The Project Gutenberg eBook of Letters to Catherine E. Beecher, in reply to an essay on slavery and abolitionism, addressed to A. E. Grimké

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Title: Letters to Catherine E. Beecher, in reply to an essay on slavery and abolitionism, addressed to A. E. Grimké

Author: Angelina Emily Grimké

Release date: December 31, 2016 [eBook #53852]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Suzanne Shell and the Online Distributed
Proofreading Team at (This file was
produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive/American Libraries.)









Entered according to the Act of Congress in the year 1838,
by Isaac Knapp,
in the Clerk’s Office of the District Court of Massachusetts.



Brookline, Mass., 6 month, 12th, 1837.

My Dear Friend: Thy book has appeared just at a time, when, from the nature of my engagements, it will be impossible for me to give it that attention which so weighty a subject demands. Incessantly occupied in prosecuting a mission, the responsibilities of which task all my powers, I can reply to it only by desultory letters, thrown from my pen as I travel from place to place. I prefer this mode to that of taking as long a time to answer it, as thou didst to determine upon the best method by which to counteract the effect of my testimony at the north—which, as the preface of thy book informs me, was thy main design.

Thou thinkest I have not been ‘sufficiently informed in regard to the feelings and opinions of Christian females at the North’ on the subject of slavery; for that in fact they hold the same principles with Abolitionists, although they condemn their measures. Wilt thou permit me to receive their principles from thy pen? Thus instructed, however misinformed I may[4] heretofore have been, I can hardly fail of attaining to accurate knowledge. Let us examine them, to see how far they correspond with the principles held by Abolitionists.

The great fundamental principle of Abolitionists is, that man cannot rightfully hold his fellow man as property. Therefore, we affirm, that every slaveholder is a man-stealer. We do so, for the following reasons: to steal a man is to rob him of himself. It matters not whether this be done in Guinea, or Carolina; a man is a man, and as a man he has inalienable rights, among which is the right to personal liberty. Now if every man has an inalienable right to personal liberty, it follows, that he cannot rightfully be reduced to slavery. But I find in these United States, 2,250,000 men, women and children, robbed of that to which they have an inalienable right. How comes this to pass? Where millions are plundered, are there no plunderers? If, then, the slaves have been robbed of their liberty, who has robbed them? Not the man who stole their forefathers from Africa, but he who now holds them in bondage; no matter how they came into his possession, whether he inherited them, or bought them, or seized them at their birth on his own plantation. The only difference I can see between the original man-stealer, who caught the African in his native country, and the American slaveholder, is, that the former committed one act of robbery, while the other perpetrates the same crime continually. Slaveholding is the perpetrating of acts, all of the same kind, in a series, the first of which is technically called man-stealing. The first act robbed the man of himself;[5] and the same state of mind that prompted that act, keeps up the series, having taken his all from him: it keeps his all from him, not only refusing to restore, but still robbing him of all he gets, and as fast as he gets it. Slaveholding, then, is the constant or habitual perpetration of the act of man-stealing. To make a slave is man-stealingthe ACT itself—to hold him such is man-stealing—the habit, the permanent state, made up of individual acts. In other words—to begin to hold a slave is man-stealing—to keep on holding him is merely a repetition of the first act—a doing the same identical thing all the time. A series of the same acts continued for a length of time is a habita permanent state. And the first of this series of the same acts that make up this habit or state is just like all the rest.

If every slave has a right to freedom, then surely the man who withholds that right from him to-day is a man-stealer, though he may not be the first person who has robbed him of it. Hence we find that Wesley says—‘Men-buyers are exactly on a level with men-stealers.’ And again—‘Much less is it possible that any child of man should ever be born a slave.’ Hear also Jonathan Edwards—‘To hold a man in a state of slavery, is to be every day guilty of robbing him of his liberty, or of man-stealing.’ And Grotius says—‘Those are men-stealers who abduct, keep, sell or buy slaves or freemen.’

If thou meanest merely that acts of that same nature, but differently located in a series, are designated by different terms, thus pointing out their different relative positions, then thy argument concedes what we[6] affirm,—the identity in the nature of the acts, and thus it dwindles to a mere philological criticism, or rather a mere play upon words.

These are Abolition sentiments on the subject of slaveholding; and although our principles are universally held by our opposers at the North, yet I am told on the 44th page of thy book, that ‘the word man-stealer has one peculiar signification, and is no more synonymous with slaveholder than it is with sheep-stealer.’ I must acknowledge, thou hast only confirmed my opinion of the difference which I had believed to exist between Abolitionists and their opponents. As well might Saul have declared, that he held similar views with Stephen, when he stood by and kept the raiment of those who slew him.

I know that a broad line of distinction is drawn between our principles and our measures, by those who are anxious to ‘avoid the appearance of evil’—very desirous of retaining the fair character of enemies to slavery. Now, our measures are simply the carrying out of our principles; and we find, that just in proportion as individuals embrace our principles, in spirit and in truth, they cease to cavil at our measures. Gerrit Smith is a striking illustration of this. Who cavilled more at Anti-Slavery measures, and who more ready now to acknowledge his former blindness? Real Abolitionists know full well, that the slave never has been, and never can be, a whit the better for mere abstractions, floating in the head of any man; and they also know, that principles, fixed in the heart, are things of another sort. The former have never done any good in the world, because they possess no[7] vitality, and therefore cannot bring forth the fruits of holy, untiring effort; but the latter live in the lives of their possessors, and breathe in their words. And I am free to express my belief, that all who really and heartily approve our principles, will also approve our measures; and that, too, just as certainly as a good tree will bring forth good fruit.

But there is another peculiarity in the views of Abolitionists. We hold that the North is guilty of the crime of slaveholding—we assert that it is a national sin: on the contrary, in thy book, I find the following acknowledgement:—‘Most persons in the non-slaveholding States, have considered the matter of southern slavery as one in which they were no more called to interfere, than in the abolition of the press-gang system in England, or the tithe-system in Ireland.’ Now I cannot see how the same principles can produce such entirely different opinions. ‘Can a good tree bring forth corrupt fruit?’ This I deny, and cannot admit what thou art anxious to prove, viz. that ‘Public opinion may have been wrong on this point, and yet right on all those great principles of rectitude and justice relating to slavery.’ If Abolition principles are generally adopted at the North, how comes it to pass, that there is no abolition action here, except what is put forth by a few despised fanatics, as they are called? Is there any living faith without works? Can the sap circulate vigorously, and yet neither blossoms put forth nor fruit appear?

Again, I am told on the 7th page, that all Northern Christians believe it is a sin to hold a man in slavery for ‘mere purposes of gain;’ as if this was the whole[8] abolition principle on this subject. I can assure thee that Abolitionists do not stop here. Our principle is, that no circumstances can ever justify a man in holding his fellow man as property; it matters not what motive he may give for such a monstrous violation of the laws of God. The claim to him as property is an annihilation of his right to himself, which is the foundation upon which all his other rights are built. It is high-handed robbery of Jehovah; for He has declared, ‘All souls are mine.’ For myself, I believe there are hundreds of thousands at the South, who do not hold their slaves, by any means, as much ‘for purposes of gain,’ as they do from the lust of power: this is the passion that reigns triumphant there, and those who do not know this, have much yet to learn. Where, then, is the similarity in our views?

I forbear for the present, and subscribe myself,

Thine, but not in the bonds of gospel Abolitionism,




Brookline, Mass., 6th month, 17th, 1837.

Dear Friend: Where didst thou get thy statement of what Abolitionists mean by immediate emancipation? I assure thee, it is a novelty. I never heard any abolitionist say that slaveholders ‘were physically unable to emancipate their slaves, and of course are not bound to do it,’ because in some States there are laws which forbid emancipation. This is truly what our opponents affirm; but we say that all the laws which sustain the system of slavery are unjust and oppressive—contrary to the fundamental principles of morality, and, therefore, null and void.

We hold, that all the slaveholding laws violate the fundamental principles of the Constitution of the United States. In the preamble of that instrument, the great objects for which it was framed are declared to be ‘to establish justice, to promote the general welfare, and to secure the blessings of liberty to us and to our posterity.’ The slave laws are flagrant[10] violations of these fundamental principles. Slavery subverts justice, promotes the welfare of the few to the manifest injury of the many, and robs thousands of the posterity of our forefathers of the blessings of liberty. This cannot be denied, for Paxton, a Virginia slaveholder, says, ‘the best blood in Virginia flows in the veins of slaves!’ Yes, even the blood of a Jefferson. And every southerner knows, that it is a common thing for the posterity of our forefathers to be sold on the vendue tables of the South. The posterity of our fathers are advertised in American papers as runaway slaves. Such advertisements often contain expressions like these: ‘has sometimes passed himself off as a white man,’—‘has been mistaken for a white man,’—‘quite white, has straight hair, and would not readily be taken for a slave,’ &c.

Now, thou wilt perceive, that, so far from thinking that a slaveholder is bound by the immoral and unconstitutional laws of the Southern States, we hold that he is solemnly bound as a man, as an American, to break them, and that immediately and openly; as much so, as Daniel was to pray, or Peter and John to preach—or every conscientious Quaker to refuse to pay a militia fine, or to train, or to fight. We promulgate no such time-serving doctrine as that set forth by thee. When we talk of immediate emancipation, we speak that we do mean, and the slaveholders understand us, if thou dost not.

Here, then, is another point in which we are entirely at variance, though the principles of abolitionism are ‘generally adopted by our opposers.’ What shall I say to these things, but that I am glad thou hast afforded[11] me an opportunity of explaining to thee what our principles really are? for I apprehend that thou ‘hast not been sufficiently informed in regard to the feelings and opinions’ of abolitionists.

It matters not to me what meaning ‘Dictionaries or standard writers’ may give to immediate emancipation. My Dictionary is the Bible; my standard authors, prophets and apostles. When Jehovah commanded Pharaoh to ‘let the people go,’ he meant that they should be immediately emancipated. I read his meaning in the judgments which terribly rebuked Pharaoh’s repeated and obstinate refusal to ‘let the people go.’ I read it in the universal emancipation of near 3,000,000 of Israelites in one awful night. When the prophet Isaiah commanded the Jews ‘to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke,’ he taught no gradual or partial emancipation, but immediate, universal emancipation. When Jeremiah said, ‘Execute judgment in the MORNING, and deliver him that is spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor,’ he commanded immediate deliverance. And so also with Paul, when he exhorted masters to render unto their servants that which is just and equal. Obedience to this command would immediately overturn the whole system of American Slavery; for liberty is justly due to every American citizen, according to the laws of God and the Constitution of our country; and a fair recompense for his labor is the right of every man. Slaveholders know this is just as well as we do. John C. Calhoun said in Congress, in 1833—‘He who earns the money—who digs it out of the[12] earth with the sweat of his brow, has a just title to it against the Universe. No one has a right to touch it without his consent, except his government, and it only to the extent of its legitimate wants: to take more is robbery.’

If our fundamental principle is right, that no man can rightfully hold his fellow man as property, then it follows, of course, that he is bound immediately to cease holding him as such, and that, too, in violation of the immoral and unconstitutional laws which have been framed for the express purpose of ‘turning aside the needy from judgment, and to take away the right from the poor of the people, that widows may be their prey, and that they may rob the fatherless.’ Every slaveholder is bound to cease to do evil now, to emancipate his slaves now.

Dost thou ask what I mean by emancipation? I will explain myself in a few words. 1. It is ‘to reject with indignation, the wild and guilty phantasy, that man can hold property in man.’ 2. To pay the laborer his hire, for he is worthy of it. 3. No longer to deny him the right of marriage, but to ‘let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband,’ as saith the apostle. 4. To let parents have their own children, for they are the gift of the Lord to them, and no one else has any right to them. 5. No longer to withhold the advantages of education and the privilege of reading the Bible. 6. To put the slave under the protection of equitable laws.

Now, why should not all this be done immediately? Which of these things is to be done next year, and which the year after? and so on. Our immediate[13] emancipation means, doing justice and loving mercy to-day—and this is what we call upon every slaveholder to do.

I have seen too much of slavery to be a gradualist. I dare not, in view of such a system, tell the slaveholder, that ‘he is physically unable to emancipate his slaves.’ I say he is able to let the oppressed go free, and that such heaven-daring atrocities ought to cease now, henceforth and forever. Oh, my very soul is grieved to find a northern woman thus ‘sewing pillows under all arm-holes,’ framing and fitting soft excuses for the slaveholder’s conscience, whilst with the same pen she is professing to regard slavery as a sin. ‘An open enemy is better than such a secret friend.’

Hoping that thou mayest soon be emancipated from such inconsistency, I remain until then,

Thine out of the bonds of Christian Abolitionism,




Lynn, 6th Month, 23d, 1837.

Dear Friend:—I now pass on to the consideration of ‘the main principle of action in the Anti-Slavery Society.’ Thou art pleased to assert that it ‘rests wholly on a false deduction from past experience.’ In this, also, thou ‘hast not been sufficiently informed.’ Our main principle of action is embodied in God’s holy command—‘Wash you, make you clean, put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes, cease to do evil, learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.’ Under a solemn conviction that it is our duty as Americans to ‘cry aloud and spare not, to lift up our voices as a trumpet, and to show our people their transgressions, and the house of Jacob their sins,’ we are striving to rouse a slumbering nation to a sense of the retributions which must soon descend upon her guilty head, unless like Ninevah she repent, and ‘break off her sins by righteousness, and her transgressions by showing mercy to the poor.’ This is our ‘main principle of action.’[15] Does it rest ‘wholly on a false deduction from past experience?’ or on the experience of Israel’s King, who exclaimed, ‘In keeping of them (thy commandments,) there is great reward.’

Thou art altogether under a mistake, if thou supposest that our ‘main principle of action’ is the successful effort of abolitionists in England, in reference to the abolition of the slave-trade; for I hesitate not to pronounce the attempts of Clarkson and Wilberforce, at that period of their history, to have been a complete failure; and never have the labors of any philanthropists so fully showed the inefficacy of halfway principles, as have those of these men of honorable fame. The doctrines now advocated by the American Anti-Slavery Society, were not advanced by the abolitionists of that day. They were not immediate abolitionists, but just such gradualists as thou art even now. If I supposed that our labors in the cause of the slave would produce no better results than those of these worthies, I should utterly despair. I need not remind thee, that they bent all their energies to the annihilation of the slave-trade, under the impression that this was the mother of slavery; and that after toiling for twenty years, and obtaining the passage of an act to that effect, the result was a mere nominal abolition; for the atrocities of the slave-trade are, if possible, greater now than ever. I will explain what I mean. A friend of mine one evening last winter, heard a conversation between two men, one of whom had, until recently, been a slave-trader. He had made several voyages to the coast of Africa, and said that once his vessel was chased by an English[16] man of war, and that, in order to avoid a search and the penalty of death, he threw every slave overboard; and when his companion expressed surprise and horror at such a wholesale murder, ‘Why,’ said the trader, ‘it was the fault of the English; they had no business to make a law to hang a man on the yard arm, if they caught him with slaves in his ship.’ He intimated that it was not an uncommon thing for the captains of slavers thus to save their lives.[1] Where, then, I ask, is this glorious success of which we hear so much, but see so little?

Let us travel onward, from the year 1806, when England passed her abolition act. What were British philanthropists doing for the emancipation of the slave, for the next twenty years? Nothing at all; and it was the voice of Elizabeth Heyrick which first[17] awakened them from their dream of gradualism to an understanding of the simple doctrine of immediate emancipation; but even though they saw the injustice and inefficiency of their own views, yet several years elapsed before they had the courage to promulgate hers. And now I can point thee to the success of these efforts in the emancipation bill of 1834. But even this success was paltry, in comparison with what it would have been, had all the conspicuous abolitionists of England been true to these just and holy principles. Some of them were false to those principles, and hence the compensation and apprenticeship system. A few months ago, it was my privilege to converse with Joseph Sturge, on his return from the West Indies, via New York, to Liverpool, whither he had gone to examine the working of England’s plan of emancipation. I heard him speak of the bounty of £20,000,000 which she had put into the hands of the planters, of their mean and cruel abuse of the apprenticeship system, and of the hearty approbation he felt in the thorough-going principles of the Anti-Slavery Societies in this country, and his increased conviction that ours were the only right principles on this important subject. That even the apprenticeship system is viewed by British philanthropists as a complete failure, is evident from the fact that they are now re-organizing their Anti-Slavery Societies, and circulating petitions for the substitution of immediate emancipation in its stead.

Hence it appears, that so far from our resting ‘wholly upon a false deduction from past experience,’ we are resting on no experience at all; for no class of[18] men in the world ever have maintained the principles which we now advocate. Our main principle of action is ‘obedience to God’—our hope of success is faith in Him, and that faith is as unwavering as He is true and powerful. ‘Blessed is the man who trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is.’

With regard to the connection between the North and the South, I shall say but little, having already sent thee my views on that subject in the letter to ‘Clarkson,’ originally published in the New Haven Religious Intelligencer. I there pointed out fifteen different ways in which the North was implicated in the guilt of slavery; and, therefore, I deny the charge that abolitionists are endeavoring ‘to convince their fellow citizens of the faults of another community.’ Not at all. We are spreading out the horrors of slavery before Northerners, in order to show them their own sin in sustaining such a system of complicated wrong and suffering. It is because we are politically, commercially, and socially connected with our southern brethren, that we urge our doctrines upon those of the free States. We have begun our work here, because pro-slavery men of the North are to the system of slavery just what temperate drinkers were to the vice of intemperance. Temperance reformers did not begin their labors among drunkards, but among temperate drinkers: so Anti-Slavery reformers did not begin their labors among slaveholders, but among those who were making their fortunes out of the unrequited toil of the slave, and receiving large mortgages on southern plantations and slaves, and trading occasionally in ‘slaves and the souls of men,’ and sending men to[19] Congress to buy up southern land to be converted into slave States, such as Louisiana and Florida, which cost this nation $20,000,000—men who have admitted seven slave States into the Union—men who boast on the floor of Congress, that ‘there is no cause in which they would sooner buckle a knapsack on their backs and shoulder a musket, than that of putting down a servile insurrection at the South,’ as said the present Governor of Massachusetts, which odious sentiment was repeated by Governor Lincoln only last winter—men who, trained up on Freedom’s soil, yet go down to the South and marry slaveholders, and become slaveholders, and then return to our northern cities with slaves in their train. This is the case with a native of this town, who is now here with his southern wife and southern slave. And as soon as we reform the recreant sons and daughters of the North,—as soon as we rectify public opinion at the North,—then I, for one, will promise to go down into the midst of slaveholders themselves, to promulgate our doctrines in the land of the slave. But how can we go now, when northern pulpits and meeting-houses are closed, and northern ministers are dumb, and northern Governors are declaring that ‘the discussion of the subject of slavery ought to be made an offence indictable at common law,’ and northern women are writing books to paralyze the efforts of southern women, who have come up from the South, to entreat their northern sisters to exert their influence in behalf of the slave, and in behalf of the slaveholder, who is as deeply corrupted, though not equally degraded, with the slave. No! No! the taunts of a New England[20] woman will induce no abolitionist to cease his rebuke of northern slaveholders and apologists for slavery. Southerners see the wisdom of this, if thou canst not; and over against thy opinion, I will place that of a Louisiana planter, who, whilst on a visit to his relatives at Uxbridge, Mass. this summer, unhesitatingly admitted that the North was the right place to begin Anti-Slavery efforts. Had I not been convinced of this before, surely thy book would have been all-sufficient to satisfy me of it; for a more subtle defence of the slaveholder’s right to property in his helpless victims, I never saw. It is just such a defence as the hidden enemies of Liberty will rejoice to see, because, like thyself, they earnestly desire to ‘avoid the appearance of evil;’ they are as much opposed to slavery as we are, only they are as much opposed to Anti-Slavery as the slaveholders themselves. Is there any middle path in this reformation? Or may we not fairly conclude, that he or she that is not for the slave, in deed and in truth, is against him, no matter how specious their professions of pity for his condition?

