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 - T

TALLMADGE, James, Jr., 1778-1853, lawyer, soldier.  U.S. Congressman, New York.  Introduced legislation in House of Representatives to prohibit slavery in new state of Missouri in 1819.  Challenged Illinois right to statehood with state constitution permitting existence of slavery in the new state. 

(Basker, 2005, pp. 318-321, 327, 349; Dumond, 1961, pp. 101-103, 106; Hammond, 2011, pp. 138, 150-151, 272; Mason, 2006, pp. 155, 177, 181, 184, 185, 191, 209; Rodriguez, 2007, pp. 35, 129, 386, 471-472; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, p. 26; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 9, Pt. 2, p. 285; Tallmadge Amendment, pp. 177-212; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 21, p. 281)

Tallmadge declared: “The interest, honor, and faith of the nation required it scrupulously to guard against slavery’s passing into a territory where they [Congress] have power to prevent its entrance.” (16 Con., 1 Sess., 1819-1820, II, p. 1201)

Tallmadge further said: “If the western country cannot be settled without slaves, gladly would I prevent its settlement till time shall be no more.”

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

TALLMADGE, James, lawyer, b. in Stanford, Dutchess co., N. Y., 28 Jan., 1778; d. in New York city, 29 Sept., 1853. His father, Col. James (1744 to 1821), led a company of volunteers at the capture of Gen. John Burgoyne. After graduation at Brown in 1798 the son studied law, was admitted to the bar, and practised several years in Poughkeepsie and New York, and also gave attention to agriculture, owning a farm in Dutchess county. For some time he was private secretary to Gov. George Clinton, and during the war of 1812-'15 he commanded a company of home-guards in the defence of New York. He was elected a representative to congress as a Democrat, and served from 1 Dec., 1817, till 3 March, 1819, but declined a re-election. In that body he defended Gen. Andrew Jackson's course in the Seminole war, and introduced, as an amendment to the bill authorizing the people of Missouri to form a state organization, a proposition to exclude slavery from that state when admitted to the Union. In support of this amendment Gen. Tallmadge delivered a powerful speech, 15 Feb., 1819, in opposition to the extension of slavery. This was widely circulated, and was translated into German. He was a delegate to the New York constitutional conventions of 1821 and 1846, a member of the state assembly in 1824, and delivered a speech on 5 Aug., 1824, on the bill to provide for the choice by the people of presidential electors. In 1825-'6 he was lieutenant-governor of New York, and while holding this office he delivered a speech at the reception of Lafayette in New York on 4 July, 1825. In 1836 he visited Russia, and aided in introducing into that country several American mechanical inventions, especially cotton-spinning machinery. From 1831 till 1850 he was president of the American institute, of which he was a founder. He also aided in establishing the University of the city of New York, which gave him the degree of LL. D. in 1838, and he was president of its council for many years. Gen. Tallmadge was a leading exponent of the Whig doctrine of protection to American industry, and published numerous speeches and addresses which were directed to the encouragement of domestic production. He also delivered a eulogium at the memorial ceremonies of Lafayette by the corporation and citizens of New York, 26 June, 1834. Gen. Tallmadge was an eloquent orator and vigorous writer. His only daughter was one of the most beautiful women in the country, and after her return from Russia, to which court she accompanied her father, married Philip S, Van Rensselaer, of Albany, third son of the patroon. Their only surviving son, James Tallmadge Van Rensselaer, is a well-known lawyer of New York city. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, pp. 26.




TAPPAN, Arthur, 1786-1865, New York City, merchant, radical abolitionist leader, educator.  Co-founder and president of the American Anti-Slavery Society (AASS), December 1833.  Manager, 1833-1837, and Member of the Executive Committee, 1833-1840 of the AASS. President of the American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, 1840-1855, Member of the Executive Committee, 1840-1855. 

(Blue, 2005; Burin, 2005, pp. 84, 89; Dumond, 1961, p. 286; Filler, 1960, pp. 26, 40, 55, 58, 60-61, 63-64, 68, 84, 132, 262; Harrold, 1995; Mabee, 1970, pp. 4, 8, 9, 14-18, 21, 38-41, 44, 48, 51, 55, 71, 107, 129, 134, 151, 152, 153, 200, 234, 235, 242, 285, 293, 340; Rodriguez, 2007, pp. 42, 106, 161, 162, 163, 166, 320, 362; Sorin, 1971, pp. 73, 75, 102, 114; Abolitionist, Vol. I, No. XII, December, 1833; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, p. 33; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 9, Pt. 2, p. 209; American Reformers: An H.W. Wilson Biographical Dictionary, New York, 1985; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 21, p. 311; The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. II. New York: James T. White, 1892, pp. 320-321; Tappan, Lewis. Life of Arthur Tappan. New York, Hurd and Houghton: 1870; Hinks, Peter P., & John R. McKivigan, Eds., Encyclopedia of Antislavery and Abolition.  Westport, Connecticut, Greenwood, 2007, Vol. 2, pp. 671-673; Staudenraus, P. J. The African Colonization Movement, 1816-1865. New York: Columbia University Press, 1961, pp. 128, 131, 161, 163-165, 189-190)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

TAPPAN, Arthur, b. in Northampton, Mass., 22 May, 1786; d. in New Haven, Conn., 23 July, 1865, was locked up while an infant in a folding bedstead. When he was discovered life was almost extinct, and headaches, to which he was subject daily through life, were ascribed to this accident. He received a common-school education, and served a seven years' apprenticeship in the hardware business in Boston, after which he established himself in Portland, Me., and subsequently in Montreal, Canada, where he remained until the beginning of the war of 1812. In 1814 he engaged with his brother Lewis in importing British dry-goods into New York city, and after the partnership was dissolved he successfully continued the business alone. Mr. Tappan was known for his public spirit and philanthropy. He was a fouder of the American tract society, the largest donor for the erection of its first building, and was identified with many charitable and religious bodies. He was a founder of Oberlin college, also erecting Tappan hall there, and endowed Lane seminary in Cincinnati, and a professorship at Auburn theological seminary. With his brother Lewis he founded the New York “Journal of Commerce” in 1828, and established “The Emancipator” in 1833, paying the salary of the editor and all the expenses of its publication. He was an ardent Abolitionist, and as the interest in the anti-slavery cause deepened he formed, at his own rooms, the nucleus of the New York city anti-slavery society, which was publicly organized under his presidency at Clinton hall on 2 Oct., 1833. Mr. Tappan was also president of the American anti-slavery society, to which he contributed $1,000 a month for several years, but he withdrew in 1840 on account of the aggressive spirit that many members manifested toward the churches and the Union. During the crisis of 1837 he was forced to suspend payments, and he became bankrupt in 1842. During his late years he was connected with the mercantile agency that his brother Lewis established. He incurred the hatred of the southern slave-holders by his frequent aid to fugitives, and by his rescuing William Lloyd Garrison from imprisonment at Baltimore. See his “Life,” by Lewis Tappan (New York, 1871). Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, pp. 33.


TAPPAN, Lewis Northey, 1788-1873, New York, NY, merchant, radical abolitionist leader.  Co-founder of the American Anti-Slavery Society, December 1833.  Member of the Executive Committee of the American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, 1840-1855, Treasurer, 1840-1842, Secretary, 1842-1844, Corresponding Secretary, 1845-1846, 1848-1855.  Leader of the Philadelphia Free Produce Association.  Wrote Life.

(Blue, 2005; Burin, 2005, p. 89; Dumond, 1961, pp. 159, 218, 287; Filler, 1960, pp. 26, 31, 50, 55, 61, 63, 68, 72, 94, 102, 130, 136, 138, 144, 150, 152, 158, 164, 165, 168, 174, 177, 189, 194, 210, 247, 262; Harrold, 1995; Mabee, 1970, pp. 8, 9, 13-19, 21, 24, 26, 38, 42-49, 51, 55, 58, 91, 93, 104, 105, 130, 190, 151-156, 190, 202, 219-221, 226-229, 233, 234, 251-253, 257, 334, 340, 341, 343, 344, 345; Mitchell, 2007; Rodriguez, 2007, pp. 42, 106, 161, 162, 163, 166, 174, 290, 362; Sorin, 1971, pp. 70, 93, 96, 102, 113, 114, 131; Abolitionist, Vol. I, No. XII, December, 1833; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, pp. 32-34; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 9, Pt. 2, p. 203; American Reformers: An H.W. Wilson Biographical Dictionary; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 21, p. 311; The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. II. New York: James T. White, 1892, p. 321; Tappan, Lewis. Life of Arthur Tappan. New York, Hurd and Houghton: 1870; Hinks, Peter P., & John R. McKivigan, Eds., Encyclopedia of Antislavery and Abolition.  Westport, Connecticut, Greenwood, 2007, Vol. 2, pp. 673-675; Wyatt-Brown, Bertram, Lewis Tappan and the Evangelical War against Slavery, 1969; Staudenraus, P. J. The African Colonization Movement, 1816-1865. New York: Columbia University Press, 1961, pp. 76, 128-129, 219, 228, 230)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

TAPPAN, Lewis, merchant, b. in Northampton, Mass., 23 May, 1788; d. in Brooklyn, N. Y., 21 June, 1873, received a good education, and at the age of sixteen became clerk in a dry-goods house in Boston. His employers subsequently aided him in establishing himself in business, and he became interested m calico-print works and in the manufacture of cotton. In 1827 he removed to New York and became a member of the firm of Arthur Tappan and Co., and his subsequent career was closely identified with that of his brother Arthur. With the latter he established in 1828 the “Journal of Commerce,” of which he became sole owner in 1829. In 1833 he entered with vigor into the anti-slavery movement, in consequence of which his house was sacked and his furniture was destroyed by a mob in July, 1834, and at other times he and his brother suffered personal violence. He was also involved in the crisis of 1837, and afterward withdrew from the firm and established the first mercantile agency in the country, which he conducted with success. He was chief founder of the American missionary association, of which he was treasurer and afterward president, and was an early member of Plymouth church, Brooklyn. He published the life of his brother mentioned above, but afterward joined in the free-soil movement at its inception. He was widely known for his drollery and wit and for his anti-slavery sentiments. Judge Tappan published “Cases decided in the Court of Common Pleas,” with an appendix (Steubenville, 1831). Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, pp. 32-34.


TAPPAN, Mason Weare, 1817-1886, lawyer, soldier.  U.S. Congressman, Free Soil Party, 1855-1861. 

(Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, pp. 33-34)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

TAPPAN, Mason Weare, lawyer, b. in Newport, N. H., 20 Oct., 1817; d. in Bradford, N. H., 24 Oct., 1886. His father, a well-known lawyer, settled in Bradford in 1818, and was a pioneer in the anti-slavery movement. The son was educated at Kimball union academy, studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1841, and acquired a large practice. He was early identified with the Whig party, and afterward was a Free-soiler and served in the legislature in 1853-'5. He was elected to congress as a Free-soiler, by a combination of the Whigs, Free-soilers, Independent Democrats, and Americans, at the time of the breaking up of the two great parties, Whigs and Democrats. He served from 3 Dec., 1855, till 3 March, 1861, and was a member of the special committee of thirty-three on the rebellious states. On 5 Feb., 1861, when a report was submitted recommending that the provisions of the constitntion should be obeyed rather than amended, he made a patriotic speech in support of the government. Mr. Tappan was one of the earliest to enlist in the volunteer army, and was colonel of the 1st New Hampshire regiment from May till August, 1861. Afterward he resumed the practice of law, and held the office of attorney-general of the state for ten years preceding his death. He was a delegate to the Philadelphia Loyalists' convention of 1866, and presided over the New Hampshire Republican convention on 14 Sept., 1886. In the presidential election of 1872 he supported his life-long friend, Horace Greeley. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, pp. 33-34.


TARRANT, Carter, Virginia, Baptist clergyman, co-leader of the Emancipating Baptists, anti-slavery activist, Woodford County, Kentucky.  Chaplain, U.S. Army, founded anti-slavery church in Kentucky. 

(Brown, 1889, p. 226; Dumond, 1961, p. 91; Locke, 1901, pp. 44, 90)


TAYLOR, George W., Society of Friends, Quaker.  Editor of the Non-Slave Holder.  Free Produce Association.

(Drake, 1950, pp. 172-174)


TAYLOR, John W., 1784-1854, abolitionist.  Nine term Democratic U.S. Congressman from New York, 1813-1833.  Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.  Proposed legislation in 1819 to prohibit slavery in Arkansas Territory.  Later organized the Whig and National Republican Parties. 

(Basker, 2005, pp. 318, 319, 321, 324, 327, 349; Dumond, 1961, p. 104; Mabee, 1970, pp. 86, 191, 193, 199, 202, 204; Mason, 2006, pp. 146, 148, 181, 186; Rodriguez, 2007, pp. 35, 36, 298;  Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, p. 46; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 9, Pt. 2, p. 235)

Taylor said during debate: “Our votes this day will determine whether the high destinies of this region, of these generations, shall be fulfilled, or whether we shall defeat them by permitting slavery, with all its baleful consequences, to inherit the wind.” (15 Cong., 2 Sess., 1818-1819, p. 1170)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

TAYLOR, John W., speaker of the house of representatives, b. in Charlton, Saratoga co., N. Y., 20 March; 1784; d. in Cleveland, Ohio, 8 Sept., 1854. He was graduated at Union in 1803, organized the Ballston Centre academy in that year, studied law in Albany, was admitted to the bar in 1807, and practised in Ballston, becoming a justice of the peace in 1808, then state commissioner of loans, and in 1811-'12 a member of the legislature. He was elected to congress as a Democrat and a supporter of the war with Great Britain, and was re-elected nine times in succession, serving altogether from 24 May, 1813, till 2 March, 1833. On 20 Nov., 1820; owing to the absence of Henry Clay, Taylor was chosen in his place as speaker, and served till the end of the second session, during which the Missouri compromise was passed. On the question of the admission of Missouri to the Union he delivered the first speech in congress that plainly opposed the extension of slavery. He was again elected speaker on the organization of the 19th congress, serving from 5 Dec., 1825, till 3 March, 1827. He was one of the organizers of the National Republican, and afterward of the Whig, party. After retiring from congress he practised law at Ballston, and was a member of the state senate in 1840-'1 , but resigned in consequence of a paralytic stroke, and from 1843 till his death lived with a daughter in Cleveland. He was the orator of the Phi Beta Kappa society at Harvard in 1827, and frequently spoke in public on literary as well as on national topics. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, pp. 46.





Chapter: “Plot for the Annexation of Texas,” by Henry Wilson, in History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, 1872.

So marked had been the slaveholding policy of the United States, so distinct had been its avowals, that well-informed and thoughtful men in the Old World saw, arid did not hesitate to characterize in fitting terms, the inconsistency of the great Republic. In the year 1845, Macaulay in the British parliament unquestionably gave expression to the well-considered sentiments of European opinion when he said: “That nation is the champion and upholder of slavery. They seek to extend slavery with more energy than was ever exerted by any other nation to diffuse civilization."

Of this policy and of those avowals no page of American history affords more striking examples than that which narrates the inception, progress, and consummation of the plot for the annexation of Texas. For, perhaps, at no point in that history was the ascendency of the Slave Power more complete, nowhere along its gloomy pathway did the nation afford sadder examples of abject subserviency to its behests. For that power not only controlled the government and dictated its policy, but it made no concealment of its designs and purposes of control' and dictation. It was openly and almost ostentatiously proclaimed, not only that slavery should be protected against a threatened danger, but that it should be strengthened and its area extended. Its friends were not only busy, but they were open in their avowals of the object of their efforts.

When Louisiana was purchased of France, in 1803, by Mr. Jefferson, its western boundaries were undefined. Texas was claimed by both the United States and Spain, and there was danger of collision between the authorities of the two nations. Mr. Pinkney and Mr. Monroe were therefore directed by Mr. Jefferson, in 1805, to settle with Spain the question of boundary; and in 1816, Mr. Erving, minister to that government, was authorized to make a treaty fixing upon the Sabine River as the boundary between the two countries. Mr. Jefferson had virtually accepted such an arrangement in 1806 by assenting to an agreement between the American and Spanish commanders, on their respective frontiers, by which the troops of the United States were not to move beyond the Rio Hondo, and the troops of Spain were not to come east of the Sabine.

By the treaty of 1819 the claim of the United States to the undefined territory of Texas was ceded to Spain as a part of the consideration for the cession of Florida. This acquisition had been so earnestly urged by the slaveholders of Georgia and Alabama as a remedy or protection against the escape of slaves into that territory from those States, and so strong was the pressure upon the government, that Mr. Monroe, with the consent of all his Cabinet, agreed to this recession of Texas to Spain. It met with opposition, however, though unavailing, even from slaveholders themselves, a resolution being introduced into the House by Mr. Clay, dissenting from it. But the resolution was rejected, and the treaty received not only the sanction of the Senate, but also the approval of the country. Texas thus became an undisputed part of Mexico by the action of the United States; and when that country achieved her independence, this territory became an integral portion of that republic.

Efforts, however, were early made to recover it by treaty. In 1827, Mr. Clay, then Secretary of State in the administration of Mr. Adams, authorized an offer of a million dollars to Mexico for the territory east of the Rio Grande. Under the administration of General Jackson, two years later, that offer was increased to four or five million dollars for Texas proper, which did not include either New Mexico or the valley of the Rio Grande. Other efforts were made by General Jackson, but Mexico persistently refused to treat for its cession on any terms. The avowed and probably the real reasons for those early efforts were to secure a better western boundary, to protect New Orleans, and to prevent the occupation of that territory by a foreign and hostile power. It was stated by Mr. Adams, in 1845, in the debate on the resolutions for the annexation of Texas, that it was a free country when he offered to purchase it, and that he had ever been willing to acquire it, as a free country, with the assent of Mexico.

By the decree of the President of Mexico, in 1829, slavery was abolished throughout the Mexican Republic. There being very few Mexican inhabitants in the territory known as Texas, the slave-masters looked with hungry eyes upon that region, whose climate; soil, and other natural resources, invited immigration. .Adventurers, principally from the southwestern States, many of them broken in fortune and reckless and desperate in character, allured by unbounded prospects of wealth and power, flocked into the territory, and, with characteristic effrontery and lawlessness, took their slaves with them, though in plain defiance of Mexican law. With still greater audacity and criminality, secret agencies were formed for enlisting and arming men for the hardly concealed purpose of re-establishing slavery in territory which had been made free by Mexican statute, and even of wresting that territory from its allegiance to the Mexican government. Indeed, in 1832, Sam Houston, who had been a soldier under General Jackson, and who was subsequently a member of Congress and governor of Tennessee, went to Texas avowedly for the purpose of taking possession of the country, and of establishing there an independent government. In that work he received the support of large numbers of the Southern people, with the countenance, hardly disguised, of the civil and military authorities of the United States.

On the 2d of March, 1836, the independence of Texas was proclaimed. A few weeks later the battle of San Jacinto was fought. Santa Anna, president of the Mexican Republic; having been taken prisoner, stipulated for the recognition of Texan independence, though Mexico would not sanction a treaty made by its president while thus held in duress.

Immediately after the battle of San Jacinto, Mr. Calhoun announced it to be the policy of the government to recognize at once the independence of Texas, and to annex it as soon as possible to the United States. In accordance with this boldly proclaimed object, its independence was recognized early in 1837, and its minister at Washington, General Hunt, proposed in August its annexation. The proposition was, however, rejected by Mr. Van Buren. Though generally subservient to the slaveholders' policy, he faltered here. This was a little too bold and unequivocal, and consequently Mr. Forsyth, his Secretary of State, in his reply to General Hunt, affirmed that the United States was bound to Mexico by a treaty of amity and commerce, which would be scrupulously observed; that so long as Texas should remain at war, while the United States was at peace with her adversary, the proposition "necessarily involved the question of war with that adversary." The Secretary further stated that the United States might justly be suspected of a disregard of the friendly purposes of the compact, if the overtures of General Hunt were to be reserved even for the purpose of future consideration, as this “would imply a disposition on our part to espouse the quarrel of Texas with Mexico."

This scheme having failed, no further overtures were made during Mr. Van Buren's administration. Those, however, who had disapproved of the policy of the cession of Texas to Spain in 1819, looked with favor on its recession if, as Mr. Benton expressed it, “its recovery” could be effected “without crime and infamy." But they generally relinquished the idea when they 'saw that it had now become a part of a scheme of sectional aggrandizement, another demand of the Slave Power, another step in the march of slavery aggression and ascendency. Mr. Adams had raised his warning voice against it; Mr. Webster, in his speech at Niblo's Garden, in March, 1837, nearly six months before the proposition had been made by the Texan authorities, declared that he saw " objections, insurmountable objections," to the annexation of Texas to the United States. He thought all the stipulations contained in the Constitution in favor of the slaveholding States which were already in the Union "ought to be fulfilled in the fullness of their spirit and to the exactness of their letter." "We all see," he said, " that by whomsoever possessed, Texas is likely to be a slaveholding country; and I frankly avow my unwillingness to do anything that shall extend the slavery of the African race on this continent, or add other slaveholding States to the Union." The legislatures of several States pronounced against annexation. The warning of Mr. Adams, the emphatic utterances of Mr. Webster, and the decisive refusal of Mr. Van Buren's administration, seemed to check, for a while, the effort, and to give its advocates the idea that a large work of preparation was essential to success.

But the advanced leaders, confident of ultimate triumph, determined to achieve it at no distant day; though, for prudential reasons, they did not make annexation an issue in the presidential contest of 1840. That election resulted in the defeat of the Democratic Party. By the election of General Harrison the Whigs came into power. Though antislavery was not a plank in their platform, and the party had its Southern wing, it still embraced the few antislavery men in the country, and was generally regarded as more favorable to a humane and liberal policy than its antagonist. The President died, however, within one month, and John Tyler became his successor. Whatever of hope had been cherished by the friends of freedom was speedily dispelled by the accession of the Virginia slaveholder. The friends of the scheme saw that their hour and man had come. In Mr. Tyler they found one in hearty sympathy with their object, though his party affiliations linked him with the opponents of the measure. They therefore gathered around him, flattered his vanity, excited his ambition, and separated him from the great body of the party which had ejected him. But Mr. Webster, who had remained in Mr. Tyler's cabinet after his colleagues had retired, stood in the way, until the coldness, not to say rudeness, of some members of the administration, compelled him to resign. The State Department then passed into the hands of Mr. Legare of South Carolina, then into those of Mr. Upshur of Virginia, and soon afterward into those of Mr. Calhoun, each of whom was an admitted propagandist, and ready to make any sacrifices in behalf of slavery and to execute any of the behests of the Slave Power.

Having colonized Texas in order that slavery might be extended, the slaveholders had wrested it from Mexico for the same purpose. They were now determined on its annexation; in the words of General Hamilton, to "give a Gibraltar to the South," and in those of Henry A.Wise, to give "more weight to her end of the lever." Southern legislatures declared that annexation would give an "equal poise of influence in the halls of Congress," and” a permanent guaranty of protection” to the slave system. The '' Madisonian," President Tyler's organ, affirmed that annexation would have the most salutary influence upon slavery, and that '' it must be done soon, or not at all." 'to " fire the Southern heart " and stimulate the administration, the leaders raised the war-cry of " Now, or never.''

