1. The life of Leo Africanus was almost as fascinating as his well-known travel accounts of Africa. Born in Spain in 1494, he moved with his family to North Africa shortly thereafter and entered the Moroccan diplomatic service while still in his teens. Between 1513 and 1515, he went on a long caravan journey, led by his uncle, and gained a firsthand acquaintance with fifteen Negro kingdoms of the Western Sudan. In 1518 he was captured by Christian pirates, who were so impressed with his great learning and wide travel that they took him to Rome as a present for the Pope. The young Moor won the favor of Leo X, who freed him, gave him a pension, and conferred upon him his own name. When captured by the pirates, Lep Africanus (the name he is known by) had with him a rough draft of his travel experiences. In 1526 he completed the work, and it was published in Italian under the title The History and Description of Africa and the Notable Things Therein Contained. John Pory, a friend of the great geographer Richard Hakluyt, translated the volume into English in 1600.
2. Denmark Vesey (c. 1767–1822) was born in Telemarque, and for twenty years he sailed with his ship-captain master to the Caribbean. Vesey purchased his own freedom with money he won in a lottery, and successfully invested in several business ventures. Vesey was literate and acquired considerable knowledge from his master. He settled in Charleston, South Carolina, and became a Methodist minister. Determined to strike a blow for the freedom of slaves, Vesey devised an intricate conspiracy, the full extent of which was never divulged, for the slaves to take the city of Charleston in the summer of 1822. The plot failed, however, and Vesey and forty-six others were executed. Although the conspiracy was never implemented, it constituted the most extensive plot in the history of slavery in the United States.
Nat Turner (1800–1831) led the most serious of the slave revolts ever actually executed in the United States. Born a slave in Southampton County, Virginia, Turner was always a “mysterious” individual to blacks as well as whites. He was of obviously superior intelligence, skilled as a carpenter, and became an “exhorter.” Turner believed himself to be a divine instrument, appointed by a vengeful god to exact retribution from whites and to free his people from bondage. He and about sixty fellow slaves launched their insurrection in the summer of 1831, killing fifty-seven whites before the revolt was quashed. An hysterical manhunt followed whereby over 100 innocent black victims were killed. Eventually, twenty blacks, including Turner himself, were hanged for their role in the uprising. News of the revolt spread through the South like a shock wave, creating fear and a demand for an intensification of protective security measures.
Richard Allen (1760–1831) was born a slave and grew up near Dover, Delaware. At seventeen he underwent a religious conversion, and then he converted his master. Allen hired himself out and in three years had saved enough to purchase his own freedom. He became a circuit preacher and eventually settled in Philadelphia, where large numbers of blacks came to hear him preach at St. George’s Methodist Church. Before long, Allen withdrew his following because of discrimination and organized the African Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1816, after twenty-two years of litigation, the new church was officially chartered. That same year, a number of A. M. E. ministers met in Baltimore, organized into a conference, and elected Allen its first bishop. Along with other close associates of his race, such as James Forten and Absolom Jones, Allen was also a leading abolition and civil rights exponent in Philadelphia.
When Allen pulled out of St. George’s Church, it was Absolom Jones who helped lead the flock. Together they organized the Free African Society of Philadelphia, a religious and mutual aid association. Jones preferred the Anglican traditions of liturgy, however, and split with his friend to establish the African Protestant Episcopal Church. The two religious leaders remained friends, nevertheless, and labored together for improvements in the black community of Philadelphia.
3. A cooper was a skilled craftsman who made wooden barrels.
4. The Mid-Lothian Coal Mining Company operated several mines about ten miles outside of Richmond, Virginia. It was one of the largest users of slave labor in the southern coal industry.
5. During the 1840s, the James River and Kanawha Company built a canal from Richmond to the headwaters of the Kanawha River on the western side of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
6. The Tredegar Iron Company was the largest iron producer in the Ante-Bellum South, and one of the largest users of slave labor. The owner, Joseph Anderson, was determined to teach slaves even the most skilled crafts of iron manufacture.
7. The Enquirer was published in Richmond, Virginia. This particular article refers to the strike of 1847, when white ironworkers walked off the job because the owner of the Tredegar Iron Company introduced black slaves into their department. The whites lost the strike, and the black bondsmen stayed.
8. Frederick Douglass (1817–1895), abolitionist, orator, journalist, public servant, was born of a slave mother and a white father in Tuckahoe, Maryland, in 1817. He never knew his mother well, but lived with his grandparents until the age of eight, when he was raised by “Aunt Katy,” who was in charge of rearing slave children on the plantation of Colonel Edward Lloyd. As a young man he experienced both cruelty and indulgence, but never lost his human spirit. He turned on his cruelest master and lived to understand that resistance could pay, even for slaves. Douglass was sent to Baltimore where he learned the trade of ship caulking. By tracing the letters on the prows of ships he also learned how to write. On September 3, 1838, armed with seamen’s papers supplied by a free Negro, Douglass boarded a train in Baltimore and escaped to New Bedford, Massachusetts. Five months later he first came into contact with William Lloyd Garrison’s anti-slavery weekly, The Liberator, and in 1841 delivered his first speech at a convention of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society. He was immediately employed as an agent of the Society, and rapidly became the most famous of all the black abolitionists as well as one of the greatest orators of his day.
At first Douglass confined his speeches to personal experiences as a slave, but soon began to denounce slavery, calling for its immediate abolition. The more polished his speech became, the fewer people believed that he actually had been a slave. To dispel all such doubts, in 1845 Douglass published his Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, even at the risk of reenslavement. Douglass resolved to go abroad to England and for two years he spoke against slavery throughout the British Isles. In 1847, with his legal freedom purchased by British friends for 150 pounds, he left London to resume the battle against bondage in America. After settling in Rochester, New York, he started his newspaper, The North Star, later renamed Frederick Douglass’ Paper.
Differences soon developed between Douglass and his white abolitionist colleagues. Garrison did not believe another newspaper was necessary, and he also disagreed with the other reforms Douglass favored, such as temperance and woman’s rights.
