The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Rising Son, or, the Antecedents and Advancement of the Colored Race, by Wm. Wells Brown
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Title: The Rising Son, or, the Antecedents and Advancement of the Colored Race
Author: Wm. Wells Brown
Release Date: March 31, 2021 [eBook #64971]
Language: English
Character set encoding: UTF-8
Produced by: hekula03, Martin Pettit and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This file was produced from images generously made available by The Internet Archive)

Transcriber's Note:

Obvious typographic errors have been corrected.


Wm. Wells Brown

title page








Thirteenth Thousand.


Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1873,
In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.

[Pg i]


After availing himself of all the reliable information obtainable, the author is compelled to acknowledge the scantiness of materials for a history of the African race. He has throughout endeavored to give a faithful account of the people and their customs, without concealing their faults.

Several of the biographical sketches are necessarily brief, owing to the difficulty in getting correct information in regard to the subjects treated upon. Some have been omitted on account of the same cause.


Cambridgeport, Mass.

[Pg ii]

Publishers’ Note to the 13th Edition.

Few works written upon the colored race have equaled in circulation “The Rising Son.”

In the past two years the sales have more than doubled in the Southern States, and the demand for the book is greatly on the increase. Twelve thousand copies have already been sold; and if this can be taken as an index to the future, we may look forward with hope that the colored citizens are beginning to appreciate their own authors.

[Pg iii]



Come forth, historian of our race,
And with the pen of Truth
Bring to our claim to Manhood’s rights,
The strength of written proof;
Draw back the curtain of the past,
And lift the ages’ pall,
That we may view the portraits grand
That hang on History’s wall!
Tell of a race whose onward tide
Was often swelled with tears;
In whose hearts bondage has not quenched
The fire of former years
When Hannibal’s resistless hosts
Wrought his imperial will,
And brave Toussaint to freedom called,
From Hayti’s vine-clad hill.
Write when, in these, our later days,
Earth’s noble ones are named,
We have a roll of honor, too,
Of which we’re not ashamed;
If, for the errors of the past,
In chains did we atone,
God, from our race’s sepulchre,
Hath rolled away the stone.
And our dear land, that long hath slept
Beneath oppression’s spell,
Welcomes the manly fortitude
That stood the test so well;
Bearing the record, blazoned o’er
With deeds of valor done,
Up to the Future’s golden door
He comes, the “Rising Son.”
[Pg iv]The battle’s din hath passed away,
And o’er the furrowed plain
Spring, fresh and green, the tender blades
Of Freedom’s golden grain;
But eagle eyes must watch the field,
Lest the fell foe should dare
To scatter, while the sowers sleep,
Proscription’s noxious snare.
Lo! shadowy ’mid the forest-trees
Their demon forms are seen,
And lurid light of baleful eyes
Flash through the foliage green;
And till completed is the work
So gloriously begun,
A sentry true on Freedom’s walls
Stand thou, O “Rising Son!”
Go forth! the harbinger of days
More glorious than the past;
Hushed is the clash of hostile steel,
The bugle’s battle-blast;
Go, herald of the promised time,
When men of every land
Shall hasten joyfully to grasp
The Ethiope’s outstretched hand!

[Pg v]


Memoir of the Author 9
The Ethiopians and Egyptians 36
The Carthaginians 49
Eastern Africa 65
Causes of Color 78
Causes of the Difference in Features 84
Civil and Religious Ceremonies 90
The Abyssinians 97
Western and Central Africa 101
[Pg vi] 
The Slave-Trade 118
The Republic of Liberia 129
Progress in Civilization 135
Hayti 140
Success of Toussaint 150
Capture of Toussaint 159
Toussaint a Prisoner in France 168
Dessalines as Emperor of Hayti 173
War between the Blacks and Mulattoes of Hayti 185
Christophe as King, and Pétion as President of Hayti 201
Peace in Hayti, and Death of Pétion 209
Boyer the Successor of Pétion in Hayti 218
[Pg vii] 
Insurrection, and Death of Christophe 222
Union of Hayti and Santo Domingo 229
Soulouque as Emperor of Hayti 234
Geffrard as President of Hayti 236
Salnave as President of Hayti 241
Jamaica 243
South America 255
Cuba and Porto Rico 258
Santo Domingo 262
Introduction of Blacks into American Colonies 265
Slaves in the Northern Colonies 270
Colored Insurrections in the Colonies 276
[Pg viii] 
Black Men in the Revolutionary War 282
Blacks in the War of 1812 286
The Curse of Slavery 291
Discontent and Insurrection 296
Growing Opposition to Slavery 319
Mob Law Triumphant 322
Heroism at Sea 325
The Iron Age 329
Religious Struggles 336
John Brown’s Raid on Harper’s Ferry 340
Loyalty and Bravery of the Blacks 342
The Proclamation of Freedom 347
[Pg ix] 
Blacks enlisted, and in Battle 352
Negro Hatred at the North 382
Caste and Progress 387
The Abolitionists 393
The New Era 413
Race Representatives.
Attucks, C. 418 |   Downing, G. T. 474
Aldridge, Ira. 489 |   Dunn, O. J. 491
Banneker, B. 425 |   Douglass, L. H. 543
Brown, I. M. 449 |   Day, W. H. 499
Bell, P. A. 470 |   Elliott, R. B. 403
Butler, W. F. 525 |   Forten, C. L. 475
Banister, E. M. 483 |   Freeman, J. J. 551
Bassett, E. D. 497 |   Gaines, J. I. 450
Bell, J. M. 504 |   Grimes, L. A. 534
Campbell, J. P. 446 |   Garnett, H. H. 457
Clark, P. H. 520 |   Greener, R. T. 542
Chester, T. M. 526 |   Harper, F. E. 524
Clinton, J. J. 528 |   Hayden, L. 547
Carey, M. S. 539 |   Jackson, F. M. 508
Cardozo, T. W. 495 |   Jones, S. T. 531
Cain, R. H. 544 |   Jordan, E., Sir 481
Douglass, F. 435 |   Lewis, E. 465
Delany, M. R. 460 |   Langston, J. M. 447
[Pg x]De Mortie, L. 496 |   Ransier, A. H. 510
Martin, J. S. 535 |   Ruffin, G. L. 540
Nell, W. C. 485 |   Still, W. 520
Purvis, C. B. 549 |   Simpson, W. H. 478
Purvis, R. 468 |   Smith, M’Cune 453
Pinchback, P. B. S. 517 |   Smith, S. 445
Pennington, J. W. C. 461 |   Smith, E. W. 552
Payne, D. A. 454 |   Tanner, B. T. 530
Perry, R. L. 533 |   Vashon, G. B. 476
Quinn, W. P. 432 |   Wheatley, P. 423
Reason, C. L. 442 |   Wayman, —— 440
Ray, C. B. 472 |   Wilson, W. J. 444
Remond, C. L. 459 |   Whipper, W. 493
Ruggles, D. 434 |   Wears, I. C. 512
Reveles, H. R. 500 |   Zuille, J. J. 473
Rainey, J. H. 507 |  

[Pg 9]



Thirty years ago, a young colored man came to my father’s house at Aurora, Erie County, New York, to deliver a lecture on the subject of American Slavery, and the following morning I sat upon his knee while he told me the story of his life and escape from the South. Although a boy of eight years, I still remember the main features of the narrative, and the impression it made upon my mind, and the talk the lecture of the previous night created in our little quiet town. That man was William Wells Brown, now so widely-known, both at home and abroad. It is therefore with no little hesitancy that I consent to pen this sketch of one whose name has for many years been a household word in our land.

[Pg 10]

William Wells Brown was born in Lexington, Ky., in the year 1816. His mother was a slave, his father a slaveholder. The boy was taken to the State of Missouri in infancy, and spent his boyhood in St. Louis. At the age of ten years he was hired out to a captain of a steamboat running between St. Louis and New Orleans, where he remained a year or two, and was then employed as office boy by Elijah P. Lovejoy, who was at that time editor of the St. Louis Times. Here William first began the groundwork of his education. After one year spent in the printing office, the object of our sketch was again let out to a captain of one of the steamboats plying on the river. In the year 1834 William made his escape from the boat, and came North.

He at once obtained a situation on a steamer on Lake Erie, where, in the position of steward, he was of great service to fugitive slaves making their way to Canada. In a single year he gave a free passage across the lake to sixty-five fugitives. Making his home in Buffalo, Mr. Brown organized a vigilance committee whose duties were to protect and aid slaves, while passing through that city on their way to the “Land of the free,” or to the eastern States. As chairman of that committee, Mr. Brown was of great assistance to the fleeing bondmen. The Association kept a fund on hand to employ counsel in case of capture of a fugitive, besides furnishing all with[Pg 11] clothing, shoes, and whatever was needed by those who were in want. Escaping from the South without education, the subject of our sketch spent the winter nights in an evening school and availed himself of private instructions to gain what had been denied him in his younger days.

In the autumn of 1843, he accepted an agency to lecture for the Anti-slavery Society, and continued his labors in connection with that movement until 1849; when he accepted an invitation to visit England. As soon as it was understood that the fugitive slave was going abroad, the American Peace Society elected him as a delegate to represent them at the Peace Congress at Paris.

Without any solicitation, the Executive Committee of the American Anti-slavery Society strongly recommended Mr. Brown to the friends of freedom in Great Britain. The President of the above Society gave him private letters to some of the leading men and women in Europe. In addition to these, the colored citizens of Boston held a meeting the evening previous to his departure, and gave Mr. Brown a public farewell, and passed resolutions commending him to the confidence and hospitality of all lovers of liberty in the mother-land.

Such was the auspices under which this self-educated man sailed for England on the 18th of July, 1849.

Mr. Brown arrived in Liverpool, and proceeded at[Pg 12] once to Dublin, where warm friends of the cause of freedom greeted him. The land of Burke, Sheridan, and O’Connell would not permit the American to leave without giving him a public welcome. A large and enthusiastic meeting held in the Rotunda, and presided over by James Haughton, Esq., gave Mr. Brown the first reception which he had in the Old World.

After a sojourn of twenty days in the Emerald Isle, the fugitive started for the Peace Congress which was to assemble at Paris. The Peace Congress, and especially the French who were in attendance at the great meeting, most of whom had never seen a colored person, were somewhat taken by surprise on the last day, when Mr. Brown made a speech. “His reception,” said La Presse, “was most flattering. He admirably sustained his reputation as a public speaker. His address produced a profound sensation. At its conclusion, the speaker was warmly greeted by Victor Hugo, President of the Congress, Richard Cobden, Esq., and other distinguished men on the platform. At the soirée given by M. de Tocqueville, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the American slave was received with marked attention.”

Having spent a fortnight in Paris and vicinity, viewing the sights, he returned to London. George Thompson, Esq., was among the first to meet the fugitive on his arrival at the English metropolis. A few days after, a very large meeting, held in the [Pg 13]spacious Music Hall, Bedford Square, and presided over by Sir Francis Knowles, Bart., welcomed Mr. Brown to England. Many of Britain’s distinguished public speakers spoke on the occasion. George Thompson made one of his most brilliant efforts. This flattering reception gained for the fugitive pressing invitations from nearly all parts of the United Kingdom.

He narrates in his “Three Years in Europe,” many humorous incidents that occurred in his travels, and of which is the following:

“On a cold winter’s evening, I found myself seated before the fire, and alone, in the principal hotel in the ancient and beautiful town of Ludlow, and within a few minutes’ walk of the famous old castle from which the place derives its name. A long ride by coach had so completely chilled me, that I remained by the fire to a later hour than I otherwise would have.

“‘Did you ring, sir?’ asked the waiter, as the clock struck twelve.

“‘No,’ I replied; ‘but you may give me a light, and I will retire.’

“I was shown to my chamber, and was soon in bed. From the weight of the covering, I felt sure that the extra blanket which I had requested to be put on was there; yet I was shivering with cold. As the sheets began to get warm, I discovered, to my astonishment, that they were damp—indeed, wet. My first thought[Pg 14] was to ring the bell for the servant, and have them changed; but, after a moment’s consideration, I resolved to adopt a different course. I got out of bed, pulled the sheets off, rolled them up, raised the window, and threw them into the street. After disposing of the wet sheets, I returned to bed, and got in between the blankets, and lay there trembling with cold till Morpheus came to my relief.

“The next morning I said nothing about the sheets, feeling sure that the discovery of their loss would be made by the chambermaid in due time. Breakfast over, I visited the ruins of the old castle, and then returned to the hotel, to await the coach for Hereford. As the hour drew near for me to leave, I called the waiter, and ordered my bill. ‘Yes, sir, in a moment,’ he replied, and left in haste. Ten or fifteen minutes passed away, and the servant once more came in, walked to the window, pulled up the blinds, and then went out.

“I saw that something was afloat; and it occurred to me that they had discovered the loss of the sheets, at which I was pleased; for the London newspapers were, at that time, discussing the merits and the demerits of the hotel accommodations of the kingdom, and no letters found a more ready reception in their columns than one on that subject. I had, therefore, made up my mind to have the wet sheets put in the bill, pay for them, and send the bill to the Times.

“The waiter soon returned again, and, in rather an[Pg 15] agitated manner, said, ‘I beg your pardon, sir, but the landlady is in the hall, and would like to speak to you.’ Out I went, and found the finest specimen of an English landlady that I had seen for many a day. There she stood, nearly as thick as she was tall, with a red face garnished around with curls, that seemed to say, ‘I have just been oiled and brushed.’ A neat apron covered a black alpaca dress that swept the floor with modesty, and a bunch of keys hung at her side. O, that smile! such a smile as none but an adept could put on. However, I had studied human nature too successfully not to know that thunder and lightning were concealed under that smile, and I nerved myself for the occasion.

“‘I am sorry to have to name it, sir,’ said she; ‘but the sheets are missing off your bed.’

“‘O, yes,’ I replied; ‘I took them off last night.’

“‘Indeed!’ exclaimed she; ‘and what did you do with them?’

“‘I threw them out of the window,’ said I.

“‘What! into the street?’

“‘Yes; into the street,’ I said.

“‘What did you do that for?’

“‘They were wet; and I was afraid that if I left them in the room they would be put on at night, and give somebody else a cold.’

“‘Then, sir,’ said she, ‘you’ll have to pay for them.’

[Pg 16]

“‘Make out your bill, madam,’ I replied, ‘and put the price of the wet sheets in it, and I will send it to the Times, and let the public know how much you charge for wet sheets.’

“I turned upon my heel, and went back to the sitting-room. A moment more, and my bill was brought in; but nothing said about the sheets, and no charge made for them. The coach came to the door; and as I passed through the hall leaving the house, the landlady met me, but with a different smile.

“‘I hope, sir,’ said she, ‘that you will never mention the little incident about the sheets. I am very sorry for it. It would ruin my house if it were known.’ Thinking that she was punished enough in the loss of her property, I promised not to mention the name of the house, if I ever did the incident.

“The following week I returned to the hotel, when I learned the fact from the waiter that they had suspected that I had stolen the sheets, and that a police officer was concealed behind the hall door, on the day that I was talking with the landlady. When I retired to bed that night, I found two jugs of hot water in the bed, and the sheets thoroughly dried and aired.

“I visited the same hotel several times afterwards, and was invariably treated with the greatest deference, which no doubt was the result of my night with the wet sheets.”

In 1852, Mr. Brown gave to the public his “Three[Pg 17] Years in Europe,” a work which at once placed him high as an author, as will be seen by the following extracts from some of the English journals. The Eclectic Review, edited by the venerable Dr. Price, one of the best critics in the realm, said,—“Mr. Brown has produced a literary work not unworthy of a highly-cultivated gentleman.”

Rev. Dr. Campbell, in the British Banner, remarked: “We have read Mr. Brown’s book with an unusual measure of interest. Seldom, indeed, have we met with anything more captivating. A work more worthy of perusal has not, for a considerable time, come into our hands.”

“Mr. Brown writes with ease and ability,” said the Times, “and his intelligent observations upon the great question to which he has devoted and is devoting his life will command influence and respect.”

The Literary Gazette, an excellent authority, says of it, “The appearance of this book is too remarkable a literary event, to pass without a notice. At the moment when attention in this country is directed to the state of the colored people in America, the book appears with additional advantage; if nothing else were attained by its publication, it is well to have another proof of the capability of the negro intellect. Altogether, Mr. Brown has written a pleasing and amusing volume, and we are glad to bear this testimony to the literary merit of a work by a negro author.”

[Pg 18]

The Glasgow Citizen, in its review, remarked,—“W. Wells Brown is no ordinary man, or he could not have so remarkably surmounted the many difficulties and impediments of his training as a slave. By dint of resolution, self-culture, and force of character, he has rendered himself a popular lecturer to a British audience, and a vigorous expositor of the evils and atrocities of that system whose chains he has shaken off so triumphantly and forever. We may safely pronounce William Wells Brown a remarkable man, and a full refutation of the doctrine of the inferiority of the negro.”

The Glasgow Examiner said,—“This is a thrilling book, independent of adventitious circumstances, which will enhance its popularity. The author of it is not a man, in America, but a chattel,—a thing to be bought, and sold, and whipped; but in Europe, he is an author, and a successful one, too. He gives in this book an interesting and graphic description of a three years’ residence in Europe. The book will no doubt obtain, as it well deserves, a rapid and wide popularity.”

In the spring of 1853, the fugitive brought out his work, “Clotelle; or, the President’s Daughter,” a book of nearly three hundred pages, being a narrative of slave life in the Southern States. This work called forth new criticisms on the “Negro Author” and his literary efforts. The London Daily News pronounced it a book that would make a deep impression; while[Pg 19] The Leader, edited by the son of Leigh Hunt, thought many parts of it “equal to anything which had appeared on the slavery question.”

The above are only a few of the many encomiums bestowed upon our author. Besides writing his books, Mr. Brown was also a regular contributor to the columns of The London Daily News, The Liberator, Frederick Douglass’ Paper, and The National Anti-slavery Standard. When we add, that in addition to his literary labors, Mr. Brown was busily engaged in the study of the medical profession, it will be admitted that he is one of the most industrious of men. After remaining abroad nearly six years, and travelling extensively through Great Britain and on the continent, he returned to the United States in 1854, landing at Philadelphia, where he was welcomed in a large public meeting presided over by Robert Purvis, Esq.

On reaching Boston, a welcome meeting was held in Tremont Temple, with Francis Jackson, Esq., in the chair, and at which Wendell Phillips said,—“I rejoice that our friend Brown went abroad; I rejoice still more that he has returned. The years any thoughtful man spends abroad must enlarge his mind and store it richly. But such a visit is to a colored man more than merely intellectual education. He lives for the first time free from the blighting chill of prejudice. He sees no society, no institution, no place of resort or means of comfort from which his color debars him.

[Pg 20]

“We have to thank our friend for the fidelity with which he has, amid many temptations, stood by those whose good name religious prejudice is trying to undermine in Great Britain. That land is not all Paradise to the colored man. Too many of them allow themselves to be made tools of the most subtle of their race. We recognize, to-night, the clear-sightedness and fidelity of Mr. Brown’s course abroad, not only to thank him, but to assure our friends there that this is what the Abolitionists of Boston endorse.”

Mr. Phillips proceeded:—“I still more rejoice that Mr. Brown has returned. Returned to what? Not to what he can call his ‘country.’ The white man comes ‘home.’ When Milton heard, in Italy, the sound of arms from England, he hastened back—young, enthusiastic, and bathed in beautiful art as he was in Florence. ‘I would not be away,’ he said, ‘when a blow was struck for liberty.’ He came to a country where his manhood was recognized, to fight on equal footing.

“The black man comes home to no liberty but the liberty of suffering—to struggle in fetters for the welfare of his race. It is a magnanimous sympathy with his blood that brings such a man back. I honor it. We meet to do it honor. Franklin’s motto was, Ubi Libertas, ibi patria—Where liberty is, there is my country. Had our friend adopted that for his rule, he would have stayed in Europe. Liberty for him[Pg 21] is there. The colored man who returns, like our friend, to labor, crushed and despised, for his race, sails under a higher flag. His motto is,—‘Where my country is, there will I bring liberty!’”

Although Dr. Brown could have entered upon the practice of his profession, for which he was so well qualified, he nevertheless, with his accustomed zeal, continued with renewed vigor in the cause of the freedom of his race.

In travelling through the country and facing the prejudice that met the colored man at every step, he saw more plainly the vast difference between this country and Europe.

In giving an account of his passage on the little steamer that plies between Ithica and Cayuga Bridge, he says,—

“When the bell rang for breakfast, I went to the table, where I found some twenty or thirty persons. I had scarcely taken my seat, when a rather snobby-appearing man, of dark complexion, looking as if a South Carolina or Georgia sun had tanned him, began rubbing his hands, and, turning up his nose, called the steward, and said to him, ‘Is it the custom on this boat to put niggers at the table with white people?’

“The servant stood for a moment, as if uncertain what reply to make, when the passenger continued, ‘Go tell the captain that I want him.’ Away[Pg 22] went the steward. I had been too often insulted on account of my connection with the slave, not to know for what the captain was wanted. However, as I was hungry, I commenced helping myself to what I saw before me, yet keeping an eye to the door, through which the captain was soon to make his appearance. As the steward returned, and I heard the heavy boots of the commander on the stairs, a happy thought struck me; and I eagerly watched for the coming-in of the officer.

“A moment more, and a strong voice called out, ‘Who wants me?’

“I answered at once, ‘I, sir.’

“‘What do you wish?’ asked the captain.

“‘I want you to take this man from the table,’ said I.

“At this unexpected turn of the affair, the whole cabin broke out into roars of laughter; while my rival on the opposite side of the table seemed bursting with rage. The captain, who had joined in the merriment, said,—

“‘Why do you want him taken from the table?’

“‘Is it your custom, captain,’ said I, ‘to let niggers sit at table with white folks on your boat?’

“This question, together with the fact that the other passenger had sent for the officer, and that I had ‘stolen his thunder,’ appeared to please the company very much, who gave themselves up to laughter; while[Pg 23] the Southern-looking man left the cabin with the exclamation, ‘Damn fools!’”

In the autumn of 1854, Dr. Brown published his “Sketches of Places and People Abroad,” that met with a rapid sale, and which the New York Tribune said, was “well-written and intensely interesting.”

His drama, entitled “The Dough Face,” written shortly after, and read by him before lyceums, gave general satisfaction wherever it was heard.

Indeed, in this particular line the doctor seems to excel, and the press was unanimous in its praise of his efforts. The Boston Journal characterized the drama and its reading as “interesting in its composition, and admirably rendered.”

“The Escape; or, Leap for Freedom,” followed the “Dough Face,” and this drama gave an amusing picture of slave life, and was equally as favorably received by the public.

In 1863, Dr. Brown brought out “The Black Man,” a work which ran through ten editions in three years, and which was spoken of by the press in terms of the highest commendation, and of which Frederick Douglass wrote in his own paper,—

“Though Mr. Brown’s book may stand alone upon its own merits, and stand strong, yet while reading its interesting pages,—abounding in fact and argument, replete with eloquence, logic, and learning, clothed with simple yet eloquent language,—it is hard to repress[Pg 24] the inquiry, Whence has this man this knowledge? He seems to have read and remembered nearly everything which has been written and said respecting the ability of the negro, and has condensed and arranged the whole into an admirable argument, calculated both to interest and convince.”

William Lloyd Garrison said, in The Liberator, “This work has done good service, and proves its author to be a man of superior mind and cultivated ability.”

Hon. Gerritt Smith, in a letter to Dr. Brown, remarked,—“I thank you for writing such a book. It will greatly benefit the colored race. Send me five copies of it.”

Lewis Tappen, in his Cooper Institute speech, on the 5th of January, 1863, said,—“This is just the book for the hour; it will do more for the colored man’s elevation than any work yet published.”

The space allowed me for this sketch will not admit the many interesting extracts that might be given from the American press in Dr. Brown’s favor as a writer and a polished reader. However, I cannot here omit the valuable testimony of Professor Hollis Read, in his ably-written work, “The Negro Problem Solved.” On page 183, in writing of the intelligent colored men of the country, he says: “As a writer, I should in justice give the first place to Dr. William Wells Brown, author of ‘The Black Man.’”

[Pg 25]

“Clotelle,” written by Dr. Brown, a romance founded on fact, is one of the most thrilling stories that we remember to have read, and shows the great versatility of the cast of mind of our author.

The temperance cause in Massachusetts, and indeed, throughout New England, finds in Dr. Brown an able advocate.

The Grand Division of the Sons of Temperance of Massachusetts did itself the honor of electing him Grand Worthy Associate of that body, and thereby giving him a seat in the National Division of the Sons of Temperance of North America, where, at its meeting in Boston, 1871, his speech in behalf of the admission of the colored delegates from Maryland, will not soon be forgotten by those who were present.

The doctor is also a prominent member of the Good Templars of Massachusetts. His efforts, in connection with his estimable wife, for the spread of temperance among the colored people of Boston, deserve the highest commendation.

Some five years ago, our author, in company with others, organized “The National Association for the Spread of Temperance and Night-schools among the Freed People at the South,” of which he is now president. This society is accomplishing great good among the freedmen.

It was while in the discharge of his duties of visiting the South, in 1871, and during his travels through the[Pg 26] State of Kentucky, he became a victim of the Ku-Klux, and of which the following is the narrative:—

“I visited my native State in behalf of The National Association for the Spread of Temperance and Night-schools among the Freedmen, and had spoken to large numbers of them at Louisville, and other places, and was on my way to speak at Pleasureville, a place half-way between Louisville and Lexington. I arrived at Pleasureville dépôt a little after six in the evening, and was met by a colored man, who informed me that the meeting was to take place five miles in the country.

“After waiting some time for a team which was expected, we started on foot, thinking we would meet the vehicle. We walked on until dark overtook us, and seeing no team, I began to feel apprehensive that all was not right. The man with me, however, assured me that there was no danger, and went on. But we shortly after heard the trotting of horses, both in front and in the rear, and before I could determine what to do, we were surrounded by some eight or ten men, three of whom dismounted, bound my arms behind me with a cord, remounted their horses, and started on in the direction I had been travelling. The man who was with me disappeared while I was being tied. The men were not disguised, and talked freely among themselves.

“After going a mile or more they stopped, and consulted a moment or two, the purport of which I could[Pg 27] not hear, except one of them saying,—‘Lawrence don’t want a nigger hung so near his place.’ They started again; I was on foot, a rope had been attached to my arms, and the other end to one of the horses. I had to hasten my steps to keep from being dragged along by the animal. Soon they turned to the right, and followed up what appeared to be a cow-path.

“While on this road my hat fell off, and I called out to the man behind and said, ‘I’ve lost my hat.’

“‘You’ll need no hat in half an hour’s time,’ he replied. As we were passing a log house on this road, a man came out and said, in a trembling voice, ‘Jim’s dying!’ All the men now dismounted, and, with the exception of two, they went into the building. I distinctly heard the cries, groans, and ravings of the sick man, which satisfied me at once that it was an extreme case of delirium tremens; and as I treated the malady successfully by the hypodermic remedy, and having with me the little instrument, the thought flashed upon my mind that I might save my life by the trial. Consequently, I said to one of the men,—‘I know what’s the matter with that man, and I can relieve him in ten minutes.’

“One of the men went into the house, related what I had said, and the company came out. The leader, whom they all addressed as ‘Cap,’ began to question me with regard to my skill in such complaints. He soon became satisfied, untied me, and we entered the[Pg 28] sick man’s chamber. My hands were so numb from the tightness of the cord which bound my arms, that I walked up and down the room for some minutes, rubbing my hands, and contemplating the situation. The man lay upon a bed of straw, his arms and legs bound to the bedstead to keep him from injuring himself and others. He had, in his agony, bitten his tongue and lips, and his mouth was covered with bloody froth, while the glare of his eyes was fearful. His wife, the only woman in the house, sat near the bed with an infant upon her lap, her countenance pale and anxious, while the company of men seemed to be the most desperate set I had ever seen.

“I determined from the first to try to impress them with the idea that I had derived my power to relieve pain from some supernatural source. While I was thus thinking the matter over, ‘Cap’ was limping up and down the room, breathing an oath at nearly every step, and finally said to me,—‘Come, come, old boy, take hold lively; I want to get home, for this d—d old hip of mine is raising h—l with me.’ I said to them,—‘Now, gentlemen, I’ll give this man complete relief in less than ten minutes from the time I lay my hands on him; but I must be permitted to retire to a room alone, for I confess that I have dealings with the devil, and I must consult with him.’ Nothing so charms an ignorant people as something that has about it the appearance of superstition, and I did not[Pg 29] want these men to see the syringe, or to know of its existence. The woman at once lighted a tallow candle, handed it to ‘Cap,’ and pointed to a small room. The man led the way, set the light down, and left me alone. I now took out my case, adjusted the needle to the syringe, filled it with a solution of the acetate of morphia, put the little instrument into my vest pocket, and returned to the room.

“After waving my hands in the air, I said,—‘Gentlemen, I want your aid; give it to me, and I’ll perform a cure that you’ll never forget. All of you look upon that man till I say, “Hold!” Look him right in the eye.’ All eyes were immediately turned upon the invalid. Having already taken my stand at the foot of the bed, I took hold of the right leg near the calf, pinched up the skin, inserted the needle, withdrew it after discharging the contents, slipped the syringe into my pocket, and cried at the top of my voice, ‘Hold!’ The men now turned to me, alternately viewing me and the sick man. From the moment that the injection took place, the ravings began to cease, and in less than ten minutes he was in perfect ease. I continued to wave my hands, and to tell the devils ‘to depart and leave this man in peace.’ ‘Cap’ was the first to break the silence, and he did it in an emphatic manner, for he gazed steadily at me, then at the sick man, and exclaimed,—‘Big thing! big thing, boys, d—d if it ain’t!’

[Pg 30]

“Another said,—‘A conjurer, by h—ll! you heard him say he deals with the devil.’ I now thought it time to try ‘Cap,’ for, from his limping, groaning, and swearing about his hip, it seemed to me a clear case of sciatica, and I thus informed him, giving him a description of its manner of attack and progress, detailing to him the different stages of suffering.

“I had early learned from the deference paid to the man by his associates, that he was their leader, and I was anxious to get my hands on him, for I had resolved that if ever I got him under the influence of the drug, he should never have an opportunity of putting a rope around my neck. ‘Cap’ was so pleased with my diagnosis of his complaint, that he said,—‘Well, I’ll give you a trial, d—d if I don’t!’ I informed him that I must be with him alone. The woman remarked that we could go in the adjoining room. As we left the company, one of them said: ‘You aint agoin’ to kill “Cap,” is you?’ ‘Oh, no!’ I replied. I said, ‘Now, “Cap,” I’ll cure you, but I need your aid.’ ‘Sir,’ returned he, ‘I’ll do anything you tell me.’ I told him to lay on the bed, shut his eyes, and count one hundred. He obeyed at once, and while he was counting, I was filling the syringe with the morphia.

“When he had finished counting, I informed him that I would have to pinch him on the lame leg, so as to get the devil out of it. ‘Oh!’ replied he, ‘you may pinch as much as you d—d please, for I’ve seen[Pg 31] and felt h—ll with this old hip!’ I injected the morphia as I had done in the previous case, and began to sing a noted Methodist hymn as soon as I had finished. As the medicine took effect, the man went rapidly off into a slumber, from which he did not awake while I was there, for I had given him a double dose.

“I will here remark, that while the morphia will give most instant relief in sciatica, it seldom performs a perfect cure. But in both cases I knew it would serve my purpose. As soon as ‘Cap’ was safe, I called in his companions, who appeared still more amazed than at first. They held their faces to his to see that he breathed, and would shake their heads and go out. I told them that I should have to remain with the man five or six hours. At this announcement one of the company got furious, and said, ‘It’s all a trick to save his neck from the halter,’ and concluded by saying at the top of his voice, ‘Come to the tree, to the tree!’ The men all left the room, assembled in the yard, and had a consultation. It was now after eleven o’clock, and as they had a large flask of brandy with them they appeared to keep themselves well-filled, from the manner in which the room kept scented up. At this juncture one of the company, a tall, red-haired man, whose face was completely covered with beard, entered the room, took his seat at the table, drew out of his pocket a revolver, laid it on the table,[Pg 32] and began to fill his mouth with tobacco. The men outside mounted their horses and rode away, one of whom distinctly shouted, ‘Remember, four o’clock.’ I continued to visit one and then the other of the invalids, feeling their pulse, and otherwise showing my interest in their recovery.

“The brandy appeared to have as salutary effect on the man at the table as the morphia had on the sick, for he was fast asleep in a few minutes. The only impediment in the way of my escape now was a large dog, which it was difficult to keep from me when I first came to the house, and was now barking, snapping, and growling, as if he had been trained to it.

“Many modes of escape suggested themselves to me while the time was thus passing, the most favored of which was to seize the revolver, rush out of the house, and run my chance with the dog. However, before I could put any of these suggestions into practice, the woman went out, called ‘Lion, Lion,’ and returned, followed by the dog, which she made lie down by her as she reseated herself. In a low whisper, this woman, whose fate deserves to be a better one, said,—‘They are going to hang you at four o’clock; now is your time to go.’ The clock was just striking two when I arose, and with a grateful look, left the house. Taking the road that I had come, and following it down, I found my hat, and after walking some distance out of the way by mistake, I reached[Pg 33] the station, and took the morning train for Cincinnati.”

I cannot conclude this sketch of our author’s life without alluding to an incident which occurred at Aurora, my native town, on a visit to that place in the winter of 1844.

Dr. Brown was advertised to speak in the old church, which he found filled to overflowing, with an audience made up mostly of men who had previously determined that the meeting should not be held.

The time for opening the meeting had already arrived, and the speaker was introduced by my father, who acted as chairman.

The coughing, whistling, stamping of feet, and other noises made by the assemblage, showed the prejudice existing against the anti-slavery cause, the doctrines of which the speaker was there to advocate. This tumult lasted for half an hour or more, during which time unsalable eggs, peas, and other missiles were liberally thrown at the speaker.

One of the eggs took effect on the doctor’s face, spattering over his nicely-ironed shirt bosom, and giving him a somewhat ungainly appearance, which kept the audience in roars of laughter at the expense of our fugitive friend.

Becoming tired of this sort of fun, and getting his Southern blood fairly aroused, Dr. Brown, who, driven from the pulpit, was standing in front of the altar,[Pg 34] nerved himself up, assumed a highly dramatic air, and said: “I shall not attempt to address you; no, I would not speak to you if you wanted me to. However, let me tell you one thing, and that is, if you had been in the South a slave as I was, none of you would ever have had the courage to escape; none but cowards would do as you have done here to-night.”

Dr. Brown gradually proceeded into a narrative of his own life and escape from the South. The intense interest connected with the various incidents as he related them, chained the audience to their seats, and for an hour and a half he spoke, making one of the most eloquent appeals ever heard in that section in behalf of his race.

I have often heard my father speak of it as an effort worthy of our greatest statesmen. Before the commencement of the meeting, the mob had obtained a bag of flour, taking it up into the belfry of the church, directly over the entrance door, with the intention of throwing it over the speaker as he should pass out.

One of the mob had been sent in with orders to keep as close to the doctor as he could, and who was to give the signal for the throwing of the flour. So great was the influence of the speaker on this man, that his opinions were changed, and instead of giving the word, he warned the doctor of the impending danger, saying,—“When you hear the cry of ‘let it slide,’[Pg 35] look out for the flour.” The fugitive had no sooner learned these facts than he determined to have a little fun at the expense of others.

Pressing his way forward, and getting near a group of the most respectable of the company, including two clergymen, a physician, and a justice of the peace, he moved along with them, and as they passed under the belfry, the doctor cried out at the top of his voice, “Let it slide!” when down came the flour upon the heads of some of our best citizens, which created the wildest excitement, and caused the arrest of those engaged in the disturbance.

Everybody regarded Dr. Brown’s aptness in this matter as a splendid joke; and for many days after, the watchword of the boys was, “Let it Slide!”

Dr. Brown wrote “The Negro in the Rebellion,” in 1866, which had a rapid sale.

[Pg 37]


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The origin of the African race has provoked more criticism than any other of the various races of man on the globe. Speculation has exhausted itself in trying to account for the Negro’s color, features, and hair, that distinguish him in such a marked manner from the rest of the human family.

All reliable history, and all the facts which I have been able to gather upon this subject, show that the African race descended from the country of the Nile, and principally from Ethiopia.

The early history of Ethiopia is involved in great obscurity. When invaded by the Egyptians, it was found to contain a large population, consisting of savages, hunting and fishing tribes, wandering herdsmen, shepherds, and lastly, a civilized class, dwelling in houses and in large cities, possessing a [Pg 38]government and laws, acquainted with the use of hieroglyphics, the fame of whose progress in knowledge and the social arts had, in the remotest ages, spread over a considerable portion of the earth. Even at that early period, when all the nations were in their rude and savage state, Ethiopia was full of historical monuments, erected chiefly on the banks of the Nile.

The earliest reliable information we have of Ethiopia, is (B. C. 971) when the rulers of that country assisted Shishank in his war against Judea, “with very many chariots and horsemen.” Sixteen years later, we have an account of Judea being again invaded by an army of a million Ethiopians, unaccompanied by any Egyptian force.[1] The Ethiopian power gradually increased until its monarchs were enabled to conquer Egypt, where three of them reigned in succession, Sabbackon, Sevechus, and Tarakus, the Tirhakah of Scripture.[2]

Sevechus, called so in Scripture, was so powerful a monarch that Hoshed, king of Israel, revolted against the Assyrians, relying on his assistance,[3] but was not supported by his ally. This indeed, was the immediate cause of the captivity of the Ten Tribes; for “in the ninth year of Hoshed the king, the king of Assyria took Samaria, and carried Israel away into Assyria,” as a punishment for unsuccessful rebellion.

Tirhakah was a more war-like prince; he led an[Pg 39] army against Sennacherib,[4] king of Assyria, then besieging Jerusalem; and the Egyptian traditions, preserved in the age of Herodotus, give an accurate account of the providential interposition by which the pride of the Assyrians was humbled.

It is said that the kings of Ethiopia were always elected from the priestly caste; and there was a strange custom for the electors, when weary of their sovereign, to send him a courier with orders to die. Ergamenes was the first monarch who ventured to resist this absurd custom; he lived in the reign of the second Ptolemy, and was instructed in Grecian philosophy. So far from yielding, he marched against the fortress of the priests, massacred most of them, and instituted a new religion.

Queens frequently ruled in Ethiopia; one named Candace made war on Augustus Cæsar, about twenty years before the birth of Christ, and though not successful, obtained peace on very favorable conditions.

The pyramids of Ethiopia, though inferior in size to those in Egypt, are said to surpass them in architectural beauty, and the sepulchres evince the greatest purity of taste.

But the most important and striking proof of the progress of the Ethiopians in the art of building, is their knowledge and employment of the arch. Hoskins has stated that their pyramids are of superior antiquity to those of Egypt. The Ethiopian vases depicted on the monuments, though not richly ornamented, display a taste and elegance of form that has never been surpassed. In sculpture and coloring,[Pg 40] the edifices of Ethiopia, though not so profusely adorned, rival the choicest specimens of Egyptian art.

Meroe was the entrepot of trade between the North and the South, between the East and the West, while its fertile soil enabled the Ethiopians to purchase foreign luxuries with native productions. It does not appear that fabrics were woven in Ethiopia so extensively as in Egypt; but the manufacture of metal must have been at least as flourishing.

But Ethiopia owed its greatness less to the produce of its soil or its factories than to its position on the intersection of the leading caravan routes of ancient commerce.

The Ethiopians were among the first nations that organized a regular army, and thus laid the foundation of the whole system of ancient warfare. A brief account of their military affairs will therefore illustrate not only their history, but that of the great Asiatic monarchies, and of the Greeks during the heroic ages. The most important division of an Ethiopian army was the body of war-chariots, used instead of cavalry. These chariots were mounted on two wheels and made low; open behind, so that the warrior could easily step in and out; and without a seat.

They were drawn by two horses and generally contained two warriors, one of whom managed the steeds while the other fought. Nations were distinguished from each other by the shape and color of their chariots.

Great care was taken in the manufacturing of the chariots and also of the breeding of horses to draw them. Nothing in our time can equal the attention[Pg 41] paid by the ancients in the training of horses for the battle-field.

The harness which these animals wore was richly decorated; and a quiver and bow-case, decorated with extraordinary taste and skill, were securely fixed to the side of each chariot. The bow was the national weapon, employed by both cavalry and infantry. No nation of antiquity paid more attention to archery than the Ethiopians; their arrows better aimed than those of any other nation, the Egyptians perhaps excepted. The children of the warrior caste were trained from early infancy to the practice of archery.

The arms of the Ethiopians were a spear, a dagger, a short sword, a helmet, and a shield. Pole-axes and battle-axes were occasionally used. Coats of mail were used only by the principal officers, and some remarkable warriors, like Goliath, the champion of the Philistines. The light troops were armed with swords, battle-axes, maces, and clubs. Some idea of the manly forms, great strength, and military training of the Ethiopians, may be gathered from Herodotus, the father of ancient history.

After describing Arabia as “a land exhaling the most delicious fragrance,” he says,—“Ethiopia, which is the extremity of the habitable world, is contiguous to this country on the south-west. Its inhabitants are very remarkable for their size, their beauty, and their length of life.”[5]

In his third book he has a detailed description of a single tribe of this interesting people, called the Macrobian, or long-lived Ethiopians. Cambyses, the Persian[Pg 42] king, had made war upon Egypt, and subdued it. He is then seized with an ambition of extending his conquests still farther, and resolves to make war upon the Ethiopians. But before undertaking his expedition, he sends spies into the country disguised as friendly ambassadors, who carry costly presents from Cambyses. They arrive at the court of the Ethiopian prince, “a man superior to all others in the perfection of size and beauty,” who sees through their disguise, and takes down a bow of such enormous size that no Persian could bend it. “Give your king this bow, and in my name speak to him thus:—

“‘The king of Ethiopia sends this counsel to the king of Persia. When his subjects shall be able to bend this bow with the same ease that I do, then let him venture to attack the long-lived Ethiopians. Meanwhile, let him be thankful to the gods, that the Ethiopians have not been inspired with the same love of conquest as himself.’”[6]

Homer wrote at least eight hundred years before Christ, and his poems are well ascertained to be a most faithful mirror of the manners and customs of his times, and the knowledge of his age.

In the first book of the Iliad, Achilles is represented as imploring his goddess-mother to intercede with Jove in behalf of her aggrieved son. She grants his request, but tells him the intercession must be delayed for twelve days. The gods are absent. They have gone to the distant climes of Ethiopia to join in its festal rites. “Yesterday Jupiter went to the feast with the blameless Ethiopians, away upon the limits of the[Pg 43] ocean, and all the gods followed together.”[7] Homer never wastes an epithet. He often alludes to the Ethiopians elsewhere, and always in terms of admiration and praise, as being the most just of men; the favorites of the gods.[8]

The same allusion glimmers through the Greek mythology, and appears in the verses of almost all the Greek poets ere the countries of Italy and Sicily were even discovered. The Jewish Scripture and Jewish literature abound in allusion to this distinct and mysterious people; the annals of the Egyptian priests are full of them, uniformly the Ethiopians are there lauded as among the best, most religious, and most civilized of men.[9]

Let us pause here one moment, and follow the march of civilization into Europe. Wherever its light has once burned clearly, it has been diffused, but not extinguished. Every one knows that Rome got her civilization from Greece; that Greece again borrowed hers from Egypt, that thence she derived her earliest science and the forms of her beautiful mythology.

The mythology of Homer is evidently hieroglyphical in its origin, and has strong marks of family resemblance to the symbolical worship of Egypt.

It descended the Nile; it spread over the delta of that river, as it came down from Thebes, the wonderful city of a hundred gates. Thebes, as every scholar knows, is more ancient than the cities of the[Pg 44] delta. The ruins of the colossal architecture are covered over with hieroglyphics, and strewn with the monuments of Egyptian mythology. But whence came Thebes? It was built and settled by colonies from Ethiopia, or from cities which were themselves the settlements of that nation. The higher we ascend the Nile, the more ancient are the ruins on which we tread, till we come to the “hoary Meroe,” which Egypt acknowledged to be the cradle of her institutions.

But Meroe was the queenly city of Ethiopia, into which all Africa poured its caravans laden with ivory, frankincense, and gold. So it is that we trace the light of Ethiopian civilization first into Egypt, thence into Greece, and Rome, whence, gathering new splendor on its way, it hath been diffusing itself all the world over.[10]

We now come to a consideration of the color of the Ethiopians, that distinguish their descendants of the present time in such a marked manner from the rest of the human race.

Adam, the father of the human family, took his name from the color of the earth from which he was made.[11]

The Bible says but little with regard to the color of the various races of man, and absolutely nothing as to the time when or the reasons why these varieties were introduced. There are a few passages in which color is descriptive of the person or the dress. Job said, “My skin is black upon me.” Job had been sick for[Pg 45] a long time, and no doubt this brought about a change in his complexion. In Lamentations, it is said, “Their visage is blacker than a coal;” also, “our skin was blacker than an oven.” Both of these writers, in all probability, had reference to the change of color produced by the famine. Another writer says, “I am black, but comely.” This may have been a shepherd, and lying much in the sun might have caused the change.

However, we now have the testimony of one whom we clearly understand, and which is of the utmost importance in settling this question. Jeremiah asks, “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots?” This refers to a people whose color is peculiar, fixed, and unalterable. Indeed, Jeremiah seems to have been as well satisfied that the Ethiopian was colored, as he was that the leopard had spots; and that the one was as indelible as the other. The German translation of Luther has “Negro-land,” for Ethiopia, i. e., the country of the blacks.

All reliable history favors the belief that the Ethiopians descended from Cush, the eldest son of Ham, who settled first in Shina in Asia. Eusebius informs us that a colony of Asiatic Cushites settled in that part of Africa which has since been known as Ethiopia proper. Josephus asserts that these Ethiopians were descended from Cush, and that in his time they were still called Cushites by themselves and by the inhabitants of Asia. Homer divides the Ethiopians into two parts, and Strabo, the geographer, asserts that the dividing line to which he alluded was the Red Sea. The Cushites emigrated in part to the west of the Red Sea; these, remaining unmixed with other[Pg 46] races, engrossed the general name of Cushite, or Ethiopian, while the Asiatic Cushites became largely mingled with other nations, and are nearly or quite absorbed, or, as a distinct people well-nigh extinct. Hence, from the allusion of Jeremiah to the skin of the Ethiopian, confirmed and explained by such authorities as Homer, Strabo, Herodotus, Josephus, and Eusebius, we conclude that the Ethiopians were an African branch of the Cushites who settled first in Asia. Ethiop, in the Greek, means “sunburn,” and there is not the slightest doubt but that these people, in and around Meroe, took their color from the climate. This theory does not at all conflict with that of the common origin of man. Although the descendants of Cush were black, it does not follow that all the offspring of Ham were dark-skinned; but only those who settled in a climate that altered their color.

The word of God by his servant Paul has settled forever the question of the equal origin of the human races, and it will stand good against all scientific research. “God hath made of one blood all the nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth.”

The Ethiopians are not constitutionally different from the rest of the human family, and therefore, we must insist upon unity, although we see and admit the variety.

Some writers have endeavored to account for this difference of color, by connecting it with the curse pronounced upon Cain. This theory, however, has no foundation; for if Cain was the progenitor of Noah, and if Cain’s new peculiarities were perpetuated, then, as Noah was the father of the world’s new population, the question would be, not how to account for[Pg 47] any of the human family being black, but how can we account for any being white? All this speculation as to the change of Cain’s color, as a theory for accounting for the variety peculiar to Cush and the Ethiopians, falls to the ground when we trace back the genealogy of Noah, and find that he descended not from Cain, but from Seth.

Of course Cain’s descendants, no matter what their color, became extinct at the flood. No miracle was needed in Ethiopia to bring about a change in the color of its inhabitants. The very fact that the nation derived its name from the climate should be enough to satisfy the most skeptical. What was true of the Ethiopians was also true of the Egyptians, with regard to color; for Herodotus tells us that the latter were colored and had curled hair.

The vast increase of the population of Ethiopia, and a wish of its rulers to possess more territory, induced them to send expeditions down the Nile, and towards the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. Some of these adventurers, as early as B. C. 885, took up their abode on the Mediterranean coast, and founded the place which in later years became the great city of Carthage. Necho, king of Egypt, a man distinguished for his spirit of enterprise, sent an expedition (B. C. 616) around the African coast. He employed Phœnecian navigators. This fleet sailed down the Red Sea, passed the straits of Balel-Mandeb, and, coasting the African continent, discovered the passage around the Cape of Good Hope, two thousand years before its re-discovery by Dias and Vasco de Gama. This expedition was three years in its researches, and while gone, got out of food, landed, planted corn, and[Pg 48] waited for the crop. After harvesting the grain, they proceeded on their voyage. The fleet returned to Egypt through the Atlantic Ocean, the straits of Gibralter, and the Mediterranean.

The glowing accounts brought back by the returned navigators of the abundance of fruits, vegetables, and the splendor of the climate of the new country, kindled the fire of adventurous enthusiasm in the Ethiopians, and they soon followed the example set them by the Egyptians. Henceforward, streams of emigrants were passing over the Isthmus of Suez, that high road to Africa, who became permanent residents of the promised land.


[1] 2 Chron. xiv: 8-13.

[2] Hawkins, in his work on Meroe, identifies Tirhakah with the priest Sethos, upon ground, we think, not tenable.

[3] 2 Kings, xvii: 4.

[4] 2 Kings, xix: 9.

[5] Herod. iii: 114.

[6] Herod iii: 21.

[7] Iliad II: 423.

[8] Iliad XXIII.

[9] Chron. xiv: 9; xvi: 8; Isaiah xlv: 14; Jeremiah xlvi: 9; Josephus Aut. II; Heeren, vol I: p. 290.

[10] E. H. Sears, in the “Christian Examiner,” July, 1846.

[11] Josephus Ant., Vol. I: p. 8.

[Pg 49]


Although it is claimed in history that Carthage was settled by the Phœnecians, or emigrants from Tyre, it is by no means an established fact; for when Dido fled from her haughty and tyrannical brother, Pygmalion, ruler of Tyre, and sailing down the Nile, seeking a place of protection, she halted at Carthage, then an insignificant settlement on a peninsula in the interior of a large bay, now called the gulf of Tunis, on the northern shore of Africa (this was B. C. 880), the population was made up mainly of poor people, the larger portion of whom were from Ethiopia, and the surrounding country. Many outlaws, murderers, highwaymen, and pirates, had taken refuge in the new settlement. Made up of every conceivable shade of society, with but little character to lose, the Carthaginians gladly welcomed Dido, coming as she did from the royal house of Tyre, and they adopted her as the head of their government. The people became law-abiding, and the constitution which they adopted was considered by the ancients as a pattern of political wisdom. Aristotle highly praises it as a[Pg 50] model to other States. He informs us that during the space of five centuries, that is, from the foundation of the republic down to his own time, no tyrant had overturned the liberties of the State, and no demagogue had stirred up the people to rebellion. By the wisdom of its laws, Carthage had been able to avoid the opposite evils of aristocracy on the one hand, and democracy on the other. The nobles did not engross the whole of the power, as was the case in Sparta, Corinth, and Rome, and in more modern times, in Venice; nor did the people exhibit the factious spirit of an Athenian mob, or the ferocious cruelty of a Roman rabble.

After the tragical death of the Princess Dido, the head of the government consisted of the suffetes, two chief magistrates, somewhat resembling the consuls of Rome, who presided in the senate, and whose authority extended to military as well as civil affairs. These officers appeared to be entirely devoted to the good of the State and the welfare of the people.

The second was the senate itself, composed of illustrious men of the State. This body made the laws, declared war, negotiated peace, and appointed to all offices, civil and military. The third estate was still more popular. In the infancy and maturity of the republic, the people had taken no active part in the government; but, at a later period, influenced by wealth and prosperity, they advanced their claims to authority, and, before long, obtained nearly the whole power. They instituted a council, designed as a check upon the nobles and the senate. This council was at first very beneficial to the State, but afterwards became itself tyrannical.

[Pg 51]

The Carthaginians were an enterprising people, and in the course of time built ships, and with them explored all ports of the Mediterranean Sea, visiting the nations on the coast, purchasing their commodities, and selling them to others. Their navigators went to the coast of Guinea, and even advanced beyond the mouths of the Senegal and the Gambia. The Carthaginians carried their commerce into Spain, seized a portion of that country containing mines rich with gold, and built thereon a city which they called New Carthage, and which to the present day is known as Carthaginia.

The Mediterranean was soon covered with their fleets, and at a time when Rome could not boast of a single vessel, and her citizens were entirely ignorant of the form of a ship. The Carthaginians conquered Sardinia, and a great part of Sicily. Their powerful fleets and extensive conquests gave them the sovereign command of the seas.

While Carthage possessed the dominion of the seas, a rival State was growing up on the opposite side of the Mediterranean, distant about seven hundred miles, under whose arms she was destined to fall. This was Rome, the foundation of which was commenced one hundred years after that of Carthage. These two powerful nations engaged in wars against each other that lasted nearly two hundred years. In these conflicts the Carthaginians showed great bravery.

In the first Punic war, the defeat and capture of Regulus, the Roman general, by the Carthaginians, and their allies, the Greeks, humiliated the Romans, and for a time gave the former great advantage over the latter. The war, however, which lasted twenty-four [Pg 52]years, was concluded by some agreement, which after all, was favorable to the Romans. The conclusion of the first Punic war (B. C. 249) was not satisfactory to the more republican portion of the ruling spirits among the Carthaginians, and especially Hamilcar, the father of Hannibal, who, at that time occupied a very prominent position, both on account of his rank, wealth, and high family connections at Carthage; also on account of the great military energy which he displayed in the command of the armies abroad. Hamilcar had carried on the wars which the Carthaginians waged in Africa and Spain after the conclusion of the war with the Romans, and he was anxious to begin hostilities with the Romans again. On Hamilcar’s leaving Carthage the last time to join his army in Spain, he took his son Hannibal, then a boy of nine years, and made him swear on the altar of his country eternal hatred to the Romans, an oath that he kept to the day of his death.

When not yet twenty years of age, Hannibal was placed second in command of the army, then in Spain, where he at once attracted the attention and the admiration of all, by the plainness of his living, his abstinence from strong drink, and the gentlemanly treatment that he meted out to the soldiers, as well as his fellow-officers.

He slept in his military cloak on the ground, in the midst of his soldiers on guard; and in a battle he was always the last to leave the field after a fight, as he was foremost to press forward in every contest with the enemy. The death of Hasdrubal placed Hannibal in supreme command of the army, and inheriting his father’s hatred to Rome, he resolved to take[Pg 53] revenge upon his ancient enemy, and at once invaded the Roman possessions in Spain, and laid siege to the city of Saguntum, which, after heroic resistance, yielded to his victorious arms. Thus commenced the second Punic war, in which Hannibal was to show to the world his genius as a general.

Leaving a large force in Africa, and also in Spain, to defend these points, Hannibal set out in the spring of the year B. C. 218, with a large army to fulfill his project against Rome.

His course lay along the Mediterranean; the whole distance to Rome being about one thousand miles by the land route which he contemplated. When he had traversed Spain, he came to the Pyrenees, a range of mountains separating that country from Gaul, now France. He was here attacked by wild tribes of brave barbarians, but he easily drove them back. He crossed the Pyrenees, traversed Gaul, and came at last to the Alps, which threw up their frowning battlements, interposing a formidable obstacle between him and the object of his expedition.

No warrior had then crossed these snowy peaks with such an army; and none but a man of that degree of resolution and self-reliance which could not be baffled, would have hazarded the fearful enterprise. Indeed, we turn with amazement to Hannibal’s passage of the Alps; that great and daring feat surpasses in magnitude anything of the kind ever attempted by man. The pride of the French historians have often led them to compare Napoleon’s passage of the Great St. Bernard to Hannibal’s passage of the Alps; but without detracting from the well-earned fame of the French Emperor, it may safely be affirmed that his [Pg 54]achievements will bear no comparison whatever with the Carthaginian hero. When Napoleon began the ascent of the Alps from Martigny, on the shores of the Rhone, and above the Lake of Geneva, he found the passage of the mountains cleared by the incessant transit of two thousand years. The road, impracticable for carriages, was very good for horsemen and foot passengers, and was traversed by great numbers of both at every season of the year.

Comfortable villages on the ascent and descent afforded easy accommodation to the wearied soldiers by day and by night; the ample stores of the monks at the summit, and the provident foresight of the French generals had provided a meal for every man and horse that passed. No hostile troops opposed their passage; the guns were drawn up in sleds made of hollowed firs; and in four days from the time they began the ascent from the banks of the Rhone, the French troops, without losing a man, stood on the Doria Baltea, the increasing waters of which flowed towards the Po, amidst the gardens and vineyards, and under the sun of Italy. But the case was very different when Hannibal crossed from the shores of the Durance to the banks of the Po.

The mountain sides, which had not yet been cleared by centuries of laborious industry, presented a continual forest, furrowed at every hollow by headlong Alpine torrents. There were no bridges to cross the perpetually recurring obstacles; provisions, scanty at all times in those elevated solitudes, were then nowhere to be found, having been hidden away by the natives, and a powerful army of mountaineers occupied the entrance of the defiles, defended with desperate valor the[Pg 55] gates of their country, and when dispersed by the superior discipline and arms of Hannibal’s soldiers, still beset the ridges about their line of march, and harassed his troops with continual hostility. When the woody region was passed, and the vanguard emerged in the open mountain pastures, which led to the verge of perpetual snow, fresh difficulties awaited them.

The turf, from the gliding down of the newly-fallen snow on those steep declivities, was so slippery that it was often scarcely possible for the men to keep their feet; the beasts of burden lost their footing at every step, and rolled down in great numbers into the abyss beneath; the elephants became restive amidst privation and a climate to which they were totally unaccustomed; and the strength of the soldiers, worn out by incessant marching and fighting, began to sink before the continued toil of the ascent. Horrors formidable to all, but in an especial manner terrible to African soldiers, awaited them at the summit.

It was the end of October; winter in all its severity had already set in on those lofty solitudes; the mountain sides, silent and melancholy even at the height of summer, when enameled with flowers and dotted with flocks, presented then an unbroken sheet of snow; the lakes which were interspersed over the level valley at their feet, were frozen over and undistinguishable from the rest of the dreary expanse, and a boundless mass of snowy peaks arose at all sides, presenting an apparently impassable barrier to their further progress. But it was then that the genius of Hannibal shone forth in all its lustre.

“The great general,” says Arnold, “who felt that he now stood victorious on the ramparts of Italy, and that[Pg 56] the torrent which rolled before him was carrying its waters to the rich plains of cisalpine Gaul, endeavored to kindle his soldiers with his own spirit of hope. He called them together; he pointed out to them the valley beneath, to which the descent seemed but the work of a moment.

“That valley,” said he, “is Italy; it leads to the country of our friends, the Gauls, and yonder is our way to Rome.” His eyes were eagerly fixed on that part of the horizon, and as he gazed, the distance seemed to vanish, till he could almost fancy he was crossing the Tiber, and assailing the capital. Such were the difficulties of the passage and the descent on the other side, that Hannibal lost thirty-three thousand men from the time he entered the Pyrenees till he reached the plains of Northern Italy, and he arrived on the Po with only twelve thousand Africans, eight thousand Spanish infantry, and six thousand horse.

Then followed those splendid battles with the Romans, which carried consternation to their capital, and raised the great general to the highest pinnacle in the niche of military fame.

The defeat of Scipio, at the battle of Ticinus, the utter rout and defeat of Sempronius, the defeat of Flaminius, the defeat of Fabius, and the battle of Cannæ, in the last of which, the Romans had seventy-six thousand foot, eight thousand horse, and many chariots, and where Hannibal had only thirty thousand troops, all told, and where the defeat was so complete that bushels of gold rings were taken from the fingers of the dead Romans, and sent as trophies to Carthage, are matters of history, and will ever give to[Pg 57] Hannibal the highest position in the scale of ancient military men. Hannibal crossed the Alps two hundred and seventeen years before the Christian Era, and remained in Italy sixteen years. At last, Scipio, a Roman general of the same name of the one defeated by Hannibal at Ticinus, finished the war in Spain, transported his troops across the Mediterranean; thus “carrying the war into Africa,” and giving rise to an expression still in vogue, and significant of effective retaliation. By the aid of Masinissa, a powerful prince of Numidia, now Morocco, he gained two victories over the Carthaginians, who were obliged to recall Hannibal from Italy, to defend their own soil from the combined attacks of the Romans and Numidians.

He landed at Leptis, and advanced near Zama, five days’ journey to the west of Carthage. Here he met the Roman forces, and here, for the first time, he suffered a total defeat. The loss of the Carthaginians was immense, and they were compelled to sue for peace. This was granted by Scipio, but upon humiliating terms.

Hannibal would still have resisted, but he was compelled by his countrymen to submit. Thus ended the second Punic war (B. C. 200), having continued about eighteen years.

By this war with the Romans, the Carthaginians lost most of their colonies, and became in a measure, a Roman province. Notwithstanding his late reverses, Hannibal entered the Carthaginian senate, and continued at the head of the state, reforming abuses that had crept into the management of the finances, and the administration of justice. But these judicious reforms[Pg 58] provoked the enmity of the factious nobles who had hitherto been permitted to fatten on public plunder; they joined with the old rivals of the Barcan family, of which Hannibal was now the acknowledged head, and even degraded themselves so far as to act as spies for the Romans, who still dreaded the abilities of the great general.

In consequence of their machinations, the old hero was forced to fly from the country he had so long labored to serve; and after several vicissitudes, died of poison, to escape the mean and malignant persecution of the Romans whose hatred followed him in his exile, and compelled the king of Bithynia to refuse him protection. The mound which marks his last resting-place is still a remarkable object.

Hannibal, like the rest of the Carthaginians, though not as black as the present African population, was nevertheless, colored; not differing in complexion from the ancient Ethiopians, and with curly hair. We have but little account of this wonderful man except from his enemies, the Romans, and nothing from them but his public career. Prejudiced as are these sources of evidence, they still exhibit him as one of the most extraordinary men that have ever lived.

Many of the events of his life remind us of the career of Napoleon. Like him, he crossed the Alps with a great army; like him, he was repeatedly victorious over disciplined and powerful forces in Italy; like him, he was finally overwhelmed in a great battle; like him, he was a statesman, as well as a general; like him, he was the idol of the army; like him, he was finally driven from his country, and died in exile.[Pg 59][12] Yet, no one of Napoleon’s achievements was equal to that of Hannibal in crossing the Alps, if we consider the difficulties he had to encounter; nor has anything in generalship surpassed the ability he displayed in sustaining himself and his army for sixteen years in Italy, in the face of Rome, and without asking for assistance from his own country.

We now pass to the destruction of Carthage, and the dispersion of its inhabitants. Fifty years had intervened since Hannibal with his victorious legions stood at the gates of Rome; the Carthaginian territory had been greatly reduced, the army had witnessed many changes, Hannibal and his generals were dead, and a Roman army under Scipio, flushed with victory and anxious for booty, were at the gates of Carthage.

For half a century the Carthaginians had faithfully kept all their humiliating treaties with the Romans; borne patiently the insults and arrogance of Masinissa, king of Numidia, whose impositions on Carthage were always upheld by the strong arm of Rome; at last, however, a serious difficulty arose between Carthage and Numidia, for the settlement of which the Roman senate dispatched commissioners to visit the contending parties and report.

Unfortunately for the Carthaginians, one of these commissioners was Cato the elder, who had long entertained a determined hatred to Carthage. Indeed, he had, for the preceding twenty years, scarcely ever made a speech without closing with,—“Delenda est Carthago.”—Carthage must be destroyed. Animated by this spirit, it can easily be imagined that Cato would give the weight of his influence against the Carthaginians in everything touching their interest.

[Pg 60]

While inspecting the great city, Cato was struck with its magnificence and remaining wealth, which strengthened him in the opinion that the ultimate success of Rome depended upon the destruction of Carthage; and he labored to bring about that result.

Scipio demanded that Carthage should deliver up all its materials of war as a token of submission, which demand was complied with; and the contents of their magazines, consisting of two hundred thousand complete suits of armor, two thousand catapults, and an immense number of spears, swords, bows and arrows. Having disarmed themselves, they waited to hear the final sentence. The next demand was for the delivery of the navy; this too was complied with. It was then announced that the city was to be razed to the ground, the inhabitants sent elsewhere for a residence, and that the Carthaginian name was to be blotted out. Just then the navy, the largest in the world, containing vessels of great strength and beauty, was set on fire, the flames of which lighted up with appalling effect the coast forty miles around.

The destruction of this fleet, the naval accumulation of five centuries, was a severe blow to the pride of the conquered Carthaginians, and taking courage from despair, they closed the gates of the city, and resolved that they would fight to the last.

As in all commonwealths, there were two political parties in Carthage, struggling for the ascendency; one, republican, devoted to the liberty of the people and the welfare of the State; the other, conservative in its character, and in favor of Roman rule. It was this last party that had disarmed the State at the bidding of the Roman invaders; and now that the[Pg 61] people had risen, the conservatives who could, fled from the city, to escape the indignation of the masses.

Unarmed and surrounded by an army of one hundred thousand men, resistance seemed to be madness; yet they resisted with a heroism that surprised and won the esteem of their hard-hearted conquerors.

Everything was done to repair the damage already sustained by the surrender of their navy and munitions of war. The pavements of the streets were torn up, houses demolished, and statues broken to pieces to obtain stones for weapons, which were carried upon the ramparts for defence. Everybody that could work at a forge was employed in manufacturing swords, spear-heads, pikes, and such other weapons as could be made with the greatest facility and dispatch. They used all the iron and brass that could be obtained, then melted down vases, statues, and the precious metals, and tipped their spears with an inferior pointing of silver and gold.

When the supply of hemp and twine for cordage for their bows had failed, the young maidens cut off their hair, and twisted and braided it into cords to be used as bow-strings for propelling the arrows which their husbands and brothers made. Nothing in the history of war, either ancient or modern, will bear a comparison with this, the last struggle of the Carthaginians. The siege thus begun was carried on more than two years; the people, driven to the last limit of human endurance, had aroused themselves to a hopeless resistance in a sort of frenzy of despair, and fought with a courage and a desperation that compelled the Romans to send home for more troops.

Think of a walled city, thirty miles in [Pg 62]circumference, with a population of seven hundred and fifty thousand souls, men, women, and children, living on limited fare, threatened with starvation, and surrounded by the sick, the dying, and the dead!

Even in this condition, so heroic were the Carthaginians, that they repulsed the Romans, sent fireships against the invaders’ fleet, burned their vessels, and would have destroyed the Roman army, had it not been for the skill of Scipio, who succeeded in covering the retreat of the Roman legions with a body of cavalry.

On the arrival of fresh troops from Rome, the siege was renewed; and after a war of three years, famine reduced the population to a little more than fifty thousand.

The overpowering army of Scipio finally succeeded in breaking through the gates, and gaining admission into the city; the opposing forces fought from street to street, the Carthaginians retreating as the Romans advanced. One band of the enemy’s soldiers mounted to the tops of the houses, the roofs of which were flat, and fought their way there, while another column moved around to cut off retreat to the citadel. No imagination can conceive the uproar and din of such an assault upon a populous city—a horrid mingling of the vociferated commands of the officers, and the shouts of the advancing and victorious enemy, with the screams of terror from affrighted women and children, and the dreadful groans and imprecations from men dying maddened with unsatisfied revenge, and biting the dust in agony of despair.[13]

The more determined of the soldiers with [Pg 63]Hasdrubal, the Carthaginian general at their head, together with many brave citizens of both sexes, and some Roman deserters, took possession of the citadel, which was in a strongly-fortified section of the city.

The Romans advanced to the walls of this fortification, and set that part of the city on fire that lay nearest to it; the fire burned for six days. When the fire had ceased burning near the citadel, the Roman troops were brought to the area thus left vacant by the flames, and the fight was renewed.

Seeing there was no hope of successfully resisting the enemy, Hasdrubal opened the gates, and surrendered to the Romans. There was, however, a temple in the citadel, capable of holding ten or fifteen thousand persons; in this, many of the brave men and women took refuge; among these were Hasdrubal’s wife and two children. The gates of the temple had scarcely been closed and securely barred, ere some one set the building on fire from within. Half-suffocated with the smoke, and scorched with the flames, these people were soon running to and fro with the wildest screams; many of whom reached the roof, and among them, Hasdrubal’s wife.

Looking down and seeing her husband standing amongst the Roman officers, she loaded him with reproaches for what she conceived to be his cowardice, stabbed her children, threw them into the flames, and leaped in herself. The city was given up to pillage, and set on fire. After burning for seventeen days, this great city, the model of beauty and magnificence, the repository of immense wealth, and one of the chief States of the ancient world, was no more. The destruction of Carthage, previously resolved upon in[Pg 64] cold blood, after fifty years of peace, and without any fresh provocation from the defenceless people, who had thrown themselves on the generosity of their rivals, was one of the most hard-hearted and brutal acts of Roman policy. The sequel of the history of Carthage presents a melancholy and affecting picture of the humiliation and decline of a proud and powerful State.

Meroe, the chief city, and fountain-head of the Ethiopians, was already fast declining, when Carthage fell, and from that time forward, the destiny of this people appeared to be downward. With the fall of Carthage, and the absorption of its territory by Rome, and its organization into a Roman province, the Carthaginian State ceased. Of the seven hundred and fifty thousand souls that Carthage contained at the time that the Romans laid siege to the city, only fifty thousand remained alive at its fall. The majority of these, hating Roman rule, bent their way towards the interior of Africa, following the thousands of their countrymen who had gone before.

After Carthage had been destroyed, the Romans did everything in their power to obliterate every vestige of the history of that celebrated people. No relics are to be seen of the grandeur and magnificence of ancient Carthage, except some ruins of aqueducts and cisterns.

In the language of Tasso:—

“Low lie her towers, sole relics of her sway;
Her desert shores a few sad fragments keep;
Shrines, temples, cities, kingdoms, states decay;
O’er urns and arch triumphal, deserts sweep
Their sands, and lions roar, or ivies creep.”


[12] “Famous Men of Ancient Times,” p. 154.

[13] “Abbott’s History of Hannibal.”

[Pg 65]


In the desert between the Nile and the Red Sea, and among that range of mountains running parallel with the coast, are Hadharebe, the Ababdeh, and the Bishari, three very ancient tribes, the modern representatives of the Ethiopians of Meroe. The language of these people, their features, so different from the Arabs, and the Guinea Negro, together with their architecture, prove conclusively that they descended from Ethiopia; the most numerous and powerful of these tribes being the Bishari.

Leaving the shores of the Mediterranean, and passing south of Abyssinia, along the coast of Africa, and extending far into the interior over rich mountain-plains, is found the seat of what are called the “Galla nations.” They are nomadic tribes, vast in numbers, indefinable in their extent of territory, full of fire and energy, wealthy in flocks and herds, dark-skinned, woolly-haired, and thick-lipped.

Passing farther west into that vast region which lies between the Mountains of the Moon and the Great Desert, extending through Central Africa even to the[Pg 66] western coast, we come into what may be more appropriately called “Negro-land.”

It is a widely-extended region, which abounds in the arts of civilization. Here are large cities containing from ten thousand to thirty thousand souls. Here is a great family of nations, some but just emerging out of barbarism, some formed into prosperous communities, preserving the forms of social justice and of a more enlightened worship, practicing agriculture, and exhibiting the pleasing results of peaceful and productive industry.

Mungo Park gives a glowing account of Sego, the capital of Bambuwa, a city containing thirty thousand inhabitants, with its two-story houses, its mosques seen in every quarter, its ferries conveying men and horses over the Niger. “The view of this extensive city,” he says, “the numerous canoes upon the river, the crowded population, and the cultivated state of the surrounding country, formed altogether a prospect of civilization and magnificence which I little expected to find in the bosom of Africa.”