In the winter of 1843 it became apparent that a gigantic intrigue for annexation was in progress. Early in January a letter was published in a Baltimore paper, written by Thomas W. Gilmer, a member of the House from Virginia. He was a warm personal and political friend of Mr. Calhoun. Like many other young men of the South, trained in the Whig party, he had deserted it, and accepted the theories of the Calhoun school of' Democracy. This letter was an adroit and skillful appeal in favor of immediate annexation, in order, as the writer said, to thwart the abolition designs of England. It was sent through Aaron Vail Brown, a member of the House from Tennessee, to General Jackson, with a view of drawing from him an answer in favor of seizing the golden opportunity secure the immediate admission of Texas, and to defeat the nomination of Mr. Van Buren for the presidency. Jackson, always in favor of the scheme, and ever devoted to the cause of slavery, replied, on the 13th of February, 1843, that the annexation of Texas had occupied much of his attention during his presidency ; that it had lost none of its importance; and that, in all its aspects, it was essential to the United States. His letter was withheld from publication for more than a year, when it was brought out, with its date altered to 1844, for the purpose of aiding in carrying through the Senate the annexation treaty, and of affecting the action of the Democratic national convention, which was to meet in May at Baltimore. Mr. Benton, in his " Thirty Years' View," states that General Jackson's letter passed into the hands of Mr. Gilmer, that he showed it to a confidential friend, and said that "it was to be produced in the nominating convention, to overthrow Mr. Van Buren and give Mr. Calhoun the nomination, both of whom were to be interrogated beforehand, and as it was well known what the answers would be, -- Calhoun for, and Van Buren against, immediate annexation,--and Jackson's answer coinciding with Calhoun's, would turn the scale in his favor, and ' blow Van Buren sky high.'"

The leaders in this annexation scheme were unquestionably ambitious, selfish, and unscrupulous intriguers, as charged by many of their political associates; but their action was mainly inspired by slaveholding policy, so that this, like so many other of the great events of American history which have really tended to the aggrandizement and material advancement of the nation, was prompted and really accomplished for a no more worthy purpose than to strengthen and perpetuate the vile and inhuman system of chattel slavery.

At the close of the XXVIIIth Congress, twenty members of the House united in an address to the people of the free States, warning them against the scheme to bring a foreign slaveholding nation into the Union. This address was written, after consultation with Mr. Adams, Mr. Giddings, and Mr. Slade, by Seth M. Gates, a representative from New York. It .set forth in direct, clear, and emphatic language the purpose of the slaveholding power to secure, beyond all redemption, the perpetuation of slavery, and to maintain its continued ascendency. It pronounced annexation to be a violation of our national compact, its objects, designs, and the great elementary principles which entered into its formation. It declared it to be " an attempt to eternize an institution and a power of a nature so unjust in themselves, so injurious to the interests and abhorrent to the feelings of the people of the free States, as in our opinion not only inevitably to result in a dissolution of the Union, but fully to justify it; and we not only assert that the people of the free States ought not to submit to it, but we say with confidence that they will not submit to it." ‘It was published generally in the Whig papers of the free States, and contributed largely to awaken the people to the meditated action of the leaders of annexation.

These motives for annexation, it is to be observed, were distinctly avowed by its advocates. Nor did they hesitate to proclaim, almost defiantly, that all risks to be run and all sacrifices to be made were for slavery. Mr. Upshur, Secretary of State, in his letter of the 8th of August, 1843, to Mr. Murphy, the Charge d' Affaires in Texas, expressly declared that “few calamities could befall this country, more to be deplored than the abolition of slavery in Texas." In a despatch of the 22d of September, he assured Mr. Murphy that there was no reason to fear that there would be any difference of opinion among the slaveholding States touching the policy of annexation, which he pronounced “absolutely necessary to the salvation of the South." In his despatch of the 21st of November of that year, he distinctly announced that “we regard annexation as involving the security of the South," and in that of the 16th of January, 1844, he asserted that “if Texas should not be attached to the United States she cannot maintain that institution ten years, and probably not half that time."

These frank and unhesitating avowals on the part of Mr. Upshur, seemed to alarm Mr. Murphy, who, intent upon securing the prize, deprecated anything that looked like a needless obstacle thrown in its way, and he cautioned the too outspoken secretary against offending  “our fanatical brethren at the North," suggesting; at the same time, that the idea that annexation was undertaken for " the cause of civil and religious, liberty " was the safest issue to present to the nation at large. "The Constitution of Texas," said Mr. Murphy in a despatch to Mr. Upshur, "secures to the master the perpetual right to his slave, and prohibits the introduction of slavery into Texas from any other quarter than from the United States. If the United States preserves and secures to Texas the possession of her Constitution, then we have gained all we can desire, and all that Texas asks or wishes."

Nor was Mr. Calhoun any less explicit. Having, on the death of Mr. Upshur, succeeded to the State Department, he wrote to Mr. Green, the representative of the government in Mexico, that "it was impossible for the United States to witness with indifference the efforts of Great Britain to abolish slavery in Texas." To the British minister he, wrote on the 27th of April, while the treaty was pending in the Senate, that annexation " was made necessary in order to preserve domestic institutions, placed under the guaranty of the Constitutions of the. United States and Texas." He also gravely asserted that what is called slavery is in reality a political institution, “essential to the peace, safety, and prosperity of those States of the Union in which it exists," and he avowed that Texas was to be annexed to guard against the danger of the abolition of slavery in the Southern States. Mr. Green was instructed to say to Mexico, that the treaty o( annexation was forced upon the government in self-defense, in consequence of the policy adopted by Great Britain in reference to the abolition of slavery in Texas.

Nor were these statements misapprehended, or the position of the government misunderstood. For the Mexican Minister of Foreign Relations sharply and with dignity replied: "When, in order to sustain slavery and avoid its disappearance from Texas and from other points, recourse is had to the arbitrary act of depriving Mexico of an integral part of her possessions as the only certain and efficacious remedy to prevent what Mr. Green calls ' a dangerous event,' if Mexico should be silent and lend her deference to the present policy of the Executive of the United States, the  reproach and censure of nations ought to be her reward.'' 

Even the more thoughtful and scrupulous of the Democratic Party itself saw and felt the degradation of such utterances from men high in station. Thus the New York “Evening Post," then a leading organ of the Democratic party, conducted by William C. Bryant, well described the unnatural and humiliating position of the government and the vital issue then pending : " It is evident that this presents to the people a question entirely new, and which they cannot avoid. This issue is not as to the abolition of slavery in the Southern States, the District, nor the Territories of the Union, but whether this government shall devote its whole energies to the perpetuation of slavery; whether all the sister republics on this continent, which desire to abolish slavery, are to be dragooned by us into the support of this 'institution."

Unscrupulous as were the annexation managers, and little as they hesitated at any means for the accomplishment of the end in view, nowhere did they seem more reckless of assertion than in their attempt to fix upon England what they represented the crime of promoting the abolition of slavery in Texas. Duff Green, a friend of Mr. Calhoun," an intermeddler in other men's matters," and fond of intrigue, then in England, reported that there was then in the process of incubation a plot for the abolition of slavery in Texas. It was charged by this serviceable instrument that Stephen Pearl Andrews, then in London, was negotiating with the British Cabinet, to secure the abolition of slavery in Texas, by the guaranty by England of ten million dollars in Texan bonds.

There was a modicum of truth in the charge, if it be not an abuse of language to apply that term to any legitimate attempt to rescue such an embryo State from the curse of slavery. Mr. Andrews, who then resided in Texas, had endeavored to form an emancipation party in its two leading cities, Houston and Galveston. Though at first successful in gaining adherents to his plan, it failed because of the general unwillingness to submit to the pecuniary sacrifices involved. The depressed state of the market for slave products and for slaves themselves suggested and encouraged the project of seeking emancipation through compensation, many who had opposed the former plan accepting the latter. Believing that the British Abolitionists would gladly aid in such a scheme, Mr. Andrews visited New York for the purpose of finding those who would be willing to join in the effort. Stating the facts that there were but some twenty-five thousand slaves in Texas, and that the contribution of four or five million dollars would make Texas a free State, he found that the antislavery men of that city and its vicinity were ready to listen to his suggestions, and to co-operate in the proposed endeavor.

Lewis Tappan, with his prompt and large-hearted philanthropy, entered earnestly into the attempt, and accompanied Mr. Andrews to England for the purpose of making, if possible, such arrangements with the English government. Members of the Cabinet were consulted. They expressed their sympathy with the object aimed at, but asserted that the government as such could not enter into any such arrangement without involving England in a war with the United States. Lord Palmerston, though in the opposition, concurred in the views expressed by Lord Aberdeen. Lord Brougham conceded, though reluctantly, that the government could not render such; aid and still preserve friendly relations with this country. No objections, however, were urged against such private contributions as individuals might see fit to make. No money, however, was raised. The Secretary of State, seeming to assume that it was the duty of the national government to support slavery in a foreign nation as well as in his own, communicated these incidents of “an alarming character " to Mr. Murphy, and directed him to consult the Texan authorities in regard to annexation.

The charges of Duff Green against the British cabinet were promptly denied by Lord Aberdeen, in a communication to the American minister, Mr. Everett, and transmitted by him to the State Department in November of that year. Lord Aberdeen also sent to the British minister a peremptory denial in a despatch, dated the 26th of December, which was communicated to Mr. Upshur on the 26th of February, two days before his death, which was caused by the bursting of a gun on board the war steamer "Princeton." In this despatch the British Secretary of Foreign Affairs made this declaration, so honorable to the British government: " The governments of the slaveholding States may be assured that although we shall not desist from those open and honest efforts which we have constantly made for procuring the abolition of slavery throughout the world, we shall neither openly nor secretly resort to any measures which shall tend to disturb their domestic tranquility." Mr. Packingham, too, the British minister, replied to the accusations of the Secretary of State against England, disavowing in the clearest and strongest language the designs imputed to his government.

When Congress assembled in December, 1843, it was seen that the plot had made great progress, and the probabilities of success seemed too many great. In addition to these utterances of her public men, there were corresponding efforts throughout the South. State legislatures, public meetings, and the press, entered vigorously upon the work of preparing the public mind of the country for the consummation of a purpose its leaders had so much at heart. The legislature of Mississippi perhaps gave expression to the more advanced and intense views and feelings of the propagandists, when it declared slavery to be " the very palladium of their prosperity and happiness "; that the South does not possess within its limits " a blessing with which the affections of her people are so closely intwined and so completely enfibred "; and' that " the protection of her best interests will be afforded by the annexation of Texas." Governor Gilmer, in the letter already referred to, had expressed the opinion that the institutions of Texas would incline her people “to unite her destiny with ours," and that annexation would have a most salutary influence on slavery itself. But, he added, she must be annexed “soon, or not at all."

Nor was the menace of dissolution wanting. "Texas or disunion” became a watchword and a rallying cry. A convention of the slaveholding States was demanded " to take into consideration," in the words of a meeting in the Barnwell District, South Carolina, " the question of annexing Texas to the Union, if the Union will accept it; or, if the Union will not accept it, then of annexing Texas to the Southern States "; and to have " the alternative distinctly presented to the free States, either to admit Texas into the Union or to proceed peaceably and calmly to arrange the terms of a dissolution of the Union." Another meeting in the Williamsburg District of the same State declared that “it was better to be out of the Union with Texas than in it without her." At Beaufort, another of, these assemblages announced that they would dissolve the Union “sooner than abandon Texas."

But the scheme was beset with difficulties that would have discouraged any but the desperate men engaged in this work. Indeed, it is difficult to sound the depths of mendacity or to scale the heights of audacity reached. Texas was at war with Mexico, a friendly power, and there was an armistice, with a fair prospect of a favorable result of the negotiations then in progress. The Texan President, therefore, seeing his advantage, or his danger, or both, made it a condition precedent of all negotiations that the United States should assume the Mexican war, and that it should place at his disposal," subject to his orders," sufficient naval and military forces for the protection of the belligerent State. This audacious and unconstitutional demand was too much even for Mr. Upshur, who retained it unanswered for a month, when his death occurred. Mr. Nelson, the Attorney-General, for a few days acting Secretary of State, gave an adverse decision, affirming that the government had no constitutional power thus to use the military forces of the nation.

Mr. Calhoun, however, on his accession as Secretary, saw no insuperable objections. He therefore renewed the negotiation, and on the day before the treaty of annexation was signed, he gave to Texas, in the words of Mr. Benton, "the fatal pledge which his predecessors had refused, and followed it up by sending our ships and troops to fight a people with whom we were at peace; the whole veiled with the mantle of secrecy." This was the testimony of a slaveholder, of one, too, who subsequently supported the scheme, --that it was a palpable violation of the Constitution and of the laws of nations, and an unpardonable outrage upon the rights of a friendly people. Nor did Mr. Benton seem to have much confidence in the leaders of this crusade in the matter of slavery itself. He expressed the belief that, at the bottom and under the pretext of getting Texas into the Union, the scheme was to get the South out of it. The whole scheme he characterized " as an intriguing negotiation, concealed from Congress and the people; an abolition quarrel picked with Great Britain to father an abolition quarrel at home, a slavery correspondence to outrage the North, war with Mexico, the clandestine concentration of troops and ships at the Southwest, the secret compact with the President of Texas· and the subjection of American forces to his command, and the flagrant seizure of the purse and the sword."

Mr. Calhoun, the corypheus of the annexation scheme, entered the State Department early in March. Proceeding at once with the negotiations begun by Mr. Upshur, he concluded on the 12th of April a treaty of annexation. That concluded, he took up the despatch of Lord Aberdeen, which had remained unanswered, and, seizing upon the declaration that England desired the abolition of slavery throughout the world, made an elaborate argument in favor of slavery and against the policy of England, which he assumed to be hostile to the slaveholding policy of the country. This despatch, written on the 18th, was sent with the treaty to the Senate. But before it left the country it was promulgated here to promote the cause of immediate annexation, assumed to be necessary because of the abolition machinations of Great Britain. Ten days thereafter it was sent to the Senate by the President with a message. In it he assured the Senate that the Southern and Southwestern States would find in annexation "protection and security, peace and tranquility, as well against all domestic as foreign efforts to disturb them."

Of course a treaty involving such momentous issues and consequences so important to the nation became the occasion of a· long and heated debate. During these debates the lobbies of the capitol were crowded by land-jobbers and flesh jobbers; Texas scrip-holders and the owners, and agents of Mexican claims were drawn thither as if by a common instinct. Like beasts and birds of prey they seemed to scent the spoils they hoped to win, and they infested by their noisome presence every department of the government. They, were clamorous for the treaty, and by their paid agents and advocates slandered and misrepresented the motives and actions of those who: stood between them and the objects of their greedy desire. Never before had Congress been subjected to a pressure, so severe and to influences so corrupt. The administration, too, brought to the support of the treaty all its powers and all its seductive influences. But all these efforts were unavailing. Instead of receiving; the needed" two-thirds" vote, less than one third of the Senate were found, willing to record their names in its favor, and on the 10th. 0f June it was defeated by a. vote of sixteen to thirty-five. Of the sixteen who voted for the treaty, five, were, from the North. Of that number were James Buchanan, and Levi Woodbury. Their ready obedience to the behests of slavery was not forgotten. The one was soon made Secretary of State, and the other was elevated to the bench of the Supreme Court.

After the treaty was communicated to the Senate, and before its action, there were public meetings, many without distinction of party, in different parts of the country. Among them was one in the city of New York, on the 24th of April. There were present many of the most distinguished men of the city. The aged and illustrious Albert Gallatin presided, and the officers of the meeting were equally divided between the two parties. The venerable Chancellor Kent sent a letter in which he expressed the conviction that the annexation of Texas without the consent of Mexico would be “a breach of faith and honor which should be universally condemned." On taking the chair, Mr. Gallatin declared that to annex Texas under the present· condition of affairs was to make the United States: a party to the war with Mexico, and that, “according to the universally acknowledged laws of nations and universal usage of all Christian nations, to annex Texas is war." And he further stated that in making that declaration he would be "sustained by any publicist in the Christian world." He said that that would be a war of conquest founded in injustice, a disgrace to the national character. "This measure," he said,” will bring indelible disgrace upon democratic institutions; it will excite the hopes of their enemies; it will check the hopes of the friends of mankind." "I am highly gratified," he said in closing, “that the last public act of a long life, the last accents of an almost extinguished voice, should be employed in bearing testimony against this outrageous attempt “upon the peace, safety, and honor of our beloved land.

The causes of this defeat were various. But the main reason, doubtless, lay in the fact that the work of preparation had not been fully accomplished, the dragooning process had not been completed. The fires had indeed raged furiously, but they had not burned long enough to fuse the conflicting views, purposes, and individualities of those who were, nevertheless, in a position and in a state of mind to be converted to any policy slavery might dictate or its wants render necessary. But up to that hour this work remained incomplete, and thus not only did the Senate reject the treaty by this decisive vote, but the House of Representatives refused a favorable reception to a message from the President still invoking immediate action, while the measure proposed in the Senate by Mr. Benton himself, to open negotiations with Mexico and Texas for the adjustment of boundaries and the annexation of the latter to the American Union, failed. The question had become so complicated with other issues, there were so many points involved on which members had so fully committed themselves, the movement had become so confessedly a simple purpose and project in the support of slavery, that a majority in neither House could then be controlled or brought to take the position involved in the treaty.

But the men who were engineering this project were in earnest, not to be deterred by obstacles, and not ignorant of the advantage these two facts gave them, that there were the two national parties, each dependent on its " Southern wing," and that with the growing idea in the Southern mind, that, on all questions where there was a conflict between the claims of slavery and of party, the claims of slavery must be paramount. It was also becoming more and more apparent that this was a case in which the vital interests of the peculiar institution" were involved and must be regarded.

In this state of affairs the friends of annexation were not only prepared, but determined, to carry the question into the presidential election of 1844. The indications in the winter of that year were that Mr. Van Buren was the choice of the Democratic Party, though he had not the confidence, nor was he the choice, of the plotters of annexation, either South or North. To compel him to define his position, Mr. Hammet of Mississippi addressed him a letter in the month of March, while negotiations were pending, requesting him to make a statement of his opinions upon the question. Having been appointed a delegate to the approaching nominating convention, he intimated that Mr. Van Buren's views would probably influence the results of that convention. Mr. Van Buren's reply, dated on the 20th of April, only two days before the treaty was transmitted to the Senate, while avoiding any reference to slavery, admitted that annexation in itself considered was desirable. He, however, deprecated its immediate consummation because, he said, it would, “in all human probability, draw after it a war with Mexico." He also insisted upon the importance and necessity of maintaining the sacred obligations of treaty stipulations, the duty of preserving peaceful relations with friendly powers, and of keeping unsullied our own national honor. This dignified and patriotic letter, however, sealed his fate. Though he was the unquestioned choice of a decided majority of his party as its candidate for the presidency, he could not be trusted by those who were resolved to have Texas at any price. With them patriotism and a nice sense of national honor were at a discount, and some more pliant tool must be found.

In the Democratic convention, which assembled at Baltimore on the 27th of May, Mr. Van Buren received on the first ballot a majority of thirty. His enemies and treacherous friends had, however, adopted what was: called the" two-thirds rule," and that rendered his nomination impossible. On the eighth ballot; his name was withdrawn, and James K. Polk received the nomination. Mr. Polk was, a slaveholder, an uncompromising and, fanatical advocate of the system; an unscrupulous partisan, and fully; committed to the policy of annexation. The nomination for the vice-presidency was offered to Silas Wright of New York, but promptly declined. George M. Dallas of Pennsylvania, ever obsequious to the behests of the Slave Power, was then selected as candidate for that office.

The convention then resolved that “the reoccupation of Oregon and, the reannexation of Texas at the earliest practicable period are great American questions which the convention recommends to the cordial support of the Democracy of the Union." By adopting this platform, by overslaughing Mr. Van Buren who only, objected to annexation in the interests of peace and national honor, and by taking a candidate whose chief recommendation was his loudly proclaimed adhesion to the scheme, the Slave Power gained a decisive victory, and fully committed the Democratic party to that policy of slavery propagandism which the Southern leaders were so fiercely pursuing.

Mr. Clay was unquestionably the voice of the masses of the Whig party, though many in its ranks would have preferred a candidate whose position and past avowals had, not so fully identified him with slavery. His friends, however, were zealous and enthusiastic in his support, and they believed that the time had come to place him in the executive chair. Of course his views on the subject of annexation became matters of public solicitude and inquiry, and he was compelled to define his position on the troublesome question. In a letter, dated at Raleigh, April 17, he set forth his opinions with clearness and precision. He referred to and deprecated the fact that annexation was both espoused and opposed on sectional grounds. He said that the acquisition of territory for the purpose of strengthening one portion of the country against the other would be pregnant with fatal consequences He declared that " annexation and war with Mexico are identical “; and that such a measure at that time would compromise the national character, be dangerous to the integrity of the Union, and be inexpedient in the then financial condition of affairs, and that it was not called for by any general expression of public opinion.

Two weeks after the publication of this letter, Mr. Clay was nominated by acclamation for the presidency at the Whig convention at Baltimore. With him was associated Theodore Frelinghuysen, a gentleman of high personal worth and position, but of conservative views and tendencies.

The Liberty party; too, had entered the contest with the name of James G. Birney as its candidate for the presidency, and that of Thomas Morris of Ohio for the vice-presidency. On all the issues growing out of the existence of slavery its principles were clearly defined, and its policy distinctly proclaimed, “the absolute and unqualified divorce of the general government from slavery."

 Of course the Abolitionists who adhered to the American Antislavery Society and its auxiliaries took no part in the election except to criticize each of the parties, its policy, and its candidates. They announced as their watchword “the dissolution of all union between liberty and slavery." They proclaimed their resolute and invincible determination to arouse the country to ·a sense of its danger, and the necessity of resolute action.

Source:  Wilson, Henry, History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, Vol. 1.  Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1872, 587-605.

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

The adroit leaders of the Slave Power had succeeded in forcing upon the country the direct issue of immediate annexation. Never had the nation been brought to confront an issue so palpably and flagrantly wrong, and never had it presented a more sad and humiliating spectacle. Mankind could not fail to comprehend that it involved aggression, conquest, the establishment of slavery where it had been prohibited by Mexico, the strengthening of the slave system at home, and the continued ascendency of the slave-masters in the United States. Nor could the civilized world fail to see that if annexation and war were identical, the banners of Mexico, not the banners of Christian and republican America, would be the banners of liberty and civilization.

Though painfully awake to this wickedness and ignominy, the antislavery opponents of annexation were so few in numbers, really possessing small political influence, and that diminished by other complications that they felt greatly perplexed, and had grave doubts about the best use of the little political power they did possess. A vote for Mr. Birney was indeed an individual commitment, yet hardly more, as it could contribute little or nothing to prevent the impending catastrophe of annexation. A vote for Mr. Clay, with his commitments and the commitments of his party North and South, was clearly a vote against immediate annexation. But such were the conditions of his opposition and that of his Southern supporters, that it was seen that they could be, and probably would be, removed at no distant day. Mr. Clay's personal position, too, was far from satisfactory. His life, acts, and opinions had given no assurance that he opposed annexation on the ground that it would strengthen slavery. On the contrary, he was known to entertain and to have expressed the opinion that “slavery ought not to affect the question one way or the other." This embarrassment was increased by his Alabama letter of the 16th of August, which had been wrung from him by the importunity of Southern Whigs, who seriously felt the· sectional pressure of the advocates of annexation.