In haste, I remain thy friend,


[1] And in ‘Laird’s Expedition to Africa, &c.’ a work recently published in England, this assertion of the slave trader is fully sustained. Laird relates that ‘there is proof of the horrid fact, that several of the wretches engaged in this traffic, when hotly pursued, consigned whole cargoes to the deep.’ He then goes on to state several such instances, from which I select the following: ‘In 1833, the Black Joke and Fair Rosamond fell in with the Hercule and Regule, two slave vessels off the Bonny River. On perceiving the cruisers, they attempted to regain the port, and pitched overboard upwards of 500 human beings, chained together, before they were captured; from the abundance of sharks in the river, their track was literally a blood-stained one. The slaver not only does this, but glories in it: the first words uttered by the captain of the Maria Isabelle, seized by captain Rose, were, ‘that if he had seen the man of war in chase an hour sooner, he would have thrown every slave in his vessel overboard, as he was fully insured.’



Danvers, Mass., 7th mo., 1837.

Dear Friend:—I thank thee for having furnished me with just such a simile as I needed to illustrate the connection which exists between the North and the South. Thou sayest, ‘Suppose two rival cities, one of which becomes convinced that certain practices in trade and business in the other are dishonest, and have an oppressive bearing on certain classes in that city. Suppose, also, that these are practices, which, by those who allow them, are considered as honorable and right. Those who are convinced of this immorality wish to alter the opinions and the practices of the citizens of their rival city, and to do this they commence the collection of facts, that exhibit the tendencies of these practices and the evils they have engendered. But, instead of going among the community in which the evil exists, and endeavoring to convince them, they proceed to form voluntary associations among their neighbors at home, and spend their time, money, and efforts to convince their fellow citizens that the inhabitants of[22] their rival city are guilty of a great sin.’ Now I will take up the comparison here, and suppose a few other things about these two cities. Suppose that the people in one city were known never to pay the laborer his wages, but to be in the constant habit of keeping back the hire of those who reaped down their fields; and that, on examination, it was found that the people in the other city were continually going over to live with these gentlemen oppressors, and instead of rebuking them, were joining hands in wickedness with them, and were actually more oppressive to the poor than the native inhabitants. Suppose, too, it was found that many of the merchants in the city of Fairdealing, as it was called, were known to hold mortgages, not only upon the property which ought to belong to the unpaid laborers, but mortgages, too, on the laborers themselves, ay, and their wives and children also, a thing altogether contrary to the laws of their city, and the customs of their people, and the principles of fundamental morality. Suppose, too, it was found that the people in the city of Oppression were in the constant practice of sending over to the city of Fairdealing, and bribing their citizens to seize the poorest, most defenceless of their people for them, because they were so lazy they would not do their own work, and so mean they would not pay others for doing it, and chose thus to supply themselves with laborers, who, when they once got into the city, were placed under such severe laws, that it was almost impossible for them ever to return to their afflicted wives and children. Suppose, too, that whenever any of these oppressed, unpaid laborers happened to escape[23] from the city of Oppression, and after lying out in the woods and fastnesses which lay between the two cities, for many weeks, ‘in weariness and painfulness, in watchings, in hunger and thirst, in cold and nakedness,’ that, as soon as they reached the city of Fairdealing, they were most unmercifully hunted out and sent back to their cruel oppressors, who it was well known generally treated such laborers with great cruelty, ‘stern necessity’ demanding that they should be punished and ‘rebuked before all, that others might fear’ the consequences of such elopement. In short, suppose that the city of Fairdealing was so completely connected with the city of Oppression, that the golden strands of their interests were twisted together so as to form a bond of Union stronger than death, and that by the intermarriages which were constantly taking place, there was also a silken cord of love tying up and binding together the tender feelings of their hearts with all the intricacies of the Gordian knot; and then, again, that the identity of the political interests of these cities were wound round and round them like bands of iron and brass, altogether forming an union so complicated and powerful, that it was impossible even to speak in the most solemn manner, in the city of Fairdealing, of the enormous crimes which were common in the city of Oppression, without having brickbats and rotten eggs hurled at the speaker’s head. Suppose, too, that although it was perfectly manifest to every reflecting mind, that a most guilty copartnership existed between these two cities, yet that the ‘gentlemen of property and standing’ of the city of Fairdealing were continually taunting the[24] people who were trying to represent their iniquitous league with the city of Oppression in its true and sinful bearings, with the query of ‘Why don’t you go to the city of Oppression, and tell the people there, not to rob the poor?’ Might not these reformers very justly remark, we cannot go there until we have persuaded our own citizens to cease their unholy co-operation with them, for they will certainly turn upon us in bitter irony and say—‘Physician, heal thyself;’ go back to your own city, and tell your own citizens ‘to break off their sins by righteousness, and their transgressions by showing mercy to the poor,’ who fly from our city into the gates of theirs for protection, but receive it not. Would not common sense bear them out in refusing to go there, until they had first converted their own people from the error of their ways? I will leave thee and my other readers to make the application of this comparison; and if thou dost not acknowledge that abolitionists have been governed by the soundest common sense in the course they have pursued at the North with regard to slavery, then I am very much disappointed in thy professions of candor. With regard to the parallel thou hast drawn (p. 16,) between abolitionists, and the ‘men (who) are daily going into the streets, and calling all bystanders around them’ and pointing out certain men, some as liars, some as dishonest, some as licentious, and then bringing proofs of their guilt and rebuking them before all; at the same time exhorting all around to point at them the finger of scorn; thou sayest, ‘they persevere in this course till the whole community is thrown into an uproar; and assaults[25] and even bloodshed ensue.’ But why, I should like to know, if these people are themselves guiltless of the crimes alleged against the others? I cannot understand why they should be so angry, unless, like the Jews of old, they perceived that the parable had been spoken ‘against them.’ To my own mind, the exasperation of the North at the discussion of slavery is an undeniable proof of her guilt, a certain evidence of the necessity of her plucking the beam out of her own eye, before she goes to the South to rebuke sin there. To thee, and to all who are continually crying out, ‘Why don’t you go to the South?’ I retort the question by asking, why don’t YOU go to the South? We conscientiously believe that this work must be commenced here at the North; this is an all-sufficient answer for US; but YOU, who are ‘as much anti-slavery as we are,’ and differ only as to the modus operandi, believing that the South and not the North ought to be the field of Anti-Slavery labors—YOU, I say, have no excuse to offer, and are bound to go there now.

But there is another view to be taken of this subject. By all our printing and talking at the North, we have actually reached the very heart of the disease at the South. They acknowledge it themselves. Read the following confession in the Southern Literary Review. ‘There are many good men even among us, who have begun to grow timid. They think that what the virtuous and high-minded men of the North look upon as a crime and a plague-spot, cannot be perfectly innocent or quite harmless in a slaveholding community.’ James Smylie, of Mississippi,[26] a minister of the gospel, so called, tells us on the very first page of his essay, written to uphold the doctrines of Governor McDuffie, ‘that the abolition maxim, viz. that slavery is in itself sinful, had gained on and entwined itself among the religious and conscientious scruples of many in the community, so far as to render them unhappy.’ I could quote other southern testimony to the same effect, but will pass on to another fact just published in the New England Spectator; a proposition from a minister in Missouri ‘to have separate organizations for slavery and anti-slavery professors,’ and indeed ‘all over the slaveholding States.’ Has our labor then been in vain in the Lord? Have we failed to rouse the slumbering consciences of the South?

Thou inquirest—‘Have the northern States power to rectify evils at the South, as they have to remove their own moral deformities?’ I answer unhesitatingly, certainly they have, for moral evils can be removed only by moral power; and the close connection which exists between these two portions of our country, affords the greatest possible facilities for exerting a moral influence on it. Only let the North exert as much moral influence over the South, as the South has exerted demoralizing influence over the North, and slavery would die amid the flame of Christian remonstrance, and faithful rebuke, and holy indignation. The South has told us so. In the report of the committee on federal relations in the Legislature of South Carolina last winter, we find the following acknowledgement: ‘Let it be admitted, that by reason of an efficient police and judicious internal[27] legislation, we may render abortive the designs of the fanatic and incendiary within our limits, and that the torrent of pamphlets and tracts which the abolition presses of the North are pouring forth with an inexhaustible copiousness, is arrested the moment it reaches our frontier. Are we to wait until our enemies have built up, by the grossest misrepresentations and falsehoods, a body of public opinion, which it would be impossible to resist, without separating ourselves from the social system of the rest of the civilized world?’ Here is the acknowledgement of a southern legislature, that it will be impossible for the South to resist the influence of that body of public opinion, which abolitionists are building up against them at the North. If further evidence is needed, that anti-slavery societies are producing a powerful influence at the South, look at the efforts made there to vilify and crush them. Why all this turmoil, and passion, and rage in the slaveholder, if we have indeed rolled back the cause of emancipation 200 years, as thy father has asserted? Why all this terror at the distant roar of free discussion, if they feel not the earth quaking beneath them? Does not the South understand what really will affect her interests and break down her domestic institution? Has she no subtle politicians, no far-sighted men in her borders, who can scan the practical bearings of these troublous times? Believe me, she has; and did they not know that we are springing a mine beneath the great bastile of slavery, and laying a train which will soon whelm it in ruin, she would not be quite so eager ‘to cut out our tongues, and hang us as high as Haman.’


I will just add, that as to the committee saying that abolitionists are building up a body of public opinion at the North ‘by the grossest misrepresentations and falsehoods,’ I think it was due to their character for veracity, to have cited and refuted some of these calumnies. Until they do, we must believe them; and as a Southerner, I can bear the most decided testimony against slavery as the mother of all abominations.

Farewell for the present.

I remain thy friend,




Newburyport, 7th mo. 8th, 1837.

Dear Friend: As an Abolitionist, I thank thee for the portrait thou hast drawn of the character of those with whom I am associated. They deserve all thou hast said in their favor; and I will now endeavor to vindicate those ‘men of pure morals, of great honesty of purpose, of real benevolence and piety,’ from some objections thou hast urged against their measures.

‘Much evidence,’ thou sayest, ‘can be brought to prove that the character and measures of the Abolition Society are not either peaceful or christian in tendency, but that they are in their nature calculated to generate party spirit, denunciation, recrimination, and angry passion.’ Now I solemnly ask thee, whether the character and measures of our holy Redeemer did not produce exactly the same effects? Why did the Jews lead him to the brow of the hill, that they might cast him down headlong; why did they go about to kill him; why did they seek to lay hands on him, if the tendency of his measures was so very pacific?[30] Listen, too, to his own declaration: ‘I came not to send peace on earth, but a sword;’ the effects of which, he expressly said, would be to set the mother against her daughter, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. The rebukes which he uttered against sin were eminently calculated to produce ‘recriminations and angry passions,’ in all who were determined to cleave to their sins; and they did produce them even against ‘him who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth.’ He was called a wine-bibber, and a glutton, and Beelzebub, and was accused of casting out devils by the prince of the devils. Why, then, protest against our measures as unchristian, because they do not smooth the pillow of the poor sinner, and lull his conscience into fatal security? The truth is, the efforts of abolitionists have stirred up the very same spirit which the efforts of all thorough-going reformers have ever done; we consider it a certain proof that the truths we utter are sharper than any two edged sword, and that they are doing the work of conviction in the hearts of our enemies. If it be not so, I have greatly mistaken the character of Christianity. I consider it pre-eminently aggressive; it waits not to be assaulted, but moves on in all the majesty of Truth to attack the strong holds of the kingdom of darkness, carries the war into the enemy’s camp, and throws its fiery darts into the midst of its embattled hosts. Thou seemest to think, on the contrary, that Christianity is just such a weak, dependent, puerile creature as thou hast described woman to be. In my opinion, thou hast robbed both the one and the other of all their true dignity and glory. Thy descriptions may suit[31] the prevailing christianity of this age, and the general character of woman; and if so, we have great cause for shame and confusion of face.

I feel sorry that thy unkind insinuations against the christian character of Wm. Lloyd Garrison, have rendered it necessary for me to speak of him individually, because what I shall feel bound to say of him may, to some like thyself, appear like flattery; but I must do what justice seems so clearly to call for at my hands. Thou sayest that ‘though he professes a belief in the christian religion, he is an avowed opponent of most of its institutions.’ I presume thou art here alluding to his views of the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s supper, and the Sabbath. Permit me to remind thee, that in all these opinions, he coincides entirely with the Society of Friends, whose views of the Sabbath never were so ably vindicated as by his pen: and the insinuations of hypocrisy which thou hast thrown out against him, may with just as much truth be cast upon them. The Quakers think that these are not christian institutions, but thou hast assumed it without any proof at all. Thou sayest farther, ‘The character and spirit of this man have for years been exhibited in the Liberator.’ I have taken that paper for two years, and therefore understand its character, and am compelled to acknowledge, that harsh and severe as is the language often used, I have never seen any expressions which truth did not warrant. The abominations of slavery cannot be otherwise described. I think Dr. Channing exactly portrayed the character of brother Garrison’s writings when he said, ‘That deep feeling of evils, which is[32] necessary to effectual conflict with them, which marks God’s most powerful messengers to mankind, cannot breathe itself in soft and tender accents. The deeply moved soul will speak strongly, and ought to speak strongly, so as to move and shake nations.’ It is well for the slave, and well for this country, that such a man was sent to sound the tocsin of alarm before slavery had completed its work of moral death in this ‘hypocritical nation.’ Garrison began that discussion of the subject of slavery, which J. Q. Adams declared in his oration, delivered in this town on the 4th inst. ‘to be the only safety-valve by which the high pressure boiler of slavery could be prevented from a most fatal explosion in this country;’ and as a Southerner, I feel truly grateful for all his efforts to redeem not the slave only, but the slaveholder, from the polluting influences of such a system of crime.

In his character as a man and a Christian, I have the highest confidence. The assertion thou makest, ‘that there is to be found in that paper, or any thing else, any evidence of his possessing the peculiar traits of Wilberforce, (benignity, gentleness and kind heartedness, I suppose thou meanest,) not even his warmest admirers will maintain,’ is altogether new to me; and I for one feel ready to declare, that I have never met in any one a more lovely exhibition of these traits of character. I might relate several anecdotes in proof of this assertion, but let one suffice. A friend of mine, a member of the Society of Friends, told me that after he became interested in the Anti-Slavery cause through the Liberator, he still felt so much prejudice against its editor, that, although he wished to[33] labor in behalf of the slaves, he still felt as if he could not identify himself with a society which recognized such a leader as he had heard Wm. L. Garrison was. He had never seen him, and after many struggles of feeling, determined to go to Boston on purpose to see ‘this man,’ and judge of his character for himself. He did so, and when he entered the office of the Liberator, soon fell into conversation with a person he did not know, and became very much interested in him. After some time, a third person came in and called off the attention of the stranger, whose benevolent countenance and benignant manners he had so much admired. He soon heard him addressed as Mr. Garrison, which astonished him very much; for he had expected to see some coarse, uncouth and rugged creature, instead of the perfect gentleman he now learned was Wm. L. Garrison. He told me that the effect upon his mind was so great, that he sat down and wept to think he had allowed himself to be so prejudiced against a person, who was so entirely different from what his enemies had represented him to be. He at once felt as if he could most cheerfully labor, heart and hand, with such a man, and has for the last three or four years been a faithful co-worker with him, in the holy cause of immediate emancipation. And his confidence in him as a man of pure, christian principle, has grown stronger and stronger, as time has advanced, and circumstances have developed his true character. I think it is impossible thou canst be personally acquainted with brother Garrison, or thou wouldst not write of him in the way thou hast. If thou really wishest to have[34] thy erroneous opinions removed, embrace the first opportunity of being introduced to him; for I can assure thee, that with the fire of a Paul, he does possess some of the most lovely traits in the character of Wilberforce.

In much haste, I remain thy friend,




Amesbury, 7th mo. 20th, 1837.

Dear Friend: The aggressive spirit of Anti-Slavery papers and pamphlets, of which thou dost complain, so far from being a repulsive one to me, is very attractive. I see in it that uncompromising integrity and fearless rebuke of sin, which will bear the enterprize of emancipation through to its consummation. And I most heartily desire to see these publications scattered over our land as abundantly as the leaves of Autumn, believing as I do that the principles they promulgate will be as leaves for the healing of this nation.

I proceed to examine thy objections to ‘one of the first measures of Abolitionists:’ their attack on a benevolent society.

That the Colonization Society is a benevolent institution, we deny: therefore our attack upon it was not a sacrilegious one; it was absolutely necessary, in order to disabuse the public mind of the false views they entertained of its character. And it is a perfect mystery[36] to me how men and women can conscientiously persevere in upholding a society, which the very objects of its professed benevolence have repeatedly, solemnly, constantly and universally condemned. To say the least, this is a very suspicious kind of benevolence, and seems too nearly allied to that, which induces some southern professors to keep their brethren in bonds for their benefit. Yes, the free colored people are to be exiled, because public opinion is crushing them into the dust; instead of their friends protesting against that corrupt and unreasonable prejudice, and living it down by a practical acknowledgement of their right to every privilege, social, civil and religious, which is enjoyed by the white man. I have never yet been able to learn, how our hatred to our colored brother is to be destroyed by driving him away from us. I am told that when a colored republic is built up on the coast of Africa, then we shall respect that republic, and acknowledge that the character of the colored man can be elevated; we will become connected with it in a commercial point of view, and welcome it to the sympathies of our hearts. Miserable sophistry! deceitful apology for present indulgence in sin! What man or woman of common sense now doubts the intellectual capacity of the colored people? Who does not know, that with all our efforts as a nation to crush and ‘annihilate the mind of this portion of our race,’ we have never yet been able to do it? Henry Berry of Virginia, in his speech in the Legislature of that State, in 1832, expressly acknowledged, that although slaveholders had ‘as far as possible closed every avenue by which light might enter their[37] minds,’ yet that they never had found out the process by which they ‘could extinguish the capacity to see the light.’ No! that capacity remains—it is indestructible—an integral part of their nature, as moral and immortal beings.

