 1883; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 5, p. 648; Gates, Henry Louis, Jr., & Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, eds. African American National Biography. Oxford University Press, 2013, Vol. 3, p. 315)



Chapter: “Workings of the Fugitive Slave Act,” by Henry Wilson, in History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, 1872.

Sometimes, however, this monotony of gloom was relieved by some pleasant episode, in which the heroism and strategy of the pursued were crowned with success, and the selfish purposes of the pursuer were foiled. Of this character were the escape of William and Ellen Crafts of Georgia, and the unsuccessful attempt to arrest and return them to bondage. Ellen, whose complexion was very light, dressed herself in male attire, and personated a young planter, afflicted with consumptive tendencies, on his way north to obtain medical advice. William was a negro, without admixture of blood; and he acted the part of a family servant, greatly devoted to his young master. They took the public routes, mingled with the passengers, and arrived safely in Massachusetts, where they were cordially welcomed by the friends of the slave. The slave-hunter not only failed in his attempt, but the attempt itself to arrest them, which was made in October, 1850, excited the deepest interest, raised up for them friends, and procured for them aid, which resulted in the discomfiture of their pursuers and in their escape to England. And not only did they escape, but those who sought their re-enslavement became the objects of such uncomfortable notoriety in Boston that they were followed in the streets, pointed out as slave-hunters, waited upon at their hotel, and advised to leave while they were unmolested.

Dr. Henry I. Bowditch, learning that Hughes and Knight were in the city in pursuit of the fugitives, informed Mrs. George S. Hillard -- a friend of not only the Crafts, but of fugitives generally -- of the fact. She at once communicated the facts to them. Crafts armed and barricaded himself in his shop, declaring that he would never be taken alive. Ellen was taken out of the city to the home of Ellis Gray Loring. But, fearing that she would not be safe there from the kid nappers, Theodore Parker took her to his own home and kept her there until the slave-hunters had left the city. Mr. Parker armed himself and put his house in a state of defence. “For two weeks," he said,” I wrote my sermons with a sword in the open drawer under my inkstand, and a pistol in the flap of the desk, loaded and ready, with a cap on the nipple." Before William Crafts fled from the United States to England they were married by Mr. Parker according to the laws of Massachusetts. He gave William a sword, and told him of his “manly duty” "to defend the life and liberty of Ellen," and gave them both a Bible to be “a symbol of their spiritual culture."

Source:  Wilson, Henry, History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, Vol. 2.  Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1872, 325-326.


CRANDALL, Prudence, 1803-1889, Canterbury, Connecticut, Society of Friends, Quaker, educator, abolitionist. 

(Dumond, 1961, pp. 211-217; Foner, 1984; Fuller, 1971; Goodell, 1852, pp. 393, 436; Mabee, 1970, pp. 148, 149, 150, 373; Rodriguez, 2007, pp. 247-248; Van Broekhoven, 2002, pp. 13, 89, 199, 203, 211, 223; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I, p. 768; American Reformers: An H.W. Wilson Biographical Dictionary, New York, 1985, pp. 192-193; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 5, p. 667; The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. II. New York: James T. White, 1892, p. 307)


Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

CRANDALL, Prudence, educator, b. in Hopkinton, R. I., 3 Sept., 1803. She was educated at the Friends' boarding-school in Providence, and in 1831, under the patronage of residents of the town, established the Canterbury, Conn., boarding-school. In 1833 her school had become one of the best of its kind in the state. At this time Miss Crandall admitted a young negro girl as a pupil, and thereby incurred the displeasure of nearly all her former patrons, who threatened to withdraw their daughters from her care. Opposition strengthened her decision to educate the oppressed race, and, after consultation with several of the anti-slavery leaders, she issued a circular announcing that on the first Monday of April, 1833, she would open a school “for the reception of young ladies and little misses of color.” “Terms, $25 per quarter, one half paid in advance.” In the list of references are the names of Arthur Tappan, Samuel J. May, William Lloyd Garrison, and Arnold Buffum. The circular was first published in the “Liberator” of 2 March, 1833. In Canterbury there was great indignation, and several public meetings were held. Messrs. May and Buffum appeared on behalf of Miss Crandall, but were denied a hearing on the ground that they were interlopers. The town pledged itself to oppose the school, and a petition was sent to the legislature, praying for an act prohibiting private schools for non-resident colored persons. Such an act was passed in May; but in the mean time, in spite of all opposition, Miss Crandall had opened her school, and began her work with a respectable number of pupils. She was arrested and imprisoned under the new law, and in August and October was twice brought to trial. She was convicted, and the case was then carried up to the supreme court of errors, where judgment was reversed on a technicality in July, 1834. Pending this decision, Miss Crandall was the object of persecutions of the most annoying description. The term “boycott,” not then known, best describes the measures that were taken to compel the suspension of her school. Finally her house was set on fire and the building so damaged by a mob that it was, deemed best to abandon the undertaking. Such was the beginning of the higher education for colored people in New England. After the breaking up of her school, she married the Rev. Calvin Philleo, a Baptist clergyman, who died in 1876. They lived at various places in New York and Illinois, and she now (1886) resides in Elk Falls, Kansas. Miss Crandall's portrait was painted by Francis Alexander in 1838, for the American anti-slavery society, and became the property of Samuel J. May, who gave it to Cornell university, in the library of which it is still preserved. The illustration presented above is from that portrait. Her life has been written by the Rev. John C. Kimball (a pamphlet, printed privately, 1886). Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I, pp. 768.


