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 - S

SACKETT, William Augustus, 1811-1895, New York, lawyer, politician.  Elected to U.S. House of Representatives from New York as a member of the Whig Party.  Served in Congress two terms from 1849-1853.  Opposed extension of slavery into the New territories and the fugitive slave laws.  Early member of the Republican Party. 

(Appletons’, 1888, Vol. V, pp. 364-365)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

SACKETT, William Augustus, congressman, b. in Aurelius, Cayuga co., N. Y., 18 Nov., 1812. His ancestors came from England in 1632, settled in Massachusetts, and continued to live in New England until 1804, when his father moved to Cayuga county, N. Y. He received an academic education, studied law in Seneca Falls and Skaneateles, was admitted to the bar in 1834, and soon secured a lucrative practice. Elected to congress as a Whig, he served from 3 Dec., 1849, till 3 March, 1853. He took part in the controversy in relation to the admission of California as a free state, and both spoke and voted for admission. He earnestly opposed the fugitive-slave law, and was uncompromisingly in opposition to slavery and the admission of any more slave states. From the committee on claims he made a report on the power of consuls, which had an influence in the final modification of those powers. He removed to Saratoga Springs in 1857, where he still resides. In 1876-'8 he travelled extensively in Europe, Egypt, and the Holy Land, and wrote letters describing his journeys that were published. He has been a Republican since the organization of the party, and has been active as a public speaker.—His son, WILLIAM, was colonel of the 9th New York cavalry, and was killed while leading a charge under Gen. Sheridan at Trevillian Station, Va. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. V, pp. 364-365.


SANBORN, Charles Henry, b. 1822, Hampton Fall, New Hampshire, physician, lawmaker, anti-slavery activist, brother of Franklin Benjamin Sanborn. 

(Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. V, pp. 364-365)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

SANBORN, Charles Henry, physician, h. in Hampton Falls, N. H., 9 Oct., 1822. He was educated in the common schools of New Hampshire, taught for several years, was graduated at Harvard medical school in 1856, and has since practised medicine at Hampton Falls. He was active in the political revolt of the Independent Democrats of New Hampshire in 1845, which ended in detaching the state from its pro-slavery position. In 1854-'5 he was a member of the legislature. He published “The North and the South” (Boston, 1856). Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. V, pp. 364-365.


SANBORN, Franklin Benjamin, 1831-1917, abolitionist leader, journalist, prison and social reformer, Secretary of the Massachusetts State Kansas Committee.  Secretary of the Massachusetts Free Soil Association.  Secretly supported radical abolitionist John Brown, and his raid on the U.S. Arsenal at Harpers Ferry, (West) Virginia, on October 16, 1859.  Brother of Charles Sanborn.  

(Rodriguez, 2007, pp. 327, 338, 476, 478-479; American Reformers, pp. 715-716; Appletons’, 1888, Vol. V, pp. 384; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 8, Pt. 2, p. 326; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 19, p. 237)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

SANBORN, Franklin Benjamin, reformer, b. in Hampton Falls, N. H., 15 Dec., 1831, was graduated at Harvard in 1855, and in 1856 became secretary of the Massachusetts state Kansas committee. His interest in similar enterprises led to his active connection with the Massachusetts state board of charities, of which he was secretary in 1863-'8, a member in 1870-'6, and chairman in 1874-'6, succeeding Dr. Samuel G. Howe. In 1875 he made a searching investigation into the abuses of the Tewksbury almshouse, and in consequence the institution was reformed. Mr. Sanborn was active in founding the Massachusetts infant asylum and the Clarke institution for deaf-mutes, and has devoted much attention to the administration of the Massachusetts lunacy system. In 1879 he helped to reorganize the system of Massachusetts charities, with special reference to the care of children and insane persons, and in July, 1879, he became inspector of charities under the new board. He called together the first National conference of charities in 1874, and was treasurer of the conference in 1886-'8. In 1865 he was associated in the organization of the American social science association, of which he was one of the secretaries until 1868, and he has been since 1873 its chief secretary. With Bronson Alcott and William T. Harris he aided in establishing the Concord summer school of philosophy in 1879, and was its secretary and one of its lecturers. Since 1868 he has been editorially connected with the Springfield “Republican,” and has also been a contributor to newspapers and reviews. The various reports that he has issued as secretary of the organizations of which he is a member, from 1865 till 1888, comprise auout forty volumes. He has edited William E. Channing's “Wanderer” (Boston, 1871) and A. Bronson Alcott's “Sonnets and Canzonets” (1882) and “New Connecticut” (1886); and is the author of “Life of Thoreau” (1882) and “Life and Letters of John Brown” (1885). Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. V, pp. 384.  


SANDERSON, Jeremiah Burke, 1821-1875, African American, clergyman, abolitionist, anti-slavery leader.  Minister, African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church.  Agent and lecturer for Garrison’s Liberator.  Member of abolition groups in New Bedford area.

(Gates, Henry Louis, Jr., & Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, eds. African American National Biography. Oxford University Press, 2013, Vol. 10, p. 52)


SANDIFORD, Ralph, 1693-1733, Society of Friends, Quaker, radical abolitionist, reformer, called for immediate end to slavery, printed anti-slavery book, A Brief Examination of the Practice of the Times, by Foregoing and the Present Dispensation, 1729. For this action, he was excommunicated by the Society of Friends. 

(Basker, 2005, pp. 122-123; Bruns, 1977, pp. 31-38, 39, 46, 50-51; Drake, 1950, pp. 34, 37, 39-43, 48, 51, 55, 136, 160; Locke, 1901, pp. 24, 25, 27, 29, 33, 173; Soderlund, 1985, pp. 23, 25, 35, 166-167, 174, 186; Zilversmit, 1967, pp. 67, 72; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. V, p. 387)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

SANDIFORD, Ralph, author, b. in Liverpool, England, about 1693; d. in Philadelphia, Pa., 28 May, 1733. H e was the son of John Sandiford, of Liverpool, and in early life was a sailor. He emigrated to Pennsylvania, where he settled on a farm and became a Quaker preacher. Sandiford was one of the earliest public advocates of the emancipation of negro slaves, and in support of his views published “A Brief Examination of the Practice of the Times, by the Foregoing and Present Dispensation, etc.” (Philadelphia, 1729; 2d ed., enlarged, 1730). These were printed by Franklin and Meredith. Franklin says, in a letter dated 4 Nov., 1789: “I printed a book for Ralph Sandiford against keeping negroes in slavery, two editions of which he distributed gratis.” Sandiford's doctrines met with but little favor, except among the poor, who were brought into competition with slave labor. The chief magistrate of the province threatened Sandiford with punishment if he permitted his writings to be circulated, but, notwithstanding, he distributed the work wherever he thought it would be read. Sandiford was buried in a field, on his own farm, near the house where he died. The executors of his will had the grave enclosed with a balustrade fence, and caused a stone to be placed at the head of it, inscribed: “In Memory of Ralph Sandiford, Son of John Sandiford, of Liverpool. He Bore a Testimony against the Negroe Trade and Dyed ye 28th of ye 3rd Month, 1733, Aged 40 Years.” See “Memoir of Benjamin Lay and Ralph Sandiford,” by Robert Vaux (Philadelphia, 1815; London, 1816). Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. V, pp. 387.


SANDS, David, 1745-1818, abolitionist, Quaker preacher.  Strong opponent of slavery.

(Appletons’, 1888, Vol. V, p. 388; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 8, Pt. 2, p. 342)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

SANDS, David, Quaker preacher, b. on Long Island, N. Y., 4 Oct., 1745; d. in Cornwall, N. Y., in June, 1818. He became a merchant, but entered the Society of Friends, married a member of that denomination, and began to preach in 1772. He labored in this country and Canada till 1794, and then in Europe till he was sixty years of age. See “David Sands, Journal of his Life and Gospel Labors” (New York, 1848). Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. V, pp. 388.


SANSOM, Joseph, 1767-1826, poet, Society of Friends, Quaker, abolitionist.  Wrote anti-slavery poem, “A Poetical Epistle to the Enslaved Africans, in the Character of an Ancient Negro, Born a Slave in Pennsylvania,” published in 1790.

(Drake, 1950, pp. 106-107, 127)


SAUNDERS, Prince, d. 1839, African American, author, supporter of colonization movement, anti-slavery activist.

(Gates, Henry Louis, Jr., & Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, eds. African American National Biography. Oxford University Press, 2013, Vol. 10, p. 70)


SAYRES, Edward, pilot of the Pearl.  Together with the captain, Daniel Drayton, they attempted to free 76 slaves valued at $100,000, but were caught and imprisoned.  They remained incarcerated until 1852.  Senator Edwin Sumner prepared an extensive appeal for their release, which was submitted to the US Attorney General.  Sayres and Drayton were granted an unconditional pardon by President Fillmore and were released after four years.  (Rodriguez, 2007, p. 51; Wilson, 1872, Vol. 2, pp. 91-105)

See also Pearl Incident


SCHENCK, Robert Cumming, 1809-1890, diplomat, Union general.  Strong opponent of slavery.  Supported Abraham Lincoln for president in 1860.  Member of the U.S. House of Representatives.  Three-term Whig Representative to Congress, December 1843-March 1851.  Re-elected December 1863, 1864, 1866, and 1868.  Voted for Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery.

(Appletons’, 1888, Vol. V, pp. 417-418; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 8, Pt. 2, p. 427; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 19, p. 370; Congressional Globe)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

SCHENCK, Robert Cumming, diplomatist, b. in Franklin, Ohio, 4 Oct., 1809, was graduated at Miami university in 1827, and remained as a resident graduate and tutor for three years longer, then studied law with Thomas Corwin, was admitted to the bar, and established himself in practice at Dayton, Ohio. He was a member of the legislature in 1841-'2, displaying practical knowledge and pungent wit in the debates, and was then elected as a Whig to congress, and thrice re-elected, serving from 4 Dec., 1843, till 3 March, 1851. He was a member of important committees, and during his third term was the chairman of that on roads and canals. On 12 March, 1851, he was commissioned as minister to Brazil. In 1852, with John S. Pendleton, who was accredited to the Argentine Republic as chargé d'affaires, he arranged a treaty of friendship and commerce with the government of that country and one for the free navigation of the river La Plata and its great tributaries. They also negotiated treaties with the governments of Uruguay and Paraguay. He left Rio Janeiro on 8 Oct., 1853, and after his return to Ohio engaged in the railroad business. He offered his services to the government when the civil war began, and was one of the first brigadier-generals appointed by President Lincoln, his commission bearing the date of 17 May, 1861. He was attached to the military department of Washington, and on 17 June moved forward by railroad with a regiment to dislodge the Confederates at Vienna, but was surprised by a masked battery, and forced to retreat. On meeting re-enforcements, he changed front, and the enemy retired. His brigade formed a part of Gen. Daniel Tyler's division at the first Bull Run battle, and was on the point of crossing the Stone Bridge to make secure the occupation of the plateau, when the arrival of Confederate re-enforcements turned the tide of battle. He next served in West Virginia under Gen. William S. Rosecrans, and was ordered to the Shenandoah valley with the force that was sent to oppose Gen. Thomas J. Jackson. Pushing forward by a forced march to the relief of Gen. Robert H. Milroy, he had a sharp and brilliant engagement with the enemy at McDowell. At Cross Keys he led the Ohio troops in a charge on the right, and maintained the ground that he won until he was ordered to retire. Gen. John C. Frémont then intrusted him with the command of a division. At the second battle of Bull Run he led the first division of Gen. Franz Sigel's corps. He was wounded in that action by a musket-ball, which shattered his right arm, incapacitating him for active service till 16 Dec., 1862, when he took command of the middle department and eighth corps at Baltimore, having been promoted major-general on 18 Sept. After performing effective services in the Gettysburg campaign, he resigned his commission on 3 Dec., 1863, in order to take his place in the house of representatives, in which he served as chairman of the committee on military affairs. He was re-elected in 1864, and was placed at the head of the same committee, where he procured the establishment of the National military and naval asylum. In 1865 he was president of the board of visitors to the U. S. military academy, and was one of the committee of congress on the death of President Lincoln, serving also on the committee on retrenchment. In 1866 he attended the Loyalists' convention at Philadelphia and the soldiers' convention at Pittsburg, Pa. He was re-elected to congress in 1866 and in 1868, when his opponent was Clement L. Vallandigham, serving as chairman of the committee of ways and means and of the ordnance committee. On 22 Dec., 1870, he received the appointment of minister to Great Britain. In 1871 he was one of the “Alabama” commission. He resigned his post in 1876 in consequence of the failure of the Emma silvermine company, in which he had permitted himself to be chosen a director, and resumed the practice of law in Washington, D. C. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. V, pp. 417-418.


SCHOELCHER, Victor, b. 1804, French statesman, prominent abolitionist leader.  Traveled extensively throughout the world (including the USA) to study slavery and advocated emancipation.

(Appletons’, 1888, Vol. V, p. 423)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

SCHOELCHER, Victor (shel'-ker), French statesman, b. in Paris, 21 July, 1804. He is the son of a wealthy merchant, studied at the College Louis le Grand, and became a journalist, bitterly opposing the government of Louis Philippe and making a reputation as a pamphleteer. After 1826 he devoted himself almost exclusively to advocacy of the abolition of slavery throughout the world, contributing a part of his large fortune to establish and promote societies for the benefit of the negro race. In 1829-'31 he made a journey to the United States, Mexico, and Cuba to study slavery, in 1840-'2 he visited for the same purpose the West Indies, and in 1845-'7 Greece, Egypt, Turkey, and the west coast of Africa. On 3 March, 1848, he was appointed under-secretary of the navy, and caused a decree to be issued by the provisional government which acknowledged the principle of the enfranchisement of the slaves through the French possessions. As president of a commission, Schoelcher prepared and wrote the decree of 27 April, 1848, which enfranchised the slaves forever. He was elected to the legislative assembly in 1848 and 1849 for Martinique, and introduced a bill for the abolition of the death-penalty, which was to be discussed on the day on which Prince Napoléon made his coup d’état. After 2 Dec. he emigrated to London, and, refusing to take advantage of the amnesties of 1856 and 1869, returned to France only after the declaration of war with Prussia in 1870. Organizing a legion of artillery, he took part in the defence of Paris, and in 1871 he was returned to the national assembly for Martinique. In 1875 he was elected senator for life. His works include “De l’esclavage des noirs et de la législation colonial” (Paris, 1833); “Abolition de l’esclavage” (1840); “Les colonies françaises de l’Amérique” (1842); “Les colonies étrangères dans l’Amérique et Hayti” (2 vols., 1843); “Histoire de l’esclavage pendant les deux dernières années” (2 vols., 1847); “La vérité aux ouvriers et cultivateurs de la Martinique” (1850); “Protestation des citoyens frarnçais negres et mulatres contre des accusations calomnieuses” (1851); “Le procès de la colonie de Marie-Galante” (1851); and “La grande conspiration du pillage et du meurtre à la Martinique” (1875).  Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. V, pp. 423.  


SCHURZ, Carl, 1829-1906, abolitionist leader, political leader, journalist, lawyer, Union general, Secretary of the Interior.

(Appletons’, 1888, Vol. V, pp. 428-429; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 8, Pt. 2, p. 466; American Reformers: An H.W. Wilson Biographical Dictionary, New York, 1985, pp. 726-729)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

SCHURZ, Carl, statesman, b. in Liblar, near Cologne, Prussia, 2 March, 1829. After studying at the gymnasium of Cologne, he entered the University of Bonn in 1846. At the beginning of the revolution of 1848 he joined Gottfried Kinkel, professor of rhetoric in the university, in the publication of a liberal newspaper, of which he was at one time the sole conductor. In the spring of 1849, in consequence of an attempt to promote an insurrection at Bonn, he fled with Kinkel to the Palatinate, entered the revolutionary army as adjutant, and took part in the defence of Rastadt. On the surrender of that fortress he escaped to Switzerland. In 1850 he returned secretly to Germany, and effected the escape of Kinkel from the fortress of Spandau. In the spring of 1851 he was in Paris, acting as correspondent for German journals, and he afterward spent a year in teaching in London. He came to the United States in 1852, resided three years in Philadelphia, and then settled in Watertown, Wis. In the presidential canvass of 1856 he delivered speeches in German in behalf of the Republican party, and in the following year he was an unsuccessful candidate for lieutenant-governor of Wisconsin. During the contest between Stephen A. Douglas and Abraham Lincoln for the office of U. S. senator from Illinois in 1858 he delivered his first speech in the English language, which was widely published. Soon afterward he removed to Milwaukee and began the practice of law. In 1859-'60 he made a lecture-tour in New England, and aroused attention by a speech in Springfield, Mass., against the ideas and policy of Mr. Douglas. He was a member of the Republican national convention of 1860, and spoke both in English and German during the canvass. President Lincoln appointed him minister to Spain, but he resigned in December, 1861, in order to enter the army. In April, 1862, he was commissioned brigadier-general of volunteers, and on 17 June he took command of a division in the corps of Gen. Franz Sigel, with which he participated in the second battle of Bull Run. He was made major-general of volunteers, 14 March, 1863, and at the battle of Chancellorsville commanded a division of Gen. Oliver O. Howard's corps. He had temporary command of this corps at Gettysburg, and subsequently took part in the battle of Chattanooga. During the summer of 1865 he visited the southern states, as special commissioner, appointed by President Johnson, for the purpose of examining their condition. In the winter of 1865-'6 he was the Washington correspondent of the New York “Tribune,” and in the summer of 1866 he removed to Detroit, where he founded the “Post.” In 1867 be became editor of the “Westliche Post,” a German newspaper published in St. Louis. He was temporary chairman of the Republican national convention in Chicago in 1868, where he moved an amendment to the platform, which was adopted, recommending a general amnesty. In January, 1869, he was chosen U. S. senator from Missouri, for the term ending in 1875. He opposed some of the chief measures of President Grant's administration, and in 1872 took an active part in the organization of the Liberal party, presiding over the convention in Cincinnati that nominated Horace Greeley for the presidency. After the election of 1872 he took an active part in the debates of the senate in favor of the restoration of specie payments and against the continuation of military interference in the south. He advocated the election of Rutherford B. Hayes in the presidential canvass of 1876, and in 1877 President Hayes appointed him secretary of the interior. He introduced competitive examinations for appointments in the interior department, effected various reforms in the Indian service, and adopted systematic measures for the protection of the forests on the public lands. After the expiration of the term of President Hayes he became editor of the “Evening Post” in New York city, giving up that place in January, 1884. In the presidential canvass of that year he was one of the leaders of the “Independent” movement, advocating the election of Grover Cleveland. He remained an active member of the civil service reform league. Among his more celebrated speeches are “The Irrepressible Conflict” (1858): “The Doom of Slavery” (1860); “The Abolition of Slavery as a War Measure” (1862); and “Eulogy on Charles Sumner” (1874). Of his speeches in the senate, those on the reconstruction measures, against the annexation of Santo Domingo, and on the currency and the national banking system attracted much attention. He has published a volume of speeches (Philadelphia, 1865) and a “Life of Henry Clay” (Boston, 1887). Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. V, pp. 428-429.


SCOTT, Orange, 1800-1847, Springfield, Massachusetts, Methodist clergyman, anti-slavery agent, abolitionist leader.  Member of Congress from Pennsylvania.  Entered anti-slavery cause in 1834.  Lectured in New England.  In 1839, founded and published the American Wesleyan Observer, an anti-slavery publication.  Withdrew from Methodist Church to co-found the Wesleyan Methodist Church in 1843 with Jotham Horton.  Manager of the American Anti-Slavery Society (AASS), 1838-1840, Executive Committee, 1847-1851, 1853-1855, Recording Secretary 1849-1855.  American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society. 

(Dumond, 1961, pp. 187, 285, 349; Locke, 1901, pp. 93, 140; Mabee, 1970, pp. 46, 228-229; Matlack, 1849, p. 162; Annals of Congress; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. V, p. 438; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 8, Pt. 2, p. 497; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 19, p. 503; The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. II. New York: James T. White, 1892, p. 315)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

SCOTT, Orange, clergyman, b. in Brookfield, Vt., 13 Feb., 1800; d. in Newark, N.J., 31 July, 1847. His parents removed to Canada in his early childhood, and remained there about six years, but afterward returned to Vermont. The son's early education was limited to thirteen months' schooling at different places. He entered the Methodist ministry in 1822, and became one of the best-known clergymen of his denomination in New England. He was presiding elder of the Springfield district, Mass., in 1830-'4, and of Providence district, R.I., in 1834-'5. Mr. Scott was active as a controversialist. About 1833 he became an earnest anti-slavery worker, and his zeal in this cause brought much unpopularity upon him. His bishop preferred charges against him in 1838, before the New England conference, but they were not sustained. Finally, with others, he withdrew from the church in 1842, and on 31 May, 1843, organized the Wesleyan Methodist church in a general ccnvention at Utica, N.Y., of which Mr. Scott was president. Till 1844 he conducted “The True Wesleyan,” in advocacy of the principles of the new church, which were opposed both to slavery and to the episcopal form of church government. In 1846 failing health forced him to retire from the ministry. Besides many contributions to the press, he was the author of “An Appeal to the Methodist Episcopal Church” (Boston, 1838). See his life, by the Rev. Lucius C. Matlack (New York, 1847). Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. V, pp. 438.


SCOTT, Thomas, opposed slavery.  Spoke of slavery as “one of the most abominable things on earth.  If there was neither God nor devil, I should oppose it upon the principles of humanity, and the law of nature.”  He vowed to “support every constitutional measure likely to bring about its total abolition.  Perhaps, in our Legislative capacity, we can go no further than to impose a duty of ten dollars, but I do not know how far I might go, if I was one of the Judges of the United States, and those people were to come before me and claim their emancipation; but I am sure I would go as far as I could.”

(Basker, 2005, pp. 128, 133; Dumond, 1961)



Chapter: “Demands in the North for Further Concession and Compromise,” by Henry Wilson, in History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, 1878.

These revolutionary movements at the South could not but produce the most profound impression and excite the most anxious interest and solicitude at the North. They not only excited the gravest apprehensions of threatened danger, but they involved an imperative demand for measures to avert, if it could be done, the threatened rupture, or, if that were not possible, to prepare for the unknown future big with the possibilities of evil. The opinions entertained varied largely as men were affected by their surroundings, interests, prepossessions, and prejudices. There were, with many shades of difference, four distinct classes. One class, though a small one, was composed mainly of those who had supported the Breckinridge ticket. They were in favor of complete acquiescence in the demands of the secessionists. Another class, composed mainly of the supporters of Douglas and Bell, were clamorous for new concessions and new compromises. They clamored for the repeal of the personal-liberty acts, the rigid enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act, and for acquiescence in the decisions of the Supreme Court, — those already made and those that might be made. There was, too, a class of Republicans, representing largely the mercantile, manufacturing, and moneyed interests, who were in favor of making calm and conciliatory appeals to the excited exponents of Southern opinion. Some of them went so far as to favor a national convention for the readjustment of the jarring interests between the free and slave States. A much larger class, composed mainly of the Republican masses who had supported Mr. Lincoln upon the distinctive issues presented in their platform, adhered firmly to the opinions enunciated in the canvass, and avowed themselves, in temperate but firm language, in favor of maintaining the unity of the country, and the authority of the government, and of putting down rebellion with arms if need be.

In addition to the natural expression of these different sentiments there were utterances and recommendations of those who allowed their individuality of character and independent modes of thinking to modify in greater or less degree their opinions and recommendations. Among them stood prominent Horace Greeley, of the New York " Tribune," perhaps at that time the leading journal of the country. Three days after the election he published a leading article intended to calm the excitement manifesting itself in South Carolina and in other cotton States. " If the cotton States," it said, " shall decide that they can do better out of the Union than in it, we insist on letting them go in peace." Admitting that the right to secede was a revolutionary one, and denying the right of any State to remain in the Union to nullify and defy its laws, it declared that " whenever a considerable section of our Union shall deliberately resolve to go out, we shall resist all coercive measures designed to keep it in. We hope never to live in a republic whereof one section is pinned to the residue by bayonets." It indeed insisted that the steps to secession should be taken with " the deliberation and gravity befitting so momentous an issue," while it maintained that the measures taken in the Southern States with a view to secession had borne the unmistakable impress of haste, of passion, of distrust, and that they were calculated to precipitate the South into rebellion before "the baselessness of the clamors which have misled and excited her can be ascertained by the great body of the people." This article, however, instead of influencing the Southern politicians and presses to reflect and de liberate so that an act for secession should echo unmistakably the popular will, tended rather to stimulate and encourage the disunionists. The " Tribune " had always resisted the demands of the Slave Power with unfaltering zeal and unquestioned ability. Its new position was deemed by the secessionists as an evidence of weakness and fear, a shrinking from the threatened and impending conflict. The Albany " Evening Journal " was conducted by Thurlow Weed, an editor and politician of rare tact, ability, and influence. Believing that the election of Mr. Lincoln was the pretext for disunion and not the cause of it, that the Southern masses were acting in " utter ignorance of the intentions, views, and feelings of the North," and that the danger of disunion could " only be averted by such moderation and forbearance as will draw out, strengthen, and combine the Union sentiment of the whole country," Mr. Weed proposed concessions to calm passions, dispel illusions, and cherish the Union sentiments in the South. Believing that peaceable secession was not practicable, he recommended a convention of the people consisting of delegates appointed by the States. For many years a devoted friend and supporter of Mr. Seward, Mr. Weed was supposed to utter the sentiments of that statesman. His action excited much interest and criticism, though assurances were given that none but the editor could be compromised or harmed. This appeal against passion and violence, and in favor of moderation, while it excited no little uneasiness in the North, was deemed by the exponents of Southern opinion to be only another evidence of timidity, wavering, and indecision.

Six days after the election, the Albany " Argus," a Democratic journal of large influence with the Democracy of New York, expressed the opinion that neither Mr. Buchanan nor Mr. Lincoln would employ force against the seceding States. " Any other course," it said, " would be madness. The first gun fired in the way of forcing a seceding State back to the Union would probably prove the knell of its final dismemberment." Other Democratic presses expressed like sentiments. The New York " Herald," as early as the 9th of November, in its leading editorial, said that the confederation was held together only by public opinion ; and that " coercion, if it were possible, is out of the question." But whatever may have been the opinions, purposes, or plans of the conductors of these journals, it was clearly seen before the meeting of Congress in December, that they had encouraged rather than discouraged the champions of secession and disunion, as did similar utterances in that body after it came together. They tended to develop and encourage a policy of concession, compromise, surrender, and abasement in the North, especially among the business classes. This was painfully manifest in the tone of public meetings and in the results of municipal elections.

The city of Philadelphia, though distinguished for its conservative tendencies, had given a small majority for Mr. Lincoln. On the 10th of December, her mayor, Alexander Henry, issued a proclamation calling a public meeting of citizens for the 13th, in Independence Square. Declaring that the Union was in peril, he counselled the people to cast off the spirit of party, avow their unfaltering fidelity to the Union, and proclaim their abiding faith in the Constitution and laws. An immense meeting was held, and a series of resolutions were adopted pledging the people of Philadelphia to recognize the binding obligation of the Fugitive Slave Act, and to abide by the decisions of the Supreme Court touching the status of slavery in the Territories; at the same time asserting that denunciations of slavery, were inconsistent with national brotherhood. Mayor Henry distinctly avowed that the teachings of the pulpit and lecture-room and the appeals of the press on the subject of slavery " must be frowned down by a just and law-abiding people."

George W. Woodard, a leading Democratic lawyer, and the candidate of his party in 1863 for governor, declared that "passion for liberty had burned out all memories of compromise and compact in Northern communities." The repeal of personal-liberty bills was demanded by Theodore Cuyler, one of the most eminent lawyers of the State. But amid these evidences of surrender, one voice spoke out in tones of manly courage. Isaac Hazelhurst avowed that Pennsylvania had " nothing to repent of," and that the Union should be preserved. "With the most decided and unequivocal words he pledged himself and any sacrifices required in defence of the Constitution if assailed. George W. Curtis of New York, one of the most accomplished speakers of the times, and a devoted advocate of impartial liberty, had engaged to lecture in Philadelphia upon the " Policy of Honesty." His name, if not his theme, it was feared, might give offence to those who were striving to destroy their country. Mayor Henry hastened, on the same day he issued his proclamation for the meeting, to call upon the chairman of the People's Literary Institute, urging him not to permit the meeting to be held. This request was heeded, and freedom of speech in Philadelphia was sacrificed to placate the Slave Power, thus organizing rebellion.

On the 31st of January, 1861, a Democratic State convention assembled in Tweddle Hall, at Albany, in compliance with a request of the Democratic State Central Committee. The convention was large in numbers, and strong in talent and character. Amasa J. Parker, the president, on taking the chair, declared that " the people of this State demand the peaceful settlement of the questions that have led to disunion, and they have a right to insist that there shall be conciliation, concession, compromise." The venerable Alexander P. Johnson sharply arraigned the Republicans, asserted that their " principles and conduct have produced the mischief," and avowed that " no guaranty will be unwelcomed that shall give the South and all its property the same rights that are, or shall be, possessed by the North and its property." Though six States had already seceded from the Union, and had seized forts, arsenals, and other national property, yet Reuben H. Walworth, eminent as a judge, philanthropist, and prominently connected with the missionary enterprise, after saying that civil war would not restore the Union, asserted that " it would be as brutal to send men to butcher our own brothers of the Southern States as it would be to massacre them in the Northern States."

James S. Thayer said, amid cheers, that "if a revolution of force is to begin it shall be inaugurated at home." Referring to the announcement that the incoming administration would enforce the laws against seceding States, he said that a nice discrimination must be exercised, and that it must not go " a hair's breadth outside the mark." He averred that the "enforcement of the laws in six States is a war with fifteen." " Let," he said, " one arrow, winged by the Federal bow, strike the heart of an American citizen, and who can number the avenging darts that will darken the heavens in the conflict that will ensue. "Either lie talked wildly and without warrant, or there was here a recognized sacredness about slavery and its defenders which had never been accorded to freedom and its advocates, far from creditable to the people he addressed. For scores and hundreds of American citizens had fallen before the arrows of proslavery intolerance and hate, nor had there ever been one "avenging dart" sped against the miscreants stained with the blood of those martyrs of Liberty.

Ex-Governor Horatio Seymour admitted that revolution had actually begun; and he charged upon Congress "that all virtue, patriotism, and intelligence seem to have fled from our national capital." He said, " The question is simply this: Shall we have compromise after war or compromise without war? " Denouncing the use of force, he said: "Let us also see if successful coercion by the North is less revolutionary than successful revolution by the South." But all were not alike craven. Amid utterances so dishonoring to the speakers, so disheartening to the loyal, so comforting to the disloyal, there was one whose words had the true ring. George W. Clinton, a son of Dewitt Clinton, while in favor of conciliating their erring brethren of the South, declared that he would not " humble the general government at the feet of the seceding States." He denied the constitutionality of secession, and, amid cries of dissent, he pronounced it a " rebellion against the noblest government man ever framed for his own benefit or the benefit of the world." The action of this convention, representing, as it did, the conservative and Democratic parties of New York, was hailed by the secession leaders and those who sympathized with them as evidence that if the "President should attempt coercion he will encounter more opposition at the North than he can overcome."

Of a like tenor and tendency were individual utterances and propositions by several prominent Democrats, which revealed with very great distinctness not only the drift but the strength of feeling and purpose that prevailed, with the desperate measures that were seriously entertained and gravely proposed. Thus, on the 7th of January, Fernando Wood, mayor of the city of New York, sent a message to the Common Council, in which he presented the advantages that municipality would possess if it were a free city. " When disunion," he said, " has become a fixed and certain fact, why may not New York disrupt the bands which bind her to a venal and corrupt master, — to a people and a party that have plundered her revenues, attempted to ruin her commerce, taken away the power of self-government, and destroyed the confederacy of which she was the proud ' Empire City '? Amid the gloom which the present and prospective aspect of things must cast over the country, New York, as a free city, may shed the only light and hope for the future reconstruction of our blessed confederacy." He confessed, however, that he was not quite " prepared to recommend " all that was implied in such views, though he was free to suggest them for consideration. The suggestion was, however, gladly welcomed by Southern men, and it was declared by George Fitz Hugh of Virginia, in De Bow's Review for February, to be " the most brilliant that these eventful times have given birth to."

Though the city of New York, through its chief officer, could give utterance to sentiments and a proposition so disloyal and dangerous, the State, through its legislature, declared its attachment to the Union, and tendered the President such aid, in men and money, as might be needful to enforce the laws of the land. But the immense losses already suffered by the business men of the city, and those still apprehended, which would bring ruin to many, prepared them to concede almost anything to satisfy Southern discontent and prevent civil strife. A memorial was sent to Washington, praying Congress to give assurances " with any required guaranties " that the Fugitive Slave Act should be faithfully executed, the personal liberty laws be readjusted, and half the Territories be surrendered to the slave-masters, to be organized into slave States. Six days after this memorial was sent, which the signers professed to believe would " restore peace to their agitated country," on the 18th of January, a meeting of the merchants of the city was held, at which the Crittenden Compromise was recommended as a basis of settlement, and a committee was appointed to obtain signatures to a memorial which was subsequently sent to Congress embracing a list of forty thousand names. On the 28th of January a meeting was held at the Cooper Institute, and three delegates, at the head of whom was placed James T. Brady, an eminent lawyer of that city, were appointed as commissioners to the seceded States, instructed to confer with the delegates of the people in a convention to be assembled, in regard to the best measure to be adopted calculated to restore peace and maintain the integrity of the Union.

This action of the New York leaders, by no means standing alone, revealed their strong Southern proclivities, their little sympathy with the North, their strong taint of treason, and their thorough alienation from their own section of the country. It was a proposition openly entertained and freely talked about, should a separation take place and a new confederation be formed, that not only the city, but the State, of New York, the other Middle States, indeed all the Northern States except New England and some in the extreme Northwest, would forsake the old and go with the new. A Washington despatch, published in a New York paper early in December, contains the information that " the opinion seems to set strongly in favor of a reconstruction of the Union without the New England States." The twofold thought that seemed to lie uppermost was the formation of a Union in which slave holding and slave-hunting should be legalized and protected, and from which " New England Puritanism " should be excluded.

In the spring of 1861, just before the assault on Fort Sumter, there appeared an open letter from ex-Governor Price of New Jersey on the situation, in which he thus answers the question as to what that State should do: " I believe the Southern Confederation permanent. The proceeding has been taken with forethought and deliberation, — it is no hurried impulse, but an irrevocable act, based upon the sacred, as was supposed, ' equality of the States '; and, in my opinion, every slave State will in a short period of time be found united in one confederacy It is in that contingency, then, that I answer the second part of your question, ' What position for New Jersey will best accord with her interests, honor, and the patriotic instincts of her people ? ' I say emphatically she would go with the South from every wise, prudential, and patriotic reason." The letter enters quite largely upon the reasons therefor, both material and moral, giving it as his judgment that it would inure greatly to the prosperity of the State, and that it was a step that could be taken " without any sacrifice of principle or honor, and without difficulty or danger." He expressed, too, the opinion that her example would be " potential upon the adjoining great States of Pennsylvania and New York "; and that ultimately " the Western and Northwestern States would be found in the same balance." Saying that this would be "essentially a reconstruction of the old government," he asked: " What is the difference whether we go to the South or they come to us ? " To the affirmation that they believed slavery to be no sin, that the negro was not the equal to the white man, that subordination to the superior race was his natural and normal condition, he added the conviction: "It is, in my opinion, the only basis upon which the country can be saved."

A similar effort, or an effort with a similar purpose, was made by the formation of an association, styled the " American Society for promoting National Unity," of which Professor Morse, the inventor of the telegraph, was president, and " The Journal of Commerce " was the organ. In its address to the public were enunciated its principles and purposes. It spoke of the " evil teachings " of Abolitionism, which, it contended, must be "confronted " by the ' Word of God which liveth abideth forever,' as expounded by a broad and faithful recognition of His moral and providential government over the world." Referring to slavery as for the time being the " main topic," it spoke of four millions of immortal beings "providentially committed to the hands of our Southern friends." This " stupendous trust," the address avers, " they cannot put from them if they would." " Emancipation," it added, " were it possible, would be rebellion against Providence, and destruction to the colored race in our land."

In a letter, written by Franklin Pierce to Jefferson Davis near the beginning of 1860, he speaks of "the madness of Northern Abolitionism" and of the fidelity of the Democracy to the Southern cause, and assures his correspondent that if there is to be fighting it " will not be along Mason's and Dixon's line merely. It will be within our own borders, in our own streets, between the two classes of citizens to whom I have referred." It is true he miscalculated, and the event did not accord with his prediction. But is it strange that he formed the estimate he did? With such the teachings and assurances of leading men in Church and State, and the comparatively small number smitten with " the madness of Northern Abolitionism," there is little wonder, when assuming the prophet's role, that his vaticinations should have been such as they were. Nor was it very singular that Lawrence M. Keitt, a little later, should assure the Charlestonians he was addressing that " there are a million of Democrats in the North who when the Black Republicans attempt to march upon the South, will be found a wall of fire in the front “; nor that a member of the South Carolina convention should have said: "It is not true, in point of fact, that all the Northern people are hostile to the rights of the South. We have a Spartan band in every Northern State."

Who then caused the late Rebellion? and on whom rests the responsibility of that carnival of crime and blood? are not questions of idle curiosity merely. The common impression that that responsibility lies entirely, or mainly, at the door of the leading secessionists of the South is manifestly superficial and partial. Potent for mischief as those men showed themselves to be, such a result far transcended their power. Had they not found auxiliaries out of the South ready to lend their aid, they would never have ventured upon the rash experiment. Nor were they the time-serving politicians alone who gave them the needed courage. The sympathy of such men as Price, Wood, Seymour, and Pierce was indeed gladly received; but far more welcome were their assurances that there was " a Spartan band in every Northern State " true to their interests, " a million of Democrats in the North " who would stand like a wall of fire to beat back the Black Republicans should they attempt to " march upon the South." Nor, it is to be presumed, would these men have felt justified in giving such assurances, but for the popular sentiment around them, where far more was said of " the madness of Northern Abolitionism " than of the sin of Southern slavery, of the wickedness of violating the compromises of the Constitution in the interests of humanity by a handful of earnest Abolitionists than of systematic violation of all law human and Divine by every slaveholding State for two generations, and where press, platform, and pulpit were far more resonant of apologies for the slaveholder than of pleas for the slave. In the day when inquisition shall be made for blood, when simple truth shall take the place of special pleading, which, the responsibility shall be fastened where it really belongs, the North as well as the South will be found to have had its share, and the numbers who actually aided in bringing on the dreadful struggle will be seen to be larger than has been sometimes imagined.

Source:  Wilson, Henry, History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, Vol. 3.  Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1878, 60-70.



Please note that this entry includes two chapters:

·        Wilson, “Insurrectionary Movements,” 1878

·        Wilson, “Crittenden Resolutions,” 1878

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

On the 6th of November, 1860, Abraham Lincoln was elected President of the United States. Though he lacked nearly a million of a majority on the popular vote, yet by the desperate strategy of the secessionists which had divided the Democratic Party, with the nomination of Mr. Bell, he, of the four candidates in the field, was regularly chosen according to the provisions of the Constitution. This was not only admitted but claimed by those who had adopted this violent mode of uniting the South in support of their long-sought and fiercely threatened policy of rebellion and disunion. Though this purpose had not been concealed, but openly and defiantly avowed, yet, with an audacious and brazen disingenuousness, no sooner had it become probable that Mr. Lincoln would be chosen, than these secession leaders boldly affirmed that he was a sectional candidate, and that his election was the success of a party committed to warfare upon the rights and interests of the South. Appealing to local interests, pandering to prejudices, painting in glowing colors the advantages of separation, in the large increase of wealth, power, and social consideration independence would bring, pleading the State rights theory that it was one of their reserved powers to with draw at will from the Union, largely aided, too, by both pulpit and press, they did not find it difficult to persuade the class of large slaveholders to make the rash experiment, and enter upon the perilous venture of revolution. Small slaveholders, too, and non-slaveholders even, confused by the blinding counsels and dominating influence of leaders they had been accustomed to follow, could not withstand the current, and were rapidly drifting into rebellion. 

In this revolutionary movement South Carolina took the lead. A few days before the election, there was a meeting of leading politicians at the residence of Senator Hammond, at which it was unanimously resolved that in the event of Mr. Lincoln's election, of which they had little doubt, their State should at once secede. Governor Gist, who was at that meeting, immediately called the legislature together for the 5th proximo, for the purpose of choosing presidential electors. In his message, however, he expressed the desire that South Carolina should immediately withdraw, recommended that a convention should at once be called, and avowed the opinion that the secession of the State would be immediately followed by that of other Southern States, and ultimately by that of the whole South. He also avowed the opinion that, should the general government attempt to prevent such secession by coercion, it would be their duty to meet force by force. He recommended, too, that ten thousand volunteers should be called for and accepted, that every man between the ages of eighteen and forty-five should be armed, and that the State should be put on a war-footing and in readiness for any emergency. These recommendations were received with the greatest favor by both the legislature and the people.

On the evening of that day a public meeting was held, and speeches were made by leading men. Accepting Mr. Lincoln's election as a foregone conclusion, and breathing defiance against the general government, they expressed their determination not to acquiesce in the expected result. Mr. Chestnut, one of her Senators in Congress, expressed no doubt of Mr. Lincoln's election the next day, and declared that the people of that State must choose whether they would be governed by their enemies or govern themselves. “For myself," he said, "I would unfurl the Palmetto flag, fling it to the breeze, and with the spirit of a brave man determine to live and die as becomes our glorious ancestors, and ring the clarion notes of defiance in the ears of an insolent foe." Asserting the right of South Carolina to secede, he recommended immediate action; and he predicted that “the other Southern States will flock to our standard."

These treasonable utterances of a Senator of the United States were enthusiastically applauded. The next evening William W. Boyce, a Representative in Congress, responding to a serenade, defiantly declared that “the South ought not to submit," and that "the way to enact revolution is to stare it in the face." “When an ancient philosopher," he said, "wished to inaugurate a revolution his motto was: To dare! to dare! " Edmund Ruffin of Virginia, an old gentleman, for many years the editor of an influential agricultural paper, a fanatic upon the subject of slavery, who afterwards achieved the dubious distinction of firing the first shot on Fort Sumter, and died a suicide, hastened to South Carolina to influence, as far as he could, that State to take immediate action. He expressed the opinion that, if she remained alone, she would be able to defend herself against any power that would assail her. But he contended she would not remain alone and would soon be followed by other States. “The first drop of blood," he said,” spilled on the soil of South Carolina will bring Virginia and every Southern State with her."

But notwithstanding this free and fierce enunciation of a purpose not to submit to the election of what was denominated a sectional President, and of a determination to redress what was proclaimed to be a palpable infringement of Southern rights through the violent remedy of revolution, large numbers at the North remained incredulous, and refused to believe that their Southern brethren would be guilty of such folly and resort to measures so perilous and suicidal. They preferred, or rather persuaded themselves, to regard these menaces as only a part of the usual policy of intimidation, which had for so long a time been pursued with only too great success in wresting from Northern fears what neither the claims of justice nor the strength of numbers would command or justify. They thought, too, that even if a few were prepared to proceed to such extremities, the majority would refuse to follow, and that the sober second thought of the people would interpose effectual opposition to a scheme so wild and indefensible. But the election of Mr. Lincoln and its immediate consequences undeceived them, and they speedily woke up to the fearful reality that what they had regarded but gasconade, the vaporing of a few noisy extremists, only too faithfully reflected the wishes and purposes of large numbers, if not of the majority, of the Southern people.

This was shown by the noisy and defiant demonstrations in South Carolina, where Mr. Lincoln's election was received with boundless enthusiasm. They who had been for so many years preaching disunion and plotting treason against the country hailed it as the opportunity long sought for, to break up the Union and found a confederacy based upon slavery. While the people of Charleston were congratulating each other on the morning of the 7th of November, the United States District Court assembled. The grand jury declined “to proceed with their presentments," and Judge Magrath declared that an event had happened “of ominous import to fifteen slaveholding States." He then resigned his office, affirming that “the temple of Justice, raised under the Constitution of the United States, is now closed." Other officers of the national government announced their resignations. The people of Charleston were wild with excitement. Palmetto flags were unfurled, speeches were made, cannon were fired, and the city illuminated*. The governor of the State, at Columbia, received, during the day and evening, by telegraph, messages of encouragement and approval. A despatch received from the national capital gave the cheering assurance that some Southern men in office there had “donned the Palmetto cockade” and declared themselves ready to “march South”; that the “President is perplexed”; and that “his feelings are with the South, but he is afraid to assist them openly."

Stimulated by the enthusiasm of the people and encouraged by the assurances received from other States, the legislature at once proceeded to act, boldly taking the initiative in what proved the terrible “dance of death." Members vied with each other in presenting resolutions providing for the withdrawal of the State from the Union. All were in favor of secession, but a few in both houses were in favor of awaiting the co-operation of other States; and resolutions to this effect were presented, though they received small support. In the House, Mr. McGowan reminded that body that co-operation with their Southern sisters had been the settled policy of the State for ten years. The Southern States, he contended, had more motives and greater necessity for concert and union than any people that ever lived, for they were one in soil, climate, and institutions. They alone, he said, of all the earth, had a peculiar institution, absolutely necessary for them, without which they would cease to exist, and against which, under the influence of a fanatical sentiment, the world is banded. Isolated from the whole world upon that question, he thought the outside pressure would compel the slaveholding States to unite. He would say " to Georgia, the ' Empire State ' of the South," " the keystone of the Southern arch," that South Carolina would forego the honor of being first, for the sake of promoting the common cause, and would follow her lead.

Such a policy, however, was too slow and sensible to suit the fiery zeal that ruled the hour. Something more summary was demanded. “If we wait," said Mr. Mullins, " for co-operation, slavery and State rights will be abandoned, and State sovereignty and the cause of the South will be lost forever. After we have pledged ourselves to take the State out of the Union I am willing to send a delegation to Georgia or to any other Southern State." Upon information he pronounced " perfectly authentic," he said that " the representative of one of the imperial powers of Europe, in view of the prospective separation of one or more of the Southern States from the present confederacy, has made propositions in advance for the establishment of such relations between it and the government about to be established in this State as will insure to that power such a supply of cotton for the future as their increasing demand for that article will require." But in spite of all efforts to await co-operation, a bill providing for the election of delegates on the 6th of December, to meet in convention on the 17th, passed the House on the 9th, and the Senate on the 17th. Without waiting, however, for either the election of delegates or the meeting of the convention, their Senators in Congress resigned their seats, so eager were they to consummate their fell work, and to diminish the chances of retracing the rash steps already taken.

All eyes were now turned towards Georgia. The “Empire State of the South," her size, resources, and position invested with great importance her action, and all, both the friends and the enemies of the Union, saw that her decision would have large influence in this crisis of affairs. Great efforts had been made by Toombs and Iverson, United States Senators, by Representatives in the House, and other influential men, to prepare the State for secession and secure control of the legislature, which met on the day after the presidential election. Governor Joseph E. Brown devoted his message largely to national affairs, reviewing the legislation of Northern States and discussing the duty of the South. Though opposed to the policy of secession, he counselled thorough preparation for the possible exigencies of the occasion. He recommended the appropriation of a million dollars to arm the State. He thought the time had come for bold and decided action, and proposed the enactment of a law making it a penal offence to introduce merchandise into the State from States that had passed personal liberty bills. By a large majority it voted that a sovereign State had a right to secede from the Union.

Among the voices raised for disunion none were louder and more potent than that of Senator Toombs. On the evening of the 13th he addressed the members of the legislature in a speech in the highest degree seditious and violent. Betraying his distrust of the popular feeling, he discountenanced the calling of a convention and urged the legislature to act. "ask you," he said " to give me the sword ; for if you do not give it to me, as God Lives, I will take it myself." He urged them to withdraw their sons from the army and navy and from every department of the Federal service, to keep their own taxes, buy arms with them, and “throw the bloody spear into this den of incendiaries and assassins." He called upon them to strike while it was yet time. The twenty years of toils and taxes expended in preparation, he said, would not make up for the advantages their enemies would gain.

On the evening of the 14th Alexander H. Stephens addressed a meeting of members of the legislature and the people in the Assembly chamber. His speech was in a different vein, and his counsels were milder. His object, he said, was not to stir up strife but to allay it, not to appeal to passion but to reason. To the question. Shall the people of the South secede in consequence of the election of Mr. Lincoln? he said: " My countrymen, I tell you frankly, candidly, and earnestly that I do not think they ought. In my judgment, the election of no man, constitutionally chosen to that high office, is sufficient cause for any State to separate from the Union. It ought to stand by and aid still in maintaining the Constitution and the country. To make a point of resistance to the government, to withdraw from it because a man has been constitutionally elected, puts us in the wrong." He avowed that he did not believe the Union to have been “a curse”; that they could not find a government that better protects the liberties of the people. He denied that it had proved a failure. “Some of our public men have failed in their aspirations," he added; “that is true, and from that comes a great part of our troubles." He advocated, however, in spite of these utterances, the calling of a convention, and he avowed that he should, though reluctantly, acquiesce in her decision, should Georgia determine to go out of the Union. “I shall bow to the will of her people," he said; "their cause is my cause and their destiny my destiny." The friends of the Union welcomed and applauded these calm and patriotic utterances, and gave Mr. Stephens far more credit than subsequent events proved him entitled to. His “great and leading object," he confessed in a private letter, written eleven days after this speech was made, " was to produce harmony on a right line of policy." “If," he added, " our State has to quit the Union, it is of the utmost importance that all our people should be united cordially in this course."

Two days previous to the speech of Mr. Stephens, a military convention was held at Milledgeville. Governor Brown ad dressed it, and in his speech he affirmed the right of secession and the duty of sustaining South Carolina in her action. He declared that if Federal troops should dare to attempt the coercion of a seceding Southern State, the lives of two Federal soldiers, for every Georgian who might fall in the encounter, should expiate the outrage on State sovereignty. The convention, stimulated by these violent and treasonable utterances, voted in favor of secession. The next day the legislature voted an appropriation of a million dollars for arming and equipping the State militia. On the 7th of December it passed an act declaring that the “present crisis in national affairs demands resistance”; and it provided for the election of delegates on the 2d of January to a State convention to assemble on the 16th.

Early in November the legislature of Mississippi met, and adjourned to the 30th of that month to make preparation for the secession of the State. An act was promptly passed for the election of delegates on the 20th of December, and for the assembling of a convention on the 7th of January. The governor, John J. Pettus, was authorized to appoint commissioners to visit each of the Southern States to express the hope that they would co-operate with Mississippi.

The Alabama delegation in Congress were in favor of disunion ; and her governor, Andrew B. Moore, heartily co-operated with Yancey in firing the Southern heart, and in preparing that State for revolution. As early as February, 1860, its legislature had passed resolutions providing that in the event of the election of a Republican candidate for President, a convention should be held; and it appropriated two hundred thousand dollars for military contingencies. Early in November Governor Moore, in an address to the people of that State, said that the only hope for the future security of Alabama and other slaveholding States was in secession. On the 6th of December he issued a proclamation ordering delegates to be chosen on the 24th of December to meet in convention on the 7th of January.

The legislature of Florida assembled on the 26th of November. Governor Madison S. Perry, in his message, declared that the domestic peace of that State depended upon “secession from their faithless and perjured confederates." Scouting the idea that they should wait for an overt act, he exclaimed: “My countrymen, if we wait for an overt act of the Federal government our fate will be that of the white inhabitants of St. Domingo."

Governor Morse of Louisiana called an extraordinary session of the legislature to meet on the 10th of December. In his message he said that it did not comport “with the honor and self-respect of Louisiana, as a slaveholding State, to live under the government of a Black Republican President." He declared that the question rose above ordinary political considerations, and involved their present honor and future existence. Asserting the right of a State to secede from the Union, he declared that if the Federal government should attempt to coerce a sovereign State, Louisiana would hasten to her assistance. “If I am not mistaken in public opinion," he said, “the convention, if assembled, will decide that Louisiana will not submit to the Presidency of Mr. Lincoln." The legislature called a convention to assemble on the 22d of January, appropriated half a million dollars for military purposes, and gave the governor authority to correspond with the governors of Southern States. On the 26th of January the convention adopted an ordinance, by a vote of one hundred and thirteen to seventeen, declaring that “the union now subsisting between Louisiana and other States under the name of the ' United States of America ' is hereby dissolved."

Similar movements were inaugurated in the other States which afterwards seceded, but not with the same immediate success. Excepting South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Florida, none were sufficiently ripe for revolt. Though destined to succumb at length, they hesitated, fearing to make the fearful leap or join in the terrible venture. Only these six were then prepared to assume the responsibilities and take the risks involved, in becoming the nucleus of the new slaveholding federation which had been for years, not to say generations, a Southern dream, in setting up the ill-omened and ill-fated Confederacy, whose end was as disastrous as its beginning was disgraceful, and the bitterness of whose fruits was exceeded only by the guilt and folly of those who sowed the seed from which they sprung. But emissaries were at work with only too much success, and it was only a question of time when North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Texas would link their destinies with the new-formed republic. Meanwhile other events of great importance and significance were taking place, making a mention of the steps by which these last-mentioned States were finally induced to secede more appropriate farther on.

Source:  Wilson, Henry, History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, Vol. 3.  Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1878, 1-10.

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

Among the attempts to conciliate and compose the differences that distracted and threatened to disrupt the nation which occupied so much of the time and attention of the closing session of the XXXVIth Congress, the most notable and well-remembered are the resolutions offered by the senior Senator of Kentucky, commonly called the Crittenden Compromise. Their purport and the discussion to which they gave rise, amendments offered and votes thereon, their final rejection and the reasons therefor, revealed the feelings and purposes of the two sections more clearly than any measure perhaps ever introduced into the national legislature. Assigning in his preamble the reasons for his propositions, the Senator referred to the " serious and alarming dissensions concerning the rights and security of the rights of the slaveholding States, and especially their rights in the common territory," and the desirableness that " dissensions which now threaten the very existence of the Union should be permanently quieted and settled by constitutional provisions which shall do equal justice to all sections." The amendment of the Constitution he proposed consisted of six articles. By the first, slavery should be prohibited in all territory of the United States " now held or hereafter acquired" north of latitude 3G° 30', and be permitted and "recognized as existing " in all territory south of such line, but without the clause " now held or hereafter acquired," and when any part of such territory should be admitted as a State, it should be received " with or without slavery, as the constitution of such new State may provide"; the second withheld from Congress the " power to abolish slavery in places under its exclusive jurisdiction and situate within the limits of States that permit the holding of slaves" ; the third prohibited Congress from abolishing slavery in the District of Columbia, so long as it existed in the States of Virginia and Maryland, nor should it then, without the consent of the owners, nor without " just compensation " ; the fourth denied to Congress " the power to hinder or prohibit the transportation of slaves from one State to another " ; the fifth provided that the United States should be held responsible for the payment for all fugitive slaves whose recovery by their owners should in any case have been obstructed and successfully prevented ; the sixth provided that no amendment of the Constitution should ever be made allowing Congress to abolish or interfere with slavery " in any of the States by whose laws it is, or may be, allowed." In addition to these proposed amendments, as if they were not sufficiently humiliating and repressive, and as alleged, " to remove all just cause for the popular discontent and agitation," he proposed four resolutions recommending further legislative enactments in the same direction: the first designed to render " the laws now in force for the recovery of fugitive slaves " more effective by enacting additional statutes for the punishment of those who should be guilty of violating their provisions ; the second calling upon Congress to recommend to the several States the repeal of all " personal-liberty " laws found on their statute-books; the third proposing certain amendments of "the act of the 18th of September, 1850, commonly called the Fugitive Slave Law " ; and the fourth affirming that the laws against the African slave-trade " ought to be made effectual and ought to be thoroughly executed."

Such was the famous Crittenden Compromise, of which so much has been said, for which so many Northern men, even some members of the Republican party, were willing to vote, and on account of which so many harsh censures were cast on those who were unwilling to give it their support; so in tensely Southern it hardly exhibited the pretence even of pro viding for other interests and feelings than those of the slaveholder. Though styled a "compromise," it was, like all the pretended compromises of the slavery question, entirely one sided and unfair. Even the seeming concession to the demands of humanity in proposing a more rigorous execution of the laws against the African slave-trade can only appear in its true light when viewed in connection with the demand for a constitutional amendment to protect more perfectly the inter State slave-trade, and the fact that it was the avowed policy of the border States to oppose the foreign trade because of its interference with their own more infamous domestic traffic ; while the prohibition of slavery in the territory north of 36° 30' was measurably neutralized, if not by climatic considerations, by the provision that any State formed thereof might come into the Union with or without slavery " as the constitution of such State may provide." Mr. Sumner, in an address in New York the winter following their introduction, speaks of them as " this great surrender to slavery," as a proposition "to change the Constitution in a manner revolting to the moral sense ; to foist into the Constitution the idea of property in man ; to protect slavery in all present territory south of 36° 30', and to carry it into all territory hereafter acquired south of that line, and thus to make our beautiful Stars and Stripes in their Southern march the flag of slavery ; to give new constitutional securities to slavery in the national capital, and in other places within the exclusive Federal jurisdiction ; as also to the transit of slaves from State to State, opening the way to the roll-call of slaves at the foot of Bunker Hill or the gates of Faneuil Hall."

The resolutions were introduced on the 18th of December, 1860, but were not made the order of the day until the 2d of January. Though Mr. Crittenden introduced the discussion by explaining his resolutions, the debate on that day proceeded upon another series, introduced a few days previous by Andrew Johnson of Tennessee, also proposing amendments of the Constitution, on which Baker of Oregon and Benjamin of Louisiana made very eloquent and forcible speeches.  On the 7th Mr. Crittenden called up his resolutions again, and made a long, elaborate, and very earnest argument in their behalf. In a colloquy between himself and Mr. Toombs of Georgia was revealed a marked feature of the debates of that session, already referred to, — that, whatever might be the specific topic, the general tenor of the discussion was the same. Alluding to the understanding that Mr. Toombs was expected to speak on another resolution, he said that it was " so entirely analogous to it that his remarks would be applicable" to the one as well as to the other, — a remark substantially repeated by Mr. Toombs himself. There was also pressing for consideration, at the same time, the bill for the admission of Kansas as a State.

Mr. Crittenden prefaced his speech with the remark that he spoke not for slavery, but for the Union. He appealed to the new party which, elated with victory, had just come into power, to exhibit both forbearance and magnanimity in relation to the feeling of anxiety and alarm which, right or wrong, pervaded the Southern States. For this purpose, he had proposed an amendment to the Constitution, which could alone, he con tended, pacify them. Concerning the first article pertaining to the territory of the United States, he remarked that it was " a very little thing," as it only recognized a fact already existing. It might be called a compromise, and perhaps it was, but it was " a fair compromise." " All human life," he said, " is a compromise. From the cradle to the grave every step is a compromise between man and society." He based an argument on the fact that both the North and South shared in the cost of blood and treasure with which that territory had been purchased, and that therefore both sections should have an equal share in its possession and use. He claimed that in regard to political principles there was no more reason for excluding slaves than any other kind of property; and that it would be adopting the same principle to exclude slavery on moral grounds, that it would be to make a discrimination between Presbyterians and Congregationalists in settling a territory of the United States. In a word, he ignored all scruples of conscience, and made it entirely a constitutional question. Singularly enough, too, he represented the territorial question — the main feature of the proposed amendments and resolutions — "but a trifle in point of territory," and as involving " no breach of any principle." Others thought otherwise; and the introduction of his resolutions became the signal of a most exciting and thorough debate.

Mr. Toombs followed, expressing himself "indifferent" as to which proposition he made the text of his discourse. His speech was defiant, and little calculated to conciliate.

He declared that the Abolitionists, under their new name of Republicans, had been sowing dragon's teeth, and had already begun to reap their crop of armed men. The Union, he said, was already dissolved. Claiming himself to be " as good a rebel and as good a traitor as ever descended from revolutionary loins," he proceeded to enunciate the demands of those he represented. He demanded for them an equal right to emigrate with their slaves into any future acquired territory and protection therein; that property in slaves should be entitled to the same protection everywhere as other property; that persons stealing property in one State and fleeing to another should be delivered up as any other fugitive from justice ; that fugitives should be surrendered without being entitled to writ of habeas corpus or trial by jury ; and that efficient laws should be enacted for the punishment of persons who should invade or abet the invasion of any State. These five demands, he contended, must be met, fairly considered, and in good faith granted.

He spoke in most disparaging terms of the origin of the Union. ' He said that the main difficulty at the outset it was designed to obviate was financial; that all talk of its being cemented by the blood of brave men was " nonsense "; that it was carried in some of the States by treachery, in others by bare majorities; and that Monroe, Henry, and even Jefferson himself, were against it. Had he lived at the time of its formation, he should have voted against it. He believed its adoption had been an injury to the South, though, being a "compact," lie would abide by it, if the North would. He expatiated largely on the equality of rights of the two sections, and condemned, in unmeasured terms, Mr. Lincoln and his party, because they would not recognize and abide by the principle. Alluding to Mr. Lincoln's characterization of Southern demands, that the North must " cease to call slave holding wrong, and join them in calling it right, and this must be done thoroughly, done in acts as well as words," and that silence would " not be tolerated," he responded with the remark: "I say so too I will have these rights in the Union, or I will not stay in it."

On the 16th of January an amendment, previously offered by Mr. Powell of Kentucky, to the second clause of the first article, referring to the territorial question, and to that part "situate south of 36° 30'," adding the words "now held or hereafter to be acquired," was adopted by a decisive vote.

On an amendment, offered by Mr. Clarke of New Hampshire, proposing to strike out all after the word " resolved," and to insert the proposition that the Constitution, being in itself ample for the preservation of the Union, all the energies of the government should be directed to its maintenance and support, James F. Simmons of Rhode Island addressed the Senate. He began by quoting largely from the debates in the convention that adopted the Constitution, sustaining the proposition that this is a government of the people and not a compact of States. He contended that the resolutions proposed by the Senator were "grossly violative of the Constitution itself," and he asked their author if he had thought well enough, or was quite certain that these propositions were sound, to make them, like the laws of the Medes and Persians, unalterable. He well expressed the difficulties that were involved in the subject, and confessed his inability to fathom them or understand their solution. "I have thought of it," he said, " and looked into the fire more than a hundred hours since I have been here, not saying a word, to try if I could see the way out of it peaceably; and I am just as young as my youngest boy about it." He referred, too, to the poor encouragement there was to make concessions, for the lack of assurances that they would be adopted by the South. The nearest approach, he said, that had been made to a declaration of that kind was that of the Texas Senator, who had said that after various things had been done by the North in that direction the South would "consider." "If we would stop the pulpits, burn the school-houses, suppress the newspapers, imprison the Abolitionists, and break up this government, everything that is here now, he would think about staying in it." While professing a willingness to do almost anything for the sake of peace, he said he could not follow the Senator of New York who had said that to exactions he would grant concessions, to threats he would offer conciliation, to hostile array the right hand of brotherhood. That would do for the millennium, but the millennium, he was sure, had not arrived. He closed with a touching allusion to the tender ties that bound Georgia and Rhode Island together, to the fact that the ashes of one of the latter' s noblest " revolutionary worthies " rested in the soil of the former; and he claimed them before she left the Union. " We want to place it in his native land by his kindred. Let not that dust go out of the Union."