If it is true that white Americans only need a demonstration of the colored man’s capacity for elevation, in order to make them willing to receive him on the same platform of human rights upon which they stand, why has not the intelligence of the Haytians convinced them? Their free republic has grown up under the very eye of the slaveholder, and as a nation we have for many years been carrying on a lucrative trade with her merchants; and yet we have never recognized her independence, never sent a minister there, though we have sent ambassadors to European countries whose commerce is far less important to us than that of St. Domingo.[2]

These professions of a wish to plant the tree of Liberty on the shores of Africa, in order to convince our Republican Despotism of the high moral and intellectual worth of the colored man, are perfectly absurd.[38] Hayti has done that long ago. A friend of mine (not an Abolitionist) whose business called him to that island for several months, told me that in the society of its citizens, he often felt his own inferiority. He was astonished at the elegance of their manners, and the intelligence of their conversation. Instead of going into an examination of Colonization principles, I refer thee to the Appeal to the Women of the nominally free States, issued by the Convention of American Women, in which we set forth our reasons for repudiating them.

Thou hast given a specimen of the manner in which Abolitionists deal with their Colonization opponents. Thy friend remarked, after an interview with an abolitionist, ‘I love truth and sound argument; but when a man comes at me with a sledge hammer, I cannot help dodging.’ I presume thy friend only felt the truth of the prophet’s declaration, ‘Is not my word like as a fire, saith the Lord, and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?’ I wonder not that he did dodge, when the sledge hammer of truth was wielded by an abolition army. Many a Colonizationist has been compelled to dodge, in order to escape the blows of this hammer of the Lord’s word, for there is no other way to get clear. We must either dodge the arguments of abolitionists, or like J. G. Birney, Edward C. Delevan, and many others, be willing to be broken to pieces by them. I greatly like this specimen of private dealing, and hope it is not the only instance which has come under thy notice, of Colonizationists acknowledging the absolute necessity of dodging Anti-Slavery arguments, when they were unwilling that the rock of prejudice should be broken to pieces by them.


Thy next complaint is against the manner in which this benevolent Expatriation Society was attacked. ‘The style in which the thing was done was at once offensive, inflammatory and exasperating,’—‘the feelings of many sincere, upright, and conscientious men were harrowed by a sense of the injustice, the indecorum and the unchristian treatment they received.’ But why, if they were entirely innocent of the charges brought against Colonizationists? I have been in the habit, for several years past, of watching the workings of my own mind under true and false charges against myself; and my experience is, that the more clear I am of the charge, the less I care about it. If I really feel a sweet assurance that ‘my witness is in heaven—my record is on high,’ I then realize to its fullest extent that ‘it is a small thing to be judged of man’s judgment,’ and I can bear false charges unmoved; but true ones always nettle me, if I am unwilling to confess that ‘I have sinned;’ if I am, and yield to conviction, O then! how sweet the reward! Now I am very much afraid that these sincere, upright and conscientious Colonizationists are something like the pious professors of the South, who are very angry because abolitionists say that all slaveholders are men-stealers. Both find it ‘hard to kick against the pricks’ of conviction, and both are unwilling to repent. A northern man remarked to a Virginia slaveholder last winter, ‘that as the South denied the charges brought against her by abolitionists, he could not understand why she was so enraged; for,’ continued he, ‘if you were to accuse us at the North of being sheep-stealers, we should not care about the charge—we should ridicule[40] it.’ ‘O!’ said the Virginian with an oath, ‘what the abolitionists say about slaveholders is too true, and that’s the reason we are vexed.’ Is not this the reason why our Colonization brethren and sisters are so angry? Is not what we say of them also too true? Let them examine these things with the bible and prayer, and settle this question between God and their own souls.

Every true friend of the oppressed American has great cause to rejoice, that the cloak of benevolence has been torn off from the monster Prejudice, which could love the colored man after he got to Africa, but seemed to delight to pour contumely upon him whilst he remained in the land of his birth. I confess it would be very hard for me to believe that any association of men and women loved me or my family, if, because we had become obnoxious to them, they were to meet together, and concentrate their energies and pour out their money for the purpose of transporting us back to France, whence our Huguenot fathers fled to this country to escape the storm of persecutions. Why not let us live in America, if you really love us? Surely you never want to ‘get rid’ of people whom you love. I like to have such near me; and it is because I love the colored Americans, that I want them to stay in this country; and in order to make it a happy home to them, I am trying to talk down, and write down, and live down this horrible prejudice. Sending a few to Africa cannot destroy it. No—we must dig up the weed by the roots out of each of our hearts. It is a sin, and we must repent of it and forsake it—and then[41] we shall no longer be so anxious to ‘be clear of them,’ ‘to get rid of them.’

Hoping, though against hope, that thou mayest one day know how precious is the reward of those who can love our oppressed brethren and sisters in this day of their calamity, and who, despising the shame of being identified with these peeled and scattered ones, rejoice to stand side by side with them, in the glorious conflict between Slavery and Freedom, Prejudice and Love unfeigned, I remain thine in the bonds of universal love,


[2] Although there are some who like to discant on the worthless character of the Haytians, and the miserable condition of the Island, yet it is an indisputable fact, that a population of nearly 1,000,000 are supported on its soil, and that in 1833, the value of its exports to the United States exceeded in value those of Prussia, Sweden, and Norway—Denmark and the Danish West Indies—Ireland and Scotland—Holland—Belgium—Dutch East Indies—British West Indies—Spain—Portugal—all Italy—Turkey and the Levant, or any one Republic in South America.



Haverhill, Mass., 7th mo. 23, 1837.

Dear Friend:—Thou sayest, ‘the best way to make a person like a thing which is disagreeable, is to try in some way to make it agreeable.’ So, then, instead of convincing a person by sound argument and pointed rebuke that sin is sin, we are to disguise the opposite virtue in such a way as to make him like that, in preference to the sin he had so dearly loved. We are to cheat a sinner out of his sin, rather than to compel him, under the stings of conviction, to give it up from deep-rooted principle.

If this is the course pursued by ministers, then I wonder not at the kind of converts which are brought into the church at the present day. Thy remarks on the subject of prejudice, show but too plainly how strongly thy own mind is imbued with it, and how little thy colonization principles have done to exterminate this feeling from thy own bosom. Thou sayest, ‘if a certain class of persons is the subject of unreasonable prejudice, the peaceful and christian way of removing it would be to endeavor to render the unfortunate[43] persons who compose this class, so useful, so humble, so unassuming, &c. that prejudice would be supplanted by complacency in their goodness, and pity and sympathy for their disabilities.’ ‘If the friends of the blacks had quietly set themselves to work to increase their intelligence, their usefulness, &c. and then had appealed to the pity and benevolence of their fellow citizens, a very different result would have appeared.’ Or in other words, if one person is guilty of a sin against another person, I am to let the sinner go entirely unreproved, but to persuade the injured party to bear with humility and patience all the outrages that are inflicted upon him, and thus try to soothe the sinner ‘into complacency with their goodness’ in ‘bearing all things, and enduring all things.’ Well, suppose I succeed:—is that sinner won from the evil of his ways by principle? No! Has he the principle of love implanted in his breast? No! Instead of being in love with the virtue exhibited by the individual, because it is virtue, he is delighted with the personal convenience he experiences from the exercise of that virtue. He feels kindly toward the individual, because he is an instrument of his enjoyment, a mere means to promote his wishes. There is no reformation there at all. And so the colored people are to be taught to be ‘very humble’ and ‘unassuming,’ ‘gentle’ and ‘meek,’ and then the ‘pity and generosity’ of their fellow citizens are to be appealed to. Now, no one who knows anything of the influence of Abolitionists over the colored people, can deny that it has been peaceful and christian; had it not been so, they never would have seen those[44] whom they had regarded as their best friends, mobbed and persecuted, without raising an arm in their defence. Look, too, at the rapid spread of thorough temperance principles among them, and their moral reform and other laudable and useful associations; look at the rising character of this people, the new life and energy which have been infused into them. Who have done it? Who have exerted by far the greatest influence on these oppressed Americans? I leave thee to answer. I will give thee one instance of this salutary influence. In a letter I received from one of my colored sisters, she incidentally makes this remark:—‘Until very lately, I have lived and acted more for myself than for the good of others. I confess that I am wholly indebted to the Abolition cause for arousing me from apathy and indifference, and shedding light into a mind which has been too long wrapt in selfish darkness.’ The Abolition cause has exerted a powerful and healthful influence over this class of our population, and it has been done by quietly going into the midst of them, and identifying ourselves with them.

But Abolitionists are complained of, because they, at the same time, fearlessly exposed the sin of the unreasonable and unholy prejudice which existed against these injured ones. Thou sayest ‘that reproaches, rebukes and sneers were employed to convince the whites that their prejudices were sinful, and without any just cause.’ Without any just cause! Couldst thou think so, if thou really loved thy colored sisters as thyself? The unmeasured abuse which, the Colonization Society was heaping upon this despised[45] people, was no just cause for pointed rebuke, I suppose! The manner in which they are thrust into one corner of our meeting-houses, as if the plague-spot was on their skins; the rudeness and cruelty with which they are treated in our hotels, and steamboats, rail road cars and stages, is no just cause of reproach to a professed christian community, I presume. Well, all that I can say is, that I believe if Isaiah or James were now alive, they would pour their reproaches and rebukes upon the heads and hearts of those who are thus despising the Lord’s poor, and saying to those whose spirits are clothed by God in the ‘vile raiment’ of a colored skin, ‘Stand thou there in yonder gallery, or sit thou here in ‘the negro-pew.’ ‘Sneers,’ too, are complained of. Have abolitionists ever made use of greater sarcasm and irony than did the prophet Elijah? When things are ridiculous as well as wicked, it is unreasonable to expect that every cast of mind will treat them with solemnity. And what is more ridiculous than American prejudice; to proscribe and persecute men and women, because their complexions are of a darker hue than our own? Why, it is an outrage upon common sense; and as my brother Thomas S. Grimké remarked only a few weeks before his death, ‘posterity will laugh at our prejudices.’ Where is the harm, then, if abolitionists should laugh now at the wicked absurdity?

Thou sayest, ‘this tended to irritate the whites, and to increase their prejudices against the blacks.’ The truth always irritates the proud, impenitent sinner. To charge abolitionists with this irritation, is something[46] like the charge brought against the English government by the captain of the slaver I told thee of in my second letter, who threw all his human merchandize overboard, in order to escape detection, and then charged this horrible wholesale murder upon the government; because, said he, they had no business to make a law to hang a man if he was found engaged in the slave trade. So we must bear the guilt of man’s angry passions, because the truth we preach is like a two-edged sword, cutting through the bonds of interest on the one side, and the cords of caste on the other.

As to our increasing the prejudice against color, this is just like the North telling us that we have increased the miseries of the slave. Common sense cries out against the one as well as the other. With regard to prejudice, I believe the truth of the case to be this: the rights of the colored man never were advocated by any body of men in their length and breadth, before the rise of the Anti-Slavery Society in this country. The propagation of these ultra principles has produced in the northern States exactly the same effect, which the promulgation of the doctrine of immediate emancipation has done in the southern States. It has developed the latent principles of pride and prejudice, not produced them. Hear John Green, a Judge of the Circuit Court of Kentucky, in reference to abolition efforts having given birth to the opposition against emancipation now existing in the South: ‘I would rather say, it has been the means of manifesting that opposition, which previously existed, but laid dormant for want of an exciting cause.’ And just[47] so has it been with regard to prejudice at the North—when there was no effort to obtain for the colored man his rights as a man, as an American citizen, there was no opposition exhibited, because it ‘laid dormant for want of an exciting cause.’

I know it is alleged that some individuals, who treated colored people with the greatest kindness a few years ago, have, since abolition movements, had their feelings so embittered towards them, that they have withdrawn that kindness. Now I would ask, could such people have acted from principle? Certainly not; or nothing that others could do or say would have driven them from the high ground they appeared to occupy. No, my friend, they acted precisely upon the false principle which thou hast recommended; their pity was excited, their sentiments of generosity were called into exercise, because they regarded the colored man as an unfortunate inferior, rather than as an outraged and insulted equal. Therefore, as soon as abolitionists demanded for the oppressed American the very same treatment, upon the high ground of human rights, why, then it was instantly withdrawn, simply because it never had been conceded on the right ground; and those who had previously granted it became afraid, lest, during the æra of abolition excitement, persons would presume they were acting on the fundamental principle of abolitionism—the principle of equal rights, irrespective of color or condition, instead of on the mere principle of ‘pity and generosity.’

It is truly surprising to find a professing christian excusing the unprincipled opposition exhibited in New[48] Haven, to the erection of a College for young men of color. Are we indeed to succumb to a corrupt public sentiment at the North, and the abominations of slavery at the South, by refraining from asserting the right of Americans to plant a literary institution in New Haven, or New York, or any where on the American soil? Are we to select ‘some retired place,’ where there would be the least prejudice and opposition to meet, rather than openly and fearlessly to face the American monster, who, like the horse-leach, is continually crying give, give, and whose demands are only increased by compromise and surrender? No! there is a spirit abroad in this country, which will not consent to barter principle for an unholy peace; a spirit which seeks to be ‘pure from the blood of all men,’ by a bold and christian avowal of truth; a spirit which will not hide God’s eternal principles of right and wrong, but will stand erect in the storm of human passion, prejudice and interest, ‘holding forth the light of truth in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation;’ a spirit which will never slumber nor sleep, till man ceases to hold dominion over his fellow creatures, and the trump of universal liberty rings in every forest, and is re-echoed by every mountain and rock.

Art thou not aware, my friend, that this College was projected in the year 1831, previous to the formation of the first Anti-Slavery Society, which was organized in 1832? How, then, canst thou say that the circumstances relative to it occurred ‘at a time when the public mind was excited on the subject?’ I feel quite amused at the presumption which thou appearest to think was exhibited by the projectors of this institution,[49] in wishing it to be located in New Haven, where was another College ‘embracing a large proportion of southern students,’ &c. It was a great offence, to be sure, for colored men to build a College by the walls of the white man’s ‘College, where half the shoe-blacks and waiters were colored men.’ But why so? The other half of the shoe-blacks and waiters were white, I presume; and if these white servants could be satisfied with their humble occupation under the roof of Yale College, why might not the colored waiters be contented also, though an institution for the education of colored Americans might presume to lift its head ‘beside the very walls of this College?’ Is it possible that any professing christian can calmly look back at these disgraceful transactions, and tell me that such opposition was manifested ‘for the best reasons?’ And what is still worse, censure the projectors of a literary institution, in free, republican, enlightened America, because they did not meekly yield to ‘such reasonable objections,’ and refused ‘to soothe the feelings and apprehensions of those who had been excited’ to opposition and clamor by the simple fact that some American born citizens wished to give their children a liberal education in a separate College, only because the white Americans despised their brethren of a darker complexion, and scorned to share with them the privileges of Yale College? It was very wrong, to be sure, for the friends of the oppressed American to consider such outrageous conduct ‘as a mark of the force of sinful prejudice!’ Vastly uncharitable! Great complaints are made that ‘the worst motives were ascribed to some of the most respectable,[50] and venerated, and pious men who opposed the measure.’ Wonderful indeed, that men should be found so true to their principles, as to dare in this age of sycophancy to declare the truth to those who stand in high places, wearing the badges of office or honor, and fearlessly to rebuke the puerile and unchristian prejudice which existed against their colored brethren! ‘Pious men!’ Why, I would ask, how are we to judge of men’s piety—by professions or products? Do men gather thorns of grapes, or thistles of figs? Certainly not. If, then, in the lives of men we do not find the fruits of christian principle, we have no right, according to our Saviour’s criterion, ‘by their fruits ye shall know them,’ to suppose that men are really pious who can be perseveringly guilty of despising others, and denying them equal rights, because they have colored skins. ‘A great deal was said and done that was calculated to throw the community into an angry ferment.’ Yes, and I suppose the friends of the colored man were just as guilty as was the great Apostle, who, by the angry, and excited, and prejudiced Jews, was accused of being ‘a pestilent fellow and a mover of sedition,’ because he declared himself called to preach the everlasting gospel to the Gentiles, whom they considered as ‘dogs,’ and utterly unworthy of being placed on the same platform of human rights and a glorious immortality.

Thy friend,




Groton, Mass., 6th month, 1837.

Dear Friend:—In my last, I commented upon the opposition to the establishment of a College in New Haven, Conn., for the education of colored young men. The same remarks are applicable to the persecutions of the Canterbury School. I leave thee and our readers to apply them. I cannot help thinking how strange and unaccountable thy soft excuses for the sins of prejudice will appear to the next generation, if thy book ever reach their eye.

As to Cincinnati having been chosen as the city in which the Philanthropist should be published after the retreat of its editor from Kentucky, thou hast not been ‘sufficiently informed,’ for James G. Birney pursued exactly the course which thou hast marked out as the most prudent and least offensive. He edited his paper at New Richmond, in Ohio, for nearly three months before he went to Cincinnati, and did not go there until the excitement appeared to have subsided.

And so, thou thinkest that abolitionists are accountable for the outrages which have been committed[52] against them; they are the tempters, and are held responsible by God, as well as the tempted. Wilt thou tell me, who was responsible for the mob which went with swords and staves to take an innocent man before the tribunals of Annas and Pilate, some 1800 years ago? And who was responsible for the uproar at Ephesus, the insurrection at Athens, and the tumults at Lystra and Iconium? Were I a mobocrat, I should want no better excuse than thou hast furnished for such outrages. Wonderful indeed, if, in free America, her citizens cannot choose where they will erect their literary institutions and presses, to advocate the self-evident truths of our Declaration of Independence! And still more wonderful, that a New England woman should, after years of reflection, deliberately write a book to condemn the advocates of liberty, and plead excuses for a relentless prejudice against her colored brethren and sisters, and for the persecutors of those, who, according to the opinion of a Southern member of Congress, are prosecuting ‘the only plan that can ever overthrow slavery at the South.’ I am glad, for thy own sake, that thou hast exculpated abolitionists from the charge of the ‘deliberate intention of fomenting illegal acts of violence.’ Would it not have been still better, if thou hadst spared the remarks which rendered such an explanation necessary?

I find that thou wilt not allow of the comparison often drawn between the effects of christianity on the hearts of those who obstinately rejected it, and those of abolitionism on the hearts of people of the present day. Thou sayest, ‘Christianity is a system of persuasion,[53] tending by kind and gentle influences to make men willing to leave their sins.’ Dost thou suppose the Pharisees and Sadducees deemed it was very kind and gentle in its influences, when our holy Redeemer called them ‘a generation of vipers,’ or when he preached that sermon ‘full of harshness, uncharitableness, rebuke and denunciation,’ recorded in the xxiii. chapter of Matthew? But I shall be told that Christ knew the hearts of all men, and therefore it was right for him to use terms which mere human beings never ought to employ. Read, then, the prophecies of Isaiah, Ezekiel, and others, and also the Epistles of the New Testament. They employed the most offensive terms on many occasions, and the sharpest rebukes, knowing full well that there are some sinners who can be reached by nothing but death-thrusts at their consciences. An anecdote of John Richardson, who was remarkable for his urbanity of manners, occurs to me. He one day preached a sermon in a country town, in which he made use of some hard language; a friend reproved him after meeting, and inquired whether he did not know that hard wood was split by soft knocks. Yes, said Richardson, but I also know that there is some wood so rotten at the heart, that nothing but tremendously hard blows will ever split it open. Ah! John, replied the elder, I see thou understandest how to do thy master’s work. Now, I believe this nation is rotten at the heart, and that nothing but the most tremendous blows with the sledge-hammer of abolition truth, could ever have broken the false rest which we had taken up for ourselves on the very brink of ruin.