Chapter: “Hostility to Colored Schools: Miss Crandall's School Suppressed,” by Henry Wilson, in History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, 1872:

Miss Prudence Crandall, a member of the Society of Friends had established a good reputation as a teacher in Plainfield, Connecticut. In the autumn of 1832, invited by several prominent citizens, she purchased a large house in the village of Canterbury, and established a school for young ladies in the higher branches of education. A few mol1ths after comme11cing her: school, she admitted Sarah Harris, a colored girl, a member of the village church. She had attended the district school, and desired, to use her own words, '' to get a little more learning, enough to teach colored children! Although she had been a classmate of some of Miss Crandall's pupils in the district school, objection was soon raised to her remaining in this institution, and remonstrances were made by several patrons of the new school against her continuance, though some of them belonged to the same church, and though they knew nothing to her discredit, except that she belonged to the proscribed race. But their prejudices against color and their pride of caste were aroused, and they were resolved it should never be said that their daughters "went to school with a nigger." Miss Crandall had invested all her property in the building, and had incurred something of a debt besides; and the alternative presented to her of dismissing that colored girl or losing her white pupils was a sore trial. She, however, met the issue bravely, grandly, and in the spirit of self -abnegation and devotion to principle, leaving the event with God.

Having determined on her course, she advertised that at the commencement of her next term, her school would be opened for young ladies and little misses of color, and others who might wish to attend. The people of Canterbury, on learning the fact, were greatly enraged and thrown into intense excitement. A town meeting was called on the 9th of March, before the term began, to adopt measures to avert or abate the threatened" nuisance." In the meantime Miss Crandall was grossly insulted and slandered. Rev. Samuel J. May, then a pastor in the neighboring town of Brooklyn, George W. Benson, and Arnold Buffum, president and agent of the New England Antislavery Society, were com missioned by her to represent her cause at the town meeting. At the meeting resolutions were introduced protesting against the opening of such a school, and suggesting the appointment of the selectmen to wait upon Miss Crandall and persuade her, if possible, to relinquish the project. Andrew T. Judson, a Democratic politician, afterward a member of Congress and judge of the District Court of the United States, resided on Canterbury Green, in a house adjoining the building of the school; and this Democrat was horrified that a· school for negro girls was to be opened near his mansion. Confessedly a leader in this mean· and cruel crusade against that noble woman and her benevolent design, he, addressed the meeting in a strain of bitter and relentless hostility, and avowed his determined purpose to defeat it.

When he closed, Mr. Buffum and Mr. May presented a letter to the moderator from Miss Crandall, requesting that they might be heard in her behalf. But Judson and others sprang to their feet, and with clenched fists admonished them to be silent. They were not permitted to speak, and she was thus denied even the courtesy of a hearing. And yet these gentlemen went to the meeting ready to agree with the people of the town, if they would repay to Miss Crandall what they had advised her to give for the house and allow her time to remove, that she would transfer her school to some more retired part of the town and vicinity. But the meeting would hear nothing, and adjourned with the purpose to crush the enterprise with or without law.

Notwithstanding, however, this opposition, the school was opened with some fifteen or twenty pupils. Then commenced the most disgraceful persecutions. Her pupils were insulted whenever they appeared in the village, the stores were closed against her and them, her well was filled with filth, and her house was repeatedly assailed. An attempt was made under the Vagrant Act to drive her young pupils from the town; but, on Mr. May and other Brooklyn citizens giving bonds to the amount of ten thousand dollars, that scheme was abandoned. Baffled in their attempts, Mr. Judson and the town authorities repaired to the legislature and secured the passage of a law providing that no person should establish in that State any school or other literary institution for the education of colored persons who were not inhabitants of the State, nor harbor or board any colored person not an inhabitant of the State for that purpose, without the consent in writing from the selectmen of the town in which such school or institution might be instituted. This act, disgraceful alike in its passage and provisions, was received by the inhabitants of Canterbury and vicinity with firing of cannon, ringing of bells, and other demonstrations of general rejoicing. 

A few days after its passage, Mr. May and George W. Benson visited Miss Crandall, to advise with her in regard to that inhuman arid wicked enactment by which a woman might be fined and imprisoned for giving instruction to colored children. After consultation, it was determined, should she be prosecuted, that she should remain in the hands of those with whom the hideous act originated. On the 27th of June Miss Crandall was arrested, brought before two justices of the peace, and committed to take her trial at the next term of the county court, in the month of August. Mr. May and his friends were informed that she was in the hands of the sheriff, and would be committed to jail unless bonds were given for her appearance. According to agreement, however, the bonds were not given, and the responsibility was thrown upon the framers of that infamous statute of giving the required sureties themselves, or of committing an unoffending woman to jail. A man had recently been confined in the jail for the murder of his wife. The jailer, at the request of Mr. May, had his cell put in order for her comfortable reception, should she be sent there. The sheriff and jailer saw and felt that her incarceration would bring dishonor upon the State and deep disgrace upon her persecutors, and they lingered, in the hope that something might be done to avert the disagreeable alternative.