When the Civil War came, Douglass fought for the enlistment of black men into the Union army, and assisted in recruiting the 54th and 55th Massachusetts colored regiments which later won distinction in battle. As the war progressed, Lincoln conferred with Douglass as a representative of his people. During his last years Douglass was successively Secretary of the Santo Domingo Commission, Marshal and Recorder of Deeds of the District of Columbia, and finally United States Minister to Haiti. Douglass remained an active reformer literally until the day he died, collapsing after attending a woman’s suffrage meeting.
9. William Wells Brown (1815–1884) was born a slave in Kentucky. He escaped to the North and became an effective anti-slavery leader, novelist (author of Clotel, or The President’s Daughter, the first novel published by an American Negro), playwright and historian. In 1854, years after he had escaped from slavery, his English friends, worried for his safety under the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, purchased Brown’s freedom for $300. Besides being one of the most active abolitionist lecturers, Brown was deeply involved in the temperance, woman’s suffrage, prison-reform, and the peace movements.
10 Elijah P. Lovejoy (1802–1837) was a prominent white abolitionist and newspaper editor. After he closed his shop in St. Louis, he moved to Alton, Illinois. There, he published the Alton Observer, which was attacked four times because of its anti-slavery stance. Lovejoy died defending his press in 1837.
11. Dr. Benjamin T. Tanner (b. 1835) was born free in Pittsburgh. He attended Avery College, and Western Theological Seminary. In 1863 he became a pastor in the District of Columbia, and organized schools for the Freedmen’s Society. In 1868 Tanner was elected chief secretary and editor of the African Methodist Episcopal Church organ, the Christian Recorder. Wilberforce University honored him with a D.D. degree, and in 1884 Dr. Tanner was promoted to the editorship of the A. M. E. Review.
12. As a young man, Frederick Douglass was sent to Edward Covey, a “slave breaker” who specialized in cracking the spirit of slaves who were difficult to handle. Whipped daily for the slightest infraction of impossibly strict rules, Douglass finally decided to fight back, and in a hand-to-hand struggle, forced Covey to quit beating him. Thus, at the age of seventeen, Douglass discovered that he was not afraid to die, and that the only way to halt a tyrant was to fight back.
13. A sometime pastor, Charles T. Torrey (1813–1846) gave up the ministry for anti-slavery agitation. Torrey became a leader of conservative abolitionists in Massachusetts who revolted against William Lloyd Garrison because of his heretical views regarding the Sabbath, government, and woman’s rights. This group founded the Massachusetts Abolitionist, of which Torrey became editor. Shortly thereafter, he resigned and went to Washington, D. C. to work as a correspondent. At the 1842 “Convention of Slaveholders,” held in Annapolis, Maryland, Torrey was arrested when the delegates discovered that he was an abolitionist. The case attracted national attention, but Torrey was released within five days. Two years later, however, Torrey was arrested again. After moving to Baltimore, he began helping slaves escape, and once again he created a national furor. This time Torrey was sentenced to six years at hard labor, but after serving only one year, he died from tuberculosis. Torrey became another martyr to the anti-slavery cause.
14. The Emancipation Proclamation, issued by President Lincoln to become effective in January 1863, freed slaves only where the Federal troops were not in control to enforce the order, that is, those slaves living in areas still in rebellion against the government of the United States. It specifically ruled out of the terms of emancipation all slave areas where Federal troops were present, in Louisiana, Virginia, and the border states. Slavery was legally ended by the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution. In April 1864 and January 1865, the Senate and House respectively voted for the adoption of an amendment to the Constitution providing that neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as punishment for crime for which the party had been convicted, should exist within the United States or any place under its jurisdiction. The Amendment was then sent to the various states for ratification, which occurred in December 1865.
15. Samuel Ringgold Ward (1817–c.1864) was brought to New York at the age of three by his parents, who escaped from slavery in Maryland, Ward received an education, taught school, and became a preacher. A leading anti-slavery agent, he became famous as an orator. After the fugitive slave bill became law in 1850, Ward spoke out so vehemently against it that he was forced to flee to Canada. He never returned to the United States, but continued to lecture in Canada and England. He died in Jamaica.
16. David B. Ruggles (1810–1849) was born free in Norwich, Connecticut, but moved to New York when he was seventeen. For a time he operated a grocery business in the city, but abandoned the store to become a travelling agent for the Emancipation, an organ of the New York City Anti-Slavery Society. At age twenty-four Ruggles opened a bookstore for anti-slavery publications, which was burned in 1835. Ruggles also published a Slaveholder’s Directory, which listed the names of those who were friendly to the slave interests, and printed the first Negro weekly magazine, The Mirror of Liberty. During his years of helping fugitive slaves, Ruggles estimated that he assisted at least 1,000 runaways. For his efforts local police frequently jailed him, but he was unswerving in his efforts to help the victims of slavery.
17. James H. Hammond (1807–1864) graduated from South Carolina College in 1825, read law in Columbia, and was admitted to the bar in 1828. Hammond built a very lucrative practice at Columbia, entered politics, and in 1830 established the Southern Times to support the nullification cause. After marrying into a wealthy family. he retired from politics and became a highly successful cotton planter. For the next twenty-five years Hammond supported the withdrawal of the Southern states from the Union, advocated the death penalty for abolitionists, and absolutely opposed emancipation. Hammond was elected to the governorship in 1842 and served two terms. Elected to the United States Senate in 1857, he served in that body until his resignation upon Lincoln’s election in 1860. Hammond owned thousands of acres, over 300 slaves, and became an expert on “scientific” planting.
18. Christopher G. Memminger (1803–1888) was a prominent South Carolina lawyer and public servant. After graduation from South Carolina College in 1819, Memminger practiced law in Charleston. In 1836 he was elected to the state house of representatives where he gained a reputation as a sound financier. Although he was convinced of the righteousness of slavery, Memminger opposed independent action against the anti-slavery forces as both dangerous and fruitless. When secession finally seemed inevitable, Memminger stepped to the forefront, and at the southern convention in Montgomery, he was chairman of the committee which drafted the provisional constitution of the Confederate States. President of the Confederacy Jefferson Davis, appointed Memminger Secretary of the Treasury. Because of his handling of Confederate financial policy, Memminger was subjected to severe criticism, which forced his resignation on June 15, 1864. After the war he practiced law in Charleston.