‘Abolitionism, on the contrary, is a system of coercion by public opinion.’ By this assertion, I presume thou ‘hast not been correctly informed’ as to the reasons which have induced abolitionists to put forth all their energies to rectify public opinion. It is not because we wish to wield this public opinion like a rod of iron over the heads of slaveholders, to coerce them into an abandonment of the system of slavery; not at all. We are striving to purify public opinion, first, because as long as the North is so much involved in the guilt of slavery, by its political, commercial, religious, and social connexion with the South, her own citizens need to be converted. Second, because we know that when public opinion is rectified at the North, it will throw a flood of light from its million of reflecting surfaces upon the heart and soul of the South. The South sees full well at what we are aiming, and she is so unguarded as to acknowledge that ‘if she does not resist the danger in its inception, it will soon become irresistible.’ She exclaims in terror, ‘the truth is, the moral power of the world is against us; it is idle to disguise it.’ The fact is, that the slaveholders of the South, and their northern apologists, have been overtaken by the storm of free discussion, and are something like those who go down to the sea and do business in the great waters: ‘they reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wit’s end.’

Our view of the doctrine of expediency, thou art pleased to pronounce ‘wrong and very pernicious in its tendency.’ Expediency is emphatically the doctrine by which the children of this world are wont to[55] guide their steps, whilst the rejection of it as a rule of action exactly accords with the divine injunction, to ‘walk by faith, not by sight.’ Thy doctrine that ‘the wisdom and rectitude of a given course depend entirely on the probabilities of success,’ is not the doctrine of the Bible. According to this principle, how absurd was the conduct of Moses! What probability of success was there that he could move the heart of Pharaoh? None at all; and thus did he reason when he said, ‘Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh?’ And again, ‘Behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice.’ The success of Moses’s mission in persuading the king of Egypt to ‘let the people go,’ was not involved in the duty of obedience to the divine command. Neither was the success of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and others of the prophets who were singularly unsuccessful in their mission to the Jews. All who see the path of duty plain before them, are bound to walk in that path, end where it may. They then can realize the meaning of the Apostle, when he exhorts Christians to cast all their burden on the Lord, with the promise that He would sustain them. This is walking by faith, not by sight. In the work in which abolitionists are engaged, they are compelled to ‘walk by faith;’ they feel called upon to preach the truth in season and out of season, to lift up their voices like a trumpet, to show the people their transgressions and the house of Jacob their sins. The success of this mission, they have no more to do with, than had Moses and Aaron, Jeremiah or Isaiah, with that of theirs. Whether the South will be saved by Anti-Slavery efforts, is[56] not a question for us to settle—and in some of our hearts, the hope of its salvation has utterly gone out. All nations have been punished for oppression, and why should ours escape? Our light, and high professions, and the age in which we live, convict us not only of enormous oppression, but of the vilest hypocrisy. It may be that the rejection of the truth which we are now pouring in upon the South, may be the final filling up of their iniquities, just previous to the bursting of God’s exterminating thunders over the Sodoms and Gomorrahs, the Admahs and Zeboims of America. The result of our labors is hidden from our eyes; whether the preaching of Anti-Slavery truth is to be a savor of life unto life, or of death unto death to this nation, we know not; and we have no more to do with it, than had the Apostle Paul, when he preached Christ to the people of his day.

If American Slavery goes down in blood, it will but verify the declarations of those who uphold it. A committee of the North Carolina Legislature acknowledged this to an English Friend ten years ago. Jefferson more than once uttered his gloomy forebodings; and the Legislators of Virginia, in 1832, declared that if the opportunity of escape, through the means of emancipation, were rejected, ‘though they might save themselves, they would rear their posterity to the business of the dagger and the torch.’ I have myself known several families to leave the South, solely from a fear of insurrection; and this twelve and fourteen years ago, long before any Anti-Slavery efforts were made in this country. And[57] yet, I presume, if through the cold-hearted apathy and obstinate opposition of the North, the South should become strengthened in her desperate determination to hold on to her outraged victims, until they are goaded to despair, and if the Lord in his wrath pours out the vials of his vengeance upon the slave States, why then, Abolitionists will have to bear all the blame. Thou hast drawn a frightful picture of the final issue of Anti-Slavery efforts, as thou art pleased to call it; but none of these things move me, for with just as much truth mayest thou point to the land of Egypt, blackened by God’s avenging fires, and exclaim, ‘Behold the issue of Moses’s mission.’ Nay, verily! See in that smoking, and blood-drenched house of bondage, the consequences of oppression, disobedience, and an obstinate rejection of truth, and light, and love. What had Moses to do with those judgment plagues, except to lift his rod? And if the South soon finds her winding sheet in garments rolled in blood, it will not be because of what the North has told her, but because, like impenitent Egypt, she hardened her heart against it, whilst the voices of some of her own children were crying in agony, ‘O! that thou hadst known, even thou, in this thy day, the things which belong to thy peace; but now they are hid from thine eyes.’

Thy friend,




Brookline, Mass., 8th month, 17th, 1837.

Dear Friend:—Thou sayest ‘There are cases also, where differences in age, and station, and character, forbid all interference to modify the conduct and character of others.’ Let us bring this to the only touchstone by which Christians should try their principles of action.

How was it when God designed to rid his people out of the hands of the Egyptian monarch? Was his station so exalted ‘as to forbid all interference to modify his character and conduct?’ And who was sent to interfere with his conduct towards a stricken people? Was it some brother monarch of exalted station, whose elevated rank might serve to excuse such interference ‘to modify his conduct and character?’ No. It was an obscure shepherd of Midian’s desert; for let us remember, that Moses, in pleading the cause of the Israelites, identified himself with the lowest and meanest of the King’s subjects. Ah! he was one of that despised caste; for, although brought up as the son of the princess, yet he had left Egypt as an outlaw.[59] He had committed the crime of murder, and fled because the monarch ‘sought to slay him.’ This exiled outlaw is the instrument chosen by God to vindicate the cause of his oppressed people. Moses was in the sight of Pharaoh as much an object of scorn, as Garrison now is to the tyrants of America. Some seem to think, that great moral enterprises can be made honorable only by Doctors of Divinity, and Presidents of Colleges, engaging in them: when all powerful Truth cannot be dignified by any man, but it dignifies and ennobles all who embrace it. It lifts the beggar from the dunghill, and sets him among princes. Whilst it needs no great names to bear it onward to its glorious consummation, it is continually making great characters out of apparently mean and unpromising materials; and in the intensity of its piercing rays, revealing to the amazement of many, the insignificance and moral littleness of those who fill the highest stations in Church and State.

But take a few more examples from the bible, of those in high stations being reproved by men of inferior rank. Look at David rebuked by Nathan, Ahab and Jezebel by Elijah and Micaiah. What, too, was the conduct of Daniel and Shadrach, Meshack and Abednego, but a practical rebuke of Darius and Nebuchadnezzar? And who were these men, apart from these acts of daring interference? They were the Lord’s prophets, I shall be told; but what cared those monarchs for this fact? How much credit did they give them for holding this holy office? None. And why? Because all but David were impenitent sinners, and rejected with scorn all ‘interference to[60] modify their conduct or characters.’ Reformers are rarely estimated in the age in which they live, whether they be called prophets or apostles, or abolitionists, or what not. They stand on the rock of Truth, and calmly look down upon the careering thunder-clouds, the tempest, and the roaring waves, because they well know that where the atmosphere is surcharged with pestilential vapors, a conflict of the elements must take place, before it can be purified by that moral electricity, beautifully typified by the cloven tongues that sat upon each of the heads of the 120 disciples who were convened on the day of Pentecost. Such men and women expect to be ‘blamed and opposed, because their measures are deemed inexpedient, and calculated to increase rather than diminish the evil to be cured.’ They know full well, that intellectual greatness cannot give moral perception—therefore, those who have no clear views of the irresistibleness of moral power, cannot see the efficacy of moral means. They say with the apostle, ‘The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.’ We know full well, that northern men and women laugh at the inefficacy of Anti-Slavery measures; but slaveholders never have ridiculed them: not that their moral perceptions are any clearer than those of our northern opponents, but where men’s interests and lust of power are immediately affected by moral effort, they instinctively feel that it is so, and tremble for the result.

But suppose even that our measures were calculated[61] to increase the evils of slavery. The measures adopted by Moses, and sanctioned by God, increased the burdens of the Israelites. Were they, therefore, inexpedient? And yet, if our measures produce a similar effect, O then! they are very inexpedient indeed. The truth is, when we look at Moses and his measures, we look at them in connection with the emancipation of the Israelites. The ultimate and glorious success of the measures proves their wisdom and expediency. But when Anti-Slavery measures are looked at now, we see them long before the end is accomplished. We see, according to thy account, the burdens increased; but we do not yet see the triumphant march through the Red Sea, nor do we hear the song of joy and thanksgiving which ascended from Israel’s redeemed host. But canst thou not give us twenty years to complete our work? Clarkson, thy much admired model, worked twenty years; and the benevolent Colonization Society has been in operation twenty years. Just give us as long a time, or half that time, and then thou wilt be a far better judge of the expediency or inexpediency of our measures. Then thou wilt be able to look at them in connection with their success or their failure, and instead of writing a book on thy opinions and my opinions, thou canst write a history.

I cannot agree with thee in the sentiment, that the station of a nursery maid makes it inexpedient for her to turn reprover of the master who employs her. This is the doctrine of modern aristocracy, not of primitive christianity; for ecclesiastical history informs us that, in the first ages of christianity, kings[62] were converted through the faithful and solemn rebukes of their slaves and captives. I have myself been reproved by a slave, and I thanked her, and still thank her for it. Think how this doctrine robs the nursery maid of her responsibility, and shields the master from reproof; for it may be that she alone has seen him ill-treat his wife. Now it appears to me, so far from her station forbidding all interference to modify the character and conduct of her employer, that that station peculiarly qualifies her for the difficult and delicate task, because nursery maids often know secrets of oppression, which no other persons are fully acquainted with. For my part, I believe it is now the duty of the slaves of the South to rebuke their masters for their robbery, oppression and crime; and so far from believing that such ‘reproof would do no good, but only evil,’ I think it would be attended by the happiest results in the main, though I doubt not it would occasion some instances of severe personal suffering. No station or character can destroy individual responsibility, in the matter of reproving sin. I feel that a slave has a right to rebuke me, and so has the vilest sinner; and the sincere, humble christian will be thankful for rebuke, let it come from whom it may. Such, I am confident, never would think it inexpedient for their chamber maids to administer it, but would endeavor to profit by it.

Thou askest very gravely, why James G. Birney did not go quietly into the southern States, and collect facts? Indeed! Why should he go to the South to collect facts, when he had lived there forty years? Thou mayest with just as much propriety[63] ask me, why I do not go to the South to collect facts. The answer to both questions is obvious:—We have lived at the South, as integral parts of the system of slavery, and therefore we know from practical observation and sad experience, quite enough about it already. I think it would be absurd for either of us to spend our time in such a way. And even if J. G. Birney had not lived at the South, why should he go there to collect facts, when the Anti-Slavery presses are continually throwing them out before the public? Look, too, at the Slave Laws! What more do we need to show us the bloody hands and iron heart of Slavery?

Thou sayest on the 89th page of thy book, ‘Every avenue of approach to the South is shut. No paper, pamphlet, or preacher, that touches on that topic, is admitted in their bounds.’ Thou art greatly mistaken; every avenue of approach to the South is not shut. The American Anti-Slavery Society sends between four and five hundred of its publications to the South by mail, to subscribers, or as exchange papers. One slaveholder in North Carolina, not long since, bought $60 worth of our pamphlets, &c. which he distributed in the slave States. Another slaveholder from Louisiana, made a large purchase of our publications last fall, which he designed to distribute among professors of religion who held slaves. To these I may add another from South Carolina, another from Richmond, Virginia, numbers from Kentucky, Tennessee, and Missouri, and others from New Orleans, besides persons connected with at least three Colleges and Theological Seminaries[64] in slave States, have applied for our publications for their own use, and for distribution. Within a few weeks, the South Carolina Delegation in Congress have sent on an order to the publishing Agent of the American Anti-Slavery Society, for all the principal bound volumes, pamphlets, and periodicals of the Society. At the same time, they addressed a very courteous letter to J. G. Birney, the Corresponding Secretary, propounding nearly a score of queries, embracing the principles, designs, plans of operation, progress and results of the Society. I know in the large cities, such as Charleston and Richmond, that Anti-Slavery papers are not suffered to reach their destination through the mail; but it is not so in the smaller towns. But even in the cities, I doubt not they are read by the postmasters and others. The South may pretend that she will not read our papers, but it is all pretence; the fact is, she is very anxious to see what we are doing, so that when the mail-bags were robbed in Charleston in 1835, I know that the robbers were very careful to select a few copies of each of the publications before they made the bonfire, and that these were handed round in a private way through the city, so that they were extensively read. This fact I had from a friend of mine who was in Charleston at the time, and read the publications himself. My relations also wrote me word, that they had seen and read them.

In order to show that our discussions and publications have already produced a great effect upon many individuals in the slave States, I subjoin the following detail of facts and testimony now in my possession.


My sister, S. M. Grimké, has just received a letter from a Southerner residing in the far South, in which he says, ‘On the 4th of July, the friends of the oppressed met and contributed six or eight dollars, to obtain some copies of Gerrit Smith’s letter, and some other pamphlets for our own benefit and that of the vicinity. The leaven, we think, is beginning to work, and we hope that it will ere long purify the whole mass of corruption.’

An intelligent member of the Methodist Church, who resides in North Carolina, was recently in the city of New York, and told the editor of Zion’s Watchman, that ‘our publications were read with great interest at the South—that there was great curiosity there to see them.’ A bookseller also in one of the most southern States, only a few months ago, ordered a package of our publications. And within a very short time, an influential slaveholder from the far South, who called at the Anti-Slavery Office in New York, said he had had misgivings on the subject ever since the formation of the American Society—that he saw some of our publications at the South three years ago, and is now convinced and has emancipated his slaves.

A correspondent of the Union Herald, a clergyman, and a graduate of one of the colleges of Kentucky, says, ‘I find in this State many who are decidedly opposed to slavery—but few indeed take the ground that it is right. I trust the cause of human rights is onward—weekly, I receive two copies of the Emancipator, which I send out as battering rams, to beat down the citadel of oppression.’ In a letter to James[66] G. Birney, from a gentleman in a slave State, we find this declaration: ‘Your paper, the Philanthropist, is regularly distributed here, and as yet works no incendiary results; and indeed, so far as I can learn, general satisfaction is here expressed, both as to the temper and spirit of the paper, and no disapprobation as to the results.’ At an Anti-Slavery meeting last fall in Philadelphia, a gentleman from Delaware was present, who rose and encouraged Abolitionists to go on, and said that he could assure them the influence of their measures was felt there, and their principles were gaining ground secretly and silently. The subject, he informed them, was discussed there, and he believed Anti-Slavery lectures could be delivered there with safety, and would produce important results. Since that time, a lecturer has been into that State, and a State Society has been formed, the secretary of which was the first editor of the Emancipator, and is now pastor of the Baptist church in the capital of the State. The North Carolina Watchman, published at Salisbury, in an article on the subject of Abolition, has the following remarks of the editor: ‘It [the abolition party] is the growing party at the North: we are inclined to believe, that there is even more of it at the South, than prudence will permit to be openly avowed.’ It rejoices our hearts to find that there are some southerners who feel and acknowledge the infatuation of the politicians of the South, and the philanthropy of abolitionists. The Maryville Intelligencer of 1836, exclaims, ‘What sort of madness, produced by a jaundiced and distorted conception of the feelings and motives by[67] which northern abolitionists are actuated, can induce the southern political press to urge a severance of the tie that binds our Union together? To offer rewards for those very individuals who stand as mediators between masters and slaves, urging the one to be obedient, and the other to do justice?’

A southern Minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church, at the session of the New York Annual Conference, in June of 1836, said: ‘Don’t give up Abolitionism—don’t bow down to slavery. You have thousands at the South who are secretly praying for you.’ In a subsequent conversation with the same individual, he stated, that the South is not that unit of which the pro-slavery party boast—there is a diversity of opinion among them in reference to slavery, and the REIGN OF TERROR alone suppresses the free expression of sentiment. That there are thousands who believe slaveholding to be sinful, who secretly wish the abolitionists success, and believe God will bless their efforts. That the ministers of the gospel and ecclesiastical bodies who indiscriminately denounce the abolitionists, without doing any thing themselves to remove slavery, have not the thanks of thousands at the South, but on the contrary are viewed as taking sides with slaveholders, and recreant to the principles of their own profession.—Zion’s Watchman, November, 1836.

The Christian Mirror, published in Portland, Maine, has the following letter from a minister who has lately taken up his abode in Kentucky, to a friend in Maine:—‘Several ministers have recently left the State, I believe, on account of slavery; and many of the members[68] of churches, as I have understood, have sold their property, and removed to the free States. Many are becoming more and more convinced of the evil and sin of slavery, and would gladly rid themselves and the community of this scourge; and I feel confident that influences are already in operation, which, if properly directed and regulated by the principles of the gospel, may ‘break every yoke and let the oppressed go free’ in Kentucky.

In 1st month, 1835, when Theodore D. Weld was lecturing in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, at the close of one of his evening lectures, a man sought him through the crowd, and extending his hand to him through his friends, by whom he was surrounded, solicited him to step aside with him for a moment. After they had retired by themselves, the gentleman said to him with great earnestness, ‘I am a slaveholder from Maryland—you are right—the doctrine you advocate is truth.’ Why, then, said the lecturer, do you not emancipate your slaves? ‘Because,’ said the Marylander, ‘I have not religion enough’—He was a professing christian—‘I dare not subject myself to the torrent of opposition which, from the present state of public sentiment, would be poured upon me; but do you abolitionists go on, and you will effect a change in public sentiment, which will render it possible and easy for us to emancipate our slaves. I know,’ continued he, ‘a great many slaveholders in my State, who stand on precisely the same ground that I do in relation to this matter. Only produce a correct public sentiment at the North and the work is done; for all that keeps the South in countenance while continuing this system,[69] is the apology and argument afforded so generally by the North; only produce a right feeling in the North generally, and the South cannot stand before it; let the North be thoroughly converted, and the work is at once accomplished at the South.’ Another fact which may be adduced to prove that the South is looking to the North for help, is the following: At an Anti-Slavery concert of prayer for the oppressed, held in New York city, in 1836, a gentleman arose in the course of the meeting, declaring himself a Virginian and a slaveholder. He said he came to that city filled with the deepest prejudice against the abolitionists, by the reports given of their character in papers published at the North. But he determined to investigate their character and designs for himself. He even boarded in the family of an abolitionist, and attended the monthly concert of prayer for the slaves and the slaveholders. And now, as the result of his investigations and observations, he was convinced that not only the spirit but the principles and measures of the abolitionists ARE RIGHTEOUS. He was now ready to emancipate his own slaves, and had commenced advocating the doctrine of immediate emancipation—‘and here,’ said he, pointing to two men sitting near him, ‘are the first fruits of my labors—these two fellow Virginians and slaveholders, are converts with myself to abolitionism. And I know a thousand Virginians, who need only to be made acquainted with the true spirit and principles of abolitionists, in order to their becoming converts as we are. Let the abolitionists go on in the dissemination of their doctrines, and let the Northern papers cease to misrepresent[70] them at the South—let the true light of abolitionism be fully shed upon the Southern mind, and the work of immediate and general emancipation will be speedily accomplished.‘—Morning Star, N. Y.