In this unfortunate letter, believed to have ·been the fatal obstacle to his success, he expressed the opinion that annexation would not prolong or shorten the duration of slavery, which was destined to become extinct, as he believed, at some distant day, by the inevitable laws of population; besides, he said, " far from having any personal objection to the annexation of Texas, I should be glad to see it, without dishonor, without war, with the common consent of the Union, and upon just and fair terms." Mr. Clay's Southern supporters had been put on the defensive, while those in the North had been aggressive, hopeful, and confident of victory. This letter reversed their positions. "It placed," says Mr. Greeley, ever Mr. Clay's admirer and devoted friend, " the Northern advocates of his election on the defensive during the remainder of the canvass, and weakened their previous hold on the moral convictions of the more considerate and conscientious voters of the free States."

In a subsequent letter Mr. Clay distinctly avowed that there was not a feeling, a sentiment, or an opinion expressed in his Raleigh letter, to which he did not adhere; that he was decidedly opposed to immediate annexation, because it would be dishonorable, involve the nation in war, be dangerous to the integrity and harmony of the Union, and could not be effected upon just and admissible conditions. But these apparently conflicting declarations served only to confuse the public mind, render more difficult the task of decision, and make still more obscure the path of duty. Yet, under circumstances so well calculated to dishearten, distract, and divide the opponents of annexation, more than sixty thousand men, who really held the result in their own hands, voted for Mr. Birney, although they were morally certain he could not receive a single electoral vote.

Few were so blind as not to see that a vote for Mr. Polk was a vote for immediate annexation. When his nomination was announced, Northern Democrats were greatly incensed at the treatment Mr. Van Buren had received. Many of them had warmly approved the sentiments of his letter against immediate annexation, and had, in many ways, pronounced against a policy which, they could not fail to see, endangered the peace of the country, besides unreservedly committing the nation to the extension of slavery. Silas Wright had voted against the treaty of annexation, and as the Democratic candidate for governor of New York he had proclaimed in the canvass his continued hostility to that measure. Several eminent friends of Mr. Van Buren in that State united in issuing a circular urging Democrats, while supporting .Mr. Polk, to repudiate the Texan scheme. The high character of the men who signed that circular, so sharply criticised and denounced by their associates, is an assurance of the purity of their motives, though a more fatuous course could not have been devised. That circular and the declarations of Mr. Wright unquestionably gave the controlling vote of the great State of New York to Mr. Polk, made the immediate annexation of Texas inevitable, and crowned the continued intrigues and plottings of the Slave Power with signal triumph.

During that evenly balanced and hotly contested canvass seductive appeals were made to the selfishness of the North. Robert J. Walker, perhaps more than any other man the organizing and effective agent of that slavery-extending plot, issued a long and elaborate letter, written with the power and tact of which he was an acknowledged master, appealing to the cupidity of the commercial, manufacturing, and moneyed interests of the land. The acquisition of Texas, he deemed; would largely increase Southern production, and thus promote the shipping, mercantile, and mechanical interests of the non-slaveholding States. Nor did he miscalculate. The lust of dominion, the greed of gain, and the love of office, silencing the voice of patriotism, horror, and conscience, gave a transcendent victory to the Slave Power.

He used, too, the language of warning. Let it be known he said, " and proclairrred as a certain truth, and as a result which can never hereafter be challenged or recalled, that upon the refusal of annexation, now and in all time to come, the tariff as a practical measure fails wholly and forever and we shall hereafter be compelled to resort to direct taxes to support the government.''' This menace, aimed at the friends of domestic industry, was not wholly without effect. But those who were in any degree influenced by it lived to see the protective policy, under the lead of Mr. Walker himself, overthrown, and the free-trade tariff of 1846 carried by the votes of Texan senators. 

On the first Monday of December, 1844, the XXVIIIth Congress commenced its closing session. Emboldened by the manifest significance of the election, the advocates of annexation entered at once on the work of its consummation. President Tyler in his message called for immediate action. He claimed that the verdict of the people had been decisively expressed upon the issue of annexation which had been nakedly presented to their consideration. He expressed the hope that Congress, in carrying into execution the public will, dearly proclaimed by a controlling majority of the people and by a large majority of the States, would avoid all collateral issues and press at once towards the consummation he had so much at heart. For Mr. Tyler wits not only influenced by the ordinary motives which impelled the South to seek for annexation, but he desired, if possible, to signalize his administration by an event of so much importance to slavery and. to slaveholders. 

Resolutions of admission were introduced into the Senate on the 10th, by Mr. McDuffie of South Carolina. On the 11th, Mr. Benton introduced a bill, providing that a State, to be called " the State of Texas, with boundaries fixed by herself," not exceeding in size the largest State, be admitted into the Union, the remainder of the annexed territory to be held by the United States and to be called the" Southwest Territory." This bill further provided that the existence of slavery should be forever prohibited in that part of the Territory west of the 100° of longitude, so as to divide equally the whole annexed territory between the s1aveholding and non-slaveholding States.

In the House, on the 10th of January, John P. Hale, then a Democratic representative from New Hampshire, moved the suspension of the rules to allow him to introduce a proposition to divide Texas into two parts, by a line beginning at a point on the Gulf of Mexico midway between the northern and southern boundaries, and running in a northwesterly direction. In the territory south and west of that line it was provided there should be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, and that provision was forever to remain an unalterable compact. The motion received eleven majority, but, requiring a two-thirds vote, it failed.

On the 12th, Charles J. Ingersoll, chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations in the House, introduced resolutions of annexation. Resolutions were also introduced by John B. Weller of Ohio, Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois, and several other Democratic members. Mr. Hamlin of Maine, then a Democratic member, moved to refer these resolutions to a select committee of one from each State, with instructions to report whether Congress had power to annex a foreign, independent nation; whether annexation would not extend slavery; whether by the acknowledgment of Texan independence Mexico was deprived of her right to reconquer that province; whether Texas owed any debts, and what treaties she had with other powers. But his motion was rejected. The several propositions were referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs. 

On the 3d of January the House, on motion of Mr. Ingersoll, proceeded to the consideration of the joint resolutions he had reported. Mr. Weller moved to amend by striking out all after the enacting clause and substituting the resolutions he had introduced, and Mr. Douglas moved to amend Mr. Weller's amendment by substituting for it the resolutions he had introduced.

In the debate which was then opened were exhibited the different views and shades of opinion evoked by this rash and radical measure thus precipitated on the nation by the Slave Power. As it was a question of power, rather than of reason, of might more than of right, the advocates of the measure prudently abstained from any great show of argument. As none but the most violent and outspoken would avow the real reason, eulogies on the compromises of the Constitution, clamors for peace and concession, and diatribes against the aggressions of the Abolitionists, constituted the staple of the speeches in its defence. Against the measure there was greater variety, embracing the language of those who opposed it on the high ground of principle; Northern Democrats who deprecated its influence on their party strength; and the Southern Whigs, who feared its effects on the country and even on slavery itself. Opening the debate, Mr. Ingersoll referred to the many plans that had been introduced into the House, proving, he said, that many coveted the honor of being the advocates of the admission of Texas. But for slavery the American people were united for the measure. He avowed that “it is undeniable that Southern interests, Southern frontiers and Southern institutions --I mean slavery and all -- are to be primarily regarded in settling the restoration of Texas."

One of the earliest and ablest to participate in the debate was William L. Yancey of Alabama. A disciple of Calhoun and an eloquent defender of his principles, he clearly comprehended and frankly admitted the necessities of slavery in its competition with freedom. Referring to statistics which showed that the slaveholding States were losing “relative strength in the representative branch of the government," he declared that they had compromised away all possibility of retaining an equality in the Senate by the fatal Missouri Compromise, and I that a fearful prospective inequality stared them in the face. Complaining that the world was arrayed against them, that their "favorite institution " was attacked day after day, month after month, and year after year, he avowed that " the highest consideration of individual, sectional, and national interests urge us on for annexation"

Mr. Holmes of South Carolina pronounced that Southern man a fool or a knave who would divide Texas between freedom and slavery; and Mr. Rhett of the same State said:, '''The South has been wantonly wronged, insulted, and betrayed." Re charged the people of the North with the offence of laboring to instigate hatred, insurrection, and violence," which rendered Texas, in the Southern mind, necessary to insure the domestic tranquility they had disturbed·.

Moses Norris, a Democratic member from New Hampshire, bitterly assailed the Abolitionists. He charged that while they had "liberty and philanthropy on the folds of their flag, they were arming themselves to overthrow the Constitution and break up the Confederacy."

Andrew Johnson of Tennessee-, afterward President of the United States, said that annexation would give the government the command of the Gulf, that streams of wealth would flow from her mines and fertile fields, and that the profitable employment of slave labor there would enable the master to soften the condition of the bondmen  and, singularly enough, lie contended that annexation would " prove to be the gateway but of which the sable sons of Africa are to pass from bondage to freedom where they can become merged in a population congenial with themselves, who know and feel no  distinction in consequence of the various hues of skin or crosses of blood.”

In a very different strain spoke M., Rathbun, a member of the same party from New York. He characterized with stern severity the resolution and denounced the Northern member who should vote for it. “He behaves," he said” the public opinion of the North; be scorns the interests of the North; he arouses, the indignation of the North;  he fixes upon, himself a mark which time cannot efface."

Among the Northern Whigs a similar variety appears.  Mr. Winthrop of Massachusetts opposed the project because, he argued, it was unconstitutional in substance, would violate the compromises of the Constitution, would endanger the permanence of the Union; and because he was “uncompromisingly opposed to slavery, or the addition of another inch of slaveholding territory to the nation.”

Colonel John J. Harding of Illinois, who afterward fell at the head of his regiment at the battle of Buena Vista, characterized annexation “as an unwise, reckless, selfish, sectional, and slavery-extending policy.”  He reminded Southern gentlemen who had pictured in their imagination a Southern confederacy, that the free States on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers would hold the latter to its mouth against the united chivalry of the South, and that if dissolution took place, either in consequence of the Texas scheme, or from any other cause, their confederacy must be wholly east of the Mississippi.

Daniel D. Barnard of New York made a learned and able; constitutional argument against the Joint. Resolution denouncing it as being framed in contempt, of the Constitution." " The measure of annexation is, he said, is wild, bold, and extravagant enough, in itself, considered in the light of the Constitution, but it is a thousand, times more wild, bold, and: extravagant when taken in connection with slavery."

Mr. Hamlin of Ohio spoke earnestly in deprecation of the measure, and drew gloomy presages of its effect upon the reputation and subsequent political history of the nation. It will present the humiliating spectacle, he said, of the republic standing forth unblushingly before the world as the defender of slavery. No stranger could, read the correspondence of the Secretary of State without feeling that." we have no other god but the god of slavery." “The people, of the North he said, "have reaped the bitter fruits of the Missouri Compromise, and have seen and felt the iron rule of slavery.”  He predicted that if slavery should then triumph, the line dividing parties would henceforth be between freedom and slavery, and '' the South will then find not only that the sceptre has departed from Judah and a lawgiver from between his feet, but that the Shiloh of the slave has come."

It remained for Mr. Giddings to place his opposition and that of those he represented on the high plane of moral rectitude, and to draw his arguments, motives, and appeals from the precepts of Christianity as well as from the workings of nature. “Do we believe,'' he inquired, “that there is a power above us that will visit national sins with national judgments? I am one who solemnly believes that transgressions and punishments are inseparably connected with the inscrutable wisdom of God's providence. With this impression I feel as confident that chastisement and tribulation for the offences we have committed against the down-trodden sons of Africa await this people as I do that justice controls the destinies of nations and guides the power of Omnipotence."

On the 13th of January, Milton Brown, a Tennessee Whig, introduced into the House a joint resolution: declaring the terms on which Congress will admit Texas into the Union as a State; and on the same day, Mr. Foster, another Tennessee Whig, introduced the same resolution into the Senate. The opponents of annexation had relied upon a majority in the House against that measure. Several Democratic members, who had been confidently relied upon to oppose it, under the influence of an incoming administration pledged to the measure, were evidently hesitating and faltering. It had not been anticipated, however, that any Whig member would vote for it. But the action of Mr. Brown created no little anxiety and alarm.

After this earnest and excited debate, which continued until the 25th of January, the voting was commenced. Mr. Douglas's amendments, as well as several others, offered to Mr. Weller's amendment to the resolution reported by the Committee on Foreign Affairs, having been rejected, Mr. Brown moved to strike out Mr. Weller's amendment and insert the resolutions he had introduced. At the suggestion of Mr. Douglas, he so modified it as to provide that slavery should be prohibited in so much of Texas as lay north of the Missouri Compromise line. His amendment was then agreed to by ten majority; then substituted for the original resolutions of the Committee on Foreign Affairs by a majority of seventeen, and then passed by a majority of twenty-two.

Instead of a majority of thirty against it, which had been anticipated, upon estimates based upon former votes and avowals; and upon pledges which had been made to a committee appointed by a Whig caucus to canvass the House, there was a majority of more than twenty for it. Whence that change? Many of the agencies which wrought it were patent to the country. The results of the presidential election, the known opinions and purposes of the President elect, the patronage of the incoming administration, the intense activity and growing power of the slaveholding interest, were potent influences, and contributed mainly to this result. But there were many who, watching that struggle, believed that Texas scrip had much to do in that work of demoralization.

The Joint Resolution was introduced in the Senate and referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations, of which Mr. Archer of Virginia was chairman. Although from a slave-holding State, he promptly recommended its indefinite postponement. But Mr. Buchanan, a member of the committee, then as ever afterward, even to the close of his feeble and disastrous administration, derelict to his section, a serviceable instrument of the Slave Power, more truly deserving than he to whom it was originally applied the appellation of a" Northern man with Southern principles," opposed the action of the committee, and made an elaborate argument in favor of the constitutionality of admitting Texas by Joint Resolution.

Rufus Choate of Massachusetts made a brilliant and eloquent speech in opposition, both on the ground of power and expediency. We could not, he contended, admit Texas by the joint resolution of the House, " if it would insure a thousand years of liberty to the Union, if, like the fabled garden of old, its rivers should run pearls and its trees bear imperial fruit of gold, yet even then we could not admit her, because it would sin against the Constitution."

William L. Dayton of New Jersey, then a Whig, afterward the first candidate for the: Vice-Presidency of the Republican party; and subsequently minister to France during the Rebellion, made an able argument against the passage of the Joint Resolution. Mr. Archer declared that. "a blow parricidal is now aimed against the; Constitution of the United States." Mr. Buchanan, who was to be Secretary of State of the incoming administration, on the other hand, protested that in voting for the resolution he, was performing the greatest public act of his life. "I shall,'' he said, “do it cheerfully, gladly, gloriously, because I believe my vote will confer blessings innumerable on my fellow-men, now, henceforward, and forever.''

Several senators; participated in. the debate, which continued to the 27th of February. It was moved by Mr. Foster of Tennessee that the Joint, Resolution be amended so as to provide that so much of the territory as lay south of the Missouri Compromise line should be admitted with or without slavery as each State should determine, but the motion was rejected, An amendment was then moved by Mr. Walker of Mississippi, proposing further negotiations if deemed advisable by the Executive. This adroit move was intended to smooth the way by which Benton, Dix, Niles, and other Democratic senators, who had opposed the treaty, might vote for the measure.

Mr. Foster declared; he would vote for the House resolution without, but not with, the amendment, as it was intended to "qualify a great act." He proceeded to express his want of confidence in the North, and wished those who were making outcries against slavery would go to the South and " see how happy is the black man, and compare him with the penury of the East."' The Walker amendment was agreed to by two majority. Mr. Crittenden wished to make the mode of admission definite. If it was the intention of Congress to admit Texas by treaty, let it say so; if by resolution, let it say so; and not leave the mode discretionary with the President. He moved an amendment to that effect; but his motion was lost by a single vote.

Mr. Miller of New Jersey moved to strike out the House resolution, and insert in substance the bill which Mr. Benton had introduced early in the session; and he expressed the hope that the senator from Missouri would support it, and “not destroy his own child." But that senator, having yielded to the influences at work, promptly and ostentatiously responded “I ‘l1 kill it stone-dead!” This declaration was vociferously applauded by the galleries. This sudden change in Mr. Benton's position was rendered more significant from his previous course, his determined and violent opposition to the measure. He had declared it “an act of unparalleled outrage on Mexico," of which he “washed his hands." Indeed, he had been regarded by both friend and foe as holding the fate of the measure at his disposal. But notwithstanding all his antecedents, his positive and dogmatic assertion; so characteristic of the man, he weakly yielded to, if he did not fabricate, the specious but shallow device proposed by Walker.

Mr. Tyler was known to be fiercely intent on annexation1 and this device gave him absolute power to consummate the act during the few remaining days of his administration. The unwritten history of that transaction may never be fully known, and the actual influences which induced the somersault of the veteran senator may never be revealed. Without such explanation, however, there was in it the not infrequent or unprecedented occurrence that a Southern slaveholder, in the presence of an assumed necessity of slavery, allowed that necessity to be paramount, and to override all other considerations. The amendment proposed by Mr. Miller received but eleven votes, and the Joint Resolution was then adopted by a majority of two. The House hastened to concur by a majority of more than fifty.

In the House four Whigs voted for the measure. Of that number was Alexander H. Stephens, who afterward joined the Democracy, became vice-president of the Confederacy, whose “corner-stone" he declared slavery to be, and who continued to maintain its principles, though they had been so signally overborne and overthrown by the valor and vote or the nation. In the Senate, Merrick of Maryland, Henderson of Mississippi, and Johnson of Louisiana, also Whigs, voted for it avowedly because it was a measure essentially Southern in its character and purposes, and tended to promote domestic tranquility in the States they represented. But the large majority of the Southern Whigs steadily opposed and cast their votes against the Joint Resolution. Nor was their stand maintained without personal sacrifice and hazard. Indeed there were none, not even the friends of freedom, who were more sorely tried than were the better and more thoughtful portion of the Southern Whigs. For they not only felt a sectional pressure and saw agencies at work which threatened party disruption and defeat, but they wisely dreaded the effects of these violent and revolutionary proceedings upon the nation, and even upon slavery itself.

Claiming fealty to Southern institutions, and disavowing all sympathy with abolitionism, they based their opposition to the scheme on constitutional grounds and those of expediency. They denied the right of admitting foreign territory by legislative resolution, and protested against the bill as a clear and palpable violation of the Constitution of the United States. This position was ably argued by the Virginia senators, Archer and Rives, both of whom, in the words of the first, " lifted a determined though unavailing voice against this blow of parricide struck at the Constitution “; the latter declaring it to be “a dangerous and revolutionary precedent." Of their position Mr. Berrien of Georgia, while claiming to “stand on Southern ground and in vindication of Southern rights," said that they stood " unmoved, immovable, resting on its own firm foundation like some giant rock against which the waves of the ocean break in their fury only to be thrown hack in their impotence." He declared also that the acquisition of Texas in this unconstitutional manner would be " at the sacrifice of the peace and harmony of the Union." "The feeling," he said, "which will be aroused in vast multitudes of that people, by what they will deem a flagrant usurpation of power which they have never delegated, is too deep, too strong, too abiding to be repressed; and it may not be sported with. The power of the government cannot check it. The patronage of the government will not seduce it. Nay, the iron rule of party, that image of omnipotence here below, will not, cannot control it."

Characterizing the correspondence of Secretaries Upshur and Calhoun " as a deplorable humiliation of diplomatic character in the eyes of the world," Mr. Rayner of North Carolina said that by putting the annexation of Texas so squarely on the slavery issue, the South had been driven from its " impregnable position " that slavery was an institution that neither Congress nor the people of the North could constitutionally interfere with,” If we admit," he said, " that the general government can interpose to extend slavery as a blessing, we must also admit that it can interfere to arrest it as an evil." Avowing himself as an unqualified advocate of Southern interests and ready to “hang an Abolitionist without the form of trial for disseminating his hellish doctrines," he said he scorned to ask of the North any other aid than the performance of its constitutional obligations. He expressed his great regret that the Whigs had not presented an unbroken phalanx in opposition to the measure, and he predicted that this sudden change of front in face of the enemy would prove fatal to the party.

The Joint Resolution was approved on the 2d of March. The next day, President Tyler dispatched a messenger to Texas to secure her assent, which, like the executive approval, was but too readily given; and thus was consummated the scheme audaciously conceived, skilfully planned, boldly and persistently prosecuted, and successfully accomplished. 

Twenty-three Democratic members of the House had voted against the passage of the Joint Resolution. All but three or four, however, voted for concurring with the Senate in the Walker amendment. Their votes were a surprise and a regret. It will ever remain a marvel that honest and intelligent men could have been caught by a device so transparent. Surely they were not surprised when Mr. Tyler eagerly accepted the power thus given him, and at once secured for his administration the coveted honor which he had so long and so earnestly sought.

This vote of the House, concurring in the Senate amendment, ended the contest. It was taken on the evening of the 28th of February. On its announcement, it was hailed with every demonstration of uproarious delight, by bonfires, illuminations, and volleys of artillery, by social revelry and mutual congratulations. The scrip-holders, land-jobbers, and flesh-jobbers gloated over their anticipated profits, the slaveholding chiefs over their grandest victory, and the Democratic leaders, but too well assured, over the prospect of long-continued ascendency. Amid these flashing lights and jubilant sounds there were, however, thoughtful men whose hearts throbbed heavily over that new dishonor to the nation and the darkening future of their country. The fearless and ever faithful Giddings gave expression to the thoughts and feelings of thousands of his countrymen, as he thus described his emotions on the evening of that fatal day. “Pensively and alone," said he, "the writer walked to his lodgings. Never before had he viewed his country as he then saw it. The exultation of slave-breeders and slave-dealers, at thus controlling the Congress of the United States, constituted a spectacle that he had not expected, to witness. The barbarous war, the bloodshed, the devastation, the corruption, and the civil war which resulted from this triumph of the Slave Power were, at no subsequent period of his life, more vividly before his mind than they were that evening, while alone in his room, contemplating the results that would naturally follow the action of Congress on, that sad day."

Source:  Wilson, Henry, History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, Vol. 1.  Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1872, 606-620.



See also Hale, John P.; Clay, Cassius M.

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

Several State legislatures had passed resolutions against the annexation of Texas. Those of Vermont and Massachusetts were among the first to express opposition to the growing demands of the Slave Power. They had vindicated the right of petition and freedom of debate; pronounced in favor of the abolition of slavery and the slave-trade in the District of Columbia, the prohibition of the coastwise slave-trade, and of slavery in the Territories; and against the annexation of Texas; and the admission of any more slave States. Indeed, for several years their voice had been clear and distinct in behalf of freedom.

The uncompromising, aggressive, and persistent action of the Abolitionists, the brave fight of John Quincy Adams in Congress for the right of petition and of the freedom of debate, and the clearly pronounced sentiments of her legislature, had placed Massachusetts not only in a conspicuous, but in a leading, position among her sister States. This was acknowledged by friend and foe, --by the first with hope and trust, by the latter with hatred and hostility. The Democratic Party, however, though at first joining in resistance to slaveholding demands, had early yielded to the seductive influences of power, while the Whigs continued firmly to maintain their position. The latter had proclaimed their unalterable determination to resist the consummation of the Texan scheme, and had fought with unity and vigor the presidential contest of 1844, upon which its immediate fate depended. But, after the defeat of Mr. Clay and the popular triumph of the friends of annexation, defections in the Whig party began to manifest themselves.