19. William P. Powell was born in New York, the exact date unknown. For a short time he lived in New Bedford, Mass., probably between whaling voyages. In 1837 he called a meeting of black abolitionists to meet in New Bedford and draw up a list of acceptable candidates for public office according to their interest in liberty and equal rights. By 1840, however, Powell moved back to New York to stay. In that year he was already operating a “Boarding House for Seamen under the Direction of the American Seamen’s Friend Society.” The Society which supported the Colored Seamen’s Home was a protestant missionary organization dedicated to saving the souls of seamen through sobriety. Its monthly journal, the Sailor’s Magazine, enjoyed a wide circulation among seamen. As victims of the most sordid kinds of exploitation, black seamen were in dire need of such a home.
Powell wrote articles condemning the discrimination encountered by defenseless black seamen and petitioned Congress to put a stop to the most vile forms, especially the widespread southern practice of imprisoning colored sailors at their own expense while in port. The Colored Seamen’s Home offered the seaman at least one safe refuge.
Powell was a founder of the Manhattan Anti-Slavery Society in 1840, and served as its secretary. He and the Society became well-known in New York for their opposition to the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850.
Powell moved to England in 1851 so that his children could receive an education. During the ten years he spent in England, Powell spoke to many anti-slavery audiences about the black condition in the U.S. and attempted to mobilize pressure on the British government to take firmer steps against the imprisonment of black seamen in Southern ports.
Feeling that the Civil War would bring major changes in the U.S. for his people, in 1861 Powell returned to New York, where he quickly resumed his old activities, advocating an organization of black seamen which would protect their rights. This organization, the American Seamen’s Protective Union Association, the first seamen’s organization of any color or kind in the U.S., was founded in 1862 by Powell and several black seamen, at Powell’s Colored Seamen’s Home. See Part VII.
20. “The late intended Insurrection” is an obvious reference to the attempted revolt of Denmark Vesey, of Charleston, in 1822. See note 2.
21. The Ram’s Horn began publication in New York City on January 1, 1847. For eighteen months the anti-slavery paper was published by two black activists, Willis A. Hodges and Thomas Van Rensselaer. Following a disagreement between them, Hodges retired and left the paper entirely in the hands of Van Rensselaer. The paper appeared only once more, in June 1848. Frederick Douglass was affiliated with the Ram’s Horn for a brief time prior to the founding of his own newspaper, The North Star. In August 1847 the Ram’s Horn announced that Frederick Douglass would be a regular contributor, but the following November Douglass was cited as the assistant editor to Van Rensselaer. The exact nature of his relationship to the paper is unknown, for it is possible that he merely lent his name to bring prestige to the paper. For a time Douglass tentatively planned to merge the Ram’s Horn and The North Star. By November 5, 1847, however, he had abandoned whatever ideas he had in that direction for on that date Douglass announced his decision to publish The North Star.
22. Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, or Life Among the Lowly was first published as a serial (June 5, 1851–April 1, 1852) in the National Era, an antislavery paper of Washington, D.C., and as a book in two volumes on March 20, 1852. The book depicted the cruelties of slavery and caused an outburst of denunciation in the slave states.
23. Theodore Tilton (1835–1907) was a famous editor and reformer during the turbulent Civil War era. He attended the Free Academy (later the College of the City of New York) from 1850 to 1853, and gained some experience reporting for the New York Tribune. An ardent evangelical Christian and abolitionist, he joined the New York Observer, a weekly Presbyterian publication, but resigned within one year because of its lukewarm stand on the abolition of slavery. Tilton then became editor of the Independent, a Congregationalist journal, and transformed it into a publication of broad appeal. His promising career was disrupted prematurely, however, by the well-known Beecher scandal. In the summer of 1870 his wife confessed to adultery with the prominent pastor of their church, Henry Ward Beecher. At first Tilton tried to shield his wife, but gossip forced the affair into public view. The case smoldered for several years, and Tilton lost his job with the Independent. The final blow, on July 20, 1874, he publicly charged Beecher with adultery, before the Plymouth Church congregation. Public opinion refused to accept the charge, however, and a trial in 1875 resulted in a hung jury.
24. The “Harper’s Ferry affair” and the “Helper pamphlet” further intensified feelings between North and South over the slavery issue. In 1859 the radical abolitionist, John Brown, made his now-famous quixotic raid on the arsenal located there. Hinton Rowan Helper, born into an impoverished white family of North Carolina, spoke for poor southern whites in his The Impending Crisis, published in 1857. Although Helper despised blacks, his writing constituted a virulent attack on slavery, which he believed brought economic ruin to the small free farmers. To circulate his book in the South was a crime.
25. Martin Robinson Delany (1812–1885) was born in Charles Town, Virginia (now in West Virginia), the grandson of slaves and the sone of free Negroes. His father’s father was supposed to have been an African chieftain of the Golah tribe, captured with his family in battle, sold as a slave and brought to America. His mother’s father was said to have been an African prince of the Mandingo line in the Niger Valley, who was captured in war, enslaved, sold and transported to America.
Delany received his first instruction in reading from peddlers of books, continued his studies under the Reverend Louis Woodson, in Pittsburgh, and went on to study medicine at Harvard, became a doctor, was one of seventy-five black officers in the Union Army, wrote a novel, ran for the office of lieutenant governor of South Carolina, and named his daughter Ethiopia. His little book The Condition, Elevation, Emigration, and Destiny of the Colored People of the United States, Politically Considered, published in Philadelphia in 1852 at his own expense, is a remarkable source of information about the free black population of the antebellum North, and contains important suggestions for improvement of their conditions. One sentence in the Appendix of his book is the most quoted in the work: “We are a nation within a nation, as the Poles in Russia, the Hungarians in Austria, the Welsh, Irish and Scotch in the British dominions.” The acknowledged “Father of Black Nationalism,” Delany advocated founding a new Negro nation on the eastern coast of Africa “for the settlement of colored adventurers from the United States and elsewhere.” In 1859 Delany travelled in Africa for about a year seeking places to which black Americans might emigrate. He signed treaties with eight kings of Abeokuta for grants of land to establish American Negro colonies in the Yoruba area. From Africa, Delany went on to London, and after stirring up an international incident at the International Statistical Congress in London with his assertion that “I am a Man”—a remark which caused all but one member of the American delegation to walk out of the Congress in protest—he continued to lecture on Africa in England and Scotland for almost seven months. He returned to the United States in 1861, six weeks after the Civil War had broken out.