With a similar spirit his colleague, Mr. Anthony, followed. Deprecating disunion, he appealed to the same tender memories of past sacrifices, to heroisms in a common cause, and to the immigrations and intermarriages which so closely bound the two sections together. "Together," he said, "our fathers achieved the independence of the country, together they laid the foundations of its greatness and its glory; together they constructed this beautiful system under which we live I will not believe that this great Power, which is marching with giant steps toward the first place among the nations of the earth, is to be turned ' backward on its mighty track.' " The vote was then taken on the amendment offered by Mr. Clarke, and it prevailed by a majority of two; which was in effect a defeat of the resolutions as reported by the Senator from Kentucky. That vote, however, was reconsidered, on motion of Mr. Cameron of Pennsylvania, by a vote of twenty-seven to twenty-four, and the original resolutions were again before the Senate for consideration.

On the 21st William Bigler of Pennsylvania addressed the Senate. Prefacing his remarks with a reference to " the solemn scene presented here this morning," when the Senators from Florida took formal leave of the Senate, he said that it left him little heart to consider the subject before them. His speech was long and denunciatory. He denounced the Republican party as a sectional party, with " but one vital spark of existence, and that prejudice and hostility to slavery." He appealed to the friends of the incoming administration to give the reassuring word the South demanded, and thus avert a calamity he could not find terms or tones adequately to portray. It was a Union speech indeed, but it was from the Southern standpoint in everything but the location of the speaker.

In a few remarks of his colleague, Simon Cameron, was revealed a state of mind in Congress that is explicable only on the ground that, in the seeming desperateness of the case, members felt that disunion was a foregone conclusion. Speaking and listening, with little hope of good results, they joined in the debate, rather to put themselves right with their constituents than with any expectation of making others right. " The whole world," he said, " it seems to me, are taken up with this question of union and separation, and yet out of the whole Senate of sixty-six members, there were not at any time a dozen men listening to my colleague…. He came with the olive-branch of peace, he came to save the Union, and yet he was not listened to." In a sharp colloquy with Mr. Mason of Virginia, he said: "It seems to me the only difference between the Senator from Virginia and myself is that he seeks for some excuse for getting out of the Union, while I desire to preserve it by any sacrifice of feeling and, I may say, of principle I believe their wrongs are imaginary; and as a proof of it, if they will bring forward any projet upon which they will call this question settled, the North will come in and sustain it."

At an evening session of the 21st of February, Mr. Wilson of Massachusetts spoke. Alluding to George Mason of Virginia as "one of the noblest of the illustrious band of patriots" of the Revolution, whom the old Dominion sent to the convention for the formation of the Federal Constitution, he quoted from his utterances in that body the declaration that " slavery brought the judgment of Heaven upon a country," and " that, by an inevitable chain of causes and effects, Providence punished national sins by national calamities." By a rapid sketch of the progress of slavery in its various forms and phases, he showed how " these words of admonition and warning, uttered nearly three quarters of a century ago," had found their sad exemplification in the fact that " the treasonable words of last year have now hardened into deeds "; and "a conspiracy against the unity of the Republic" — not the work of a day but the labor of a generation —"now startles and amazes the world by its extent and power." He quoted, too, the admissions of Madison, Jackson, and Benton, that the slavery agitation, which had "a Southern origin," with "disunion as its end," had been largely fomented, in the words of the former, " by unceasing efforts to alarm the South by imputations against the North of unconstitutional designs on the subject of slavery." He quoted the words of the latter that " the disunionists had prostituted the Democratic party," and " that they had complete control of the administration."

Alluding to the election of Mr. Lincoln and the success of the new party, he declared its policy to be, in the words of its chosen leader, " the policy of the founders of the government, nothing more, nothing less." He expressed in the strongest terms and as the results of large observation, that the North was not only loyal to the Union, but faithful to the compact of the fathers and to the compromises of the Constitution. Notwithstanding the many vociferous and bitter charges so ceaselessly as well as causelessly flung abroad against it, not withstanding the series of unfriendly and hostile acts com mitted by their Southern brethren, there was cherished nothing like animosity and vindictive hate towards them. Of Massachusetts, he said, while in her heart of hearts she loves liberty and loathes slavery, she is never unmindful of her constitutional obligations. He demanded of her accusers to produce the proofs of their allegations, to file their bill of specifications, or forever hold their peace. Referring to her personal-liberty law, he said it was not designed to defeat her constitutional obligations or to interfere with the execution of even the Fugitive Slave Act, but simply to protect her own inhabitants. To the allegation, which had been frequently made, that Massachusetts sympathized with the John Brown raid, and had chosen for her governor a man who indorsed it, he interposed an emphatic denial. He pronounced it a libel upon the governor, upon the State, and upon the Republicans, to charge them with indorsing that invasion. He considered the various points of the Crittenden proposition, and, though according its venerable author the purest motives of patriotism, characterized the scheme as " a complete surrender of all practical issues concerning slavery in the Territories to the demands of slave-propagandism," — " the incorporation into the organic law of the nation of irrepealable, degrading, and humiliating concessions to the dark spirit of slavery." He referred to the noble and heroic course of the colored soldiers in the Revolution, and pronounced the policy infamous that would put the stamp of degradation on the race, the descendants of men who merited a better reward from the heirs of those who were then willing to accept aid and deliverance through their agony and blood. Alluding to the fact that the mails were no longer sacred, that Northern seamen were imprisoned without alleged crime, that Northern ships were compelled to pay tribute in the form of fees " for unwelcome visitation," that Northern men sojourning at the South were subjected to vexatious annoyances, he said the Kentucky Senator proposed no remedies for these Northern wrongs; but he asks for irrepealable constitutional provisions to eternize slavery and make its provisions perpetual. "This," he said, " we dare not do. To do it would consign our names to what the Irish orator called ' oppression's natural scourge, — the moral indignation of history.' "

The resolutions came up the next day; but, without debate or action, they were postponed. They were not taken up again until the closing evening of the session, when, amid great con fusion, and the seeming uncertainty of the members as to what was really before the Senate, a vote was reached. Before the main question was put, the amendment of Mr. Powell of Kenucky, that the African slave-trade should be effectually sup pressed, that persons aiding slaves to escape shall be delivered up as other criminals, and that the laws of the State from which such slaves escape shall be " the test of criminality," and that Congress should pass efficient laws for the punishment of persons making or abetting insurrection and invasion, was adopted. Mr. Crittenden himself then proposed as an amendment of his own resolutions the propositions presented by the Peace Congress, but they received only seven votes. His resolutions were brought to a vote and were defeated, nine teen voting for them and twenty voting against them.

These resolutions and their history, it has been said, afford a very clear insight into the state of feeling and purpose existing both North and South. Though called a compromise, and put forth to conciliate and compose the jarring sentiments and interests of the two sections by a gentleman venerable for age, and hitherto conspicuous for his moderation and general opposition to the wild schemes of the propagandists, they took advanced Southern ground, and made demands that had been previously consented to only by a very few extreme proslavery men at the North. Its treatment of the territorial question, making the line of 36° 30' parallel of latitude the dividing line between free and slave territory, had been twice proposed in Congress, in 1847 and 1848, and voted down by a large majority of Northern Democrats and Whigs. But now, after the election of a Republican President, the same proposition was gravely brought forward, and, what is more noteworthy, it came very near being adopted; and was actually defeated by South ern defection, by the refusal of six Southern Senators to vote therefor, because they did not desire conciliation, because they refused to be placated, because they had determined, with or without cause, to break up the Union. The adoption of Clarke's amendment had been seized upon by the secessionists and telegraphed to their Southern constituents as proof that " all hope of conciliation" was gone. But Mr. Crittenden, who had been interrogated, sent the following despatch to a North Carolina editor: "In reply, the vote against my resolutions will be reconsidered. Their failure was the result of the refusal of six Southern Senators to vote. There is yet good hope of success." His hope, largely shared in by others, was doomed to disappointment, but his testimony as to the conduct of the six recusant Senators is conclusive. Senator Andrew Johnson, in a speech in the Senate during the succeeding year, testified also to the same fact. " Who did it?" he asked. He answered his own question. Referring to these six Senators, he said: " They did it. They wanted no compromise. They accomplished their object by withholding their votes….I believe more, Mr. President, that these gentlemen were acting in pursuance of a settled and fixed plan to break up and destroy the government…. If these seceded Southern States had remained, there would have passed by a large vote (as it did without them) an amendment by a two-third vote, forbidding Congress ever interfering with slavery in the States. The Crittenden proposition would have been indorsed by a majority vote…. And yet, even at a late day of the session, after they had seceded, the Crittenden proposition was only lost by one vote."

Such was the Crittenden Compromise, such its history, and such the lessons that combined they teach. They revealed the determined purpose and the desperate audacity of the secession leaders, and the terrible sacrifices of feeling, and principle even, that the North, embracing many who had voted for Mr. Lincoln, was willing to make to save the Union and avert the threatened appeal to arms.

Source:  Wilson, Henry, History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, Vol. 3.  Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1878, 71-81.


SEDGWICK, Theodore, 1780-1839, lawyer.  Member of the U.S. Congress from Massachusetts, opposed slavery in Congress.  Advocated Free Trade and temperance reform.

(Appletons’, 1888, Vol. V, p. 451; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 8, Pt. 2, p. 551; Locke, 1901, p. 93; Annals of Congress)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

SEDGWICK, Theodore, lawyer, b. in Sheffield, Mass., 31 Dec., 1780; d. in Pittsfield, Mass., 7 Nov., 1839, was graduated at Yale in 1798, studied law with his father, was admitted to the bar in 1801, and practised at Albany till 1821, when he removed to Stockbridge, Mass., owing to impaired health, and retired from the active practice of his profession. He afterward interested himself in agriculture, was repeatedly chosen president of the Agricultural society of the county, was a member of the legislature in 1824, 1825, and 1827, and in the last year carried through a bill for the construction of a railroad across the mountains from Boston to Albany, which had been generally regarded as a chimerical scheme. He was for a series of years the unsuccessful candidate of the Democratic party for lieutenant-governor. He was an earnest advocate of free-trade and temperance, and an opponent of slavery. His death resulted from a stroke of apoplexy, which occurred at the close of an address to the Democratic citizens of Pittsfield. He published “Hints to my Countrymen” (1826); “Public and Private Economy, illustrated by Observations made in Europe in 1836-'7” (3 vols., New York, 1838); and addresses to the Berkshire agricultural association (1823 and 1830). Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. V, pp. 451.  


SELDEN, Henry Rogers, 1805-1885, lawyer, jurist, abolitionist.  Republican Lieutenant Governor for New York State.  Opposed to the extension of slavery to the territories. 

(Appletons’, 1888, Vol. V, pp. 456-457)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

SELDEN, Henry Rogers, jurist, b. in Lyme, Conn., 14 Oct., 1805; d. in Rochester, N. Y., 18 Sept., 1885. In 1825 he removed to Rochester, N. Y., where he studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1880. He began practice in Clarkson, Monroe co., but returned to Rochester in 1859; and was reporter of the court of appeals in 1851-'4. He was a Democrat, but, being opposed to the extension of slavery, aided in the formation of the Republican party, and in 1856 was its successful candidate for the lieutenant-governorship. He attended the Republican national convention at Chicago in 1860, and concurred with his colleagues from New York in advocating the nomination of William H. Seward, but acquiesced in the nomination of Abraham Lincoln. In July, 1862, Mr. Selden was appointed a judge of the court of appeals to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of his brother, and he was afterward elected for a full term, but resigned in 1864. In 1872 he attended the Cincinnati convention that nominated Horace Greeley for the presidency, and, though opposed to this course, reluctantly supported him in his canvass. He published “Reports, New York Court of Appeals, 1851-'4” (6 vols., Albany, 1853-'60). Appletons’ Cyclopædia of American Biography, 1888.




SERGEANT, John, 1779-1852, lawyer.  U.S. Congressman from Pennsylvania.  Opposed extension of slavery into the territories.  Stated in Congressional debate of 1819:  “It is to no purpose, to say that the question of slavery is a question of state concern.  It affects the Union, in its interests, its resources, and character, permanently; perhaps forever.  One single State, to gratify the desire of a moment, may do what all the Union cannot undo; may produce an everlasting evil, shame and reproach.  And why?  Because it is a State right…  Sir, you may turn this matter as you will; Missouri, when she becomes a State, grows out of the Constitution; she is formed under the care of Congress, and admitted by Congress; and if she has a right to establish slavery, it is a right derived directly from the Constitution, and conferred upon her through the instrumentality of Congress.”  Further, Sergeant said, “If Missouri be permitted to establish slavery, we shall bring upon ourselves the charges of hypocrisy and insincerity, and upon the Constitution a deep stain, which must impair its lustre, and weaken its title to the public esteem.” 

(Appletons’, 1888, Vol. V, pp. 462-463; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 8, Pt. 2, p. 588; Dumond, 1961, pp. 103, 105, 107, 213-214, 383n24, 29; 16 Cong., 1 Sess., 1819-1820, II, p. 1201)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

SERGEANT, John, lawyer, b. in Philadelphia, 5 Dec., 1779; d. there, 25 Nov., 1852, was graduated at Princeton in 1795, and, abandoning his intention to become a merchant, studied law, and was admitted to the Philadelphia bar in 1799. For more than half a century he was known throughout the country as one of the most honorable and learned members of his profession and its acknowledged leader in Philadelphia. He entered public life in 1801, when he was appointed commissioner of bankruptcy by Thomas Jefferson, was a member of the legislature in 1808-'10, and of congress in 1815-'23, 1827-'9, and 1837-'42. In 1820 he was active in securing the passage of the Missouri compromise. He was appointed one of the two envoys in 1826 to the Panama congress, was president of the Pennsylvania constitutional convention in 1830, and Whig candidate for the vice-presidency on the ticket with Henry Clay in 1832. He declined the mission to England in 1841, and his last public service was that of arbitrator to determine a long-pending controversy. The question at issue concerned the title to Pea Patch island as derived by the United States from the state of Delaware, and by James Humphrey claiming through Henry Gale from the state of New Jersey. This involved the question of the boundary between the two states, or, in other words, the claim to Delaware river, and the decision in favor of the United States incidentally decided the boundary dispute in favor of Delaware. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. V, pp. 462-463.


SESSIONS, Lucy Stanton Day, 1831-1910, African American, educator, author, abolitionist.  Graduate of Oberlin College.  Early African American woman writer.

(Gates, Henry Louis, Jr., & Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, eds. African American National Biography. Oxford University Press, 2013, Vol. 10, p. 153)


SEWALL, Samuel, 1652-1730, Massachusetts, jurist, early Colonial opponent of slavery.  Wrote essay, “The Selling of Joseph,” 1700, which spoke out against slavery.  Sewall was the Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreior Court of Judicature. 

(Basker, 2005, pp. 120-121; Bruns, 1977, pp. 10-14; Dumond, 1961, pp. 16-17; Francis, 2005; La Plante, 2007, 2008; Locke, 1901, pp. 16-20, 23, 27, 34, 52, 131, 192; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. V, pp. 467-468; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 8, Pt. 2, p. 610; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 19, p. 671)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

SEWALL, Samuel, jurist, b. in Bishopstoke, England, 28 March, 1652; d. in Boston, Mass., 1 Jan., 1730. His early education was received in England before his parents came to New England. They went to Newbury, Mass., and his lessons were continued there. He was fitted to enter Harvard in 1667, and took his first degree in 1671, his second in 1675. He studied divinity and had preached once before his marriage, but after that event, which took place on 28 Feb., 1677, he left the ministry and entered public life. His wife was Hannah Hull, the daughter and only child of John and Judith (Quincy) Hull. The position which his father-in-law held as treasurer and mint-master undoubtedly had somewhat to do with the change in the young man's plans. One of his first ventures after his marriage was to assume charge of the printing-press in Boston. This was under his management for three years, when other engagements compelled him to relinquish it. His family connections, both through his marriage and on the maternal and paternal sides, brought him in contact with some of the most prominent men of the day. In 1684 he was chosen an assistant, serving for two years. In 1688 he made a voyage to England, and remained abroad a year in the transaction of business, visiting various points of interest. In 1692 he became a member of the council and judge of the probate court. Judge Sewall appeared prominently in judging the witches during the time of the Salem witchcraft. His character was shown more clearly at that time and immediately afterward than at any other time during his long life. He was extremely conscientious in the fulfilment of duty, and yet, when he found he was in error, was not too proud to acknowledge it. Of all the judges that took part in that historic action, he was the only one that publicly confessed his error. The memory of it haunted him for years, until in January, 1697, he confessed in a “bill,” which was read before the congregation of the Old South church in Boston by the minister. During its reading, Sewall remained standing in his place. The action was indicative of the man. During the remaining thirty-one years of his life he spent one day annually in fasting and meditation and prayer, to keep in mind a sense of the enormity of his offence. In 1699 he was appointed a commissioner for the English Society for the propagation of the gospel in New England. Soon afterward he was appointed their secretary and treasurer. His tract, entitled “The Selling of Joseph,” in which he advocated the rights of the slaves, was published in 1700. He was very benevolent and charitable, and his sympathies were always with the down-trodden races of humanity. In 1718 he was appointed chief justice, and served till 1728, when he retired on account of the increasing infirmities of old age. He also published “The Accomplishment of Prophecies” (1713); “A Memorial Relating to the Kennebec Indians” (1721); “A Description of the New Heaven” (1727). The Massachusetts historical society have published his diary, which covers the larger portion of his life, in their “Historical Collections,” and it has also published his letter-book, in which he kept copies of his important letters. These throw light upon the civil and social life of the day in a marked degree, and strengthen the opinion that he was a man of eminent ability and of sterling character. In addition to his diary, he kept a “commonplace book,” in which he recorded quotations from various authors whose works he had read. At the time of his death he had also filled twelve manuscript volumes with abstracts of sermons and addresses that he had heard at various times. His funeral sermon, by the Rev. Thomas Prince, was highly eulogistic, but evidently a just tribute to one of the most remarkable men of his age.  

Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. V, pp. 467-468.


SEWALL, Samuel E., Boston, Massachusetts.  Manager, 1833-1837, and founding member of the American Anti-Slavery Society, December 1833.  Leader, active member, Liberty Party.

(Dumond, 1961, pp. 301, 405n12; Abolitionist, Vol. I, No. XII, December, 1833)


SEWARD, William Henry, 1801-1872, statesman, U.S. Secretary of State under Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson, U.S. Senator from New York, abolitionist, member Anti-Slavery Republican Party, lawyer. 

(Baker, 1884; Dumond, 1961, pp. 292, 302, 355-356; Gienapp, 1987; Holt, 1999; Mitchell, 2007, pp. 9, 10, 54, 119-121, 160, 162, 165-167, 168, 177, 191-192, 198, 247; Pease, 1965, pp. 177-181, 483-485; Rodriguez, 2007, pp. 52, 62, 136, 138, 240, 513, 634-636; Sewell, 1976; Van Deusen, 1976; Wilson, 1872, Vol. 2, pp. 164-166; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. V, pp. 470-472; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 8, Pt. 2, p. 615; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 19, p. 676; Hinks, Peter P., & John R. McKivigan, Eds., Encyclopedia of Antislavery and Abolition.  Westport, Connecticut, Greenwood, 2007, Vol. 2, pp. 613-616)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

SEWARD, William Henry, statesman, b. in Florida, Orange co., N.Y., 16 May, 1801; d. in Auburn, N. Y., 10 Oct., 1872. His father, Dr. Samuel S. Seward, descended from a Welsh emigrant to Connecticut, combined medical practice with a large mercantile business. His mother was of Irish extraction. The son was fond of study, and in 1816 entered Union, after clue preparation at Farmers' Hall academy, Goshen, N. Y. He withdrew from college in 1819, taught for six months in the south, and after a year's absence returned, and was graduated in 1820. After reading law with John Anthon in New York city, and John Duer and Ogden Hoffman in Goshen, he was admitted to the bar at Utica in 1822, and in January, 1823, settled in Auburn, N. Y., as the partner of Elijah Miller, the first judge of Cayuga county, whose daughter, Frances Adeline, he married in the following year. His industry and his acumen and power of logical presentation soon gave him a place among the leaders of the bar. In 1824 he first met Thurlow Weed at Rochester, and a close friendship between them, personal and political, continued through life. In that year also he entered earnestly into the political contest as an advocate of the election of John Quincy Adams, and in October of that year drew up an address of the Republican convention of Cayuga county, in which he arraigned the “Albany regency” and denounced the methods of Martin Van Buren's supporters. He delivered an anniversary address at Auburn on 4 July, 1825. He was one of the committee to welcome Lafayette, and in February, 1827, delivered an oration expressive of sympathy for the Greek revolutionists. On 12 Aug., 1827, he presided at Utica over a great convention of young men of New York in support of the re-election of John Q. Adams. He declined the anti-Masonic nomination for congress in 1828, but joined that party on the dissolution of the National Republican party, with which he had previously acted, consequent upon the setting aside of its candidate for Andrew Jackson. In 1830 he was elected as the anti-Masonic candidate for the state senate, in which body he took the lead in the opposition to the dominant party, and labored in behalf of the common schools and of railroad and canal construction. He proposed the collection of documents in the archives of European governments for the “Colonial History of New York,” advocated the election of the mayor of New York by the direct popular vote, and furthered the passage of the bill to abolish imprisonment for debt. At the close of the session he was chosen to draw up an address of the minority of the legislature to the people. On 4 July, 1831, he gave an address to the citizens of Syracuse on the “Prospects of the United States.” On 31 Jan., 1832, he defended the U.S. bank in an elaborate speech in the state senate, and at the close of that session again prepared an address of the minority to their constituents. In 1833 he travelled through Europe, writing home letters which were afterward published in the “Albany Evening Journal.” In January, 1834, he denounced the removal of the U. S. bank deposits in a brilliant and exhaustive speech. He drew up a third minority address at the close of this his last session in the legislature. On 16 July, 1834, he delivered a eulogy of Lafayette at Auburn.

The Whig party, which had originated in the opposition to the Jackson administration and the “Albany regency,” nominated him for governor on 13 Sept., 1834, in the convention at Utica. He was defeated by William L. Marcy, and returned to the practice of law in the beginning of 1835. On 3 Oct. of that year he made a speech at Auburn on education and internal improvements. In July, 1836, he quitted Auburn for a time in order to assume an agency at Westfield to settle the differences between the Holland land company and its tenants. While there he wrote some political essays, and in July, 1837, delivered an address in favor of universal education. He took an active part in the political canvass of 1837, which resulted in a triumph of the Whigs. He was again placed in nomination for governor in 1838, and after a warm canvass, in which he was charged with havnig oppressed settlers for the benefit of the landcompany, and was assailed by anti-slavery men, who had failed to draw from him an expression of abolitionist principles, he was elected by a majority of 10,421. The first Whig governor was hampered in his administration by rivalries and dissension within the party. He secured more humane and liberal provisions for the treatment of the insane, a mitigation of the methods of discipline in the penitentiary, and the improvement of the common schools. His proposition to admit Roman Catholic and foreign-born teachers into the public schools, while it was applauded by the opposite party, drew upon him the reproaches of many of the Protestant clergy and laity, and subjected him to suspicion and abuse. His recommendations to remove disabilities from foreigners and to encourage, rather than restrict, emigration, likewise provoked the hostility of native-born citizens. His proposition to abolish the court of chancery and make the judiciary elective was opposed by the bench and the bar, yet within a few years the reform was effected. At his suggestion, specimens of the natural history of the state were collected, and, when the geological survey was completed, he prepared an elaborate introduction to the report, reviewing the settlement, development, and condition of the state, which appeared in the work under the title of “Notes on New York.” In the conflict between the proprietors and the tenants of Renselaerwyck he advocated the claims of the latter, but firmly suppressed their violent outbreaks. He was re-elected, with a diminished majority, in 1840. A contest over the enlargement of the Erie canal and the completion of the lateral canals, which the Democrats prophesied would plunge the state into a debt of forty millions, grew sharper during Gov. Seward's second term, and near its close the legislature stopped the public works. His projects for building railroads were in like manner opposed by that party.

In January, 1843, Seward retired to private life, resuming the practice of law at Auburn. He continued an active worker for his party during the period of its decline, and was a frequent speaker at political meetings. In 1843 he delivered an address before the Phi Beta Kappa society at Union college on the “Elements of Empire in America.” He entered largely into the practice of patent law, and in criminal cases his services were in constant demand. Frequently he not only defended accused persons gratuitously, but gave pecuniary assistance to his clients. Among his most masterly forensic efforts were an argument for freedom of the press in a libel suit brought by J. Fenimore Cooper against Horace Greeley in 1845, and the defence of John Van Zandt, in 1847, against a criminal charge of aiding fugitive slaves to escape. At the risk of violence, and with a certainty of opprobrium, he defended the demented negro Freeman, who had committed a revolting murder, emboldened, many supposed, by Seward's eloquent presentation of the doctrine of moral insanity in another case. In September, 1847, Seward delivered a eulogy on Daniel O'Connell before the Irish citizens of New York, and in 1848 a eulogy on John Quincy Adams before the New York legislature. He took an active part in the presidential canvass, and in a speech at Cleveland described the conflict between freedom and slavery, saying of the latter: “It must be abolished, and you and I must do it.”

In February, 1849, Seward was elected U. S. senator. His proposal, while governor, to extend suffrage to the negroes of New York, and many public utterances, placed him in the position of the foremost opponent of slavery within the Whig party. President Taylor selected Seward as his most intimate counsellor among the senators, and the latter declined to be placed on any important committee, lest his pronounced views should compromise the administration. In a speech delivered on 11 March, 1850, in favor of the admission of California, he spoke of the exclusion of slavery as determined by “the higher law,” a phrase that was denounced as treasonable by the southern Democrats. On 2 July, 1850, he delivered a great speech on the compromise bill. He supported the French spoliation bill, and in February, 1851, advocated the principles that were afterward embodied in the homestead law. His speeches covered a wide ground, ranging from a practical and statistical analysis of the questions affecting steam navigation, deep-sea exploration, the American fisheries, the duty on rails, and the Texas debt, to flights of passionate eloquence in favor of extending sympathy to the exiled Irish patriots, and moral support to struggles for liberty, like the Hungarian revolution, which he reviewed in a speech on “Freedom in Europe,” delivered in March, 1852. After the death of Zachary Taylor many Whig senators and representatives accepted the pro-slavery policy of President Fillmore, but Seward resisted it with all his energy. He approved the nomination of Winfield Scott for the presidency in 1852, but would not sanction the platform, which upheld the compromise of 1850. In 1853 he delivered an address at Columbus, Ohio, on '”The Destiny of America,” and one in New York city on “The True Basis of American Independence.” In 1854 he made an oration on “The Physical, Moral, and Intellectual Development of the American People” before the literary societies of Yale college, which gave him the degree of LL. D. His speeches on the repeal of the Missouri compromise and on the admission of Kansas made a profound impression. He was re-elected to the senate in 1855, in spite of the vigorous opposition of both the Native American party and the Whigs of southern sympathies. In the presidential canvass of 1856 he zealously supported John C. Frémont, the Republican candidate. In 1857 he journeyed through Canada, and made a voyage to Labrador in a fishing-schooner, the “Log” of which was afterward published. In a speech at Rochester, N. Y., in October, 1858, he alluded to the “irrepressible conflict,” which could only terminate in the United States becoming either entirely a slave-holding nation or entirely a free-labor nation. He travelled in Europe, Egypt, and Palestine in 1859.

In 1860, as in 1856, Seward's pre-emiment position in the Republican party made him the most conspicuous candidate for the presidential nomination. He received 173½ votes in the first ballot at the convention, against 102 given to Abraham Lincoln, who was eventually nominated, and in whose behalf he actively canvassed the western states. Lincoln appointed him secretary of state, and before leaving the senate to enter on the duties of this office he made a speech in which he disappointed some of his party by advising patience and moderation in debate, and harmony of action for the sake of maintaining the Union. He cherished hopes of a peaceful solution of the national troubles, and, while declining in March, 1861, to enter into negotiations with commissioners of the Confederate government, he was in favor of evacuating Fort Sumter as a military necessity and politic measure, while re-enforcing Fort Pickens, and holding every other post then remaining in the hands of the National government. He issued a circular note to the ministers abroad on 9 March, 1861, deprecating foreign intervention, and another on 24 April, defining the position of the United States in regard to the rights of neutrals. Negotiations were carried on with European governments for conventions determining such rights. He protested against the unofficial intercourse between the British cabinet and agents of the Confederate states, and refused to receive despatches from the British and French governments in which they assumed the attitude of neutrals between belligerent powers. On 21 July he sent a despatch to Charles F. Adams, minister at London, defending the decision of congress to close the ports of the seceded states. When the Confederate commissioners were captured on board the British steamer “Trent” he argued that the seizure was in accordance with the British doctrine of the “right of search,” which the United States had resisted by the war of 1812. The release of these prisoners, at the demand of the British government, would now commit both governments to the maintenance of the American doctrine; so they would be “cheerfully given up.” He firmly rejected and opposed the proposal of the French emperor to unite with the English and Russian governments in mediating between the United States and the Confederate government. He made the Seward-Lyons treaty with Great Britain for the extinction of the African slave-trade. The diplomatic service was thoroughly reorganized by Sec. Seward; and by his lucid despatches and the unceasing presentation of his views and arguments, through able ministers, to the European cabinets, the respect of Europe was retained, and the efforts of the Confederates to secure recognition and support were frustrated. In the summer of 1862, the army having become greatly depleted, and public proclamation of the fact being deemed unwise, he went to the north with letters from the president and secretary of war, met and conferred with the governors of the loyal states, and arranged for their joint proffer of re-enforcements, to which the president responded by the call for 300,000 more troops. Mr. Seward firmly insisted on the right of American citizens to redress for the depredations of the “Alabama,” and with equal determination asserted the Monroe doctrine in relation to the French invasion of Mexico, but, by avoiding a provocative attitude, which might have involved his government in foreign war, was able to defer the decision of both questions till a more favorable time. Before the close of the civil war he intimated to the French government the irritation felt in the United States in regard to its armed intervention in Mexico. Many despatches on this subject were sent during 1865 and 1866, which gradually became more urgent, until the French forces were withdrawn and the Mexican empire fell. He supported President Lincoln's proclamation liberating the slaves in all localities in rebellion, and three years later announced by proclamation the abolition of slavery throughout the Union by constitutional amendment. In the spring of 1865 Mr. Seward was thrown from his carriage, and his arm and jaw were fractured. While he was confined to his couch with these injuries President Lincoln was murdered and on the same evening, 14 April, one of the conspirators gained access to the chamber of the secretary, inflicted severe wounds with a knife in his face and neck, and struck down his son, Frederick W., who came to his rescue. His recovery was slow and his sufferings were severe. He concluded a treaty with Russia for the cession of Alaska in 1867. He negotiated treaties for the purchase of the Danish West India islands and the Bay of Samana, which failed of approval by the senate, and made a treaty with Colombia to secure American control of the Isthmus of Panama, which had a similar fate. Sec. Seward sustained the reconstruction policy of President Johnson, and thereby alienated the more powerful section of the Republican party and subjected himself to bitter censure and ungenerous imputations. He opposed the impeachment of President Johnson in 1868, and supported the election of Gen. Grant in that year. He retired from office at the end of eight years of tenure in March, 1869. After a brief stay in Auburn, he journeyed across the continent to California, Oregon, British Columbia, and Alaska, returning through Mexico as the guest of its government and people. In August, 1870, he set out on a tour of the world, accompanied by several members of his family. He visited the principal countries of Asia, northern Africa, and Europe, being received everywhere with great honor. He studied their political institutions, their social and ethnological characteristics, and their commercial capabilities. Returning home on 9 Oct., 1871, he devoted himself to the preparation of a narrative of his journey, and after its completion to a history of his life and times, which was not half finished at the time of his death. The degree of LL. D. was given him by Union in 1866. He published, besides occasional addresses and numerous political speeches, a volume on the “Life and Public Services of John Quincy Adams” (Auburn, 1849). An edition of his “Works” was published, which contains many of his earlier essays, speeches, and addresses, with a memoir by George E. Baker, reaching down to 1853 (3 vols., New York, 1853). To this a fourth volume was added in 1862, and a fifth in 1884, containing his later speeches and extracts from his diplomatic correspondence. His official correspondence during the eight years was published by order of congress. The relation of his “Travels Around the World” was edited and published by his adopted daughter, Olive Risley Seward (New York, 1873). Charles F. Adams published an “Address on the Life, Character, and Services of Seward” (Albany, 1873), which was thought by some to have extolled him at the expense of President Lincoln's fame, and elicited replies from Gideon Welles and others. Mr. Seward's “Autobiography,” which extends to 1834, has been continued to 1846 in a memoir by his son, Frederick W., with selections from his letters (New York, 1877). The vignette portrait represents Gov. Seward in early life, and the other illustration is a view of his residence at Auburn. There is a bronze statue of Mr. Seward, by Randolph Rogers, in Madison square, New York.—His son, Augustus Henry, soldier, b. in Auburn, N.Y., 1 Oct., 1826; d. in Montrose, N.Y., 11 Sept., 1876, was graduated at the U.S. military academy in 1847, served through the Mexican war as lieutenant of infantry, afterward in Indian territory till 1851, and then on the coast survey till 1859, when he joined the Utah expedition. He was made a captain on 19 Jan., 1859, and on 27 March, 1861, a major on the staff. He served as paymaster during the civil war, receiving the brevets of lieutenant-colonel and colonel at its close.—Another son, Frederick William, lawyer, b. in Auburn, N.Y., 8 July, 1830, was graduated at Union in 1849, and after he was admitted to the bar at Rochester, N. Y., in 1851, was associate editor of the Albany “Evening Journal” till 1861, when he was appointed assistant secretary of state, which office he held for the eight years that his father was secretary. In 1867 he went on a special mission to Santo Domingo. He was a member of the New York legislature in 1875, and introduced the bill to incorporate the New York elevated railroad and the amendments to the constitution providing for a reorganization of the state canal and prison systems, placing each under responsible heads, and abolishing the old boards. He was assistant secretary of state again in 1877-'81, while William M. Evarts was secretary. Union conferred on him the degree of LL. D. in 1878. His principal publication is the “Life and Letters” of his father (New York, 1877), of which the second volume is now (1888) in preparation. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. V, pp. 470-472.

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.

Just one year from the disappearance of Mr. Adams from the theatre on which he had borne so prominent and important a part were elected to the Senate of the United States William H. Seward of New York and Salmon P. Chase of Ohio. Both were deeply inspired by the spirit of freedom, and had labored earnestly in its behalf. Both were men of large capacity, superior culture; laudable ambition; and tireless industry; and their entrance upon this new and broader sphere of action was welcomed by the antislavery men of the nation with high and exciting hopes that they" would prove worthy champions of a noble cause. Nor were these hopes doomed to disappointment.

In the election of 1848, the Democratic party of New York had been riven iii twain and completely routed. The Whigs had elected all but one of its thirty-four members of Congress. They had secured four fifths of the legislature, and Hamilton Fish had been elected governor by a plurality of one hundred thousand. . Mr. Seward had done much to retain the antislavery Whigs of that and other Northern States, notwithstanding the rejection of the Wilmot proviso by the national convention. During the presidential canvass he said little of platforms or candidates, but spoke with signal ability in behalf of the Union, equal rights, the diffusion of knowledge, the development of the country, and the abolition of slavery.

During this canvass he addressed a convention in Cleveland, Ohio, and presented the issues growing out of the existence of slavery with singular boldness and distinctness of utterance. At the same time he described with philosophic accuracy and with marvelous force and felicity of language the distinction between the party of freedom and the party of slavery. He declared the antagonistic elements of American society to be freedom and slavery. “Freedom," he said,” is in harmony with our system of government and with the spirit of the ages and' is therefore passive and quiescent. Slavery is in conflict with that system, with justice, and with humanity, and is therefore organized, defensive, active, and perpetually aggressive. Freedom insists on the emancipation and elevation of labor; slavery demands soil moistened with tears and blood." Resulting from these elements, the American people were divided, he affirmed, into the party of freedom and the party of slavery. “The party of slavery,'' he said,” upholds an aristocracy founded on the humiliation of labor as necessary to the existence of a chivalrous republic. The party of freedom maintains universal suffrage, which makes men equal before the laws, as they are in the sight of a common Creator. The party of slavery cherishes ignorance because it is the only security for oppression. . The party of liberty demands the diffusion of knowledge because it is the safeguard of republican institutions. The party of slavery declares that institution munificent and approved of God, and therefore inviolable. The party of freedom seeks complete and universal emancipation."

Admitting that the Whig party had fallen from its ancient faith and was comparatively unsound, he claimed that it was the truest and most faithful of the two parties, the one or the other of which must prevail. He gave expression to the pregnant thought that the Whig party was as faithful to the interests of freedom as the “inert conscience " of the American people would permit it to be, and he urged the duty of making it more faithful. " Slavery," he said,” can be limited to its present bounds, it can be ameliorated, it can be and must be abolished; and you and I can and must do it." Maintaining that the strength of slavery did not lie in the Constitution of the United States, nor in the constitutions and laws of the slaveholding States, but in the erroneous sentiments of the American people, he urged the men of Ohio to " inculcate " the " law of freedom and equal rights of man under the paternal roof, and to see to it that they are taught in the schools and in the churches. “Reform your own code," he continued; "extend a cordial welcome to the fugitive who lays his weary limbs at your door, and -defend him as you would your paternal gods ; correct your own error, that slavery bas any constitutional guaranty which may not be released and ought not to be relinquished. Say to slavery, when it shows its ' bond ' and demands its ' pound of flesh,' that if it draws one drop of blood its life shall be the forfeit."

These sentiments, thus decided, not to say defiant, were expressed in dignified language, with forensic art and the adroitness of the statesman, who made the manner strengthen and enforce the matter of his discourse. He counselled, too, their inculcation with a spirit of moderation and benevolence, and not of retaliation and fanaticism; and he expressed the be­lief that by so doing they would bring the friends of the country into an effective aggression upon slavery, and that when the public mind should will its abolition a way would be opened to do it. He urged them not to overlook· the attainable in their efforts to secure the unattainable, and to “remember that no human work is done without preparation."

Source:  Wilson, Henry, History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, Vol. 2.  Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1872, 164-166.


SHADD, Abraham Doras, 1801-1882, Chester County, Pennsylvania, African American, abolitionist leader.  Manager, 1833-1837, and founding member of the American Anti-Slavery Society, December 1833.  Member of the Underground Railroad. 

(Abolitionist, Vol. I, No. XII, December, 1833; Gates, Henry Louis, Jr., & Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, eds. African American National Biography. Oxford University Press, 2013, Vol. 10, p. 163)


SHARP, Granville, anti-slavery activist

(Basker, 2005, pp. 3, 32, 55, 82, 128, 132, 170, 238, 241, 291, 295; Bruns, 1977, pp. 79, 108, 193-199, 262-267, 302-306, 310-311, 314, 325, 351, 486, 488, 491; Drake, 1950, pp. 56, 85, 91, 119, 121; Locke, 1901, pp. 52, 131, 192; Rodriguez, 2007, pp. 101, 290; Zilversmit, 1967, pp. 89-90)


SHAW, Francis George, 1809-1882, humanitarian, reformer, abolitionist.  Father of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw.  

(Rodriguez, 2007, p. 707; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. V, p. 486; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 19, p. 751)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

SHAW, Francis George, b. in Boston, Mass., 23 Oct., 1809; d. in West New Brighton, Staten island, N. Y., 7 Nov., 1882, entered Harvard in 1825, but left in 1828 to enter his father's counting-room, and engaged actively in business. In 1841, his health being impaired, he withdrew to West Roxbury, near Brook Farm, where an experiment in associative life, in which he was interested, was begun under the leadership of George Ripley. In 1847 he left West Roxbury, and, after living more than three years upon the north shore of Staten island, he went to Europe with his family. After four years he returned in 1855 to Staten island, where he resided until his death. While living at West Roxbury he was a member of the school committee and one of the overseers of the poor, a justice of the peace, and president of the first common council of Roxbury when that town became a city. He was also foreman of the jury of Norfolk county that first proposed the establishment of the State reform-school of Massachusetts. During his residence on Staten island he was a trustee of the village in which he lived, a trustee of the Seaman's retreat and of the S. R. Smith infirmary, treasurer of the American union of associationists and of the Sailor's fund, president of the Freedman's relief association and of the New York branch of the Freedman's union commission, and connected with various local organizations. He was also a hereditary member of the Massachusetts Society of the Cincinnati. Possessed of an ample fortune, he held it as a trust for the unfortunate. All good causes, the help of the poor, the ignorant, the criminal, and the enslaved, had always his ready sympathy and his hearty support. He was the author of several translations from George Sand, Fourier, and Zschokke. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. V, pp. 486. 


SHAW, Robert Gould, 1837-1863, abolitionist, Colonel, 54th Massachusetts Infantry, U.S. Colored Troops, killed in action.  Sone of Francis George Shaw.  

(Rodriguez, 2007, pp. 67, 144; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. V, p. 486; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 19, p. 751)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

SHAW, Robert Gould, soldier, b. in Boston, 10 Oct., 1837; d. at Fort Wagner, S. C., 18 July, 1863, entered Harvard in 1856, but left in March, 1859. He enlisted as a private in the 7th New York regiment on 19 April, 1861, became 2d lieutenant in the 2d Massachusetts on 28 May, and 1st lieutenant on 8 July. He was promoted to captain, 10 Aug., 1862, and on 17 April, 1863, became colonel of the 54th Massachusetts, the first regiment of colored troops from a free state that was mustered into the U. S. service. He was killed in the assault on Fort Wagner while leading the advance with his regiment. A bust of him has been made by Edmonia Lewis, the colored sculptor, a portrait by William Page is in Memorial hall at Harvard, and it is proposed to place a memorial of him, consisting of an equestrian figure in high relief, on the front wall of the state-house yard in Boston. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. V, pp. 486.


SHAW, William Smith, 1778-1826, Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Court.  Wrote in his historic decision, Commonwealth v. Aves (1836) regarding slavery in Massachusetts:  “How, or by what act particularly, slavery was abolished in Massachusetts, whether by the adoption of the opinion in Sommersett’s case, as a declaration and modification of the common law, or by the Declaration of Independence, or by the Constitution of 1780, it is not now very easy to determine, and it is rather a matter of curiosity than utility; being agreed on all hands, that if not abolished before, it was so by the declaration of rights.”

(Appletons’, 1888, Vol. V, p. 487; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 9, Pt. 1, p. 49)


SHEPPARD, Moses, 1771-1857, Baltimore, Maryland, businessman, philanthropist.  American Friends (Quaker).  Member of the Protective Society of Maryland to protect free African Americans.  The American Anti-Slavery Society.  Society of Friends Indian Affairs Committee.  Lobbied Maryland General Assembly to block legislation to keep free Blacks out of the state.  Sheppard was a Manager of the American Colonization Society (ACS), 1833-1834. 

(Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. V, pp. 496-497; Staudenraus, P. J. The African Colonization Movement, 1816-1865. New York: Columbia University Press, 1961_


SHERMAN, Roger, 1721-1793, founding father, opponent of slavery. Signer of the Articles of Association, the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution.  Sherman opposed a tax on slaves because it would imply that they were property and not human beings. 

(Bruns, 1977, pp. 394, 522-523; Rodriguez, 2007, p. 97; Zilversmit, 1967, pp. 123, 124; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. V, pp. 501-502; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 9, Pt. 1, p. 88; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

SHERMAN, Roger, signer of the Declaration of Independence, b. in Newton, Mass., 19 April, 1721; d. in New Haven, Conn., 23 July, 1793. His great-grandfather, Capt. John Sherman, came from England to Watertown, Mass., about 1635. His grandfather and father were farmers in moderate circumstances. In 1723 the family removed to Stonington, Mass., where he spent his boyhood and youth. He had no formal education except that which was obtained in the ordinary country schools, but by his own unaided exertions he acquired respectable attainments in various branches of learning, especially mathematics, law, and politics. He was early apprenticed to a shoemaker, and continued in that occupation until he was twenty-two years of age. It is said that while at work on his bench he was accustomed to have before him an open book, so that he could devote every spare minute to study. At the age of nineteen he lost his father, and the principal care and support of a large family thus devolved upon him, with the charge of a small farm. In 1743 he removed with his family to New Milford, Conn., performing the journey on foot, and taking his shoemaker's tools with him. Here, in partnership with his brother, he engaged in mercantile business. In 1745 he was appointed surveyor of lands for the county in which he resided, a post for which his early attention to mathematics qualified him. Not long afterward he furnished the astronomical calculations for an almanac that was published in New York, and he continued this service for several years. Meanwhile, encouraged to this step by a judicious friend, he was devoting his leisure hours to the study of the law, and made such progress that he was admitted to the bar in 1754. In 1755 he was elected a representative of New Milford in the general assembly of Connecticut, and the same year he was appointed a justice of the peace. In 1759 he was made one of the judges of common pleas in Litchfield county. Two years later he removed to New Haven, where the same appointments were given him. In addition to this, he became treasurer of Yale college, from which, in 1765, he received the honorary degree of M. A. In 1766 he was appointed judge of the superior court of Connecticut, and in the same year was chosen a member of the upper house of the legislature. In the former office he continued twenty-three years; in the latter, nineteen. When the Revolutionary struggle began Roger Sherman devoted himself unreservedly to the patriot cause. In such a crisis he was obliged to be a leader. In August, 1774, he was elected a delegate to the Continental congress, and was present at its opening on 5 Sept. following. Of this body he was one of the most active members. Without showing gifts of popular speech, he commanded respect for his knowledge, judgment, integrity, and devotion to duty. He served on many important committees, but the most decisive proof of the high esteem in which he was held is given in the fact that, with Adams, Franklin. Jefferson, and Livingston, he was appointed to prepare a draft of the Declaration of Independence, to which document he subsequently affixed his signature. Though a member of congress, he was at the same time in active service on the Connecticut committee of safety. In 1783 he was associated with Judge Richard Law in revising the statutes of the state, and in 1784 he was elected mayor of New Haven, which office he continued to hold until his death. He was chosen, in conjunction with Dr. Samuel Johnson and Oliver Ellsworth, a delegate to the convention of 1787 that was charged with the duty of framing a constitution for the United States. Documentary proof exists that quite a number of the propositions that he offered were incorporated in that instrument. In the debates of the Constitutional convention he bore a conspicuous part. He was also a member of the State convention of Connecticut that ratified the constitution, and was very influential in securing that result. A series of papers that he wrote under the signature of “Citizen” powerfully contributed to the same end. Immediately after the ratification of the constitution he was made a representative of Connecticut in congress, and took an active part in the discussions of that body. In February, 1790, the Quakers having presented an address to the house on the subject of “the licentious wickedness of the African trade for slaves,” Mr. Sherman supported its reference to a committee, and was successful in his efforts, though he was strongly opposed. He was promoted in 1791 to the senate, and died while holding this office. The career of Roger Sherman most happily illustrates the possibilities of American citizenship. Beginning life under the heaviest disadvantages, he rose to a career of ever-increasing usefulness, honor, and success. He was never removed from an office except by promotion or because of some legislative restriction. Thomas Jefferson spoke of him as “a man who never said a foolish thing”; and Nathaniel Macon declared that “he had more common sense than any man I have ever known.” In early life he united with the Congregational church in Stonington, and through his long career he remained a devout and practical Christian. Mr. Sherman was twice married, and among his descendants are Senators William M. Evarts and George F. Hoar. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. V, pp. 501-502.





SHIPLEY, Thomas, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Society of Friends, Quaker, abolitionist.  Manager, 1833-1835, and founding member of the American Anti-Slavery Society, December 1833.  Member of the Free Produce Society of Pennsylvania.

(Drake, 1950, pp. 118, 130, 140; Mabee, 1970, pp. 24, 30, 275, 278; Abolitionist, Vol. I, No. XII, December, 1833)


SIGOURNEY, Lydia Huntley, 1791-1865, Hartford, Connecticut, author.  Outspoken supporter of colonization and supporter of the American Colonization Society.  Leader of Hartford Female African Society. 

(Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. V, p. 525; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 9, Pt. 1, p. 155; Staudenraus, P. J. The African Colonization Movement, 1816-1865. New York: Columbia University Press, 1961, p. 127)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

SIGOURNEY, Lydia Huntley, author, b. in Norwich, Conn., 1 Sept., 1791; d. in Hartford, Conn., 10 June, 1865. She was the daughter of Ezekiel Huntley, a soldier of the Revolution. She read at the age of three, and at seven wrote simple verses. After receiving a superior education at Norwich and Hartford, she taught for five years a select class of young ladies in the latter city. In 1815, at the suggestion and under the patronage of Daniel Wadsworth, she published her first volume, “Moral Pieces in Prose and Verse.” In 1819 she became the wife of Charles Sigourney, a Hartford merchant of literary and artistic tastes. Without neglecting her domestic duties, she thenceforth devoted her leisure to literature, at first to gratify her own inclinations and subsequently, after her husband had lost the greater part of his fortune, to add to her income. She soon attained a reputation that secured for her books a ready sale. In her posthumous “Letters of Life” (1866) she enumerates forty-six distinct works, wholly or partially from her pen, besides more than 2,000 articles in prose and verse that she had contributed to nearly 300 periodicals. Several of her books also attained a wide circulation in England, and they were also much read on the continent. She received from the queen of the French a handsome diamond bracelet as a token of that sovereign's esteem. Her poetry is not of the highest order. It portrays in graceful and often felicitous language the emotions and sympathies of the heart, rather than the higher conceptions of the intellect. Her prose is graceful and elegant, and is modelled to a great extent on that of Addison and the Aikins, who, in her youth, were regarded as the standards of polite literature. All her writings were penned in the interest of a pure morality, and many of them were decidedly religious. Perhaps no American writer has been more frequently called upon for gratuitous occasional poems of all kinds. To these requests she generally acceded, and often greatly to her own inconvenience. But it was not only through her literary labors that Mrs. Sigourney became known. Her whole life was one of active and earnest philanthropy. The poor, the sick, the deaf-mute, the blind, the idiot, the slave, and the convict were the objects of her constant care and benefaction. Her pensioners were numerous, and not one of them was ever forgotten. During her early married life, she economized in her own wardrobe and personal luxuries that she might be able to relieve the needy, while later in her career she saved all that was not absolutely needed for home comforts and expenses for the same purpose. Her character and worth were highly appreciated in the city that for more than fifty years was her home. She never left it after her marriage, except when in 1840 she visited Europe, a record of which journey she published in “Pleasant Memories of Pleasant Lands” (Boston, 1842). During her residence abroad two volumes of her poems were issued in London. Besides the foregoing and an edition of poetical selections from her writings, illustrated by Felix O. C. Darley (Philadelphia, 1848), her books include “Traits of the Aborigines of America,” a poem (Hartford, 1822); “Sketch of Connecticut Forty Years Since” (1824); “Letters to Young Ladies” (New York, 1833; 20th ed., 1853; at least five London eds.); “Letters to Mothers” (1838; several London eds.); “Pocahontas, and other Poems” (1841); “Scenes in My Native Land” (Boston, 1844); “Voice of Flowers” (Hartford, 1845); “Weeping Willow” (1846); “Water-Drops,” a plea for temperance (New York, 1847); “Whisper to a Bride” (Hartford, 1849); “Letters to My Pupils” (New York, 1850); “Olive Leaves” (1851; London, 1853); “The Faded Hope,” a memorial of her only son, who died at the age of nineteen (1852); “Past Meridian” (1854); “Lucy Howard's Journal” (1857); “The Daily Counsellor,” a volume of poetry (Hartford, 1858); “Gleanings,” from her poetical writings (1860); and “The Man of Uz, and other Poems” (1862).  Appletons’ Cylocpædia of American Biography, 1888.


SIMMONS, George Frederick, 1814-1855, Unitarian clergyman, active opponent of slavery

(Appletons’, 1888, Vol. V, p. 532)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

SIMMONS, George Frederick, clergyman, b. in Boston, Mass., 24 March, 1814; d. in Concord, Mass., 5 Sept., 1855. He was graduated at Harvard in 1832, and, after being employed as a private tutor, prepared for the ministry at Cambridge divinity-school, where he completed his course in 1838. He was ordained the same year as an evangelist of the Unitarian denomination, and at once went to Mobile, Ala., where he began his ministry. Owing to his decided opposition to slavery, he remained there only until 1840, when he was obliged to fly for his life, and barely escaped the fury of a mob. In November, 1841, he was ordained pastor of the Unitarian church at Waltham, Mass. Meantime he had become deeply interested in certain theological questions which he felt he could not solve while engaged in pastoral work, and so resigned in the spring of 1843 and sailed for Europe, where he remained until October, 1845, spending most of the time at the University of Berlin, and being brought much in contact with the German historian, Neander. In Febrnary, 1848, he was called to Springfield, Mass., as the successor of Dr. William B. O. Peabody. Here, while he was greatly admired by part of his congregation, others regarded him with less favor, and in 1851 he was compelled to resign, after preaching two sermons on a riotous assault that had been made in the town on George Thompson, the English anti-slavery apostle. In January, 1854, he was installed pastor of a church at Albany, N. Y., but in the summer of 1855 he was attacked by typhus fever, from the effects of which he never rallied. Mr. Simmons was distinguished by an acutely philosophical mind, a strong sense of right, and a thoughtful and reverent spirit. “I knew him well,” said his classmate, Samuel Osgood, “loved him much, and respected him even more.” He was retiring in his habits, and his somewhat unsocial nature was no doubt an obstacle in the way of his exercising a proper influence on his flock. He published “Who was Jesus Christ?” a tract (Boston, 1839); “Two Sermons on the Kind Treatment and on the Emancipation of Slaves, preached at Mobile, with a Prefatory Statement” (1840); “A Letter to the So-Called ‘Boston Churches’” (1846); “The Trinity,” a lecture (1849); “Public Spirit and Mobs,” two sermons delivered at Springfield on the Sunday after the Thompson riot (1851); and “Faith in Christ the Condition of Salvation” (1854). Six of his sermons were published in one volume soon after his death (Boston, 1855). Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. V, pp. 532.


SIMS, Thomas M.

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

On the 3d of April of the same year, Thomas Sims was arrested on a warrant issued by Commissioner Curtis, under the direction of Marshal Tukey. In the Shadrach case the Board of Aldermen and Common Council had authorized the city marshal, under the instructions of the mayor, whenever he should be informed by a public officer of the State or the United States that there was danger that he would be obstructed in the performance of his official duties, to use the police force to support the laws and maintain the public peace. It was, however, no part of the duty of the police-officer to arrest fugitive slaves. But Marshal Tukey stated to the committee of the Massachusetts Senate that he made the arrest under the instructions of the mayor, to preserve the peace of the city, for the reason that the United States officers were such bunglers they could not catch a slave without exciting a riot. Sims was arrested under the false pretense of having committed a theft, was taken to the court-house, and there put under guard. Intelligence of the arrest rapidly spread over the city, and fears were entertained that the prisoner would be remanded without an opportunity for defence. Indeed, Samuel E. Sewall, was actually committed to the watch-house by Assistant United States Marshal Patrick Riley, for simply making an inquiry in regard to the trial. The court-house was surrounded with heavy chains, and a strong police force was put upon duty. The judges of the Supreme Court, on their way to their seats of justice, were compelled to bow as they passed under these heavy chains. Chief Justice Wells, of the Court of Common Pleas, instituted an inquiry in regard to the obstructions put around the building; and Marshal Tukey condescended to allow persons having business with the courts to raise the chain, so that they and the judge might pass under without stooping. Hardly ever had power been more arrogant, and never had the humiliation of the citizens of Boston been more complete.

Sims was claimed by James Potter of Georgia. Seth J. Thomas appeared as counsel of claimant, while Charles G. Loring and Robert Rantoul, Jr., lawyers of eminent ability, volunteered their services for the defence of the prisoner, and, in connection with Samuel E. Sewall, conducted the case with great zeal and skill. Attempts were made to bring the case, by a writ of habeas corpus, before the Supreme Court; and the application was argued by Mr. Rantoul in an effort pronounced by friends and foes as one of the very highest order. But it was refused. A similar application was also made to Judge Sprague; but it was refused. Justice Woodbury, however, granted the application made to him, on the ground that it was a writ of common right. But in the hearing before him Judge Woodbury decided not to remove Sims from the custody of the marshal. Commissioner Curtis overruled all objections, and signed a certificate which returned this trembling victim of personal and public rapacity to the tender mercies of his master.

At five o'clock in the morning he was taken from his cell, placed in the hollow square of three hundred armed policemen, marched to Long Wharf, and put on board the Acorn, a vessel owned by John H. Pierson, a Boston merchant. A body of militia was stationed in Faneuil Hall, ready to render assistance, if required; but their services were not called into requisition, as there were few, other than the members of the ever-watchful and unwearied Vigilance Committee, to witness that mournful procession.

On the arrival of the ship at Savannah, Sims was de livered to an officer, handcuffed, taken to jail, and whipped. After being kept in a close cell for two months he was sent to a slave-pen at Charleston, and thence to a slave-pen at New Orleans. He was then sold to a brick-mason of Vicksburg, whence he escaped in 1863 to the besieging army of General Grant, who gave him transportation to the North.

During this trial several public meetings were held. The next day after the arrest there was one on Boston Common, which was addressed by Wendell Phillips. At an adjourned meeting in the evening, at Tremont Temple, an address of great vigor and severity was delivered by Theodore Parker. Five days afterward there was a convention at the same place of all persons opposed to the Fugitive Slave Act. The hall was crowded to its utmost capacity and the deepest feeling was manifested. Horace Mann presided. He opened the meeting by expressing his “unspeakable humiliation and regret" at the scenes then transpiring in Massachusetts. He called upon the people to continue, in all constitutional modes, their opposition to the oppressive statute. He closed by saying: "It has been asked why we are assembled here to-day, and not in the hall consecrated to Liberty. It is because its doors have been closed to Liberty, knocking for admission. But then there is a melancholy propriety in this. When the court-house is in chains, Faneuil Hall may well be dumb."

Speeches were made by John G. Palfrey, Stephen C. Phillips, Anson Burlingame, Henry Wilson, John C. Park, Charles M. Ellis, Thomas W. Higginson, and others. Resolutions were adopted declaring that the Fugitive Slave Act ought to be immediately and forever repealed; that it was impossible to aid by word or deed in remanding a fugitive slave to bondage without aiding to rob him of an inalienable right, without participating in the act of holding him in slavery, without sinning against Christianity and against God. On the evening of that day, another and a distinct meeting was held in the same place for a like purpose. Eloquent addresses were made by Wendell Phillips, William Henry Charming, and others. On the day in which Sims was delivered up, a meeting was held in Washington Hall, which was addressed by William Lloyd Garrison, Wendell Phillips, and Edmund Quincy. On the same day, in several of the neighboring towns, the bells were tolled and public meetings were held, in which the fugitive Slave Act and the perpetrators of the atrocities committed under it were severely criticised and condemned.

The legislature of Massachusetts was then in session. In the Senate Edward L. Keyes presented the petition of Sims, setting forth the circumstances of his case. On motion of Frederick Robinson, a committee was appointed to inquire whether the freedom of any of the inhabitants was endangered through the remissness of any of its officers, and if any law for the security of personal liberty had been violated by the officers of the city of Boston or of the Commonwealth. Several sessions were held, many witnesses examined, and a large number of facts elicited, which were embodied in the report of the committee. That report, setting forth the manner in which the laws of the State had been violated by Sheriff Eveleth of Boston, Mayor Bigelow, and Marshal Tukey, concluded with a recommendation that the mayor should not have power to call out the militia during the session of the legislature, or that of the governor's council, or when the governor was in the city ; and that the act of 1843 should be extended to all persons holding any office created or existing under any of the statutes of the Commonwealth. But the legislature failed to enact these measures.

Source:  Wilson, Henry, History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, Vol. 2.  Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1872, 333-337.


SIPKINS, Henry, 1788-1838, African American, writer, orator, community activist.  Wrote pamphlet, “An Oration on the Abolition of the Slave Trade,” in 1809. 

(Basker, 2005, pp. xii-xiii, 276-295)


SLADE, William, 1786-1859.  Governor of Vermont.  U.S. Congressman from Vermont (Whig party).  Submitted numerous anti-slavery petitions to Congress, December 1837.  Opposed the “Gag Rule,” which sought to impose restrictions on submission of petitions against slavery to Congress.

(Dumond, 1961, pp. 243-245, 295; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. V, p. 547; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 9, Pt. 1, p. 203)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

SLADE, William, governor of Vermont, b. in Cornwall, Vt., 9 May, 1786; d. in Middlebury, Vt., 18 Jan., 1859. He was graduated at Middlebury college in 1807, studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1810, and began practice at Middlebury. He was a presidential elector in 1812, and in 1814-' 15 published and edited the “Columbian Patriot” in connection with bookselling and job-printing, but was not successful. In 1815 he was elected secretary of state, which office he held eight years, and in 1816-'22 he was judge of the Addison county court. He was afterward state's attorney for the same county. Mr. Slade was clerk in the state department at Washington from 1823 till 1829, when he resumed the practice of law in Middlebury. He was a member of congress in 1831-'43, in 1844 was reporter of the supreme court of Vermont, and in 1844-'6 served as governor of that state. In 1846-'56 he was secretary of the National board of popular education. He published “Vermont State Papers” (Middlebury, 1823); “The Laws of Vermont to 1824” (Windsor, 1825); Reports of the Supreme Court of Vermont, Vol. XV.” (Burlington, 1844); and pamphlets and congressional speeches. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. V, pp. 547.  