Farther east he found a large and flourishing town called Kaffa, situated in the midst of a country so beautiful and highly cultivated that it reminds him of England. The people in this place were an admixture of light brown, dark brown, and dingy black, apparently showing the influence of the climate upon their ancestors.

The Mountains of the Moon, as they terminate along the western coast of Africa, spread out into a succession of mountain plains. These present three lofty fronts toward the sea, each surrounded with terraces,[Pg 67] declining gradually into the lowlands, each threaded with fertilizing streams, and fanned with ocean breezes.

The most northern of these plateaus, with their declivities and plains, forms the delightful land of one of the most powerful and intelligent of the African tribes, namely, the Mandingoes. They are made up of shrewd merchants and industrious agriculturists; kind, hospitable, enterprising, with generous dispositions, and open and gentle manners. Not far from the Mandingoes, are the people called Solofs, whom Park describes as “the most beautiful, and at the same time the blackest people in Africa.”

But perhaps the most remarkable people among these nations are the “Fulahs,” whose native seat is the southern part of the plateaus above described. Here, in their lofty independence, they cultivate the soil, live in “clean and commodious dwellings,” feed numerous flocks of sheep and goats, and herds of oxen and horses, build mosques for the worship of one God, and open schools for the education of their children.

Timbri, their capital, is a military station, containing nine thousand inhabitants, from which their victorious armies have gone forth and subdued the surrounding country. They practice the mechanic arts with success, forge iron and silver, fabricate cloth, and work skilfully with leather and wood. Like the Anglo-Saxon, their capital has been the hive whence colonies have swarmed forth to form new settlements, and extend the arts of industry; and the “Fellatahs,” an enterprising people who dwell a thousand miles in the interior, are well known to belong to the same stock.

There are many other nations, or rather, tribes, in[Pg 68] this vast central region, described by Pritchard more or less minutely, variously advanced in the arts of life, and exhibiting various degrees of enterprise and energy.

Passing along the western shore southward, we next come to the coast of Guinea, where we find the Negro in his worst state of degradation. Hither comes the slave-trader for his wretched cargo, and hence have been exported the victims of that horrible commerce, which supplied the slave-marts of the western world. The demonizing influence of this traffic on the character of the natives defies all description.

In the mountains and ravines of this portion of Africa lurk gangs of robbers, ever on the watch to seize the wives and children of the neighboring clans and sell them to the traders. Every corner of the land has been the scene of rapine and blood. Parents sell their children, and children sell their parents. Such are the passions stimulated by Christian gold, and such the state of society produced by contact with Christian nations. These people, degraded and unhumanized by the slaver, are the progenitors of the black population of the Southern States of the American Union.

Still we are to observe, that though the lowest type of Negro character is to be found on the Guinea coast and the adjacent region, it is not uniformly degraded. Tribes are to be found, considerably advanced in civilization, whose features and characters resemble those of the central region which we have just described.

Passing southward still farther, and crossing the line, we come into southern Africa. This whole region from the equator to the Cape, with the exception of the Hottentots, is, so far as discovered, occupied by[Pg 69] what is called the “Great South African Race.” They are a vast family of nations, speaking dialects of the same language, furnishing incontrovertible evidence, so says Pritchard, of “a common origin.”

There is one fact, in reference to them, of absorbing interest; it is that among these nations, and sometimes among the same tribe, are found specimens of the lowest Negro type, and specimens of the same type elevated and transfigured so as to approximate far towards the European form and features. Between these two there is every possible variety, and the variations depend much on moral condition and physical surroundings. Along the coast humanity generally sinks down into its lowest shapes, and puts on its most disgusting visage.

Rising into the interior, and climbing the tablelands, the evidence of decided improvement generally appears. Perhaps the most savage of these tribes is to be found on the coast of Congo. They are cannibals of great ferocity and brutality. But on the eastern coast are found a people called Kafirs, some tribes occupying the coast, and a few the mountain plains. Some of these tribes, “whose fine forms and easy attitudes remind the traveller of ancient statues,” inhabit large towns and cities, have made great progress in the arts of industry, cultivate vast fields of sugar and tobacco, manufacture various kinds of cutlery, and “build their houses with masonry, and ornament them with pillars and mouldings.”

They exhibit fine traits of intellectual and moral character. Mixed up with their superstitions, they have some lofty, religious ideas; believe in the immortality of the soul, in a Supreme Being, whom they call[Pg 70] “The Beautiful,” who exercises a providence over mankind. Such are the nations of Central and Southern Africa; and if we can rely on the reports of the best travellers, they furnish some of the best material, out of which to build up prosperous states and empires, that is to be found on the face of the earth.

We come next to the Hottentots, including the Bushmen, who belong to the same race. In the scale of humanity, he probably sinks below the inhabitants of Guinea or Congo.

The Hottentot has long furnished a standard of comparison to moral writers by which to represent the lowest condition of man. He inhabits the desert, lives in caves, subsists on roots or raw flesh, has no religious ideas, and is considered by the European as too wretched a being to be converted into a slave. How came he thus degraded?

That is a question which we do not often see answered, and which must be answered, to the shame of Christian Europe. Before that evil hour when the Christian navigator neared the Cape of Good Hope, the Hottentots were “a numerous people, divided into many tribes under a patriarchal government of chiefs and elders.”

They had numerous flocks and herds, lived in movable villages, were bold in the chase, courageous in warfare, yet mild in their tempers and dispositions; had rude conceptions of religion, and exhibited a scene of pastoral life like that of the ancient Nomads of the Syrian plains. In a word, they were a part of that stream of emigration to which we have referred in a previous chapter, and who evidently were[Pg 71] living somewhat as they had in the country of their ancestors.

Kolben, who saw the Hottentots in the day of their prosperity, enumerates eighteen tribes of the race. The European colonists hunted these tribes as they would hunt beasts of prey. Most of them they exterminated, and seized upon their possessions; the rest they robbed and drove into forests and deserts, where their miserable descendants exist as wandering Bushmen, exhibiting to good Christian people material for most edifying studies in “anatomy and ethnology.”

There is an immense region, comprising the greater part of interior Africa, two thousand miles in length, and one thousand in breadth, nearly equal to the whole of the United States, which has seldom been trodden by the foot of the Caucasian. It spreads out beneath the tropics, and is supposed by Humboldt to be one of the most interesting and fertile regions on the face of the earth.

“It must be,” he says, “a high table-land, rising into the cooler strata of the atmosphere, combining therefore the qualities of the tierra caliente of Mexico, with its ‘cloudless ethers,’ the luxuriant slopes of the Andes, and the pastoral plains of Southern Asia. It cannot be a sandy desert, though sometimes put down as such upon the maps, because vast rivers come rolling down from it into the surrounding seas.”

It has long been the land of romance, mystery, and wonder, and of strange and tantalizing rumors. The “blameless Ethiopians” of Homer, the favorites of the gods, and the wonderful Macrobians of Herodotus, are placed by Heeren on the outskirts of this region, where they would be most likely to be offshoots from its[Pg 72] parent stock. This country is guarded from the European by forces more potent than standing armies.

Around it stretches a border on which brood malaria, pestilence, and death, and which the English government for half a century have expended lives and treasure to break through. In one expedition after another sent out from the island of Ascension, nine white men out of ten fell victims to the “beautiful, but awful climate.”

Nevertheless, news from the interior more or less distinct has found its way over this belt of danger and death. Being a land of mystery, it should be borne in mind that there is a strong tendency to exaggeration in all that comes from it. The Niger, one of the noblest of rivers, skirts this unknown country for some hundreds of miles, after sweeping away through the middle portion of Central Africa already described.

The “Colonial Magazine,” speaking of the exploration of this river by the English expeditions, says: “They have found that this whole tract of country is one of amazing fertility and beauty, abounding in gold, ivory, and all sorts of tropical vegetation. There are hundreds of woods, invaluable for dyeing and agricultural purposes, not found in other portions of the world.

“Through it for hundreds of miles sweeps a river from three to six miles broad, with clean water and unsurpassable depth, flowing on at the rate of two or three miles an hour, without rock, shoal, or snag to intercept its navigation. Other rivers pour into this tributary waters of such volume as must have required hundreds of miles to be collected, yet they seem scarcely to enlarge it. Upon this river are scattered[Pg 73] cities, some of which are estimated to contain a million of inhabitants; and the whole country teems with a dense population. Far in the interior, in the very heart of this continent, is a portion of the African race in an advanced state of civilization.”

In the year 1816, Captain Tuckey, of the English Navy, made a disastrous expedition up the Congo. In 1828, Mr. Owen, from the opposite coast, attempted to penetrate this land of mystery and marvel, with a like result. But they found a manifest improvement in the condition of the people the farther they advanced, and they met with rumors of a powerful and civilized nation still farther inward, whose country they attempted in vain to explore.

In 1818, John Campbell, agent of the London Missionary Society, tried to reach this country by journeying from the Cape northward; and later still, Captain Alexander led an expedition, having the same object in view. They found large and populous cities situated in a fertile and highly-cultivated country, but they did not reach the land of marvel and mystery, though they heard the same rumors respecting its people. A writer in the “Westminster Review,” who lived several years on the western coast, gives an interesting description of the interior of the country. He says:—

“A state of civilization exists among some of the tribes, such as had not been suspected hitherto by those who have judged only from such accounts as have been given of the tribes with which travellers have come in contact. They cannot be regarded as savages, having organized townships, fixed habitations, with regular defences about their cities, engaging in agriculture and the manufacture of cotton cloths for[Pg 74] clothing, which they ornament with handsome dyes of native production, exhibit handicraft in their conversion of iron and precious metals into articles of use and ornament.”

But to no traveller is the cause of African civilization more indebted than to Dr. Livingstone. Twenty-six years of his life have been spent in exploring that country and working for the good of its people. In August, 1849, he discovered Lake Ngami, one of the most beautiful sheets of water in that sunny land. His discovery of the source of the Zambesi River and its tributaries, the Victoria Falls, the beds of gold, silver, iron and coal, and his communication with a people who had never beheld a white man before, are matters of congratulation to the friends of humanity, and the elevation of man the world over.

Along the shores of the Zambesi were found pink marble beds, and white marble, its clearness scarcely equaled by anything of the kind ever seen in Europe. In his description of the country through which this splendid river passes, Dr. Livingstone says: “When we came to the top of the outer range of the hills, we had a glorious view. At a short distance below us we saw the Kafue, wending away over a forest-clad plain to the confluence, and on the other side of the Zambesi, beyond that, lay a long range of dark hills.

“A line of fleecy clouds appeared, lying along the course of that river at their base. The plain below us, at the left of the Kafue, had more large game on it than anywhere else I had seen in Africa. Hundreds of buffaloes and zebras grazed on the open spaces, and there stood lordly elephants feeding majestically, nothing moving apparently, but the proboscis. I wish that[Pg 75] I had been able to take a photograph of the scene so seldom beheld, and which is destined, as guns increase, to pass away from earth. When we descended, we found all the animals remarkably tame. The elephants stood beneath the trees, fanning themselves with their large ears, as if they did not see us.”

The feathered tribe is abundant and beautiful in this section of Africa. Dr. Livingstone says: “The birds of the tropics have been described as generally wanting in power of song. I was decidedly of the opinion that this was not applicable to many parts of Londa. Here the chorus, or body of song, was not much smaller in volume than it is in England. These African birds are not wanting in song; they have only lacked poets to sing their praises, which ours have had from the time of Aristophanes downward.”

Speaking of the fruits, he says: “There are great numbers of wild grape-vines growing in this quarter; indeed, they abound everywhere along the banks of the Zambesi. They are very fine; and it occurred to me that a country which yields the wild vines so very abundantly might be a fit one for the cultivated species. We found that many elephants had been feeding on the fruit called mokoronga. This is a black-colored plum, having purple juice. We all ate it in large quantities, as we found it delicious.”

While exploring the Zambesi, Dr. Livingstone visited the hot spring of Nyamboronda, situated in the bed of a small rivulet called Nyaondo, which shows that igneous action is not yet extinct. The spring emitted water hot enough to cook a fish that might accidentally get into it.

Dr. Livingstone represents the inhabitants, [Pg 76]throughout his long journey of more than one thousand miles, as well disposed toward strangers, and a majority of them favorable to civilization and the banishment of the slave-trade, that curse of Africa.

The population of this immense country has been estimated at from fifty to one hundred and fifty millions; but as we have no certain data from which to compute anything like a correct estimate of its inhabitants, it is difficult to arrive at a proper conclusion. Yet from all we can learn, I should judge one hundred and fifty millions is nearest to it.

Recent travellers in Africa have discovered ruins which go far to show that the early settlers built towns, and then abandoned them for more healthy locations. In September, 1871, the South African explorer, Carl Mauch, visited the ruins of an ancient and mysterious city in the highland between the Zambesi and Limpopo Rivers, long known by native report to the Portuguese, and situated in a land, which from its gold and ivory, has long been identified by some authorities, as the Ophir of Scripture. Zimbaoe lies in about lat. 20 degrees 14 seconds S.; long. 31 degrees 48 seconds E.

One portion of the ruins rises upon a granite hill about four hundred feet in relative height; the other, separated by a slight valley, lies upon a somewhat raised terrace. From the curved and zigzag form still apparent in the ruined walls which cover the whole of the western declivity of the hill, these have doubtless formed a once impregnable fortress. The whole space is densely overgrown with nettles and bushes, and some great trees have intertwined their roots with the buildings.

Without exception, the walls, some of which have[Pg 77] still a height of thirty feet, are built of cut granite stones, generally of the size of an ordinary brick, but no mortar has been used. The thickness of the walls where they appear above ground is ten feet, tapering to seven or eight feet. In many places monolith pilasters of eight to ten feet in length, ornamented in diamond-shaped lines, stand out of the building. These are generally eight inches wide and three in thickness, cut out of a hard and close stone of greenish-black color, and having a metallic ring.

During the first hurried visit, Mauch was unable to find any traces of inscription, though carvings of unknown characters are mentioned by the early Portuguese writers. Such however, may yet be found, and a clue be thus obtained as to the age of the strange edifice. Zimbaoe is, in all probability, an ancient factory, raised in very remote antiquity by strangers to the land, to overawe the savage inhabitants of the neighboring country, and to serve as a depot for the gold and ivory which it affords. No native tribes dwelling in mud huts could ever have conceived its erection.

[Pg 78]


The various colors seen in the natives in Africa, where amalgamation with other races is impossible, has drawn forth much criticism, and puzzled the ethnologist not a little. Yet nothing is more easily accounted for than this difference of color amongst the same people, and even under the same circumstances. Climate, and climate alone, is the sole cause.

And now to the proof. Instances are adduced, in which individuals, transplanted into another climate than that of their birth, are said to have retained their peculiarities of form and color unaltered, and to have transmitted the same to their posterity for generations. But cases of this kind, though often substantiated to a certain extent, appear to have been much exaggerated, both as to the duration of time ascribed, and the absence of any change. It is highly probable, that the original characteristics will be found undergoing gradual modifications, which tend to assimilate them to those of the new country and situation.

The Jews, however slightly their features may have assimilated to those of other nations amongst whom[Pg 79] they are scattered, from the causes already stated, certainly form a very striking example as regards the uncertainty of perpetuity in color.

Descended from one stock, and prohibited by the most sacred institutions from intermarrying with the people of other nations, and yet dispersed, according to the divine prediction, into every country on the globe, this one people is marked with the colors of all; fair in Briton and Germany; brown in France and in Turkey; swarthy in Portugal and in Spain; olive in Syria and in Chaldea; tawny or copper-colored in Arabia and in Egypt;[14] whilst they are “black at Congo, in Africa.”[15]

Let us survey the gradations of color on the continent of Africa itself. The inhabitants of the north are whitest; and as we advance southward towards the line, and those countries in which the sun’s rays fall more perpendicularly, the complexion gradually assumes a darker shade. And the same men, whose color has been rendered black by the powerful influence of the sun, if they remove to the north, gradually become whiter (I mean their posterity), and eventually lose their dark color.[16]

The Portuguese who planted themselves on the coast of Africa a few centuries ago, have been succeeded by descendants blacker than many Africans.[17] On the coast of Malabar there are two colonies of Jews, the old colony and the new, separated by color, and known as the “black Jews,” and the “white Jews.”[Pg 80] The old colony are the black Jews, and have been longer subjected to the influence of the climate. The hair of the black Jews are curly, showing a resemblance to the Negro. The white Jews are as dark as the Gipsies, and each generation growing darker.

Dr. Livingstone says,—“I was struck with the appearance of the people in Londa, and the neighborhood; they seemed more slender in form, and their color a lighter olive, than any we had hitherto met.”[18]

Lower down the Zambesi, the same writer says: “Most of the men are muscular, and have large, ploughman hands. Their color is the same admixture, from very dark to light olive, that we saw at Londa.”[19]

In the year 1840, the writer was at Havana, and saw on board a vessel just arrived from Africa some five hundred slaves, captured in different parts of the country. Among these captives were colors varying from light brown to black, and their features represented the finest Anglo-Saxon and the most degraded African.

There is a nation called Tuaricks, who inhabit the oases and southern borders of the great desert, whose occupation is commerce, and whose caravans ply between the Negro countries and Fezzan. They are described by the travellers Hornemann and Lyon.

The western tribes of this nation are white, so far as the climate and their habits will allow. Others are of a yellow cast; others again, are swarthy; and in the neighborhood of Soudan, there is said to be a tribe completely black. All speak the same dialect, and it is a dialect of the original African tongue. There is no reasonable doubt of their being aboriginal.

Lyon says they are the finest race of men he ever[Pg 81] saw, “tall, straight, and handsome, with a certain air of independence and pride, which is very imposing.”[20] If we observe the gradations of color in different localities in the meridian under which we live, we shall perceive a very close relation to the heat of the sun in each respectively. Under the equator we have the deep black of the Negro, then the copper or olive of the Moors of Northern Africa; then the Spaniard and Italian, swarthy, compared with other Europeans; the French, still darker than the English, while the fair and florid complexion of England and Germany passes more northerly into the bleached Scandinavian white.[21]

It is well-known, that in whatever region travellers ascend mountains, they find the vegetation at every successive level altering its character, and gradually assuming the appearances presented in more northern countries; thus indicating that the atmosphere, temperature, and physical agencies in general, assimilate, as we approach Alpine regions, to the peculiarities locally connected with high latitudes.

If, therefore, complexion and other bodily qualities belonging to races of men, depend upon climate and external conditions, we should expect to find them varying in reference to elevation of surface; and if they should be found actually to undergo such variations, this will be a strong argument that these external characteristics do, in fact, depend upon local conditions.

Now, if we inquire respecting the physical characters of the tribes inhabiting high tracts in warm countries,[Pg 82] we shall find that they coincide with those which prevail in the level or low parts of more northern tracts.

The Swiss, in the high mountains above the plains of Lombardy, have sandy or brown hair. What a contrast presents itself to the traveller who descends into the Milanese territory, where the peasants have black hair and eyes, with strongly-marked Italian, and almost Oriental features.

In the higher part of the Biscayan country, instead of the swarthy complexion and black hair of the Castilians, the natives have a fair complexion, with light blue eyes, and flaxen, or auburn hair.[22]

In the intertropical region, high elevations of surface, as they produce a cooler climate, occasion the appearance of light complexions. In the higher parts of Senegambia, which front the Atlantic, and are cooled by winds from the Western Ocean, where, in fact, the temperature is known to be moderate, and even cool at times, the light copper-colored Fulahs are found surrounded on every side by black Negro nations inhabiting lower districts; and nearly in the same parallel, but on the opposite coast of Africa, are the high plains of Enared and Kaffa, where the inhabitants are said to be fairer than the inhabitants of Southern Europe.[23]

Do we need any better evidence of the influence of climate on man, than to witness its effect on beasts and birds? Æolian informs us that the Eubaea was famous for producing white oxen.[24] Blumenbach remarks, that “all the swine of Piedmont are black, those of Normandy white, and those of Bavaria are[Pg 83] of a reddish brown. The turkeys of Normandy,” he states, “are all black; those of Hanover almost all white. In Guinea, the dogs and the gallinaceous fowls are as black as the human inhabitants of the same country.”[25]

The lack of color, in the northern regions, of many animals which possess color in more temperate latitudes,—as the bear, the fox, the hare, beasts of burden, the falcon, crow, jackdaw, and chaffinch,—seems to arise entirely from climate. The common bear is differently colored in different regions. The dog loses its coat entirely in Africa, and has a smooth skin.

We all see and admit the change which a few years produces in the complexion of a Caucasian going from our northern latitude into the tropics.


[14] Smith on “The Complexion of the Human Species.”

[15] Pritchard.

[16] “Tribute for the Negro,” p. 59.

[17] Pennington’s Text Book, p. 96.

[18] “Livingstone’s Travels,” p. 296.

[19] Ibid, p. 364.

[20] Heeren, Vol. I., p. 297.

[21] Murray’s “North America.”

[22] Pritchard.

[23] Ibid.

[24] Æolian, lib. xii, cap. 36.

[25] Pritchard.

[Pg 84]


We now come to a consideration of the difference in the features of the human family, and especially the great variety to be seen in the African race. From the grim worshippers of Odin in the woods of Germany, down to the present day, all uncivilized nations or tribes have more or less been addicted to the barbarous custom of disfiguring their persons.

Thus, among the North American Indians, the tribe known as the “flat heads,” usually put their children’s heads to press when but a few days old; and consequently, their name fitly represents their personal appearance. While exploring the valley of the Zambesi, Dr. Livingstone met with several tribes whose mode of life will well illustrate this point. He says:—

“The women here are in the habit of piercing the upper lip and gradually enlarging the orifice until they can insert a shell. The lip then appears drawn out beyond the perpendicular of the nose, and gives them a most ungainly aspect. Sekwebu remarked,—‘These women want to make their mouths like those of ducks.’ And indeed, it does appear as if they had the[Pg 85] idea that female beauty of lip had been attained by the Ornithorhynchus paradoxus alone. This custom prevails throughout the country of the Maravi, and no one could see it without confessing that fashion had never led women to a freak more mad.”[26]

There is a tribe near the coast of Guinea, who consider a flat nose the paragon of beauty; and at early infancy, the child’s nose is put in press, that it may not appear ugly when it arrives to years of maturity.

Many of the tribes in the interior of Africa mark the face, arms, and breasts; these, in some instances, are considered national identifications. Knocking out the teeth is a common practice, as will be seen by reference to Dr. Livingstone’s travels. Living upon roots, as many of the more degraded tribes do, has its influence in moulding the features.

There is a decided coincidence between the physical characteristics of the varieties of man, and their moral and social condition; and it also appears that their condition in civilized society produces marked modification in the intellectual qualities of the race. Religious superstition and the worship of idols have done much towards changing the features of the Negro from the original Ethiopian of Meroe, to the present inhabitants of the shores of the Zambesi.

The farther the human mind strays from the ever-living God as a spirit, the nearer it approximates to the beasts; and as the mental controls the physical, so ignorance and brutality are depicted upon the countenance.

As the African by his fall has lost those qualities[Pg 86] that adorn the visage of man, so the Anglo-Saxon, by his rise in the scale of humanity, has improved his features, enlarged his brain, and brightened in intellect.

Let us see how far history will bear us out in this assertion. We all acknowledge the Anglo-Saxon to be the highest type of civilization. But from whence sprang this refined, proud, haughty, and intellectual race? Go back a few centuries, and we find their ancestors described in the graphic touches of Cæsar and Tacitus. See them in the gloomy forests of Germany, sacrificing to their grim and gory idols; drinking the warm blood of their prisoners, quaffing libations from human skulls; infesting the shores of the Baltic for plunder and robbery; bringing home the reeking scalps of enemies as an offering to their king.

Macaulay says:—“When the Britons first became known to the Tyrian mariners, they were little superior to the Sandwich Islanders.”

Hume says:—“The Britons were a rude and barbarous people, divided into numerous clans, dressed in the skins of wild beasts: druidism was their religion, and they were very superstitious.” Cæsar writing home, said of the Britons,—“They are the most degraded people I ever conquered.” Cicero advised his friend Atticus not to purchase slaves from Briton, “because,” said he, “they cannot be taught music, and are the ugliest people I ever saw.”

An illustration of the influence of circumstances upon the physical appearance of man may be found still nearer our own time. In the Irish rebellion in 1641, and 1689, great multitudes of the native Irish were driven from Armagh and the South down into[Pg 87] the mountainous tract extending from the Barony of Flews eastward to the sea; on the other side of the kingdom the same race were expelled into Litrin, Sligo, and Mayo. Here they have been almost ever since, exposed to the worst effects of hunger and ignorance, the two great brutalizers of the human race.

The descendants of these exiles are now distinguished physically, from their kindred in Meath, and other districts, where they are not in a state of personal debasement. These people are remarkable for open, projecting mouths, prominent teeth, and exposed gums; their advancing cheek-bones and depressed noses carry barbarism on their very front.

In Sligo and northern Mayo, the consequences of two centuries of degradation and hardship exhibit themselves in the whole physical condition of the people, affecting not only the features, but the frame, and giving such an example of human degradation as to make it revolting.

They are only five feet two inches, upon an average, bow-legged, bandy-shanked, abortively-featured; the apparitions of Irish ugliness and Irish want.[27]

Slavery is, after all, the great demoralizer of the human race. In addition to the marks of barbarism left upon the features of the African, he has the indelible imprint of the task-master. Want of food, clothing, medical attention when sick, over-work, under the control of drunken and heartless drivers, the hand-cuffs and Negro whip, together with the other paraphernalia of the slave-code, has done much to distinguish the blacks from the rest of the human family. It must[Pg 88] also be remembered that in Africa, the people, whether living in houses or in the open air, are oppressed with a hot climate, which causes them to sleep, more or less, with their mouths open. This fact alone is enough to account for the large, wide mouth and flat nose; common sense teaching us that with the open mouth, the features must fall.

As to the hair, which has also puzzled some scientific men, it is easily accounted for. It is well-known that heat is the great crisper of the hair, whether it be on men’s heads or on the backs of animals. I remember well, when a boy, to have witnessed with considerable interest the preparations made on great occasions by the women, with regard to their hair.

The curls which had been carefully laid away for months, were taken out of the drawer, combed, oiled, rolled over the prepared paper, and put in the gently-heated stove, there to remain until the wonted curl should be gained. When removed from the stove, taken off the paper rolls, and shaken out, the hair was fit to adorn the head of any lady in the land.

Now, the African’s hair has been under the influence for many centuries, of the intense heat of his native clime, and in each generation is still more curly, till we find as many grades of hair as we do of color, from the straight silken strands of the Malay, to the wool of the Guinea Negro. Custom, air, food, and the general habits of the people, spread over the great area of the African continent, aid much in producing the varieties of hair so often met with in the descendants of the country of the Nile.

In the recent reports of Dr. Livingstone, he describes the physical appearance of a tribe which he met,[Pg 89] and which goes to substantiate what has already been said with regard to the descent of the Africans from the region of the Nile. He says:—

“I happened to be present when all the head men of the great chief Msama who lives west of the south end of Tanganayika, had come together to make peace with certain Arabs who had burned their chief town, and I am certain one could not see more finely-formed, intellectual heads in any assembly in London or Paris, and the faces and forms corresponded with the finely-shaped heads. Msama himself had been a sort of Napoleon for fighting and conquering in his younger days.

“Many of the women are very pretty, and, like all ladies, would be much prettier if they would only let themselves alone. Fortunately, the dears cannot change their darling black eyes, beautiful foreheads, nicely-rounded limbs, well-shaped forms, and small hands and feet; but they must adorn themselves, and this they will do by filing their splendid teeth to points like cats’ teeth. These specimens of the fair sex make shift by adorning their fine, warm brown skins, and tattooing various pretty devices without colors. They are not black, but of a light warm brown color.

“The Cazembe’s queen would be esteemed a real beauty, either in London, Paris, or New York; and yet she had a small hole through the cartilage, near the tip of her fine aquiline nose. But she had only filed one side of two of the front swan-white teeth, and then what a laugh she had! Large sections of the country northwest of Cazembe, but still in the same inland region, are peopled with men very much like those of Msama and Cazembe.”


[26] “Livingstone’s Travels,” p. 366.

[27] “Dublin University Magazine,” Vol. IV., p. 653.

[Pg 90]


While paganism is embraced by the larger portion of the African races, it is by no means the religion of the land. Missionaries representing nearly every phase of religious belief have made their appearance in the country, and gained more or less converts. Mohammedanism, however, has taken by far the greatest hold upon the people.

Whatever may be said of the followers of Mohammed in other countries, it may truly be averred that the African has been greatly benefited by this religion.

Recent discussions and investigations have brought the subject of Mohammedanism prominently before the reading public, and the writings of Weil, and Noldeke, and Muir, and Sprenger, and Emanuel Deutsch, have taught the world that “Mohammedanism is a thing of vitality, fraught with a thousand fruitful germs;” and have amply illustrated the principle enunciated by St. Augustine, showing that there are elements both of truth and goodness in a system which has had so wide-spread an influence upon mankind, embracing[Pg 91] within the scope of its operations more than one hundred millions of the human race; that the exhibition of the germs of truth, even though “suspended in a gallery of counterfeits,” has vast power over the human heart.

Whatever may be the intellectual inferiority of the Negro tribes (if, indeed, such inferiority exists), it is certain that many of these tribes have received the religion of Islam without its being forced upon them by the overpowering arms of victorious invaders. The quiet development and organization of a religious community in the heart of Africa has shown that Negroes, equally with other races, are susceptible of moral and spiritual impressions, and of all the sublime possibilities of religion.

The history of the progress of Islam in the country would present the same instances of real and eager mental conflict of minds in honest transition, of careful comparison and reflection, that have been found in other communities where new aspects of truth and fresh considerations have been brought before them. And we hold that it shows a stronger and more healthy intellectual tendency to be induced by the persuasion and reason of a man of moral nobleness and deep personal convictions to join with him in the introduction of beneficial changes, than to be compelled to follow the lead of an irresponsible character, who forces us into measures by his superior physical might.

Mungo Park, in his travels seventy years ago, everywhere remarked the contrast between the pagan and Mohammedan tribes of interior Africa. One very important improvement noticed by him was abstinence from intoxicating drinks.

[Pg 92]

“The beverage of the pagan Negroes,” he says, “is beer and mead, of which they often drink to excess; the Mohammedan converts drink nothing but water.”

Thus, throughout Central Africa there has been established a vast total abstinence society; and such is the influence of this society that where there are Moslem inhabitants, even in pagan towns, it is a very rare thing to see a person intoxicated. They thus present an almost impenetrable barrier to the desolating flood of ardent spirits with which the traders from Europe and America inundate the coast at Caboon.

Wherever the Moslem is found on the coast, whether Jalof, Fulah, or Mandingo, he looks upon himself as a separate and distinct being from his pagan neighbor, and immeasurably his superior in intellectual and moral respects. He regards himself as one to whom a revelation has been “sent down” from Heaven. He holds constant intercourse with the “Lord of worlds,” whose servant he is. In his behalf Omnipotence will ever interpose in times of danger. Hence he feels that he cannot indulge in the frivolities and vices which he considers as by no means incompatible with the character and professions of the Kafir, or unbeliever.

There are no caste distinctions among them. They do not look upon the privileges of Islam as confined by tribal barriers or limitations. On the contrary, the life of their religion is aggressiveness. They are constantly making proselytes. As early as the commencement of the present century, the elastic and expansive character of their system was sufficiently marked to attract the notice of Mr. Park.

“In the Negro country,” observes that celebrated[Pg 93] traveller, “the Mohammedan religion has made, and continues to make, considerable progress.” “The yearning of the native African,” says Professor Crummell, “for a higher religion, is illustrated by the singular fact that Mohammedanism is rapidly and peaceably spreading all through the tribes of Western Africa, even to the Christian settlements of Liberia.”

From Senegal to Lagos, over two thousand miles, there is scarcely an important town on the seaboard where there is not at least one mosque, and active representatives of Islam often side by side with the Christian teachers. And as soon as a pagan, however obscure or degraded, embraces the Moslem faith, he is at once admitted as an equal to their society. Slavery and slave-trade are laudable institutions, provided the slaves are Kafirs. The slave who embraces Islamism is free, and no office is closed against him on account of servile blood.[28]

Passing over into the southern part, we find the people in a state of civilization, and yet superstitious, as indeed are the natives everywhere.

The town of Noble is a settlement of modern times, sheltering forty thousand souls, close to an ancient city of the same name, the Rome of aboriginal South Africa. The religious ceremonies performed there are of the most puerile character, and would be thought by most equally idolatrous with those formerly held in the same spot by the descendants of Mumbo Jumbo.

On Easter Monday is celebrated the [Pg 94]Festa del Señor de los Temblores, or Festival of the Lord of Earthquakes. On this day the public plaza in front of the cathedral is hung with garlands and festoons, and the belfry utters its loudest notes. The images of the saints are borne out from their shrines, covered with fresh and gaudy decorations. The Madonna of Bethlehem, San Cristoval, San Blas, and San José, are borne on in elevated state, receiving as they go the prayers of all the Maries, and Christophers, and Josephs, who respectively regard them as patrons. But the crowning honors are reserved for the miraculous Crucifix, called the Lord of Earthquakes, which is supposed to protect the city from the dreaded terrestrial shocks, the Temblores.

The procession winds around a prescribed route, giving opportunity for public prayers and the devotions of the multitude; the miraculous image, in a new spangled skirt, that gives it the most incongruous resemblance to an opera-dancer, is finally shut up in the church; and then the glad throng, feeling secure from earthquakes another year, dance and sing in the plaza all night long.

The Borers, a hardy, fighting, and superstitious race, have a showy time at weddings and funerals. When the appointed day for marriage has arrived, the friends of the contracting parties assemble and form a circle; into this ring the bridegroom leads his lady-love.

The woman is divested of her clothing, and stands somewhat as mother Eve did in the garden before she thought of the fig-leaf. The man then takes oil from a shell, and anoints the bride from the crown of her head to the soles of her feet; at the close of this ceremony, the bridegroom breaks forth into joyful peals of[Pg 95] laughter, in which all the company join, the musicians strike up a lively air, and the dance commences. At the close of this, the oldest woman in the party comes forward, and taking the bride by the right hand, gives her to her future husband.

Two maids standing ready with clothes, jump to the bride, and begin rubbing her off. After this, she is again dressed, and the feast commences, consisting mainly of fruits and wines.

The funeral services of the same people are not less interesting. At the death of one of their number, the body is stripped, laid out upon the ground, and the friends of the deceased assemble, forming a circle around it, and commence howling like so many demons. They then march and counter-march around, with a subdued chant. After this, they hop around first on one foot, then on the other; stopping still, they cry at the top of their voices—“She’s in Heaven, she’s in Heaven!” Here they all fall flat upon the ground, and roll about for a few minutes, after which they simultaneously rise, throw up their hands, and run away yelling and laughing.

Among the Bechuanas, when a chief dies, his burial takes place in his cattle-yard, and all the cattle are driven for an hour over the grave, so that it may be entirely obliterated.[29] In all the Backwain’s pretended dreams and visions of their God, he has always a crooked leg like the Egyptian.[30]

Musical and dancing festivities form a great part of the people’s time. With some of the tribes, instrumental music has been carried to a high point of [Pg 96]culture. Bruce gives an account of a concert, the music of which he heard at the distance of a mile or more, on a still night in October. He says: “It was the most enchanting strain I ever listened to.”

It is not my purpose to attempt a detailed account of the ceremonies of the various tribes that inhabit the continent of Africa; indeed, such a thing would be impossible, even if I were inclined to do so.


[28] Prof. Blyden, in “Methodist Quarterly Review,” June, 1871.

[29] Dr. Livingstone.

[30] Thau.

[Pg 97]


According to Bruce, who travelled extensively in Africa, the Abyssinians have among them a tradition, handed down from time immemorial, that Cush was their father. Theodore, late king of Abyssinia, maintained that he descended in a direct line from Moses. As this monarch has given wider fame to his country than any of his predecessors, it will not be amiss to give a short sketch of him and his government.

Theodore was born at Quarel, on the borders of the western Amhara, and was educated in a convent in which he was placed by his mother, his father being dead. He early delighted in military training, and while yet a boy, became proficient as a swordsman and horseman.

Like Robert Clive, Warren Hastings, and many other great warriors, Theodore became uneasy under the restraint of the school-room, and escaped from the convent to his uncle, Dejatch Comfu, a noted rebel, from whom he imbibed a taste for warlike pursuits, and eventually became ruler of a large portion of Abyssinia. Naturally ambitious and politic, he succeeded[Pg 98] in enlarging his authority steadily at the expense of the other “Ras,” or chiefs, of Abyssinia. His power especially increased when, in 1853, he defeated his father-in-law, Ras Ali, and took him prisoner. At length in 1855, he felt himself strong enough to formally claim the throne of all Abyssinia, and he was crowned as such by the Abuna Salama, the head of the Abyssinian church.

His reign soon proved to be the most effective Abyssinia had ever had. As soon as he came into power, his attention was directed to the importance of being on terms of friendship with the government which rules India, and which has established itself in the neighboring stronghold of Aden. He therefore resolved to assert the rights assured to him by virtue of the treaty made between Great Britain and Abyssinia in the year 1849, and ratified in 1852, in which it was stipulated that each State should receive embassadors from the other. Mr. Plowden, who had been for many years English consul at Massawah, although not an accredited agent to Abyssinia, went to that country with presents for the people in authority, and remained during the war which broke out at the succession of Theodore.

Unfortunately, Mr. Plowden, who had succeeded in winning the favor of the emperor, to a large extent, was killed; and his successor, Mr. Cameron, was informed, soon after his arrival in 1862, by the King, that he desired to carry out the above-mentioned treaty; he even wrote an autograph letter to Queen Victoria, asking permission to send an embassy to London. Although the letter reached England in February, 1863, it remained unanswered; and the[Pg 99] supposition is, that this circumstance, together with a quarrel with Mr. Stern, a missionary, who in a book on Abyssinia, had spoken disrespectfully of the King, and who had remonstrated against the flogging to death of two interpreters, roused the King’s temper, and a year after having dispatched the unanswered letter, he sent an armed force to the missionary station, seized the missionaries, and put them in chains. He also cast Mr. Cameron into prison, and had him chained continually to an Abyssinian soldier.

Great excitement prevailed in England on the arrival of the news of this outrage against British subjects: but in consideration of an armed expedition having to undergo many hardships in such a warm climate, it was deemed best by the English government to use diplomacy in its efforts to have the prisoners released. It was not until the second half of August, 1865, that Mr. Rassam, an Asiatic, by birth, was sent on a special mission to the Abyssinian potentate, and was received on his arrival in February, 1866, in a truly magnificent style, the release of the prisoners being at once ordered by the King. But the hope thus raised was soon to be disappointed, for when Mr. Rassam and the other prisoners were just on the point of taking leave of the Emperor, they were put under arrest, and notified that they would have to remain in the country as State guests until an answer could be obtained to another letter which the King was going to write to the Queen.

After exhausting all diplomatic resources to obtain from Theodore the release of the captives, the English government declared war against Theodore. The war was chiefly to be carried on with the troops, European and native, which in India had become[Pg 100] accustomed to the hot climate. The first English troops made their appearance in October, 1867, but it was not until the close of the year that the whole of the army arrived. The expedition was commanded by General Sir Robert Napier, heretofore commanding-general at Bombay. Under him acted as commanders of divisions, Sir Charles Steevely, and Colonel Malcolm, while Colonel Merewether commanded the cavalry. The distance from Massowah, the landing-place of the troops, to Magdala, the capital of Theodore, is about three hundred miles. The English had to overcome great difficulties, but they overcame them with remarkable energy. King Theodore gradually retired before the English without risking a battle until he reached his capital. Then he made a stand, and fought bravely for his crown, but in vain; he was defeated, the capital captured, and the King himself slain.

King Theodore was, on the whole, the greatest ruler Abyssinia has ever had: even, according to English accounts, he excelled in all manly pursuits, and his general manner was polite and engaging. Had he avoided this foolish quarrel with England, and proceeded on the way of reform which he entered upon in the beginning of his reign, he would probably have played an important part in the political regeneration of Eastern Africa.

As a people, the Abyssinians are intelligent, are of a ginger-bread, or coffee color, although a large portion of them are black. Theodore was himself of this latter class. They have fine schools and colleges, and a large and flourishing military academy. Agriculture, that great civilizer of man, is carried on here to an extent unknown in other parts of the country.

[Pg 101]


The Colony of Sierra Leone, of which Free Town is the capital, is situated in 8 degrees 30 minutes north latitude, and is about 13½ degrees west longitude; was settled by the English, and was for a long time the most important place on the western coast of Africa. The three leading tribes on the coast of Sierra Leone are the Timanis, the Susus, and the Veys. The first of these surround the British Colony of Sierra Leone on all sides. The Susus have their principal settlements near the head-waters of the Rio Pongas, and are at some distance from the sea coast. The Veys occupy all the country about the Gallinas and Cape Mount, and extend back into the country to the distance of fifty or a hundred miles.

The Timanis cultivate the soil to some extent, have small herds of domestic animals, and are engaged to a greater or less extent in barter with the English colonists of Sierra Leone. They may be seen in large numbers about the streets of Free Town, wearing a large square cotton cloth thrown around their persons. They are strong and healthy in appearance, but have a much[Pg 102] less intellectual cast of countenance than the Mandingoes or Fulahs, who may also be seen in the same place. Like all the other tribes in Africa, especially the pagans, they are much addicted to fetichism,—worship of evil spirits,—administering the red-wood ordeal, and other ceremonies. They are depraved, licentious, indolent, and avaricious. But this is no more than what may be said of every heathen tribe on the globe.

The Veys, though not a numerous or powerful tribe, are very intellectual, and have recently invented an alphabet for writing their own language, which has been printed, and now they enjoy the blessings of a written system, for which they are entirely indebted to their own ingenuity and enterprise. This is undoubtedly one of the most remarkable achievements of this or any other age, and is itself enough to silence forever the cavils and sneers of those who think so contemptuously of the intellectual endowments of the African race. The characters used in this system are all new, and were invented by the people themselves without the aid of outsiders. The Veys occupy all the country along the sea-board from Gallinas to Cape Mount.

In stature, they are about the ordinary height, of slender, but graceful figures, with very dark complexions, but large and well-formed heads.

As the Veys are within the jurisdiction of Liberia, that government will be of great service to them. The Biassagoes, the Bulloms, the Dego, and the Gola, are also inhabitants of the Sierra Leone coast. Other tribes of lesser note are scattered all along the coast, many of which have come under the good influence of the Liberian government. Cape Coast Castle, the [Pg 103]stronghold of the English on the African coast, has, in past years, been a place of great importance. It was from this place that its governor, Sir Charles McCarthy, went forth to the contest with the Ashantees, a warlike tribe, and was defeated, losing his life, together with that of seven others.

Here, at this castle, “L. E. L.,” the gifted poetess and novelist of England, died, and was buried within the walls. This lamented lady married Captain McLean, the governor-general of the castle, and her death caused no little comment at the time, many blaming the husband for the wife’s death.

The Kru people are also on the coast, and have less general intelligence than the Fulahs, Mandingoes, and Degos. They are physically a fine-appearing race, with more real energy of character than either of the others. It would be difficult to find better specimens of muscular development, men of more manly and independent carriage, or more real grace of manner, anywhere in the world. No one ever comes in contact with them, for the first time, without being struck with their open, frank countenances, their robust and well-proportioned forms, and their independent bearing, even when they have but the scantiest covering for their bodies.

Their complexion varies from the darkest shade of the Negro to that of the true mulatto. Their features are comparatively regular; and, though partaking of all the characteristics of the Negro, they are by no means strongly marked in their general outline or development. The most marked deficiency is in the formation of their heads, which are narrow and peaked, and do not indicate a very high order of intellectual[Pg 104] endowment. Experience, however, has shown that they are as capable of intellectual improvement as any other race of men.[31]

In the interior of Youeba, some distance back from Cape Coast, lies the large city of Ibaddan, a place with a population of about two hundred thousand souls. Abeokuta has a population of more than one hundred thousand, and is about seventy-five miles from the sea coast, with a history that is not without interest. Some fifty years ago, a few persons of different tribes, who had been constantly threatened and annoyed by the slave-traders of the coast, fled to the back country, hid away in a large cave, coming out occasionally to seek food, and taking in others who sought protection from these inhuman men-hunters.

This cavern is situated on the banks of the Ogun, and in the course of time became the hiding-place of great numbers from the surrounding country. At first, they subsisted on berries, roots, and such other articles of food as they could collect near their place of retreat; but growing in strength by the increase of population, they began to bid defiance to their enemies.

A slave-hunting party from Dahomey, having with them a considerable number of captives, passing the cavern, thought it a good opportunity to add to their wealth, and consequently, made an attack upon the settlers. The latter came forth in large force from their hiding-place, gave battle to the traders, defeated them, capturing their prisoners and putting their enemies to flight. The captives were at once liberated, and joined their deliverers. In the course of time this settlement[Pg 105] took the name of Abeokuta. These people early turned their attention to agriculture and manufacturing, and by steady increase in population, it soon became a city of great wealth and importance. About thirty years ago, a number of recaptives from Sierra Leone, who had formerly been taken from this region of country, and who had been recaptured by the English, liberated and educated, visited Lagos for trade. Here they met many of their old friends and relations from Abeokuta, learned of the flourishing town that had grown up, and with larger numbers returned to swell the population of the new city.

The King of Dahomey watched the growing power of Abeokuta with an evil eye, and in 1853, he set in motion a large army, with the view of destroying this growing city, and reducing its inhabitants to slavery. The King made a desperate attack and assault upon the place, but he met with a resistance that he little thought of. The engagement was carried on outside of the walls for several hours, when the Dahomian army was compelled to give way, and the King himself was saved only by the heroism and frantic manner in which he was defended by his Amazons. This success of the people of Abeokuta gave the place a reputation above what it had hitherto enjoyed, and no invading army has since appeared before its walls.

Much of the enterprise and improvement of these people is owing to the good management of Shodeke, their leader. Coming from all sections near the coast, and the line of the slave-traders, representing the remnants of one hundred and thirty towns, these people, in the beginning, were anything but united. Shodeke brought them together and made them feel as[Pg 106] one family. This remarkable man had once been captured by the slave-traders, but had escaped, and was the first to suggest the cave as a place of safety. Throughout Sierra Leone, Abeokuta, and the Yoruba country generally the best-known man in connection with the African civilization, is Mr. Samuel Crowther, a native, and who, in the Yoruba language, was called Adgai. He was embarked as a slave on board a slaver at Badagry, in 1822. The vessel was captured by a British man-of-war and taken to Sierra Leone. Here he received a good education, was converted, and became a minister of the Gospel, after which he returned to his native place.

Mr. Crowther is a man of superior ability, and his attainments in learning furnish a happy illustration of the capacity of the Negro for improvements. Dahomey is one of the largest and most powerful of all the governments on the west coast. The King is the most absolute tyrant in the world, owning all the land, the people, and everything that pertains to his domain. The inhabitants are his slaves, and they must come and go at his command. The atrocious cruelties that are constantly perpetrated at the command and bidding of this monarch, has gained for him the hatred of the civilized world; and strange to say, these deeds of horror appear to be sanctioned by the people, who have a superstitious veneration for their sovereign, that is without a parallel. Abomi, the capital of Dahomey, has a large population, a fort, and considerable trade. The King exacts from all the sea-port towns on this part of the coast, and especially from Popo, Porto Novo, and Badagry, where the foreign slave-trade, until within[Pg 107] a very short period, was carried on as in no other part of Africa.

The Dahomian soldiery, for the past two hundred years, have done little less than hunt slaves for the supply of the traders.

The English blockading squadron has done great service in breaking up the slave-trade on this part of the coast, and this has turned the attention of the people to agriculture. The country has splendid natural resources, which if properly developed, will make it one of the finest portions of Western Africa. The soil is rich, the seasons are regular, and the climate favorable for agricultural improvements. Indian corn, yams, potatoes, manico, beans, ground-nuts, plantains, and bananas are the chief products of the country. Cotton is raised to a limited extent.

The practice of sacrificing the lives of human beings upon the graves of dead kings every year in Dahomey, and then paving the palace grounds with the skulls of the victims, has done much to decrease the population of this kingdom. As many as two thousand persons have been slaughtered on a single occasion. To obtain the required number, wars have been waged upon the surrounding nations for months previous to the sacrifice. There is no place where there is more intense heathenism; and to mention no other feature in their superstitious practice, the worship of snakes by the Dahomians fully illustrates this remark.

A building in the centre of the town is devoted to the exclusive use of reptiles, and they may be seen here at any time in great numbers. They are fed, and more care taken of them than of the human inhabitants of the place. If they are found straying away they[Pg 108] must be brought back; and at the sight of them the people prostrate themselves on the ground, and do them all possible reverence. To kill or injure one of them is to endure the penalty of death. On certain days they are taken out by the priests or doctors, and paraded about the streets, the bearers allowing them to coil themselves around their arms, necks, and bodies, and even to put their heads into the carriers’ bosoms.

They are also employed to detect persons who are suspected of theft, witchcraft, and murder. If in the hands of the priest they bite the suspected person, it is sure evidence of his guilt; and no doubt the serpent is trained to do the will of his keeper in all cases. Images called greegrees, of the most uncouth shape and form, may be seen in all parts of the town, and are worshipped by everybody.

In every part of Africa, polygamy is a favorite institution. In their estimation it lies at the very foundation of all social order, and society would scarcely be worth preserving without it. The highest aspiration that the most eminent African ever rises to, is to have a large number of wives. His happiness, his reputation, his influence, his position in society, and his future welfare, all depend upon it. In this feeling the women heartily concur; for a woman would much rather be the wife of a man who had fifty others, than to be the sole representative of a man who had not force of character to raise himself above the one-woman level.

The consequence is, that the so-called wives are little better than slaves. They have no purpose in life other than to administer to the wants and gratify the passions[Pg 109] of their lords, who are masters and owners, rather than husbands.

In nearly every nation or tribe, the wife is purchased; and as this is done in the great majority of cases when she is but a child, her wishes, as a matter of course, are never consulted in this most important affair of her whole life.

As both father and mother hold a claim on the daughter, and as each makes a separate bargain with the future son-in-law, the parent generally makes a good thing out of the sale. The price of a wife ranges all the way from the price of a cow to three cows, a goat or a sheep, and some articles of crockery-ware, beads, and a few other trinkets. Where the girl is bought in infancy, it remains with the parents till of a proper age. There are no widows, the woman being sold for life, and becomes the wife of the husband’s brother, should the former die. A man of respectability is always expected to provide a separate house for each of his wives. Each woman is mistress of her own household, provides for herself and her children, and entertains her husband as often as he favors her with his company.

The wife is never placed on a footing of social equality with her husband. Her position is a menial one, and she seldom aspires to anything higher than merely to gratify the passions of her husband. She never takes a seat at the social board with him.

Men of common standing are never allowed to have as many wives as a sovereign. Both the Kings of Dahomey and Ashantee are permitted by law to have three thousand three hundred and thirty-three. No one is allowed to see the King’s wives except the King’s[Pg 110] female relatives, or such messengers as he may send, and even these must communicate with them through their bamboo walls. Sometimes they go forth in a body through the streets, but are always preceded by a company of boys, who warn the people to run out of the way, and avoid the unpardonable offence of seeing the King’s wives. The men especially, no matter what their rank, must get out of the way; and if they have not had sufficient time to do this, they must fall flat on the ground and hide their faces until the procession has passed. To see one of the King’s wives, even accidentally, is a capital offence; and the scene of the confusion which occasionally takes place in the public market in consequence of the unexpected approach of the royal cortege, is said to be ludicrous beyond all description.

At the death of the King, it is not uncommon for his wives to fall upon each other with knives, and lacerate themselves in the most cruel and barbarous manner; and this work of butchery is continued until they are forcibly restrained. Women are amongst the most reliable and brave in the King’s army, and constitute about one-third of the standing army in Ashantee and Dahomey.

One of the most influential and important classes in every African community is the deybo, a set of professional men who combine the medical and priestly office in the same person. They attend the sick and administer medicines, which usually consist of decoctions of herbs or roots, and external applications. A doctor is expected to give his undivided attention to one patient at a time, and is paid only in case of successful treatment. If the case is a serious one, he is[Pg 111] expected to deposit with the family, as a security for his good behavior and faithful discharge of duty, a bundle of hair that was shorn from his head at the time he was inaugurated into office, and without which he could have no skill in his profession whatever.

The doctor professes to hold intercourse with, and have great influence over demons. He also claims to have communications from God. No man can be received into the conclave without spending two years or more as a student with some eminent member of the fraternity. During this period he must accompany his preceptor in all his journeyings, perform a variety of menial services, is prohibited from shaving his head, washing his body, or allowing water to be applied to him in any way whatever, unless perchance he falls into a stream, or is overtaken by a shower of rain, when he is permitted to get off as much dirt as possible from his body. The doctor’s badge of office is a monkey’s skin, which he carries in the form of a roll wherever he goes, and of which he is as proud as his white brother of his sheep-skin diploma.

In their capacity as priests, these men profess to be able to raise the dead, cast out devils, and do all manner of things that other people are incapable of doing. The doctor is much feared by the common classes. No innovation in practice is allowed by these men. A rather amusing incident occurred recently, which well illustrates the jealousy, bigotry, and ignorance of these professionals.

Mr. Samuel Crowther, Jr., having returned from England, where he had studied for a physician, began the practice of his profession amongst his native[Pg 112] people. The old doctors hearing that Crowther was prescribing, called on him in a large delegation. Mr. Crowther received the committee cordially; heard what they had to say, and expressed his willingness to obey, provided they would give him a trial, and should find him deficient. To this they agreed; and a time was appointed for the test to take place. On the day fixed, the regulars appeared, clothed in their most costly robes, well provided with charms, each holding in his hand his monkey’s skin, with the head most prominent.

Mr. Crowther was prepared to receive them. A table was placed in the middle of the room, and on it a dish, in which were a few drops of sulphuric acid, so placed that a slight motion of the table would cause it to flow into a mixture of chlorate of potassa and white sugar. An English clock was also in the room, from which a cock issued every hour and crowed. It was arranged that the explosion from the dish, and the crowing of the rooster, should take place at the same moment.

The whole thing was to be decided in favor of the party who should perform the greatest wonder. After all were seated, Mr. Crowther made a harangue, and requested them to say who should lead off in the contest.

This privilege they accorded to him. The doors were closed, the curtains drawn, and all waited in breathless silence. Both the hands on the clock were fast approaching the figure twelve. Presently the cock came out and began crowing, to the utter astonishment of the learned visitors. Crowther gave the table a jostle; and suddenly, from the midst of the dish burst forth[Pg 113] flame and a terrible explosion. This double wonder was too much for these sages. The scene that followed is indescribable. One fellow rushed through the window and scampered; one fainted and fell upon the floor; another, in his consternation, overturned chairs, tables, and everything in his way, took refuge in the bedroom, under the bed, from which he was with difficulty afterwards removed.

It need not be added that they gave no more trouble, and the practice they sought to break up was the more increased for their pains.[32]

In Southern Guinea, and especially in the Gabun country, the natives are unsurpassed for their cunning and shrewdness in trade; and even in everything in the way of dealing with strangers. The following anecdote will illustrate how easily they can turn matters to their own account.

There is a notable character in the Gabun, of the name of Cringy. No foreigner ever visits the river without making his acquaintance; and all who do so, remember him forever after. He speaks English, French, Portuguese, and at least half a dozen native languages, with wonderful ease. He is, in person, a little, old, grey-headed, hump-backed man, with a remarkably bright, and by no means unpleasant eye. His village is perched on a high bluff on the north side of the Gabun River, near its outlet. He generally catches the first sight of vessels coming in, and puts off in his boat to meet the ship. If the captain has never been on the coast before, Cringy will make a good thing out of him, unless he has been warned by other sailors. The cunning African is a pilot; and[Pg 114] after he brings a vessel in and moors her opposite his town by a well-known usage, it is now Cringy’s. He acts as interpreter; advises the captain; helps to make bargains, and puts on airs as if the ship belonged to him. If anybody else infringes on his rights in the slightest degree, he is at once stigmatized as a rude and ill-mannered person. Cringy is sure to cheat everyone he deals with, and has been seized half a dozen times or more by men-of-war, or other vessels, and put in irons. But he is so adroit with his tongue, and so good-natured and humorous, that he always gets clear.

The following trick performed by him, will illustrate the character of the man.

Some years ago, the French had a fight with the natives. After reducing the people near the mouth of the river to obedience by the force of arms, Commodore B— proposed to visit King George’s towns, about thirty miles higher up the river, with the hope of getting them to acknowledge the French authority without further resort to violence. In order to make a favorable impression, he determined to take his squadron with him. His fleet consisted of two large sloops-of-war and a small vessel. As none of the French could speak the native language, and none of King George’s people could speak French, it was a matter of great importance that a good interpreter should be employed. It was determined that Cringy was the most suitable man. He was sent for, accepted the offer at once—for Cringy himself had something of importance at stake—and resolved to profit by this visit.

One of Cringy’s wives was the daughter of King George; and this woman, on account of ill-treatment,[Pg 115] had fled and gone back into her father’s country. All his previous efforts to get his wife had failed. And now when the proposition came from the commodore, the thought occurred to Cringy that he could make himself appear to be a man of great influence and power. The party set out with a favoring wind and tide, and were soon anchored at their place of destination. With a corps of armed marines, the commodore landed and proceeded to the King’s palace.

The people had had no intimation of such a visit, and the sudden arrival of this armed body produced a very strong sensation, and all eyes were on Cringy, next to the commodore, for he was the only one that could explain the object of the expedition. King George and his council met the commodore, and Cringy was instructed to say that the latter had come to have a friendly talk with the King, with the view of establishing amicable relations between him and the King of France, and would be glad to have his signature to a paper to that effect. Now was Cringy’s moment; and he acted his part well.

The wily African, with the air of one charged with a very weighty responsibility, said: “King George, the commodore is very sorry that you have not returned my wife. He wishes you to do it now in a prompt and quiet manner, and save him the trouble and pain of bringing his big guns to bear upon your town.”

King George felt the deepest indignation; not so much against the commodore, as Cringy, for resorting to so extraordinary a measure to compel him to give up his daughter. But he concealed the emotions of his heart, and, without the slightest change[Pg 116] of countenance, but with a firm and determined tone of voice, he said to his own people, “Go out quietly and get your guns loaded; and if one drop of blood is shed here to-day, be sure that not one of these Frenchmen get back to their vessels. But be sure and”—he said it with great emphasis, “let Cringy be the first man killed.”

This was more than Cringy had bargained for. And how is he to get out of this awkward scrape? The lion has been aroused, and how shall he be pacified? But this is just the position to call out Cringy’s peculiar gift, and he set to work in the most penitent terms. He acknowledged, and begged pardon for his rash, unadvised counsel; reminded his father-in-law that they were all liable to do wrong sometimes, and that this was the most grievous error of his whole life. And as to the threat of the commodore, a single word from him would be sufficient to put a stop to all hostile intentions.

The wrath of the King was assuaged. The commodore, however, by this time had grown impatient to know what was going on, and especially, why the people had left the house so abruptly. With the utmost self-possession, Cringy replied that the people had gone to catch a sheep, which the King had ordered for the commodore’s dinner; and as to signing the paper, that would be done when the commodore was ready to take his departure. And to effect these two objects, Cringy relied wholly upon his own power of persuasion.

True enough the sheep was produced and the paper was signed. King George and the French commodore parted good friends, and neither of them knew for[Pg 117] more than a month after, the double game which Cringy had played; and what was more remarkable than all, Cringy was rewarded by the restoration of his wife.[33]


[31] Wilson’s “Western Africa.”

[32] “A Pilgrimage to my Motherland.” Campbell.

[33] “Western Africa.” Wilson.

[Pg 118]


The slave-trade has been the great obstacle to the civilization of Africa, the development of her resources, and the welfare of the Negro race. The prospect of gain, which this traffic held out to the natives, induced one tribe to make war upon another, burn the villages, murder the old, and kidnap the young. In return, the successful marauders received in payment gunpowder and rum, two of the worst enemies of an ignorant and degraded people.

Fired with ardent spirits, and armed with old muskets, these people would travel from district to district, leaving behind them smouldering ruins, heart-stricken friends, and bearing with them victims whose market value was to inflame the avaricious passions of the inhabitants of the new world.

While the enslavement of one portion of the people of Africa by another has been a custom of many centuries, to the everlasting shame and disgrace of the Portuguese, it must be said they were the first to engage in the foreign slave-trade. As early as the year 1503, a few slaves were sent from a Portuguese [Pg 119]settlement in Africa into the Spanish colonies in America. In 1511 Ferdinand, the fifth king of Spain, permitted them to be carried in great numbers.

Ferdinand, however, soon saw the error of this, and ordered the trade to be stopped. At the death of the King, a proposal was made by Bartholomew de las Cassas, the bishop of Chiapa, to Cardinal Ximenes, who held the reins of the government of Spain till Charles V. came to the throne, for the establishment of a regular system of commerce in the persons of the native Africans. The cardinal, however, with a foresight, a benevolence, and a justice which will always do honor to his memory, refused the proposal; not only judging it to be unlawful to consign innocent people to slavery at all, but to be very inconsistent to deliver the inhabitants of one country over for the benefit of another.

Charles soon came to the throne, the cardinal died, and in 1517 the King granted a patent to one of his Flemish favorites, containing an exclusive right of importing four thousand Africans into the islands St. Domingo, Porto Rico, Cuba, and Jamaica. In 1562 the English, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth, commenced the importation of African slaves, which were taken to Hispaniola by Sir John Hawkins. The trade then became general. The French persuaded Louis XIII., then King of France, that it would be aiding the cause of Christianity to import the Africans into the colonies, where they could be converted to the Christian religion; and the French embarked in the trade.

The Dutch were too sharp-eyed to permit such an opportunity to fill their coffers to pass by, so they [Pg 120]followed the example set by the Portuguese, the English, and the French. The trade being considered lawful by all countries, and especially in Africa, the means of obtaining slaves varied according to the wishes of the traders.

Some whites travelled through the country as far as it was practical, and bartered goods for slaves, chaining them together, who followed their masters from town to town until they reached the coast, where they were sold to the owners of ships. Others located themselves on the coast and in the interior, and bought the slaves as they were brought in for sale.

A chief of one of the tribes of the Guinea coast, who had been out on a successful marauding expedition, in which he had captured some two hundred slaves, took them to the coast, sold his chattels to the captain of a vessel, and was invited on board the ship. The chief with his three sons and attendants had scarcely reached the deck of the ship when they were seized, hand-cuffed, and placed with the other Negroes, which enabled the captain to save the purchase money, as well as adding a dozen more slaves to his list.

Had this happened in the nineteenth century, it would have been pronounced a “Yankee trick.”

Some large ships appeared at the slave-trading towns on the coast, ready to convey to the colonies any slaves whose owners might see fit to engage them. Their cargoes would often be made up of the slaves of half a dozen parties, on which occasions the chattels would sometimes become mixed, and cause a dispute as to the ownership. To avoid this, the practice of branding the slaves on the coast before shipping them,[Pg 121] was introduced. Branding a human being on the naked body, the hot iron hissing in the quivering flesh, the cries and groans of the helpless creatures, were scenes enacted a few years ago, and which the African slave-trader did not deny.

There on a rude mat, spread upon the ground,
A stalwart Negro lieth firmly bound;
His brawny chest one brutal captor smites,
And notice to the ringing sound invites;
Another opes his mouth the teeth to show,
As cattle-dealers aye are wont to do.
Hark, to that shrill and agonizing cry!
Gaze on that upturned, supplicating eye!
How the flesh quivers, and how shrinks the frame,
As the initials of her owner’s name
Burn on the back of that Mandingo girl;
Yet calmly do the smoke-wreaths upward curl
From his cigar, whose right unfaltering hand
Lights with a match the cauterizing brand,
The while his left doth the round shoulder clasp,
And hold his victim in a vise-like grasp.

As cruel as was the preparation before leaving their native land, it was equalled, if not surpassed, by the passage on shipboard. Two thousand human beings put on a vessel not capable of accommodating half that number; disease breaking out amongst the slaves, when but a few days on the voyage; the dead and the dying thrown overboard, and the cries and groans coming forth from below decks is but a faint picture of the horrid trade.

“All ready?” cried the captain;
“Ay, ay!” the seamen said;
“Heave up the worthless lubbers—
The dying and the dead.”
[Pg 122]Up from the slave-ship’s prison
Fierce, bearded heads were thrust;
“Now let the sharks look to it—
Toss up the dead ones first!”

Slave-factories, or trading-pens, were established up and down the coast. And although England for many years kept a fleet in African waters, to watch and break up this abominable traffic, the swiftness of the slavers, and the adroitness of their pilots, enabled them to escape detection by gaining hiding-places in some of the small streams on the coast, or by turning to the ocean until a better opportunity offered itself for landing.

Calabar and Bonny were the two largest slave-markets on the African coast. From these places alone twenty thousand slaves were shipped, in the year 1806. It may therefore be safe to say, that fifty thousand slaves were yearly sent into the colonies at this period; or rather, sent from the coast, for many thousands who were shipped, never reached their place of destination. During the period when this traffic was carried on without any interference on the part of the British government, caravans of slaves were marched down to Loango from the distance of several hundred miles, and each able-bodied man was required to bring down a tooth of ivory. In this way a double traffic was carried on; that in ivory by the English and American vessels, and the slaves by the Portuguese.

All who have investigated the subject, know that the rivers Benin, Bonny, Brass, Kalabar, and Kameruns, were once the chief seats of this trade. It is through these rivers that the Niger discharges itself into the ocean; and as the factories near the mouths of these [Pg 123]different branches had great facility of access to the heart of Africa, it is probable that the traffic was carried on more vigorously here than anywhere else on the coast.

But the abolition of the slave-trade by England, and the presence of the British squadron on the coast, has nearly broken up the trade.

The number of vessels now engaged in carrying on a lawful trade in these rivers is between fifty and sixty; and so decided are the advantages reaped by the natives from this change in their commercial affairs, that it is not believed they would ever revert to it again, even if all outward restraints were taken away. So long as the African seas were given up to piracy and the slave-trade, and the aborigines in consequence were kept in constant excitement and warfare, it was almost impossible either to have commenced or continued a missionary station on the coast for the improvement of the natives. And the fact that there was none anywhere between Sierra Leone and the Cape of Good Hope, previous to the year 1832, shows that it was regarded as impracticable.[34]

Christianity does not invoke the aid of the sword; but when she can shield from the violence of lawless men by the intervention of “the powers that be,” or when the providence of God goes before and smoothes down the waves of discord and strife, she accepts it as a grateful boon, and discharges her duty with greater alacrity and cheerfulness.

Throughout all the region where the slave-trade was once carried on, there is great decline in business, except where that traffic has been replaced by legitimate commerce or agriculture. Nor could it well be[Pg 124] otherwise. The very measures which were employed in carrying on this detestable traffic at least over three-fourths of the country, were in themselves quite sufficient to undermine any government in the world. For a long term of years the slaves were procured on the part of these larger and more powerful governments by waging war against their feebler neighbors for this express purpose; and in this way they not only cut off all the sources of their own prosperity and wealth, but the people themselves, while waging this ruthless and inhuman warfare, were imbibing notions and principles which would make it impossible for them to cohere long as organized nations.

The bill for the abolition of the British slave-trade received the royal assent on March 25, 1807; and this law came into operation on and after January 1, 1808. That was a deed well done; and glorious was the result for humanity. To William Wilberforce, Thomas Clarkson, Granville Sharp, and a few others, is the credit due for this great act.

Although the slave-trade was abolished by the British government, and afterwards by the American and some other nations, the slave-trade still continued, and exists even at the present day, in a more limited form, except, perhaps, in Northern and Central Africa, and on the Nile. In that section the trade is carried on in the most gigantic manner. It begins every year in the month of August, when the traders prepare for a large haul.

All the preparations having been completed, they ascend the Nile in a regular squadron. Every expedition means war; and, according to its magnitude, is provided with one hundred to one thousand armed[Pg 125] men. The soldiers employed consist of the miserable Dongolowie, who carry double-barrelled shot-guns and knives, and are chiefly noted for their huge appetites and love of marissa (beer). Each large dealer has his own territory, and he resents promptly any attempt of another trader to trespass thereon.

For instance, Agate, the most famous of all African slave-traders, knew, and his men frequently visited, the Victoria Nyanza, long before Speke ever dreamed of it. Agate’s station is now near the Nyanza, and he keeps up a heavy force there, as indeed he does at all his stations. When the expedition is ready, it moves slowly up to the Neam-Neam country, for instance, and if one tribe is hostile to another, he joins with the strongest and takes his pay in slaves. Active spies are kept in liberal pay to inform him of the number and quality of the young children; and when the chief believes he can steal one hundred he settles down to work, for that figure means four thousand dollars. He makes a landing with his human hounds, after having reconnoitred the position,—generally in the night time. At dawn he moves forward on the village, and the alarm is spread among the Negroes, who herd together behind their aboriginal breastplates, and fire clouds of poisoned arrows. The trader opens with musketry, and then begins a general massacre of men, women, and children. The settlement, surrounded by inflammable grass, is given to the flames, and the entire habitation is laid in ashes. Probably out of the wreck of one thousand charred and slaughtered people, his reserve has caught the one hundred coveted women and children, who are flying from death in wild despair.[Pg 126] They are yoked together by a long pole, and marched off from their homes forever. One-third of them may have the small-pox; and then with this infected cargo the trader proceeds to his nearest station.

Thence the Negroes are clandestinely sent across the desert to Kordofan, whence, they are dispersed over Lower Egypt and other markets. It not unfrequently happens that the Negroes succeed in killing their adversaries in these combats. But the blacks here are not brave. They generally fly after a loss of several killed, except with the Neam-Neams, who always fight with a bravery commensurate with their renown as cannibals.

The statistics of the slave-trade are difficult to obtain with absolute accuracy, but an adequate approximation may be reached. It is safe to say that the annual export of slaves from the country lying between the Red Sea and the Great Desert is twenty-five thousand a year, distributed as follows: From Abyssinia, carried to Jaffa or Gallabat, ten thousand; issuing by other routes of Abyssinia, five thousand; by the Blue Nile, three thousand; by the White Nile, seven thousand. To obtain these twenty-five thousand slaves and sell them in market, more than fifteen thousand are annually killed, and often the mortality reaches the terrible figure of fifty thousand. It is a fair estimate that fifty thousand children are stolen from their parents every year. Of the number forced into slavery, fifteen thousand being boys and ten thousand girls, it is found that about six thousand go to Lower Egypt, two thousand are made soldiers, nine thousand concubines, five hundred eunuchs, five thousand cooks or servants, while ten thousand eventually die from[Pg 127] the climate, and three thousand obtain their papers of freedom. They are dispersed over three million square miles of territory, and their blood finally mingles with that of the Turk, the Arab, and the European. The best black soldiers are recruited from the Dinkas, who are strong, handsome Negroes, the finest of the White Nile. The other races are thickly built and clumsy, and are never ornamental; the Abyssinians, for whatever service and of whatever class, excel all their rival victims in slavery. They are quiet and subdued, and seldom treacherous or insubordinate. They prefer slavery, many of them, to freedom, because they have no aspirations that are inordinate. The girls are delicate, and not built for severe labor. Though born and bred in a country where concubines are as legitimate and as much honored as wives, they revolt against the terrors of polygamy.