In February 1865 Martin R. Delany was commissioned a major in infantry and ordered to recruit an “armee d’Afrique” in South Carolina. But the end of the war cut short the project. Delany, however, continued to work in the South, served for three years in the Freedmen’s Bureau, and became active in South Carolina politics. In 1874 the state Republican Party split over the issue of reform, and Delany became the nominee for lieutenant governor for the reform faction, sharing the ticket with the gubernatorial candidate, Judge John T. Green. The attempt was lost, and Delany also made several blunders which ensured his ultimate failure in South Carolina politics. The worst was his support of Wade Hampton who won the 1876 gubernatorial race, and opened the door for a return to white supremacy in South Carolina.
26. See notes 6 and 7.
27. The Millerites were followers of William Miller (1782–1849), a farmer from New York who declared that the world would end in 1843 with the second coming of Christ. When the appointed time passed without incident, a new date was set for 1844. When that date also passed quietly, the Millerites finally set the date for Christ’s coming sometime in the indefinite future. During a period of intense evangelical fervor, camp-meetings, and revivals, the message of William Miller caused a considerable stir among some elements of society and he was roundly denounced by traditional religious leaders.
28. Benjamin Banneker (1731–1806) was born in Ellicot, Maryland, to a free mother and a slave father. As a youth he attended an integrated school, and later became a highly regarded astronomer, inventor, and mathematician. In 1861 Banneker constructed the first wooden clock made in America, and in 1789 he predicted the solar eclipse. In 1791 he began the publication of a series of almanacs which won him considerable acclaim in Europe as well as America. When Thomas Jefferson questioned that a black man could possess such intelligence, Banneker composed a reply which has become a classic denial of intellectual inferiority based on race.
29. William Whipper (1805–1895) was a leading figure in the national and state conventions of colored people during the 1830s. He was a founder, in 1835, of the short–lived American Moral Reform Society, which emerged from the convention movement, and edited the National Reformer, the Society’s organ. In Columbia, Pennsylvania, where he was engaged in the lumber business, Whipper was a conductor on the Underground Railroad.
30. David Walker was born in North Carolina in 1785, to a free Negro mother and a slave father. Little is known about his early life except that he was apparently well-travelled and achieved some degree of education. Unable to endure life in the South, Walker moved to Boston sometime during the 1820s. By 1827 he operated a shop near the wharves which sold reconditioned clothing. Walker also became the Boston agent for Freedom’s Journal, an anti-slavery paper published in New York and the first black newspaper in America. He also delivered numerous lectures against slavery throughout the city. In an effort to reach the slaves, in 1829 he published An Appeal to the Coloured Citizens of the World, in which he called upon the slaves to revolt. Walker hoped to smuggle his pamphlets into southern ports by sewing them in the linings of the clothing he sold to sailors bound for southern ports. The South went to extraordinary lengths to suppress the document, and rumors circulated that a $1,000 reward had been placed on Walker’s life by irate southerners. One morning in 1830, Walker was murdered.
31. The New York African Free School was established in New York City in 1787 by the Society for Promoting the Manumission of Slaves and Protecting such of them as have been or may be Liberated. The initial enrollment of forty-seven increased dramatically, and between 1787 and 1815 the average number of black students in attendance was eighty-seven. Most of these students received their education free of charge. A number of future black leaders attended the African Free School.
32. The New York black who applied for a carman’s license was Henry Graves whose case is presented in Part III. The effort of the Ohio Legislature “to consign the negroes to starvation” is a reference to the hated Black Laws passed in Ohio which were highly discriminatory against Negroes. See item 6., Part IV.
33. Lane Theological Seminary of Cincinnati provided the scene for one of the most dramatic events in the war against slavery in the West. Under its first president, Lyman Beecher (from 1832–1850), numerous young abolitionists enrolled for study at Lane. One of the more energetic of these students was Theodore Dwight Weld, who had been converted by Charles Finney, and became an ardent reformer like his teacher. Weld and about forty of Finney’s other converts were highly active in Cincinnati’s black community. But their ideas about social equality, and their activities on behalf of blacks, created problems with the townspeople and the Lane administration. Fearing a loss of public support for the institution, Beecher banned the lectures and lyceums for Negroes which the students had been conducting. Most of the Lane student body then withdrew, and with funds provided by the Tappan brothers of New York, established a new theological school in connection with Oberlin College, near Cleveland, Ohio.
34. Moyamensing was a district in Philadelphia where many blacks lived and worked. It was the scene of numerous race riots during the three decades prior to the Civil War. “Hunkerism” refers to the “hunkers,” a conservative faction of the Democratic Party in New York during the 1840s. The name stems from their desire to retain the entire “hunk” of patronage and traditional policy, especially regarding slavery.
35. William Lloyd Garrison (1805–1879) was the most vehement of the white abolitionists in New England. From 1829 to 1830 he and Benjamin Lundy, another prominent Baltimore abolitionist, co-edited the Genius of Universal Emancipation, until the anti-slavery paper was forced to close. Following a prison sentence for libel, Garrison returned to his native city of Boston. In 1831 he was among those who organized the New England Anti-Slavery Society. Garrison drafted part of the constitution, and in 1832 became Corresponding Secretary of the new organization. The following year he and fifty other abolitionists met in Philadelphia and, on December 4, 1833, formed the American Anti-Slavery Society. For many years (1831–1865) Garrison edited The Liberator, one of the most outspoken of the anti-slavery papers. Although he favored the “moral suasion” approach, and rejected violence as a tactic, Garrison’s outspokenness, and sometimes eccentric behavior, earned him notoriety in some quarters. Southerners threatened him with bodily harm, and the Georgia legislature went so far as to place a $5,000 reward upon his head.