THE SLAVE-HOLDER (1830-1860)

In a region like the south, engaged in one main industry, and that the cultivation of a staple crop, with crude labor and appliances, a simple social organization might have been predicted. On the contrary, there was a remarkable complexity of social units, including at least five different strata of the white race. At the top of the social pyramid stood the slave-holder, for in the slave he possessed the one tool which produced a surplus, and he also owned the large areas of land upon which that tool could be employed. This privileged class was small in proportion to the whole population. Out of 12,500,000 persons in the slave-holding communities in 1860, only about 384,000 persons, or one in thirty-three, was a slave-holder. These figures, often quoted in arguments against slavery, are somewhat deceptive. Since the property of a family was commonly vested in a single person, the true proportion would be about 350,000 white families out of perhaps 1,800,000; leaving out of account the white moutaineers, a fourth to a fifth of the white families in the slave-holding sections had a property interest in slaves. A counter-correction must now be made:  about 77,000 owners had only one slave apiece, and 200,000 more owned less than ten slaves each; while only 2300 families owned as many as a hundred slaves. Samuel Hairston, of Virginia, the largest slave-owner of the time, had 1700 slaves and control of 1000 more.1

Out of 9,000,000 whites in 1860, certainly not more than 500,000 persons made a substantial profit out of slave-keeping; within that privileged number a body of about ten thousand families was the ruling south in economics, social and political life. The great names in southern public life, such as the Butlers, Barnwells, Hayneses, Brookses, Pinckneys, Rutledges, and Hamptons, of South Carolina; the Lees, Masons, Harrisons, Tylers, and Wises, of Virginia; the Polks, Breckinridges, and Claibornes, of the west, were borne by members of families holding from fifty slaves up. The Drayton mansion, near Charleston, the fine old houses of Athens, Georgia, and such stately abodes as the Johnson-Iredell house at Edenton, still bear witness to a bygone generous life and profuse hospitality which impressed the visitor with the wealth and breeding of the south. g Yet, outside of the southern cities and their neighborhood, large houses were few and

1 Chambers, Am. Slavery and Colour, 194.

2 Smedes, Memorials of a Southern Planter, 34. 

a stately life difficult to maintain.1 The general tendency was to enlarge the large plantations by putting the profits of cotton, raised by slave labor, into more cotton lands requiring more slave hands; and this process prevented an accumulation of wealth in buildings and estates.

The well-to-do planters travelled widely and went to the cities in winter, and made the Virginia Springs, 2 Newport, and Saratoga, ports of summer entry. Many of the lowland plantations were unhealthy a good part of the year, and their owners formed a small but recognized class of absentee landlords. Even in these cases the owner felt a personal responsibility for the plantation and its inhabitants. Though masters sometimes hired out the whole body of their slaves, corporations very rarely owned slaves, and in the few cases recorded appear to have found the system unprofitable to them.

These great planters, everywhere accepted as the characteristic men of the south, were seconded by a far greater class of small, unprosperous, and unprogressive slave-holders. No writer saw so much of them as Olmsted, who gives us an unpleasant account of their poor houses, unwholesome food, and lack of comfort, thrift, and refinement. They lived

1 Martineau, Society in America, I., 216 et seq.; Page, The Negro, 168.

2 Martineau, Society in America, I., 175-193; Featherstonhaugh, Excursion, chapters ii.-v.

in groups of buildings still familiar to travellers in the south, a congeries of house, kitchen, servants' quarters, storehouses of various kinds, and stabling for the animals.1 It seems unaccountable that, in a country abounding with vegetables and capably of growing many kinds of grain, people who were able to control ten, twenty, or more laborers should have been satisfied with the hog and hominy and discomfort of the frontier. In some cases they were restrained by the feeling expressed by a planter in Florida: "My old woman and I could be much more comfortable if we were not hampered by fifteen negroes...but it would be such a distress and ruin of the poor things if we rid ourselves of them." 2 Such planters lived worse and had fewer opportunities for their children than many a day-laborer in the north; though occasionally you found "a perfectly charming little back woods farm house, good “wife, supper and all.'' 3

Among the owners of one or more slaves were the professional men. Since white house-servants were almost unknown, it was necessary either to hire from slave-owners or to buy one's own cook or coachman. A slave was not an uncommon present to young people setting up housekeeping; many ministers were slave-holders, and Bishop Polk, of

1 Olmsted, Back Country, 58-61; Olmsted, Seaboard Slave States, 329, 384-386, 559-563; Murray, Letters, 229.

2 Murray, Letters, 229. 

3 Olmsted, Seaboard Slave States, 393.

Louisiana, owned about four hundred and was a notably good master. Clergy, lawyers, physicians, college professors, and the few scientific men were, for the most part, members of slave-holding families, and were completely identified with the great slave-holders in maintaining the institution.

In some parts of the south, notably the Border States, existed a class of white farmers, working their own land and accepted as equal members of the community by the neighboring slave-holders; from such a family sprang Henry Clay. Some of them were the descendants of German settlers in the valley of Virginia; 1 a few of them were northerners who had come across the border. Another class of whites who had little relation to slavery was a few laborers, mostly foreigners, found especially in the cities, though several travellers noticed Irish laborers working as deck-hands, or even in ditching operations. 2 In a few cities, notably New Orleans and St. Louis, there was a permanent foreign population furnishing mechanics and small shop-keepers, and a few thousand poor whites were attracted into the cotton- mills. 3

The general attitude of the south was unfavorable to immigration, either from the north or from foreign countries. The whole state of North Carolina, in 1860, had but 3289 foreign-born residents; and,

1 See Paulding, Letters from the South, I., 91, 107.

2 Olmsted, Seaboard Slave States, 550, 612; Russell, My Diary North and South, I., 395.

3 See chap. iv., above.

outside of the border states of Missouri and Maryland, the only two communities having any considerable number of foreign residents were Louisiana, where there were Germans, Irish, and a few Italians; and Texas, in which there was a vigorous and successful German colony 1 In the southwest was a large population of French descent, and a still larger body of Mexicans in Texas. Chinese coolies were repeatedly suggested, but none appear to have been imported.2

Below the slave-holders were the poor whites, who were subdivided into several elements, of which the most distinct were the mountain whites and the lowland whites. At the end of the eighteenth century some thousands of Scotch-Irish settlers established themselves in western Pennsylvania; thence the more adventurous pushed their way southwestward into the numerous parallel chains of the Appalachian mountain system, reinforced by direct contingents from western Virginia and North Carolina. As time went on the fertile valleys within the mountain ranges grew too scant for the population, and the rising generation was pushed back into the remoter valleys and coves of the mountains, cut off from the main currents of travel, living on corn grown on the hill-sides, and hams and bacon made from the swine that ran half wild among the settlements. 

1 Olmsted, Texas Journey, passim.

2 Adams, Southside View, 142; Olmsted, Seaboard Slave States, 483.

These people deteriorated, and by 1830 numbered more than a million, scattered through eastern Kentucky and Tennessee, western Virginia and the Carolinas, northern Georgia and Alabama.

Among the mountain whites slavery was almost unknown, and there was more prejudice against the slave-holder than against the negroes. In Virginia and South Carolina the state constitution gave them fewer representatives in proportion to the white population than was given to the tide-water slaveholding counties; elsewhere they voted on equal terms with the lowlanders, but never dreamed of controlling the state government. Contemporaries noticed their large families of flaxen-haired children, their rude and uncompromising manners, the illiteracy of people of all ages, the coarse and ill-cooked food, and the log-houses, rude and dirty without and bare and comfortless within. A large proportion of the population lived in one-room houses without a glass window. 1

However little the mountain whites added to the wealth of the south, they were remote from the world's highways and little influenced directly by slavery. It was otherwise with the lowland whites, who were chiefly descendants of low, poor, or vicious English colonists. In some states there were quite distinct groups living in a district by themselves, as the Piney-woods people of Mississippi, the

1 Buckingham, Slave States, II., 153-167, 198-200; Olmsted, Back Country, 230-232; Berea Quarterly, IX., No. 3 and passim.

Pine-landers and Crackers of Georgia, the Clay-eaters of South Carolina, and the Sand-hillers of the Carolinas. 1 Land was everywhere cheap and plenty; it was easy, too, to get the logs from which the few necessary buildings of a homestead could be erected. Like the mountain whites, they had some rugged virtues, such as personal honesty, a spirit of rude hospitality, and devotion to what they thought an ideal; but they lived on just as their fathers and grandfathers had lived, without any accumulation , of property', without schools, without reading, without contact with the outer world. Some of them bought negroes, enlarged their plantations, and eventually rose to the class of prosperous slaveholders; the greater part of them were perfectly contented to live at a stand-still. Of the poor whites in 1850, five hundred and fourteen thousand were wholly illiterate. The only one of their own number who tried to arouse them said: "A large portion of our poor white people are wholly neglected, and are suffered to while away an existence in a state but one step in advance of the Indian of the forest." 2

Olmsted, who had been accustomed to observe white laborers, thought the poor white farmers in every way inferior in intelligence, as in physical condition, to the lowest class of northern white laborers. 

1 Olmsted, Seaboard Slave States, 413-416, 514; Kemble, Georgian Plantation, 7 5, 146; Buckingham, Slave States, I., 5 5 ; Bremer, Homes of the New World, I., 365-367; Burke, Reminiscences, 23-28; Smedes, Memorials of a Southern Planter, 113.

2 Helper, Impending Crisis, 377.

Nor did those of them who had the enterprise to leave their homes and push southwest into Arkansas and Texas show much improvement.1 They had few chances, for, aside from the intermittent cultivation of their own farms, there was little occupation for the poor whites: some digging of ore, turpentine farming, hunting--these were their principal occupations; for, throughout the south, the poor whites could very seldom be induced to do field work for their neighbors on any terms. A southern observer said that "two bales of cotton a year is as much as is generally made by people who do not own negroes; they are doing well if they net over fifty dollars a year for their labor, besides supplying themselves with corn." 2

Except for the rivalries between the mountain and lowland ends of the states, the poor white seems hardly to have asked himself whether slavery was or was not a good thing for him, though occasionally a man would own that "slavery is a great cuss, though, I think, the greatest there is in these United States"; "the majority would be right glad if we could get rid of the niggers”; and they all agreed that the negroes, if freed, must be removed from the country. 3 In the thirty years before the Civil War, as the great plantations enlarged, many of the poor whites

1 Olmsted, Back Country, 123, 277, 327, 403, 415, 418;

2 Olmsted, Texas Journey, 15, 277. 2 Olmsted, Back Country, 328.

3 Ibid., 203, 1239, 259; Olmsted, Seaboard Slave States, 572.

thus pushed out simply settled again somewhere in the lowlands. A drift into the newer parts of the country brought a large µumber of poor whites across the Ohio River into southern Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, carrying with them a dislike of the negro and a laggard interest in education and progress. In this environment they improved, and there were great potentialities in a strain which could produce an Abraham Lincoln.

One of the perplexing things in human history is that these people, who owned no slaves, who received nothing of the profits of slave labor, and who were put out of the pale of slave-holding society, should have accepted with so little question the leadership of the slave-holders, and should have demanded so little for themselves and their children out of the surplus produced by slavery. Helper's burning appeal to the poor whites for "No co-operation with Slaveholders in Politics-No Fellowship with them in Religion-No Affiliation with them in Society" 1 -met with no response. The planters looked down upon their neighbors; 2 and even the slaves of a master of social distinction were likely to think themselves better than "Po' white trash."

After the decay of the system of white indentured servants, it was a legal principle in every southern state that every white child was born free, remained free, and could not by any possibility become a slave.

1 Helper, Impending Crisis, 156.

2 Smedes, Memorials of a Southern Planter, 67.

There are, however, some curious instances of white persons detained for a long time on the ground that they were of African blood. Thus in 1843 a German: named Salome Muller brought a successful suit in Louisiana against persons who had kept her in slavery for twenty-five years.1 On the other hand, persons outside the white race might legally hold negroes in bondage; the Indians were inveterate slave-holders 2--indeed, the reception of negro runaways by the Seminoles was the prime cause of the eight-year Seminole War.3

Still stranger, a negro, if he acquired freedom either by manumission or by purchasing himself, could hold property, including slaves. Such a man was then likely to buy his own family, and, unless he went through a formal process of manumission, they thereby legally became his slaves; and there are cases on record where, at the death of such an owner, his children became liable for his debts. In such instances the legislature commonly came to the rescue.4 A more common case was that of free negroes, mostly descendants of the favored children of Frenchmen or Spaniards in Louisiana and Texas, who had inherited property, including slaves. The anomaly struck one slave, who protested that "One

1 Jay, View, 69-73; Olmsted, Back Country, 90; Cable, Strange True Stories of La., 145-191.

2 Southern Literary Messenger, XXVIII., 333-335.

3 Giddings, Exiles of Florida, chap. vi. 

4 Atlantic Monthly, LVII., 27; Olmsted, Seaboard Slave States, 126; Brackett, Negro in Maryland, 168.  

has no business to sarve another; it's bad enough to have to sarve a white man without being paid for it, without having to sarve a black man." Such owners had a bad reputation for cruelty to their own slaves.1

Although in 1830 no person could be born into slavery north of Mason and Dixon's line, slavery and the incidents of slavery continued to exist in most of the free-states. In Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts no permanent slaves appear; in Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, the census of 1830 shows a total of about twenty-seven hundred slaves; and in 1850 New Jersey still counted two hundred  and thirty-six: All the northwestern states except Michigan contained a few slaves in 1840, in part old slaves held previous to 1787, in part persons who had come in previous to 1820 under what were  termed indentures with their masters.2

1 Olmsted, Texas Journey, 386, 397; Brackett, Negro in Maryland, 190.

2 Wis. Hist. Soc., Proceedings, 1892, 82-86; Iowa 'Journal of History, October, 1904, p. 471; Nicolay and Hay, Lincoln, I., 141-146. 

Source:  Hart, Albert Bushnell, Slavery and Abolition. In Hart, Albert Bushnell, ed., The American Nation: A History, Vol. 16, 67-78. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1906.



SLAVERY followed the natural law of every ·vice or disease -of moving towards health or towards dissolution. To denounce it now seems, in the words of a distinguished historian, " like trampling on a grave'' 1; the system is in the limbo of the inquisition and of witchcraft; a generation has sufficed to still much of the passion and hush the arguments which fifty years ago possessed the minds of the great majority of the South and many of the North. They can now only serve to illustrate the extraordinary psychologic aberrations to which the best of men are prone and teach the charity which all of us are so unapt to extend to the opinions of our fellow-man. Its study leads to the feeling that in this instance the mantle of charity cannot be too broad; it needs to be stretched over both North and South. For all slave-owners were not vicious; all anti-slavery men were not enemies or wishers of evil to the South. Nor were all slaves under the incessant application of

1 Goldwin Smith, United States, 221.

the lash; families were not always torn apart, though there were enough such instances to point a moral.

Almost all Americans now agree with Clay's dictum that slavery was "a curse to the master and a wrong to the slave," but the wrongs of the latter had many alleviations, and in the main the great body of negroes in slavery enjoyed the happiness of an ignorant and unprogressive race to which to-day is much more than the morrow. It was a race which in its native land, though in contact with the highest civilizations through thousands of years, had not risen beyond the savagery which enslaved, destroyed, and sacrificed its kind; perhaps the most ancient of mankind, and which has come down to us unchanged through the ages in company with the gigantic and wonderful fauna of its mysterious continent.

Few of the southern blacks of the period of 1860 were far removed from their ancestral state by an interval of more than a hundred and fifty years, a short time in which to change the nature of any race of men; and the traditions also of the old life were kept alive by the steady influx of new African blood, seventy thousand being considered a "very moderate and even low'' estimate of these importations into the United States so late as the decade 1850 to 1860.1 To the credit side of slavery must be placed this transplantation into conditions where the characteristic imitativeness of the race

1 Collins, Domestic Slave Trade, 20. 

had an opportunity. It was the African's one real stepping-stone to better things. Slowly there grew up among all classes of the North the feeling which had always existed among the few, that slavery was an immense wrong. The twenty years from 1835 to 1855, which may be taken as the special period of this growth, saw also, as natural outcome of an attack, the development of a fierce defence, through which the mind of the southern states became almost completely unified in· a belief that slavery was a positive good. This feeling, even of God - fearing, upright, and conscientious people in the South, of whom there was as large a proportion as in the North, is expressed in the reminiscences of a southern lady: "We never raised the question for one moment as to whether slavery was right. We had inherited the institution from devout Christian parents. Slaves were held by pious relatives and friends and clergymen to whom we were accustomed to look up. The system of slave holding was incorporated in our laws, and was regulated and protected by them. We read our Bible and accepted its teachings as the true guide in faith and morals. We understood literally our Lord's instructions to His chosen people and applied them to our circumstances and surroundings." 1 The Old and New Testaments were regarded as impregnable buttresses of their faith and practice, and diligently and triumphantly

1 Clayton, White and Black under the Old Regime, 51.

quoted as full authority for the social regimen of the; the South. 1 This reliance on Biblical authority permeated the South and is epitomized by Alexander H. Stephens in a speech on the Mexican War. "Until Christianity be overthrown, and some other system of ethics be substituted, the relation of master and slave can never be regarded as an offence against the Divine laws." 2

While the slaves enjoyed, on the face of it, none of the essentials of manhood named in the Declaration of Independence, they probably thought very little on the subject, and then vaguely; while the certainty of freedom from want, from care for the future, from many of the demands of the law which touch society in general, went far to make up for the loss of liberty and brought them at least content. That the mass of negroes in the South were not dissatisfied with their condition would appear almost self-evident from the fact that during the four years of civil war none sought to change their condition by insurrection. This was due partly to their affection for their masters, partly to their childlike simplicity of mind and their ignorance and fear of the unknown; all of which last was a portion of the psychical make-up which had in the first instance doomed them to slavery, which continued to hold them in its all-powerful grasp, and is still far from having let go its hold.

1 See Hart, Slavery and Abolition (Am. Nation, XVI.), chap. x. 2 Cong. Globe, 29 Cong., 2 Sess., App., 354.

The fifteen slave-holding states, including Delaware, with 1798 slaves and 19,829 free colored, and Maryland, with 87 ,189 slaves and 83,942 free colored, had, in 1860, a total population of 12,240,000, of whom 8,039,000 were whites, 251,000 free colored, and 3,950,000 slaves. This was a gain of the whole southern population in ten years of 2,627,000 or 27.33 per cent. The slaves advanced in numbers 749,931, or 23.44 per cent., the lowest rate for many decades. The nineteen free states (including Kansas) and seven territories, together with the Federal district, contained 19,201,546 persons (including 27,749 Indians), of whom 18,936,579 were white and 237,218 free colored, a smaller number of the latter, it should be observed, than in the South. The northern increase in the decade was 5,598,603, or 41 per cent.1 The population of the South was thus but little more than two-fifths that of the North. Calhoun foresaw, as did others, that if a struggle was to come it should come early if the South was to have a hope of victory.

The area of the fifteen slave states was 882,245 square miles; of the free, 824,622. But it was clear by 1860 that all the territories would be added to the list of the free states, making a free area of 1,903,204 square miles, or much more than twice the extent of the slave and in this lay the crux of southern discontent. 1

Virginia, in 1790 the most populous of the states,

1 U. S. Eighth Census (1860), Preliminary Report, 5.

with 748,308 people, of whom 293,427 were slaves, had dropped to the fifth place, with 1,596,318 inhabitants, of whom 490,865 were slaves. New York, with but 340,120 in 1790, had in 1860 the first place, with 3,880,735, of whom all but 49,005 were whites: The one state had more than doubled; the other had increased more than ten times. Of the whites, the increase in Virginia had been 137 per cent.; South Carolina, 108; North Carolina, 119; Maryland, 147. Georgia, however, had increased in this period from 520,886 whites to 591,588, a ratio of 11. 18, the only one of the original thirteen states of the South to make a showing in any degree comparable with that of the more important states of the North. In all the border slave states the white population was gaining steadily upon the black. The census of 1810 was the last which showed an increase of the slaves in Maryland; they reached their maximum, 111,502, in 1810, and slowly decreased to 87,189 in 1860; the white population had nearly doubled. The whites in Virginia increased more than twice as fast as the slaves. The ratio of whites to slaves in Kentucky had risen steadily from three-fourths in 1830 to four-fifths in 1860.

The rapid proportionate increase of whites in Missouri should have convinced thoughtful minds that the fierce struggle for the extension of slavery in the territories then included under the name of Nebraska was lost effort, even had it been successful in the first instance. The note of alarm was sounded loudly by De Bow, who nevertheless makes the error of ascribing the decline to the troubles in Kansas instead of to the immigration of foreigners. Between 1851 and 1856 the increase of slaves in Missouri was 12,492, and of whites 205,703; in ten counties adjoining Iowa they had gained 238 against an increase of whites of 31,691; in twenty-five counties the slaves had actually decreased 4412. In 1860 Missouri was nine-tenths white. It is not surprising to have De Bow, who had become eager for disunion, write: “Surrounded on three sides by non-slaveholding communities, can anyone in his right mind expect to see slavery maintain itself in Missouri? Under the present Union the Border States must all in a short time be lost to us. Were the Union at an end, the South would become at once a unit, and continue such for perhaps a century. The terms of a new confederation would secure this. The Union may be and doubtless is on a thousand accounts, very valuable; but let it be understood that this is one of the items of the price that is paid for it.'' 1

The system was a serfdom to both races; to the black chiefly physically only; but a severe mental servitude to the six millions of whites who had no connection with slave-holding and who formed more than three-fourths of the white population of the South. To the vast majority of these people slavery was a complete closure to the higher reaches

1 De Bow's Review, XXIII., 521 (November, 1857).

of social and financial well-being; for white labor would not compete with slave labor, but was relegated to the cultivation of petty farms, from which a bare subsistence was extracted and a peasantry brought into being wretchedly housed, isolated, and living a life which through generations was almost wholly without civilizing influences. In the lowlands this class, by its mere proximity to slave labor, sank to lowest depths of ignorance and unthrift, despised by the negro himself, too isolated to be able to hold his own against the deadening influences of his surroundings, and with no chance of entering into the knowledge of the world, since he was reached by neither book nor schoolhouse.

Scattered over the plains and foot-hills from North Carolina south were not less than two and a half millions of such people, for whom under slavery there was no hope; who had no place in southern polity or society; who aimed at nothing because there was nothing to aim at, and who are only now emerging into the light under the influence of the new industrial world which has risen in their midst. These people, however, were fiercely southern in feeling through the ever-present need of asserting the superiority of their white blood, which was all they had to differentiate them in social consideration from the lowliest black; and it was these men, never owning a slave, or hoping to own one, who, led by the slave-owner, made the military power of the South and fought the fierce and manly fight of the Civil War.

The condition of this great mass was the direct outcome of its segregation from the social organization of the slave-owning class of the South by its isolation through want of roads, through want of schools, through want of interest on the part of the planter in any laboring class but the slave, with whom in the large slave-owning districts the poor whites would not work, and with whom it was not desired to have them work. Where slaves were smaller in number this last difficulty disappeared through a reversal of conditions. On numbers of farms in Virginia, Maryland, and West Virginia, in districts where slaves were few, whites and blacks frequently worked together in good-fellowship and harmony; the owner of hundreds of acres, but of very few-perhaps three or four-slaves, himself a gentleman and perhaps a member of the legislature or justice of the peace, lending a hand in the fields if occasion needed.

In a district larger than the German empire, stretching in the Appalachian region from the northern part of West Virginia into Georgia and Alabama, a great bay of mountain and valley reaching into the heart of the South, a region in which there are thirty-seven peaks higher than Mount Washington, there dwell to-·day over two millions of people whose earlier conditions of isolation was physical and not social, as was that of their lowland brothers of like degree. They are the after-math of the great "crossing," stranded through stopping "to make a crop" to support the family through a coming winter. Their vast region was without roads, without navigable rivers, but with an enchanting scenery of wild and heavily wooded mountains, beautiful brooks, and valleys elevated into one of the most delightful summer climates of the world.

The mountaineer, though his life was necessarily one of a rude half-savagery through its lonely isolation, retained the independence and hardihood of his ancestry. Slavery was almost unknown among these men, and when the war came they took largely the opposite side from that taken by the poor whites of the lowlands, with whom they had nothing in common but poverty. Abraham Lincoln., himself a product of the mountain race and of the lowliest of them, is a startling example of their possibilities under changed opportunities. In his case it was transplantation which gave him growth; but education, enlightenment, and contact with the rest of the world, all of which were for generations denied them, will yet work similar miracles in this great mass. The blood of the people of the Appalachian region is of the best; it is the blood of Boone, of Harrod, of Clark, of the pioneers who gained for us the empire of the West, who under Jackson-himself one of them-won the victory of New Orleans, and under Clark, through the Kaskaskia campaign, enabled our negotiators to make the Mississippi our boundary in 1783; above all, it is the blood of the mighty and heroic man who saved the Union.

Neither would nor could the laborers of Europe, entering our doors by the hundred thousand, bring themselves to a competition with great numbers of slaves, more than the poorer whites bred in the South. Of a foreign-born population of 4,136,175 in 1860, but 118,585 were south of the border slave states. South Carolina had but 9,986; Georgia, 11,671; Alabama, 12,352; Mississippi, 8,588; Louisiana, 81,029, and Texas, 43,422. Missouri had nearly as many (160,541) as all the cotton states together, a fact which itself should have shown the South the impossibility of preserving it a slave state.

Everywhere throughout the South the small farmer was very markedly in the ascendant. In Louisiana there were 10,794 farms under 100 acres to 6487 larger, of which but 1532 were plantations of over 500 acres, and but 371 really great plantations of over 1000 acres. In Georgia 31,482 out of 53,897 farms were less than loo acres, and there were but 902 places of over 1000 acres, though 1000 acres of fair land could be readily bought for $5000, and frequently for much less.

While the South was so strictly agricultural, the low value of slave labor became apparent in results. It produced in 1860, in comparison with the North but one-eightieth the cheese, one-fourth the wheat, one-fifth the oats, one-tenth the hay. On the other hand, it produced somewhat more than half the Indian-corn, two-thirds the swine, five-sixths the tobacco, all the cane sugar (40,000,000 pounds of maple -sugar were produced in the North), and all the cotton. But the hay alone brought more money to the northern farmer than did cotton, sugar, and tobacco combined to his fellow-farmer of the South.

There was a like great difference in the manufactures of the two sections. Taking the more important industries in the two sections about to be formed-the Southern Confederacy of eleven states and the remaining twenty-three states of the Union in 1861 - the relative values of production, North and South, were (in millions): agricultural implements, 16, against 1.5; iron (pig and other), 39, against 2.5; steam machinery, 43, against 4; iron-founding, 26, against 2.5; coal, 19, against .5; lumber, 78, against 18; flour and meal, 193, against 30; cotton goods, 108, against 7; woollen goods, 68.5, against 2.5; leather, 59, against 4; boots and shoes, 86, against 2.75. The North, in these industries, the most important in sustaining the demands of a great war, was thus producing at its outbreak to the value of 735.5 million, against 75.5 of the South. In the great aggregate of manufactures, the value of productions of the two sections stood $1,730,330,000 in the North, against $155,531,000 in the eleven southern states of the coming Confederacy.

The enormous disproportion of two and a half times the fighting men, and a manufacturing productivity eleven times as great, showed, had it taken time to think, a hopeless outlook for the South should its contention end in war. A close blockade, such as was to come, could only mean death to Confederate aspirations. The facilities for interior transportation were also greatly disproportionate; the Southern Confederacy contained 8947 miles of the total 31,196 of the railways of the whole Union; nearly all of this, both North and South, was east of the Mississippi; the North had about three times as much mileage per square mile as the South.1 

The great importance of cotton rested not so much in its money value as in the fact that it was the principal export of the United States and the main basis of supply both to Europe and America. Of the cotton consumed by the mills of Great Britain, continental Europe, and the United States in the five years ending August 31, 1860, the growth of the South supplied an average of 8.23 per cent.2 Two-thirds of the values exported from the United States were thus from the South. The North had not as yet become a very great exporter of food stuffs or manufactures, but sent quantities of both to the South, to be paid for chiefly by the income from cotton. In 1855, excluding specie, the total

1 U. S. Eighth Census (1860), passim.

2 Shepperson, Cotton Facts (ed. of 1904), p. xi.

exports amounted to $192,751,000, of which $67,626,000 were from the North and $125,124,000 from the South, $88,143,000 being in cotton alone. If the cotton in manufactures exported by the North be added (400,000 bales valued at $2,000,000), the value of cotton exported would have exceeded the total values exported by the North by $13,000,000. There was thus much ground for the belief of the South that cotton was king. It was difficult for anyone to understand how it would be possible for the spinning world to get on without its American supply, how the United States could manage its foreign exchanges without the eighty to a hundred millions balance supplied by cotton, or how the northern farmer or manufacturer could withstand the loss of his southern market; for the North not only clothed the South, supplied its furniture and agricultural implements, but in a very considerable degree supplied the food, the large planters finding it cheaper to buy supplies for the slaves in the northern markets than to raise it at home.

The impression of some writers of southern birth that there was in the southern county towns a decided anti-slavery sentiment and sense of rivalry to the planters has little or no basis. The anti-slavery sentiment, instead of increasing, had diminished. A strong pro-slavery sentiment existed among men who had no personal interest whatever in slavery by reason of ownership of slaves; nor does there appear, from the census records at least, that there had been such considerable growth of "handsome and fairly enterprising and prosperous county towns." 1 The census of 1860 could find only fifteen in Alabama worth mentioning, and of these nine had less than a thousand inhabitants, dwindling to as few as 117. But two towns in Arkansas rose in degree above the merest villages, one having only eighty people, Of the thirty-six " cities and towns" in Georgia, seventeen were of the same insignificant character; Louisiana had but three towns of over two thousand population, besides New Orleans (including Algiers) and its capital, Baton Rouge. All but five of the towns enumerated in Mississippi were small villages. It was the same in North and South Carolina, the latter state having but three towns, besides Charleston, of over one thousand population, and neither of these three having as many as seventeen hundred. Virginia, as is well known, was a state of petty villages, the locale of the court-house having often so slight a population that it had no other popular designation, and the census notes places in this state with as few as thirty-nine people.

It is of great importance that there should not be a false impression of the economic and social conditions of the South of that period. The usual descriptions of southern life presented a glamour of general well-being and luxury, an impression of

1 Burgess, Civil War and Constitution, I., 29.

constant house-to-house visiting, a life of feudal dignity and impressiveness, all this pictured by pens guided by minds much too imaginative and far from the rather prosaic facts. Some of the southern estates had handsome houses, a considerable degree of comfort, and, in comparatively rare cases, luxury. The life of the largest establishments was, in the main, of a somewhat rude plenty, with abundant service, and the horses and carriages, without which the life would have been imprisonment. Along with this there was the hospitality to their kind which such a life naturally demands. But it was not a life of ease even to the master and still less to the mistress. The latter supervised the clothing, the doctoring, the nursing of a great family, sometimes of hundreds, of a people who never grew out of childish ways and simplicity. The master had an overseer, and his province was mainly the fields, but the master's wife was a woman of many and varied burdens, whose life was as far as possible from frivolity and ease; and the greater the estate the greater the burdens. There was a spirit of self-sacrifice and acceptance of the hard duties of the situation, a serious recognition of obligation to the childlike race committed to their care, for which the women of the South should have the highest meed of praise. It was the cultivation of a noble life, and made the brightest side of slavery.

How few were the well-to-do is shown by the fact that only 10,781 families held as many as 'fifty or more slaves in 1860, and these may, without great error, be taken as representing the number of the larger productive estates of the South. The great plantations in rice, cotton, or sugar were held by the 1733 owners of as many as 100 slaves. Of the 52,128 slave-holders in Virginia, one-third held but one or two slaves; half held one to four; there were but 114 persons in the whole state who owned as many as 100 each, and this out of a population of over a million whites. 1 On the supposition that each slave-holder in the Union represented a family of five persons, there were in the whole South in 1860 less than two million persons, old and young, directly interested in slavery through ownership, as against over six million whites who had no slave property or interests, and whose own interest it would be supposed would be felt to be directly antagonistic to the system through competition in all branches of labor and through the social inferiority, that most galling of feelings to the American man, and more especially to the American woman, which non-ownership of slaves involved. Even a South Carolina journal, itself of secessionist views, could quote the following with approval from another paper of the same state: "The white mechanic is forced to eke out half a living beside the sturdy negro who fattens upon a price for his labor at which a white man cannot work with anything like

1 See estimates in Hart, Slavery and Abolition (Am. Nation, XVI.), chap. v.  

an effort to maintain the distinction to which he should aspire. He is not only forced to labor for the same remuneration as the slave mechanic,  but oftentimes finds difficulty in securing work enough to keep him employed on account of the plenitude of negro mechanics and the accommodating terms upon which they may be obtained." 1

That this body of three-fourths the white men of the whole South should have fought stubbornly for four years to fasten more completely bonds which restricted them to every inferiority of life is one of the extraordinary facts of history. It was a disfranchised population almost as fully as the negro, in so far as any part in the higher and directive life of the country was concerned. No one of them ever appeared in any office of importance unless returned from the sections where slavery had slight hold. But this was no small part of the South; in the counties of Virginia now forming West Virgini4, with a population of 376,886 (about one third that of the entire state), there were but 18,497 slaves, of whom 11,235 were in the nine counties bordering on what is now Virginia. The northwestern part of the state, with a white population of 175,006, had but 1797 slaves, or one to every loo- whites. The eastern parts of Tennessee and Kentucky, the western region of North Carolina and northern Georgia, while not so marked, were

1 Edgefield Advertiser, January 18, 1860, quoting Camden (S.C.) Journal.

akin to this in conditions. In fact, West Virginia and parts of the states just mentioned had, as had Delaware, the attributes practically of free states.

The decayed and decaying agriculture of Virginia and of North and South Carolina caused, particularly from the last two, a great drift of owners and negroes to the cotton belt. It is a common error, however, to suppose that white Virginians went farther south in great numbers. Nearly four hundred thousand persons born in Virginia were, in 1860, living in other states, and only 68,341 had come in to offset this loss; only about fifty thousand had gone south. The chief migration from Virginia was to Ohio, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, and Indiana; there were 75,874 in Ohio alone. South Carolina, with her meagre 276,868 people, had living in other states 193,389 of her sons and daughters, 50,112 in Georgia, 45,185 in Alabama, and 26,577 in Mississippi. South Carolina was, in fact, a decaying, or at least a stationary, state; the 237,440 whites of 1820 had only become 291,388 in 1860, and the emigrants to states farther south carried their slaves with them.

The trade in negroes was great and continuous from all the more northern slave states. Kentucky and Tennessee furnished largely, sometimes many, sometimes fewer; the drift from Maryland and Virginia was continuous and on a large scale. Niles, always conservative and trustworthy, says: "The march of the slaves is south, south. Already they may be said to have crossed the Potomac-for in Maryland they are not generally esteemed as a permanent possession, and the sale of them for the supply of the southern 'market' checks their increase in this state. Free white laborers are taking their place in our most flourishing counties; and as some will not sell them, 'runaways' are not so ardently sought for. There is a larger export from Virginia. ‘Old Virginia' has a lessened use for them, new Virginia will not receive them, and Middle Virginia is already pretty well filled with industrious freemen.''

1 Niles' Register, XLV., 180.

Source:  Chadwick, French Ensor, Causes of the Civil War. In Hart, Albert Bushnell, ed., The American Nation: A History, Vol. 19, 17-36. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1906.


THE SLAVE-MARKET (1830-1860)

With very small exceptions the negro slave was absolutely subject to sale at such times, to such persons, and on such terms as pleased his master. The ownership was as absolute as that of a horse or a watch. Although prosperous masters commonly did not sell slaves, the threat of being "sent down the river" for bad conduct was often realized; and able-bodied slaves who began to lose their vigor and vitality were sometimes sold because no longer profitable as work-hands; or at the death of a master, especially if the estate went to several heirs, among whom the proceeds had to be divided. There was always an undercurrent of feeling that to part with one's slaves was ignoble; hence the most frequent reason for selling was simply that the master was obliged to realize, either to pay for something that he wanted to buy, or because he was in debt.

Was it true, as charged by the abolitionists, that slaves were bred in the border states for no other purpose than to sell them? Probably the truth was expressed by the Mississippian who said: "A man might not raise a nigger with a well-considered plan to sell him eighteen years after he was born; he might never sell a nigger, but for all that, it was the readiness with which he could command a thousand dollars for every likely boy he had, if he should ever need it, that made him stay here and be bothered with taking care of a gang of niggers who barely earned enough to enable his family to live decently." 1 The fact ' that some thousands of negroes every year left the border states for the south seemed to show that there was a profit in keeping them alive; but recent investigations seem to establish that the greater' number of these negroes were taken in a body by the men who owned them to settle in other states, and there was no undue proportion of young negroes in the border states such as would have been evident if there had been a definite system of selling the adults.2 In many cases slaves passed simply from vendor to purchaser like fancy stock, but the usual way was to attract buyers by advertisements. Within two weeks there appeared in the columns of sixty four southern newspapers advertisements for the sale of forty-one hundred negroes, besides thirty lots to be sold at auction, as, for example: "PRIVATE '

1 Olmsted, Back Country, 284.

2 Collins, Domestic Slave-Trade, 38, 6r; Olmsted, Seaboard Slave States, 55-59, 278-283; Rhodes, United States, I., 317; Saxe-Weimar, Travels, II., 63; Smedes, Memorials of a Southern Planter, 47-54.

SLAVE-MARKET SALES. Excellent Cook. Will be sold at private sale, a Woman, about 22 years of age, an excellent cook, (meat and pastry) Plain Washer, etc. She is sound and healthy and can make herself generally useful.'' 1

The greater part of the traffic was in the hands of dealers and auctioneers, who acted as middlemen. The common method was for a firm to have a buying-house, with headquarters in the border states, as at Washington or Norfolk; they rode through the country with cash in their pockets, as cattle-buyers rode farther north, and picked up likely negroes wherever they could; the slaves were then brought together in barracoons, or private slave jails, and there kept until a sufficient number had accumulated for a sale or shipment. The slave-traders had no social reward for this useful service; a traveller in a steamer noticed "that the planters on board ... shunned all intercourse with this dealer, as if they regarded his business as scarcely respectable." 2

However despised, the business was profitable. The private sales involved no public exhibition of the merchandise, and in many cases showed some regard to the preference of the slaves. The public sales brought out the worst side of the whole system. The north was shocked by such grouping of human and brute merchandise as: "SHERIFF'S SALE. I will

1 Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin, 142; Charleston Mercury, July 6, 1857.

2 Lyell, Second Visit, I., 232; cf. Adams, Southside View, 77. VOL. XVI.-9

sell at Fairfield Court House, 2 Negroes, 2 Horses  and 1 Jennet, 1 pair of Cart Wheels, 1 Bedstead, 1 Riding Saddle. Sheriff's Office, Nov. 19, 1852." 1 Nowhere was the repulsiveness of slavery so apparent as in the slave auction-rooms maintained in most southern cities. One spectator saw a woman put upon the block, obviously very ill, who owned to a bad cough and pain in her side, to which the auctioneer replied: "Never mind what she says, gentlemen, I told you she was a shammer. Her health is good enough. Damn her humbug. Give her a touch or two of the cow-hide, and I'll warrant she will do your work. Speak, gentlemen, before I knock her down." 2 Another was shocked at the free-and-easy treatment of women: "There were some very pretty light mulattoes. A gentleman took one of the prettiest of them by the chin, and opened her mouth to see the state of her gums and teeth, with no more ceremony than if she had been a horse." 3 Another was struck by the offer of “a woman still young, and three children, all for $850." Another was startled to see a negro baby sold on the block without its mother, but was preternaturally reassured when told by a slave-holding friend that "nothing of the kind ever took place before to our knowledge.'' 4

1 Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin, 134.

2 Hamilton, Men and Manners in America, 317.

3 Bremer, Homes of the New World, II., 204. 'Chambers, Things as they Are in America, 280; Adams, Southside View, 68.

The hateful thing about both public and private sales was the transfer from a kind and indulgent to an unknown and perhaps cruel master. A slave might be, and sometimes was, transferred for a gambling debt, or from mere caprice; or one might see a negro leading a little group of his fellows tied with a rope; or very light and handsome girls were sold to supply the worst of businesses.1 There were cases of the sale of slave preachers, and a story is current that one such was bought by his own congregation.2

Where an estate of slaves was divided among humane people, the slaves were separated into lots equivalent in value to the shares of the various heirs.3 In other cases, branches of the family that had the money bought in as many as possible of the negroes to prevent separation; but the annals of the time contain thousands of instances of the heartless breaking-up of families. "Sixteen children I've had, first and last," said Charity Bowery; "... from the time my first baby was born, I always set my heart upon buying freedom for some of my children,...but Mistress Kinnon wouldn't let me have my children. One after another-one after another she sold 'em away from me. Oh, how many times

1 Thompson, Prison Life, 352; Kemble, Georgian Plantation, 259; Olmsted, Seaboard Slave States, 30; Bremer, Homes of the New World, I., 373. 2 Related to the author by Mr. C. S. McGehee, of Atlanta; cf. Olmsted, Seaboard Slave States, 567.  3 Pickard, Kidnapped and Ransomed, 200.

that woman's broke my heart!" 1 It was no sufficient answer to point out that slave families were not the only ones broken up, and that such accidents must not be remembered against ten thousand acts of kindness. 2 Still more contrary to the ordinary instincts of humanity was the occasional sale of a master's children.3 Some masters abandoned them without a thought; but whatever efforts a humane father might make to secure his own off-spring from the abyss, those very persons might be singled out for the animosity of other children of a more honorable origin. The breaking-up of families was a denial of the principle upon which the community of white persons was founded, and it was practically an acknowledgment that the slave parent had no right even to his own flesh and blood. Slave-holders and ex-slave-holders have condemned the practice as an unpardonable mistake. 4

The price of slaves varied from locality to locality and from decade to decade. In 1798, just after cotton became profitable, $200 was a good price for a field-hand.5 In 1822 the average value, as they ran, was supposed to be about $300. In 1830, $606 was a good price. In 1840, prime cotton hands were worth $1000 or more; and in 1859, at Savannah,

1 Hart, Source Book, 256; other examples in Stuart, North America, II., 56; Thompson, Prison Life, 367; Burke, Reminiscences, 160-162; Botume, First Days among Contrabands, 164.

2 Adams, Southside View, 79, So.

3 Buckingham, Slave States, I., 248; II., 213. 'Wise, End of an Era, 87. 5 Kettell, Southern Wealth, I 30.

prime women sold at $1100 to $1200; men as high as $1300. An eye-witness records the sale of two negro girls, one with a child in her arms, for $3565.1

No such figures could possibly have been obtained in the border slave states had it not been -for the opportunity of selling to other communities; and there was a brisk movement of slaves from north to south. This lively interstate trade bristled with points for the anti-slavery agitators. The traffic was under a sort of ban, especially as the external slave-trade was generally thought unnatural. Though the carrying of slaves by sea from the ports of Maryland and Virginia to South Atlantic and Gulf ports involved no shocking cruelties, the preliminary collection of slaves and their lodgment in the barracoons profoundly affected northern sentiment. In the year 1829, 452 slaves were deposited in the federal prison in Washington, to keep there safe until they could be shipped; and in 1834 a thousand slaves were being shipped from Washington every year. This demand for slaves to be sold south was a setback for the colonization scheme, since in the border states the money value of slaves was too high to make manumission popular. 2 

The overland trade aroused much unfavorable comment: coffles of slaves were not infrequently seen crossing the country from northeast to southwest, "the men chained together in pairs, and the

1 Chambers, American Slavery and Colour, 207.

2 Dew, in Pro-Slavery Argument, 359-362.

women carrying the children in bundles, in their march to the South." 1 Others travelled by steamer$ on the rivers, especially the Ohio, Tennessee, and Mississippi. Louisiana and Mississippi were among the best markets for slaves in this period, and were also on the road to Texas, where many slaves were carried after 1845.

On general principles the federal government had power to regulate the interstate slave-trade, like any other interstate commerce; but such action was violently opposed by the south. The only legal restrictions, therefore, were found in state acts prohibiting importation of slaves for a short term of years, or the importation of slaves of bad character, or convicts. Just how many slaves were transferred from one state to another by this process is hard to estimate; the negroes in Mississippi increased from 32,814 in 1820 to 146,820 in 1840, the greater part of whom must have come from outside. The 300,000 negroes who were in Virginia in 1190 must have had almost a million and a half descendants in 1850, of whom only 470,000 were left in Virginia. In the decade from 1850 to 1860 something like 200,000 left the border states for the lower south.2

Closely akin to purchase and sale was the hiring-out of slaves, which was a transfer of their services

1 Buckingham, Slave States, IL, 553; cf. Featherstonhaugh, Excursion, 46; Sutcliffe, Travels (ed. of 1807), II., 187; Olmsted, Texas Journey, 88; Lincoln, Works, I., 52.

2 Collins, Domestic Slave-Trade, 66.

for a limited time. Some small slave-owners made it a business to hire out all their slaves, both men and women, at rates varying from one hundred to two hundred dollars a year and board, according to the kind of work and skill of the slave. Occasionally contractors and corporations advertised for slaves to be hired out to them. It seems, on the whole, to have been a milder form of servitude. Slaves hiring their own time found the conditions different; for their object was always to earn something more than the sum agreed ·upon with the master, and this was a confession that no pressure could secure from the slave all the labor that he was capable of.1

A frequent purpose of a slave's hiring out his own time was to accumulate enough to buy his freedom; and good-natured masters often put a moderate price upon their chattel for this purpose, or gave to the negro opportunities of extra earnings, in sympathy with his aim. To buy one's self was a task sometimes lasting eight or ten years.2 It was subject to such accidents as the death or forgetfulness of the owner; and a case is recorded where a slave three times saved money enough for his own freedom, and each time was sold regardless of the agreement. 3 As soon as a man was free, he was likely to

1 Buckingham, Slave States, I., 136; Pickard, Kidnapped and Ransomed, 209; Hodgson, Letters from North America, I., III; Olmsted, Seaboard Slave States, 103; Smedes, Memorials of a Southern Planter, 104.

2 Thompson, Prison Life, 333. 3 Pickard Kidnapped and Ransomed, 47; Goodell, Slave Code, 247.

buy his wife and children; and cases are on record where a whole family was thus acquired by the labor and saving of the head.1 

In anti-slavery days a favorite charity was for the friends of a fugitive slave to furnish money for his purchase, though some abolitionists had conscientious scruples at purchasing a slave to set him free.2 Peter Still, a kidnapped freeman who escaped from slavery, actually raised five thousand dollars for the purchase of his wife and three children by going from town to town telling the story of his experience in slavery.3

Most slaves who became free did so by manumission at the hands of their masters, and were the progenitors of the later free negroes. The process of manumission was always restricted; usually the owner must give a preliminary bond to protect the community against the future support of the slave, and. manumission must follow legal forms; in more than one-half of the slave-holding states emancipated slaves must remove from the state. No master could relieve himself from debt or contract obligations by freeing slaves, who might be then subject to attachment by his creditors.4  

In spite of these restrictions, manumissions took

1 Bremer, Homes of the New World, I., 363; Thompson, Prison Life, 275; Child, Life of Isaac T. Hopper, 176-179.

2 Garrisons, Garrison, III., 210; cf. Olmsted, Seaboard Slave States, 15.

3 Pickard, Kidnapped and Ransomed, 313-319, 336. 4 Hurd, Law of Freedom and Bondage, chaps. xvii.-xix.

place in all the slave states, and were frequent in some. The censuses of 1850 and 1860 attempted to. collect statistics on this subject, and the certainly incomplete figures show that in 1850 1467 slaves were manumitted, being one to every 2,181  slaves ; in 1860, 3,018 were manumitted, or one out of every 1,309. In a few cases negroes were set free by the states in which they lived, as a reward for public services.1 Slaves were occasionally set free by masters for some special service or in fulfilment of a promise; and one of the most touching incidents in the history of slavery is that of the slave-trading speculator who bought Charity Bowery, and then said to her: "You've been very good to me and fixed me up many a nice little mess when I've been poorly; and now you shall have your freedom for it and I'll give you your youngest child." 2 In all cases it was common to make an attested statement of the circumstances, a copy of which was retained by the freeman as his "free papers," a precious possession which, unfortunately, could not always protect him. Among the slave-holders who set free all their slaves in their lifetime was John Jay.3 Among those who occasionally rewarded deserving cases...was Henry Clay.

A more common method of manumission was by will, for among the slave-holders many distinguished and high-minded men, for various reasons, could not

1 Livermore, Historical Research, 195-197. 

2 Hart, Source Book, 257.

3 Roberts, New York, II., 483.

bring themselves to set their slaves free in their own  lifetime, but at their death set free the whole body; this number included George Washington, 1 Thomas Jefferson, Chancellor Wythe, and Horatio Gates. John Randolph in his will said: "I give and bequeath to all my slaves their freedom, heartily regretting that I have ever been the owner of one"; 2 This will was finally confirmed, and three hundred persons were thus set free and colonized in Ohio. 3 Another very interesting case was that of John McDonogh, a citizen of New Orleans, who left a large fortune for educational purposes, and, during his life, made elaborate provisions for the training of his slaves, so that they could take care of them-selves, and for their transportation to Liberia.4

It was a prevailing belief in the south that most negroes preferred slavery to freedom; 5 the real sentiments of the blacks were not easy to reach upon this subject, though a few indications are afforded by slaves who became confidential with visitors. "Why, you see, master,'' said one of them, " ... if I was free, I'd have all my time to myself,... I would not get poor, I would get rich; for you· see, master then I'd work all de time for myself.'' 6 As another slave said: '' In the time of the war [of 1812]

1 Washington, Writings (Sparks's ed.), I., 569.

2 Garland, Randolph, II., 150.

3 Life of Benjamin Lundy, 273.

4 Allan, John McDonogh, 44-52, 7 5.

5 Smedes, Memorials of a Southern Planter, 175,

6 Olmsted, Seaboard Slave States, 683.

all were for liberty. Every ball that was shot was for liberty; and I am for liberty too." 1 Some of Randolph's slaves returned to Virginia and asked to be restored to slavery, perhaps on the principle of the Georgia slave who, when asked if he would like to be free, replied: "Free, missis! what for me wish to be free? Oh no, missis, me no wish to be free, if massa only let we keep pig." 2

Undoubtedly there were cases of negroes who preferred shelter and support to responsibility; but the whole trend and tenor of the slave codes rested upon the well-grounded belief that the normal frame of mind of the negro was a desire for freedom; and this belief is supported by the countless instances of fugitives who had no better reason to give for running away than that obstinate desire to be free which the white people counted among their chief claims to the admiration of mankind.

1 Thompson, Prison Life, 297.

2 Kemble, Georgian Plantation, 48.

Source:  Hart, Albert Bushnell, Slavery and Abolition. In Hart, Albert Bushnell, ed., The American Nation: A History, Vol. 16, 123-135. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1906.



That slavery should exist in the United States was an anomaly, for the law of England when the colonies were planted recognized neither chattel slavery nor villeinage. Yet forced labor was not unknown in England: the apprentice must serve his seven years, and take such floggings as his master saw fit; the hired servant must carry out his contract for his term of service; the convicts, often including political offenders, were slaves of the state and sometimes sold to private owners over-seas. The colonists claimed these rights over some of their white fellows, and, in addition, had a large class of "redemptioners," who agreed that their services should be sold for a brief term of years to pay their passage-money, and of "indented" or "indentured" servants brought by their masters under legal obligation to serve for a term of years and subject to the same penalties of branding, whipping, and mutilation as negro slaves.1 These forms of servitude,

1 Butler, in Am. Hist. Rev., II., 12-32; Hart, Contemporaries II.,§ 107; "Diary of John Harrower," in Am. Hist. Rev., VI., 65107.

however, were limited in duration, and transmitted no claim to the servant's children. The presumption of law was always that a white person was free.

 No new community in the midst of virgin soil ever had labor enough to satisfy it, and the English settlers at once began to enslave their Indian neighbors, soothing their consciences with the argument that it was right to make slaves of pagans. Fierce, intractable, unaccustomed to continuous labor, the Indians fled or died in captivity, leaving few of their descendants in bondage. Rather by way of experiment than with any confidence in their usefulness, in 1619 the Virginians began to import African negroes, first from the West Indies; later by a steady direct trade from Africa.1 For a century the trade was small: in I700 there were not more than twenty or twenty-five thousand negro slaves in all the colonies, which was perhaps a twelfth of  the total population; with little sacrifice or disturbance it was still possible to stop the traffic and  to free the inchoate nation from a terrible race and labor problem.

People in these latter days have tried to prove that our ancestors made some effort to check slavery, by calling attention to early prohibitive statutes of Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and to the foundation of Georgia as a free colony; but in Massachusetts

1 Andrews, Colonial Self-Government, chap. xviii.; Greene, Provincial America, chap. xiv. (American Nation, V., VI.).

and Rhode Island these enactments were dead letters, for slaves were imported, sold, and their offspring born in slavery; and the Georgians soon insisted on having slaves like their neighbors. Efforts were, however, made in several of the colonies to restrict the slave-trade, but rarely from humanitarian objections; the colonial statutes were either intended to keep out a dangerous class or to secure some of the profits by laying a tax on the trade. Whatever the reasons, these acts were systematically disallowed by the British government, and the trade went on unrestricted down to the Revolution.  On the ordinary principle that the English statute law, in existence when the colonies were founded, applied to the colonists, slavery would have had no legal standing anywhere in the empire; but in all the colonies local enactments recognized and protected slave property, and criminal statutes established special offences which could be committed only by slaves, 1 and set up special tribunals for the summary trial of slaves. These slave codes, of which many parts lasted till 1865, bear witness to the ever -present danger of negro insurrection, of which there are about twenty -five recorded instances previous to the Revolution, the best known being the so-called New York Slave Plot of 1741, which resulted in the transportation of eighty negroes, the hanging of eighteen whites and negroes,

1 Morgan, Slavery in New York, in Am. Hist. Assoc., Papers, V., 337-346.

and the judicial burning at the stake of thirteen more. Yet at this day it seems probable that the whole thing was simply one of those panics which sometimes sweeps over a whole community.1 Another group of colonial statutes related to fugitive slaves and white servants, many of whom made good their escape into other colonies and there founded free families.2

The contradiction between the English and the colonial law was brought out in 1772 by the famous case of James Somerset, a negro brought by his master from Boston to England; when that master attempted to take him back to America the negro sued for a writ of habeas corpus, which Lord Mansfield allowed on the ground that '' the state of slavery is of such a nature that it is incapable of being introduced oil any reasons, moral or political. It is so odious that nothing can be suffered to support it but positive law."3 In every one of the British colonies in America, however, slavery was legal by positive law when the Declaration of Independence was adopted, and continued unless altered by the later state government. Although slavery thus became the presumptive status of every negro, most of the colonies by law, and all by practice, recognized the existence of free

1 Coffin, Slave Insurrections, 7-16; Horsmanden, 'Journal of Proceedings; Greene, Provincial America (Am. Nation, VI.), 240.

2 MacDougall, Fugitive Slaves, chap. 1.

3 Hurd, Freedom and Bondage, I., 189-191. 

negroes, though security had to be given that freed slaves should not become a public charge. The numerous instances of indented servants who, at the expiration of their service, became free members of the community seems to have had a favorable effect upon the status of free negroes, who were allowed property rights, and in all the colonies except Georgia and South Carolina could vote, provided they had the required property or tax qualification.

Though the legal status of slavery was as firmly established as inheritance of property or private ownership of land, objections to it on moral and ethical grounds were always plenty;1 and during and after the Revolution it lost much of its prestige - because it did not seem to pay. In New England, to hold slaves was, a mark of dignity rather than of profit; in the middle colonies they never rose to more than a twelfth of the population; and in the south the staple crops of wheat, tobacco, indigo, and rice could not give them all profitable employment. The rise of cotton planting and the effect on the industry of the south and on its attitude towards slavery has already been discussed in this series.2 Its chief effect was to intensify the feeling that, whatever its ills, slavery was a fixed, unalterable,-- economic fact-an institution. It was this conviction, rather than the moral objections to slavery,

1 See chap. xi., below.

2 Bassett, Federalist System, chap. xiii.; Turner, New West, chap. iv. (American Nation, XI., XIV.).

which aroused first the attention arid then the antagonism of the north.

The elements of this sectional controversy are simple: the north, from colonial times, both agricultural and commercial, was now becoming also a manufacturing and mining region, while the south still remained almost wholly agricultural. Though by the compromise tariff of 1833 1 the north gave up its contention for permanent protection, the average rate of duties on dutiable articles was still forty per cent, and nearness to the supply gave to the cotton manufacturers of New England and the middle states a great advantage over foreign spinners, so that the cotton factories increased from eight hundred in 1831 to twelve hundred in 1840, and woollen mills increased in like measure. Between 1820 and 1840 most of the considerable water-powers anywhere near tide-water were utilized all the way from Maine to Pennsylvania, as was witnessed by the founding of Lowell and the upbuilding of Nashua, Fall River, Manchester, Paterson, and Cohoes.

 The iron industry also underwent a great change. Until 1838 charcoal and coke were the only fuels for smelting; then anthracite coal came into use, and in 1846 bituminous coal, this opening up immense resources on the upper tributaries of the Ohio. The "pent up Utica" of inventive genuis

1 MacDonald, 'Jacksonian Democracy (America Nation, XV.), chap. ix.

burst forth, machinery for working iron and wood began to be introduced on a large scale, and sewing machinery followed in the following decade. 1 This lively industrialism, repeated in a thousand heretofore unsuspected sources of profit, was almost confined to the northern states and to some parts of the border slave states: they had capital, they had a financial organization to utilize their greater density of population, and higher average wealth; they had a tariff and a home market; they developed their mineral resources, while the immense coal-fields and valuable iron-ore deposits of the south, previous to the Civil War, were utilized only in Virginia and Tennessee. 

The rapid development of the north was not unique: it was what was then going on in England, France, and Germany. The abnormal thing was that a region of great resources and intelligent leaders like the south should have remained for half a century outside the modern economic system, still retaining the provincial conditions of scattered population, little diversified agriculture, and slave labor; while the north had land, ships, mills, forges, mines, rich cities, and a remarkably productive population. Outside of the plantation buildings and moderate accumulations of buildings and stocks of goods in a few cities, the south knew but two forms of wealth, land and slaves. This simple

1 Wright, Industrial Evolution, chaps. x., xi.; Coman, Industrial History, 226-228

industrial system from 1830 to 1860 changed very little, so that a description based on records drawn from any one of the three decades applies fairly to the whole period.

The lands of the south may be classified into four areas, according to their productivity: the rich lowlands of the coasts and the river bottoms; the uplands, including the "black belt," so called from the color of its soil; a more elevated part called barren lands or sand-hills; and the mountains, embracing many fertile valley's and coves. None of these regions were closely settled. From colonial times on, large areas of rich land were constantly being worked out, and, since there was no fertilizer then in use, it must be replaced by breaking new soil on the same plantation or by giving up altogether and moving the slaves to more fertile regions. Tobacco was especially exhausting, and caused fearful destruction of land in Maryland and Virginia. Completely worn - out and abandoned plantations were not uncommon. 1 This system caused the large plantations to grow larger, so that several thousand acres under one hand was not thought remarkable. Some of the planters disliked their poorer white neighbors, and made it a point to buy them out.2 The untilled or exhausted lands reduced the 

1 Olmsted, Seaboard Slave States, 17, 43, 90, 106, 272, 413, 519; Olmsted, Back Country, 19; Olmsted, Texas Journey, 82; Longstreet, Georgia Scenes, 76.

2 Olmsted, Seaboard Slave States, 576; Smedes, Memorials of a Southern Planter, 63, 67.

productive capacity of the soil, so that the census of 1850 showed an average value of land per acre in the south of $5.34 against $28.07 in the middle states.1

There was little scientific agriculture in the south, and little know ledge of the relation of soil to crops ; and the common rotation of com and cotton was deleterious.2 A very general practice was to put in cotton in successive annual crops until the yield would no longer pay for the labor.3 Southern agriculture, therefore, depended upon controlling more land than could be tilled in a single year; and whenever cotton was high and profits consequently large, the temptation was always to put this gain into more land and more slaves. Since intensive cultivation of any kind was hardly known, the south accepted as normal the disadvantages of a thinly distributed population, and looked southwestward for a region where there was virgin soil for new plantations.

Depending for its exports chiefly on slave labor, the south could raise only such staple crops as could be profitably cultivated by rude labor in large gangs. - Tobacco, which had been the wealth of the south in colonial times, was still cultivated, especially in Virginia, Maryland, and Kentucky. The work was

1 U. S. Census, 1850, Compendium, 170.

2 Hammond, Cotton Industry, 85-89.3 Olmsted, Seaboard Slave States, 237; Paulding, Letters from the South, I., 81. 

less severe and less continuous than on cotton; but the crop ceased to be very profitable, and many of the tobacco plantations ran down.1

Rice was cultivated only on islands or the adjacent main-land, which could be irrigated with abundant fresh water, yet be near the sea. The work was hard, the people were plagued with mosquitoes, and, which was the same thing, with deadly malaria, often fatal to both negroes and whites. It was hard to find the necessary combination of tide and river; the building and repairing of the ditches was expensive; and the work was hard and wet, culminating with a watery harvest in the hot September.2

Sugar required more capital than any other crop because of the expensive milling; but it was confined to a small area on a few plantations in Louisiana. Of all slave labor the most exhausting was that of the grinding season, when eighteen hours was thought a day's work; yet it was a favorite time for the negroes, because they enjoyed the special privileges of coming together and of eating the cane and drinking the syrup. 3 The south raised quantities of corn, which was the usual vegetable food of the poor whites, most of whom grew their own food crop. The plantations also raised more or less corn for the food of the

1 Olmsted, Seaboard Slave States, 88-90; Olmsted, Back Country, 337.

2 Burke, Reminiscences, 127-129; Kemble, Georgian Plantation, Olmsted, Seaboard Slave States, 430, 463-475.

3 Olmsted, Seaboard Slave States, 650, 673, 686, 688.

slaves, but immense quantities were imported from the western states, either in the form of shelled corn and corn-meal, or in the products of corn-fed hogs, which supplemented the usual razor-back hams and bacon. The south, up to the Civil War, was not a self-sustaining region; very few large farms or plantations raised the forage for their own work animals, relying upon the importations from the seaboard or down the Mississippi River.

It was idle for northern visitors or southern critics to insist that the plantations ought to cultivate a, variety of crops, for the methods of agriculture were stereotyped; slave labor did not adapt itself to diversification, and the steady world-demand for cotton made it the crop which could be most quickly and easily sold. Probably not one-tenth of the white people of the south were dependent for a livelihood on the raising of cotton; but fully three-fourths of the slave labor was applied to that crop, and it became in the minds of southerners and northerners alike the typical southern industry.