But she and her friends remained firm. When night came, that brave and devoted woman was delivered into the hands of the jailer, and led into the cell from which a murderer had: just passed to execution. Her friends retired, and she remained in the prison till the morning, when the required bonds were given. The intelligence of these proceedings went over the country, exciting no small amount of feeling in all, and in the better portion of the community intense indignation at the inhuman law and the scandalous proceedings that preceded and led to its enactment. Arthur Tappan, with characteristic promptness and generosity, wrote at once to Mr. May, indorsing his conduct, authorizing him to spare no reasonable cost in her defence, employ the ablest counsel, and consider him responsible for the expense. Accordingly, Hon. William W. Ellsworth, Hon. Calvin Goddard, and Hon. Henry Strong, eminent members of the Connecticut bar, were retained. These distinguished lawyers expressed the opinion that the law was clearly unconstitutional, and would be so pronounced by a competent judicial tribunal.

But the persecution against Miss Crandall went on. Even physicians refused to attend the sick of her family. The trustees of the church forbade her to come with any of her family into the house of the Lord. But her friends stood by her with unfaltering devotion. Arthur Tappan left his pressing business, visited her, and was deeply affected by her heroism and the courage and trust with which she inspired her pupils. To Mr. May he said: "The cause of the whole oppressed race of our country is to be much affected by the decision of this question. You are almost helpless without the press. You must issue a paper, publish it largely, send it to all persons whom you know in the county and State, and to all the principal newspapers throughout the country. Many will E1ubscribe for it and contribute largely to its support, and I will pay whatever it may cost." Thus encouraged and supported by the deep sympathy, large-hearted benevolence, and sagacious counsel of Mr. Tappan, Mr. May commenced the publication of a paper called the “Unionist " Charles C. Burleigh, then living with his parents in the neighboring town of Plainfield, assisting them on their farm, and at the same time pursuing his legal studies, was sought out and made its editor. Mr. Burleigh thus commenced his antislavery career, which he pursued with earnest fidelity to the end of the system he helped to destroy. By common consent, his talents and forensic abilities were acknowledged to be of a high order. None ever doubted his conscientiousness; though many regretted certain idiosyncrasies of mind and manner, which unquestionably impaired somewhat his usefulness, as they marred the general symmetry of his character.

On the 23d of August, 1833, the trial of Miss Crandall for the crime of teaching a school for colored girls was commenced in the court of Windham County, Judge Joseph Eaton presiding. Mr. Judson, her persecutor and prosecutor, took the lead. He denied that colored persons were citizens in the States where they were not enfranchised, and he insolently inquired why a man should be educated who could not be a freeman.  She was defended with signal ability. Though Judge Eaton charged that he regarded the law as constitutional, the jury failed to return a verdict for conviction. It was understood that seven were for it, and five were for acquittal.

Foiled in this attempt to procure conviction, and impatient of delay, the prosecutors of the suit, refusing to wait for the December term of the same court, commenced a new trial before Judge Daggett, of the Supreme Court. The judge, a native of Massachusetts, had risen rapidly in his profession, had served in the United States Senate, and was then Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Connecticut. He was known to have little sympathy with the colored people, and to have been an advocate of the new law. Of course, no great surprise was felt at his adverse decision. In an elaborate opinion, he maintained the constitutionality of the law, and declared that he was not aware that free blacks were styled citizens in the laws of Congress, or of any of the States. The jury rendered a verdict against Miss Crandall, and her counsel at once, filed a bill of exceptions and appealed the case. Before the highest tribunal her cause was argued in July, 1834. That court, however, decided that the case ought to be quashed for legal informality, and tamely evaded the constitutional question by declaring it “unnecessary for the court to come to any decision on the question as to the constitutionality of the law."

Soon after this failure an unsuccessful attempt was made to burn Miss Crandall's house. In spite, however, of persecutions, insults, imprisonments, and the attempt to destroy her dwelling, this brave woman struggled on in her work of disinterested benevolence. But her enemies were determined and implacable. On the 9th of September, near the hour of midnight, her house was assaulted with clubs, doors and windows were broken in, and the building left nearly untenantable. Her few friends, having been invited to look up on the scene of desolation, and deeming further effort unavailing, if not perilous to life and limb, advised the abandonment of the enterprise. Acting upon this advice, the heroic lady, who had breasted and braved the violence of the mob and the undisguised intolerance of the community for seventeen months, disbanded her school, and sent twenty young girls to their homes, whose only offence, their enemies being judges, was the color of their skin and their strong desire to learn. Mr. May states that when he gave that advice the words blistered his lips and his bosom glowed with indignation. “I felt ashamed," he said, "of Canterbury, ashamed of Connecticut, ashamed of my country, ashamed of my color."

It is in the light of such facts that the deep degradation and demoralization reached by even the New England of those days appears, when not only the demands of humanity and religion were resisted, but the peculiar claims of womanhood and childhood were rudely and roughly ignored. A lonely and, from all that appears, a lovely woman of culture and character, at the head of a seminary of learning, yields to the importunity of a colored girl of seventeen to get a little more learning, that she may teach the children of her race, encounters the rough hostility of the whole community, with hardly a dissenting voice in the church or out of it, and is compelled to accept the cruel alternative of turning her back, or of relinquishing the patronage of those on the faith in whom· she embarked her all and ventured on the enterprise. The scene shifts.

A new act in the drama, a real tragedy, without its blood, opens. The same brave woman, true to her convictions and deaf to the claims of selfish fear and interest, appears upon the stage with twenty young girls, coming up from as many lonely homes of a proscribed people, anxious to learn. To aid them, to educate twenty immortal minds for their high mission on earth, she not only sacrifices position and popular favor, but bows beneath the crushing weight of public obloquy, and hazards, not to say sacrifices, her pecuniary means without reserve. And what had the public of Canterbury and Connecticut for such sublime devotion to principle, for such heroic self-sacrifice? Social ostracism, personal insult, exclusion from God's house, a criminal trial, conviction and incarceration in a murderer's cell! Nor was this the work of unprincipled politicians and fellows of the baser sort alone. The town and its church, the county and its court, the State and its legislature, all joined in this dark business and contributed to this sad result.