36. Robert Purvis was born on November 4, 1810, in Charleston, South Carolina, the son of William Purvis, an English merchant, and a Jewish-Moorish mother, Harriet Judah. In 1819 William Purvis sent the entire family to Philadelphia, where his three sons could be educated. He died in 1825 leaving an inheritance of $125,000. Robert Purvis was educated in private schools in Philadelphia spent some time at Pittsfield Academy and finished his education at Amherst College. He left college to devote himself to the antislavery movement and at the age of seventeen made his first public speech against slavery. Purvis, a wealthy Negro who lived in a fine home in a suburb of Philadelphia, was one of a group of black Americans who gave Garrison money to help him launch The Liberator in 1831. Two years later Purvis became a charter member of the American Anti-Slavery Society. He was also a founder of the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society, “president” of the Pennsylvania Underground Railroad, and a vigorous fighter against discrimination against Negroes until his death in 1898.
37. Fanneuil Hall, a public meeting place in Boston, was founded in 1742 as a gift from the wealthy merchant, Peter Fanneuil. During the colonial period it became the traditional site for public protests against unpopular British measures, and during the Ante-Bellum Era it was a favorite place for anti-slavery meetings.
38. There were several such societies in both northern and southern cities. For an example of a southern association see Doc. 35, Part II.
39. “Considerable excitement” was an understatement for the reactions produced by kidnappings of blacks in Harrisburg. At least two riots were ignited by such incidents, one in 1825 and another in 1850. See Mary D. Houts, “Black Harrisburg’s Resistance to Slavery,” Pennsylvania Heritage 4 (December, 1977):9–13.
40. Emeric De Vattel (1714–1767), a Swiss-born jurist who published extensively, is known primarily for his legal studies, especially Droit des gens (1758). He became privy councillor in the cabinet of Dresden, but his health broke under a heavy workload, and he died in 1767. His fame during the period cited in the text rested on his making the legal ideas of Woelff accessible to political and diplomatic circles.
41. Zachary Taylor, twelfth President of the United States (1849–1850), had become a national hero during the Mexican War (1846–1848) and was the victorious Whig candidate for the presidency in 1848. After only six months in office, Taylor died from acute gastroenteritis. The most distinguished member of his cabinet was Secretary of State John M. Clayton, previously a Senator from Delaware. When pressured to act against South Carolina for imprisoning a free black seaman who was a British subject, Clayton’s only response was that he had no power to force states to comply with the treaties which prohibited such actions. Lord Palmerston was the British Prime Minister at the time of the incident.
42. Matthew Galbraith Perry (USN) was entrusted with the mission of opening trade with Japan. In 1853 he anchored his fleet near Tokyo, and so impressed the Japanese with its power that a commercial treaty was signed between the U.S. and Japan in 1854. The suggestion is that if a powerful squadron were sent to Charleston, the problems black seamen encountered there would cease.
43. James McCune Smith (1813–1865), a leading black physician, writer, and abolitionist, was born in New York City, the “son of a slave, owing his liberty to the Emancipation Act of the State of New York and of a self-emancipated bondswoman.” He was educated in the African Free School and entered the University of Glasgow in 1832, receiving the degrees of B.A. in 1835, M.A. in 1836, and M.D. in 1837. Following a short period in the clinics of Paris, he returned to New York City and for twenty-five years was a noted doctor and surgeon. But his fame rested largely on his activities in the struggle of the black community of New York for equality and on his battle against slavery. Smith was a frequent lecturer and spoke often in support of the physical and moral equality of the black race. His most famous lecture was his discourse in 1859 on Thomas Jefferson’s widely quoted claim that “the blacks, whether originally a distinct race, or made distinct by time and circumstances, are inferior to the whites in the endowments of both body and mind.”
44. Alexander Crummell (1819–1898), a graduate of Oxford University, England, was a leading clergyman in the North before the Civil War. Between 1853 and 1873 he was active in Africa as an agent of the American Colonization Society. After his return from Africa, he continued to play a prominent role in the United States as a clergyman, political leader, and lecturer. Here are portions of an address Crummell delivered before the Freedman’s Aid Society, Methodist Episcopal Church, Ocean Grove, New Jersey, August 15, 1883.
45. On December 28, 1816, the American Society for Colonizing the Free People of Colour of the United States (popularly known as the American Colonization Society) was organized. The Society, supported by influential groups, aimed to colonize free Negroes in Africa and thus rid the United States of a “troublesome presence.” Although some leading free Negroes supported colonization, believing that black people could never achieve freedom and dignity in the United States, most free Negroes opposed the scheme from its inception. They were convinced that the promoters of the Society wished to get rid of the free Negro in order to make slavery secure, and they were repelled by the racist arguments directed by the Society against free Negroes as an inferior, degraded class who should be removed from the United States. They charged, furthermore, that the Society, by encouraging anti-Negro prejudice, was responsible for the deprivation of rights already enjoyed by free Negroes.
46. Charles L. Reason (1818–1898) was born in New York and attended the African Free School. In 1844 he became professor of belles lettres at New York Central College in McGrawville, New York. He resigned in 1852 and became director of the Institute for Colored Youths in Philadelphia. George B. Vashon, a graduate of Oberlin College, lawyer and poet, also held a professorship of belles lettres at New York Central College. Charles H. Langston (1817–1892), brother of the more famous John Mercer Langston (see note 61), was a vocal black leader in Ohio. He was particularly active in resisting the Fugitive Slave Law passed in 1850.