When the legislature assembled in 1845, Governor Briggs called attention to the impending danger of annexation. Resolutions were promptly reported by Joseph Bell, a lawyer of eminence and a gentleman of conservative opinions, denying the constitutional power of Congress to annex a foreign nation by legislation; declaring that such act of annexation would have no binding effect upon the people of Massachusetts; and affirming that she "will never consent, where she is not already bound, to place her own free sons on any other basis than that of perfect equality with freemen; and, last of all, and more than all, she will never by any act or deed give her consent to the further extension of slavery to any portion of the world."

These unequivocal declarations received the emphatic indorsement of a four-fifths vote in the House. When they came up for consideration in the Senate, Mr. Wilson of Middlesex County moved an amendment to the effect that, if Texas should be admitted by a legislative act, that act could and ought to be repealed at the earliest possible moment. After an earnest debate, that amendment was rejected by a vote of twenty-four to eight; in the minority were Charles Francis Adams, Linus Child, and Nathaniel B. Borden. The resolutions were then unanimously adopted.

Nor were the protestations of the people of Massachusetts confined to these declarations of her legislature. A State convention, called by gentlemen of capacity, experience, and large influence, without distinction of party, was held on the 29th of January, in Faneuil Hall. It was large in numbers and strong in talent and character. All portions of the Commonwealth were represented by delegates differing widely in opinions on other subjects, but going to Faneuil Hall in the spirit of self-devotion worthy of the cause that brought them together. John M. Williams, an aged and venerable jurist, presided. An address of great vigor and force, portions of which were dictated by Mr. Webster, was prepared by Charles Allen of Worcester, and Stephen C. Phillips of Salem. It was unanimously adopted by the convention and widely circulated.

Referring to the grave issues involved in annexation, to a war that, it seemed, must inevitably follow the adoption of the Joint Resolution, which had already passed the House, it expressed the hope that the day might " never dawn which shall behold the glorious flag of this Union borne on foreign battlefields to sustain in the name of liberty the supremacy of its eternal foe." It affirmed that “Massachusetts denounces the iniquitous project in its inception and in every stage of its progress, its means and its end, and all the purposes and pretenses of its authors." 

An anti-Texas committee was appointed, for the purpose of making an earnest, and, if possible, successful effort to combine and make effective the public sentiment of the free States against the consummation of a scheme known to be wicked in its purpose, corrupt in its means, dishonorable in its character, and believed to be disastrous in its consequences.

The discussions were marked by great freedom, earnestness, solemnity, and determination. Thoughtful men filled the hall. Speakers and hearers partook of a common sentiment. They realized as never before the imminence of the impending calamity, the gravity of the occasion, and the pregnant issues of the hour. But these speeches, eloquent and graphic as they were, rather increased than diminished the feeling of public danger and impotency which pervaded that assembly, so that, when the illusive battle-cry of “repeal " was raised by Linus Child, a sense of relief ran through the hall, and a gleam of light seemed to illumine the darkness of the immediate future.

While the struggle for the annexation of Texas by Joint Resolution was in progress, the friends of that measure left no means untried which political chicanery or menace could suggest. The President elect made no concealment of his purpose; and it was distinctly understood that those Democrats who opposed the measure had little to expect from his administration. Even those in New York who had signed the secret circular which alone made Mr. Polk's election possible were soon made to feel the force of that displeasure which the Slave Power usually inflicted on those who resisted its authority. 

But its immediate and most marked demonstration was in New Hampshire, and John P. Hale was its first victim. Though at first successful, its ultimate results were disastrous to the cause and party which prompted it. For it placed Mr. Hale in a far more commanding position than he had ever occupied before, and gave his ready tongue a voice and an audience it could never otherwise have obtained, besides affording an example of successful resistance to partisan tyranny and slaveholding dictation greatly damaging to their pretentious and hitherto unquestioned supremacy.

Mr. Hale, then a member of the House of Representatives, had been nominated by the Democratic Party for re-election. But he had not, like the great body of that party, forgotten its strong anti-Texas testimonies; nor would he, at the bidding of the convention which overslaughed Mr. Van Buren and nominated Mr. Polk; or in the hope of the prospective patronage of the incoming administration, disown that record, and applaud what a few short weeks before had been so vociferously condemned.

Compelled to define his position, he did not hesitate to reaffirm his opposition to the scheme, and to vote against it, though he regarded that declaration and vote as his political death-warrant; a martyrdom from which he evidently expected no resurrection. Indeed, he at once made his arrangements to retire from public life, and to resume his profession in the city of New York; a purpose from which he was with some difficulty dissuaded.

What he apprehended soon transpired. Such honesty of purpose, such fealty to right, such contumacy to party discipline could not be tolerated in the ranks of the exacting Democracy of that State. Early in January Mr. Hale addressed to his constituents a letter on the annexation of Texas. It was an earnest and unequivocal condemnation of the scheme. The reasons given by its advocates in support of the measure he declared to be "eminently calculated to provoke the scorn of earth and the judgment of Heaven "; and he avowed that he could never consent, by any agency of his, to place the country in the attitude of annexing a foreign nation for the avowed purpose of sustaining and perpetuating slavery.

At once the leading Democratic presses of New Hampshire and of the country opened upon him a war of denunciation, calling upon his constituents to rebuke and silence him. The Democratic State Committee immediately issued a call for a convention at Concord on the 12th of February. Franklin Pierce, who had been distinguished in Congress for his fidelity to the Slave Power, addressed the meeting, sharply and bitterly criticising this independent action of Mr. Hale, and defending the policy of annexation. He admitted that he would rather have Texas annexed as free territory, but he exclaimed, "Give it to us with slavery, rather than not have it, and have it now." And such an avowal was consistently applauded by the same convention which had just voted down, by "an emphatic No," the proposition that the meeting should be opened with prayer.

Stephen S. Foster, being present, inquired if he might be permitted “to set the speaker right in a few of his misstatements." A violent clamor at once arose against permission. The chairman decided that none but delegates could speak; and Mr. Foster took his seat, with the declaration: " I consider myself, in common with every man in the house, insulted by the remarks of the gentleman who has just taken his seat." And that convention of the same party which had a few months before pronounced against the annexation scheme, and whose chief organ had declared it to be “black as ink and bitter as hell," at once changed front on this very issue, and by a unanimous vote struck Mr. Hale's name from the ticket on which it had so recently inscribed it, and placed in its stead that of an obscure politician.

But many of Mr. Hale's constituents were more hopeful than their leader; at least, they were less resigned and less disposed to submit to defeat and death. Under the lead of Amos Tuck, who had already taken an active part in giving expression and direction to the popular disfavor against such high-handed tyranny, they at once prepared for action. In consequence of 'their earnest and vigorous proceedings, even without much aid from Mr. Hale, who deemed all resistance to the decrees of the party hopeless, the Democratic candidate lacked a thousand votes of a majority. While this result surprised and exasperated the Democratic leaders, it greatly encouraged Mr. Hale and his friends. Stimulated by their success, and continuing the struggle with increased determination and vigor, they established at the State capital the “Independent Democrat," under the editorial control of George G. Fogg. It was conducted with signal ability and tact, rendered essential service, and contributed largely to the triumph of this first successful revolt against the iron despotism of the Slave Power.

In the next election Mr. Hale participated. He canvassed the State, delivering speeches, in which he brought into full play the capacities and characteristics of his peculiar, versatile, and popular eloquence. Great excitement pervaded the State, and crowds thronged to hear him. But the Democratic leaders were indignant at his continued contumacy, and deeply chagrined at his manifest success with the people. These feelings found voice at a meeting held at the capital the first week of June. During that week the legislature commenced its session, and the religious and benevolent associations of the State held their anniversaries. Mr. Hale was expected to address a meeting at the Old North Church. Unwilling that his speech should be heard, as it probably would be, by the political and religious representatives of the State then assembled, the Democratic leaders determined that it should be replied to on the spot. Franklin Pierce was selected for that purpose. Aware that he was addressing many men of large intelligence and influence, and that his words would be sharply criticised by him under whose lead his name had been stricken from the ticket, Mr. Hale spoke with calmness, dignity, and effect. Those who listened to him could not but feel, whether they agreed with him or not, that he had been actuated by conscientious convictions and a high sense of public duty.

Mr. Pierce had noted, with the quick instincts of an adroit politician, the marked effects produced by Mr. Hale's manly and temperate vindication of his principles and position. Evidently in a towering passion, he spoke under the deepest excitement. He was domineering and insulting in manner, and bitter and sarcastic in the tone and tenor of his remarks. Mr. Hale replied briefly, but pertinently and effectively. He closed his triumphant vindication of his motives, opinions, and purposes against the aspersions of his bitter enemy with these words: “I expected to be called ambitious, to have my name cast out as evil, to be traduced and misrepresented. I have not been disappointed. But if things have come to this condition, that conscience and a sacred regard for truth and duty are to be publicly held up to ridicule, and scouted at 'Without rebuke, as has just been done here, it matters little whether we are annexed to Texas or Texas is annexed to us. I may be permitted to say that the measure of my ambition will be full if my earthly career shall be finished and my bones are laid beneath the soil of New Hampshire, and, when my wife and children shall repair to my grave to drop the tear of affection to my memory, they may read on my tombstone: 'He who lies beneath surrendered office and place and power, rather than bow down and worship slavery.' "

At the second election the Democratic candidate lacked some fifteen hundred votes necessary to an election. Several other attempts were made, in which the “Independent Democrats," though they failed of electing their own, succeeded in defeating the Democratic candidate, and in holding the balance of power. In the election of 1846, Mr. Hale was chosen a member of the legislature, was made Speaker, and subsequently elected to the Senate of the United States. The State was then subdivided into congressional districts, and Mr. Tuck was nominated to fill the seat Mr. Hale had occupied in the national House of Representatives. As a majority of votes was necessary for an election, no choice was effected during the whole of the XXIXth Congress. But in July, 1847, by a coalition between the Whigs and " Independent Democrats “in the first and third districts, Mr. Tuck was chosen in the former and General James Wilson in the latter. Mr. Tuck served six years in Congress, and made an honorable record. His chief distinction, and perhaps his chief service, however, grew out of his bold and wise leadership in that first and successful assault upon the party which had for years controlled the State with iron sway; beating down the very Gibraltar of the Northern Democracy, and making it one of the leading and most reliable States in opposition to the Slave Power.

And if merit is due to any actors in the great struggle now under review, surely no inconsiderable share belongs to those who, in that dark night, dared to beard the lion in his Northern lair, and strike for freedom with the odds so fearfully against them. Nor is the nation's debt of gratitude to Mr. Hale small for his long, brave fight in the Senate, against the scorn and contumely of the slaveholding majority. For if he did not then proclaim the full and perfect evangel of liberty, his was certainly the voice of one crying in the wilderness, preparing the way of complete deliverance. As his successful resistance to party and slaveholding tyranny broke the spell of its assumed invincibility, and encouraged others to go and I do likewise, so his ready eloquence and wit, his brilliant repartee and unfailing good-humor, did much to familiarize the country with the subject, and to call attention to its facts and principles, which perhaps a sterner advocate would have failed to effect.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source:  Wilson, Henry, History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, Vol. 1.  Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1872, 621-635.


THACHER, George, 1754-1824, jurist.  Delegate from Massachusetts to the Continental Congress 1787-1788.  U.S. Congressman from Massachusetts.  Voted against Fugitive Slave Act of 1793. 

(Appletons’, 1888, Vol. VI, p. 68; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 9, Pt. 2, p. 387; Dumond, 1961; Hammond, 2011, p. 213; Locke, 1901, pp. 93, 143, 160-162; Annals of Congress, 2 Cong., 2 Sess., p. 861)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

THACHER, George, jurist, b. in Yarmouth, Me., 12 April, 1754; d. in Biddeford, Me., 6 April, 1824. He was graduated at Harvard in 1776, and afterward studied law, being admitted to the bar in 1778. He was a delegate from Massachusetts to the Continental congress in 1787-'8, and from 4 March, 1789, to 3 March, 1801, he represented the Maine district of Massachusetts in congress. He served as judge of the supreme court of Massachusetts, and afterward of that of Maine, from 1800 till 1824, and was a delegate to the Maine constitutional convention in 1819. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, pp. 68.


THARIN, Robert Seymour Symmes, b. 1830, Charleston, South Carolina, lawyer

(Appletons’, 1888, Vol. VI, p. 70)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

THARIN, Robert Seymour Symmes (tha'rin), lawyer, b. at Magnolia, near Charleston, S. C., 10 Jan., 1830. The family-seat at Magnolia was also the birthplace of Robert's father, William Cunnington Tharin, grandson of its founder, Col. William Cunnington, an officer on Gen. Francis Marion's staff. Robert was graduated at the College of Charleston in 1857 and at the law-school of the University of New York in 1863. He began practice in Wetumpka, Ala., in 1859. During the political excitement of this time, he became known for his Union sentiments and his sympathy with non-slaveholders. He advocated the establishment of small farms and factories, the emigration of the blacks to Africa, the representation of non-slaveholders, who were in the majority, in legislatures, conventions, and congress, and the repeal of the ordinance of secession. His Union sentiments led to an attack on him by a mob in 1861, and he fled to Cincinnati, Ohio. Mr. Tharin then settled in Richmond, Ind., and enlisted as a, private in the Indiana volunteers, but was mustered out in 1862. While he was in the service he wrote a letter to the London “Daily News,” denouncing his former law-partner, William L. Yancey, who was then commissioner from the southern Confederacy to England. This letter, Mr. Yancey afterward confessed, was worth an army corps to the Union, as it defeated recognition. He returned to the south after the war, and in 1884 was corporation counsel of Charleston, S. C. In February, 1888, he was tendered, by the Industrial conference at Washington, a nomination for president of the United States, but declined on the ground that the body was not a convention, and that presidential conventions are dangerous to the people who are not represented therein. He is now employed in the auditor's office in Washington. He is the author of “Arbitrary Arrests in the South” (New York, 1863), and “Letters on the Political Situation” (Charleston, S. C., 1871).  Appletons’ Cyclopædia of American Biography, 1888.


THAYER, Eli, 1819-1899, Worcester, Massachusetts, abolitionist, educator, Congressman, established Massachusetts Emigrant Aid Society, 1854, which changed to New England Aid Company in 1855 


(Filler, 1960, pp. 238-239; Rodriguez, 2007, p. 56; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, pp. 71-72; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 9, Pt. 2, p. 402; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 21, p. 488)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

THAYER, Eli, educator, b. in Mendon, Mass., 11 June, 1819. He was graduated at Brown in 1845, was subsequeptly principal of the Worcester academy, and in 1848 founded the Oread institute, collegiate school for young ladies, in Worcester, Mass., of which he is treasurer. He was for several years a member of the school board of Worcester, and in 1853 an alderman of the city. In 1853-'4 he was a representative in the legislature, and while there originated and organized the Emigrant aid company, laboring till 1857 to combine the northem states in support of his plan to send anti-slavery settlers into Kansas. Lawrence, Topeka, Manhattan, and Ossawatomie were settled under the auspices of his company. Gov. Charles Robinson, at the quarter-centennial celebration of Kansas, at Topeka, said: “Without these settlements Kansas would have been a slave state without a struggle; without the Aid society these towns would never have existed; and that society was born of the brain of Eli Thayer.” Charles Sumner also said that he would rather have the credit that is due to Eli Thayer for his Kansas work than be the hero of the battle of New Orleans. In 1857-'61 Mr. Thayer sat in congress as a Republican, serving on the committee on militia, and as chairman of the committee on public lands. In 1860 he was a delegate for Oregon to the National Republican convention at Chicago and labored for the nomination of Lincoln. He has patented many inventions, which cover a wide field. Among these are a hydraulic elevator in use in this country and in Europe, a sectional safety steam boiler, and an automatic boiler-cleaner, or sediment-extractor. He has published a volume of congressional speeches (Boston, 1860); several lectures (Worcester, 1886); and is now writing a history of the Emigrant aid company that he organized and its influence on our national history. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, pp. 71-72.



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

The Proclamation of Emancipation contained not only the announcement that "all persons held as slaves shall be free," but the assurance that "the executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said per sons." The one was a necessary complement of the other, the last as binding and essential as the first. This, if not fully foreseen at the outset, soon became apparent. And it became as evident that while the first was but the work of a moment and of a single individual, the latter was to be the work of years and of the nation too. A "scratch of the pen " was sufficient to set the bondman free; it was only by competent and carefully considered legislation, by many and varied enactments, that his freedom could be assured, become the promised boon, and be made a blessing instead of a curse. As it required no great sagacity to forecast as much without the aid of the actual experiment, so with the experiment he fore their eyes few were found to doubt the necessity of appropriate laws to carry into effect the spirit and purpose of that immortal paper. It was seen, too, that something more than ordinary legislation was needed, — something more enduring than what would be subject to the varying phases of popular feeling, the mutations of partisan politics. It was felt that it should become a part of the organic law of the land, so that it could be reached only by the slow processes through which alone changes in that can be made. The new departure resolved on should find expression in the Constitution itself.

On the 14th of December, 1863, Mr. Ashley of Ohio presented to the House of Representatives a bill providing for the submission to the States of a proposed amendment of the Constitution that "slavery is hereby forever prohibited in all the States of the Union, and in all Territories now owned, or which may hereafter be acquired, by the United States." With some Democratic opposition it was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary by motion of the mover. On the same day Mr. Wilson of Iowa, chairman of the same committee, introduced a joint resolution to the effect that "slavery being incompatible with a free government is forever prohibited in the United States; that involuntary servitude should be permitted only as a punishment of crime”; and that Congress should have power to enforce the same by "appropriate legislation" It was referred, like the preceding, to the Committee on the Judiciary, consisting of five Republicans, three Democrats, and ex-Governor Thomas of Maryland, who generally acted with the administration. The chairman, Boutwell of Massachusetts, and Williams of Pennsylvania were pronounced antislavery men, as were also Woodbridge of Vermont and Morris of New York, though less known and prominent in the struggle. Of the Democratic members, King of Missouri and Bliss of Ohio were fully committed against the policy of emancipation. Kernan of New York was an able lawyer, and liberal in his general tone of feeling and opinion, but he was a personal friend and political adherent of Governor Seymour, and his strong partisan associations seemed sometimes to lead him to disregard the convictions of his judgment and moral nature. Mr. Thomas had committed himself to the policy of emancipation, and to his untiring efforts was largely due the continued loyalty of Maryland to the Union. Though the measure was introduced and committed thus early, it was not brought up for debate until the last day of the succeeding May.

In the mean time the subject was brought before the Senate, on the 14th of the following month, by a resolution, offered by Mr. Henderson of Missouri, proposing a similar amendment of the Constitution; and it was referred to the Committee of the Judiciary. Soon afterward Mr. Sumner introduced a joint resolution providing that "all persons are equal before the law, so that no person can hold another as slave." He desired that it should be referred to the Select Committee on Slavery, but in deference to the generally expressed conviction that it should have the same reference of the other measures introduced, it, too, was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary. This committee consisted of five Republicans, Trumbull, Foster, Ten Eyck, Harris, and Howard; and two Democrats, Bayard and Powell. Of the former, Trumbull and Howard were pronounced antislavery men, while Foster, Harris, and Ten Eyck, though Republicans, were rather conservative. Bayard and Powell were Southern Democrats, and looked with disfavor upon emancipation. The committee reported adversely on Mr. Sumner's resolution; and in lieu of that of Mr. Henderson proposed the following as the XIIIth amendment of the Constitution: —

Sect. 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime, whereof the party shall have been fully convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Sect. 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

On the 28th of March the subject came up for consideration, and Mr. Trumbull opened the debate with a brief and comprehensive statement of the question. Expressing his conviction that if the measure passed Congress, it would be ratified by the requisite number of States, he said: "That accomplished, we are forever freed of this troublesome question. We accomplish then what the statesmen of the country have been struggling to accomplish for years. We take this question entirely away from the politics of the country. We relieve Congress of sectional strifes; and what is better than all, we restore to a whole race that freedom which is theirs by the gift of God, but which we for generations have wickedly denied them." This calm and dispassionate avowal, by the chairman, of the firm and determined purpose of the friends of freedom to use the power thus unexpectedly and, many thought, providentially place in their hands, to right the great wrong of the age and nation, and to remove entirely the terrible evil that had so signally endangered and endangered the land, introduced a debate of great earnestness and determination.

Mr. Wilson followed Mr. Trumbull. "The crowning act," he said, "in this series of acts for the restriction and extinction of slavery in America, is this proposed amendment to the Constitution, prohibiting the existence of slavery forevermore in the Republic of the United States. If this amendment shall be incorporated by the will of the nation into the Constitution of the United States, it will obliterate the last lingering vestiges of the slave system — its chattelizing, degrading, and bloody codes; its dark, malignant, barbarizing spirit; all it was and is; everything connected with it or pertaining to it — from the face of the nation it has scarred with moral desolation, from the bosom of the country it has reddened with the blood and strewn with the graves of patriotism. The incorporation of this amendment into the organic law of the nation will make impossible forevermore the reappearing of the discarded slave system, and the returning of the despotism of the slave-master's domination. Then, sir, when this amendment to the Constitution shall be consummated, the shackle will fall from the limbs of the hapless bondman, and the lash drop from the weary hand of the taskmaster. Then the sharp cry of the agonizing hearts of severed families will cease to vex the weary ear of the nation, and to pierce the ear of Him whose judgments are now avenging the wrongs of centuries. Then the slave mart, pen, and auction-block, with their clanking fetters for human limbs, will disappear from the land they have brutalized; and the schoolhouse will rise to enlighten the darkened intellect of a race imbruted by long years of enforced ignorance. Then the sacred rights of human nature, the hallowed family relations of husband and wife, parent and child, will be protected by the guardian spirit of that law which makes sacred alike proud homes and the lowly cabins of free dom. Then the scarred earth, blighted by the sweat and tears of bondage, will bloom again under the quickening culture of rewarded toil. Then the wronged victim of the slave system, the poor white man, the sand-hiller, the clay-eater, of the wasted fields of Carolina, impoverished, debased, dishonored by the system that makes toil a badge of disgrace, and the instruction of the brain and soul of man a crime, will lift his abashed forehead to the skies, and begin to run the race of improvement, progress, and elevation. Then the nation, 'regenerated and disenthralled by the genius of universal emancipation,' will run the career of development, power, and glory, quickened, animated, and guided by the spirit of the Christian democracy, that ' pulls not the highest down, but lifts the lowest up.' "

But the proposed amendment could not but receive the determined and violent opposition of those who still believed in slavery, and who still adhered to the " peculiar institution." Naturally, not to say necessarily, was heard the shrill voice of Garrett Davis, deprecating all such proposed action, and pleading for the impunity of his cherished system. He closed a long and fiery speech with the implied threat and prediction of mob violence and control, as the necessary consequence of such legislation. "If the dominant party can continue their power and rule," he said, "either by the will or acquiescence of the people, or the exercise of the formidable powers which it has usurped, I am not able to see any termination of the present and still growing ills, short of the ordeal of general and bloody anarchy." He exhibited his feeling and purpose, too, by singular and factious amendments, one proposing a division of New England into two States, as a sequel to the remark that "the most effective single cause of the pending war has been the intermeddling of Massachusetts with the institution of slavery"; another that "Congress shall distribute the emancipated slaves among the free States"; another still, that no slave should be emancipated unless the owner shall be paid the full value thereof. But the largest number of votes received for any of his amendments was five, and the lowest two.