In Abyssinia there is a feature of the slave-commerce which does not seem to exist elsewhere. The natives themselves enslave their own countrymen and countrywomen. Since the death of Theodore, the country has been the scene of complex civil war. Each tribe is in war against its neighbor; and when the issue comes to a decisive battle, the victor despoils his antagonist of all his property, makes merchandise of the children, and forwards them to the Egyptian post of Gallabat, where they find a ready and active market. All along the frontier there is no attempt to prevent slavery. It exists with the sanction of the officials, and by their direct co-operation. Another profession is that of secret kidnappers. The world knows little how much finesse and depravity and duplicity are required in this business. The impression is abroad,[Pg 128] that the slave-trade provokes nothing more than murder, theft, arson, and rape. But it is a disgraceful fact that some traders habitually practice the most inhuman deception to accomplish their end. They frequently settle down in communities and households in the guise of benefactors, and while so situated they register each desirable boy and girl, and afterward conspire to kidnap or kill them, as chance may have it. Such is the story of the African slave-trade of to-day.


[34] Wilson’s “Western Africa.”

[Pg 129]


The Republic of Liberia lies on the west coast of Africa, and was settled by emigrants from the United States in 1822.

The founders of this government met with many obstacles: First, disease; then opposition from the natives; all of which, however, they heroically overcame.

The territory owned by the Liberian government extends some six hundred miles along the West African coast, and reaches back indefinitely towards the interior, the native title to which has been fairly purchased.

It has brought within its elevating influence at least two hundred thousand of the native inhabitants, who are gradually acquiring the arts, comforts, and conveniences of civilized life. It has a regularly-organized government, modelled after our own, with all the departments in successful operation. Schools, seminaries, a college, and some fifty churches, belonging to seven different denominations, are in a hopeful condition. Towns and cities are being built where once[Pg 130] the slave-trade flourished with all its untold cruelty, bloodshed, and carnage. Agriculture is extending, and commerce is increasing. The Republic of Liberia numbers to-day among its civilized inhabitants, about thirty thousand persons, about fifteen thousand of which are American Liberians; that is, those who have emigrated from the United States with their descendants. More than three hundred thousand aborigines reside within the territory of Liberia, and are brought more or less directly under the influence and control of her civilized institutions. There are churches in the Republic, representing different denominations, with their Sunday Schools and Bible classes, and contributing something every week for missionary purposes. The exports in the year 1866, amounted to about three hundred thousand dollars.

The undeveloped capacities for trade, no one can estimate. With a most prolific soil, and a climate capable of producing almost every variety of tropical fruit, the resources of the land are beyond computation. A sea-coast line, six hundred miles in length, and an interior stretching indefinitely into the heart of the country, offer the most splendid facilities for foreign commerce.

For a thousand miles along the coast, and two hundred miles inland, the influence of the government has been brought to bear upon domestic slavery among the natives, and upon the extirpation of the slave-trade, until both have ceased to exist.

The interior presents a country inviting in all its aspects; a fine, rolling country, abounding in streams and rivulets; forests of timber in great variety, abundance, and usefulness; and I have no doubt quite [Pg 131]salubrious, being free from the miasmatic influences of the mangrove swamps near the coast.

The commercial resources of Liberia, even at the present time, though scarcely commenced to be developed, are of sufficient importance to induce foreigners, American and European, to locate in the Republic for the purposes of trade; and the agricultural and commercial sources of wealth in Western and Central Africa are far beyond the most carefully-studied speculation of those even who are best acquainted with the nature and capacity of the country. The development of these will continue to progress, and must, in the very nature of things, secure to Liberia great commercial importance; and this will bring her citizens into such business relations with the people of other portions of the world as will insure to them that consideration which wealth, learning, and moral worth never fail to inspire.

From the beginning, the people of Liberia, with a commendable zeal and firmness, pursued a steady purpose towards the fulfilment of the great object of their mission to Africa. They have established on her shores an asylum free from political oppression, and from all the disabilities of an unholy prejudice; they have aided essentially in extirpating the slave-trade from the whole line of her western coast; they have introduced the blessings of civilization and Christianity among her heathen population, and by their entire freedom from all insubordination, or disregard of lawful authority, and by their successful diplomacy with England, France, and Spain, on matters involving very perplexing international questions, they have[Pg 132] indicated some ability, at least for self-government and the management of their own public affairs.

The banks of the St. Paul’s, St. John’s, Sinoe, and Farmington Rivers, and of the River Cavalla, now teeming with civilized life and industry, presenting to view comfortable Christian homes, inviting school-houses and imposing church edifices, but for the founding of Liberia would have remained until this day studded with slave-barracoons, the theatres of indescribable suffering, wickedness, and shocking deaths.

Liberia is gradually growing in the elements of national stability. The natural riches of that region are enormous, and are such as, sooner or later, will support a commerce, to which that at present existing on the coast is merely fractional. The Liberians own and run a fleet of “coasters,” collecting palm-oil, cam-wood, ivory, gold-dust, and other commodities. A schooner of eighty tons was built, costing eleven thousand dollars, and loaded in the autumn of 1866, at New York, from money and the proceeds of African produce sent for that purpose by an enterprising merchant of Grand Bassa County.

A firm at Monrovia are having a vessel built in one of the ship-yards of New York to cost fifteen thousand dollars.

An intelligent friend has given us the following as an approximate estimate of the sugar-crop on the St. Paul’s in 1866: “Sharp, one hundred and twenty thousand pounds; Cooper, thirty thousand pounds; Anderson, thirty-five thousand pounds; Howland, forty thousand pounds; Roe, thirty thousand pounds; sundry smaller farmers, one hundred and fifty [Pg 133]thousand; total, five hundred and seventy-five thousand pounds. The coffee-crop also is considerable, though we are not able to state how much.”

During the year 1866, not less than six hundred tons of cam-wood, twelve hundred tons of palm-oil, and two hundred tons of palm-kernels, were included in the exports of the Republic. And these articles of commercial enterprise and wealth are capable of being increased to almost any extent.

The Colonization Society, under whose auspices the colony of Liberia was instituted, was, as the writer verily believes, inimical to the freedom of the American slaves, and therefore brought down upon it the just condemnation of the American abolitionists, and consequently placed the people in a critical position; I mean the colonists. But from the moment that the Liberians in 1847 established a Republic, unfurled their national banner to the breeze, and began to manage their own affairs, we then said, “Cursed be the hand of ours that shall throw a stone at our brother.”

Fortunately, for the colony, many of the emigrants were men of more than ordinary ability; men who went out with a double purpose; first, to seek homes for themselves and families out of the reach of the American prejudice; second, to carry the gospel of civilization to their brethren. These men had the needed grit and enthusiasm.

Moles, Teage, and Johnson, are names that we in our boyhood learned to respect and love. Roberts, Benson, Warner, Crummell, and James, men of more recent times, have done much to give Liberia her deservedly high reputation.

[Pg 134]

With a government modelled after our own constitution and laws, that are an honor to any people, and administered by men of the genius and ability which characterizes the present ruling power, Liberia is destined to hold an influential place in the history of nations. Her splendid resources will yet be developed; her broad rivers will be traversed by the steamship, and her fertile plains will yet resound to the thunder of the locomotive. The telegraph wire will yet catch up African news and deposit it in the Corn Exchange, London, and Wall Street, New York.

That moral wilderness is yet to blossom with the noblest fruits of civilization and the sweetest flowers of religion. She will yet have her literature, her historians and her poets. Splendid cities will rise where now there are nothing but dark jungles.

[Pg 135]


It is a pleasing fact to relate that the last fifty years have witnessed much advance towards civilization in Africa; and especially on the west coast. This has resulted mainly from the successful efforts made to abolish the slave-trade. To the English first, and to the Liberians next, the praise must be given for the suppression of this inhuman and unchristian traffic. Too much, however, cannot be said in favor of the missionaries, men and women, who, forgetting native land, and home-comforts, have given themselves to the work of teaching these people, and thereby carrying civilization to a country where each went with his life in his hands.

Amongst the natives themselves, in several of the nations, much interest is manifested in their own elevation. The invention of an alphabet for writing their language, by the Veys, and this done too by their own ingenuity, shows remarkable advancement with a race hitherto regarded as unequal to such a task.

This progress in civilization is confined more strictly to the Jalofs, the Mandingoes, and the Fulahs, [Pg 136]inhabiting the Senegambia, and the Veys, of whom I have already made mention. Prejudice of race exists among the Africans, as well as with other nations. This is not, however, a prejudice of color, but of clan or tribe. The Jalofs, for instance, are said by travellers to be the handsomest Negroes in Africa. They are proud, haughty, and boast of their superiority over other tribes, and will not intermarry with them; yet they have woolly hair, thick lips, and flat noses, but with tall and graceful forms. In religion they are Mohammedans.

Rev. Samuel Crowther has been one of the most successful missionaries that the country has yet had. He is a native, which no doubt gives him great advantage over others. His two sons, Josiah and Samuel, are following in the footsteps of their illustrious father.

The influences of these gentlemen have been felt more directly in the vicinity of Lagos and Abeokuta. The Senior Crowther is the principal Bishop in Africa, and is doing a good work for his denomination, and humanity.

Native eloquence, and fine specimens of oratory may be heard in many of the African assemblies. Their popular speakers show almost as much skill in the use of happy illustrations, striking analogies, pointed argument, historical details, biting irony, as any set of public speakers in the world; and for ease, grace, and naturalness of manner, they are perhaps unsurpassed. The audiences usually express their assent by a sort of grunt, which rises in tone, and frequently in proportion, as the speaker becomes animated, and not unfrequently swells out into a tremendous shout, and[Pg 137] thus terminates the discussion in accordance with the views of the speaker. He has said exactly what was in the heart of the assembly, and they have no more to say or hear on the subject.[35] Civilization is receiving an impetus from the manufacturing of various kinds of goods as carried on by the people through Africa, and especially in the Egba, Yoruba, and Senegambia countries. Iron-smelting villages, towns devoted entirely to the manufacturing of a particular kind of ware, and workers in leather, tailors, weavers, hat, basket, and mat-makers, also workers in silk and worsted may be seen in many of the large places.

Some of these products would compare very favorably with the best workmanship of English and American manufacturers.

Much is done in gold, silver, and brass, and jewelry of a high order is made in the more civilized parts of the country.

The explorations of various travellers through Africa, during the past twenty-five years, have aided civilization materially. A debt of gratitude is due to Dr. Livingstone for his labors in this particular field.

I have already made mention of the musical talent often displayed in African villages, to the great surprise of the traveller.

The following account from the distinguished explorer, will be read with interest. Dr. Livingstone says: “We then inquired of the King relative to his band of music, as we heard he had one. He responded favorably, saying he had a band, and it should meet and play for us at once. Not many [Pg 138]minutes elapsed until right in front of our house a large fire was kindled, and the band was on the ground. They began to play; and be assured I was not a little surprised at the harmony of their music. The band was composed of eight members, six of whom had horns, made of elephant tusks, beautifully carved and painted. These all gave forth different sounds, or tones. The bass horn was made of a large tusk; and as they ascended the scale the horns were less. They had a hole cut into the tusk near its thin end, into which they blew the same as into a flute or fife. They had no holes for the fingers, hence the different tones were produced by the lengths of the horns, and by putting the hand into the large, open part of the horn and again removing it. I noticed that one small horn had the large end closed and the small one open. The different tones were produced by the performer opening and closing this end with the palm of his hand. They had also two drums; one had three heads placed on hollow sticks or logs, from one to two feet long; the other had but one head; they beat them with their hands, not sticks. I however saw a large war-drum, about five feet high, made on the principle of the above, which was beaten with sticks. The band serenaded us three times during our stay. They played different tunes, and there was great variety throughout their performance; sometimes only one horn was played, sometimes two or three, and then all would join in; sometimes the drums beat softly, then again loud and full. The horns used in this band are also used for war-horns.

“At about eleven o’clock we were awakened by music,—a human voice and an instrument—right before our[Pg 139] door. “What is it?” “A guitar?” “No; but it is fine music.” “Ah! it is a harp. Let us invite him in.” Such conjectures as the above were made as the old man stood before our door and sang and played most beautifully. We invited him in; and true enough, we found it to be a species of harp with twelve strings. He sang and played a long while, and then retired,—having proven to us that even far out in the wild jungles of Africa, that most noble of all human sciences is to a certain degree cultivated. We were serenaded thrice by him. He came from far in the interior.”

One of the greatest obstacles to civilization in Africa, is the traders. These pests are generally of a low order in education, and many of them have fled from their own country, to evade the punishment of some crime committed. Most of them are foul-mouthed, licentious men, who spread immorality wherever they appear. It would be a blessing to the natives if nine-tenths of these leeches were driven from the country.


[35] Wilson’s “Western Africa.”

[Pg 140]


In sketching an account of the people of Hayti, and the struggles through which they were called to pass, we confess it to be a difficult task. Although the writer visited the Island thirty years ago, and has read everything of importance given by the historians, it is still no easy matter to give a true statement of the revolution which placed the colored people in possession of the Island, so conflicting are the accounts.

The beautiful island of St. Domingo, of which Hayti is a part, was pronounced by the great discoverer to be the “Paradise of God.”

The splendor of its valleys, the picturesqueness of its mountains, the tropical luxuriance of its plains, and the unsurpassed salubrity of its climate, confirms the high opinion of the great Spaniard. Columbus found on the Island more than a million of people of the Caribbean race. The warlike appearance of the Spaniards caused the natives to withdraw into the interior. However, the seductive genius of Columbus soon induced the Caribbeans to return to their towns, and they extended their hospitality to the illustrious stranger.

[Pg 141]

After the great discoverer had been recalled home and left the Island, Dovadillo, his successor, began a system of unmitigated oppression towards the Caribbeans, and eventually reduced the whole of the inhabitants to slavery; and thus commenced that hateful sin in the New World. As fresh adventurers arrived in the Island, the Spanish power became more consolidated and more oppressive. The natives were made to toil in the gold-mines without compensation, and in many instances without any regard whatever to the preservation of human life; so much so, that in 1507, the number of natives had, by hunger, toil, and the sword, been reduced from a million to sixty thousand. Thus, in the short space of fifteen years, more than nine hundred thousand perished under the iron hand of slavery in the island of St. Domingo.

The Island suffered much from the loss of its original inhabitants; and the want of laborers to till the soil and to work in the mines, first suggested the idea of importing slaves from the coast of Africa. The slave-trade was soon commenced and carried on with great rapidity. Before the Africans were shipped, the name of the owner and the plantation on which they were to toil was stamped on their shoulders with a burning iron. For a number of years St. Domingo opened its markets annually to more than twenty thousand newly-imported slaves. With the advance of commerce and agriculture, opulence spread in every direction. The great tide of immigration from France and Spain, and the vast number of Africans imported every year, so increased the population that at the commencement of the French Revolution, in 1789, there were nine hundred thousand souls on the Island.[Pg 142] Of these, seven hundred thousand were Africans, sixty thousand mixed blood, and the remainder were whites and Caribbeans. Like the involuntary servitude in our own Southern States, slavery in St. Domingo kept morality at a low stand. Owing to the amalgamation between masters and slaves, there arose the mulatto population, which eventually proved to be the worst enemies of their fathers.

Many of the planters sent their mulatto sons to France to be educated. When these young men returned to the Island, they were greatly dissatisfied at the proscription which met them wherever they appeared. White enough to make them hopeful and aspiring, many of the mulattoes possessed wealth enough to make them influential. Aware, by their education, of the principles of freedom that were being advocated in Europe and the United States, they were ever on the watch to seize opportunities to better their social and political condition. In the French part of the Island alone, twenty thousand whites lived in the midst of thirty thousand free mulattoes and five hundred thousand slaves. In the Spanish portion, the odds were still greater in favor of the slaves. Thus the advantage of numbers and physical strength was on the side of the oppressed. Right is the most dangerous of weapons—woe to him who leaves it to his enemies!

The efforts of Wilberforce, Sharp, Buxton, and Clarkson, to abolish the African slave-trade, and their advocacy of the equality of the races, were well understood by the men of color. They had also learned their own strength in the Island, and that they had the sympathy of all Europe with them. The news of the oath of the Tennis Court, and the taking of the Bastile[Pg 143] at Paris, was received with the wildest enthusiasm by the people of St. Domingo.

The announcement of these events was hailed with delight by both the white planters and the mulattoes; the former, because they hoped the revolution in the Mother Country would secure to them the independence of the colony; the latter, because they viewed it as a movement that would give them equal rights with the whites; and even the slaves regarded it as a precursor to their own emancipation. But the excitement which the outbreak at Paris had created amongst the free men of color and the slaves, at once convinced the planters that a separation from France would be the death-knell of slavery in St. Domingo.

Although emancipated by law from the dominion of individuals, the mulattoes had no rights; shut out from society by their color, deprived of religious and political privileges, they felt their degradation even more keenly than the bond slaves. The mulatto son was not allowed to dine at his father’s table, kneel with him in his devotions, bear his name, inherit his property, nor even to lie in his father’s graveyard. Laboring as they were under the sense of their personal social wrongs, the mulattoes tolerated, if they did not encourage, low and vindictive passions. They were haughty and disdainful to the blacks, whom they scorned, and jealous and turbulent to the whites, whom they hated and feared.

The mulattoes at once despatched one of their number to Paris, to lay before the Constitutional Assembly their claim to equal rights with the whites. Vincent Oge, their deputy, was well received at Paris by Lafayette, Brisot, Barnave, and Gregoire, and was[Pg 144] admitted to a seat in the Assembly, where he eloquently portrayed the wrongs of his race. In urging his claims, he said if equality was withheld from the mulattoes, they would appeal to force. This was seconded by Lafayette and Barnave, who said: “Perish the Colonies, rather than a principle.”

The Assembly passed a decree, granting the demands of the men of color, and Oge was made bearer of the news to his brethren. The planters armed themselves, met the young deputy on his return to the Island, and a battle ensued. The free colored men rallied around Oge, but they were defeated and taken, with their brave leader; were first tortured, and then broken alive on the wheel.

The prospect of freedom was put down for the time, but the blood of Oge and his companions bubbled silently in the hearts of the African race; they swore to avenge them.

The announcement of the death of Oge in the halls of the Assembly at Paris, created considerable excitement, and became the topic of conversation in the clubs and on the boulevards. Gregoire defended the course of the colored men and said: “If liberty was right in France, it was right in St. Domingo.” He well knew that the crime for which Oge had suffered in the West Indies, had constituted the glory of Mirabeau and Lafayette at Paris, and Washington and Hancock in the United States. The planters in the Island trembled at their own oppressive acts, and terror urged them on to greater violence. The blood of Oge and his accomplices had sown everywhere despair and conspiracy. The French sent an army to St. Domingo to enforce the law.

[Pg 145]

The planters repelled with force the troops sent out by France, denying its prerogatives, and refusing the civic oath. In the midst of these thickening troubles, the planters who resided in France were invited to return, and to assist in vindicating the civil independence of the Island. Then was it that the mulattoes earnestly appealed to the slaves, and the result was appalling. The slaves awoke as from an ominous dream, and demanded their rights with sword in hand. Gaining immediate success, and finding that their liberty would not be granted by the planters, they rapidly increased in numbers; and in less than a week from its commencement, the storm had swept over the whole plain of the north, from east to west, and from the mountains to the sea. The splendid villas and rich factories yielded to the furies of the devouring flames; so that the mountains, covered with smoke and burning cinders, borne upward by the wind looked like volcanoes; and the atmosphere as if on fire, resembled a furnace.

Such were the outraged feelings of a people whose ancestors had been ruthlessly torn from their native land and sold in the shambles of St. Domingo. To terrify the blacks and convince them that they could never be free, the planters were murdering them on every hand by thousands.

The struggle in St. Domingo was watched with intense interest by the friends of the blacks, both in Paris and in London, and all appeared to look with hope to the rising up of a black chief, who should prove himself adequate to the emergency. Nor did they look in vain. In the midst of the disorder that threatened on all sides, the negro chief made his[Pg 146] appearance in the person of a slave named Toussaint. This man was the grandson of the King of Ardra, one of the most powerful and wealthy monarchs on the west coast of Africa. By his own energy and perseverance, Toussaint had learned to read and write, and was held in high consideration by the surrounding planters, as well as their slaves.

In personal appearance he was of middle stature, strongly-marked African features, well-developed forehead, rather straight and neat figure, sharp and bright eye, with an earnestness in conversation that seemed to charm the listener. His dignified, calm, and unaffected demeanor would cause him to be selected in any company of men as one who was born for a leader.

His private virtues were many, and he had a deep and pervading sense of religion; and in the camp carried it even as far as Oliver Cromwell. Toussaint was born on the Island, and was fifty years of age when called into the field. One of his chief characteristics was his humanity.

Before taking any part in the revolution, he aided his master’s family to escape from the impending danger. After seeing them beyond the reach of the revolutionary movement, he entered the army as an inferior officer, but was soon made aid-de-camp to General Bissou. Disorder and bloodshed reigned through the Island, and every day brought fresh intelligence of depredations committed by whites, mulattoes, and blacks.

Hitherto, the blacks had been guided by Jean-François, Bissou, and Jeannot. The first of these was a slave, a young Creole of good exterior; he had long before the revolution obtained his liberty. At the[Pg 147] commencement of the difficulties, he fled to the mountains and joined the Maroons, a large clan of fugitive slaves then wandering about in the woods and mountains, that furnished this class a secure retreat. This man was mild, vain, good-tempered, and fond of luxury.

Bissou belonged to the religious body designated “The Fathers of Charity.” He was fiery, wrathful, rash, and vindictive; always in action, always on horseback, with a white sash, and feathers in his hat, or basking in the sunshine of the women, of whom he was very fond. Jeannot, a slave of the plantation of M. Bullet, was small and slender in person, and of boundless activity. Perfidious of soul, his aspect was frightful and revolting. Capable of the greatest crimes, he was inaccessible to regret or remorse.

Having sworn implacable hatred against the whites, he thrilled with rage when he saw them; and his greatest pleasure was to bathe his hands in their blood. These three were the leaders of the blacks till the appearance of Toussaint; and under their rule, the cry was “Blood, blood, blood!” Such was the condition of affairs when a decree was passed by the Colonial Assembly, giving equal rights to the mulattoes, and asking their aid in restoring order and reducing the slaves again to their chains. Overcome by this decree, and having gained all they wished, the free colored men joined the planters in a murderous crusade against the slaves. This union of the whites and mulattoes to prevent the bondman getting his freedom, created an ill-feeling between the two proscribed classes, which seventy years have not been able to efface. The French government sent a second army[Pg 148] to St. Domingo to enforce the laws, giving freedom to the slaves, and Toussaint joined it on its arrival in the Island, and fought bravely against the planters.

While the people of St. Domingo were thus fighting amongst themselves, the revolutionary movement in France had fallen into the hands of Robespierre and Danton, and the guillotine was beheading its thousands daily. When the news of the death of Louis XVI. reached St. Domingo, Toussaint and his companions left the French and joined the Spanish army, in the eastern part of the Island, and fought for the King of Spain. Here Toussaint was made brigadier-general, and appeared in the field as the most determined foe of the French planters.

The two armies met; a battle was fought in the streets, and many thousands were slain on both sides; the planters, however, were defeated. During the conflict the city was set on fire, and on every side presented shocking evidence of slaughter, conflagration, and pillage. The strifes of political and religious partisanship, which had raged in the clubs and streets of Paris, were transplanted to St. Domingo, where they raged with all the heat of a tropical clime, and the animosities of a civil war. Truly did the flames of the French revolution at Paris, and the ignorance and self-will of the planters, set the island of St. Domingo on fire. The commissioners with their retinue retired from the burning city into the neighboring highlands, where a camp was formed to protect the ruined town from the opposing party. Having no confidence in the planters, and fearing a reaction, the commissioners proclaimed a general emancipation to the slave population, and invited the blacks who had[Pg 149] joined the Spaniards to return. Toussaint and his followers accepted the invitation, returned, and were enrolled in the army under the commissioners. Fresh troops arrived from France, who were no sooner in the Island than they separated—some siding with the planters, and others with the commissioners. The white republicans of the Mother Country were arrayed against the white republicans of St. Domingo, whom they were sent out to assist. The blacks and the mulattoes were at war with each other; old and young of both sexes, and of all colors, were put to the sword, while the fury of the flames swept from plantation to plantation, and from town to town.

[Pg 150]


During these sad commotions, Toussaint, by his superior knowledge of the character of his race, his humanity, generosity, and courage, had gained the confidence of all whom he had under his command. The rapidity with which he travelled from post to post astonished every one. By his genius and surpassing activity, Toussaint levied fresh forces, raised the reputation of the army, and drove the English and Spanish from the Island.

The boiling caldron of the revolution during its progress, had thrown upon its surface several new military men, whose names became household words in St. Domingo. First of these, after Toussaint, was Christophe, a man of pure African origin, though a native of New Grenada. On being set free at the age of fifteen, he came to St. Domingo, where he resided until the commencement of the revolution. He had an eye full of fire, and a braver man never lived. Toussaint early discovered his good qualities, and made him his lieutenant, from which he soon rose to be a general of division.

[Pg 151]

As a military man, Christophe was considered far superior to Toussaint; and his tall, slim figure, dressed in the uniform of a general, was hailed with enthusiasm wherever he appeared.

Next to Christophe was Dessalines. No one who took part in the St. Domingo revolution has been so severely censured as this chief. At the commencement of the difficulties, Dessalines was the slave of a house carpenter, with whom he had learned the trade. He was a small man, of muscular frame, and of a dingy black. He had a haughty and ferocious look. Hunger, thirst, fatigue, and loss of sleep he seemed made to endure, as if by peculiarity of constitution. Dessalines was not a native of either of the West India Islands, for the marks upon his arms and breast, and the deep furrows and incisions on his face, pointed out the coast of Africa as his birth-place. Inured by exposure and toil to a hard life, his frame possessed a wonderful power of endurance. By his activity and singular fierceness on the field of battle, he first attracted the attention of Toussaint, who placed him amongst his guides and attendants, and subsequently advanced him rapidly through several grades, to the dignity of third in command. A more courageous man never appeared upon the battle-field. What is most strange in the history of Dessalines is, that he was a savage, a slave, a soldier, a general, and died when an emperor.

Among the mulattoes were several valiant chiefs. The ablest of these was Rigaud, the son of a wealthy planter. Having been educated at Paris, his manner was polished, and his language elegant. Had he been[Pg 152] born in Asia, Rigaud would have governed an empire, for he had all the elements of a great man.

In religion he was the very opposite of Toussaint. An admirer of Voltaire and Rousseau, he had made their works his study. A long residence in Paris had enabled him to become acquainted with many of the followers of these two distinguished philosophers.

He had seen two hundred thousand persons following the bones of Voltaire, when removed to the Pantheon; and, in his admiration for the great writer, had confounded liberty with infidelity.

Rigaud was the first amongst the mulattoes, and had sided with the planters in their warfare against the blacks. But the growing influence of this chief early spread fear in the ranks of the whites, which was seen and felt by the mulattoes everywhere.

In military science, horsemanship, and activity, Rigaud was the first man on the Island, of any color, Toussaint bears the following testimony to the great skill of the mulatto general: “I know Rigaud well. He leaps from his horse when at full gallop, and he puts all his force in his arm when he strikes a blow.” He was boundless in resources as he was brave and daring. High-tempered and irritable, he at times appeared haughty. The charmed power that he held over the men of his color can scarcely be described. At the breaking out of the revolution, he headed the mulattoes in his native town, and soon drew around him a formidable body of men. Rigaud’s legion was considered to be by far the best drilled and most reliable in battle of all the troops raised on the Island.

The mulattoes were now urging their claims to[Pg 153] citizenship and political enfranchisement, by arming themselves in defence of their rights; the activity and talent of their great leader, Rigaud, had been the guidance and support of their enterprise. He was hated by the whites in the same degree as they feared his influence with his race.

The unyielding nature of his character, which gave firmness and consistency to his policy while controling the interest of his brethren, made him dear to them.

Intrigue and craftiness could avail nothing against the designs of one who was ever upon the watch, and who had the means of counteracting all secret attempts against him; and open force in the field could not be successful in destroying a chieftain whose power was often felt, but whose person was seldom seen.

Thus to accomplish a design which had long been in contemplation, the whites of Aux Cayes were now secretly preparing a mine for Rigaud,—which, though it was covered with flowers, and to be sprung by the hand of professed friendship,—it was thought would prove a sure and efficacious method of ridding them of such an opponent, and destroying the pretensions of the mulattoes forever.

It was proposed that the anniversary of the destruction of the Bastile should be celebrated in the town by both whites and mulattoes, in union and gratitude. A civic procession marched to the church, where the Te Deum was chanted and an oration pronounced by citizen Delpech. The Place d’Armes was crowded with tables of refreshments, at which both whites and mulattoes seated themselves. But beneath this [Pg 154]seeming patriotism and friendship a dark and fatal conspiracy lurked, plotting treachery and death.

It had been resolved that at a preconcerted signal every white at the table should plunge his knife into the bosom of the mulatto who was seated nearest to him. Cannon had been planted around the place of festivity, that no fugitive from the massacre should have the means of escaping; and that Rigaud should not fail to be secured as the first victim to a conspiracy prepared especially against his life, the commander-in-chief of the national guard had been placed at his side, and his murder of the mulatto chieftain was to be the signal for a general onset upon all his followers.

But between the conception and the accomplishment of a guilty deed, man’s native abhorrence of crime often interposes many obstacles to success. The officer to whom had been entrusted the assassination of Rigaud, found it no small matter to screw his courage up to the sticking-place, and the expected signal which he was to display in blood to his associates, was so long delayed that secret messengers began to come to him from all parts of the table, demanding why execution was not done on Rigaud. Urged on by these successive appeals, the white general at last applied himself to the fatal task which had been allotted him. But instead of silently plunging his dagger into the bosom of the mulatto chief, he sprang upon him with a pistol in his hand, and with a loud execration, fired it at his intended victim. But Rigaud remained unharmed, and in the scuffle which ensued the white assassin was disarmed and put to flight.

The astonishment of the mulattoes soon gave way[Pg 155] to tumult and indignation, and this produced a drawn battle, in which both whites and mulattoes, exasperated as they were to the utmost, fought man to man.

The struggle continued fiercely, until the whites were driven from the town, having lost one hundred and fifty of their number, and slain many of their opponents. Tidings of this conspiracy flew rapidly in all directions; and such was the indignation of the mulattoes at this attack on their chief, whose death had even been announced in several places as certain, that they seized upon all the whites within their reach, and their immediate massacre was only prevented by the arrival of intelligence that Rigaud was still alive.[36]

The hostile claims of Toussaint and Rigaud, who shared between them the whole power of the Island, soon brought on a bloody struggle between the blacks and mulattoes.

The contest was an unequal one, for the blacks numbered five hundred thousand, while the mulattoes were only thirty thousand. The mulattoes, alarmed by the prospect that the future government of the Island was likely to be engrossed altogether by the blacks, thronged from all parts of the Island to join the ranks of Rigaud. As a people, the mulattoes were endowed with greater intelligence; they were more enterprising, and in all respects their physical superiority was more decided than their rivals, the blacks.

They were equally ferocious, and confident as they were in their superior powers, they saw without a thought of discouragement or fear the enormous disparity of ten to one in the respective numbers of their adversaries and themselves. Rigaud began the[Pg 156] war by surprising Leogane, where a multitude of persons of every rank and color were put to death without mercy.

Toussaint, on learning this, hastened together all the troops which he then had in the neighborhood of Port au Prince, and ordered all the mulattoes to assemble at the church of that town, where he mounted the pulpit, and announced to them his intended departure to war against their brethren. He said, “I see into the recesses of your bosoms; you are ready to rise against me; but though my troops are about to leave this province, you cannot succeed, for I shall leave behind me both my eyes and my arms; the one to watch, and the other to reach you.” At the close of this admonition, threatening as it was, the mulattoes were permitted to leave the church, and they retired, awestruck and trembling with solicitude, to their homes.

The forces of Rigaud, fighting under the eyes of the chief whom they adored, defended with vigor the passes leading to their territory; and though they were but a handful, in comparison with the hordes who marched under the banners of Toussaint, their brave exertions were generally crowned with success.

The mulattoes under Rigaud, more skilled in the combinations of military movements, made up for their deficiency in numbers by greater rapidity and effectiveness in their operations. A series of masterly manœuvres and diversions were followed up in quick succession, which kept the black army in full employment. But Toussaint was too strong, and he completely broke up the hopes of the mulattoes in a succession of victories, which gave him entire control of the Island, except, perhaps, a small portion of the[Pg 157] South, which still held out. Rigaud, reduced in his means of defence, had the misfortune to see his towns fall one after another into the power of Toussaint, until he was driven to the last citadel of his strength—the town of Aux Cayes. As he thus yielded foot by foot, everything was given to desolation before it was abandoned, and the genius of Toussaint was completely at fault in his efforts to force the mulatto general from his last entrenchments.

He was foiled at every attempt, and his enemy stood immovably at bay, notwithstanding the active assaults and overwhelming numbers of his forces.

The government of France was too much engaged at home with her own revolution, to pay any attention to St. Domingo. The republicans in Paris, after getting rid of their enemies, turned upon each other. The revolution, like Saturn, devoured its own children; priest and people were murdered upon the thresholds of justice. Marat died at the hands of Charlotte Corday; Louis XVI. and Marie Antoinette were guillotined, Robespierre had gone to the scaffold, and Bonaparte was master of France.

The conqueror of Egypt now turned his attention to St. Domingo. It was too important an island to be lost to France, or be destroyed by civil war; and through the mediation of Bonaparte, the war between Toussaint and Rigaud was brought to a close.

With the termination of this struggle, every vestige of slavery, and all obstacles to freedom, disappeared. Toussaint exerted every nerve to make Hayti what it had formerly been. He did everything in his power to promote agriculture; and in this he succeeded beyond the most sanguine expectations of the friends of [Pg 158]freedom, both in England and France. Even the planters who had remained on the Island acknowledged the prosperity of Hayti under the governorship of the man whose best days had been spent in slavery.

The peace of Amiens left Bonaparte without a rival on the continent, and with a large and experienced army which he feared to keep idle; and he determined to send a part of it to St. Domingo.

The army for the expedition to St. Domingo was fitted out, and no pains or expense spared to make it an imposing one. Fifty-six ships of war, with twenty-five thousand men, left France for Hayti. It was, indeed, the most valiant fleet that had ever sailed from the French dominions. The Alps, the Nile, the Rhine, and all Italy had resounded with the exploits of the men who were now leaving their country for the purpose of placing the chains again on the limbs of the heroic people of St. Domingo. There were men in that army that had followed Bonaparte from the siege of Toulon to the battle under the shades of the pyramids of Egypt,—men who had grown gray in the camp. Among them were several colored men, who had distinguished themselves on the field of battle.

There was Rigaud, the bravest of the mulatto chiefs, whose valor had disputed the laurels with Toussaint. There, too, was Pétion, the most accomplished scholar of whom St. Domingo could boast; and lastly, there was Boyer, who was destined at a future day to be President of the Republic of Hayti. These last three brave men had become dupes and tools of Bonaparte, and were now on their way to assist in reducing the land of their birth to slavery.


[36] Brown’s History of Sant. Domingo, Vol. I., p. 257.

[Pg 159]


Le Clerc, the brother-in-law of Bonaparte, the man who had married the voluptuous Pauline, was commander-in-chief of the army. Le Clerc was not himself a man of much distinction in military affairs; his close relationship with the ruler of France was all that he had to recommend him to the army of invasion. But he had with him Rochambeau, and other generals, who had few superiors in arms. Before arriving at Hayti the fleet separated, so as to attack the island on different sides.

News of the intended invasion reached St. Domingo some days before the squadron had sailed from Brest; and therefore the blacks had time to prepare to meet their enemies. Toussaint had concentrated his forces at such points as he expected would be first attacked. Christophe was sent to defend Cape City, and Port au Prince was left in the hands of Dessalines.

Le Clerc, with the largest part of the squadron, came to anchor off Cape City, and summoned the place to surrender. The reply which he received from Christophe was such as to teach the captain-general[Pg 160] what he had to expect in the subjugation of St. Domingo. “Go tell your general that the French shall march here only over ashes; and that the ground shall burn beneath their feet,” was the answer that Le Clerc obtained in return to his command. The French general sent another messenger to Christophe, urging him to surrender, and promising the black chief a commission of high rank in the French army. But he found he had a man, and not a slave, to deal with. The exasperated Christophe sent back the heroic reply, “The decision of arms can admit you only into a city in ashes; and even on these ashes will I fight still.” The black chief then distributed torches to his principal officers, and awaited the approach of the French.

With no navy, and but little means of defence, the Haytians determined to destroy their towns rather than they should fall into the hands of the enemy. Late in the evening the French ships were seen to change their position, and Christophe, satisfied that they were about to effect a landing, set fire to his own house, which was the signal for the burning of the town. The French general wept as he beheld the ocean of flames rising from the tops of the houses in the finest city in St. Domingo.

Another part of the fleet landed in Samana, where Toussaint, with an experienced wing of the army, was ready to meet them. On seeing the ships enter the harbor, the heroic chief said: “Here come the enslavers of our race. All France is coming to St. Domingo, to try again to put the fetters upon our limbs; but not France with all her troops of the Rhine, the Alps, the Nile, the Tiber, nor all Europe to help her, can extinguish the soul of Africa. That soul, when[Pg 161] once the soul of a man, and no longer that of a slave, can overthrow the pyramids, and the Alps themselves, sooner than again be crushed down into slavery.” The French, however, effected a landing, but they found nothing but smouldering ruins where once stood splendid cities. Toussaint and his generals at once abandoned the towns, and betook themselves to the mountains, those citadels of freedom in St. Domingo, where the blacks have always proved too much for the whites.

Toussaint put forth a proclamation to the colored people, in which he said: “You are now to meet and fight enemies who have neither faith, law, nor religion. Let us resolve that these French troops shall never leave our shores alive.” The war commenced, and the blacks were victorious in nearly all the battles. Where the French gained a victory, they put their prisoners to the most excruciating tortures; in many instances burning them in pits, and throwing them into boiling chaldrons. This example of cruelty set by the whites, was followed by the blacks. Then it was that Dessalines, the ferocious chief, satisfied his long pent-up revenge against the white planters and French soldiers that he made prisoners. The French general saw that he could gain nothing from the blacks on the field of battle, and he determined upon a stratagem, in which he succeeded too well.

A correspondence was opened with Toussaint in which the captain-general promised to acknowledge the liberty of the blacks, and the equality of all, if he would yield. Overcome by the persuasions of his generals, and the blacks who surrounded him, and who were sick and tired of the shedding of blood, [Pg 162]Toussaint gave in his adhesion to the French authorities. This was the great error of his life.

The loss that the French army had sustained during the war, was great. Fifteen thousand of their best troops, and some of their bravest generals, had fallen before the arms of these Negroes, whom they despised.

Soon after Toussaint gave in his adhesion, the yellow fever broke out in the French army, and carried off nearly all of the remaining great men,—more than seven hundred medical men, besides twenty-two thousand sailors and soldiers. Among these were fifteen hundred officers. It was at this time that Toussaint might have renewed the war with great success. But he was a man of his word, and would not take the advantage of the sad condition of the French army.

Although peace reigned, Le Clerc was still afraid of Toussaint; and by the advice of Napoleon, the black general was arrested, together with his family, and sent to France.

The great chief of St. Domingo had scarcely been conveyed on board the ship Creole, and she out of the harbor, ere Rigaud, the mulatto general who had accompanied Le Clerc to St. Domingo, was arrested, put in chains, and sent to France.

The seizure of Toussaint and Rigaud caused suspicion and alarm among both blacks and mulattoes, and that induced them to raise again the flag of insurrection, in which the two proscribed classes were united.

Twenty thousand fresh troops arrived from France, but they were not destined to see Le Clerc, for the yellow fever had taken him off. In the mountains were many barbarous and wild blacks, who had [Pg 163]escaped from slavery soon after being brought from the coast of Africa. One of these bands of savages were commanded by Lamour de Rance, an adroit, stern, savage man, half naked, with epaulettes tied to his bare shoulders for his only token of authority. This man had been brought from the coast of Africa, and sold as a slave in Port au Prince. On being ordered one day to saddle his master’s horse, he did so; then mounted the animal, fled to the mountains, and ever after made these fearful regions his home. Lamour passed from mountain to mountain with something of the ease of the birds of his own native land. Toussaint, Christophe, and Dessalines, had each in their turn pursued him, but in vain. His mode of fighting was in keeping with his dress. This savage, united with others like himself, became complete master of the wilds of St. Domingo. They came forth from their mountain homes, and made war on the whites wherever they found them. Le Clerc was now dead, and Rochambeau, who succeeded him in the government of St. Domingo, sent to Cuba to get bloodhounds, with which to hunt down the blacks in the mountains.

In personal appearance, Rochambeau was short and stout, with a deformed body, but of robust constitution; his manner was hard and severe, though he had a propensity to voluptuousness. He lacked neither ability nor experience in war. In his youth, he had, under the eyes of his illustrious father, served the cause of freedom in the United States; and while on duty in the slave portion of our government, formed a low idea of the blacks, which followed him even to St. Domingo.

The planters therefore hailed with joy [Pg 164]Rochambeau as a successor to Le Clerc; and when the bloodhounds which he had sent to Cuba for arrived, cannon were fired, and demonstrations of joy were shown in various ways.

Even the women, wives of the planters, went to the sea-side, met the animals, and put garlands about their necks, and some kissed and caressed the dogs.[37]

Such was the degradation of human nature. While the white women were cheering on the French, who had imported bloodhounds as their auxiliaries, the black women were using all their powers of persuasion to rouse the blacks to the combat. Many of these women walked from camp to camp, and from battalion to battalion, exhibiting their naked bodies, showing their lacerated and scourged persons;—these were the marks of slavery, made many years before, but now used for the cause of human freedom.

Christophe, who had taken command of the insurgents, now gave unmistakable proofs that he was a great general, and scarcely second to Toussaint. Twenty thousand fresh troops arrived from France to the aid of Rochambeau; yet the blacks were victorious wherever they fought. The French blindly thought that cruelty to the blacks would induce their submission, and to this end they bent all their energies. An amphitheatre was erected, and two hundred dogs, sharpened by extreme hunger, put there, and black prisoners thrown in. The raging animals disputed with each other for the limbs of their victims, until the ground was dyed with human blood.

Three hundred brave blacks were put to death in this horrible manner. The blacks, having spread their[Pg 165] forces in every quarter of the island, were fast retaking the forts and towns. Christophe commanded in the north, Dessalines in the west, and Clervaux in the south.

Despotism and sensuality have often been companions. In Rochambeau, the one sharpened the appetite for the other, as though greediness of bodily pleasure welcomed the zest arising from the sight of bodily pain.

No small part of his time Rochambeau passed at table, or on sofas, with the Creole females, worshippers of pleasure, as well as most cruel towards their slaves. To satisfy these fascinating courtesans, scaffolds were raised in the cities, which were bathed in the blood of the blacks. They even executed women and children, whose only crime was, that they had brothers, fathers, or husbands among the revolters. These brutal murders by the French filled the blacks with terror. Dessalines started for the Cape, for the purpose of meeting Rochambeau, and avenging the death of the blacks. In his impetuous and terrible march, he surrounded and made prisoners a body of Frenchmen; and with branches of trees, that ferocious chief raised, under the eyes of Rochambeau, five hundred gibbets, on which he hanged as many prisoners.

The numerous executions which began at the Cape soon extended to other places. Port au Prince had its salt waters made bloody, and scaffolds were erected and loaded, within and without the walls. The hand of tyranny spread terror and death over the shores of the north and the west. As the insurrection became more daring, it was thought that the punishments had not been either numerous enough, violent enough, or[Pg 166] various enough. The colonists counselled and encouraged more vengeance. Children, women, and old men were confined in sacks, and thrown into the sea; this was the punishment of parricides among the Romans, ten centuries before; and now resorted to by these haters of liberty.

Rochambeau put five hundred blacks, prisoners whom he had taken in battle, to death in one day. Twenty of Toussaint’s old officers were chained to the rocks and starved to death.

But the blacks were gradually getting possession of the strongholds in the islands.

“To arms! to arms!” was the cry all over the island, until every one who could use even the lightest instrument of death, was under arms.

Dessalines, Belair, and Lamartiniere, defeated the French general at Verettes; in no place was the slaughter so terrible as there. At a mere nod of Dessalines, men who had been slaves, and who dreaded the new servitude with which they were threatened, massacred seven hundred of the whites that Dessalines had amongst his prisoners.

The child died in the arms of its sick and terrified mother; the father was unable to save the daughter, the daughter unable to save the father. Mulattoes took the lives of their white fathers, to whom they had been slaves, or whom, allowing them to go free, had disowned them; thus revenging themselves for the mixture of their blood. So frightful was this slaughter, that the banks of the Artibonite were strewn with dead bodies, and the waters dyed with the blood of the slain. Not a grave was dug, for Dessalines had prohibited interment, in order that[Pg 167] the eyes of the French might see his vengeance even in the repulsive remains of carnage.

The united enthusiasm and bravery of the blacks and mulattoes was too much for the French. Surrounded on all sides, Rochambeau saw his troops dying for the want of food. For many weeks they lived on horse flesh, and were even driven to subsist on the dogs that they had imported from Cuba.

Reduced to the last extremity by starvation, the French general sued for peace, and promised that he would immediately leave the Island; it was accepted by the blacks, and Rochambeau prepared to return to France. The French embarked in their vessels of war, and the standard of the blacks once more waved over Cape City, the capital of St. Domingo. As the French sailed from the Island, they saw the tops of the mountains lighted up;—it was not a blaze kindled for war, but for freedom. Every heart beat for liberty, and every voice shouted for joy. From the ocean to the mountains, and from town to town, the cry was “Freedom! Freedom!” Thus ended Napoleon’s expedition to St. Domingo. In less than two years the French lost more than fifty thousand persons. After the retirement of the whites, the men of color put forth a Declaration of Independence, in which they said: “We have sworn to show no mercy to those who may dare to speak to us of slavery.”


[37] Beard’s Life of Toussaint L’Ouverture.

[Pg 168]


While the cause of independence, forced at length on the aspirations of the natives of Hayti, was advancing with rapid strides, amid all the tumult of armies, and all the confusion of despotic cruelties, Toussaint L’Ouverture pined away in the dark, damp, cold prison of Joux.

This castle stands on the brink of the river Daubs; on the land side, the road of Besancon, leading into Switzerland, gives the stronghold the command of the communications between that country and France. This dungeon built by the Romans, has in it a room fifteen feet square, with a stone floor, the same of which the entire castle is constructed. One small window, high up on the side, looking out on the snows of Switzerland, is the only aperture that gives light to the dismal spot. In winter, ice covers the floor; in summer, it is deep with water. In this living tomb, Toussaint was placed, and left to die.

All communication was forbidden him with the outer world. He received no news of his wife and family. He wrote to Bonaparte, demanding a trial,[Pg 169] but received no reply. His fare was limited to a sum not sufficient to give him the comforts of life. His servant was taken away, and food reduced to a still smaller quantity; and thus the once ruler of St. Domingo, the man to whom in the darkest day of the insurrection the white planters looked for safety, knowing well his humanity, was little by little brought to the verge of starvation.

Toussaint’s wife and children had been arrested, sent to France, separated from him, and he knew nothing of their whereabouts. He wrote to Napoleon in behalf of them. The document contained these words:

“General Le Clerc employed towards me means which have never been employed towards the greatest enemies. Doubtless I owe that contempt to my color; but has that color prevented me from serving my country with zeal and fidelity? Does the color of my body injure my honor or my courage? Suppose I was a criminal, and that the general-in-chief had orders to arrest me; was it needful to employ carabineers to arrest my wife and children; to tear them from their residence without respect, and without charity? Was it necessary to fire on my plantations, and on my family, or to ransack and pillage my property? No! My wife, my children, my household, were under no responsibility; have no account to render to government. General Le Clerc had not even the right to arrest them. Was that officer afraid of a rival?

“I compare him to the Roman Senate, that pursued Hannibal even into his retirement. I request that he and I may appear before a tribunal, and that the government bring forward the whole of my correspondence[Pg 170] with him. By that means, my innocence, and all I have done for the republic, will be seen.”

Toussaint was not even aware of Le Clerc’s death. Finding that the humanity of Colomier, the governor of the castle, would not allow the prisoner to starve fast enough, Napoleon ordered the keeper to a distance; and on his return, Toussaint was dead.

Thus in the beginning of April, in the year 1803, died Toussaint L’Ouverture, a grandson of an African king. He passed the greater number of his days in slavery, and rose to be a soldier, a general, a governor, and to-day lives in the hearts of the people of his native isle. Endowed by nature with high qualities of mind, he owed his elevation to his own energies and his devotion to the welfare and freedom of his race. His habits were thoughtful, and, like most men of energetic temperaments, he crowded much into what he said.

So profound and original were his opinions, that they have been successively drawn upon by all the chiefs of St. Domingo since his era, and still without loss of adaptation to the circumstances of the country. His thoughts were copious and full of vigor; and what he could express well in his native patois, he found tame and unsatisfactory in the French language, which he was obliged to employ in the details of his official business.

He would never sign what he did not fully understand, obliging two or three secretaries to re-word the document, until they had succeeded in furnishing the particular phrase expressive of his meaning. While at the height of his power, and when all around him were furnished with every comfort, and his officers living[Pg 171] in splendor, Toussaint himself lived with an austere sobriety, which bordered on abstemiousness.

Clad in a common dress, with a red Madras handkerchief tied around his head, he would move amongst the people as though he were a laborer. On such occasions he would often take a musket, throw it up into the air, and catching it, kiss it; again hold it up, and exclaim to the gazing multitude, “Behold your deliverer; in this lies your liberty!” Toussaint was entirely master of his own appetites and passions.

It was his custom to set off in his carriage with the professed object of going to some particular point of the Island, and when he had passed over several miles of the journey, to quit the carriage, which continued its route under the same escort of guards, while Toussaint mounted on horseback, and followed by his officers, made rapid excursions across the country to places where he was least expected. It was upon one of these occasions that he owed his life to his singular mode of travelling. He had just left his carriage when an ambuscade of mulattoes, concealed in the thickets of Boucassin, fired upon the guard; several balls pierced the carriage, and one of them killed an old servant, who occupied the seat of his master.

No person knew better than he the art of governing the people under his jurisdiction. The greater part of the blacks loved him to idolatry. Veneration for Toussaint was not confined to the boundaries of St. Domingo; it ran through Europe; and in France his name was frequently pronounced in the senate with the eulogy of polished eloquence. No one can look back[Pg 172] upon his career without feeling that Toussaint was a remarkable man. Without being bred to the science of arms, he became a valiant soldier, and baffled the skill of the most experienced generals that had followed Napoleon. Without military knowledge, he fought like one born in the camp.

Without means, he carried on a war successfully. He beat his enemies in battle, and turned their weapons against them. He possessed splendid traits of genius, which were developed in the private circle, in the council chamber, and upon the field of battle. His very name became a tower of strength to his friends and a terror to his foes.

[Pg 173]


Rochambeau, with the remnant of his defeated army, had scarcely retired from St. Domingo before the news of the death of Toussaint reached the Island. The announcement of this, together with the fact that their great general had died by starvation, assured the natives of the essential goodness of their cause, and the genuine vigor of their strength. They had measured swords with the whites, and were conscious of their own superiority. Slavery in St. Domingo was dead, and dead forever. The common enemy was gone, and the victory had been gained by the union of the blacks and mulattoes, and these put forth a Declaration of Rights, in which they said: “The independence of St. Domingo is proclaimed. Restored to our primitive dignity, we have secured our rights; we swear never to cede them to any power in the world. The frightful veil of prejudice is torn in pieces; let it remain so forever. Woe to him who may wish to collect the blood-stained tatters. We have sworn to show no mercy to those who may dare to speak to us of slavery.” This document was signed by Dessalines,[Pg 174] Christophe, and Clervaux, the three chiefs who had conducted the war after the capture of Toussaint.

The first of these were black, and represented that class of his race who held sentiments of the most extreme hatred to the whites. The second was also black, but of a feeling more inclined to moderation. The third represented the mulattoes, although he had none of the prejudice against the blacks, so prevalent in those days. Clervaux was a brave man, and had fought under Toussaint before the landing of Le Clerc and Rochambeau.

By the daring manifested on the field of battle, his fierce and sanguinary look, his thirst for blood, Dessalines had become the leader of the blacks in the war for liberty; and now that victory was perched upon their banners, and the civil government of the Island was to fall into their hands, he set his associates aside, and took the State into his own charge. Jean Jacques Dessalines was appointed governor-general for life. He was not only a life officer, but he had the power to establish laws, to declare war, to make peace, and even to appoint his successor.

Having by a show of mildness gained the advantage which he sought,—the acquisition of power,—Dessalines, a few weeks after his appointment as governor for life, threw aside the mask, and raised the cry of “Hayti for the Haytians,” thinking by proscribing foreigners, he should most effectually consolidate his own authority.

From that moment the career of this ferocious man was stained with innocent blood, and with crimes that find no parallel, unless in the dark deeds of Rochambeau, whom he seemed anxious to imitate. The blacks,[Pg 175] maddened by the recollection of slavery, and crimes perpetrated under its influence; maddened by the oft-repeated stories of murders committed by the French, and the presence of many of their old masters still on the Island, and whose bloody deeds Dessalines continually kept before them in his proclamations, were easily led into the worst of crimes by this man.

On the 8th of October, 1804, Dessalines was proclaimed Emperor of Hayti, with the title of Jean Jacques the First. A census taken in 1805 showed the population of that part of the Island ruled by Dessalines, to be only four hundred thousand.

The title of majesty was conferred on the new Emperor, as well as on his august consort, the empress; their persons were declared inviolable, and the crown elective; but the Emperor had the right to nominate his successor among a chosen number of candidates. The sons of the sovereign were to pass through all the ranks of the army.

Every emperor who should attach to himself a privileged body, under the name of guard of honor, or any other designation, was, by the fact, to be regarded as at war with the nation, and should be driven from the throne, which then was to be occupied by one of the councillors of state, chosen by the majority of the members of that body.

The emperor had the right to make, and approve and publish the laws; to make peace and war; to conclude treaties; to distribute the armed force at his pleasure; he also possessed the exclusive prerogative of pardon. The generals of brigade and of division were to form part of the council of state. Besides a secretary of state, there was to be a minister of finances, and a[Pg 176] minister of war. All persons were encouraged to settle their differences by arbitration.

No dominant religion was admitted; the liberty of worship was proclaimed; the State was not to take on itself the support of any religious institution. Marriage was declared a purely civil act, and in some cases divorce was permitted. State offences were to be tried by a council to be named by the Emperor. All property belonging to white Frenchmen was confiscated to the State. The houses of the citizens were pronounced inviolable.

The Constitution was placed under the safeguard of the magistrates, of fathers, of mothers, of citizens, of soldiers, and recommended to their descendants, to all the friends of liberty, to the philanthropists of all countries, as a striking token of the goodness of God, who, in the order of his immortal decrees, had given the Haytians power to break their bonds, and make themselves a free, civilized, and independent people. This Constitution, which, considering its origin, contains so much that is excellent, and which even the long civilized States of Europe might advantageously study, was accepted by the emperor, and ordered to be forthwith carried into execution.

The condition of the farm-laborer was the same as under the system of Toussaint L’Ouverture; he labored for wages which were fixed at one-fourth of the produce, and that produce was abundant. The whip and all corporal punishments were abolished.

Idleness was regarded as a crime, but was punished only by imprisonment. Two-thirds of the labor extracted under slavery was the amount required under the new system. Thus the laborers gained a [Pg 177]diminution of one-third of their toil, while their wants were amply supplied. The mulattoes, or quaterons, children of whites and mulattoes, who were very numerous, if they could show any relationship, whether legitimate or not, with the old white proprietors, were allowed to inherit their property.

Education was not neglected in the midst of these outward and material arrangements. In nearly all the districts, schools were established; and the people, seeing what advantage was to be derived from learning, entered them, and plied themselves vigorously to gain in freedom what they had lost in slavery.

A praiseworthy effort was made by the framers of the constitution, under which Dessalines was inaugurated emperor, to extinguish all distinctions of color among the colored people themselves.

They decreed that the people should be denominated blacks; but such distinctions are far stronger than words on paper. Unfortunately, the distinctions in question, which was deeply rooted, and rested on prejudices and antipathies which will never be erased from human nature, had been aggravated by long and sanguinary contests between the blacks and mulattoes.

Aware of that individual superiority which springs from a share in the influences of civilization, the mulattoes of Hayti despised the uneducated black laborers by whom they were surrounded, and felt that by submitting to their sway, they put themselves under the domination of a majority whose sole authority lay exclusively in their numbers. The mulattoes really believed that their natural position was to fill the places in the government once held by the whites.

They would no doubt have forgotten their party[Pg 178] interests, and labored for the diffusion through the great body of the people of the higher influence of civilization, if they could have secured those positions.

The mutual hatred between the mulattoes and the blacks was so deeply rooted, that neither party could see anything good in the other; and therefore, whatever was put forth by one party, no matter how meritorious in itself, was regarded with suspicion by the other.

The regular army of Dessalines was composed of fifteen thousand men, in which there was included a corps of fifteen hundred cavalry. They were a motley assemblage of ragged blacks, kept in the ranks, and performing their limited routine of duty through the awe inspired among them by the rigid severity of the imperial discipline. The uniform of the troops had not been changed when the Island was erected into an independent power, and the red and blue of the French army still continued to distinguish the soldiers of the Haytian army, even when the French were execrated as a race of monsters, with whom the blacks of St. Domingo should have nothing in common. Together with the regular army of the empire, there existed a numerous corps of national guard, composed of all who were capable of bearing arms; though the services of these were not required but in some dangerous emergency of the State. The national guard and regular army were called into the field four times every year; and during these seasons of military movement, the government of Dessalines was over a nation of soldiers in arms, as they remained in their encampment for some days, to be instructed in military[Pg 179] knowledge, and to be reviewed by the great officers of the empire.

Dessalines now put forth a proclamation filled with accusations against the white French still on the Island.

This ferocious manifesto was intended as a preliminary measure in the train of horrible events to follow. In the month of February, 1805, orders were issued for the pursuit and arrest of all those Frenchmen who had been accused of being accomplices in the executions ordered by Rochambeau.

Dessalines pretended that more than sixty thousand of his compatriots had been drowned, suffocated, hung, or shot in these massacres. “We adopt this measure,” said he, “to teach the nations of the world that, notwithstanding the protection which we grant to those who are loyal towards us, nothing shall prevent us from punishing the murderers who have taken pleasure in bathing their hands in the blood of the sons of Hayti.”

These instigations were not long in producing their appropriate consequences among a population for so many years trained to cruelty, and that hated the French in their absence in the same degree that they feared them when present. On the 28th of April it was ordered by proclamation that all the French residents in the Island should be put to death; and this inhuman command of Dessalines was eagerly obeyed by his followers, particularly by the mulattoes, who had to manifest a flaming zeal for their new sovereign, in order to save themselves from falling victims to his sanguinary vengeance. Acting under the dread surveillance of Dessalines, all the black chiefs were forced to show themselves equally cruel; and if any French[Pg 180] were saved from death, it was due to the mercy of the inferior blacks, who dared not to avoid their generosity. Dessalines made a progress through all the towns where there were any French citizens remaining, and while his soldiers were murdering the unfortunate victims of his ferocity, the monster gloated with secret complacency over the scene of carnage, like some malignant fiend glorying in the pangs of misery suffered by those who had fallen a sacrifice to his wickedness.

The massacre was executed with an attention to order, which proves how minutely it had been prepared. All proper precautions were taken, that no other whites than the French should be included in the proscription. In the town of Cape François, where the massacre took place, on the night of the 20th of April, the precaution was first taken of sending detachments of soldiers to the houses of the American and English merchants, with strict orders to permit no person, not even the black generals, to enter them, without the permission of the master of the house, who had been previously informed of all that was about to happen. This command was obeyed so punctually, that one of these privileged individuals had the good fortune to preserve the lives of a number of Frenchmen whom he had concealed in his house, and who remained in their asylum until the guilty tragedy was over.

The priests, surgeons, and some necessary artisans were preserved from destruction, consisting in all, of one-tenth of the French residents. All the rest were massacred without regard to age or sex. The personal security enjoyed by the foreign whites was no safeguard to the horror inspired in them by the scenes of misery which were being enacted without. At every[Pg 181] moment of the night, the noise was heard of axes, which were employed to burst open the doors of the neighboring houses; of piercing cries, followed by a deathlike silence, soon, however, to be changed to a renewal of the same sounds of grief and terror, as the soldiers proceeded from house to house.

When this night of horror and massacre was over, the treacherous cruelty of Dessalines was not yet appeased. An imperial proclamation was issued in the morning, alleging that the blacks were sufficiently avenged upon the French, and inviting all who had escaped the assassination of the previous night to make their appearance upon the Place d’Armes of the town, in order to receive certificates of protection; and it was declared to them that in doing this they might count upon perfect safety to themselves.

Many hundreds of the French had been forewarned of the massacre, and by timely concealment had succeeded in preserving their lives. Completely circumvented by the fiendish cunning of Dessalines, this little remnant of survivors came out of their places of concealment, and formed themselves in a body upon the Place d’Armes. But at the moment when they were anxiously expecting their promised certificates of safety, the order was given for their execution. The stream of water which flowed through the town of Cape François was fairly tinged with their blood.[38]

Many of the great chiefs in the black army were struck with horror and disgust at this fiendish cruelty of their emperor. Christophe was shocked at the atrocity of the measure, though he dared not display any open opposition to the will of the monarch. Dessalines[Pg 182] had no troublesome sensibilities of soul to harass his repose for a transaction almost without a parallel in history. He sought not to share the infamy of the action with the subordinate chiefs of his army, but without a pang of remorse he claimed to himself the whole honor of the measure.

In another proclamation, given to the world within a few days after the massacre, he boasts of having shown more than ordinary firmness, and affects to put his system of policy in opposition to the lenity of Toussaint, whom he accuses, if not of want of patriotism, at least of want of firmness in his public conduct. Dessalines was prompted to the share he took in this transaction by an inborn ferociousness of character; but a spirit of personal vengeance doubtless had its effect upon the subordinate agents in the massacre. They hated the French for the cruelties of Rochambeau.

Although the complete evacuation of the Island by the forces of the French, and the ceaseless employment of the armies of Napoleon in the wars of Europe, had left the blacks of St. Domingo in the full possession of that Island, Dessalines lived in continual dread that the first moment of leisure would be seized by the conqueror of Europe to attempt the subjugation of his new empire. The black chief even alleged in excuse for the massacre which he had just accomplished, that the French residents in the Island had been engaged in machinations against the dominion of the blacks, and that several French frigates then lying at St. Jago de Cuba had committed hostilities upon the coast, and seemed threatening a descent upon this land.

Influenced by this perpetual solicitude, Dessalines now turned his attention to measures of defence, in[Pg 183] case the French should again undertake the reduction of the country. It was ordered that at the first appearance of a foreign army ready to land upon the shores of the Island, all the towns upon the coast should be burnt to the ground, and the whole population be driven to the fastnesses of the interior.

He also built fortifications in the mountains as places of refuge in the event of foreign invasion. Always violent and sanguinary, when there remained no whites upon whom to employ his ferocity, his cruelty was lavished upon his own subjects. For the slightest causes, both blacks and mulattoes were put to death without mercy and without the forms of trial. The sight of blood awakened within him his desire of slaughter, and his government became at length a fearful despotism, against the devouring vengeance of which none, not even those of his own household, was safe. The generals Clervaux, Geffrard, and Gabart died suddenly and mysteriously; and the aggressions of Dessalines, directed particularly against the mulattoes, soon awakened the vengeance of that jealous class, who were already displeased at their insignificance in the State, and at the exaltation of the black dynasty which seemed about to become permanent in the country. A secret conspiracy was accordingly planned against the black monarch, and when, on the 17th of October, 1806, he commenced a journey from St. Marks to Port au Prince, the occasion was improved to destroy him. A party of mulattoes lying in ambuscade at a place called Pont Rouge, made an attack upon him, and he was killed at the first fire.

Thus closed the career of Dessalines, a man who had commenced life as a slave, and ended as an [Pg 184]emperor; a man whose untiring energy, headlong bravery, unsurpassed audacity, and native genius made him to be feared by both blacks and whites, and whose misdeeds have furnished to the moralists more room for criticism than any other man whose life was passed in the West Indies.

Yet this “monster,” with all his faults, did much for the redemption of his race from slavery. Had Dessalines been in the position of Toussaint, he would never have been captured and transported to Europe. He who reads the history of the St. Domingo struggle without prejudice, and will carefully examine the condition of parties, see the efforts made by the expatriated planters to regain possession of the Island, and view impartially the cruel and exterminating war upon the blacks, as carried on by Le Clerc and Rochambeau, cannot feel like throwing the mantle of charity over some of the acts of Jean Jacques Dessalines. After the death of the emperor, the victorious mulattoes followed up their success by attacking the partisans of Dessalines, and four days were expended in destroying them. Upon the 21st there appeared a proclamation, portraying the crimes of the fallen emperor, and announcing that the country had been delivered of a tyrant. A provisional government was then constituted, to continue until time could be afforded for the formation of a new constitution, and General Christophe was proclaimed the provisional head of the State.


[38] Malo.

[Pg 185]


The ambitious and haughty mulattoes had long been dissatisfied with the obscure condition into which they had been thrown by the reign of Dessalines; and at the death of that ruler, they determined to put forward their claim. Therefore, while Christophe was absent from the capital, the mulattoes called a convention, framed a constitution, organized a republic, and elected for their president, Alexandre Pétion.

This man was a quadroon, the successor of Rigaud and Clervaux to the confidence of the mulattoes. He had been educated at the military school at Paris; was of refined manners, and had ever been characterized for his mildness of temper and the insinuating grace of his address. He was a skilful engineer, and at the time of his elevation to power he passed for the most scientific officer and the most erudite individual among the people of Hayti. Attached to the fortunes of Rigaud, Pétion had acted as his lieutenant in the war against Toussaint, and had accompanied that chief to France. Here he remained until the departure of the expedition under Le Clerc, when he embarked in that[Pg 186] disastrous enterprise, to employ his talents in restoring his country to the dominion of France. Pétion joined Dessalines, Christophe, and Clervaux when they revolted and turned against the French, and aided in gaining the final independence of the Island. He was commanding a battalion of mulattoes, under the government of Dessalines, at the close of the empire.

Christophe, therefore, as soon as he heard that he had a rival in Pétion, rallied his forces, and started for Port au Prince, to meet his enemy, and obtain by conquest what had been refused him by right of succession; and, as he thought, of merit. Pétion was already in the field; the two armies met, and a battle was fought.

In this contest, the impetuosity of Christophe’s attack was more than a match for the skill and science of Pétion; and the new president was defeated in his first enterprise against the enemy of his government. The ranks of Pétion were soon thrown into irretrievable confusion, and in a few minutes they were driven from the field—Pétion himself being hotly pursued in his flight, finding it necessary, in order for the preservation of his life, to exchange his decorations for the garb of a farmer, whom he encountered on his way, and to bury himself up to the neck in a marsh until his fierce pursuers had disappeared.

After this signal success, Christophe pressed forward to Port au Prince, and laid siege to that town, in the hope of an easy triumph over his rival. But Pétion was now in his appropriate sphere of action, and Christophe discovered that in contending against an experienced engineer in a fortified town, success was of more difficult attainment than while encountering[Pg 187] the same enemy in the open field, where his science could not be brought into action. Christophe could make no impression on the town; and feeling ill assured of the steadfastness of his own proper government at Cape François, he withdrew his forces from the investment of Port au Prince, resolved to establish in the North a separate government of his own, and to defer to some more favorable opportunity the attempt to subdue his rival at Port au Prince.

Thus placing themselves in hostile array against each other, the two chiefs of Hayti employed themselves in strengthening and establishing their respective governments, and in attempts to gain over the different parts of the Island to an acknowledgment of their authority. Christophe assumed the title of President of the State, and Pétion, of the Republic; and the inhabitants of the country conferred their allegiance according to the opinions of their chiefs, or the places of their residence.

The successes of Christophe in his late campaign against his rival at Port au Prince, had encouraged him with the hope of obtaining a complete conquest over him when he had strengthened and confirmed his power over the blacks of the North. The greater part of this province had already declared for him, and refused to acknowledge the new president at Port au Prince, who had been taken from among the mulattoes of the South. In this state of public feeling, Christophe proceeded to issue a series of proclamations and addresses to the people and the army, encouraging them to hope for a better era about to arise under his auspices, in which the evils of foreign invasion and the disaster of intestine disturbance were[Pg 188] to cease, and the wounds of the country to be healed by the restoration of peace and tranquillity. He manifested a desire to encourage the prosperity of commerce and agriculture; and by thus fostering individual enterprise, to ensure the happiness of the people under his rule. To support the credit of his government among the commercial nations abroad, he dispatched a manifesto to each of them, with a design to remove the distrust which had begun to be entertained in the mercantile world of the new governments of Hayti.

It was announced in these dispatches that the storehouses and magazines of the Island were crowded and overflowing with the rich productions of the Antilles, awaiting the arrival of foreign vessels to exchange for them the produce and fabrics of other lands; that the vexatious regulations and ignorant prohibitions of his predecessor no longer existed to interfere with the commercial prosperity of the Island; and that protection and encouragement would be granted to commercial factors from abroad, who should come to reside in the ports of the country.

Christophe felt that his assumption of power was but a usurpation, and that so long as his government remained in operation without the formal sanction of the people, his rival at Port au Prince possessed immense advantages over him, inasmuch as he had been made the constituted head of the country by an observance of the forms of the constitution. To remedy this palpable defect, which weakened his authority, he resolved to frame another constitution, which would confirm him in the power he had usurped, and furnish him with a legal excuse for maintaining his present[Pg 189] attitude. In accordance with this policy he convoked another assembly at Cape François, composed of the generals of his army and the principal citizens of that province, and after a short session these subservient legislators terminated their labors by giving to the world another constitution of the country, dated upon the 17th of February, 1807. This new enactment declared all persons residing upon the territory of Hayti, free citizens, and that the government was to be administered by a supreme magistrate, who was to take the title of President of the State, and General-in-Chief of the land and the naval forces.

The office was not hereditary, but the president had the right to choose his successor from among the generals of the army; and associated with him in the government there was to exist a Council of State, consisting of nine members, selected by the President from among the principal military chiefs. This, like the constitution, which conferred power upon Dessalines, made Christophe an autocrat, though he was nominally but the mere chief magistrate of a republic.

The rival government of Port au Prince differed from that of Christophe, by its possessing more of the forms of a republic. With a president who held his power for life, and who could not directly appoint his successor, there was associated a legislative body, consisting of a chamber of representatives chosen directly by the people, and a senate appointed by the popular branch of the government, to sustain or control the president in the exercise of his authority.

Hostilities between Christophe and Pétion were carried on for a long time, which led to little less than the enfeeblement of both parties. The black chief,[Pg 190] however, established his power on solid foundations in the North, while Pétion succeeded in retaining a firm position in the South. Thus was the Island once more unhappily divided between two authorities, each of which watched its opportunity for the overthrow of the other.

The struggle between the two presidents of Hayti had now continued three years, when a new competitor started up, by the arrival of Rigaud from France. He had passed by way of the United States, and arrived at Aux Cayes on the 7th of April, 1810. This was an unexpected event, which awakened deep solicitude in the bosom of Pétion, who could not avoid regarding that distinguished mulatto as a more formidable rival than Christophe. He feared his superior talents, and dreaded the ascendency he held over the mulatto population. Rigaud was welcomed by his old adherents with enthusiastic demonstrations of attachment and respect; and after enjoying for a few days the hospitalities that were so emulously offered to him, he proceeded on his way to Port au Prince. Though Pétion could not feel at his ease while such a rival was journeying in a species of triumph through the country, he dared not, at least in his present condition, to make an open manifestation of his displeasure, or employ force against one who had such devoted partisans at his command. He determined, therefore, to mask his jealous feelings, and wear an exterior of complaisance, until he could discover the designs of Rigaud. The latter was received graciously by the President, whose suspicions were all effectually lulled by the harmless deportment of the great mulatto chieftain; and he was even invested[Pg 191] by Pétion with the government of the South. This was to place an idol in the very temple of its worshippers, for Rigaud returned to Aux Cayes to draw all hearts to himself. No one in that province now cast a thought upon Pétion; and within a short period Rigaud was in full possession of his ancient power. Pétion, affrighted at his situation, surrounded as he was by two such rivals as Rigaud and Christophe, began an open rupture with the former before he had fully ascertained whether he could sustain himself against the hostilities of the latter. Some of the mulattoes, who, with a spirit of patriotism or clanship foresaw the triumphs which would be offered to the blacks by civil dissensions among themselves, proposed a compromise between Rigaud and Pétion; but this was rejected by the latter, who began to make preparations to invade Rigaud’s province.