Do questions rush to the lip? How could such things happen? How could there be philanthropy, or piety, or even common honesty and humanity, or anything but barbarism, in a community which could enact or tolerate such scenes? And yet there may have been for perfect consistency is a "jewel" rarely found, an exotic which seldom blooms on earth.

And yet these facts are both a puzzle and a mortification, antagonistic alike to the doctrines of the Decalogue and of the Declaration of Independence. So intensely unchristian, barbarous, and despotic, they provoke, if they do not entirely justify, the severe criticisms against both the Christianity and republicanism not only of those but of later days. For these facts were but representative of much that was then taking place throughout the country, and which afterward transpired.

These scenes of Canterbury were hardly more disgraceful than those which were witnessed twenty years later in Boston, at the rendition of Anthony Burns. Andrew T. Judson, commanding the silence of the committee appearing in behalf of Miss Crandall, in that old meeting-house at Canterbury, was no more an instrument of the Slave Power than was Mr. Webster, years afterward, demanding from the steps of the Revere House, in Boston, that the citizens of New England should "learn to conquer their prejudices." The trustees of that church, excluding Prudence Crandall and her pupils from the house of God, were hardly more obnoxious to just condemnation than were the Fugitive Slave Act discourses and "South Side Views" of subsequent years. They all reveal the sad truth that the virus of slavery was coursing through the veins of the body politic, destroying its healthy action, weakening its powers of reason and conscience, so that the language of the prophet seems not too strong: “The whole head is sick, the whole heart is faint."

Source:  Wilson, Henry, History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, Vol. 1.  Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1872, 240-247.


CRESSON, Elliot, 1796-1854, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Society of Friends, Quaker, philanthropist, supported American Colonization Society.

(Staudenraus, 1961, pp. 125, 128, 193, 240, 189-190, 216-218, 224, 234, 238-239; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. II, pp. 7-8; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 2, Pt. 2, p. 540)


Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

CRESSON, Elliott, philanthropist, b. in Philadelphia, 2 March, 1796; d. there, 20 Feb., 1854. He was a member of the Society of Friends, became a successful merchant in Philadelphia, and devoted his attention to benevolent objects, especially the promotion of the welfare of the Indians and negroes in the United States. He conceived the intention of becoming a missionary among the Seminoles of Florida, but afterward gave his mind to the scheme of colonizing American negroes in Africa, engaged in establishing the first colony of liberated slaves at Bassa Cove, on the Grain coast, became president of the Colonization society, and labored as its agent in New England in the winter of 1838-'9, in the southern states in 1839-'40, and in Great Britain in 1840-'2 and 1850-'3. He left in his will $122,000 to various benevolent institutions, and a lot, valued at $30,000, for a home for superannuated merchants and gentlemen. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. II, pp. 7-8.


CRESWELL, John Angel James, 1828-1891, statesman, lawyer.  Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Maryland, 1863-1865.  U.S. Senator 1865-.  Supported the Union, general emancipation of slaves, and the enforcement of the Civil Rights Act.  Voted for Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery.

(Appletons’, 1888, Vol. II, p. 8; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 2, Pt. 2, p. 541; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 5, p. 726; Congressional Globe)


Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

CRESWELL, John A. J., statesman, b. in Port Deposit, Cecil co., Md., 18 Nov., 1828. He was graduated at Dickinson college, Pa., in 1848, studied law, and was admitted to the Maryland bar in 1850. He was a member of the state legislature in 1860 and 1862, and assistant adjutant-general for Maryland in 1862-'3. He was elected to congress, and served from 7 Dec., 1863, till 3 March, 1865; and, having distinguished himself as an earnest friend of the Union, was elected as a republican to the U. S. senate in March, 1865, to fill the unexpired term of Thomas H. Hicks. On 22 Feb., 1866, he delivered, at the request of the House of representatives, a memorable eulogy of his friend and colleague, Henry Winter Davis. He was a delegate to the Baltimore convention of 1864, the Philadelphia loyalists' convention of 1866, the Border states convention held in Baltimore in 1867, and the Chicago republican convention of 1868. In May, 1868, he was elected secretary of the U. S. senate, but declined. On 5 March, 1869, he was appointed by President Grant postmaster-general of the United States, and served till 3 July, 1874. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. II, pp. 8.





Chapter: “Cuba and Central America,” by Henry Wilson, in History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, 1872.

The proximity of Cuba to the mouth of the Mississippi River and its commanding position in the Gulf of Mexico made that island a matter of interest and importance to the people of the United States, whether it was held by Spain or was independent, slave or free. Here, however, as everywhere else, the interests of slavery were made paramount, and the Slave Power controlled the action of the government, a fact detrimental alike to the well-being and to the honor of the Republic. When the Spanish colonies in America became independent, they abolished slavery. Apprehensive that the republics of Mexico and Columbia would be anxious to wrest Cuba and Porto Rico from Spain, secure their independence, and intro duce into those islands the idea, if they did not establish the fact, of freedom, the slave-masters at once sought to guard against what they deemed so calamitous an event. Soon after the inauguration of John Quincy Adams, Mr. Clay, Secretary of State, wrote to Alexander H. Everett, minister to Spain, instructing him to press upon that government the importance of acknowledging the independence of those colonies. Among the reasons assigned was the fact that the “fortunes” of those islands "have such a connection with the people of the United States," that, in case of a protracted war, of which they should" become the object and theatre," this government " might not be at liberty to decline" intervention. Though the despatch was couched in diplomatic phrase, and the real object of this caution and menace was not explicitly stated, it was understood then, and more distinctly avowed afterwards, to have been slavery and its defence; and that to guard against abolition in those islands was the main, if not the exclusive, motive of this extreme solicitude.