Mr. Saulsbury was no less extreme and defiant. Basing his conclusions on its teachings, he defended slavery from the Scriptures, declaring that " the Almighty immediately after the Flood condemned a whole race to servitude. He said: ' Cursed be Canaan.' .... It has, too, the sanction of God's own apostles, for when Paul sent back Onesimus to Philemon, he sent his doulos, a slave born as such." Mr. Powell also opposed the amendment, and like his colleague proposed several, which were at once voted down. Nor was the only opposition from Southern members. Mr. McDougall of California denounced the amendment and the whole antislavery policy of the administration, contending that it achieved nothing that tended "towards victory," and that it only aroused "the fiercer animosity of an already violent foe." At another stage of the debate he said: "I look upon this policy as being a policy for sacrificing the whole of the colored race now occupying parts of this Republic. This policy will engulf them. They can never commingle with us."

Mr. Hendricks of Indiana made a speech expressive at once of the intolerance of caste as well as of his opposition to the proposed amendment. Saying that the government had "nothing to do with the moral aspects of slavery," he exclaimed, "Are the negroes to remain among us? I can say to the Senator that they never will associate with the white people of this country on terms of equality."

But, while Northern men were thus giving such unequivocal utterance to "Southern principles," there were representatives from the South who spoke earnestly and eloquently for freedom— from the new State of Missouri as well as from the old State of Maryland. "Our ancestors," said Mr. Henderson of the former, "acknowledged the truth when they proclaimed the inalienable right of liberty unto all men. That declaration gave them liberty. It fired the world, and enlisted the sympathies of civilization. So soon as they obtained it for themselves, however, the false counsels of expediency came to refuse it to others." From the latter State, Reverdy Johnson, an eminent lawyer, and a statesman of recognized ability and large experience, after saying that he had long foreseen that "to this complexion it must come at last," added: "If there be justice in God's providence, if we are at liberty to suppose that He will not abandon man and his rights to their own fate, and suffer their destiny to be worked out by their own means and with their own lights, I never doubted that the day must come when human slavery would be exterminated by a convulsive effort on the part of the bondmen, unless that other and better reason and influence which might bring it about should be successful, — the mild though powerful influences of that higher and elevated morality which the Christian religion teaches."

A somewhat striking feature of the debate was this reverent reference to the Supreme Being and to the binding authority of His revelation. Mr. Harlan found his warrant for supporting the amendment in the fact that slavery could find no valid claim in any human statute, "or in the Hebrew code written by the finger of God protruded from the flame of fire on the summit of Sinai." Mr. Hale, referring to a historical incident in the life of the founder of the Dutch Republic who, in a time of great public calamity and peril, being asked if he had secured any alliances, replied affirmatively by saying: "Yes, I have allied myself to the King of kings," added: "Sir, that is the position, and the only position, this nation can occupy. If we cannot do that; if we cannot put away from us the great sin and the great crime which has separated us, not only from the sympathies of the Christian world, but from the blessings of the God of the Christian world, — then indeed is our cause hopeless and our struggle desperate."

Mr. Sumner made a constitutional argument in defence of the proposed amendment. " There is nothing," he declared, "in the Constitution, on which slavery can rest, or find even the least support. Even on the face of that instrument, it is an outlaw; but, if we look further at its provisions, we find at least four distinct sources of power, which, if executed, must render slavery impossible, while the preamble makes them all vital for freedom : first, the power to provide for the common defence and general welfare; secondly, the power to raise armies and maintain navies ; thirdly, the power to guarantee to every State a republican form of government ; and, fourthly, the power to secure liberty to every person restrained without due process of law. But all these provisions are something more than powers: they are duties also. And yet we are constantly and painfully reminded in this chamber that pending measures against slavery are unconstitutional. Sir, this is an immense mistake. Nothing against slavery can be unconstitutional. It is only hesitation which is unconstitutional."

Mr. Sumner, at the close of his speech, moved to amend by substituting for the language reported the declaration that " all persons are equal, and that no person can hold another as a slave"; with provisions authorizing Congress to enact laws in accordance with these principles. He also objected to the phraseology as partaking too much of the ordinance of 1787, and doubted the expediency of reproducing that instrument in the proposed amendment. To this Mr. Howard of Michigan replied that he preferred " to go back to the good old Anglo-Saxon language employed by our fathers in the ordinance of 1787, an expression which has been adjudicated upon repeatedly, which is perfectly well understood both by the public and by judicial tribunals; a phrase, I may say further, which is peculiarly near and dear to the people of the Northwestern Territory, from whose soil slavery was excluded by it." After further explanation from the chairman of the committee, Mr. Sumner withdrew his proposition, and the joint resolution was adopted by a vote of thirty-eight to six.

The resolution came up in the House on the 31st of May. Mr. Morris of New York, a member of the Committee on the Judiciary, made an able speech in its advocacy, in which lie gave the keynote of the defence of this great measure by placing it on the high ground of justice, obligation, and the necessities of the case, growing out of the workings of natural law and moral accountability. "I aver," he said, "that no nation can violate any moral law, without incurring a penalty. No member of society, no matter how weak or humble, can be oppressed without injury to the whole. It is an inexorable law. There is a system of compensation in the economy of God, and applicable to nations and individuals, as inevitable as that fire will burn. We may not admit it; but time will realize the fact. We may not recognize the hand; but the chastening will come as certainly as that God is just. Legislators as well as divines should remember these truths."

The measure was destined, however, to encounter a fiercer and more rancorous opposition in the House than it had met in the Senate; and it is to be noted that the most extreme and audacious sentiments were found among Northern Democratic utterances. Fernando Wood was among the most forward and fierce. After saying that " the bloody and brutal policy of the administration " was destroying all hope of reconstruction; that the measure was " beyond the power of the government"; and that it involved the "extermination" of Southern white men and the "forfeiture" of their "land and other property," he said: "Negroes and military colonists will take the place of the race thus blotted out of existence. Is this intended as the last scene of the bloody drama of carnage and civil war now being prosecuted? The world looks on with horror, and it will leave to future ages a fearful warning to avoid similar acts of perfidious atrocity."

"Of all the measures of this disastrous administration," said Mr. Holman of Indiana, "each in its turn producing new calamities, this attempt to tamper with the Constitution threatens the most permanent injury." "It is better," said Mr. Edgerton of the same State, "for our country, better for man, that negro slavery exist a thousand years, than that American white men lose their constitutional liberty in the extinction of the constitutional sovereignty of the Federal States of the Union." Mr. Kalbfleisch of New York charged upon the Republicans that this was "an attempt to replenish their almost exhausted stock of political capital by creating a new issue based upon the slavery question before the people, in the hope of renewing that agitation upon the turbulent waves of which they were swept into the power which they have so deplorably abused." Mr. Pendleton of Ohio urged the extremest pretensions of the State-rights school, and contended that neither Congress nor the country could abolish slavery in a single State against the will and purpose of that State. "Neither three fourths of the States," he said, "nor all the States save one can abolish slavery in that dissenting State, because it lies within the domain reserved entirely to each State for itself, and upon it the other States cannot enter."

But there were not wanting earnest Republicans to give a reason for their faith, and to urge upon Congress and the country cogent arguments for this great act of justice and wise statesmanship. Slavery was spoken of with no mealy words, as to both its character and influence, in the evils it had inflicted in the past, and in the appalling calamities in which it was then involving the land. "Slavery," said Mr. Shannon of California, "is paganism refined, brutality vitiated, dishonesty corrupted; and we are asked to retain this cause, to protect it, after it has corrupted our sons, dishonored our daughters, subverted our institutions, and shed rivers of the best blood of our countrymen." "No expense," said Mr. Kellogg of New York, "no sacrifice, no allurement, must deter or divert us; but rising with the emergency, and equal to every fate, we must meet and master every obstacle that stands in the way of the complete supremacy of the Constitution and the laws." "Sir," said Mr. Kelley of Pennsylvania, "the privilege is not often given to, men to perform an act, the influence of which will be felt beneficently by the poor, the oppressed, the ignorant, and the degraded of all lands, and which will endure until terminated by the wreck of matter and the crash of worlds. I rise that I may thus publicly thank God, and the good people by whose suffrages I am here to-day, for the golden opportunity afforded me of doing such an act." "Never," said Mr. Arnold of Illinois, "since the day when John Adams pleaded for the Declaration of Independence, has so important a question been submitted to an American Congress as that upon which you are now about to vote. The signing of the immortal Declaration is a familiar picture in every log-cabin and residence all over the land. Pass this resolution, and the grand spectacle of this vote, which knocks off the fetters of a whole race, will make this scene immortal."

Several other amendments were offered and rejected, when a vote was reached, and it was found that ninety-three had voted for the resolution, sixty-five had voted in the negative, and twenty-three had not voted at all. So the joint resolution failed, not having received two thirds of the votes cast. Mr. Ashley voted in the negative in order to move a reconsideration, which he did; but pending action thereon Congress adjourned, and the first session closed.

The XXXVIIIth Congress began its second session on the 5th of December, 1864. The President in his annual message stated that important movements had occurred during the year looking toward the establishment of freedom, and "moulding society for durability in the Union." He spoke of the action that had already been taken in Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Maryland, indicative of complete success. Maryland, he said, was secured to liberty and the Union for the future, and she will no longer be claimed by the genius of Rebellion. "Like another foul spirit being driven out, it may seek to tear; but it will woo no more." Reminding Congress that the election made it almost certain that the next House would pass the proposed amendment of the Constitution, he recommended that it should be considered and adopted then.

Mr. Brooks of New York took early occasion to controvert the antislavery sentiments and to condemn the general policy of the President, in an earnest, aggressive, and eloquent speech. Avowing this opposition and his strong desire for peace and the reunion of the States, he said, if he could enter the portals of the White House, he would approach the chief magistrate, and on bended knee he would implore him to remember the conciliatory and compromising policy of Henry Clay, follow his illustrious example, and "do himself the immortal honor to be not the last President of the United States, but the savior and restorer of this divided, distracted, and bleeding Union." Mr. Price of Iowa sharply criticised the speech of the member from New York. He affirmed its tendency, if not its purpose, to be to strengthen Rebel hands and "cause the blood of patriots to flow upon Southern soil." Thaddeus Stevens told him his purpose was to save from destruction the system of "human bondage, the darling institution of the Democratic party," and that if it were given to man to look back from the future world and know what posterity shall say, he would "blush at the record which impartial history would make." Mr. Cresswell of Maryland favored emancipation. "The issue," he said, "is sharply defined between the Rebellion and the United States. On the one side is disunion for the sake of slavery; on the other is freedom for the sake of the Union. Whether we would or not, we must establish freedom if we would exterminate treason."

On the 6th of January Mr. Ashley introduced the debate on his motion to reconsider the vote of the previous session rejecting the antislavery amendment by a very vigorous and able speech. "If slavery is wrong and criminal," he said, "as the great body of Christian and enlightened men admit, it is certainly our duty to abolish it, if we have the power. Have we the power? " To an affirmative answer he then addressed himself, basing his argument mainly on the fifth article of the Constitution providing for amendments. Alluding to the argument of his colleague, Mr. Pendleton, above referred to, he contended, if that assumption was correct, "then is the clause of the Constitution just quoted a dead letter." Continuing that line of argument, he said: "It is past comprehension how any man, with the Constitution before him, and the history of the convention which formed that Constitution within his reach, together with the repeated decisions of the Supreme Court against the assumption of the State-rights pretensions, can be found at this late day defending the State-sovereignty dogmas, and claiming that the national Constitution cannot be so amended as to prohibit slavery, even though all the States of the Union, save one, gave it their approval." He spoke further of " the utter indefensibility of the State sovereignty dogmas, and of the supreme power intended by the framers of the Constitution to be lodged in the national government." Mr. Orth of Indiana said if that Congress did not heed the popular voice on the subject, "another Congress, fresh from the people," would. Mr. Scofield of Pennsylvania spoke of the different courses of action on slavery which had been taken in several of the States, whose names and policy he specified, — such action in some being of a conflicting character, if not of doubtful propriety; and he contended that the only way to harmonize matters, as it afforded the only satisfactory solution of the many vexed questions that were arising and would arise, was to abolish the guilty cause itself. Slavery, he said, must die, and "the only question is, shall it die now, by a constitutional amendment, — a single stroke of the axe, — or shall it linger in party warfare, through a quarter or half a century of acrimonious debate, patchwork legislation, and conflicting adjudication? " Mr. Davis of New York said the country had suffered and was suffering too much from slavery for "gentlemen from the free North to stand here as its advocates and defenders."

Mr. Kasson of Iowa appealed to the Democrats to support the measure in the interests of peace and harmony, declaring that to refuse would " compel the perpetuation of this institution with bloodshed without end in the future, and disunion without end in the present." "I had rather stand solitary," he said, "with my name recorded for this amendment, with the hope of justice twenty years hence, than to have all the honors which could be heaped upon me by any political party in opposition to this doctrine."

Mr. McBride of Oregon, speaking of the terrible evils of slavery, said: " Long enough has it debauched and deadened the conscience of the people; long enough has it shocked humanity and defied Heaven by its violations of every principle of truth and morality; and now, having filled up its cup of crime and villany by a treason so rank and foul as to shame all historic example and all criminal parallel, we, who hold the malefactor in our grip, owe it to humanity, to justice, to ourselves, and the world, to strangle the guilty monster." Let slavery be destroyed," said Mr. Baldwin of Massachusetts, "for our republican institutions cannot be safe while it exists! Let it be destroyed, that the rights of man may be vindicated, and eternal justice satisfied! " Mr. Jenckes of Rhode Island, after vindicating any action "in the direct line of the eternal forces acting out God's justice upon earth," said: "In this contest slavery commenced the fight; it chose its own battle-field; it has fought its battle, and it is dead. In the course of our victorious march, that battle-field has come into our possession, and the corpse of our dead enemy is upon it. Let us bury it quickly, and with as little ceremony as possible, that the foul odor of its rotting carcass may no longer offend us and the world." Mr. Grinnell of Iowa said it was " a measure of justice to millions in chains and to hundreds of thousands fighting our battles." "The blood of the nation," said Mr. Woodbridge of Vermont, "and the tears of the widow call for the passage of this resolution." Mr. Garfield of Ohio invoked the House in the name of justice, in the name of the Republic, to hold not back the uplifted sword now drawn to strike the final blow.

As in the debate at the previous session, the argument was based on high moral grounds, and appeals for the adoption of the proposed amendment were made in the name of justice and the God of justice. "I believe," said Mr. Morris of New York, "before God, the hour has come in which, if we would avert the judgments of Heaven and save our nation from ruin, we must render our organic law explicitly affirmative on the great question of human slavery." Mr. Patterson of New Hampshire denied that "any assembly of law-makers ever possessed the power to create a right of property in man which we, as men, are bound to respect." "The slave system," said Mr. Pike of Maine, "should be eradicated without delay, and no vestige left to offend God and curse man." In the same vein Mr. Washburn of Illinois paid a tribute of respect to those Democrats of his State who had "voted to wipe out the institution of slavery, so wicked and infernal in itself, and which has brought such untold sorrows upon the nation." Thaddeus Stevens replied sharply to an extreme speech of Mr. Pendleton. After alluding to the lessons of his "early youth," which, he thanked God, he had not forgotten "in enfeebling age"; to his hatred of slavery and love of liberty, "inflamed by the inspired teachings of Socrates and the divine inspiration of Jesus," he expressed his willingness to take his chances in the coming estimate of posterity. "When we all moulder in the dust," he said, "he may have his epitaph written, if it be truly written, ' Here rests the ablest and most pertinacious defender of slavery, and opponent of liberty’; and I will be satisfied if my epitaph shall be written thus: ' Here lies one who never rose to any eminence, and who only courted the low ambition to have it said, that he had striven to ameliorate the condition of the poor, the lowly, the down-trodden of every race and language and color.' "

As in the previous debate, so in this, some of the most earnest speeches in favor of the measure came from the slave States. Mr. Yeaman of Kentucky, though he believed slavery to be already doomed, advocated the amendment. "Events," he said, "have taken the place of arguments, and stern facts the place of doubtful conclusions. The disturbing forces are greater than we can control. Shall we manfully yield this one point, already of no practical value, or childishly resist, and be overthrown with an institution whose fall is literally crashing in our ears? " Mr. Smithers of Delaware alluded to the former antislavery feeling in his State, and its subsequent decay, in which they had participated with the rest of the nation. He said that the hand of freedom had gone "back on the dial," but he added that it was moving forward again, and it was "fast upon the hour of noon" ; while there were "hundreds, perhaps thousands," who would "hail with joy the accomplishment of this great measure of justice, tranquillity, and security." Mr. Smith of Kentucky, after saying that it was slavery that produced the revolution, contended that "only by getting rid of this subject can we give permanent peace and tranquillity to the land."

But more significant and instructive, perhaps, as showing progress and the drift of opinion, were the speeches of those who had at the previous session voted against the amendment. Mr. McAllister of Pennsylvania, who had voted adversely, now said: " In voting for it I cast my vote against the corner-stone of the Southern Confederacy, and declare eternal war against the enemies of my country." Mr. Crofforth of the same State accompanied his vote with this declaration: " If by my action to-day I dig my political grave, I will descend into it without a murmur; knowing that I am justified in my action by a conscientious belief I am doing what will ultimately prove to be a service to my country, and knowing there is one dear, devoted, and loved being in this wide world who will not bring tears of bitterness to that grave, but will strew it with flowers." Mr. Herrick of New York, after saying that he regarded such change as demanded by the good of the country and the maintenance of its institutions, added, with deep emotion: "I may incur the censure of some of my party friends on this floor, and perhaps displease some of my respected constituents; but to me the country of my birth, and the government under whose benign protection I have enjoyed all the blessings of liberty, and under which, restored to more than all its original splendor, and strengthened and purified by the trials through which it has passed, I expect my children's children to enjoy the same blessings long after my mortal frame shall have mouldered into dust, is dearer to me than friends or party or political position. Firm in the consciousness of right, I know that posterity will do me justice, and feel that no descendant of mine will ever blush at the sight of the page on which my vote is recorded in favor of country, government, liberty, and progress."

While, however, there was this growing sentiment in its favor, the opposition remained no less determined and envenomed, expressing the same bitter and depreciating words against the negro and his friends. Mr. Brooks of New York admitted that the war had destroyed slavery; but he added: " "We have become the slaves, the thralls, the bondmen of the capitalists of the North; for the emancipation of the negroes of the South we have enslaved the white people of the North to everlasting debt." Mr. Bliss of Ohio scouted the idea of humanity, saying that " the pretence of a humanitarian motive towards the negroes amounts to nothing but a display of systematic and intense hypocrisy"; and that "the best possible disposition of them is to restore them to their primal condition." Mr. Rogers of New Jersey denied that slavery was the cause of the war. "The history of our country will," he said, "in pages red with blood record that this war was caused by the acts of the Abolitionists of the North." Mr. Ward denied the right of incorporating such an amendment into the Constitution; and if the right existed, he questioned the expediency of its exercise, as it would "add fuel to the flame, embitter the South, and prolong the sanguinary contest." Mr. Mallory of Kentucky deprecated the movement because "it would multiply and complicate the difficulties in relation to slavery." Mr. Clay of the same State, a large slaveholder, pleaded earnestly and eloquently against the adoption of the measure. Mr. Eldridge, a leading Democrat of Wisconsin, told the House that the proposed action would "furnish the Rebel leaders another argument by which to win the doubting and to arouse the lukewarm." Mr. White of Ohio expressed the conviction that it would "sound the death-knell of the Union forever." Mr. Townsend of New York opposed "the change of the organic law in times of civil war." With more elaboration, Mr. Voorhees of Indiana enunciated a similar thought. "Such an act," he said, "should not be consummated amid the fiery passions and vehement hates engendered by civil war. It should be the work of calmness and of peace. It is to last for all time. When the sky shall again be clear over our heads, a peaceful sun illuminating the land, and our great household of States all at home in harmony once more, then will be the time to consider what changes, if any, this generation desires to make on the work of Washington, Madison, and the revered sages of our antiquity." Mr. Holman believed the fate of slavery sealed, and therefore such action was not necessary, Mr. Cox of Ohio admitted the right to adopt the amendment, but denied its expediency. Mr. Pendleton of Ohio made a constitutional argument against the measure; closing with these words of solemn asseveration and warning. "The time is fast passing away," he said, "when, under the influence of your policy and your legislation, the Southern people will have the least interest in your laws. Your legislation has turned to ashes the golden fruits of your military successes. Your policy has verified the alleged causes of secession. Gentlemen must not be misled by the siren voices that come up to them from captured cities of the South. They woo you but to ruin. If you misunderstand them, they will lead you as willing victims upon quick sands and rocks." Mr. Harding of Kentucky also denied the power, by amendment, to abolish or establish slavery, and expressed his apprehension of "danger that the Constitution, after all that has been done and suffered to preserve it, may at last sink and perish by the hand of revolution in the North."

But there were Democrats who took broader and wiser views, and who gave both voice and vote for the measure. Among them was Rollins of Missouri. He had voted against it at the previous session, but he had changed his views. "It will go far," he said, "to strengthen the government, by preventing future dissension and cementing the bonds of the Union, on the preservation of which depends our strength, our security, our safety, our happiness, and the continued existence of free institutions on the American continent." Mr. King of the same State also changed his vote, expressing the hope that "from the bloody ordeal and fierce chastening of the past four years, our glorious nation may still brave the trials yet to come, and that erelong we shall enter the sun shine of peace, and stand before the world a free and united people." Mr. Odell of New York gave expression to the belief that they had been remiss in so long yielding to Southern "encroachment upon the religious belief and Northern sentiment "; that had they earlier exerted their power and manhood the war would never have been inaugurated; that slavery had for years been "a dead weight on the Democratic party"; that "it ought no longer to consent to be dragged down by its influence"; and that, "accepting the facts of history," it should "march on with the world in its progress of human events, turn its back upon its dark past, and its eyes upon the bright future."

Other earnest, able, and eloquent speeches were made until the 28th, when the motion for reconsideration was carried; and the joint resolution was adopted by a vote of one hundred and nineteen to fifty-six, eight members not voting. As the time for closing the debate approached, the interest increased, and the notice that the vote would be taken the next day was the occasion for intense excitement. On the day of the vote the galleries and the approaches thereto were thronged, while Senators, judges, Cabinet officers and others crowded upon the floor. The uncertainty that still hung over the result of the vote, even at the beginning of the roll-call, occasioned the most intense and breathless anxiety and suspense. And when the result was assured, and the Speaker announced that the requisite two-thirds vote had been given for the proposed amendment, the pent-up feelings of the multitude found expression in the most uproarious demonstrations of delight, in which members on the floor as well as the crowd in the galleries took part. After these exhibitions of enthusiasm and gratification had somewhat subsided, Mr. Ingersoll of Illinois said: "In honor of this immortal and sublime event, I move that the House do now adjourn." The motion was carried amid similar demonstrations of jubilant and enthusiastic delight. The amendment, having been adopted by both houses of Congress, received the signature of the President, was submitted, in the manner prescribed, to the States for ratification, received the vote of the required three fourths of the States, and by public proclamation of Mr. Lincoln on the eighteenth day of December, 1865, the XIIIth Amendment became a part of the Constitution of the United States of America, and slavery was forever thereafter prohibited by the organic law of the land.