Resolved to profit by this division, Christophe marched against Pétion, but the common danger brought about a union, and Christophe judged it prudent to retire.

When Pétion had been left at peace, by the temporary retirement of Christophe from the war against him, all his former jealousy was awakened within him against Rigaud. The treaty of Miragoane had been wrung from him by the hard necessities of his situation, which were such as to force him to choose between yielding himself a prey to the warlike ambition of Christophe, or complying with the urgent demands pressed upon him by the political importance of Rigaud. A compact thus brought about by the stern compulsion of an impending danger, and not yielded as a voluntary sacrifice for the preservation of peace,[Pg 192] was not likely to remain unviolated when the necessity of the moment had passed away and was forgotten. Thus, as has been observed, when Christophe, engaged as he was in renovating the structure of his government, had ceased from his hostilities against Pétion, the latter became immediately infested with all his former dislike of Rigaud. Intrigues were commenced against him, to shake the fidelity of his followers, and to turn the hearts of the Southern blacks against the mulatto who had been placed over them as their chief.

Emissaries were employed in all parts of that province, reminding the people of the obligations which they owed to the constituted authorities of the Republic at Port au Prince, and conjuring them to remember that the preservation of the country against the designs of France could only be assured by the unanimous support given to the chief of the Republic, who alone could perpetuate the institutions of the country, and maintain its independence against its foreign enemies.

An armistice concluded between Pétion and the Maroon chief, Gomar, furnished an opportunity to the former to arm this formidable brigand against the government of the South. Gomar’s followers, eager for new scenes of plunder, commenced their depredations in the plain of Aux Cayes, and the plantations in that quarter were soon subjected to the same ravages as had fallen to the lot of those of Grand Anse. While Rigaud was involved in a perplexing war with these banditti, and had already discovered that the allegiance of his own followers at Aux Cayes was wavering and insecure, he was dismayed at the intelligence that Pétion had already invaded his [Pg 193]territory at the head of an army. Thus were the mulattoes committing suicide upon their political hopes, if not upon their very existence, by a mad strife in the cause of their respective chiefs, when their formidable enemy in the North was concentrating his power, and watching a favorable moment to pour destruction upon both.

Rigaud hastened to collect his forces, in order to defend his territory against this invasion of Pétion; and the latter, having already passed the mountains of La Hotte, was met by his antagonist in the plain of Aux Cayes. A furious battle immediately took place; and after a gallant resistance, Rigaud’s troops had already begun to give ground before the overpowering numbers and successive charges of the enemy, when a strong reinforcement of troops under the command of General Borgella, coming in from Aquin, turned the tide of battle in favor of Rigaud, and Pétion was defeated in his turn, and his army almost annihilated in the rout which followed.[39]

The joy of this signal victory over his opponent, which had driven him from the southern territory, did not efface the bitter recollections which had fastened themselves upon the sensitive mind of Rigaud. In that province, where he had once been all-powerful, and Pétion a subservient instrument of his will, he saw that his former glory had so far departed that he could not trust the fidelity of his own personal attendants, while his former lieutenant was now his triumphant rival. The applauses and sworn devotedness with which the multitude had once followed in the march of his power had now with proverbial fickleness,[Pg 194] been exchanged for the coldness of indifference, or an open alliance with his foes.

In this desolate state of his fortunes, Rigaud had lost his wonted energies; and instead of following up his late success, and arming himself for the last desperate effort to crush his insinuating but unwarlike opponent, he returned to Aux Cayes, to new solicitudes and new experience of the faithlessness of that mob whose whirlwind-march he had once guided by a single word. Pétion’s partisans had now gained over to their opinions a formidable proportion of the people of Aux Cayes, and Rigaud had scarcely entered his capital when a multitude of blacks and mulattoes were gathered in the streets opposite the government house.

Their cries of vengeance upon Rigaud, and their menacing preparations, struck a panic into the little body of followers, who, faithful among the faithless, still adhered with unshaken constancy to the declining fortunes of their once glorious chief. His friends besought Rigaud not to attempt the hazardous experiment of showing himself in the gallery to persuade the mob to disperse. But not suspecting that the last remnant of his once mighty influence had departed from him, Rigaud persevered in his design, and advancing to the gallery of the house, he demanded in a mild voice of the leaders of the multitude what they intended by a movement so threatening, when he received in answer a volley of musketry aimed at his life.

But he remained unharmed, though he returned into the house heart-sick and desperate. A furious onset was immediately commenced from without, and this was answered by a vigilant and deadly defence[Pg 195] from Rigaud’s followers within. The contest continued through the night, but the mob were defeated in every attempt which they made to obtain a lodgment within the walls of the edifice, and no decisive success could be obtained to disperse them. Rigaud, now convinced that the witchery of his power existed no longer, made a formal abdication of his authority, and nominated General Borgella as his successor in the command of the South. Rigaud, worn with chagrin and humiliation, retired to his plantation, Laborde, where he died within a few days after, a victim to the faithlessness of the multitude.

Thus ended the life of André Rigaud, the ablest scholar and most accomplished military man of any color which the St. Domingo revolution had produced. The death of Rigaud had the effect of uniting the mulatto generals, Borgella and Boyer under Pétion, and against Christophe; the latter, however, succeeded in maintaining his authority in the North, and still looked forward to a time when he should be able to govern the whole Island.

Christophe, like Dessalines, had been made a monarch by the constitution which formed a basis to his power; but he had at first only assumed to himself the modest title of President. This moderation in his ambition arose from the desire to supplant Pétion in his government, and become the supreme head of the whole country without any rival or associate. For this purpose it was necessary to surround his power with republican forms; to make it attractive in the estimation of the better class of blacks and mulattoes, with whom republican notions happened to be in vogue.

[Pg 196]

But the prospect of superseding Pétion in his authority had become less clear with every succeeding attempt, of Christophe against him; and after years of untiring hostility, it was evident that Pétion was more firmly enthroned in the hearts of his people than at the commencement of his administration, and that no solid and durable advantages had been gained over him in the field. Christophe was thus led to change his policy; and, instead of seeking to assimilate the nature of the two governments, in order to supplant his rival in the affections of his countrymen, he now resolved to make his government the very contrast of the other, and leave it to the people of his country to decide which of the two forms of power was the best adapted to the nature and genius of the population over which they maintained their sway.

The one was a republic in direct contact with the people, and governed by a plain engineer officer, who, though clothed with the sovereignty of the state, “bore his faculties so meekly” that he mixed freely with his fellow-citizens, but as a man in high repute for his intelligence and his virtues.

Christophe determined that the other should be a monarchy, surrounded by all the insignia of supreme power, and sustained by an hereditary nobility, who, holding their civil and military privileges from the crown, would be props to the throne, and maintain industry and order among the subjects of the government. The Republic was a government of the mulattoes, and had been placed under the rule of a mulatto president. The monarchy was to be essentially and throughout, a dominion of the pure blacks, between whom and the mulattoes it was alleged there[Pg 197] was such diversity of interest and personal feeling that no common sympathy could exist between them.

In pursuance of this new policy, Christophe’s Council of State was convoked, and commenced its labors to modify the constitution of February, 1807, in order to make it conformable to the new ambition of Christophe. With this council there had been associated the principal generals of the army and several private citizens, who were sufficiently in the favor of Christophe to be ranked among those willing to do him honor. The labors of this council were brief, and upon the 20th of March, 1811, the session was closed by the adoption of a new form of government. The imperial constitution of 1805 was modified to form an hereditary monarchy in the North, and to place the crown of Hayti upon Christophe, under the title of Henry the First.

In their announcement to the world of this new organization of the government, the Council declared that the constitution which had been framed in the year 1807, imperfect as it was, had been adapted to the circumstances of the country at that epoch, but that the favorable moment had arrived to perfect their work, and establish a permanent form of government, suited to the nature and condition of the people over which it was to bear rule.

They added that the majority of the nation felt with them the necessity of establishing an hereditary monarchy in the country, inasmuch as a government administered by a single individual was, less than any other, subject to the chances of revolution, as it possessed within itself a higher power to maintain the laws, to protect the rights of citizens, to preserve internal order, and maintain respect abroad; that the[Pg 198] title of governor-general, which had been conferred upon Toussaint L’Ouverture, was insufficient to the dignity of a supreme magistrate; that that of emperor, which had been bestowed upon Dessalines, could not in strictness be conferred but upon the sovereign of several states united under one government, while that of president did not, in fact, carry with it the idea of sovereign power at all. In consideration of these grave objections to all other terms to designate the supreme head of the state, the council expressed itself driven at last to adopt the title of king. The council next proceeded by a formal decree to confer the title of King of Hayti upon Henri Christophe and his successors in the male line, and to make such changes and modifications in the constitution of 1807 as were required by the recent alteration in the structure of the government.

On the 4th of April, the Council of State, which, with the additions made to their number from among the chiefs of the army and the leaders among the population, was pompously styled the Council General, in their robes of state, and headed by their president, proceeded to the palace of Christophe, to announce in formal terms the termination of their labors, which had resulted in the formation of a new constitution, making the crown of Hayti hereditary in the family of the reigning prince. After a speech filled with the very essence of adulation, the President of the Council, General Romaine, exclaimed in the presence of the sovereign, “People of Hayti, regard with pride your present situation. Cherish no longer any fears for the future prosperity of your country, and address your gratitude to Heaven; for while there exists a Henry[Pg 199] upon the throne, a Sully will ever be found to direct the march of your happiness.”

On the day following, the new constitution was proclaimed by official announcement throughout the kingdom, and Christophe entered upon the exercise of the kingly powers which had been conferred upon him. The first act of his reign was the promulgation of a royal edict, creating an hereditary nobility, as a natural support to his government, and an institution to give éclat and permanence to his sovereignty. These dignitaries of the kingdom were taken mostly from among the chiefs of the army, and consisted of two princes, not of the royal blood, of seven dukes, twenty-two counts, thirty-five barons, and fourteen chevaliers.

Of priority in rank among the princes of the kingdom, were those of the royal blood, consisting of the two sons of Christophe, the eldest of whom, as heir apparent, received the title of Prince Royal.

Having finished these creations of his new monarchy, and received the two royal crowns of Hayti, Christophe appointed the 2d of June, 1811, as the day for his coronation. All the chiefs of the army and other grandees of the realm had orders to repair to the capital, and among them there appeared a deputation from the blacks of the Spanish territory, who had assumed to themselves the pompous appellations of Don Raphael de Villars, chief commandant of Santiago; Don Raymond de Villa, commandant of Vega; Don Vincent de Luna, and Don José Thabanes, who at least represented the Spanish creoles by the grandiloquence of their names. An immense pavilion had been erected upon the Place d’Armes of Cape Henry, furnished with a throne, galleries for[Pg 200] the great ladies of the court, chapels, oratories, an orchestra, and all the arrangements necessary for the august ceremony. This was performed in due stateliness by the new archbishop of Hayti, the capuchin Brelle, who consecrated Christophe King of Hayti, under the title of Henry the First.


[39] Lacroix.

[Pg 201]


Christophe, now enthroned as the sovereign of the North, seized upon the leisure which was afforded him after perfecting the internal details of his new government, to attempt a peaceable union of the blacks of the South with those who were already the loyal subjects of what he considered the legitimate authority of the Island. For this purpose a large deputation was dispatched from his capital, to proceed into the territory of the republic as the envoys of the black king, who proposed the union of the whole population in one undivided government, secured under the form of an hereditary monarchy, both from the revolutions and weakness of one, the structure of which was more popular. These emissaries, sent to declare the clemency and peaceful intentions of the monarch of the North, were taken from among the prisoners who had fallen into the power of Christophe by the capitulation of the Mole St. Nicholas, and who had been adopted into the royal army, and made the sharers of the royal bounty of the black king. To[Pg 202] assist in this new measure, a proclamation was issued from the palace at Cape Henry on the 4th of September, 1811, addressed to the inhabitants of the South, who were no longer called the enemies of the royal government, but erring children, misled by the designing; and they were implored to return to their allegiance to the paternal government of that chief who had just been constituted the hereditary prince of the blacks. “A new era,” said this royal document, “has now dawned upon the destinies of Hayti.

“New grades, new employments, new dignities; in fine, an order of hereditary nobility are hereafter to be the rewards of those who devote themselves to the State. You can participate in all these advantages. Come, then, to join the ranks of those who have placed themselves under the banners of the royal authority, which has no other design than the happiness and glory of the country.”

This policy of Christophe was to employ the weapons of Pétion against himself. But the republican chieftain was in better play with the foils than his more unsophisticated rival of the monarchy, and Christophe soon discovered that while he was attacking the government of Pétion by appeals to the blacks, who were to be dazzled with his royal goodness, the arts of his rival were employed in the very heart of his dominions, and had already insinuated the poison of rebellion among his most trusted subjects. His infant navy had hardly been launched and manned with the objects of his clemency and royal favor, when a detachment of the squadron, consisting of the Princess Royal and several brigs of war, abjured his authority, and raised the standard of the republic. This defection was[Pg 203] punished by an English frigate under Sir James Lucas Yeo,[40] who captured the rebellious squadron, and restored the agents to Christophe’s vengeance.

Indignant at these attempts of the mulatto government to divert the affections of his subjects from their sworn allegiance to his throne, Christophe resolved on immediate war and the employment of the sword against that race whose pride and hatred made them the enemies of the pure blacks. Conscious of his military superiority, he resolved to make his preparations for the intended enterprise such as to ensure success over his opponent, and all the disposable forces of his army were gathered together for an invasion of the territories of the Republic.

The Artibonite was soon crossed, and Pétion’s forces, under the command of General Boyer, were met and defeated in the gorges of the mountains of St. Marks; and the way thus laid open for an immediate advance on Port au Prince.

The siege of this place was the object of the expedition, and Christophe pressed forward once more to try the fortune of war against his hated enemy. So sudden was the invasion, that Pétion was taken totally unprepared—a considerable portion of his army being absent from the capital, employed in watching the movements of General Borgella in the south.

In this state of weakness the town might have been surprised, and fallen an easy prey to the invading army, but Christophe had not calculated upon such a speedy result, and though his vanguard had seized upon a post a little to the north of the town, while the inhabitants in their exposed condition were panic-struck [Pg 204]at the certain prospect of being captured immediately, the arrival of the main body of Christophe’s army being delayed twenty-four hours, time was thus afforded to Pétion to rally and concentrate his means of defence, so as to be prepared for an effectual resistance. Christophe’s whole force came up the next day, and Pétion’s capital was nearly surrounded by a formidable train of artillery, and an army of twenty thousand men.

In this gigantic attempt of their old adversary, the mulattoes felt with terror that defeat and conquest would not be to them a simple change of government, but would involve in its tremendous consequences the total extermination of their race. In so hazardous a situation, they were taught to reflect upon the madness of their ambition, which, by sowing dissensions among themselves, had exposed them, weak and unarmed, to the whole power of their natural enemy. In so fearful a crisis, the resolution was at last taken to repair their former error, and thus avert the disasters which now overhung them by an attenuated thread. Negotiations were hastily commenced with General Borgella, who, sympathizing with his brethren of Port au Prince in their perilous situation, consented to conditions of peace, and even yielded himself to the orders of Pétion. The assistance of the army of the South was thus secured, and General Borgella at the head of his forces marched to the assistance of Pétion, and succeeded, in spite of the efforts of Christophe, in gaining an entrance into the town.

The operations of the siege had already commenced; but the mulattoes, now united, were enabled to make a vigorous defence. Christophe’s formidable[Pg 205] train of artillery had been mounted in batteries upon the heights above the town, and kept up a slow but ceaseless fire upon the works of the garrison within.

Pétion conducted the defence with considerable ability, and a succession of vigorous sallies made upon the lines of the besieging army without the town, taught the latter that they had a formidable adversary to overcome before the town would yield itself to their mercy.

Amidst these continued struggles, which daily gave employment to the two forces, and had already begun to inflame Christophe with the rage of vexation that his anticipated success was so likely to be exchanged for defeat, Pétion had, one day, at the head of a reconnoitering party, advanced too far beyond his lines, when he was pursued by a squadron of the enemy’s cavalry.

The President of the Republic had been discovered by the decorations upon his hat; and the enemy kept up a hot pursuit, which hung upon the very footsteps of the mulatto commander-in-chief, whose escape in such circumstances seemed impossible, when one of his officers devoted himself to death to save the life of his chief.

Exchanging hats with the president, he rode swiftly in another direction. The whole party of the enemy were thus drawn after him, and he was soon overtaken and cut down, while Pétion made his escape into the town.

The siege of Port au Prince had now continued two months, and the obstinacy of its defence had already begun to make Christophe despair of final success, when an occurrence took place which determined him[Pg 206] to raise it immediately. Indignant at the tyranny of the black king, several chiefs of his army had formed a conspiracy to assassinate him during his attendance at church. Christophe was always punctual at mass, and upon these occasions the church was filled with officers in waiting, and surrounded with soldiers. It had been arranged to stab him while he was kneeling at the altar, and then to proclaim the death of the tyrant to the soldiery, whose attachment to their monarch, it was thought, was not so warm as to render such an enterprise hazardous.

This dangerous undertaking had been prepared in such secrecy, that a great number of the officers and soldiers of the army had been drawn into the ranks of the conspirators, and all things were now in readiness for the final blow. In this stage of the transaction, a mulatto proved faithless to his associates, and informed Christophe minutely of all the plans of the conspiracy, and of all the agents who had devoted themselves to his destruction.

The monarch, thus possessed of a full knowledge of all that had been prepared against him, concealed the vengeful feelings that burned within him under an appearance of the utmost composure. He feared lest a whisper intimating that he had been informed of the intentions of the conspirators might snatch them from his vengeance by urging them to desert to the enemy. At the usual hour the troops paraded at the church, and Christophe, instead of entering to assist at the mass, placed himself at the head of his army, and designated by their names the leaders of the conspiracy, who were ordered to march to the centre.[Pg 207] An order was then given to the troops to fire, and the execution was complete.

A black named Etienne Magny, was one of the ablest of Christophe’s generals; and though he had been secretary to the council of state that had raised the latter to the throne of Hayti, he had now become so dissatisfied with his work that nothing retained him to the standard of his king but the reflection that his family, whom he had left at Cape Henry, would be required to pay the forfeit of his defection with their heads. A body of black soldiers, who were upon the point of deserting to the army of Pétion, willing to give éclat to their defection by taking their commander with them, surrounded the tent of Magny by night, and communicated to him their intention. The black general hesitated not to express his willingness to accompany them; but he urged that tenderness for his family forbade an attempt which would doom them all to certain destruction.

The black soldiers refused to yield to these considerations, and seizing upon Magny, they bore him off undressed, and without his arms, into the town. To preserve the lives of Magny’s family, Pétion treated him as a prisoner of war; and he remained at Port au Prince until the death of Christophe, when he was made the commander of the North under Boyer.

Christophe, discouraged at his defeats, and enraged at the sweeping defections which were every day diminishing the numbers of his army, and strengthening the resources of his rival, now commenced his retreat towards the north, whence intelligence had lately reached him of designs in preparation against him[Pg 208] among his own subjects. The army of the republic, under General Boyer, commenced a pursuit. The cause of Pétion seemed triumphant. Boyer pressed closely upon the rear of the royal army, and Christophe seemed on the point of losing all, when the cautious policy of Pétion restrained Boyer’s activity, and the republicans turned back from the pursuit. Christophe had been foiled in his great effort by Pétion and Borgella, and he now regarded the mulattoes with a hatred so deep and fiendlike, that nothing would satisfy the direness of his vengeance but the utter extermination of that race. A body of mulatto women of the town of Gonaives, who had sympathized with their brethren of Port au Prince in the struggle which the latter were maintaining against the power of Christophe, and with this communion of feeling had made prayers to the Virgin against the success of their king, became the first victims of the rage of Christophe against their race.

They were marched out of the town, and all subjected to military execution, without a distinction in their punishment or consideration of mercy for their sex. Christophe had long ago resolved to rest the foundation of his power upon the support of the pure blacks, and he now determined to make his administration one of ceaseless hatred and persecution to the mulattoes.

Through the influence of this policy, he hoped to make the number of the blacks prevail over the superior intelligence and bravery of the mulattoes.


[40] Lacroix.

[Pg 209]


Christophe had now discovered the too palpable truth, that so far from his possessing the means to drive his rival from the government of the South, all his cares and precautions were requisite to maintain the sovereignty over his own subjects of the North. A train of perpetual suspicions kept his jealousy ever alive, and vexed by the tortures of eternal solicitude, his despotic temper grew by the cruelty which had become its aliment. Together with this perpetual inquietude for the safety of his power, which made the new throne of Hayti a pillow of thorns and torture, other considerations had their influence to arrest the hostilities between the two chiefs of the country. The giant power of Napoleon had now extended itself over almost all the thrones of Europe, and with such an infinity of means at his disposal, it was yearly expected that another armament, proportioned to the overgrown power of the French Emperor, would be sent to crush the insurgents of St. Domingo, and restore that island once more to the possession of its ancient colonists.

[Pg 210]

Influenced by the fears inspired by these forebodings, the two governments of Hayti were actuated by a common instinct of self-preservation to cease from their warfare, and instead of spending their resources in a civil strife which threatened to become interminable, to employ themselves in giving permanence to their existing condition, and prosperity to the country under their control. The population, which had been employed in the armies of the two powers, had been taken from their labors upon the soil, and the ravages of war had consumed and destroyed the scanty growth of the plantations.

Amidst this unproductiveness of agriculture, which spread the miseries of want and destitution among the inhabitants of both governments, the occurrence of a maritime war between the United States and England entirely cut off the supplies which had been drawn from those two countries, and the evil condition of the Island was complete. In this sad state of their affairs, both Christophe and Pétion ceased from all military operations against each other, without previous arrangement or military truce; and they directed all their efforts to heal the wounds which had been inflicted by hostile depredation or the neglect of peaceful employments within their respective territories.

The tax laid by Christophe upon his subjects exceeded in despotism anything of the kind ever before known in the Island; and even surpassed the outrageous demands of Dessalines.

Pétion dared not to tax his subjects to supply the wants of his administration; and for this purpose he was driven to embarrass commerce by the imposition of enormous duties upon the trade carried on[Pg 211] in his ports. But Christophe had assumed a station which forebade him to fear his subjects, and he furnished yearly millions to his treasury by a territorial tax, which poured one-fourth of all the productions of the kingdom into the royal coffers. Possessed of this revenue, which placed his finances beyond the contingencies of chance, the commercial regulations of Christophe were the very opposites of those enforced within the republic; and the traffic in the ports of the kingdom was annually augmented by a competition sustained at advantages so immense.

The army of the monarchy was in all things better furnished and more respectable than that of the republic. The troops were well clothed and well armed. They were kept under a discipline so strict that it knew no mercy and permitted no relaxation. The smallest delinquency was visited upon the offender with unsparing flagellation or with military execution. The troops received a merely nominal stipend for their services, and each soldier was required to gain his subsistence by the cultivation of a few acres of ground, which were allotted him out of the national domain; and of this scanty resource a fourth was required to be delivered into the hands of the king’s officers, as a part of the royal revenues.

Although Christophe had determined to maintain his power by the bayonets of the soldiery, he condescended to no measures of unusual moderation in his conduct toward these supporters of his authority. The soldiers of the army, as well as the laborers of the plantations, lived in perpetual dread of the rod of authority which was ever brandished over their heads; and of the[Pg 212] merciless inflictions of authority the former obtained a more than ordinary share.

Upon common occasions, Christophe assumed little state, showing himself among his subjects but as a private individual of superior rank. Like his model, George III., it was his habit to walk the streets of the capital dressed in plain citizen’s costume, and with no decorations to designate his rank but a golden star upon his breast. In this unostentatious manner he was often seen upon the quay, watching the operations at the custom-house; or in the town, superintending the laborers engaged in the erection of public edifices. His never-failing companion upon these occasions was a huge cane, which he exercised without mercy upon those who were idle in his presence, or whose petty offences of any kind called for extemporary flagellation.

Christophe was without education, but like his predecessor, Dessalines, he found a royal road to learning. His knowledge of books was extensive, as several educated mulattoes retained about his person under the name of secretaries were employed several hours of each day in reading to the monarch. He was particularly delighted with history, of which his knowledge was extensive and accurate; and Frederick the Great of Prussia was a personage with whom above all others he was captivated, the name of Sans Souci, his palace, having been borrowed from Potsdam.

Such sharpness had been communicated to his genius, naturally astute, by having knowledge thus dispensed to him in daily portions, that Christophe became at last a shrewd critic upon the works read before him, and even grew fastidious in the selection of his[Pg 213] authors. The events of that stormy period of European history, as detailed in the public journals of the time, were listened to with a greedy ear, and the course of Napoleon’s policy was watched with a keenness which manifested Christophe’s own interest in the affair.

Christophe, though a pure African, was not a jet black, his complexion being rather a dusky brown. His person was commanding, slightly corpulent, and handsome. His address was cold, polished, and graceful. He possessed a certain air of native dignity which corresponded well with his high official station, and he exacted great personal deference from all who approached him. The personal qualities and majestic bearing of the black king impressed his own characteristics upon his court. The most formal ceremony was observed upon public occasions, and no grandee of the realm could safely appear at the court of his sovereign without the costume and decorations of his rank. The ceremonial and observances were modelled after the drawing-rooms at St. James palace, and Christophe was always pleased with the attendance of whites, particularly if they were titled Englishmen. Many distinguished foreigners visited the court of the black monarch, attracted thither by a curiosity to witness the spectacle of an African levée, a scene which, by established regulation, was held at the palace on the Thursday of every week.

The company was collected in an ante-chamber which adjoined the principal hall of the palace, where the novices in courtly life were suitably drilled and instructed in the minute details of the parts they were expected to play in the coming pageantry, by two or[Pg 214] three assistants of the grand master of ceremonies, the Baron de Sicard. When all things were in readiness, both within and without, the doors were thrown open, and the monarch of Hayti appeared seated upon the throne in royal costume, with the crown upon his head, and surrounded by a glittering cortege composed of his ministers, grand almoner, grand marshal of the palace, chamberlains, and heralds at arms.

Political offences were never left unpunished by Christophe, and towards delinquents of this kind he never manifested his vengeance by open violence or a display of personal indignation. Those who had excited his mistrust were upon some occasions even favored with a personal visit from the monarch, who studiously concealed his vengeful purposes under a show of kindness, and the utmost graciousness of manner. But the arrival of his vengeance was not retarded by this display of civility. The agents of Christophe generally made their appearance by night, and the suspected offender was secretly hurried off to the fate which awaited him. But though Christophe’s anger for offences not of a political character was violent, it was seldom bloody.

Amidst a torrent of philippics against such persons, his customary expression, “O! diable,” was a signal to those in attendance to fall upon the offender and scourge him with canes; and when the punishment had been made sufficient, the justice of the monarch was satisfied, and the culprit was restored again to his favor. Sometimes, however, his indignation in these cases was aroused to the ferocity of a savage not to be appeased but by the blood of his victim.

We must now turn to the affairs of the republic.[Pg 215] Pétion had long been despondent for the permanence of the republic, and this feeling had by degrees grown into a settled despair, when he discovered that his long administration had not succeeded in giving order and civilization to the idle and barbarous hordes composing the dangerous population of his government. While the more despotic sway of Christophe maintained the prosperity of his kingdom, Pétion found that the people of the republic was becoming every day a more ungovernable rabble, indolent, dissolute, and wretched. While the coffers of Christophe were overflowing with millions of treasures wrung by the hard exactions of his tyranny from the blacks who toiled upon the soil, the finances of the republic were already in irretrievable confusion, as the productions of that territory were hardly sufficient for the sustenance of its population.

Amidst these perplexities and embarrassments, Pétion fell sick in the month of March, 1818, and after a malady which continued but eight days, he perished of a mind diseased, declaring to his attendants that he was weary of life.

The announcement that Pétion was no more threw all the foreign merchants of the republic into consternation. They expected that an event like this would be the harbinger of another revolution to overturn all that had been achieved, or of a long and destructive anarchy, which would completely annihilate the little authority there yet remained in the republic. Merchandise to the amount of millions had been sold to the credit of the country, in the doubtful hope that its government would be durable. Both treasures and blood were at stake, but the terror of the moment was[Pg 216] soon appeased. At the tidings of Pétion’s illness, the Senate had assembled itself in session, and this body conferred power upon the expiring president to nominate his successor; and Pétion, when he foresaw that his death was inevitable, designated for this purpose General Boyer, then commanding the arrondissement of Port au Prince.

The funeral ceremonies of the deceased president took place upon the first of April, and were performed with the most august solemnity. All the great officers of the army were ordered to their posts, and required to maintain a ceaseless vigilance for the preservation of tranquillity. An embargo was laid until the Sunday following upon all vessels in the harbor of Port au Prince, and several detachments of troops were ordered to march towards different points of the frontier. The observance of every precaution which the most anxious solicitude could suggest for the maintenance of internal peace, and the prevention of invasion from abroad, was evidence that Pétion had bequeathed his power to a successor worthy of his choice.

There was a wide difference between Pétion and Christophe; the former was a republican at heart, the latter, a tyrant by nature. Assuming no pretensions to personal or official dignity, and totally rejecting all the ceremonial of a court, it was Pétion’s ambition to maintain the exterior of a plain republican magistrate. Clad in the white linen undress of the country, and with a Madras handkerchief tied about his head, he mixed freely and promiscuously with his fellow-citizens, or seated himself in the piazza of the government house, accessible to all.

Pétion was subtle, cautious, and designing. He[Pg 217] aspired to be the Washington, as Christophe was deemed the Bonaparte, of Hayti. By insinuating the doctrines of equality and republicanism, Pétion succeeded in governing, with but ten thousand mulattoes, a population of more than two hundred thousand blacks.

The administration of Pétion was mild, and he did all that he could for the elevation of the people whom he ruled. He was the patron of education and the arts; and scientific men, for years after his death, spoke his name with reverence. He was highly respected by the representatives of foreign powers, and strangers visiting his republic always mentioned his name in connection with the best cultivated and the most gentlemanly of the people of Hayti. The people of the republic, without distinction of color or sect, regarded Pétion’s death as a great national calamity; and this feeling extended even into Christophe’s dominion, where the republican president had many warm friends amongst the blacks as well as the mulattoes. Pétion was only forty-eight years of age at his death. He was a man of medium size, handsome, as were nearly all of the men of mixed blood, who took part in the Haytian war. His manners were of the Parisian school, and his early military training gave him a carriage of person that added dignity to his general appearance.

[Pg 218]


Boyer, the new president, was peaceably acknowledged by the people of the republic as their lawful chief, and no other general of the army manifested any disposition to establish an adverse claim to the vacant dignity.

Boyer, finding himself tranquilly seated in power, and placed beyond any danger from the hostile enterprises of the rival dynasty, devoted himself to the encouragement of agriculture and commerce within his territory. He made a tour of inspection through all the different districts, and in each of them the due observance of the laws was enjoined, and the citizens were urged to abandon their idle habits, and for the good of the State, if not for the promotion of their individual interests, to employ themselves in the development of the great resources of the country.

Within a few months after his elevation to power, the new president formed the resolution to disperse the hordes of banditti that infested Grande Anse, and kept the whole South in perpetual alarm. Conscious of the[Pg 219] importance there existed of depriving his great competitor of a lodgment within the very heart of the republic, such as to expose its very capital to the danger of an attack both in front and rear, Boyer determined to fit out a sufficient force to sweep the mountains of La Hotte, and if possible, to capture Gomar within the very fastnesses which had been for so many years his natural citadel.

Christophe, on the other hand, determined, if possible, to preserve this important point from which he could so easily gain an entrance to the territory of the republic, made a diversion in favor of the Maroons in this movement against them, by assuming a hostile attitude upon the northern frontier of the republic. A formidable detachment of the royal army was already entering the neutral territory of Boucausin, and threatening another attack upon Port au Prince, when Boyer found it necessary to defer his intended expedition against Gomar, and recall all his forces to repel the danger which was threatening in an opposite quarter. This was the single result which Christophe designed to accomplish by his movement on Port au Prince; and when this had been effected, his army returned to its quarters in the North.

But Boyer was not to be turned aside from his resolution of rescuing the best districts of his territory from continual spoliation, and when the panic had subsided which had been inspired by the threatened invasion of Christophe, he put his troops in motion in the autumn of 1819, for a campaign against the Maroons of Grande Anse. The troops of the republic met, and defeated the brigands.

[Pg 220]

Having accomplished the objects of his visit, and left peace and tranquillity where those conditions had so long been unknown, Boyer commenced his return to his capital, gratified that his attainment of power had been effected so peaceably, and that the hopes of his administration were already based more solidly than ever upon the wishes of the people.

Boyer had now attained complete success in his design to shut the boundaries of his states against the machinations of Christophe; and until a more favorable moment he contented himself to maintain a policy strictly defensive against an opponent so warlike. The latter, on his side, enraged at the defeat and overthrow of his allies of Grande Anse, began to threaten another invasion of Boyer’s territory, and many months glided away in the daily expectation of the commencement of hostilities between the two governments. In this interval the growing tyranny of Christophe forced a flood of emigration from his realms into the territories of the republic, and the very household troops of the monarch began to desert in large numbers from the service of a sovereign whose cruelty decimated their ranks at the instigation of his caprice. Bold, crafty, and suspicious, Christophe with one breath congratulated his subjects upon the glorious possession which they held of personal liberty and national independence, and with another he doomed them to scourgings, imprisonment, and death.

So unlimited and habitual was his severity, that it was said of him that he would put a man to death with as little hesitation as a sportsman would bring down an article of game. His dungeons were filled with [Pg 221]thousands of victims of all colors, and new detachments of prisoners were daily arriving to swell the number. The innocent were confounded with the guilty; for under the promptings of his hatred or jealousy, the despot would not stop to make nice discriminations.

[Pg 222]


Christophe, who now might be denominated the Caligula of the blacks, was every day adding to the discontent and terror of his subjects. His soldiers were treated with extreme severity for every real or fancied fault, and they sought for nothing so earnestly as for an occasion to abandon his service, and gain an asylum within the territories of his rival; or to attempt, what they scarcely dared to meditate, the dethronement of a tyrant who caused them to pass their lives in wretchedness. Christophe possessed a knowledge of this disaffection entertained towards him, and instead of seeking to assure and perpetuate the allegiance of his army, to the bayonets of which he was indebted for his power, his vengeance became every day more watchful and more terrible, until his conduct exceeded in cruelty even that which had already spread hatred and misery throughout the nation. Christophe determined to rule through the inspirement of fear alone, and he practised no arts of conciliation to preserve to his interests those even who were necessary to the maintenance of his power.

[Pg 223]

His despotism was thus carried beyond the limits of endurance. So far from seeking to attach his great officers to his own person, by lavishing upon them the favors of his government, his suspicions had become alarmed at the growing wealth of his nobles, in consequence of the immense incomes drawn by them from the estates placed under their control, within the districts of which they were the titulary lords. To prevent this inordinate increase of wealth among a class of persons who, it was thought, might one day employ it against the throne and dignity of the sovereign, an institution was formed, called the Royal Chamber of Accounts, which, by a sort of star-chamber process, appraised the estates of the nobility, and disburdened them of so much of their wealth as the king deemed a matter of superfluity to them. Several of the black nobles had already been subjected to the jurisdiction of this royal court; and, actuated by secret indignation for this arbitrary spoliation of their property, they sought only for an opportunity to drive Christophe from his power, in the hope to share the same authority among themselves.

In the month of August, 1820, Christophe, while attending mass, was attacked with paralysis, and was immediately carried to his palace at Sans Souci, where he remained an invalid for many months, to the great satisfaction of his subjects.

This event, so favorable to the treacherous designs of the discontented chiefs of his government, furnished an occasion for the formation of a dangerous conspiracy, at the head of which were Paul Romaine, Prince of Limbe, and General Richard, the governor of the royal capital. The conspirators designed to[Pg 224] put Christophe to death, and after the performance of a deed so acceptable to the nation, to form a northern republic, similar in its structure to that which existed in the South, at the head of which was to be placed General Romaine, with the title of president.

But before this scheme could be carried out, a division of the royal army, stationed at St. Marks, and consisting of a force of six thousand men, exasperated at the cruelties practiced upon them, seized upon this occasion to revolt. The commanding general was beheaded, and a deputation of the mutineers was dispatched to carry the head of the murdered officer to the president of the republic at Port au Prince.

The intelligence of this revolt was carried quickly to Christophe’s capital, and it produced an explosion of popular feeling that betokened the speedy downfall of the black monarchy. The troops of the capital immediately put themselves under arms, and assumed a threatening attitude. On the evening of the 6th of October, the inhabitants of the capital were startled at the noise of drums beating to arms.

The streets were soon filled with soldiers, obeying or resisting the authority of their officers, as the latter happened to favor or hate the power of the king. The governor of the capital, who did not wish for such a dénouement to his plans, undertook measures to subdue the mutinous spirit of the troops; but though he sought for support on every side, he found no readiness, either on the part of the army or of the people, to assist him in his attempt. The tumult increased every moment, and spread by degrees to every part of the town, until the whole population became united in the rebellion. The army took the lead, and the[Pg 225] whole body of the inhabitants followed the example of the soldiers. It was decided by acclamation to march upon Sans Souci, and seize upon Christophe within his own palace, but this movement was deferred until the following day.

Meantime, Christophe had been informed of these proceedings, so ominous to the preservation of his power, if not of his life. He had not yet recovered from his malady, but his unconquerable energy of soul had not been paralyzed by disease, for he leaped immediately from his bed, demanding that his arms should be brought to him, and that his horse should be ordered to the door. But if his bold spirit did not quail before the calamities which were impending over him, his bodily frame proved unequal to the activity of his mind, and he was compelled to rest satisfied with sending forward his guards to subdue the rebellious troops of the capital, while he remained within his palace to await his destiny.

Meantime, General Richard, the governor of the capital, had put himself at the head of the insurgents, the number of whom amounted to ten or twelve thousand, and the column took up its march directly for Sans Souci. On Sunday, the 8th of October, the insurgents encountered on their way the detachment of body guards which the monarch had dispatched against them.

The two forces quickly arranged themselves in order of battle, and a brisk fire commenced between them. It continued, however, but a few minutes. The cry of the insurgents was, “Liberté, liberté,” and the utterance of this magical word soon became contagious in the ranks of the royal guards. The latter[Pg 226] had even less predilection for their monarch than the other corps of the army, for their situation and rank bringing them in nearer contact with the royal person, they were frequently exposed to the terrific explosions of the royal vengeance.

Thus the watchword of the mutineers was answered with redoubled enthusiasm by the household troops, and they passed over in a body to join the forces of the insurgents. The whole military power of the kingdom was now united in a vast column of mutineers, burning for vengeance upon Christophe, and pressing onward to the palace of Sans Souci.

The king was soon informed that his guards had declared against him, and that the forces of the insurgents were already in the immediate vicinity of his palace. At this astounding intelligence he exclaimed in despair, “Then all is over with me!” and seizing a pistol, shot himself through the heart.

Thus perished a man who had succeeded in maintaining his authority over the blacks for a longer time than any of the chiefs of the revolution. This he accomplished through the single agency of the extraordinary energy of his character. The unshrinking boldness and decision of his measures made terror the safeguard of his throne, until his excessive cruelty drove his subjects to a point at which fear is changed into desperation. His policy at first was that of Toussaint, but he carried it to an access of rigor which made his government a despotism. Like his great predecessor, he possessed such intimate knowledge of the African character, as enabled him to succeed completely in controlling those placed under his sway, and, in spite of the national propensities, to make his[Pg 227] plans effectual for developing the resources of the country. While the territory was still a neglected waste, and its population poor, the lands of Christophe were in a condition of high productiveness, and the monarch died, leaving millions in the royal treasury.

But the salutary restraints imposed upon his disorderly subjects at the commencement of his reign, had been augmented by degrees to correspond to the demands of an evergrowing jealousy, until they had become changed to a rigorous severity of discipline, or vengeance, such as has been practised in few countries upon the globe. The dungeons of the Citadel Henry were almost as fatal to human life as the Black Hole at Calcutta, and it has been asserted, that amidst the pestiferous exhalations and suffocative atmosphere of these abodes of misery, the prisoners were almost sure to perish after a short confinement. With less truth it has been alleged, that fifty thousand persons lost their lives in these living tombs, while thirty thousand others perished of fatigue, hunger, and hardship of those who had been condemned for offences of a lighter nature, to labors upon the public works of the kingdom, all of which were performed under the lash and bayonet of the soldiery.[41]

These estimates are probably beyond the truth, though the number is incredible of those who perished under the severe exactions of Christophe’s tyranny, by hardship, imprisonment, military execution, or the infliction of sudden death, executed amidst a burst of ferocious vengeance in the despot. Christophe failed of giving perpetuity to his government through the mere abuse of his power.

[Pg 228]

The king was fifty-three years of age at his death, having reigned nine years. With a mind little capable of continuous thought, Christophe possessed a strong and obstinate will. When once he had gained an elevated position, he manifested great energy of character. Anxious to augment by commerce the material strength of his dominions, and to develop its moral power by education, he imposed on the emancipated people a labor not unlike that of the days of their servitude. Many hundreds of lives were sacrificed in erecting the palace of Sans Souci, and grading its grounds. The schools put in operation in his time, surpassed anything of the kind ever introduced in that part of the Island before or since.


[41] Malo.

[Pg 229]


The death of Christophe was hailed with enthusiasm and applause, in his own part of the Island, as well as in the republic; and on the 15th of October, 1821, General Paul Romaine put himself at the head of affairs, and proclaimed a republic. A deputation was at once dispatched to President Boyer, with an offer to unite the two governments under him, as their head. This was accepted, and in a short time the union took place.

From the time of the evacuation of the Island by the French under Rochambeau, Santo Domingo, the Spanish part of the Island, had become a place of refuge for the white colonist, and the persecuted mulattoes; and during the administration of Dessalines and Christophe, Santo Domingo was comparatively quiet, except an occasional visit from the partisans of some of the Haytian chiefs. Santo Domingo was a mulatto government, and it hailed with joy the union under Boyer, and a scheme was set on foot to carry the Spanish part of the Island over to Boyer. Many of their best men thought it would be better for the[Pg 230] whole Island to be governed by one legislature, and that its capital should be at Port au Prince.

The authorities of Santo Domingo were clearly of this opinion, for when the new project was laid before them, they yielded a ready assent, and a deputation immediately set forward in the month of December, 1821, to convey the wishes of the Spanish blacks to the mulatto chief of the French part of the Island. Boyer was formally solicited to grant his consent that the Spanish part of the Island should be annexed to the republic. This was a demand so gratifying to Boyer’s personal ambition that any reluctance on his part to comply with it was clearly impossible. Thus the Spanish deputies were received with the utmost graciousness, and dismissed with every favor that gratified hope could bestow.

But a year had elapsed since the rebellion in the North had transferred the realms of Christophe as a precious godsend to the peaceable possession of Boyer, and the army of the republic was now ordered to put itself in readiness for a victorious and bloodless march to Santo Domingo. Boyer placed himself at its head, and a rapid advance was made into the heart of the Spanish territory. Not the least resistance was encountered, and the inhabitants of each of the towns in succession hastened emulously to testify their adherence to the cause of the republic, until the invading column marched at last in a sort of triumph into the city of Santo Domingo.

The principal authorities, and the people generally, made a formal transfer of their allegiance to their new rulers, and were permitted to remain in the enjoyment of their former privileges. The chief [Pg 231]command of the lately acquired territory was placed by Boyer in the hands of General Borgella, and the president returned to Port au Prince, gratified by the extraordinary success with which fortune had crowned his administration; which he commenced by governing a distant province in the southwestern part of the Island, and by a succession of unlooked-for incidents, he had been placed at the head of the whole country, without a competitor to annoy him, or any malcontents to disturb the internal repose of his government.

The death of Christophe, and the elevation of Boyer to the government of all St. Domingo, were events which had in the meantime created a strong sensation in the ranks of the old colonists residing in France, as well as at the office of the minister for the colonies. Boyer’s attachment to France was presumed to be stronger than that of his predecessor, Pétion, and under such circumstances, new hope was derived from the event of his exaltation to power. It was now thought that an occurrence so propitious to the claims of France upon her ancient colony would lead to a satisfactory adjustment of the difficulty which had been interposed against the success of former negotiation. The French cabinet immediately formed the resolution to sound the new chief of Hayti as to his sentiments in regard to an arrangement between the two governments. The difficulties in the way of an easy conquest of the country, and the tone of firmness which had been held both by Christophe and Pétion to all former demands made upon them by the agents of France, had by degrees depressed the hopes of the colonists, and diminished the expectations of the French government in relation to the claims upon[Pg 232] St. Domingo. The restoration of the Island to its former condition of colonial dependence, and the establishment of the ancient planters in the possession of their estates and negroes, were no longer regarded as events within the bounds of possibility, and the demands of France upon the government of Hayti were now lowered to the mere claim of an indemnity to the colonists for the losses which had reduced them to beggary.

At length, a secret agent of the minister of marine held an audience with Boyer, and informed him that the French government having in former years made repeated attempts to accomplish an arrangement between the two countries, all of which had been fruitless, it was desired that Boyer himself would renew the negotiations in his turn. In consequence of this information, Boyer appointed General Boyé as his plenipotentiary, who was furnished with instructions authorizing him to commence negotiations with the appointed agent of France, either in that or some neutral country, for the purpose of terminating the differences existing between their respective governments. M. Esmangart and the Haytian envoy agreed to hold their conferences at Brussels, but the hopes of the two contracting nations were in this instance also destined to be frustrated. The parties could not agree as to the nature of the indemnity to be made.

At length, in 1825, after the recognition of the independence of Hayti by others, the French, under Charles X., sold to its inhabitants the rights which they had won by their swords for the sum of one hundred and fifty millions of francs, to be paid as an indemnity to the colonists. This was the basis of a treaty of peace and[Pg 233] fraternal feeling between France and Hayti, that resulted in great good to the latter. In 1843, a party opposed to president Boyer made its appearance, which formed itself into a conspiracy to overthrow the government. Seeing that he could not make head against it, Boyer, in disgust, took leave of the people in a dignified manner, and retired to the island of Jamaica, where, a few years since, he died.

Jean Pierre Boyer was born at Port au Prince, on the second of February, 1776, received a European education at Paris, fought under Rigaud and Toussaint L’Ouverture; and in consequence of the success which the black leader obtained, quitted the Island. Boyer returned to Hayti in Le Clerc’s expedition; he, however, separated from the French general-in-chief, and joined in the foremost in the great battle for the freedom of his race. He was a brave man, a good soldier, and proved himself a statesman of no ordinary ability. When he came into power, the mountains were filled with Maroons, headed by their celebrated chief, Gomar; Rigaud and Pétion had tried in vain to rid the country of these brigands.

Boyer, however, soon broke up their strongholds, dispersed them, and finally destroyed or brought them all under subjection. By his good judgment, management, and humanity, he succeeded in uniting the whole island under one government, and gained the possession of what Christophe had exhausted himself with efforts to obtain, and what Pétion had sighed for, without daring to cherish a single hope that its attainment could be accomplished. Few men who took part in the St. Domingo drama, did more good, or lived a more blameless life, than Boyer.

[Pg 234]


General Riche, a griffe, or dark mulatto, was selected to fill the place left vacant by the flight of Boyer; and his ability, together with the universal confidence reposed in him by all classes, seemed to shadow forth a prosperous era for the republic. He had, however, done little more than enter upon his arduous duties, when he was carried off by a sudden malady, universally regretted by the entire population.

The Senate, whose duty it was to elect the president, gave a majority of their votes for Faustin Soulouque, on the first of March, 1847, and he was inaugurated into the position the same day.

Soulouque was a tall, good-natured, full-blooded negro, who, from the year 1804, when he was house-servant for General Lamarre, had passed through all the events of his country without leaving any trace of himself, whether good or bad. With no education, no ability, save that he was a great eater, he was the last man in the republic that would have been thought of for any office, except the one he filled.

True, in 1810, while his master, General Lamarre,[Pg 235] was defending the Mole against Christophe, the former was killed, and Soulouque was charged to carry the general’s heart to Pétion, who made the servant a lieutenant in his mounted guard; and on Pétion’s death, he bequeathed him to Boyer, as a piece of furniture belonging to the presidential palace. Boyer made Soulouque first servant, under the title of “captain,” to his housekeeper. Here he grew fat, and was forgotten till 1843, when the revolution brought him into note. After serving a short time as president, his vanity induced Soulouque to aspire to be emperor, and that title was conferred upon him in the year 1849. In this silly step he took for his model Napoleon Bonaparte, according to whose court and camp Soulouque formed his own.

But the people of Hayti soon saw the sad mistake in the election of such a man to power, and his change of base aroused a secret feeling against the empire, which resulted in its overthrow, in 1859.

[Pg 236]


Fabre Geffrard was born at Cayes September 19, 1806. His father was General Nicholas Geffrard, one of the founders of Haytian independence. He became a soldier at the early age of fifteen, and after serving in the ranks, passed rapidly through several grades of promotion, until he obtained a captaincy. In 1843, when General Herard took up arms against President Boyer, he choose Geffrard for his lieutenant, who, by his skill and bravery, contributed largely to the success of the revolutionary army. As a reward for his valuable services, he received from the new government the brevet rank of general of brigade, and was commandant of Jacmel, and in 1845 he was named general of division. In 1849 he was appointed by Soulouque to take command of his Haytian army sent against the Dominicans, and in 1856 it fell to his lot, by the display of rare military talents, to repair in some measure the disasters attending the invasion of St. Domingo by the Haytian army, led by the emperor himself. Shortly after, Soulouque, moved thereto, doubtless, by jealousy of Geffrard’s well-earned fame,[Pg 237] disgraced him; but the emperor paid dearly for this, for in December, 1858, Geffrard declared against him, and in January, 1859, Soulouque was overthrown, with his mock empire, and Geffrard proclaimed President of the Republic, which was restored.

He at once set himself vigorously to work to remedy the numerous evils which had grown up under the administration of his ignorant, narrow-minded, and cruel predecessor, and became exceedingly popular. He established numerous schools in all parts of the Republic, and gave every encouragement to agricultural and industrial enterprise generally. In 1861, he concluded a concordat with the Pope, creating Hayti an Archbishopric. Humane in his disposition, enlightened and liberal in his views, and a steady friend of progress, his rule, at one time, promised to be a long and prosperous one.

Geffrard was in color a griffe, and was fifty-two years of age when called to the presidency of Hayti. He was of middle height, slim in figure, of a pleasing countenance, sparkling eye, gray hair, limbs supple by bodily exercise, a splendid horseman, and liberal to the arts, even to extravagance. Possessing a polished education, he was gentlemanly in his conversation and manners. Soon after assuming the presidency, he resolved to encourage immigration, and issued an address to the colored Americans, which in point of sympathy and patriotic feeling for his race, has never been surpassed by any man living or dead.

It may be set down as a truism, that slavery, proscription, and oppression are poor schools in which to train independent, self-respecting freemen. Individuals so trained are apt to have all their aspirations,[Pg 238] aims, ends, and objects in life on a level with the low, grovelling, and servile plane of a slavish and dependent mind; or if by chance that mind has grown restless under its fetters, and sighs for enfranchisement and liberty, it is apt to rush to the other extreme in its desires, and is led to covet those positions for which it has no proper qualifications whatever. The bent of the slavery-disciplined mind is either too low or too high. It cannot remain in equilibrium. It either cringes with all the dastard servility of the slave, or assumes the lordly airs of a cruel and imperious despot.

These things, therefore, being true of the victims of abject servitude, we have herein the key to the failure of the colored emigration to Hayti.

At the invitation of President Geffrard, in 1861, some of the colored citizens of the United States did accept the invitation and went out; but it would have been better for them and for Hayti had they remained at home. The majority of the emigrants ventured on the voyage to Hayti, because a free passage was given them by Geffrard; and the offer of the Haytian government to supply the emigrants with provisions until they could raise a crop, was a bait which these idlers could not withstand.

Men who had been failures in their own country, could scarcely be expected to meet with success by merely a trip across the sea.

What Hayti needed were men with stout hearts and hard hands, fitted for an agricultural life, determined upon developing the resources of the country. Men of the above type are to be found in our land, but[Pg 239] they can easily make a living here, and have no cause to emigrate.

The liberal offer of the Haytian president to Americans and other blacks to come to the Island, and his general progressive efforts to elevate his people, were not appreciated by the Haytians, and the spirit of revolution which had so long governed the Island, soon began to manifest itself.

The several rebellions against the authority of President Geffrard, of Hayti, at length culminated in his overthrow and expulsion from the Island, and the elevation of his old enemy, Salnave, to the presidency. The rebellion, which was headed by Salnave, was begun in 1865. The rebels seized and held the town of Cape Haytian for several months, and were only finally driven out on its bombardment by the English man-of-war, Bull Dog, commanded by Captain Wake. Salnave was forced to leave Hayti and take refuge in St. Domingo. Captain Wake was called by the British government, and cashiered for his attack on Cape Haytian.

In his exile Salnave continued his efforts to revolutionize the country, and found many adherents, but few opportunities for an uprising. An attempt was made by his friends at Port au Prince on February 1, 1867; but Geffrard had been forewarned, and this attempt failed, and the ringleaders were captured and shot. The revolutionists did not despair, however, and on the night of February 22d a more successful effort was made; Geffrard was driven to seek safety in flight, and abdicating the presidency, went into exile in Jamaica. A Provisional Government was appointed, and Salnave, whom the people hailed as the [Pg 240]“Garibaldi of Hayti,” and the “Deliverer of the People,” was appointed President on April 26, 1867. He however insisted that he would not accept the presidency except at the hands of the people. An election was therefore ordered and held. There were no rival candidates in the field, the other most distinguished participants in the revolution, Generals Nissage and Chevallier, conceding the presidential chair to Salnave with great good-will. He was unanimously elected, and on Sunday, May 12, was sworn into office.

[Pg 241]


President Salnave was a native of Cape Haytian, and was forty-one years of age when elevated to power. He was the son of French and Negro parents. He entered the army of Hayti in early youth, and was a major under Geffrard when the empire was overthrown. While holding the same commission under the Republic, Salnave projected the rebellion of 1865, and seized Cape Haytian, from which he was driven, as we have described. He was said to be a man of unusual intelligence, of progressive and liberal ideas, great energy of character, and brilliant results were expected from his administration.

However, obtaining supreme power by force, so common in Hayti, any one could see that Salnave’s government would be of short duration. The same influences as some of the men who aided him in driving out Geffrard, soon began secretly to work against the new president, and on the 18th of December, 1869, Salnave found himself shut up in his capital, and surrounded on all sides by his most bitter enemies. At last, on the 8th of January, 1870, the Haytian[Pg 242] president sought safety in flight, but was captured by President Cabral, of Dominica, into whose government Salnave had taken refuge.

Delivered up to his own government by the Dominican president, Salnave was tried for high treason, condemned and shot. In personal appearance the defeated chief was a fine representative of the race. He was brown in complexion, hair black, soft, and wavy, education good, for the West Indies. Salnave was high-tempered, heedless, and even cruel. He was succeeded in the government of Hayti by General Nissage Saget, who seems to have the confidence of the people, and whom, it is hoped, he will have the power to unite.

[Pg 243]


Jamaica, the chief of the British West India Islands, was discovered by Columbus on his second voyage, in May, 1494, and was taken from Spain by the English in May, 1655, during the reign of Oliver Cromwell. It thus became an appendage to the British crown, after it had been in the possession of Spain for one hundred and forty-six years. The number of slaves on the Island at this time was about fifteen hundred.

Morgan, a notorious pirate and buccaneer, was knighted and made governor of the Island in 1670. Lord Vaughan succeeded Morgan, and under his administration the African Company was formed, and the slave-trade legalized; Africans were imported in large numbers, and the development of the natural resources of Jamaica greatly increased the wealth of the planters.

The number of slaves annually imported into the Island amounted to sixteen thousand,[42] so that within thirty years the slave population had increased from[Pg 244] ninety-nine thousand to upwards of two hundred thousand, whilst the total numerical strength of the whites did not exceed sixteen thousand.

From this time down to the year 1832, it presented a succession of wars, usurpations, crimes, misery, and vice; nor in this desert of human wretchedness is there one green spot on which the mind of a philanthropist would love to dwell; all is one revolting scene of infamy, bloodshed, and unmitigated woe; of insecure peace and open disturbance; of the abuse of power, and of the reaction of misery against oppression. In 1832 an insurrection of the slaves occurred, by which the lives of seven hundred slaves were sacrificed, and an expense, including property destroyed, of one hundred and sixty-two thousand pounds sterling.

The total importation of slaves from the conquest of the Island by the English to 1805, amounted to eight hundred and fifty thousand, and this added to forty thousand brought by the Spaniards, made an aggregate of eight hundred and ninety thousand, exclusive of all births, in three hundred years. The influence which the system of slavery spread over the community in Jamaica and the rest of the British West Indies, was not less demoralizing than in Hayti and the other islands.

Crimes which in European countries would have been considered and treated as a wanton insult to society at large, did not exclude the parties from the pale of respectable society, or generally operate to their disadvantage among the female portion of the community.

The reckless destroyers of female innocence and happiness united in the dance, mingled in public[Pg 245] entertainments, and were admitted at the social board, and were on terms of intimacy with the younger branches of families.[43]

The intermediate colors between the whites[44] and pure blacks, were denominated as follows: A Sambo is the offspring of a mulatto woman by a black man; a mulatto is the child of a black woman and white man; a quadroon is the offspring of a mulatto by a white man, and a mestee is that of a quadroon woman by a white man. The offspring of a female mestee by a white man being above the third in lineal descent from the Negro ancestor, was white, in the estimation of the law, and enjoyed all the privileges and immunities of Her Majesty’s white subjects; but all the rest, whether mulattoes, quadroons, or mestees, were considered by the law as mulattoes or persons of color.

Although the people of Jamaica represented to the home government that the slaves were satisfied and happy, and would not accept their freedom were it offered them, a revolt of the blacks took place in 1832. More than fifty thousand were engaged in this effort to obtain the long-wished-for boon.

The man with whom the insurrection originated,—Samuel Sharp,—was a slave, and a member of the Baptist Church in Montego Bay. He was born in slavery, but he had never felt anything of the bitterness of slavery. He was born in a family that treated him indulgently; he was a pet, and was brought up as the playmate of the juvenile members of the family, and had opportunities of learning to read and for mental cultivation, to which very few of his fellow-slaves had access; and Sharp, above all this, was possessed of a[Pg 246] mind worthy of any man, and of oratorical powers of no common order.

Sharp determined to free himself and his fellow-slaves. I do not know whether he was himself deceived, or whether he knowingly deceived his fellow-conspirators; but he persuaded a large number of them to believe that the British government had made them free, and that their owners were keeping them in slavery, in opposition to the wishes of the authorities in England. It so happened, that, just at that time, the planters themselves were pursuing a course which favored Sharp’s proceedings directly. They were holding meetings through the length and breadth of the Island, protesting against the interference of the home government with their property, passing very inflammatory resolutions, and threatening that they would transfer their allegiance to the United States, in order that they might perpetuate their interest in their slaves.

The insurrection was suppressed, and about two thousand of the slaves were put to death. This effort of the bondmen to free themselves, gave a new impetus to the agitation of the abolition movement, which had already begun under the auspices of Buxton, Allen, Brougham, and George Thompson, the successors of Clarkson, Wilberforce, Sharp, and Macaulay; and the work went bravely on. Elizabeth Heyrick, feeling that the emancipation of the slave could never be effected by gradual means, raised the cry of “Immediate emancipation.” She wrote: “Immediate emancipation is the object to be aimed at; it is more wise and rational, more politic and safe, as well as more just and humane, than gradual emancipation. The interests, moral and political, temporal and eternal,[Pg 247] of all parties concerned, will be best promoted by immediate emancipation.”

The doctrine of immediate emancipation was taken up by the friends of the Negro everywhere, and Brougham, in Parliament, said:—

“Tell me not of rights; talk not of the property of the planter in his slaves. I deny the right; I acknowledge not the property. The principles, the feelings, of our common nature, rise in rebellion against it. Be the appeal made to the understanding or to the heart, the sentence is the same that rejects it. In vain you tell me of laws that sanction such a claim.”

John Philpot Curran followed, in one of the finest speeches ever made in behalf of the rights of man. Said he,—

“I speak in the spirit of the British Law, which makes liberty commensurate with, and inseparable from, the British soil; which proclaims, even to the stranger and the sojourner, the moment he sets his foot upon British earth, that the ground on which he treads is holy, and consecrated by the genius of Universal Emancipation. No matter in what language his doom may have been pronounced; no matter what complexion, incompatible with freedom, an Indian or an African sun may have burnt upon him; no matter in what disastrous battle his liberty may have been cloven down; no matter with what solemnities he may have been devoted upon the altar of slavery; the first moment he touches the sacred soil of Britain, the altar and the god sink together in the dust; his soul walks abroad in her own majesty; his body swells beyond the measure of his chains, that burst from around[Pg 248] him, and he stands redeemed, regenerated, and disenthralled, by the irresistible genius of universal emancipation.”

The name and labors of Granville Sharp have been overshadowed by those of other men, who reaped in the full, bright sunshine of success the harvest of popular admiration for the results of a philanthropic policy, of which Granville Sharp was the seed-sower. Zachary, Macaulay, Clarkson, Wilberforce, and Buxton are regarded as the leaders of the great movement that emancipated the slaves of Great Britain. Burke and Wilkes are remembered as the enlightened advocates of the Independence of America; and these great names throw a shadow over the Clerk in the Ordnance, who, with high-souled integrity, resigned his place, and gave up a calling that was his only profession and livelihood, rather than serve a government that waged a fratricidal war, and who, in defiance of the opinions of the Solicitor and Attorney-General, and of the Lord Chief-Justice, opposed by all the lawyers, and forsaken even by his own professional advisers, undertook to search the indices of a law library, to wade through an immense mass of dry and repulsive literature, and to make extracts from all the most important Acts of Parliament as he went along; until, at the very time that slaves were being sold by auction in Liverpool and London, and when he could not find a single lawyer who agreed with his opinion, he boldly exclaimed, “God be thanked! there is nothing in any English law or statute that can justify the enslaving of others.”

Granville Sharp, in his boyhood a linen-draper’s apprentice, and afterwards a clerk in the Ordnance [Pg 249]Department of England, one day, in the surgery of his brother, saw a negro named Jonathan Strong, lame, unable to work, almost blind, very ill, and turned adrift in the streets of London, by his master, a lawyer in Barbadoes. The assistance of Granville Sharp, and of his brother William, the surgeon, restored Jonathan Strong to health, and obtained for him a situation. Two years afterwards, the Barbadoes lawyer recognized his slave, strong, healthy, and valuable, serving as a footman behind a lady’s carriage, and he arrested the negro, and put him in prison, until there should be an opportunity to ship him for the West Indies.

Mr. Sharp appealed to the Lord Mayor, who, although he decided that he was incompetent to deal with the legal question of the black’s freedom, released Strong, because there was no offence charged against him.

And then—it was in 1767—now more than a hundred years ago—then began the protracted movement in England in favor of the slave. The master of Jonathan Strong immediately commenced an action against Granville Sharp, to recover possession of his negro, of whom he said he had been robbed: and Sharp drew up the result of his study of the question, in a plain, clear, and manly statement, which, after having been circulated some time in manuscript, was printed in 1769, and was headed, “On the injustice of tolerating slavery in England.”

It produced such an effect on the opinion of the public, that the lawyer abandoned his proceedings. Other cases soon tested the earnest philanthropy of the slaves’ friend. The wife of one Styles was seized and sent to Barbadoes. Sharp compelled the aggressor[Pg 250] to bring the woman back. In 1776, Thomas Lewis was kidnapped and shipped for Jamaica. Sharp found him chained to the mainmast of a ship at Spithead, and by a writ of habeas corpus brought him before Lord Mansfield, the very judge whose opinion had been most strongly expressed in opposition to that entertained by Granville Sharp on the subject of slavery.

Lord Mansfield discharged the negro, because no evidence was adduced to show that he was ever nominally the property of the man who claimed him; but the great question of liberty or slavery remained as undecided as before. At this time the slave-trade was carried on openly in the streets of London, Bristol, and Liverpool.

Negro slavery was enforced by merchants, supported by lawyers, and upheld by judges; and that a clerk in a public office, without personal influence, and armed, only with integrity and moral courage, should, under such circumstances, assert, and, in the end, should prove, that the slave who sets his foot on British ground becomes at that instant free, is one of the most striking incidents in modern history.

An opportunity for bringing the conflicting opinions to an issue soon occurred. A negro named James Somerset had been taken to England and left there by his master, who afterwards wished to send him back to Jamaica. Sharp found counsel to defend the negro, and Lord Mansfield intimated that the case was one of such general concern, that he should take the opinions of all the judges upon it. The case was adjourned and readjourned, and was carried over from term to term; but at length Lord Mansfield declared[Pg 251] the court to be clearly of opinion that “the claim of slavery never can be supported in England; that the power claimed never was in use in England nor acknowledged by law; and that, therefore, the man James Somerset, must be discharged.” By this judgment, the slave-trade in England was effectually abolished.

History affords no nobler picture than that of Granville Sharp. Standing alone, opposed to the opinions of the ablest lawyers, and the most rooted prejudices and customs of the times; fighting unassisted the most memorable battle for the constitution of his country, and for the liberties of British subjects, and by his single exertions gaining a most memorable victory.

On the 1st of August, 1838, eight hundred thousand African bondmen were made fully and unconditionally free; an act of legislation the most magnanimous and sublime in the annals of British history. Although the enemies of emancipation had predicted that murder and pillage would follow such an act, the conduct of the freed people was everything that the most ardent friends of the Negro could wish.

On the evening of the day preceding that which witnessed the actual bestowment of the inestimable boon on the apprentices of Jamaica, the towns and missionary stations throughout the Island were crowded with people especially interested in the event, and who, filling the different places of worship, remained in some instances performing different acts of devotion until the day of liberty dawned, when they saluted it with the most joyous acclamations. Others, before and after similar services, dispersed themselves in different directions throughout the town and[Pg 252] villages, singing the national anthem and devotional hymns, occasionally rending the air with their acclamations of “Freedom’s come! We’re free, we’re free; our wives and our children are free!”

The conduct of the newly-emancipated peasantry everywhere, would have done credit to Christians of the most civilized country in the world. Their behavior was modest, unassuming, civil, and obliging to each other as members of one harmonious family.

Many of the original stock of slaves had been imported from amongst the Mandingoes, and Foulahs, from the banks of the Senegal, the Gambia, and the Rio Grande, the most refined and intellectual of the African tribes; and from the Congoes of Upper and Lower Guinea, the most inferior of the African race. The latter class brought with them all the vices and superstitions of their native land, and these had been cultivated in Jamaica.

The worst of these superstitious ideas was obeism, a species of witchcraft employed to revenge injuries, or as a protection against theft and murder, and in favor for gaining the love of the opposite sex. It consisted in placing a spell or charm near the cottage of the individual intended to be brought under its influence, or when designed to prevent the depredations of thieves, in some conspicuous part of the house, or on a tree; it was signified by a calabash or gourd, containing among other ingredients, a combination of different colored rags, cats’ teeth, parrots’ feathers, toads’ feet, egg-shells, fish-bones, snakes’ teeth, and lizards’ tails.[45]

Terror immediately seized upon the individual who[Pg 253] beheld it, and either by resigning himself to despair, or by the secret communication of poison, in most cases death was the inevitable consequence. Similar to the influence of this superstition was that of their solemn curses pronounced upon thieves, but which would be too tedious to detail here. All of the Negro physicians of the olden times professed to have the gift of obeism, and were feared far more than they were loved.

Dreams and visions constituted fundamental articles of their religious creed. Some supernatural revelations were regarded as indispensable to qualify for admission to the full privileges of their community. Candidates were required, indeed, to dream a certain number of dreams before they were received to membership, the subjects of which were given them by their teachers.

The meetings of this fraternity were frequently prolonged through nearly half the night. The ministers enjoined on their followers the duty of fasting one or two days in the week, and encouraged a weekly meeting at each other’s houses, alternately, to drink “hot water” out of white tea-cups (the whole of the tea-table paraphernalia corresponding), which they designated by the absurd and inappropriate epithet of “breaking the peace.” To such a deplorable extent did they carry these superstitious practices, and such was the degree of ignorance on the part of both minister and people, that, in the absence of better information as to what was to be sung in their religious assemblies, they were in the habit of singing the childish story of “The house that Jack built.”

The missionaries, and especially the Baptists, who[Pg 254] had been laboring against great disadvantages before the abolition of slavery, now that the curse was out of the way, did a noble work for the freed people. The erection of chapels all through the Island soon changed the moral and social condition of the blacks, as well as gave them a right idea of Christian duty.


[42] “Jamaica, Past and Present.” Phillippo.

[43] Phillippo.

[44] Phillippo.

[45] “Jamaica, Past and Present.” Phillippo.

[Pg 255]


The Portuguese introduced slavery into Brazil about the year 1558, and the increase of that class of the population was as rapid as in any part of the newly discovered country. The treatment of the slaves did not differ from Jamaica, St. Domingo, and Cuba.

Brazil has given the death-blow to the wicked system which has been so long both her grievous burden and her foul disgrace. Henceforth, every child born in the empire is free, and in twenty years the chains will fall from the limbs of her last surviving slave. By this decree, nearly three million blacks are raised up from the dust; and though but few of this generation can hope to see the day of general emancipation, it is much for them to know that the curse which rested on the parents will no longer be transmitted to the children; it is something that the younger of them have a bright although distant future to look toward and to wait for. Very likely, too, the dying institution will not be suffered to linger out the whole of the existence which the new law accords to it; as the benefits of free labor to the whole country become appreciated[Pg 256] fresh legislation may hasten the advent of national liberty and justice.

The first colonists enslaved the Indians; and, despite the futile measures of emancipation adopted by the Portuguese crown in 1570, in 1647, and in 1684, these unfortunate natives remained in servitude until 1755, and would perhaps have been held to this day, had they not proved very unprofitable. Negroes were accordingly imported from other Portuguese dominions, and a slave-trade with the African coast naturally sprang up, and is only just ended. Portugal bound herself by treaty with England, in 1815, to abolish the trade. Brazil renewed the obligation in her own name in 1826. Yet in 1839 it was estimated that eighty thousand blacks were imported every year; and, ten years later, the Minister of Foreign Affairs reported that the brutal traffic had only been reduced one-fourth. The energetic action of England, declaring in 1845 that Brazilian slave-ships should be amenable to English authorities, led to a long diplomatic contest, and threats of war; but it bore fruit in 1850 in a statute wherein Brazil assimilated the trade to piracy, and in 1852 the emperor declared it virtually extinct.

In the mean time, an opposition, not to the slave-trade alone, but to slavery, too, gradually strengthened itself within the empire. Manumission became frequent, and the laws made it very easy. A society was organized under the protection of the emperor, which, every year, in open church, solemnly liberated a number of slaves; and in 1856 the English Embassador wrote home that the government had communicated to him their resolution gradually to abolish[Pg 257] slavery in every part of the empire. The grand step which they have now taken has no doubt been impelled by the example of our own country. It is one of the many precious fruits which have sprung, and are destined yet to spring, from the soil which we watered so freely with patriot blood.