47. James W. C. Pennington (1809–1870) was born in slavery on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and was trained as a blacksmith, a trade he followed until he was about twenty-one, when he decided to run away. Befriended by a Pennsylvania Quaker, he stayed with him for six months and began what was to be an extensive education under his direction. After attending evening school in Long Island, he taught in colored schools and, at the same time, studied theology. Pennington became a pastor in the African Congregational Church, held pastorates in Hartfort, Connecticut, and represented that state at the World’s Anti-Slavery Convention in London in 1843. He was also a delegate to the World’s Peace Society meeting in London that same year. He bought his freedom in 1851 for $150. Pennington was the author of A Text Book of the Origin and History, &c., Sc., of the Colored People, published in 1841, and The Fugitive Blacksmith, the story of his early life, published in London in 1849. In 1855, together with Dr. James McCune Smith and the Reverend Henry Highland Garnet, the Reverend Pennington organized the Legal Rights Association for the purpose of establishing the rights of Negroes to use public conveyances in the city. The Association fought the cases for Negroes kept off the streetcars.
48. George T. Downing (1819–1903) of New York attended Mulberry Street School, and while there formed friendships with a number of adolescents who eventually became race leaders, such as Alexander Crummell, James McCune Smith, and Henry Highland Garnet. Still in his teens, Downing was arrested for smuggling a fugitive slave out of jail, and later he became an active anti-slavery advocate. During the Civil War he organized several black regiments. While in Washington looking after the interests of black soldiers, he accepted an offer to run the House of Representatives restaurant. Several years later, he moved to Rhode Island, opposed separate schools for the races, and was instrumental in eliminating the dual educational system. He was a close friend of Charles Sumner, the civil rights senator from Massachusetts.
49. Charles Lenox Remond (1810–1873) was an active Abolitionist and served for many years as an agent of the American Anti-Slavery Society. Remond was the first black Abolitionist speaker to address large audiences. In 1840 he attended the World Anti-Slavery Convention in London. After spending two years lecturing in Great Britain and Ireland, he returned to the United States in 1842 and became involved in the campaign to end segregation on the railroads of Massachusetts. Segregation was finally abolished in April 1843.
50. William Cooper Nell (1816–1874) was an untiring black abolitionist from Boston. Connected with Garrison’s Liberator for many years, Nell won fame as an orator and also as one of the first black historians in the United States. He began collecting Negro historical data and produced in 1852 the study, Services of Colored Americans in the Wars of 1776 and 1812, followed four years later by the Colored Patriots of the American Revolution. But it was his leadership in the desegregation campaign in Boston’s schools which won Nell his greatest fame. Under his direction, Negroes in Boston deluged the Massachusetts legislature with petitions demanding the abolition of separate schools and had them taught privately until in 1855 a law was enacted requiring public schools in the state to admit students without regard to color.
51. Schoolteacher, dentist, physician, lawyer, graduate of the American Medical College in Philadelphia, member of the Massachusetts Bar, proficient in Greek and Latin, Dr. John S. Rock was one of the leaders of the movement for equal rights for black Americans in the North. Dr. Rock used the lecture platform effectively to challenge the racist concept that Negroes were inferior to whites.
John S. Rock was born in Salem, New Jersey, in 1825. He was a teacher in the public schools during 1844–48, and in the following year he finished studying dentistry under Dr. Harbert Hubbard. In 1850 he began practicing dentistry in Philadelphia, and in 1851 he received a silver medal for the creation of artificial teeth and another silver medal for a prize essay on temperance. In 1852 he graduated from the American Medical College in Philadelphia, and the following year began the practice of medicine and dentistry in Boston. He was admitted to practice law in Massachusetts in 1861 and on September 21 of that year received a commission from the governor as justice of peace for seven years for the city of Boston and the County of Suffolk.
In February, 1865, presented by Charles Sumner as a candidate to argue cases before the Supreme Court, Rock was sworn in by Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase as the first Negro to be accredited as a Supreme Court lawyer. He died in Boston on December 3, 1866.
“August Celebration” refers to the West Indiana Emancipation celebration.
52. The cry “America for Americans” was raised during the 1850s by nativists of the Know-Nothing Party, which opposed the further admission of foreign immigrants. The Pilot was a newspaper which voiced the concerns of Irish immigrants, and therefore opposed nativism. The paper did not, however, extend a liberal view toward blacks.
53. Jefferson Davis (1808–1889), graduated from West Point in 1828. Resigning his commission after the Black Hawk War, he settled on his Mississippi plantation, “Brierfield,” and became a successful planter. In 1845, Davis was elected as a Democrat to Congress, but he resigned when the Mexican War began in 1846, and accepted command of the “Mississippi Rifles.” Because his unit played a crucial role in the victory at Monterey, General Taylor appointed Davis to the peace commission to negotiate the surrender. In 1847 he once again resigned from the Army and Mississippi elected him to the United States Senate. In 1853, he became secretary of war in the cabinet of Franklin Pierce, where he served until 1857, when Davis reentered the Senate. Davis resigned in 1861 when Mississippi seceded from the Union. In 1862 he was inaugurated president of the Confederate States of America, and attempted the impossible task of leading the South to separate nationhood. When the Confederacy fell in 1865, he was captured in Georgia and imprisoned in Fortress Monroe for two years. The ex-president was never brought to trial, but neither did he ask for a federal pardon. This barred him from further public office and the last two decades of his life were spent in relative poverty.
54. Henry Highland Garnet (1815–1881) was born a slave in Maryland, the son of an African chief who had been kidnapped and sold into slavery. He escaped with his parents in 1824 and settled in New York City. Garnet was educated in the African Free School No. 1 and at Oneida Institute. A brief stay at the Canaan Academy in Canaan, New Hampshire, in 1835 was interrupted when the academy was destroyed by an infuriated mob opposed to the education of negroes. Garnet prepared for the ministry, and in 1842 was licensed to preach. He became pastor of the Liberty Street Presbyterian Church in Troy, New York, and later of the Shiloh Presbyterian Church in New York City, a pastorate he held for more than forty years, during which time he became the foremost Negro clergyman in the city.
In August 1843 Garnet attended the National Convention of Negro Citizens at Buffalo, New York, and delivered a militant speech calling for slave rebellions as the surest way to end slavery. It was the most radical speech by a black American during the antebellum period. The proposal stirred the delegates and failed by one vote of being adopted. After he had read the speech, John Brown, the martyr of Harper’s Ferry, had it published at his own expense.