One reason for this state of things was that cotton required attention during a considerable part of the year. From the seeding-time in March to the end of picking-time, when frost appears at the beginning of winter, there is always something to do; and thereafter it goes to the gin and thence to the press for baling. Furthermore, it is a crop adaptable to,

1 Olmsted, Seaboard Slave States, 378-380.

the labor of girls and women and half-grown men, so that it employs a large proportion of the slave population. It was almost an axiom in slavery times that cotton could not be raised by white labor, partly because to admit the possibility was to lose one of the reasons for slavery; nevertheless, Olmsted found in Texas numerous -small cotton-fields, and foresaw a large cultivation by whites.1

No wonder cotton seemed important to the south, when the output and the price is reckoned. The simple statement that from 1791 to 1810 the price never fell below sixteen cents a pound, and in 1818 rose as high as thirty-four cents, explains the rapid development of the southwest. From 1821 to 1830 the prices ruled lower, running down as low as eight cents; but the crops, which in the previous decade averaged about eight hundred and fifty thousand bales, from 1831 to 1840 rose to one million three hundred thousand bales. The magnitude of the output did not depress prices, which averaged about twelve cents, and for the year 1835 ran up to over seventeen cents. The immense crop of 1840, at the lowest price for the decade, brought in about one hundred million dollars cash. The greater part of the cotton went over-seas, and it was this steady cotton' export, creating a favorable credit balance abroad, which kept before the minds of the southern people the fact that in order to import the manufactures of their own staple, or other goods suit

1 Olmsted, Texas Journey, 182, 421.

able for their needs, they had to pay a protective duty. 1

Inasmuch as a large part of this cotton was raised on the larger plantations, where the expense of supervision and maintenance was reduced, the profit in good years was alluring. De Bow figured out some cases where there was seventeen per cent profit on the capital engaged.2 These figures, however, are subject to many deductions for waste, wear and tear, and other items. Twenty years later Olmsted found the cotton plantations in the southwest making money furiously. Still, it is a moot question whether the south would not have found a greater profit in other crops, to say nothing of the fact that the cotton crop was the standing excuse for slavery. Good observers believe that, on the whole, cotton· cost more than it came to.3 It is a curious fact that as early as 1826 a German traveller pointed out that in the cotton-seed the south was throwing away enormous resources.4 Profitable or unprofitable, the cotton fiber was interwoven with the heart of the south, so that Southside Adams was sure that the anti-slavery movement would fail because of the "providence of God, the God of nature, and the God of nations, with respect to that great

1 Watkins, Cost of Cotton Production (U. S. Depart. of Agriculture, Miscellaneous Bulletins, No. 16); Watkins, Production and Price of Cotton for One Hundred Years (ibid., No. 9).

2 De Bow, Industrial Resources, I., 161-164; cf. Buckingham, Slave States, I., 257.

3 Olmsted, Back Country, 337-341.

4 Saxe-Weimar, Travels, II., 33.  

staple of commerce, our cotton." After thus setting the Almighty at work to prepare the cotton-field for the African slave, 1 no wonder the south believed and said that "Cotton is King." 

 Southern agricultural methods were based on the fixity of crops. The tools used by slaves were heavy and rough, because none others would stand the carelessness of the slave. 2 Edmund Ruffin, of Virginia, for years preached the advantage of using lime and manure in Virginia; and towards the end of the slavery period guano began to come in, under the influence of southern agricultural societies; 3 but improvement of that kind was difficult to bring about in communities which lacked enterprise and spent their capital in buying new slaves.

By the so-called " advance system," most planters mortgaged crop or negroes to keep the plantation going till the annual crop could be harvested.4 The factors through whose hands the crops must pass 1 usually furnished the capital, but store-keepers also made small advances to neighboring farmers. In any case, interest and profit somehow had to be allowed to the lender, and all the circumstances· were such as to encourage extravagance on the planter's part. It was a period of extended credit throughout the country, but nowhere else was so large a part of the annual income spent before it

1 Adams, Southside View, 143

2 Olmsted, Seaboard Slave States, 397, 481-483.

3 Ibid., 278, 303.

4 Hammond, Cotton Industry, 107-112.

was received.1 The "advance system" also served to rivet upon the south its fixity of crops and economic methods, for the planter must raise the crop that would satisfy his obligations; there were few opportunities for capital except agriculture, and the most alluring agriculture was always the cultivation of cotton.

Although the cotton crop was a new factor, the methods and principles of agriculture were much the same as those of colonial times. Maryland and Virginia still grew wheat by slave labor for export, because they lay close to tide-water, with easy shipment to a market. In the interior, away from great waterways, there was little demand for farm products, and flour and provisions of every kind were astonishingly cheap, while household industries supplied a large part of the farming community. New Hampshire and Ohio farmers made their own maple sugar, and the farmers' wives made soap, dipped candles, prepared the winter supply of sausage and mince-meat, and, with their daughters, dyed, wove, and made the family clothing; so, in the south, many of the plantations were almost self-supporting. In some cases the plantation clothing was made wholly by the slaves. The poor whites, who had little for exchange, depended for their few comforts chiefly upon themselves.

The south was not wholly given up to agriculture; it had some small fisheries, and about a sixth of the

1 Buckingham, Slave States, I., 553-556.

tonnage of the United States was registered from the south, but this included the river steamers. 1 Outside of Maryland there was very little shipbuilding on the southern coast, though the live-oaks and cypresses of the south furnished important materials for northern yards. Tar, pitch, and turpentine were a perennial product of North Carolina and adjacent states. 2 Coal and some other minerals were mined on a small scale in Maryland, Virginia, and Tennessee.

Some manufacturing always went on in the south; a large part of it in small factories of leather goods, clothing, and the like, supplying a local market; and there was an established manufacture of coarse cotton. The censuses of 1840 and 1860 showed less than eight per cent of the national output of cotton goods in the southern states; the labor being in part poor whites, and in part hands brought down from the north.3 The south had good economic training in its banking, though it suffered for a time from the loose conditions of the frontier. The hundred and more southern banks, in 1840, had a capital of one hundred and twenty-six million dollars, and were organized

1 De Bow, Industrial Resources, II., 195.

2 Olmsted, Seaboard Slave States, 338-348, 351-355.

3 Ibid., 13, 19, rn4, 542-548; De Bow, Industrial Resources, I., 232-243, II., 107-12r, 124-127; Bishop, American Manufactures, II., 420, 465; Coman, Industrial History, 249-254. Kettell, Southern Wealth and Northern Progress, 54, figures out a sixth for the south. 

with a good system of country branches, furnishing credit not only to the large planter, but to almost any thrifty farmer. After 1850 several of the southern states adopted the "security system," by which the circulation was protected: by approved bonds. 1 The state banks of South Carolina and Kentucky were also sound concerns. Here, however, the business training of the south ended; except for the handling of the cotton export, largely in the hands of foreign firms, there was little experience in business.

Although experience proved that the slave-holding south was politically a unit on questions affecting the growth of slavery and the maintenance of the slave-holding power, it was sharply divided into two sections having very different conditions and -- interests. The so-called Border States --Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky, and Missouri--were in soil, climate, and productions very like their immediate northern neighbors, considerable areas of which were peopled from the slave-holding states.2 The great difference was that the number of slaves in the border states was much smaller than in the lower south. In 1830 the figures were: Border States, whites, 1,703,948; slaves, 772,303; the remaining southern states, whites, 1,953,660; slaves, 1,231,085. The free negroes were numerous, and slavery was not vital to any one of this populous group of states.

1 Schwab, in Pol. Sci. Quart., VII., 55.

2 Turner, New West (Am. Nation, XVI.), chap. v. 

Delaware, and still more Maryland, were commercial, and had manufactures. When the crisis of the Civil War came, the line of cleavage left all of them except eastern Virginia still attached to the northern states, with which they had the closest ties of internal commerce. Of the four largest southern " cities, three were not dependent on the south for their wealth: Baltimore up to 1830 was built up by the Susquehanna trade, and later by connection with  the Ohio River; Louisville and St. Louis were points of distribution for northern products. The crops of, the border states were substantially the same as those of their northern neighbors, and their adherence to slavery was not due to its profit, so much as to the social and political prestige of the slaveholder.

1 See below, chap. xix.

Source:  Hart, Albert Bushnell, Slavery and Abolition. In Hart, Albert Bushnell, ed., The American Nation: A History, Vol. 16, 49-66. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1906.



GOD'S Holy Word declares that man was doomed to eat his bread in the sweat of his face. History and tradition teach that the indolent, the crafty, and the strong, unmindful of human rights, have ever sought to evade this Divine decree by filching their bread from the constrained and unpaid toil of others. From inborn indolence, conjoined with avarice, pride, and lust of power, has sprung slavery in all its protean forms, from the mildest type of servitude to the harsh and, hopeless condition of absolute and hereditary bondage. Thus have grown and flourished caste and privilege, those deadly foes of the rights and well-being of mankind, which can exist only by despoiling the many for the benefit of the few.

American slavery reduced man, created in the Divine image, to property. It converted a, being endowed with conscience, reason, affections, sympathies, and hopes, into a chattel. It sunk a free moral agent, with rational attributes and immortal aspirations, to merchandise. It made him a beast of burden in the field of toil, an outcast in social life, a cipher in the courts of law, and a pariah in the house of God. To claim himself, or to use himself for his own benefit or the benefit-of wife or child, was deemed a crime. His master could dispose of his person at will, and of everything acquired by his enforced and unrequited toil.

This complete subversion of the natural rights of millions, by which they were "deemed, held, taken, reputed, and adjudged in law to be chattels personal to all intents, constructions, and purposes whatsoever", constituted a system antagonistic to the doctrines of reason and the monitions- of conscience, and developed and gratified the most intense spirit of personal pride, a love of class distinctions, and the lust of dominion. Hence arose a commanding power) ever sensitive, jealous, proscriptive, dominating, and aggressive, which was recognized and fitly characterized as the Slave Power.

This slavery and this Slave Power, in their economical, social, moral, ecclesiastical, and political relations to the people and to the government, demoralizing the one and distracting the councils of the other, made up the vital issues of that" irrepressible conflict” which finally culminated in a civil war that startled the nations by its suddenness, fierceness, and gigantic proportions.

Half a century before the discovery of America, Portuguese and Spanish navigators had introduced African slaves into Europe. The English and other commercial nations followed their example. When, therefore, the Western Continent was opened to colonization and settlement, these nations were prepared to introduce slaves and to prosecute the African slave traffic with vigor and on a large scale. 

In the month of August, 1619, a Dutch ship entered James River with twenty African slaves. They were purchased by the colonists, and they and their offspring were held in perpetual servitude. Thus, at Jamestown, twelve years from the settlement of the colony of Virginia, and one year before the feet of the Pilgrims had touched the New World, began that system in the British continental colonies which, under the fostering care of England, overspread the land. So near in  time, though remote in points of destination, came those two vessels across the sea, with elements at once so potent and yet so unlike,- the "Mayflower," with its freight of learning and  Christian civilization; the other, with its ill-starred· burden of wretchedness and woe, bearing the seeds of a system destined, after a struggle of two hundred and forty years for development, expansion, and dominion, to light the fires of civil war, and perish in the flames its own hand had kindled.

During the years from 1619 to the opening of the American Revolution the friends of the slave-trade and of slavery controlled the government and dictated the policy of England. Her kings and queens, lords and commons, Judges and attorney-generals, gave to the African slave-traffic their undeviating support. Her merchants and manufacturers clamored for its protection and extension. Her coffers were filled with gold bedewed with tears and stained with blood. " For more than a century," in the words of Horace Mann," did the madness of this traffic rage. During all those years the clock of eternity never counted out a minute that did not witness the cruel death, by treachery or violence, of some father or mother of Africa."

Under the encouragement of British legislation and the fostering smile of royalty, more than three hundred thousand African bondmen were imported into the thirteen British colonies. The efforts of colonial legislation -whether dictated by humanity, interest, or fear -to check this traffic were defeated by the persistent policy of the British government. “Great Britain," in the words of Bancroft, "steadily rejecting every colonial restriction on the slave-trade, instructed the governors, on pain of removal, not to give even a temporary assent to such laws." The planters of Virginia, alarmed at the rapid increase of slaves, as early as 1726 imposed a tax to check their importation, but “the interfering interest -of the African company obtained the repeal of that law." South Carolina attempted restrictions upon the importation of slaves as late as 1760, for which she received the rebuke of the British authorities. The legislature of Pennsylvania, as early as 1712, passed an act to prevent the increase of slaves; but that act was annulled by the Crown. The legislature of Massachusetts, in 1771, and again in 1774, adopted measures for the abolition of the slave-trade; but they failed to receive the approval of the colonial governors. Queen Anne, who had reserved for herself one quarter of the stock of the Royal African Company, that gigantic monopolist of the slave-trade, charged it to furnish full supplies of slaves to the colonies of New York and New Jersey, and instructed the governors of those colonies to give due encouragement to that company; and it was the testimony of Madison that the British government constantly checked the attempts of his native State " to put a stop to this infernal traffic." Up to the hour of American Independence, the government of England steadily resisted colonial restrictions on the slave-trade, and persisted in forcing this traffic, so gainful to her commercial and manufacturing interests, upon her colonies, of which," in the words of the Earl of Dartmouth, in 1775, " were not allowed to check or discourage in any degree a traffic so beneficial to the nation." British avarice planted slavery in America; British legislation sanctioned and maintained it; British statesmen sustained and guarded it.

But the British government and British merchants were not alone responsible for the spread of slavery in the colonies. The inhabitants themselves were generally only too willing to profit by such enforced and unpaid toil. North Carolina was settled by colonies from Virginia, who carried slaves with them. Governor Sir John Yeamans brought slaves with him from Barbadoes into South Carolina, and planted slavery there. Georgia, however, was settled by colonies under the lead of James Oglethorpe, who held slavery to be a horrid crime against the gospel, as well as against the laws of England, and slavery was there forbidden. Some of the colonists, however, soon began to complain that they were prohibited the use of slave-labor. The laws were evaded; slaves from South Carolina were hired, at first for short periods, and afterwards for life. Soon slave-ships sailed from Savannah for the coast of Africa, and slaves were introduced with the connivance of the British government, and Georgia became a slave State. Slavery also readily found its way into the colonies of Maryland, Delaware, and Pennsylvania. The company interested in the colonization of New Jersey offered a land bounty of seventy-five acres for every slave introduced there. And the Royal African Company was enjoined by Queen Anne "to have a constant and sufficient supply of merchantable negroes" for this colony. The Dutch West India Company promised to supply the Dutch settlers of New York with slaves, -a promise afterwards renewed. They were then allowed to purchase slaves of others, and finally to engage in the foreign traffic itself. Nor did the rugged soil, or the still more rugged clime, of New England save its colonies from the introduction of the system 'even there. Slavery, however, grew slowly. In 1680 it was stated by Governor Bradstreet that there were only about one hundred and twenty African slaves in the colony of Massachusetts. At the end of a hundred years from the settlement of Plymouth there were estimated to be only about two thousand. 

During the half-century preceding the Revolution slavery increased with rapidity, especially in the Southern colonies. There the production of tobacco, indigo, and rice became of great commercial importance to the mother country, and slavery felt its stimulating influence. There slaves toiled generally on large plantations, often under merciless overseers and the menace of the lash. In the colonies north of Mason and Dixon's line they were either employed in the families of the wealthy or belonged to small farmers who labored with their own servants and usually received them into their families. From this circumstance, and from the fact that they were accorded privileges under the laws and in the usages and customs of society, their condition was rendered more tolerable, and their character was less degraded than were the character and condition of Southern slaves.

In spite, however, of the avarice which guided and inspired the commercial and colonial policy of England, in spite of the corrupting influence of the slave-trade and of slavery itself, they found sturdy opposers in both England and America. The colonial legislature of Massachusetts of 1641 enacted in its code, styled the “Body of Liberties," that there should never be any bond-slavery, unless it be of captives taken in "just war," or of such as willingly sold themselves or were sold to them, and such should have the liberties and Christian usages that God had established in Israel. Whether this act prohibited the slavery of Africans or not has been a question freely discussed, and on which differences of opinion have obtained. There can be no doubt, however, that the colonists of that day made a distinction between slaves captured in "just war " and those stolen in Africa, and that this act was based on this distinction. At any rate, it is safe to say that the servitude it authorized, with its recognized limitations of the Mosaic code, had little in common with the American slavery which afterwards obtained in all the colonies.

In 1646 two slaves were introduced into the colony by a member of a church, who had procured them in a slave-hunt in Africa. A memorial immediately presented to the General Court, setting forth the threefold outrage of “murder, man-stealing, and Sabbath-breaking," --the slave-hunt having taken place on the Sabbath, - drew forth a stringent order. " Conceiving themselves," they said, " bound by the first opportunity to bear witness against the heinous and crying sin of man-stealing," they supplemented their testimony with the requirement that the victims" should be sent to their native country, Guinea, and a letter," expressing" the indignation of the court thereabout." In November of that year it was enacted that" if any man stealeth a man, or mankind, he shall surely be put to death." The colony of Connecticut, in 1650, and the colony of New Haven, soon after, passed acts making man-stealing a capital offence. 

Whatever differences of opinion there may have been concerning the full import and effects of the Massachusetts act of 1641, there can be none concerning that of the colony of Rhode Island, adopted in 1652. By this act it was provided that no "black mankind or white," “being forced by covenant-bond, or otherwise," should serve more than ten years, or after the age of twenty-four years, but should be set free. “This noble act," says Moore, in his "Notes on Slavery in Massachusetts," “stands out in solitary grandeur in the middle of the seventeenth century, the first legislative enactment in the history of this continent, if not of the world, for the suppression of involuntary servitude." It was in view of this early legislation against African slavery and the slave-trade, and of the small number of slaves that found their way into the Massachusetts colonies during the first two generations of their history, that Whittier says: "It was not the rigor of her northern winter, nor the unfriendly soil of Massachusetts, which discouraged the introduction of slavery during the first half of the century of her existence as a colony. It was the recognition of the brotherhood of man in sin, suffering, and redemption, the awful responsibilities and eternal destinies of humanity, her hatred of wrong and tyranny, and her stern sense of justice, which led her to  impose upon the African slave-trade the terrible penalty of the ' Mosaic code."

In spite, however, of this early legislation, and of the popular sentiment which prompted it, slavery made progress, the number of slaves slowly increased, and men were found ready to engage in the infamous traffic. The demoralizing influence of the Indian wars, and the recognition of the principle that captives taken in them might be rightfully held in bondage, contributed largely to this result. There were, however, earnest and faithful Protestants who saw and deeply deplored the great and grievous wrong thus inflicted on both the Indian and the African. John Eliot, the apostle to the Indians, presented, in 1675, a memorial to the Governor and Council against selling captured Indians into slavery. His objections were that it prolonged the war, that it hindered the enlargement of Christ's kingdom, and that “the selling of souls is a dangerous merchandise." Though the mission of this large-hearted man was mainly with the Indians, he did not forget the African, but lamented, it is said by Cotton Mather, with "a bleeding and burning passion," “the destroying ignorance” in which they were left, by men bearing the name of Christian, “for fear of losing the benefit of their vassalage."

The iniquity of slavery and of the slave-trade, and the wrongs of the slave were deeply felt by Justice Samuel Sewall, afterwards Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Massachusetts. In the year 1700 he wrote a pamphlet entitled "The Selling of Joseph: A. Memorial," in which slavery was characterized, and the primal truths of human equality and obligation were enunciated, with signal boldness and force. He maintained that '' originally and naturally” there was no such thing as slavery; and that” these Ethiopians, as black as they are, seeing they are the sons and daughters of the first Adam, the brethren and sisters of- the last Adam, and the offspring of God, they ought to be treated with respect agreeable." 

Although this production was received, its faithful and fearless author says, “with frowns and hard words," there was a state of unrest in the public mind which revealed itself in various ways. The slaves themselves were uneasy under their bondage, and made no secret of their earnest longings for liberty. Though their increase was small, the most thoughtful and conscientious viewed that increase with apprehension, and earnestly desired the abolition of both· the trade and the system. During the ten years immediately preceding the Declaration of Independence, in which the rights of man and of the colonies were under sharp discussion, the wrongfulness and in consistency of slavery became more and more apparent. The desire for emancipation and the extinction of the slave-trade found utterance in sermons and pamphlets, some thorough and of decided merit, and in the resolutions and memorials of towns praying the legislature to take action at once in the interests of humanity and true patriotism. 

But members of the Society of Friends took the lead in this opposition. In the year 1688 a small body of German Quakers, at Germantown, Pennsylvania, presented a protest to the Yearly Meeting against the "buying, selling, and holding men in slavery." But though not then prepared to take action, it sent forth in 1696 the advice that" the members should discourage the introduction of slavery, and be careful of the moral and intellectual training of such as they held in servitude." Three years before this advice was given, George Keith, then a member of that society, had denounced slavery as contrary to the religion of Christ, the rights of man, and sound reason and policy, and charged its members to “set their negroes at liberty after some reasonable time of service."

In New England the Quakers, at the Monthly Meeting at Dartmouth in 1716, sent to the Rhode Island Quarterly Meeting the query, “whether it be agreeable to truth for the Friends to purchase slaves and keep them for a term of life." The Quakers of Nantucket in the same year, moved by the eloquence of the wife of Nathaniel Starbuck, a preacher of their denomination, sent forth the declaration that “it is not agreeable to the truth for Friends to purchase slaves and hold them for the term of life." In 1729 they made an earnest appeal to the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, in which they say: Inasmuch as we are restrained by the rule of discipline from being concerned in fetching or importing negro slaves from their own country, whether it is not as reasonable that we should be restricted from buying them when imported." At that time Elihu Coleman wrote a pamphlet against making men slaves, because it was “anti-Christian" and “very opposite both to grace and nature."

Most faithful testimony against slavery was borne by William Burling, of Long Island, in the Yearly Meeting of the Friends. In 1729 Ralph Sandiford published “The Mystery of iniquity," in which he earnestly condemned the sin of oppression. The ardent but eccentric Benjamin Lay, who had witnessed in Barbadoes scenes of cruelty to slaves that disturbed and distressed his sensitive nature, pleaded the cause of the bondman in a volume, published in 1737 by Benjamin Franklin. From 1746 to 1767 John Woolman, of New Jersey, travelled much in the Middle and Southern colonies, proclaiming to Christians that “the practice of continuing slavery is not right," and that "liberty is the natural right of all men equally." This humane, unselfish, and self-denying man, as he travelled among the people, saw "a  dark gloominess overhanging the land," and "a spirit of fierceness and love of dominion." But, not with-standing all that was calculated to depress and sadden his heart, he labored on with earnest and unconquerable zeal, and largely contributed to the work of preparing his denomination to bear their early testimony against the sin and practice of slavery.

But the most active antislavery worker of that age was Anthony Benezet, the son of Huguenot parents, who escaped from France on account of the revocation of the .Edict of Nantes. Having inherited an intense and passionate love of liberty, and becoming deeply affected by the iniquity of the slave-trade and the cruelty exercised toward slaves by their owners, he earnestly lifted up his voice on behalf of the oppressed, and strove to awaken Christians to a just sense of the sin of slaveholding. He established and taught gratuitously an evening school for the instruction of negroes. Under his pious labors their moral and religious advancement recommended the colored race to the notice of influential persons, too much accustomed to hold it in contempt. Among his many publications was an historical account of Guinea, which is said to have given an impulse to the mind of Thomas Clarkson, who afterward labored so effectively for the abolition of the slave-trade by the British government. He exerted himself to induce the legislature of Pennsylvania, in 1780, to begin the work of emancipation. 

By the faithful and self-denying labors of these .devoted pioneers and early advocates of antislavery, and others of less note, covering a period of a hundred years, was the Society of Friends at length persuaded to rid itself of the system of enforced servitude. Nor was this great work accomplished without much of exciting discussion, stern rebuke, and stirring appeal.  For with them, as with others, the love of ease and the lust of dominion were strong, nor did they at once and easily let go their hold on the victims of their power. And not until the conscience of the society was aroused by the unequivocal decisions of its ecclesiastical tribunals, showing slavery to be a sin to be repented of and forsaken, did it achieve the high distinction of being the first and only denomination to purge itself entirely of this great iniquity.

Nor were the people without remonstrance and warning from strangers, who, seeing the abomination of the system, boldly denounced its essential cruelty and wickedness. John Wesley, who visited the country during the early part of the last century, unequivocally condemned it. His terse and trenchant characterization of slavery, so often repeated, that it was “the sum of all villainies," was only one of many sharp things he uttered. He called the system "the vilest that ever saw the sun", and denominated “slave-dealers man-stealers, - the worst of thieves, in comparison with whom highway robbers and housebreakers are comparatively innocent." To these emphatic words he added that "men-buyers are exactly on a level with men-stealers."

In 1739 George Whitefield, the renowned pulpit-orator and evangelist, having travelled extensively through the Southern States, addressed to their inhabitants a" Letter," in which he combined the impressions of an eyewitness with the reflections of a Christian teacher. Affirming that his sympathies had been strongly excited "by the “miseries of the poor negroes," he called attention to the practice of slave-masters, and the encouragement it afforded to the savage tribes in Africa to continue their warfare on each other, to supply the demand for slaves thus created. He charged the " generality of" them with using their slaves " as bad as though they were brutes, nay, worse," - worse than their horses, which were " fed and properly cared for after the labors of the day, while the slaves must grind their corn and prepare their own food, worse even than their dogs, who are " caressed and fondled," while the slaves " are scarce permitted to pick up the crumbs which fall from their master's table." He spoke of the cruel lashings which ''ploughed their backs and made long furrows," sometimes ending in death. He reminded them of their spacious houses and sumptuous fare; while they to whose “indefatigable labors” their luxuries were “owing" had neither convenient food to eat nor proper raiment to put on.

Among the earlier apostles of emancipation was Dr. Samuel Hopkins, pastor of the Congregational Church in Newport, Rhode Island, who was as much distinguished for his advocacy of the doctrines of human rights as of the doctrines of the school of theology which bears his name. In 1770 he deliberately and solemnly resolved to attack the system of kidnapping, purchasing, and retaining slaves. Although Rhode Island bad, as early as 1652, passed an act against the purchase of negroes, she had become deeply involved in the slave-trade. Newport was the great slave-mart of New England. Cargoes of slaves were often landed near the church and home of the great divine. Before his congregation, thus deeply involved in the guilt of slave-trading and slaveholding, he boldly rebuked the sin and pleaded the cause of its victims in a discourse of great plainness and power. It was an unselfish and heroic act, imperiling his position both as a pastor and as a recognized leader in the church. Of this noble act Whittier says: "It may well be doubted whether, on that Sabbath day, the angels of God, in their wide survey of His universe, looked upon a nobler spectacle than that of the minister of Newport, rising up before his slaveholding congregation, and demanding, in the name of the Highest, ' the deliverance of the captive and the opening of prison doors to them that were bound! ' “

From 1770 to 1776 Dr. Hopkins repeatedly spoke on behalf of the slave, visited from house to house, and urged masters to free their bondmen. In the latter year he published his dialogue concerning slavery, together with his address to slaveholders. He dedicated this remarkable production, said to have been "the ablest document which had at that time and on that theme appeared in the English language," to the Continental Congress. It had a large circulation among the statesmen of that day, and exerted a potent influence on public opinion. This early champion of the black man was cheered by the passage, in 1774, of a law prohibiting the importation of negroes into Rhode Island; and, in 1784, by the passage of an act declaring all children born after the next March free, - results to which he had largely contributed by his early, persistent, and self-denying labors. His heart was gladdened, too, by the action of his church. Instructed by his teachings and inspired by his zeal, it declared slavery to be "a gross violation of the righteousness and benevolence of the gospel," and therefore it resolved, "We will not tolerate it in this church."

In 1773 Dr. Benjamin Rush, an eminent physician, philanthropist, and statesman, published in Philadelphia “An Address to the Inhabitants of the British Settlements in America on Slave-keeping." In this address he combated the idea so persistently pressed by the supporters of the slave-trade, that it was imposs1ble to carry on the production of sugar, rice, and indigo without negro slaves. "No manufactory," he said, with refreshing boldness and fidelity to truth, “can ever be of consequence enough to society to admit the least violation of the laws of justice or humanity." This early abolitionist eloquently pleaded the cause of “the unhappy Africans transported to America." Of the slave-traffic he said: "Future ages, when they read the accounts of the slave-trade, if they do not regard them as fabulous, will be at a loss which to condemn most, our folly or our guilt in abetting this direct violation of nature and religion."

These utterances of those earlier apostles of emancipation awoke responses in the bosoms of many of their countrymen. During the years of agitation preceding the Revolution, in which the liberties of the colonies and the rights of man were discussed with masterly power by the most gifted minds of the country, many of the popular leaders of New England, the Middle colonies, and even of Virginia, did not fail to see and to acknowledge the wrongfulness of slavery, and to denounce the slave-traffic and the slave-extending policy of the British government. Many slave-masters, who afterward aided in inaugurating the Revolution, in fighting its battles, and carrying the country over from colonial. independence to national independence, were hostile not only to the slave-trade, but to the existence of slavery itself.

On the 20th of October, 1774, the first Continental Congress signed and promulgated the Articles of Association. In that bond of union, which laid the foundation of the new nation, the pledge was made that the United Colonies would "neither import nor purchase any slave," and would "wholly discontinue the slave-trade." The explicit declaration was added, that any persons violating these Articles of Association should be pronounced "foes to the rights of British America," "universally contemned as the foes of American liberty," “unworthy of the rights of freemen." This union of the inhabitants of the thirteen British colonies, thus making one people, was begun with a solemn pledge wholly to abstain from all participation in a traffic then supported by the commercial nations of Europe. The Articles of Association, containing these explicit pledges, were adopted by colonial conventions, county meetings, and lesser assemblages throughout the country, and became the fundamental Constitution of the first American Union. 

That Congress gave expression to the general sentiment of the people of the colonies fully appears in the declarations of the North Carolina and Virginia conventions, which sent delegates to that Congress. These conventions pledged themselves not to import slaves, and not to purchase them when imported by others. In Georgia a colony founded by James Oglethorpe, who forbade slavery there, but whose humane purposes were afterward thwarted by avarice and power - a public meeting declared “their disapprobation and abhorrence of the unnatural practice of slavery in America," and pledged their “utmost endeavors for the manumission of slaves in our colony." And Congress itself, on the 6th of April, 1776, resolved, without opposition, that “no slave be imported into any of the thirteen united colonies."

The British commercial and colonial policy,-however, had interested, active, and influential supporters. Leading statesmen in South Carolina and Georgia were confessedly not only for slavery, but for the continuance of the slave-trade. In Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina slavery had still a strong hold upon the people. But their interest in the domestic quickened their opposition to the foreign slave-traffic. Although there were but few negroes in the Middle and New England colonies, many of these having been made free by the voluntary action of their masters, still slavery and the slave trade had zealous supporters, especially among the commercial, wealthy, and aristocratic classes. This fact was signally manifested by the action of Congress in striking from the original draft of the Declaration of Independence Mr. Jefferson's arraignment of the British king for forcing upon his American colonies that traffic in men which he branded as an " execrable commerce," " a piratical warfare," " the opprobrium of infidel powers," "a cruel war against human nature." "That clause reprobating the enslaving of the inhabitants of Africa was struck out," its illustrious author declares,” in complaisance to South Carolina and Georgia, who had never attempted to restrain the importation of slaves, and who, on the contrary, still wished to continue it. Our Northern brethren, also, I believe, felt a little tender under those censures. Although their people had very few slaves themselves, yet they had been pretty considerable carriers of them to others."

The same spirit and policy which struck these words from the Declaration of Independence influenced the action of Congress in framing the Articles of Confederation. The report of the committee to prepare a plan provided that supplies should be obtained by requisitions on each State in proportion to the number of its inhabitants. This at once and necessarily raised the question of the status of the slave.· Mr. Chase, of Maryland, afterwards one of the justices of the Supreme Court of the United States, moved to count only the white inhabitants. "The negroes," he said, “were property, and no more members of the state than cattle."

It was suggested by Mr. Harrison, of Virginia, that two slaves should be counted as one freeman. Mr. Wilson, of Pennsylvania, said the exemption of slaves from taxation would be "the greatest encouragement to slave-keeping and the importation of slaves." He declared that they increased products and imposed burdens, and prevent freemen from cultivating the country. "Dismiss your slaves," he said;" freemen will take their places." To this remark Mr. Lynch, of South Carolina, replied with emphasis, "Our slaves are our property; if that is debated, there is an end of confederation." He asked why they should “be taxed more than sheep." To this question Franklin replied: “Sheep will never make insurrections." Mr. Chase's amendment was rejected. Georgia was divided, and all the States north of Mason and Dixon's line voted against it.

The obstacles in the way of Confederation being found so great, the discussion was then suspended ; but it was resumed again in October, 1777. It was then moved that the supplies be based on the value of property in each State. This proposition was rejected, and a motion was made to exempt slaves from taxation. The four New England States voted against it, New York and Pennsylvania were divided, and Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and New Jersey voted for it. This vote exempted slaves from taxation altogether, either as inhabitants or property. It was a complete triumph of those representing the slave interest, and may be counted among the earlier illustrations of the potent influence of the rising Slave Power.

No power was given to the Confederation to regulate commerce. Each State was left free to decide what imports it would admit or prohibit, so that Congress, after its emphatic condemnation by the acts of 177 4 and 1776, “renounced forever," in the words of Bancroft,” the power to sanction or to I stop the slave trade." This result could not but endure to the interests of slavery and to the strengthening of its power.

But the Confederation secured to the free inhabitants of the State all privileges and immunities of the citizens of the several States. The legislature of South Carolina, when the Articles of Confederation were under consideration, saw that by this provision the rights of inter-citizenship were secured to the free colored inhabitants of all the States. After debate, the plan of Confederation was returned to Congress with the recommendation that inter-citizenship should be confined to white persons. South Carolina and Georgia supported the proposed change, but eight States refusing their assent, the proposition was lost. In this instance freedom won, and the claims of human equality were vindicated.

But it cannot be doubted that at the time of the Declaration of Independence, when the government of England ended and the government of the United States began, the people were, on the grounds of justice, humanity, and interest, largely in favor of putting an end to the African slave-trade. Neither can it be doubted that the most conscientious and enlightened portion of the people, including most of the Revolutionary leaders, who guided the colonies through civil war to national unity and independence, believed slavery to be inconsistent with the doctrines they were proclaiming and the civil institutions they were founding. The statesmen of that era hoped, and confidently expected, that it would soon pass away. But the slave system, fostered by England and sustained by individual interest, indolence, and pride, during a hundred and fifty years, had so incorporated itself into the social life of the people, especially of the South, that, when menaced by the logic of events, it was seen to have a hold and tenacity of life not dreamed of by either friend or foe. Champions were ready not only to protect it against the advancing currents of Christian civilization, but also to oppose every interest, every institution, and every individual that menaced its paramount sway. Even then, when the Republic took its place in the family of nations, had begun and had far advanced that work of personal and public deterioration, that poisoning of the fountains of individual and social life whose full development the Rebellion revealed, as it was itself their sad and legitimate result.

Source:  Wilson, Henry, History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, Vol. 1.  Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1872, 1-17.



Please note that this entry includes two chapters:

·        Wilson, “Slavery and the Slave-Trade in the District of Columbia: Denial of the Right of Petition,” 1878

·        Wilson, “Black Code. — County Jail. — Schools in the District of Columbia,” 1878

Chapter: “Slavery and the Slave-Trade in the District of Columbia: Denial of the Right of Petition,” by Henry Wilson, in History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, 1872:

The Constitution having conferred upon Congress sole jurisdiction in all cases whatsoever over a territory not exceeding ten miles square, to be ceded to the Federal government as the capital of the nation, the question of location came up toward the close of its first session. It excited the deepest interest, and the strongest sectional feelings were manifested. The Eastern States would have been content to retain the seat of government in the city of New York. Pennsylvania sought to win it back to Philadelphia. Southern members insisted upon locating it upon the Potomac. Eastern members, supported by Pennsylvania, strove to conciliate the South by a proposition to locate it on the banks of the Susquehanna; but that proposition was strenuously resisted. The House was told by even the moderate Mr. Madison that, “if that day's proceedings had been foreseen, Virginia would never have ratified the Constitution." These conflicting claims and sectional interests defeated, at that session, all propositions for the location of the national capital either on the Susquehanna, the Delaware, or the Potomac. At the next, however, a "bargain” was consummated, by which the House of Representatives, after taking the yeas and nays thirteen times, decided, I by a majority of three, in favor of the Potomac. Thus the capital of the new republic was placed on soil then and thenceforward polluted by the system of human slavery, and two generations of statesmen have thus been surrounded by the perverting and blinding influences of slaveholding society. Instead of providing a code of humane, equal, and uniform laws for the government of the territory ceded by Maryland and Virginia, Congress enacted, on the 27th of February, 1801, that the laws of the former should be enforced on the north side and those of the latter on the south side of the Potomac. Thus the nation, by accepting and adopting as its own these cruel and revolting statutes, became guilty of the astounding inconsistency of enacting for the capital of a Christian republic, just starting on its national career, the colonial legislation of a monarchial government adopted for the control of the wild hordes from Africa which its policy had forced upon them.

In 1827 the House Committee of the District of Columbia affirmed, in a report, that " in this District, as in all slaveholding States, the legal presumption is that persons of color going at large, without any evidences of their freedom, are absconding slaves, and prima facie liable to all the legal provisions applicable to that class of persons." This committee further stated that in the portion of the District ceded by Virginia " a free negro may be arrested and put in jail for three months on suspicion of being a fugitive, then to be hired out to pay his jail fees; and, if he does not prove his freedom within twelve months, to be sold as a slave." And in the territory ceded by Maryland, it reported that “if a free man of color should be apprehended as a runaway, he is subjected to the payment of all fines and rewards given by law for the apprehension of runaways; and, on failure to make such payment, is liable to be sold as a slave." Thus by the act of the nation, for which the whole people were responsible, a colored citizen visiting its capital was " by legal presumption an absconding slave,'' and " might be apprehended as a runaway," be " subjected to the payment of fines and rewards,'' or be "sold as a slave for the payment of jail fees."

By a statute of Maryland, enacted in 1717, and continued in force by act of Congress, the testimony of no free negro or mulatto could be received as evidence in any matter whatever wherein any white person was concerned. This legal presumption that color was evidence of servitude, this act invalidating the testimony of persons of color, placed the property, the liberty, and the lives of free persons of color in the capital of the nation at the mercy of avaricious, violent, and abandoned white men. Every colored man whose feet pressed the soil of the District was presumed to be a. slave, and his testimony afforded him no protection whatever. Greedy and grasping avarice might withhold from him the fruits of his toil, or clutch from him his little acquisitions; the brutal might visit upon him, his wife, and his children, insults, indignities, blows; the kidnapper might enter his dwelling and seize and drag his loved ones from his hearthstone; every outrage the depravity of man could invent or suggest might be perpetrated on him, his family, his race,--but his oath on the Evangelists, though his name might be written in the Book of Life, could neither protect him from wrong nor punish the wrong-doer.

These laws and ordinances, sanctioned by Congress, and for which the people of the United States were responsible, bore the legitimate fruits of injustice and inhumanity, dishonor and shame. Crimes against persons of African descent were often perpetrated in the national capital. They were seized, imprisoned, fined, and sometimes sold into perpetual servitude. The laws offered tempting bribes to the base, the selfish, and the unprincipled to become man stealers and kidnappers. These bribes converted government officials not only into slave-catchers, but also into slave manufacturers. Thousands of persons of African descent were seized and imprisoned, and the jail became a work-shop, where the sordid and cruel traffickers plied their trade in the bodies and souls of men.

The augmented value of slave labor gave increasing activity to the domestic slave-traffic, and the capital early became a great slave-mart. There grew up a race of official and unofficial man-hunters, greedy, active, dexterous; ever ready, by falsehood, trickery, and violence, to clutch the black man who carried not with him his title to freedom.

The atrocities there perpetrated moved to indignation John Randolph, though ever vigilant in watching the interests of slave-masters and ever ready to defend the slave system. He submitted a resolution in 1816 for the appointment of a committee to consider the expediency of putting an end to the slave-trade in the District. He denounced it as a “nefarious" traffic,” in comparison with which the traffic from Africa to Jamaica is a mercy, -- a virtue." He invoked the House to put a stop “to a practice not surpassed for abomination in any part of the world." "Not even upon the rivers upon the African coast," said he, "is there so great and nefarious a slave market as in this metropolis, the very seat of government of this nation, which prides itself on freedom." He declared that there could be no comparison between taking the negro from his native wilds and "tearing the civilized negro from his friends, his wife, his children, his parents." “I have," he said, "this day heard a horrible fact from a respectable gentleman : A poor negro, by hard work and by saving his allowance, laid by money enough to purchase the freedom of his wife and child. The poor fellow died, and the next day the woman and child were sold. I was mortified at being told by a foreigner of high rank: ‘You call this a land of liberty, and every day things are done in it at which the despotisms of Europe would be horror-struck.'" The resolution was adopted, the committee appointed, and Mr. Randolph was made its chairman. He presented a report stating the facts relating to the slave-trade in the District; but he failed to report a measure for the suppression, or even the regulation, of a traffic which he had in such unmeasured terms denounced.

Judge Morsell, too, of the Circuit Court of the United States, bore his testimony to the enormity of the brutal commerce. In a charge to the grand jury, he said that." the frequency with which the streets of the city have been crowded with manacled captives, sometimes on the Sabbath, could not fail to shock the feelings of all humane persons." So thought many citizens of the District; for on the 24th of March, 1828, more than one thousand of its inhabitants presented a memorial to Congress, in which they declared that " it was not alone from the rapacity of slave-traders that the colored race in this District were doomed to suffer; that the laws sanction and direct a procedure unparalleled in glaring injustice by anything among the governments of Christendom." This, it is to be borne in mind, was Southern testimony; and yet, notwithstanding its unequivocal and damaging character, the nation adopted no measures to abate, or even to regulate, the terrible trade, or in any way to relieve it of its fearful hardships and horrors.

In January, 1829, Mr. Miner of Pennsylvania introduced a preamble and resolutions coi1cerning slavery and the slave-trade in the District, setting forth the power of Congress, the responsibility of the government, the laws, and the practices that had grown up; and he proposed that the committee on the District be instructed to inquire into the slave-trade in the District, and report such amendments to existing laws as might seem just; and further to consider the expediency of providing for the gradual  abolition of slavery itself therein. In support of his proposition, Mr. Miner made an earnest and effective speech. He declared that the slave-trade, as it existed in the capital, was" marked by instances of injustice and cruelty scarcely exceeded on the coast of Africa”; and that it was a “mistake to suppose it a mere purchase and sale of acknowledged slaves." He stated that the extent and cruelty of the traffic, so, long ago as 1802, had drawn from a grand jury in Alexandria a presentment, in which grievances were clearly set forth and legislative redress demanded. He disclosed many appalling acts of unblushing injustice and atrocity. "We feel deeply," said Mr. Miner,” for the sufferings of Ireland ; we weep for the miseries of the Greeks ; but we suffer, in a race of a different color, under our own eye and our own jurisdiction, scenes of greater cruelty and injustice than are acted on the other side of the Atlantic. We move on the surface of the stream, where the sunbeams play, and where the glittering waves sparkle with hope, joy, and pleasure; and we pass on unconscious of the dark counter-current that flows beneath, imbittered by the tears and impelled by the sighs of the wretched."

Mr. Weems of Maryland opposed the adoption of the resolutions. But the resolution concerning the slave-trade was adopted by a vote of more than two to one, and even that concerning gradual emancipation received a vote equally strong. And yet, notwithstanding these decisive votes, Mr. Stevenson, a slaveholding speaker, so constructed the commit­ tee that no further action was taken upon the subject.

In 1829 the grand jury made a communication to Congress in which it was said that "the whole community would be gratified by the interference of Congress for the suppression of these receptacles and the exclusion of this disgusting traffic from the District." The " Washington Spectator," in 1830, indignantly denounced those " processions," so often seen in the streets of that city, of human beings handcuffed in pairs or chained in couples, wending their way to the slave-ships which were to bear them to the distant South ; and yet this abominable traffic, denounced by judges and grand juries, citizens and presses, instead of being suppressed by Congress, was legalized two years afterward by the corporation of the city of Washington; and slave-traders were licensed, for the paltry sum of four hundred dollars, to pollute the capital of the nation with their brutalizing commerce.

Congress in 1820 had empowered the corporation of Washington to punish slaves by whipping, not exceeding forty stripes, and it was enacted that for several trifling offences men and women should be thus whipped on their bare backs. As late as 1836 the city authorities enacted that any free colored person going at large after ten o'clock at night should be locked up until morning. Under color of that burdensome and oppressive enactment, colored persons going to or returning from their callings were often seized and imprisoned. By statute, free colored persons were required to exhibit to the mayor satisfactory evidence of their title to freedom, and to enter into bonds with five securities, in the penalty of one thousand dollars, the bond to be renewed every year; and for failure a fine of twenty dollars was to be imposed, and they were to be sent to the workhouse. It was made the duty of police constables to enter religious meetings of persons of color after the hour of ten o'clock at night, and disperse Christian men and women, even in the act of listening to the story of salvation, and of offering to their Creator the gratitude and prayers of contrite hearts.

From 1827 to 1850 the corporation of Washington and Georgetown continued to enact cruel, degrading, and indecent statutes, offending the taste, insulting the reason, and perverting the moral sense of' civilized man. As these facts became known, through the persistent proclamation of the earnest men and women engaged in this new reform; and it was shown that these inhuman and outrageous statutes were not the laws of some slaveholding State, the municipal regulations of some Southern city, but of the capital of the nation, deriving all their force from congressional legislation,-large numbers of Northern citizens revolted from such voluntary complicity with anything so disgraceful, and readily lent their influence and names to the effort for the abolition of slavery and the slave-trade in the District of Columbia. Hence the petitions, and the persistency with which they were pushed, for that purpose.

Still, though there were these Northern exhibitions of interest and a growing indignation, there were constantly occurring at the capital, as well as elsewhere, illustrations of a very different character. The gross infringements by the Slave Power of the rights of whites as well as blacks, the degrading and intolerable surveillance to which the nation submitted, and the torpidity with which the people regarded these flagrant outrages, find many examples in the history of those days. Of them is the case of Dr. Reuben Crandall, brother of Miss Crandall of the Canterbury School, who went to Washington in 1835 to lecture on one of the natural sciences. He was a Christian gentleman of unblemished reputation, of scientific attainments, and deeply interested in the cause of education. While engaged in his office, he received some packages wrapped in newspapers, among which were a few copies of the “Emancipator” and "Antislavery Reporter." As he was unpacking his boxes, at the request of a gentleman present he gave him a copy of one of those publications. Having read it, the gentleman left it at a neighboring store. Falling into the hands of others, it produced no little excitement. Indeed, so great was the agitation created by the unwitting circulation of the offending document, that Dr. Crandall was arrested, thrown into jail, and the fear was freely expressed by the officers that he was in danger of a mob. He was brought to trial before a United States court, ably defended, and acquitted, but not until he had lain in a common jail, charged with crime, for nearly eight months. The enormity of this outrage appears greater from the indictment under which he was tried. It contained five counts, charging him with publishing malicious and wicked libels, with the intent to excite sedition and insurrection among the slaves and colored people of the District. The evidence relied on was incorporated into the indictment in the form of extracts from these antislavery publications, found in his possession. Among them was this extract from a letter from Arthur Tappan to Mr. Gurley, secretary of the American Colonization Society: " We will not insult your understanding, sir, with any elaborate attempt to, prove to you that the descendants of African parents, born in this country, have as good a claim to a residence in it as the descendants of English, German, Danish, Scotch, or Irish parents; that no man's right to freedom is suspended upon, or taken away by, his desire to remain in his native country." In another count there were extracts from another article. Among them, this " Our plan of emancipation is simply this: to promulgate the doctrine of human rights in high places and low places, and in all places where there are human beings; to give line upon line."

Such were the charges under color of which a Christian gentleman of culture and refinement was arrested, confined, and tried in the capital of this Christian nation. What must have been the necessities of a system that could not bear the presence of a few such papers and pamphlets? What must have been the moral condition of a city that would perpetrate such an act? And what must have been the tone and temper of the nation that could, without remonstrance, permit one of its citizens to linger for weary months in a felon's cell, for having in his possession a few papers that expressed sentiments that he, and every Christian, should cherish?

Source:  Wilson, Henry, History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, Vol. 1.  Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1872, 299-306.

Chapter: “Black Code. — County Jail. — Schools in the District of Columbia,” by Henry Wilson, in History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, 1878.

No complete and adequate estimate of the enormities of the slave system and of the guilty participancy of the nation therein can be formed without a knowledge of the black code of the District of Columbia, of that portion especially which lies on the left bank of the Potomac, embracing the cities of Washington and Georgetown. Coupling that knowledge with the facts that the Constitution gives to Congress "the power to exercise exclusive jurisdiction in all cases whatsoever"; that here the government has been domiciled, and for half the year representatives from all parts of the country have made it their home, and have been, of course, cognizant of its internal polity; and that no laws respecting it have validity without their sanction, — and you have materials, to be found perhaps nowhere else, for judging of the nation's complicity and consent, in spirit and purpose, in the matter of slavery, and of its consequent responsibility for the grave offences to which it has given rise.

Lying at its foundation was the act of 1801, continuing in force, for the new republic, the barbarous laws of the colony of Maryland, though they were enacted in the darkest hour of its early history, when the mother country, fully and openly committed to slavery and the slave-trade as a source of profit and national revenue, proclaimed it a traffic not to be re strained, but cherished and protected. These laws, sufficiently barbarous for any age or any people, seem almost if not altogether to have been conceived and constructed by men without belief or conception of human rights, if not completely oblivious of all moral distinctions. As if color completely dehumanized the black man, and he had no rights the white man was bound to respect, these laws not only held in rigorous bondage those already enslaved, but reduced to slavery free persons of color for several specified and often most trivial offences. They hampered, too, and hedged around the slave masters with arbitrary provisions against granting their slaves even the most moderate privileges to lighten their burden and relieve in the least their "dull monotony of gloom."

Illustrations are only too numerous. Thus, if one was "to allow his slave to raise cattle or hogs as the proper right of such slave, he shall pay five hundred pounds of tobacco"; if anyone should " trade or barter with a slave without license of the owner, he shall pay two thousand pounds of tobacco"; and if one should harbor a runaway, or one who had "rambled " from his owner, "during an hour or longer," he should be fined one hundred pounds of tobacco, or, in default of that, he should be "whipped on his or her bare back, not exceeding thirty-nine stripes for any one offence." But if one should return such runaway he should receive two hundred pounds of tobacco, to be collected from the owner. If a slave should be guilty of the seemingly small offence of rambling, going abroad in the night, and riding horses in the daytime without leave, he should be "punished by whipping, cropping, and branding with the letter R." If a slave should strike a white man, he should be "cropped." A slave convicted of petit treason, arson, or murder should have " his right hand cut off; be hanged in the usual manner ; the head severed from the body, the body divided into four quarters ; the head and quarters set up in the most public places of the country." A person " stealing a slave, or being accessory thereto, and being convicted, or who shall obstinately or of malice stand mute, shall suffer death without benefit of clergy." Runaway slaves refusing to surrender and making resistance, "it shall be lawful to shoot, kill, and destroy"; and any one thus shooting and killing " shall be indemnified from any prosecution for such killing”; and the value of such slave shall be paid by "the treasurer of the province out of the public stock." And these laws, and such as these, were standing on the statute-book of the District, for which Congress was openly and directly responsible, in the year of grace 1862.

After the adoption of the Constitution, and the District had been ceded to the government, the enactments were not as brutal and sanguinary, for, the former remaining in force, more of the same character were not needed; but the latter, like most of the slave codes, were restrictive and repressive, galling and crushing, — galling to every human and humane sensibility, crushing out everything like self-assertion, self- reliance, and self-respect. Not only were the slaves compelled to bear the burden of unremitting and unpaid toil, wanton contempt and insult, the lash of passion and of unsatisfied exaction, but whichever way they turned they encountered some statute designed to come in conflict with their free will and to deprive them of some just privilege. Under an act of Congress, adopted as late as 1820, granting and defining the powers of the corporation of Washington, a slave might be whipped for breaking a street lamp; tying a horse to any of the trees of the public grounds; injuring a house or any of its appendages; offending against any of the laws of the public markets; setting fire to straw or shavings after sundown; sending off crackers within a hundred yards of a dwelling-house, flying a kite, or bathing in the canal; and for being present at any assemblage, except a religious meeting led by a white man, and terminated before half past nine o'clock. Free negroes or mulattoes were compelled to prove their freedom, and enter into bonds, with five good sureties; or, in default of which, to pay a fine of one thousand dollars, and be sent to the work house. Persons of color, free or slave, visiting the capitol grounds without necessary business, and refusing to depart, were fined twenty dollars, or confined to hard labor for thirty days for each offence. A free colored person found in the street after ten o'clock p. m., without a pass from a white person, was fined and locked up till morning; for receiving an antislavery paper he was fined twenty dollars, committed to the workhouse, and his sureties rendered void. A slave receiving such paper was to be punished with thirty-nine stripes. Under the same act, the corporation might license persons to engage in the domestic slave traffic by paying the sum of four hundred dollars.

On the 24th of February, 1862, Mr. Wilson, in pursuance of previous notice, introduced a bill for the repeal of these and other laws and ordinances of the District respecting people of color. Briefly reciting what it was proposed to repeal, he said: "Such, Mr. President, are the laws enacted or permitted by this Christian people, this republican government. A sense of decency should prompt Congress to erase these laws and ordinances from the statutes of the Republic." Mr. "Wilmot expressed the conviction that the abolition of slavery, as the more comprehensive measure, would cover the whole ground. " It embraces," he said, " the bill of the Senator from Massachusetts; it embraces every question that can be raised on this subject." Mr. Wilson, however, expressed the idea that his bill was supplementary and necessary, as indeed "only following up that bill and repealing the black code of the District, — the laws applicable to all persons of color in the District." The bill was then referred to the Committee on the District of Columbia.

Subsequently, in the May following, during a debate on an educational bill in behalf of the people of color in the District, the Committee on the District of Columbia not having reported on the black code, which had been referred to it, Mr. Wilson introduced a new section to the bill under consideration; designed to cover other abuses and to remove other evils than those relating to schools. He then explained its design and import: "We have some laws that everybody admits are very oppressive upon the colored population of this District; some of them old laws made by Maryland; others, ordinances of the cities of Washington and Georgetown. As we are now dealing with their educational interests, I think we may as well at the same time relieve them from these oppressive laws, and put them, so far as crime is concerned, and so far as offences against the laws are concerned, upon the same footing, and have them tried in the same manner, and subject them to the same punishments, as the rest of our people."

The amendment provided that all persons of color should be amenable and subject to the same laws and ordinances to which white persons were amenable and subject; that they should be indicted, tried, and punished in the same way ; and " that all acts, or parts of acts, inconsistent with the provisions of this act are hereby repealed." The amendment was accepted, the bill, as amended, was passed ; and thus by this simple act were swept from the statute-book of the District those terrible laws with their consequent abuses which had so long oppressed and distressed a prostrate race, disgraced and debauched the nation, and made the great Republic a byword and reproach throughout the civilized world, not only on account of their intrinsic inhumanity and injustice, but because of their glaring and mocking inconsistency with its vaunted principles of human equality and self-government.

Closely connected, if not as cause and effect, perhaps better, as the correlated results of a common cause, were this black code, the county jail of the District, and its fearful abuses. While the former revealed the spirit and purpose of those who accepted slavery with its natural conditions and concomitants, the latter disclosed its practical results and the utter heartless ness and cruelty of a people growing up and living where it was admitted as a dominant and controlling force. This idea was well expressed by Mr. Sumner in his remarks upon a resolution introduced by his colleague, Mr. Wilson, on the 4th of December, 1861, directing the discharge of all " per sons claimed as fugitives from service or labor, confined in the county jail in the District of Columbia." "There is," he said, "a black code in this District, derived from the old legislation of Maryland, which is a shame to the civilization of our age. If any one wishes to know why such abuses exist in our prisons and in our courts here, as have been to-day so eloquently pointed out, I refer him to that black code. You will find in that black code an apology for every outrage that is now complained of. If, therefore, Senators are really in earnest; if they are determined that the national capital shall be purified, that the administration of justice here shall be worthy of a civilized community, — they have got to expunge that black code from the statute-book." The reason, he said, why "justice is so offensively administered in the District " must be looked for in the black code and "those brutal sentiments generated by slavery."

Mr. Wilson, on introducing his resolution, remarked that he had visited the jail and there found such a scene of degradation as he had never witnessed; and his testimony in that regard was corroborated by Mr. Sumner, who had also visited the same. He also spoke of the visit of gentlemen who were investigating the subject of prisons, and who had traversed the world for that purpose. Their testimony was that, with one exception, a prison in Austria, they had never found anything so disgraceful. Describing his visit, he said: "There are persons there almost entirely naked, some of them without a shirt. Some of these are free persons; most of them had run away from disloyal masters, or had been sent there by disloyal persons, for safe keeping, until the war- is over." He also read the report of a government official setting forth substantially the facts in regard to sixty persons there confined. He also expressed the wish that, with the discharge of those there confined, a law might be enacted punishing any who should be guilty of arresting those whose only crime was an attempt to escape from the thraldom of slavery, and that the time would soon come when slavery itself should be swept from the capital it had so long polluted and disgraced. Mr. Fessenden of Maine expressed a similar wish, and a special abhorrence of the idea that fugitives should be arrested by army officials and returned to their masters, saying that he deemed it an outrage to which he would not submit unless compelled. "I have," he said, "three sons in the army, out of four, and I never would have consented that one of them should be there if his life was to be perilled, exposed to sickness or other dangers, under the authority of men who ordered him to arrest fugitive slaves and return them to their masters."

"I am very glad," said Mr. Hale of New Hampshire, " that this report has been made and presented here, because it will help to answer a question that was put to me a great many times long and long ago, — what the North had to do with slavery. I think, when the Northern States find out that they are supporting here in jail the slaves of Rebels who are fighting against us; that we are keeping at the public expense their slaves for them until the war is over, — it will have a tendency to enlighten some minds in regard to the proper answer to that question. If there be any duty which this Congress owes to humanity and to itself, it is to look into the administration of justice in this District, and to see to it that those who have been ground to the earth heretofore may not be ground still more under your auspices and your reign."

Other resolutions of similar tenor were introduced. Among them one by Mr. Clark of New Hampshire, calling upon the marshal of the District to inform the Senate upon what authority he received the slaves of masters for safe-keeping in the county jail. On the 6th of January, 1862, Mr. Grimes of Iowa reported a bill for the removal of the abuses complained of, and for the better definition of the principles and rules to be adopted for the government of those who had the jail in charge. In his speech accompanying its introduction he said: "I am not very fresh in my reading of history; but, from my recollection of the descriptions of prisons I have read of, I think that there never was a place of confinement that would be compared with the Washington jail as it was at the commencement of the present session, except the French Bastile and the dungeons of Venice. When I visited the jail the other day, I had hardly entered the threshold before a colored boy stepped up to me, and tapped me on the shoulder. He happened to know who I was. Said he, ' I have been here a year and four days.' I asked him for what offence. He said he was confined as a runaway. I asked him if any one claimed him. ' No.' ' Are you a free boy? ' ' Yes.' Turning around to the jailer, I asked him if that was so. He said it was. I asked him, ' How do you know it to be so? ' I found that the boy had been confined, not twelve months only, but for more than fourteen, and that simply on the suspicion of being a runaway."

Mr. Powell of Kentucky, remarking that " the effect of the bill clearly will be to release every fugitive slave from jail, moved an amendment exempting such from the operations of the bill. Mr. Collamer very earnestly opposed the amendment, and it received but five votes. Mr. Pearce of Maryland opposed the measure on the ground that any action of the government conveying and strengthening the impression that its policy was one of emancipation would diminish the chances of maintaining the Union. Mr. Carlile of Virginia, though he could not vote for the bill, desired " to get rid of it; and thus one peg, at least," he said, " will be taken from gentlemen, upon which they hang their sympathetic speeches for the negro race." With the adoption of an amendment providing that no one should be committed without a warrant, the bill was adopted, only four voting against it.

On the 12th of February Mr. Wilson introduced a bill for the appointment of a warden of the jail. He accompanied its introduction with remarks upon the proslavery character and course of the individual who then held the office of superintendent. Speaking of him as " our man Wise, our negro thief," of whose conduct he specified two or three examples, he said: "I want it understood, in the Senate and by the men who, on their bended knees and over their Bibles, prayed in the year 1860 for an end to these crimes against humanity, that this man is kept there by our votes and influence, and we are responsible for it before God ; and, for one, I wash my hands of the crime, and I denounce it." The bill was referred to the Committee on the District of Columbia, which in a few days reported it back with an amendment in the form of a substitute, which, after a brief debate, was adopted without division.

In the House a resolution was introduced by Mr. Bingham, on the 9th of December, forbidding the imprisonment of fugitives or any claimed as fugitives in the county jail, and making any such imprisonment a misdemeanor. It was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary; but it was never reported, and the House took no action upon the subject. But the exposure of the shameful condition of affairs brought redress and reform, the executive department of the government taking the matter in hand.

Among those who had gained the most unenviable reputation for his super serviceable zeal in behalf of the slave-masters was Marshal Lamon. In the absence of any legislative action for the abatement of these abuses, the President asserted his authority, and on the 25th of January, 1862, the Secretary of State addressed to the marshal an order, informing him that the President, being satisfied that by so doing he should " contravene no law in force in the District," instructed him not to " receive into custody any persons claimed to be held to service or labor within the District or elsewhere, not charged with any crime or misdemeanor, unless upon arrest or commitment pursuant to law "; and that those thus arrested were not to be detained more than thirty days, "unless by special order of competent civil authority."

But the infamous black code and the horrible condition of its jail were not the only evidences of slavery and of its doings at the capital of the nation. An army of more than three thousand colored children and youth, growing up in enforced ignorance and vice, presented a picture not only dark and revolting in itself, but made blacker and more hideous by the background of injustice and meanness it bespoke in the white population, who not only refused to make provision for their education, but took and appropriated nearly four thousand dollars from taxes paid by the colored population for the support of schools from which their own children were excluded. Nor was this a sin of ignorance. The victims had friends, though few, yet sufficient in numbers and earnest in purpose, to remind Congress of this unjustifiable and unmanly policy. 

Among the efforts which were early made, after the secession of the Southern members, to reform these abuses and to relieve the government of its guilty remissness toward the colored people, was a bill, introduced into the Senate by Mr. Grimes on the 29th of April, 1862, to provide for the education of colored children in the city of Washington. Explaining the bill and its provisions, he recited the facts, and stated its purpose to be an enactment that the tax levied on the property of colored persons should be used exclusively in the education of colored children. The bill was amended and became the subject of debate. As amended, it made it the duty of the municipal authorities of Washington and Georgetown to set apart ten per cent of the taxes paid by the colored people, for the purpose of initiating a system of primary schools for the education of colored children. This, with such sums as might be contributed by benevolent persons for the same purpose, was to be expended and controlled by the board of trustees of public schools. As amended, it was passed by a vote of twenty-nine to seven. In the House it was passed without amendment, debate, or division, and was approved by the President on the 21st of May, 1862.