A letter from a gentleman in Kentucky to Gerrit Smith, dated August, 1836, contains the following expressions:—

‘I am fully persuaded, that the voice of the free States, lifted up in a proper manner against the evil, [Slavery] will awaken them [slaveholders] from their midnight slumbers, and produce a happy change. I rejoice, dear brother in Christ, to hear that you are with us, and feel deeply to plead the cause of the oppressed, and undo the heavy burdens. May God bless you, and the cause which you pursue.’

In the summer of 1835, William R. Buford, of Virginia, who had then recently emancipated his slaves, wrote a letter which was published in the Hampshire Gazette, North Hampton, Mass. from which I give thee some extracts.

Dear Sir:—As you are ardently engaged in the discussion of Slavery, I think it likely I may be of service to you, and through you to the cause which you are advocating. … I was born and brought up at the South in the midst of slavery, as you know. My father inherited slaves from his father, and I from him. So far from thinking slavery a sin, or that I had no right to own the slaves inherited from my father, I thought no one could venture to dispute that right, any more than he could my right to his land or his stock. I advocated Colonization, as I thought it on many accounts a good plan to get rid of such colored persons as wished to go to Africa; but my conscience as a slaveholder was not much troubled by it. Of course, I had no tendency to make me disclaim my[71] right to my slaves. Abolition—immediate abolition, began afterwards to be discussed in various parts of the country. My right to the slaves I owned began to be disputed. I had to defend myself. In vain did I say I inherited my slaves from a pious father, who seemed to be governed in his dealings by a sense of duty to his slaves. In vain did I say that nearly all my property consisted in slaves, and to free them would make me a poor man. My duty to emancipate was still urged. At length my eyes were opened—partly by the arguments used by the abolitionists: but mainly, by long being compelled by them to examine the subject for myself. No longer could I close my eyes to the evils of slavery, nor could I any longer despise the abolitionists, ‘the only true friends of their country and kind.’ I now think, I know, I have no more right to own slaves, whether I inherited them or not, than I have to encourage the African slave trade. By declaring this sentiment, I expect and design to abet the cause of Abolition at the North, and through the North the emancipation of the slaves at the South. I know that in doing this, I condemn the South. No one can suppose, however, that I have any unkind feelings towards the South. All my relatives live in the slaveholding States, and are almost all slaveholders.

I think the abolitionists have done, and are doing a great deal of good, by holding slavery up to the public gaze. Sentiment at the North on the subject of slavery must have the same effect on the South, that their opinions have on any other matter.’

The writer of the foregoing is, as I am told, still a resident of Virginia, where he has long been known, and is highly respected.

In the 11th month, 1835, the United States Telegraph, published at Washington city, contains the following remarks by the Editor, Duff Green.


‘We are of those who believe the South has nothing to fear from a servile war. We do not believe that the abolitionists intend, nor could they if they would, excite the slaves to insurrection. The danger of this is remote. We believe that we have most to fear from the organised action upon the consciences and fears of the slaveholders themselves; from the insinuations of their dangerous heresies into our schools, our pulpits, and our domestic circles. It is only by alarming the consciences of the weak and feeble, and diffusing among our own people a morbid sensibility on the question of slavery, that the abolitionists can accomplish their object. Preparatory to this, they are now laboring to saturate the non-slaveholding States with the belief that slavery is a ‘sin against God.’ We must meet the question in all its bearings. We must SATISFY THE CONSCIENCES, we must allay the fears of our own people. We must satisfy them that slavery is of itself right—that it is not a sin against God—that it is not an evil, moral or political. To do this, we must discuss the subject of slavery itself. We must examine its bearing upon the moral, political, and religious institutions of the country. In this way, and this way only, can we prepare our own people to defend their own institutions.’

In another number of the same paper, the Editor says,

‘We hold that our sole reliance is on ourselves; that we have most to fear from the gradual operation on public opinion among ourselves; and that those are the most insidious and dangerous invaders of our rights and interests, who, coming to us in the guise of friendship, endeavor to persuade us that slavery is a sin, a curse, an evil. It is not true that the South sleeps on a volcano—that we are afraid to go to bed at night—that we are fearful of murder and pillage. Our greatest cause of apprehension is from the operation of the morbid sensibility which appeals to the[73] consciences of our own people, and would make them the voluntary instruments of their own ruin.’

In 1835, I think about the close of the year, a series of articles on Slavery appeared in the Lexington (Kentucky) Intelligencer. In one of the numbers, the writer says:—

‘Much of the preceding matter was inserted (May, 1833) in the Louisville Herald. A great change has since taken place in public sentiment. Colonization, then a favorite measure, is now rejected for instant emancipation. Were this last feasible, I would gladly join its advocates,’ &c.

In a letter to the publisher of the Emancipator, dated ‘April 1, 1837,’ from a Southerner, I find the following language:—

‘Though a —— born and bred, I now consider the Anti-Slavery cause as a just and holy one. Deep reflection, the reading of your excellent publications, and—years of travel in Europe, have made me, what I am now proud to call myself, an abolitionist.

‘For the present, accept the assurances of my unswerving devotion to the cause of liberty and justice. Any letter from yourself will always give me sincere pleasure, and whenever I go to New York, I shall call upon you, sans ceremonie, as I would upon an old friend.’

A short time since, J. G. Birney received a donation of $20 for the Anti-Slavery Society, from an individual residing in a slave State, accompanied with a request that his name might not be mentioned.

About the time of the robbery of the U. S. Mail, and the burning of Abolition papers by the infatuated citizens of my own city, the Editor of the Charleston Courier made the following remarks in his paper,[74] which plainly reveal the cowering of the spirit of slavery, under the searching scrutiny occasioned by the Anti-Slavery discussions in the free States.

Mart for Negroes.—We understand that a proposition is before the city council, relative to the establishment of a mart for the sale of negroes in this city, in a place more remote from observation, and less offensive to the public eye, than the one now used for that purpose. We doubt not that the proposition before the council will be acceptable to the community, and that it may be so matured as to promote public decency, without prejudice to the interest of individuals.’

Hear, too, the acknowledgement of the Southern Literary Review, published at Charleston, South Carolina, which was got up in 1837, to sustain the system of Slavery.

‘There are many good men even among us, who have begun to grow timid. They think that what the virtuous and high-minded men of the North look upon as a crime and a plague-spot, cannot be perfectly innocent or quite harmless in a slaveholding community. … Some timid men among us, whose ears have been long assailed with outcries of tyranny and oppression, wafted over the ocean and land from North to South, begin to look fearfully around them.’

A correspondent of the Pittsburgh Witness, detailing the particulars of an Anti-Slavery meeting in Washington co. Pennsylvania, says:—

‘After Dr. Lemoyne, the President of the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society, had finished his address, in which the principles and measures of the Anti-Slavery Society were fully exhibited, the Rev. Charles Stewart, of Kentucky, a slaveholding clergyman of the Presbyterian church, who was casually present, rose and addressed the audience, and instead of opposing our principles as might[75] have been expected, fully endorsed every thing that had been said, declaring his conviction that such a speech would have been well received by the truly religious part of the community in which he resided, and would have been opposed only by those who were actuated by party politics alone, or those who ‘neither feared God nor regarded man.’

I give thee now a letter from a gentleman in a South Western slaveholding State, to J. G. Birney.

Very Dear Sir:—I knew you in the days of your prosperity at the South, though you will not recognize me. Ever since you first took your stand in defence of natural rights, I have been looking upon you with intense interest. I was violently opposed to Abolitionists, and verily thought I was doing service to both church and State, in decrying them as incendiaries and fanatics. What blindness and infatuation! Yet I was sincere. Ah! my dear sir, God in mercy has taught me that something more than sincerity, in the common acceptation of the term, is necessary to preserve our understandings from idiocy, and our hearts from utter ruin. How could I have been such a madman, as coolly and composedly to place my foot upon the necks of immortal beings, and from that horrid point of elevation, hurl the deep curses of church and State at the heads of——whom? Fanatics? No, sir!—but of the only persons on the face of the earth, who had HEART enough to FEEL, and SOUL enough to ACT, in behalf of the RIGHTS OF MAN! Yet I was just such a madman! Yes, sir, I was a fanatic, and an incendiary too—setting on fire the worst passions of our fallen nature. But I have repented. I have become a convert to political, and I trust, also, to Christian Freedom. The spectacle exhibited by yourself, and your compatriots and fellow-christians, has completely overcome me. Your reasonings convince my judgment, and your ACTIONS win my heart. God speed you in your work of love![76] The hopes of the world depend, under God, upon the success of your cause.

Very respectfully and with undying affection,

Your friend and brother,

A Southerner.’

Another of J. G. Birney’s southern correspondents says, in 1836,

‘That portion of the Church with which I am connected, seem to have no sympathy with the indignation against the abolitionists, which prevails so extensively North and South; but, on the other hand, consider the South as infatuated to the highest degree.

There is more credit for philanthropy given those who manumit their slaves, without expatriation, than formerly.

The thirst for information is increasing, while the ‘non liquetism’ [voting on neither side] of brethren in church courts is becoming less and less satisfactory; and such of them as advocate the perpetuity of the system, are looked upon with surprise and regret.

Those who view with horror the traffic in slaves by ministers of the gospel, express more freely their pain at its indulgence, than I have ever known. I am acquainted with several such cases. In no instances have they left the brother’s standing where it was, before it took place. Of such cases—even those, too, where the usual allowances might be called for—I have heard professors of religion remark, ‘Mr. A. could not get an audience to hear him preach’—‘Mr. B. has more assurance than I could have, to preach, after selling my slaves as he has done’—‘He can never make me believe he has any religion’—‘This is the first time you have done so, but repeat it, and I think I shall never hear you preach again.’

These remarks were made by slaveholding professors of religion themselves, and under circumstances neither calculated nor intended to deceive.


The following letter was written by an intelligent gentleman in the interior of Alabama, to Arthur Tappan, of New York, who had sent him some Anti-Slavery publications. The date is March 21, 1834.

‘Dear Sir—Your letter of Dec. last, I read with much interest. The numbers of the Anti-Slavery Reporter, also, which you were so kind as to send me, I carefully examined, and put them in circulation.

Your operations have produced considerable excitement in some sections of this country, but humanity has lost nothing. The more the subject of slavery is agitated, the better. A distinguished gentleman remarked to me a day or two since, that ‘there was a great change going on in public sentiment.’ Few would acknowledge that it was to be ascribed to the influence of your Society. There can be no doubt, however, that this is directly and indirectly the principal cause.’

During the same year, the Editor of the New York Evangelist received a letter from a christian friend in North Carolina, from which I give thee an extract.

To the Editor of the Evangelist

‘The subject of slavery, recently brought up and discussed in your paper, is the one which elicits the following remarks.

In the first place I will state, that I entertain very different views now, to what I did six months ago. I was among those who thought (and honestly too) that there was no more moral guilt attached to the holding our fellow beings in bondage, regarding them as property, than to the holding of a mule or an ox. It was natural enough for me to think so, for I had been trained from my very infancy to view the subject in no other light. I shall never forget my feelings when the subject was first hit upon in the Evangelist. I became angry, and was disposed to attribute sinister[78] motives to all who were concerned in the matter. With some others, I determined to stop the paper forthwith.

Though I made every effort to turn my mind away from the subject, my conscience in spite of me began to awake, and to be troubled. The word of God was resorted to, with the hope of finding something to bring peace and quietude, but all in vain. It was but adding fuel to the flame. I determined, let others do as they would, to meet the subject, to examine it in all its bearings, and to abide the result; and if it should be found that God regards slavery as an evil, and incompatible with the gospel, I would give it up. If not, I should be made wiser without incurring any harm by the investigation.

In the very nature of God’s dealings with men, this subject must and will be agitated, until conviction shall be brought home to the heart and conscience of every man, and slavery shall be banished from our land. And woe be to him who wilfully closes his eyes, and stops his ears against the light of God’s truth.’

In 8th month of the same year, the same paper contained the following extract from another correspondent in North Carolina.

—— N. C. July 9, 1834.

‘Rev. and dear Sir—If I owe an apology for intruding on you, and introducing myself, I must find it in the fact, that I wish to bid you God speed in the good cause in which you are so heartily engaged. While so many at the North are opposing, I wish to cheer you by one voice from the South. If it is unpopular to plead the cause of the oppressed negro in New York, how dangerous to be known as his friend in the far South, where, as a correspondent in the Evangelist justly observes, a minister cannot enforce the law of love, without being suspected of favoring[79] emancipation. I am glad the people with you are beginning to feel and to act. I pray God that you may go on with all the light and love of the gospel, and that the cry of ‘Let us alone,’ will not frighten you from your labor of love.’

James A. Thome, a Presbyterian clergyman, a native, and still a resident of Kentucky, said in a speech at New York, at the Anniversary of the American Anti-Slavery Society in 1834:

‘Under all these disadvantages, you are doing much. The very little leaven which you have been enabled to introduce, is now working with tremendous power. One instance has lately occurred within my acquaintance, of an heir to slave property—a young man of growing influence, who was first awakened by reading a single number of the Anti-Slavery Reporter, sent to him by some unknown hand. He is now a whole-hearted abolitionist. I have facts to show that cases of this kind are by no means rare. A family of slaves in Arkansas Territory, another in Tennessee, and a third, consisting of 88, in Virginia, were successively emancipated through the influence of one abolition periodical. Then do not hesitate as to duty. Do not pause to consider the propriety of interference. It is as unquestionably the province of the North to labor in this cause, as it is the duty of the church to convert the world. The call is urgent—it is imperative. We want light. The ungodly are saying, ‘the church will not enlighten us.’ The church is saying, ‘the ministry will not enlighten us.’ The ministry is crying, ‘Peace—take care.’ We are altogether covered in gross darkness. We appeal to you for light. Send us facts—send us kind remonstrance and manly reasoning. We are perishing for lack of truth. We have been lulled to sleep by the guilty apologist.’


A letter from a Post Master in Virginia, to the editor of ‘Human Rights,’ dated August 15, 1835, contains the following:—

‘I have received two numbers of Human Rights, and one of The Emancipator. I have read and loaned them, had them returned, and loaned again. I can see no unsoundness in the arguments there advanced—and until I can see some evil in your publications, I shall distribute all you send to this office. It is certainly high time this subject was examined, and viewed in its proper light. I know these publications will displease those who hold their fellow men in bondage: but reason, truth and justice are on your side—and why should you seek the good will of any who do evil?

I would be pleased to have a copy of the last Report of the Am. Anti-Slavery Society, if convenient, and some of your other pamphlets, which you have to distribute gratis. I will read and use them to the best advantage.’

A gentleman of Middlesex County, Mass. whose house is one of my New England homes, told me that he had very recently met with a slaveholder from the South, who, during a warm discussion on the subject of slavery, made the following acknowledgment: ‘The worst of it is, we have fanatics among ourselves, and we don’t know what to do with them, for they are increasing fast, and are sustained in their opposition to slavery by the Abolitionists of the North.’

A Baptist clergyman whom I met in Worcester County, Mass., a few months since, told me that his brother-in-law, a lawyer of New Orleans, who had recently paid him a visit, took up the Report of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society, and read it with[81] great interest. He then inquired, whether the principles set forth in that document were Anti-Slavery principles. Upon being informed that they were, he expressed his entire approbation of them, and full conviction that they would prevail as soon as the South understood them; for, said he, they are the principles of truth and justice, and must finally triumph. This gentleman requested to be furnished with some of our publications, and carried them to the South with him.

There certainly can be no doubt to a reflecting and candid mind, as to what will and must be the result of Anti-Slavery operations. Hear now the opinion of one of the leading political papers in Charleston, South Carolina, the Southern Patriot.

‘While agitation is permitted in Congress, there is no security for the South. While discussion is allowed in that body, year after year, in relation to slavery and its incidents, the rights of property at the South must, in the lapse of a short period, be undermined. It is the weapon of all who expect to work out great changes in public opinion. It was the instrument by which O’Connell gradually shook the fabric of popular prejudice in England on the Catholic question. His sole instrument was agitation, both in Parliament and out of it. His constant counsel to his followers was, agitate! agitate! They did agitate. They happily carried the question of Catholic rights.

Agitation may be successfully employed for a bad as well as good cause. What was the weapon of the English abolitionists?—Agitation. Regard the question of the abolition of the slave trade when first brought into Parliament—behold the influence of PITT and the tory party beating down its advocates[82] by an overwhelming majority! Look at the question of abolition itself, twenty years after, and you see Wilberforce and his adherents carrying the question itself of abolition of slavery, by a majority as triumphant! How was all this accomplished?—By agitation in Parliament! It was on this ample theatre that the abolitionists worked their fatal spells. It was on this wide stage of discussion that they spoke to the people of England in that voice of fanaticism, which, at length, found an echo that suited their purposes. It was through the debates, which circulated by means of the press throughout every corner of the realm, that they carried that question to its extremest borders, to the hamlet of every peasant in the empire. Can it then be expected, if we give the American abolitionists the same advantage of that wide field of debate which Congress affords, that the same results will not follow? The local legislatures are limited theatres of action. Their debates are comparatively obscure. These are not read by the people at large. Allow the agitators a great political centre, like that of Washington—permit them to address their voice of fanatical violence to the whole American people, through their diffusive press, and they want no greater advantage. They have a MORAL LEVER BY WHICH THEY CAN MOVE A WORLD OF OPINION.

The course of the southern States is therefore marked out by a pencil of light. They should obtain additional guarantees against the discussion of slavery in Congress, in any manner, or in any of its forms, as it exists in the United States. This is the only means that promises success in removing agitation. We have said that this is the accepted time. When we look at the spread of opinion on this subject in some of the eastern States—in Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut—what are we to expect in a few years, in the middle States, should discussion proceed in Congress? These States are yet uninfected, in any considerable degree, by the fanatical[83] spirit. They may not remain so after a lapse of five years. If they are animated by a true spirit of patriotism—by a genuine love for the Union, they should, and could with effect, interpose to stay this moral pestilence. Their voice in this matter would be influential. New York and Pennsylvania are intermediate between the South and East in position and in physical strength.’