Garnet travelled widely, and prior to the Civil War favored the emigration of blacks to Africa. During the 1850s he was president of the African Civilization Society, an organization which encouraged that policy. Following the war, he served as Recorder of Deeds in Washington, D.C., and in 1881 he was appointed Minister to Liberia. Garnet died only a few months after his arrival in Monrovia.
55. Born in Delaware in 1815, Rev. J. P. Campbell served as an African Methodist Episcopal clergyman in Pennsylvania. In 1856 he became editor of the A.M.E. newspaper, The Christian Recorder, one of the most widely circulated black newspapers of that century. Campbell became a bishop in 1864, and in 1876 Wilberforce University conferred the D.D. degree upon him.
56. Carl Schurz (1829–1906) was born in Germany. An exceptional student, he became a doctoral candidate in history in 1847 at the University of Bonn. The 1848 revolution intervened, however, and Schurz, an active student leader and follower of Professor Gottfried Kinkel of Bonn, an exponent of democratic institutions, became an army officer with the revolutionary forces. When the abortive revolution failed, Schurz freed his mentor from prison in a daring escape, and the two made their way to England. In 1852 Schurz sailed for the United States where he quickly mastered the English language and entered Republican politics in Wisconsin, where he settled in 1855. Soon a successful lawyer, during the 1860 presidential campaign Schurz exercised his considerable oratorical powers on behalf of Lincoln. Once in office, President Lincoln appointed Schurz minister to Spain. Schurz resigned in 1862, however, to become a brigadier-general in the Union Army. Schurz resigned after Lee’s surrender. From July through September 1865, he travelled throughout the South as an agent of President Johnson to report on the conditions he found there. The report Schurz submitted is still of considerable historical value. Then Schurz entered a journalistic career, serving as editor or correspondent for several major newspapers, including Horace Greeley’s New York Tribune. Schurz moved to St. Louis, Missouri, in 1867, and a year later was elected to the United States Senate at the age of forty. In the Senate, he became noted for his anti-Grant, anti-corruption position, and was prominent in the Liberal Republican wing of the party. In 1877 Schurz became Secretary of the Interior in Rutherford B. Hayes’ cabinet.
57. Whitelaw Reid (1837–1912) was born near Xenia, Ohio. After graduation from Miami University (Oxford, Ohio) in 1856, he began a career as a journalist. He first served as a legislative correspondent in Columbus for the Cincinnati Times and other Ohio papers, until he became city editor for the Cincinnati Gazette. Almost immediately, however, he became a war correspondent, and achieved wide recognition and acclaim for his reporting from the front. Immediately following the war, Reid travelled throughout the South. In 1866, his observations were published under the title After the War, which is still of historical interest. In 1868, he joined the New York Tribune, became its managing editor, and turned the paper into an effective organ for Horace Greeley’s presidential bid in 1872. Greeley, who edited the Tribune, lost the race and shortly thereafter died. Reid then took charge of the nation’s most powerful newspaper at age thirty-five. An ardent Republican, Reid was appointed ambassador to France by Benjamin Harrison in 1888. In 1892 Reid shared the ticket with Harrison as the vice-presidential candidate, but lost the election. Reid strongly favored America’s imperialist ventures in the Caribbean and the Pacific, and McKinley appointed him a member of the American commission to negotiate peace with Spain in 1898. In 1905, Theodore Roosevelt appointed Reid ambassador to Great Britain where he died.
58. The “eight-hour system” refers to the number of hours in a single work day proposed by those who favored a reduction from the traditional twelve hours. For an explanation of the eight-hour movement and its rationale, see note 69.
59. The Workingman’s Advocate was the official organ of the National Labor Union, published simultaneously in Philadelphia by John H. Sylvis, and in Chicago by Andrew C. Cameron.
60. Henry Clay Warmoth, a carpetbagger governor of Louisiana, rode into office in 1868 with the black vote. Hence the appellation “negro worshipper.” His It. governor was P. B. S. Pinchback, a mulatto Republican who engineered the impeachment of Warmoth for corruption. J. C. Taliaferro, a scalawag associate justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court, swore in Pinchback as governor in place of Warmoth. Taliaferro was also a leader of the Independent Radical faction which was trounced in the general election of 1868, and won by the Warmoth machine.
61. John Mercer Langston (1829–1897) was born in Virginia to a slave mother and a white plantation master. Langston’s father sent him to Cincinnati, Ohio, to be educated. Later he graduated from Oberlin College in 1849. In addition to a degree in theology, which he earned in 1853, Langston studied law and became a member of the Ohio Bar in 1854. After the war, he was elected president of the National Equal Rights League, and was appointed as inspector-general of the Freedmen’s Bureau. From 1869 to 1876, he served as dean and vice-president of Howard University. Langston was appointed United States Minister to Haiti in 1877, and remained in the diplomatic service until 1885 when he became president of the Virginia Normal and Collegiate Institute. In 1888 he was elected to Congress from Virginia and served one term.
62. Horatio Seymour, a former governor of New York, became the Democratic nominee for President at the 1868 convention. His running-mate was Francis P. Blair, Jr., son of the famous founder of the Washington Globe. Like his father, Blair split from the Democrats to support Lincoln, but could not support Radical Reconstruction, and returned to the Democratic fold after the war.
63. A monumental figure in the American labor movement, William H. Sylvis (1828–1869) was born in poverty, but had learned the trade of iron moulding by 1852 when he finally settled in Philadelphia. Sylvis became an officer in the local moulders union, and at his behest, the first Iron Moulders International Union convention met in Philadelphia in 1859. Active in the organization, Sylvis was elected treasurer of the national union in 1860, and three years later the membership elected him president. A staunch advocate of labor solidarity, Sylvis was instrumental in founding the National Labor Union, the first trades union federation in America, and became its president in 1868. That same year, he and Richard Trevellick, another leader in the NLU, launched an organizational drive in the South.