A few weeks later Mr. Lovejoy of Illinois introduced a bill, supplementary to the one already passed concerning the schools for the education of colored children in the cities of Washington and Georgetown, by which the duties imposed upon the board of trustees by that act should be transferred to a new board of three, whose names were inserted, "and their successors," who should have the same powers and duties in regard to the colored children which belonged to the trustees of the public schools in those cities. The bill was passed in both houses without division.

On the 17th of February, 1863, Mr. Wilson introduced a bill into the Senate to incorporate "the institution for the education of colored youth," to be located in the District of Columbia. This institution was the outgrowth of Miss Miner's school for girls, which, from small beginnings, by her un wearied labors, aided by the countenance and gifts of sympathizing friends and patrons, had achieved so much of success and gave such promise of further usefulness as to both demand and merit this recognition of the general government. It was referred, reported without amendment, and on the 27th was made the subject of debate. But, like every subject in which the interests of the colored people were involved, it gave occasion to Southern members to vent their spleen and to show their inhumanity. Mr. Carlile of Virginia petulantly and spitefully asked whether " these negroes cannot be educated without an act of incorporation." He declared, too, that he could not " see any very good reason why the government of the United States should enter upon the scheme of educating negroes." Referring to the general assumption in the free States that education should accompany the right of suffrage, he said loftily, and with a supercilious sneer, that he presumed "we have not reached the point where it is proposed to elevate to the condition of voters the negroes of the land." He discarded, too, the principle of all government aid for schools, contending that the education of the rising generation should be left to parental support and care. Mr. Davis of Kentucky coupled his opposition with ridicule, and expressed his apprehension " that if the subject of negroes is handled much longer in the Senate there is very great danger that some Senators would be turned to negroes."

In response, however, to these arguments and appeals, sneers and insinuations, Republican members answered with becoming dignity and point. "I thank God," said Mr. Grimes, "that I was raised in a section of the country where there are nobler and loftier sentiments entertained in regard to education." Saying that those he represented believed that all human beings were " accountable," that every man should be able to read the law by which he is governed, should be able to "read the Word of God, by which lie should guide his steps in this life and shall be judged in the life to come," he added that they believed in education "to elevate the human race," and to "keep our jails and our penitentiaries and our alms houses free from inmates."

Mr. Morrill of Maine, expressing his great surprise that "the Senator from Virginia puts his opposition upon the ground of a protest against public education," pronounced an appreciative and glowing eulogium upon the region of country he represented, where public education was regarded as " the first great duty of the State, to be religiously performed"; and he declared it to be the glory of New England that her system of instruction gave an education " to every child, no matter whether he is high or low born "; that it enjoined "it upon the people of every town and city to educate every child without regard to color or complexion"; and that "the negro, in that regard, stands on an equal footing with every other child in the State." The bill was then passed by a vote of twenty-nine to nine. It was passed in the House without amendment or debate, and was approved by the President on the 3d of March, 1863.

On the 18th of February, 1864, on motion of Mr. Grimes, the Senate proceeded to the consideration of his bill to provide for the public instruction of youth throughout the whole county of Washington. The committee reported an amendment in the form of a substitute, to establish a public school system for the county; authorizing the Levy Court to assess a tax of one eighth of one per cent on all the taxable property of colored inhabitants, for the purpose of initiating a system of education for colored children. The bill, as thus amended, passed without a division.

When the bill came up in the House, Mr. Patterson of New Hampshire, from the committee to which it was referred, offered an amendment with a proviso. By the latter, provision was made for separate schools for colored children. In explaining the bill and its provisions, Mr. Patterson said, we have recommended that such a proportion of the entire school fund should be set apart for colored children between the ages of six and seventeen, as they bear to the whole number of children in the county. "We may have differences of opinion in regard to the proper policy to be pursued in respect to slavery; but we all concur in this, that we have been brought to a juncture in our national affairs in which four millions of a degraded race, lying far below the average civilization of the age, and depressed by an almost universal prejudice, are to be set free in our midst. The question now is, What is our first duty in regard to them?...I think there can be no difference of opinion on this, that it is our duty to give to this people the means of education, that they may be prepared for all the privileges which we may desire to give them hereafter."

The Senate accepted the House amendment and passed the bill. It received the President's signature on the 25th of June, 1864. By this enactment nearly four thousand children, instead of living in enforced ignorance, with no provision for their education, compelled to stand by and see those with lighter complexion, and because of that complexion, attending schools from which they were excluded, though supported, in part at least, from taxes paid by their own parents, were advanced at once to the same privileges and permitted to claim by law what had been for generations so wickedly and so meanly withheld.

Source:  Wilson, Henry, History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, Vol. 3.  Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1878, 257-269.



THE Treaty of Peace, by which the independence of the thirteen British Colonies was acknowledged, was signed at Paris on the 30th of November, 1782. Beyond the western boundaries of the States, and between the 31st and 47th parallels of latitude, lay a vast and fertile territory, conceded to be embraced within the limits of the-new Republic. Not only were these rich lands looked to as a source of revenue for the payment of the debt incurred in, the War of independence, but the far-seeing statesmen of that day saw that States carved from this territory would exert a powerful, if not controlling influence in shaping the destinies of the country. To the future of the United States it was then a question of transcendent importance whether it should be organized into free or slave States. Hence, among the first measures of the Continental Congress, after the British forces had left the country, was an effort to fix the condition of this immense public domain.

The States of Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia each claimed severally, under their respective charters, a portion of this territory. These claims were warmly opposed by the landless States, Which justly held that this territory had been conjointly won, and should therefore inure to the common benefit. 

On the first day of March, 1784, Mr. Jefferson presented to the Continental Congress, then assembled in Annapolis, a deed of cession of all the lands claimed by Virginia northwest of the Ohio River. A select committee was appointed, consisting of himself, Mr. Chase of Maryland, and Mr. Howell of Rhode Island; and this committee reported a plan for the government of the territory ceded, or to be ceded. This plan contemplated its ultimate division into seventeen States. It was therein provided that, “after the year of the Christian era 1800, there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in any of these States, otherwise than in the punishment of crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted."

This provision was stricken out on motion of Mr. Spaight of North Carolina, seconded by Mr. Read of South Carolina. It required the votes of nine States to retain it as a part of the ordinance. Only six voted for it, -New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, and Pennsylvania. Maryland, Virginia, and South Carolina voted against it. North Carolina was divided. Delaware and Georgia were not present. Mr. Dick of New Jersey voted to retain it; but as two members were required to give the vote of a State, that State was not represented in the vote. Though sixteen members voted for the prohibition of slavery, and only seven voted against it, yet then, as so often since, slavery, though in a lean minority, gained a victory that should have fallen to the other side. This important measure would have saved to freedom not only the territory of the Northwest, but also Kentucky, Tennessee, .Alabama, and Mississippi.

In March, 1785, Rufus King, a delegate from Massachusetts, moved to modify the report made at the previous session, by inserting therein a total and immediate prohibition of slavery; but his motion failed, In July, 1787, a committee, of which Nathan Dane of Massachusetts was chairman, reported an ordinance for the territory northwest of the Ohio, in which there should be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude. With it there was, however, a stipulation for the rendition of fugitive slaves. This ordinance --which consecrated to freedom the fertile territory covered now by the great States of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin --was passed on the 13th of July, 1787 ; every State voting for it, Mr. Yates of New York alone voting against it.

In July, 1789, Mr. Fitzsimmons of Pennsylvania reported in the House of Representatives a bill for the government of the territory northwest of the Ohio River, which passed both houses without opposition. This act gave the emphatic sanction of the first Congress under the Constitution to the ordinance of 1787, prohibiting forever slavery in the territory northwest of the Ohio.

But, notwithstanding this prohibition was so solemnly and with such unanimity adopted, the most persistent efforts were· subsequently made to give slavery a foothold in that region. After the admission of Ohio as a free State, the remainder of that territory was organized under the name of the Territory of Indiana. Most of its settlers, coming from the slaveholding States, -with their former tastes, habits, and prejudices, --soon memorialized Congress for a temporary suspension of the ordinance. The convention which sent this memorial was held in 1802. Its presiding officer was Governor William Henry Harrison, afterward President of the United States. The memorial was referred by the House to a select committee, of which John Randolph, the brilliant but erratic Virgi1iian, was chairman. This committee reported that it was "highly dangerous and inexpedient to impair a provision wisely calculated to promote the happiness and prosperity of the Northern country." No action was taken, as the session terminated the following day.

In the next Congress the subject was referred to a committee of which Caesar Rodney of Delaware --afterward Attorney-General of the United States --was made chairman, and it reported in favor of a suspension of the antislavery restriction for a limited time. Early in February, 1806, James M. Garnett of Virginia, from a select committee, made a like report, though, as in the previous case, no action was taken. Another committee was appointed during the next year, of which Mr. Parke, a delegate from the Territory, was chairman, to which was referred a letter from Governor Harrison, with resolve from the Territorial legislature1 favoring a temporary suspension of the inhibition. On, the 12th of February this committee reported that the ordinance be suspended for ten years from the 1st of January, 1808. Though this was the third report proposing a temporary suspension of the ordinance of 1787, Congress took no action upon either.

Governor Harrison and the legislature again united in a like request, though Pit this time a portion of the inhabitants remonstrated against gra11ting it. The subject in the Senate was referred to a select committee, consisting of Franklin of North Carolina, Kitchell of New Jersey, and Tiffin of Ohio. On the 13th of November, 1807 this committee reported a resolve, declaring it not expedient to suspend the sixth article of the compact for the government of the territory Northwest of the, Ohio, This report closed the effort made by an undoubted majority of the people of the Territory to be at least temporarily relieved from the operation of this ordinance. In this struggle it is to be noted tha.t they had the effective support and hearty cooperation of General Harrison, their governor, whom the nation with so much enthusiasm bore into the Presidential chair in 1840. Had their wishes prevailed, however, and those imperial States been lost to freedom, who can estimate the increased danger that would have imperiled the nation and darkened its pathway? Who can comprehend the aggravated difficulties which would have attended the then future, but now accomplished, work of emancipation? There is little danger of overestimating the benefits which the ordinance of 1787 has conferred on the Northwest, or the measureless perils from which it saved the land. Its enactment must ever stand as one of the great events of American history, one of the most important achievements in behalf of freedom.

Virginia having retained her claim to the Territory of Kentucky, into which many of her citizens had taken their slaves, a new slave State was early carved out of it and added to the Union. North Carolina, too, laid claim to Western territory, but ceded Tennessee, in 1789, upon the condition that no regulation made or to be made by Congress should tend to the emancipation of slavery." This deed of cession was laid before the Senate in the winter of 1790, and referred to a committee, of which Oliver Ellsworth, afterward Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, was chairman. He reported a. bill accepting the cession, and providing that the ordinance for the government of the Northwest Territory should be applied to this cession, excepting, however, the clause prohibiting slavery. The bill passed the Senate without division; was briefly debated in the House, and concurred in with little opposition. Slavery had already entered the, Territory; and Congress, consenting with more or less reluctance to the hard conditions imposed, gave assent to its continuance.

Georgia claimed the territory forming subsequently the States of Alabama and Mississippi. She did not promptly follow the example of her sister States in ceding her territorial claims to the general government.; as her cession was not made until the 2d of April, 1802 and then upon the peremptory condition that the ordinance of 1787 '' shall, in all its parts, extend to the territory contained in the present cession, the article only excepted which forbids slavery."

Although Georgia had not previously relinquished her claim to the Mississippi territory, still settlement had been made there, and the duty was imposed upon Congress of legislating for the government of the people of that region.  In March, 1798, the House of Representatives proceeded to the consideration of the bill for the government of that Territory. It expressly provided that a, government similar in all respects to that of the Northwestern Territory should be established, the inhibition of slavery only excepted. Mr. Thatcher of Massachusetts remarking that he intended to make a motion touching the rights of man, moved to strike out the excepting  clause.  Mr. Harper of South Carolina said that this was not a legitimate mode of supporting the rights of man. The regulation prohibiting slavery in the Northwest was proper; but it would not be so in Mississippi. It would be a decree of the banishment of all persons settled there, and a decree of the exclusion of all persons intending to go there. Mr. Varnum, of Massachusetts afterward Speaker of the House, declared that Mr. Harper's remarks showed that he did not wish to support the rights of all men; for" where 'there was no disposition to retain a part of our species in slavery there could not be proper respect for the rights of mankind." He looked upon the practice of holding blacks in slavery in this country to be equally criminal with the practice of the Algerines in carrying American citizens into slavery. Mr. Rutledge wished Mr. Thatcher to withdraw his motion. He remarked that one gentleman called these men “property "; another said, “you hold these men in chains " ; and another declared, "you violate the rights of man," and wished to know if these men were not property, and held as such by the Spanish government .

Mr. Otis of Massachusetts --an early representative of that class of Northern politicians who have always existed in sufficient numbers to betray their section in an emergency, and give to slavery the victory-expressed the hope that Mr. Thatcher would not withdraw his amendment. He desired, he said, that “an opportunity might be given to gentlemen who came from the North to manifest that it was not their disposition to interfere with the South in regard to that species of property." He thought, he said, --and thus invited the very violence he seemed to deprecate, --that if the amendment was adopted that no slavery should exist in the territory it would be not only, a sentence of banishment, but of war; that an immediate insurrection would take place, and that the inhabitants would not be suffered to retire, but would be massacred on the spot.

Mr. Foster, of the same State, thought that if the amendment was not withdrawn, a long debate might be had upon it. To these remarks of his colleagues Mr. Thatcher replied that he should not withdraw his motion. Believing his course to be just, the more it was opposed the more obstinate he should be in its support. Mr. Giles of Virginia then made the suggestion, often repeated since, that if the slaves of other States were permitted to go to the Western States, and thus spread themselves over a larger territory, there would be a greater prospect of ameliorating their condition. Mr. Hartley of Pennsylvania felt compelled to vote against the amendment, although he desired to gratify the wishes of philanthropists by doing away with the system of slavery altogether.

Mr. Gallatin of Pennsylvania, a gentleman of great learning and capacity, who afterward rendered signal service to his country as a financier and diplomatist, maintained that the amendment striking out the provision of the bill which allowed slavery in the Territory, could not be rejected for want of jurisdiction: He confessed he could not see how forbidding slavery in Mississippi could affect it in South Carolina, any more than forbidding it in the Northwest Territory. If the amendment was rejected, slavery was established for that country, not only during its temporary government, but during all the time it should be a State. The number of slaves would become so large, by constant increase, that when the Territory became a State the slaveholders would be able to secure a constitution recognizing and protecting slavery, and thereby making it permanent. Having determined that slavery would be bad policy for the Northwest Territory, he saw no reason for a contrary determination in respect to the Mississippi Territory.

Mr. Nicholas of Virginia thought that the rejection of the amendment would be not only for the interest of the Territory, but of the United States. But Mr. Thatcher firmly declared that he could never be brought to believe that an individual could have a right in anything that tended to the destruction of the government; that he could have a right in any wrong, as " property in slaves was founded in wrong, and never could be right." Slavery "must be put a stop to; and the sooner it was begun the better." The amendment was lost, only twelve members voting for it. The bill, however, was amended, on motion of Mr. Harper, so as to prohibit the introduction of slavery into the Territory from beyond the limits of the United States.

In this, the first debate in Congress on the question of permitting or excluding slavery in the Territories, members eminent as jurists and statesmen participated. Although they entertained different views of its expediency, none of them questioned or doubted its constitutionality. The power of Congress to prohibit slavery in the Territories was then conceded by the statesmen of the South as well as by the statesmen of the North. The dogma or "no power in Congress to prohibit slavery in the Territories" had not then been invented.

By this legislation the character of all the territory of the United States was then fixed. Mr. Jefferson's proposition, made in 1784, would have prohibited slavery after 1800 in all that territory. It has ever been a source of profound regret to the friends of freedom that his proposition failed. In the light of subsequent events, however, it is not ·at all clear that more would have been gained to freedom by its adoption than was secured by Mr. Dane's ordinance, which only applied to the Territory northwest of the Ohio River. Had slavery been allowed in the Northwest Territory till the year 1800, a more powerful and persistent effort- and perhaps one more successful -- would have been made for its retention than was actually made by the emigrants from the South and the few old French settlers, who, in spite of the ordinance, retained some in servitude, and strove to legalize the system temporarily, and make, if possible, Indiana and Illinois slave States.

After the adoption of the Constitution the slaveholding class, from the Potomac to the Gulf, rapidly increased in wealth, social influence, and political power. Emigrants from those States settled the Territory south of the Ohio, and carried to that region the habits, prejudices, and interests of their section. They might have taken their slaves with them, made slave laws and constitutions, and sought admission into the Union. Perhaps the ordinance itself might have been temporarily, partially, or wholly set aside by the slaveholding class, which obtained control of the Federal government at the beginning of the century, and held it for two generations. While Mr. Jefferson's proviso might and probably would have failed to secure to freedom the territory south of the Ohio, it might have imperiled it in the territory northwest of that river. Mr. Dane's . Ordinance of 1787 probably won for freedom all that could have been securely held, and will ever stand as one of the grandest achievements in American history.





See also US Congress, Regulation of Coastal Slave Trade

AMERICAN slavery was multiform in its aspects and capacities for evil. .Among these various phases and features stood out, in bold and black relief, the slave-trade, --foreign and domestic. This, in all its developments, --from the first sale of his captive by the robber chief in Africa, through all the horrors of the middle passage and the slave coffle, till the last transfer, --was an essential part of the system. Not only did many of the slave-masters make their most strenuous exertions for its protection and preservation, but those exertions were too often connived at, if not aided, by the general government. A true estimate, then, of the extent and blameworthiness of the national complicity in this great crime requires a glance at the character and amount of that commerce in human beings.

After the peace of 1815 the demand for slave labor greatly increased, and the price of slaves largely advanced. Consequently the slave-trade was prosecuted with renewed vigor. Maryland, the District of Columbia, and Virginia became the seat of the disgraceful traffic, the head-quarters and field of operations of those who, in the prosecution of their terrible business, here sought its victims and furnished supplies for the Southwestern market. So cruel and shameless did the trade become that many masters themselves and defenders of the system revolted at such demonstrations, and entered their earnest protests against the logical sequences of their own theories. John Randolph denounced it as inhuman and abominable, and moved for a committee of investigation; but nothing came of it. Even a governor of South Carolina, in a message to his legislature, denounced “this remorseless and merciless traffic, the ceaseless dragging along the streets and highways of a crowd of suffering victims to minister to insatiable avarice," and he, too, invoked legislative action. And this is but a tithe of Southern testimony, not to be impeached by the .charge of abolition, prejudice, and extravagance. A Kentucky synod of the Presbyterian Church thus refers to the slave coffle, often seen in that State, proclaiming, it said, “the iniquity of our system." “There is not a village," it adds,” that does not behold the sad procession of manacled victims." Mr. Paulding, afterward Mr. Van Buren's Secretary of the Navy, thus describes a party of these Northern slaves, which he met in 1815, sold for a Southern market. “In a cart," he said, "tumbled like pigs, were half a dozen half-naked black children, who seemed to have been actually broiled to sleep, followed by scantily clothed women, without shoes or stockings, and men, bareheaded, half clad, and chained together with an ox-chain," followed by a white man with pistols in his belt. A Southern editor wrote of the same kind of procession as " with heavy, galling chains riveted upon their person, half naked, half starved," these victims of man's unfeeling rapacity, were travelling to a region where" their miserable condition will be second only to the wretched creatures in hell."

Nor were these rare, extreme, exceptional cases. They were the order of the day. The Border States had become slave-breeding communities, making the raising of slaves a special and fostered interest. Still quoting Southern testimony, a Baltimore journal said: “Dealing in slaves has become a large business; establishments are made in several places in Maryland and Virginia, at which they are sold like cattle. These places of deposit are strongly built, and well supplied with iron thumb-screws and gags, and are ornamented with cow-skins, oftentimes bloody." Thomas Jefferson Randolph said in the Virginia legislature, in 1832, that the "State was one grand menagerie, where men are reared for the market like oxen for the shambles." Comparing the domestic and foreign slave-trade, he pronounced the former" much the worse " ; for while the latter, he said, only took ''strangers in aspect, language, and manner," in the former, an individual takes those he had" known from infancy," -he might have put it far more strongly,-tears " them from the mother's arms," and sells them " into a strange country, among a strange people, subject to cruel taskmasters." Mr. Gholson admitted the like fact, and added, “I do not hesitate to say that in its increase consists much of our wealth." Professor Dew, afterwards president of William and Mary College, in a review of the great debate in the Virginia legislature, in 1831-32, on the slavery question, felt called upon to answer the objection that this traffic would depopulate Virginia of its black population, which he did by saying that it added largely to its revenues, and thus "becomes an advantage to the State, and does not check the black population as much as at first view we might imagine, because it furnishes every inducement to the master to attend to the negroes, to encourage breeding, and to cause the greatest number possible to be raised ..... Virginia is in fact a negro-raising State for other States."

Now when it is remembered that this was not spoken in the heat of debate by a political partisan, but written by a cultivated, scholarly man in the calm retirement of his study--an educator, too, of young men in the venerable college of his State,--discoursing of slave-breeding and slave-selling as if they were mere matters of economy, precisely as he would write of raising stock and improved breeds of animals, coolly putting the two abhorrent ideas together, --the one as indecent as the other was inhuman, --and arguing that the stimulus thus given to slave-breeding was an adequate compensation for the losses incurred by slave-selling, --something of the moral tendency of the system he defends and advocates may be estimated. And what gives its deepest shading to this dark picture is the fact that this increase was secured by a persistent ignoring of the family relation, that these slaves were born out of wedlock, and were the fruits of a promiscuous concubinage. It this was the style of thought and feeling pervading the upper strata of: society, the sentiments of the lower class must have been simply horrible, and the utter social demoralization which the rebellion revealed ceases to be a matter of wonder. In the prosecution of this terrible business, by the confession of the slave-dealers themselves, the family tie was disregarded, and infants were taken from the mother's arms, while she was sold and they retained. And this traffic had become so enormous that in 1836 it was estimated that the number sold from the single State of Virginia was forty thousand, yielding a return of twenty-four millions of dollars. It was, in fact, the great business, licensed and protected by laws, advertised in the papers, and recognized as one of the branches of legitimate production and trade. Of course there were those in whom the sense of justice, humanity, and shame was not altogether extinct, and they realized its enormity. Editors saw it and denounced it, ecclesiastical bodies condemned it, judges charged juries, and juries presented it as a grievance and nuisance. Thus Judge Morsell, of the Circuit Court, charged the grand jury of Washington that “the frequency with which the streets of this city have been crowded with manacled captives, sometimes on the Sabbath, cannot fail to shock all humane persons."

While these scenes were enacting in the interests of the domestic slave-traffic, the foreign was still prosecuted with vigor. Without adducing the facts, it may be sufficient to quote the language of Judge Story, of the Supreme Court of the United States, in a charge to a grand jury in 1819. “We have," he said,” but too many proofs from unquestionable sources that --the African trade --is still carried on with the implacable ferocity and insatiable rapacity of former times. Avarice has grown more subtle in its evasions, and it watches and seizes its prey with an appetite quickened, rather than suppressed by its guilty vigils. American citizens are steeped to their very mouths--I can scarcely, use too bold a figure--in this stream of iniquity." And the numbers thus smuggled into the country at that time were estimated by a Southern man at from thirteen thousand to fifteen thousand annually. These statistics of the domestic and foreign traffic are easily written, but who can measure the unmitigated wrongs and untold wretchedness involved in the sale and transportation of each one of the victims for whom they stand? If Mr. Jefferson's arraignment of slavery was not extravagant, when he declared that one hour of the slave's bondage was fraught with greater evil than ages of the oppression of Great Britain, in revolt from which our fathers fought through the Revolution, what shall be said of the superadded horrors, not only of a single year's export from a single State of forty thousand men, women, and children, but of the vast aggregate of all the States and all the years of this iniquitous trade? And what shall be said of the scores of thousands of smuggled victims of foreign and piratical expeditions, extending over the same years, subjected not only to the ordinary horrors of the slave-trade, but to sufferings greatly increased and intensified by the outlawry and ban of the civilized world, tinder which they must be conducted? Surely' it transcends all human conception.

It was not strange, perhaps, that vile and rapacious men were found ready and reckless enough to engage, in this ill-favored commerce in the bodies and souls of men, and that for the extravagant profits which rewarded a successful venture in the foreign trade there were those who would run ,the risk of detection ; but it was a singular, an astounding fact that a young and professedly Christian repub1ic was found, if not indorsing, yet consenting, to it, -- if not protecting, at least tolerating it. For the disgraceful record not only reveals the fact that Congress, though often petitioned to abolish the interstate slave-trade, always refused such prayers, not even adopting any regulations in the interests of humanity in relation to it, but it show? that "an official document was submitted,'' in 1819, by Mr. Nourse, Register of the Treasury, in which he certified that, though the act of 1807, abolishing the slave-trade, required the, forfeiture to the government of the Africans thus illegally introduced into the country, yet of the more than a hundred thousand which, by Southern admission, had been surreptitiously brought here, there were no records in the Treasury Department of any forfeitures under the act. When Anthony Burns was to be remanded to slavery, the whole military and naval power of the general government was placed at the disposal of the slave-master, and he was remanded to his cruel bondage. Of more than a hundred thousand persons imported into the United States in violation of law and entitled to their freedom by it, not one found it, at least in the way provided in the statute.

Of course this wholesale and persistent outrage upon all law, human and divine, excited the sympathy, the indignation, and the apprehension of the humane and patriotic. ·Nor was the · country ever without earnest protestants and witnesses for the right and against the wrong. The faithful Quakers and others besieged Congress with their petitions, though generally with unsatisfying and indifferent results. In March, 1817, Mr. Roberts of Pennsylvania introduced a resolution asking for the appointment of a committee to inquire into the expediency of making further provision against the introduction of slaves. A committee was granted, which reported a bill that passed both Houses. By its provisions the penalties of the Prohibitory Act were applied to the fitting out of vessels for the trade and the transportation of slaves to any country; and in all cases where negroes were found on shipboard, the burden of proof was put on· those in whose possession they were found.

Notwithstanding this legislation, however, the foreign and domestic slave-trade went on unchecked. Further legislation and the rigorous enforcement of existing laws were demanded by the friends of freedom and humanity. The Quakers, as ever on the alert, were foremost in calling for the suppression of both the foreign and domestic traffic. The Yearly Meeting of Friends sent a, memorial to Congress near the close of the year 1817, for further provision by law for the suppression of the trade in negroes between the Middle and Southern States. This memorial was referred by the Senate to a committee of five, of which Mr. Goldsborough of Maryland was chairman.

A few days afterwards Mr. Burrill of Rhode Island moved that the committee, to which had been referred the memorial, be instructed to inquire into the expediency of amending the laws concerning the slave-trade, and also to consider the expediency of consulting with other nations, with a view to the entire abolition of that traffic. Mr. Troup of Georgia expressed his readiness to enforce, within the jurisdiction of the United States, the abolition of the African slave-trade, but he was not ready to co-operate with other nations for its suppression. But it was strenuously maintained by Mr. Burrill that the slave-trade could be abolished only by concert and co-operation with other nations. The venerable Rufus King, one of the framers of the Constitution, thought the nation was bound, by its principles and the promises it had made, to go farther than it had ever gone for the suppression of a traffic so abhorrent. He confessed he could not see how co-operation with other nations for this purpose could lead to entangling alliances or jeopardize the country.

Mr. Campbell of Tennessee was opposed to such co-operation. He asked, if we were to unite with France and England to induce Spain and Portugal to give up the slave-trade, and they should refuse, whether we were to attempt to compel them to do it by force of arms. To this Mr. Burrill replied, that no nation would be very likely to go to war for the slave-trade. On the contrary, Spain and Portugal might be influenced by the acts of other countries. It was asserted by Mr. Barbour of Virginia that the State he represented took the lead in the effort “to exterminate the horrible traffic." He feared 'nothing from an alliance with any nation whose only object was humanity. Through the Executive alone, however, could the proper arrangements be effected with other nations. He then moved to strike out the clause of the resolution seeking the co-operation of other nations.

Mr. Morrill of New Hampshire made an earnest and enthusiastic speech in favor of the termination of slavery itself. He maintained that " we were a Christian nation, that the Bible was our moral guide, that its principles were sacred, its precepts salutary, and its commands obligatory. The frowns of Heaven and the threatenings of God rested on their ingratitude to their fellow-mortals. Babylon the great had fallen, for she had a traffic in the souls, of men. To avert the judgments of Heaven, let the inhuman traffic be abolished to the ends of the earth." Senators were reminded by Mr. King that the concert proposed with other nations was not the union of arms, but of' opinions, of example, and of influence, for the purpose of inducing Spain and Portugal to accede to the compact already made with other nations, to put an end to the African slave-trade. The motion to strike out the, cause relating to concert with other nations was lost by one vote, and the resolution was then: adopted.

At the next session, in December, 1818, on motion of Mr. Eaton of Tennessee, the Senate appointed a select committee to inquire' whether any and what amendments to existing laws were necessary to prevent the importation of slaves. Early in February Mr. Eaton reported a bill supplementary to the act of 1817.

In the House Mr. Mercer introduced two resolutions calling upon the Navy and Treasury Departments for information concerning the slave-trade. On the 13th of January Mr. Middleton of South Carolina, chairman of the committee to which had been referred so much of the President's message as related to the slave-trade, reported a bill in addition to the several acts prohibiting that traffic. The House proceeded to its consideration. The sections of the bill providing bounties for the crews of vessels capturing slaves imported, and for informers whose evidence should lead to the conviction of smugglers of slaves, were strenuously opposed by Mr. Strother of Virginia; but the bill was defended by Mr. Mercer in all its parts. On motion of Mr. Pindall of the same State, the House amended it so as to punish with death every person who should import, or aid and abet the importation of any African negro, with intent to sell or use such negro as a slave, or who, should purchase such negro, so imported. It was then passed. In the Senate Mr. Eaton reported it from the committee with an amendment, striking out the provision making the violation of the law punishable with death. This amendment was agreed to, the bill was passed, the House concurred, and it became a law.

At the ensuing session in December, 1819, the House appointed a select committee on the slave-trade. Mr. Mercer reported three resolutions authorizing the President to negotiate with foreign powers. The first of the three was agreed to by a large majority, but was lost in the Senate after a brief debate, in which it was earnestly supported by Burrill, King, and Lowrie of Pennsylvania, and opposed by Smith of South Carolina, and Walker and King of Alabama.

In the month of April, 1822, Mr. Gorham of Massachusetts, from the committee to which had been referred so much of the President's message as related to the slave-trade, made an able report, closing with the recommendation that the President be requested to make arrangements with one or more of the maritime powers of Europe for the more effectual suppression of the slave-trade. But this humane proposition was resisted. Mr. Poinsett of South Carolina stated that the resolution was carried by a bare majority of the committee, and that he did not concur in the measure recommended.

At the next session, in December, the President in his annual message again called the attention of Congress to the African slave-trade. On motion of Mr. Taylor of New York that portion of the message was referred to a select committee. Mr. Gorham, who had reported at the previous session in favor of concert with foreign powers, was made chairman. A resolution was introduced by Mr. Mercer, ever an earnest and consistent advocate-of measures tending to the utter extinction of the "traffic requesting the President to prosecute negotiations with the maritime powers of Europe and America for its effectual abolition, and for its ultimate denunciation as piracy, under the law of nations, by the consent of the civilized world. He expressed the opinion that not less than thirteen thousand negroes were even then annually smuggled into the Southern States. He emphatically denounced the African slave-trade as a" crime, begun on a barbarous shore, claimed by no civilized state, and subject to no moral law; a remnant of ancient barbarism, a curse extended to the New World by the colonial policy of the Old." He would fix upon the African slave-dealer the guilt and stigma of being a pirate and a felon, and he implored the House to sustain the policy of such a legal characterization. Mr. Wright of Maryland would have the “government listen to the voice of distressed humanity, and unite with the powers of Europe in a qualified search, proposed by Lord Castlereagh in his noble agency for the suppression of the African slave-trade." Mr. Mercer's resolutions were then agreed to with only nine dissenting votes.

In the House, in December, 1823, so much of the President's message as related to the' slave-trade was referred to a select committee, of which Mr. Govan of South Carolina was chairman. On motion of Mr. Mercer, it was instructed to consider the expediency of prohibiting citizens of the United States, under the severe penalties of existing laws, from fitting out slave-trading expeditions in foreign ports. A. bill to this effect was reported by the committee, but the House took no action thereupon.

But the representations of President Monroe, the efforts of the humane and just in and out of Congress, did little to arrest the prosecution of a traffic nurtured by the avarice and stimulated by the slave system of the United States. Thus had it ever been. Though the legislation and attempted legislation implied both desire and design to prevent it, they did in fact but keep the promise to the ear and break it to the hope.

As the sensitiveness and jealousies of the slave-masters had rendered abortive all attempts at home to secure practical legislation against the slave-traffic, so were the pretended efforts put forth by the government to accomplish a like object through negotiations with foreign powers equally futile. Though it seemed to be earnest and honest of purpose in its attempts, they never became effective. It always contrived to present its plans and purposes in such shape, or coupled with such conditions, that they never reached any satisfactory conclusion.

In the Treaty of Peace of 1815 it was declared that the traffic in slaves was irreconcilable with the principles of humanity and justice, that the two governments were desirous of continuing their efforts for its entire abolition; and the two contracting parties pledged themselves to use, their best endeavors to accomplish that object. Three years after the, ratification of the treaty Lord Castlereagh proposed to the American Minister, Mr. Rush., to concede to each, other's ships of war qualified, right of search, with the power: of detaining vessels of either country found with slaves actually on board. To this fair and just proposition a positive refusal had been returned by the American government. In 1819 Parliament requested the Prince Regent to renew his beneficent, endeavors with the United, States for the suppression, of the traffic;, but these. practical propositions of the British government did not meet with a favorable response,

On the 29th of January; 1823, Mr. Stratford Canning, the British Minister at Washington,, reminded, Mr. Adams, Secretary of State, of the pledge given at the Treaty of Ghent, requesting the American government to assent to a plan proposed by Great Britain, or to suggest some other in its stead. He was informed that the United proposed a mutual stipulation, making the penalty of slave-trading piracy. To this proposition, Mr. Canning replied that his government desired that any British subject who defied the law and dishonored his country by engaging in a trade of blood should be detected and brought to justice "even by foreign bands, and from under the protection of her flag." But he proposed that the mutual right of search should be conceded for a limited time, he restricted to certain parts of the ocean, and be confined to a certain number of cruisers on each side, to be proportioned by mutual consent. This proposition, too, so honorable to the British government, was rejected. Dispatches, however, were forwarded to France, Spain, Portuga1, Russia, Netherlands, Buenos Ayres, and Colombia expressing the desire of this government to make the slave-trade piracy by the common consent of the civilized world. ·

In June, 1823, Mr. Rush was instructed to conclude a treaty with Great Britain for the suppression of the slave-trade; and the draft of a convention was forwarded to him, authorizing him to propose and conclude a treaty on the basis of a legislative prohibition of the slave-trade by both parties, under the penalty of piracy." But the British Minister, confident of the action of Parliament, said Mr. Rush in his letter to Mr. Adams, gave (''their unhesitating consent to the principle denouncing the slave-trade as piracy" On the 13th of Match, 1824, a treaty was signed at London, which was nearly a verbatim draft of that sent from Washington. Parliament hastened to pass an Act in compliance with the conditions exacted by the United States. In this Act it was declared that all British subjects, found guilty of slave-trading," shall suffer death without benefit of clergy, and loss of lands and goods and chattels, as pirates, felons, and robbers upon the sea ought to suffer.'' It was provided in this treaty that the Cruisers of the United States and Great Britain, on the coast of Africa, America, and the West indies, might seize slavers under the British or American flag, and send them to the country where they belonged to be tried as pirates.

This treaty, made in the interests of humanity and of civilization, the ratification of which would have been alike honorable to England and America, was laid before the Senate of the United States on the 30th of April. That body hesitated and delayed action. On the 16th of May the British Minister addressed a letter to the Secretary of State, reminding him that the treaty had originated with this government, and that England had, without hesitation, complied with the condition by making the slave-trade piracy. Thus pressed, the President sent a message to the Senate, in which he reminded that body that the rejection of the treaty would subject the nation, the Executive, and Congress to the charge of insincerity and inconsistency. He also expressed the conviction that it would be impossible to detect the pirate's without entering and searching the vessels, and that it would be inconsistent in us, with the statute of piracy in our hands, to deny the common right of search for the pirates. But the Senate still hesitated, and, after long debates, changed, mutilated, and then ratified the treaty. So much as provided for the right of search on the coast of America, and so much as applied to chartered vessels, or to the citizens of either country carrying on the trade under the foreign flag, were stricken out. Few vessels, however, direct from Africa, landed slaves in the United States. They were generally landed on some of the West India Islands and taken to the United States in small vessels; so that all that was necessary for them to do was to charter vessels instead of owning them, and to run up a foreign flag instead of their own. Of course the treaty, thus emasculated, could do little to arrest the trade.

The British government refused to assent to the treaty thus mutilated and weakened, though it offered, through its minister at Washington, to give its assent on the condition of allowing the mutual right of search on the coast of America. To this proposition Mr. Clay, Secretary of State, replied that, from the views entertained by the Senate, it was inexpedient to continue the negotiations. He reminded the British Cabinet that a similar connection had been formed with Colombia on the 10th of December, 1824, the coast of America being excepted from its operation, and yet, notwithstanding this conciliatory feature, the Senate had, by a large majority, refused to ratify it.

This language of Mr. Clay, from his high position, his antecedents, and connection with a Northern President, clearly indicated not only the manifest drift of the government, but the strong pressure upon the aspiring public men of those days. It revealed, too, that of which Mr. Monroe so much dreaded the imputation, the nations “inconsistency and insincerity." For it became manifest that it not only merited the sarcasm of the British caricature, representing it with the Declaration of Independence in the one hand and a brandished whip over affrighted slaves in the other, but the charge of a pretended interest in an object it did not wish to see accomplished. But why this vacillating and equivocal policy? Foremost among the reasons was, the large and powerful minority in the extreme South, who loved slavery and everything tending to invigorate and support it, --a minority inflexible and imperious in its demands. The Border slave States opposed it, but their opposition was based upon interest rather than upon moral considerations. The Northern States, indeed, opposed it from principle. But there was even there a large commercial class, either implicated in the trade itself, or anxious to conciliate Southern interest and secure Southern favor. This class was never hearty in its opposition to Southern demands, however irrational and extreme. And then there, was a class of politicians, ever anxious to obtain and retain power. They were obsequious to those determined Southern men who, with their Northern auxiliaries, then and since, made and unmade parties and their candidates. Surely, from such a composite, harmony and consistency in right, or even in wrong, could hardly be expected. For, diffused everywhere was the recognition of the fact always weakening the right and strengthening the wrong, that slavery and the slave-trade were essentially alike, and that hearty opposition to the latter was illogical and untenable so long· as the former was enshrined in the Constitution and protected by the government.

 Here, then, lay the difficulty, as here is found the key to the mysteries of American diplomacy. The nation attempted the impossible feat of moving at once in opposite directions, personating on the same stage, at the same time, the angel of liberty and the demon of slavery. Hence its policy was little better than a masquerade, made up of feints and disguises, either cloaking under fair pretenses the most shameless of purposes, or, where concealment was impossible, avowing a policy in direct antagonism to every avowed principle of its form of government. Of the British rule in India an English writer has said: "A government cannot be administered according to the standard of the moral law, which violated, in its establishment, every principle of the Decalogue." Equally difficult was it for the government of the United States to do justly and love mercy so long as it was bound by the compromises of the Constitution to recognize and maintain “the sum of all villainies." It could not do right so long as the original sin remained unrepeated of and unforsaken.

Source:  Wilson, Henry, History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, Vol. 1.  Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1872, 98-111.


SLOANE, Richard Rush, b. 1828, lawyer, jurist, opponent of slavery.  Helped in escape of slaves. 

(Appletons’, 1888, Vol. V, p. 550)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

SLOANE, Rush Richard, lawyer, b. in Sandusky, Erie co., Ohio; 18 Sept., 1828. He was educated at Wesleyan academy, Norwalk, Ohio, studied law, and was admitted to the bar. He was city clerk of Sandusky, Ohio, in 1855-'7, was electecl judge of the probate court for Erie county in 1857, and re-elected in 1860, was appointed by President Lincoln to the general agency of the post-office department, serving from 1861 till 1866, and was mayor of Sandusky in 1870, 1880, and 1881. Mr. Sloane was an ardent anti-slavery man, and was instrumental in the escape of seven slaves in Sandusky, on 20 Oct., 1850, where they had been arrested by their masters. He was prosecuted, and paid over $4,000 damages and costs, being the first victim of the fugitive-slave law of 1850. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. V, pp. 550.


SMILIE, John, 1741-1812, soldier.  Democratic Member of U.S. Congress from Pennsylvania, opposed slavery in U.S. Congress. 

(Appletons’, 1888, Vol. V, p. 554; Locke, 1901, pp. 93, 151, 153; Mason, 2006, p. 144; Annals of Congress)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

SMILIE, John, member of congress, b. in Ireland in 1741; d. in Washington, D. C., 30 Dec., 1812. He came to Pennsylvania in 1760, settled in Lancaster county, and served during the war of the Revolution in both military and civil capacities. He was a member of the legislature of Pennsylvania, served in congress, as a Democrat, in 1793-'5 and in 1799-1813, and was chairman of the committee on foreign relations. He was a presidential elector in 1796. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. V, pp. 554.   


SMITH, George, 1747-1820, born in Virginia, clergyman, anti-slavery activist in Kentucky. Baptist minister.

(Dumond, 1961, pp. 90-91; Rodriguez, 2007, p. 427)


SMITH, Gerrit, 1797-1874, Peterboro, New York, large landowner, reformer, philanthropist, radical abolitionist.  Supporter of the American Colonization Society (ACS).  Served as a Vice President of the ACS, 1833-1836.  Also supported the American Anti-Slavery Society (AASS).  Served as a Vice President of the AASS, 1836-1840, 1840-1841.  Vice President of the American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, 1840.  Active in the Underground Railroad.  Member of the Liberty Party.  Member of the Pennsylvania Free Produce Association.  Secretly supported radical abolitionist John Brown. 

(Blue, 2005, pp. 19, 20, 25, 26, 32-36, 50, 53, 54, 68, 101, 102, 105, 112, 132, 170; Dumond, 1961, pp. 200, 221, 231, 295, 301, 339, 352; Filler, 1960; Friedman, 1982; Frothingham, 1876; Harrold, 1995; Mabee, 1970, pp. 37, 47, 55, 56, 71, 72, 104, 106, 131, 135, 150, 154, 156, 187-189, 195, 202, 204, 219, 220, 226, 227, 237, 239, 246, 252, 253, 258, 307, 308, 315, 320, 321, 327, 342, 346; Mitchell, 2007, pp. 5, 8, 13, 16, 22, 29, 31, 36, 112, 117-121, 137, 163, 167, 199, 224-225, 243; Rodriguez, 2007, pp. 46, 50, 51, 56, 138, 163, 206, 207, 327, 338, 452-454; Sernett, 2002, pp. 22, 36, 49-55, 122-126, 129-132, 143-146, 169, 171, 173-174, 205-206, 208-217, 219-230; Sorin, 1971, pp. 25-38, 47, 49, 52, 66, 95, 96, 102, 126, 130; Staudenraus, P. J. The African Colonization Movement, 1816-1865. New York: Columbia University Press, 1961, pp. 128, 129, 165, 189-190, 201, 213, 221, 224, 225, 230-231; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. V, pp. 583-584; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 9, Pt. 1, p. 270; American Reformers: An H.W. Wilson Biographical Dictionary, New York, 1985; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 20; The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. II. New York: James T. White, 1892, pp. 322-323; Harlow, Ralph Volney. Gerrit Smith: Philanthropist and Reformer. New York: Holt, 1939.)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

SMITH, Gerrit, philanthropist, b. in Utica, N. Y., 6 March, 1797; d. in New York city, 28 Dec., 1874, was graduated at Hamilton college in 1818, and devoted himself to the care of his father's estate, a large part of which was given to him when he attained his majority. At the age of fifty-six he studied law, and was admitted to the bar. He was elected to congress as an independent candidate in 1852, but resigned after serving through one session. During his boyhood slavery still existed in the state of New York, and his father was a slave-holder. One of the earliest forms of the philanthropy that marked his long life appeared in his opposition to the institution of slavery, and his friendship for the oppressed race. He acted for ten years with the American colonization society, contributing largely to its funds, until he became convinced that it was merely a scheme of the slave-holders for getting the free colored people out of the country. Thenceforth he gave his support to the Anti-slavery society, not only writing for the cause and contributing money, but taking part in conventions, and personally assisting fugitives. He was temperate in all the discussion, holding that the north was a partner in the guilt, and in the event of emancipation without war should bear a portion of the expense; but the attempt to force slavery upon Kansas convinced him that the day for peaceful emancipation was past, and he then advocated whatever measure of force might be necessary. He gave large sums of money to send free-soil settlers to Kansas, and was a personal friend of John Brown, to whom he had given a farm in Essex county, N.Y., that he might instruct a colony of colored people, to whom Mr. Smith had given farms in the same neighborhood. He was supposed to be implicated in the Harper's Ferry affair, but it was shown that he had only given pecuniary aid to Brown as he had to scores of other men, and so far as he knew Brown's plans had tried to dissuade him from them. Mr. Smith was deeply interested in the cause of temperance, and organized an anti-dramshop party in February, 1842. In the village of Peterboro, Madison co., where he had his home, he built a good hotel, and gave it rent-free to a tenant who agreed that no liquor should be sold there. This is believed to have been the first temperance hotel ever established. But it was not pecuniarily successful. He had been nominated for president by an industrial congress at Philadelphia in 1848, and by the land-reformers in 1856, but declined. In 1840, and again in 1858, he was nominated for governor of New York. The last nomination, on a platform of abolition and prohibition, he accepted, and canvassed the state. In the election he received 5,446 votes. Among the other reforms in which he was interested were those relating to the property-rights of married women and female suffrage and abstention from tobacco. In religion he was originally a Presbyterian, but became very liberal in his views, and built a non-sectarian church in Peterboro, in which he often occupied the pulpit himself. He could not conceive of religion as anything apart from the affairs of daily life, and in one of his published letters he wrote: “No man's religion is better than his politics; his religion is pure whose politics are pure; whilst his religion is rascally whose politics are rascally.” He disbelieved in the right of men to monopolize land, and gave away thousands of acres of that which he had inherited, some of it to colleges and charitable institutions, and some in the form of small farms to men who would settle upon them. He also gave away by far the greater part of his income, for charitable purposes, to institutions and individuals. In the financial crisis of 1837 he borrowed of John Jacob Astor a quarter of a million dollars, on his verbal agreement to give Mr. Astor mortgages to that amount on real estate. The mortgages were executed as soon as Mr. Smith reached his home, but through the carelessness of a clerk were not delivered, and Mr. Astor waited six months before inquiring for them. Mr. Smith had for many years anticipated that the system of slavery would be brought to an end only through violence, and when the civil war began he hastened to the support of the government with his money and his influence. At a war-meeting in April, 1861, he made a speech in which he said: “The end of American slavery is at hand. The first gun fired at Fort Sumter announced the fact that the last fugitive slave had been returned. . . . The armed men who go south should go more in sorrow than in anger. The sad necessity should be their only excuse for going. They must still love the south; we must all still love her. As her chiefs shall, one after another, fall into our hands, let us be restrained from dealing revengefully, and moved to deal tenderly with them, by our remembrance of the large share which the north has had in blinding them.” In accordance with this sentiment, two years after the war, he united with Horace Greeley and Cornelius Vanderbilt in signing the bail-bond of Jefferson Davis. At the outset he offered to equip a regiment of colored men, if the government would accept them. Mr. Smith left an estate of about $1,000,000, having given away eight times that amount during his life. He wrote a great deal for print, most of which appeared in the form of pamphlets and broadsides, printed on his own press in Peterboro. His publications in book-form were “Speeches in Congress” (1855); “Sermons and Speeches” (1861); “The Religion of Reason” (1864); “Speeches and Letters” (1865); “The Theologies” (2d ed., 1866); “Nature the Base of a Free Theology” (1867); and “Correspondence with Albert Barnes” (1868). His authorized biography has been written by Octavius B. Frothingham (New York, 1878).  Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. V, pp. 583-584.


SMITH, James McCune (Communipaw), 1813-1865, New York, New York, African American, abolitionist leader, community leader, activist.  James McCune Smith was the first African American to receive a medical degree.  He was also the first African American to operate a pharmacy in the U.S.  He was a leader in the abolitionist American Anti-Slavery Society.  In 1853, he helped organize the National Council of Colored People, with Frederick Douglass.  In addition, he co-organized the Committee of Thirteen, in New York City, to aid escaped slaves through the Underground Railroad after the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act.  Recording Secretary, American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, 1852-1855. 

(Dumond, 1961, pp. 268, 333; Mabee, 1970, p. 134; Rodriguez, 2007, p. 454; Smith, James McCune, The Destiny of the People of Color, 1841; Smith, James McCune, A Lecture on the Haitian Revolution, 1841; Sorin, 1971, p. 82; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 9, Pt. 1, p. 288; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 20, p. 216; Congressional Globe; Gates, Henry Louis, Jr., & Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, eds. African American National Biography. Oxford University Press, 2013, Vol. 10, p. 345; Hinks, Peter P., & John R. McKivigan, Eds., Encyclopedia of Antislavery and Abolition.  Westport, Connecticut, Greenwood, 2007, Vol. 2, pp. 639-641)


SMITH, Joshua Bowen, 1813-1879, Boston, Massachusetts, African American, abolitionist, community leader.  Abolition leader and supporter of William Lloyd Garrison, Theodore Parker and George Luther Stearns.  Aided fugitive slaves in Boston area.  Founded the New England Freedom Association, which aided runaway slaves. Active member of the Boston Vigilance Committee.

(Gates, Henry Louis, Jr., & Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, eds. African American National Biography. Oxford University Press, 2013, Vol. 10, p. 349, Vol. 11, p. 489)


SMITH, Samuel Stanhope, 1750-1819, President of Princeton College, New Jersey.  Declared slavery was “a moral wrong and a political evil.”  Called for voluntary manumission.  Wrote plan to aid freemen economically.

(Birney, 1890, p. 26-27; Locke, 1901, p. 90; Mason, 2006, p. 149; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 9, Pt. 1, p. 344; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 20, p. 283; Staudenraus, P. J. The African Colonization Movement, 1816-1865. New York: Columbia University Press, 1961, pp. 15, 30, 111, 208)


SMITH, William

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

In April, 1851, two officers-- one from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and the other from Baltimore-- arrived at the town of Columbia, in the former State, in pursuit of William Smith, an alleged fugitive from slavery. He had resided in that place a year and a half, and had a wife and two children. The officers seized him while at work. Endeavoring to escape, he was shot by the Baltimore official and expired instantly. Though there were a dozen colored men near at hand, there was no attempt at rescue, and the murderer was allowed to escape. The occurrence, however, seemed to produce very little excitement, though the legislature of Maryland did appoint a commission to collect the facts and to confer with the governor of Pennsylvania respecting it. But no results followed. The outrage was hushed up, and soon forgotten, except by the sufferers, widowed and orphaned by that murderous shot.

Source:  Wilson, Henry, History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, Vol. 2.  Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1872, 324.






THE SOUTH (1820-1830)

IN the decade which forms the subject of this volume, no section underwent more far -reaching changes than did the group of South Atlantic states made up of Maryland, Virginia, the Carolinas and Georgia with which this chapter will deal under the name of the south. Then it was that the south came to appreciate the effect of the westward spread of the cotton-plant upon slavery and politics.

The invention of the cotton-gin by Eli Whitney,1 in l 793, made possible the .profitable cultivation of the short- staple variety of cotton. Before this, the labor of taking the seeds by hand from this variety, the only one suited to production in the uplands, had prevented its use; thereafter, it was only a question of time when the cotton area, no longer limited to the tidewater region, would extend to the interior, carrying slavery with it. This invention came at an opportune time. Already the inventions of Arkwright, Hargreaves, and Cartwright had worked a revolution in the textile industries of England, by

1 Am. Hist. Review, III., 99.

1820 means of the spinning-jenny, the power-loom, and the factory system, furnishing machinery for the manufacture of cotton beyond the world's supply.1

Under the stimulus of this demand for cotton, year by year the area of slavery extended towards , the west. In the twenties, many of the southern , counties of Virginia were attempting its cultivation; 2 interior counties of North Carolina were combining cotton-raising with their old industries; in South Carolina the area of cotton and slavery had extended up the rivers well beyond the middle of the state 3 while in Georgia the cotton planters, so long restrained by the Indian line, broke through the barriers and spread over the newly ceded lands.4 The accompanying table shows the progress of this crop: It is evident from the figures that tidewater South  Carolina and Georgia produced practically all of the cotton crop in 1791, when the total was but two million pounds. By 1821 the old south produced one hundred and seventeen million pounds, and, five years later, one hundred and eighty millions. But how rapidly in these five years the recently settled southwest was overtaking the older section

1 M. B. Hammond, Cotton Industry, chaps. i., ii.; Von Halle, " Baumwollproduktion," in Schmoller, Staats und Social-wissenschaftliche Forschungen, XV.

2 Va. Const. Conv., Debates (1829 - 1830), 333, 336; Martin, Gazetteer of Va. and D. C. (1836), 99.

3 Schaper, ''Sectionalism and Representation in S. C.," in Am. Hist. Assoc. Report, 1900, I., 387-393.

4 Phillips, "Georgia and State Rights," in Ibid., 1901, II., 140 (map).

COTTON CROP (in million pounds)1








South Carolina





















North Carolina































































     Grand Total








is shown by its total of over one hundred and fifty millions. By 1834 the southwest had distanced the older section. What had occurred was a repeated westward movement: the cotton-plant first spread from the sea -coast to the uplands, and then, by the beginning of our period, advanced to the Gulf plains, until that region achieved supremacy in its production. How deeply the section was interested in this crop, and how influential it was in the commerce of the United States, appears from the fact that, in 1820, the domestic exports of South Carolina and Georgia

1 Based on MacGregor, Commercial Statistics, 462; cf. De Bow's Review, XVII., 428; Von Halle, Baumwollproduktion, 169; Secretary of Treasury, Report, 1855-1856, p. 116. There are discrepancies; the figures are to be taken as illustrative rather than exact; e.g., De Bow gives seventy million pounds for Mississippi in 1826. 

amounted to $15,215,000, while the value of the whole domestic exports for all the rest of the United States was $36,468,000.1 This, however, inadequately represents the value of the exports from these two cotton states, because a large fraction of the cotton was carried by the coastwise trade to northern ports and appeared in their shipments. Senator William Smith, of South Carolina, estimated that in 1818 the real exports of South Carolina and Georgia amounted to "more than half as much as that of the other states of the Union, including the vast and fertile valley of the Mississippi." The average annual amount of the exports of cotton, tobacco, and rice from the United States between 1821 and 1830 was about thirty-three million dollars, while all other domestic exports made a sum of but twenty million dollars.2 Even greater than New England's interest in the carrying-trade was the interest of the south in the exchange of her great staples in the markets of Europe. 

Never in history, perhaps, was an economic force more influential upon the life of a people. As the production of cotton increased, the price fell, and the seaboard south, feeling the competition of the virgin soils of the southwest, saw in the protective tariff for the development of northern manufactures the real source of her distress. The price of cotton was in these years a barometer 

1 Pitkin, Statistical View (ed., of 1835), p. 57.

2 lbid., 518.

of southern prosperity and of southern discontent.1

Even more important than the effect of cotton production upon the prosperity of the south was its effect upon her social system. This economic transformation resuscitated slavery from a moribund condition to a vigorous and aggressive life. Slowly Virginia and North Carolina came to realize that the burden and expense of slavery as the labor system for their outworn tobacco and corn fields was partly counteracted by the demand for their surplus negroes in the cotton-fields of their more southern· neighbors. When the lower south accepted the system as the basis of its prosperity and its society, the tendency in the states of the upper south, except in the pine barrens and the hill country to look upon the institution as a heritage to be reluctantly and apologetically accepted grew fainter. The efforts to find some mode of removing the negro from their midst gradually came to an end, and they adjusted themselves to slavery as a permanent system. Meanwhile, South Carolina and Georgia found in the institution the source of their economic wellbeing and hotly challenged the right of other sections to speak ill of it or meddle with it in any way, lest their domestic security be endangered.2

1 See chap. xix., below; M. B. Hammond, Cotton Industry, part i., App. i.; Donnell, Hist. of Cotton; Watkins, Production and Prices of Cotton.

2 See Hart, Slavery and Abolition (Am. Nation, XVI.).

When the south became fully conscious that slavery set the section apart from the rest of the nation, when it saw in nationalizing legislation, such as protection to manufactures and the construction of a system of internal improvements, the efforts of other sections to deprive the cotton states of their profits for the benefit of an industrial development JI' in which they did not share, deep discontent prevailed. With but slight intermission from the days of Washington to those of Monroe, the tobacco planters under the Virginia dynasty had ruled the nation. But now, when the centre of power within 1 the section passed from the weakening hands of Virginia to those of South Carolina, the aggressive leader of the Cotton Kingdom, the south found itself a minority section in the Union. When it realized this, it denied the right of the majority to rule, and proceeded to elaborate a system of minority rights as a protection against the forces of national development, believing that these forces threatened the foundations of the prosperity and even the social safety of the south.

From the middle of the eighteenth century the seaboard planters had been learning the lesson of control by a fraction of the population. The south was by no means a unified region in its physiography. The Blue Ridge cut off the low country of Virginia from the Shenandoah Valley, and beyond this valley the Alleghenies separated the rest of the state!' from those counties which we now know as West Virginia. By the time of the Revolution, in the Carolinas and Georgia, a belt of pine barrens, skirting the "fall line” from fifty to one hundred miles from the coast, divided the region of tidewater planters of these states from the small farmers of the up-country. This population of the interior had entered the region in the course of the second half of the eighteenth century. Scotch-Irishmen and Germans passed down the Great Valley from Pennsylvania into Virginia, and through the gaps in the Blue Ridge out to the Piedmont region of the, Carolinas, while contemporaneously other streams from Charleston advanced to meet them.1 Thus, at the close of the eighteenth century, the south was divided into two areas presenting contrasting types of civilization. On the one side were the planters, raising their staple crops of tobacco, rice, and indigo, together with some cultivation of the cereals. To this region belonged the slaves. On the other side was this area of small farmers, raising live-stock, wheat, and corn under the same conditions of pioneer farming as characterized the interior of) Pennsylvania.

From the second half of the eighteenth century down to the time with which this volume deals, there was a persistent struggle between the planters of the coast, controlled the wealth of the region, and the free farmers of the interior of Maryland,

1 Bassett, in Am. Hist. Assoc., Report 1894, p. 141; Schaper, ibid., 1900, I., 317; Phillips, ibid., 1901, II., 88.

Virginia Carolinas, and Georgia. The tidewater counties retained the political power which they already possessed before this tide of settlement flowed into the back-country. Refusing in most of these states to reapportion on the basis of numbers, they protected their slaves and their wealth against the dangers of democracy interested in internal improvements and capable of imposing a tax upon slave property in order to promote their ends. In Virginia, in 1825, for example, the western men complained that twenty counties in the upper country, with over two hundred and twenty thousand free white inhabitants, had no more weight in the government than twenty counties on tidewater, containing only about fifty thousand; that the six smallest counties in the state, compared with the six largest, enjoyed nearly ten· times as much political power.1 To the gentlemen planters of the seaboard, the idea of falling under the control of the farmers of the interior of the south seemed intolerable.

It was only as slavery spread into the uplands, with the cultivation of cotton, that the lowlands began to concede and to permit an increased power in the legislatures to the sections most nearly assimilated to the seaboard type. South Carolina achieved this end in 1808 by the plan of giving to the seaboard the control of one house, while the interior held the other; but it is to be noted that this concession was not made until slavery had pushed so

1 Alexandria Herald, June 13, 1825. 

far up the river-courses that the reapportionment preserved the control in the hands of slave-holding counties.1 A similar course was followed by Virginia in the convention of 1829-1830, when, after a long struggle, a compromise was adopted, by which the balance of power in the state legislature was transferred to the counties of the Piedmont and the Valley.2 Here slave-holding had progressed so far that the interest of those counties was affiliated rather with the coast than with the trans-Alleghany country. West Virginia remained a discontented area until her independent statehood in the days of the Civil War. These transmontane counties of Virginia were, in their political activity during our period, rather to be reckoned with the west than with the south.

Thus the southern seaboard experienced the need of protecting the interests of its slave-holding planters against the free democracy of the interior of the south itself, and learned how to safeguard the minority. This experience was now to serve the south, when, having attained unity by the spread) of slavery into the interior, it found itself as a section in the same· relation to the Union which the, slave-holding tidewater area had held towards the more populous up-country of the south.

1 Calhoun, Works, I., 401; Schaper, Sectionalism and Representation in S. C., in Am. Hist. Assoc., Report 1900, I., 4.34-437.

2 Va. Const. Conv., Debates (1829-1830); Chandler, Representation in Va., in Johns Hopkins Univ. Studies, XIV., 286-298.

The unification of the section is one of the most important features of the period. Not only had the south been divided into opposing areas, as we have seen, but even its population was far from homogeneous. By the period of this volume, however, English, French-Huguenots, Scotch-Irish, and Germans had become assimilated into one people, and the negroes, who in 1830 in the South Atlantic states numbered over a million and a half in a white population of not much over two millions, were diffusing themselves throughout the area of the section except in West Virginia and the mountains. Contemporaneously the pioneer family type of the interior of the section was replaced by the planter type. 1

As cotton-planting and slave-holding advanced into the interior counties of the old southern states, the free farmers were obliged either to change to the plantation economy and buy slaves, or to sell their lands and migrate. Large numbers of them, particularly in the Carolinas, were Quakers or Baptists, whose religious scruples combined with their agricultural habits to make this change obnoxious. This upland country, too distant from the sea-shore to permit a satisfactory market, was a hive from which pioneers earlier passed into Kentucky and Tennessee, until those states had become populous commonwealths. Now the exodus was increased by this later colonization. 2 The Ohio was crossed, the

1 Niles' Register, XXI., 132; cf. p. 55 below.

2 See chap. v. below.

Missouri ascended, and the streams that flowed to the Gulf were followed by movers away from the regions that were undergoing this social and economic reconstruction.