Samuel L. Gould, a minister of the Baptist denomination, writing to the Secretary of the American Anti-Slavery Society, from Fayette County, Pennsylvania, in 4th month, 1836, says:—

‘The Smithfield Anti-Slavery Society, [on the border of Virginia] has among its members, several residents of Virginia. Its President has been a slaveholder, and until recently, was a distinguished citizen of Virginia, the High Sheriff of Rockingham County. Having become convinced of the wickedness of slaveholding, a little more than a year ago he purchased an estate in Pennsylvania, and removed to it, his colored men accompanying him. He now employs them as hired laborers.’

I may mention, in this connection, an Alabama slaveholder, a lawyer named Smith, who emancipated his slaves, I think about twenty in number, a few months since. He was the brother-in-law of William Allan of Huntsville, who was in 1834, president of the Lane Seminary Anti-Slavery Society, and subsequently an agent of the American Anti-Slavery Society, and who had for years previous been in kind and faithful correspondence with him on the subject of slavery.

Henry P. Thompson, a student of Lane Seminary, and a slaveholder at the time of the Anti-Slavery[84] discussion in that Institution, was convinced by it, went to Kentucky, and emancipated his slaves.

Arthur Thome, an elder in the Presbyterian Church, Augusta, Kentucky, emancipated his slaves, fourteen in number, about two years since. J. G. Birney, speaking of him in the Philanthropist, says:—

‘For a long time he had been a professor of religion, but had not, till the doctrines of abolition were embraced by his son on the discussion of the subject at Lane Seminary, given to the subject more attention than was usual among slaveholding professors at the time. At first he thought his son was deranged—and that his intended trip to New York, to speak at the anniversary of the American Anti-Slavery Society, was evidence of it. He sought him (as we have heard,) on the steamboat, which was to convey him up the Ohio river, that he might stop him from going. Something, however, prevented his seeing his son before his departure, and there was no detention.

The truth bore on the mind of Mr. T. till it produced its proper fruit—and he now says, that he is confident no other doctrine but that of the SIN of slaveholding, connected with an immediate breaking off from it, will influence the slaveholder to do justice.’

I see by the late Washington papers, that one of my South Carolina cousins, Robert Barnwell Rhett, the late Attorney General of the State, has come up to my help on this point, with his characteristic chivalry; [howbeit ‘he meaneth not so, neither doth his heart think so.’] In his late address to his Congressional Constituents, he says:—

‘Who that knows anything of human affairs, but must be sensible that the subject of abolition may be approached in a thousand ways, without direct legislation? By perpetual discussion, agitation and[85] threats, accompanied with the real or imaginary power to perform, there will be need of no other action than words to shake the confidence of men in the safety and continuance of the institution of slavery, and its value and existence will be destroyed. These are all the weapons the abolitionist desires to be allowed to use to accomplish his purpose. When Congress moves, it will be the last act in the drama; and it will be prepared to enforce its legislation. To acknowledge the right, or to tolerate the act of interference at all with this institution, is to give it up—to abandon it entirely; and, as this must be the consummation of any interference, the sooner it is reached the better. The South must hold this institution, not amidst alarm and molestation, but in peace—perfect peace, from the interference or agitation of others; or, I repeat it, she will—she can—hold it not at all. … There is no one so weak, but he must perceive that, whilst the spirit of abolition in the North is increasing, slavery in the South, in all the frontier States, is decreasing.’

Farther, I may add the names of J. G. Birney of Alabama, John Thompson and a person named Meux, Jassamine County, Kentucky, J. M. Buchanan, Professor in Center College, Kentucky, Andrew Shannon, a Presbyterian minister in Shelbyville, Kentucky, Samuel Taylor, a Presbyterian minister of Nicholasville, Kentucky, Peter Dunn of Mercer County, Kentucky, a person named Doake in Tennessee, another named Carr in North Carolina, another named Harndon in Virginia—with a number of others, the particulars of whose cases I have not now by me, all of whom were slaveholders four years since, and were induced to emancipate their slaves through the influence of Anti-Slavery discussions and periodicals.


The Democrat, a political paper published at Rochester, New York, contained the following in the summer of 1835.

‘On Saturday last, many of our citizens had an opportunity of witnessing a noble scene. On board the boat William Henry, then lying at the Exchange street wharf, were TEN SLAVES, or those who had recently been such, and several free persons of color. The master, a gentleman of more than seventy years of age, accompanied them. His residence was in Powhattan County, seventy miles below Richmond, Virginia. He was on his way to Buffalo, near which place he intends purchasing a large farm, where his ‘people,’ as he calls them, are to be settled. The above named gentleman was led to sacrifice much of this world’s lucre, besides some $5000 of human ‘property,’ by becoming convinced of the sinfulness of his practice while reading Anti-Slavery publications.’

A letter now lies before me from an elder of a religious denomination in the far South-West, who was converted to Abolition sentiments by Anti-Slavery publications sent to him from the city of New York, and who has already emancipated his slaves, ten in number. The writer says, ‘my hopes are revived when I read of the progress of the cause in the Eastern States, and of the increase of Anti-Slavery Societies. My soul glows with gratitude to God for his mercy to the down-trodden slaves, in raising up for them in these days of savage cruelty, hundreds who, fearless of consequences, are standing up for the entire abolition of slavery, whom, though unseen, I dearly love. O! how it would delight me to listen to the public addresses of some of these dear friends.’


Hear, too, the reason assigned by James Smylie, a Presbyterian minister of the Amite Presbytery, Mississippi, for writing a book in 1836, to prove that slavery is a divine institution.

‘From his intercourse with religious societies of all denominations in Mississippi and Louisiana, he was aware that the Abolition maxim, viz: that Slavery is in itself sinful, had gained on and entwined itself among the religious and conscientious scruples of many in the community, so far as to render them unhappy. The eye of the mind, resting on Slavery itself as a corrupt fountain, from which, of necessity, nothing but corrupt streams could flow, was incessantly employed in search of some plan by which, with safety, the fountain could, in some future time, be entirely dried up.’ An illustration of this important acknowledgement, will be found in the following fact, extracted from the Herald of Freedom: ‘A young gentleman who has been residing in South Carolina, says our movements (Abolitionists) are producing the best effects upon the South, rousing the consciences of Slaveholders, while the slaves seem to be impressed as a body with the idea, that help is coming—that an interest is felt for them, and plans devising for their relief somewhere—which keeps them quiet. He says it is not uncommon for ministers and good people to make confession like this. One, riding with him, broke forth, ‘O, I fear that the groans and wails from our slaves enter into the ear of the Lord of Sabaoth. I am distressed on this subject: my conscience will let me have no peace. I go to bed, but not to sleep. I walk my room in agony, and resolve that I will never hold slaves another day; but in the morning, my heart, like Pharaoh’s, is hardened.’

In the autumn of 1835, an influential minister in one of the most southern States, (who only one year[88] before had stoutly defended slavery, and vehemently insisted that northern abolitionists were producing unmixed and irremediable evil at the South,) wrote to the Corresponding Secretary of one of our State Anti-Slavery Societies who had furnished him with Anti-Slavery publications, avowing his conversion to Abolition sentiments, and praying that Anti-Slavery Societies might persevere in their efforts, and increase them. Among other expressions of strong feeling the letter contained the following:

‘I am greatly surprised that I should in any form have been the apologist of a system so full of deadly poison to all holiness and benevolence as slavery, the concocted essence of fraud, selfishness, and cold-hearted tyranny, and the fruitful parent of unnumbered evils, both to the oppressor and the oppressed, THE ONE THOUSANDTH PART OF WHICH HAS NEVER BEEN BROUGHT TO LIGHT.

‘Do you ask why this change, after residing in a slave country for twenty years? You remember the lines of Pope, beginning:

‘Vice is a monster, of so frightful mien
As to be hated, needs but to be seen,
But seen too oft, familiar with her face;
We first endure, then pity, then embrace.’

‘I had become so familiar with the loathsome features of slavery, that they ceased to offend—besides, I had become a southern man in all my feelings, and it is a part of our creed to defend slavery.’

About two years since, Arthur and Lewis Tappan received a letter from a Virginian slaveholder, who held nearly one hundred slaves, and whose conscience had been greatly roused to the sin of slavery. In the letter, he avowed his determination to absolve himself[89] from the guilt of slaveholding, declaring that he ‘had rather be a wood cutter or a coal heaver, than to remain in the midst of slavery.’

An intelligent gentleman, a lawyer and a citizen of the District of Columbia, has just written a letter to a gentleman of New York city, from which I give thee the following extract:

‘The proceedings in Congress at this session have had the effect, I think, to rouse the attention of the public in all quarters, to the subject of slavery; and that, of itself, I think is a good: and it is in my opinion the chief present good that is to grow out of it. Discussion of some sort takes place, and the real foundation on which the system rests, cannot but be brought more or less into view. My hope is, that men who denounce now, will at length reason. That is what is wanted—reasoning, reflection, and a true perception of the basis on which slavery is founded.’

The foregoing are but a few of the facts and testimonies in the possession of Abolitionists, showing that their discussions, periodicals, petitions, arguments, appeals and societies, have extensively moved, and are still mightily moving the slaveholding States—for good. Did time and space permit, I might, by a little painstaking, procure many more. Before passing from this part of the subject, I must record my amazement at the clamors of many of the opponents of Abolitionists, from whom better things might indeed be hoped. What slaveholders have you convinced? they demand. Whom have you made Abolitionists? Give us their names and places of abode. Now, those who incessantly stun us with such unreasonable clamor, know full well, that to give the public the[90] names and residences of such persons, would be in most instances to surrender them to butchery. But be it known to the North and to the South, we have names of scores of citizens of the slaveholding states, many of them slaveholders, who are in constant correspondence with us, persons who feel so deeply on the subject as to implore us to persevere in our efforts, and not to be dismayed by Southern threats nor disheartened by Northern cavils and heartlessness. Yea more, these persons have committed to us the custody even of their lives, thus encountering imminent peril that they might cheer us onward in our work. Shall we betray their trust, or put them in jeopardy? Judge thou.

Now let me ask, when in former years Anti-Slavery tracts, with our doctrines, could be circulated at the South? The fact is, there were none to be circulated there; our principle of repentance is quite new. But I can tell thee of two facts, which it is probable thou ‘hast not been informed of.’ In the year 1809, the steward of a vessel, a colored man, carried some Abolition pamphlets to Charleston. Immediately on his arrival, he was informed against, and would have been tried for his life, had he not promised to leave the State, never to return. Was South Carolina willing to receive abolition pamphlets then? Again, in 1820, my sister carried some pamphlets there—‘Thoughts on Slavery,’ issued by the Society of Friends, and therefore not very incendiary, thou mayest be assured; and yet she was informed some time afterwards, that had it not been for the influence of our family, she would have been imprisoned;[91] for she, too, was accused of giving one of them to a slave; just as Abolitionists have been falsely charged with sending their papers to the enslaved. What she did give away, she was obliged to give privately. Was Charleston ready to receive Abolition pamphlets then? Or when? please to tell me. I say that more, far more Anti-Slavery tracts, &c. are now read in the South, than ever were at any former period. As to Colonization tracts, I know they have circulated at the South; but what of that, when Southerners believed that Colonization had no connection with the overthrow of Slavery? Colonization papers, &c. are not Abolition papers.

As to preachers, let me assure thee, that they never have dared to preach on the subject of slavery in my native city, so far as my knowledge extends. Ah! I for some years sat under two northern ministers, but never did I hear them preach in public, or speak in private, on the sin of slavery. O! the deep, DEEP injury which such unfaithful ministers have inflicted on the South! It is well known that our young men have, to a great extent, been educated in Northern Theological Seminaries. With what principles were their minds imbued? What kind of religion did the North prepare them to preach? A slaveholding religion. What kind of religion did northern men come down and preach to us? A slaveholding religion—and multitudes of them became slaveholders. Such was one of my northern pastors. And yet thou tellest me, the North has nothing to do with slavery at the South—is not guilty, &c. &c. ‘Their own clergy,’ thou sayest, ‘either[92] entirely hold their peace, or become the defenders of a system they once lamented, and attempted to bring to an end.’ Do name to me one of those valiant defenders of slavery, who formerly lamented over the system, and attempted to bring it to an end. ‘What is his name, or what is his son’s name, if thou canst tell?’ Strange indeed, if, because we advocate the truth, others should begin to hate it; or because we expose sin, they should turn round and defend what once they lamented over! Is this in accordance with ‘the known laws of mind,’ where principle is deeply rooted in the heart?

And then thou closest these assertions without proof, with the triumphant exclamation, ‘This is the record of experience, as to the tendencies of abolitionism, as thus far developed. The South is just now in that state of high exasperation, at the sense of wanton injury and impertinent interference, which makes the influence of truth and reason most useless and powerless.’ Hadst thou been better informed as to the real tendencies of abolitionism on the South, this assertion also might have been spared. Again I repeat, the South does not tell us so. Read the subjoined extract of a letter now lying before me from a correspondent in a Southern State. ‘12 or 15 at this place believe that all men are born free and equal, that prejudice against color is a disgrace to the man who feels it, that such a feeling is without foundation in reason or scripture, and ought to be abandoned immediately, that slavery is a malum in se, yea, a heinous crime in the sight of God, to be repented of without delay.’ Read also the following, extracted[93] from the Marietta Gazette: ‘A citizen of one of the free states, not many months ago, observed to a distinguished southerner, that the operations of the abolitionists were impeding the cause of emancipation—or to that effect. ‘Sir,’ said the Southerner, ‘You are mistaken. Depend upon it, these agitations have put the slaveholders to very serious thinking.’ These, then, are the effects which Abolitionism is producing on some at the South. That others are exasperated, I do not deny. Hear what Bolling of Virginia said in 1832, in the Legislature of that State: ‘It has long been the pleasure of those who are wedded to the system of slavery, to brand all its opponents with opprobrious epithets; to represent them as enemies to order, as persons desirous of tearing up the foundation of society thereby endeavoring to brand them with infamy in order to avert from them the public ear.’ Here then we find a Southern Legislator acknowledging that all the opponents of Slavery have ever excited the same exasperation in those who are ‘wedded to the system.’ Who is to be blamed? Is this any cause of discouragement? That we have succeeded in rousing the North to reflection, thou art thyself a living proof; for let me ask, what it was that set thee to such serious thinking, as to induce thee to write a book on the Slave Question?

Thy friend in haste,




Dear Friend: Thou sayest, ‘that this evil (Slavery,) is at no distant period to come to an end, is the unanimous opinion of all who either notice the tendencies of the age, or believe in the prophecies of the Bible.’ But how can this be true, if Abolitionists have indeed rolled back the car of Emancipation? If our measures really tend to this result, how can this evil come to an end at no distant period? Colonizationists tell us, if it had not been for our interference, they could have done a vast deal better than they have done; and the American Unionists say, that we have paralyzed their efforts, so that they can do nothing; and yet ‘the tendencies of the age’ are crowding forward Emancipation. Now, what has produced this tendency? Surely every reflecting person must acknowledge, that Colonization cannot effect the work of Abolition. The American Union is doing nothing; and Abolitionists are pursuing a course which ‘will tend to bring slavery to an end, if at all, at the most[95] distant period,’—then do tell me, how the tendencies of the age can possibly lean towards Emancipation! Perhaps I shall be told, that the movements of Great Britain in the West Indies created this tendency. Ah! but this is a foreign influence, more so even than Northern influence; and if the North is ‘a foreign community,’ as thou expressly stylest it, and can on that account produce no influence on the South, how can the doings of England affect her?

Now I believe with thee, that the tendencies of the age are toward Emancipation; but I contend that nothing but free discussion has produced this tendency—‘the present agitation of the subject’ is in fact the thing which is producing this happy tendency. Now let us turn to the South, and ask her eagle-eyed politicians what they are most afraid of. Read their answer in their desperate struggles to fetter the press and gag the mouths of—whom?—Colonizationists? Why no—they talk colonization themselves, and are not at all afraid that the expatriation of a few hundreds or thousands in 20 years will ever drain the country of its millions of slaves, where they are now increasing at the rate of 70,000 every year. The American Unionists? O no! the South has not deemed them worthy of any notice! Pray, then, whose mouths are slaveholders so fiercely striving to seal in silence? Why, the mouths of Abolitionists, to be sure—even our infant school children know this. Strange indeed, when the labors of these men are actually rolling back the car of Emancipation for one or two centuries! Why, the South ought to pour out her treasure, to support Anti-Slavery agents, and print[96] Anti-Slavery papers and pamphlets, and do all she can to aid us in rolling back Emancipation. Pray, write her a book, and tell her she has been very needlessly alarmed at our doings, and advise her to send us a few thousand dollars: her money would be very acceptable in these hard times, and we would take it as the wages due to the unpaid laborers, though we would never admit the donors to membership with us. How dost thou think she would receive such a book? Just try it, I entreat thee.

Thou seemest to think that the North has no right to rebuke the South, and assumest the ground that Abolitionists are the enemies of the South. We say, we have the right, and mean to exercise it. I believe that every northern Legislature has a right, and ought to use the right, to send a solemn remonstrance to every southern Legislature on the subject of slavery. Just as much right as the South has to send up a remonstrance against our free presses, free pens, and free tongues. Let the North follow her example; but, instead of asking her to enslave her subjects, entreat her to free them. The South may pretend now, that we have no right to interfere, because it suits her convenience to say so; but a few years ago, (1820,) we find that our Vice President, R. M. Johnson, in his speech on the Missouri question, was amazed at the ‘cold insensibility, the eternal apathy towards the slaves in the District of Columbia,’ which was exhibited by northern men, ‘though they had occular demonstration continually’ before them of the abominations of slavery. Then the South wondered we did not interfere with slavery—and now she says we have no right to interfere.


I find, on the 57th p. a false assertion with regard to Abolitionists. After showing the folly of our rejecting the worldly doctrine of expediency, so excellent in thy view, thou then sayest that we say, the reason why we do not go to the South is, that we should be murdered. Now, if there are any half-hearted Abolitionists, who are thus recreant to the high and holy principle of ‘Duty is ours, and events are God’s,’ then I must leave such to explain their own inconsistencies; but that this is the reason assigned by the Society, as a body, I never have seen nor believed. So far from it, that I have invariably heard those who understood the principles of the Anti-Slavery Society best, deny that it was a duty to go to the South, not because they would be killed, but because the North was guilty, and therefore ought to be labored with first. They took exactly the same view of the subject, which was taken by the southern friend of mine to whom I have already alluded. ‘Until northern women, (said she,) do their duty on the subject of slavery, southern women cannot be expected to do theirs.’ I therefore utterly deny this charge. Such may be the opinion of a few, but it is not and cannot be proved to be a principle of action in the Anti-Slavery Society. The fact is, we need no excuse for not going to the South, so long as the North is as deeply involved in the guilt of slavery as she is, and as blind to her duty.