Favoring a Labor Reform Party, Greenbackism, and the eight-hour day, Sylvis also urged affiliation with the First International. In addition to his union activities, he edited the Iron-Moulders International Journal. Probably in 1869, Sylvis also became joint proprietor of the Workingman’s Advocate, the official organ of the NLU. Although Sylvis was a progressive for his time, and favored black and white unity in the labor struggle, he nevertheless believed that blacks were social inferiors to whites. This underlying racism, and his strong ties to the Democratic Party, influenced Sylvis to sneer at Radical Republican governments in the South and to express his repugnance to the social intermingling he found there.
His letters and speeches were published posthumously by his brother, James G. Sylvis.
64. William Craft and his wife Ellen escaped from slavery in Georgia. Because she was light-complexioned, Ellen disguised herself as a wealthy white woman travelling with her “servant” William. They became staunch abolitionists, and after the Civil War returned to Georgia and established an industrial school for black youths near Savannah.
65. An 1842 graduate of the Military Academy, for the next twenty years John Pope (1822–1892) served in various engineering posts throughout the West. In 1862 he took command of the Army of the Mississippi, under General Halleck’s command, and won distinction in several campaigns. By June 1862, Pope was given command of the Army of Virginia which was expected to protect Washington, D. C. He proved inadequate to the task, and was decisively defeated at the Second Battle of Manassas (August 27–30, 1862). Subsequently Pope was relieved of command, never to be employed in field operations again. He was then sent to the West where he remained until his retirement at the rank of Major-General.
66. The Christian Recorder, official organ of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, took a consistently liberal view on Chinese exclusion.
67. A radical abolitionist and universal reformer, Wendell Phillips’ fame resulted primarily from his exceptional powers as an orator. People flocked to hear him speak even though they generally disagreed with his notions of racial brotherhood. After the Civil War, Phillips continued to advocate unpopular causes, especially on behalf of workingmen.
68. The Detroit Union was a vehemently anti-Negro newspaper.
69. Ira Steward (1831–1883) was the father of the eight-hour work day. In 1863 Steward served as a delegate to the convention of the International Union of Machinists and Blacksmiths in Boston, where he fought for the passage of a resolution which for the first time demanded that the eight-hour day be required by law. As president of the National Eight-Hour League, Steward labored indefatigably for that measure through the existing political parties. Following the Civil War, various eight-hour laws were passed by state legislatures, but the multiple restrictions written into the laws rendered many of them dead letters. Steward opposed Greenbackism as well as a separate labor party. He did, however, believe in the solidarity of labor and the inevitable evolution of a socialist state. Thus, in 1878 he and several American Marxists formed the International Labor Union, the first significant attempt in America to organize the unskilled workers.
The eight-hour system advanced by Steward was novel for the time. He believed that the shorter hours would provide increased leisure-time desires, and consequently, a demand for higher wages. This upward pressure on wages would then stimulate the introduction of labor-saving machinery, which in turn facilitated mass production, and hence an increase in the purchasing power of the masses. In order to insulate mass purchasing power from the depressing effects of unemployment, the work day must be reduced to eight hours. Steward believed that ultimately the working class would accumulate enough capital to control the economy, and thereby usher in socialism. Steward’s considerable influence declined precipitously when organized labor opted to ignore politics to agitate economic issues alone.
70. Nathaniel P. Rogers, an abolitionist and poet from New Hampshire, was a close associate of William Lloyd Garrison. Rogers edited the pioneer anti-slavery newspaper, the Herald of Freedom, founded in 1838 in Concord, New Hampshire. Rogers also wrote for the New York Tribune under the pseudonym “Old Man of the Mountain.” Although an abolitionist, Rogers’ views on race were something less than egalitarian.
71. As a youth, John Morrissey (1831–1878) worked at an iron foundry, and various other laboring jobs in Troy, New York, before moving to New York City. There his penchant for brawling led him into a career of prizefighting. In 1853 he defeated Yankee Sullivan, which gave Morrissey some claim to the heavyweight championship. He rose rapidly as a gambler, saloon-keeper, labor leader among the Irish, and politician in the city. A confidant of Commodore Vanderbilt, Morrissey won and lost several fortunes on Wall Street. Mostly to annoy his more sedate neighbors, he ran for Congress in 1866, and to the surprise and consternation of many New Yorkers, he won. Morrissey served two terms in Congress (1867–1871) before he moved to Saratoga. In 1875 and 1877 Morrissey was elected to two terms in the state senate. Although sober citizens were appalled by his antics, Morrissey enjoyed great popularity among the working classes. When he died in 1878, 15,000 friends followed his coffin to the cemetery.
72. Mr. Kuykendall and Mr. Schlaeger were white delegates.
73. Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815–1902) pioneered the woman’s rights movement in America. Born in Johnstown, New York, she attended the famous seminary of Emma Willard at Troy, New York, and graduated in 1832. For a time Stanton studied law with her father. She became a leading exponent of the woman-suffrage cause, and with Lucretia Mott, officially launched the movement at Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848. This was the first woman’s right convention in United States history. She later assisted Susan B. Anthony in editing the militant feminist magazine, Revolution (1868–1870). An able orator and writer, she devoted her life to liberal causes, and was one of the authors of the multi-volume History of Woman Suffrage.
74. Ulysses S. Grant was the successful Republican candidate for the presidency in 1868, and Horatio Seymour the losing Democratic candidate.
75. At the third national convention of the National Labor Union, held in Philadelphia, August 1869, nine of the 142 delegates were Negroes. One of these delegates was Isaac Myers, representing the Colored Caulkers’ Trades Union Society of Baltimore and the first important black labor leader in the United States. During the convention, Myers was commissioned by the black delegates to voice their thanks for the “unanimous recognition” of the Negro worker’s right to representation in the gathering. The speech was delivered on August 18, 1869, is an historic appeal for unity of black and white workers, and probably the first published labor speech of a black union leader. The reporter of the New York Times wrote that “the whole Convention listened . . . with the most profound attention . . . and at its close delegates advanced and warmly congratulated him.”
76. “Andrew Johnson’s reaction” referred to President Johnson’s conservative, and racist, resistance to Radical Republican attempts to insuring political equality for ex-slaves.