When the South-Americans proposed the congress at Panama, President Adams recommended that this government should be represented there. The debate on this proposition disclosed the real animus of the Southern members, who did not hesitate to avow that their apprehensions, purposes, arid actions were all in the interests of slavery. John Randolph, after asserting that a war would be for the independence of those islands, with the purpose and the “principle, of universal emancipation," asked: “Then, sir, what is the situation of the Southern States?” Berrien of Georgia asked and answered the question: "Can you suffer these islands to pass into the hands of buccaneers drunk with their new born liberty?” “The vital interests of the South demand its prevention," was his response. Floyd of Virginia, for the same avowed reason, declared that he “would rather take up arms to prevent than accelerate such an occurrence." Thus clearly and unequivocally did this Republic step forth the champion of slavery, and boldly insist that those islands should remain under the hateful despotism of Spain rather than gain their independence by means that should inure to the detriment of its cherished system. Indeed, it would fight to fasten more securely the double bondage on Cuba and the slave. With less circumlocution and more directness, Mr. Van Buren, during the administration of General Jackson, urged upon the American minister at Madrid to press upon the Spanish court the same policy, for the reason, as he expressed it, that " the sudden emancipation of a numerous slave population " " could not but be very sensibly felt upon the adjacent shores of the United States." It seems hardly credible that a Northern man, even “with Southern principles," could have thus boldly and coldly given such reasons. But such was the purpose of the hour, and such the animating spirit of the national administrations.

But after the annexation of Texas, there was a change of feeling and purpose, and Cuba, from being an object of dread, became an object of vehement desire. The propagandists, strengthened and emboldened by that signal triumph, now turned their eyes towards this beautiful “isle of the sea," as the theatre of new exploits; and they determined to secure the "gem of the Antilles" for the coronet of their great and growing power. During Mr. Folk's administration an attempt was made to purchase it, and the sum of one hundred million dollars was offered therefor. But the offer was promptly declined. What, however, could not be bought, it was determined to steal, and filibustering movements and expeditions became the order of the day. For no sooner was President Taylor inaugurated than he found movements on foot in that direction; and, in August, 1849, he issued a proclamation, affirming his belief that an "armed expedition" was being fitted out "against Cuba or some of the provinces of Mexico," and calling upon all good citizens "to discountenance and prevent any such enterprise." In 1851 an expedition, consisting of some five hundred men, sailed from New Orleans under Lopez, a Cuban adventurer. But though it effected a landing, it was easily defeated, and its leader and a few of his followers were executed. Soon afterward, a secret association, styling itself the “Order of the Lone Star," was formed in several of the Southern cities, having a similar object in view ; but it attracted little notice and accomplished nothing.

So long as the separation of Cuba from Spain involved or threatened harm to slavery, this government was profuse in its expressions of satisfaction at its continued connection with that power. But when, in 1852, England and France made a proposition designed to assure its continuance, and, disclaiming all desire or intention of securing Cuba for themselves, proposed that the three governments should unite in guaranteeing the island to Spain, this government declined the proffered convention in a very long and elaborate despatch from Mr. Everett, Secretary of State. Among the reasons assigned was one, in which slavery, though not specifically mentioned, was undoubtedly meant; and the apprehended danger thereto from the proposed arrangement was urged as one consideration why it should not be consummated.

In August, 1854, President Pierce instructed Mr. Marcy, his Secretary of State, to direct Buchanan, Mason, and Soule, ministers respectively at the courts of London, Paris, and Madrid, to convene in some European city and confer with each other in regard to the matter of gaining Cuba to the United States. They met accordingly, in October, at Ostend. The results of their deliberations were published in a manifesto, in which the reasons are set forth for the acquisition; and the declaration was made that the Union could never enjoy repose and security “as long as Cuba is not embraced within its boundaries." But the great source of anxiety, the controlling motive, was the apprehension that, unless so annexed, she would “be Africanized and become a second San Domingo," thus "seriously to endanger "the Union.

This paper attracted great attention and caused much astonishment. It was at first received with incredulity, as if there had been some mistake or imposition practiced. Both continents were astounded at the shameless audacity which would thus commit this government to the conservation of slavery as a national necessity, and boldly avow the atrocious doctrines which were so fitly characterized by the Republican national convention of 1856, as " the highwayman's plea, that  might makes right." But there was no mistake, there was no imposition practiced, except as involved in the document itself. It was the deliberate utterance of the conference, and it received the indorsement of Mr. Pierce and his administration. The Democratic national conventions of 1856 and of 1860 were quite as explicit, as were the authors of the Ostend manifesto, "in favor of the acquisition of Cuba." Democratic politicians and presses, too, everywhere vindicated its sentiments, and advocated a similar policy. Nor were they much less explicit in the avowal of their motives than in the statement of their specific purpose. That purpose and that motive were to conserve and strengthen human slavery.