One word with regard to these remarks: ‘Before the Abolition movements commenced, both northern and southern men expressed their views freely at the South.’ This, also, I deny, because, as a southerner,[98] I know that I never could express my views freely on the abominations of slavery, without exciting anger, even in professors of religion. It is true, ‘the dangers, evils and mischiefs of slavery’ could be, and were discussed at the South and the North. Yes, we might talk as much as we pleased about these, as long as we viewed slavery as a misfortune to the slaveholder, and talked of ‘the dangers, evils and mischiefs of slavery’ to him, and pitied him for having had such a ‘sad inheritance entailed upon him.’ But could any man or woman ever ‘express their views freely’ on the SIN of slavery at the South? I say, never! Could they express their views freely as to the dangers, mischiefs and evils of slavery to the poor suffering slave? No, never! It was only whilst the slaveholder was regarded as an unfortunate sufferer, and sympathized with as such, that he was willing to talk, and be talked to, on this ‘delicate subject.’ Hence we find, that as soon as he is addressed as a guilty oppressor, why then he is in a phrenzy of passion. As soon as we set before him the dangers, and evils, and mischiefs of slavery to the down-trodden victims of his oppression, O then! the slaveholder storms and raves like a maniac. Now look at this view of the subject: as a southerner, I know it is the only correct one.

With regard to the discussion of ‘the subject of slavery, in the legislative halls of the South,’ if thou hast read these debates, thou certainly must know that they did not touch on the SIN of slavery at all; they were wholly confined to ‘the dangers, evils and mischiefs of slavery’ to the unfortunate slaveholder.[99] What did the discussion in the Virginia legislature result in? In the rejection of every plan of emancipation, and in the passage of an act which they believed would give additional permanency to the institution, whilst it divested it of its dangers, by removing the free people of color to Liberia; for which purpose they voted $20,000, but took very good care to provide, ‘that no slave to be thereafter emancipated should have the benefit of the appropriation,’ so fearful were they, lest masters might avail themselves of this scheme of expatriation to manumit their slaves. The Maryland scheme is altogether based on the principle of banishment and oppression. The colored people were to be ‘got rid of,’ for the benefit of their lordly oppressors—not set free from the noble principles of justice and mercy to them. If Abolitionists have put a stop to all such discussions of slavery, I, for one, do most heartily rejoice at it. The fact is, the South is enraged, because we have exposed her horrible hypocrisy to the world. We have torn off the mask, and brought to light the hidden things of darkness.

To prove to thee that the South, as a body, never was prepared for emancipation, I might detail historical facts, which are stubborn things; but I have not the time to go into this subject that would be necessary. I will, therefore, give a few extracts from documents published by the old Abolition Societies, whose principle was gradualism. In 1803, in the report of the Delaware Society, I find the following statement:—‘The general temper and opinion of the opulent in this state, is either opposed to the generous principles of emancipation to the people of color, or indifferent[100] to the success of the work.’ In 1804, when a Committee was appointed to draft a memorial to the Legislature of North Carolina, we find the following sentiment expressed in their Report:—‘They believe that public opinion in that state is exceedingly hostile to the abolition of slavery; and every attempt towards emancipation is regarded with an indignant and jealous eye; that at present, the inhabitants of that State consider the preservation of their lives, and all they hold dear on earth, as depending on the continuance of slavery, and are even riveting more firmly the fetters of oppression.’ ‘They believe that great difficulty would attend the presentation of an address to the public, and that, if presented, it would not be read.’ The address was, however, issued, and in it we find this complaint—‘Many aspersions have been cast upon the advocates of the freedom of the blacks, by malicious and interested men.’ In 1805, in the Report of the Alexandria Society, District of Columbia, they say—‘There is rather a disposition to increase the measure of affliction already appointed to the poor deserted African:’ and complain of the decline of the Society, for which they assign several reasons, one of which is, ‘the admission of slaveholders into fellowship at its formation.’ Several of the Reports state, that they fully learned the impolicy of this measure, by the violent opposition which these slaveholding members made to their efforts for emancipation. Just as well might a Temperance Society admit a practical drunkard into their ranks, as for an Abolition Society to admit a slaveholder to membership.


In 1806, the Report of the Pennsylvania Society says—‘We believe the true reason, why ostensible and public measures are not pursued by the advocates of abolition in the southern states, will be found in the pretty general impression, that it would not, under existing circumstances, and in the present temper of the public mind, be expedient and useful.’ The Wilmington Report ‘laments that the people of South Carolina continue opposed to our cause’—and in 1809, the Report of this same Society says, ‘We regret most sincerely the difficulty we labor under in establishing corresponding agents in the southern states, on whose fidelity and integrity we can firmly rely.’ In 1816, the Delaware Society makes the following confession—‘When we look back at the bright prospects which opened on this cause within the last 20 years, and recur to the joyful feelings excited by the just anticipations of speedy success in this conflict with cruelty and wrong, we cannot but feel the pressure of that gloom which is the consequence of disappointment and defeat.’ In 1826, we find the North Carolina Report acknowledging that ‘the gentlest attempt to agitate the subject, or the slightest hint at the work of emancipation, is sufficient to call forth their indignant resentment, as if their dearest rights were invaded.’

How, then, can our opponents say, that the cause of emancipation has been rolled back by us? We ask, when was it ever forward? As a southerner, I repeat my solemn conviction, from my own experience, and from all I can learn from historical facts, and the reports of the Gradual Emancipation Societies of this[102] country, and the scope of the debates which took place in the Kentucky, Virginia and Maryland Legislatures, that it never was forward. If the tendencies of the age are towards emancipation, they are tendencies peculiar to this age in the United States, and have been brought about by free discussion, and in accordance, too, with the known laws of mind; for collision of mind as naturally produces light, as the striking of the flint and the steel produces fire. Free discussion is this collision, and the results are visible in the light which is breaking forth in every city, town and village, and spreading over the hills and valleys, through the whole length and breadth of our land. Yes! it has already reached ‘the dark valley of the shadow of death’ in the South; and in a few brief years, He who said, ‘Let there be light,’ will gather this moral effulgence into a focal point, and beneath its burning rays, the heart of the slaveholder, and the chains of the slave, will melt like wax before the orb of day.

Let us, then, take heed lest we be found fighting against God while standing idle in the market place, or endeavoring to keep other laborers out of the field now already white to the harvest.

Thy Friend,




Brookline, Mass., 8th month, 28th, 1837.

Dear Friend: I come now to that part of thy book, which is, of all others, the most important to the women of this country; thy ‘general views in relation to the place woman is appointed to fill by the dispensations of heaven.’ I shall quote paragraphs from thy book, offer my objections to them, and then throw before thee my own views.

Thou sayest, ‘Heaven has appointed to one sex the superior, and to the other the subordinate station, and this without any reference to the character or conduct of either.’ This is an assertion without proof. Thou further sayest, that ‘it was designed that the mode of gaining influence and exercising power should be altogether different and peculiar.’ Does the Bible teach this? ‘Peace on earth, and good will to men, is the character of all the rights and privileges, the influence and the power of woman.’ Indeed! Did our Holy Redeemer preach the doctrines[104] of peace to our sex only? ‘A man may act on Society by the collision of intellect, in public debate; he may urge his measures by a sense of shame, by fear and by personal interest; he may coerce by the combination of public sentiment; he may drive by physical force, and he does not overstep the boundaries of his sphere.’ Did Jesus, then, give a different rule of action to men and women? Did he tell his disciples, when he sent them out to preach the gospel, that man might appeal to the fear, and shame, and interest of those he addressed, and coerce by public sentiment, and drive by physical force? ‘But (that) all the power and all the conquests that are lawful to woman are those only which appeal to the kindly, generous, peaceful and benevolent principles?’ If so, I should come to a very different conclusion from the one at which thou hast arrived: I should suppose that woman was the superior, and man the subordinate being, inasmuch as moral power is immeasurably superior to ‘physical force.’

‘Woman is to win every thing by peace and love; by making herself so much respected, &c. that to yield to her opinions, and to gratify her wishes, will be the free-will offering of the heart.’ This principle may do as the rule of action to the fashionable belle, whose idol is herself; whose every attitude and smile are designed to win the admiration of others to herself; and who enjoys, with exquisite delight, the double-refined incense of flattery which is offered to her vanity, by yielding to her opinions, and gratifying her wishes, because they are hers. But to the humble Christian, who feels that it is truth which she[105] seeks to recommend to others, truth which she wants them to esteem and love, and not herself, this subtle principle must be rejected with holy indignation. Suppose she could win thousands to her opinions, and govern them by her wishes, how much nearer would they be to Jesus Christ, if she presents no higher motive, and points to no higher leader?

‘But this is all to be accomplished in the domestic circle.’ Indeed! ‘Who made thee a ruler and a judge over all?’ I read in the Bible, that Miriam, and Deborah, and Huldah, were called to fill public stations in Church and State. I find Anna, the prophetess, speaking in the temple ‘unto all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.’ During his ministry on earth, I see women following him from town to town, in the most public manner; I hear the woman of Samaria, on her return to the city, telling the men to come and see a man who had told her all things that ever she did. I see them even standing on Mount Calvary, around his cross, in the most exposed situation; but He never rebuked them; He never told them it was unbecoming their sphere in life to mingle in the crowds which followed his footsteps. Then, again, I see the cloven tongues of fire resting on each of the heads of the one hundred and twenty disciples, some of whom were women; yea, I hear them preaching on the day of Pentecost to the multitudes who witnessed the outpouring of the spirit on that glorious occasion; for, unless women as well as men received the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, what did Peter mean by telling them, ‘This is that which was spoken by the[106] prophet Joel: And it shall come to pass in the last days, said God, I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy. … And on my servants and on my handmaidens, I will pour out in those days of my spirit; and they shall prophesy.’ This is the plain matter of fact, as Clark and Scott, Stratton and Locke, all allow. Mine is no ‘private interpretation,’ no mere sectarian view.

I find, too, that Philip had four daughters which did prophesy; and what is still more convincing, I read in the xi. of I. Corinthians, some particular directions from the Apostle Paul, as to how women were to pray and prophesy in the assemblies of the people—not in the domestic circle. On examination, too, it appears that the very same word, Diakonos, which, when applied to Phœbe, Romans xvi. 1, is translated servant, when applied to Tychicus, Ephesians vi. 21, is rendered minister. Ecclesiastical History informs us, that this same Phœbe was pre-eminently useful, as a minister in the Church, and that female ministers suffered martyrdom in the first ages of Christianity. And what, I ask, does the Apostle mean when he says in Phillipians iv. 3.—‘Help those women who labored with me in the gospel’? Did these holy women of old perform all their gospel labors in ‘the domestic and social circle’? I trow not.

Thou sayest, ‘the moment woman begins to feel the promptings of ambition, or the thirst for power, her ægis of defence is gone.’ Can man, then, retain his ægis when he indulges these guilty passions? Is it woman only who suffers this loss?


‘All the generous promptings of chivalry, all the poetry of romantic gallantry, depend upon woman’s retaining her place as dependent and defenceless, and making no claims, and maintaining no rights, but what are the gifts of honor, rectitude and love.’

I cannot refrain from pronouncing this sentiment as beneath the dignity of any woman who names the name of Christ. No woman, who understands her dignity as a moral, intellectual, and accountable being, cares aught for any attention or any protection, vouchsafed by ‘the promptings of chivalry, and the poetry of romantic gallantry’? Such a one loathes such littleness, and turns with disgust from all such silly insipidities. Her noble nature is insulted by such paltry, sickening adulation, and she will not stoop to drink the foul waters of so turbid a stream. If all this sinful foolery is to be withdrawn from our sex, with all my heart I say, the sooner the better. Yea, I say more, no woman who lives up to the true glory of her womanhood, will ever be treated with such practical contempt. Every man, when in the presence of true moral greatness, ‘will find an influence thrown around him,’ which will utterly forbid the exercise of ‘the poetry of romantic gallantry.’

What dost thou mean by woman’s retaining her place as defenceless and dependent? Did our Heavenly Father furnish man with any offensive or defensive weapons? Was he created any less defenceless than she was? Are they not equally defenceless, equally dependent on Him? What did Jesus say to his disciples, when he commissioned them to preach the gospel?—‘Behold, I send you forth as[108] SHEEP in the midst of wolves; be ye wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. What more could he have said to women?

Again, she must ‘make no claims, and maintain no rights, but what are the gifts of honor, rectitude and love.’ From whom does woman receive her rights? From God, or from man? What dost thou mean by saying, her rights are the gifts of honor, rectitude and love? One would really suppose that man, as her lord and master, was the gracious giver of her rights, and that these rights were bestowed upon her by ‘the promptings of chivalry, and the poetry of romantic gallantry,’—out of the abundance of his honor, rectitude and love. Now, if I understand the real state of the case, woman’s rights are not the gifts of man—no! nor the gifts of God. His gifts to her may be recalled at his good pleasure—but her rights are an integral part of her moral being; they cannot be withdrawn; they must live with her forever. Her rights lie at the foundation of all her duties; and, so long as the divine commands are binding upon her, so long must her rights continue.

‘A woman may seek the aid of co-operation and combination among her own sex, to assist her in her appropriate offices of piety, charity,’ &c. Appropriate offices! Ah! here is the great difficulty. What are they? Who can point them out? Who has ever attempted to draw a line of separation between the duties of men and women, as moral beings, without committing the grossest inconsistencies on the one hand, or running into the most arrant absurdities on the other?


‘Whatever, in any measure, throws a woman into the attitude of a combatant, either for herself or others—whatever binds her in a party conflict—whatever obliges her in any way to exert coercive influences, throws her out of her appropriate sphere.’ If, by a combatant, thou meanest one who ‘drives by physical force,’ then I say, man has no more right to appear as such a combatant than woman; for all the pacific precepts of the gospel were given to him, as well as to her. If, by a party conflict, thou meanest a struggle for power, either civil or ecclesiastical, a thirst for the praise and the honor of man, why, then I would ask, is this the proper sphere of any moral, accountable being, man or woman? If, by coercive influences, thou meanest the use of force or of fear, such as slaveholders and warriors employ, then, I repeat, that man has no more right to exert these than woman. All such influences are repudiated by the precepts and examples of Christ, and his apostles; so that, after all, this appropriate sphere of woman is just as appropriate to man. These ‘general principles are correct,’ if thou wilt only permit them to be of general application.

Thou sayest that the propriety of woman’s coming forward as a suppliant for a portion of her sex who are bound in cruel bondage, depends entirely on its probable results. I thought the disciples of Jesus were to walk by faith, not by sight. Did Abraham reason as to the probable results of his offering up Isaac? No! or he could not have raised his hand against the life of his son; because in Isaac, he had been told, his seed should be called,—that seed in[110] whom all the nations of the earth were to be blessed. O! when shall we learn that God is wiser than man—that his ways are higher than our ways, his thoughts than our thoughts—and that ‘obedience is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams?’ If we are always to reason on the probable results of performing our duty, I wonder what our Master meant by telling his disciples, that they must become like little children. I used to think he designed to inculcate the necessity of walking by faith, in childlike simplicity, docility and humility. But if we are to reason as to the probable results of obeying the injunctions to plead for the widow and the fatherless, and to deliver the spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor, &c., then I do not know what he meant to teach.

According to what thou sayest, the women of this country are not to be governed by principles of duty, but by the effect their petitions produce on the members of Congress, and by the opinions of these men. If they deem them ‘obtrusive, indecorous, and unwise,’ they must not be sent. If thou canst consent to exchange the precepts of the Bible for the opinions of such a body of men as now sit on the destinies of this nation, I cannot. What is this but obeying man rather than God, and seeking the praise of man rather than of God? As to our petitions increasing the evils of slavery, this is merely an opinion, the correctness or incorrectness of which remains to be proved. When I hear Senator Preston of South Carolina, saying, that ‘he regarded the concerted movement upon the District of Columbia as[111] an attempt to storm the gates of the citadel—as throwing the bridge over the moat’—and declaring that ‘the South must resist the danger in its inception, or it would soon become irresistible‘—I feel confident that petitions will effect the work of emancipation, thy opinion to the contrary notwithstanding. And when I hear Francis W. Pickens, from the same State, saying in a speech delivered in Congress—‘Mr. Speaker, we cannot mistake all these things. The truth is, the moral power of the world is against us. It is idle to disguise it. We must, sooner or later, meet the great issue that is to be made on this subject. Deeply connected with this, is the movement to be made on the District of Columbia. If the power be asserted in Congress to interfere here, or any approach be made toward that end, it will give a shock to our institutions and the country, the consequences of which no man can foretell. Sir, as well might you grapple with iron grasp into the very heart and vitals of South Carolina, as to touch this subject here.’ When I hear these things from the lips of keen-eyed politicians of the South, northern apologies for not interfering with the subject of slavery, ‘lest it should increase, rather than diminish the evils it is wished to remove’ affect me little.

Another objection to woman’s petitions is, that they may ‘tend to bring females, as petitioners and partisans, into every political measure that may tend to injure and oppress their sex.’ As to their ever becoming partisans, i.e. sacrificing principles to power or interest, I reprobate this under all circumstances, and in both sexes. But I trust my sisters may always[112] be permitted to petition for a redress of grievances. Why not? The right of petition is the only political right that women have: why not let them exercise it whenever they are aggrieved? Our fathers waged a bloody conflict with England, because they were taxed without being represented. This is just what unmarried women of property now are. They were not willing to be governed by laws which they had no voice in making; but this is the way in which women are governed in this Republic. If, then, we are taxed without being represented, and governed by laws we have no voice in framing, then, surely, we ought to be permitted at least to remonstrate against ‘every political measure that may tend to injure and oppress our sex in various parts of the nation, and under the various public measures that may hereafter be enforced.’ Why not? Art thou afraid to trust the women of this country with discretionary power as to petitioning? Is there not sound principle and common sense enough among them, to regulate the exercise of this right? I believe they will always use it wisely. I am not afraid to trust my sisters—not I.

Thou sayest, ‘In this country, petitions to Congress, in reference to official duties of legislators, seem, IN ALL CASES, to fall entirely without the sphere of female duty. Men are the proper persons to make appeals to the rulers whom they appoint,’ &c. Here I entirely dissent from thee. The fact that women are denied the right of voting for members of Congress, is but a poor reason why they should also be deprived of the right of petition. If[113] their numbers are counted to swell the number of Representatives in our State and National Legislatures, the very least that can be done is to give them the right of petition in all cases whatsoever; and without any abridgement. If not, they are mere slaves, known only through their masters.

In my next, I shall throw out my own views with regard to ‘the appropriate sphere of woman’—and for the present, subscribe myself,

Thy Friend,




East Boylston, Mass., 10th mo. 2d, 1837.

Dear Friend: In my last, I made a sort of running commentary upon thy views of the appropriate sphere of woman, with something like a promise, that in my next, I would give thee my own.