Information generally, with regard to Brazil, is scanty, especially in connection with the blacks; but in all the walks of life, men of color are found in that country.

In the Brazilian army, many of the officers are mulattoes, and some of a very dark hue. The prejudice of color is not so prominent here, as in some other slaveholding countries.

[Pg 258]


Cuba, the stronghold of Spain, in the western world, has labored under the disadvantages of slavery for more than three hundred years. The Lisbon merchants cared more for the great profits made from the slave-trade, than for the development of the rich resources of this, one of the most beautiful of the West India Islands, and therefore, they invested largely in that nefarious traffic. The increase of slaves, the demand for sugar and the products of the tropics, and the inducement which a race for wealth creates in the mind of man, rapidly built up the city of Havana, the capital of the Island. The colored population of Cuba, like the whites, have made but little impression on the world outside of their own southern home. There is, however, one exception in favor of the blacks. In the year 1830, there appeared in Havana a young colored man, whose mother had recently been brought from Africa. His name was Placido, and his blood was unmixed. Being with a comparatively kind master, he found time to learn to[Pg 259] read, and began developing the genius which at a later period showed itself.

The young slave took an interest in poetry, and often wrote poems which were set to music and sung in the drawing-rooms of the most refined assemblies in the city. His young master, paying his addresses to a rich heiress, the slave was ordered to write a poem embodying the master’s passion for the young lady. Placido acquitted himself to the entire satisfaction of the lover, who copied the epistle in his own hand, and sent it on its mission. The slave’s compositions were so much admired that they found their way into the newspapers; but no one knew the negro as their author.

In 1838, these poems, together with a number which had never appeared in print, were entrusted to a white man, who sent them to England, where they were published and much praised for the talent and scholarly attainment which they evinced. A number of young whites, who were well acquainted with Placido, and appreciated his genius, resolved to purchase him, and present him his freedom, which was done in 1842.

But a new field had opened itself to the freed black, and he began to tread in its paths. Freedom for himself was only the beginning; he sighed to make others free.

The imaginative brain of the poet produced verses which the slaves sung in their own rude way, and which kindled in their hearts a more intense desire for liberty. Placido planned an insurrection of the slaves, in which he was to be their leader and deliverer; but the scheme failed.

After a hasty trial, he was convicted and sentenced[Pg 260] to death. The fatal day came, he walked to the place of execution with as much calmness as if it had been to an ordinary resort of pleasure. His manly and heroic bearing excited the sympathy and admiration of all who saw him. As he arrived at the fatal spot, he began reciting the hymn, which he had written in his cell the previous night.

“Almighty God; whose goodness knows no bound,
To Thee I flee in my severe distress;
O, let Thy potent arm my wrongs redress,
And rend the odious veil by slander wound
About my brow. The base world’s arm confound,
Who on my front would now the seal of shame impress.”

The free blacks in Cuba form an important element in her population, and these people are found in all the professions and trades. The first dentists are Blake and Coopat, mulattoes; the first musician, Joseito White, a mulatto; one of the best young ladies’ academies at present existing at Havana is personally conducted by an accomplished negro woman, Maria de Serra, to whom many a lady of high rank owes her social and intellectual accomplishments. The only Cuban who has distinguished herself as an actress on foreign stages is Dacoste, a mulatto; Covarrubias, the great comedian and lively writer, for many years the star of the Cuban stage, was also a mulatto; Francisco Manzano, the poet, was a negro slave.

The prompter of the theatre of St. John, of Porto Rico, is Bartolo Antique, a negro, so intelligent that the dramatic companies that come from Spain prefer him to their own prompters. The engineer of the only steamboat in Porto Rico is a colored man. The only artist worthy to be mentioned, in the same Island,[Pg 261] is the religious painter, José Campeche, a mulatto. These are only a few known and acknowledged as colored, but should we search the sources of every family in Cuba and Porto Rico, we are sure that more or less, we could trace the African blood in the greatest number of our most illustrious citizens.

In Porto Rico, Dubois, a mulatto, paid the penalty of his head for his boldness and patriotism. There were in Cuba, in 1862, two hundred and twenty-one thousand four hundred and seventeen free colored people, and three hundred and sixty-eight thousand five hundred and fifty slaves. In Porto Rico, in the same year, there were two hundred and forty-one thousand and fifteen free colored people, and forty-one thousand seven hundred and thirty-six slaves.

When the English troops invaded the Island of Cuba, in 1762, the negroes behaved so well during the siege at Havana, that a large number of them received from Governor Prado’s hands, and in the name of the King, their letters of emancipation, in acknowledgment of their gallantry and good services.

[Pg 262]


Although not strictly a Spanish possession, Santo Domingo may be counted in, with the people already enumerated in the West Indies. Its history is identical with that of Hayti. Forming a part of the same Island, and inhabited by blacks, mulattoes, and whites; and being part of the battle-ground upon which the negroes fought the French, in the revolution which freed the Island from its former masters. Santo Domingo has passed through all the scenes of blood and desolation, only in a milder form, that their neighbors of the other end of the Island have experienced. Santo Domingo has been under Spanish, French, and Haytian rule, and often a republic of her own, the latter of which she now enjoys.

It was during the government of Boyer that the Spanish or Dominican part of the Island was united with the French part. In relation to this matter, gross misrepresentations have been made;—it has been urged in defence of the Dominican claim to an independent government, an independence based upon nullification, that they were beaten down, trampled[Pg 263] upon, and almost crushed before they would unite with a nation of blacks.

The facts are these: at the time of Boyer’s election, the Spanish part of the Island was independent, but its situation was most precarious; the war between Spain and her revolted provinces in South America was at its height, and the Columbian privateers which thronged the Caribbean sea were continually plundering the people along the shores of the Spanish coast; moreover, there were many persons in that division of the Island who were inclined to favor a union with the patriots of South America, but by far the largest number opposed this suggestion.

Such was the state of things at the commencement of Boyer’s administration. After maturely reflecting upon the difficulties by which they were surrounded, the feeble government of the Spanish part sought protection in a union with the Haytians, and Boyer was formally solicited by them to grant his consent to the annexation of the Eastern part. This request was complied with, and the Eastern region became a part and parcel of that republic.

Thus it is seen that the Dominicans adopted the Haytian government, not only voluntarily, but joyfully.

At the close of Boyer’s administration the Dominicans separated from the Haytians, and formed a republic, since which time the latter has made war upon the former, whenever an opportunity presented itself, and which has been the great cause of the poverty and want of development of both sections of the Island.

Herard, who succeeded Boyer in the government of Hayti, and who was president when the Dominicans seceded, was himself a mulatto, and there appeared to[Pg 264] be no cause of difficulty, but the people of Santo Domingo wanted the change.

The Dominicans enjoyed a better state of civilization than their neighbors, and if let alone, would soon outstrip Hayti in everything pertaining to free and independent government.

But the Dominicans have to keep a large standing army, which takes most of their young men, and are always in an unsettled state, which greatly hinders the commercial and agricultural growth of the country.

Both Hayti and Santo Domingo will doubtless, at no distant day, fall into the hands of some more civilized nation or nations, for both are on the decline, especially as regards self-defence. Both are to-day at the mercy of nearly all other nations, and some day the “Doctor” will go in to look after the “Sick man.”

[Pg 265]


Simultaneously with the landing of the Pilgrims from the Mayflower, on Plymouth Rock, December 22d, 1620, a clumsy-looking brig, old and dirty, with paint nearly obliterated from every part, slowly sailed up the James River, and landed at Jamestown. The short, stout, fleshy appearance of the men in charge of the vessel, and the five empty sour-crout barrels which lay on deck, told plainly in what country the navigators belonged.

Even at that early day they had with them their “native beverage,” which, though not like the lager of the present time, was a drink over which they smoked and talked of “Farderland,” and traded for the negroes they brought. The settlers of Jamestown, and indeed, all Virginia at that time, were mainly cavaliers, gentlemen-adventurers, aspiring to live by their wits and other men’s labor. Few of the pioneers cherished any earnest liking for downright persistent muscular exertion, yet some exertion was urgently required to clear away the heavy forest which all but covered the soil of the infant colony, and to grow the[Pg 266] tobacco which easily became the staple export by means of which nearly everything required by its people but food was to be paid for in England.

The landing of the twenty slaves from the Dutch brig was the signal for all sorts of adventurers to embark in the same nefarious traffic. Worn-out and unseaworthy European ships, brigs, barks, schooners, and indeed, everything else that could float, no matter how unsafe, were brought into requisition to supply the demand for means of transportation in the new commerce.

Thousands of persons incarcerated in the prisons of the old world were liberated upon condition that they would man these slave-trading vessels. The discharged convicts were used in the slave factories on the African coast, and even the marauding expeditions sent out from the slave ships in search of victims were mainly made up of this vile off-cast and scum of the prison population of England, France, Germany, Spain, and Portugal. So great was the increase of this traffic, that in a short time the importation in a single year amounted to forty thousand slaves.

The immense growth of the slave population in the Southern States, soon caused politicians to take sides for or against the institution. This, however, did not manifest itself to any very great extent, until the struggle for National Independence was over, and the people, North and South, began to look at their interests connected with each section of the country.

At the time that the Declaration of Independence was put forth, no authentic enumeration had been made; but when the first census was taken in 1791, the total number of slaves in what are now known as the [Pg 267]Northern States, was forty thousand three hundred and seventy; in the Southern, six hundred and fifty-three thousand nine hundred and ten.

It is very common at this day to speak of our revolutionary struggle as commenced and hurried forward by a union of free and slave colonies; but such is not the fact. However slender and dubious its legal basis, slavery existed in each and all of the colonies that united to declare and maintain their Independence. Slaves were proportionately more numerous in certain portions of the South; but they were held with impunity throughout the North, advertised like dogs or horses, and sold at auction, or otherwise, as chattels. Vermont, then a territory in dispute between New Hampshire and New York, and with very few civilized inhabitants, mainly on its southern and eastern borders, is probably the only portion of the revolutionary confederation never polluted by the tread of a slave.

The spirit of liberty, aroused or intensified by the protracted struggle of the colonists against usurped and abused power in the mother-country, soon found itself engaged in natural antagonism against the current form of domestic despotism.

“How shall we complain of arbitrary or unlimited power exerted over us, while we exert a still more despotic and inexcusable power over a dependent and benighted race?” was very fairly asked. Several suits were brought in Massachusetts—where the fires of liberty burned earliest and brightest—to test the legal right of slaveholding; and the leading Whigs gave their money and their legal services to support these actions, which were generally on one ground or another, successful. Efforts for an express law of [Pg 268]emancipation, however, failed, even in Massachusetts; the Legislature doubtless apprehended that such a measure, by alienating the slaveholders, would increase the number and power of the Tories; but in 1777, a privateer having brought a lot of captured slaves into Jamaica, and advertised them for sale, the General Court, as the legislative assembly was called, interfered, and had them set at liberty. The first Continental Congress which resolved to resist the usurpations and oppressions of Great Britain by force, had already declared that our struggle would be “for the cause of human nature,” which the Congress of 1776, under the lead of Thomas Jefferson, expanded into the noble affirmation of the right of “all men to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” contained in the immortal preamble to the Declaration of Independence. A like averment that “all men are born free and equal,” was in 1780 inserted in the Massachusetts Bill of Rights; and the Supreme Court of that State, in 1783, on an indictment of a master for assault and battery, held this declaration a bar to slave-holding henceforth in the State.

A similar clause in the second Constitution of New Hampshire, was held by the courts of that State to secure freedom to every child born therein after its adoption. Pennsylvania, in 1780, passed an act prohibiting the further introduction of slaves, and securing freedom to all persons born in that State thereafter. Connecticut and Rhode Island passed similar acts in 1784. Virginia, in 1778, on motion of Mr. Jefferson, prohibited the further importation of slaves; and in 1782, removed all legal restrictions on emancipation. Maryland adopted both of these in 1783. North[Pg 269] Carolina, in 1786, declared the introduction of slaves into the State “of evil consequences and highly impolitic,” and imposed a duty of £5 per head thereon. New York and New Jersey followed the example of Virginia and Maryland, including the domestic in the same interdict with the foreign slave-trade. Neither of these states, however, declared a general emancipation until many years thereafter, and slavery did not wholly cease in New York until about 1830, nor in New Jersey till a much later date. The distinction of free and slave states, with the kindred assumption of a natural antagonism between the North and South, was utterly unknown to the men of the Revolution.

[Pg 270]


The earliest account we have of slavery in Massachusetts is recorded in Josselyn’s description of his first visit to New England, in 1638. Even at that time, slave-raising on a small scale had an existence at the North. Josselyn says: “Mr. Maverick had a negro woman from whom he was desirous of having a breed of slaves; he therefore ordered his young negro man to sleep with her. The man obeyed his master so far as to go to bed, when the young woman kicked him out.”[46] This seems to have been the first case of an insurrection in the colonies, and commenced, too, by a woman. Probably this fact has escaped the notice of the modern advocates of “Woman’s Rights.” The public sentiment of the early Christians upon the question of slavery can be seen by the following form of ceremony, which was used at the marriage of slaves.

This was prepared and used by the Rev. Samuel Phillips, of Andover, whose ministry there, beginning in 1710, and ending with his death, in 1771, was a[Pg 271] prolonged and eminently distinguished service of more than half the eighteenth century:—

“You, Bob, do now, in ye Presence of God and these Witnesses, Take Sally to be your wife;

“Promising, that so far as shall be consistent with ye Relation which you now Sustain as a servant, you will Perform ye Part of an Husband towards her: And in particular, as you shall have ye Opportunity & Ability, you will take proper Care of her in Sickness and Health, in Prosperity & Adversity;

“And that you will be True & Faithfull to her, and will Cleave to her only, so long as God, in his Providence, shall continue your and her abode in Such Place (or Places) as that you can conveniently come together. —— —— Do You thus Promise?

“You, Sally, do now, in ye Presence of God, and these Witnesses, Take Bob to be your Husband;

“Promising, that so far as your present Relation as a Servant shall admit, you will Perform the Part of a Wife towards him: and in particular,

“You Promise that you will Love him; And that as you shall have the Opportunity & Ability, you will take a proper Care of him in Sickness and Health; in Prosperity and Adversity:

“And you will cleave to him only, so long as God, in his Providence, shall continue his & your Abode in such Place (or Places) as that you can come together. —— —— Do you thus Promise? I then, agreeable to your Request, and with ye Consent of your Masters & Mistresses, do Declare that you have License given you to be conversant and familiar together as Husband and Wife, so long as God shall continue your Places of[Pg 272] Abode as aforesaid; And so long as you Shall behave yourselves as it becometh servants to doe:

“For you must both of you bear in mind that you remain still, as really and truly as ever, your Master’s Property, and therefore it will be justly expected, both by God and Man, that you behave and conduct yourselves as Obedient and faithfull Servants towards your respective Masters & Mistresses for the Time being:

“And finally, I exhort and Charge you to beware lest you give place to the Devel, so as to take occasion from the license now given you, to be lifted up with Pride, and thereby fall under the Displeasure, not of Man only, but of God also; for it is written, that God resisteth the Proud but giveth Grace to the humble.

“I shall now conclude with Prayer for you, that you may become good Christians, and that you may be enabled to conduct as such; and in particular, that you may have Grace to behave suitably towards each Other, as also dutifully towards your Masters & Mistresses, Not with Eye Service as Men pleasers, ye Servants of Christ doing ye Will of God from ye heart, &c.


    “Negro Marriage.

We have given the above form of marriage, verbatim et literatim.

In 1641, the Massachusetts Colony passed the following law:—

“There shall never be any bond slaverie, villinage, or captivitie amongst us unless it be lawfull captives taken in just warres, and such strangers as willingly[Pg 273] sell themselves. And these shall have all the liberties and Christian usages, which the law of God established in Israel concerning such persons doth morally require. This exempts none from servitude, who shall be judged thereto by authority.”

In 1646, one James Smith, a member of a Boston church, brought home two negroes from the coast of Guinea, and had been the means of killing near a hundred more. In consequence of this conduct, the General Court passed the following order:—

“The General Court conceiving themselves bound by the first opportunity to bear witness against the heinous and crying sin of man-stealing, as also to prescribe such timely redress for what is passed, and such a law for the future as may sufficiently deter all others belonging to us to have to do in such vile and odious courses, justly abhorred of all good and just men, do order that the negro interpreter with others unlawfully taken, be by the first opportunity at the charge of the country for the present, sent to his native country (Guinea) and a letter with him of the indignation of the Court thereabouts, and justice thereof desiring our honored Governor would please put this order in execution.”

From this time till about 1700, the number of slaves imported into Massachusetts was not large. In 1680, Governor Simon Bradstreet, in answer to inquiries from “the lords of his Majesty’s privy council,” thus writes:—

“There hath been no company of blacks or slaves brought into the country since the beginning of this plantation, for the space of fifty yeares, only one small vessell about two yeares since after twenty months’[Pg 274] voyage to Madagascar brought hither betwixt forty and fifty negroes, most women and children, sold for £10, £15, and £20 apiece, which stood the merchants in near £40 apiece one with another: now and then two or three negroes are brought hither from Barbadoes and other of His Majesty’s plantations, and sold here for about £20 apiece, so that there may bee within our government about one hundred, or one hundred and twenty, and it may bee as many Scots brought hither and sold for servants in the time of the war with Scotland, and most now married and living here, and about halfe so many Irish brought hither at several times as servants.”

The number of slaves at this period in the middle and southern colonies is not easily ascertained, as few books, and no newspapers were published in North America prior to 1704. In that year, the “Weekly News Letter” was commenced, and in the same year the “Society for the propagation of the Gospels in foreign parts opened a catechising school for the slaves at New York, in which city there were then computed to be about fifteen hundred Negro and Indian slaves,” a sufficient number to furnish materials for the “irrepressible conflict,” which had long before begun. The catechist, whom the Society employed, was “Mr. Elias Neau, by nation a Frenchman, who having made a confession of the Protestant religion in France, for which he had been confined several years in prison, and seven years in the galleys.” Mr. Neau entered upon his office “with great diligence, and his labors were very successful; but the negroes were much discouraged from embracing the Christian religion upon the account of the very little regard showed them in[Pg 275] any religious respect. Their marriages were performed by mutual consent only, without the blessing of the church; they were buried by those of their own country and complexion, in the common field, without any Christian office; perhaps some ridiculous heathen rites were performed at the grave by some of their own people. No notice was given of their being sick, that they might be visited; on the contrary, frequent discourses were made in conversation that they had no souls, and perished as the beasts, and that they grew worse by being taught and made Christians.”[47]

From this time forward, the increase of slaves was very rapid in Virginia and South Carolina, and with this increase, discontent began to show itself amongst the blacks.


[46] John Josselyn.

[47] Joshua Coffin

[Pg 276]


The first serious effort at rebellion by the slaves in the colonies, occurred in New York, in 1712; where, if it had not been for the timely aid from the garrison, the city would have been reduced to ashes. The next insurrection took place in South Carolina, in 1720, where the blacks in considerable numbers attacked the whites in their houses and in the streets.

Forces were immediately raised and sent after them, twenty-three of whom were taken, six convicted, three executed, and three escaped.

In October, 1722, about two hundred negroes near the mouth of the Rappahannock River, Virginia, got together in a body, armed with the intent to kill the people in church, but were discovered, and fled.

On the 13th of April, 1723, Governor Dummer issued a proclamation with the following preamble, viz:—

“Whereas, within some short time past, many fires have broke out within the town of Boston, and divers buildings have thereby been consumed: which fires have been designedly and industriously kindled by[Pg 277] some villainous and desperate negroes, or other dissolute people, as appears by the confession of some of them (who have been examined by the authority), and many concurring circumstances; and it being vehemently suspected that they have entered into a combination to burn and destroy the town, I have therefore thought fit, with the advice of his Majesty’s council, to issue forth this proclamation,” etc.

On the 18th of April, 1723, Rev. Joseph Sewall preached a discourse, particularly occasioned “by the late fires yt have broke out in Boston, supposed to be purposely set by ye negroes.”

On the next day, April 19th, the Selectmen of Boston made a report to the town on the subject, consisting of nineteen articles, of which the following is No. 9:—

“That if more than two Indians, Negro or Mulatto Servants or Slaves be found in the Streets or Highways in or about the Town, idling or lurking together unless in the service of their Master or Employer, every one so found shall be punished at the House of Correction.”

So great at that time were the alarm and danger in Boston, occasioned by the slaves, that in addition to the common watch, a military force was not only kept up, but at the breaking out of every fire, a part of the militia were ordered out under arms to keep the slaves in order!!

In 1728, an insurrection of slaves occurred in Savannah, Georgia, who were fired on twice before they fled. They had formed a plot to destroy all the whites, and nothing prevented them but a disagreement about the mode. At that time, the population consisted of three[Pg 278] thousand whites and two thousand seven hundred blacks.

In August, 1730, an insurrection of blacks occurred in Williamsburgh, Virginia, occasioned by a report, on Colonel Spotswood’s arrival, that he had directions from His Majesty to free all baptized persons. The negroes improved this to a great height. Five counties were in arms pursuing them, with orders to kill them if they did not submit.

In August, 1730, the slaves in South Carolina conspired to destroy all the whites. This was the first open rebellion in that State where the negroes were actually armed and embodied, and took place on the Sabbath.

In the same month, a negro man plundered and burned a house in Malden (Mass.,) and gave this reason for his conduct, that his master had sold him to a man in Salem, whom he did not like.

In 1731, Captain George Scott, of Rhode Island, was returning from Guinea with a cargo of slaves, who rose upon the ship, murdered three of the crew, all of whom soon after died, except the captain and boy.

In 1732, Captain John Major, of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, was murdered, with all his crew, and the schooner and cargo seized by the slaves.

In 1741, there was a formidable insurrection among the slaves in New York. At that time the population consisted of twelve thousand whites, and two thousand blacks. Of the conspirators, thirteen were burned alive, eighteen hung, and eighty transported.

Those who were transported were sent to the West India islands. As a specimen of the persons who[Pg 279] were suitable for transportation, I give the following from the “Boston Gazette,” Aug. 17, 1761:—

“To be sold, a parcel of likely young Negroes, imported from Africa, cheap for cash. Inquire of John Avery. Also, if any person have any negro men, strong and hearty, though not of the best moral character, which are proper subjects of transportation, they may have an exchange for small negroes.”

In 1747, the slaves on board of a Rhode Island ship commanded by Captain Beers, rose, when off Cape Coast Castle, and murdered the captain and all the crew, except the two mates, who swam ashore.

In 1754, C. Croft, Esq., of Charleston, South Carolina, had his buildings burned by his female negroes, two of whom were burned alive!!

In September, 1755, Mark and Phillis, slaves, were put to death at Cambridge (Mass.,) for poisoning their master, Mr. John Codman of Charlestown. Mark was hanged, and Phillis burned alive. Having ascertained that their master had, by his will, made them free at his death, they poisoned him in order to obtain their liberty so much the sooner.

In the year 1800, the city of Richmond, Virginia, and indeed the whole slave-holding country were thrown into a state of intense excitement, consternation and alarm, by the discovery of an intended insurrection among the slaves. The plot was laid by a slave named Gabriel, who was claimed as the property of Mr. Thomas Prosser. A full and true account of this General Gabriel, and of the proceedings consequent on the discovery of the plot, has never yet been published. In 1831, a short account which is false in almost every particular, appeared in the Albany[Pg 280] “Evening Journal,” under the head of “Gabriel’s Defeat.”

The following is the copy of a letter dated September 21, 1800, written by a gentleman of Richmond, Virginia, published in the “Boston Gazette,” October 6th:—

“By this time, you have no doubt heard of the conspiracy formed in this country by the negroes, which, but for the interposition of Providence, would have put the metropolis of the State, and even the State itself, into their possession. A dreadful storm, with a deluge of rain, which carried away the bridges, and rendered the water-courses everywhere impassable, prevented the execution of their plot. It was extensive and vast in its design. Nothing could have been better contrived. The conspirators were to have seized on the magazine, the treasury, the mills, and the bridges across James River. They were to have entered the city of Richmond in three places with fire and sword, to commence an indiscriminate slaughter, the French only excepted. They were then to have called on their fellow-negroes and the friends of humanity throughout the continent, by proclamation, to rally round their standard. The magazine, which was defenceless, would have supplied them with arms for many thousand men.

“The treasury would have given them money, the mills bread, and the bridges would have enabled them to let in their friends, and keep out their enemies. Never was there a more propitious season for the accomplishment of their purpose.

“The country is covered with rich harvests of Indian corn; flocks and herds are everywhere fat in the[Pg 281] fields, and the liberty and equality doctrine, nonsensical and wicked as it is (in this land of tyrants and slaves), is for electioneering purposes sounding and resounding through our valleys and mountains in every direction. The city of Richmond and the circumjacent country are in arms, and have been so for ten or twelve days past. The patrollers are doubled through the State, and the Governor, impressed with the magnitude of the danger, has appointed for himself three aids-de-camp. A number of conspirators have been hung, and a great many more are yet to be hung. The trials and executions are going on day by day. Poor, deluded wretches! Their democratic deluders, conscious of their own guilt, and fearful of the public vengeance, are most active in bringing them to punishment.”

[Pg 282]


The Boston Massacre, March 5, 1770, may be regarded as the first act in the great drama of the American Revolution. “From that moment,” said Daniel Webster, “we may date the severance of the British Empire.” The presence of the British soldiers in King Street excited the patriotic indignation of the people. The whole community was stirred, and sage counsellors were deliberating and writing and talking about the public grievances. But it was not for “the wise and prudent” to be the first to act against the encroachments of arbitrary power.

A motley rabble of men and boys, led by Crispus Attucks, a negro, and shouting, “The way to get rid of these soldiers is to attack the main guard; strike at the root; this is the nest!” with more valor than discretion, they rushed to King Street, and were fired upon by Captain Preston’s company. Crispus Attucks was the first to fall; he and Samuel Gray and Jonas Caldwell were killed on the spot. Samuel Maverick and Patrick Carr were mortally wounded.

The excitement which followed was intense. The[Pg 283] bells of the town were rung; an impromptu meeting was held, and an immense assembly was gathered. Three days after, on the 8th, a public funeral of the martyrs took place. The shops in Boston were closed; all the bells of Boston and neighboring towns were rung. It was said that a greater number of persons assembled on this occasion than were ever before gathered on the continent for a similar purpose.

The body of Attucks, the negro slave, had been placed in Faneuil Hall, with that of Caldwell, both being strangers in the city. Maverick was buried from his mother’s house in Union Street, and Gray from his brother’s, in Royal Exchange Lane. The four hearses formed a junction in King Street, and there the procession marched on in columns six deep, with a long file of coaches belonging to the most distinguished citizens, to the middle burying-ground, where the four victims were deposited in one grave, over which a stone was placed with the following inscription:

“Long as in Freedom’s cause the wise contend,
Dear to your country shall your fame extend;
While to the world the lettered stone shall tell,
Where Caldwell, Attucks, Gray and Maverick fell.”

The anniversary of this event was publicly commemorated in Boston, by an oration and other exercises, every year until after our national independence was achieved, when the Fourth of July was substituted for the fifth of March, as the more proper day for general celebration. Not only was the occasion commemorated, but the martyrs who then gave up their lives were remembered and honored. For half a century[Pg 284] after the close of the war, the name of Crispus Attucks was honorably mentioned by the most noted men of the country, who were not blinded by foolish prejudice, which, to say the most, was only skin-deep.

A single passage from Bancroft’s history will give a succinct and clear account of the condition of the army in respect to colored soldiers, at the time of the battle of Bunker Hill:—

“Nor should history forget to record, that, as in the army at Cambridge, so also in this gallant band, the free negroes of the colony had their representatives. For the right of free negroes to bear arms in the public defence was, at that day, as little disputed in New England as their other rights. They took their place not in a separate corps, but in the ranks with the white man; and their names may be read on the pension-rolls of the country, side by side with those of other soldiers of the Revolution.”[48]

The capture of Major-General Prescott, of the British army, on the 9th of July, 1777, was an occasion of great rejoicing throughout the country. Prince, the valiant negro who seized that officer, ought always to be remembered with honor for his important service.

The battle of Red Bank, and the battle of Rhode Island, on the 29th of August, 1778, entitle the blacks to perpetual honor.[49]

When Colonel Green was surprised and murdered, near Points Bridge, New York, on 14th of May, 1781,[Pg 285] his colored soldiers heroically defended him till they were cut to pieces; and the enemy reached him over the dead bodies of his faithful negroes. Of this last engagement, Arnold, in his “History of Rhode Island,” says:—

“A third time the enemy, with desperate courage and increased strength, attempted to assail the redoubt and would have carried it, but for the timely aid of two continental battalions despatched by Sullivan to support his almost exhausted troops. It was in repelling these furious onsets, that the newly raised black regiment, under Colonel Greene, distinguished itself by deeds of desperate valor. Posted behind a thicket in the valley, they three times drove back the Hessians, who charged repeatedly down the hill to dislodge them; and so determined were the enemy in these successive charges, that, the day after the battle, the Hessian colonel, upon whom this duty had devolved, applied to exchange his command, and go to New York, because he dared not lead his regiment again to battle, lest his men should shoot him for having caused them so much loss.”


[48] Bancroft’s “History of the United States.” Vol. VII. p. 421.

[49] Moore’s “Diary of the American Revolution.” Vol. I. p. 468.

[Pg 286]


In the war of 1812, colored men again did themselves honor by volunteering their services in aid of American freedom, both at the North and at the South. In the latter section, even the slaves were invited, and entered the army, where their bravery was highly appreciated. The following document speaks for itself.

Head Quarters, Seventh Military District, }
Mobile, September 21, 1814.   }

To the Free Colored Inhabitants of Louisiana:

“Through a mistaken policy, you have heretofore been deprived of a participation in the glorious struggle for national rights, in which our country is engaged. This no longer shall exist.

“As sons of freedom, you are now called upon to defend our most inestimable blessings. As Americans, your country looks with confidence to her adopted children for a valorous support, as a faithful return for the advantages enjoyed under her mild and equitable government. As fathers, husbands, and brothers, you[Pg 287] are summoned to rally around the standard of the Eagle, to defend all which is dear in existence.

“Your country, although calling for your exertions, does not wish you to engage in her cause without remunerating you for the services rendered. Your intelligent minds are not to be led away by false representations—your love of honor would cause you to despise the man who should attempt to deceive you. With the sincerity of a soldier, and in the language of truth, I address you.

“To every noble-hearted free man of color, volunteering to serve during the present contest with Great Britain, and no longer, there will be paid the same bounty, in money and lands, now received by the white soldiers of the United States, namely—one hundred and twenty-four dollars in money, and one hundred and sixty acres of land. The non-commissioned officers and privates will also be entitled to the same monthly pay, daily rations, and clothes, furnished to any American soldier.

“On enrolling yourselves in companies, the Major-General commanding will select officers for your government, from your white fellow-citizens. Your non-commissioned officers will be appointed from among yourselves.

“Due regard will be paid to the feelings of freemen and soldiers. You will not, by being associated with white men, in the same corps, be exposed to improper comparisons, or unjust sarcasm. As a distinct independent battalion or regiment, pursuing the path of glory, you will, undivided, receive the applause and gratitude of your countrymen.

“To assure you of the sincerity of my intentions,[Pg 288] and my anxiety to engage your invaluable services to our country, I have communicated my wishes to the Governor of Louisiana, who is fully informed as to the manner of enrollments, and will give you every necessary information on the subject of this address.

Andrew Jackson,  
“Major-General Commanding.”[50]

December 18th, 1814, General Jackson issued the following address to the colored members of his army:—

Soldiers!—When, on the banks of the Mobile, I called you to take up arms, inviting you to partake of the perils and glory of your white fellow-citizens, I expected much from you; for I was not ignorant that you possessed qualities most formidable to an invading enemy. I knew with what fortitude you could endure hunger and thirst, and all the fatigues of a campaign. I knew well how you loved your native country, and that you, as well as ourselves, had to defend what man holds most dear—his parents, wife, children, and property. You have done more than I expected. In addition to the previous qualities I before knew you to possess, I found among you a noble enthusiasm, which leads to the performance of great things.

“Soldiers! the President of the United States shall hear how praiseworthy was your conduct in the hour of danger, and the representatives of the American people will give you the praise your exploits entitle[Pg 289] you to. Your general anticipates them in applauding your noble ardor.

“The enemy approaches; his vessels cover our lakes; our brave citizens are united, and all contention has ceased among them. Their only dispute is, who shall win the prize of valor, or who the most glory, its noblest reward.

“By order,    
Thomas Butler, Aid-de-camp.”

The “New Orleans Picayune,” in an account of the celebration of the Battle of New Orleans, in that city, in 1851, says:—

“Not the least interesting, although the most novel feature of the procession yesterday, was the presence of ninety of the colored veterans who bore a conspicuous part in the dangers of the day they were now for the first time called to assist in celebrating, and who, by their good conduct in presence of the enemy, deserved and received the approbation of their illustrious commander-in-chief. During the thirty-six years that have passed away since they assisted to repel the invaders from our shores, these faithful men have never before participated in the annual rejoicings for the victory which their valor contributed to gain.

“Their good deeds have been consecrated only in their memories, or lived but to claim a passing notice on the page of the historian. Yet, who more than they deserve the thanks of the country, and the gratitude of succeeding generations? Who rallied with more alacrity in response to the summons of danger? Who endured more cheerfully the hardships of the[Pg 290] camp, or faced with greater courage the perils of the fight? If, in that hazardous hour, when our homes were menaced with the horrors of war, we did not disdain to call upon the colored population to assist in repelling the invading horde, we should not, when the danger is past, refuse to permit them to unite with us in celebrating the glorious event which they helped to make so memorable an epoch in our history. We were not too exalted to mingle with them in the affray; they were not too humble to join in our rejoicings.

“Such, we think, is the universal opinion of our citizens. We conversed with many yesterday, and without exception, they expressed approval of the invitation which had been extended to the colored veterans to take part in the ceremonies of the day, and gratification at seeing them in a conspicuous place in the procession.

“The respectability of their appearance, and the modesty of their demeanor, made an impression on every observer and elicited unqualified approbation. Indeed, though in saying so we do not mean disrespect to any one else, we think that they constituted decidedly the most interesting portion of the pageant, as they certainly attracted the most attention.”

On Lakes Erie and Champlain, colored men were also engaged in these battles which have become historical, exhibiting the same heroism that characterized them in all their previous efforts in defence of their country’s rights.


[50] Niles’ Register, Vol. VII., p. 205.

[Pg 291]


The demoralization which the institution entailed upon all classes in the community in which it existed, was indeed fearful to contemplate; and we may well say that slavery is the curse of curses. While it made the victim a mere chattel, taking from him every characteristic of manhood, it degraded the mind of the master, brutalized his feelings, seared his conscience, and destroyed his moral sense.

Immorality to a great extent, pervaded every slaveholding city, town, village, and dwelling in the South. Morality and virtue were always the exceptions. The Southern clergy, backed by the churches, defended their right to hold slaves to the last. Houses of religious worship and the negro pen were often in sight of each other.

The Southern newspapers teemed with advertisements, which were a fair index to this monstrous social evil.

Now that slavery is swept away, it may be interesting to see some of these newspaper notices, in the light of the new dispensation of freedom.

[Pg 292]

The New Orleans “True Delta” in 1853, graced its columns with the following: “Mr. Joseph Jennings respectfully informs his friends and the public, that, at the request of many of his acquaintances, he has been induced to purchase from Mr. Osborn, of Missouri, the celebrated dark bay horse “Star,” age five years, square trotter, and warranted sound, with a new light-trotting buggy and harness; also the stout mulatto girl “Sarah,” aged about twenty years, general house servant, valued at nine hundred dollars, and guaranteed; will be raffled for at four o’clock, P. M., February 1st, at any hotel selected by the subscribers.

“The above is as represented, and those persons who may wish to engage in the usual practice of raffling will, I assure them, be perfectly satisfied with their destiny in this affair.

“Fifteen hundred chances, at one dollar each.

“The whole is valued at its just worth, fifteen hundred dollars.

“The raffle will be conducted by gentlemen selected by the interested subscribers present. Five nights allowed to complete the raffle. Both of above can be seen at my store, No. 78 Common Street, second door from Camp, at from 9 o’clock, A. M., till half-past two, P. M.

“Highest throw takes the first choice; the lowest throw the remaining prize, and the fortunate winners to pay twenty dollars each, for the refreshments furnished for the occasion.”

The “Picayune,” of the same city, gives the following:

[Pg 293]

“$100 Reward.—Run away from the plantation of the undersigned, the negro man Shedrick, a preacher, five feet nine inches high, about forty years old, but looking not over twenty-three, stamped N. E. on the breast, and having both small toes cut off. He is of a very dark complexion, with eyes small, but bright, and a look quite insolent. He dresses good, and was arrested as a runaway at Donaldsonville, some three years ago. The above reward will be paid for his arrest, by addressing Messrs. Armant Brothers, St. James Parish, or A. Miltenberger & Co., 30 Carondelet Street.”

A Savannah (Georgia) paper has the annexed notice.

“Committed to prison, three weeks ago, under suspicious circumstances, a negro woman, who calls herself Phebe, or Phillis. Says she is free, and lately from Beaufort District, South Carolina. Said woman is about fifty years of age, stout in stature, mild-spoken, five feet four inches high, and weighs about one hundred and forty pounds. Having made diligent inquiry by letter, and from what I can learn, said woman is a runaway. Any person owning said slave can get her by making application to me, properly authenticated.”

The practice of capturing runaway slaves, with blood-hounds trained for the purpose, during the days of slave rule in the South, is well known. We give below one of the advertisements as it appeared in print at the time.

“The undersigned, having an excellent pack of hounds for trailing and catching runaway slaves, informs the public that his prices in future will be as follows for such services:

[Pg 294]

For each day employed in hunting or trailing $2.50
For catching each slave 10.00
For going over ten miles, and catching slaves   20.00

“If sent for, the above prices will be exacted in cash. The subscriber resides one mile and a half south of Dadeville, Ala.

B. Black.

Slavery so completely seared the conscience of the whites of the South, that they had no feeling of compassion for the blacks, as the following illustration will show. At St. Louis, in the year 1835, Francis McIntosh, a free colored man, while defending himself from an attack of white ruffians, one of the latter was killed. At once the colored man was taken, chained to a tree, and burnt to death. One of the newspapers at the time gave the following account of the inhuman affair:—

“All was silent as death while the executioners were piling wood around their victim. He said not a word, until feeling that the flames had seized upon him. He then uttered an awful howl, attempting to sing and pray, then hung his head, and suffered in silence, except in the following instance. After the flames had surrounded their prey, his eyes burnt out of his head, and his mouth seemingly parched to a cinder, some one in the crowd, more compassionate than the rest, proposed to put an end to his misery by shooting him, when it was replied, ‘That would be of no use, since he was already out of pain.’ ‘No, no,’ said the wretch, ‘I am not, I am suffering as much as ever; shoot me, shoot me.’ ‘No, no,’ said one of the fiends who was standing about the sacrifice they were[Pg 295] roasting, ‘he shall not be shot. I would sooner slacken the fire, if it would increase his misery;’ and the man who said this was, as we understand, an officer of justice!”

Lest this demonstration of “public opinion” should be regarded as a sudden impulse merely, not an index of the settled tone of feeling in that community, it is important to add, that the Hon. Luke E. Lawless, Judge of the Circuit Court of Missouri, at a session of that court in the city of St. Louis, some months after the burning of this man, decided officially that since the burning of McIntosh was the act, either directly or by countenance of a majority of the citizens, it is “a case which transcends the jurisdiction” of the Grand Jury! Thus the State of Missouri proclaimed to the world that the wretches who perpetrated that unspeakably diabolical murder, and the thousands that stood by consenting to it, were her representatives, and the Bench sanctified it with the solemnity of a judicial decision.

[Pg 296]


An undeveloped discontent always pervaded the black population of the South, bond and free. Human bondage is ever fruitful of insurrection, wherever it exists, and under whatever circumstances it may be found. The laws forbidding either free people of color or slaves to assemble in any considerable numbers for religious, or any other purpose, without two or more whites being present, and the rigorous enforcement of such laws, show how fearful the slave-masters were of their injured victims.

Everything was done to make the Negro feel that he was not a man, but a thing; his inferiority was impressed upon him in all possible ways. In the great cities of the South, free colored ladies were not allowed to wear a veil in the streets, or in any public places. A violation of this law was visited with thirty-nine lashes upon the bare back. The same was inflicted upon the free colored man who should be seen upon the streets with a cigar in his mouth, or a walking-stick in his hand. Both, when walking the streets, were forbidden to take the inside of the [Pg 297]pavement. Punishment of fine and imprisonment was laid upon any found out of their houses after nine o’clock at night.

An extra tax was placed upon every member of a free colored family. While all these odious edicts were silently borne by the free colored people of Charleston, South Carolina, in 1822, there was a suppressed feeling of indignation, mortification, and discontent, that was only appreciated by a few. Among the most dissatisfied of the free blacks was Denmark Vesey, a man who had purchased his freedom in the year 1800, and since that time had earned his living by his trade, being a carpenter and joiner.

In person, Vesey was tall and of spare make; in color, a dark mulatto; high forehead; eyes, dark brown; nose, long and with a Roman cast. His education was superior to that of his associates, and he had read much, especially of the condition of his own race, and felt deeply for them in their degraded condition.

Vesey was a native of the West Indies. Having been employed on shipboard by his master, Captain Vesey, Denmark had seen a great deal of the world, and had acquired a large fund of information, and was regarded as a leading man among the blacks. He had studied the Scriptures, and never lost an opportunity of showing that they were opposed to chattel-slavery. He spoke freely with the slaves upon the subject, and often with the whites, where he found he could do so without risk to his own liberty.

After resolving to incite the slaves to rebellion, he began taking into his confidence such persons as he could trust, and instructing them to gain adherents[Pg 298] from among the more reliable of both bond and free. Peter Poyas, a slave of more than ordinary foresight and ability, was selected by Vesey as his lieutenant; and to him was committed the arduous duty of arranging the mode of attack, and of acting as the military leader.

His plans showed some natural generalship; he arranged the night attack; he planned the enrollment of a mounted troop to scour the streets; and he had a list of all the shops where arms and ammunition were kept for sale. He voluntarily undertook the management of the most difficult part of the enterprise,—the capture of the main guard-house,—and had pledged himself to advance alone, and surprise the sentinel. He was said to have a magnetism in his eye, of which his confederates stood in great awe; if he once got his eye upon a man, there was no resisting it.

Gullah Jack, Tom Russell, and Ned Bennett. The last two were not less valuable than Peter Poyas; for Tom was an ingenious mechanic, and made battle-axes, pikes, and other instruments of death, with which to carry on the war. All of the above were to be generals of brigades, and were let into all the secrets of the intended rising. It has long been the custom in Charleston for the country slaves to visit the city in great numbers on Sunday, and return to their homes in time to commence work on the following morning. It was therefore determined by Denmark to have the rising take place on Sunday. The slaves of nearly every plantation in the vicinity were enlisted, and were to take part.

The details of the plan, however, were not rashly[Pg 299] committed to the mass of the confederates; they were known only to a few, and were finally to have been announced after the evening prayer-meeting on the appointed Sunday. But each leader had his own company enlisted, and his own work marked out. When the clock struck twelve, all were to move. Peter Poyas was to lead a party ordered to assemble at South Bay, and to be joined by a force from James’ Island; he was then to march up and seize the arsenal and guard-house opposite St. Michael’s Church, and detach a sufficient number to cut off all white citizens who should appear at the alarm posts. A second body of negroes, from the country and the Neck, headed by Ned Bennett, was to assemble on the Neck and seize the arsenal there. A third was to meet at Governor Bennett’s Mills, under command of Rolla, another leader, and, after putting the governor and intendant to death, to march through the city, or be posted at Cannon’s Bridge, thus preventing the inhabitants of Cannonsborough from entering the city. A fourth, partly from the country and partly from the neighboring localities in the city, was to rendezvous on Gadsden’s Wharf, and attack the upper guard-house.

A fifth, composed of country and Neck negroes, was to assemble at Bulkley’s farm, two miles and a half from the city, seize the upper powder magazine, and then march down; and a sixth was to assemble at Denmark Vesey’s, and obey his orders. A seventh detachment, under Gullah Jack, was to assemble in Boundary Street, at the head of King Street, to capture the arms of the Neck company of militia, and to take an additional supply from Mr. Duquercron’s shop. The naval stores on Mey’s Wharf were also to[Pg 300] be attacked. Meanwhile a horse company, consisting of many draymen, hostlers, and butcher boys, was to meet at Lightwood’s Alley, and then scour the streets to prevent the whites from assembling. Every white man coming out of his own door was to be killed, and, if necessary, the city was to be fired in several places—slow match for this purpose having been purloined from the public arsenal and placed in an accessible position.

The secret and plan of attack, however, were incautiously divulged to a slave named Devany, belonging to Colonel Prioleau, and he at once informed his master’s family. The mayor, on getting possession of the facts, called the city council together for consultation. The investigation elicited nothing new, for the slaves persisted in their ignorance of the matter, and the authorities began to feel that they had been imposed upon by Devany and his informant, when another of the conspirators, being bribed, revealed what he knew. Arrests after arrests were made, and the Mayor’s Court held daily examinations for weeks. After several weeks of incarceration, the accused, one hundred and twenty in number, were brought to trial: thirty-four were sentenced to transportation, twenty-seven acquitted by the court, twenty-five discharged without trial, and thirty-five condemned to death. With but two or three exceptions, all of the conspirators went to the gallows feeling that they had acted right, and died like men giving their lives for the cause of freedom. A report of the trial, written soon after, says of Denmark Vesey:—

“For several years before he disclosed his intentions to any one, he appears to have been constantly[Pg 301] and assiduously engaged in endeavoring to embitter the minds of the colored population against the white. He rendered himself perfectly familiar with all those parts of the Scriptures which he thought he could pervert to his purpose, and would readily quote them to prove that slavery was contrary to the laws of God,—that slaves were bound to attempt their emancipation, however shocking and bloody might be the consequences,—and that such efforts would not only be pleasing to the Almighty, but were absolutely enjoined, and their success predicted, in the Scriptures. His favorite texts, when he addressed those of his own color, were Zachariah xiv: 1-3, and Joshua vi: 21; and in all his conversations he identified their situation with that of the Israelites.

The number of inflammatory pamphlets on slavery brought into Charleston from some of our sister states within the last four years (and once from Sierra Leone), and distributed amongst the colored population of the city, for which there was a great facility, in consequence of the unrestricted intercourse allowed to the persons of color between the different states in the Union, and the speeches in Congress of those opposed to the admission of Missouri into the Union, perhaps garbled and misrepresented, furnished him with ample means for inflaming the minds of the colored population of this State; and by distorting certain parts of those speeches, or selecting from them particular passages, he persuaded but too many that Congress had actually declared them free, and that they were held in bondage contrary to the laws of the land.

Even whilst walking through the streets in company with another, he was not idle; for if his companion[Pg 302] bowed to a white person, he would rebuke him, and observe that all men were born equal, and that he was surprised that any one would degrade himself by such conduct,—that he would never cringe to the whites, nor ought any one who had the feelings of a man. When answered, ‘We are slaves,’ he would sarcastically and indignantly reply, ‘You deserve to remain slaves;’ and if he were further asked, ‘What can we do?’ he would remark, ‘Go and buy a spelling-book and read the fable of Hercules and the Wagoner,’ which he would then repeat, and apply it to their situation. He also sought every opportunity of entering into conversation with white persons, when they could be overheard by negroes near by, especially in grog shops; during which conversation, he would artfully introduce some bold remark on slavery; and sometimes, when, from the character he was conversing with, he found he might be still bolder, he would go so far, that, had not his declarations in such situations been clearly proved, they would scarcely have been credited. He continued this course until some time after the commencement of the last winter; by which time he had not only obtained incredible influence amongst persons of color, but many feared him more than their owners, and, one of them declared, even more than his God.”

The excitement which the revelations of the trial occasioned, and the continual fanning of the flame by the newspapers, were beyond description. Double guard in the city, the country patrol on horseback and on foot, the watchfulness that was observed on all plantations, showed the deep feeling of fear pervading the hearts of the slaveholders, not only in South Carolina, but the fever extended to the other Southern states,[Pg 303] and all seemed to feel that a great crisis had been passed. And indeed, their fears seem not to have been without ground, for a more complicated plan for an insurrection could scarcely have been conceived. And many were of opinion that the rising once begun, they would have taken the city and held it, and might have sealed the fate of slavery in the South.[51] But a more successful effort in rebellion was made in Southampton, Virginia, in the year 1831, at the head of which was Nat Turner.

On one of the oldest and largest plantations in Southampton County, Virginia, owned by Benjamin Turner, Esq., Nat was born a slave, on the 2d of October, 1800. His parents were of unmixed African descent. Surrounded as he was by the superstition of the slave quarters, and being taught by his mother that he was born for a prophet, a preacher, and a deliverer of his race, it is not strange that the child should have imbibed the principles which were afterwards developed in his career. Early impressed with the belief that he had seen visions, and received communications direct from God, he, like Napoleon, regarded himself as a being of destiny. In his childhood Nat was of an amiable disposition; but circumstances in which he was placed as a slave, brought out incidents that created a change in his disposition, and turned his kind and docile feeling into the most intense hatred to the white race.

Being absent one night from his master’s plantation without a pass, he was caught by Whitlock and Mull, the two district patrolers, and severely flogged. This act of cruelty inflamed the young slave, and he[Pg 304] resolved upon having revenge. Getting two of the boys of a neighboring plantation to join him, Nat obtained a long rope, went out at night on the road through which the officers had their beat, and stationing his companions, one on each side of the road, he stretched the rope across, fastening each end to a tree, and drawing it tight. His rope thus fixed, and his accomplices instructed how to act their part, Nat started off up the road. The night being dark, and the rope only six or eight inches from the ground, the slave felt sure that he would give his enemies a “high fall.”

Nat hearing them, he called out in a disguised voice, “Is dat you, Jim?” To this Whitlock replied, “Yes, dis is me.” Waiting until the white men were near him, Nat started off upon a run, followed by the officers. The boy had placed a sheet of white paper in the road, so that he might know at what point to jump the rope, so as not to be caught in his own trap. Arriving at the signal he sprung over the rope, and went down the road like an antelope. But not so with the white men, for both were caught by the legs and thrown so hard upon the ground that Mull had his shoulder put out of joint, and his face terribly lacerated by the fall; while Whitlock’s left wrist was broken, and his head bruised in a shocking manner. Nat hastened home, while his companions did the same, not forgetting to take with them the clothesline which had been so serviceable in the conflict. The patrolers were left on the field of battle, crying, swearing, and calling for help.

Snow seldom falls as far south as the southern part of Virginia; but when it does, the boys usually have[Pg 305] a good time snow-balling, and on such occasions the slaves, old and young, women and men, are generally pelted without mercy, and with no right to retaliate. It was only a few months after his affair with the patrolers, that Nat was attacked by a gang of boys, who chased him some distance, snow-balling with all their power. The slave boy knew the lads, and determined upon revenge. Waiting till night, he filled his pockets with rocks, and went into the street. Very soon the same gang of boys were at his heels, and pelting him. Concealing his face so as not to be known, Nat discharged his rocks in every direction, until his enemies had all taken to their heels.

The ill treatment he experienced at the hands of the whites, and the visions he claimed to have seen, caused Nat to avoid, as far as he could, all intercourse with his fellow-slaves, and threw around him a gloom and melancholy that disappeared only with his life.

Both the young slave and his friends averred that a full knowledge of the alphabet came to him in a single night. Impressed with the belief that his mission was a religious one, and this impression strengthened by the advice of his grandmother, a pious but ignorant woman, Nat commenced preaching when about twenty-five years of age, but never went beyond his own master’s locality. In stature he was under the middle size, long-armed, round-shouldered, and strongly marked with the African features. A gloomy fire burned in his looks, and he had a melancholy expression of countenance. He never tasted a drop of ardent spirits in his life, and was never known to smile. In the year 1828 new visions appeared to Nat,[Pg 306] and he claimed to have direct communication with God. Unlike most of those born under the influence of slavery, he had no faith in conjuring, fortune-telling, or dreams, and always spoke with contempt of such things.

Being hired out to cruel masters, he ran away and remained in the woods thirty days, and could have easily escaped to the free states, as did his father some years before; but he received, as he says in his confession a communication from the spirit, which said, “Return to your earthly master, for he who knoweth his Master’s will, and doeth it not, shall be beaten with many stripes.” It was not the will of his earthly, but his heavenly Master that he felt bound to do, and therefore Nat returned. His fellow-slaves were greatly incensed at him for coming back, for they knew well his ability to reach Canada, or some other land of freedom, if he was so inclined.

He says further: “About this time I had a vision, and saw white spirits and black spirits engaged in battle, and the sun was darkened, the thunder rolled in the heavens, and blood flowed in streams; and I heard a voice saying, ‘Such is your luck; such are you called on to see; and let it come, rough or smooth, you must surely bear it.’”

Some time after this, Nat had, as he says, another vision, in which the spirit appeared and said, “The serpent is loosened, and Christ has laid down the yoke he has borne for the sins of men, and you must take it up, and fight against the serpent, for the time is fast approaching when the first shall be last, and the last shall be first.” There is no doubt but that this last sentence filled Nat with enthusiastic feeling[Pg 307] in favor of the liberty of his race, that he had so long dreamed of. “The last shall be first, and the first shall be last,” seemed to him to mean something. He saw in it the overthrow of the whites, and the establishing of the blacks in their stead, and to this end he bent the energies of his mind. In February, 1831, Nat received his last communication, and beheld his last vision. He said, “I was told I should arise and prepare myself, and slay my enemies with their own weapons.”

The plan of an insurrection was now formed in his own mind, and the time had arrived for him to take others into the secret; and he at once communicated his ideas to four of his friends, in whom he had implicit confidence. Hark Travis, Nelson Williams, Sam Edwards, and Henry Porter were slaves like himself, and like him had taken their names from their masters. A meeting must be held with these, and it must take place in some secluded place, where the whites would not disturb them; and a meeting was appointed. The spot where they assembled was as wild and romantic as were the visions that had been impressed upon the mind of their leader.

Three miles from where Nat lived was a dark swamp filled with reptiles, in the middle of which was a dry spot, reached by a narrow, winding path, and upon which human feet seldom trod, on account of its having been the place where a slave had been tortured to death by a slow fire, for the crime of having flogged his cruel and inhuman master. The night for the meeting arrived, and they came together. Hark brought a pig; Sam, bread; Nelson, sweet potatoes, and Henry, brandy; and the gathering was turned[Pg 308] into a feast. Others were taken in, and joined the conspiracy. All partook heartily of the food and drank freely, except Nat. He fasted and prayed. It was agreed that the revolt should commence that night, and in their own master’s households, and that each slave should give his oppressor the death-blow. Before they left the swamp Nat made a speech, in which he said, “Friends and brothers: We are to commence a great work to-night. Our race is to be delivered from slavery, and God has appointed us as the men to do his bidding, and let us be worthy of our calling. I am told to slay all the whites we encounter, without regard to age or sex. We have no arms or ammunition, but we will find these in the houses of our oppressors, and as we go on, others can join us. Remember that we do not go forth for the sake of blood and carnage, but it is necessary that in the commencement of this revolution all the whites we meet should die, until we shall have an army strong enough to carry on the war upon a Christian basis. Remember that ours is not a war for robbery and to satisfy our passions; it is a struggle for freedom. Ours must be deeds, and not words. Then let’s away to the scene of action.”

Among those who had joined the conspirators was Will, a slave, who scorned the idea of taking his master’s name. Though his soul longed to be free, he evidently became one of the party, as much to satisfy revenge, as for the liberty that he saw in the dim distance. Will had seen a dear and beloved wife sold to the negro-trader and taken away, never to be beheld by him again in this life. His own back was covered with scars, from his shoulders to his feet. A large scar, running from his right eye down to his chin,[Pg 309] showed that he had lived with a cruel master. Nearly six feet in height, and one of the strongest and most athletic of his race, he proved to be the most unfeeling of all the insurrectionists. His only weapon was a broad-axe, sharp and heavy.

Nat and his accomplices at once started for the plantation of Joseph Travis, with whom the four lived, and there the first blow was struck. In his confession, just before his execution, Nat said:—

“On returning to the house, Hark went to the door with an axe, for the purpose of breaking it open, as we knew we were strong enough to murder the family should they be awakened by the noise; but reflecting that it might create an alarm in the neighborhood, we determined to enter the house secretly, and murder them whilst sleeping. Hark got a ladder and set it against the chimney, on which I ascended, and hoisting a window, entered, and came down-stairs, unbarred the doors, and removed the guns from their places. It was then observed that I must spill the first blood. On which, armed with a hatchet, and accompanied by Will, I entered my master’s chamber. It being dark, I could not give a death-blow. The hatchet glanced from his head; he sprang from the bed and called his wife. It was his last word; Will laid him dead with a blow of his axe, and Mrs. Travis shared the same fate as she lay in bed. The murder of this family, five in number, was the work of a moment; not one of them awoke. There was a little infant sleeping in a cradle, that was forgotten until we had left the house and gone some distance, when Henry and Will returned and killed it. We got here four guns that would shoot, and several old muskets, with a pound or two of powder.[Pg 310] We remained for some time at the barn, where we paraded; I formed them in line as soldiers, and after carrying them through all the manœuvres I was master of, marched them off to Mr. Salathiel Francis’s, about six hundred yards distant.

“Sam and Will went to the door and knocked. Mr. Francis asked who was there; Sam replied it was he and he had a letter for him; on this he got up and came to the door; they immediately seized him, and dragging him out a little from the door, he was despatched by repeated blows on the head. There was no other white person in the family. We started from there to Mrs. Reese’s, maintaining the most perfect silence on our march, where, finding the door unlocked, we entered and murdered Mrs. Reese in her bed while sleeping; her son awoke, but only to sleep the sleep of death; he had only time to say, ‘Who is that?’ and he was no more.

“From Mrs. Reese’s we went to Mrs. Turner’s, a mile distant, which we reached about sunrise, on Monday morning. Henry, Austin, and Sam, went to the still, where, finding Mr. Peebles, Austin shot him; the rest of us went to the house. As we approached, the family discovered us and shut the door. Vain hope! Will, with one stroke of his axe, opened it, and we entered, and found Mrs. Turner and Mrs. Newsome in the middle of the room, almost frightened to death. Will immediately killed Mrs. Turner with one blow of his axe. I took Mrs. Newsome by the hand, and with the sword I had when apprehended, I struck her several blows over the head, but was not able to kill her, as the sword was dull. Will, turning round and discovering it, despatched her also. A[Pg 311] general destruction of property, and search for money and ammunition, always succeeded the murders.

“By this time, my company amounted to fifteen, nine men mounted, who started for Mrs. Whitehead’s, (the other six were to go through a by-way to Mr. Bryant’s, and rejoin us at Mrs. Whitehead’s).

“As we approached the house, we discovered Mr. Richard Whitehead standing in the cotton patch, near the lane fence; we called him over into the lane, and Will, the executioner, was near at hand, with his fatal axe, to send him to an untimely grave. As we pushed on to the house, I discovered some one running around the garden, and thinking it was some of the white family, I pursued; but finding it was a servant girl belonging to the house, I returned to commence the work of death; but they whom I left had not been idle; all the family were already murdered but Mrs. Whitehead and her daughter Margaret. As I came round to the door, I saw Will pulling Mrs. Whitehead out of the house, and at the step he nearly severed her head from her body with his broadaxe. Miss Margaret, when I discovered her, had concealed herself in the corner formed by the projection of the cellar cap from the house; on my approach she fled, but was soon overtaken, and after repeated blows with a sword, I killed her with a blow over the head with a fence rail. By this time the six who had gone by Mr. Bryant’s rejoined us, and informed me they had done the work of death assigned them.

“We again divided, part going to Mr. Richard Porter’s, and from thence to Nathaniel Francis’s, the others to Mr. Howell Harris’s and Mr. T. Doyles’s. On my reaching Mr. Porter’s, he had escaped with his[Pg 312] family. I understood there that the alarm had already spread, and I immediately returned to bring up those sent to Mr. Doyles’s and Mr. Howell Harris’s; the party I left going on to Mr. Francis’s, having told them I would join them in that neighborhood. I met those sent to Mr. Doyles’s and Mr. Howell Harris’s returning, having met Mr. Doyles on the road and killed him.

“Learning from some who joined them that Mr. Harris was from home, I immediately pursued the course taken by the party gone on before; but knowing that they would complete the work of death and pillage at Mr. Francis’s before I could get there, I went to Mr. Peter Edwards’s, expecting to find them there; but they had been there already. I then went to Mr. John T. Barrows’s; they had been there and murdered him. I pursued on their track to Captain Newitt Harris’s. I found the greater part mounted and ready to start; the men, now amounting to about forty, shouted and hurrahed as I rode up; some were in the yard loading their guns, others drinking. They said Captain Harris and his family had escaped; the property in the house they destroyed, robbing him of money and other valuables.

“I ordered them to mount and march instantly; this was about nine or ten o’clock, Monday morning. I proceeded to Mr. Levi Waller’s, two or three miles distant. I took my station in the rear, and as it was my object to carry terror and devastation wherever we went, I placed fifteen or twenty of the best mounted and most to be relied on in front, who generally approached the houses as fast as their horses could run. This was for two purposes; to prevent[Pg 313] their escape, and strike terror to the inhabitants. On this account I never got to the houses, after leaving Mrs. Whitehead’s, until the murders were committed, except in one case. I sometimes got in sight in time to see the work of death completed, view the mangled bodies as they lay, in silent satisfaction, and immediately start in quest of other victims. Having murdered Mrs. Waller and ten children, we started for Mr. William Williams’s. We killed him and two little boys that were there: while engaged in this, Mrs. Williams fled, and got some distance from the house; but she was pursued, overtaken, and compelled to get up behind one of the company, who brought her back, and after showing her the mangled body of her lifeless husband, she was told to get down and lie by his side, where she was shot dead.

“I then started for Mr. Jacob Williams’s, where the family were murdered. Here we found a young man named Drury, who had come on business with Mr. Williams; he was pursued, overtaken, and shot. Mrs. Vaughan’s was the next place we visited; and after murdering the family here, I determined on starting for Jerusalem. Our number amounted now to fifty or sixty, all mounted and armed with guns, axes, swords, and clubs. On reaching Mr. James W. Parker’s gate, immediately on the road leading to Jerusalem, and about three miles distant, it was proposed to me to call there; but I objected, as I knew he was gone to Jerusalem, and my object was to reach there as soon as possible; but some of the men having relations at Mr. Parker’s, it was agreed that they might call and get his people.

“I remained at the gate on the road, with seven or[Pg 314] eight, the others going across the field to the house, about half a mile off. After waiting some time for them, I became impatient, and started to the house for them, and on our return we were met by a party of white men, who had pursued our blood-stained track, and who had fired on those at the gate, and dispersed them, which I knew nothing of, not having been at that time rejoined by any of them. Immediately on discovering the whites, I ordered my men to halt and form, as they appeared to be alarmed. The white men, eighteen in number, approached us within about one hundred yards, when one of them fired, and I discovered about half of them retreating. I then ordered my men to fire and rush on them; the few remaining stood their ground until we approached within fifty yards, when they fired and retreated.

“We pursued and overtook some of them, whom we thought we left dead; after pursuing them about two hundred yards, and rising a little hill, I discovered they were met by another party, and had halted, and were reloading their guns, thinking that those who retreated first, and the party who fired on us at fifty or sixty yards distant, had only fallen back to meet others with ammunition. As I saw them reloading their guns, and more coming up than I saw at first, and several of my bravest men being wounded, the others became panic-stricken, and scattered over the field; the white men pursued and fired on us several times. Hark had his horse shot under him, and I caught another for him that was running by me; five or six of my men were wounded, but none left on the field. Finding myself defeated here, I instantly determined to go through a private way, and cross the[Pg 315] Nottoway River at the Cypress Bridge, three miles below Jerusalem, and attack that place in the rear, as I expected they would look for me on the other road, and I had a great desire to get there to procure arms and ammunition.”

Reënforcements came to the whites, and the blacks were overpowered and defeated by the superior numbers of their enemy. In this battle many were slain on both sides. Will, the bloodthirsty and revengeful slave, fell with his broad-axe uplifted, after having laid three of the whites dead at his feet with his own strong arm and his terrible weapon. His last words were, “Bury my axe with me;” for he religiously believed that in the next world the blacks would have a contest with the whites, and that he would need his axe. Nat Turner, after fighting to the last with his short-sword, escaped with some others to the woods near by, and was not captured for nearly two months. He had aroused the entire country by his deeds, and for sixty days had eluded a thousand armed men on his track. When taken, although half starved, and exhausted by fatigue, like a fox after a weary chase, he stood erect and dignified, proud and haughty, amid his captors, his sturdy, compact form, marked features, and flashing eye, declaring him to be every inch a man.

When brought to trial, he pleaded “not guilty;” feeling, as he said, that it was always right for one to strike for his own liberty. After going through a mere form of trial, he was convicted and executed at Jerusalem, the county seat for Southampton County, Virginia. Not a limb trembled nor a muscle was observed to move. Thus died Nat Turner, at the early[Pg 316] age of thirty-one years—a martyr to the freedom of his race, and a victim to his own fanaticism. He meditated upon the wrongs of his oppressed and injured people, till the idea of their deliverance excluded all other ideas from his mind, and he devoted his life to its realization. Everything appeared to him a vision, and all favorable omens were signs from God. That he was sincere in all that he professed, there is not the slightest doubt. After being defeated, he might have escaped to the free states, but the hope of raising a new band kept him from doing so.

He impressed his image upon the minds of those who once beheld him. His looks, his sermons, his acts, and his heroism live in the hearts of his race, on every cotton, sugar, and rice plantation at the South. The present generation of slaves have a superstitious veneration for his name. He foretold that at his death the sun would refuse to shine, and that there would be signs of disapprobation given from Heaven. And it is true that the sun was darkened, a storm gathered, and more boisterous weather had never appeared in Southampton County than on the day of Nat’s execution. The sheriff, warned by the prisoner, refused to cut the cord that held the trap. No black man would touch the rope. A poor old white man, long besotted by drink, was brought forty miles to be the executioner. And even the planters, with all their prejudice and hatred, believed him honest and sincere; for Mr. Gray, who had known Nat from boyhood, and to whom he made his confession, says of him:—

“It has been said that he was ignorant and cowardly, and that his object was to murder and rob, for the purpose of obtaining money to make his escape. It[Pg 317] is notorious that he was never known to have a dollar in his life, to swear an oath, or drink a drop of spirits. As to his ignorance, he certainly never had the advantages of education; but he can read and write, and for natural intelligence and quickness of apprehension, is surpassed by few men I have ever seen. As to his being a coward, his reason, as given, for not resisting Mr. Phipps, shows the decision of his character. When he saw Mr. Phipps present his gun, he said he knew it was impossible for him to escape, as the woods were full of men; he therefore thought it was better for him to surrender, and trust to fortune for his escape.

“He is a complete fanatic, or plays his part most admirably. On other subjects he possesses an uncommon share of intelligence, with a mind capable of attaining anything, but warped and perverted by the influence of early impressions. He is below the ordinary stature, though strong and active, having the true negro face, every feature of which is strongly marked. I shall not attempt to describe the effect of his narrative, as told and commented on by himself, in the condemned hole of the prison; the calm, deliberate composure with which he spoke of his late deeds and intentions; the expression of his fiend-like face, when excited by enthusiasm—still bearing the stains of the blood of helpless innocence about him, clothed with rags and covered with chains, yet daring to raise his manacled hands to Heaven, with a spirit soaring above the attributes of man; I looked on him, and the blood curdled in my veins.”

Fifty-five whites and seventy-three blacks lost their lives in the Southampton rebellion. On the fatal night when Nat and his companions were dealing death[Pg 318] to all they found, Captain Harris, a wealthy planter had his life saved by the devotion and timely warning of his slave Jim, said to have been half-brother to his master. After the revolt had been put down, and parties of whites were out hunting the suspected blacks, Captain Harris, with his faithful slave, went into the woods in search of the negroes. In saving his master’s life, Jim felt that he had done his duty, and could not consent to become a betrayer of his race; and on reaching the woods, he handed his pistol to his master, and said, “I cannot help you hunt down these men; they, like myself, want to be free. Sir, I am tired of the life of a slave; please give me my freedom, or shoot me on the spot.” Captain Harris took the weapon and pointed it at the slave. Jim, putting his right hand upon his heart, said, “This is the spot; aim here.” The captain fired, and the slave fell dead at his feet.


[51] T. W. Higginson, in Atlantic Monthly, June, 1861.

[Pg 319]


The vast increase of the slave population in the Southern States, and their frequent insurrectionary efforts, together with the fact that the whole system was in direct contradiction to the sentiments expressed in the declaration of American independence, was fast creating a hatred to slavery.

The society of Friends, the first to raise a warning voice against the sin of human bondage, had nobly done its duty; and as early as 1789 had petitioned Congress in favor of the abolition of slavery.

Previous to this, however, William Beorling, a Quaker, of Long Island, Ralph Sandiford of Philadelphia, Benjamin Lay, and several others of the society of Friends, had written brave words in behalf of negro freedom.

Benjamin Lundy, also a member of the Society of Friends, commenced, in 1821, at Baltimore, the publication of a monthly paper, called “The Genius of Universal Emancipation.” This journal advocated gradual, not immediate emancipation. It had, however, one good effect, and that was, to attract the [Pg 320]attention of William Lloyd Garrison to the condition of the enslaved negro.

Out of this interest grew “The Liberator,” which was commenced January 1, 1831, at Boston. Two years later, the American Anti-slavery Society was organized at Philadelphia.

After setting forth the causes which the patriots of the American Revolution had to induce them to throw off the British yoke, they nobly put forth the claim of the slave to his liberty.

The document was signed by sixty-four persons, among whom was William Lloyd Garrison, and John G. Whittier.

The formation of the American Anti-slavery Society created considerable excitement at the time, and exposed its authors to the condemnation of the servile pulpit and press of that period. Few, however, saw the great importance of such a work, and none of the movers in it imagined that they would live to witness the accomplishing of an object for which the society was brought into being.

One of the most malignant opposers that the abolitionists had to meet, in their commencement, was the American Colonization Society, an organization which began in 1817, in the interest of the slaveholders, and whose purpose was to carry off to Africa the free colored people. Garrison’s “Thoughts on African Colonization,” published in 1832, had already drawn the teeth of this enemy of the Negro, and for which the society turned all its batteries against him.

The people of the Southern States were not alone in the agitation, for the question had found its way into all of the ramifications of society in the North.

[Pg 321]

Miss Prudence Crandall, about this time, started a school for colored females, in Canterbury, Connecticut, which was soon broken up, and Miss Crandall thrown into prison.

David Walker, a colored man, residing at Boston, had published an appeal in behalf of his race, filled with enthusiasm, and well calculated to arouse the ire of the pro-slavery feeling of the country.

The liberation of his slaves, by James G. Binney of Kentucky, and his letters to the churches, furnished fuel to the agitating flames.

The free colored people of the North, especially in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, were alive to their own interest, and were yearly holding conventions, at which they would recount their grievances, and press their claims to equal rights with their white fellow-citizens.

At these meetings, the talent exhibited, the able speeches made, and the strong appeals for justice which were sent forth, did very much to raise the blacks in the estimation of the whites generally, and gained for the Negroes’ cause additional friends.

[Pg 322]


In the year 1834, mob law was inaugurated in the free states, which extended into the years 1835-6 and 7.