The administration of Mr. Buchanan, more completely dominated by the Slave Power than any of its predecessors, made special efforts to secure that long-coveted prize. In his annual message in December, 1858, the President complained of the unsatisfactory condition of the relations of the country with Spain. Referring to the participation of Cuba in the African slave-trade, he affirmed his belief that the last relic of that traffic would disappear if Cuba were annexed. He reminded Congress that Cuba commanded the mouth of the Mississippi; that its “value was comparatively unimportant " to Spain, but that its possession was of vast importance to the United States.

In the Senate, on the 10th of January, Mr. Slidell introduced a bill placing thirty million dollars in the hands of the President to facilitate the acquisition. He also presented a report from the Committee on Foreign Affairs in favor of its passage. Mr. Seward presented a minority report, calling upon the President for information, to be transmitted at the next session, to enable Congress to judge whether extraordinary measures were necessary to maintain the country's rights and interests in regard to Spain. An able discussion ensued, but no action was taken. On the 25th of February Mr. Slidell announced the purpose of the majority to force the bill to a vote; but he was met with so resolute a resistance that the sitting was protracted until one o'clock at night. Despairing of his ability to force the bill through in the brief remnant of the session, he abandoned his purpose. Early the next session he introduced another bill for the same purpose. A favorable report was secured from the Committee on Foreign Affairs. But the matter was not forced to an issue, and Congress adjourned without action.

But the Democratic Party did not relinquish its cherished object. "Cuba must and shall be ours," said Senator Brown in a speech in New York, soon after the adjournment of Congress. "The decree has gone forth, and nowhere on earth is there power to remove it. If Spain is disposed to sell the island, I, for one, stand prepared to pay for it. If Spain be indisposed to sell, I would seize Cuba as indemnity for the past, and then negotiate for future security. It may be asked, What do we want of Cuba? We want it for territorial expansion. We want it to extend our commerce. Then I have a little private reason of my own. I want Cuba for the extension of slavery. I have freely spoken the sentiments of my own heart, and of a vast majority of the Democracy throughout the Union. The Democratic Party are going into the next Presidential canvass upon this and other questions, and we intend to meet Seward face to face upon it."

There is, too, evidence strongly circumstantial, if not absolutely conclusive, that the administration was more deeply in earnest for this object than was avowed. William Walker wrote to the Southern press that, when in the autumn of 1858 he was preparing one of his expeditions for Nicaragua, he was assured by General Henningsen, on the authority of the Secretary of War, that, though the President would probably prevent his going to Central America, he would look favorably upon an attempt on Mexico; and that if Spain and Mexico could be involved in war, and Cuba could be seized, they might look with confidence to this government for pecuniary aid. On his trial, Walker summoned General Henningsen as a witness and sought to elicit these facts in the evidence in his case. But the district attorney objected and the presiding judge would not allow the questions to be put. This sheltering action of the court was deemed by many equivalent to an acknowledgment that the charge was true.

There were, too, other possessions to be desired than Cuba, and the propagandists had turned their eyes to Mexico and Central America, as presenting new fields for conquest. But, as the nation was at peace with these governments, and there was no room for diplomacy, resort must be had to filibustering. Accordingly, Walker, who had already signalized himself by unsuccessful marauding expeditions in southern California, sailed for Nicaragua with a company of freebooters on the 4th of May, 1855. Arriving in that land of chronic revolutions and anarchy, he raised the standard of revolt and rapine. Numbers responded, and after a brief career of varied and unequal successes he found himself in the possession of the city of Granada, with the assumed title of president. Though there was little in the office, with its imposing title, save the name, and his authority was of the most unsubstantial and ephemeral character, he revealed his own purposes, and those of the men he led and represented, by a decree re-establishing slavery, confiscating estates, offering them for sale, and thus inviting emigration from the Southern States. But his checkered career was short, and, though he headed no less than three distinct expeditions from this country, he was finally arrested, convicted, and shot ; but not until some three thousand per sons had perished in these various and marauding exploits. Though despicable in character, criminal in purpose, and unsuccessful in results, he lived long enough to reveal, in unmistakable ways, the spirit, sympathies, and designs of Southern leaders and of the Democratic Party. The latter, even as late as the convention that nominated Buchanan, while Walker was thus engaged, and with unquestionable reference to him and his work, expressed its sympathy with " the people of Central America," in their effort to " regenerate that portion of the continent." Soule, too, one of the signers of the Ostend manifesto, visited him just at the time of issuing his decree for the re-establishment of slavery. Direct affirmation could hardly make more conclusive the evidence that slavery afforded the main, if not the sole motive, and furnished largely the means that sustained these lawless and aggressive movements.

Source:  Wilson, Henry, History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, Vol. 2.  Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1872, 608-614.