The investigation of the rights of the slave has led me to a better understanding of my own. I have found the Anti-Slavery cause to be the high school of morals in our land—the school in which human rights are more fully investigated, and better understood and taught, than in any other. Here a great fundamental principle is uplifted and illuminated, and from this central light, rays innumerable stream all around. Human beings have rights, because they are moral beings: the rights of all men grow out of their moral nature; and as all men have the same moral nature, they have essentially the same rights. These rights may be wrested from the slave, but they cannot be alienated: his title to himself is as perfect now, as is that of Lyman Beecher: it is stamped on his moral being, and is, like it, imperishable. Now[115] if rights are founded in the nature of our moral being, then the mere circumstance of sex does not give to man higher rights and responsibilities, than to woman. To suppose that it does, would be to deny the self-evident truth, that the ‘physical constitution is the mere instrument of the moral nature.’ To suppose that it does, would be to break up utterly the relations, of the two natures, and to reverse their functions, exalting the animal nature into a monarch, and humbling the moral into a slave; making the former a proprietor, and the latter its property. When human beings are regarded as moral beings, sex, instead of being enthroned upon the summit, administering upon rights and responsibilities, sinks into insignificance and nothingness. My doctrine then is, that whatever it is morally right for man to do, it is morally right for woman to do. Our duties originate, not from difference of sex, but from the diversity of our relations in life, the various gifts and talents committed to our care, and the different eras in which we live.

This regulation of duty by the mere circumstance of sex, rather than by the fundamental principle of moral being, has led to all that multifarious train of evils flowing out of the anti-christian doctrine of masculine and feminine virtues. By this doctrine, man has been converted into the warrior, and clothed with sternness, and those other kindred qualities, which in common estimation belong to his character as a man; whilst woman has been taught to lean upon an arm of flesh, to sit as a doll arrayed in ‘gold, and pearls, and costly array,’ to be admired for her[116] personal charms, and caressed and humored like a spoiled child, or converted into a mere drudge to suit the convenience of her lord and master. Thus have all the diversified relations of life been filled with ‘confusion and every evil work.’ This principle has given to man a charter for the exercise of tyranny and selfishness, pride and arrogance, lust and brutal violence. It has robbed woman of essential rights, the right to think and speak and act on all great moral questions, just as men think and speak and act; the right to share their responsibilities, perils and toils; the right to fulfil the great end of her being, as a moral, intellectual and immortal creature, and of glorifying God in her body and her spirit which are His. Hitherto, instead of being a help meet to man, in the highest, noblest sense of the term, as a companion, a co-worker, an equal; she has been a mere appendage of his being, an instrument of his convenience and pleasure, the pretty toy with which he wiled away his leisure moments, or the pet animal whom he humored into playfulness and submission. Woman, instead of being regarded as the equal of man, has uniformly been looked down upon as his inferior, a mere gift to fill up the measure of his happiness. In ‘the poetry of romantic gallantry,’ it is true, she has been called ‘the last best gift of God to man;’ but I believe I speak forth the words of truth and soberness when I affirm, that woman never was given to man. She was created, like him, in the image of God, and crowned with glory and honor; created only a little lower than the angels,—not, as is almost universally assumed, a little[117] lower than man; on her brow, as well as on his, was placed the ‘diadem of beauty,’ and in her hand the sceptre of universal dominion. Gen: i. 27, 28. ‘The last best gift of God to man!’ Where is the scripture warrant for this ‘rhetorical flourish, this splendid absurdity?’ Let us examine the account of her creation. ‘And the rib which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.’ Not as a gift—for Adam immediately recognized her as a part of himself—(‘this is now bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh’)—a companion and equal, not one hair’s breadth beneath him in the majesty and glory of her moral being; not placed under his authority as a subject, but by his side, on the same platform of human rights, under the government of God only. This idea of woman’s being ‘the last best gift of God to man,’ however pretty it may sound to the ears of those who love to discourse upon ‘the poetry of romantic gallantry, and the generous promptings of chivalry,’ has nevertheless been the means of sinking her from an end into a mere means—of turning her into an appendage to man, instead of recognizing her as a part of man—of destroying her individuality, and rights, and responsibilities, and merging her moral being in that of man. Instead of Jehovah being her king, her lawgiver, and her judge, she has been taken out of the exalted scale of existence in which He placed her, and subjected to the despotic control of man.

I have often been amused at the vain efforts made to define the rights and responsibilities of immortal beings as men and women. No one has yet found[118] out just where the line of separation between them should be drawn, and for this simple reason, that no one knows just how far below man woman is, whether she be a head shorter in her moral responsibilities, or head and shoulders, or the full length of his noble stature, below him, i.e. under his feet. Confusion, uncertainty, and great inconsistencies, must exist on this point, so long as woman is regarded in the least degree inferior to man; but place her where her Maker placed her, on the same high level of human rights with man, side by side with him, and difficulties vanish, the mountains of perplexity flow down at the presence of this grand equalizing principle. Measure her rights and duties by the unerring standard of moral being, not by the false weights and measures of a mere circumstance of her human existence, and then the truth will be self-evident, that whatever it is morally right for a man to do, it is morally right for a woman to do. I recognize no rights but human rights—I know nothing of men’s rights and women’s rights; for in Christ Jesus, there is neither male nor female. It is my solemn conviction, that, until this principle of equality is recognised and embodied in practice, the church can do nothing effectual for the permanent reformation of the world. Woman was the first transgressor, and the first victim of power. In all heathen nations, she has been the slave of man, and Christian nations have never acknowledged her rights. Nay more, no Christian denomination or Society has ever acknowledged them on the broad basis of humanity. I know that in some denominations, she is permitted to preach the gospel; not from a conviction[119] of her rights, nor upon the ground of her equality as a human being, but of her equality in spiritual gifts—for we find that woman, even in these Societies, is allowed no voice in framing the Discipline by which she is to be governed. Now, I believe it is woman’s right to have a voice in all the laws and regulations by which she is to be governed, whether in Church or State; and that the present arrangements of society, on these points, are a violation of human rights, a rank usurpation of power, a violent seizure and confiscation of what is sacredly and inalienably hers—thus inflicting upon woman outrageous wrongs, working mischief incalculable in the social circle, and in its influence on the world producing only evil, and that continually. If Ecclesiastical and Civil governments are ordained of God, then I contend that woman has just as much right to sit in solemn counsel in Conventions, Conferences, Associations and General Assemblies, as man—just as much right to sit upon the throne of England, or in the Presidential chair of the United States.

Dost thou ask me, if I would wish to see woman engaged in the contention and strife of sectarian controversy, or in the intrigues of political partizans? I say no! never—never. I rejoice that she does not stand on the same platform which man now occupies in these respects; but I mourn, also, that he should thus prostitute his higher nature, and vilely cast away his birthright. I prize the purity of his character as highly as I do that of hers. As a moral being, whatever it is morally wrong for her to do, it is morally wrong for him to do. The fallacious doctrine[120] of male and female virtues has well nigh ruined all that is morally great and lovely in his character: he has been quite as deep a sufferer by it as woman, though mostly in different respects and by other processes. As my time is engrossed by the pressing responsibilities of daily public duty, I have no leisure for that minute detail which would be required for the illustration and defence of these principles. Thou wilt find a wide field opened before thee, in the investigation of which, I doubt not, thou wilt be instructed. Enter this field, and explore it: thou wilt find in it a hid treasure, more precious than rubies—a fund, a mine of principles, as new as they are great and glorious.

Thou sayest, ‘an ignorant, a narrow-minded, or a stupid woman, cannot feel nor understand the rationality, the propriety, or the beauty of this relation’—i.e. subordination to man. Now, verily, it does appear to me, that nothing but a narrow-minded view of the subject of human rights and responsibilities can induce any one to believe in this subordination to a fallible being. Sure I am, that the signs of the times clearly indicate a vast and rapid change in public sentiment, on this subject. Sure I am that she is not to be, as she has been, ‘a mere second-hand agent’ in the regeneration of a fallen world, but the acknowledged equal and co-worker with man in this glorious work. Not that ‘she will carry her measures by tormenting when she cannot please, or by petulant complaints or obtrusive interference, in matters which are out of her sphere, and which she cannot comprehend.’ But just in proportion as her moral and intellectual[121] capacities become enlarged, she will rise higher and higher in the scale of creation, until she reaches that elevation prepared for her by her Maker, and upon whose summit she was originally stationed, only ‘a little lower than the angels.’ Then will it be seen that nothing which concerns the well-being of mankind is either beyond her sphere, or above her comprehension: Then will it be seen ‘that America will be distinguished above all other nations for well educated women, and for the influence they will exert on the general interests of society.’

But I must close with recommending to thy perusal, my sister’s Letters on the Province of Woman, published in the New England Spectator, and republished by Isaac Knapp of Boston. As she has taken up this subject so fully, I have only glanced at it. That thou and all my country-women may better understand the true dignity of woman, is the sincere desire of

Thy Friend,




Holliston, Mass., 10th month, 23d, 1837.

My Dear Friend: I resume my pen, to gather up a few fragments of thy Essay, that have not yet been noticed, and in love to bid thee farewell.

Thou appearest to think, that it is peculiarly the duty of women to educate the little children of this nation. But why, I would ask—why are they any more bound to engage in this sacred employment, than men? I believe, that as soon as the rights of women are understood, our brethren will see and feel that it is their duty to co-operate with us, in this high and holy vocation, of training up little children in the way they should go. And the very fact of their mingling in intercourse with such guileless and gentle spirits, will tend to soften down the asperities of their characters, and clothe them with the noblest and sublimest Christian virtues. I know that this work is deemed beneath the dignity of man; but how great the error! I once heard a man, who had labored extensively among children, say, ‘I never feel so near heaven, as[123] when I am teaching these little ones.’ He was right; and I trust the time is coming, when the occupation of an instructer to children will be deemed the most honorable of human employment. If it is drudgery to teach these little ones, then it is the duty of men to bear a part of that burthen; if it is a privilege and an honor, then we generously invite them to share that honor and privilege with us.

I know some noble instances of this union of principles and employment, and am fully settled in the belief, that abolition doctrines are pre-eminently calculated to qualify men and women to become faithful and efficient teachers. They alone teach fully the doctrine of human rights; and to know and appreciate these, is an indispensable prerequisite to the wisely successful performance of the duties of a teacher. The right understanding of these will qualify her to teach the fundamental, but unfashionable doctrine, that ‘God is no respecter of persons,’ and that he that despiseth the colored man, because he is ‘guilty of a skin not colored like our own,’ reproacheth his Maker for having given him that ebon hue. I consider it absolutely indispensable, that this truth should be sedulously instilled into the mind of every child in our republic. I know of no moral truth of greater importance at the present crisis. Those teachers, who are not prepared to teach this in all its fullness, are deficient in one of the most sterling elements of moral character, and are false to the holy trust committed to them, and utterly unfit to train up the children of this generation. So far from urging the deficiency of teachers in this country, as a reason why[124] women should keep out of the anti-slavery excitement, I would say to my sisters, if you wish to become pre-eminently qualified for the discharge of your arduous duties, come into the abolition ranks, enter this high school of morals, and drink from the deep fountains of philanthropy and Christian equality, whence the waters of healing are welling forth over wide desert wastes, and making glad the city of our God. Intellectual endowments are good, but a high standard of moral principle is better, is essential. As a nation, we have too long educated the mind, and left the heart a moral waste. We have fully and fearfully illustrated the truth of the Apostle’s declaration: ‘Knowledge puffeth up.’ We have indeed been puffed up, vaunting ourselves in our mental endowments and national greatness. But we are beginning to realize, that it is ‘Righteousness which exalteth a nation.’

Thou sayest, when a woman is asked to sign a petition, or join an Anti-Slavery Society, it is ‘for the purpose of contributing her measure of influence to keep up agitation in Congress, to promote the excitement of the North against the iniquities of the South, to coerce the South by fear, shame, anger, and a sense of odium, to do what she is determined not to do.’ Indeed! Are these the only motives presented to the daughters of America, for laboring in the glorious cause of Human Rights? Let us examine them. 1. ‘To keep up agitation in Congress.’ Yes—for I can adopt this language of Moore of Virginia, in the Legislature of that State, in 1832: ‘I should regret at all times the existence of any unnecessary excitement in the country on any subject; but I confess,[125] I see no reason to lament that which may have arisen on the present occasion. It is often necessary that there should be some excitement among the people, to induce them to turn their attention to questions deeply affecting the welfare of the Commonwealth; and there never can arise any subject more worthy their attention, than that of the abolition of slavery.’ 2. ‘To promote the excitement of the North against the iniquities of the South.’ Yes, and against her own sinful copartnership in those iniquities. I believe the discussion of Human Rights at the North has already been of incalculable advantage to this country. It is producing the happiest influence upon the minds and hearts of those who are engaged in it; just such results as Thomas Clarkson tells us, were produced in England by the agitation of the subject there. Says he, ‘Of the immense advantages of this contest, I know not how to speak. Indeed, the very agitation of the question, which it involved, has been highly important. Never was the heart of man so expanded; never were its generous sympathies so generally and so perseveringly excited. These sympathies, thus called into existence, have been useful preservatives of national virtue.’ I, therefore, wish very much to promote the Anti-Slavery excitement at the North, because I believe it will prove a useful preservative of national virtue. 3. ‘To coerce the South by fear, shame, anger, and a sense of odium.’ It is true, that I feel the imminent danger of the South so much, that I would fain ‘save them with fear, pulling them out of the fire;’ for, if they ever are saved, they will indeed be ‘as a brand plucked[126] out of the burning.’ Nor do I see any thing wrong in influencing slaveholders by a feeling of shame and odium, as well as by a sense of guilt. Why may not abolitionists speak some things to their shame, as the Apostle did to the Corinthians? As to anger, it is no design of ours to excite so wicked a passion. We cannot help it, if, in rejecting the truth, they become angry. Could Stephen help the anger of the Jews, when ‘they gnashed upon him with their teeth’?

But I had thought the principal motives urged by abolitionists were not these; but that they endeavored to excite men and women to active exertion,—first, to cleanse their own hands of the sin of slavery, and secondly, to save the South, if possible, and the North, at any rate, from the impending judgments of heaven. The result of their mission in this country, cannot in the least affect the validity of that mission. Like Noah, they may preach in vain; if so, the destruction of the South can no more be attributed to them, than the destruction of the antediluvian world to him. ‘In vain,’ did I say? Oh no! The discussion of the rights of the slave has opened the way for the discussion of other rights, and the ultimate result will most certainly be, ‘the breaking of every yoke,’ the letting the oppressed of every grade and description go free,—an emancipation far more glorious than any the world has ever yet seen,—an introduction into that ‘liberty wherewith Christ hath made his people free.’

I will now say a few words on thy remarks about Esther. Thou sayest, ‘When a woman is placed in[127] similar circumstances, where death to herself and all her nation is one alternative, and there is nothing worse to fear, but something to hope as the other alternative, then she may safely follow such an example.’ In this sentence, thou hast conceded every thing I could wish, and proved beyond dispute just what I adduced this text to prove in my Appeal. I will explain myself. Look at the condition of our country—Church and State deeply involved in the enormous crime of slavery: ah! more—claiming the sacred volume, as our charter for the collar and chain. What then can we expect, but that the vials of divine wrath will be poured out upon a nation of oppressors and hypocrites? for we are loud in our professions of civil and ecclesiastical liberty. Now, as a Southerner, I know that reflecting slaveholders expect their peculiar institution to be overthrown in blood. Read the opinion of Moore of Virginia, as expressed by him in the House of Delegates in 1832:—‘What must be the ultimate consequence of retaining the slaves amongst us? The answer to this enquiry is both obvious and appalling. It is, that the time will come, and at no distant day, when we shall be involved in all the horrors of a servile war, which will not end until both sides have suffered much, until the land shall everywhere be red with blood, and until the slaves or the whites are totally exterminated. If there be any truth in history, and if the time has not arrived when causes have ceased to produce their legitimate results, the dreadful catastrophe in which I have predicted that our slave system must result, if persisted in, is as inevitable as any event which has already transpired.’


Here, then, is one alternative, and just as tremendous an alternative as that which was presented to the Queen of Persia. ‘There is nothing worse to fear’ for the South, let the results of abolition efforts be what they may, whilst ‘there is something to hope as the other alternative;’ because if she will receive the truth in the love of it, she may repent and be saved. So that, after all, according to thy own reasoning, the women of America ‘may safely follow such an example.’

After endeavoring to show that woman has no moral right to exercise the right of petition for the dumb and stricken slave; no business to join, in any way, in the excitement which anti-slavery principles are producing in our country; no business to join abolition societies, &c. &c.; thou professest to tell our sisters what they are to do, in order to bring the system of slavery to an end. And now, my dear friend, what does all that thou hast said in many pages, amount to? Why, that women are to exert their influence in private life, to allay the excitement which exists on this subject, and to quench the flame of sympathy in the hearts of their fathers, husbands, brothers and sons. Fatal delusion! Will Christian women heed such advice?

Hast thou ever asked thyself, what the slave would think of thy book, if he could read it? Dost thou know that, from the beginning to the end, not a word of compassion for him has fallen from thy pen? Recall, I pray, the memory of the hours which thou spent in writing it! Was the paper once moistened by the tear of pity? Did thy heart once swell with[129] deep sympathy for thy sister in bonds? Did it once ascend to God in broken accents for the deliverance of the captive? Didst thou ever ask thyself, what the free man of color would think of it? Is it such an exhibition of slavery and prejudice, as will call down his blessing upon thy head? Hast thou thought of these things? or carest thou not for the blessings and the prayers of these our suffering brethren? Consider, I entreat, the reception given to thy book by the apologists of slavery. What meaneth that loud acclaim with which they hail it? Oh, listen and weep, and let thy repentings be kindled together, and speedily bring forth, I beseech thee, fruits meet for repentance, and henceforth show thyself faithful to Christ and his bleeding representative the slave.

I greatly fear that thy book might have been written just as well, hadst thou not had the heart of a woman. It bespeaks a superior intellect, but paralyzed and spell-bound by the sorcery of a worldly-minded expediency. Where, oh where, in its pages, are the outpourings of a soul overwhelmed with a sense of the heinous crimes of our nation, and the necessity of immediate repentance? Farewell! Perhaps on a dying bed thou mayest vainly wish that ‘Miss Beecher on the Slave Question’ might perish with the mouldering hand which penned its cold and heartless pages. But I forbear, and in deep sadness of heart, but in tender love though I thus speak, I bid thee again, Farewell. Forgive me, if I have wronged thee, and pray for her who still feels like

Thy sister in the bonds of a common sisterhood,



P. S. Since preparing the foregoing letters for the press, I have been informed by a Bookseller in Providence, that some of thy books had been sent to him to sell last summer, and that one afternoon a number of southerners entered his store whilst they were lying on the counter. An elderly lady took up one of them and after turning over the pages for some time, she threw it down and remarked, here is a book written by the daughter of a northern dough face, to apologize for our southern institutions—but for my part, I have a thousand times more respect for the Abolitionists, who openly denounce the system of slavery, than for those people, who in order to please us, cloak their real sentiments under such a garb as this. This southern lady, I have no doubt, expressed the sentiments of thousands of the most respectable slaveholders in our country—and thus, they will tell the North in bitter reproach for their sinful subserviency, after the lapse of a few brief years, when interest no longer padlocks their lips. At present the South feels that she must at least appear to thank her northern apologists.

A. E. G.