This industrial revolution was effective in different degrees in the different states. Comparatively few of Virginia's slaves, which by 1830 numbered nearly half a million, were found in her trans-Alleghany counties, but the Shenandoah Valley was receiving slaves and changing to the plantation type. In North Carolina the slave population of nearly two hundred and fifty thousand, at the same date, had spread well into the interior, but cotton did not achieve the position there which it held farther south. The interior farmers worked small farms of wheat and corn, laboring side by side with their negro slaves in the fields.1 South Carolina had over three hundred thousand slaves-more than a majority of her population - and the black belt extended to the interior. Georgia's slaves, amounting to over two hundred thousand, somewhat less than half her population, steadily advanced from the ·coast and the Savannah River towards the cotton lands of the interior, pushing before them the less prosperous farmers, who found new homes to the north or south of the cotton-belt or migrated to the southwestern frontier.2 Here, as in North Carolina,

1 Bassett, Slavery in N. C., in Johns Hopkins Univ. Studies, XVII., 324, 399.

2 Phillips, Georgia and State Rights, in Am. Hist. Assoc., Report 1901, II., 106. 

the planters in the interior of the state frequently followed the plough or encouraged their slaves by wielding the hoe. 1

Thus this process of economic transformation passed from the coast towards the mountain barrier, gradually eliminating the inharmonious elements and steadily tending to produce a solidarity of interests.  The south as a whole was becoming, for the first time since colonial days, a staple-producing region; and, as diversified farming declined, the region tended to become dependent for its supplies of meat products, horses, and mules, and even hay and cereals, upon the north and west.

The westward migration of its people checked the growth of the south. It had colonized the new west at the same time that the middle region had been rapidly growing in population, and the result was that the proud states of the southern seaboard were reduced to numerical inferiority. Like New England, it was an almost stationary section. From 1820 to 1830 the states of this group gained little more than half a million souls, hardly more than  the increase of the single state of New York Virginia, with a population of over a million, increased but 13.7 per cent., and the Carolinas only 15.5 per cent. In the· next decade these tendencies were even more clearly shown, for Virginia and the Carolinas then gained but little more than 2 per cent.

1 Phillips, Georgia and State Rights, in Am. Hist. Assoc., Report 1901, II., 107.

Georgia alone showed rapid increase. .At the beginning of the decade the Indians still held all of the territory west of Macon, at the centre of the state, with the exception of two tiers of counties along the southern border; and, when these lands were opened towards the close of the decade, they were occupied by a rush of settlement similar to the occupation of Oklahoma and Indian Territory in our own day. What Maine was to New England, that Georgia was to the southern seaboard, with the difference that it was deeply touched by influences characteristically western. Because of the traits of her leaders, and the rude, aggressive policy of her people, Georgia belonged at least as much to the west as to the south. From colonial times the Georgia settlers had been engaged in an almost incessant struggle against the savages on her border, and had the instincts of a frontier society.1

From 1800 to 1830, throughout the tidewater region, there were clear evidences of decline. As I the movement of capital and population towards the interior went on, wealth was drained from the coast; and, as time passed, the competition of the fertile and low-priced lands of the Gulf basin proved too strong for the outworn lands even of the interior of the south. Under the wasteful system of tobacco and cotton culture, without replenishment of the

1 Ibid., II., 88; Longstreet, Georgia Scenes; Gilmer, Sketches; Miss. Hist. Soc., Publications, VIII., 443.

soil, the staple areas would, in any case, have declined in value. Even the corn arid wheat lands were exhausted by unscientific farming.1 Writing in 1814 to Josiah Quincy, 2 John Randolph of Roanoke lamented the decline of the seaboard planters. He declared that the region was now sunk in obscurity: what enterprise or capital there was in the country  had retired westward; deer and wild turkeys were not so plentiful anywhere in Kentucky as near the site of the ancient Virginia capital, Williamsburg. In the Virginia convention of 1829, Mr. Mercer estimated that in 1817 land values in Virginia aggregated two hundred and six million dollars, and negroes averaged three hundred dollars, while in 1829 the land values did not surpass ninety millions, and slaves had fallen in value to one hundred and fifty dollars. 3

In a speech in the Virginia House of Delegates, in 1832, Thomas Marshall4 asserted that the whole agricultural product of Virginia did not exceed in value the exports of eighty or ninety years before, when it contained not one-sixth of the population. In his judgment, the greater proportion of the larger plantations, with from fifty to one hundred slaves,

1 Gooch, Prize Essay on Agriculture in Va., in Lynchburg Virginian, July 4, 1833; Martin, Gazetteer of Va., 99, 100.

2 E. Quincy, Josiah Quincy, 353. 3

3 Va. Const. Conv., Debates (1829-1830), 178; Collins, Domestic Slave Trade, 26.

4 Collins, Domestic Slave Trade, 24, cited from Richmond Enquirer, February, 2, 1832.

brought the proprietors into debt, and rarely did a plantation yield one and a half per cent profit on the capital. So great had become the depression that Randolph prophesied that the time was coming when the masters would run away from the slaves, and be advertised by them in the public papers.1

It was in this period that Thomas Jefferson fell into such financial embarrassments that he was obliged to request of the legislature of Virginia permission to dispose of property by lottery to pay his  debts, and that a subscription was taken up to relieve his distress. 2 At the same time, Madison, having vainly tried to get a loan from the United States Bank, was forced to dispose of some of his lands and stocks; 3 and Monroe, at the close of his term of office, found himself financially ruined. He gave up Oak Hill and spent his declining years with his son-in-law in New York City. The old-time tidewater mansions, where, in an earlier day, everybody kept open house, gradually fell into decay. 

Sad indeed was the spectacle of Virginia' ancient aristocracy. It had never been a luxurious society.  The very wealthy planters, with vast cultivated estates and pretentious homes, were in the minority. For the most part, the houses were moderate frame structures, set at intervals of a mile or so apart, often in parklike grounds, with long avenues of trees. The plantation was a little world in itself.

1 Collins, Domestic Slave Trade, 26.

2 Randall, Jefferson, III., 527, 561.

3 Hunt; Madison, 380. 

Here was made much of the clothing for the slaves, and the mistress of the plantation supervised the spinning and weaving. Leather was tanned on the place, and blacksmithing, wood-working, and other industries were carried on, often under the direction of white mechanics. The planter and his wife commonly had the care of the black families whom they possessed, looked after them when they were sick, saw to their daily rations, arranged marriages, and determined the daily tasks of the plantation. The abundant hospitality between neighbors gave opportunity for social cultivation, and politics was a favorite subject of conversation.

The leading planters served as justices of the peace, but they were not dependent for their selection upon the popular vote. Appointed by the governor on nomination of the court itself, they constituted a kind of close corporation, exercising local judicial, legislative, and executive functions. The sheriff was appointed by the governor from three justices of the peace recommended by the court, and the court itself appointed the county clerk. Thus the county government of Virginia was distinctly aristocratic. County-court day served as an opportunity for bringing together the freeholders, who included not only the larger planters, but the small farmers and the poor whites -hangers-on of the greater plantations. Almost no large cities were found in Virginia. The court-house was hardly more than a meeting-place for the rural population. Here farmers exchanged their goods, traded horses, often fought, and listened to the stump speeches of the orators.1 

Such were, in the main, the characteristics of that homespun plantation aristocracy which, through the Virginia dynasty, had ruled the nation in the days of Washington, Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe. As their lands declined in value, they naturally sought for an explanation and a remedy.2 The explanation was found most commonly in the charge that the protective tariff was destroying the prosperity of the south; and· in reaction they turned to, demand the old days of Jeffersonian rural simplicity, under the guardianship of state rights and a strict construction of the Constitution. Madison in vain laid the fall in land values in Virginia to the uncertainty and low prices of the crops, to the quantity of land thrown on the market, and the attractions of the cheaper and better lands beyond the mountains.3

Others called attention to the fact that the semiannual migration towards the west and southwest, which swept off enterprising portions of the people and much of the capital and movable property of the state, also kept down the price of land by the great quantities thereby thrown into the market; Instead of applying a system of scientific farming

1 Johnson, Robert Lewis Dabney, 14-24; Smedes, A Southern Planter, 34-37.

2 Randall, Jefferson, III., 532.

3 Madison, Writings (ed. of 1865), III., 614. 

and replenishment of the soil, there was a tendency for the planters who remained to get into debt in order to add to their possessions the farms which were offered for sale by the movers. Thus there was a flow of wealth towards the west to pay for these new purchases. The overgrown plantations soon began to look tattered and almost desolate. "Galled and gullied hill -sides and edgy, briary fields '' 1 showed themselves in every direction. Finally the planter found himself obliged to part with some of his slaves, in response to the demand from the new cotton-fields; or to migrate himself, with his caravan of negroes, to open a new home in the Gulf region. During the period of this survey the price for prime field-hands in Georgia averaged a little over seven hundred dollars.2 If the estimate of one hundred and fifty dollars for negroes sold in family lots in Virginia is correct, it is clear that economic laws would bring about a condition where Virginia's resources would in part depend upon her supply· of slaves to the cotton-belt.3 It is clear, also, that the Old Dominion had passed the apogee of her political power.

It was not only the planters of Virginia that suffered in this period of change. As the more extensive and fertile cotton-fields of the new states of the southwest opened, North Carolina and even

1 Lynchburg Virginian, July 4, 1833.

2 Phillips, in Pol. Sci. Quart., XX., 267.

3 Collins, Domestic Slave Trade, 42-46. 

South Carolina found themselves embarrassed. With the fall in cotton prices, already mentioned, it became increasingly necessary to possess the advantages of large estates and unexhausted soils, in order to extract a profit from this cultivation. From South Carolina there came a protest more vehement and aggressive than that of the discontented classes of Virginia. Already the indigo plantation had ceased to be profitable and the rice planters no longer held their old prosperity.

Charleston was peculiarly suited to lead in a movement of revolt. It was the one important centre of real city life of the seaboard south of Baltimore. Here every February the planters gathered from their plantations, thirty to one hundred and fifty miles away, for a month in their town houses. At this season, races, social gayeties, and political conferences vied with one another in engaging the attention of the planters. Returning to their plantations in the early spring, they remained until June, when considerations of health compelled them either again to return to the city, to visit the mountains, or to go to such watering-places as Saratoga in New York. Here again they talked politics and mingled with political leaders of the north. It was not until the fall that they were able to return again to their estates.1 Thus South Carolina, affording a combination of plantation life with the social intercourse of the city, gave peculiar opportunities for

1 Hodgson, Letters from North America, I., 50. VOL. XIV.-6

exchanging ideas and consolidating the sentiment of her leaders.

The condition of South Carolina was doubtless exaggerated by Hayne, in his speech in the Senate in 1832, when he characterized it as "not merely one of unexampled depression, but of great and all -pervading distress," with "the mournful evidence of premature decay," "merchants bankrupt or driven away-their capital sunk or transferred to other pursuits-our shipyards broken up-our ships all sold!" "If," said he, "we fly from the city to the country, what do we there behold?  Fields abandoned; the hospitable mansions of our fathers deserted; agriculture drooping; our slaves, like their masters, working harder, and faring worse; the planter striving with unavailing efforts to avert the ruin which is before him." He drew a sad picture of the once thriving planter, reduced to despair, gathering up the small remnants of his broken fortune, and, with his wife and little ones, tearing himself from the scenes of his childhood and the bones of his ancestors to seek in the wilderness the reward for his industry of which the policy of Congress had deprived him.1

The genius of the south expressed itself most clearly in the field of politics. If the democratic middle region could show a multitude of clever politicians, the aristocratic south possessed an

1 Register of Debates, VIII., pt. i., 80; compare Houston, Nullification in S. C., 46.

abundance of leaders bold in political initiative and masterful in their ability to use the talents of their northern allies. When the Missouri question was debated, John Quincy Adams remarked "that if institutions are to be judged by their results in the composition of the councils of this Union, the slaveholders are much more ably represented than the simple freemen.'' 1

The southern statesmen fall into two classes. On the one side was the Virginia group·, now for the most part old men, rich in the honors of the nation, still influential through their advice, but no longer directing party policy. Jefferson and Madison were in retirement in their old age; Marshall, as chief-justice, was continuing his career as the expounder of the Constitution in accordance with Federalist ideals; John Randolph, his old eccentricities increased by disease and intemperance, remained to proclaim the extreme doctrines of southern dissent and to impale his adversaries with javelins of flashing wit. A maker of phrases which stung and festered, he was still capable of influencing public opinion' somewhat in the same way as are the cartoonists of modern times. But " his course through life had been like that of the arrow which Alcestes shot to heaven, which effected nothing useful, though it left a long stream of light behind it." 2 In North Carolina, the venerable Macon remained to protest like a later

1 Adams, Memoirs, IV., 506.

2 Lynchburg Virginian, May 9, 1833. 

Cato against the tendencies of the times and to raise a warning voice to his fellow slave-holders against national consolidation.

In the course of this decade, the effective leadership of the south fell to Calhoun and Crawford.1 About these statesmen were grouped energetic and able men like Hayne, McDuffie, and Hamilton of South Carolina, and Cobb and Forsyth of Georgia -men who sometimes pushed their leaders on in a sectional path which the latter's caution or personal ambitions made them reluctant to tread. Nor must it be forgotten that early in the decade the south lost two of her greatest statesmen, the wise and moderate Lowndes, of South Carolina, and Pinkney, the brilliant Maryland orator. In the course of the ten years which we are to sketch, the influence of economic change within this section transformed the South Carolinians from warm supporters of a liberal national policy into the straitest of the sect of state -sovereignty advocates, intent upon raising barriers against the flood of nationalism that threatened to overwhelm the south. In relating the changing policy of the southern political leaders, we shall again observe the progress and the effects of the economic transformations which it has been the purpose of this chapter to portray.

1 See chap. xi. below.

Source:  Turner, Frederick Jackson, Rise of the New West. In Hart, Albert Bushnell, ed., The American Nation: A History, Vol. 14, 45-66. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1906.



THAT every ebullition of feeling in this stormy epoch had its fallowing period of quiescence and acceptance of the situation, showed the strong desire of the people North and South to live in accord. However strong the passions involved in the Missouri controversy, the compromise of 1820 met with so general acceptance that the principle involved did not reappear until brought forward by new issues. That this discussion had not changed the moderate views of slavery held in the Border States at the time was shown by the strong invectives against slavery in the Virginia legislature in 1832.1

The nullification action of South Carolina, in a way, strengthened the feeling for the Union; for it brought out the powerful defence of Webster, which, whether it fully met the arguments of Calhoun or no, was accepted as conclusive by the country at large; and it was significant that Jackson himself based his nullification proclamation upon

1 Hart, Slavery and Abolition (Am. Nation, XVI.), chap. xii. 

Webster's answer to Hayne. The president’s action gave the country a new view of the federal power to act; and argument and action combined to foster a feeling of security which dominated the North, and strongly affected the South, to the very eve of actual secession.

The success of abolitionism of the Garrison type was in the too-ready acceptance of the South to take up the gauntlet. The South was demoralized by a movement which, if it could have been quietly ignored, would have lost itself in the more reasonable anti-slavery sentiment, the growth of which the conditions of the age made certain. The abolitionists scorned the idea of compensation to slave-holders, though that remedy, found in the Speeches of Seward as well as of Webster, was growing in favor, and, had the South shown the slightest willingness to accept the freedom of the negro under any conditions, might have become a working basis for such action. 1 The results of manumission in the West Indies, however, which brought financial ruin to the great majority of planters, and the fear of the political equality of the negro, aided ill supporting the view of Calhoun that emancipation was an impossible supposition.

"Whatever,'' said McDowell, of Virginia, in 1850," the opinions I have expressed or entertain upon the institution of slavery in the abstract, I have

1 Cf. Hart, Slavery and Abolition (Am. Nation, XVI.), chap. xxi. 

never doubted for a moment, that as the white and black races now live together in the southern states, it is an indispensable institution for them both." 1 This, coming from one who had made an eloquent plea for emancipation in the Virginia convention in 1832, and who "had acquired a national reputation by his ardent patriotism, his broad and statesmanlike views in pleading for the best interests of his own common wealth,'' 2 marks a change in southern sentiment regarding manumission. If a wise conservative could utter such an opinion, the notion of freedom through purchase was hopeless.

The abolition societies had their apogee before 1840. The explosive elements which they included brought dissensions among themselves which became fatal to their influence as organizations. Amos A. Phelps, "one of the earliest and ablest of the writers, orators and organizers of the antislavery movement," in resigning his membership, in 1839, of its board of managers, said, "The society is no longer an anti-slavery society simply, but in its principles and modes of action has become a women's -rights, non-government, anti-slavery society." 3 "At this time," says Wilson (than whom there can be no authority more favorable to the abolitionists), " there were probably two thousand societies in the country, containing, it was estimated,

1 Cong. Globe, 31 Cong., 1 Sess., App., 1678.

2 Wilson, Slave Power, II., 288. 3 Ibid., I., 415.

some two hundred thousand members. They had, however, already attained their maximum of numbers and influence, and had accomplished the largest share of their peculiar work. Afterward their numbers and distinctive labors were diminished rather than increased."1

More effective than anything else in rousing anti-southern feeling in the North (using this phrase as distinct from anti-slavery sentiment) was the struggle in Congress in 1835 over the acceptance of antislavery literature in the mails, and the continuance, for several years thereafter, of bitter debate on the question of anti-slavery petitions: the existence of an institution which could not even permit discussion in the press, once realized by the northern public, doomed that institution. The unwise vituperation of so many of the southern papers; their asking the impossible; their inability to see that the attempt to stifle discussion was revolution, and that the denial of the right of petition or the suppression of petitions was touching a right dear to all free people, gave the impetus to a new sentiment which slowly came over the North, and which in its beginnings was against southern ideals and action, against the arrogant and dictatorial tone of southern public men and the insult and abuse in the southern journals, rather than against slavery as a thing not to be tolerated.

The general acquiescence in the compromise of

1 Wilson, Slave Power, I., 422. 

1850, despite sporadic disunion movements in the South, shows how strong was the Unionist feeling. Had hot the South committed the folly of forcing the passage of a new fugitive-slave law unnecessarily severe and unfair, and had not the Kansas-Nebraska bill been brought forward in 1854, it is not unreasonable to suppose that the status of good feeling would have indefinitely extended itself, and much would have been settled by natural causes. There was a lull of political strife in the South which brought to silence the agitators of the Quitman and Yancey type; the country was prosperous arid content in general, except for sporadic cases of violent opposition to the execution of the fugitive-slave law, but even these were apparently diminishing. Seemingly, the disunionism of 1850 was buried in the overwhelming victory which brought Pierce to the presidency, the Democratic Party to a dominancy more complete than ever before, and the Whigs to annihilation.

Much as Douglas has been blamed, both for act and motive, in rousing the country from its calm by bringing forward squatter sovereignty in the Kansas-Nebraska act, and in being the instrument for abolishing the Missouri Compromise, despite his earlier views of the sacred character of the compromise of 1820, he was but yielding to an unconscious pressure which he could not resist. He" rode the whirlwind" but did not “direct the storm." Though he averred that the bill was all his own, he was acting under a sub-conscious southern pressure felt by his quick soul to be as actual, as mandatory, and as necessary to Democratic success as if specifically formulated by the party caucus, He little foresaw that the gloss he put upon this was to be the disruption of the Democratic Party and his own rtiin. The Kansas-Nebraska bill, supplemented by the emotions which overran the country under the influence of Uncle Tom's Cabin, a book which drew with irresistible power a, picture of slavery which outside the South was accepted the world over as true of the whole, gave new force to the resistance to the fugitive-slave law and swept the North into an opposition which culminated in the formation of  the Republican party, developed from abstract antagonism into concrete civil war in Kansas, and, in the election of 1856, reared a specter, the mere apprehension of which, to the South, was to end in secession. The dictum of the supreme court in the Dred-Scott case, the' decision in which was given out put two days after Buchanan's inauguration, gave the final blow to northern patience in the slavery question.

There still, in l859, remained over eight hundred thousand square miles in territories, enough, measured by mere area to make eighteen states of the size of New York or Pennsylvania, but which, as pointed out elsewhere, even Davis, to whom, the mantle of Calhoun had fallen, acknowledged was unfitted for slavery.

The contention of the South was thus a violation of every principle of logic and in the face of the great fact that European emigration must naturally overwhelm slave labor in regions in which land was sold so cheap. Nearly three and a half millions of immigrants arrived in the years 1848-1858,1 a number within half a million of the total number of slaves in the union; and it was impossible that any southern migration could compete with this, particularly as it was not the well-to-do owner of slaves who would attempt to establish himself in a new and, to the southerner, inhospitable region, in which, even on his own theory, slavery might be abolished when the territory became a state.

The bloody story of Kansas; the formation of emigration societies North and South, but in much greater numbers in the North; the arming of the emigrants; the development of a minor civil war, is told elsewhere in these volumes.2 It was but a phase of the extension and development of two civilizations antagonistic in every fibre of their nature; a struggle between the men who desired· an opportunity to work with their own hands and those who thought it right to own and use an inferior race to do the labor which they directed. Nothing in the history of the subject presents a more curious psychological problem than the action at this period of the statesmen of the South in their

1 3,416,923. U. S. Eighth Census (1860), Preliminary Report, 13,

2 Smith, Parties and Slavery (Am. Nation, XVIII.). 

insistence that the North should yield to a demand absolutely empty unless they looked to new extensions of territory to the south in which slavery could actually be applied. The suspicion of a project of expansion southward was confirmed by President Buchanan's 'attempt to purchase Cuba and to occupy a part of Mexico, termed by the message “a wreck upon the ocean, drifting about as she is impelled by different factions.'' 1 The South had also good reason to hope that the filibuster William Walker would succeed in Nicaragua, and that Central America would be added as a field for slavery extension. 2 Without such hopes as to Mexico and the regions farther south, it is impossible to understand the bitterness of southern contention as to territorial rights after 1857, except as the barest and emptiest sentiment.

More logical and equally destructive of good feeling between the sections was the wide-spread movement for the reopening of the African slave-trade, based on the claim that the South had too few slaves, and that the supply must be reinforced by importation; a claim which reversed the logic of diffusion of slavery applied to the territories. The price  of a good field-hand had risen in the cotton states to as much as $2000, and was still rising. The consumption of cotton was increasing at the

1 Richardson, Messages and Papers, V., 568.

2 See Walker, "Central American Affairs," in De Bow’s Review, XXVIII., 154 (February, 1860). 

rate of over six per cent .per annum. If that rate was to be kept up and met, besides the natural increase; an additional 70,000 field-hands, or, with their families, 215,000 slaves, would be needed in the cotton-growing states in the five years from 1855 to 1860, which would mean an additional yearly investment in such labor of $44,000,000..1 With reason it was asked, 'Where are they to come from?" No wonder that, with their now passionate belief in slavery, many in the South favored the reopening of the African slave-trade. But why, in the face of such needs, and of such values as those to which the slave had risen, should there be a wish to still further deplete the labor of the cotton states and raise prices to a prohibitive point by transporting to the territories such labor already employed in its most profitable field-cotton? That territorial slavery should have been to the interest of the border states, whose only real interest was in the sale of the negroes, can be understood; but it was essentially otherwise where the slave was the only laborer and was not an exotic, as he was in Virginia and Kentucky.

De Bow was able to say in the beginning of this year, "Certainly no cause has ever grown with greater rapidity than has that of the advocates of the slave trade, if we may judge from the attitude it is assuming in most of our southern legislatures." 2

1 De Bow's Review, XXI., 599 (December, 1856).

2 Ibid., XXVI., 51 (January, 1859). 

The Southern Convention, a body formed for advancing the commercial interests of the South, in its meeting, May, 1858, at Montgomery, Alabama, 1 gave its time almost entirely to the question. Yancey, prominent in all its proceedings, clearly stated their position. “If it is not wrong to hold slaves and buy and sell thein, it is right in morals and under the Constitution which guarantees the institution that we should buy them in whatever place we may come to select. He did not wish to be compelled to go to Virginia and buy slaves for $1500 each, when he could get them in Cuba for $600, and upon the coast of Guinea for one sixth of that sum."

The report of the committee favoring reopening of the African slave-trade was laid upon the table, but taken up at the next meeting of the convention, at Vicksburg, Mississippi, May, 1859, and adopted by over two to one.1 It was not entirely cheapness which determined the views of those favoring the trade, "for," said the committee1 with extraordinary blindness to the physical and other conditions of the problem, "we believe that an importation of one or two hundred thousand slaves will enable us to take every territory offered to  the West." 2 

The advocacy of the reopening of the slave-trade by so many South-Carolinians in the last decade of

1 De Bow's Review, XXVII., 96-99 (January, 1860). 

2 Ibid., XXIV., 490 (June, 1858). 

slavery would seem anomalous in face of the fact that South Carolina was herself a slave-selling, or, at least, a slave -deporting, state. The fact that slaves were not profitable in the economy of South Carolina is shown by the dark picture of the condition of the state in 1859, drawn by Spratt, of Charleston, the chairman of the committee of the Southern Convention of 1859, reporting in favor of reopening the slave -trade. The depressed condition of the state was, in his opinion, wholly due to the want of African labor. He said: " Upon the suppression of ... [the slave] trade the splendors [of the town and parishes of the Charleston district] waned ; their glories departed ; progress left them for the North; cultivation ceased; the swamps returned; mansions became tenantless and roofless; values fell, lands that sold for fifty dollars per acre, now sell for less than five dollars; trade was no longer prosecuted ; . . . and Charleston, which was once upon the line of travel from Europe to the North, now stands aside, and while once the metropolis of America is now the unconsidered sea port of a tributary province.'' 1

this statement of conditions was true; his reasoning erroneous. The state was already black in the proportion of four negroes to three whites, and further flooding with Africans would not have made it a cotton state in the sense that Alabama and Mississippi were such. The conditions were intrinsic.

1 De Bow's Review, XXVII., 211. 

The state was not in the true cotton belt; the yield per acre was but three-fifths that in Alabama and less than half that in Mississippi.1 Its advance in cotton production in the decade 1850-1860 was but eighteen per cent; in Mississippi it was one hundred and forty-six per cent. It is true that the sea -island cotton of South Carolina and Georgia had a special value, but of this the South Carolina production rarely exceeded seven thousand bales.

It is not unfair to suppose that some of the strength of the secession movement in South Carolina was due to a vain hope of recovering something of her former prosperity by being free to import African slaves. But causes deeper than those mentioned lay at the root of South Carolina's decadence. In 1775, when her exports of rice and indigo were valued at over one million pounds, she was one of a fringe of colonies on the Atlantic seaboard, and she was one of the few which raised specialties for export. There was no "back country" except that given over to the Indian and the buffalo. But when population crossed the mountains, and great states grew northwest and west of her, she could have little share in that trade on account of the barrier of mountains and because the others had their own natural commercial ports of Mobile and New Orleans. The Mississippi was the highway of the West until railroads found their

1 Seventh Census (1850), Compendium, 118.  

way west over the easier routes of the North, and New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore took the trade because ships could load both ways. Charleston ceased to import, as she once did, for the northern trade, and found herself with deserted wharves. No additions of slaves, no efforts of masters, could have prevented such a change. Charleston was left aside, with nothing to carry outward except South Carolina's own comparatively limited production. The deep discontent with conditions which no efforts on their part could, to any great extent, have overcome ripened into sullen dissatisfaction with the Union, at whose door was laid the cause, instead of at that of nature.

Source:  Chadwick, French Ensor, Causes of the Civil War. In Hart, Albert Bushnell, ed., The American Nation: A History, Vol. 19, 54-66. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1906.


SOUTHARD, Henry, 1749-1842, Member of Congress from New Jersey 1801-1811 and 1815-1821.  Opposed slavery as Member of the U.S. House of Representatives. 

(Appletons’, 1888, Vol. V., p. 613; Locke, 1901, pp. 93, 145, 145; Annals of Congress)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

SOUTHARD, Henry (suth'-ard), congressman, b. on Long Island, N. Y., in October, 1749; d. in Baskingridge, N. J., 2 June, 1842. The family name was formerly Southworth. His father, Abraham, removed to Baskingridge in 1757. The son was brought up on a farm and earned money as a day-laborer to purchase land for himself. He was an active patriot during the Revolution, served in the state house of representatives for nine years, and sat in congress in 1801-'11 and 1815-'21, having been chosen as a Democrat. Mr. Southard was a man of superior talents and possessed a remarkable memory. Until he had passed ninety years he neither wore glasses nor used a staff. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. V, pp. 613.


SOUTHEBY, William A., Pennsylvania, Society of Friends, Quaker.  As early as 1696, Southeby condemned the institution of slavery.  In 1712, he petitioned Quaker officials to reject and abolish slavery.  Wrote a paper opposing slavery and was censured by fellow Quakers in Philadelphia.

(Drake, 1950, pp. 19, 28-29, 34, 36, 40, 47, 51, 55; Rodriguez, 2007, pp. 9, 11, 93, 94; Soderlund, 1985, pp. 4, 19, 22, 32, 35, 49, 174, 186, 187; Zilversmit, 1967, pp. 62-66)



SEVENTY-TWO years after the adoption of the Constitution, called into being to form "a more perfect union,'' and eighty -five years after the declaration of independence (a space completely covered by the lives of men then still living), a new confederacy of seven southern states was formed, and the great political fabric, the exemplar and hope of every lover of freedom throughout the world, was apparently hopelessly rent. Of these seven states but two were of the original thirteen Louisiana and Florida had been purchased by the government of the Union; a war had been fought in behalf of Texas; two states, Alabama and Mississippi, lay within original claims of Georgia, but had been ceded to the Union and organized as Federal territories.

April 11, 1861, found a fully organized separate government established for these seven states, with a determination to form a separate nation, most forcibly expressed by the presence of an army at Charleston, South Carolina, which next day was to open fire upon a feebly manned fort, and thus to begin a terrible civil war. The eight other slave states were in a turmoil of anxiety, leaning towards their sisters of the farther South through the common sympathy which came of slavery, but drawn also to the Union through tradition and appreciation of benefits, and through a realization by a great number of persons that their interests in slavery were much less than those of the states which had already seceded.

The North, in the middle of April, was only emerging from a condition of stupefied amazement at a condition which scarcely any of its statesmen, and practically none of the men of every-day life, had thought possible. It was to this crisis that the country had been brought by the conflicting views of the two great and strongly divided sections of the Union respecting slavery, and by the national aspirations which, however little recognized, were working surely in each section, but upon divergent lines.

In the period of the Revolution the four most southerly states were the only ones deeply interested in slavery from an economic point of view. The general sentiment in other states, among statesmen, at least, was averse to slavery, though the objection was rather philosophic than practical. Even the Virginia House of Burgesses in 1772 petitioned against the traffic, but was resisted by the British crown.1 In the Articles of Association drawn up by the first Continental Congress, October 20, 1774, it was agreed that the United Colonies would ''neither import nor purchase any slave'' and would "wholly discontinue the slave trade." 2

The North Carolina and Virginia Conventions sending delegates to that congress pledged themselves not to import slaves and not to purchase them when imported by others. 3 And Congress itself, April 6, 1776, resolved, without opposition, that "no slaves be imported into any of the thirteen United Colonies." 4 Though this action was directed against British commerce, it was an indication of a general feeling of opposition to the traffic. No mention, however, was made of the subject in the Articles of Confederation submitted November 15, 1771; the farther South had begun to look to its supposed interests, and the results were the compromises of the Constitution, a necessity to the formation and immediate well-being of the Union, but fatal to its later peace. 5

1 Journal of Va. House of Burgesses, 131; Tucker's Blackstone, I., pt. ii., App. 5

2 Journals of Congress (ed. of 1904), I., 77.

3 Wilson, Slave Power, I., 14.

4 Journals of Congress (ed. of 1904), IV., 258.

5 Cf. McLaughlin's Confederation and the Constitution, chaps. xiv., xvi.; Hart, Slavery and Abolition, chap. xi. (Am. Nation, X., XVI.).

The almost universal deprecation of slavery by the public men of the eighteenth century need not be repeated here. The author of the Declaration of Independence, which declared all men created free and equal; the Virginia orator whose impassioned declamations had done so much to forward it; the great man and the great general whose lead was so indispensable to its success; and yet another Virginian who aided in making and expounding the Constitution, all declared their abhorrence of the system, but continued to hold their slaves. On the other hand, many northerners and Englishmen stood by the system. Even Jonathan Edwards left, as part of his property, two negroes, a man and a woman. 1 Whitefield regarded slavery as arranged by Providence for the instruction and salvation of the blacks; he had no doubt of the "lawfulness of keeping slaves," 2 and died owning seventy-five, who, classed among his goods and chattels, were bequeathed to Lady Huntingdon.3 Lord Thurlow, in 1799, could denounce the proposal to abolish the slave-trade as " altogether miserable and ridiculous." 4

In the face of these facts it is not surprising that probably the great majority of lesser men, North as

1 See Lunt, Origin of the Late War, 8.

2 Whitefield, Works, II., 404; Tyerman, Whitefield, II., 272.

3 Tyerman, John Wesley, III., 183.

4 Summary of debate July 5, 1799, Parliamentary History of England, XXXIV., 1138-1139.

well as South, regarded slavery as no sin. It was not until a great psychological wave of religious and altruistic enthusiasm swept over the North shortly after the Missouri contest that deprecation of slavery took a concrete form which made its destruction but a question of time. And this would have spread southward but for the simultaneous development of an immense and overpowering interest through the demand for cotton, the invention of the cotton-gin: and the consequent expansion on a gigantic scale of cotton production. This gave the slave a money value which it was hardly in human nature to ignore; and it gave an exultant feeling of superiority over the North in possessing a commercial monopoly. As put by a southern writer: "The cotton culture, then, and negro civilization, have grown up rapidly and equally together and their interests are now inseparable; whatever injures the one injures the other, and it is impossible to destroy the one without destroying the other. This alliance between the negroes and cotton, we venture to say, is now the strongest power in the world; and the peace and welfare of Christendom absolutely depend upon the strength and security of it. The whole world is under the heaviest bonds to promote and strengthen this connection.'' 1 The supply of slaves could not keep pace with the demand; the more cotton, the more negroes needed.

1 Wright, "Cotton and Negroes," in De Bow's Review, XXIX., 139 (August, 1860). 

Every additional three and a half bales meant an additional field-hand, so that in round numbers 1,400,000 more were employed in the cotton-fields in 1860 to produce 5,400,000 bales than to produce the 450,000 bales of 1820. 1

In these forty years cotton had become not only the support of the South and the main-stay of our foreign commerce, but an equal necessity to England, the home of the cotton manufacture. There was then a basis for the belief, held without reserve, that without slavery there could be no cotton. The results of freedom in Haiti and Jamaica afforded good grounds for such a view, and in any case the South had full belief that the result of a general emancipation would be totally to destroy the cotton industry by the refusal of the blacks to labor; thus reducing the region to the depressed condition of these islands.2 This feeling was a powerful element in the political situation. None foresaw that in less than forty years from 1860 the crop of cotton would be more than doubled under free negro labor. Could they have done so, politics would have taken a different aspect. The change of conditions effected by the rapidly increasing demand for cotton was by 1830 a great economic revolution.

1 Cf. Morse, “Southern Slavery and the Cotton Trade," in De Bow's Review, XXIII., 475 et seq. (November, 1857). 2 De Bow's Review, XXVIII., 87, 201 (January and February, 1860).

Cotton cultivation rolled like a car of Juggernaut over every lesser industry, and marched into new territory as an invading army. Public lands to the amount of 20,242,017 acres were sold from 1833 to 1840 in the Gulf States, Arkansas, and Tennessee. The cotton crop rose from 1,070,438 bales in 1833 to 1,801,497 bales in 1838. Almost the whole of the increase was in the new slave states, whose slave population increased in the decade 1830-1840 by nearly four hundred thousand, proving how great had been the shifting of blacks from farther North, Virginia showing an actual decrease of nearly twenty -three thousand, and Maryland of over thirteen thousand 1. The natural effect of cheap land, the necessity of continually seeking fresh soil for unchanging crops, could have but one effect: there could be no careful cultivation, "no adequate system of fertilization, southern husbandry was, for the most part, a reckless pillage of the bounty of nature." 2

Southern slavery wore a more humane aspect than the slave societies which preceded it. By the partial closure of the African slave-trade the supply was limited, and the economic well -being of the planter required such treatment of the slaves as would insure not only a good labor efficiency, but, still more important, would tend to a rapid increase in numbers. Says the excellent southern

1 Democratic Review, XXIII., 102 (August, 1848). 2 Reed, Brothers' War, 432. 

authority just quoted: "The southern slaves, regarded as property, were the most desirable investment open to the generality of people that has ever been known .... Their labor was richly remunerative; their market value was constantly rising; they were everywhere more easily convertible into money than the best securities; and their natural increase was so rapid that a part of it could be squandered by a shiftless owner every year to make both ends meet, and he still be left enough of accumulation to enrich him steadily. And so the plantation, or, rather, the slave system, swallowed up everything else."1

To preserve this system meant to extend and give it at least political equality, if not actual preponderance in the Union; this became the aim and demand of the South; to restrict it became the equally fixed resolve of the North. Failing preponderance in the Union, the only course of the South was to nationalize itself in correspondence with its peculiar social and economic organization, and face the world as a nation whose corner-stone was negro slavery.2

The outward manifestations in the history of the separation of the North and the South stand out in strong relief: the Missouri question; the protective tariff and South Carolina nullification; the abolition attacks which wrought the South into a frenzy suicidal in character through its impossible demands

1 Reed, Brothers' War, 433 ibid., chap. iv. 

upon the North for protection ; the action of the southern statesmen in the question of petitions; the passage of a fugitive-slave law which drove the North itself to nullification; the Kansas-Nebraska act and its outcome of civil war in the former territory; the recognition, in the dicta of the supreme court in the Dred Scott case, of the South's contention of its constitutional right to carry slavery into the territories, and the stand taken by the North against any further slavery extension. To these visible conflicts were added the unconscious workings of the disruptive forces of a totally distinct social organization. The outward strifes were but the symptoms of a malady in the body politic of the Union which could have but one end, unless the deep, abiding cause, slavery, should be removed.1

The president and vice-president of the Southern Confederacy, in their elaborate defences written after the war, have endeavored to rest the cause of the struggle wholly on constitutional questions. Stephens, whose book, not even excepting Calhoun's utterances, is the ablest exposition of the southern reading of the Constitution, says: "The struggle or conflict . . . from its rise to its culmination, was between those who, in whatever state they lived, were for maintaining our Federal system as it was established, and those who were for a consolidation of power in the central head." 2

1 Cf. Am. Nation, XIV., XVI.-XVIII., passim.

2 Stephens, War between the States, II., 32. 

Jefferson Davis is even more explicit. "The truth remains," he says, "intact and incontrovertible that the existence of African servitude was in no wise the cause of the conflict, but only an incident. In the later controversies . . . its effect in operating as a lever upon the passions, prejudices, or sympathies of mankind, was so potent that it has been spread like a thick cloud over the whole horizon of historic truth." 1

This is but begging the question. The constitutional view had its weight for the South in 1860 as it had for New England in the Jefferson-Madison period. Jefferson's iron domination of the national government during his presidency, a policy hateful to New England, combined with the fear of being overweighted in sectional influence by the western extension through the Louisiana purchase, led to pronounced threats of secession by men of New England, ardently desirous of escaping from what Pickering, one of its most prominent men, termed the Virginian supremacy.2 Exactly the same arguments were used, mutatis mutandis, later by the South. As we all know, the movement, which never had any real popular support and which had its last spasm of life in the Hartford Convention at the close of the War of 1812, came to naught. Freed by the fall of Napoleon and the peace with England from the

1 Davis, Confederate Government, I., So. 2 Adams, New England Federalism, 144-146. 

pressure of the upper and nether mill-stones which had so ground to pieces our commerce, a prosperity set in which drowned the sporadic discontent of the previous twenty years. The fears of the eastern states no longer loomed so high and were as imaginary in fact, and had as slight a basis, as were, in the beginning of the era of discord, those of the South. Could slavery have been otherwise preserved, the extreme decentralizing ideas of the South would have disappeared with equal ease, and Stephens's “Caucasians--" the different and directly opposite views as to the nature of the Government of the United States, and where, under our system, ultimate sovereign power or paramount authority properly resides," would have had no more intensity of meaning in 1860 than today.

Divergence of constitutional views, like most questions of government, follow the lines of self-interest; Jefferson's qualms gave way before the great prize of Louisiana; one part of the South was ready in 1832 to go to war on account of a protective tariff; another, Louisiana, was at the same time demanding protection for her special industry. The South thus simply shared in our general human nature, and fought, not for a pure abstraction, as Davis and Stephens, led by Calhoun, would have it, but for the supposed self-interest which its view of the Constitution protected. Its section, its society, could not continue to develop in the Union under the northern reading of the document, and the irrepressible and certain nationalization, so different from its own tendencies, to which the North as a whole was steadily moving.

Slavery drove the South into opposition to the broad, liberal movement of the age. The French Revolution; the destruction of feudalism by Napoleon; the later popular movements throughout Europe and South America; the liberalizing of Great Britain; the nationalistic ideas of which we have the results in the German empire and the kingdom of Italy, and the strong nationalistic feeling developing in the northern part of the Union itself had but little reflex action in the South because of slavery and the South's consequent segregation and tendency to a feudalistic nationalization.

As pointed out by one, himself a distinguished son of the South, "In 1789 the states 'were the creators of the Federal Government; in 1861 the Federal Government was the creator of a large majority of the states. In 1789 the Federal Government had derived all the powers delegated to it by the Constitution from the states; in 1861 a majority of the states derived all their powers and attributes as states from Congress under the Constitution. In 1789 the people of the United States were citizens of states originally sovereign and independent; in 1861 a vast majority of the people of the United States were citizens of states that were originally mere dependences of the Federal Government, which was the author and giver of their political being." 1

These words of a southern orator convey a serious truth. The conditions of settlement were instigators of national feeling, as well as the tendencies ·of the century and the general conditions of American life. The immigrant, the traveller abroad, the commercial world, the great merchant fleet of the country, the army and navy, knew no state. But the South, except for its representatives in the military and naval services, was outside the pale of these influences; it had no merchant marine; its only travellers were from among the very few who owned slaves; it clung necessarily, through slavery, to agriculture, and lived the secluded and separate life of the husbandman; and when attacked by abolitionism it bent all its energies to the preservation of the only life it knew. It was not touched, except in a remote way, by the wonderful industrial change which came over the world with steam; its spirit not being commercial, it did not strive to link itself with the great West, as did New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. Its harbors were few and mostly shallow, and though of depth sufficient for the ships of the period, its distance from Europe was so much greater when the steamship began to be the carrier and took a direct route, independent of trade-winds and Gulf Stream, that this distance became an

1 Lamar, quoted by Curry, Southern States, 187.

important element in the change from busy to deserted ports.

The impulses working in the North and West, liberal, industrial, and national, were thus unfelt in the South, which planted and gathered in 1860 much as it did in 1820. Its illiteracy was very great, its reading public small. There was less movement between North and South than between the southern East and West, and the sections grew in painful ignorance of each other; an ignorance which increased as intercourse diminished through the sensitiveness of slavery. There was left but one kinship-that of blood. All other bonds disappeared in the gulf of economic interest, the outcome of its special form of labor, the preservation of which became an obsession. Under the circumstances there was but one step finally for the South to take-to set up a nationality of its own. It was impossible for it to remain under a polity almost as divergent from its sympathies as the Russian autocracy of that period was from the United States of to-day.

Source:  Chadwick, French Ensor, Causes of the Civil War. In Hart, Albert Bushnell, ed., The American Nation: A History, Vol. 19, 3-16. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1906.


SOUTHWICK, Abby, Boston Female Anti-Slavery Society (BFASS), Boston, Massachusetts

(Yellin, 1994, pp. 353n, 301-302, 307, 316, 333)


SOUTHWICK, Joseph, Maine, abolitionist.  Vice president, 1833-1835, and founding member of the American Anti-Slavery Society, December 1833.  Vice President, Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society, 1840-1848. 

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


SOUTHWICK, Thankful, leader, Boston Female Anti-Slavery Society (BFASS).

(Rodriguez, 2007, p. 199; Yellin, 1994, pp. 56, 62, 64, 253n, 280, 289, 292)


SPALDING, Rufus Paine, 1798-1886, jurist.  Republican Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Ohio.  One of the organizers of the Republican Party.  Voted for Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery.

(Appletons’, 1888, Vol. V, pp. 620-621; Congressional Globe)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

SPALDING, Rufus Paine, jurist, b. in West Tisbury, Martha's Vineyard, Mass., 3 May, 1798; d. in Cleveland, Ohio, 29 Aug., 1886. He was graduated at Yale in 1817, and subsequently studied law under Zephania Swift, chief justice of Connecticut, whose daughter, Lucretia, he married in 1822. In 1819 he was admitted to practice in Little Rock, Ark., but in 1821 he went to Warren, Ohio. Sixteen years later he moved to Ravenna, Ohio, and he was sent to the legislature in 1830-'40 as a Democrat, serving as speaker in 1841-'2. In 1840 he was elected judge of the supreme court of Ohio for seven years, but when, three years later, the new state constitution was adopted, he declined a re-election and began practice in Cleveland. In l852 he entered political life as a Free-soiler, and he was one of the organizers of the Republican party. He was a member of congress in 1863-'9, where he served on important committees, but he subsequently declined all political honors. Judge Spalding exeicised an important infiuence in restoring the Masonic order to its former footing after the disappearance of William Morgan. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. V, pp. 620-621.   


SPEED, James, 1812-1887, Kentucky, lawyer, soldier, statesman, U.S. Attorney General.  Ardent opponent of slavery.  Radical Republican.  Wrote a series of anti-slavery letters to the Louisville Courier in 1849.  This hurt his chances for election to political office.  Early friend of Abraham Lincoln.  Emancipation candidate for Kentucky State Constitutional Convention.  Unionist State Senator.  U.S. Attorney General appointed by President Lincoln in 1864, he served until 1866.  Supported African American suffrage and the Fourteenth Amendment.

(Appletons’, 1888, Vol. V, pp. 625-626; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 9, Pt. 1, p. 440)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

SPEED, James, lawyer, b. in Jefferson county, Ky., 11 March, 1812; d. there, 25 June, 1887. He was graduated at St. Joseph's college, Bardstown, Ky., in 1828, studied law at Transylvania, and began practice at Louisville. His ancestors were identified with that state from pioneer days, and were active participants in the best political life of the young commonwealth. Inheriting a repugnance to every form of oppression and injustice, he was naturally opposed to slavery, and his well-known opinions on that subject prevented his taking any prominent part in politics until the opening of the civil war. He was then nearly fifty years old, but he had established his reputation as a jurist, and was recognized even by those wholly opposed to him on the issues of the time as able, consistent, and upright. He also held at this time a chair in the law department of the University of Louisville. A powerful element in Kentucky strove to commit the state to the disunion cause, and against that element he exercised all his talents and influence. To him as much as any one man is ascribed the refusal of Kentucky to join the Confederacy.  He became in early manhood a friend of Abraham Lincoln, and their subsequent relations continued to be intimate. When the war came, he promptly yielded to the president’s request that he should assist in organizing the National troops in his native state, and he devoted himself to the cause of loyalty until 1864, when he was made attorney general of the United States. He was a member of the legislature in 1847, and in 1849 was the Emancipation candidate for the State constitutional convention, but was defeated by James Guthrie, Pro-slavery. He was a Unionist state senator in 1861-‘3, mustering officer of the U.S. volunteers in 1861 for the first call for 75,000 men, and U.S. attorney-general of 1864 till 1866 when he resigned from opposition to Andrew Johnson’s administration. He was also a delegate to the Republican conventions of 1872 and 1876. His last appearance in public was in delivering an address on Lincoln before the Loyal league of Cinncinatti, 4 May, 1887. In 1875, he returned to his law professorship.  Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. V, pp. 625-626.


SPOONER, Lysander, 1808-1887, lawyer, author, radical abolitionist leader.  Wrote, “Unconstitutionality of Slavery,” 1845, “A Defense for Fugitive Slaes,” 1850, and “A Plan for the Abolition of Slavery (and) to tell Non-Slaveholders of the South” in 1858. 

(Cover, 1975; Rodriguez, 2007, p. 162; Shivley, Charles, ed., The Collected Works of Lysander Spooner; Wiecek, 1977; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. V, pp. 634-635; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 9, Pt. 1, p. 466; American Reformers: An H.W. Wilson Biographical Dictionary, New York, 1985, pp. 750-752; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 20; Hinks, Peter P., & John R. McKivigan, Eds., Encyclopedia of Antislavery and Abolition.  Westport, Connecticut, Greenwood, 2007, Vol. 2, pp. 651-652)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

SPOONER, Lysander, lawyer, b. in Athol, Mass., 19 Jan., 1808; d. in Boston, Mass., 14 May, 1887. He studied law in Worcester, Mass., but on completing his course of reading found that admission to the bar was permitted only to those who had studied for three years, except in the case of college graduates. This obnoxious condition at once engaged his attention and he succeeded in having it removed from the statute-books. In 1844 the letter postage from Boston to New York was twelve and a half cents and to Washington twenty-five cents. Mr. Spooner, believing that the U. S. governruent had no constitutional right to a monopoly of the mails, established an independent service from Boston to New York, carrying letters at the uniform rate of five cents. His business grew rapidly, but the government soon overwhelmed him with prosecutions, so that he was compelled to retire from the undertaking, but not until he had shown the possibility of supporting the post-office department by a lower rate of postage. His efforts resulted in an act of congress that reduced the rates, followed in 1851 and subsequent years by still further reductions. Mr. Spooner was an active Abolitionist, and contributed largely to the literature of the subject, notablyby his “Unconstitutionality of Slavery” (1845), the tenets of which were supported by Gerrit Smith, Elizur Wright, and others of the Liberty party, but were opposed by the Garrisonians. He defended Thomas Drew, who in 1870 declined to take his oath as a witness before a legislative committee on the ground that in the matter it was investigating it had no authority to compel him to testify. The case was adversely decided on the ground of precedent, but the principles of Mr. Spooner's argument were afterward sustained by the U.S. supreme court. His writings include “A Deistic Reply to the Alleged Supernatural Evidences of Christianity” and “The Deistic Immortality, and an Essay on Man's Accountability for his Belief” (1836); “Credit, Currency, and Banking” (1843); “Poverty, Causes and Cure” (1846); “A Defence for Fugitive Slaves” (1856); “A New System of Paper Currency” (1861); “Our Financiers” (1877); “The Law of Prices” (1877); “Gold and Silver as Standards of Value” (1878); and “Letter to Grover Cleveland on his False Inaugural Address” (1886). Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. V, pp. 634-635.


STANTON, Benjamin, Indiana, Society of Friends, Quaker, abolitionist, editor of the Free Labor Advocate newspaper of the Friends Anti-Slavery Society.  Manager of the American Anti-Slavery Society (AASS), 1837-1840.

(Drake, 1950, p. 165)


STANTON, Edwin McMasters, 1814-1869, statesman, lawyer, anti-slavery activist.  U. S. Secretary of War, 1862-1867.  Favored Wilmot Proviso to exclude slavery from the new territories acquired by the U.S. after the War with Mexico in 1846.  Member of the Free Soil movement. 

(Rodriguez, 2007, pp. 65, 67, 69, 72, 144, 147-148; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. V, pp. 648-649; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 9, Pt. 1, p. 517; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 20, p. 558)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

STANTON, Edwin McMasters, statesman, b. in Steubenville Ohio, 19 Dec., 1814; d. in Washington, D. C., 24 Dec., 1869. His father, a physician died while Edwin was a child. After acting for three years as a clerk in a book-store, he entered Kenyon college in 1831, but left in 1833 to study law. He was admitted to the bar in 1836, and, beginning practice in Cadiz, was in 1837 elected prosecuting attorney. He returned to Steubenville in 1839, and was supreme court reporter in 1842-'5, preparing vols. xi., xii., and xiii. of the Ohio reports. In 1848 he removed to Pittsburg, Pa., and in 1857, on account of his large business in the U. S. supreme court, he established himself in Washington. During 1857-'8 he was in California, attending to important land cases for the government. Among the notable suits that he conducted were the first Erie railway litigation, the Wheeling bridge case, and the Manney and McCormick reaper contest in 1859. When Lewis Cass retired from President Buchanan's cabinet, and Jeremiah S. Black was made secretary of state, Stanton was appointed the latter's successor in the office of attorney-general, 20 Dec., 1860. He was originally a Democrat of the Jackson school, and, until Van Buren's defeat in the Baltimore convention of 1844, took an active part in political affairs in his locality. He favored the Wilmot proviso, to exclude slavery from the territory acquired by the war with Mexico, and sympathized with the Free-soil movement of 1848, headed by Martin Van Buren. He was an anti-slavery man, but his hostility to that institution was qualified by his view of the obligations imposed by the Federal constitution. He had held no public offices before entering President Buchanan's cabinet except those of prosecuting attorney for one year in Harrison county, Ohio, and reporter of the Ohio supreme court for three years, being wholly devoted to his profession. While a member of Mr. Buchanan's cabinet, he took a firm stand for the Union, and at a cabinet meeting, when John B. Floyd, then secretary of war, demanded the withdrawal of the United States troops from the forts in Charleston harbor, he indignantly declared that the surrender of Fort Sumter would be, in his opinion, a crime, equal to that of Arnold, and that all who participated in it should be hung like André. After the meeting, Floyd sent in his resignation. President Lincoln, though since his accession to the presidency he had held no communication with Mr. Stanton, called him to the head of the war department on the retirement of Simon Cameron, 15 Jan., 1862. As was said by an eminent senator of the United States: “He certainly came to the public service with patriotic and not with sordid motives, surrendering a most brilliant position at the bar, and with it the emolument of which, in the absence of accumulated wealth, his family was in daily need.” Infirmities of temper he had, but they were incident to the intense strain upon his nerves caused by his devotion to duties that would have soon prostrated most men, however robust, as they finally prostrated him. He had no time for elaborate explanations for refusing trifling or selfish requests, and his seeming abruptness of manner was often but rapidity in transacting business which had to be thus disposed of, or be wholly neglected. As he sought no benefit to himself, but made himself an object of hatred to the dishonest and the inefficient, solely in the public interest, and as no enemy ever accused him of wrong-doing, the charge of impatience and hasty temper will not detract from the high estimate placed by common consent upon his character as a man, a patriot, and a statesman.

Mr. Stanton's entrance into the cabinet marked the beginning of a vigorous military policy. On 27 Jan., 1862, was issued the first of the president's war orders, prescribing a general movement of the troops. His impatience at Gen. George B. McClellan's apparent inaction caused friction between the administration and the general-in-chief, which ended in the latter's retirement. Be selected Gen. Ulysses S. Grant for promotion after the victory at Fort Donelson, which Gen. Henry W. Halleck in his report had ascribed to the bravery of Gen. Charles F. Smith, and in the autumn of 1863 he placed Grant in supreme command of the three armies operating in the southwest, directed him to relieve Gen. William S. Rosecrans before his army at Chattanooga could be forced to surrender. President Lincoln said that he never took an important step without consulting his secretary of war. It has been asserted that, on the eve of Mr. Lincoln's second inauguration, he proposed to allow Gen. Grant to make terms of peace with Gen. Lee, and that Mr. Stanton dissuaded him from such action. According to a bulletin of Mr. Stanton that was issued at the time, the president wrote the despatch directing the general of the army to confer with the Confederate commander on none save purely military questions without previously consulting the members of the cabinet. At a cabinet council that was held in consultation with Gen. Grant, the terms on which Gen. William T. Sherman proposed to accept the surrender of Gen. Joseph E. Johnston were disapproved by all who were present. To the bulletin announcing the telegram that was sent to Gen. Sherman, which directed him to guide his actions by the despatch that had previously been sent to Gen. Grant, forbidding military interference in the political settlement, a statement of the reasons for disapproving Sherman's arrangement was appended, obviously by the direction of Sec. Stanton. These were: (1) that it was unauthorized; (2) that it was an acknowledgment of the Confederate government; (3) that it re-established rebel state governments; (4) that it would enable rebel state authorities to restore slavery; (5) that it involved the question of the Confederate states debt; (6) that it would put in dispute the state government of West Virginia; (7) that it abolished confiscation, and relieved rebels of all penalties; (8) that it gave terms that had been rejected by President Lincoln; (9) that it formed no basis for peace, but relieved rebels from the pressure of defeat, and left them free to renew the war. Gen. Sherman defended his course on the ground that he had before him the public examples of Gen. Grant's terms to Gen. Lee's army, and Gen. Weitzel's invitation to the Virginia legislature to assemble at Richmond. His central motive, in giving terms that would be cheerfully accepted, he declared to be the peaceful disbandment of all the Confederate armies, and the prevention of guerilla warfare. He had never seen President Lincoln's telegram to Gen. Grant of 3 March, 1865, above quoted, nor did he know that Gen. Weitzel's permission for the Virginia legislature to assemble had been rescinded.

A few days before the president's death Sec. Stanton tendered his resignation because his task was completed, but was persuaded by Mr. Lincoln to remain. After the assassination of Lincoln a serious controversy arose between the new president, Andrew Johnson, and the Republican party, and Mr. Stanton took sides against the former on the subject of reconstruction. On 5 Aug., 1867, the president demanded his resignation; but he refused to give up his office before the next meeting of congress, following the urgent counsels of leading men of the Republican party. He was suspended by the president on 12 Aug. On 13 Jan., 1868, he was restored by the action of the senate, and resumed his office. On 21 Feb., 1868, the president informed the senate that he had removed Sec. Stanton, and designated a secretary ad interim. Mr. Stanton refused to surrender the office pending the action of the senate on the president's message. At a late hour of the same day the senate resolved that the president bad not the power to remove the secretary. Mr. Stanton, thus sustained by the senate, refused to surrender the office. The impeachment of the president followed, and on 26 May, the vote of the senate being “guilty,” 35, “not guilty,” 19, he was acquitted—two thirds not voting for conviction. After Mr. Stanton's retirement from office he resumed the practice of law. On 20 Dec., 1869, he was appointeel by President Grant a justice of the supreme court, and he was forthwith confirmed by the senate. Four days later he expired.

The value to the country of his services during the civil war cannot be overestimated. His energy, inflexible integrity, systematized industry, comprehensive view of the situation in its military, political, and international aspects, his power to command and supervise the best services of others, and his unbending will and invincible courage, made him at once the stay of the president, the hope of the country, and a terror to dishonesty and imbecility. The vastness of his labors led to brusqueness in repelling importunities, which made him many enemies. But none ever questioned his honesty, his patriotism, or his capability. A “Memoir” of Mr. Stanton is at present in preparation by his son, Lewis M. Stanton. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. V, pp. 648-649.


STANTON, Elizabeth Cady, 1815-1902, reformer, suffragist, abolitionist leader, co-founder of the Women’s National Loyal League in 1863, co-founded American Equal Rights Association (AERA) in 1866.

(Drake, 1950; Filler, 1960, pp. 35, 137, 277; Gordon, Ann D., ed., The Selected Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, 1997; Griffiths, Elizabeth, In Her Own Right: The Life of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, 1984. Rodriguez, 2007, pp. 47, 170, 388, 465, 519; Sorin, 1971, pp. 66-67; Wellman, Judith, The Road to Seneca Falls: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the First Women’s Rights Convention, 2004; Yellin, 1994, pp. 30, 85-87, 149, 157, 301, 302n; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. V, p. 650; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 9, Pt. 1, p. 521; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 20, p. 562; Hinks, Peter P., & John R. McKivigan, Eds., Encyclopedia of Antislavery and Abolition.  Westport, Connecticut, Greenwood, 2007, Vol. 2, pp. 655-656)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

STANTON, Elizabeth Cady, reformer, b. in Johnstown, N.Y., 12 Nov., 1815, is the daughter of Judge Daniel Cady, and, after receiving her first education at the Johnstown academy, was graduated at Mrs. Emma Willard's seminary in Troy, N. Y., in 1832. While attending the World's anti-slavery convention in London in 1840 she met Lucretia Mott, with whom she was in sympathy, and with whom she signed the call for the first Woman's rights convention. This was held at her home in Seneca Falls, on 19 and 20 July, 1848, on which occasion the first formal claim of suffrage for women was made. She addressed the New York legislature on the rights of married women in 1854, and in advocacy of divorce for drunkenness in 1860, and in 1867 spoke before the legislature and the constitutional convention, maintaining that during the revision of the constitution the state was resolved into its original elements and that citizens of both sexes had a right to vote for members of that convention. She canvassed Kansas in 1867 and Michigan in 1874, when the question of woman suffrage was submitted to the people of those states, and since 1869 she has addressed congressional committees and state constitutional conventions upon this subject, besides giving numerous lectures. She was president from 1855 till 1865 of the national committee of her party, of theWoman's loyal league in 1863, and of the National woman suffrage association until 1873. In 1868 she was a candidate for congress. She has written many calls to conventions and addresses, and was an editor with Susan B. Anthony and Parker Pillsbury of '”The Revolution,” which was founded in 1868, and is joint author of '”History of Woman's suffrage” (vols. i. and ii., New York, 1880; vol. iii., Rochester, 1886).—Their son, Theodore, journalist, b. in Seneca Falls, N. Y., 10 Feb., 1851, was graduated at Cornell in 1876. In 1880 he was the Berlin correspondent of the New York “Tribune,” and he is now (1888) engaged in journalism in Paris, France. He is a contributor to periodicals, translated and edited Le Goff's “Life of Thiers” (New York, 1879), and is the author of The Woman Question in Europe” (1884). Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. V, pp. 650. 