CUFFEE, Paul (Cuffe), 1759-1818, free Black, sea captain, author, A Brief Account of the Settlement and Present Situation of the Colony of Sierra Leone, 1812, Society of Friends from Massachusetts, Quaker, abolitionist, among the first Americans to colonize free Blacks in Africa

(Drake, 1950, pp. 123-125; Rodriguez, 2007, pp. 23, 24, 32, 164, 192, 568; Staudenraus, 1961, pp. 9-11, 19, 34; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. II, p. 26; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 2, Pt. 2, p. 585)


Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

CUFFEE, Paul, philanthropist, b. on one of the Elizabeth isles, near New Bedford, Mass., in 1759; d. 7 Sept., 1818. His father was a negro, born in Africa, who had been a slave, and his mother an Indian. He followed a seafaring life, became owner of a vessel, which he manned entirely with negroes, and acquired a large fortune. He was an influential member of the Society of Friends. In his later years he interested himself in the scheme of colonizing American freedmen on the western coast of Africa, corresponded with friends of the enterprise in England and Africa, visited the colony in his own ship in 1811 to study its advantages, and in 1815 carried out thirty-eight colored emigrants and provided means for establishing them in Africa. He applied to the British government for leave to land other companies of colored people in Sierra Leone, but died before the permission came. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. II, Pt. 2, pp. 585.



CURTIS, Benjamin Robbins, 1809-1874, Watertwon, Massachusetts, jurist, lawyer, U.S. Supreme Court Justice, 1851-1857.  Dissented from majority court decision on the Dred Scott case.  Argued that U.S. Congress had the legal rght to prohibit slavery, and disagreed with the decision that held that “a person of African descent could not be a citizen of the United States.” 

(Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. II, p. 35; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 2, Pt. 2, p. 609)


Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

CURTIS, Benjamin Robbins, jurist, b. in Watertown, Mass., 4 Nov., 1809; d. in Newport, R.I., 15 Sept., 1874. He was graduated at Harvard in 1829, admitted to the bar in 1832, and, after practising for a short time in Northfield, Mass., removed to Boston. The extent and readiness of his attainments, his accuracy, and his logical mind, soon made him prominent in his profession. In 1851 President Fillmore appointed him to the U. S. supreme bench. In the celebrated “Dred Scott” case he dissented from the decision of the court and made a powerful argument in support of his conclusions. He upheld the right of congress to prohibit slavery, and declared his dissent from “that part of the opinion of the majority of the court in which it is held that a person of African descent cannot be a citizen of the United States.” On this memorable occasion only one other justice of the seven coincided with the opinion of Judge Curtis. He resigned in 1857, and resumed practice in Boston, frequently appearing before the supreme court at Washington in important cases. He was for two years a member of the Massachusetts legislature, but took little part in politics, devoting himself with earnestness to his profession. In the impeachment trial of President Johnson in 1868 Judge Curtis was one of the counsel for the defence. The answer to the articles of impeachment was read by him, and was largely his work. He opened the case in a speech that occupied two days in delivery, and that was commended for legal soundness and clearness. He was the democratic candidate for CT. S. senator in 1874. He published “Reports of Cases in the Circuit Courts of the United States” (2 vols., Boston, 1854); “Decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States,” with notes and a digest (22 vols., Boston); and “Digest of the Decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States,” from the origin of the court to 1854. Of his “Memoir and Writings” (2 vols., Boston, 1880), the first volume contains a memoir by George Ticknor Curtis, and the second “Miscellaneous Writings,” edited by his son, Benjamin R. Curtis. Appletons’ Cylcopædia of American Biography, 1888.


CURTIS, General, Arkansas


CUSHING, Caleb, 1800-1879, Boston, Massachusetts, statesman, soldier, lawyer, politician, U.S. Attorney General.  Argued against slavery and defended the principles of the American Colonization Society and colonization.  Early supporter of William Lloyd Garrison.  Garrison later strongly opposed Cushing’s support of colonization. 

(Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. II, pp. 38-39; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 2, Pt. 2, p. 623; Staudenraus, P. J. The African Colonization Movement, 1816-1865. New York: Columbia University Press, 1961, p. 210)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

CUSHING, Caleb, statesman, b. in Salisbury, Mass., 17 Jan., 1800; d. in Newburyport, Mass., 2 Jan., 1879. He was graduated at Harvard in 1817, and for two years was a tutor in mathematics and natural philosophy. He then studied law, was admitted to the bar, and settled in Newburyport. He rose rapidly in his profession, and, although busily engaged with his practice, found time to devote to literature and politics, and was a frequent contributor to periodicals. In 1825 he was elected a representative to the lower house of the Massachusetts legislature, and in 1826 a member of the state senate. At this time he belonged to the then republican party. In 1829 Mr. Cushing visited Europe, and remained abroad two years. In 1833 he was again elected a representative from Newburyport to the Massachusetts legislature for two years, but in 1834 was elected from the Essex north district of Massachusetts a representative to congress, and served for four consecutive terms, until 1843. He supported the nomination of John Quincy Adams for the presidency, and was a whig until the accession of John Tyler. When the break in the whig party occurred, during the administration of President Tyler, Mr. Cushing was one of the few northern whigs that continued to support the president, and became classed as a democrat. Soon afterward he was nominated for secretary of the treasury, but the senate refused to confirm him. He was subsequently confirmed as commissioner to China, and made the first treaty between that country and the United States. On his return he was again elected a representative in the Massachusetts legislature. In 1847 he raised a regiment for the Mexican war at his own expense, became its colonel, and was subsequently made brigadier-general. While still in Mexico he was nominated by the democratic party of his state for governor, but failed in the election. From 1850 till 1852 he was again a member of the legislature of his native state, and, at the expiration of his term, was appointed associate justice of the state supreme court. In 1853 President Pierce appointed him U. S. attorney-general, from which office he retired in 1857. In 1857, 1858, and 1859 he again served in the legislature of Massachusetts. In April, 1860, he was president of the Democratic national convention in Charleston, S. C., and was among the seceders from that body who met in Baltimore. At the close of 1860 he was sent to Charleston by President Buchanan, as a confidential commissioner to the secessionists of South Carolina; but his mission effected nothing. Mr. Cushing was frequently employed during the civil war in the departments at Washington, and in 1866 was appointed one of the three commissioners to revise and codify the laws of congress. In 1868 he was sent to Bogotá to arrange a diplomatic difficulty. In 1872 he was one of the counsel for the United States at the Geneva conference for the settlement of the Alabama claims, and in 1873 was nominated for the office of chief justice of the United States; but the nomination was subsequently withdrawn. A year later he was nominated and confirmed as minister to Spain, whence he returned home in 1877. His publications include a “History of the Town of Newburyport’ (1826); “The Practical Principles of Political Economy” (1826); “Historical and Political Review of the Late Revolution in France” (2 vols., Boston, 1833); “Reminiscences of Spain” (2 vols., Boston, 1833); “Growth and Territorial Progress of the United States” (1839); “Life of William H. Harrison” (Boston, 1840); and “The Treaty of Washington” (New York, 1873). Appletons’ Cylcopædia of American Biography, 1888.