The absorbing interest and excitement which were exhibited at the capital prevailed to a very large extent throughout the nation, both North and South, though for widely variant reasons, as the great debate proceeded and the hour for voting approached. It could hardly be otherwise than that so radical a measure, so wide a departure from the course hitherto pursued by the nation, so far in advance of the proclaimed policy of the Republican party itself, should excite profound attention; and that the same uncertainty and consequent anxiety that prevailed at Washington, as to the probable action of the two houses, should be felt throughout the country.

Various, if not adverse, motives unquestionably contributed to this change in the organic law. Many acted from the highest convictions of religious obligation. In the XIIIth Amendment they found the glorious fruition of the struggles, the hopes, and the prayers of years. Others were prompted mainly by humane considerations and a natural detestation of slavery. Such gladly embraced the opportunity afforded by absolution from the constitutional obligations which had formerly held them back, to vote against a system so distasteful to their better natures, which had inflicted, and which was still inflicting, such harm upon the nation. And then, again, there were many who, taught in the fearful and fiery school of war through which they were passing, were reading, in the light of its lurid flames, the great and primal truths of free institutions as they had never read them before. But a larger number still, it is probable, acted from prudential considerations merely. They accepted emancipation not so much from any heartfelt conversion to the doctrine of antislavery as from the conviction that the removal of slavery had become a military, if not a political, necessity. Mingled with such considerations, there were, in the minds of some, feelings of resentment and indignation towards the slaveholders on account of the injury they had inflicted by their causeless rebellion and their ungrateful return for the many sacrifices which the conservatives of the North had made in their behalf. The foul spirit of caste, not fully exorcised, still lurked within the hearts of many who yet from prudential and political considerations voted to place the ban of a constitutional amendment upon the system that had without that spirit been impossible. It is not strange, therefore, that votes thus prompted and secured were not always followed by consistent conduct, or by conduct in full harmony with such action. But, however effected, the great change was made, and now the Constitution and the Declaration, no longer at variance, give utterance to the same great truths of human liberty, fraternity, equality.

Though, doubtless, there is ground for the allegation, often made, that the XIIIth Amendment did not fairly represent the real opinions of many individuals, and even States, who voted for it from political rather than moral considerations, and that it had the weakness of all laws which are in advance of the public sentiment, its enactment was a great gain to the cause of humanity and good government. It transferred the moral power that inheres in all law from the wrong to the right side of the " irrepressible conflict." Hitherto the advocates of oppression could plead the compromises of the Constitution, and claim, as they did most pertinaciously and too successfully, that the law was on their side. The tendency, therefore, as historical facts painfully show, was in the wrong direction, towards conformity with the statute however in famous, debauching public sentiment, and dragging the convictions of the people down to the low level of those sinful compromises; even prominent clergymen preaching discourses, that were scattered broadcast, in favor of the enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act. All this is now changed. The organic law is now right, and, instead of dragging or keeping the popular sentiment down, it is lifting it up to the plane of its own high ideal. He that treats the negro unjustly cannot now, as before, plead the sanction of the Constitution; but he violates human as well as divine law. The gain is, therefore, immense; and it gives. the negro and his friends high vantage-ground in the conflict still in progress. Public sentiment may not yet be fully up to its proper enforcement; but the tendency — it is a source of comfort and courage — is toward it.

Source:  Wilson, Henry, History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, Vol. 3.  Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1878, 434-454.



Chapter: “Closing Session of XXXVIIIth Congress. — Message. — Attempted Negotiations,” by Henry Wilson, in History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, 1878.

The third event to be noted was the full and complete con version of the President to the doctrine of emancipation as a cardinal point in the subsequent policy of his administration. Nor need it be concealed that it was a conversion as radical as it was unquestionable, and that in adopting it he was taking a new departure. But having reached the conclusion that such, as he expressed it, was "God's will," and that the finger of Providence pointed in that direction, there was no one firmer or more unflinching in his determination to take no step backward, but to move forward in the path thus marked out. Not blindly and recklessly, not perhaps always logically, certainly not always to the satisfaction of the more ardent of his supporters, did he proceed. But "with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right," he had set his face toward the freedom of the black man, and he gave no sign of faltering. Of this there were numerous examples. One was the persistency with which he pressed the constitutional amendment abolishing slavery. Indeed, there is in it very much indicative of the man and of his earnestness of purpose, and of the rapid transition that was taking place in the public mind, which he not only recognized, but encouraged. Considering that he entered office committed, by both the platform on which he was elected and all the antecedent principles and prejudices of his life, to the policy of non-interference with slavery in the States, and had always coupled the very idea of emancipation with that of colonization, the language employed is remark able. After saying that at the previous session of Congress the Senate had passed a proposed amendment of the Constitution abolishing slavery, but it failed in the House for lack of the requisite two-thirds vote, he added: " Although the present is the same Congress, and nearly the same members, and without questioning the wisdom or patriotism of those who stood in opposition, I venture to recommend the reconsideration and passage of the measure at the present session. Of course the abstract question is not changed; but an intervening election shows, almost certainly, that the next Congress will pass the measure if this does not. Hence there is only a question of time as to when the proposed amendment shall go to the States for their action. And as it is to go, at all events, may we not agree that the sooner the better?

"It is not claimed that the election has imposed a duty on members to change their views or their votes, any further than, as an additional element to be considered, their judgment may be affected by it. It is the voice of the people now, for the first time, heard upon the subject. In a great national crisis like ours, unanimity of action among those seeking a common end is very desirable, almost indispensable; and yet no approach to such unanimity is attainable unless some deference is paid to the will of the majority. In this case the common end is the maintenance of the Union; and among the means to secure that end, such will, through the election, is most clearly declared in favor of such constitutional amendment."

Source:  Wilson, Henry, History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, Vol. 3.  Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1878, 567-568.


THOMAS, Lorenzo, 1804-1875, Major General, U.S. Army.  Organized U.S. Colored Troops for the Union Army.

(Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, p. 85; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 9, Pt. 2, p. 441; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 21, p. 516)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

THOMAS, Lorenzo, soldier, b. in New Castle, Del., 26 Oct., 1804; d. in Washington, D. C., 2 March, 1875. His father, Evan, was of Welsh extraction, and served in the militia during the war of 1812, and one of his uncles was a favorite officer of Gen. Washington. He was at first destined for mercantile pursuits, but received an appointment to the U. S. military academy, and was graduated there in 1823. He served in the 4th infantry in Florida till 1831, and again in the Florida war of 1836-'7, and as chief of staff of the army in that state in 1839-'40, becoming captain, 23 Sept., 1836, and major on the staff and assistant adjutant-general, 7 July, 1838. He there did duty in the last-named office at Washington till the Mexican war, in which he was chief of staff of Gen. William O. Butler in 1846-'8, and of the Army of Mexico till June, 1848, and received the brevet of lieutenant-colonel for gallantry at Monterey. He was then adjutant-general at army headquarters, Washington, till 1853, and chief of staff to Gen. Winfield Scott till 1861, when he was brevetted brigadier-general on 7 May, and made adjutant-general of the army on 3 Aug., with the full rank of brigadier-general. Here he served till 1863, when he was intrusted for two years with the organization of colored troops in the southern states. When President Johnson removed Edwin M. Stanton from his post as secretary of war he appointed Gen. Thomas secretary ad interim, 21 Feb., 1868, but, owing to Stanton's refusal to vacate, Thomas did not enter on the office. He was brevetted major-general, United States army, on 13 March, 1865, for services during the civil war, and on 22 Feb., 1869, he was retired. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, pp. 85.


THOME, James A., 1809-1873, August, Kentucky, abolitionist, anti-slavery activist, educator, clergyman.  Father was a slaveholder.  Thome was a member and Vice President, 1839-1840, of the American Anti-Slavery Society (AASS) and professor at Oberlin College. 

(Dumond, 1961m pp., 152, 155, 174; Filler, 1960, pp. 68, 140; Mabee, 1970, p. 272; Pease, 1965, pp. 91-93)


THOMPSON, Daniel Pierce, 1795-1868, Vermont, abolitionist, noted author, novelist, lawyer, political leader.  Member of the Liberty Party.  Editor, from 1849-1856, of the anti-slavery weekly newspaper, Green Mountain Freeman.  Joined the Republican Party in 1856 because of its anti-slavery platform.

(Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. V; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 9, Pt. 2, p. 454)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

THOMPSON, Daniel Pierce, author, b. in Charlestown (now a part of Boston), Mass., 1 Oct., 1793; d. in Montpelier, Vt., 6 June, 1868. He was the grandson of Daniel, who was a cousin of Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford, and was killed at the battle of Lexington. He was brought up on a farm, prepared himself for college under difficulties, taught for one winter, and then entered Middlebury college, where he was graduated in 1820. Going to Virginia as a family tutor, he studied law there, and was admitted to the bar in 1823, after which he returned to Vermont and settled in Montpelier. He was register of probate in 1824, and clerk of the legislature in 1830-'3, and was then appointed to compile the “Laws of Vermont from 1824 down to and including the Year 1834” (Montpelier, 1835). He was judge of probate from 1837 till 1840, from 1843 till 1845 clerk of the supreme and county courts, and from 1853 till 1855 secretary of state. From 1849 till 1856 he edited a weekly political paper called the “Green Mountain Free man.” He was a popular lecturer before lyceums and orator on public occasions. Mr. Thompson began to contribute poems and sketches to periodicals while he was in college, and continued to write frequently for the newspapers and magazines, besides publishing political pamphlets. He took part in the anti-Masonic controversy, and published a satirical novel on the subject, entitled “The Adventures of Timothy Peacock, Esq., or Freemasonry Practically Illustrated,” which appeared under the pen-name of “A Member of the Vermont Bar” (Middlebury, 1835). In 1835 he wrote for the “New England Galaxy,” of Boston, a prize tale called “May Martin, or the Money-Diggers,” which was issued in book-form (Montpelier, 1835), and reprinted in London. Next appeared “The Green Mountain Boys,” a romance, in which the principal men connected with the history of Vermont in the Revolutionary period are brought into the plot (Montpelier, 1840; republished in Boston and London); “Locke Amsden, or the Schoolmaster” (Boston, 1845); “Lucy Hosmer, or the Guardian and the Ghost” (1848); and “The Rangers, or the Tory's Daughter” (1851). His later romances are “Tales of the Green Mountains” (1852); “Gaut Gurley, or the Trappers of Lake Umbagog” (1857); “The Doomed Chief, or Two Hundred Years Ago,” based on the story of King Philip (Philadelphia, 1860); and “Centeola, and other Tales” (New York, 1864). He was also the author of a “History of Montpelier, 1781-1860, with Biographical Sketches” (Montpelier, 1860). In later life he published monographs on topics of American history and on biographical subjects in various magazines. A novel, with the title of “The Honest Lawyer, or the Fair Castaway,” was left unfinished. Appletons’ Cyclopædia of American Biography, 1888.


THOMPSON, Edwin, 1809-1888, Lynn, Massachusetts, reformer, orator, clergyman, temperance reformer, abolitionist, Society of Friends, Quaker, traveling anti-slavery lecturer.

(Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, p. 89)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

THOMPSON, Edwin, reformer, b. in Lynn, Mass., in July, 1809; d. in East Walpole, Mass., 22 May, 1888. He was of Quaker descent, and early interested himself in the anti-slavery movement. At the suggestion of Wendell Phillips, he became a public speaker in its furtherance, travelling through the state, often on foot, lecturing in churches and school-houses, and winning a reputation as an orator by his fluency and great fund of anecdotes. While speaking in New Bedford, he roused Frederick Douglass to take up active work in behalf of his race. He was also interested from an early period in the temperance reform, which he did much to promote. Mr. Thompson was ordained as a Universalist clergyman in 1840, and afterward resided at East Walpole. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, pp. 89.


THOMPSON, George, 1804-1878, English abolitionist, reformer, orator.  Helped organize abolitionist groups in the United States.  Worked with abolitionist leader William Lloyd Garrison. 

See also Burr, James E.

(Rodriguez, 2007, pp. 43, 221; Yellin, 1994, pp. 28, 49-50, 69, 172-173, 221, 260, 260n, 282, 310-312, 311n, 320n; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, p. 90; Hinks, Peter P., & John R. McKivigan, Eds., Encyclopedia of Antislavery and Abolition.  Westport, Connecticut, Greenwood, 2007, Vol. 2, pp. 679-680; Rice, C. Duncan, The Scots Abolitionists, 1833-1861, 1981; Temperely, Howard, British Anti-Slavery, 1833-1870, 1972)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

THOMPSON, George, English reformer, b. in Liverpool, England, 18 June, 1804; d. in Leeds, England, 7 Oct., 1878. He entered actively into the agitation against slavery in the British colonies, and contributed largely to its downfall, and subsequently to that of the apprentice system. Afterward he joined the Anti-corn-law league, and also took an active part in forming the India association. In 1834, at the request of William Lloyd Garrison and others, he came to the United States to speak in behalf of the abolition of slavery. He addressed meetings in various parts of the northern states, and his efforts led to the formation of more than 150 anti-slavery societies; but he was often threatened by mobs, and finally in Boston, Mass., escaped death only by fleeing in a small row-boat to an English vessel and going to St. John, New Brunswick, whence he sailed for England in November, 1835. Mr. Thompson's visit created such excitement that President Jackson denounced him in a message to congress. He made a second visit to this country in 1851, and another during the civil war, when a public reception was given to him in the house of representatives, at which President Lincoln and his cabinet were present. He aided greatly in preventing the recognition of the southern Confederacy by the British government. Mr. Thompson was also concerned in the work of the National parliamentary reform association. In 1847 he was chosen a member of parliament for the Tower Hamlets. About 1870 a testimonial fund was raised for him by his admirers in this country and England. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, pp. 90.


THOMPSON, Joseph Parrish, 1819-1979, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, scholar, author, editor, clergyman, abolitionist.  Wrote Christianity and Emancipation (1863).  “Worked unceasingly to arouse public opinion in behalf of Negro slaves” (Scribner’s, p. 465). 

(Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, p. 93; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 9, Pt. 2, p. 464)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

THOMPSON, Joseph Parrish, scholar, b. in Philadelphia, Pa., 7 Aug., 1819; d. in Berlin, Germany, 20 Sept., 1879. He was graduated at Yale in 1838, studied theology for a few months in Andover seminary, and then at Yale from 1839 till 1840, when he was ordained as a Congregational minister. He was pastor of the Chapel street church in New Haven from that time till 1845, and during this period was one of the founders of the “New Englander.” From 1845 till his resignation in 1871 he had charge of the Broadway tabernacle in New York city. Dr. Thompson devoted much time to the study of Egyptology, in which he attained high rank. In 1852-'3 he visited Palestine, Egypt, and other eastern countries, and from that time he published continual contributions to this branch of learning in periodicals, the transactions of societies, and cyclopædias. He lectured on Egyptology in Andover seminary in 1871, and in 1872-'9 resided in Berlin, Germany, occupied in oriental studies, took an active part in the social, political, and scientific discussions, and was a member of various foreign societies, before which he delivered addresses, and contributed essays to their publications. These have been issued under the title of “American Comments on European Questions” (New York, 1884). In 1875 Dr. Thompson went to England to explain at public meetings “the attitude of Germany in regard to Ultramontanism,” for which service he was rewarded by the thanks of the German government, expressed in person by Prince Bismarck, and Dr. Thompson originated the plan of the Albany Congregationalist convention in 1852, and was a manager of the American Congregational union and the American home missionary society. He also aided in establishing the New York “Independent.” Harvard gave him the degree of D. D. in 1856, and the University of New York that of LL. D. in 1868. He published “Memoir of Timothy Dwight” (New Haven, 1844); “Lectures to Young Men” (New York, 1846); “Hints to Employers” (1847); “Memoir of David Hale” (1850); “Foster on Missions, with a Preliminary Essay” (1850); “Stray Meditations” (1852; revised ed., entitled “The Believer's Refuge," 1857); “The Invaluable Possession” (1856); “Egypt, Past and Present” (Boston, 1856); “The Early Witnesses” (1857); “Memoir of Rev. David T. Stoddard” (New York, 1858); “The Christian Graces” (1859); “The College as a Religious Institution” (1859); “Love and Penalty” (1860); “Bryant Gray” (1863); “Christianity and Emancipation” (1863); “The Holy Comforter” (1866); “Man in Genesis and Geology” (1869); “Theology of Christ, from His Own Words” (1870); “Home Worship” (1871); “Church and State in the United States” (1874); “Jesus of Nazareth: His Life, for the Young” (1875); “The United States as a Nation,” lectures (1877); and “The Workman: his False Friends and his True Friends” (1879).  Appletons’ Cyclopædia of American Biography, 1888.


THOMPSON, Joseph Pascal, 1818-1894, African American, former slave, clergyman, medical doctor, abolitionist.

(Gates, Henry Louis, Jr., & Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, eds. African American National Biography. Oxford University Press, 2013, Vol. 11, p. 148)



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

In January, 1840, Mr. Thompson of South Carolina introduced a resolution that all papers touching slavery should be laid on the table without being read or debated. He closed his speech in its behalf by moving the previous question. Francis Granger of New York expressed his admiration of the chivalry of the gentleman who would thus cut off all reply. The motion for the previous question being withdrawn, Mr. Granger vindicated the right of petition, and warned Southern members that, if they continued to deny that right, they would find enlisted under the banner of abolitionism gallant spirits of the North, who would never yield. Mr. Gentry of Tennessee said he would vote against Mr. Thompson's resolution, and for the resolution of Mr. Chinn of Louisiana for a select committee. The next day, Mr. Cooper of Georgia said that his State would act for herself, and resort to measures within her own power to put an end to abolition petitions. Mr. Botts of Virginia, a new member and a Whig of enlarged and national views, advocated the reception and reference of abolition petitions. Mr. Slade defined and vindicated the principles of the opponents of slavery; and Mr. Butler of South Carolina expressed the belief that slavery was defensible from Scripture, and that it was a blessing.

It was then moved by Mr., Adams, as an amendment of the twenty-first rule of the House, that every petition presented be received, unless objection to it be made for a special reason; and, that, whenever objection should be made, the name of the member making it and the reasons therefor be entered on the journal, so that the question, would then be: " Shall the petition be rejected,?" Mr. Adams spoke earnestly in favor of the reception of the antislavery petitions, although he did not believe, he said, that there were ten members who would vote for the abolition of slavery in the District. He declared that he was not himself prepared to vote for it, and had so stated at a previous session: The debate was continued several days, when, William Cost Johnson, a Whig member from Maryland, moved to amend Mr. Adams's amendment, so that no paper praying for the abolition of slavery in the District, or in the .Territories, or for the inhibition of the slave-trade, should be entertained, by the House in any way whatever. This was agreed to, and the amendment as then amended was adopted.

The general unrest and excitement of the Southern mind at this time were increased by other causes than the proceedings of Northern agitators. The course of England had largely contributed to this result. Her West India emancipation, her refusal to pay for slaves who bad found refuge in some of her ports, the activity of her abolition societies and , presses, and their outspoken sympathy with those of this country, the unreserved admission by ,some of her leading statesmen of their desire for universal abolition, excited Southern fears and indignation.

Source:  Wilson, Henry, History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, Vol. 1.  Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1872, 398-399.


THOREAU, Henry David, 1817-1862, poet, author of Walden, or Life in the Woods (1854), reformer and anti-slavery activist.  Wrote antislavery poetry.  Gave lectures and wrote on slavery’s immorality.  Wrote anti-slavery essay, “Reform and the Reformers” and “Herald of Freedom.”  Advocate of passive resistance to civil government.  Active participant in Underground Railroad.  Supporter of radical abolitionist John Brown. 