STANTON, Henry Brewster, 1805-1887, New York, New York, Cincinnati, Ohio, abolitionist leader, anti-slavery agent, journalist, author.  Worked with William T. Allan and Birney.  Financial Secretary of the American Anti-Slavery Society (AASS), Manager, 1834-1838, Corresponding Secretary, 1838-1840, and Executive Committee of the Society, 1838.  Secretary, 1840-1841, and Member of the Executive Committee, American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, 1840-1844.  Leader of the Liberty Party.  Wrote for abolitionist newspapers.  Worked against pro-slavery legislation at state level.  Later edited the New York Sun

(Dumond, 1961, pp. 164, 219, 238-240, 286; Filler, 1960, pp. 68, 72, 134, 137, 156, 189, 301; Mitchell, 2007, pp. 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 14016, 18, 28, 36, 45, 47, 101, 162, 223; Rodriguez, 2007, p. 162; Sorin, 1971 p. 63-67, 97, 131, 132; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. V, pp. 649-650; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 9, Pt. 1, p. 525)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

STANTON, Henry Brewster, journalist, b. in Griswold, New London co., Conn., 29 June, 1805; d. in New York city, 14 Jan., 1887. His ancestor, Thomas, came to this country from England in 1635 and was crown interpreter-general of the Indian dialects, and subsequently judge of the New London county court. His father was a manufacturer of woollens and a trader with the West Indies. After receiving his education the son went in 1826 to Rochester, N. Y., to write for Thurlow Weed's newspaper, “The Monroe Telegraph,” which was advocating the election of Henry Clay to the presidency. He then began to make political speeches. He removed to Cincinnati to complete his studies in Lane theological seminary, but left it to become an advocate of the anti-slavery cause. At the anniversary of the American anti-slavery society in New York city in 1834 he faced the first of the many mobs that he encountered in his tours throughout the country. In 1837-'40 he was active in the movement to form the Abolitionists into a compact political party, which was resisted by William Lloyd Garrison and others, and which resulted in lasting dissension. In 1840 he married Elizabeth Cady, and on 12 May of that year sailed with her to London, having been elected to represent the American anti-slavery society at a convention for the promotion of the cause. At its close they travelled through Great Britain and France, working for the relief of the slaves. On his return he studied law with Daniel Cady, was admitted to the bar, and practised in Boston, where he gained a reputation especially in patent cases, but he abandoned his profession to enter political life, and removing to Seneca Falls, N.Y., in 1847, represented that district in the state senate. He was a member of the Free-soil party previous to the formation of the Republican party, of which he was a founder. Before this he had been a Democrat. For nearly half a century he was actively connected with the daily press, his contributions consisting chiefly of articles on current political topics and elaborate biographies of public men. Mr. Stanton contributed to Garrison's “AntiSlavery Standard” and “Liberator,” wrote for the New York “Tribune,” and from 1868 until his death was an editor of the New York “Sun.” Henry Ward Beecher said of him: “I think Stanton has all the elements of old John Adams; able, stanch, patriotic, full of principle, and always unpopular. He lacks that sense of other people's opinions which keeps a man from running against them.” Mr. Stanton was the author of “Sketches of Reforms and Reformers in Great Britain and Ireland” (New York, 1849), and “Random Recollections” (1886). Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. V, pp. 649-650.


STARR, Isaac H., Delaware, abolitionist and delegate to the Delaware Society for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery, Wilmington, Delaware, founded 1789.  Treasurer, Pennsylvania Society for Promoting Abolition of Slavery, 1787. 

(Basker, 2005, pp. 92, 224, 240; Dumond, 1961, p. 76)



Chapter: “Irrepressible Conflict in the Free and Slave States,” by Henry Wilson, in History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, 1872.

But it was not all darkness. Amid general defection there was a large minority at the North who not only did not join therein, but who sought to resist and turn it back; who had not conquered their prejudices, who looked with dismay upon the manifest drift of things, and who sought through legislative and judicial action to stem the current of despotism that was threatening to submerge the land. Though still embarrassed by the compromises of the Constitution, rendered more intolerable by the new dogma, the new departure, and the grim purpose to exact everything " nominated in the bond "; hampered, too, by their loyalty and the cry of nationality, by the clamors of trade and the claims of party, they knew that to falter was to fail, and not to resist was to yield entirely.

Among the earliest demonstrations of this purpose was the enactment of these "personal liberty” bills. In this Vermont, Rhode Island, and Connecticut took the lead, placing such laws on their statute-books in 1854. In 1855 Maine, Michigan, and Massachusetts adopted similar legislation. In 1858 Wisconsin and Kansas did the same, and in 1859 Ohio followed their example. Though differing somewhat in scope and form, they were, substantially, designed to protect the citizens of those States against kidnapping; to punish for falsely declaring a free person to be a slave; to forbid State officers aiding in such arrests, and also the use of local jails for the detention of persons claimed as fugitive slaves; and to secure to such citizens the right of trial by jury and the benefit of the writ of habeas corpus. These same States and some others adopted similar legislation, the design of which was to protect the colored race in the enjoyment of its ad mitted rights. But with all that was humane and just, there remained many evidences of prejudice, and a lack of any adequate recognition of the primal truths upon which alone rest free institutions.

In the right direction was the action of the Massachusetts legislature respecting separate colored schools in the city of Boston. Although discrimination on account 'of color had been driven from all the towns and every other city of the Commonwealth, the capital had persisted in maintaining the invidious distinction, in spite of many and earnest appeals and arguments against it. But when, in consequence of the great political revolution of 1854, the Whig rule had been broken, and the power had passed into the hands of the American party, and it was found that both branches of the legislature were decidedly antislavery, it was resolved to effect a change. Not long after the assembling of the legislature an order was adopted, instructing the Committee on Education to report whether further legislation was necessary upon the subject. That committee soon presented a very elaborate and able report, drawn by Charles W. Slack, and a bill, prepared by John A. Andrew, afterward governor, removing the hateful discrimination. With little debate, and by almost unanimous votes, it passed both houses, received the governor's signature, and became a law.

But of all the aggressions of those dark years none produced a more profound impression and alarm than the Dred Scott decision. It was not simply its cruel and abhorrent dicta that excited apprehension. Their gratuitous proclamation created alarm. That the Supreme Court of the United

States should, without any call from the case in hand, volunteer such an opinion, revealed the alarming symptom, the ominous fact, that the poison of oppression had reached the heart; that the spirit of slavery, and not of liberty, had become the inspiration of that august tribunal, and that the highest judges of the land had joined in this crusade against human rights. This decision involved the necessity, on the part of State courts, of denning their position and of indicating where they were to be found in the stern struggle then in progress. And cases involving these principles were soon presented for their consideration.

It was not long after the proclamation of this opinion that the legislature of Maine, besides declaring it extra-judicial, submitted to the supreme court of that State the inquiry whether citizens of African descent had a right to vote. The court decided that the term " citizens of the United States " " applies as well to free colored persons of African descent as to persons descended from white ancestors "; one judge dissenting. In May, 1857, the supreme court of Ohio decided, by four of its five judges, that slaves coming into that State from Kentucky with the consent of their owners were at once emancipated, and could not be reduced to slavery again by any laws that court could recognize. The chief justice made a distinction, however, between a change of residence with the consent of the master and a simple transit through the State. Mr. Brinkerhoff, assenting to this decision and giving reasons therefor, said that the enslavement by local authority of one already free presented “the monstrosity of a legalized wrong, an iniquity intensified and hardened into law." To decide otherwise would be, he contended, “to lend it indirect sanction through a morbid exaggeration of- the spirit of courtesy."

In New York the same matter came up for adjudication on what was familiarly called the Lemmon case, or that of certain slaves who were taken to the commercial metropolis in transit from one of the Northern slave States for Texas. They had been set at liberty by one of the inferior courts on the principle that slaves could not be taken through a free State and remain slaves. An appeal was taken to the Supreme Court of the State, and on the 7th of December, 1857, that decision was affirmed, one judge only dissenting. In January, 1860, the case was taken before the Court of Appeals, William M. Evarts and Charles O'Connor appearing respectively for the slaves and the slaveholders; and it, too, affirmed the decisions below, recognizing the principle claimed, and establishing the fact that New York could not be made a highway or port of transit for the domestic slave-traffic.

This trial was noticeable, too, for the extreme opinions advanced by the counsel of the slaveholders. He based his argument for reversal of decision upon the ground that property in man rested on the basis of all other property, and that no State could pass laws that would vitiate or extinguish its claim. To establish that point, it was necessary to show that slavery was not wrong, and not contrary to the self-evident truths of the Declaration. The first he boldly affirmed, declaring that slavery was not morally wrong, and that there was no law of nature or of God against slaveholding. He said that if slaveholding was a sin, it was a sin of the greatest magnitude; that the man who did not shrink back from it with horror was utterly unworthy of the name of a man; and that an honest European would, if he had self-respect, turn his back upon a Northern man wilfully offending, as " the vilest of the vile." Of the phrases concerning human equality in the Declaration of Independence he said, if they were intended to include negroes, that the first sentence of the Constitution, setting forth its purpose to establish justice, is " a piece of hypocrisy and falsehood, and the American name is covered with the undying stigma inwrought with the perpetuation of injustice." Though many may not have accepted this estimate of slavery or this interpretation of the Declaration, yet it would have been then, as it is now, much easier to denounce the insincerity and extravagance of this language than to answer this sharp arraignment of the nation for its inconsistency, not to say " hypocrisy and falsehood," in promulgating such a Bill of Rights, adopting such a Constitution, and then supplementing it with such a history.

Source:  Wilson, Henry, History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, Vol. 2.  Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1872, 639-642.




STEARNS, George Luther, 1809-1867, Medford, Massachusetts, merchant, industrialist, Free Soil supporter, abolitionist.  Chief supporter of the Emigrant Aid Company which financed anti-slavery settlers in the Kansas Territory.  Founded the Nation, Commonwealth, and Right of Way newspapers.  Member of the “Secret Six” who secretly financially supported radical abolitionist John Brown, and his raid on the U.S. Arsenal at Harpers Ferry, (West) Virginia, on October 16, 1859.  Recruited African Americans for the all-Black 54th and 55th Massachusetts Infantry Regiments, U.S. Army. 

(Filler, 1960, p. 268; Rodriguez, 2007, pp. 207, 327, 338; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. V, p. 655; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 9, Pt. 1, p. 543)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

STEARNS, George Luther, merchant, b. in Medford, Mass., 8 Jan., 1809; d. in New York, 9 April, 1867. His father, Luther, was a teacher of reputation. In early life his son engaged in the business of ship-chandlery, and after a prosperous career undertook the manufacture of sheet- and pipe-lead, doing business in Boston and residing in Medford. He identified himself with the anti-slavery cause, became a Free-soiler in 1848, aided John Brown in Kansas, and supported him till his death. Soon after the opening of the civil war Mr. Stearns advocated the enlistment of negroes in the National army. The 54th and 55th Massachusetts regiments, and the 5th cavalry (colored), were largely recruited through his instrumentality. He was commissioned major through the recommendation of Sec. Stanton, and was of great service to the National cause by enlisting negroes for the volunteer service in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Tennessee. He was the founder of the “Commonwealth” and “Right of Way” newspapers for the dissemination of his ideas. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. V, pp. 655.    


STEEL, William, 1809-1881, reformer, abolitionist leader, merchant, southeastern Ohio, active in Underground Railroad.

(Appletons’, 1888, Vol. V., p. 659)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

STEEL, William, reformer, b. in Biggar, Scotland, 26 Aug., 1809; d. in Portland, Ore., 5 Jan., 1881. He came to the United States with his parents in 1817 and settled near Winchester, Va., but removed soon afterward to Monroe county, Ohio, where, from 1830 till the civil war, he was an active worker in the “Underground railroad,” of which he was one of the earliest organizers. During these years large numbers of slaves were assisted to escape to Canada, and in no single instance was one retaken after reaching him. At one time the slave-holders of Virginia offered a reward of $5,000 for his head, when he promptly addressed the committee, offering to bring it to them if the money were placed in responsible hands. He acquired a fortune as a merchant, but lost it in 1844. From 1872 till his death he resided with his sons in Oregon. In the early days of the anti-slavery movement Mr. Steel was the recognized leader of the Abolitionists in southeastern Ohio. He was at one time a candidate of the Liberty party for congress, and in 1844 circulated in eastern Ohio the “great petition,” whose signers agreed to vote for Henry Clay if he would emancipate his one slave. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. V, pp. 659.



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

Mr. Davis, in his inaugural, had declared that secession was the will of the people; that union with the States from which they had separated was neither practicable nor desirable; that where homogeneity did not exist, antagonisms were engendered, that must and should result in separation. Mr. Stephens more fully developed this antagonism between freedom and slavery in a speech, on the 21st of March, to the citizens of Savannah.

As was natural, the secessionists were very anxious to justify their course, especially to their slaveholding brethren, and if possible to secure their co-operation. In pursuance of this purpose, the South Carolina convention received and considered reports on the three following subjects: " The Address of the People of South Carolina assembled in Convention, to the Slaveholding States of the United States "; " Declaration of the Causes which justify Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union "; " Report on Relations with the Slaveholding States of North America." The papers were long and elaborate, and entered largely into allegations against the Federal Union, with the adduction of reasons for accepting the conclusion that there could be safety for the South only in separation. The speech, however, of Mr. Stephens, beside his eulogy of the new constitution and of its superiority over the old, embodies in smaller compass, in more compact form, and with more philosophic precision than elsewhere found the assumptions of the secessionists and the underlying principles of the new slaveholding empire. Perhaps nowhere else is revealed with more startling form and phrase the "method" of that "madness" which could characterize theirs as "a species of insanity " whose only offence was that they believed, with the fathers, that "all men are created equal," and with the Apostle, that God "hath made of one blood all nations of men," and could proclaim it as something to be vaunted that their new government was "founded upon exactly the opposite ideas," and that its foundations were laid and its corner-stone rested "upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man." "

But not to be tedious," said Mr. Stephens, "in enumerating the numerous changes for the better, allow me to allude to one other, though last, not least. The new Constitution has put at rest forever all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institution, — African slavery as it exists among us, and the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and the present revolution. Jefferson, in his forecast, had anticipated this as the ' rock upon which the old Union would split.' He was right. What was conjecture with him is now a realized fact. But whether he comprehended the great truth upon which that rock stood and stands may be doubted. The prevailing ideas entertained by him and most of the leading statesmen at the time of the formation of the old Constitution were that the enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally, and politically. It was an evil they knew not well how to deal with; but the general opinion of the men of that day was, that, somehow or other in the order of Providence, the institution would be evanescent and pass away. This idea, though not incorporated in the Constitution, was the prevailing idea at the time. The Constitution, it is true, secured every essential guaranty to the institution while it should last; and hence no argument can be justly used against the constitutional guaranties thus secured, because of the common sentiment of the day. Those ideas, however, were fundamentally wrong. They rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error. It was a sandy foundation; and the idea of a government built upon it, — when the storm came and the wind blew, it fell.

"Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite ideas; its foundations are laid, its corner-stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition. This our new government is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth. This truth has been slow in the process of its development, like all other truths in the various departments of science. It is so, even amongst us. Many who hear me, perhaps, can recollect well that this truth was not generally admitted, even within their day. The errors of the past generation still clung to many so late as twenty years ago. Those at the North who still cling to these errors with a zeal above knowledge, we justly denominate fanatics. All fanaticism springs from an aberration of the mind, from a defect in reasoning. It is a species of insanity. One of the most striking characteristics of insanity, in many instances, is, forming correct conclusions from fancied or erroneous premises: so with the antislavery fanatics; their conclusions are right if their premises are. They assume that the negro is equal, and hence conclude that he is entitled to equal privileges and rights, with the white man. If their premises were correct, their conclusions would be logical and just; but their premises being wrong, their whole argument fails. I recollect once of having heard a gentleman from one of the Northern States, of great power and ability, announce in the House of Representatives, with imposing effect, that we of the South would be compelled, ultimately, to yield upon this subject of slavery; that it was as impossible to war successfully against a principle in politics, as it was in physics or mechanics, — that the principle would ultimately prevail; that we, in maintaining slavery, as it now exists with us, were warring against a principle, — a principle founded in nature, — the principle of the equality of man. The reply I made to him was, that, upon his own grounds, we should succeed; that he and his associates in their crusade against our institutions would ultimately fail. The truth announced, that it was as impossible to war successfully against a principle in politics as in physics and mechanics, I admitted; but told him it was he, and those acting with him, who were warring against a principle. They were attempting to make things equal which the Creator had made unequal.

"In the conflict thus far, success has been on our side complete, throughout the length and breadth of the Confederate States. It is upon this, as I have stated, our social fabric is firmly planted; and I cannot permit myself to doubt the ultimate success of a full recognition of this principle throughout the civilized and enlightened world."

As I have stated, the truth of this principle may be slow in development, as all truths are, and ever have been, in the various branches of science. It was so with the principles of Galileo. It was so with Adam Smith, and his principles of political economy. It was so with Harvey, and his theory of the circulation of the blood. It is stated that not a single one of the medical profession, living at the time of the announcement of the truths made by him, admitted them. Now they are universally acknowledged. May we not, therefore, look with confidence to the ultimate universal acknowledgment of the truths upon which our question rests? It is the first government ever instituted upon principles in strict conformity with nature, and the ordination of Providence, in furnishing the materials of human society. Many governments have been founded upon the principle of enslaving certain classes; but the classes thus enslaved were of the same race, and their enslavement in violation of the laws of nature. Our system commits no such violation of nature's laws. The negro, by nature, or by the curse against Canaan, is fitted for that condition which he occupies in our system. The architect, in the construction of buildings, lays the foundation with the proper material, — the granite, — then comes the brick or the marble. The substratum of our society is made of the material fitted by nature for it; and by experience we know that it is best not only for the superior, but for the inferior race, that it should be so. It is, indeed, in conformity with the Creator. It is not for us to inquire into the wisdom of his ordinances, or to question them. For his own purposes he has made one race to differ from another, as he has made ' one star to differ from another in glory.'

"The great objects of humanity are best attained when con formed to his laws and decrees, in the formation of governments as well as in all things else. Our Confederacy is founded upon laws in strict conformity with these laws. This ' stone, which was rejected by the first builders, is become the chief stone of the corner' in our new edifice. I have been asked. What of the future? It has been apprehended by some that we would have arrayed against us the civilized world. I care not who or how many they may be; when we stand upon the eternal principles of truth, we are obliged to and must triumph."

Speaking further of the future, and of the prospects of the new Confederacy, he said: —

"Our growth by accessions from other States will depend greatly upon whether we present to the world, as I trust we shall, a better government than that to which they belong. If we do this. North Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas can not hesitate long; neither can Virginia, Kentucky, and Missouri. They will necessarily gravitate to us by an imperious law. We made ample provision in our Constitution for the admission of other States. It is more guarded — and wisely so I think — than the old Constitution on the same subject, but not too guarded to receive them so fast as it may be proper. Looking to the distant future, — and perhaps not very distant either — it is not beyond the range of possibility, and even probability, that all the great States of the Northwest shall gravitate this way, as well as Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, Arkansas, etc. Should they do so, our doors are wide enough to receive them; but not until they are ready to assimilate with us in principle. The process of disintegration in the old Union may be expected to go on with almost absolute certainty. We are now the nucleus of a growing power, which, if we are true to ourselves, our destiny, and our mission, will become the controlling power on this continent. To what extent accessions will go on, in the process of time, or where it will end, the future will determine. So far as it concerns States of the old Union, they will be upon no such principle of reconstruction as is now spoken of, but upon reorganization and new assimilation. Such are some of the glimpses of the future as I catch them."

The convention authorized Davis to accept one hundred thousand volunteers for one year, and to borrow fifteen millions of dollars. On the 11th of March the permanent constitution was adopted. It was in fact the Constitution of the United States, with sundry alterations and omissions providing for the government of new territory; recognizing, to its fullest extent, in its preamble, the doctrine of State supremacy; and prohibiting the enactment of any law "denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves." South Carolina and Florida opposed the clause prohibiting the African slave-trade. John Forsyth of Alabama, Martin J. Crawford, and A. B. Roman were appointed commissioners to "Washington; William L. Yancey, R. A. Rost, A. Dudley Mann, T. Butler King, were appointed commissioners to visit Europe in the interests of the insurrection; while other commissioners were appointed to visit other slaveholding States in behalf of secession and the new Confederacy.

Such were the initiative facts and the summary process with which the new government was launched forth on the stormy sea of rebellion and war, and by which it was so soon to be engulfed and destroyed; such was the philosophy, as enunciated by one of its ablest and most brilliant thinkers, on which was based the projected slaveholding empire of the Western World, and by which its claims were urged; and such were the confident expectations and hopes of its leaders.

Source:  Wilson, Henry, History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, Vol. 3.  Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1878, 121-126.


STEPHENS, Uriah Smith, 1821-1882, New Jersey, educator, labor leader, abolitionist leader.  Supported John Frémont for president and the Republican Party, and Lincoln in 1860.

(Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 9, Pt. 1, p. 581; American Reformers: An H.W. Wilson Biographical Dictionary, New York, 1985, pp. 759-762)


STERETT, Samuel, Maryland, abolitionist, member and delegate of the Maryland Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery, and the Relief of Free Negroes, and Others, Unlawfully Held in Bondage, founded 1789. 

(Basker, 2005, pp. 99, 103, 224-225, 227)


STEVENS, Aaron Dwight, 1831-1860, militant abolitionist.  Chief aid to abolitionist John Brown in his unsuccessful raid on the U.S. Arsenal in Harper’s Ferry.  He was tried and executed for this action on March 16, 1860.


STEVENS, Thaddeus, 1792-1868, statesman, lawyer, abolitionist leader.  Anti-slavery leader in U.S. House of Representatives.  As member of Whig Party and leader of the radical Republican Party, urged Lincoln to issue Emancipation Proclamation.  Led fight to pass Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution, abolishing slavery and establishing citizenship, due process and equal protections for African Americans. 

(Appletons’, 1888, Vol. V, pp. 677-678; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 9, Pt. 1, p. 620; American Reformers: An H.W. Wilson Biographical Dictionary, New York, 1985, pp. 764-767; Congressional Globe; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 20, p. 711)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

STEVENS, Thaddeus, statesman, b. in Danville, Caledonia co., Vt., 4 April, 1792; d. in Washington, D. C., 11 Aug., 1868. He was the child of poor parents, and was sickly and lame, but ambitious, and his mother toiled to secure for him an education. He entered Vermont university in 1810, and after it was closed in 1812 on account of the war he went to Dartmouth, and was graduated in 1814. He began the study of law in Peacham, Vt., continued it while teaching an academy in York, Pa., was admitted to the bar at Bel Air, Md., established himself in 1816 at Gettysburg, Pa., and soon gained a high reputation, and was employed in many important suits. He devoted himself exclusively to his profession till the contest between the strict constructionists, who nominated Andrew Jackson for the presidency in 1828, and the national Republicans, who afterward became the Whigs, drew him into politics as an ardent supporter of John Quincy A dams. He was elected to the legislature in 1833 and the two succeeding years. By a brilliant speech in 1835, he defeated a bill to abolish the recently established common-school system of Pennsylvania. In 1836 he was a member of the State constitutional convention, and took an active part in its debates, but his anti-slavery principles would not permit him to sign the report recommending an instrument that restricted the franchise to white citizens. He was a member of the legislature again in 1837, and in 1838, when the election dispute between the Democratic and anti-Masonic parties led to the organization of rival legislatures, he was the most prominent member of the Whig and anti-Masonic house. In 1838 he was appointed a canal commissioner. He was returned to the legislature in 1841. He gave a farm to Mrs. Lydia Jane Pierson, who had written poetry in defence of the common schools, and thus aided him in saving them. Having incurred losses in the iron business, he removed in 1842 to Lancaster, Pa., and for several years devoted himself to legal practice, occupying the foremost position at the bar. In 1848 and 1850 he was elected to congress as a Whig, and ardently opposed the Clay compromise measures of 1850, including the fugitive-slave law. On retiring from congress, March, 1853, he confined himself to his profession till 1858, when he was returned to congress as a Republican. From that time till his death he was one of the Republican leaders in that body, the chief advocate of emancipation, and the representative of the radical section of his party. His great oratorical powers and force of character earned for him the title, applied to William Pitt, of the “great commoner.” He urged on President Lincoln the justice and expediency of the emancipation proclamation, took the lead in all measures for arming and for enfranchising the negro, and initiated and pressed the fourteenth amendment to the Federal constitution. During the war he introduced and carried acts of confiscation, and after its close he advocated rigorous measures in reorganizing the southern states on the basis of universal freedom. He was chairman of the committee of ways and means for three sessions. Subsequently, as chairman of the house committee on reconstruction, he reported the bill which divided the southern states into five military districts, and placed them under the rule of army officers until they should adopt constitutions that conceded suffrage and equal rights to the blacks. In a speech that he made in congress on 24 Feb., 1868, he proposed the impeachment of President Johnson. He was appointed one of the committee of seven to prepare articles of impeachment, and was chairman of the board of managers that was appointed on the part of the house to conduct the trial. He was exceedingly positive in his convictions, and attacked his adversaries with bitter denunciations and sarcastic taunts, yet he was genial and witty among his friends, and was noted for his uniform, though at times impulsive, acts of charity. While skeptical in his religious opinions, he resented slighting remarks regarding the Christian faith as an insult to the memory of his devout mother, whom he venerated. The degree of LL. D. was conferred on him by the University of Vermont in 1867. He chose to be buried in a private cemetery, explaining in the epitaph that he prepared for his tomb that the public cemeteries were limited by their charter-rules to the white race, and that he preferred to illustrate in his death the principle that he had advocated through his life of “equality of man before his Creator.” The tomb is in a large lot in Lancaster, which he left as a burial-place for those who cannot afford to pay for their graves. He left a part of his estate to found an orphan asylum in Lancaster, to be open to both white and colored children. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. V, pp. 677-678.


STEWARD, Austin, 1793-1865, African American, former slave, anti-slavery activist, reformer.  Steward was born a slave in Prince William County, Virginia.  Wrote autobiography, Twenty-two Years a Slave, and Forty Years Freeman; Embracing a Correspondence of Several Years, published in Rochester, New York, in 1857.

(Gates, Henry Louis, Jr., & Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, eds. African American National Biography. Oxford University Press, 2013, Vol. 10, p. 511; Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. V, pp. 683)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

STEWART, Austin, author, b. in Prince William county, Va., about 1793; d. after 1860. He was born in slavery, and when a lad was taken to Bath, N. Y. He afterward fled to Canandaigua, and in 1817 he engaged successfully in business in Rochester. In 1826 he delivered an oration at the celebration of the New York emancipation act, and in 1830 he was elected vice-president of the National convention of negroes at Philadelphia. The following year he removed to a small colony that had been established in Canada West, named the township Wilberforce, and was chosen its president. He used his own funds to carry on the affairs of the colony, but, finding that no more land would be sold to the colonists by the Canada company, returned to Rochester in 1837. He afterward opened a school in Canandaigua, and after two years became an agent for the “Anti-Slavery Standard.” He published “Twenty-two Years a Slave and Forty Years a Freeman” (2d ed., Rochester, N. Y., 1859). Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. V, pp. 683.


STEWART, Alvan, 1790-1849, Utica, New York, reformer, educator, lawyer, abolitionist leader, temperance activist.  Member, American Anti-Slavery Society (AASS).  Vice President, 1834-1835, and Manager, 1837-1840, AASS.  Member of the Executive Committee, American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, 1844-149.  Founder, leader, Liberty Party.  Founder, New York State Anti-Slavery Society (NYSASS), 1835. 

(Blue, 2005, pp. xiii, 4-5, 9, 13, 15-36, 49, 50, 63, 68, 92-94, 98, 145, 266; Dumond, 1961, pp. 225-226, 293-295, 300; Filler, 1960, pp. 151, 177; Mabee, 1970, pp. 4, 39, 40, 41, 246, 293; Mitchell, 2007, pp. 4-5, 9, 13, 15-36, 49, 50, 63, 92, 98; Sernett, 2002, pp. 49, 52, 73, 112, 122; Sorin, 1971, pp. 25, 32, 33, 47-52, 60, 103n, 115, 132; Zilversmit, 1967, pp. 218-220; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. V, p. 683; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 9, Pt. 2, p. 5; American Reformers: An H.W. Wilson Biographical Dictionary, New York, 1985, pp. 768-769; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 20, p. 742)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

STEWART, Alvan, reformer, b. in South Granville, Washington co., N. Y., 1 Sept., 1790; d. in New York city, 1 May, 1849. His parents removed when he was five months old to Crown Point, N.Y., and in 1795, losing their possessions through a defective title, to Westford, Chittenden co., Vt., where the lad was brought up on a farm. In 1808 he began to teach and to study anatomy and medicine. In 1809 he entered Burlington college, Vt., supporting himself by teaching in the winters, and, visiting Canada in 1811, he received a commission under Gov. Sir George Prevost as professor in the Royal school in the seigniory of St. Armand, but he returned to college in June, 1812. After, the declaration of war he went again to Canada, and was held as a prisoner. On his return he taught and studied law in Cherry Valley, N.Y., and then in Paris, Ky., making his home in the former place, where he practised his profession and won reputation. He was a persistent advocate of protective duties, of internal improvements, and of education. He removed to Utica in 1832, and, though he continued to try causes as counsel, the remainder of his life was given mainly to the temperance and anti-slavery causes. A volume of his speeches was published in 1860. Among the most conspicuous of these was an argument, in 1837, before the New York state anti-slavery convention, to prove that congress might constitutionally abolish slavery; on the “Right of Petition” at Pennsylvania hall, Philadelphia, and on the “Great Issues between Right and Wrong” at the same place in 1838; before the joint committee of the legislature of Vermont; and before the supreme court of New Jersey on a habeas corpus to determine the unconstitutionality of slavery under the new state constitution of 1844, which last occupied eleven hours in delivery. His first published speech against slavery was in 1835, under threats of a mob. He then drew a call for a state anti-slavery convention for 21 Oct., 1835, at Utica. As the clock struck the hour he called the convention to order and addressed it, and the programme of business was completed ere the threatened mob arrived, as it soon did and dispersed the convention by violence. That night the doors and windows of his house were barred with large timbers, and fifty loaded muskets were provided, with determined men to handle them, but the preparations kept off the menaced invasion. “He was the first,” says William Goodell, the historian of abolitionism, “to insist earnestly, in our consultations, in committee and elsewhere, on the necessity of forming a distinct political party to promote the abolition of slavery.” He gradually brought the leaders into it, was its candidate for governor, and this new party grew, year by year, till at last it held the balance of power between the Whigs and Democrats, when, uniting with the former, it constituted the Republican party. The characteristics of Mr. Stewart's eloquence and conversation were a strange and abounding humor, a memory that held large resources at command, readiness in emergency, a rich philosophy, strong powers of reasoning, and an exuberant imagination. A collection of his speeches, with a memoir, is in preparation by his son-in-law, Luther R. Marsh. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. V, pp. 683.


STEWART, James W., African American, businessman, anti-slavery activist.  Husband of abolitionist Maria W. Stewart.

(Gates, Henry Louis, Jr., & Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, eds. African American National Biography. Oxford University Press, 2013, Vol. 10, p. 524)


STEWART, Maria W., 1803-1879, Hartford, Connecticut, free African American woman, author, abolitionist, women’s rights activist, civil rights advocate, orator.  Published Religion and Pure Principles of Morality—The Sure Foundation on Which we Must Build, in 1831. Contributor to the abolitionist newspaper, Liberator.  Also wrote, Meditations from the Pen of Mrs. Maria W. Stewart (1835). 

(Richardson, 1987; Rodriguez, 2007, pp. 41, 289, 463-464; Yellin, 1994, pp. 4, 6-7, 10, 125, 128-129, 156-157, 206; Gates, Henry Louis, Jr., & Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, eds. African American National Biography. Oxford University Press, 2013, Vol. 10, p. 524; Hinks, Peter P., & John R. McKivigan, Eds., Encyclopedia of Antislavery and Abolition.  Westport, Connecticut, Greenwood, 2007, Vol. 2, pp. 656-658; Garcia, Jennifer Anne, Maria W. Stewart: America’s First Black Feminist, 1998, master’s thesis; Richardson, Marilyn, Maria W. Stewart: America’s First Black Woman Political Writer, Indiana University Press, 1988)


STILES, Ezra, 1727-1795, clergyman, educator, anti-slavery activist.  President of Yale College and President of the Connecticut Society for the Promotion of Freedom.

(Appletons’, 1888, Vol. V, pp. 687-688; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936; Bruns, 1977, pp. 290, 293; Dumond, 1961, pp. 47, 57; Locke, 1901, pp. 40, 90, 91, 192; Rodriguez, 2007, pp. 20, 481)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

STILES, Ezra, clergyman and educator, b. in North Haven, Conn., 29 Nov., 1727; d. in New Haven, Conn., 12 May, 1795. His ancestor, John, came from Bedfordshire, England, and settled in Windsor Conn., in 1635, and John's grandson, Isaac, the father of Ezra, was graduated at Yale in 1722 and ordained pastor of the church in North Haven, then a part of New Haven, which charge he held until his death, 14 May, 1760. He published the “Prospect of the City of Jerusalem” (New London, 1742); “Looking-Glass for Changelings” (1743); “The Declaration of the Association of the County of New Haven concerning the Rev. George Whitefield” (Boston, 1745); and “The Character and Duty of Soldiers” (New London, 1755). Ezra was graduated at Yale in 1746, and in 1749 was chosen tutor there. About this time Benjamin Franklin sent an electric apparatus to Yale, and, becoming interested in the new science, Mr. Stiles made some of the first experiments in electricity in New England. Having studied theology, he was licensed in 1749, and in April, 1750, preached to the Housatonic Indians in Stockbridge Mass., but, owing to religious doubt, resolved to abandon the ministry for the law, and, being admitted to the bar in 1753, practised for two years in New Haven. In February, 1755, he delivered a Latin oration in honor of Dr. Franklin on the occasion of his visit to Yale, and formed a friendship with Franklin that lasted until death. In 1756 he became pastor of the 2d church in Newport, R. I., and during his residence there, in addition to his professional duties, devoted himself to literary and scientific research, corresponding with learned men in almost every part of the world. In 1767 he began the study of Hebrew and other Oriental languages. His congregation having been scattered by the occupation of Newport by the British, he removed in 1777 to Portsmouth, N. H., to become pastor of the North church, and thence to New Haven, to accept the presidency of Yale college, which post he held from 23 June, 1778, until his death, serving also as professor of ecclesiastical history, and after the death of Prof. Naphtali Daggett as professor of divinity, also lecturing on philosophy and astronomy. He was accounted, both at home and abroad, as the most learned and accomplished divine of his clay in this country. He received the degrees of A. M. from Harvard in 1754, and that of S. T. D. from Edinburgh in 1765, Dartmouth in 1780, and Princeton in 1784. Princeton also gave him the degree of LL. D. in the last-named year. His publications are “Oratio Funebris pro Exequis Jonathan Law”, (New London, 1751); “Discourse on the Christian Union” (Boston, 1761; 2d ed., 1791); “Discourse on Saving Knowledge” (Newport, 1770); “The United States Elevated to Glory and Honor," a sermon before the legislature (Hartford, 1783); “Account of the Settlement of Bristol , R. I.” (Providence, 1785); and “History of Three of the Judges of Charles I., Major-General Whalley, Major-General Goffe, and Col. Dixwell, etc., with an Account of Mr. Theophilus Whale, of Narragansett,” who was supposed to have been also one of the judges (Hartford, 1794). Dr. Stiles left unfinished an “Ecclesiastical History of New England.” His diary and forty-five volumes of manuscripts are preserved in the library of Yale. His daughter, Mary, married Dr. Abiel Holmes, who wrote his “Life” (Boston, 1798). See also the “Life of Ezra Stiles,” by James Luce Kingsley, in Sparks’s “American Biography.” Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. V, pp. 687-688.


STILL, William, 1821-1902, African American, abolitionist, writer.  “Conductor” on the Underground Railroad in Philadelphia area, 1851-1861.  Member of the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society.  Wrote fugitive slave narratives. 

(Appletons’, 1888, Vol. V, p. 689; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 9, Pt. 2, p. 22; Mabee, 1970, pp. 108, 270, 273, 275, 279, 287, 288, 289, 292, 338, 339, 414n3, 415n18; Rodriguez, 2007, pp. 53, 74, 204, 307, 464, 482, 489; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 20, p. 775; The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. II. New York: James T. White, 1892, pp. 313-314; Gates, Henry Louis, Jr., & Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, eds. African American National Biography. Oxford University Press, 2013, Vol. 10, p. 536)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

STILL, William, philanthropist, b. in Shamony, Burlington co., N. J., 7 Oct., 1821. He is of African descent, and was brought up on a farm. Coming to Philadelphia in 1844, he obtained a clerkship in 1847 in the office of the Pennsylvania Anti-slavery society. He was chairman and corresponding secretary of the Philadelphia branch of the “underground railroad” in 1851-'61, and busied himself in writing out the narratives of fugitive slaves. His writings constitute the only full account of the organization with which he was connected. Mr. Still sheltered the wife, daughter, and sons of John Brown while he was awaiting execution in Charlestown, Va. During the civil war he was commissioned post-sutler at Camp William Penn for colored troops, and was a member of the Freedmen's aid union and commission. He is vice-president and chairman of the board of managers of the Home for aged and infirm colored persons, a member of the board of trustees of the Soldiers' and sailors' orphans' home, and of other charitable institutions. In 1885 he was sent by the presbytery of Philadelphia as a commissioner to the general assembly at Cincinnati. He was one of the original stockholders of “The Nation,” and a member of the Board of trade of Philadelphia. His writings include “The Underground Rail-Road” (Philadelphia, 1878); “Voting and Laboring”; and “Struggle for the Rights of the Colored People of Philadelphia.” Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. V, pp. 689.


STONE, Lucy, 1818-1893, women’s rights activist, abolitionist, friend of abolitionist Abby Kelley.  Agent, American Anti-Slavery Society.  Gave lectures on slavery.  Wife of abolitionist Henry Blackwell.

(Appletons’, 1888, Vol. V, pp. 702-703; Blackwell, 1930; Dumond, 1961, p. 281; Hays, 1961; Kerr, 1992; Million, 2003; Rodriguez, 2007, pp. 291, 338, 465; Yellin, 1994, pp. 86, 148, 247, 260, 295-296; Blackwell, Alice Stone, Lucy Stone: Pioneer of Woman’s Rights. 2001; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 9, Pt. 2, p. 80; American Reformers: An H.W. Wilson Biographical Dictionary, New York, 1985, pp. 777-780; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 20, p. 863; The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. II. New York: James T. White, 1892, pp. 316-317)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

STONE, Lucy, reformer, b. in West Brookfield, Mass., 13 Aug., 1818. Her grandfather was a colonel in the Revolution, and led 400 men in Shays's rebellion. Her father was a prosperous farmer. In determining to obtain a collegiate education, she was largely influenced by her desire to learn to read the Bible in the original, and satisfy herself that the texts that were quoted against the equal rights of women were correctly translated. She was graduated at Oberlin in 1847, and in the same year gave her first lecture on woman's rights in her brother's church at Gardner, Mass. She became lecturer for the Massachusetts anti-slavery society in 1848, travelling extensively in New England, the west, and Canada, and speaking also on woman's rights. In 1855 she married Henry B. Blackwell (brother of Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell), a merchant of Cincinnati and an Abolitionist, retaining by his consent her own name. A few years later, while she lived in New Jersey, her property was seized for taxes, and she published a protest against “taxation without representation.” In 1869 Mrs. Stone was instrumental in forming the American woman's suffrage association. In the following year she became co-editor of the “Woman's Journal” in Boston, and from 1872 to the present time (1888) she has been editor-in-chief, with her husband and daughter as associates. Mrs. Stone again lectured in the west, in behalf of the woman suffrage amendments, in 1867-'82. She has held various offices in the national, state, and local woman suffrage associations. “Lucy Stone,” says Mrs. Stanton, “first really stirred the nation's heart on the subject of woman's wrongs.” Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. V, pp. 702-703


STONE, Thomas Treadwell, b. 1801, Waterford, Maine, clergyman, abolitionst. 

(Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. V, p. 703)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

STONE, Thomas Treadwell, clergyman, b. in Waterford, Me., 9 Feb., 1801. He was graduated at Bowdoin in 1820, studied theology, and was pastor of the Congregational church at Andover, Me., in 1824-'30, of that at East Machias in 1832-'46, of the 1st church (Unitarian) at Salem, Mass., in 1846-'52, of the 1st Congregational church at Bolton, Mass., in 1852-'60, and of the 1st ecclesiastical society, Brooklyn, Conn., from 1863 till 1871, when he retired from the active duties of the ministry. He afterward removed to Bolton, Mass., where he has since resided. He received the degree of D. D. from Bowdoin in 1866, was principal of Bridgeton academy. 1830-'32, one of the early members of the Transcendental school, contributed to various religious periodicals, and published “Sermons on War” (Boston, 1829); “Sketches of Oxford County, Me.” (Portland, 1830); “Sermons” (Boston, 1854); “The Rod and the Staff” (1856); and separate sermons and addresses.  Appletons’ Cyclopædia of American Biography, 1888.


STONE, William Leete, 1792-1844, New York, author, newspaper editor, American Colonization Society (ACS), Executive Committee, 1839-1840.  Officer in the New York City auxiliary of the ACS.  Advocated the abolition of slavery by Congress.  Published anti-slavery articles in his newspapers.  Drafted petition for emancipation of slaves at the Anti-Slavery Convention in Baltimore in 1825. 

(Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. V, p. 705; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 9, Pt. 2, p. 90; Staudenraus, P. J. The African Colonization Movement, 1816-1865. New York: Columbia University Press, 1961, pp. 73, 135)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

STONE, William Leete, author, b. in New Paltz, N. Y., 20 April, 1792; d. in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., 15 Aug., 1844. His father, William, was a soldier of the Revolution and afterward a Presbyterian clergyman, who was a descendant of Gov. William Leete. The son removed to Sodus, N. Y., in 1808, where he assisted his father in the care of a farm. The country was at that time a wilderness, and the adventures of young Stone during his early pioneer life formed material that he afterward wrought into border tales. At the age of seventeen he became a printer in the office of the Cooperstown “Federalist,” and in 1813 he was editor of the Herkimer “American,” with Thurlow Weed as his journeyman. Subsequently he edited the “Northern Whig” at Hudson, N. Y., and in 1817 the Albany “Daily Advertiser.” In 1818 he succeeded Theodore Dwight in the editorship of the Hartford “Mirror.” While at Hartford, Jonathan M. Wainwright (afterward bishop), Samuel G. Goodrich (Peter Parley), Isaac Toucey, and himself alternated in editing a literary magazine called “The Knights of the Round Table.” He also edited while at Hudson “The Lounger,” a literary periodical which was noted for its pleasantry and wit. In 1821 he succeeded Zachariah Lewis in the editorship of the New York “Commercial Advertiser,” becoming at the same time one of its proprietors, which place he held until his death. Brown university gave him the degree of A. M. in 1825. Mr. Stone always advocated in its columns the abolition of slavery by congressional action, and at the great anti-slavery convention at Baltimore in 1825 he originated and drew up the plan for slave emancipation which was recommended at that time to congress for adoption. In 1824 his sympathies were strongly enlisted in behalf of the Greeks in their struggles for independence, and, with Edward Everett and Dr. Samuel G. Howe, was among the first to draw the attention of the country to that people and awaken sympathy in their behalf. In 1825, with Thurlow Weed, he accompanied Lafayette on his tour through part of the United States. He was appointed by President Harrison minister to the Hague, but was recalled by Tyler. Soon after the Morgan tragedy (see MORGAN, WILLIAM) Mr. Stone, who was a Freemason, addressed a series of letters on “Masonry and Anti-Masonry” to John Quincy Adams, who in his retirement at Quincy had taken interest in the anti-Masonic movement. In these letters, which were afterward collected and published (New York, 1832), the author maintained that Masonry should be abandoned, chiefly because it had lost its usefulness. The writer also cleared away the mists of slander that had gathered around the name of De Witt Clinton, and by preserving strict impartiality he secured that credence which no ex-parte argument could obtain, however ingenious. In 1838 he originated and introduced a resolution in the New York historical society directing a memorial to be addressed to the New York legislature praying for the appointment of an historical mission to the governments of England and Holland for the recovery of such papers and documents as were essential to a correct understanding of the colonial history of the state. This was the origin of the collection known as the “New York Colonial Documents” made by John Romeyn Brodhead, who was sent abroad for that purpose by Gov. William H. Seward in the spring of 1841. He was the first superintendent of public schools in New York city, and while holding the office, in 1844, had a discussion with Archbishop Hughes in relation to the use of the Bible in the public schools. Although the influence of Col. Stone (as he was familiarly called, from having held that rank on Gov. Clinton's staff) extended throughout the country, it was felt more particularly in New York city. He was active in religious enterprises and benevolent associations. His works are “History of the Great Albany Constitutional Convention of 1821” (Albany, 1822); “Narrative of the Grand Erie Canal Celebration,” prepared at the request of the New York common council (New York, 1825); “Tales and Sketches,” founded on aboriginal and Revolutionary traditions. (2 vols., 1834); “Matthias and His Impostures” (1833); “Maria Monk and the Nunnery of the Hotel Dieu,” which put an end to an extraordinary mania (see MONK, MARIA) (1836); “Ups and Downs in the Life of a Distressed Gentleman,” a satire on the fashionable follies of the day (1836); “Border Wars of the American Revolution” (1837); “Life of Joseph Brant” (1838); “Letters on Animal Magnetism” (1838); “Life of Red Jacket” (1840; new ed., with memoir of the author by his son, William L. Stone, 1866); “Poetry and History of Wyoming,” including Thomas Campbell's “Gertrude of Wyoming” (1841; with index, Albany, 1864); and “Uncas and Miantonomoh”(1842).  Appletons’ Cyclopædia of American Biography, 1888.




STORRS, George, New Hampshire, Montpelier, Vermont, Methodist clergyman, anti-slavery agent, abolitionist.  Member of the New Hampshire Conference, which founded an anti-slavery group in 1835.  Storrs was a Manager, 1835-1836, and a Vice President 1835-1837, of the American Anti-Slavery Society and a Member of the Executive Committee of the American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, 1840-1841.  He was censured by the Methodist Church for his anti-slavery activities in 1836.  He was also arrested by authorities for “disturbing the peace.” 

(Dumond, 1961, pp. 187, 245, 392n19)


STOW, Baron, 1801-1869, Boston, Massachusetts, clergyman, abolitionist, Boston Female Anti-Slavery Society.  Stow was a Vice President of the American Anti-Slavery Society, 1834-1836. 

(Appletons’, 1888, Vol. V., p. 713; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 9, Pt. 2, p. 114)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

STOW, Baron, clergyman, b. in Croydon, N. H., 16 June, 1801; d. in Boston, Mass., 27 Dec., 1869. He was graduated at Columbian college, Georgetown, D. C., in 1825, and in 1827 was ordained to the ministry in Portsmouth, N. H., where he was settled as pastor of the Baptist church. In 1832 he was called to the pastorate of the Baldwin place Baptist chnrch in Boston, in which connection he had a successful ministry of sixteen years. At the close of this term of service he became pastor of the Rowe street (now Clarendon avenue) church, and continued in this relation until 1867, when he retired from regular ministerial work. He twice visited Europe for the benefit of his health. Dr. Stow performed a large amount of work as a member of the executive committee of the American missionary union. He was a graceful and vigorous writer, as well as one of the most eloquent and successful preachers of his denomination. He was one of the compilers of the “Psalmist,” a hymnal (1849), and editor of “Daily Manna” and the “Missionary Enterprise” (1846), a volume of sermons on missions, to which he contributed one of great merit. He was the author of “Memoir of Harriet Dow” (Boston, 1832); “History of the Baptist Mission to India” (1835); “History of the Danish Mission on the Coast of Coromandel” (1837); “Daily Manna” (1842); “The Whole Family in Heaven and Earth” (1845); “Christian Brotherhood” (1859); and “First Things” (1859). Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. V, pp. 713.


STOWE, Harriet Beecher, 1811-1896, author, reformer, wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin, published in 1852 

(Adams, 1989; Crozier, 1969; Gerson, 1965; Rodriguez, 2007, pp. 466-468; Wagenknecht, 1965; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. V, pp. 713-715; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 9, Pt. 2, p. 115; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 20, p. 906; Hinks, Peter P., & John R. McKivigan, Eds., Encyclopedia of Antislavery and Abolition.  Westport, Connecticut, Greenwood, 2007, Vol. 2, pp. 660-664)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

STOWE, Harriet Elizabeth Beecher, b. in Litchfield, Conn., 14 June, 1812, is the third daughter and sixth child of Rev. Dr. Lyman Beecher. When she was a mere child of four years, Mrs. Beecher died, yet she never ceased to influence the lives of her children. Mrs. Stowe writes: “Although my mother's bodily presence disappeared from our circle, I think that her memory and example had more influence in moulding her family than the living presence of many mothers.” After her death, Mrs. Stowe was placed under the care of her grandmother at Guilford, Conn. Here she listened, with untiring interest, to the ballads of Sir Walter Scott and the poems of Robert Burns. The “Arabian Nights,” also, was to her a dream of delight—an enchanted palace, through which her imagination ran wild. After her father's second marriage, her education was continued at the Litchfield academy under the charge of Sarah Pierce and John Brace. Of Mr. Brace and his methods of instruction Mrs. Stowe ever speaks with the greatest enthusiasm. “Mr. Brace exceeded all teachers that I ever knew in the faculty of teaching composition,” she writes. “Much of the inspiration and training of my early days consisted not in the things I was supposed to be studying, but in hearing, while seated unnoticed at my desk, the conversation of Mr. Brace with the older classes.” Nor, indeed, were the influences in her home less stimulating to the intellect. Dr. Beecher, like the majority of the Calvinistic divines of his day, had his system of theology vast and comprehensive enough to embrace the fate of men and angels, and to fathom the counsels of the Infinite. His mind was kept in a state of intense and joyous intellectual activity by constantly elaborating, expounding, and defending this system. Consequently his children grew up in an atmosphere surcharged with mental and moral enthusiasm. There was no trace of morbid melancholy or ascetic gloom in Dr. Beecher. He was sound in body, sound in mind, and the religious influence which he exerted on the minds of his children was healthy and cheerful. Under such circumstances it is not surprising to find a bright and thoughtful child of twelve years writing a school composition on the profound theme “Can the Immortality of the Soul be proved from the Light of Nature?” The writer took the negative side of the question, and argued with such power and originality that Dr. Beecher, when it was read in his presence, not knowing the author, asked with emphasis, “Who wrote that?” “Your daughter, sir,” quickly answered Mr. Brace. Says Mrs. Stowe, speaking of this event: “It was the proudest moment of my life. There was no mistaking father's face when he was pleased, and to have interested him was past all juvenile triumphs.”

Dr. Beecher read with enthusiasm, and encouragecl his children to read, both Byron and Scott. When nine or ten years of age, Mrs. Stowe was deeply impressed by reading Byron's “Corsair.” “I shall nevar forget how it electrified and thrilled me,” she writes. “I went home absorbed and wondering about Byron, and after that listened to everything that father and mother said at table about him.” Byron's death made an enduring, but at the same time solemn and painful, impression on her mind. She was eleven years old at the time, and usually did not understand her father's sermons, but the one that he preached on this occasion she remembers perfectly, and it has had a deep and lasting influence on her life. At the time of the Missouri agitation Dr. Beecher's sermons and prayers were burdened with the anguish of his soul for the cause of the slave. His passionate appeals drew tears down the hardest faces of the old farmers who listened to them. Night and morning, in family devotions, he appealed to heaven for “poor, oppressed, bleeding Africa, that the time of deliverance might come.” The effect of such sermons and prayers on the mind of an imaginative and sensitive child can be easily conceived. They tended to make her, what she has been from earliest childhood, the enemy of all slavery. In 1824, when thirteen years of age, Mrs. Stowe went to Hartford to attend the school that had been established there by her eldest sister, Catherine. Here she studied Latin, read Ovid and Virgil, and wrote metrical translations of the former, which displayed a very respectable knowledge of Latin, a good command of English, with considerable skill in versification. At the age of fourteen she taught with success a class in “Butler's Analogy,” and gained a good reading knowledge of French and Italian. As scholar and teacher she remained with her sister in Hartford till the autumn of 1832, when both removed with their father to Cincinnati, Ohio, where Dr. Beecher assumed the presidency of Lane theological seminary and the pastorate of the 2d Presbyterian church. At this time Mrs. Stowe compiled an elementary geography for a western publisher, which was extensively used, and again engaged in teaching with her sister in Cincinnati. She wrote lectures for her classes in history, and, as a member of a literary club, called the Semi-Colon, humorous sketches and poems.

In January, 1836, she married Mr. Stowe. During her residence in Cincinnati she frequently visited the slave states, and acquired the minute knowledge of southern life that was so conspicuously displayed in her subsequent writings. Fugitive slaves were frequently sheltered in her house, and assisted by her husband and brothers to escape to Canada. During the riots in 1836, when James G. Birney's press was destroyed and free negroes were hunted like wild beasts through the streets of Cincinnati, only the distance from the city and the depths of mud saved Lane seminary and the Yankee Abolitionists at Walnut Hills from a like fate. Many a night Mrs. Stowe sank into uneasy slumber, expecting to be roused by the howlings of an angry mob, led by the agents of exasperated and desperate slave-holders. In 1849 Mrs. Stowe published “The Mayflower, or Short Sketches of the Descendants of the Pilgrims” (New York; new ed., with additions, Boston, 1855), being a collection of papers which she had from time to time contributed to various periodicals. In 1850 she removed with her husband and family to Brunswick, Me., where the former had just been called to a professorship in Bowdoin. It was at the height of the excitement caused by the passage of the fugitive-slave law. It seemed to her as if slavery were about to extend itseif over the free states. She conversed with many benevolent, tender-hearted, Christian men and women, who were blind and deaf to all arguments against it, and she concluded that it was because they did not realize what slavery really meant. She determined, if possible, to make them realize it, and, as a result of this determination, wrote “Uncle Tom's Cabin, or Life among the Lowly.” In the mean time Prof. Stowe was appointed to the chair of biblical literature in the theological seminary at Andover. Mass., and removed thither with his family about the time that this remarkable book was published. Neither Mrs. Stowe nor any of her friends had the least conception of the future that awaited her book. She was herself very despondent. It does not seem to have been very widely read when it appeared in the “National Era,” at Washington, D. C., from June, 1851, till April, 1852, before it was issued in book-form (Boston, 1852). Mrs. Stowe says: “It seemed to me that there was no hope; that nobody would hear; that nobody would read, nobody would pity; that this frightful system which had pursued its victims into the free states might at last threaten them even in Canada.” Nevertheless, nearly 500,000 copies of this work were sold in the United States alone in the five years following its publication. It has been translated into Armenian, Bohemian, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Hungarian, Illyrian, Polish, Portuguese, modern Greek, Russian, Servian, Spanish, Swedish, Wallachian, Welsh, and other languages. These versions are to be found in the British museum in London, together with the most extensive collection of the literature of this book. In reply to the abuse and recrimination that its publication called forth, Mrs. Stowe published, in 1853, “A Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin, presenting the Original Facts and Documents upon which the Story is founded, together with Corroborative Statements verifying the Truth of the Work.” She also wrote “A Peep into Uncle Tom's Cabin, for Children” (1853). The story has been dramatized in various forms; once by the author as “The Christian Slave; a Drama” (1855). The character of Uncle Tom was suggested by the life of Josiah Henson (q. v.).

 So reduced was Mrs. Stowe's health by her severe and protracted labors that complete rest and change of scene became necessary. Consequently, in the spring of 1853, accompanied by her husband and brother, the Rev. Charles Beecher, she sailed for England. In the following year appeared “Sunny Memories of Foreign Lands,” a collection of letters of Mrs. Stowe and. her brother during their travels in Europe (2 vols., Boston, 1854). In 1856 she published “Dred, a Tale of the Great Dismal Swamp.” The same book was reissued, in 1866, under the title “Nina Gordon,” but has now been again issued under the original title. About this time Mrs. Stowe made a second visit to England, and an extended tour of the continent. In the judgment of some critics, by far the ablest work that has come from Mrs. Stowe's pen, in a purely literary point of view, is the “Minister's Wooing” (New York, 1859). It was first given to the public as a serial in the “Atlantic Monthly,” and James Russell Lowell said of it: “We do not believe that there is any one who, by birth, breeding, and natural capacity, has had the opportunity to know New England so well as she, or who has the peculiar genius so to profit by the knowledge. Already there have been scenes in the ‘Minister's Wooing’ that, in their lowness of tone and quiet truth, contrast as charmingly with the timid vagueness of the modern school of novel-writers as the ‘Vicar of Wakefield’ itself; and we are greatly mistaken if it do not prove to be the most characteristic of Mrs. Stowe's works, and that on which her fame will chiefly rest with posterity.” Mrs. Stowe received letters containing similar expressions of commendation from William E. Gladstone, Charles Kingsley, and Bishop Whately.

In 1864 Prof. Stowe resigned his professorship at Andover and removed to Hartford, Conn., where the family have since resided, making their winter home in Mandarin, Fla., until Prof. Stowe's increasing infirmities made the journey no longer possible. In 1869 Mrs. Stowe published “OldTown Folks,” a tale of New England life, and in September of the same year, moved thereto by reading the Countess Guiccioli's “Recollections of Lord Byron,” contributed a paper to the “Atlantic Monthly” on “The True Story of Lady Byron's Life.” In reply to the tempest of adverse criticism that this paper evoked, she published “Lady Byron vindicated: a History of the Byron Controversy” (Boston, 1869). Her seventieth birthday was celebrated with a garden party, mainly of literary people, in Cambridge, Mass. She spent the summer of 1888, in failing health, at North Haven, Long Island. George Sand has paid the following tribute to the genius of Mrs. Stowe: '”I cannot say she has talent as one understands it in the world of letters, but she has genius as humanity feels the need of genius—the genius of goodness, not that of the man of letters, but of the saint. . . . Pure, penetrating, and profound, the spirit that thus fathoms the recesses of the human soul.” The accompanying steel engraving represents Mrs. Stowe as she appeared in middle life; the vignette, at threescore and ten.

Besides the works that have been mentioned, Mrs. Stowe has written “Geography for my Children” (Boston, 1855); “Our Charley, and what to do with him” (1858); “The Pearl of Orr's Island; a Story of the Coast of Maine” (1862); “Agnes of Sorrento” (1862); “Reply on Behalf of the Women of America to the Christian Address of many Thousand Women of Great Britain” (1863); “The Ravages of a Carpet” (1864); “House and Home Papers, by Christopher Crowfield” (1864); “Religious Poems” (1865); “Stories about our Dogs” (1865); “Little Foxes” (1865); “Queer Little People” (1867); “Daisy's First Winter, and other Stories” (1867); “The Chimney Corner, by Christopher Crowfield” (1868); “Men of our Times” (Hartford, 1868); “The American Woman's Home,” with her sister Catherine (Philadelphia, 1869); “Little Pussy Willow” (Boston, 1870); “Pink and White Tyranny” (1871); “Sam Lawson's Fireside Stories” (1871); “My Wife and I” (1872); “Palmetto Leaves” (1878); “Betty's Bright Idea, and other Tales” (1875); “We and Our Neighbors” (1875); “Footsteps of the Master” (1876); “Bible Heroines” (1878); “Poganuc People” (1878); and “A Dog's Mission” (1881). Most of these works have been republished abroad. There is also a selection from her writings entitled “Golden Fruit in Silver Baskets” (London, 1859). In 1868 she became co-editor with Donald G. Mitchell of “Hearth and Home” in New York. Her life will be written by her son, the Rev. Charles Edward Stowe, who is pastor of Windsor avenue Congregational church in Hartford, Conn. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. V, pp. 713-715.





See also Liberty Party


STUART, Charles, 1783-1865, author, anti-slavery agent, abolitionist.  Worked with abolitionist leader Gerrit Smith.

(Appletons’, 1888, Vol. V, p. 728; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 9, Pt. 2, p. 162; Dumond, 1961, pp. 169, 173, 180)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

STUART, Charles, author, b. in Jamaica, West Indies, about 1783; d. near Lake Simcoe, Canada, in 1865. His father was a British officer, who fought at Bunker Hill and in other battles of the Revolution, and was subsequently stationed in the West Indies. The son at the age of eighteen, when living at Belfast, Ireland, received a lieutenant's commission in the Madras army. He was promoted captain, received a severe wound in an encounter with native insurgents, and after thirteen years' service, returned to England, and was retired with a pension. Some time later he received a grant of land on Lake Simcoe, and was commissioned as a local magistrate. About 1822 he settled in Utica, N. Y., as principal of the academy, which he taught for several years. From that period he spent much of his time in the United States. He was one of the early emancipationists, and took part with Gerrit Smith in anti-slavery meetings. Capt. Stuart was the author of several pamphlets that were published by the British and foreign anti-slavery society, the most effective of which was “Prejudice Vincible,” which was reprinted in this country. He published a volume of short poems, and a religious novel entitled “Parraul of Lum Sing, or the Missionary and the Mountain Chiefs.” His principal other works were “The West India Question: Immediate Emancipation would be Safe and Profitable” (New Haven, 1833); “Memoirs of Granville Sharp” (New York, 1836); and “Oneida and Oberlin: the Extirpation of Slavery in the United States” (Bristol, 1841). Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. V, pp. 728.


STURGE, Joseph, 1793-1859, English author, member of the Society of Friends, Quaker, abolitionist.  Visited USA to study slavery in 1841.  Wrote, Visit to the United States in 1841

(Boston, 1842; Appletons’, 1888, Vol. V, p. 733; Richard, 1864)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

STURGE, Joseph, English author, b. in Elverton, Gloucestershire, England, in 1793; d. in Birmingham, 1 May, 1859. He was a member of the Society of Friends, established himself as a corn-factor in Birmingham in 1820, acquired great wealth, and devoted himself, among other philanthropic objects, to the abolition of slavery. To familiarize himself with the subject of slavery, he visited the West Indies in 1837, and four years later the United States. He published “The West Indies in 1837” (London, 1838), and “Visit to the United States in 1841” (Boston, 1842). The “Memoirs of Joseph Sturge” were written by Henry Richard (London, 1864). Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. V, pp. 733. 


SUMNER, Charles, 1811-1874, statesman, lawyer, writer, editor, educator, reformer, abolitionist leader.  U.S. Senator, voted for Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery.