CUSHING, William, 1732-1810, lawyer, jurist, opponent of slavery, member of the Constitutional Convention of Massachusetts, Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Court, First Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, appointed by George Washington, Acting Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, 1794.  Wrote in the case Commonwealth v. Jennings, 1783, which abolished slavery in the state of Massachusetts.  Cushing wrote:  “As to the doctrine of slavery and the right of Christians to hold Africans in perpetual servitude, and sell and treat them as we do our horses and cattle, that… has been heretofore countenanced by the Province Laws… a different idea has taken place with the people of America more favorable to the natural rights of mankind, and to that natural, innate desire of Liberty, with which Heaven… has inspired all the human race.  And upon this ground our Constitution of Government, by which the people of this Commonwealth have solemnly bound themselves, sets out with declaring that all men are born free and equal—and that every subject is entitled to liberty, and to have it guarded by the laws, as well as life and property—in short is totally repugnant to the idea of being born slaves… the idea of slavery is inconsistent with our own conduct and constitution; and there can be no such thing as perpetual servitude of a rational creature, unless his liberty is forfeited by some criminal conduct or given up by personal consent or contract.”

(Rodriguez, 2007, pp. 24, 235; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. II, p. 40; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 2, Pt. 2, p. 633; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 5, p. 918)


Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

CUSHING, William, jurist, b. in Scituate, Mass., 1 March, 1732; d. there, 13 Sept., 1810. He was graduated at Harvard in 1751, studied law with Jeremy Gridley, became attorney-general of Massachusetts, was appointed judge of probate of Lincoln county, Me., in 1768, became judge of the Massachusetts superior court in 1772, chief justice in 1777, and in 1780 was chosen the first chief justice of Massachusetts under the state constitution. At the beginning of the Revolution he stood almost alone among the superior officials in supporting the cause of independence. His grandfather and his father (both named John) were judges of the superior court, and his father, whom he succeeded as chief justice, presided over the trial of British soldiers for the Boston massacre of 5 March, 1770. On 27 Sept., 1789, Judge Cushing was appointed an associate justice of the U. S. supreme court. President Washington nominated him chief justice in 1796, but he declined. He was one of the founders of the American academy of arts and sciences in 1780. In 1788 he was vice-president of the Massachusetts convention that ratified the federal constitution. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. II, pp. 40.


CUTLER, Calvin, abolitionist, Maine, Winham, New Hampshire.  Vice president, 1833-1835, Manager, 1835-1840, and founding member of the American Anti-Slavery Society, December 1833.

(Abolitionist, Vol. I, No. XII, December, 1833)


CUTLER, Hannah Maria Tracy, 1815-1896, Becket, Massachusetts, abolitionist, physician.  Leader of the Temperance and women’s suffrage-rights movements, lecturer, educator, physician.  Helped found Women’s Anti-Slavery Society, member of the Free Soil Party, organizer of the Woman’s Kansas Aid Convention in 1856.  Served as President of the Western Union Aid Commission in Chicago, 1862-1864. 

(Yellin, 1994, p. 58n40; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. II, p. 46)


Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

CUTLER, Hannah Maria Tracy, physician, b. in Becket, Berkshire co., Mass., 25 Dec., 1815. She is a daughter of John Conant, and was educated in the common school of Becket. In 1834 she married the Rev. J. M. Tracy, who died in 1843. Subsequently she prepared herself for teaching, and was matron of the Deaf and dumb asylum at Cleveland, Ohio, in 1848-'9. In July, 1851, she visited England as a newspaper correspondent at the World's fair. She was also at the same time a delegate from the United States at the peace congress in London, and while in England delivered the first lectures ever given there on the legal rights of women. In 1852 she married Samuel Cutler and removed to Illinois, where she labored assiduously for the reform of the laws relating to women. She was president of the Western union aid commission, Chicago, Ill., in 1862-'4. In 1873 she visited France, in company with her son, J. M. Tracy, artist, and remained there till 1875. After her graduation as a physician at the Homeopathic college in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1879, she settled at Cobden, Ill., where she has practised with success. She is the author of “Woman as she Was, Is, and Should be” (New York, 1846); Phillipia, or a Woman's Question” (Dwight, Ill., 1886); and “The Fortunes of Michael Doyle, or Home Rule for Ireland” (Chicago, 1886). Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. II, pp. 46.


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