(Appletons’, 1888, vol. VI, pp. 100-101; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 9, Pt. 2, p. 491; Filler, 1960, pp. 45, 94, 120, 158, 183, 215, 241, 267; Glick, 1972; Gougeon, 1995; Harding, 1982; Mabee, 1970, pp. 4, 215, 248, 263, 265, 266, 267, 321, 322, 342, 376; Richardson, 1986; Rodriguez, 2007, pp. 476-477; Taylor, 1996; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 21, p. 599)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

THOREAU, Henry David, author, b. in Concord, Mass., 12 July, 1817; d. there, 6 May, 1862. His grandfather, John Thoreau, came from St. Helier, a parish in the island of Jersey, about 1773, and moved from Boston to Concord in 1800. Henry, the third of four children, went to school in Boston for a little more than a year, then attended the schools in Concord, fitted for college at a private school, entered Harvard in 1833, and was graduated in 1837, a fair scholar but not eminent. The family being in humble circumstances, the father was assisted in paying his small expenses by the boy's aunts, his elder sister, who was then teaching, the beneficiary fund of the college, and Henry's own exertions at school-keeping. Thoreau afterward led a literary life, writing, lecturing, reading, and meeting his modest physical needs by surveying, pencil-making, engineering, and carpentering. He was never married, and never left Concord except for a lecturing-tour, or a pedestrian excursion. Cities he disliked; civilization he did not believe in. Nature was his passion, and the wilder it was the more he loved it. He was a fine scholar, especially in Greek, translated two of the tragedies of Æschylus, was intimate with the Greek anthology, and knew Pindar, Simonides, and all the great lyric poets. In English poetry he preferred Milton to Shakespeare, and was more familiar with the writers of the 17th century than with modern men. He was no mean poet himself; in fact, he possessed the essential quality of the poet—a soaring imagination. He possessed an eye and an ear for beauty, and had he been gifted with the power of musical expression, would have been distinguished. No complete collection of his pieces has ever been made or could be, but fragments are exquisite. Emerson said that his poem on “Smoke” surpassed any by Simonides. That Thoreau was a man of aspiration, a pure idealist, reverent, spiritual, is plain from his intimacy with Bronson Alcot and Emerson, the latter of whom spoke these words at his funeral: “His soul was made for the noblest society; he had in a short life exhausted the capabilities of this world; wherever there is knowledge, wherever there is virtue, wherever there is beauty, he will find a home.” His religion was that of the transcendentalists. The element of negation in it was large, and in his case conspicuous and acrid. Horace Greeley found fault with his “defiant pantheism,” and an editor struck out the following passage from a contribution: “It [the pine-tree] is as immortal as I am, and, perchance, will go to as high a heaven, there to tower above me still.” His doctrine was that of individualism. Therein he differed from Emerson, who was sympathetic and began at the divine end. Thoreau began with the ground and reasoned up. He saw beauty in ashes, and “never chanced to meet with any man so cheering and elevating and encouraging, so infinitely suggestive, as the stillness and solitude of the Well-meadow field.” He aimed at becoming elemental and spontaneous. He wrote hymns to the night quite in the pagan fashion. His very aptitudes brought him in contact with the earth. His aspect suggested a faun, one who was in the secret of the wilderness. Mr. Sanborn, his friend and biographer, thus describes him: “He is a little under size, with a huge Emersonian nose, bluishgray eyes, brown hair, and a ruddy weather-beaten face, which reminds one of some shrewd and honest animal's—some retired philosophical woodchuck or magnanimous fox.” Another friend mentions his sloping shoulders, his long arms, his large hands and feet. “I fancy,” he wrote, “the saying that man was created a little lower than the angels should have been a little lower than the animals.” He built a hut on the shore of Walden pond in 1845, and lived there, with occasional absences, about two years and a half. He built on Emerson's land, though he had wished to build elsewhere. The house had no lock to the door, no curtain to the window. It belonged to nature as much as to man, and to all men as much as to any one. When Thoreau left it, it was bought by a Scotch gardener, who carried it off a little way and used it as a cottage. Then a farmer bought it, moved it still farther away, and converted it into a tool-house. A pile of stones marks the site of Thoreau's hut. He went into the woods, not because he wished to avoid his fellow-men, as a misanthrope, but because he wanted to confront Nature, to deal with her at first hand, to lead his own life, to meet primitive conditions; and having done this, he abandoned the enterprise, recommending no one to try it who had not “a pretty good supply of internal sunshine. . . . To live alone comfortably, he must have that self-comfort which rays out of Nature—a portion of it at least.” At Walden he labored, studied, meditated, edited his first book, the “Week,” and gauged his genius. He redeemed and consecrated the spot. The refusal to pay taxes, and his consequent imprisonment, were due to a more specific cause— namely, his dissent from thetheory of human government and from the practice of the American state, which supported slavery. He stood simply and plainly on the rights and duty of the individual. The act was heroic as he performed it, and, when read by the light of his philosophy, was consistent. Thoreau was anything but sour, surly, or morose. He could sing, and even dance, on occasion.  He was sweet with children; fond of kittens; a sunbeam at home; the best of brothers, gentle, patient, helpful. Those he loved he gave his heart to, and if they were few it was perhaps because his affections were not as expansive as they were deep. But he showed little emotion, having learned, like the Indian, to control his feelings. He cultivated stoicism. He had the pride as well as the conceit of egotism, and while the latter gave most offence to those who did not know him well, the former was the real cause of his conduct. Thoreau had no zeal of authorship, yet he wrote a great deal, and left a mass of manuscripts, mostly in prose, for he produced very few verses after he was thirty years old. The “Dial,” the “Democratic Review,” “Graham's Magazine,” “The Union Magazine,” “Putnam's Magazine,” the “Atlantic Monthly,” the “Tribune,” all contained contributions from him. Every volume of the “Dial” had something; the third volume many articles. The essay on “Resistance to Civil Government” was printed in “Æsthetic Papers.” Only two of the seven volumes of his printed works appeared in his lifetime—“A Week on the Concord and Merrimac Rivers” (Boston, 1849) and “Walden, or Life in the Woods” (1854). The others are “Excursions in Fieid and Forest,” with a memoir by Ralph Waldo Emerson (1863); “The Maine Woods” (1864); “Cape Cod” (1865); “Letters to Various Persons,” with nine poems (1865); and “A Yankee in Canada,'” with anti-slavery and reform papers (1866). His life has been written by William Ellery Channing under the title “The Poet-Naturalist” (1873), and by Franklin B. Sanborn in the “American Men of Letters” series (1882). The former is a rhapsody rather than a biography, and is largely composed of extracts from Thoreau's journals, which had never seen the light before. It also contains a full list of his publications. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, pp. 100-101.


THORNTON, William, 1759-1828, from West Indian island of Tortola, physician, architect, inventor, public official, humanitarian, reformer, Society of Friends, Quaker, abolitionist.  Founding member and Board of Managers, American Colonization Society.  Early advocate of Black colonization, active in colonization activities; a former slave holder, he returned his slaves to Africa.

(Burin, 2005, p. 9; Drake, 1950, pp. 123-124; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, pp. 104-105; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 9, Pt. 2, p. 504; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 21, p. 609; Staudenraus, P. J. The African Colonization Movement, 1816-1865. New York: Columbia University Press, 1961, pp. 5-13, 26, 66; Staudenraus, P. J. The African Colonization Movement, 1816-1865. New York: Columbia University Press, 1961, pp. 5-8, 7-13, 66, 91)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

THORNTON, William, superintendent of the patent-office, b. in Tortola, W. I.; d. in Washington, D. C., in 1827. He was educated as a physician, and lived for many years in Philadelphia, where he was well known in the circle of scientific men, being chosen a member of the American philosophical society on 19 Jan., 1787. He was a skilled architect, and designed the Philadelphia library building, which was completed in 1790. He removed to Washington, D. C., when the seat of government was transferred to that place, and drew the plans and superintended the erection of the first capitol building in its early stages. He was one of the first to act as commissioner of public buildings, and was the first head of the patent-office, being appointed superintendent in 1802, and serving till the time of his death. He published “Cadmus, or the Elements of Written Language” (Philadelphia, 1793).  Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, pp. 104-105.


TILTON, Theodore, 1835-1907, New York, editor, abolitionist leader.  Originally supported gradual emancipation and African colonization. Later supported militant abolitionist Elijah Lovejoy and called for immediate abolition.  Worked as tireless anti-slavery leader through mid-1840s.  Encouraged Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton to found the American Equal Rights Association, 1866. 

(Rodriguez, 2007, p. 170; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, p. 120; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 9, Pt. 2, p. 551; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 21, p. 681)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

TILTON, Theodore, journalist, b. in New York city, 2 Oct., 1835. He was graduated at the College of the city of New York in 1855, was employed for a year on the New York “Observer,” and then became an editor of the “Independent,” continuing on the staff from 1856 till 1871, the latter part of the time as editor-in-chief. He edited also, about six months of the last year, the Brooklyn “Union.” He then established the “Golden Age,” an independent political and literary weekly, but retired from it at the end of two years. In 1874 he charged Henry Ward Beecher with criminal intimacy with his wife (see BEECHER), and the case, tried by Plymouth church and the public courts, attracted wide attention. Mr. Tilton has written many political and reformatory articles, which have been reprinted in pamphlets. He has gained much reputation as an orator, being a constant and eloquent speaker in behalf of woman's rights, and, before the civil war, in opposition to slavery. For twenty years he was a lyceum lecturer, speaking in nearly every northern state and territory. He went abroad in 1883, and has since remained there. Among his works are “The Sexton's Tale, and other Poems” (New York, 1867); “Sancta Sanctorum, or Proof-Sheets from an Editor's Table” (1869); “Tempest Tossed,” a romance (1873; republished in 1883); “Thou and I,” poems (1880); and “Suabian Stories,” ballads (1882). Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, pp. 120. 


TODD, John, 1750-1782, soldier.  Member of the Virginia legislature.  Introduced bill for African American emancipation. 

(Appletons’, 1888, Vol. VI, p. 126)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

TODD, John, soldier, b. in Montgomery county, Pa., in 1750; d. at the Blue Licks, Ky., 19 Aug., 1782. He took part in the battle of Point Pleasant, Va., in 1774, as adjutant-general to Gen. Andrew Lewis. He settled as a lawyer in Fincastle, Va., but, with his brothers, emigrated to Fayette county, Ky., in 1775, took part in the organization of the Transylvania colonial legislature that year with Daniel Boone, and penetrated southwest as far as Bowling Green, Ky. In 1776 he settled near Lexington and was elected a burgess to the Virginia legislature, being one of the first two representatives from Kentucky county, where he served as county lieutenant and colonel of militia. He accompanied Gen. George Rogers Clark to Vincennes and Kaskaskia, and succeeded him in command of the latter place. In 1777 he was commissioned by Gov. Patrick Henry of Virginia, to be colonel and commandant of Illinois county, and served two years. He organized the civil government of this county, which afterward became the state of Illinois. Col. Todd went to Virginia in 1779, and was a member of the legislature in 1780, where he procured land-grants for public schools, and introduced a bill for negro emancipation. Afterward he returned to his family in Kentucky. While there he, as senior colonel, commanded the forces against the Indians in the battle of Blue Licks, where he was killed.—LEVI, brother of John, was a lieutenant under George Rogers Clark in the expedition of 1778, and one of the few survivors of the Blue Licks; and Levi's son, ROBERT S., was the father of Mrs. Abraham Lincoln.   Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, pp. 126.


TODD, John, abolitionist leader, founding member, Electing Committee, Committee of Twenty-Four/Committee of Education, the Pennsylvania Society for the Abolition of Slavery (PAS), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, April 1787

(Basker, 2005, pp. 92, 102; Nash, 1991, p. 129; Nathan, 1991)


TOMKINS, Daniel D., 1774-1825, statesman.  Vice President of the United States, Governor of New York.  Advocate for the abolishment of slavery in the United States. 

(Appletons’, 1888, Vol. VI, p. 130; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 21, p. 738; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

TOMPKINS, Daniel D., vice-president of the United States, b. in Fox Meadows (now Scarsdale), Westchester co., N. Y., 21 June, 1774; d. on Staten island, N. Y., 11 June, 1825. His father was Jonathan G. Tompkins, a farmer, who performed services useful to his country during the Revolutionary conflict. The son was graduated at Columbia in 1795, studied law, was admitted to the bar in New York city in 1797, gained rapid success in his profession, and soon began to take part in politics, being elected to the State constitutional convention of 1801, and in the same year to the assembly. He was a leader of the Republican party in his state, and in 1804 was elected to the National house of representatives, but resigned on 2 July, before the meeting of congress, in order to take his seat on the bench of the supreme court of New York, having been nominated an associate justice on the promotion of James Kent to the chief justiceship. On 9 June, 1807, he resigned in order to become the candidate for governor of the Democratic wing of his party in opposition to Morgan Lewis. He was elected by a majority of 4,000 votes, and found himself in accord with the legislature in his support of the foreign policy of the Jefferson administration. He was continued in the office by the reunited Republican factions at the elections of 1809 and 1811. In 1812, in order to prevent the establishment of the Bank of North America in New York city as the successor to the defunct United States bank of Philadelphia, he resorted to the extraordinary power of proroguing the legislature that the constitution then gave him, which no governor ever used except himself in this instance. The charter of the bank had been approved by the house, a part of the Republicans voting with the Federalists, and when the legislature reassembled it was at once passed. In the election of 1813 his majority was reduced from 10,000 to 4,000, and there was a hostile lower house in the next legislature. Nevertheless, his bold act made him very popular with the common people, and his active patriotism during the war with Great Britain increased their admiration. He placed the militia in the field, and did more than the Federal government for the success of the operations on the Canadian border, pledging his personal and official credit when the New York banks refused to lend money on the security of the U. S. treasury notes without his indorsement. He advanced the means to maintain the military school at West Point, to continue the recruiting service in Connecticut, and to pay the workmen that were employed in the manufactory of arms at Springfield. He bought the weapons of private citizens that were delivered at the arsenal in New York city, and in a short time 40,000 militia were mustered and equipped for the defence of New York, Plattsburg, Sackett's Harbor, and Buffalo. When Gen. John Armstrong retired from the secretaryship of war after the sacking of Washington, President Madison invited Tompkins to enter the cabinet as secretary of state in the place of James Monroe, who assumed charge of the war department; but he declined on the ground that he could be of more service to the country as governor of New York. He was reelected in 1815, and in April, 1816, was nominated for the vice-presidency of the United States. His talents and public services were more conspicuous than those of James Monroe, but the northern Democrats were not strong enough to command the first place on the ticket. Before resigning the governorship and entering on the office of vicepresident, to which he was elected by 183 out of 217 votes, he sent a message to the legislature, dated 28 Jan., 1817, recommending that a day be fixed for the abolition of slavery within the bounds of the state, and the assembly, acting on his suggestion, decreed that all slaves should be free on and after 4 July, 1827. He was re-elected vice-president by 215 of the 228 votes that were cast in 1820, and in the same year was proposed by his friends as a candidate for governor; but his popularity had diminished, and charges of dishonesty were made in connection with his large disbursements during the war with Great Britain. He was a delegate to the State constitutional convention of 1821. The suspicion of embezzlement, which were due to a confusion in his accounts, unbalanced his mind and brought on a melancholy from which he sought escape in intoxicating drinks, thereby shortening his life. He was one of the founders of the New York historical society, one of the corporators of the city schools, and a regent of the State university. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, pp. 130.




TORREY, Charles Turner, 1813-1846, Massachusetts, clergyman, reformer, abolitionist leader.  Wrote Memoir of the Martyr.  Leader, the National Convention of Friends of Immediate Emancipation, Albany, New York, 1840. 

(Dumond, 1961, p. 285; Mabee, 1970, pp. 266, 268; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, p. 138; Pennsylvania Freeman, April 23, 1850; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 9, Pt. 2, p. 595; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 21, p. 757)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

TORREY, Charles Turner, reformer, b. in Scituate, Mass., in 1813; d. in Baltimore, Md., 9 May, 1846. His ancestor, James, was an early settler of Scituate. (See TORREY, WILLIAM.) Charles was graduated at Yale in 1830, studied theology, and occupied Congregational pastorates in Princeton, N.J., and Salem, Mass., but soon relinquished his professional duties to devote himself to anti-slavery labors in Maryland. In 1843 he attended a slaveholders’ convention in Baltimore, reported its proceedings, and was arrested and put in jail. In 1844, having been detected in his attempt to aid in the escape of several slaves, he was tried, convicted, and sentenced to a long imprisonment in the state penitentiary, where he died of consumption that was brought on by ill usage. His body was taken to Boston, and his funeral attended from Tremont temple by an immense concourse of people. The story of his sufferings and death excited eager interest both in this country and in Europe, and “Torrey's blood crieth out” became a watch-word of the Abolition party, giving new impetus to the anti-slavery cause. He published a “Memoir of William R. Saxton” (Boston, 1838), and “Home, or the Pilgrim's Faith Revived,” a volume of sketches of life in Massachusetts, which he prepared in prison (1846). See “Memoir of the Martyr Torrey” (1847).   Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, pp. 138.

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

The arrests, imprisonments, trials, and death of Charles T. Torrey in the Maryland penitentiary are among the more memorable examples and incidents connected with the working of the Underground Railroad. The wide notoriety of his acts, his position as a young clergyman, the great respectability of his connections, the high standing of those who sought his reprieve or some mitigation of his sentence, with the persistent .refusal of the authorities to grant it, challenged scrutiny, demanded investigation, and compelled thoughtful men to ask and show cause why such acts of neighborly kindness should be so severely punished.

Mr. Torrey was born near the spot where the Pilgrims landed, and of an ancestry distinguished for · their piety and political standing. His parents dying in his early childhood, he was placed under the care of his grandparents. Quick and impulsive, he did not receive that thorough and careful restraint from these indulgent guardians which one·· of his mer. curial temperament required. When, therefore, he went forth into the world, he had not gained all that caution, that calm and calculating self-control, which one differently constituted and differently trained might have exhibited in the peculiarly trying circumstances in which he was afterward placed. When he was brought into close contact with slavery, and became acquainted with the sad story of the slave's wrongs and wants, he was not so well prepared to listen to the, cool counsels of prudence, as he was prompt to reduce to practice, without much refining and weighing of consequences, that '' disinterested benevolence'' which was the great idea of his religious creed.

Graduating from Yale College in the year 1830, he was settled in 1837 as pastor of the Richmond Street ·Congregational Church in Providence. In the mean ·time he had married the second daughter of Dr. Ide of West Medway, Massachusetts, his theological teacher, and granddaughter of the late Dr. Emmons of Franklin, of the same State, a distinguished theologian of his day. By this marriage he became allied to prominent leaders in a school of theology whose distinguishing feature had ever been an inflexible adherence to the logical conclusions of the doctrines of its Creed, in their practical as well as their theoretical results, thus extorting the admission of a veteran antislavery writer that he had “never known a Hopkinsian clergyman who was not an Abolitionist.”  The great reforms, especially the antislavery, then at their spring-tide, and stirring the public mind deeply, would not permit him to enjoy the quietude of a pastor's life. Accordingly he relinquished his pastorate in the autumn of 1838, and engaged in delivering antislavery lectures.

In 1842, there was a slave-holders convention at Annapolis, Maryland, .at which, as if the laws of that State were not inhuman and-unchristian enough, it was proposed, even at that late date, to make them still more oppressive and wicked. Among other propositions, hardly less degrading and cruel, they proposed to the legislature to prevent the emancipation of slave by will or deed ; to prevent free negroes from coming into the State ; to sell free persons of color, convicted-of crime, into slavery out of the State ; to repeal the act allowing manumitted -negroes to remain in the State without a certificate; to require free negroes to give security for their good behavior; to forbid free negroes from holding real estate; and also to prohibit them from holding meetings after sundown. Mr. Torrey went to the convention in the capacity of a Washington correspondent of several Northern papers. Whether or not the members of the convention were made suspicious by the nefarious purposes of their meeting, it soon transpired that they suspected Mr. Torrey of being an Abolitionist, and a question arose whether he should be allowed to remain, either on the floor or in the galleries. While this was discussed in the convention, a great excitement was pervading Annapolis, and the mob was debating the question whether he should be taken out of town to be tarred and feathered, or hung. The conclusion, however, was to commit him to jail,--a building he pronounced to be “old and ruinous, without bed, or even straw, for a prisoner." He was allowed, however, such necessities, by furnishing them at private expense. He was gratuitously defended by two able lawyers of the State, Alexander, and Palmer. Several of the Massachusetts delegation in Congress and others proffered their kind sympathy and good offices. After several days incarceration, the judge decided that there was no cause for detention, though he put him under five hundred dollars bonds to keep the peace, his lawyers kindly becoming his sureties. This false imprisonment, these “bonds," and an expenditure which, as a poor man heavily in debt, he was ill able to bear, were the price he was obliged to pay for being an Abolitionist, --nothing else being laid to his charge.

In this jail he became acquainted with thirteen persons who had been manumitted by their owner, who afterward died insolvent. Being seized by the creditors of the estate, these unoffending men and women were twice tried before the courts, where it was proved that their late owner was not insolvent when he manumitted them. But these decisions having been reversed by the chancellor, they were in jail awaiting a new trial, with small probability of a favorable result. Mr. Torrey, very naturally, became deeply interested in their case, and resolved to help them, if he could. In a letter to the" New York Evangelist," written a few days after his release, there occurs this sentence:” I feel with more force than ever the injunction to ' remember them that are in bonds as bound with them '; and, after listening to the history of their career, I sat down and wrote and signed and prayed over a solemn reconsecration of myself to the work of freeing the slaves, until no slaves shall be found in the land. May God help me to be faithful to that pledge in Annapolis jail! In that cell, God helping me, if it stands, I will celebrate the emancipation of the slaves in Maryland before ten years roll away."

There is a touching pathos in this incident in Mr. Torrey's life, which, had real chivalry, and not slavery, been the ruling spirit of the American people, would have rather endeared him to his countrymen than have consigned him to prison. Well born, with superior talents, education, and professional prospects, a charming home, cheered by the presence of a lovely wife and little ones, he sacrificed them, disregarded the popular sentiment of, the North, and braved the vengeance of the South, to aid the lowly and downtrodden. As the young reformer sits in the dreary and repulsive prison, surrounded by and listening to the story of the dusky victims of the same cruel power that had laid its ruthless hands on him, little aid from the imagination is required to suggest a picture worthy of the painter's art. It is easy now, as it was then, to criticize and charge him with imprudence, unfounded enthusiasm, and an improper estimate of 'the relative claims of his family and the slave. Doubtless he was imprudent. That he was too enthusiastic may be admitted, when his purpose is borne in mind to “celebrate the emancipation of the slaves in Maryland in ten years." That a cooler and more calculating judgment would have led him to hesitate before subjecting his family to the contingencies resulting from his decision is probable. But these were errors of judgment, "leaning to virtue's side." In the light of eternity, above the interests, the friendships, and 'conventionalisms of earth, at Heaven's chancery, when this ·act shall be tested by the standards of the great law of love, another estimate will be made. That solemn promise, then written down, will be deemed a worthier record than that of many a prudent man, who, at a safe distance, left the slave to suffer and perish, while he satisfied his conscience and sense of justice by discountenancing such rashness, such unlawful interference with the claims of the slave-master. The obloquy often cast, by those who heard the 'appeals 'of the fleeing fugitive only to disregard them, upon the few who, like Mr. Torrey, heard to heed, should be relieved by a recognition of the fact that seldom, if ever, were braver, more unselfish, and more chivalric deeds recorded on the page of history than were theirs. When, by reason of the unparalleled difficulties of the situation, all made mistakes, let not theirs alone be held up for public reprobation, which were made in the interests of humanity' and with such -sublime disregard of personal sacrifice and danger.

After his release, he went to Albany and became editor or a paper. While in that city, a slave, who had escaped to Canada, entreated him to go to Virginia and aid in the escape of his wife and little ones. To one with his feelings and convictions, with that vow on record, such an appeal could not come in vain. With the husband and father he started on 'his ill-fated errand of humanity' which proved not 'only unsuccessful 'in the immediate object for which it was undertaken, -but fatal to all like efforts on this part in behalf or the slave. He was again arrested, imprisoned, and placed on trial. He secured the services of Reverdy Johnson, but ·not until, with characteristic honesty, he had confessed that he had once aided one or that gentleman's slaves to escape. He experienced the annoyances and hardships that might be reasonably expected for such an offence in such a community. Through the kind offices of friends, however, they were much lessened and alleviated; and, like the Missouri prisoners, he at once entered ·upon his missionary efforts, conversing and· praying with his fellow-prisoners. But, while laboring for their benefit, he did not forget the great cause of freedom, but wrote to friends, to bodies secular and ecclesiastical, and one long and able letter to the State of Maryland. After being in jail some three months, awaiting his trial, he, in company with others, made an unsuccessful attempt to escape. Being betrayed, they failed of carrying their purpose into effect, and, he writes, were heavily ironed, and placed in damp, low-arched cells, and treated worse than if we had been murderers. I was loaded with irons weighing, I fudge, twenty-five pounds, so twisted that 1 could neither stand up, lie down, nor sleep for seven days and nights he said he slept none, from, pain and the utter prostration of the nervous system. His trial came on, he was· convicted, and, on the 30th of December, 1843, he was sentenced to six years' imprisonment in the penitentiary.

Strenuous efforts were .soon made for his release. Leading men, comprehending the essential wickedness of such a penalty for such an offence, signed memorials to the Governor of Maryland for pardon. Appeals, too, were made in person by several individuals. But the public sentiment of the State and of the South was too imbittered; and, though Governor Pratt expressed himself as personally favorable to the request, he did not deem it wise to brave the popular feeling against it. Some of the citizens of Baltimore approached Mr. Torrey with the idea of preparing the way for release by some seeming concession and the confession of doing wrong in violating slave laws. But he nobly adhered to his principles. In a letter dated 21st of December, 1844, he writes: "I cannot afford to concede any truth or principle to get out of prison. I am not rich enough." Indeed, it is doubtful whether any concession would have appeased the bloodthirsty appetite of the demon who now had him within his power. Though his health was failing, and it was evident he must soon succumb to the rigors of prison life, the· governor remained inexorable. He died in prison, on the 9th of May, 1846.