The mobbing of the friends of freedom commenced in Boston, in October, 1835, with an attack upon William Lloyd Garrison, and the ladies’ Anti-slavery Society. This mob, made up as it was by “Gentlemen of property and standing,” and from whom Mr. Garrison had to be taken to prison to save his life, has become disgracefully historical.

The Boston mob was followed by one at Utica, New York, headed by Judge Beardsley, who broke up a meeting of the New York State Anti-slavery Society. Arthur Tappan’s store was attacked by a mob in New York City, and his property destroyed, to the value of thirty thousand dollars. The Rev. Elijah P. Lovejoy, a brave man of the State of Maine, had located at St. Louis, where he took the editorial charge of “The St. Louis Times,” and in its columns nobly pleaded for justice to the enslaved negro. The writer of this was for a period of six months employed in the office of “The Times,” and knew Mr. Lovejoy well.[Pg 323] Driven from St. Louis by mob law, he removed to Alton, Illinois. Here the spirit of slavery followed him, broke up his printing-press, threw it into the river, and murdered the heroic advocate of free speech.

Thus this good man died; but his death raised up new and strong friends for the oppressed. Wendell Phillips visited the grave of the martyr recently, and gave the following description of his burial-place:—

“Lovejoy lies buried now in the city cemetery, on a beautiful knoll. Near by rolls the great river. His resting-place is marked by an oblong stone, perhaps thirty inches by twenty, and rising a foot above the ground; on this rests a marble scroll bearing this inscription:

Jam parce sepulto.

[Here lies Lovejoy, Spare him, now, in his grave.]”

A more marked testimonial would not, probably, have been safe from insult and disfigurement, previous to 1864. He fought his fight so far in the van, so much in the hottest of the battle, that not till after nigh thirty years and the final victory could even his dust be sure of quiet.

In the cities of New York, Philadelphia, Albany, Utica, and many other places in the free states, the colored people were hunted down like wild beasts, and their property taken from them or destroyed.

In the two first-named places, the churches and dwellings of these unoffending citizens were set on[Pg 324] fire in open day, and burnt to ashes without any effort on the part of the authorities to prevent it.

Even the wives and children of the colored men were stoned in the streets, and the school-houses sought out, their inmates driven away, and many of the children with their parents had to flee to the country for safety.

Such was the feeling of hate brought out in the North by the influence of slavery at the South.

During this reign of terror among the colored people in the free states, their brethren in slavery were also suffering martyrdom. Free blacks were arrested, thrown into jail, scourged in their own houses, and if they made the slightest resistance, were shot down, hung at a lamp-post, or even burnt at the stake.

[Pg 325]


In the month of August, 1839, there appeared in the newspapers a shocking story:—that a schooner, going coastwise from Havana to Neuvitas, in the Island of Cuba, early in July, with about twenty white passengers, and a large number of slaves, had been seized by the slaves in the night time, and the passengers and crew all murdered except two, who made their escape to land in an open boat. About the 20th of the same month, a strange craft was seen repeatedly on our coast, which was believed to be the captured Spanish coaster, in the possession of the negroes. She was spoken by several pilot-boats and other vessels, and partially supplied with water, of which she was very much in want. It was also said that the blacks appeared to have a great deal of money. The custom-house department and the officers of the navy were instantly aroused to go in pursuit of the “pirates,” as the unknown possessors of the schooner were spontaneously called. The United States steamer Fulton, and several revenue cutters were dispatched, and notice given to the collectors at the various seaports.

[Pg 326]

On the 10th of August, the “mysterious schooner” was near the shore at Culloden Point, on the east end of Long Island, where a part of the crew came on shore for water and fresh provisions, for which they paid with undiscriminating profuseness. Here they were met by Captain Green and another gentleman, who stated that they had in their possession a large box filled with gold. Shortly after, on the 26th, the vessel was espied by Captain Gedney, U. S. N., in command of the brig Washington, employed on the coast survey, who despatched an officer to board her. The officer found a large number of negroes, and two Spaniards, Pedro Montez and José Ruiz, one of whom immediately announced himself as the owner of the negroes, and claimed his protection. The schooner was thereupon taken possession of by Captain Gedney.

The leader of the blacks was pointed out by the Spaniards, and his name given as Joseph Cinque. He was a native of Africa, and one of the finest specimens of his race ever seen in this country. As soon as he saw that the vessel was in the hands of others, and all hope of his taking himself and countrymen back to their home land at an end, he leaped overboard with the agility of an antelope. The small boat was immediately sent after him, and for two hours did the sailors strive to capture him before they succeeded. Cinque swam and dived like an otter, first upon his back, then upon his breast, sometimes his head out of water, and sometimes his heels out. His countrymen on board the captured schooner seemed much amused at the chase, for they knew Cinque well, and felt proud of the untameableness of his nature. After baffling them for a time, he swam towards the[Pg 327] vessel, was taken on board, and secured with the rest of the blacks, and they were taken into New London, Connecticut.

The schooner proved to be the Amistad, Captain Ramon Ferrer, from Havana, bound to Principe, about one hundred leagues distant, with fifty-four negroes held as slaves, and two passengers. The Spaniards said, that after being out four days, the negroes rose in the night and killed the captain and a mulatto cook; that the helmsman and another sailor took to the boat and went on shore; that the only two whites remaining were the said passengers, Montez and Ruiz, who were confined below until morning; that Montez the elder, who had been a sea-captain, was required to steer the ship for Africa; that he steered easterly in the day-time, because the negroes could tell his course by the sun, but put the vessel about in the night. They boxed about some days in the Bahama Channel, and were several times near the Islands, but the negroes would not allow her to enter any port. Once they were near Long Island, but then put out to sea again, the Spaniards all the while hoping they might fall in with some ship of war that would rescue them from their awkward situation. One of the Spaniards testified that when the rising took place, he was awaked by the noise, and that he heard the captain order the cabin boy to get some bread and throw it to the negroes, in hope to pacify them. Cinque, however, the leader of the revolt, leaped on deck, seized a capstan bar, and attacked the captain, whom he killed at a single blow, and took charge of the vessel; his authority being acknowledged by his companions, who knew him as a prince in his native land.

[Pg 328]

After a long litigation in the courts, the slaves were liberated and sent back to their native land.

In the following year, 1840, the brig Creole, laden with slaves, sailed from Richmond, bound for New Orleans; the slaves mutinied, took the vessel, and carried her into the British West Indies, and thereby became free. The hero on this occasion was Madison Washington.

[Pg 329]


The resolute and determined purpose of the Southerners to make the institution of slavery national, and the equally powerful growing public sentiment at the North to make freedom universal, showed plainly that the nation was fast approaching a crisis on this absorbing question. In Congress, men were compelled to take either the one or the other side, and the debates became more fiery, as the subject progressed.

John P. Hale led in the Senate, while Joshua R. Giddings was the acknowledged leader in the House of Representatives in behalf of freedom. On the part of slavery, the leadership in the Senate lay between Foot of Mississippi, and McDuffie of South Carolina; while Henry A. Wise, followed by a ravenous pack watched over the interest of the “peculiar institution” in the House.

The early adoption of the famous “Gag Law,” whereby all petitions on the subject of slavery were to be “tabled” without discussion, instead of helping the Southern cause, brought its abettors into contempt.[Pg 330] In the House, Mr. Giddings was censured for offering resolutions in regard to the capture of the brig Creole.

Mr. Giddings resigned, went home, was at once re-elected, and returned to Congress to renew the contest. An attempt to expel John Quincy Adams, for presenting a petition from a number of persons held in slavery, was a failure, and from which the friends of the negro took fresh courage.

In the South, the Legislatures were enacting laws abridging the freedom of speech and of the press, and making it more difficult for Northerners to travel in the slave states. Rev. Charles T. Torry was in the Maryland Penitentiary for aiding slaves to escape, and Jonathan Walker had been branded with a red-hot iron, and sent home for the same offence. The free colored people of the South were being persecuted in a manner hitherto unknown in that section. Amid all these scenes, there was a moral contest going on at the North. The Garrison abolitionists, whose head-quarters were in Boston, were at work with a zeal which has scarcely ever been equalled by any association of men and women.

“The Liberator,” Mr. Garrison’s own paper, led the vanguard; while the “National Anti-slavery Standard,” edited at times by Oliver Johnson, Lydia Maria Child, David Lee Child, and Sydney Howard Gay, gave no uncertain sound on the slavery question.

The ladies connected with this society, headed by Maria Weston Chapman, held an annual fair, and raised funds for the prosecution of the work of changing public sentiment, and otherwise aiding the anti-slavery movement. Lecturing agents were kept in the field the year round, or as far as their means would permit.[Pg 331] A few clergymen had already taken ground against the blood-stained sin, and were singled out by both pulpit and press, as marks for their poisoned arrows. The ablest and most ultra of these, was Theodore Parker, the singularly gifted and truly eloquent preacher of the 28th Congregational Society of Boston. Thomas Wentworth Higginson, though younger and later in the cause, was equally true, and was amongst the first to invite anti-slavery lecturers to his pulpit. The writer of this, a negro, at his invitation occupied his desk at Newburyport, when it cost something to be an abolitionist.

Brave men of other denominations, in different sections of the country, were fast taking their stand with the friends of the slave.

The battle in Congress was raging hotter and hotter. The Florida war, the admission of Texas, and the war against Mexico, had given the slaveholders a bold front, and they wielded the political lash without the least mercy or discretion upon all who offended them. Greater protection for slave property in the free states was demanded by those who saw their human chattels escaping.

The law of 1793, for the recapture of fugitive slaves, was now insufficient for the great change in public opinion, and another code was asked for by the South. On the 18th of September, 1850, the Fugitive Slave Bill was passed, and became the law of the land.

This was justly condemned by good men of all countries, as the most atrocious enactment ever passed by any legislative body. The four hundred thousand free colored residents in the non slave-holding states,[Pg 332] were liable at any time to be seized under this law and carried into servitude.

Intense excitement was created in every section of the free states where any considerable number of colored persons resided. In Pennsylvania, New York, and Ohio, where there were many fugitives and descendants of former slaves, the feeling rose to fever-heat. Every railroad leading toward Canada was thronged with blacks fleeing for safety. In one town in the State of New York, every member of a Methodist Church, eighty-two in number, including the pastor, fled to Canada.

The passage of the Fugitive Slave Bill was a sad event to the colored citizens of this State. At that time there were eight thousand nine hundred and seventy-five persons of color in Massachusetts. In thirty-six hours after the passage of the bill was known here, five and thirty colored persons applied to a well-known philanthropist in this city for counsel. Before sixty hours passed by, more than forty had fled. The laws of Massachusetts could not be trusted to shelter her own children; they must flee to Canada.[52]

Numbers of these fugitives had escaped many years before, had married free partners, had acquired property, and had comfortable homes; these were broken up and their members scattered. Soon after the law went into force, the kidnappers made their appearance in Boston.

The fact that men-stealers were prowling about the streets, through which, eighty years before, the enemies of liberty had been chased, caused no little [Pg 333]sensation amongst all classes, and when it was understood that William Craft and his beautiful quadroon wife were the intended victims, the excitement increased fearfully. These two persons had escaped from Macon, in the State of Georgia, a year and a half before. The man was of unmixed negro, the woman, nearly white. Their mode of escape was novel. The wife, attired as a gentleman, attended by her husband as a slave, took the train for the North, and arrived in Philadelphia, after a journey of two days; part of which was made on steamboats. The writer was in the Quaker City at the time of their arrival, and was among the first to greet them. Many exciting incidents occurred during the passage to the land of freedom, which gave considerable notoriety to the particular case of the Crafts, and the slave-catchers were soon marked men.

After many fruitless attempts to have the fugitives arrested, Hughs and his companions returned to the South; while Craft and his wife fled to England.

Boston was not alone in her commotion; Daniel had been arrested at Buffalo, and taken before Henry K. Smith, a drunken commissioner, and remanded to his claimant; Hamlet was captured by the kidnappers in New York City, and Jerry was making his name famous by his arrest at Syracuse, in the same state.

The telegrams announcing these events filled the hearts of the blacks with sad emotions, and told the slave-holders that the law could be executed. News soon came from Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, and other states, of the arrest and rendition of persons claimed as slaves, many of whom were proven to be free-born. Boston was not permitted to remain long ere she again witnessed the reappearance of the negro-catcher.

[Pg 334]

A colored man named Shadrach was claimed as a slave; he was arrested, put in prison, and the kidnappers felt that for once they had a sure thing. Boston, however, was a strange place for a human being to be in a dungeon for wanting to be free; and Shadrach was spirited away to Canada, no one knew how. The men of Boston who traded largely with the South, felt that their city was in disgrace in not being able to execute the Fugitive Slave Bill, and many of them wished heartily for another opportunity.

So, on the night of the third of April, 1851, Thomas Simms was arrested, and after a trial which became historical, was sent back into slavery, to the utter disgrace of all concerned in his return.

Next came the rendition of Anthony Burns, a Baptist clergyman, who was arrested at the instance of Charles F. Suttle, of Virginia. The commissioner before whom the case was tried was Ellis Greely Loring. This trial excited even more commotion than did the return of Simms. A preacher in fetters because he wanted to be free was a new thing to the people of Boston.

During the progress of the hearing, the feeling extended to the country towns, and nearly every train coming in brought large numbers of persons anxious to behold the new order of things. To guard against the possibility of a rescue, the building in which the commissioner did his work was in chains. Burns was delivered to Suttle, and the Union was once more safe.

The Boston Court House in chains, two hundred rowdies and thieves sworn in as special policemen, respectable citizens shoved off the sidewalks by these slave-catchers, all for the purpose of satisfying “our brethren of the South.”

[Pg 335]

But this act did not appease the feelings or satisfy the demands of the slave-holders, while it still further inflamed the fire of abolitionism.

The “Dred Scott Decision” added fresh combustibles to the smouldering heap. Dred Scott, a slave, taken by his master into free Illinois, and then beyond the line of thirty-six degrees thirty minutes, and then back into Missouri, sued for and obtained his freedom, on the ground that having been taken where, by the Constitution, slavery was illegal, his master lost all claim.

But the Supreme Court, on appeal, reversed the judgment, and Dred Scott, with his wife and children, was taken back into slavery.


[52] “Rendition of Thomas Simms.” Theodore Parker, p. 20, 1852.

[Pg 336]


Caste, the natural product of slavery, did not stop at the door of the sanctuary, as might be presumed that it would, but entered all, or nearly all, of the Christian denominations of our country, and in some instances even pursued the negro to the sacramental altar. All churches had their “Negro-pew,” where there were any blacks to put into them. This was the custom at the South, and it was the same at the North.

As the religion of the country was fashioned to suit the public sentiment, which was negro-hating in its character, the blacks of the United States would have formed a poor idea of the Christian religion in its broadest sense, had not an inward monitor told them that there was still something better.

The first step towards the enjoyment of religious freedom was taken by the colored people of Philadelphia. This was caused by the unkind treatment of their white brethren, who considered them a nuisance in their houses of worship, where they were pulled off their knees while in the act of prayer, and ordered to the back seats. From these and other acts of [Pg 337]unchristian conduct, the blacks considered it their duty to devise means of having a house for religious worship, of their own. Therefore, in November, 1787, they seceded from the Methodist Church, in Philadelphia, formed a society, built a house to meet in, and set up for themselves.

Although the whites considered the blacks as intruders in their churches, they were, nevertheless, unwilling to allow them to worship by themselves, unless they should have the privilege of furnishing their sable brethren with preachers. The whites denied the blacks the right of taking the name of Methodist without their consent, and even went so far as to force their white preachers into the pulpits of the colored people on Sundays. The law, however, had more justice in it than the Gospel; and it stepped in between the blacks and their religious persecutors, and set the former free.

In 1793, Rev. Richard Allen built a church for his people in Philadelphia, and henceforth their religious progress was marvellous. In 1816, Richard Allen was ordained Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church; Morris Brown was ordained a bishop in 1828; Edward Waters in 1836; and William P. Quinn in 1844. These were known as the Bethel Methodists. About the same time, the colored Christians of New York, feeling the pressure of caste, which weighed heavily upon them, began to sigh for the freedom enjoyed by their brethren in the City of Brotherly Love; and in 1796, under the lead of Francis Jacobs, William Brown, and William Miller, separated from their white brethren, and formed a church, now known as the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. This[Pg 338] branch of seceders equalled in prosperity their brethren in Philadelphia.

The first annual conference of these churches was held in the city of Baltimore, in April, 1818. The example set by the colored ministers of Philadelphia and New York was soon followed by their race in Baltimore, Richmond, Boston, Providence, and other places. These independent religious movements were not confined to the sect known as Methodists, but the Baptists, Presbyterians, and Episcopalians were permitted to set up housekeeping for themselves.

The Episcopalians, however, in New York and Philadelphia, had to suffer much, for they were compelled to listen to the preacher on Sunday who would not recognize them on Monday. The settlement of the Revs. Peter Williams at New York, and William Douglass at Philadelphia, seemed to open a new era to the blacks in those cities, and the eloquence of these two divines gave the members of that sect more liberty throughout the country. In the Southern States, the religious liberty of the blacks was curtailed far more than at the North. The stringent slave-law, which punished the negro for being found outside of his master’s premises after a certain time at night, was construed so as to apply to him in his going to and from the house of God; and the poor victim was often flogged for having been found out late, while he was on his way home from church.

These laws applied as well to the free blacks as to the slaves, and frequently the educated colored preacher had his back lacerated with the “cat-o’-nine-tails” within an hour of his leaving the pulpit.

In all of the slave states laws were early enacted[Pg 339] regulating the religious movements of the blacks, and providing that no slave or free colored person should be allowed to preach. The assembling of blacks for religious worship was prohibited, unless three or more white persons were present.

[Pg 340]


The year 1859 will long be memorable for the bold attempt of John Brown and his companions to burst the bolted door of the Southern house of bondage, and lead out the captives by a more effectual way than they had yet known; an attempt in which, it is true, the little band of heroes dashed themselves to bloody death, but, at the same time, shook the prison walls from summit to foundation, and shot wild alarm into every tyrant heart in all the slave-land. What were the plans and purposes of the noble old man is not precisely known, and perhaps will never be; but whatever they were, there is reason to believe they had been long maturing,—brooded over silently and secretly, with much earnest thought, and under a solemn sense of religious duty.

Of the five colored men who were with the hero at the attack on Harper’s Ferry, only two, Shields Green and John A. Copeland, were captured alive. The first of these was a native of South Carolina, having been born in the city of Charleston, in the year 1832. Escaping to the North in 1857, he [Pg 341]resided in Rochester, New York, until attracted by the unadorned eloquence and native magnetism of John Brown.

Shields Green was of unmixed blood, good countenance, bright eye, and small in figure. One of his companions in the Harper’s Ferry fight, says of Green, “He was the most inexorable of all our party; a very Turco in his hatred against the stealers of men. Wiser and better men no doubt there were, but a braver man never lived than Shields Green.”[53]

He behaved with becoming coolness and heroism at his execution, ascending the scaffold with a firm, unwavering step, and died as he had lived, a brave man, expressing to the last his eternal hatred to human bondage, prophesying that slavery would soon come to a bloody end.

John A. Copeland was from North Carolina, and was a mulatto of superior abilities, and a genuine lover of liberty and justice. He died as became one who had linked his fate with that of the hero of Harper’s Ferry.


[53] “A Voice from Harper’s Ferry.” O. P. Anderson.

[Pg 342]


The assault on Fort Sumter on the 12th of April, 1861, was the dawn of a new era for the Negro. The proclamation of President Lincoln, calling for the first seventy-five thousand men to put down the Rebellion, was responded to by the colored people throughout the country. In Boston, at a public meeting of the blacks a large number came forward, put their names to an agreement to form a brigade, and march at once to the seat of war. A committee waited on the Governor three days later, and offered the services of these men. His Excellency replied that he had no power to receive them. This was the first wet blanket thrown over the negro’s enthusiasm. “This is a white man’s war,” said most of the public journals. “I will never fight by the side of a nigger,” was heard in every quarter where men were seen in Uncle Sam’s uniform.

Wherever recruiting offices were opened, black men offered themselves, and were rejected. Yet these people, feeling conscious that right would eventually prevail, waited patiently for the coming time, pledging themselves to go at their country’s call.

[Pg 343]

While the country seemed drifting to destruction, and the administration without a policy, the heart of every loyal man was made glad by the appearance of the proclamation of Major-General John C. Fremont, then in command at the West. The following extract from that document, which at the time caused so much discussion, will bear insertion here:—

“All persons who shall be taken with arms in their hands within these lines, shall be tried by court-martial; and if found guilty, will be shot. The property, real and personal, of all persons in the State of Missouri, who shall take up arms against the United States, or who shall be directly proven to have taken active part with their enemies in the field, is declared to be confiscated to the public use, and their slaves, if any they have, are hereby declared free men.”

The above was the first official paper issued after the commencement of the war, that appeared to have the ring of the right kind of mettle.

Without waiting for instructions from the capital, General Fremont caused manumission papers to be issued to a number of slaves, commencing with those owned by Thomas L. Snead, of St. Louis. This step taken by the brave Fremont was followed by a similar movement of General Hunter, then stationed in South Carolina. President Lincoln, however, was persuaded to annul both of the above orders.

In the month of June, 1861, the schooner S. J. Waring, from New York, bound to South America, was captured on the passage by the rebel privateer Jeff Davis, a prize-crew put on board, consisting of a captain, mate, and four seamen, and the vessel set sail for the port of Charleston, South Carolina. Three of[Pg 344] the original crew were retained on board, a German as steersman, a Yankee, who was put in irons, and a black man named William Tillman, the steward and cook of the schooner. The latter was put to work at his usual business, and told that he was henceforth the property of the Confederate States, and would be sold on his arrival at Charleston as a slave.

Night comes on; darkness covers the sea; the vessel is gliding swiftly towards the South; the rebels, one after another, retire to their berths; the hour of midnight approaches; all is silent in the cabin; the captain is asleep; the mate, who has charge of the watch, takes his brandy toddy, and reclines upon the quarter-deck. The negro thinks of home and all its endearments; he sees in the dim future chains and slavery.

He resolves, and determines to put the resolution into practice upon the instant. Armed with a heavy club, he proceeds to the captain’s room. He strikes the fatal blow. He next goes to the adjoining room; another blow is struck, and the black man is master of the cabin. Cautiously he ascends to the deck, strikes the mate. The officer is wounded, but not killed. He draws his revolver, and calls for help. The crew are aroused; they are hastening to aid their commander. The negro repeats his blows with the heavy club; the rebel falls dead at Tillman’s feet. The African seizes the revolver, drives the crew below deck, orders the release of the Yankee, puts the enemy in irons, and proclaims himself master of the vessel.

Five days more, and the “S. J. Waring” arrives in the port of New York, under the command of William Tillman, the negro patriot.

The brave exploit of Tillman had scarcely ceased[Pg 345] being the topic of conversation, ere the public were again startled by the announcement that Robert Small, a slave, had escaped with the steamer Planter from Charleston, South Carolina. This event was communicated to the Secretary of War, by Commodore Dupont.

Up to this time, the services of colored men in the war had not been recognized; however, soon after Major-General B. F. Butler accepted and acknowledged their services in Louisiana.

It is probably well known that the free colored population of New Orleans, in intelligence, public spirit, and material wealth, surpass those of the same class in any other city of the Union. Many of these gentlemen have been highly educated, have travelled extensively in this and foreign countries, speak and read the French, Spanish, and English languages fluently, and in the Exchange Rooms, or at the Stock Boards, wield an influence at any time fully equal to the same number of white capitalists. Before the war, they represented in that city alone fifteen millions of property, and were heavily taxed to support the schools of the State, but were not allowed to claim the least benefit therefrom.

These gentlemen, representing so much intelligence, culture, and wealth, and who would, notwithstanding the fact that they all have negro blood in their veins, adorn any circle of society in the North, who would be taken upon Broadway for educated and wealthy Cuban planters, rather than free negroes, although many of them have themselves held slaves, have always been loyal to the Union; and, when New Orleans seemed in danger of being recaptured by the rebels under General[Pg 346] Magruder, these colored men rose en masse, closed their offices and stores, armed and organized themselves into six regiments, and for six weeks abandoned their business, and stood ready to fight for the defence of New Orleans, while at the same time not a single white regiment from the original white inhabitants was raised.

[Pg 347]


In 1862 slavery was abolished in the District of Columbia, the honor of which in the main belongs to Henry Wilson, Senator from Massachusetts.

With the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia, commenced a new era at our country’s capital. The representatives of the governments of Hayti and Liberia had both long knocked in vain to be admitted with the representatives of other nations. The slave power had always succeeded in keeping them out. But a change had now come over the dreams of the people, and Congress was but acting up to this new light in passing the bill admitting the representatives of the black republics.

As we have before stated, the slave-trade was still being carried on between the Southern States and Africa. Ships were fitted out in the Northern ports for the purpose of carrying on this infernal traffic. And although it was prohibited by an act of Congress, none had ever been convicted for dealing in slaves. The new order of things was to give these trafficers a trial, and test the power by which they had so long[Pg 348] dealt in the bodies and souls of men whom they had stolen from their native land.

One Nathaniel Gordon was already in prison in New York, and his trial was fast approaching. It came, and he was convicted of piracy in the United States District Court in the city of New York; the piracy consisting in having fitted out a slaver, and shipped nine hundred Africans at Congo River, with a view to selling them as slaves. The same man had been tried for the same offence before; but the jury failed to agree, and he accordingly escaped punishment for the time. Every effort was made which the ingenuity of able lawyers could invent, or the power of money could enforce, to save this miscreant from the gallows; but all in vain; for President Lincoln utterly refused to interfere in any way whatever, and Gordon was executed on the 7th of February.

This blow appeared to give more offence to the commercial Copperheads than even the emancipation of the slaves in the District of Columbia; for it struck an effectual blow at a very lucrative branch of commerce, in which the New Yorkers were largely interested. Thus it will be seen that the nation was steadily moving on to the goal of freedom.

In September, 1862, the colored people of Cincinnati, Ohio, organized the “Black Brigade,” and rendered eminent service in protecting that city from the raids of John Morgan and other brigands.

On the first of January, 1863, President Lincoln put forth his Emancipation Proclamation, as follows:—

“Whereas, On the 22d day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and[Pg 349] sixty-three, a proclamation was issued by the President of the United States, containing, among other things, the following; to wit:

“That, On the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or any designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, henceforward, and forever, free; and the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval force thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any effort they may make for their actual freedom; that the Executive will, on the first day of January aforesaid, by proclamation, designate the States and parts of States, if any, in which the people therein respectively shall then be in rebellion against the United States; and the fact that any State or people thereof shall on that day be in good faith represented in the Congress of the United States by members chosen thereto, at elections wherein a majority of the qualified voters of such States shall have participated, shall, in the absence of strong countervailing testimony, be deemed conclusive evidence that such State and the people thereof are not then in rebellion against the United States.

“Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, by virtue of the power in me vested, as Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States in times of actual rebellion against the authorities and government of the United States, and as a fit and necessary war-measure for suppressing this[Pg 350] rebellion, do on this, the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and in accordance with my purpose so to do, publicly proclaimed for the full period of one hundred days from the date of the first above-mentioned order, designate as the States and parts of States wherein the people thereof, respectively, are this day in rebellion against the United States. The following, to wit:—

“Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia.

“Louisiana (except the parishes of Placquemines, St. Mary, Jefferson, St. John, St. Charles, St. James, Ascension, Assumption, Terre Bonne, Lafourche, St. Bernard, St. Martin, and Orleans, including the city of New Orleans), Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia, except the forty-eight counties designated as West Virginia, and also the counties of Berkley, Accomac, Northampton, Elizabeth City, York, Princess Anne, and Norfolk, including the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth, which excepted parts are for the present left precisely as if this proclamation were not made.

“And by virtue of the power, for the purpose aforesaid, I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States and parts of States are, and henceforward shall be, FREE; and the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons.

“And I hereby enjoin upon the people so declared to be free to abstain from all violence, unless in necessary self-defence; and I recommend to them, that,[Pg 351] in all cases where allowed, they labor faithfully for reasonable wages.

“And I further declare and make known, that such persons, if in suitable condition, will be received into the armed service of the United States, to garrison forts, positions, stations, and other places, and to man vessels of all sorts in said service. And upon this, sincerely believed to be an act of justice warranted by the constitution, and upon military necessity, I invoke the considerate judgment of mankind and the gracious favor of Almighty God.

“In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

“Done at the city of Washington, this first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the independence of the United States of America the eighty-seventh.

(Signed)  Abraham Lincoln.

[Pg 352]


Attorney-General Bates had already given his opinion with regard to the citizenship of the negro, and that opinion was in the black man’s favor. The Emancipation Proclamation was only a prelude to calling on the colored men to take up arms, and the one soon followed the other; for the word “Emancipation” had scarcely gone over the wires, ere Adjutant-General Thomas made his appearance in the valley of the Mississippi. At Lake Providence, Louisiana, he met a large wing of the army, composed of volunteers from all parts of the country, and proclaimed to them the new policy of the administration.

The Northern regiments stationed at the South, or doing duty in that section, had met with so many reverses on the field of battle, and had been so inhumanly treated by the rebels, both men and women, that the new policy announced by Adjutant-General Thomas at Lake Providence and other places, was received with great favor, especially when the white soldiers heard from their immediate commanders that the freedmen when enlisted would be employed in doing fatigue-duty,[Pg 353] when not otherwise needed. The slave, regarding the use of the musket as the only means of securing his freedom permanently, sought the nearest place of enlistment with the greatest speed.

The appointment of men from the ranks of the white regiments over the blacks caused the former to feel still more interest in the new levies. The position taken by Major-General Hunter, in South Carolina, and his favorable reports of the capability of the freedmen for military service, and the promptness with which that distinguished scholar and Christian gentleman, Thomas Wentworth Higginson, accepted the colonelcy of the First South Carolina, made the commanding of negro regiments respectable, and caused a wish on the part of white volunteers to seek commissions over the blacks.

The new regiments filled up rapidly; the recruits adapted themselves to their new condition with a zeal that astonished even their friends; and their proficiency in the handling of arms, with only a few days’ training, set the minds of their officers at rest with regard to their future action.

On the 7th of June, 1863, the first regular battle was fought between the blacks and whites in the valley of the Mississippi. The planters had boasted, that, should they meet their former slaves, a single look from them would cause the negroes to throw down their weapons, and run. Many Northern men, especially Copperheads, professed to believe that such would be the case. Therefore, all eyes were turned to the far-off South, the cotton, sugar, and rice-growing States, to see how the blacks would behave on the field of battle; for it is well known that the most[Pg 354] ignorant of the slave population belonged in that section.

The first intimation that the commanding officer at Milliken’s Bend received was from one of the black men, who went into the colonel’s tent, and said, ‘Massa, the secesh are in camp.’ The colonel ordered him to have the men load their guns at once. He instantly replied,—

“We have done did dat now, massa.” Before the colonel was ready, the men were in line, ready for action.

“The enemy charged us so close that we fought with our bayonets, hand to hand. I have six broken bayonets to show how bravely my men fought,” said the colonel. “I can truly say,” continued he, “that I never saw a braver company of men in my life.

“Not one of them offered to leave his place until ordered to fall back. I went down to the hospital, three miles, to-day, to see the wounded. Nine of them were there, two having died of their wounds. A boy who had cooked for me came and begged a gun when the rebels were advancing, and took his place with the company; and when we retook the breastworks, I found him badly wounded, with one gun-shot and two bayonet wounds. A new recruit I had issued a gun to the day before the fight was found dead, with a firm grasp on his gun, the bayonet of which was broken in three pieces. So they fought and died, defending the cause that we revere. They met death coolly, bravely; not rashly did they expose themselves, but all were steady and obedient to orders.”

This battle satisfied the slave-masters of the South[Pg 355] that their charm was gone; and that the negro, as a slave, was lost forever. Yet there was one fact connected with the battle of Milliken’s Bend which will descend to posterity, as testimony against the humanity of slave-holders; and that is, that no negro was ever found alive that was taken a prisoner by the rebels in this fight.

The next engagement which the blacks had, was up the St. Mary’s River, South Carolina, under the command of Colonel T. W. Higginson. Here, too, the colored men did themselves and their race great credit.

We now come to the battle of Port Hudson, in which the black forces consisted of the First Louisiana, under Lieutenant-Colonel Bassett, and the Third Louisiana, under Colonel Nelson. The line-officers of the Third were white; and the regiment was composed mostly of freedmen, many of whose backs still bore the marks of the lash, and whose brave, stout hearts beat high at the thought that the hour had come when they were to meet their proud and unfeeling oppressors.

The First was the noted regiment called “The Native Guard,” which General Butler found when he entered New Orleans, and which so promptly offered its services to aid in crushing the Rebellion. The line-officers of this regiment were all colored, taken from amongst the most wealthy and influential of the free colored people of New Orleans. It was said that not one of them was worth less than twenty-five thousand dollars. The brave, the enthusiastic, and the patriotic, found full scope for the development of their powers in this regiment, of which all were well educated; some were fine scholars. One of the most efficient officers was Captain André Callioux, a man[Pg 356] whose identity with his race could not be mistaken. This regiment petitioned their commander to allow them to occupy the post of danger in the battle, and it was granted.

As the moment of attack drew near, the greatest suppressed excitement existed; but all were eager for the fight. Captain Callioux walked proudly up and down the line, and smilingly greeted the familiar faces of his company. Officers and privates of the white regiments looked on as they saw these men at the front, and asked each other what they thought would be the result. Would these blacks stand fire? Was not the test by which they were to be tried too severe? Colonel Nelson being called to act as brigadier-general, Lieutenant-Colonel Finnegas took his place. The enemy in his stronghold felt his power, and bade defiance to the expected attack. At last the welcome word was given, and our men started. The enemy opened a blistering fire of shell, canister, grape, and musketry. The first shell thrown by the enemy killed and wounded a number of the blacks; but on they went. “Charge” was the word.

At every pace, the column was thinned by the falling dead and wounded. The blacks closed up steadily as their comrades fell, and advanced within fifty paces of where the rebels were working a masked battery, situated on a bluff where the guns could sweep the whole field over which the troops must charge. This battery was on the left of the charging line. Another battery of three or four guns commanded the front, and six heavy pieces raked the right of the line as it formed, and enfiladed its flank and rear as it charged on the bluff. It was ascertained that a bayou ran[Pg 357] under the bluff where the guns lay,—a bayou deeper than a man could ford. This charge was repulsed with severe loss. Lieutenant-Colonel Finnegas was then ordered to charge, and in a well-dressed, steady line his men went on the double-quick down over the field of death.

No matter how gallantly the men behaved, no matter how bravely they were led, it was not in the course of things that this gallant brigade should take these works by charge. Yet charge after charge was ordered and carried out under all these disasters with Spartan firmness. Six charges in all were made. Colonel Nelson reported to General Dwight the fearful odds he had to contend with. Says General Dwight, in reply, “Tell Colonel Nelson I shall consider that he has accomplished nothing unless he take those guns.” Humanity will never forgive General Dwight for this last order; for he certainly saw that he was only throwing away the lives of his men. But what were his men? “Only niggers.” Thus the last charge was made under the spur of desperation.

The ground was already strewn with the dead and wounded, and many of the brave officers had fallen early in the engagement. Among them was the gallant and highly-cultivated Anselmo. He was a standard-bearer, and hugged the stars and stripes to his heart as he fell forward upon them pierced by five balls. Two corporals near by struggled between themselves as to who should have the honor of again raising those blood-stained emblems to the breeze. Each was eager for the honor; and during the struggle a missile from the enemy wounded one of them,[Pg 358] and the other corporal shouldered the dear old flag in triumph, and bore it through the charge in the front of the advancing lines.

Shells from the rebel guns cut down trees three feet in diameter, and they fell, at one time burying a whole company beneath their branches. Thus they charged bravely on certain destruction, till the ground was slippery with the gore of the slaughtered, and cumbered with the bodies of the maimed. The last charge was made about one o’clock. At this juncture, Captain Callioux was seen with his left arm dangling by his side,—for a ball had broken it above the elbow,—while his right hand held his unsheathed sword gleaming in the rays of the sun; and his hoarse, faint voice was heard cheering on his men. A moment more, and the brave and generous Callioux was struck by a shell, and fell far in advance of his company.

The fall of this officer so exasperated his men, that they appeared to be filled with new enthusiasm; and they rushed forward with a recklessness that probably has never been surpassed. Seeing it to be a hopeless effort, the taking of these batteries, the order was given to change the programme; and the troops were called off. But had they accomplished anything more than the loss of many of their brave men? Yes; they had. The self-forgetfulness, the undaunted heroism, and the great endurance of the Negro, as exhibited that day, created a new chapter in American history for the colored man.

Many Persians were slain at the battle of Thermopylæ; but history records only the fall of Leonidas and his four hundred companions. So in the future, when we shall have passed away from the[Pg 359] stage, and rising generations shall speak of the conflict at Port Hudson, and the celebrated charge of the negro brigade, they will forget all others in the admiration for André Callioux and his colored associates. General Banks, in his report of the battle of Port Hudson, says: “Whatever doubt may have existed heretofore as to the efficiency of organizations of this character, the history of this day proves conclusively to those who were in a condition to observe the conduct of these regiments, that the government will find in this class of troops effective supporters and defenders. The severe test to which they were subjected, and the determined manner in which they encountered the enemy, leaves upon my mind no doubt of their ultimate success.”

The splendid behavior of the blacks in the valley of the Mississippi, was soon equalled by the celebrated Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Regiment, commanded by the lamented Robert G. Shaw.

On the sixteenth of July, the Fifty-fourth Regiment (colored), Colonel R. G. Shaw, was attacked by the enemy, on James Island, in which a fight of two hours’ duration took place, the Rebels largely out-numbering the Union forces. The Fifty-fourth, however, drove the enemy before them in confusion. The loss to our men was fourteen killed and eighteen wounded. During the same day, Colonel Shaw received orders from General Gillmore to evacuate the Island. Preparations began at dusk. The night was dark and stormy, and made the movement both difficult and dangerous. The march was from James Island to Cole Island, across marshes, streams, and dikes, and part of the way upon narrow foot-bridges, along which[Pg 360] it was necessary to proceed in single file. The whole force reached Cole Island the next morning, July 17, and rested during the day on the beach opposite the south end of Folly Island. About ten o’clock in the evening, the colonel of the Fifty-fourth received orders directing him to report, with his command, to General George C. Strong, at Morris Island, to whose brigade the regiment was transferred.

From eleven o’clock of Friday evening until four o’clock of Saturday, they were being put on the transport, the “General Hunter,” in a boat which took about fifty at a time. There they breakfasted on the same fare, and had no other food before entering into the assault on Fort Wagner in the evening.

The General Hunter left Cole Island for Folly Island at six A. M.; and the troops landed at Pawnee Landing about nine and a half A. M., and thence marched to the point opposite Morris Island, reaching there about two o’clock in the afternoon. They were transported in a steamer across the inlet, and at four P. M., began their march for Fort Wagner. They reached Brigadier-General Strong’s quarters, about midway on the Island, about six or six and a half o’clock, where they halted for five minutes.

General Strong expressed a great desire to give them food and stimulants; but it was too late, as they had to lead the charge. They had been without tents during the pelting rains of Thursday and Friday nights. General Strong had been impressed with the high character of the regiment and its officers; and he wished to assign them the post where the most severe work was to be done, and the highest honor was to be won.

[Pg 361]

The march across Folly and Morris Islands was over a sandy road, and was very wearisome. The regiment went through the centre of the Island, and not along the beach, where the marching was easier.

When they had come within six hundred yards of Fort Wagner, they formed in line of battle, the colonel heading the first, and the major the second battalion. This was within musket-shot of the enemy. There was little firing from the enemy; a solid shot falling between the battalions, and another falling to the right, but no musketry. At this point, the regiment, together with the next supporting regiment, the Sixth Connecticut, Ninth Maine, and others, remained half an hour. The regiment was addressed by General Strong and by Colonel Shaw. Then, at seven and a half or seven and three-quarters o’clock, the order for the charge was given. The regiment advanced at quick time, changed to double-quick when at some distance on.

The intervening distance between the place where the line was formed and the fort was run over in a few minutes. When about one hundred yards from the fort, the rebel musketry opened with such terrible effect that for an instant the first battalion hesitated,—but only for an instant; for Colonel Shaw, springing to the front and waving his sword, shouted, “Forward, my brave boys!” and with another cheer and a shout they rushed through the ditch, gained the parapet on the right, and were soon engaged in a hand-to-hand conflict with the enemy. Colonel Shaw was one of the first to scale the walls. He stood erect, to urge forward his men, and while shouting for them to press on was shot dead, and fell into the fort. His body[Pg 362] was found, with twenty of his men lying dead around him; two lying on his own body.

The Fifty-fourth did well and nobly; only the fall of Colonel Shaw prevented them from entering the fort. They moved up as gallantly as any troops could, and with their enthusiasm, they deserved a better fate.

Sergeant-Major Lewis H. Douglass, son of Frederick Douglass, the celebrated orator, sprang upon the parapet close behind Colonel Shaw, and cried out, “Come, boys, come; let’s fight for God and Governor Andrew.” This brave young man was the last to leave the parapet. Before the regiment reached the parapet, the color-sergeant was wounded; and while in the act of falling, the colors were seized by Sergeant William H. Carney, who bore them up, and mounted the parapet, where he, too, received three severe wounds. But on orders being given to retire, the color-bearer, though almost disabled, still held the emblem of liberty in the air, and followed his regiment by the aid of his comrades, and succeeded in reaching the hospital, where he fell exhausted and almost lifeless on the floor, saying, “The old flag never touched the ground, boys.” Captain Lewis F. Emilio, the junior captain,—all of his superiors having been killed or wounded,—took command, and brought the regiment into camp. In this battle, the total loss in officers and men, killed and wounded, was two hundred and sixty-one.

When inquiry was made at Fort Wagner, under flag of truce, for the body of Colonel Shaw of the Massachusetts Fifty-fourth, the answer was, “We have buried him with his niggers!” It is the custom of savages to outrage the dead, and it was only natural[Pg 363] that the natives of South Carolina should attempt to heap insult upon the remains of the brave young soldier; but that wide grave on Morris Island will be to a whole race a holy sepulchre. No more fitting place for burial, no grander obsequies could have been given to him who cried, as he led that splendid charge, “On, my brave boys,” than to give to him and to them one common grave.

Shaw’s Regiment afterwards distinguished itself in the hard-fought battle of Olustee, an engagement that will live in the history of the Rebellion.

The battle of Olustee was fought in a swamp situated thirty-five miles west of Jacksonville, and four miles from Sanderson, in the State of Florida. The expedition was under the immediate command of General C. Seymour, and consisted of the Seventh New Hampshire, Seventh Connecticut, Eighth United States (colored) Battery, Third United States Artillery, Fifty-fourth Massachusetts (colored), and First North Carolina (colored). The command having rested on the night of the 19th of February, 1864, at Barbour’s Ford, on the St. Mary’s River, took up its line of march on the morning of the 20th, and proceeded to Sanderson, nine miles to the west, which was reached at one o’clock, P. M., without interruption; but about three miles beyond, the advance drove in the enemy’s pickets. The Seventh Connecticut, being deployed as skirmishers, fell in with the enemy’s force in the swamp, strengthened still more by rifle-pits. Here they were met by cannon and musketry; but our troops, with their Spencer rifles, played great havoc with the enemy, making an attempt to take one of his pieces of artillery, but failed. However, they[Pg 364] held their ground nobly for three-quarters of an hour, and were just about retiring as the main body of our troops came up.

The Eighth (colored), which had never been in battle, and which had been recruited but a few weeks, came up and filed to the right, when they met with a most terrific shower of musketry and shell. General Seymour now came up, and pointing in front, towards the railroad, said to Colonel Fribley, commander of the Eighth, “Take your regiment in there,”—a place which was sufficiently hot to make the oldest and most field-worn veterans tremble; and yet these men, who had never heard the sound of a cannon before, rushed in where they commenced dropping like grass before the sickle. Still on they went without faltering, until they came within two hundred yards of the enemy’s strongest works. Here these brave men stood for nearly three hours before a terrible fire, closing up as their ranks were thinned out, fire in front, on their flank, and in the rear, without flinching or breaking.

Colonel Fribley, seeing that it was impossible to hold the position, passed along the lines to tell the officers to fire, and fall back gradually, and was shot before he reached the end. He was shot in the chest, told the men to carry him to the rear, and expired in a very few minutes. Major Burritt took command, but was also wounded in a short time. At this time Captain Hamilton’s battery became endangered, and he cried out to our men for God’s sake to save his battery. Our United States flag, after three sergeants had forfeited their lives by bearing it during the fight, was planted on the battery by Lieutenant Elijah Lewis, and the men rallied around it; but the guns had been[Pg 365] jammed up so indiscriminately, and so close to the enemy’s lines, that the gunners were shot down as fast as they made their appearance; and the horses, whilst they were wheeling the pieces into position, shared the same fate. They were compelled to leave the battery, and failed to bring the flag away. The battery fell into the enemy’s hands. During the excitement, Captain Bailey took command, and brought out the regiment in good order. Sergeant Taylor, Company D., who carried the battle-flag, had his right hand nearly shot off, but grasped the colors with the left hand, and brought them out.

The Seventh New Hampshire was posted on both sides of the wagon-road, and broke, but soon rallied, and did good execution. The line was probably one mile long, and all along the fighting was terrific.

Our artillery, where it could be worked, made dreadful havoc on the enemy; whilst the enemy did us but very little injury with his; with the exception of one gun, a sixty-four pound swivel, fixed on a truck-car on the railroad, which fired grape and canister. On the whole, their artillery was very harmless; but their musketry fearful.

Up to this time, neither the First North Carolina nor the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts had taken any part in the fight, as they were in the rear some distance. However, they heard the roar of battle, and were hastening to the field, when they were met by an aide, who came riding up to the colonel of the Fifty-fourth, saying, “For God’s sake, Colonel, double-quick, or the day is lost!” Of all the regiments, every one seemed to look to the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts with the most dependence on the field of battle. This[Pg 366] regiment was under the command of Colonel E. N. Hallowell, who fell wounded by the side of Colonel Shaw, at Fort Wagner, and who, since his recovery, had been in several engagements, in all of which he had shown himself an excellent officer, and had gained the entire confidence of his men, who were willing to follow him wherever he chose to lead. When the aide met these two regiments, he found them hastening on.

The First North Carolina was in light marching order; the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts was in heavy marching order, with knapsacks, haversacks, canteens, and every other appurtenance of the soldier. But off went everything, and they double-quicked on to the field. At the most critical juncture, just as the rebels were preparing for a simultaneous charge along the whole line, and they had captured our artillery and turned it upon us, Colonel James Montgomery, Colonel Hallowell, and Lieutenant-Colonel Hooper formed our line of battle on right by file into line.

The Fifty-fourth Massachusetts went in first, with a cheer. They were followed by the First North Carolina (colored); Lieutenant-Colonel Reed, in command, headed the regiment, sword in hand, and charged upon the rebels. They broke when within twenty yards of contact with our negro troops. Overpowered by numbers, the First North Carolina fell back in good order, and poured in a destructive fire. Their colonel fell, mortally wounded. Major Bogle fell wounded, and two men were killed in trying to reach his body. The Adjutant, William C. Manning, before wounded at Malvern Hills, got a bullet in his body, but persisted in remaining until another shot struck[Pg 367] him. His lieutenant-colonel, learning the fact, embraced him, and implored him to leave the field. The next moment the two friends were stretched side by side; the colonel had received his own death-wound. But the two colored regiments had stood in the gap, and saved the army. The Fifty-fourth Massachusetts, which, with the First North Carolina, may be truly said to have saved the forces from utter rout, lost eighty men.

There were three color-sergeants shot down; the last one was shot three times before he relinquished the flag of his country. His name was Samuel C. Waters, Company C., and his body sleeps where he fell. The battle-flag carried by Sergeant Taylor was borne through the fight with the left hand, after the right one was nearly shot off. The rebels fired into the place where the wounded were being attended to; and their cavalry was about making a charge on it just as the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts appeared on the field, when they retired.

Had Colonel Hallowell not seen at a glance the situation of affairs, the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Volunteers would have been killed or captured. When they entered the field with the First North Carolina, which is a brave regiment, they (the First North Carolina) fired well while they remained; but they gave way, thus exposing the right. On the left, the rebel cavalry were posted; and as the enemy’s left advanced on our right, their cavalry pressed the left. Both flanks were thus being folded up, and slaughter or capture would have been the inevitable result. We fell back in good order, and established new lines of battle, until we reached Sanderson.

[Pg 368]

Here a scene that beggars description was presented. Wounded men lined the railroad station; and the roads were filled with artillery, caissons, ammunition, baggage-wagons, infantry, cavalry, and ambulances. The only organized bodies ready to repel attack were a portion of the Fortieth Massachusetts Mounted Infantry, armed with the Spencer repeating-rifle, the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Volunteers, and the Seventh Connecticut, commanded by Colonel Hawley, now governor of Connecticut.

An occurrence of thrilling interest took place during the battle, which I must not omit to mention. It was this:—

Colonel Hallowell ordered the color-line to be advanced one hundred and fifty paces. Three of the colored corporals, Pease, Palmer, and Glasgow, being wounded, and the accomplished Goodin killed, there were four only left,—Wilkins, the acting sergeant, Helman, and Lenox. The colors were perforated with bullets, and the staff was struck near the grasp of the sergeant; but the color-guard marched steadily out, one hundred and fifty paces to the front, with heads erect and square to the front; and the battalion rallied around it, and fought such a fight as made Colonel Hallowell shout with very joy, and the men themselves to ring out defiant cheers which made the pines and marshes of Ocean Pond echo again.

Although these colored men had never been paid off, and their families at home were in want, they were as obedient, and fought as bravely, as the white troops, whose pockets contained “greenbacks,” and whose wives and children were provided for.

The Fifty-fourth Massachusetts went into the battle[Pg 369] with “Three cheers for Massachusetts, and seven dollars a month.”

It is well known that the general in command came to the colonel and said, “The day is lost; you must do what you can to save the army from destruction.” And nobly did they obey him. They fired their guns till their ammunition was exhausted, and then stood with fixed bayonets till the broken columns had time to retreat, and though once entirely outflanked, the enemy getting sixty yards in their rear, their undaunted front and loud cheering caused the enemy to pause, and allowed them time to change front. They occupied the position as rear guard all the way back to Jacksonville; and wherever was the post of danger, there was the Fifty-fourth to be found.

When the forces arrived at Jacksonville, they there learned that the train containing the wounded was at Ten-Mile Station, where it had been left, owing to the breaking down of the engine. The Fifty-fourth Massachusetts, fatigued and worn out as it was, was despatched at once, late at night, to the assistance of the disabled train. Arriving at Ten-Mile Station, they found that the only way to bring the wounded with them was to attach ropes to the cars, and let the men act as motive power. Thus the whole train of cars containing the wounded from the battle of Olustee was dragged a distance of ten miles by that brave colored regiment.

The battle of Poison Springs, Arkansas, between one thousand Union and eight thousand rebel troops, was one of the most severe conflicts of the war. Six hundred of the Union forces were colored, and from Kansas, some of them having served under old John[Pg 370] Brown during the great struggle in that territory. These black men, as it will be seen, bore the brunt of the fight, and never did men show more determined bravery than was exhibited on this occasion.

Nothing in the history of the Rebellion equalled in inhumanity and atrocity the horrid butchery at Fort Pillow, Kentucky, on the 13th of April, 1864. In no other school than slavery could human beings have been trained to such readiness for cruelties like these. Accustomed to brutality and bestiality all their lives, it was easy for them to perpetrate the atrocities which startled the civilized foreign world, as they awakened the indignation of our own people.

After the rebels were in undisputed possession of the fort, and the survivors had surrendered, they commenced the indiscriminate butchery of all the Federal soldiery. The colored soldiers threw down their guns, and raised their arms, in token of surrender; but not the least attention was paid to it. They continued to shoot down all they found. A number of them, finding no quarter was given, ran over the bluff to the river, and tried to conceal themselves under the bank and in the bushes, where they were pursued by the rebel savages, whom they implored to spare their lives. Their appeals were made in vain; and they were all shot down in cold blood, and, in full sight of the gunboat, chased and shot down like dogs. In passing up the bank of the river, fifty dead might be counted strewed along. One had crawled into a hollow log, and was killed in it; another had got over the bank into the river, and had got on a board that ran out into the water. He lay on it on his face, with his feet in the water. He lay there, when[Pg 371] exposed, stark and stiff. Several had tried to hide in crevices made by the falling bank, and could not be seen without difficulty; but they were singled out, and killed. From the best information to be had, the white soldiers were, to a very considerable extent, treated in the same way.

We now record an account of the battle of Honey Hill, South Carolina, and one of the most famous engagements in which the blacks fought during the war.

Honey Hill is about two and a half miles east of the village of Grahamville, Beaufort District. On the crest of this, where the road or the highway strikes it, is a semicircular line of earthworks, defective, though, in construction, as they are too high for infantry, and have little or no exterior slope. These works formed the centre of the rebel lines; while their left reached up into the pinelands, and their right along a line of fence that skirted the swamp below the batteries. They commanded fully the road in front as it passes through the swamp at the base of the hill, and only some fifty or sixty yards distant. Through the swamp runs a small creek, which spreads up and down the roads for some thirty or forty yards, but is quite shallow the entire distance. Some sixty yards beyond the creek, the main road turns off to the left, making an obtuse angle; while another and smaller road makes off to the right from the same point.

The Union forces consisted of six thousand troops, artillery, cavalry, and infantry, all told, under the command of Major-General J. G. Foster, General John P. Hatch having the immediate command. The First Brigade, under General E. E. Potter, was composed of the Fifty-sixth and One Hundred and Forty-fourth[Pg 372] United States, Twenty-fifth Ohio, and Thirty-fourth and Thirty-fifth United States (colored). The Second Brigade, under Colonel A. S. Hartwell, was composed of the Fifty-fourth and Fifty-fifth Massachusetts, and Twenty-sixth and Thirty-second United States (colored). Colonel E. P. Hallowell, of the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts, had, in spite of his express desire, been left behind in command of Morris and Folly Islands. As at the battle of Olustee, the enemy was met in small numbers some three or four miles from his base. The Union forces approached the fort by the left road, which brought them in front of the enemy’s guns, pointing down the hill, which was also down the road.

The Thirty-second United States colored troops were ordered to charge the rebel fort; had got in position at the head of the road. They attempted, but got stuck in the marsh, which they found impassable at the point of their assault; and a galling fire of grape, canister, and musketry being opened on them, they were forced to retire.

The Thirty-fourth United States colored troops also essayed an assault, but could not get near enough to produce any effect upon it. These regiments, however, only fell back to the line of battle, where they remained throughout the entire fight.

The Fifty-fifth Massachusetts (colored) went into the fight on the right of the brigade, commanded by Colonel Hartwell. The fire became very hot; but still the regiment did not waver, the line merely quivered. Captain Goraud, of General Foster’s staff, whoso gallantry was conspicuous all day, rode up just as Colonel Hartwell was wounded in the hand, and advised him to retire; but the colonel declined.

[Pg 373]

Colonel Hartwell gave the order; the colors came to the extreme front, when the colonel shouted, “Follow your colors!” The bugle sounded the charge, and then the colonel led the way himself.

After an unsuccessful charge in line of battle by the Fifty-fourth and Fifty-fifth Massachusetts, the Fifty-fifth was formed in column by company, and again thrice marched up that narrow causeway in the face of the enemy’s batteries and musketry.

Captain Crane, of the Fifty-fifth Massachusetts, whose company had been left in charge of Fort Delafield, at Folly Island, but who, at his own request, had gone as aide to Colonel Hartwell, was, as well as the colonel, mounted.

Just as they reached the marsh in front of the turn in the road, and within a short distance of the rebel works, the horse of brave Colonel Hartwell, while struggling through the mud, was literally blown in pieces by a discharge of canister.

The colonel was wounded at the same time, and attempted to jump from his horse; but the animal fell on him, pressing him into the mud. At this time, he was riding at the side of the column, and the men pressed on past; but as they neared the fort they met a murderous fire of grape, canister, and bullets at short range. As the numbers of the advance were thinned, the few who survived began to waver, and finally the regiment retreated.

In retiring, Lieutenant Ellsworth, and one man of the Fifty-fifth Massachusetts, came to the rescue of Colonel Hartwell, and in spite of his remonstrance that they should leave him to his fate, and take care of themselves, released him from his horse, and bore[Pg 374] him from the field. But before he was entirely out of range of the enemy’s fire, the colonel was again wounded, and the brave private soldier who was assisting was killed, and another heroic man lost.

The Twenty-fifth Ohio, soon after the commencement of the engagement, were sent to the right, where they swung around, and fought on a line nearly perpendicular to our main front. A portion of the Fifty-fifth Massachusetts were with them. One or two charges were essayed, but were unsuccessful; but the front was maintained there throughout the afternoon. The Twenty-fifth had the largest loss of all the regiments.

The colored troops fought well throughout the day. Counter-charges were made at various times during the fight by the enemy; but our infantry and artillery mowed them down, and they did not at any time get very near our lines. Whenever a charge of our men was repulsed, the rebels would flock out of their works, whooping like Indians; but Ames’s guns and the terrible volleys of our infantry would send them back. The Naval Brigade behaved splendidly.

The Fifty-fourth Massachusetts, heroes of all the hard fights that occurred in the department, were too much scattered in this battle to do full justice to themselves. Only two companies went into the fight at first, under Lieutenant-Colonel Hooper. They were posted on the left. Subsequently they were joined by four more companies, who were left on duty in the rear.

Many scenes transpired in this battle which would furnish rich material for the artist. In the midst of the engagement, a shell exploded amongst the color-guard, [Pg 375]severely wounding the color-sergeant, Ring, who was afterwards killed by a bullet. Private Fitzgerald, of Company D., Massachusetts Fifty-fifth, was badly wounded in the side and leg, but remained at his post. Major Nutt, seeing his condition, ordered him to the rear. The man obeyed; but soon the major saw that he had returned, when he spoke sharply, “Go to the rear, and have your wounds dressed.” The man again obeyed the order; but in a few minutes more was seen by the major, with a handkerchief bound around the leg, and loading and firing. The major said to our informant, “I thought I would let him stay.”

Like the Fifty-fourth at Olustee, the Fifty-fifth was the last regiment to leave the field, and cover the retreat at Honey Hill.

It is only simple justice to the Fifty-fifth Massachusetts Regiment, to say that at Honey Hill it occupied the most perilous position throughout nearly the entire battle.

Three times did these heroic men march up the hill nearly to the batteries, and as many times were swept back by the fearful storm of grape-shot and shell; more than one hundred being cut down in less than half an hour. Great was its loss; and yet it remained in the gap, while our outnumbered army was struggling with the foe on his own soil, and in the stronghold chosen by himself.

What the valiant Fifty-fourth Massachusetts had been at the battle of Olustee, the Fifty-fifth was at Honey Hill.

Never was self-sacrifice, by both officers and men, more apparent than on this occasion; never did men[Pg 376] look death more calmly in the face. See the undaunted and heroic Hartwell at the head of his regiment, and hear him shouting, “Follow your colors, my brave men!” and with drawn sword leading his gallant band. His horse is up to its knees in the heavy mud. The rider, already wounded, is again struck by the fragment of a shell, but keeps his seat; while the spirited animal struggling in the mire, and plunging about, attracts the attention of the braves, who are eagerly pressing forward to meet the enemy, to retake the lost ground, and gain a victory, or at least, save the little army from defeat. A moment more, he is killed; and the brave Hartwell attempts to jump from his charger, but is too weak. The horse falls with fearful struggles upon its rider, and both are buried in the mud. The brave Captain Crane, the Adjutant, is killed, and falls from his horse near his colonel. Lieutenant Boynton, while urging his men, is killed. Lieutenant Hill is wounded, but still keeps his place. Captains Soule and Woodward are both wounded, and yet keep their command. The blood is running freely from the mouth of Lieutenant Jewett; but he does not leave his company. Sergeant-Major Trotter is wounded, but still fights. Sergeant Shorter is wounded in the knee, yet will not go to the rear. A shell tears off the foot of Sergeant-Major Charles L. Mitchel; and as he is carried to the rear, he shouts, with uplifted hand, “Cheer up, boys; we’ll never surrender!” But look away in front: there are the colors, and foremost amongst the bearers is Robert M. King, the young, the handsome, and the gentlemanly sergeant, whose youth and bravery attract the attention of all. Scarcely more than twenty years of age, well[Pg 377] educated, he left a good home in Ohio to follow the fortunes of war, and to give his life to help redeem his race. The enemy train their guns upon the colors, the roar of cannon and crack of rifle is heard, the advanced flag falls, the heroic King is killed; no, he is not dead, but only wounded. A fellow-sergeant seizes the colors; but the bearer will not give them up. He rises, holds the old flag aloft with one hand, and presses the other upon the wound in his side to stop the blood. “Advance the colors!” shouts the commander. The brave King, though saturated with his own blood, is the first to obey the order. As he goes forward, a bullet passes through his heart, and he falls. Another snatches the colors; but they are fast, the grasp of death holds them tight. The hand is at last forced open, the flag is raised to the breeze, and the lifeless body of Robert M. King is borne from the field. This is but a truthful sketch of the part played by one heroic son of Africa, whose death was lamented by all who knew him. This is only one of the two hundred and forty-nine that fell on the field of Honey Hill. With a sad heart we turn away from the picture.

The Sixth Regiment United States colored troops was the second which was organized at Camp William Penn, near Philadelphia, by Lieutenant-Colonel Wagner, of the Eighty-eighth Pennsylvania Volunteers. The regiment left Philadelphia on the 14th of October, 1863, with nearly eight hundred men, and a full complement of officers, a large majority of whom had been in active service in the field.

The regiment reported to Major-General B. F. Butler, at Fortress Monroe, and were assigned to duty[Pg 378] at Yorktown, Virginia, and became part of the brigade (afterwards so favorably known), under the command of Colonel S. A. Duncan, Fourth United States colored troops. Here they labored upon the fortifications, and became thoroughly disciplined under the tuition of their colonel, John W. Ames, formerly captain of the Eleventh Infantry, United States army, ably seconded by Lieutenant-Colonel Royce and Major Kiddoo. During the winter, the regiment took a prominent part in the several raids made in the direction of Richmond, and exhibited qualities that elicited the praise of their officers, and showed that they could be fully relied upon in more dangerous work.

The regiment was ordered to Camp Hamilton, Virginia, in May, 1864, where a division of colored troops was formed, and placed under the command of Brigadier-General Hinks. In the expedition made up the James River the same month, under General Butler, this division took part. The white troops were landed at Bermuda Hundreds. Three regiments of colored men were posted at various points along the river. Duncan’s brigade landed at City Point, where they immediately commenced fortifications. The Sixth and Fourth Regiments were soon after removed to Spring Hill, within five miles of Petersburg. Here they labored night and day upon those earthworks which were soon to be the scene of action which was to become historical. The Sixth was in a short time left alone, by the removal of the Fourth Regiment to another point.

On the 29th of May, the rebel forces made an assault on the picket-line, the enemy soon after attacking in strong force, but were unable to drive[Pg 379] back the picket-line any considerable distance. The Fourth Regiment was ordered to the assistance of the Sixth; but our forces were entirely too weak to make it feasible or prudent to attack the enemy, who withdrew during the night, having accomplished nothing.

This was the first experience of the men under actual fire, and they behaved finely. When the outer works around Petersburg were attacked, June 15, Duncan’s brigade met the rebels, and did good service, driving the enemy before him. We had a number killed and wounded in this engagement. The rebels sought shelter in their main works, which were of the most formidable character. These defences had been erected by the labor of slaves, detailed for the purpose. Our forces followed them to their stronghold. The white troops occupied the right; and in order to attract the attention of the enemy, while these troops were manœuvring for a favorable attacking position, the colored soldiers were subject to a most galling fire for several hours, losing a number of officers and men. Towards night, the fight commenced in earnest by the troops on the right, who quickly cleared their portion of the line; this was followed by the immediate advance of the colored troops, the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Twenty-second Regiments. In a very short time the rebels were driven from the whole line; these regiments capturing seven pieces of artillery, and a number of prisoners. For their gallantry in this action the colored troops received a highly complimentary notice from General W. H. Smith in General Orders.

A few hours after entering the rebel works, our soldiers were gladdened by a sight of the veterans of the Army of the Potomac, who that night relieved our[Pg 380] men at the front. A glance at the strong works gave the new-comers a better opinion of the fighting qualities of the negroes than they had calculated upon; and a good feeling was at once established, that rapidly dispelled most of the prejudices then existing against the blacks; and from that time to the close of the war, the negro soldier stood high with the white troops.

After spending some time at the Bermuda Hundreds, the Sixth Regiment was ordered to Dutch Gap, Virginia, where, on the 16th of August, they assisted in driving the rebels from Signal Hill; General Butler, in person, leading our troops. The Sixth Regiment contributed its share towards completing Butler’s famous canal, during which time they were often very much annoyed by the rebel shells thrown amongst them. The conduct of the men throughout these trying scenes reflected great credit upon them. On the 29th of September, the regiment occupied the advance in the demonstration made by Butler that day upon Richmond. The first line of battle was formed by the Fourth and Sixth Regiments; the latter entered the fight with three hundred and fifteen men, including nineteen officers.

The enemy were driven back from within two miles of Deep Bottom, to their works at New Market Heights; the Sixth was compelled to cross a small creek, and then an open field. They were met by a fearful fire from the rebel works; men fell by scores; still the regiment went forward. The color-bearers, one after another, were killed or wounded, until the entire color-guard were swept from the field. Two hundred and nine men, and fourteen officers, were killed and wounded. Few fields of battle showed[Pg 381] greater slaughter than this; and in no conflict did both officers and men prove themselves more brave. Captains York and Sheldon and Lieutenant Meyer were killed close to the rebel works. Lieutenants Pratt, Landon, and McEvoy subsequently died of the wounds received. Lieutenant Charles Fields, Company A., was killed on the skirmish-line: this left the company in charge of the first sergeant, Richard Carter, of Philadelphia, who kept it in its advanced position through the entire day, commanding with courage and great ability, attracting marked attention for his officer-like bearing. During the battle many instances of unsurpassed bravery were shown by the common soldier, which proved that these heroic men were fighting for the freedom of their race, and the restoration of a Union that should protect man in his liberty without regard to color. No regiment did more towards extinguishing prejudice against the Negro than the patriotic Sixth.

[Pg 382]


The prompt manner in which colored men in the North had enlisted in the army to aid in putting down the Rebellion, and the heroism and loyalty of the slaves of the South in helping to save the Union, so exasperated the disloyal people in the Northern States, that they early began a system of cowardly warfare against the blacks wherever they found them. The mob spirit first manifested itself at a meeting held in Boston, December 3, 1860, to observe the anniversary of the death of John Brown. A combination of North End roughs and Beacon Street aristocrats took possession of the Tremont Temple, the place of holding the meeting, appointed Richard S. Fay as Chairman, and passed a series of resolutions in favor of the slave-holders of the South, and condemnatory of the abolitionists.

This success induced these enemies of free discussion to attempt to break up the meeting of the Twenty-eighth Congregational Society at Music Hall the following Sunday, at which Frederick Douglass was the speaker. Wendell Phillips addressed the same society at the same place, on the 19th following, when the mob[Pg 383] spirit seemed even more violent than on any previous occasion. These events were still fresh in the minds of the haters of negro freedom, when, on the 10th of July, 1863, the great mob commenced in the city of New York.

The mob was composed of the lowest and most degraded of the foreign population (mainly Irish), raked from the filthy cellars and dens of the city, steeped in crimes of the deepest dye, and ready for any act, no matter how dark; together with the worst type of our native criminals, whose long service in the prisons of the country, and whose training in the Democratic party, had so demoralized their natures that they were ever on the hunt for some deed of robbery or murder.

This conglomerated mass of human beings were under the leadership of men standing higher than themselves in the estimation of the public, but, if possible, really lower in moral degradation. Cheered on by men holding high political positions, and finding little or no opposition, they went on at a fearful rate.

Never, in the history of mob-violence, was crime carried to such an extent. Murder, arson, robbery, and cruelty reigned triumphant throughout the city, day and night, for more than a week.

Hundreds of the blacks, driven from their homes, and hunted and chased through the streets, presented themselves at the doors of jails, prisons, police-stations, and begged admission. Thus did these fiends prowl about the city, committing crime after crime; indeed, in point of cruelty, the Rebellion was transferred from the South to the North.

The destruction of the colored Orphan Asylum, after[Pg 384] first robbing the little black children of their clothing, seemed a most heartless transaction.

Nearly forty colored persons were murdered during this reign of terror. Some were hung at lamp-posts, some thrown off the docks, while others, shot, clubbed, and cut to pieces with knives, were seen lying dead in the streets.

Numbers of men and boys amused themselves by cutting pieces of flesh from the dead body of a black man who was suspended from a lamp-post at the corner of Prince Street.

Hundreds of colored men and women had taken shelter in the buildings reached by passing through the “Arch,” on Thompson Street. The mob made several unsuccessful attempts to gain admission to this alley, where, in one of the buildings, was a room about thirty by forty feet square, in the centre of which stood an old-fashioned cook-stove, the top of which seemed filled with boilers, and all steaming away, completely filling the place with a dense fog. Two lamps, with dingy chimneys, and the light from the fire, which shone brightly through the broken doors of the stove, lighted up the room. Eight athletic black women, looking for all the world as if they had just returned from a Virginia corn-field, weary and hungry, stood around the room.

Each of these Amazons was armed with a tin dipper, apparently new, which had no doubt been purchased for the occasion. A woman of exceedingly large proportions—tall, long-armed, with a deep scar down the side of her face, and with a half grin, half smile—was the commander-in-chief of the “hot room.” This woman stood by the stove, dipper in hand, and[Pg 385] occasionally taking the top from the large wash-boiler, which we learned was filled with boiling water, soap, and ashes.

In case of an attack, this boiler was to be the “King of Pain.”

Guided by a friend who had furnished us a disguise, the writer entered the “hot room,” and took a view of its surroundings. As we saw the perspiration streaming down the faces of these women, we ventured a few questions.

“Do you expect an attack?” we asked.

“Dunno, honey; but we’s ready ef dey comes,” was the reply from the aunty near the stove.

“Were you ever in slavery?” we continued.

“Yes; ain’t bin from dar but little while.”

“What State?”

“Bred and born in ole Virginny, down on de Pertomuc.”

“Have you any of your relations in Virginia now?”

“Yes; got six chilens down dar somewhar, an’ two husbuns—all sole to de speclaturs afore I run away.”

“Did you come off alone?”

“No; my las ole man bring me ’way.”

“You don’t mean to be taken back by the slave-catchers, in peace?”

“No; I’ll die fuss.”

“How will you manage if they attempt to come into this room?”

“We’ll all fling hot water on ’em, an’ scall dar very harts out.”

“Can you all throw water without injuring each other?”

“O yes, honey; we’s bin practicin’ all day.” And[Pg 386] here the whole company joined in a hearty laugh, which made the old building ring.

The intense heat drove us from the room. As we descended the steps and passed the guards, we remarked to one of them,—

“The women seem to be prepared for battle.”

“Yes,” he replied; “dem wimmens got de debil in ’em to-night, an’ no mistake. Dey’ll make dat a hot hell in dar fur somebody.”

And here the guards broke forth into a hearty laugh, which was caught up and joined in by the women in the house, which showed very clearly that these blacks felt themselves masters of the situation.

As the mob made their last attempt to gain an entrance to the alley, one of their number, a man bloated with strong drink, and heaping oaths upon the “niggers,” succeeded in getting through, and made his way to the “hot room,” where, it is said, he suddenly disappeared. It was whispered that the washerwomen made soap-grease of his carcass.

The inhabitants of the “Arch” were not again disturbed.