(Blue, 1994, 2005; Mabee, 1970, pp. 74, 103, 173, 178, 248, 354, 261, 299, 329, 337, 356, 368, 393n17; Mitchell, 2007, pp. 60, 62, 67-68, 89, 174, 238, 243; Potter, 1976; Rodriguez, 2007, pp. 54, 59, 201-203, 298, 657-660; Sewell, 1988; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. V, pp. 744-750; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 9, Pt. 2, p. 214; American Reformers: An H.W. Wilson Biographical Dictionary, New York, 1985, pp. 783-785; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 21, p. 137; Congressional Globe; Donald, David. Charles Sumner and the Coming of the Civil War. New York: Knopf, 1960.)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

SUMNER, Charles, statesman, b. in Boston, Mass., 6 Jan., 1811; d. in Washington, D. C., 11 March, 1874. The family is English, and William Sumner, from whom Charles was descended in the seventh generation, came to America about 1635 with his wife and three sons, and settled in Dorchester, Mass. The Sumners were generally farmers. Job, grandfather of Charles, entered Harvard in 1774, but in the next year he joined the Revolutionary army, and served with distinction during the war. He was not graduated, but he received in 1785 an honorary degree from the college. He died in 1789, aged thirty-three. Charles Pinckney Sumner (b. 1776, d. 1839), father of Charles, was graduated at Harvard in 1796. He was a lawyer and was sheriff of Suffolk county from 1825 until a few days before his death. In 1810 he married Relief Jacob, of Hanover, N. H., and they had nine children, of whom Charles and Matilda were the eldest and twins. Matilda died in 1832. Sheriff Sumner was an upright, grave, formal man, of the old Puritan type, fond of literature and public life. His anti-slavery convictions were very strong, and he foretold a violent end to slavery in this country. In his family he was austere, and, as his income was small, strict economy was indispensable. Charles was a quiet boy, early matured, and soon showed the bent of his mind by the purchase for a few cents of a Latin grammar and '”Liber Primus” from a comrade at school. In his eleventh year he was placed at the Latin-school where Wendell Phillips, Robert C. Winthrop, James Freeman Clarke, and other boys, afterward distinguished men, were pupils. Sumner excelled in the classics, in general information, and in writing essays, but he was not especially distinguished. Just as he left the Latin-school for college he heard President John Quincy Adams speak in Faneuil hall, and at about the same time he heard Daniel Webster's eulogy upon Adams and Jefferson. It was in a New England essentially unchanged from the older, but refined and softened, that Sumner grew up. At the age of fifteen he was reserved and thoughtful, caring little for sports, slender, tall, and awkward. His thirst for knowledge of every kind, with singular ability and rapidity in acquiring it, was already remarkable. He had made a compend of English histoiy in eighty-six pages of a copybook, and had read Gibbon's history.

In September, 1826, he began his studies at Harvard. In the classics and history and forensics, and in belles-lettres, he was among the best scholars. But he failed entirely in mathematics. His memory was extraordinary and his reading extensive. Without dissipation of any kind and without sensitiveness to humor, generous in his judgment of his comrades, devoted to his books, and going little into society, he was a general favorite, although his college life gave no especial promise of a distinguished career. In his junior year he made his first journey from home, in a pedestrian tour with some classmates to Lake Champlain, returning by the Hudson river and the city of New York. In 1830 he was graduated, and devoted himself for a year to a wide range of reading and study in the Latin classics and in general literature. He resolutely grappled with mathematics to repair the defect in his education in that branch of study, wrote a prize essay on commerce, and listened carefully to the Boston orators, Webster, Everett, Choate, and Channing. No day, no hour, no opportunity, was lost by him in the pursuit of knowledge. His first interest in public questions was awakened by the anti-Masonic movement, which he held to be a “great and good cause,” two adjectives that were always associated in his estimate of causes and of men. Mindful of Dr. Johnson's maxim, he diligently maintained his friendships by correspondence and intercourse. On 1 Sept., 1831, he entered Harvard law-school, of which Judge Joseph Story was the chief professor. Story had been a friend of Sumner's father, and his friendly regard for the son soon ripened into an affection and confidence that never ceased. Sumner was now six feet and two inches in height, but weighing only 120 pounds, and not personally attractive. He was never ill, and was an untiring walker; his voice was strong and clear, his smile quick and sincere, his laugh loud, and his intellectual industry and his memory were extraordinary. He began the study of law with the utmost enthusiasm, giving himself a wide range, keeping careful notes of the moot-court cases, writing for the “American Jurist,” and preparing a catalogue of the library of the Law-school. He joined the temperance society of the professional schools and the college. His acquirements were already large, but he was free from vanity. His mental habit was so serious that, while his talk was interesting, he was totally disconcerted by a jest or gay repartee. He had apparently no ambition except to learn as much as he could, and his life then, as always, was pure in word and deed.

The agitation of the question of slavery had already begun. “The Liberator” was established by Mr. Garrison in Boston on 1 Jan., 1831. The “nullification movement” in South Carolina occurred while Sumner was at the Law-school. He praised President Jackson's proclamation, and saw civil war impending; but he wrote to a friend in 1832: “Politics I begin to loathe; they are for a day, but the law is for all time.” He entered the law-office of Benjamin Rand, in Boston, in January, 1834, wrote copiously for the “Jurist,” and went to Washington for the first time in April. The favor of Judge Story opened to Sumner the pleasantest houses at the capital, and his professional and gerieral accomplishments secured an ever-widening welcome. But Washington only deepened his love for the law and his aversion to politics. In September, 1834, he was admitted to the bar. During the month that he passed in Washington, Sumner described his first impression of the unfortunate race to whose welfare his life was to be devoted: “For the first time I saw slaves [on the journey through Maryland], and my worst preconception of their appearance and ignorance did not fall as low as their actual stupidity. They appear to be nothing more than moving masses of flesh, unendowed with anything of intelligence above the brutes. I have now an idea of the blight upon that part of our country in which they live.” Anticipating hearing Calhoun, he says: “He will be the last man I shall ever hear speak in Washington.” In 1835 he was appointed by Judge Story a commissioner of the circuit court of the United States and reporter of Story's judicial opinions, and he began to teach in the Law-school during the judge's absence. This service he continued in 1836-'7, and he aided in preparing a digest of the decisions of the supreme court of Maine. He wrote upon literary and legal topics, he lectured and edited and pleaded, and he was much overworked in making a bare livelihood. In 1835 his interest in the slavery question deepened. The first newspaper for which he subscribed was “The Liberator,” and he writes to Dr. Francis Lieber, then professor in the college at Columbia, S.C.: “What think you of it? [slavery] Should it longer exist? Is not emancipation practicable? We are becoming Abolitionists, at the north, fast.” The next year, 1836, his “blood boils” at an indignity offered by a slavemaster to the Boston counsel of a fugitive slave. Sumner now saw much of Channing, by whose wisdom and devotion to freedom he was deeply influenced. His articles in the “Jurist” had opened correspondence with many eminent European publicists. His friends at home were chiefly among scholars, and already Longfellow was one of his intimate companions. In the summer of 1836 he made a journey to Canada, and in December, 1837, he sailed for France.

He carried letters from distinguished Americans to distinguished Europeans, and his extraordinary diligence in study and his marvellous memory had equipped him for turning every opportunity to the best account. During his absence he kept a careful diary and wrote long letters, many of which are printed in the memoir by Edward L. Pierce, and there is no more graphic and interesting picture than they present of the social and professional life at that time of the countries he visited. Sumner remained in Paris for five months, and carefully improved every hour. He attended 150 university lectures by the most renowned professors. He walked the hospitals with the great surgeons. He frequented the courts and theatres and operas and libraries and museums. He was a guest in the most famous salons, and he saw and noted everything, not as a loiterer, but as a student. On 31 May, 1838, he arrived in England, where he remained for ten months. No American had ever been so universally received and liked, and Carlyle characteristically described him as “Popularity Sumner.” He saw and studied England in every aspect, and in April, 1839, went to Italy and devoted himself to the study of its language, history, and literature, with which, however, he was already familiar. In Rome, where he remained for some months, he met the sculptor Thomas Crawford, whom he warmly befriended. Early in October, 1839, he left Italy for Germany, in the middle of March, 1840, he was again in England, and in May, 1840, he returned to America.

He showed as yet no sign of political ambition. The “hard-cider campaign” of 1840, the contest between Harrison and Van Buren, began immediately after his return. He voted for Harrison, but without especial interest in the measures of the Whig party. In announcing to a brother, then in Europe, the result of the election, he wrote: “I take very little interest in politics.” The murder of Lovejoy in November, 1837, and the meeting in Faneuil hall, where Wendell Phillips made his memorable speech, and the local disturbances that attended the progress of the anti-slavery agitation throughout the northern states, had plainly revealed the political situation. But Sumner's letters during the year after his return from Europe do not show that the question of slavery had especially impressed him, while his friends were in the most socially delightful circles of conservative Boston. But in 1841 the assertion by Great Britain, of a right to stop any suspected slaver to ascertain her right to carry the American flag, produced great excitement. Sumner at once showed his concern for freedom and his interest in great questions of law by maintaining in two elaborate articles, published in a Boston newspaper early in 1842, the right and the justice of such an inquiry. Kent, Story, Choate, and Theodore Sedgwick approved his position. This was his first appearance in the anti-slavery controversy. In 1842 Daniel Webster, as secretary of state, wrote his letter upon the case of the “Creole,” contending that the slaves who had risen against the ship's officers should not be liberated by the British authorities at Nassau. Sumner strongly condemned the letter, and took active part in the discussion. He contended that the slaves were manumitted by the common law upon passing beyond the domain of the local law of slavery; and if this were not so, the piracy charged was an offence under the local statute and not under the law of nations, and no government could be summoned to surrender offenders against the municipal law of other governments. In April, 1842, he writes: “The question of slavery is getting to be the absorbing one among us, and growing out of this is that other of the Union.” He adjured Longfellow to write verses that should move the whole land against the iniquity. But his social relations were still undisturbed, and his unbounded admiration of Webster showed his generous mind. '”With the moral devotion of Channing,” he said of Webster, “he would be a prophet.”

In July, 1843, Sumner published in the “North American Review” an article defending Com. Alexander Slidell Mackenzie for his action in the case of the “Somers” mutiny, when a son of John C. Spencer, secretary of war, was executed. He published also a paper upon the political relations of slavery, justifying the moral agitation of the question. In this year he contributed largely to the “Law Reporter,” and taught for the last time in the Law-school. In the election of 1844 Sumner took no part. He had no special sympathy with Whig views of the tariff and the bank, and already slavery seemed to him to be the chief public question. He was a Whig, as he said in 1848, because it seemed to him the party of humanity, and John Quincy Adams was the statesman whom he most admired. He was overwhelmed with professional work, which brought on a serious illness. But his activity was unabated, and he was elected a member of various learned societies. His letters during 1844 show his profound interest in the slavery question. He speaks of the “atrocious immorality of John Tyler in seeking to absorb Texas,” and “the disgusting vindication of slavery” by Calhoun, which he regrets that he is too busy to answer. In 1845 he was deeply interested in the question of popular education, and was one of the intimate advisers of Horace Mann. Prison-discipline was another question that commanded his warmest interest, and his first public speech was made upon this subject at a meeting of the Prison-discipline society, in May, 1845. This was followed, on 4 July, by the annual oration before the civil authorities of Boston, upon “The True Grandeur of Nations.” The oration was a plea for peace and a vehement denunciation of war, delivered, in commemoration of an armed revolutionary contest, to an audience largely military and in military array. This discourse was the prototype of all Sumner's speeches. It was an elaborate treatise, full of learning and precedent and historical illustration, of forcible argument and powerful moral appeal. The effect was immediate and striking. There were great indignation and warm protest on the one hand, and upon the other sincere congratulation and high compliment. Sumner's view of the absolute wrong and iniquity of war under all circumstances was somewhat modified subsequently; but the great purpose of a peaceful solution of international disputes he never relinquished. The oration revealed to the country an orator hitherto unknown even to himself and his friends. It showed a moral conviction, intrepidity, and independence, and a relentless vigor of statement, which were worthy of the best traditions of New England. Just four months later, on 4 Nov., 1845, Sumner made in Faneuil hall his first anti-slavery speech, at a meeting of which Charles Francis Adams was chairman, to protest against the admission of Texas. This first speech had all the characteristics of the last important speech he ever made. It was brief, but sternly bold, uncompromising, aggressive, and placed Sumner at once in the van of the political anti-slavery movement. He was not an Abolitionist in the Garrisonian sense. He held that slavery was sectional, not national; that the constitution was meant to be a bond of national liberty as well as union, and nowhere countenanced the theory that there could be property in men; that it was to be judicially interpreted always in the interest of freedom; and that, by rigorous legal restriction and the moral force of public opinion, slavery would be forced to disappear. This was subsequently the ground held by the Republican party. Sumner added to his reputation by an elaborate oration at Cambridge, in August, 1846, upon “The Scholar, the Jurist, the Artist, the Philanthropist,” of which the illustrations were his personal friends, then recently dead, John Pickering, Judge Story, Washington Allston, and Dr. Channing. The reference to Channing gave him the opportunity, which he improved, to urge the duty of anti-slavery action. It was the first time that the burning question of the hour had been discussed in the scholastic seclusion of the university.

In September, 1846, at the Whig state convention held in Faneuil hall, Sumner spoke upon the “Anti-Slavery Duties of the Whig Party,” concluding with an impassioned appeal to Mr. Webster to lead the Whigs as an anti-slavery party. He sent the speech to Mr. Webster, who, in replying coolly, politely regretted that they differed in regard to political duty. In October, Sumner wrote a public letter to Robert C. Winthrop, representative in congress from Boston, censuring him severely for his vote in support of the Mexican war. He wrote as a Whig constituent of Mr. Winthrop's, and during his absence from Boston he was nominated for congress, against Mr. Winthrop, by a meeting of Whigs, including Charles Francis Adams and John A. Andrew. But he immediately and peremptorily declined, and he warmly supported Dr. Samuel G. Howe, who was nominated in his place. During this period, when “Conscience Whigs” were separating from “Cotton Whigs,” Sumner was untiring in his public activity. He spoke often, and he argued before the supreme court of the state the invalidity of enlistments for the Mexican war, and delivered a lecture upon “White Slavery in the Barbary States,” which was elaborated into a pamphlet, and was a valuable historical study of the subject. In June, 1847, a speech upon prison-discipline showed his interest in the question to be unabated. On 29 Sept., 1847, he spoke for the last time as a Whig, in the State convention at Springfield, in support of a resolution that Massachusetts Whigs would support only an anti-slavery man for the presidency. The resolution was lost, and upon the Whig nomination of Gen. Zachary Taylor, 1 June, 1848, a convention of anti-slavery men of both parties was called at Worcester on 28 June, at which Sumner, Charles Francis Adams, Samuel Hoar (who presided), and his son, E. Rockwood Hoar, with many other well-known Whigs, withdrew from the Whig party and organized the Free-soil party. “If two evils are presented to me,” said Sumner in his speech, alluding to Cass and Taylor, “I will take neither.” Sumner was chairman of the Free-soil state committee, which conducted the campaign in Massachusetts for Van Buren and Adams, nominated at the Buffalo convention. In October, 1848, he was nominated for congress in the Boston district, receiving 2,336 votes against 1,460 for the Democratic candidate. But Mr. Winthrop received 7,726, and was elected. In May, 1849, he renewed his plea for peace in an exhaustive address before the American peace society on “The War System of the Commonwealth of Nations,” and on 5 Nov., 1850, his speech, after the passage of the Fugitive-slave law, was like a war-cry for the Free-soil party, and was said to have made him senator. In the election of members of the legislature the Free-soilers and Democrats united, and at a caucus of members of the Free-soil party Sumner was unanimously selected as their candidate for U. S. senator. He was more acceptable to the Democrats because he had never been an extreme Whig, and the Democratic caucus, with almost equal unanimity, made him its candidate. The legislature then chose George S. Boutwell governor, Henry W. Cushman lieutenant-governor, and Robert Rantoul, Jr., senator for the short term. These were all Democrats. The house of representatives voted, on 14 Jan., 1851, for senator, casting 381 votes, with 191 necessary to a choice. Sumner received 186, Robert C. Winthrop 167, scattering 28, blanks 3. On 22 Jan., of 38 votes in the senate, Sumner received 23, Winthrop 14, and H. W. Bishop 1, and Sumner was chosen by the senate. The contest in the house continued for three months. Sumner was entreated to modify some expressions in his last speech; but he refused, saying that he did not desire the office, and on 22 Feb. he asked Henry Wilson, president of the senate, and the Free-soil members, to abandon him whenever they could elect another candidate. On 24 April, Sumner was elected senator by 193 votes, precisely the necessary number of the votes cast.

When he took his seat in the senate he was as distinctively the uncompromising representative of freedom and the north as Calhoun had been of slavery and the south. But it was not until 26 Aug., 1852, just after the Democratic and Whig national conventions had acquiesced in the compromises of 1850, that Sumner delivered his first important speech, “Freedom National, Slavery Sectional.” It treated the relations of the national government to slavery, and the true nature of the constitutional provision in regard to fugitives. The speech made a profound impression. The general view was accepted at once by the anti-slavery party as sound. The argument seemed to the anti-slavery sentiment to be unanswerable. Seward and Chase both described it as “great,” and it was evident that another warrior thoroughly equipped was now to be encountered by the slave power. On 23 Jan., 1854, Stephen A. Douglas introduced the Kansas-Nebraska bill, by which the Missouri compromise was repealed, and on 21 Feb., 1854, Sumner opposed it in a speech characteristically comprehensive and exhaustive, reviewing the history of the restriction of slavery. On the eve of the passage of the bill he made a solemn and impressive protest, and his reply to assailants, 28 June, 1854, stung his opponents to madness. He was now the most unsparing, the most feared, and the most hated opponent of slavery in congress. On 17 March, 1856, Mr. Douglas introduced a bill for the admission of Kansas as a state. On 19 and 20 May, Sumner delivered a speech on the “Crime against Kansas,” which again aroused the country, and in which he spoke, in reference to the slave and free-soil factions in Kansas, of “the fury of the propagandists and the calm determination of their opponents,” who through the whole country were “marshalling hostile divisions, and foreshadowing a conflict which, unless happily averted by freedom, will become war—fratricidal, parricidal war.” It provoked the bitterest rejoinders in the senate, to which Sumner replied contemptuously. In his speech he had sharply censured Senator Butler, of South Carolina, and Senator Douglas, and two days after the delivery of the speech, as Sumner was sitting after the adjournment writing at his desk alone in the senate-chamber, Preston Smith Brooks, a relative of Butler's and a representative from South Carolina, entered the chamber, and, after speaking a few words to Sumner, struck him violently upon the head with a bludgeon, and while Sumner was trying in vain to extricate himself from the desk and seize his assailant, the blows continued until he sank bloody and senseless to the floor. This event startled the country as a presage of civil war. The excitement was universal and profound. The house of representatives refused to give the two-third vote necessary to expel Brooks, but he resigned and appealed to his constituents, and was unanimously re-elected. Sumner was long incapacitated for public service. On 3 Nov., 1856, he returned to Boston to vote, and was received with acclamation by the people and with the highest honor by the state and city authorities. On 13 Jan., 1857, he was re-elected senator, receiving all but ten votes, and on 7 March, 1857, he sailed for Europe, where he submitted to the severest medical treatment. With characteristic energy and industry, in the intervals of suffering, he devoted himself to a thorough study of the art and history of engraving.

For nearly four years he was absent from his seat in the senate, which he resumed on 5 Dec., 1859, at the opening of the session. He was still feeble, and took no part in debate until the middle of March, and on 4 June, 1860, on the question of admitting Kansas as a free state, he delivered a speech upon “The Barbarism of Slavery,” which showed his powers untouched and his ardor unquenched. Mr. Lincoln had been nominated for the presidency, and Sumner's speech was the last comprehensive word in the parliamentary debate of freedom and slavery. The controversy could now be settled only by arms. This conviction was undoubtedly the explanation of the angry silence with which the speech was heard in the senate by the friends of slavery. During the winter of secession that followed the election Sumner devoted himself to the prevention of any form of compromise, believing that it would be only a base and fatal surrender of constitutional principles. He made no speeches during the session. By the withdrawal of southern senators the senate was left with a Republican majority, and in the reconstruction of committees on 8 March, 1861, Sumner was made chairman of the committee on foreign affairs. For this place he was peculiarly fitted. His knowledge of international law, of the history of other states, and of their current politics, was comprehensive and exact, and during the intense excitement arising from the seizure of the “Trent” he rendered the country a signal service in placing the surrender of Slidell and Mason upon the true ground. (See MASON, JAMES MURRAY.) While there was universal acquiescence in the decision of the government to surrender the commissioners, there was not universal satisfaction and pride until on 9 Jan., 1862, Sumner, in one of his ablest speeches, showed incontestably that our own principles, constantly maintained by us, required the surrender. One of the chief dangers throughout the civil war was the possible action of foreign powers, and especially of England, where iron-clad rams were being built for the Confederacy, and on 10 Sept., 1863, Sumner delivered in New York a speech upon “Our Foreign Relations,” which left nothing unsaid. Happily, on 8 Sept., Lord Russell had informed the American minister, Charles Francis Adams, that the rams would not be permitted to leave English ports.

Throughout the war, both in congress and upon the platform, Sumner was very urgent for emancipation, and when the war ended he was equally anxious to secure entire equality of rights for the new citizens. But while firm upon this point, and favoring the temporary exclusion of recent Confederates from political power, he opposed the proposition to change the jury law for the trial of Jefferson Davis, and disclaimed every feeling of vengeance. He was strong in his opposition to President Andrew Johnson and his policy. But the great measure of the Johnson administration, the acquisition of Alaska by treaty, was supported by Sumner in a speech on 9 April, 1867, which is an exhaustive history of Russian America. He voted affirmatively upon all the articles of impeachment of President Johnson, which in a long opinion he declared to be one of the last great battles with slavery.

Early in the administration of President Grant, 10 April, 1869, Sumner opposed the Johnson-Clarendon treaty with England, as affording no means of adequate settlement of our British claims. In this speech he asserted the claim for indirect or consequential damages, which afterward was proposed as part of the American case at the Geneva arbitration, but was discarded. In his message of 5 Dec., 1870, President Grant, regretting the failure of the treaty to acquire Santo Domingo, strongly urged its acquisition. Sumner strenuously opposed the project on the ground that it was not the wish of the “black republic,” and that Baez, with whom, as president of the Dominican republic, the negotiation had been irregularly conducted, was an adventurer, held in his place by an unconstitutional use of the navy of the United States. Sumner's opposition led to a personal rupture with the president and the secretary of state, and to alienation from the Republican senators, in consequence of which, on 10 March, 1871, he was removed, by the Republican majority of the senate, from the chairmanship of the committee on foreign affairs. He was assigned the chairmanship of the committee on privileges and elections; but, upon his own motion, his name was stricken out. On 24 March he introduced resolutions, which he advocated in a powerful speech, severely arraigning the president for his course in regard to Santo Domingo. In December, 1871, he refused again to serve as chairman of the committee on privileges and elections. Early in 1872 he introduced a supplementary civil-rights bill, which, since January, 1870, he had vainly sought to bring before the senate. It was intended to secure complete equality for colored citizens in every relation that law could effect; but it was thought to be unwise and impracticable by other Republican senators, and as drawn by Sumner it was not supported by them. He introduced, 12 Feb., 1872, resolutions of inquiry, aimed at the administration, into the sale of arms to France during the German war. An acrimonious debate arose, during which Sumner's course was sharply criticised by some of his party colleagues, and he and Senators Trumbull, Schurz, and Fenton were known as anti-Grant Republicans.

Sumner was urged to attend the Liberal or anti-Grant Republican convention, to be held at Cincinnati, 1 May, which nominated Horace Greeley for the presidency, and the chairmanship, and authority to write the platform were offered to him as inducements. But he declined, and in the senate, 31 May, declaring himself a Republican of the straitest sect, he denounced Grantism as not Republicanism in a speech implying that he could not support Grant as the presidential candidate of the party. The Republican convention, 5 June, unanimously renominated Grant, and the Democratic convention, 9 June, adopted the Cincinnati platform and candidates. In reply to a request for advice from the colored citizens of Washington, 29 July, Sumner, in a long letter, advised the support of Greeley, on the general ground that principles must be preferred to party. In a sharp letter to Speaker Blaine, 5 Aug., he set forth the reasons of the course he had taken.

But the strain of the situation was too severe. His physicians ordered him to seek recreation in Europe, and he sailed early in September, leaving the manuscript of a speech he had proposed to deliver in Faneuil hall at a meeting of Liberal Republicans. He opposed the election of Grant upon the ground that he was unfaithful to the constitution and to Republican principles, and otherwise unfitted for the presidency; and he supported Greeley as an original and unswerving Republican, nominated by Republicans, whose adoption as a candidate by the Democratic party proved the honest acquiescence of that party in the great results of the civil war. He returned from Europe in time for the opening of the session, 2 Dec., 1872. The Republican majority omitted him altogether in the arrangement of the committees, leaving him to be placed by the Democratic minority. But Sumner declined to serve upon any committee, and did not attend the Republican caucus. On the first day of the session he introduced a bill forbidding the names of battles with fellow-citizens to be continued in the army register or placed on the regimental colors of the United States. From this time he took no party part and made no political speech, pleading only for equality of civil rights for colored citizens. At the next session, 1 Dec., 1873, he was placed on several committees, not as chairman, but as one of the minority, and he did not refuse to serve, but attended no meetings. During this session the cordial relations between Sumner and the Republicans were almost wholly restored, and in Massachusetts the Republican feeling for him was very friendly. Again, promptly but vainly, 2 Dec., 1873, he asked consideration of the civil-rights bill. On 27 Jan., 1874, he made for the bill a last brief appeal, and on 11 March, 1874, after a short illness, he died. The bill that was his last effort to serve the race to whose welfare his public life had been devoted was reported, 14 April, 1874, substantially as originally drawn, and passed the senate, 22 May. But it failed in the house, and the civil-rights bill, approved 1 March, 1875, was a law of less scope than his, and has been declared unconstitutional by the supreme court.

Sumner's death was universally lamented. One of the warmest and most striking eulogies was that of Lucius Q. C. Lamar, then a representative in congress from Mississippi, who had been a sincere disciple of Calhoun and a Confederate officer, but who recognized in Sumner a kindred earnestness and fidelity. The later differences with his party were forgotten when Sumner died, and only his great service to the country in the most perilous hour, and his uncompromising devotion to the enslaved race, were proudly and enthusiastically remembered. Among American statesmen his life especially illustrates the truth he early expressed, that politics is but the application of moral principles to public affairs. Throughout his public career he was the distinctive representative of the moral conviction and political purpose of New England. His ample learning and various accomplishments were rivalled among American public men only by those of John Quincy Adams, and during all the fury of political passion in which he lived there was never a whisper or suspicion of his political honesty or his personal integrity. He was fortunate in the peculiar adaptation of his qualities to his time. His profound conviction, supreme conscientiousness, indomitable will, affluent resources, and inability to compromise, his legal training, serious temper, and untiring energy, were indispensable in the final stages of the slavery controversy, and he had them all in the highest degree. “There is no other side,” he said to a friend with fervor, and Cromwell's Ironsides did not ride into the fight more absolutely persuaded that they were doing the will of God than Charles Sumner. For ordinary political contests he had no taste, and at another time and under other circumstances he would probably have been an all-accomplished scholar or learned judge, unknown in political life. Of few men could it be said more truly than of him that he never lost a day. He knew most of the famous men and women of his time, and he was familiar with the contemporaneous political, literary, and artistic movement in every country. In public life he was often accounted a man of one idea; but his speeches upon the “Trent” case, the Russian treaty, and our foreign relations showed the fulness of his knowledge and the variety of his interest. He was dogmatic, often irritable with resolute opposition to his views, and of generous self esteem, but he was of such child-like simplicity and kindliness that the poisonous sting of vanity and malice was wanting. During the difference between Sumner and his fellow-Republicans in the senate, one of them said that he had no enemy but himself, and Sumner refused to speak to him for the rest of the session. But the next autumn his friend stepped into an omnibus in New York in which Sumner was sitting, and, entirely forgetting the breach, greeted him with the old warmth. Sumner responded as warmly, and at once the old intimacy was completely restored. From envy or any form of ill-nature he was wholly free. No man was more constant and unsparing in the warfare with slavery and in the demand of equality for the colored race; but no soldier ever fought with less personal animosity. He was absolutely fearless. During the heat of the controversy in congress his life was undoubtedly in danger, and he was urged to carry a pistol for his defence. He laughed, and said that he had never fired a pistol in his life, and, in case of extremity, before he could possibly get it out of his pocket he would be shot. But the danger was so real that, unknown to himself, he was for a long time under the constant protection of armed friends in Washington. The savage assault of Brooks undoubtedly shortened Sumner's life, but to a friend who asked him how he felt toward his assailant, he answered: “As to a brick that should fall upon my head from a chimney. He was the unconscious agent of a malign power.” Personally, in his later years, Sumner was of commanding presence, very tall, and of a stalwart frame. His voice was full, deep, and resonant, his elocution declamatory, stately, and earnest. His later speeches in the senate he read from printed slips, but his speech upon Alaska, which occupied three hours in the delivery, was spoken from notes written upon a single sheet of paper, and it was subsequently written out. Few of the bills drawn by him became laws, but he influenced profoundly legislation upon subjects in which he was most interested. He was four times successively elected to the senate, and when he died he was the senior senator of the United States in consecutive service. In October, 1866, when he was fifty-five years old, Sumner married Mrs. Alice Mason Hooper, of Boston, daughter-in-law of his friend, Samuel Hooper, representative in congress. The union was very brief, and in September, 1867, Mr. and Mrs. Sumner, for reasons that were never divulged, were separated, and they were ultimately divorced. Of the “Memoir and Letters of Charles Sumner,” written by his friend and literary executor, Edward L. Pierce, two volumes, covering the period to 1845, have been published (Boston, 1877). His complete works in fifteen volumes are also published (Boston, 1870-'83). The notes by himself and his executors supply a chronology of his public career. There are several portraits of Sumner. A crayon drawing by Eastman Johnson (1846) hung in Longfellow's study, and is engraved in Pierce's memoir. A large daguerreotype (1853) is also engraved in the memoir. A crayon by William W. Story (1854) for Lord Morpeth is now at Castle Howard, Yorkshire. An oil portrait by Moses Wight (1856) is in the Boston public library, another by Morrison (1856) in the library of Harvard college. A portrait by Edgar Parker was painted several years before his death. There is a photograph in the “Memorial History of Boston”; a photograph (1869) engraved in his works; another (1871) engraved in the city memorial volume of Sumner; a full-length portrait by Henry Ulke (1873) for the Haytian government—copy presented to the state of Massachusetts by James Wormely (1884), now in the State library; a photograph (1873), the last likeness ever taken, engraved in the state memorial volume; Thomas Crawford's bust (1839) in the Boston art museum; Martin Milmore's bust (1874) in the state-house, a copy of which is in the Metropolitan art museum, New York; a bronze statue by Thomas Ball (1878) in the Public garden, Boston; and a statuette in plaster by Miss Whitney (1877), an admirable likeness. The illustration on page 747 represents Mr. Sumner's tomb in Mt. Auburn cemetery, near Boston. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. V, pp. 744-750.


SUNDERLAND, Reverend Le Roy, 1804-1885, Andover, Massachusetts, and New York, author, orator, abolitionist.  Manager, 1833-1836, 1836-1837, and founding member of the American Anti-Slavery Society, December 1833.  Sunderland was a member of the Executive Committee of the American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, 1840-1841.  Co-founder of anti-slavery Wesleyan Connection of America.  Founded first anti-slavery society in the Methodist Church.  Became editor of Zion’s Wathcman anti-slavery periodical of the organization.

(Dumond, 1961, pp. 187, 349; Matlack, 1849, p. 162; Pease, 1965, pp. 280-297, 439-445; Sorin, 1971; Yellin, 1994, p. 43n; Abolitionist, Vol. I, No. XII, December, 1833; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, p. 1; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 9, Pt. 2, p. 222; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 21, p. 153)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

SUNDERLAND, Le Roy, author, b. in Exeter, R. I., 18 May, 1802; d. in Quincy, Mass., 15 May, 1885. He was apprenticed to a shoemaker at East Greenwich, R. I., was converted to Methodism, became a preacher at Walpole, Mass., in 1823, and was soon known as an orator of great power. He was prominent in the temperance and anti-slavery movements, presided at the meeting in New York city in October, 1834, when the first Methodist anti-slavery society was organized, and in December wrote the “Appeal” to Methodists against slavery, which was signed by ministers of the church in New England. He was appointed a delegate to the first anti-slavery convention in the west at Cincinnati, in 1841, and to the World's convention in 1843, in London. His preaching was attended by strange phenomena. Under his first sermon the entire audience was “struck down by the power of God,” as it was then called; and ever afterward when he preached with reference to the awakening of sinners such manifestations appeared to a greater or less extent. His study of such phenomena had doubtless a determinative effect in his subsequent denial of Christianity, which he opposed during forty years preceding his death. He edited “The Watchman” in New York in 1836-'43; “The Magnet” in 1842-'3; “The Spirit World,” at Boston, in 1850-'2; and was a large contributor to various religious periodicals. He published “Biblical Institutes” (New York, 1834); “Appeal on the Subject of Slavery” (Boston, 1834); “History of the United States” (New York, 1834); “History of South America” (1834); “Testimony of God against Slavery” (Boston, 1834); “Anti-Slavery Manual” (New York, 1837); “Mormonism Exposed” (1842); “Pathetism, with Practical Instructions” (1843); “Book of Health” (1847); “Pathetism: Man considered in Respect to his Soul, Mind, Spirit” (1847); “Pathetism: Statement of its Philosophy, and its Discovery Defended” (1850); “Book of Psychology” (1852); “Theory of Nutrition and Philosophy of Healing without Medicine”; “Book of Human Nature” (1853); and “The Trance, and how it Introduced” (Boston, 1860). Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, pp. 1.



See also Dred Scott, US Supreme Court and Slavery; Prigg vs. Pennsylvania; Ableman vs. Booth; Van Zandt Case, US Supreme Court

IN his inaugural address, President Buchanan, after referring to the dispute over the legal power of the inhabitants of a territory to prohibit slavery, added, "This is, happily, a matter of but little practical importance. Besides, it is a judicial question, which legitimately belongs to the Supreme Court of the United States, before whom it is now pending, and will, it is understood, be speedily and finally settled. To their decision, in common with all good citizens, I shall cheerfully submit, whatever this may be." 1 Two days later the Supreme Court delivered the decision to which Buchanan referred, and in so doing stepped suddenly into the very midst of the political controversy, by announcing that Congress had no power to prohibit slavery in any territory; and that the only authority touching slavery conferred upon Congress by the Constitution was "the power coupled with the duty of guarding and protecting the owner

1 Richardson, Messages and Papers, 431. 

in his rights." The federal judiciary had hitherto borne no part in the territorial controversy, and this sudden plunge into the heart of the problem was due only to a sort of revolution within the court itself, a revolution whose significance can be fully grasped only by comprehending the policy of the supreme court upon similar matters and upon constitutional interpretation in general immediately prior to the decision.

Ever since the reconstruction of the supreme court, in the days of Jackson and Van Buren,1 the new Democratic judges had been disposed to restrict its activity to purely legal matters, avoiding any such constructive policy as that carried out by Marshall in the famous decisions of the last half of his career.2 In the ten years from 1850 to 1860, opinions were delivered in nearly a thousand cases, and the time of the court was absorbed in litigation arising from the commercial expansion of the country. Public land cases from the newer states and the territories grew to be a heavy burden, especially those from California, where titles were in great confusion; admiralty cases from sea-coast, lake, and river traffic increased in number, and a rapidly growing mass of inter-state cases came up from the circuits and the state courts. Among "the important decisions of

1 Cf. MacDonald, Jacksonian Democracy (Am. Nation, XV.), chap. xiv.

2 Cf. Babcock, Am. Nationality (Am. Nation, XIII.), chap. xviii.

these years were those in patent suits, concerning the Morse electric telegraph, the McCormick reaper, and the Goodyear rubber process. In all directions the court was called upon to play its part in the new era of industrial competition. 1

Whenever the court was obliged to face questions involving constitutional construction, the Jacksonian Democracy of most of the judges prevented any firm and consistent policy. While the general lines of federal authority were too firmly established by Marshall to be disturbed, the strong reverence of most of the judges for state-rights led them to favor the authority of the states at the expense of federal supremacy, wherever it was possible without a direct reversal of Marshall's decisions. Of the nine judges who took part in important constitutional cases in this period, only three-McLean, of Ohio, Wayne, of Georgia, and Curtis, of Massachusetts were federalist in tendency, and no one of these held to his position with entire consistency. Taney, of Maryland, the aged chief-justice, was uncertain in his attitude, at times maintaining with vigor a position identical with Marshall's, and at other times adopting the full state -rights phraseology. The remaining five-Nelson, of New York, Catron, of Tennessee, Grier, of Pennsylvania, Campbell, of Alabama, and Daniel, of Virginia-were almost invariably found using the state-rights arguments, Daniel going so far as to employ habitually the political 

1 Carson, Supreme Court, II., 354-360.

conceptions of Calhoun. It was in the court an era of constitutional reaction.1

In but one direction was federal jurisdiction substantially strengthened in this period, and that was in a field where state-rights views presented obvious practical difficulties. In the cases of the Propeller Genesee Chief (1852) and the Wheeling Bridge (1856) the court extended the authority of Congress and the jurisdiction of the federal courts over the Great Lakes and the Ohio River, declaring both to be “navigable waters of the United States." The English precedent of a merely tide-water jurisdiction was abandoned as inapplicable to American conditions, as was stated in the Genesee Chief case by Taney, in an opinion which for clearness, force, and breadth was worthy of Marshall himself. Only the unbending Daniel dissented on his usual, strict-constructionist grounds.2 In the Wheeling Bridge case, however, when the court, at the instance of the state of Pennsylvania, ordered a bridge chartered by Virginia to be altered to conform to the necessities of Ohio River traffic, Taney joined Daniel in dissenting, largely on the ground that the sovereign authority of Virginia was not open to question. But in this case even Catron and Nelson concurred with the opinion of McLean for the court. It was so clearly a matter of public

1 Carson, Supreme Court, II., 339-354. 2

2 Howard, 443; Tyler, Taney, 302. 3

3 Howard, 518; Gorham, Stanton, I., 38.

necessity that federal jurisdiction should be complete over the interior waterways that Democratic scruples lost their force.

In other regions where federal and state authority clashed, the court spoke in hesitating tones; dissenting opinions were habitual, and few decisions upon constitutional points were made by a united bench, In the sphere where Marshall, by the Dartmouth College case, had sharply restricted state power, no less than a score of decisions were rendered by which, the prohibition upon state interference with con., tracts was less rigidly construed. Only with difficulty and by a divided court were any decisions attained invalidating state laws on this ground. In 1851 an Arkansas law, refusing further reception to bills of a defunct state bank, was held to be a violation of a contract in the original bank charter; and three years later this decision was reaffirmed in a similar case. But four 9f the state -rights judges dissented the first time and three the second.1 When Ohio tried, at first by legislation and then by a new state constitution, to impose a tax upon banks greater than that provided for in the original banking act of 1845, the court in two cases, over the dissent of Catron, Daniel, and Campbell, held these to be impairments of a contract and invalid; but in a third case Taney and Grier shifted their ground, joined the three

1 Woodruff vs. Trapnall, 10 Howard, 190; Curran vs. Ark., 15 Howard, 304.

state-rights advocates, and secured a different result.1

In the field of federal control over commerce, the doctrines of Marshall were generally upheld, as in the earlier " Passenger Cases" (1848); but in Cooley vs. the Port Wardens (r852) the court held that a law of Pennsylvania, forcing the payment, if a vessel declined a pilot, of one-half of the pilotage fee to the Society for the Relief of Distressed and Decayed Pilots, was not a regulation of commerce and hence was valid. The majority in this case was composed of the state-rights group with the chief-justice, and, oddly enough, the Whig Curtis, who himself delivered the opinion. Wayne and McLean dissented on the grounds of the reasoning in Marshall's fundamental opinion in Gibbons vs. Ogden.2 These decisions illustrate the disconnected attitude of the court upon constitutional questions and its lack of controlling principles.

The uncertainty of the court in constitutional matters did not prevent it from standing higher in public estimation than ever before. To most Americans it appeared the type of conservatism, impartiality, and safety. The learning, mental vigor, and thoroughness of its members had won the highest

1 State Bank vs. Knoop, 16 Howard, 369; Dodge vs. Woolsey, 18 Howard, 331; Ohio Life Ins. Co. vs. Debolt, 16 Howard, 416.

2 Cooley vs. Port Wardens, 12 Howard, 299; Curtis, Curtis, I., 168.

respect of the legal profession and the public.1 It seemed to be. the one branch of the federal government wholly untouched by the sectional controversy, more especially since in cases involving slavery it had shown consistent caution. In the two best known cases, those of Prigg in 1842, and Van Zandt in 1847, the court had held the fugitive-slave law of 1793 to be a constitutional enactment based upon the power implied in the clause of the Constitution prescribing the return of fugitives from service; but there was nothing in these decisions of a pro-slavery or anti-slavery character. They were purely legal arguments, simply applying the reasoning customary since Marshall's day to the interpretation of a clause of the Constitution. In the Prigg case, the court further held a state law invalid which conflicted with the federal statute, by assuming to punish kidnapping.2 During the struggle over slavery in the territories, repeated suggestions were made that the legality of territorial slavery should be left to the supreme court, and the New Mexico act of 1850 contained a provision that cases involving the title to slaves and those involving the question of personal freedom were to be brought directly to it.3 Still, nothing had yet come to test its temper, and

1 Carson, Supreme Court, II., 66; Biddle, "Constitutional Development as Influenced by Taney," in Rogers, etc., Constitutional History, I25-I27, I95·

2 Prigg vs. Pennsylvania, I6 Peters, 539; Jones vs. Van Zandt, 5 Howard, 2I5; Hart, Slavery and Abolition (Am. Nation, XVI.),chap. xix. 

3 U. S. Statutes at Large, IX., 450, 455.

nothing but the known state-rights tendencies of six of the judges and the fact that five of the nine were from slave states seemed to point to any but cautious action when, in 1855, the suit of Dred Scott vs. Sandford was brought before it on appeal from one of the circuit courts.1

The facts in the case were simple, and admitted of an easy decision without touching upon any vital points. Scott, a slave, had been taken by his master, an army surgeon, to places in Illinois where I slavery was prohibited by the Northwest Ordinance and by the state constitution, and to a post in the northern part of Louisiana territory where slavery was excluded by the Missouri Compromise of 1820. Scott returned with his master to Missouri without protest, but after several years brought suit for his freedom in the state courts against his master's widow, on the ground of residence in free territory, supported, in fact, by Missourians to make a test case. In 1852 the Missouri Supreme Court decided against him, but meanwhile he had come into the possession of the executor of his former owner, Sandford, of New York, against whom he brought suit in the federal circuit court as a citizen of another state. In the federal court, Sandford raised a preliminary objection that Scott, as a negro descended from slaves, could not possibly be a citizen and so could not sue. This the court overruled, but then went on to hold that in such cases of personal freedom the federal

1 Dred Scott vs. Sandford, 19 Howard 393.

practice was to follow the decision of the highest state court, and hence, since the Missouri court had decided against Scott, the circuit court must so decide.

When the case came before the federal supreme court, the only point to be adjudicated was the decision of the circuit court to follow the Missouri court, and the way seemed to be clearly marked out by the case of Strader vs. Graham (1851), where precisely this rule of following state decisions had been laid down.1 Upon all the principles of legal caution and court practice the duty laid upon the supreme court was an unimportant one. When the case was first argued, this view prevailed with the majority of the judges; but since Taney was in doubt as to whether the plea regarding Scott's citizenship might not properly come before them, a second argument was ordered on that question for December, 1856.2 After the second argument, it still appeared that the majority held to the plain path marked out by precedent, and Nelson, of New York, a rigid state-rights judge, was instructed to write an opinion sustaining the decision of the circuit court.

At this point a new influence suddenly appeared. Judge Wayne, of Georgia, was impressed after the recent victory of the Democratic party in the presidential election with the idea that the time was ripe for the supreme court to end the slavery controversy

1 10 Howard, 82.

2 Curtis, Curtis, I., 180; J. A. Campbell, in 20 Wallace, p. ix.

once for all, and he urged the court to make the pending Dred Scott case the opportunity for a decision which should take the whole subject of regulating slavery out of the power of the federal government.1 His animated arguments with his colleagues were undoubtedly made effective by the sense of the crisis through which the country had just passed, and in the end he prevailed upon the southern justices and Grier, of Pennsylvania. A motion was then adopted that Chief-Justice Taney should write an opinion "upon all questions involved," but the moment the court departed from the plain road marked out by precedent there was no possibility of unanimity. When Taney read his opinion "upon all questions involved," one judge only-Wayne-concurred with him, five others concurred separately in partial and irregular fashion, and two dissented point-blank.

Upon the original issue of Dred Scott's freedom the decision of the 'court stood, as it had been from the start, adverse, only Curtis and McLean dissenting. Taney's opinion, assigning reasons for the decision which stood formally as the opinion of the court, was, however, not so much a judicial statement as an elaborate essay upon the history of slavery under the Constitution, and a justification of the most radical southern positions regarding the institution. No negro, the chief-justice said, could possibly be a citizen in the constitutional sense, whatever action a state might take with

1 Curtis, Curtis, I., 206, 234-242; Tyler, Taney, 382-388.

regard to him, for the Constitution was not intended to apply to any but the white race. The negroes, he concluded, in words which became inseparably attached to his name, were considered at the time of the adoption of the Constitution, "so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect." 1 Hence Dred Scott could not sue in the United States court as a citizen of Missouri.

At this point, having denied the right of the plaintiff to sue, Taney was bound in logic to dismiss the case, but instead of so doing he took up the question of Scott's freedom, as affected by residence in Louisiana territory and in Illinois. The right of property in slaves, he argued, was specifically mentioned and recognized in the Constitution; no power over it was given to Congress; the United States held territories simply as "representative and trustee" for the states, and could make no discrimination between citizens of the several states in respect to property rights in them. Hence, he concluded, a prohibition of slavery in the territories was invalid, the Missouri Compromise had been unconstitutional, and Scott could not acquire freedom because of temporary residence in such territory. Finally, as to the effect of residence in Illinois, Taney turned to the decision of the Missouri court, which he held to be decisive against any claim to freedom on that ground. Hence, from all points of view, Scott had not proved a right to his freedom.2

1 19 Howard, 407.

2 Tyler, Taney, 380-391.

Had this opinion, with all its glaring inconsistencies, stood as that of a united court, its length, learning, and authority would have made it impressive, but it was almost as much damaged as supported by the variety in the concurring opinions. In the first place, Taney's main position, that of the impossibility of citizenship for a negro descended from slaves, was concurred in by only two judges, while one dissented and the other five expressly declined to consider the point. Then as to reaffirming the decision of the circuit court that the Missouri decision must be followed, one judge-Nelson-rested his whole opinion upon it, and five others, including. Taney himself, concurred. But if this position were valid, there was no necessity for any consideration of the Missouri Compromise; for if Scott was not freed by the Illinois prohibition, which was undoubtedly constitutional, then the prohibition in the Louisiana territory, whether constitutional or not, could not affect his status.1

Nevertheless, Taney received the concurrence of five other judges in declaring the Missouri Compromise to have been illegal and void, although such an opinion was an obiter dictum, dragged into the case. Justice Catron, in his desire to stand with the majority, took the extraordinary ground that, although there was no question of the power of Congress over the territories, the third article of the treaty of 1803, which guaranteed the inhabitants of Louisiana their

1 Gray and Lowell, Legal Review, 25.

rights, stood protected by the Constitution and could not be repealed. Hence, the Missouri Compromise was invalid, not because of any special sanctity of slave property, but because it conflicted with a treaty, a position wholly foreign to American constitutional law.1 The political character of the whole performance was stamped upon it in the phraseology of the opinions as well as in the logical incoherence and superfluousness of the arguments, however able most of the individual opinions were if taken singly.

Of the two dissenting opinions, McLean's was vigorous in language and argument, but Curtis's was undeniably superior and has gained a fame seldom acquired by dissenting views. He took up categorically, and, by a complete, logical argument, refuted every one of the chief-justice's points. He began by disproving on historical grounds the assertion that no negro could be a citizen; hence Dred Scott could not legally be debarred from bringing suit on the mere ground of color. In continuing, he held that the Missouri decision was not binding upon the Supreme Court, and that a slave did gain a right to freedom by residence in a region where slavery was prohibited. The contention that the United States had no power to exclude slavery from a territory, Curtis showed to be contrary to the uniform practice of the government since 1789, and a practical reversal of several fundamental decisions of the court concerning

1 19 Howard, 527.

the powers of Congress over territories. He held, therefore, that the Missouri Compromise had been constitutional up to its repeal in 1854, and that Scott ought to be declared free because of his residence in the territory to which it referred. 1

As an exposition of the Websterian or Federalist conception of the nature of the government and the · powers of Congress, this dissenting opinion was a masterpiece. It overthrew the labored arguments of Taney, and showed the majority to be innovators and practical revolutionists. Curtis plainly said that, in his eyes, the decision was worthless. "On so grave a subject as this," he said, "I feel obliged to say that in my opinion such an exertion of judicial power transcends the limits of the authority of the court, as described by repeated decisions .... I do not consider it to be within the scope of the judicial power of the court to pass upon any question respecting the plaintiff's citizenship in Missouri save that raised by the plea to the jurisdiction, and I do not hold an opinion of this court, or of any court, binding when expressed on a question not legitimately before it." 2 The only point where Curtis's argument failed to overthrow the majority opinions was his denial of the binding force of the Missouri decision upon the United States courts. The original decision of the court, as expressed in Nelson's opinion, agreed in this respect with the usual practice of the supreme court in following state precedents, and

1 19 Howard, 564-633.

2 Ibid., 589.

was a sufficient-in fact, the only sufficient-ground for the decision.

The effect of this decision was weakened both by the patent and almost avowed purpose to settle a political question as well as by the intrinsic disagreements and inconsistencies of the judges. Lawyers were quick to expose the extra-legal character of much of Taney's opinion and to doubt the binding character of anything but the bare decision itself. Yet, after all judicial, legal, and logical criticisms were made, the fact remained that a two -thirds majority of the judges was on record as holding the extreme southern position regarding the power of Congress over the territories. It seemed to be a positive intervention on behalf of slavery, and as such it was welcomed by southern leaders, writers, and political agitators, in a chorus of praise which showed how substantial they thought their gain. "The nation has achieved a triumph," said the Enquirer, "sectionalism has been rebuked and abolitionism has been staggered and stunned. Another supporting pillar has been added to our institutions." 1

At the north the impression was universal that the "slave power" had gained another victory at the expense of legal impartiality and honor. Although the decision had been foreshadowed before Buchanan's inauguration, it came as a surprise and irritation, and provoked a storm of criticism. "Alas,

1 Richmond Enquirer, March 11, 1857.

that the character of the Supreme Court of the United States as an impartial judicial body has gone!" pried a writer in the New York Tribune. "It has abdicated its just functions and descended into the political mire. It has sullied the ermine; it had dragged and polluted its garments in the filth of pro-slavery politics!" 1 "The majority of the court," said the Springfield Republican, "rushed needlessly to the conclusions, and are justly open to the suspicion of being induced to pronounce them by partisan or sectional influences .... The people are the court of last resort in this country. They will discuss and review the action of the Supreme Court, and if it presents itself as a practical question will vote against it." 2

The Republicans, declining to bow to a decision which would cut the ground from under their feet, denounced the Dred Scott doctrines as unworthy of obedience, and reasserted their purpose to oppose the extension of slavery into the territories. The radicals among them threatened to override or reconstruct the court. Seward, in the Senate, exclaimed, defiantly, "The Supreme Court of the United States attempts to command the people of the United States to accept the principle that one man can own other men; and that they must guarantee the

1 Pike, First Blows of the Civil War, 368.

2 Springfield Republican, March II, I857; Merriam, Bowles, I., 222; extracts from various authors, in Hart, Am. Hist. told by Contemporaries, IV., §§ 4I-43.

inviolability of that false and pernicious property. The people of the United States never can, and they never will, accept principles so unconstitutional and abhorrent.... We shall reorganize the Court, and thus reform its political sentiments and practices and bring them into harmony with the Constitution and the laws of nature."1  

Many believed that it was part of a plot concocted between Douglas, Pierce, Taney, and Buchanan, or, as Lincoln expressed it, "When we see a lot of framed timbers, different portions of which we know to have been gotten out at different times and places and by different workmen -Stephen, Franklin, Roger and James, for instance-and when we see these timbers joined together and. see that they exactly make the frame of a house, ... in such a case, we find it impossible not to believe that Stephen and Franklin and Roger and James all understood one another from the beginning, and all worked upon a common plan or draft, drawn up before the first blow was struck.''2 This charge enraged Taney and Buchanan, and was, in fact, a mere assumption, unsupported by any other evidence than the reference by Buchanan, in his inaugural, to the approaching decision. Within the next three years the court was called upon to give decisions in two other cases involving slavery; and each time, although its action was

1 Cong. Globe, 35 Cong., 1 Sess., 943.

2 Lincoln and Douglas Debates,

3 Tyler, Taney, 374.

In reality conservative, it appeared to the suspicious north to be tinged with pro-slavery bias. In Ableman vs. Booth (1859), a case where the Wisconsin supreme court interfered in behalf of a person guilty of aiding a fugitive slave to escape from the custody of federal officials, on the ground that the fugitive- slave law, which he had violated, was unconstitutional, Taney, in a severe opinion, pronounced the action of the Wisconsin court to be revolutionary and the fugitive-slave law to be perfectly valid.1 In 1861 the court was asked to issue a mandamus to compel the governor of Ohio to deliver to the Kentucky authorities a man charged with aiding a slave to escape. Taney's opinion stated strongly the duty of the governor of Ohio to deliver the criminal, but admitted the impotence of the Supreme Court to compel him to act. "When the Constitution was framed,'' said Taney, '' and when this law was passed it was confidently believed that a sense of justice and of mutual interest would insure the faithful execution of this constitutional provision by the executive of every state. . . . But if the Governor of Ohio refuses to discharge this duty, there is no power delegated to the general government . . . to use any coercive means to compel him.'' 2

The words of the aged chief-justice fittingly closed an epoch in the history of the Supreme Court. The time had come when justice and mutual interest

1 21 Howard, 506.

2 Kentucky vs. Dennison, 24 Howard, 66, 109.

were no longer adequate to settle sectional disputes. The intervention of the court in the slavery controversy proved utterly futile, for the differences between north and south were too deep-seated to be affected by a mere court decision. The only resu17s of the Dred Scott case was to damage the prestige of the court in the north and to stimulate a sectional hostility which threatened to recoil upon the heads of the judges themselves.

Source:  Smith, Theodore Clarke, Parties and Slavery. In Hart, Albert Bushnell, ed., The American Nation: A History, Vol. 18, 190-208. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1906.





SWAN, James, 1754-1830, soldier, anti-slavery writer, financial agent.   Published anti-slavery tract called, “A Dissuasion to Great Britain and the Colonies, From the Slave-Trade to Africa, 1773.”

(Bruns, 1977, pp. 261, 428; Zilversmit, 1967, pp. 99-100; Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, p. 4; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 9, Pt. 2, p. 234)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

SWAN, James, soldier, b. in Fifeshire, Scotland, in 1754; d. in Paris, France, 18 March, 1831. He came to Boston at an early age, was a clerk there, and, espousing the patriot cause, was one of the “Boston tea-party.” He was aide-de-camp to Gen. Joseph Warren at Bunker Hill, where he was wounded, acted as treasurer and receiver-general, became captain in Ebenezer Crafts's regiment of artillery, and participated in the expedition that drove the British fleet out of Boston harbor. He was also secretary to the Massachusetts board of war, a member of the legislature in 1778, and afterward adjutant-general of the state. Being involved in debt, he went to Paris in 1787, and became known there by the publication of “Causes qui sont opposées au progrès du commerce entre la France et les États-Unis de l’Amérique” (1790). After acquiring a fortune he returned to the United States in 1795 and was noted for his charity and munificence. In 1798 he went to Europe again and engaged in large commercial operations until 1815, when, upon the suit of a German with whom he had transactions, he was arrested and thrown into the prison of St. Pelagie in Paris, where he remained until July, 1830, living in luxury and maintaining an unceasing litigation in the French courts. He published “Dissuasion from the Slave-Trade” (Boston, 1773); “On the Fisheries” (1784); “Fisheries of Massachusetts” (1786); and “Address on Agriculture, Manufactures, and Commerce” (1817). Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI.


SWAYNE, Noah Haynes, 1804-1884, lawyer, jurist, anti-slavery activist.  U.S. Supreme Court Justice.  Represented former slaves in fugitive slave cases.  Appointed by President Abraham Lincoln as a justice to the U. S. Supreme Court. 

(Appletons’, 1888, Vol. VI, pp. 5-6; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 9, Pt. 2, p. 239)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

SWAYNE, Noah Haynes, jurist, b. in Culpeper county, Va., 7 Dec., 1804; d. in New York city, 8 June, 1884. ancestor, Francis Swayne, came to this country with William Penn, and the farm on which he settled near Philadelphia is still in possession of his descendants. Noah's father, Joshua, removed to Virginia, and the son, after receivmg a good education in Waterford, Va., studied law in Warrenton, was admitted to the bar in 1823, removed to Ohio, and in 1825 opened an office in Coshocton. In 1826-'9 he was prosecuting attorney of the county, and he then entered the Ohio legislature, to which he was elected as a Jefferson Democrat. He was appointed U. S. district attorney for Ohio in 1831, removed to Columbus, and served until 1841. In 1833 he declined the office of presiding judge of the common pleas. Subsequently he practised law until he was appointed, with Alfred Kelly and Gustavus Swan, a fund commissioner to restore the credit of the state. He also served on the commission that was sent by the governor to Washington to effect a settlement of the boundary-line between Ohio and Michigan, and in 1840 was a member of the committee to inquire into the condition of the blind. The trial of William Rossane and others in the U. S. circuit court at Columbus in 1853 for burning the steamboat “Martha Washington,” to obtain the insurance, was one of his most celebrated cases. He also appeared as counsel in fugitive-slave cases, and, owing to his anti-slavery opinions, joined the Republican party on its formation, liberating at an early date the slaves that he received through his marriage in 1832. In 1862 he was appointed by President Lincoln a justice of the supreme court of the United States, and he served until 1881, when he resigned on account of advanced age. The degree of LL. D. was conferred on him by Dartmouth and Marietta in 1863, and by Yale in 1865.—His son, Wager, lawyer, b. in Columbus, Ohio, 10 Nov., 1834, was graduated at Yale in 1856, and at the Cincinnati law-school in 1859. On his admission to the bar he practised in Columbus. He was appointed major of the 43d Ohio volunteers on 31 Aug., 1861, became lieutenant-colonel on 14 Dec., 1861, colonel on 18 Oct., 1862, served in all the marches and battles of the Atlanta campaign, lost a leg at Salkahatchie, S. C., and was brevetted brigadier- general, U. S. volunteers, on 5 Feb., 1865, becoming full brigadier-general on 8 March, 1865, and major-general on 20 June, 1865. He was made colonel of the 45th regular infantry on 28 July, 1866, and on 2 March, 1867, was brevetted brigadier-general, U. S. army, for gallant and meritorious services in the action of. Rivers Bridges, S. C., and major-general for services during the war. He was mustered out of the volunteer service on 1 Sept., 1867. Gen. Swayne was a commissioner of the freedmen's bureau in Alabama, where he commanded the U. S. forces, and was also intrusted with the administration of the reconstruction acts of congress, organizing an extensive system of common schools for colored children, who had none, and establishing at Montgomery, Selma, and Mobile important high-schools, which still remain, and also Talladega college. He retired on 1 J uly, 1870, and practised law in Toledo, Ohio, but in 1880 he removed to New York city, where he is counsel for railroad and telegraph corporations. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, pp. 5-6.


SWIFT, Zephaniah, 1759-1823, jurist, U.S. Congressman 1793-1797, anti-slavery activist

(Appletons’, 1888, Vol. V, p. 12; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 9, Pt. 2, p. 250; Dumond, 1961, pp. 47, 47n6; Locke, 1901, pp. 92, 103n, 168; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 21, p. 212)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

SWIFT, Zephaniah, jurist, b, in Wareham, Mass., in February, 1759; d. in Warren, Ohio, 27 Sept., 1823. He was graduated at Yale in 1778, studied law, was admitted to the bar, and began practice at Windham, Conn. He was elected to congress, serving from 2 Dec., 1793, till 3 March, 1797, and was appointed in 1800 secretary to Oliver Ellsworth, minister to France. In 1801 he was appointed a judge of the state supreme court, and he was its chief justice in 1806-'19. He was a member of the Hartford convention of New England Federalists, sat in the state house of representatives, and was a member of a commission to revise the laws of Connecticut. He published “Oration on Domestic Slavery” (Hartford, 1791); “System of the Laws of Connecticut” (2 vols., Windham, 1795-'6); “Digest of the Laws of Evidence in Civil and Criminal Cases, and a Treatise on Bills of Exchange and Promissory Notes” (Hartford, 1810); and “Digest of the Laws of Connecticut” (2 vols., New Haven, 1822-'3).—His daughter, MARY A., published about 1833 “First Lessons on Natural Philosophy,” which was a popular text-book for many years, and was translated into Karen (1846) and into Burmese (1848). Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, pp. 12.



(Appletons’, 1888, Vol. VI, p. 32; Blue, 2005, pp. 8, 140-143, 149, 153-154)


SWISSHELM, Jane Grey Cannon, 1815-1884, abolitionist leader, women’s rights advocate, journalist, reformer.  Free Soil Party.  Liberty Party.  Republican Party activist.  Established Saturday Visitor, an abolition and women’s rights newspaper. 

(Appletons’, 1888, Vol. VI, p. 13; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 9, Pt. 2, p. 253; Blue, 2005, pp. 8-9, 50, 138-160, 268, 269; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 21, p. 217; The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. II. New York: James T. White, 1892, p. 316; Hinks, Peter P., & John R. McKivigan, Eds., Encyclopedia of Antislavery and Abolition.  Westport, Connecticut, Greenwood, 2007, Vol. 2, pp. 668-670)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

SWISSHELM, Jane Grey, b. near Pittsburg, Pa., 6 Sept., 1815; d. in Swissvale, Pa., 22 July, 1884. When she was eight years of age her father, James Cannon, died, leaving a family in straitened circumstances. The daughter worked at manual labor and teaching till she was twenty-one, when she married James Swisshelm, who several years afterward obtained a divorce on the ground of desertion. Two years later she removed with her husband to Louisville, Ky. In this city she became an outspoken opponent of slavery, and her first written attack upon the system appeared in the Louisville “Journal” in 1842. She also wrote articles favoring abolition and woman's rights in the “Spirit of Liberty,” of Pittsburg, for about four years. In 1848 she established the Pittsburg “Saturday Visitor,” a strong abolition and woman's rights paper, which, in 1856, was merged with the weekly edition of the Pittsburg “Journal.” In 1857 she went to St. Cloud, Minn., and established the St. Cloud “Visitor.” Her bold utterances caused a mob to destroy her office and its contents, and to throw her printing-press into the river. But she soon began to publish the St. Cloud “Democrat.” When Abraham Lincoln was nominated for the presidency, she spoke and wrote in his behalf and for the principles of which he was the representative. When the civil war began and nurses were wanted at the front, she was one of the first to respond. After the battle of the Wilderness she had charge of 182 badly wounded men at Fredericksburg for five days, without surgeon or assistant, and saved them all. She was a prolific writer for newspapers and magazines, and published “Letters to Country Girls” (New York, 1853), and an autobiography entitled “Half of a Century” (1881). Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI.


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