But the most humiliating fact remains to be noted. After his death, his remains were taken to Boston; and Park Street Church, in which a-brother-in-law was a worshipper, was engaged for the funeral services. The permission was, however, revoked, the, house of another denomination procured, and Tremont Temple was thronged by the multitude, many of whom were hardly less indignant at the heartless intolerance of Boston than at the barbarism in Maryland. His body was followed by a long procession to Mount Auburn, where a fitting monument was afterward raised to his memory. There lies, in the words of Whittier, the young, the beautiful, the brave! He is safe now from the malice of his enemies. Nothing can harm him more. His work for the poor and helpless was well and nobly done. In the wild woods of Canada, around many a happy fireside and holy family altar, his name is on the lips of God's poor. He put his soul in their soul's stead; he gave his life for those who had no claim on his love save that of human brotherhood."

On the evening of the day of his burial there was a large meeting in Faneuil Hall, at which addresses were made by General Fessenden of Maine, Henry B. Stanton, and Dr. Walter Channing, and a poem from James Russell Lowell was read. Referring to the acts for which: Mr. Torrey suffered, Mr. Stanton said: " Stripped of all extrinsic ornament, it was this, he aided oppressed men peaceably to cast away their chains; he gave liberty to men unjustly held .in bondage…He has done something for liberty, and his name deserves a place in the calendar of its martyrs. Now that he has been laid quietly and serenely in his grave, we may safely publish those acts to the world which, while he lived, could be safely known only to the few. In a letter addressed to me, while he was in prison awaiting his trial, he said: ' If I am a guilty man, I am a very guilty one; for I have aided nearly four hundred slaves to escape to freedom, the greater part of whom would probably but for my exertions have died in slavery.' “This statement was corroborated by the testimony of Jacob Gibbs, a colored man, who was Mr. Torrey's chief assistant in his efforts. The selection of Mr. Gibbs was not only an example of Mr. Torrey's shrewdness, but one instance, at least, in which the slave-masters overreached themselves, and where laws enacted in behalf of slavery, inured to the interests of freedom. For by the slave codes of all the slaveholding States the testimony of colored persons could not be received in court, so that Mr. Gibbs could never testify against his employer.

Source:  Wilson, Henry, History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, Vol. 2.  Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1872, 74-80.


TOWNSEND, Joseph, 1739-1816, Methodist clergyman, 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. 224-225, 238, 241)


TRACY, Joseph, 1793-1874, Vermont, clergyman, newspaper editor.  Editor of the Vermont Chronicle and the Boston Recorder.  Secretary for the Massachusetts Colonization Society, 1842-1874.  Director of the American Colonization Society in 1858.  Supported the American Colonization Society and colonization.  Highly active in the founding of Liberia College, the first missionary college in Africa.

(Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, p. 152; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 9, Pt. 2, p. 623; Staudenraus, P. J. The African Colonization Movement, 1816-1865. New York: Columbia University Press, 1961, pp. 212, 240, 308)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

TRACY, Joseph, clergyman, b. in Hartford, Vt., 3 Nov., 1794; d. in Beverly, Mass., 24 March, 1874. He was graduated at Dartmouth in 1814, studied divinity, and was pastor of the Congregational churches in West Thetford and West Fairlee, Vt., from 1821 till 1829. He subsequently edited the “Chronicle” at Windsor, Vt., for five years, and the Boston “Recorder” for one year. He then became secretary of the Massachusetts colonization society, and of the American colonization society for Massachusetts, which posts he held until his death. The University of Vermont gave him the degree of D. D. in 1859. He was associated with Prof. Henry B. Smith for several years in the editorship of the “American Theological Review.” He published “Three Last Things” (Boston, 1839); “The Great Awakening, a History of the Revival of Religion in the Time of Edwards and Whitefield” (New York, 1842); “History of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions” (1842); “Refutation of Charges against the Sandwich Island Missionaries” (Boston, 1844); and “A Memorial of the Semi-Centennial Anniversary of the American Colonization Society” (1867). Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, pp. 152.


TRACY, Uriah, 1755-1807, abolitionist, lawyer, political leader, general.  U.S. House of Representatives, Connecticut.  U.S. Senator.  Member of the Connecticut Society for the Promotion of Freedom and Relief of Persons Unlawfully Holden in Bondage, founded c. 1790. 

(Appletons’, 1888, Vol. VI, p. 153; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 9, Pt. 2, p. 624; Basker, 2005, pp. 223-224, 238-239; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 21, p. 798)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

TRACY, Uriah, senator, b. in Franklin, Conn., 2 Feb., 1755; d. in Washington, D. C., 19 July, 1807. He was graduated at Yale in 1778, admitted to the bar in 1781, and practised successfully in Litchfield for many years. He served in the legislature in 1788-'93, and in congress in 1793-'6, having been chosen as a Federalist. At the latter date he was elected to the U. S. senate in place of Jonathan Trumbull, who had resigned, serving until the time of his death. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, pp. 153. 




TRASK, George, 1798-1875, Fitchburg, Massachusetts, Warren, Massachusetts, clergyman. Massachusetts Abolition Society, President, 1846, Vice-President, 1846-, 1850-.  Also active in the temperance movement and anti-tobacco use. 

(Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, p. 154)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

TRASK, George, clergyman, b. in Beverly. Mass., 15 Aug., 1798; d. in Fitchburg, Mass., 25 Jan., 1875. He was graduated at Bowdoin in 1826, and at Andover theological seminary in 1829, was ordained, 15 Sept., 1830, and held pastorates in Framingham, Warren, and Fitchburg, Mass., till 1850, after which he was a temperance agent in the last-named town until his death. Mr. Trask became specially known for his efforts against the use of tobacco, in opposition to which he labored earnestly with voice and pen. He delivered many lectures throughout the United States, and was the author of many anti-tobacco tracts. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, pp. 154.


TREADWELL, Seymour Boughton, 1795-1867, political leader, editor, temperance and anti-slavery activist.  Wrote, “American Liberties and American Slavery Morally and Politically Illustrated,” 1838.  Editor of anti-slavery newspaper, Michigan Freeman.  

(Appletons’, 1888, vol. VI, pp. 155-156)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

TREADWELL, Seymour Boughton, politician, b. in Bridgeport, Conn., 1 June, 1795; d. in Jackson, Mich., 9 June, 1867. His parents removed in his infancy to Monroe county, N. Y., where he was educated. He taught in western New York and Ohio, and in 1830 engaged in trade in Albion, N. Y., where he began to attract notice as a temperance and anti-slavery advocate. He removed to Rochester in 1837, and went to Michigan in 1839 to conduct the “Michigan Freeman,” an anti-slavery organ, at Jackson. He took an active part in all the conventions and movements of the Abolitionists, supporting James G. Birney for president in 1840 and 1844 and John P. Hale in 1852. In 1854 he was nominated by the Free-soil party for commissioner of the state land-office and twice elected. He acquired note, especially by a remarkable state paper in which he denied the constitutionality of the payment by the state of the expenses of the judges of the supreme court. The correctness of his views on the question was maintained by the state auditors in opposition to the attorney-general. He lived in retirement after 1859 on a farm near Jackson. He became first known to the public as the author of a work entitled “American Liberties and American Slavery Morally and Politically Illustrated” (Rochester, 1838). Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, pp. 155-156. 




TROY, William, 1827-1905, Essex County, Virginia, enslaved African American, Baptist minister, author.  Active in the Underground Railroad.  Wrote Hair Breadth Escapes from Slavery to Freedom in 1861.


TRUE, Charles Kittridge, 1809-1878, abolitionist, educator, Methodist clergyman, author, censured for abolitionist views

(Appletons’, 1888, Vol. VI, pp. 165-166; Sernett, 2002, p. 81)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

TRUE, Charles Kittridge, educator, b. in Portland, Me., 14 Aug., 1809; d. in Brooklyn, N. Y., 20 June, 1878. He was graduated at Harvard in 1832, and was subsequently pastor of various Methodist churches, and principal of the Amenia seminary, N. Y. He was professor of moral and intellectual philosophy at Wesleyan in 1849-'60. Harvard gave him the degree of D. D. in 1849. He edited the “Oregonian and Indian Advocate” in 1839, in Boston, Mass., and was the author of “Elements of Logic” (Boston, 1840); “Shawmut or the Settlement of Boston” (1845) ; “John Winthrop and the Great Colony” (New York, 1875); “Life and Times of Sir Walter Raleigh” (Cincinnati, Ohio, 1878); “Life and Times of John Knox” (1878); “Memoirs of John Howard” (1878); “The Thirty Years' War” (1879); “Heroes of Holland” (1882); and “Life of Capt. John Smith” (1882). Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, pp. 165.


TRUMBULL, Lyman, 1813-1896, lawyer, jurist, U.S. Senator, 1855-1873.  Left Democratic Party and joined the Republican Party bcause of its opposition to slavery.  Co-author of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery.

(Appletons’, 1888, Vol. VI, p. 166; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 10, Pt. 1, p. 19; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 21, p. 877; Congressional Globe)

TRUMBULL, Lyman, senator, b. in Colchester, Conn., 12 Oct., 1813, began to teach at sixteen years of age, and at twenty was at the head of an academy in Georgia, where he studied law, and was admitted to the bar in 1837. He removed to Belleville, Ill., and in 1841 was secretary of the state of Illinois. In 1848 he was elected one of the justices of the state supreme court. In 1854 he was chosen to represent his district in congress, but before his term began he was elected U. S. senator, and took his seat, 4 March, 1855. Until that time he had affiliated with the Democratic party, but on the question of slavery he took a decided stand against his party and his colleague, Stephen A. Douglas, especially on the question of “popular sovereignty.” In 1860 he was brought forward by some Republicans as a candidate for president. He had no desire to be so considered, and when his friend, Abraham Lincoln, was nominated, he labored with earnestness for his election. In 1861 he was re-elected to the U. S. senate, in which he did good service for the National cause, and was one of the first to propose the amendment to the Federal constitution for the abolition of slavery. He was one of the five Republican senators that voted for acquittal in the impeachment trial of Andrew Johnson, and afterward he acted with the Democratic party, whose candidate for governor of Illinois he was in 1880. Since his retirement from congress he has had a lucrative lawpractice in Chicago. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, pp. 166.


TRUTH, Sojourner (Isabella Baumfree), 1797?-1883, African American, anti-slavery activist, abolitionist, women’s rights activist.  Wrote The Narrative of Sojourner Truth: A Northern Slave, 1850.  Recruited African American soldiers for the Union Army. 

(Mabee, 1970, pp. 83-85, 145, 270, 337, 342; Mabee, 1993; Painter, 1996; Rodriguez, 2007, pp. 481-482; Stetson, 1994; Yellin, 1994, pp. 30, 139-158; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, p. 603; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936; American Reformers: An H.W. Wilson Biographical Dictionary, New York, 1985, pp. 814-816; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 21, p. 880; Gates, Henry Louis, Jr., & Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, eds. African American National Biography. Oxford University Press, 2013, Vol. 11, p. 236)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

SOJOURNER TRUTH, lecturer, b. in Ulster county, N. Y., about 1775; d. in Battle Creek. Mich., 26 Nov., 1883. Her parents were owned by Col. Charles Ardinburgh, of Ulster county, and she was sold at the age of ten to John J. Dumont. Though she was emancipated by the act of New York which set at liberty in 1817 all slaves over the age of forty, she does not appear to have obtained her freedom until 1827, when she escaped and went to New York city. Subsequently she lived in Northampton, Mass., and in 1851 began to lecture in western New York, accompanied by George Thompson, of England, and other Abolitionists, making her headquarters in Rochester, N. Y. Subsequently she travelled in various parts of the United States, lecturing on politics, temperance, and women's rights, and for the welfare of her race. She could neither read nor write, but, being nearly six feet in height and possessing a deep and powerful voice, she proved an effective lecturer. She carried with her a book that she called “The Book of Life,” containing the autographs of many distinguished persons that were identified with the anti-slavery movement. Her name was Isabella, but she called herself “Sojourner,” claiming to have heard this name whispered to her from the Lord. She added the appellation of “Truth” to signify that she should preach nothing but truth to all men. She spent much time in Washington, D. C., during the civil war, and passed her last years in Battle Creek, Mich., where a small monument was erected near her grave, by subscription. See “Narrative of Sojourner Truth, drawn from her 'Book of Life,' with Memorial Chapter,” by Mrs. Francis W. Titus (Battle Creek, 1884). Appletons’ Cyclopædia of American Biography, 1888.


TUBMAN, Harriet, 1822-1913, African American, abolitionist, member Underground Railroad, orator. 

(Mabee, 1970, pp. 284, 321; Rodriguez, 2007, pp. 37, 52, 307, 482-483, 489; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, p. 172; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 10, Pt. 1, p. 27; American Reformers: An H.W. Wilson Biographical Dictionary, New York, 1985, pp. 816-817; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 21, p. 888; Gates, Henry Louis, Jr., & Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, eds. African American National Biography. Oxford University Press, 2013, Vol. 11, p. 238)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

TUBMAN, Harriet, abolitionist, b. near Cambridge, Dorchester co., Md., about 1821. She was the child of slaves of pure African blood, whose name was Ross. Her original Christian name of Araminta she changed to Harriet. When about thirteen years old she received a fracture of the skull at the hands of an enraged overseer, which left her subject during her whole life to fits of somnolency. In 1844 she married a free colored man named Tubman. In 1849, in order to escape being sent to the cotton-plantations of the south, she fled by night, and reached Philadelphia in safety. In December, 1850, she visited Baltimore and brought away her sister and two children, and within a few months returned to aid in the escape of her brother and two other men. Thenceforth she devoted herself to guiding runaway slaves in their flight from the plantations of Maryland along the channels of the “underground railroad,” with the assistance of Thomas Garrett and others. At first she conducted the bands of escaped slaves into the state of New York, but, when the fugitive-slave act began to be strictly enforced, she piloted them through to Canada. She made nineteen journeys, and led away more than 300 slaves. A reward of $40,000 was offered for her apprehension. Among the people of her race and the agents of the “underground railroad”' she was known as “Moses.” During the civil war she performed valuable service for the National government as a spy and as a nurse in the hospitals. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, pp. 172.


TUCK, Amos, 1810-1879, Parsonfield, Maine, lawyer, politician, abolitionist.  Elected to Congress in 1847.  Served in Congress 1847-1853.  Prominent anti-slavery Congressman, allied with Joshua R. Giddings of Ohio and John G. Palfrey of Massachusetts.  Co-founder of the Republican Party.  Opposed the Democratic Party on the annexation of Texas and the extension of slavery to the new territories.  Free-Soil and Whig anti-slavery member of the U.S. Congress. 

(Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 10, Pt. 1, p. 27)


TUCKER, St. George, 1752-1827, Williamsburg, Virginia, jurist, professor of law at William and Mary University, opponent of slavery, slaveholder.  Author of five-volume edition, Blackstone’s Commentaries (1803), and Dissertation on Slavery, with a Proposition for its Gradual Abolition in Virginia (1796).  Advocate for gradual abolition of slavery. 

(Appletons’, 1888, Vol. VI, pp. 174-175; Cullen, 1987; Dumond, 1961, pp. 28, 77-79; Hammond, 2011, pp. 123, 126; Locke, 1901, pp. 91, 129f, 184, 194; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 10, Pt. 1, p. 38; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 21, p. 895; Hinks, Peter P., & John R. McKivigan, Eds., Encyclopedia of Antislavery and Abolition.  Westport, Connecticut, Greenwood, 2007, Vol. 2, pp. 684-686; Finkelman, Paul, Slavery and the Founders: Race and Liberty in the Age of Jefferson, 2001)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

TUCKER, St. George, jurist, b. in the island of Bermuda, 10 July, 1752; d. in Warminster, Nelson co., Va., 10 Nov., 1828, came to Virginia in 1771 to complete his education, was graduated at William and Mary in 1772, finished a course of law, and began practice in the colonial courts. In June, 1775, he returned to Bermuda, but he came again to Virginia in January, 1777, and bore arms in defence of the colonies, serving as lieutenant-colonel at the siege of Yorktown. In 1778 he married Frances Bland, mother of John Randolph. After the war he resumed the practice of law, was made a judge of the general court of Virginia in 1787, and in 1789 professor of law in the College of William and Mary, succeeding Chancellor George Wythe. He was appointed in 1804 president-judge of the Virginia court of appeals, and in 1813 judge of the U. S. district court of Virginia. He was a member of the Annapolis convention of 1786 that recommended the convention by which the constitution was formed. He was a poet as well as a jurist. William and Mary college gave him the degree of LL. D. in 1790, and he left dramas—tragedy and comedy—and several minor poems, some of them gems. The one entitled “Resignation,” beginning “Days of my youth,” was highly praised by John Adams. “The Probationary Odes of Jonathan Pindar, Esq., a Cousin of Peter's, and a Candidate for the Post of Poet Laureate, to the C. U. S. In Two Parts,” is the title of a volume of political satires by Judge Tucker (1796). He also published “Dissertation on Slavery, with a Proposition for its Gradual Abolition in Virginia” (1796); “Letters on the Alien and Sedition Laws” (1799); an essay on the question “How far the Common Law of England is the Common Law of the United States?” an annotated edition of Blackstone's commentaries (Philadelphia, 1803); and a “Commentary on the Constitution,” as an appendix to the last-mentioned work.—Another brother was Dr. NATHANIEL, who, when very young, published a poem called “The Bermudian” (London, 1774). Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, pp. 174-175.


TUCKERMAN, Henry Tuckerman, 1813-1871, Boston, Massachusetts, author.  Co-founder of the Young Men’s Colonization Society in Boston.  Co-founded monthly paper, The Colonizationist and Journal of Freedom.  He defended the American Colonization Society and its policies against criticism by William Lloyd Garrison. 

(Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, p. 177; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 10, Pt. 1, p. 45; Staudenraus, P. J. The African Colonization Movement, 1816-1865. New York: Columbia University Press, 1961, p. 204)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

TUCKERMAN, Henry Theodore, author, b. in Boston, Mass., 20 April, 1813; d. in New York city, 17 Dec., 1871, was prepared to enter college, but the condition of his health compelled a cessation of study, and in 1833 he went to Europe, where he remained nearly a year, passing most of the time in Italy. “The Italian Sketch-Book” (Philadelphia, 1835) was the fruit of his sojourn abroad. His academical studies were resumed on his return, but were again relinquished, and he made a second voyage to Europe in 1837, remaining abroad until the summer of 1839. This journey embraced a tour of Sicily and lengthened residences in Palermo and Florence. The literary outcome of this second trip was “Isabel, or Sicily: a Pilgrimage” (1839). With greatly improved health, he now devoted himself to letters, and was for years a regular and frequent contributor to periodicals. These writings were in due course collected and published at intervals. Scholarly taste, wide reading, and varied learning are displayed in these numerous compositions. The criticisms are well tempered and sympathetic; the sentiments are wholesome; the style, if perhaps lacking in vigor, is graceful, melodious, and refined. In the works that relate especially to art and artist life a command of knowledge and just appreciation are clearly exhibited. Mr. Tuckerman's prose writings are a valuable contribution to polite literature. The two volumes of poetry are not remarkable, though “Love and Fame,” “Mary,” and “The Apollo Belvidere” are still admired. He was much beloved socially, in virtue of grace of manners and irreproachable personal worth. He spent many summers at Newport, where a pleasant memorial of him, presented by his sister, may be seen in the “Redwood Library,” consisting of a complete set of Mr. Tuckerman's writings in a beautiful ebony case, His works, besides those mentioned above, include “Rambles and Reveries” (1841); “Thoughts on the Poets,” principally English (1846; German translation by Dr. Emile Müller, Marburg, 1856); “Artist Life, or Sketches of American Painters” (New York, 1847); “Characteristics of Literature” (Philadelphia, 1849; 2d series, 1851); “The Optimist,” a volume of miscellaneous essays (New York, 1850); “Life of Commodore Silas Talbot” (1851); “Poems” (Boston, 1851); “A Month in England” (1853); “Memorial of Horatio Greenough” (New York, 1853); “Leaves from the Diary of a Dreamer” (1853); “Mental Portraits, or Studies of Character” (London, 1853; revised and enlarged as “Essays, Biographical and Critical, or Studies of Character,” Boston, 1857); “Essay on Washington, with a Paper on the Portraits of Washington” (New York, 1859)”; “America and Her Commentators” (1864); “A Sheaf of Verse” (1864); “The Criterion, or the Test of Talk about Familiar Things” (1866); “Maga Papers about Paris” (1867); “Book of the Artists,” a study of the rise and progress of art in America (1867); and “Life of John Pendleton Kennedy” (1871). See addresses by Henry W. Bellows and Evert A. Duyckinck (New York, 1872). Appletons’ Cylocpædia of American Biography, 1888.



Chapter: “Mobs. Antislavery Activities.  Women's Fairs,” by Henry Wilson, in History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, 1872.

Among other instrumentalities employed by the members of the old organization was the adoption of two addresses, both from the pen of Mr. Garrison, one to the slaves of the South, and the other to President Tyler on the occasion of his visit to Massachusetts at the completion of the Bunker Hill monument. The slaves were assured that the word had gone forth that they should be delivered from their chains. They were invited to transform themselves from things into men by flight from their masters; and the pledge was sacredly given that they should find succor and protection. " If you come to us," said the address," and are hungry, we will feed you; if thirsty, we will give you drink; if naked, we will clothe you; if sick, we will minister to your necessities; if in prison, we will visit you; if you need a hiding-place from the face of the pursuer, we will provide one that even blood-hounds will not sent out." 

President Tyler was requested to liberate his slaves. He was reminded that, though he occupied the highest office in the land, subscribed to the Declaration of Independence, believed in the Christian religion, and was then on a visit to celebrate " the memories of those who bled and died in the cause of human liberty," he was "yet a slaveholder." He was reminded of the influence which such a beneficent example as the emancipation of his own slaves would exert toward the emancipation of three millions held in bondage, and they implored him to perform that great duty. "It might," said the address " subject you temporarily to the ridicule of the heartless, the curses of the profane, the contempt of the vulgar, the scorn of the proud, the rage of the selfish, the hostility of the powerful; but it would assuredly secure to you the applause and acclamation of the truly great and good, and render your name, illustrious to the latest posterity." Such advice from despised Abolitionists President Tyler of course disdained to follow, Had he accepted it, however, and acted up to its benign precepts, he would never have linked his name so indissolubly with the Texas iniquity; he would have saved his character from the taint of treason, and himself from being remembered as the only traitor President.

Source:  Wilson, Henry, History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, Vol. 1.  Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1872, 563-564.


TYSON, Elisha, Baltimore, 1749-1824, Maryland, Acting Committee, Maryland Abolition Society, Society of Friends, Quaker, abolitionist, provided legal aid and care for fugitive slaves, active in helping between 1790-1824 

(Drake, 1950, pp. 118-121, 129; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, p. 204)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

TYSON, Elisha, philanthropist, b. in Montgomery county, Pa., in 1749; d. in Baltimore, Md., 16 Feb., 1824. He was a member of the Society of Friends, and an early member of the Maryland society for the abolition of Slavery, appeared frequently before the judicial tribunals in behalf of negroes, and procured the passage of several laws to ameliorate their condition. In 1818 he retired from business to devote his attention to the abolition movement, and established the Protection society of Maryland, to insure the colored population of the state the enjoyment of their legal privileges. See his “Life,” by a citizen of Baltimore (Baltimore, 1825). Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, pp. 204.


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