[Pg 387]


Caste is usually found to exist in communities or countries among majorities, and against minorities. The basis of it is owing to some supposed inferiority or degradation attached to the hated ones. However, nothing is more foolish than this prejudice. But the silliest of all caste is that which is founded on color; for those who entertain it have not a single logical reason to offer in its defence.

The fact is, slavery has been the cause of all the prejudice against the negro. Wherever the blacks are ill-treated on account of their color, it is because of their identity with a race that has long worn the chain of slavery. Is there anything in black that should be hated? If so, why do we see so much black in common use as clothing among all classes? Indeed, black is preferred to either white or colors. How often the young man speaks in ecstasies of the black eyes and black hair of his lady-love! Look at the hundreds of advertised hair-dyes, used for the purpose of changing Nature! See men with their gray beards dyed black; women with those beautiful[Pg 388] black locks, which but yesterday were as white as the driven snow! Not only this, but even those with light or red whiskers run to the dye-kettle, steal a color which Nature has refused them, and an hour after curse the negro for a complexion that is not stolen. If black is so hateful, why do not gentlemen have their boots whitewashed? If the slaves of the South had been white, the same prejudice would have existed against them. Look at the “poor white trash,” as the lower class of whites in the Southern States are termed.

The general good conduct of the blacks during the Rebellion, and especially the aid rendered to our Northern men escaping from Southern prisons, has done much to dispel the prejudice so rampant in the free states. The following, from the pen of Junius Henri Browne, the accomplished war correspondent of “The Tribune,” is but a fair sample of what was said for the negro during the great conflict. In his very interesting work, “Four Years in Secessia,” he says:—

“The negro who had guided us to the railway had told us of another of his color to whom we could apply for shelter and food at the terminus of our second stage. We could not find him until nearly dawn; and when we did, he directed us to a large barn filled with corn-husks. Into that we crept with our dripping garments, and lay there for fifteen hours, until we could again venture forth. Floundering about in the husks, we lost our haversacks, pipes, and a hat.

“About nine o’clock we procured a hearty supper from the generous negro, who even gave me his hat,—an appropriate presentation, as one of my companions[Pg 389] remarked, by an ‘intelligent contraband’ to the reliable gentleman of ‘The New York Tribune.’ The negro did picket-duty while we hastily ate our meal, and stood by his blazing fire. The old African and voice and moistened eyes, as we parted from them with grateful hearts. ‘God bless negroes!’ say I, with earnest lips. During our entire captivity, and after our escape, they were ever our firm, brave, unflinching friends. We never made an appeal to them they did not answer. They never hesitated to do us a service at the risk even of life; and under the most trying circumstances, revealed a devotion and a spirit of self-sacrifice that were heroic.

“The magic word ‘Yankee’ opened all their hearts, and elicited the loftiest virtues. They were ignorant, oppressed, enslaved; but they always cherished a simple and beautiful faith in the cause of the Union, and its ultimate triumph, and never abandoned or turned aside from a man who sought food or shelter on his way to freedom.”

The month of May, 1864, saw great progress in the treatment of the colored troops by the government of the United States. The circumstances were more favorable for this change than they had hitherto been. Slavery had been abolished in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Missouri. The heroic assault on Fort Wagner, the unsurpassed bravery exhibited at Port Hudson, the splendid fighting at Olustee and Honey Hill, had raised the colored men in the estimation of the nation. President Lincoln and his advisers had seen their error, and begun to repair the wrong. The year opened with the appointment of[Pg 390] Dr. A. T. Augusta, a colored gentleman, as surgeon of colored volunteers, and he was at once assigned to duty, with the rank of major. Following this, was the appointment, by Governor Andrew, of Massachusetts, of Sergeant Stephen A. Swailes, of Company F., Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Regiment, as second lieutenant.

M. R. Delany, M. D., was soon after appointed a major of negro volunteers, and assigned to duty at Charleston, South Carolina. W. P. Powell, Jr., received an appointment as surgeon, about the same time.

The steamer Planter, since being brought out of Charleston by Robert Small, was under the command of a Yankee, who, being ordered to do service where the vessel would be liable to come under the fire of rebel guns, refused to obey; whereupon Lieutenant-Colonel Elwell, without consultation with any higher authority, issued an order, placing Robert Small in command of the “Planter.”

The acknowledgment of the civil rights of the negro had already been granted, in the admission of John S. Rock, a colored man, to practice law in all the counties within the jurisdiction of the United States. John F. Shorter, who was promoted to a lieutenancy in Company D, Fifty-fifth Massachusetts Regiment, was by trade a carpenter, and was residing in Delaware County, Ohio, when the call was made for colored troops. Severely wounded at the battle of Honey Hill, South Carolina, on the 30th of November, 1864, he still remained with his regiment, hoping to be of service.

At the conclusion of the war, he returned home,[Pg 391] but never recovered from his wound, and died a few days after his arrival. James Monroe Trotter, promoted for gallantry, was wounded at the battle of Honey Hill. He is a native of Grand Gulf, Mississippi; removed to Cincinnati, Ohio; was educated at the Albany (Ohio) Manual Labor University, where he distinguished himself for his scholarly attainments. He afterwards became a school-teacher, which position he filled with satisfaction to the people of Muskingum and Pike Counties, Ohio, and with honor to himself. Enlisting as a private in the Fifty-fifth Massachusetts Regiment, on its organization, he returned with it to Boston as a lieutenant, an office honorably earned.

William H. Dupree, a native of Petersburg, Virginia, was brought up and educated at Chillicothe, Ohio. He enlisted in the Fifty-fifth Massachusetts Regiment, on its formation, as a private, was soon made orderly-sergeant, and afterwards promoted to a lieutenancy for bravery on the field of battle.

Charles L. Mitchel, promoted to a lieutenancy in the Fifty-fifth Massachusetts Regiment for gallantry at the battle of Honey Hill, where he was severely wounded (losing a limb), is a native of Hartford, Connecticut, and son of William A. Mitchel of that city. Lieutenant Mitchel served an apprenticeship to William H. Burleigh, in the office of the old “Charter Oak,” in Hartford, where he became an excellent printer. For five or six years previous to entering the army, he was employed in different printing-offices in Boston, the last of which was “The Liberator,” edited by William Lloyd Garrison, who never speaks of Lieutenant Mitchel but in words of the highest[Pg 392] commendation. General A. S. Hartwell, late colonel of the Fifty-fifth Massachusetts Regiment, makes honorable mention of Lieutenant Mitchel.

In the year 1867, Mr. Mitchel was elected to the Massachusetts Legislature, from Ward Six, in Boston. The appointment of John M. Langston to a position in the Freedman Bureau, showed progress.

However, the selection of E. D. Bassett, as Minister and Consul-General to Hayti, astonished even those who had the most favorable opinion of President Grant, and satisfied the people generally, both colored and white. Since the close of the war, colored men have been appointed to honorable situations in the Custom Houses in the various States, also in the Post Office and Revenue Department.

[Pg 393]


A little more than forty years ago, William Lloyd Garrison hoisted the banner of immediate and unconditional emancipation, as the right of the slave, and the duty of the master. The men and women who gradually rallied around him, fully comprehended the solemn responsibility they were then taking, and seemed prepared to consecrate the best years of their lives to the cause of human freedom. Amid the moral and political darkness which then overshadowed the land, the voice of humanity was at length faintly heard, and soon aroused opposition; for slavery was rooted and engrafted in every fibre of American society. The imprisonment of Mr. Garrison at Baltimore, at once directed public attention to the heinous sin which he was attacking, and called around him some of the purest and best men of the country.

The Boston mob of 1835 gave now impulse to the agitation, and brought fresh aid to the pioneer of the movement. Then came the great battle for freedom of speech and the press; a battle in which the heroism of this small body of proscribed men and women had[Pg 394] ample room to show their genius and abilities. The bold and seeming audacity with which they attacked slavery in every corner where the monster had taken refuge, even in the face of lynchings, riots, and murders, carried with it a charm which wrung applause from the sympathizing heart throughout the world, and showed that the American Abolitionists possessed a persistency and a courage which had never found a parallel in the annals of progress and reform.

In the spring of 1859, we attended a meeting of the Executive Committee of the American Anti-slavery Society, as it was then organized, and we shall write of the members as they appeared at that time. The committee was composed of twelve persons besides the chairman, and were seated around a long table. At the head of the table sat William Lloyd Garrison, the Chairman of the Board, and the acknowledged leader of the movement. His high and prominent forehead, piercing eye, pleasant, yet anxious countenance, long nose, and smile upon his lips, point him out at once as a man born to guide and direct.

The deference with which he is treated by his associates shows their appreciation of his abilities and his moral worth. Tender and blameless in his family affections, devoted to his friends, simple and studious, upright, guileless, distinguished, and worthy, like the great men of antiquity, to be immortalized by another Plutarch. As a speaker, he is forcible, clear, and logical; as a writer, he has always been regarded as one of the ablest in our country. How many services, never to be forgotten, has he not rendered to the cause of the slave and the welfare of mankind.

Many of those who started out with him in young[Pg 395] manhood, when he left his Newburyport home, were swept away like so much floating wood before the tide.

When the sturdiest characters gave way, when the finest geniuses passed one after another under the yoke of slavery, Garrison stood firm to his convictions, like a rock that stands stirless amid the conflicting agitation of the waves. He is not only the friend and advocate of freedom with his pen and tongue, but to the oppressed of every clime he opens his purse, his house, and his heart. In days past, the fugitive slave, fresh from the prison-house of the South, who was turned off by the politician, and had experienced the cold shoulder of the divine, found a warm bed and breakfast under the hospitable roof of William Lloyd Garrison.

The society whose executive committee is now in session, is one of no inconsiderable influence in the United States. No man has had more bitter enemies or stauncher friends than Mr. Garrison.

There are those among his friends who would stake their all upon his veracity and integrity; and we are sure that the colored people throughout America, in whose cause he has so long labored, will with one accord assign the highest niche in their affections to the champion of universal emancipation. This is not intended as an eulogium, for no words of ours could add the weight of a feather to the world-wide fame of William Lloyd Garrison; but we simply wish to record the acknowledgment of a grateful negro to the most distinguished friend of his race.

On the right of the chairman sat Wendell Phillips, America’s ablest orator. He is a little above the middle height, well made, and remarkably graceful in[Pg 396] person. His golden hair is now growing thin and changing its color, and his youthful look has gone; but he shows no yielding to age, and is in the full maturity of his powers. Descended from one of the oldest and most cultivated stock of New England’s sons; educated at the first university; graduating with all the honors which the college could bestow on him; studying law with Judge Story, and becoming a member of the bar; he has all the accomplishments that these advantages can give to a man of a great mind.

Nature has treated Mr. Phillips as a favorite. His expressive countenance paints and reflects every emotion of his soul. His gestures, like his delivery, are wonderfully graceful. There is a fascination in the soft gaze of his eyes, which none can but admire. Being a close student, and endowed by Nature with a retentive memory, he supplies himself with the most complicated dates and historical events. Nothing can surpass the variety of his matter. He extracts from a subject all that it contains, and does it as none but Wendell Phillips can. His voice is beautifully musical, and it is calculated to attract wherever it is heard. He is a man of calm intrepidity, of a patriotic and warm heart, with temper the most gentle, a rectitude of principle entirely natural, a freedom from ambition, and a modesty quite singular.

His speeches upon every subject upon which he has spoken, will compare favorably with anything ever uttered by Pitt or Sheridan in their palmiest days. No American is so eagerly reported in Europe, in what he says on the platform, as Mr. Phillips. His appeal for Cretan independence was circulated in the[Pg 397] language of Demosthenes and Isocrates through Greece and its islands, and reached the ears of the mountaineers of Crete, for whom he spoke.

But it is in the Anti-slavery cause that we love to write of him. As a speaker on that platform, he has never had an equal; and the good he has rendered the slave by his eloquent speeches can never be estimated.

Considering his position in society, his talents and prospects when in youth he entered the ranks of the proscribed and hated Abolitionists, we feel that Mr. Phillips has sacrificed more upon the altar of freedom than any other living man.

On the opposite side of the table from Mr. Phillips, sits Edmund Quincy, the ripe scholar and highly-cultivated gentleman and interesting writer. If he is not so eloquent a speaker as his friend Phillips, he is none the less staunch in his adherence to principle. He is one of the best presiding officers that New England can produce.

A little farther down on the same side is Francis Jackson. His calm Roman face, large features, well-developed head, and robust-looking frame tells you at once that he is a man of courage. He was one of the first to take his stand by the side of Mr. Garrison; and when the mob in 1835 broke up the anti-slavery meeting held by the ladies, Mr. Jackson, with a moral courage scarcely ever equalled, came forward and offered his private dwelling to them to hold their meeting in.

Still farther down on the same side sits Maria Weston Chapman, the well-read and accomplished lady, the head and heart of the Anti-slavery Bazaar. Many[Pg 398] an influential woman has been induced to take part in the Bazaar and Subscription Festival, solely on account of the earnest eloquence and polished magnetism of Mrs. Chapman. By her side sits her gifted little sister, Anne Warren Weston. On the opposite side of the table is Samuel May, Jr., the able and efficient general agent of the Society. To his perseverance, industry, gentlemanly manners, and good sense, the Society owes much of its success. In the earlier days of the movement, Mr. May left the pulpit and a lucrative salary, that he might devote his time to the cause in which his heart had long been engaged. Mr. May is an earnest speaker, and never takes the platform unless he has something to say. He is simple, plain, and one of the best of friends. It was the good fortune of the writer to be associated with him for a number of years; and he never looks back to those days but with the best feeling and most profound respect for the moral character and Christian worth of Samuel May, Jr.

Not far from Mr. May sat Charles F. Hovey, the princely Summer Street merchant, the plain, honest, outspoken man whose heart felt the wrongs of the oppressed as keenly as if he himself had been one of the race. Gathered since to his heavenly rest, he bequeathed a large sum of money to carry on the battle for the negro’s freedom. Farther down the table was Eliza Lee Follen, whose poems in favor of liberty have so often been sung in our anti-slavery conventions. Sydney Howard Gay, the polished writer, the editor of the Society’s organ, occupied a seat next to Mrs. Follen. With small frame, finely-cut features, and pleasant voice, he is ever listened to with marked [Pg 399]attention. Mr. Gay is a gentleman in every sense of the term.

Near the end of the table is William I. Bowditch, the able scholar, the ripe lawyer, the devoted friend of freedom. Lastly, there is Charles K. Whipple, the “C. K. W.,” of “The Liberator,” and the “North,” of the “Anti-slavery Standard.” A stronger executive board for a great moral object probably never existed. They were men and women in whom the public had the utmost confidence, individually, for rectitude of character.

There were also present on this occasion five persons who were not members of the board, but whose long and arduous labors entitled them to a seat around the table. These were Samuel J. May, Lydia Maria Child, James and Lucretia Mott, and Thomas Garrett; and of these we shall now make mention.

Born in Boston, educated in her unsurpassed schools, a graduate of Harvard University, and deeply imbued with the spirit and teachings of the great leader of our salvation, and a philanthropist by nature, Samuel J. May was drawn to the side of Mr. Garrison by the force of sympathy. He was a member of the Philadelphia Convention in 1833, at the formation of the American Anti-slavery Society, and his name is appended to the immortal “Declaration of Sentiments,” penned by Garrison, his life-long friend. When Prudence Crandall was imprisoned at Canterbury, Connecticut, for the crime of teaching colored girls to read, her most attached friend was Samuel J. May. He defended the persecuted woman, and stood by her till she was liberated. Although closely confined to his duties as preacher of the Gospel, Mr. May gave much[Pg 400] of his time to the slaves’ cause. As a speaker, he was always interesting; for his sweet spirit and loving nature won to him the affectionate regard of all with whom he came in contact. As an Abolitionist, none were more true, more fearless. His house was long the home of the fugitive slaves passing through Syracuse, New York, and his church was always open to the anti-slavery lecturer when others were shut against him.

Lydia Maria Child early embraced the cause of the enslaved negro. Her sketches of some of the intellectual characters of the race appeared more than thirty years ago, and created considerable sensation from the boldness with which she advocated the black man’s equality.

James and Lucretia Mott were amongst the first in Pennsylvania to take the stand by the side of Mr. Garrison in defence of negro freedom. They were Abolitionists in every sense of the term, even to their clothing and food, for they were amongst the earliest to encourage the introduction of free-labor goods as a means of breaking up slavery, by reducing the value of the products of the slave’s toil. As a speaker, Mrs. Mott was doubtless the most eloquent woman that America ever produced. A highly-cultivated and reflective mind, thoroughly conversant with the negro’s suffering, hating everything that savored of oppression, whether religiously or politically, and possessing the brain and the courage, Mrs. Mott’s speeches were always listened to with the closest attention and the greatest interest.

Mr. Mott took little or no part in public gatherings; but his suggestions on committees, and his[Pg 401] advice generally, were reliable. He gave of his means liberally, and seconded every movement of his noble wife.

Thomas Garrett was an Abolitionist from his youth up; and though the grand old cause numbered among its supporters, poets, sages, and statesmen, it had no more faithful worker in its ranks than Thomas Garrett. The work of this good man lay in Delaware, one of the meanest states in the Union, and the services which he rendered the free colored people of that State in their efforts to rise above the prejudice exhibited against their race can never be estimated.

But it was as a friend of the bondman escaping from his oppressor that Mr. Garrett was most widely known. For more than forty years he devoted himself to aiding the runaway slave in getting his freedom.

We have written of the executive officers of the most radical wing of the Anti-slavery movement, yet there was still another band whose labors were, if possible, more arduous, and deserve as much praise as any of whom we have made mention.

These were the lecturing agents, the men and women who performed the field service, the most difficult part of all the work. They went from city to city, and from town to town, urging the claims of the slave to his freedom; uttering truths that the people were not prepared for, and receiving in return, rotten eggs, sticks, stones, and the condemnation of the public generally. Many of these laborers neither asked nor received any compensation; some gave their time and paid their own expenses, satisfied with having an opportunity to work for humanity.

In the front rank of this heroic and fearless band,[Pg 402] stood Abby Kelly Foster, the Joan of Arc, of the anti-slavery movement. Born, we believe, in the Society of Friends, and retaining to a great extent the seriousness of early training, convinced of the heinousness of slavery, she threw comfort, ease, and everything aside, and gave herself, in the bloom of young womanhood, to the advocacy of the right of the negro to his freedom. We first met Mrs. Foster (then Miss Kelly), about thirty years ago, at Buffalo, in the State of New York, and for the first time listened to a lecture against the hated system from which we had so recently escaped.

Somewhat above the common height, slim, but well-proportioned, finely-developed forehead and a pleasing countenance, eyes bright, voice clear, gestures a little nervous, and dressed in a plain manner, Mrs. Foster’s appearance on that occasion made a deep and lasting impression upon her audience. The life-like pictures which she drew of the helpless condition of her sisters in chains brought tears to many eyes, and when she demanded that those chains should be broken they responded with wild applause.

As a speaker, Mrs. Foster is logical, forcible; leaping from irony to grave argument. Her illustrations, anecdotes, and figures are always to the point. She is sharp and quick at repartee. In the earlier days of the movement, she was considered very able in discussion. At Buffalo, where we first heard her, she basted one of our ablest lawyers until he acknowledged the fact, amid loud applause. Mrs. Foster was at times harsh, but not harsher than truth. She is uncompromising, and always reliable in a public meeting where discussion on reformatory questions is under [Pg 403]consideration. This lady gave the best years of her useful life to the redemption of the negro from slavery.

We may well give Stephen S. Foster a place by the side of his noble wife. He, too, embraced the cause of the slave at the dawn of the agitation of the subject, and at once became one of its ablest advocates. In downright field-work, as a lecturer, he did more than any other man. Mr. Foster was the most unpopular of all the anti-slavery agents; and simply because he “hewed to the line and the plummet,” not caring in whose face the chips flew. He was always at home in a discussion, and woe betide the person who fell into his hands. His announcement of his subject often startled his hearers, and even his best friends and associates would sometimes feel that he had overstated the question. But he always more than proved what he had said in the outset. In private life he is almost faultless; proverbially honest, trustworthy, and faithful in all his dealings, possessing in the estimation of his neighbors a high moral character.

Parker Pillsbury entered the field as an advocate of freedom about the same time as did Mr. Foster, and battled nobly for the oppressed.

Charles L. Remond was, we believe, the first man of color to take the platform as a regular lecturer in the anti-slavery cause, and was, no doubt, the ablest representative that the race had till the appearance of Frederick Douglass, in 1842. Mr. Remond prided himself more as the representative of the educated free man of color, and often alluded to the fact that “not a drop of slave blood” coursed through his veins. Mr. Remond has little or no originality, but his studied elocutionary powers, and fine flow of language,[Pg 404] together with his being a colored man, always gained for him an attentive hearing. But the genius and originality of Frederick Douglass, and his unadorned eloquence, overshadowed and threw Remond in the shade. This so soured the latter that he never recovered from it, and even at the present time speaks disparagingly of his early friend and associate. However, both of these gentlemen did much to bring about the abolition of American Slavery.

Conspicuous among the advocates of freedom, almost from its earliest dawn to its close, was Charles C. Burleigh, the devoted friend of humanity. Nature has been profuse in showering her gifts upon Mr. Burleigh, but all have been bestowed upon his head and heart. There is a kind of eloquence which weaves its thread around the hearer, and gradually draws him into its web, fascinating him with its gaze, entangling him as the spider does the fly, until he is fast. Such is the eloquence of Charles C. Burleigh. As a debater, he is unquestionably the ablest who took sides with the slave. If he did not speak so fast, he would equal Wendell Phillips; if he did not reason his subject out of existence, he would surpass him. Cyrus M. Burleigh also did good service in the anti-slavery cause, both as a lecturer and editor of “The Pennsylvania Freeman.”

If Lucy Stone did not come into the field as early as some of whom we have made mention, she brought with her when she did an earnestness and enthusiasm that gave her an attentive audience wherever she spoke. Under the middle size, hair generally cut short, round face, eyes sparkling, not handsome, yet good to look upon, always plainly dressed, not a single[Pg 405] dollar for diamonds, but a heart gushing for humanity, Lucy Stone at once became one of the most popular of the anti-slavery speakers. Her arguments are forcible, her appeals pathetic, her language plain, and at times classical. She is ready in debate, fertile in illustration, eloquent in enunciation, and moves a congregation as few can.

For real, earnest labor, as a leader of a corps of agents in a reformatory movement, Susan B. Anthony has few equals. As a speaker, she is full of facts and illustrations, and at times truly eloquent. Susan is always reliable; and if any of her travelling companions are colored, her hawk-eye is ever on the watch to see that their rights are not invaded on the score of their complexion. The writer’s dark skin thoroughly tested Miss Anthony’s grit some years ago at Cleveland, Ohio; but when weighed, she was not found wanting. On that occasion she found an efficient backer in our able and eloquent friend, Aaron M. Powell. These two, backed by the strong voice and earnest words of Andrew T. Foss, brought the hotelkeeper to his senses; and the writer was allowed to go to the dinner-table, and eat with white folks. Mr. Powell has for some years been the sole editor of the “Anti-Slavery Standard,” and as editor and speaker has rendered a lasting service to the cause of negro freedom. Andrew T. Foss left his pulpit some twenty years ago, to devote his entire time to the discussion of the principles of liberty, where his labors were highly appreciated.

Sallie Hollie filled an important niche on the anti-slavery platform. Her Orthodox antecedents, her scriptural knowledge, her prayerful and eloquent [Pg 406]appeals obtained for her admission into churches when many others were refused; yet she was as uncompromising as truth.

Oliver Johnson gave his young manhood to the negro’s cause when to be an Abolitionist cost more than words. He was, in the earlier days of the movement, one of the hardest workers; both as a lecturer and writer, that the cause had. Mr. Johnson is a cogent reasoner, a deep thinker, a ready debater, an accomplished writer, and an eloquent speaker. He has at times edited the “Herald of Freedom,” “Anti-Slavery Standard,” and “Anti-Slavery Bugle;” and has at all times been one of the most uncompromising and reliable of the “Old Guard.”

Henry C. Wright was also among the early adherents to the doctrine of universal and immediate emancipation, and gave the cause the best years of his life.

Giles B. Stebbins, a ripe scholar, an acute thinker, earnest and able as a speaker, devoted to what he conceives to be right, was for years one of the most untiring of freedom’s advocates.

Of those who occasionally volunteered their services without money and without price, few struck harder blows at the old Bastile of slavery than James N. Buffum, a man of the people, whose abilities have been appreciated and acknowledged by his election as mayor of his own city of Lynn.

James Miller McKim was one of the signers of the Declaration of Sentiments, at Philadelphia, in 1833, and ever after gave his heart and his labors to the slave’s cause. For many years the leading man in the Anti-slavery Society in Pennsylvania, Mr. McKim’s labors were arduous, yet he never swerved[Pg 407] from duty. He is a scholar, well read, and is a good speaker, only a little nervous. His round face indicates perseverance that will not falter, and integrity that will not disappoint. He always enjoyed the confidence of the Abolitionists throughout the country, and is regarded as a man of high moral character. Of the underground railroad through Pennsylvania, Mr. McKim knows more than any man except William Still.

Mary Grew, for her earnest labors, untiring activity, and truly eloquent speeches, was listened to with great interest and attention wherever she spoke. A more zealous and able friend the slave never had in Pennsylvania.

Lucretia Mott, the most eloquent woman that America ever produced, was a life-long Abolitionist, of the straightest kind. For years her clothing, food, and even the paper that she wrote her letters on, were the products of free labor. Thirty years ago we saw Mrs. Mott take from her pocket a little paper bag filled with sugar, and sweeten her tea. We then learned that it was her practice so to do when travelling, to be sure of having free sugar.

A phrenologist would pronounce her head faultless. She has a thoughtful countenance, eyes beaming with intelligence, and a voice of much compass. Mrs. Mott speaks hesitatingly at times, when she begins her remarks, and then words flow easily, and every word has a thought. She was always a favorite with the Abolitionists, and a welcome speaker at their anniversary meetings.

This was the radical wing of the Abolitionists,—men and women who believed mainly in moral [Pg 408]suasion. Outside of these were many others who were equally sincere, and were laboring with all their powers to bring about emancipation, and to some of them I shall now call attention.

Some thirty years ago we met for the first time a gentleman of noble personal appearance, being about six feet in height, well-proportioned; forehead high and broad; large dark eyes, full of expression; hair brown, and a little tinged with gray. The fascination of his smiling gaze, and the hearty shake of his large, soft hand, made us feel at home when we were introduced to Gerrit Smith. His comprehensive and well-cultivated mind, his dignified and deliberate manner and musical voice fit him for what he is,—one of Nature’s noblest orators. Speaking is not the finest trait in the character of Mr. Smith, but his great, large heart, every pulsation of which beats for humanity. He brought to the negro’s cause wealth and position, and laid it all upon the altar of his redemption. In the year 1846 he gave three thousand farms to the same number of colored men; and three years later he gave a farm each to one thousand white men, with ten thousand dollars to be divided amongst them.

Mr. Smith has spent in various ways many hundred thousand dollars for the liberation and elevation of the blacks of this country. Next to Mr. Smith, in the State of New York, is Beriah Greene, whose long devotion to the cause of freedom is known throughout our land. Many of the colored men whose career have done honor to the race, owe their education to Mr. Greene. He is the most radical churchman we know of, always right on the question of slavery. He did[Pg 409] much in the early days of the agitation, and his speeches were considered amongst the finest productions on the anti-slavery platform.

The old Abolitionists of thirty years ago still remember with pleasure the smiling face and intellectual countenance of Nathaniel P. Rogers, editor of the “Herald of Freedom,” a weekly newspaper that found a welcome wherever it went. Mr. Rogers was a man of rare gifts, of a philosophical and penetrating mind, high literary cultivation, quick perception, and of a most genial nature. He dealt hard blows at the peculiar institution with both his tongue and his pen. As a speaker, he was more argumentative than eloquent, but was always good in a discussion. As an ardent friend of Mr. Garrison, and a co-worker with him, Mr. Rogers should have been named with the moral suasionists.

William Goodell, a prolific writer, a deep thinker, a man of great industry, and whose large eyes indicate immense language, has labored long and faithfully for justice and humanity.

John P. Hale was the first man to make a successful stand in Congress, and he did his work nobly. His free-and-easy manner, his Falstaffian fun, and Cromwellian courage, were always too much for Foote and his Southern associates in the Senate, and in every contest for freedom the New Hampshire Senator came off victorious. Mr. Hale is a large, fat, social man, fine head, pleasing countenance, possessing much pungent wit, irony, and sarcasm; able and eloquent in debate, and has always been a true friend of negro freedom and elevation.

Charles Sumner had made his mark in favor of [Pg 410]humanity, and especially in behalf of the colored race, long before the doors of the United States Senate opened to admit him as a member. In the year 1846, he refused to lecture before a New Bedford lyceum, because colored citizens were not allowed to occupy seats in common with the whites. His lectures and speeches all had the ring of the right metal. His career in Congress has been one of unsurpassed brilliancy. His oratorical efforts in the capital of the nation equal anything ever reported from the forums of Rome or Athens. Whatever is designed to promote the welfare and happiness of the human race, Mr. Sumner has the courage to advocate and defend to the last.

In firmness, he may be said to be without a rival on the floor of the Senate, and has at times appeared a little dogged. However, his foresight and sagacity show that he is generally in the right. Mr. Sumner’s efforts in favor of reform have been ably seconded in Congress by his colleague and friend, Henry Wilson, a man of the people, and from the people. Without great educational attainments, modest in his manners, never assuming aristocratic airs, plain, blunt, yet gentlemanly, Mr. Wilson has always carried with him a tremendous influence; and his speeches exhibit great research and much practical common sense. He is a hard worker, and in that kind of industry which is needed on committees, he is doubtless unequalled. As an old-time Whig, a Free-soiler, and a Republican, Mr. Wilson has always been an Abolitionist of the most radical stripe; and in Congress, has done as much for negro emancipation, and the elevation of the blacks, as any living man.

[Pg 411]

Foremost in his own State, as well as in Congress, for many years, was that good old man, Thaddeus Stevens, an earnest friend of the poor man, whether white or black. Strong in the consciousness of being right, he never shrank from any encounter, and nobody said more in fewer words, or gave to language a sharper bite, than he. On the question of slavery, Mr. Stevens was uncompromisingly the negro’s friend and faithful advocate.

Joshua R. Giddings, next to John Quincy Adams, was the first man, we believe, that really stirred up the House of Representatives in behalf of the slave. Mr. Giddings was a man without fear, entirely devoted to the welfare of mankind; not an orator, in the accepted sense of the term, but an able debater; ready in facts and illustrations, and always to be relied upon when the Southerners attempted to encroach upon freedom. Mr. Giddings never denied, even in the earlier days of the agitation, that he was an Abolitionist.

George W. Julian, of Indiana, entered the halls of Congress as an enemy of negro slavery, and, up to the present time, stands firm to his early convictions.

Thomas Russell began life as a friend of negro emancipation, and wherever his eloquent voice was heard, it gave no uncertain sound on the subject of freedom. The Judge is a special favorite of the colored men of Boston, and richly deserves it; for, as a Collector of Customs, he has given employment to a large number of the proscribed class.

Charles W. Slack, the talented editor of “The Commonwealth,”—the outspoken friend of liberty, whose gentlemanly deportment, polished manners, and sympathetic heart extend to the negro the same cordial[Pg 412] welcome in his office that he gives to the white man,—is an old-time Abolitionist. The colored clerk in his Revenue department is prima facie evidence that he has no prejudice against the negro. Both as a speaker and a writer, Mr. Slack did the cause of the slave great service, when it cost something to be a friend to the race.

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The close of the Rebellion opened to the negro a new era in his history. The chains of slavery had been severed; and although he had not been clothed with all the powers of the citizen, the black man was, nevertheless, sure of all his rights being granted, for revolutions seldom go backward. With the beginning of the work of reconstruction, the right of the negro to the ballot came legitimately before the country, and brought with it all the virus of negro hate that could be thought of. President Andrew Johnson threw the weight of his official influence into the scales against the newly-liberated people, which for a time cast a dark shadow over the cause of justice and freedom. Congress, however, by its Constitutional amendments, settled the question, and clothed the blacks with the powers of citizenship; and with their white fellow-citizens they entered the reconstruction conventions, and commenced the work of bringing their states back into the Union. This was a trying position for the recently enfranchised blacks; for slavery had bequeathed to them nothing but poverty, ignorance, and[Pg 414] dependence upon their former owners for employment and the means of sustaining themselves and their families. The transition through which they passed during the war, had imparted to some a smattering of education; and this, with the natural aptitude of the negro for acquiring, made the colored men appear to advantage in whatever position they were called to take part.

The speeches delivered by some of these men in the conventions and state legislatures exhibit a depth of thought, flights of eloquence, and civilized statesmanship, that throw their former masters far in the background.

In the work of reconstruction, the colored men had the advantage of being honest and sincere in what they undertook, and labored industriously for the good of the country.

The riots in various Southern states, following the enfranchising of the men of color, attest the deep-rooted prejudice existing with the men who once so misruled the rebellious states. In Georgia, Tennessee, and Louisiana, these outbursts of ill feeling caused the loss of many lives, and the destruction of much property. No true Union man, white or black, was safe. The Constitutional amendment, which gave the ballot to the black men of the North in common with their brethren of the South, aroused the old pro-slavery feeling in the free states, which made it scarcely safe for the newly enfranchised to venture to the polls on the day of election in some of the Northern cities. The cry that this was a “white man’s government,” was raised from one end of the country to the other by the Democratic press, and the Taney theory that “black[Pg 415] men had no rights that white men were bound to respect,” was revived, with all its negro hate.

Military occupation of the South was all that saved the freedmen from destruction. Under it, they were able to take part in the various Constitutional and Legislative elections, and to hold seats in those bodies. As South Carolina had been the most conspicuous in the Rebellion, so she was the first to return to the Union, and to recognize the political equality of the race whom in former days she had bought and sold. Her Senate hall, designed to echo the eloquence of the Calhouns, the McDuffies, the Hammonds, the Hamptons, and the Rhetts, has since resounded with the speeches of men who were once her bond slaves. Ransier, the negro, now fills the chair of President of the Senate, where once sat the proud and haughty Calhoun; while Nash, the tall, gaunt, full-blooded negro, speaks in the plantation dialect from the desk in which Wade Hampton in former days stood. The State is represented in Congress by Elliott, Rainey, and De Large. South Carolina submitted quietly to her destiny.

Not so, however, with Georgia. At the election in November, 1867, for members to the State Convention, thirty thousand white and eighty thousand colored votes were polled, and a number of colored delegates elected. A Constitution was framed and ratified, and a Legislature elected under it was convened. After all this, supposing they had passed beyond Congressional control, the Rebel element in the Legislature asserted itself; and many of those whose disabilities had been removed by the State Convention, which comprised a number of colored members, joined[Pg 416] in the declaration which was made by that Legislature, that a man having more than one-eighth of African blood in his veins was ineligible to office.

These very men to whom the Republican party extended all the rights and privileges of citizenship, of which they had deprived themselves, denied political equality to a large majority of their fellow-citizens. Twenty-eight members were expelled on December 22, 1869; an Act of Congress was passed requiring the re-assembling of the persons declared elected by the military commander, the restoration of the expelled members, and the rejection of others, who were disqualified.

The expulsion of the ex-rebels from the Georgia Legislature, and the admission of the loyal colored men, whose seats had been forcibly taken from them, had a good effect upon all the Southern States, for it showed that the national administration was determined that justice should be done.

The prompt admission of Hiram R. Revels to a seat in the United States Senate from Mississippi, showed that progress was the watch-word of the Republican party. The appointments of E. D. Bassett as Minister to Hayti, and J. Milton Turner as Consul-General to Liberia, set at rest all doubt with regard to the views of President Grant, and the negro’s political equality.

In 1869, colored men, for the first time in the history of the District of Columbia, were drawn as jurors, and served with white men. This was the crowning event of that glorious emancipation which began at the capital, and radiated throughout the length and breadth of the nation. Since then, one by one, distinguishing lines have been erased, and now the black man is[Pg 417] deemed worthy to participate in all the privileges of an American citizen.

The election of Oscar J. Dunn as Lieutenant-Governor of Louisiana, was a triumph which gladdened the hearts of his race from Maine to California. Alabama sent B. S. Turner to Congress; Florida, J. T. Walls, while colored men entered the Legislative halls of several states not named in this connection.

The National Republican Convention, held at Philadelphia in June, 1872, received as delegates a number of colored men, and for the first time in the history of Presidential conventions, the negro’s voice was heard and applauded.

Education is what we now need, and education we must have, at all hazards. Wilberforce and Avery Colleges, and Lincoln University, have all done good service. Howard University, Lincoln Institute, Hampton Manual Labor School, and Fisk University, are harbingers of light to our people. But we need an educated ministry; and until we have it, the masses will grope in darkness. The cause of Temperance, that John the Baptist of reforms, must be introduced into every community, and every other method resorted to by the whites for their elevation should be used by the colored men.

Our young men must be encouraged to enter the various professions, and to become mechanics, and thereby lay the foundation for future usefulness.

An ignorant man will trust to luck for success; an educated man will make success. God helps those who help themselves.

[Pg 418]


In our Sketches of Representative Men and Women, some will be found to have scarcely more than a local reputation; but they are persons who have contributed, of their ability, towards the Freedom of the Race, and should not be forgotten. Others bid fair to become distinguished in the future. We commence with our first hero:—


The principle that taxation and representation were inseparable was in accordance with the theory, the genius, and the precedents of British legislation; and this principle was now, for the first time, intentionally invaded. The American colonies were not represented in Parliament; yet an act was passed by that body, the tendency of which was to invalidate all right and title to their property. This was the “Stamp Act,” of March 23, 1765, which ordained that no sale, bond, note of hand, nor other instrument of writing, should be valid, unless executed on paper bearing the stamp prescribed by the home government. The[Pg 419] intelligence of the passage of the stamp act at once roused the indignation of the liberty-loving portion of the people of the colonies, and meetings were held at various points to protest against this high-handed measure.

Massachusetts was the first to take a stand in opposition to the mother country. The merchants and traders of Boston, New York, and Philadelphia entered into non-importation agreements, with a view of obtaining a repeal of the obnoxious law. Under the pressure of public sentiment, the stamp act officers gave in their resignations. The eloquence of William Pitt and the sagacity of Lord Camden brought about a repeal of the stamp act in the British Parliament. A new ministry, in 1767, succeeded in getting through the House of Commons a bill to tax the tea imported into the American colonies, and it received the royal assent. Massachusetts again took the lead in opposing the execution of this last act, and Boston began planning to take the most conspicuous part in the great drama. The agitation in the colonies provoked the home government, and power was given to the governor of Massachusetts to take notice of all persons who might offer any treasonable objections to these oppressive enactments, that the same might be sent home to England to be tried there. Lord North was now at the head of affairs, and no leniency was to be shown to the colonies. The concentration of British troops in large numbers at Boston convinced the people that their liberties were at stake, and they began to rally.

A crowded and enthusiastic meeting, held in Boston, in the latter part of the year 1769, was addressed by[Pg 420] the ablest talent that the progressive element could produce. Standing in the back part of the hall, eagerly listening to the speakers, was a dark mulatto man, very tall, rather good-looking, and apparently, about fifty years of age. This was Crispus Attucks. Though taking no part in the meeting, he was nevertheless destined to be conspicuous in the first struggle in throwing off the British yoke. Twenty years previous to this, Attucks was the slave of William Brouno, Esq., of Framingham, Massachusetts; but his was a heart beating for freedom, and not to be kept in the chains of mental or bodily servitude.

From the “Boston Gazette” of Tuesday, November 20, 1750, I copy the following advertisement:—

“Ran away from his master William Brouno Framingham, on the 30th of Sept., last, a Molatto Fellow, about 27 years of Age named Crispus, well set, six feet 2 inches high, short curl’d Hair, knees nearer together than common; had on a light coloured Bearskin Coat, brown Fustian jacket, new Buckskin Breeches, blew yarn Stockins and Checkered Shirt. Whoever shall take up said Runaway, and convey him to his above said Master at Framingham, shall have Ten Pounds, old Tenor Reward and all necessary charges paid.”

The above is a verbatim et literatim advertisement for a runaway slave one hundred and twenty-two years ago. Whether Mr. Brouno succeeded in recapturing Crispus or not, we are left in the dark.

Ill-feeling between the mother country and her colonial subjects had been gaining ground, while British[Pg 421] troops were concentrating at Boston. On the 5th of March, 1770, the people were seen early congregating at the corners of the principal streets, at Dock Square, and near the Custom House. Captain Preston, with a body of redcoats, started out for the purpose of keeping order in the disaffected town, and was hissed at by the crowds in nearly every place where he appeared. The day passed off without any outward manifestation of disturbance, but all seemed to feel that something would take place after nightfall. The doubling of the guard in and about the Custom House showed the authorities felt an insecurity that they did not care to express. The lamps in Dock Square threw their light in the angry faces of a large crowd who appeared to be waiting for the crisis, in whatever form it should come. A part of Captain Preston’s company was making its way from the Custom House, when they were met by the crowd from Dock Square, headed by the black man Attucks, who was urging them to meet the redcoats, and drive them from the streets. “These rebels have no business here,” said he; “let’s drive them away.” The people became enthusiastic, their brave leader grew more daring in his language and attitude, while the soldiers under Captain Preston appeared to give way. “Come on! don’t be afraid!” cried Attucks. “They dare not shoot; and, if they dare, let them do it.”

Stones and sticks, with which the populace were armed, were freely used, to the great discomfiture of the English soldiers. “Don’t hesitate! come on! We’ll drive these rebels out of Boston!” were the last words heard from the lips of the colored man, for the sharp crack of muskets silenced his voice, and[Pg 422] he fell weltering in his blood. Two balls had pierced his sable breast. Thus died Crispus Attucks, the first martyr to American liberty, and the inaugurator of the revolution that was destined to take from the crown of George the Third its brightest star. An immense concourse of citizens followed the remains of the hero to its last resting-place, and his name was honorably mentioned in the best circles. The last words, the daring, and the death of Attucks gave spirit and enthusiasm to the revolution, and his heroism was imitated by both whites and blacks. His name was a rallying cry for the brave colored men who fought at the battle of Bunker’s Hill. In the gallant defence of Redbank, where four hundred blacks met and defeated fifteen hundred Hessians, headed by Count Donop, the thought of Attucks filled them with ardor. When Colonel Green fell at Groton, surrounded by his black troops who perished with him, they went into the battle feeling proud of the opportunity of imitating the first martyr of the American revolution.

No monument has yet been erected to him. An effort was made in the legislature of Massachusetts a few years since, but without success. Five generations of accumulated prejudice against the negro had excluded from the American mind all inclination to do justice to one of her bravest sons. Now that slavery is abolished, we may hope, in future years, to see a monument raised to commemorate the heroism of Crispus Attucks.

[Pg 423]


In the year 1761, when Boston had her slave market, and the descendants of the Pilgrims appeared to be the most pious and God-fearing people in the world, Mrs. John Wheatley went into the market one day, for the purpose of selecting and purchasing a girl for her own use. Among the group of children just imported from the African coast was a delicately-built, rather good-looking child of seven or eight years, apparently suffering from the recent sea-voyage and change of climate. Mrs. Wheatley’s heart was touched at the interesting countenance and humble modesty of this little stranger. The lady bought the child, and she was named Phillis. Struck with the slave’s uncommon brightness, the mistress determined to teach her to read, which she did with no difficulty. The child soon mastered the English language, with which she was totally unacquainted when she landed upon the American shores.

Her school lessons were all perfect, and she drank in the Scriptural teachings as if by intuition. At the age of twelve, she could write letters and keep up a correspondence that would have done honor to one double her years. Mrs. Wheatley, seeing her superior genius, no longer regarded Phillis as a servant, but took her as a companion. It was not surprising that the slave-girl should be an object of attraction, astonishment, and attention with the refined and highly-cultivated society that weekly assembled in the drawing-room of the Wheatleys.

As Phillis grew up to womanhood, her progress and[Pg 424] attainments kept pace with the promise of her earlier years. She drew around her the best educated of the white ladies, and attracted the attention and notice of the literary characters of Boston, who supplied her with books, and encouraged the ripening of her intellectual powers. She studied the Latin tongue, and translated one of Ovid’s tales, which was no sooner put in print in America, than it was republished in London, with elegant commendations from the reviews.

In 1773, a small volume of her poems, containing thirty-nine pieces, was published in London, and dedicated to the Countess of Huntingdon. The genuineness of this work was established in the first page of the volume, by a document signed by the governor of Massachusetts, the lieutenant-governor, her master, and fifteen of the most respectable and influential citizens of Boston, who were acquainted with her talents and the circumstances of her life. Her constitution being naturally fragile, she was advised by her physician to take a sea voyage, as the means of restoring her declining health.

Phillis was emancipated by her master at the age of twenty-one years, and sailed for England. On her arrival, she was received and admired in the first circles of London society; and it was at that time that her poems were collected and published in a volume, with a portrait and a memoir of the authoress. Phillis returned to America, and married Dr. Peters, a man of her own color, and of considerable talents. Her health began rapidly to decline, and she died at the age of twenty-six years, in 1780. Fortunately rescued from the fate that awaits the victims of the slave-trade, this injured daughter of Africa had an[Pg 425] opportunity of developing the genius that God had given her, and of showing to the world the great wrong done to her race.

Although her writings are not free from imperfections of style and sentiment, her verses are full of philosophy, beauty, and sublimity. It cost her no effort to round a period handsomely, or polish a sentence until it became transparent with splendor. She was easy, forcible, and eloquent in language, and needed but health and a few more years of experience to have made her a poet of greater note.


The services rendered to science, to liberty, and to the intellectual character of the negro by Banneker, are too great for us to allow his name to sleep, and his genius and merits to remain hidden from the world.

Benjamin Banneker was born in the State of Maryland, in the year 1732, of pure African parentage; their blood never having been corrupted by the introduction of a drop of Anglo-Saxon. His father was a slave, and of course could do nothing towards the education of the child. The mother, however, being free, succeeded in purchasing the freedom of her husband, and they, with their son, settled on a few acres of land, where Benjamin remained during the lifetime of his parents.

His entire schooling was gained from an obscure country school, established for the education of the[Pg 426] children of free negroes; and these advantages were poor, for the boy appears to have finished studying before he arrived at his fifteenth year. Although out of school, Banneker was still a student, and read with great care and attention such books as he could get. Mr. George Ellicott, a gentleman of fortune and considerable literary taste, and who resided near to Benjamin, became interested in him, and lent him books from his large library. Among these books were Mayer’s Tables, Fergusson’s Astronomy, and Leadbeater’s Lunar Tables. A few old and imperfect astronomical instruments also found their way into the boy’s hands, all of which he used with great benefit to his own mind.

Banneker took delight in the study of the languages, and soon mastered the Latin, Greek, and German. He was also proficient in the French. The classics were not neglected by him, and the general literary knowledge which he possessed caused Mr. Ellicott to regard him as the most learned man in the town, and he never failed to introduce Banneker to his most distinguished guests.

About this time, Benjamin turned his attention particularly to Astronomy, and determined on making calculations for an almanac, and completed a set for the whole year. Encouraged by this attempt, he entered upon calculations for subsequent years, which, as well as the former, he began and finished without the least assistance from any person or books than those already mentioned; so that whatever merit is attached to his performance is exclusively his own.

He published an almanac in Philadelphia for the years 1792-3-4-5, and which contained his [Pg 427]calculations, exhibiting the different aspects of the planets, a table of the motions of the sun and moon, their risings and settings, and the courses of the bodies of the planetary system.

By this time, Banneker’s acquirements had become generally known, and the best scholars in the country opened correspondence with him. Goddard & Angell, the well-known Baltimore publishers, engaged his pen for their establishment, and became the publishers of his almanacs. A copy of his first production was sent to Thomas Jefferson, together with a letter intended to interest the great statesman in the cause of negro emancipation and the elevation of the negro race, in which he says:—

“It is a truth too well attested to need a proof here, that we are a race of beings who have long labored under the abuse and censure of the world; that we have long been looked upon with an eye of contempt, and considered rather as brutish than human, and scarcely capable of mental endowments. I hope I may safely admit, in consequence of the report which has reached me, that you are a man far less inflexible in sentiments of this nature than many others; that you are measurably friendly and well disposed towards us, and that you are willing to lend your aid and assistance for our relief from those many distresses and numerous calamities to which we are reduced.

“If this is founded in truth, I apprehend you will embrace every opportunity to eradicate that train of absurd and false ideas and opinions which so generally prevail with respect to us, and that your sentiments are concurrent with mine,—which are, that one universal Father hath given being to us all; that he hath not[Pg 428] only made us all of one flesh, but that he hath also, without partiality, afforded us all the same sensations, and endowed us all with the same faculties; and that, however variable we may be in society or religion, however diversified in situation or in color, we are all of the same family, and stand in the same relation to him. If these are sentiments of which you are fully persuaded, you cannot but acknowledge that it is the indispensable duty of those who maintain the rights of human nature, and who profess the obligations of Christianity, to extend their power and influence to the relief of every part of the human race from whatever burden or oppression they may unjustly labor under; and this, I apprehend a full conviction of the truth and obligation of these principles should lead all to.

“I have long been convinced that if your love for yourselves, and for those inestimable laws which preserved to you the rights of human nature, is founded on sincerity, you cannot help being solicitous that every individual, of whatever rank or distinction, might with you equally enjoy the blessings thereof; neither can you rest satisfied short of the most active effusion of your exertions, in order to effect their promotion from any state of degradation to which the unjustifiable cruelty and barbarism of men may have reduced them.

“I freely and cheerfully acknowledge that I am one of the African race, and in that color which is natural to them, of the deepest dye; and it is under a sense of the most profound gratitude to the Supreme Ruler of the universe, that I now confess to you that I am not under that state of tyrannical thraldom and inhuman captivity to which too many of my brethren are doomed; but that I have abundantly tasted of the[Pg 429] fruition of those blessings which proceed from that free and unequalled liberty with which you are favored, and which I hope you will willingly allow you have mercifully received from the immediate hand of that Being from whom proceedeth every good and perfect gift.

“Your knowledge of the situation of my brethren is too extensive to need a recital here; neither shall I presume to prescribe methods by which they may be relieved, otherwise than by recommending to you and to others to wean yourselves from those narrow prejudices which you have imbibed with respect to them, and, as Job proposed to his friends, ‘put your soul in their souls’ stead.’ Thus shall your hearts be enlarged with kindness and benevolence towards them; and thus shall you need neither the direction of myself or others in what manner to proceed herein.... The calculation for this almanac is the production of my arduous study in my advanced stage of life; for having long had unbounded desires to become acquainted with the secrets of nature, I have had to gratify my curiosity herein through my own assiduous application to astronomical study, in which I need not recount to you the many difficulties and disadvantages which I have had to encounter.”

Mr. Jefferson at once replied, and said:—

“I thank you sincerely for your letter and the almanac it contained. Nobody wishes more than I do to see such proofs as you exhibit, that Nature has given to our black brethren talents equal to those of the other colors of men, and that the appearance of the want of them is owing merely to the degraded condition of their existence, both in Africa and America. I can add with[Pg 430] truth, that nobody wishes more ardently to see a good system commenced for raising their condition, both of their body and their mind, to what it ought to be, as far as the imbecility of their present existence, and other circumstances, which cannot be neglected, will admit. I have taken the liberty of sending your almanac to Monsieur de Condorcet, secretary of the Academy of Sciences at Paris, and a member of the Philanthropic Society, because I consider it as a document to which your whole color have a right, for their justification against the doubts which have been entertained of them.”

The letter from Banneker, together with the almanac, created in the heart of Mr. Jefferson a fresh feeling of enthusiasm in behalf of freedom, and especially for the negro, which ceased only with his life. The American statesman wrote to Brissot, the celebrated French writer, in which he made enthusiastic mention of the “Negro Philosopher.” At the formation of the “Society of the Friends of the Blacks,” at Paris, by Lafayette, Brissot, Barnave, Condorcet, and Gregoire, the name of Banneker was again and again referred to to prove the equality of the races. Indeed, the genius of the “Negro Philosopher” did much towards giving liberty to the people of St. Domingo. In the British House of Commons, Pitt, Wilberforce, and Buxton often alluded to Banneker by name, as a man fit to fill any position in society. At the setting off of the District of Columbia for the capital of the federal government, Banneker was invited by the Maryland commissioners, and took an honorable part in the settlement of the territory. But, throughout all his intercourse with men of influence, he never lost sight of the [Pg 431]condition of his race, and ever urged the emancipation and elevation of the slave. He well knew that everything that was founded upon the admitted inferiority of natural right in the African was calculated to degrade him and bring him nearer to the foot of the oppressor, and he therefore never failed to allude to the equality of the races when with those whites whom he could influence. He always urged self-elevation upon the colored people whom he met. He felt that to deprive the black man of the inspiration of ambition, of hope, of wealth, of standing, among his brethren of the earth, was to take from him all incentives to mental improvement.

What husbandman incurs the toil of seed-time and culture, except with a view to the subsequent enjoyment of a golden harvest? Banneker was endowed by Nature with all those excellent qualifications which are necessary previous to the accomplishment of a great man. His memory was large and tenacious, yet, by a curious felicity, chiefly susceptible of the finest impressions it received from the best authors he read, which he always preserved in their primitive strength and amiable order. He had a quickness of apprehension and a vivacity of understanding which easily took in and surmounted the most subtile and knotty parts of mathematics and metaphysics. He possessed in a large degree that genius which constitutes a man of letters; that equality, without which, judgment is cold, and knowledge is inert; that energy which collects, combines, amplifies, and animates.

He knew every branch of history, both natural and civil; he had read all the original historians of England, France, and Germany, and was a great [Pg 432]antiquarian. Criticism, metaphysics, morals, politics, voyages, and travels, were all studied and well digested by him. With such a fund of knowledge, his conversation was equally interesting, instructive, and entertaining. Banneker was so favorably appreciated by the first families in Virginia, that in 1803 he was invited by Mr. Jefferson, then President of the United States, to visit him at Monticello, where the statesman had gone for recreation. But he was too infirm to undertake the journey. He died the following year, aged seventy-two. Like the golden sun that has sunk beneath the western horizon, but still throws upon the world, which he sustained and enlightened in his career, the reflected beams of his departed genius, his name can only perish with his language.

Banneker believed in the divinity of reason, and in the omnipotence of the human understanding, with Liberty for its handmaid. The intellect, impregnated by science, and multiplied by time, it appeared to him, must triumph necessarily over all the resistance of matter. He had faith in liberty, truth, and virtue. His remains still rest in the slave state where he lived and died, with no stone to mark the spot, or tell that it is the grave of Benjamin Banneker. He labored incessantly, lived irreproachably, and died in the literary harness, universally esteemed and regretted.


The man who lays aside home comforts, and willingly becomes a missionary to the poorest of the poor, [Pg 433]deserves the highest praise that his fellow-men can bestow upon him. After laboring faithfully for the upbuilding of the church in New York, Baltimore, and Philadelphia, William P. Quinn, thirty-five years ago, went to the West, a most undesirable place for a colored man at that time. But he did not count the cost; it was enough for him to know that his services were needed, and he left the consequences with God.

Never, probably, was a man more imbued with the spirit of the Great Teacher, than was Mr. Quinn in his missionary work. Old men and women are still living who delight to dwell on the self-denial, Christian zeal, manly graces, and industry that characterized this good man in the discharge of his duties in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri. His advice was always fatherly; his example inculcated devoted piety.

As a speaker, he was earnest and eloquent, possessing an inward enthusiasm that sent a magnetic current through his entire congregation. Having the fullest confidence of the people with whom he was called to labor, they regarded him as one sent of God, and they hung upon his words as if their future welfare depended upon the counsel they received.

In 1844, Mr. Quinn was made a bishop, a position for which he had every qualification. Tanner, in his “Apology,” says:—

“The demands of the work made it necessary to elect another bishop, and, as if by inspiration, a large majority fixed their eyes on the great missionary as the man most competent to fill the post.”

Bishop Quinn died in February, 1873, at the advanced age of eighty-five years.

[Pg 434]


Of those who took part in the anti-slavery work thirty-five years ago, none was more true to his race than David Ruggles. Residing in the city of New York, where slaveholders often brought their body servants, and kept them for weeks, Mr. Ruggles became a thorn in the sides of these Southern sinners. He was ready at all times, in dangers and perils, to wrest his brethren from these hyenas, and so successful was he in getting slaves from their masters, and sending them to Canada, that he became the terror of Southerners visiting northern cities. He was one of the founders of the celebrated underground railroad.

Harassed by the pro-slavery whites, and betrayed and deserted by some of his own color, David Ruggles still labored for his people.

He was deeply interested in the moral, social, and political elevation of the free colored men of the North, and to that end published and edited for several years the “Mirror of Liberty,” a quarterly magazine, devoted to the advocacy of the rights of his race.

As a writer, Mr. Ruggles was keen and witty,—always logical,—sending his arrows directly at his opponent. The first thing we ever read, coming from the pen of a colored man, was “David M. Reese, M. D., used up by David Ruggles, a man of color.” Dr. Reese was a noted colonizationist, and had written a work in which he advocated the expatriation of the blacks from the American continent; and Mr. Ruggles’s work was in reply to it. In this argument the negro proved too much for the Anglo-Saxon, and [Pg 435]exhibited in Mr. Ruggles those qualities of keen perception, deep thought, and originality, that mark the critic and man of letters.

He was of unmixed blood, of medium size, genteel address, and interesting in conversation.

Attacked with a disease which resulted in total blindness, Mr. Ruggles visited Northampton, Massachusetts, for the benefit of his health. Here he founded a “Water Cure,” which became famous, and to which a large number of the better classes resorted. In this new field, Mr. Ruggles won honorable distinction as a most successful practitioner, secured the warm regard of the public, and left a name embalmed in the hearts of many who feel that they owe life to his eminent skill and careful practice. Mr. Ruggles was conscientious, upright, and just in all his dealings. He died in 1849, universally respected and esteemed.


The career of this distinguished individual whose name heads this sketch, is more widely known than that of any other living colored man. Born and brought up under the institution of slavery, which denied its victims the right of developing those natural powers that adorn the children of men, and distinguish them from the beasts of the forest,—an institution that gave a premium to ignorance, and made intelligence a crime, when the possessor was a negro,—Frederick Douglass[Pg 436] is, indeed, the most wonderful man that America has ever produced, white or black.

His days of servitude were like those of his race who were born at the South, differing but little from the old routine of plantation life. Douglass, however, possessed superior natural gifts, which began to show themselves even when a boy, but his history has become too well known for us to dwell on it here. The narrative of his life, published in 1845, gave a new impetus to the black man’s literature. All other stories of fugitive slaves faded away before the beautifully-written, highly-descriptive, and thrilling memoir of Frederick Douglass. Other narratives had only brought before the public a few heart-rending scenes connected with the person described. But Mr. Douglass, in his book, brought not only his old master’s farm and its occupants before the reader, but the entire country around him, including Baltimore and its shipyard. The manner in which he obtained his education, and especially his learning to write, has been read and re-read by thousands in both hemispheres. His escape from slavery is too well understood to need a recapitulation here.

He took up his residence in New Bedford, where he still continued the assiduous student, mastering the different branches of education which the accursed institution had deprived him of in early life.

His advent as a lecturer was a remarkable one. White men and black men had talked against slavery, but none had ever spoken like Frederick Douglass. Throughout the North the newspapers were filled with the sayings of the “eloquent fugitive.” He often travelled with others, but they were all lost sight of in[Pg 437] the eagerness to hear Douglass. His travelling companions would sometimes get angry, and would speak first at the meetings; then they would take the last turn; but it was all the same—the fugitive’s impression was the one left upon the mind. He made more persons angry, and pleased more, than any other man. He was praised, and he was censured. He made them laugh, he made them weep, and he made them swear.

His “Slaveholders’ Sermon” was always a trump card. He awakened an interest in the hearts of thousands who before were dead to the slave and his condition. Many kept away from his lectures, fearing lest they should be converted against their will. Young men and women, in those days of pro-slavery hatred, would return to their fathers’ roofs filled with admiration for the “runaway slave,” and would be rebuked by hearing the old ones grumble out, “You’d better stay at home and study your lessons, and not be running after the nigger meetings.”

In 1841, he was induced to accept an agency as a lecturer for the Anti-slavery Society, and at once became one of the most valuable of its advocates. He visited England in 1845. There he was kindly received and heartily welcomed; and after going through the length and breadth of the land, and addressing public meetings out of number on behalf of his countrymen in chains, with a power of eloquence which captivated his auditors, and brought the cause which he pleaded home to their hearts, he returned home, and commenced the publication of the “North Star,” a weekly newspaper devoted to the advocacy of the cause of freedom.

Mr. Douglass is tall and well made. His vast and[Pg 438] fully-developed forehead shows at once that he is a superior man intellectually. He is polished in his language, and gentlemanly in his manners. His voice is full and sonorous. His attitude is dignified, and his gesticulation is full of noble simplicity. He is a man of lofty reason; natural, and without pretension; always master of himself; brilliant in the art of exposing and abstracting. Few persons can handle a subject, with which they are familiar, better than he. There is a kind of eloquence issuing from the depth of the soul as from a spring, rolling along its copious floods, sweeping all before it, overwhelming by its very force, carrying, upsetting, ingulfing its adversaries, and more dazzling and more thundering than the bolt which leaps from crag to crag. This is the eloquence of Frederick Douglass. One of the best mimics of the age, and possessing great dramatic powers; had he taken up the sock and buskin, instead of becoming a lecturer, he would have made as fine a Coriolanus as ever trod the stage.

As a speaker, Frederick Douglass has had more imitators than almost any other American, save, perhaps, Wendell Phillips. Unlike most great speakers, he is a superior writer also. Some of his articles, in point of ability, will rank with anything ever written for the American press. He has taken lessons from the best of teachers, amid the homeliest realities of life; hence the perpetual freshness of his delineations, which are never over-colored, never strained, never aiming at difficult or impossible effects, but which always read like living transcripts of experience.

Mr. Douglass has obtained a position in the front rank as a lyceum lecturer. His later addresses from[Pg 439] manuscripts, however, do not, in our opinion, come up to his extemporaneous efforts.

But Frederick Douglass’s abilities as an editor and publisher have done more for the freedom and elevation of his race than all his platform appeals. Previous to the year 1848, the colored people of the United States had no literature. True, the “National Reformer,” the “Mirror of Liberty,” the “Colored American,” “The Mystery,” the “Disfranchised American,” the “Ram’s Horn,” and several others of smaller magnitude, had been in existence, had their run, and ceased to live. All of the above journals had done something towards raising the black man’s standard, but they were merely the ploughs breaking up the ground and getting the soil ready for the seed-time. Newspapers, magazines, and books published in those days by colored men, were received with great allowance by the whites, who had always regarded the negro as an uneducated, inferior race, and who were considered out of their proper sphere when meddling with literature.

The commencement of the publication of the “North Star” was the beginning of a new era in the black man’s literature. Mr. Douglass’s well-earned fame gave his paper at once a place with the first journals in the country; and he drew around him a corps of contributors and correspondents from Europe, as well as all parts of America and the West Indies, that made its columns rich with the current news of the world.

While the “North Star” became a welcome visitor to the homes of whites who had never before read a newspaper edited by a colored man, its proprietor [Pg 440]became still more popular as a speaker in every State in the Union where abolitionism was tolerated.

“My Bondage and My Freedom,” a work published by Mr. Douglass a few years ago, besides giving a fresh impulse to anti-slavery literature, showed upon its pages the untiring industry of the ripe scholar.

Some time during the year 1850, we believe, his journal assumed the name of “Frederick Douglass’s Paper.” Its purpose and aim was the same, and it remained the representative of the negro till it closed its career, which was not until the abolition of slavery.

Of all his labors, however, we regard Mr. Douglass’s efforts as publisher and editor as most useful to his race. For sixteen years, against much opposition, single-handed and alone, he demonstrated the fact that the American colored man was equal to the white in conducting a useful and popular journal.


Bishop Wayman was born in Maryland, in 1821, and consequently, is fifty-two years of age. He showed an early love of books, and used his time to the best advantage. He began as a preacher in the A. M. E. Church in 1842, being stationed on the Princeton circuit, in New Jersey. From that time forward his labors were herculean. In 1864, he was, by an almost unanimous vote, elected a bishop. Tanner, in his “Apology,” said of him:—

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“As a preacher, the bishop appears to advantage. Of dignified mien, easy gestures, and a rolling voice, he is sure to make a favorable impression, while the subject-matter of his discourse is so simple that the most illiterate may fully comprehend it; the wisest, also, are generally edified.”

It is said that Bishop Wayman is scarcely ever seen with any book except the Bible or a hymn-book, and yet he is a man of letters, as will be acknowledged by all who have had the pleasure of listening to his eloquent sermons. He is a student, and is well read in history and the poets, and often surprises his friends by his classical quotations. There is a harmonious blending of the poetical and the practical, a pleasant union of the material with the spiritual, an arm-in-arm connection of the ornamental and useful, a body and soul joined together in his discourses. There is something candid, tangible, solid, nutritious, and enduring in his sermons. He is even at times, profound. He presents his arguments and appeals with an articulation as distinct and as understandable as his gesticulation is impressive.

In person, the bishop is stout, fleshy, and well-proportioned. His round face, smiling countenance, twinkling eye, and merry laugh, indicate health and happiness. He is of unadulterated African origin. Blameless in all the relations of life, a kind and affectionate husband, a true friend, and a good neighbor, Bishop Wayman’s character may safely be said to be above suspicion.

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Professor Reason has for a number of years been connected with the educational institutions of New York. In 1849, he was called to the professorship of Mathematics and Belles-Lettres in New York Central College. This position he held during his own pleasure, with honor to himself and benefit to the students. A man of fine education, superior intelligence, gentlemanly in every sense of the term, of excellent discrimination, one of the best of students, Professor Reason holds a power over those under him seldom attained by men of his profession.

Were I a sculptor, and looking for a model of a perfect man in personal appearance, my selection would be Charles L. Reason. As a writer of both prose and poetry, he need not be ashamed of his ability. Extremely diffident, he seldom furnishes anything for the public eye. In a well-written essay on the propriety of establishing an industrial college, and the probable influence of the free colored people upon the emancipated blacks, he says:—

“Whenever emancipation shall take place, immediate though it be, the subjects of it, like many who now make up the so-called free population, will be in what geologists call the ‘transition state.’ The prejudice now felt against them for bearing on their persons the brand of slaves, cannot die out immediately. Severe trials will still be their portion: the curse of a ‘taunted race’ must be expiated by almost miraculous proofs of advancement; and some of these miracles must be antecedent to the great day of jubilee. To[Pg 443] fight the battle upon the bare ground of abstract principles will fail to give us complete victory. The subterfuges of pro-slavery selfishness must now be dragged to light, and the last weak argument, that the negro can never contribute anything to advance the national character, ‘nailed to the counter as base coin.’ To the conquering of the difficulties heaped up in the path of his industry, the free colored man of the North has pledged himself. Already he sees, springing into growth, from out his foster work-school, intelligent young laborers, competent to enrich the world with necessary products; industrious citizens, contributing their proportion to aid on the advancing civilization of the country; self-providing artisans, vindicating their people from the never-ceasing charge of fitness for servile positions.”

In the “Autographs for Freedom,” from which the above extract is taken, Professor Reason has a beautiful poem, entitled “Hope and Confidence,” which, in point of originality and nicety of composition, deserves a place among the best productions of Wordsworth.

A poem signifies design, method, harmony, and therefore consistency of parts. A man may be gifted with the most vividly ideal nature; he may shoot from his brain some blazing poetic thought or imagery, which may arouse wonder and admiration, as a comet does; and yet he may have no constructiveness, without which the materials of poetry are only so many glittering fractions. A poem can never be tested by its length or brevity, but by the adaptation of its parts. A complete poem is the architecture of thought and language. It requires artistic skill to chisel rough[Pg 444] blocks of marble into as many individual forms of beauty; but not only skill, but genius, is needed to arrange and harmonize those forms into the completeness of a Parthenon. A grave popular error, and one destructive of personal usefulness, and obstructive to literary progress, is the free-and-easy belief that because a man has the faculty of investing common things with uncommon ideas, therefore he can write a poem.

The idea of poetry is to give pleasurable emotions, and the world listens to a poet’s voice as it listens to the singing of a summer bird; that which is the most suggestive of freedom and eloquence being the most admired. Professor Reason has both the genius and the artistic skill. He is highly respected in New York, where he resides, and is doing a good work for the elevation of his race.


At the head of our representative men,—especially our men of letters,—stands Professor Wilson. He has, at times, contributed some very able papers to the current literature of the day. In the columns of “Frederick Douglass’s Paper,” the “Anglo-African Magazine,” and the “Weekly Anglo-African,” appeared at times, over the signature of “Ethiop,” some of the raciest and most amusing essays to be found in the public journals of this country. As a sketch writer of historical scenes and historical characters,—choosing[Pg 445] his own subjects, suggested by his own taste or sympathies,—few men are capable of greater or more successful efforts than William J. Wilson.

In his imaginary visit to the “Afric-American Picture Gallery,” he exhibits splendid traits of the genius of the true critic. His criticism on the comparative merits of Samuel R. Ward and Frederick Douglass, published in the papers some years ago, together with his essay on Phillis Wheatley, raised Mr. Wilson high in the estimation of men of letters. His “School Room Scene” is both amusing and instructive.

To possess genius, the offspring of which ennobles the sentiments, enlarges the affections, kindles the imagination, and gives to us a view of the past, the present, and the future, is one of the highest gifts that the Creator bestows upon man. With acute powers of conception, a sparkling and lively fancy, and a quaintly-curious felicity of diction, Mr. Wilson wakes us from our torpidity and coldness to a sense of our capabilities.

As a speaker, he is pleasing in style, with the manners of a gentleman. His conversational powers are of the first order, in which he exhibits deep thought. In personal appearance, he is under the middle size; his profile is more striking than his front face; he has a smiling countenance, under which you see the man of wit. The professor is of unmixed race, of which he is not ashamed. He is cashier of the Freedmen’s Savings Bank at Washington, and his good advice to his race with whom he has dealings in money matters proves of much service to them.

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One of the best of men was born in one of the meanest States in the Union. Jabez P. Campbell is a native of the insignificant and negro-hating State of Delaware, and is in the sixty-eighth year of his age. His father was a Revolutionary soldier, and when he laid aside the knapsack and the musket, he put on the armor of the Lord, and became a preacher of the A. M. E. Church. Like all colored boys in those days, the subject of this sketch found many difficulties in obtaining an education in a part of the country where colored men had “no rights that white men were bound to respect.”

After a few quarters’ schooling, under incompetent teachers, Campbell began a course of self-instruction, ending in the study of theology. In 1839, he commenced as a preacher, laboring in various sections of the country, eventually settling down as General Book Steward of the A. M. E. Church, and editor of the “Christian Recorder.”

In the year 1864, the subject of our sketch was elected a bishop, and since that time he has labored principally in the Indiana, Missouri, Louisiana, and California districts.

The bishop is eminently a man of the people, not conceited in the least, yet dignified and gentlemanly. He is a man of ready wit, keen in discussion, well posted up on all questions of the day, and is not afraid to avow his views. Bishop Campbell has a wonderful gift of language, and uses it to the best advantage. His delivery is easy, and his gestures natural; and, as a[Pg 447] preacher, he ranks amongst the first in the denomination. In person, he is of medium size, dark brown skin, finely chiselled features, broad forehead, and a countenance that betokens intelligence.


John M. Langston is a native of Chillicothe, Ohio, and a graduate of Oberlin College. He studied theology and law, and preferring the latter, was admitted to the bar, practised successfully in the courts of his native state till the breaking out of the Rebellion, when he removed to Washington, where he now resides. During the war, and some time after its close, Mr. Langston was engaged in superintending the Freedmen’s Schools at the South. He now occupies a professorship in Howard University.

The end of all eloquence is to sway men. It is, therefore, bound by no arbitrary rules of diction or style, formed on no specific models, and governed by no edicts of self-elected judges. It is true, there are degrees of eloquence, and equal success does not imply equal excellence. That which is adapted to sway the strongest minds of an enlightened age ought to be esteemed the most perfect, and, doubtless, should be the criterion by which to test the abstract excellence of all oratory. Mr. Langston represents the highest idea of the orator, as exemplified in the power and discourses of Sheridan in the English House of Commons, and Vergniaud in the Assembly of the [Pg 448]Girondists. He is not fragmentary in his speeches; but, as a deep, majestic stream, he moves steadily onward, pouring forth his rich and harmonious sentences in strains of impassioned eloquence. His style is bold and energetic; full of spirit. He is profound, without being hollow, and ingenious, without being subtile.

An accomplished scholar and a good student, he displays in his speeches an amount of literary acquirements not often found in the mere business lawyer. When pleading, he speaks like a man under oath, though without any starched formality of expression. The test of his success is the permanent impression which his speeches leave on the memory. They do not pass away with the excitement of the moment, but remain in the mind, with the lively colors and true proportions of the scenes which they represent. Mr. Langston is of medium size, and of good figure; high and well-formed forehead; eyes full, but not prominent; mild and amiable countenance; modest deportment; strong, musical voice; and wears the air of a gentleman. He is highly respected by men of all classes, and especially, by the legal profession. He is a vigorous writer, and, in the political campaigns, contributes both with speech and pen to the liberal cause. Few men in the south-west have held the black man’s standard higher than John Mercer Langston.

As Dean of the Law Department in Howard University, he has won the admiration of all connected with the institution, and, in a recent address, delivered in the State of New York, on law, Mr. Langston has shown that he is well versed in all that pertains to that high profession.

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Among the fine-looking men that have been sent out by the A. M. E. Church, to preach the gospel, none has a more manly frame, intellectual countenance, gentlemanly demeanor, Christian spirit, and love of his race, than John M. Brown. When the Committee on Boundary in the A. M. E. Church recommended in the General Conference of 1864, “that there be set apart a Conference in the State of Louisiana, to be known as the Louisiana Conference, embracing the States of Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama, Texas, and all that part of Florida lying west of Chattanooga River,” Mr. Brown was selected as the man eminently fitted to go to the new field of labor. Money was evidently not a burden to him, for, being a barber, he got on a steamer, and shaved his way to his post of labor.[54]

He arrived in New Orleans, unfurled his banner, and went to work in a way that showed that he was “terribly in earnest.” He sowed the seed, and, although he was thrown into the calaboose, his work still went on, a church was erected, members were gathered in, and the cause of Christian missions prospered. After laboring faithfully in this field, Mr. Brown was appointed Corresponding Secretary of the A. M. E. Church, with his head-quarters in Baltimore. He now holds the high and honorable position of bishop, a place that no one is better qualified to fill than he.

He is a mulatto, of middle age, with talents of a[Pg 450] high order, fluent speaker, terse writer, and popular with all classes. Oberlin College has not turned out a more praiseworthy scholar, nor a better specimen of a Christian gentleman, than Bishop Brown.


Mr. Gaines was born at Cincinnati, Ohio, November 6th, 1821. His early education was limited, as was generally the case with colored youth in that section, in those days. Forced into active life at an early age, he yet found time to make himself a fair English scholar, and laid the foundation of that power to be useful, which he afterwards exercised for the benefit of his people.

At the age of sixteen, he was found in attendance upon a convention, held in one of the interior towns of his native state. At that early age, he showed clearly his mental powers, and men, many years his senior listened with respect to the sage counsel which even then he was capable of giving. From that time to the very day of his death he mingled in the councils, and busied himself with the affairs of his people; and it is no derogation to the merits of others to say, that few have counselled more wisely, or acted more successfully than he.

The enterprise with which his name is the most permanently connected, is the movement which has given to Cincinnati her system of public schools for colored youth. When the law of 1849, granting school [Pg 451]privileges to colored youth, was passed, the City Council of Cincinnati refused to appropriate the funds placed in the treasury for the support of the schools, alleging that there was no authority to do so. Here was a chance for our deceased friend to exhibit those high qualities which made him a lamp to the feet of his people. Cautious, but firm, determined, but patient, he led in the movement, which resulted in a decision of the Supreme Court of the State, placing the colored public schools upon the same footing as the other public schools of the city, and gave their control to a board of directors selected by the colored people. The contest was prolonged nearly two years, but at last the little black man triumphed over the city of Cincinnati.

His next aim was to have the schools thoroughly organized, and placed in comfortable houses. He cheerfully performed the onerous duties of clerk and general agent to the Board, his only reward being a consciousness that he was useful to his people. His purposes were temporarily interrupted in 1853, by a law taking the control of the schools from the colored people. Not connected officially with the schools, he still maintained a deep interest in their condition, and, in 1856, an opportunity offering, he used his influence and means to have the schools again placed under the control of the colored people. This point gained, he again set on foot measures looking to the erection of school-houses. This he at last accomplished. His first report to the City Council, made in 1851, urges the erection of school-houses, and his last report, made in 1859, announces the completion of two large houses, costing over twenty-four thousand dollars.

If he is a benefactor of his race, who causes two[Pg 452] blades of grass to grow where but one grew before, surely, he is worthy of praise, who has let rays of intellectual light fall upon the famished minds of a forlorn race, whom a hard fate has condemned to slavery and ignorance.

He was, from early youth, a firm, though not fanatical adherent of the Temperance cause. He felt that intoxicating drinks had caused many strong men to fall, and, for his brother’s sake, he abstained. Meeting one evening, at a social party, a gentleman from a neighboring State, eminent in the world of politics and philanthropy, a bottle of sparkling Catawba and two glasses were placed on the table before them, the host remarking at the time that “there was no need for two tumblers, for Mr. Gaines would not use his.”

“Surely, Mr. Gaines will pledge me, a friend of his race, in a glass of wine made from the grape that grows on his native hills,” said the gentleman.

Mr. Gaines shook his head. “I appreciate the honor,” said he, “but conscience forbids.”

The character of his mind was much to be prized by a people who need prudent counsels. Seldom speaking until he had examined his subject thoroughly, he was generally prepared to speak with a due regard to the effects of his speech.

The subject of this sketch was of pure African descent, small in stature, of genteel figure, countenance beaming with intelligence, eloquent in speech, and able in debate. He died November 27, 1859.

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Unable to get justice done him in the educational institutions of his native country, James M’Cune Smith turned his face towards a foreign land. He graduated with distinguished honors at the University of Glasgow, Scotland, where he received his diploma of M. D. For the last twenty-five years he has been a practitioner in the city of New York, where he stands at the head of his profession. On his return from Europe, the doctor was warmly welcomed by his fellow-citizens, who were anxious to pay due deference to his talents; since which time he has justly been esteemed among the leading men of his race on the American continent. When the natural ability of the negro was assailed, some years ago, in New York, Dr. Smith came forward as the representative of the black man, and his essays on the comparative anatomy and physiology of the races, read in the discussion, completely vindicated the character of the negro, and placed the author among the most logical and scientific writers in the country.

The doctor has contributed many valuable papers to the different journals published by colored men during the last quarter of a century. The New York dailies have also received aid from him during the same period. History, antiquity, bibliography, translation, criticism, political economy, statistics,—almost every department of knowledge,—receive emblazon from his able, ready, versatile, and unwearied pen. The emancipation of the slave, and the elevation of the free colored people, has claimed the greatest share of his time as a writer.

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The law of labor is equally binding on genius and mediocrity. The mind and body rarely visit this earth of ours so exactly fitted to each other, and so perfectly harmonizing together, as to rise without effort, and command in the affairs of men. It is not in the power of every one to become great. No great approximation, even towards that which is easiest attained, can be accomplished without exercise of much thought and vigor of action; and thus is demonstrated the supremacy of that law which gives excellence only when earned, and assigns labor its unfailing reward.

It is this energy of character, industry, and labor, combined with superior intellectual powers, which gave Dr. Smith so much influence in New York.

As a speaker, he was eloquent, and at times brilliant, but always clear, and to the point. In stature, the doctor was not tall, but thick, and somewhat inclined to corpulency. He had a fine and well-developed head; broad and lofty brow; round, full face; firm mouth; and an eye that dazzled. In blood he stood, apparently, equal between the Anglo-Saxon and the African.


Teacher of a small school at Charleston, South Carolina, in the year 1834, Daniel A. Payne felt the oppressive hand of slavery too severely upon him, and he quitted the Southern Sodom, and came North. After going through a regular course of theological studies, at Gettysburg Seminary, he took up his residence at[Pg 455] Baltimore, where he soon distinguished himself as a preacher in the African Methodist denomination. He was several years since elected bishop, and is now located in the State of Ohio.

Bishop Payne is a scholar and a poet; having published, in 1850, a volume of his productions, which created considerable interest for the work, and gave the author a standing among literary men. His writings are characterized by sound reasoning and logical conclusions, and show that he is well read. The bishop is devotedly attached to his down-trodden race, and is constantly urging upon them self-elevation. After President Lincoln’s interview with the committee of colored men at Washington, and the colonization scheme recommended to them, and the appearance of Mr. Pomeroy’s address to the free blacks, Bishop Payne issued, through the columns of the “Weekly Anglo-African,” a word of advice, which had in it the right ring, and showed in its composition considerable literary ability. A deep vein of genuine piety pervades all the productions of Bishop Payne. As a pulpit orator, he stands deservedly high. In stature, he is rather under the middle size, intellectual countenance, and gentlemanly in appearance. He has done much towards building up Wilberforce College in Ohio, an institution that is an honor to the race.


Among the many bright examples of the black man which we present, one of the foremost is Alexander[Pg 456] Crummell. Blood unadulterated, a tall and manly figure, commanding in appearance, a full and musical voice, fluent in speech, a graduate of Cambridge University, England, a mind stored with the richness of English literature, competently acquainted with the classical authors of Greece and Rome, from the grave Thucydides to the rhapsodical Lycophron, gentlemanly in all his movements, language chaste and refined, Dr. Crummell may well be put forward as one of the best and most favorable representatives of his race. He is a clergyman of the Episcopal denomination, and deeply versed in theology. His sermons are always written, but he reads them as few persons can.

In 1848, Dr. Crummell visited England, and delivered a well-conceived address before the Anti-slavery Society in London, where his eloquence and splendid abilities were at once acknowledged and appreciated. The year before his departure for the Old World, he delivered an “Eulogy on the Life and Character of Thomas Clarkson,” which was a splendid, yet just tribute to the life-long labors of that great man.

Dr. Crummell is one of our ablest speakers. His style is polished, graceful, and even elegant, though never merely ornate or rhetorical. He has the happy faculty of using the expressions best suited to the occasion, and bringing in allusions which give a popular sympathy to the best cultivated style. He is, we think, rather too sensitive, and somewhat punctillious.

Dr. Crummell is a gentleman by nature, and could not be anything else, if he should try. Some ten years since, he wrote a very interesting work on Africa, to which country he emigrated in 1852.

We have had a number of our public men to [Pg 457]represent us in Europe within the past twenty-five years; and none have done it more honorably or with better success to the character and cause of the black man, than Alexander Crummell. We met him there again and again, and followed in his track wherever he preached or spoke before public assemblies, and we know whereof we affirm. Devotedly attached to the interest of the colored man, and having the moral, social, and intellectual elevation of the natives of Africa at heart, we do not regret that he considers it his duty to labor in his fatherland. Warmly interested in the Republic, and so capable of filling the highest position that he can be called to, we shall not be surprised, some day, to hear that Alexander Crummell is president of Liberia.

Avery College has just done itself the honor of conferring the degree of Doctor of Divinity upon this able man; and sure we are that a title was never better bestowed than in the present instance.

Since writing the above sketch, we learn that Dr. Crummell has returned, and taken up his residence in the City of New York, where he is now pastor of a church.


Though born a slave in the State of Maryland, Henry Highland Garnett is the son of an African chief, stolen from the coast of his native land. His father’s family were all held as slaves till 1822, when they escaped to the north. In 1835, he became a member[Pg 458] of Canaan Academy, New Hampshire. Three months after entering the school, it was broken up by a mob, who destroyed the building. Dr. Garnett afterwards entered Oneida Institute, New York, under the charge of that noble-hearted friend of man, Beriah Green, where he was treated with equality by the professors and his fellow-students. There he gained the reputation of a courteous and accomplished man, an able and eloquent debater, and a good writer.

His first appearance as a public speaker, was in 1837, in the City of New York, where his speech at once secured for him a standing among first-class orators. Dr. Garnett is in every sense of the term a progressive man. He is a strenuous advocate of freedom, temperance, education, and the religious, moral, and social elevation of his race. He is an acceptable preacher, evangelical in his profession. His discourses, though showing much thought and careful study, are delivered extemporaneously, and with good effect. Having complete command of his voice, he uses it with skill, never failing to fill the largest hall. One of the most noted addresses, ever given by a colored man in this country was delivered by Dr. Garnett at the National Convention of Colored Americans, at Buffalo, New York, in 1843. None but those who heard that speech have the slightest idea of the tremendous influence which he exercised over the assembly.

Dr. Garnett visited England in 1850, where he spent several months, and went thence to the island of Jamaica, spending three years there as a missionary. He has written considerably, and has edited one or two journals at different times, devoted to the elevation of his race. Dr. Garnett was, for two or three[Pg 459] years, president of Avery College, where he was considered a man of learning. He also spent some time in Washington, as pastor of the Presbyterian Church in that city. At present, he is located over Shiloh Church, New York City.

For forty years an advocate of the rights of his race, forcible and daring as a speaker, having suffered much, with a good record behind him, Dr. Garnett may be considered as standing in the front rank as a leader of his people.


Born and brought up in Salem, Massachusetts, Mr. Remond had the advantage of early training in the best of schools. In 1838, he took the field as a lecturer, under the auspices of the American Anti-slavery Society, and, in company with the Rev. Ichabod Codding, canvassed the States of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Maine. In 1840, he visited England as a delegate to the first “World’s Anti-slavery Convention,” held in London. He remained abroad two years, lecturing in the various towns in the united kingdom.

Mr. Remond was welcomed on his return home, and again resumed his vocation as a lecturer. In stature, he is small, of spare make, neat, wiry build, and genteel in his personal appearance. He has a good voice, and is considered one of the best declaimers in New England. He has written little or nothing for the press, and his notoriety is confined solely to the platform. Sensitive to a fault, and feeling sorely the prejudice[Pg 460] against color which exists throughout the United States, his addresses have been mainly on that subject, on which he is always interesting. Mr. Remond’s abilities have been very much overrated. His speeches, when in print, attracted little or no attention, and he was never able to speak upon any subject except slavery, upon which he was never deep.


Dr. Delany has long been before the public. His first appearance, we believe, was in connection with “The Mystery,” a weekly newspaper published at Pittsburg, and of which he was editor. His journal was faithful in its advocacy of the rights of man, and had the reputation of being a well-conducted sheet. The doctor afterwards was associated with Frederick Douglass in the editorial management of his paper at Rochester, New York. From the latter place, he removed to Canada, and resided in Chatham, where he was looked upon as one of its leading citizens.

Dr. Martin R. Delany, though regarded as a man high in his profession, is better and more widely known as a traveller, discoverer, and lecturer. His association with Professor Campbell in the “Niger Valley Exploring Expedition,” has brought the doctor very prominently before the world, and especially that portion of it which takes an interest in the civilization of Africa. The official report of that expedition shows that he did not visit that country with his eyes shut.[Pg 461] His observations and suggestions about the climate, soil, diseases, and natural productions of Africa, are interesting, and give evidence that the doctor was in earnest. The published report, of which he is the author, will repay a perusal.

On his return home, Dr. Delany spent some time in England, and lectured in the British metropolis and the provincial cities, with considerable success, on Africa and its resources. As a member of the International Statistical Congress, he acquitted himself with credit to his position and honor to his race. The foolish manner in which the Hon. Mr. Dallas, our minister to the court of St. James, acted on meeting Dr. Delany in that august assembly, and the criticisms of the press of Europe and America, will not soon be forgotten.

He is short, compactly built, has a quick, wiry walk, and is decided and energetic in conversation, unadulterated in race, and proud of his complexion. Though somewhat violent in his gestures, and paying but little regard to the strict rules of oratory, Dr. Delany is, nevertheless, an interesting, eloquent speaker. Devotedly attached to his fatherland, he goes for a “Negro Nationality.” Whatever he undertakes, he executes it with all the powers that God has given him; and what would appear as an obstacle in the way of other men, would be brushed aside by Martin R. Delany.


Dr. Pennington was born a slave on the farm of Colonel Gordon, in the State of Maryland. His early[Pg 462] life was not unlike the common lot of the bondmen of the Middle States. He was by trade a blacksmith, which increased his value to his owner. He had no opportunities for learning, and was ignorant of letters when he made his escape to the north. Through intense application to books, he gained, as far as it was possible, what slavery had deprived him of in his younger days. But he always felt the early blight upon his soul.

Dr. Pennington had not been free long ere he turned his attention to theology, and became an efficient preacher in the Presbyterian denomination. He was several years settled over a church at Hartford, Connecticut. He has been in Europe three times, his second visit being the most important, as he remained there three or four years, preaching and lecturing, during which time he attended the Peace Congresses held at Paris, Brussels, and London. While in Germany, the degree of Doctor of Divinity was conferred upon him by the University of Heidelberg. On his return to the United States, he received a call, and was settled as pastor over Shiloh Church, New York City.

The doctor was a good student, a ripe scholar, and deeply versed in theology. While at Paris, in 1849, we, with the American and English delegates to the Peace Congress, attended divine service at the Protestant Church, where Dr. Pennington had been invited to preach. His sermon, on that occasion, was an elegant production, made a marked impression on his hearers, and created upon the minds of all a more elevated idea of the negro. In past years, he has labored zealously and successfully for the education, and moral, social, and religious elevation of his race. The doctor[Pg 463] was unadulterated in blood, with strongly-marked African features. In stature, he was of the common size, slightly inclined to corpulency, with an athletic frame and a good constitution. The fact that Dr. Pennington was considered a good Greek, Latin, and German scholar, although his early life was spent in slavery, is not more strange than that Henry Diaz, the black commander in Brazil, is extolled in all the histories of that country as one of the most sagacious and talented men and experienced officers of whom they could boast. Dr. Pennington died in 1871, his death being hastened by the excessive use of intoxicating liquors, which had impaired his usefulness in his latter days.


The boiling cauldron of the rebellion threw upon its surface in the Southern States a large number of colored men, who are now playing a conspicuous part in the political affairs of their section of the country. Some of these, like their white brethren, are mere adventurers, without ability, native or acquired, and owe their elevated position more to circumstances than to any gifts or virtues of their own. There are, however, another class, some of whom, although uneducated, are men of genius, of principle, and Christian zeal, laboring with all their powers for the welfare of the country and the race. A few of the latter class have had the advantages of the educational institutions of the North and of Europe, as well as at the South, and were fully prepared for the situation when called[Pg 464] upon to act. One of the most gifted of these, a man of fine education, honest, upright, just in his dealings with his fellows; one whose good sense and manly qualities never desert him,—is Francis L. Cardozo.

Born in Charleston, South Carolina, his father a white man and a slaveholder, his mother a mulatto, Mr. Cardozo is of a fair complexion. He is above the middle size, robust and full-faced, with a well-developed head, large brain, and a face of fine expression. Educated in Scotland, and having travelled extensively abroad, he presents the exterior of a man of refinement and of high culture, possessing considerable literary taste, and his conversation at once shows him to be a man of learning. Industrious and methodical in his habits, still the ardent student, young in years, comparatively, Mr. Cardozo bids fair to be one of the leading men at the national capital, as he is now in his own State. He studied theology, was ordained as a minister, and preached for a time in Connecticut with great acceptance.

As a speaker, Mr. Cardozo has few equals, colored or white. Without any strained effort, his expressions are filled with integrity, sobriety, benevolence, satire, and true eloquence. Forcible in speech, his audience never get tired under the sound of his musical voice.

During the rebellion, he returned to his native State, where he was of great service to his own people. He took a leading part in the reconstruction convention that brought South Carolina back in the Union, and was elected to the state legislature, where he was considered one of their ablest men. He now fills the high and honorable position of Secretary of State of his own commonwealth. He is held in high estimation by[Pg 465] all classes: even the old negro-hating whites of the “palmetto” state acknowledge the ability and many manly virtues of Francis L. Cardozo.


Miss Lewis, the colored American artist, is of mingled Indian and African descent. Her mother was one of the Chippewa tribe, and her father a full-blooded African. Both her parents died young, leaving the orphan girl and her only brother to be brought up by the Indians. Here, as may well be imagined, her opportunities for education were meagre enough.

Edmonia Lewis is below the medium height; her complexion and features betray her African origin; her hair is more of the Indian type, black, straight, and abundant. Her head is well balanced, exhibiting a large and well-developed brain. Although brought up in the wilderness, she spent some time at Oberlin College, and has a good education.

Her manners are childlike and simple, and most winning and pleasing. She has the proud spirit of her Indian ancestor, and if she has more of the African in her personal appearance, she has more of the Indian in her character. On her first visit to Boston, she saw a statue of Benjamin Franklin. It filled her with amazement and delight. She did not know by what name to call “the stone image,” but she felt within her the stir of new powers.

“I, too, can make a stone man,” she said to herself; and at once she went to visit William Lloyd Garrison,[Pg 466] and told him what she knew she could do, and asked him how she should set about doing it.

Struck by her enthusiasm, Garrison gave her a note of introduction to Brackett, the Boston sculptor, and after a little talk with her, Mr. Brackett gave her a piece of clay and a mould of a human foot, as a study.

“Go home and make that,” said he; “if there is anything in you, it will come out.”

Alone in her own room, the young girl toiled over her clay, and when she had done her best, carried the result to her master. He looked at her model, broke it up, and said, “Try again.” She did try again, modelled feet and hands, and at last undertook a medallion of the head of John Brown, which was pronounced excellent.

The next essay was the bust of a young hero, Colonel Shaw, the first man who took the command of a colored regiment, and whose untimely and glorious death, and the epitaph spoken by the South, “Bury him with his niggers,” have made him an immortal name in the history of our civil war.

The family of this young hero heard of the bust which the colored girl was making as a labor of love, and came to see it, and were delighted with the portrait which she had taken from a few poor photographs. Of this bust she sold one hundred copies, and with that money she set out for Europe, full of hope and courage.

Arriving at Rome, Miss Lewis took a studio, and devoted herself to hard study and hard work, and here she made her first statue—a figure of Hagar in her despair in the wilderness. It is a work full of feeling, for, as she says, “I have a strong sympathy for all[Pg 467] women who have struggled and suffered. For this reason the Virgin Mary is very dear to me.”

The first copy of Hagar was purchased by a gentleman from Chicago. A fine group of the Madonna with the infant Christ in her arms, and two adoring angels at her feet, attests the sincerity of her admiration for the Jewish maiden. This last group has been purchased by the young Marquis of Bute, Disraeli’s Lothair, for an altar-piece.

Among Miss Lewis’s other works are two small groups, illustrating Longfellow’s poem of Hiawatha. Her first, “Hiawatha’s Wooing,” represents Minnehaha seated, making a pair of moccasins, and Hiawatha by her side, with a world of love-longing in his eyes. In the marriage, they stand side by side with clasped hands. In both, the Indian type of features is carefully preserved, and every detail of dress, etc., is true to nature. The sentiment is equal to the execution. They are charming hits, poetic, simple, and natural; and no happier illustrations of Longfellow’s most original poem were ever made than these by the Indian sculptor.

A fine bust, also, of this same poet, is about to be put in marble, which has been ordered by Harvard College; and in this instance, at least, Harvard has done itself honor. If it will not yet open its doors to women who ask education at its hands, it will admit the work of a woman who has educated herself in her chosen department.

Miss Lewis has a fine medallion portrait of Wendell Phillips, a charming group of sleeping babies, and some other minor works, in her studio. At Rome, she is visited by strangers from all nations, who happen in the[Pg 468] great city, and every one admires the genius of the artist.

The highest art is that which rises above the slavish copying of nature, without sinking back again into a more slavish conventionalism. All the forms of such art are intensely simple and natural, but through the natural, the spiritual speaks. The saintly glory shines through the features of its saints, and does not gather in a ring around their heads. It speaks a language all can understand, and has no jargon of its own. It needs no initiation before we can understand its mysteries, excepting that of the pure heart and the awakened mind. It represents nature, but in representing, it interprets her. It shows us nothing but reality, but in the real, it mirrors the invisible ideal.

A statue is a realized emotion, or a thought in stone—not an embodied dream. A picture is a painted poem—not a romance in oil. Working together with nature, such art rises to something higher than nature is, becomes the priestess of her temple, and represents to more prosaic souls that which only the poet sees. The truly poetical mind of Edmonia Lewis shows itself in all her works, and exhibits to the critic the genius of the artist.


Robert Purvis was born in Charleston, South Carolina, but had the advantages of a New England collegiate education. He early embraced the principles of freedom as advocated by William Lloyd Garrison, and[Pg 469] during the whole course of the agitation of the question of slavery, remained true to his early convictions.

Possessed of a large fortune at the very commencement of life, Mr. Purvis took an active part in aiding slaves to obtain their freedom, by furnishing means to secure for them something like justice before the pro-slavery courts of Pennsylvania, when arrested as fugitives, or when brought into the state voluntarily by their owners.

Mr. Purvis did not stop with merely giving of his abundant means, but made many personal sacrifices, and ran risks of loss of life in doing what he conceived to be an act of duty. Though white enough to pass as one of the dominant race, he never denied his connection with the negro.

In personal appearance, and in manners, Mr. Purvis is every inch the gentleman. Possessing a highly-cultivated mind, a reflective imagination, easy and eloquent in speech, but temper quickly aroused, he is always interesting as a public speaker.

Although he spent a large amount in philanthropic causes, Mr. Purvis is still a man of wealth, and owns a princely residence at Bybury, some fifteen miles from Philadelphia. With character unblemished, blameless in his domestic life, an ardent friend, and a dangerous foe, Robert Purvis stands to-day an honor to both races.


James M. Whitfield was a native of Massachusetts, and removed in early life to Buffalo, New York, where[Pg 470] he followed the humble occupation of a barber. However, even in this position, he became noted for his scholarly attainments and gentlemanly deportment. Men of polish and refinement were attracted to his saloon, and while being shaved, would take pleasure in conversing with him; and all who knew him felt that he was intended by Nature for a more elevated station in life.

He wrote some fine verses, and published a volume of poems in 1846, which well stood the test of criticism. His poem, “How long, O God, how long!” is a splendid production, and will take a place in American literature.

Mr. Whitfield removed to California some years since, where he took a forward stand with the progressive men of his race.


Although we have but a meagre historical record, as producers of books, magazines, and newspapers, it must still be admitted that some noble efforts have been made, and not a little time and money spent by colored men in literary enterprises during the last forty years. The oldest, and one of the ablest of American journalists, is Phillip A. Bell.

This gentleman started the “Colored American” in the year 1837, as co-editor with the late Rev. Samuel E. Cornish, and subsequently, with the late Dr. James M’Cune Smith. The paper was a weekly, and published in the city of New York. The “Colored[Pg 471] American” was well conducted, had the confidence of the public, distinguished for the ability shown in its editorials, as well as its correspondents.

Mr. Bell retired from the management of the paper, in 1840. All, however, who remember as far back as thirty-five years, will bear testimony to the efficient work done by the “Colored American,” and the honor that is due to its noble founder. Some ten years ago, Mr. Bell removed to California, where he, in company with Mr. Peter Anderson, flung to the breeze the “Pacific Appeal,” a weekly newspaper, devoted to the interest of the colored man, and which has accomplished great good for humanity. In 1865, Mr. Bell launched the “Elevator,” a spicy weekly, the columns of which attest its ability. Science, philosophy, and the classics are treated in a masterly manner.

Mr. Bell is an original and subtile writer, has fine powers of analysis, and often flings the sparkling rays of a vivid imagination over the productions of his pen.

His articles are usually of a practical nature, always trying to remove evils, working for the moral, social, and political elevation of his race.

In person, Mr. Bell is of medium size, of dark complexion, pleasing countenance, gentlemanly in his manners, a man of much energy, strong determination, unbending endurance, and transparent honesty of purpose.

Of good education and a highly-cultivated mind, Mr. Bell attracts to him the most refined of his color, who regard him as the Napoleon of the colored press. Our subject was not intended by Nature for the platform, and has the good sense not to aspire to oratorical fame. In conversation, however, he is always [Pg 472]interesting, drawing from a rich and varied experience, full of dry humor.

Mr. Bell has a host of friends in New York, where he is always spoken of in the highest manner, and is regarded as the prince of good fellows.


Dr. Ray is a clergyman of the Presbyterian order, and has resided in the city of New York for the last half century. In the year 1840, he became the editor of the “Colored American,” a journal which he conducted with signal ability, always true to the cause of the Southern slave, and the elevation of the black man everywhere. Dr. Ray is well educated, a man of liberal and reformatory views, a terse and vigorous writer, an able and eloquent speaker, well informed upon all subjects of the day.

He has long been identified with every good work in New York, and enjoys the confidence and respect of a large circle of friends.

In person, Dr. Ray is of small stature, neat and wiry build, in race standing about half-way between the African and the Anglo-Saxon. He is polished in his manners, and gentlemanly in his personal appearance. As a writer, a preacher, and a platform-speaker, he has done much to elevate the standard of the colored man in the Empire State.

In the multitude of national and state conventions held thirty years ago and thereabouts, the assembly[Pg 473] was scarcely considered complete without the presence of Charles B. Ray, D. D.

In the religious conventions of his own denomination, he was always regarded with respect, and his sermons delivered to white congregations never failed to leave a good impression for the race to which the preacher belonged. Blameless in his family relations, guided by the highest moral rectitude, a true friend to everything that tends to better the moral, social, religious, and political condition of man, Dr. Ray may be looked upon as one of the foremost of the leading men of his race.


Thirty-five years ago, it was not an easy thing to convince an American community that a colored man was fit for any position save that of a servant. A few men, however, one after another, came upon the surface, and demonstrated beyond a doubt that genius was not confined to race or color. Standing foremost amongst these, was John J. Zuille of New York, who, by his industry, sobriety, and fair dealing, did much to create for the black man a character for business tact in the great metropolis. Mr. Zuille is, by trade, a practical printer, and in company with Bell, Cornish, and others, started the “Colored American” in 1837. As printer of that journal, he showed mechanical skill that placed him at once amongst the ablest of the craft.

Mr. Zuille has also taken a prominent part in all matters pertaining to the welfare of his race in the Empire State. For the past ten years he has been[Pg 474] cashier of the Freedmen’s Bank in the city of New York, a position for which his ability as a business man eminently qualifies him.

Mr. Zuille seems to be but little adulterated in race, short, thick-set, pleasant countenance, energetic and gentlemanly in his movements.

His reputation stands without blot or blemish, and he is surrounded by a large circle of friends, whose entire confidence he enjoys.


The tall, fine figure, manly walk, striking profile, and piercing eye of George T. Downing would attract attention in any community, even where he is unknown. Possessing remarkable talents, finely educated, a keen observer, and devoted to the freedom and elevation of his race, he has long been looked upon as a representative man. A good debater, quick to take advantage of the weak points of an opponent, forcible in speech, and a natural orator, Mr. Downing is always acceptable as a speaker.

He is a native of New York, but resides at the national capital, where he exerts considerable influence in political affairs, especially those pertaining to the welfare of the negro race.

A diplomatist by nature, Mr. Downing can “buttonhole” a congressman with as good effect as almost any man. Daring and aspiring, anxiously catching at the advantage of political elevation, he is always a leading man in conventions. Upright in his dealings, [Pg 475]uncompromising, and strongly attached to the principles of justice. Mr. Downing enjoys the confidence and respect of both white and colored. As he is well qualified to fill any position, we would be glad to see him appointed to represent our government at some foreign court.


Miss Forten is a native of Philadelphia; came to Massachusetts in 1854, entered the Higginson Grammar School at Salem, where she soon earned the reputation of an attentive and progressive student. She graduated from that institution with high honor, having received a premium for “A Parting Hymn,” sung at the last examination. In this composition Miss Forten gave unmistakable evidence of genius of a high order. She became a correspondent of the “National Anti-slavery Standard,” and wrote some very spicy letters, extracts from which were given in other journals.

In a poem entitled “The Angel’s Visit,” she makes a touching allusion to her departed mother, which for style and true poetical diction, is not surpassed by anything in the English language. In blood, Miss Forten stands between the Anglo-Saxon and the African, with finely-chiselled features, well-developed forehead, countenance beaming with intelligence, and a mind richly stored with recollections of the best authors. Highly cultivated, and sensitive to the prejudice existing against her color, Miss Forten’s lot is not an easy one in this world of ours. She still [Pg 476]continues to write for the press, giving most of her articles in the “Atlantic Monthly.”

During the war, and since its close, she has spent much time in teaching in the Southern States, where her labors are highly appreciated.


The subject of this sketch was born in Pittsburg, through the schools of which he passed, then studied at Oberlin College, graduating with the degree of Master of Arts. After reading law with Hon. Walter Forward, he was admitted to the bar in 1847. Mr. Vashon soon after visited Hayti, where he remained three years, returning home in 1850. Called to a professorship in New York Central College, Mr. Vashon discharged the duties of the office with signal ability. A gentleman—a graduate of that institution, now a captain in the federal army—told the writer that he and several of his companions, who had to recite to Professor Vashon, made it a practice for some length of time to search Greek, Latin, and Hebrew for phrases and historical incidents, and would then question the professor, with the hope of “running him on a snag.”

“But,” said he, “we never caught him once, and we came to the conclusion that he was the best read man in the college.”

Literature has a history, and few histories can compare with it in importance, significance, and moral grandeur. There is, therefore, a great price to pay[Pg 477] for literary attainments, which will have an inspiring and liberalizing influence—a price not in silver and gold, but in thorough mental training. This training will give breadth of view, develop strength of character, and a comprehensive spirit, by which the ever-living expressions of truth and principle in the past, may be connected with those of a like character in the present.

Mr. Vashon seems to have taken this view of what constitutes the thorough scholar, and has put his theory into practice. All of the productions of his pen show the student and man of literature. But he is not indebted alone to culture, for he possesses genius of no mean order—poetic genius, far superior to many who have written and published volumes. As Dryden said of Shakspeare, “He needed not the spectacles of books to read Nature; he looked inward, and found her there.” The same excellence appertains to his poetical description of the beautiful scenery and climate of Hayti, in his “Vincent Oge.” His allusion to Columbus’ first visit to the Island is full of solemn grandeur.

Mr. Vashon is of mixed blood; in stature, of medium size, rather round face, with a somewhat solemn countenance, a man of few words,—needs to be drawn out to be appreciated. While visiting a distinguished colored gentleman at Rochester, New York, some years ago, the host, who happened to be a wit as well as an orator, invited in “Professor T——,” a man ignorant of education, but filled with big talk and high-sounding words, without understanding their meaning,—to entertain Mr. Vashon, intending it as a joke. “Professor T——” used all the language that he was[Pg 478] master of, but to no purpose. The man of letters sat still, listened, gazed at the former, but did not dispute any point raised. The uneducated professor, feeling that he had been imposed upon, called Mr. D—— one side, and in a whisper, said:—

“Are you sure that this is an educated man? I fear that he is an impostor; for I tried, but could not call him out.”

Mr. Vashon has long been engaged in imparting education to his down-trodden race, and in this path of duty has contributed much for the elevation of his people. We are somewhat surprised that none of the liberal colleges have done themselves the honor to confer upon Mr. Vashon the title of LL. D.


It is a compliment to a picture to say that it produces the impression of the actual scene. Taste has, frequently, for its object, works of art. Nature, many suppose, may be studied with propriety; but art, they reject as entirely superficial. But what is the fact? In the highest sense, art is the child of Nature; and is most admired when it preserves the likeness of its parent. In Venice, the paintings of Titian, and of the Venetian artists generally, exact from the traveller a yet higher tribute, for the hues and forms around him constantly remind him of their works.

Many of the citizens of Boston, New York, Washington, Philadelphia, and other cities of our country, are often called to mention the names of their absent[Pg 479] or departed friends, by looking upon their features, as transferred to canvas by the pencil and brush of William H. Simpson, the young colored artist. He has evidently taken Titian, Murillo, and Raphael for his masters. The Venetian painters were diligent students of the nature that was around them. The subject of our sketch seems to have imbibed their energy, as well as learned to copy the noble example they left behind. The history of painters, as well as poets, is written in their works. The best life of Goldsmith is to be found in his poem of “The Traveller,” and his novel of “The Vicar of Wakefield.” No one views the beautiful portrait of J. P. Kemble, in the National Gallery in London, in the character of Hamlet, without thinking of Sir Thomas Lawrence, who executed it.

The organ of color is prominent in the cranium of Mr. Simpson, and it is well developed. His portraits are admired for their life-like appearance, as well as for the fine delineation which characterizes them all. It is very easy to transcribe the emotions which paintings awaken, but it is no easy matter to say why a picture is so painted as that it must awaken certain emotions. Many persons feel art; some understand it; but few both feel and understand it. Mr. Simpson is rich in depth of feeling and spiritual beauty. His portrait of John T. Hilton, which was presented to the Masonic Lodge a few months since, is a splendid piece of art. The longer you look on the features, the more the picture looks like real life.

The taste displayed in the coloring of the regalia, and the admirable perspective of each badge of honor, show great skill. No higher praise is needed than to[Pg 480] say that a gentleman of Boston, distinguished for his good judgment in the picture gallery, wishing to secure a likeness of Hon. Charles Sumner, induced the senator to sit to Mr. Simpson for the portrait; and in this instance the artist has been signally successful.

His likenesses have been so correct, that he has often been employed to paint whole families, where only one had been bargained for in the commencement. He is considered unapproachable in taking juvenile faces. Mr. Simpson does not aspire to anything in his art beyond portrait-painting. Nevertheless, a beautiful fancy sketch, hanging in his studio, representing summer, exhibits marked ability and consummate genius. The wreath upon the head, with different kinds of grain interwoven, and the nicety of coloring in each particular kind, causes those who view it to regard him as master of his profession. Portraits of his execution are scattered over most of the Northern States and the Canadas. Some have gone to Liberia, Hayti, and California.

Mr. Simpson is a native of Buffalo, New York, where he received a liberal education. But even in school, his early inclination to draw likenesses materially interfered with his studies. The propensity to use his slate and pencil in scratching down his schoolmates, instead of doing his sums in arithmetic, often gained him severe punishment. After leaving school, he was employed as errand boy by Matthew Wilson, Esq., the distinguished artist, who soon discovered young Simpson’s genius, and took him as an apprentice. In 1854, they removed to Boston, where Mr. Simpson labored diligently to acquire a thorough[Pg 481] knowledge of the profession. Mr. Wilson stated to the writer, that he never had a man who was more attentive or more trustworthy than William H. Simpson.

Of unmixed negro blood, small in stature, a rather mild and womanly countenance, firm and resolute eye, gentlemanly in appearance, and intelligent in conversation, Mr. Simpson will be respected for his many good qualities. He died in 1872.


Edward Jordan was born in Kingston, Jamaica, in the year 1798. After quitting school, he entered a clothing store, as a clerk; but his deep hatred to slavery, and the political and social outrages committed upon the free colored men, preyed upon his mind to such an extent that, in 1826, he associated himself with Robert Osborn, in the publication of “The Watchman,” a weekly newspaper devoted to the freedom and enfranchisement of the people of color.

His journal was conducted with marked ability, and Mr. Jordan soon began to wield a tremendous influence against the slave power. While absent from his editorial duties, in 1830, an article appeared in “The Watchman,” upon which its editor was indicted for constructive treason. He was at once arrested, placed in the dock, and arraigned for trial. He pleaded “Not guilty,” and asked for time to prepare for his defence. The plea was allowed, and the case was traversed to the next court. The trial came on at the appointed time; the jury was packed, for the pro-slavery element had determined on the conviction of the [Pg 482]distinguished advocate of liberty. The whole city appeared to be lost to everything but the proceedings of the assize. It was feared that, if convicted, a riot would be the result, and the authorities prepared for this.

A vessel of war was brought up abreast of the city, the guns of which were pointed up one of the principal streets, and at almost every avenue leading to the sea, a merchant vessel was moored, armed with at least one great gun, pointing in a similar direction, to rake the streets from bottom to top. A detachment of soldiers was kept under arms, with orders to be ready for action at a moment’s warning. The officers of the court, including the judge, entered upon their duties, armed with pistols; and the sheriff was instructed to shoot the prisoner in the dock if a rescue was attempted. If convicted, Mr. Jordan’s punishment was to be death. Happily for all, the verdict was “Not guilty.” The acquittal of the editor of “The Watchman” carried disappointment and dismay into the ranks of the slave oligarchy, while it gave a new impetus to the anti-slavery cause, both in Jamaica and in Great Britain, and which culminated in the abolition of slavery on the 1st of August, 1834. The following year, Mr. Jordan was elected member of the Assembly for the city of Kingston, which he still represents. About this time, “The Watchman” was converted into a daily paper, under the title of “The Morning Journal,” still in existence, and owned by Jordan and Osborn. In 1853, Mr. Jordan was elected mayor of his native city without opposition, which office he still holds. He was recently chosen premier of the Island, and president of the privy council.

No man is more respected in the Assembly than Mr.[Pg 483] Jordan, and reform measures offered by him are often carried through the house, owing to the respect the members have for the introducer. In the year 1860, the honorable gentleman was elevated to the dignity of knighthood by the Queen.

Sir Edward Jordan has ever been regarded as an honest, upright, and temperate man. In a literary point of view, he is considered one of the first men in Jamaica.

It is indeed a cheering sign for the negro to look at one of his race who a few years ago was tried for his life in a city in which he has since been mayor, and has held other offices of honor.

Mr. Jordan has died since the above sketch was written, and no man in Jamaica ever received greater honors at his funeral than he.


Edwin M. Bannister was born in the town of St. Andrew, New Brunswick, and lost his father when only six years old. He attended the Grammar School in his native place, and received a better education than persons generally in his position. From early childhood he seems to have had a fancy for painting, which showed itself in the school-room and at home. He often drew portraits of his school-fellows, and the master not unfrequently found himself upon the slate, where Edwin’s success was so manifest that the likeness would call forth merriment from the boys, and create laughter at the expense of the teacher.

[Pg 484]

At the death of his mother, when still in his minority, he was put out to live with the Hon. Harris Hatch, a wealthy lawyer, the proprietor of a fine farm some little distance in the country. In his new home Edwin did not lose sight of his drawing propensities, and though the family had nothing in the way of models except two faded portraits, kept more as relics than for their intrinsic value, he nevertheless practised upon them, and often made the copy look more lifelike than the original. On the barn doors, fences, and every place where drawings could be made, the two ancient faces were to be seen pictured.

When the family were away on the Sabbath at church, the young artist would take possession of the old Bible, and copy its crude engravings, then replace it upon the dusty shelf, feeling an inward gratification, that, instead of satisfying the inclination, only gave him fresh zeal to hunt for new models. By the great variety of drawings which he had made on paper, and the correct sketches taken, young Bannister gained considerable reputation in the lawyer’s family, as well as in the neighborhood. Often, after the household had retired at night, the dim glimmer from the lean tallow candle was seen through the attic chamber window. It was there that the genius of the embryo artist was struggling for development.

There is a great diversity of opinion with regard to genius, many mistaking talent for genius. Talent is strength and subtilty of mind: genius is mental inspiration and delicacy of feeling. Talent possesses vigor and acuteness of penetration, but is surpassed by the vivid intellectual conceptions of genius. The former is skilful and bold, the latter aspiring and gentle. But[Pg 485] talent excels in practical sagacity; and hence those striking contrasts so often witnessed in the world,—the triumphs of talent through its adroit and active energies, and the adversities of genius in the midst of its boundless, but unattainable aspirations. Mr. Bannister is a lover of poetry and the classics, and is always hunting up some new model for his gifted pencil and brush.

He has a beautiful scene representing “Cleopatra waiting to receive Marc Antony,” which I regret that I did not see. I am informed, however, that it is a beautifully-executed picture.

Mr. Bannister is of mixed blood, of spare make, slim, with an interesting cast of countenance, quick in his motions, easy in his manners, and respected by all.


Mr. Nell is a native of Boston, and from the beginning of the anti-slavery agitation was identified with the movement. He labored long and arduously for equal school-rights for the colored children of his native city, where he performed a good work.

Mr. Nell is the author of the “Colored Patriots of the American Revolution,” a book filled with interesting incidents connected with the history of the blacks of this country, past and present. He has also written several smaller works, all of which are humanitarian in their character.

Deeply interested in the intellectual development[Pg 486] and cultivation of his race, he has given much toil without compensation.

Mr. Nell is of medium height, slim, genteel figure, quick step, elastic movement, a thoughtful yet pleasant brow, thin face, and chaste in his conversation.

A student, and a lover of literature, he has a cultivated understanding, and has collected together more facts on the race with which he is identified than any other man of our acquaintance.

Mr. Nell is of unimpeachable character, and highly respected by his fellow-citizens.


On looking over the columns of “The Times,” one morning, I saw it announced under the head of “Amusements,” that “Ira Aldridge, the African Roscius,” was to appear in the character of Othello, in Shakspeare’s celebrated tragedy of that name, and having long wished to see my sable countryman, I resolved at once to attend. Though the doors had been open but a short time when I reached the Royal Haymarket, the theatre where the performance was to take place, the house was well filled, and among the audience I recognized the faces of several distinguished persons of the nobility, the most noted of whom was Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton, the renowned novelist—his figure neat, trim, hair done up in the latest fashion—looking as if he had just come out of a band-box. He is a great lover of the drama, and has a private theatre at one of his[Pg 487] country seats, to which he often invites his friends, and presses them into the different characters.

As the time approached for the curtain to rise, it was evident that the house was to be “jammed.” Stuart, the best Iago since the days of Young, in company with Roderigo, came upon the stage as soon as the green curtain went up. Iago looked the villain, and acted it to the highest conception of the character. The scene is changed, all eyes are turned to the right door, and thunders of applause greet the appearance of Othello.

Mr. Aldridge is of the middle size, and appeared to be about three-quarters African; has a voice deep and powerful; and it was very evident that Edmund Kean, once his master, was also the model which he carefully followed in the part. There were the same deliberate, over-distinct enunciations, the same prolonged pauses and gradually performed gestures, in imitation of Kean’s manner. As Iago began to work upon his feelings, the Moor’s eyes flashed fire, and, further on in the play, he looked the very demon of despair. When he seized the deceiver by the throat, and exclaimed,—

“Villain, be sure thou prove my love false!
Be sure of it; give me the ocular proof;
Or, by the worth of mine eternal soul,
Thou hadst been better have been born a dog,
Than answer my waked wrath,”

the audience, with one impulse, rose to their feet amid the wildest enthusiasm. At the end of the third act, Othello was called before the curtain, and received the applause of the delighted multitude. I watched the[Pg 488] countenance and every motion of Bulwer Lytton with almost as much interest as I did that of the Moor of Venice, and saw that none appeared to be better pleased than he. The following evening I went to witness his Hamlet, and was surprised to find him as perfect in that as he had been in Othello; for I had been led to believe that the latter was his greatest character.

The whole court of Denmark was before us; but till the words,

“’Tis not alone my inky cloak, good mother,”—

fell from the lips of Mr. Aldridge, was the general ear charmed, or the general tongue arrested. The voice was so low, and sad, and sweet, the modulation so tender, the dignity so natural, the grace so consummate, that all yielded themselves silently to the delicious enchantment. When Horatio told him that he had come to see his father’s funeral, the deep melancholy that took possession of his face showed the great dramatic power of Mr. Aldridge.

“I pray thee, do not mock me, fellow-student!”

seemed to come from his inmost soul.

Ira Aldridge was a native of Africa, born soon after his father’s arrival in Senegal, came to the United States on the father’s return, remained here for a time, and was then sent to Scotland, where he received a liberal education. During his latter years, Mr. Aldridge travelled extensively on the Continent of Europe, visiting among other places St. Petersburg, where the Russians became wild and enthusiastic over his [Pg 489]dramatic representations. He died in London, in 1868, leaving a widow, a Swedish lady, with whom he had lived happily, and in magnificent style, near London, for several years.


Oscar J. Dunn was a native of Louisiana, and by trade a plasterer, at which he worked during his early life. His education was limited, but what he lacked in book learning was made up in good common sense. In color, he was a brown skin, of commanding appearance, dignified in manners, and calculated to make a favorable impression upon all who had the good fortune to make his acquaintance. Although born a slave, he was, nevertheless, one of Nature’s noblest men.

Called into public life at a time when the condition of his race was in a critical transition state, he exhibited powers of intellect, honesty of purpose, and private virtues seldom equalled. General Sheridan, while in command at New Orleans, early discovered the rare gifts of Mr. Dunn, and appointed him a member of the city council. He served the city and state in various ways until he was elected to the position of lieutenant-governor of the state. Intelligent upon all subjects, and remarkable for sound judgment, his opinion and counsel upon questions of state were sought by men of all parties. As a presiding officer in the Louisiana Senate, Mr. Dunn exhibited parliamentary talent that at once commanded the respect and challenged the admiration of the most fastidious; and for dispatch of[Pg 490] business in his official chair, few men in the country have been his equal.

But the greatest characteristic of this man was his downright honesty. In this he stood almost alone, for while the legislature of Louisiana was charged with being a stock-jobbing concern, and its members, one after another, rolling in their new-gained wealth, Oscar J. Dunn was not only above suspicion, but actually died a poor man.

He was a calm, vigilant sentry for Louisiana when she dreamed it least. Firmly resisting temptations to sin, which too often beset official station, he could never be made an accomplice with others against her. His inflexible integrity was in itself a mighty protest against the shams of the state administration, and commanded such candid respect even from the Democrats, that of late the authors of those shams, in their recourse to Democrats for the fresh lease of power denied them by Republicans, were constrained to revive a prejudice for a pretext, and to charge him with instigating a black man’s party. There existed not a fact to justify the charge; but a lie was a fit auxiliary to new projects of fraud, and unhappily, there were “itching palms” to subscribe it per order.

His views were most catholic on the question of class. He wanted amity, not jealousy, between the colors, for he recognized all in the political society as brethren, not as rivals. He felt that injustice to any one citizen, white or black, was, if unredressed, a menace to all; that our interests were in common; our ballots, honestly counted, our common consent; and our influence for good, our common basis of endeavor for Louisiana. His aims for his race were too[Pg 491] sincere to embarrass its progress by provoking anew the old sectional spleen against it—and he tacitly compelled in his own case a recognition, which any citizen might envy. Standing in a high official trust, and yet in a dark skin, he rebuked with quiet, inoffensive emphasis, the miserable heresy that a man is more or less a worthy citizen because of his color.

As a speaker, Mr. Dunn was not what the world would call “eloquent,” but what he said was always listened to with the greatest interest and respect. All classes held him in high esteem, and with his own color his power was unlimited. Attacked by a sudden and sure malady, death swept him away while in the zenith of his influence, on the twenty-first of November, 1871.


The late rebellion has not produced a more remarkable instance of a self-made man than is seen in the career of John R. Lynch, Speaker of the House of Representatives of Mississippi. He was born in Louisiana, just opposite Natchez, in the year 1847, of a slave mother, then the property of a Mr. Lapiche, and is now in his twenty-fifth year. His father, being a man of wealth and character, made the necessary arrangements when Mr. Lynch was yet a child, to have him and his mother set free, but by his sudden and unexpected death, and treachery on the part of those who had entered into the agreement with him, the plan was not carried out, and both remained slaves until emancipated by the result of the war.

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During his time of servitude, and while he was yet a boy, Mr. Lynch had a deep, irrepressible desire to rise above the hopeless lot to which destiny seemed to have assigned him, and went forward with the energy which has characterized him since that time, to the acquirement of as much education as was within his reach. He learned to read and write while a slave, but no more. After his mother became the property of Mr. Alfred Davis, she was taken to Natchez with her children, and has lived there ever since. In 1864, and while the Federal troops were in possession of that city, Mr. Lynch enjoyed the opportunity of attending night school, for four months only, and that closed all the educational advantages of which he has been possessed. Since that time he has been entirely dependent on his own efforts and resources, and his innate desire to obtain knowledge, for the advancement he has made.

That his career has been most remarkable thus far, cannot be denied by any one. This will appear most evident by a comparison of his humble origin and the many disadvantages under which he has labored, with the honorable position he now holds, and the high qualifications he brings with him to sustain him in that place. In point of education, he is amply fitted; in natural ability that is well-defined, cultivated, and ready, he certainly has no superior in the House. His knowledge of parliamentary law and usages has been tested in many heated contests with the best tacticians of the legislature, and proved to be inferior to none, however able. Nor do all these high qualifications, so amply possessed by Mr. Lynch, contain all the good things we have to say of him. He has the still higher[Pg 493] virtue of unimpeached honesty and veracity. During all the two years of tempting trials that he has witnessed, it never once was intimated that he was even open to suspicion. The record he made during all that time is as pure and untarnished as the driven snow. No one ever questioned his integrity, or clouded his fair name with the intimation that he deviated from the path of rectitude and right. If he sometimes departed from the course marked out by a majority of his party, he did so, as he believed, in the discharge of a solemn duty, and with no other desire than to do what he conceived to be right.

He was appointed justice of the peace by General Ames in 1868, for the city of Natchez, took a prominent part in the constitutional convention of the State, was a member of the last legislature, and now fills the Speaker’s chair. Mr. Lynch is fluent in speech, eloquent in his addresses, chaste in his language, and gentlemanly in all his intercourse with others. Medium in size, genteel in figure, brown in complexion, with piercing eyes, amiable countenance, manly and upright walk, Mr. Lynch makes a dignified appearance in the speaker’s chair, and handles the gavel according to Cushing. He has been elected to a seat in Congress from his state.


The subject of this sketch is one of the deepest thinkers of which the black man can boast in our broad land. In early life, he was engaged in the lumber trade in Columbia, Pennsylvania, in which he [Pg 494]secured a competency. Even while battling with the world for filthy lucre, Mr. Whipper gave much of his time to the advocacy of the freedom of the slave, and the elevation of the colored men of the North. In his business relations with the whites he always left a good impression of the negro’s capability, honesty, and gentlemanly deportment.

In 1833, he took charge of the editorial department of the “National Reformer,” a monthly magazine, published by the American Moral Reform Society. Mr. Whipper’s editorials were couched in chaste and plain language, but bold and outspoken in the advocacy of truth. He said:—

“We believe that Education, Temperance, Economy, and Universal Liberty, if properly carried out, will prove a powerful auxiliary in producing this necessary reformation, on which rests the Christian’s hope. They are now producing wonders in our country, under distinct and specific organizations. They are adhesive virtues, and as capable of uniting with each other as a like number of seas are of commingling their waters, and forming one great ocean. If this mighty current of philanthropy could become united in one living stream, it would soon sweep from our country every vestige of misery and oppression. And is it not as necessary that it should be so, as that a single mind should embrace these principles alone? Our country is rich with the means of resuscitating her from moral degeneracy. She possesses all the elements for her redemption; she has but to will it, and she is free.”

Mr. Whipper is a mulatto of fine personal appearance, above the middle size, stoops a little,—that bend of the shoulders that marks the student. He is [Pg 495]remarkably well read, able to cite authority from the ancients, and posted in all the current literature of the day. He is social and genial, and very interesting and entertaining in conversation. Mr. Whipper resides in Philadelphia, where he is highly respected by all classes, and loved and looked up to by his own race.


Mr. Cardozo is a native of Charleston, South Carolina; is a mulatto, with a slight preponderance of Anglo-Saxon blood. He is thirty-five years old, and therefore, is in the prime of life. He was born free, and had advantages of northern schools, and finished his education at the Newburg Collegiate Institute. From 1861 to 1866, he was a school-teacher. In 1868, he went to North Carolina as a pioneer in the cause of education among the freedmen, and to establish a normal school in the eighteenth congressional district, and to use his influence in procuring state aid in organizing a system of common schools. His success in this enterprise was all that the most sanguine devotee could have expected. He remained there until the schools were firmly fixed upon a substantial basis.

In 1870, Mr. Cardozo removed to Vicksburg, Mississippi. He did not apply for any office, although it is well known that all the offices in the State were in that year filled by appointment of the governor,—but he went to work, and organized a large school in the city, which soon took rank among the first in the State.[Pg 496] In 1871, at the earnest solicitation of the members of the Republican party, he became a candidate for, and was elected to, the office of Circuit Clerk of Warren County. For the manner in which he has discharged the intricate duties of that very responsible office, he elicited the highest compliments from the judge as well as the members of the bar.

Mr. Cardozo has recently been nominated for State Superintendent of Education, a position which he is in every way well qualified to fill. He will bring to the office a practical knowledge which will be of great service to the State, and a lasting benefit to the race with whom he is identified.

Modest and reserved, dignified and gentlemanly, Mr. Cardozo is calculated to gain the esteem and confidence of all with whom he may come in contact.


Although born free, in Norfolk, Virginia, Mrs. De Mortie’s education was limited. This, however, she strove to improve by studying when the time for her school days had passed. She came to Boston in 1853, we believe, and made it her home. In the autumn of 1862, Mrs. De Mortie began as a public reader in Boston, and her rare ability, eloquent rendering of the poets, pleasing manner, and good sense, gained for her a host of admiring friends, among whom were some of the leading men and women of the country, and a successful public career seemed to be before her. But hearing of the distress and want amongst[Pg 497] the colored children of New Orleans, left orphans by the war, she resolved to go there, and devote herself to their welfare. Although urged by her relatives and friends at the North to leave New Orleans until the yellow fever had ceased, she refused to desert her post, saying that her duty was with her helpless race.

In 1867, Mrs. De Mortie undertook to raise the means to build an Orphan Home, and succeeded in obtaining the amount required for the erection of the building. But her useful career was cut short by the yellow fever. She died on the tenth of October, 1867, in the thirty-fourth year of her age. She bore her illness with Christian fortitude, and in her last moments said, with a childlike simplicity, “I belong to God, our Father.”

The announcement of her death was received with regret by her large circle of friends at the North, while the newspapers of New Orleans, her adopted home, spoke of her in the most eulogistic terms.

Mrs. De Mortie was a remarkably gifted and brilliant woman. In personal appearance, she was somewhat taller than the middle height, with a Grecian cast of countenance, eyes dark and sparkling, lips swelling, forehead high, refined manners, and possessing energy which always brings success. In fact, it may be truthfully said, that Louise De Mortie was one of the most beautiful of her sex.


Mr. Bassett is a self-made man, and may safely be put forward as one of the best representatives of his[Pg 498] race. Born at Litchfield, Connecticut, in 1833, Mr. Bassett graduated, the foremost scholar of his class, at the Birmingham Academy, when quite young, and afterwards graduated at the Connecticut State Normal School, with high honor, in 1853. He immediately thereafter removed to New Haven, took charge of a public grammar school in that city, and eagerly availed himself of the facilities afforded by Yale College, to prosecute the study of the classics, mathematical science, and general literature. In 1855, he was called by the Orthodox Society of Friends to the charge of the Philadelphia Colored High School, which, under his management, became very widely known as the foremost institution of the kind in the country. The honorary degree of Master of Arts was conferred upon him by the Lincoln University at Oxford, Pennsylvania.

On the elevation of General Grant to the presidency, Mr. Bassett became a candidate for the Haytian Mission, and so well satisfied were the people generally, that he received the unsolicited endorsement of the ablest men, colored and white, of all parties.

He is a mulatto of medium size, prominent features, nearly straight black hair, neat figure, gentlemanly in personal appearance, intelligent and chaste in conversation, and possesses a high moral character. He is a ripe scholar, well versed in the classics, and has much literary taste.

As a representative of the United States to another government, Mr. Bassett has more than fulfilled the most sanguine expectations of his friends, while the country generally regard him as one of the ablest of our diplomatic agents. His correspondence with the[Pg 499] Home Government has shown him to be a man of decided ability. Indeed, Mr. Bassett’s manly deportment, and dignified and high-toned character, have raised the Haytian mission to a more elevated position than it has ever before enjoyed.


As a student at Oberlin College, William Howard Day stood well, and graduated with honors. He resided some years at Cleveland, Ohio, where, for a time, he published a weekly newspaper, which rendered timely and efficient service to the cause of freedom, and the elevation of the colored people of that State. In 1856 or 1857, he visited England, where he was much admired for his scholarly attainments, and truly genuine eloquence. On his return home, Mr. Day became associate editor of the “Zion’s Standard and Weekly Review.” He now resides at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where he publishes “Our National Progress,” a paper devoted to the cause of reform, and the elevation of man.

As a speaker, Mr. Day may be regarded as one of the most effective of the present time; has great self-possession, and gaiety of imagination; is rich in the selection of his illustrations, well versed in history, literature, science, and philosophy, and can draw on his finely-stored memory at will. As a writer, Mr. Day is far above newspaper editors generally, exhibiting much care and thought in many of his articles. As a speaker and writer, he has done a good work for his race.

[Pg 500]

He is a mulatto of ordinary size, has a large and well-balanced head, high forehead, bright eyes, intellectual and pleasing countenance, genteel figure, and is what the ladies would call “a handsome man.” Mr. Day, besides his editorial duties, holds a responsible and lucrative office in the State Department of Pennsylvania, which he fills with honor to himself, and profit to the State.


Dr. Revels is a native of North Carolina, where, at Fayetteville, Cumberland County, he was born, a freeman, on the first of September, A. D., 1822. Passing his boyhood and youth, until about twenty-one years of age, in North Carolina, he went to northern Indiana, the laws of his native state forbidding colored schools. The parents of the lad had been permitted to prepare him somewhat for an education, and he had been studying, off and on, some years previous to leaving for the North. He passed two years in Indiana, attending a Quaker school, and then removed to Dark County, Ohio, where he remained for some time, and subsequently graduated at Knox College, at Galesburg, Illinois; and after that, entered the ministry as a preacher of the gospel under the auspices of the Methodist Church. At this time he was twenty-five years of age. His first charge was in Indiana. From entering the service of the church to the present time he has steadily persevered as a preacher, and is well known as a practical Christian and a zealous and eloquent expounder of the word.

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After some years in Indiana, he filled important posts in Missouri, Maryland, Kentucky, and Kansas, in the cause of the African M. E. Church. He was in Maryland in 1861, at the breaking out of the war, and materially aided in forming in that State the first Maryland colored regiment. He was also able to assist in Missouri in raising the first colored regiment in that State, and returned to Mississippi in 1864, settling in Vicksburg, where he had charge of a church congregation, and assisted in organizing other churches, and in forming and putting into operation the school system, visiting various portions of the State on his own responsibility, and among other places, preaching in Jackson. His health failing, Dr. Revels went to the North once more, after the close of hostilities, where he remained eighteen months. Returning, he located at Natchez, where he preached regularly to a large congregation, and where General Ames, then military governor, appointed him to the position of alderman. In 1869, he was duly elected to the State Senate.

In January, 1870, Dr. Revels was selected to represent Mississippi in the United States Senate, the announcement of which took the country by surprise, and as the time drew near for the colored senator to appear in his place in Congress, the interest became intense. Many who had heard reconstruction discussed in its length and breadth,—by men of prophetic power and eloquent utterance, by men of merely logical and judicial minds, by men narrow and selfish, as well as those sophistical and prejudiced,—and who had no particular interest in the debates, still came day after day, hoping to see qualified for his[Pg 502] seat in the senate the first colored man presenting himself for so high an office, the first to be in eminent civil service in the general government.

At last, on Friday, February 25, 1870, a day never to be forgotten, at about five o’clock, in the presence of the chamber and galleries crowded with expectant and eager spectators, the oath was administered to Hiram R. Revels, by the vice-president. Senator Wilson accompanied him to the chair, and he was at once waited upon to his seat by the sergeant-at-arms.

Saulsbury had done his best to turn backward the wheels of progress; Davis fought in vain, declaring he would “resist at every step” this unconstitutional measure, giving illustrations, dissertations, execrations, and recommendations of and for the “Negro” and his Republican friends; Stockton, in the interest of law and precedent, begged that the subject should go to the judiciary committee, but the party of freedom moved on in solid phalanx of unanimity to the historic result. Mr. Sumner, who had not taken part in the debate, raised his voice with impressiveness and power, comprehending the whole question in a short speech just before the vote.

Thus was accomplished the last important step in the National Legislature for those once enslaved, and the crowning rebuke to the Rebellion, especially as the Mississippi senator took the seat made vacant by Jefferson Davis when his treason became known to the North and to the government. After the close of his senatorial course, he was appointed President of Alcorn University, with a salary of two thousand five hundred dollars per annum, which place and its emoluments he left,—at the desire of Governor Powers, and as he[Pg 503] thought it his duty,—to serve as Secretary of State, at the longest possible time, for less than one year. He had four years still remaining of his office as President of the University; hence, financially considered, he sacrificed something in reaching the higher official honors. It is due to him to say that the appointment was bestowed unsolicited by himself, through the governor’s belief in his fitness for the position.

Dr. Revels is a mulatto, of good address, of medium size, hair curly, features somewhat prominent, with something of the ministerial air.


Mr. Elliott has the honor of representing in Congress the South Carolina District, once filled by John C. Calhoun, the most distinguished man of the olden time from the Palmetto State. We have not been able to inform ourselves as to Mr. Elliott’s birth-place and educational advantages; but we understand, however, that he studied and adopted the law as a profession, in which he stands high. He commenced his political career at the South, and was a member of the State Constitutional Convention of South Carolina in 1868; was a member of the House of Representatives of South Carolina from July 6, 1868, to October 23, 1870; was appointed, on the 25th of March, 1869, Assistant Adjutant-General, which position he held until he was elected to the Forty-second Congress as a Republican.

Mr. Elliott is black, of unmixed blood, strongly-marked [Pg 504]negro features, close curly hair, bright and penetrating eyes, genteel in his personal appearance, somewhat English in his accent, a good speaker, and dignified in his manners. His speeches in Congress, and his public addresses before his constituents, show him to be a man of high cultivation. With his own race, Mr. Elliott stands deservedly well, and commands the respect of the whites everywhere. In Congress, he is looked upon as an able debater, and is listened to with marked attention.


The negro’s ability to master language, his vivid imagination, his great delight in rhetorical exercise, his inward enthusiasm, his seeming power to transport himself into the scene which he describes, or the emotion he has summoned, has long puzzled the brain of our deepest and most acute thinkers. The best test of true eloquence is the effect it produces upon the listener. The finest illustration of the self-made orator may be found in J. Madison Bell, whose poetic genius, classic mind, and highly-cultivated understanding has never been appreciated by our people.

In the winter of 1867, it was our good fortune to make the acquaintance of this gentleman, then giving a series of poetical readings at Washington. His evening’s entertainment was made up entirely of his own writings, and they were all of a superior character. Mr. Bell is a rare instance of the combination of the highest excellence of the poet with the best style of[Pg 505] the orator. The oratory of some men is not easily described; so it is with Mr. Bell. His masterly argument, acute reasoning, and the soul-stirring appeals to the highest feelings of our nature soon carry away the listener in an enthusiasm of admiration. His descriptive powers, both in his writings and his extemporaneous addresses, are of the highest order.

Mr. Bell has spent some years in California, where he did much for the elevation of his race. He now resides in Ohio, and exerts a good influence in behalf of the cause of universal freedom. He is a mulatto, of fine physical appearance, high, broad forehead, countenance beaming with intelligence, handsome, like most of his race who have a mixture of Anglo-Saxon. Mr. Bell was born in Gallipolis, in 1827, and was in early life a plasterer by trade, but ere long he laid aside the trowel for the pen.


The subject of this sketch was born a slave, and resided in Missouri. He received his education at Oberlin College, where he gained the reputation of possessing remarkable oratorical ability. Whether he graduated at that institution or not, we have been unable to learn. It is said, however, that he has a classical education, and is refined in his manners. In the last presidential election, Mr. Turner was the leader of the colored citizens in St. Louis, where it is asserted that he was the most eloquent man on the stump.

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After the inauguration of President Grant, Mr. Turner received the appointment of Consul General to Liberia, the government of which received him with distinguished honors. At his reception, Mr. Turner said: “In the true spirit of progress, you have planted upon these shores the germ of a republic that is destined not only to develop a civilization worthy of the respect and admiration of unborn generations, but by means of the Christian religion to debarbarize and benefit for almost immediate usefulness thousands of human beings whose intellects are to-day debased by the destructive potency of heathenish superstition.”


Of our many gifted, enthusiastic, and eloquent men, few have been more favored by nature than Henry M. Turner. A native of South Carolina, he seems to have the genius and fire of the Calhouns and McDuffies, without possessing a drop of their blood. Mr. Turner is a good-sized, fine-looking, brown-skinned man, of forty years of age, with a splendid voice, fluent in speech, pleasing in gestures, and powerful in his delivery. It is said that at the tender age of twelve, he had a dream in which he saw multitudes of men coming to him to be taught.[55] That dream made an impression that followed him to the present time, and no doubt had much influence in shaping his course of life. He was licensed to preach before he had reached his [Pg 507]twenty-first year. He joined the A. M. E. Church in 1857. During the rebellion, President Lincoln appointed him chaplain of the 1st Regiment, U. S. C. T., and the first, too, of all the colored chaplains. He resigned his pastoral relations with his church, and followed his brother-men to the battle-field, and remained in service till the close of the war.

In his “Apology,” Tanner says of Dr. Turner: “He is a remarkable man; and though at times the paraphernalia of the kitchen seems to be in the parlor, and, vice versa, there is always enough of him to demand the respect of the most learned and the admiration of the masses. More earnest than polite, a man who thinks for himself, speaks as he feels, and who fears only God, his memory will not cease with his life—a man who may truly say with Themistocles, ‘’Tis true I never learned how to tune a harp, or play upon a lute; but I know how to raise a small and inconsiderable city to glory and greatness.’”

In a sermon preached on the death of the Rev. Milton Tillinghast, pastor of the First Baptist Church, Macon, Georgia, Dr. Turner shows himself to be an able theologian, and a man of the finest sensibilities. His “Negro in all Ages” is a production of rare merit, and exhibits great research.


Mr. Rainey is a native of South Carolina, and was born at Georgetown. His parents purchased their freedom, and gave the son a good education, although[Pg 508] it was against the law to do such an act. His father was a barber, and he followed that occupation at Charleston till 1862, when, having been forced to work on the fortifications of the Confederates, he escaped to the West Indies, where he remained until the close of the war, when he returned to his native town. He was elected a delegate to the State Constitutional Convention of 1868, and was a member of the State Senate of South Carolina in 1870, resigning when elected to the Forty-first Congress as a Republican to fill the vacancy caused by the non-reception of B. F. Whittemore, and was re-elected to the Forty-second Congress as a Republican.

Mr. Rainey is below the medium size, of a dark olive complexion, straight, black hair, finely chiseled features, modest in manners, and dignified in his deportment. Although not what the world would call an orator, he is, nevertheless, an able debater, and in his reply to “Sunset” Cox, in the House of Representatives, showed talents superior to the New Yorker.


Miss Jackson was born, we believe, in the District of Columbia, about the year 1837, and was left an orphan while yet a child. She was brought up by her aunt, Mrs. Sarah Clark. She had but limited opportunities for education in Washington, in those days. In charge of Mrs. Orr, she removed to New Bedford when in her sixteenth year. After remaining here a[Pg 509] while, she took up her residence in the family of Mayor Caldwell, at Newport, Rhode Island. It was at this time that Miss Jackson evinced those high attributes of mind which have since culminated in the ripe scholar.

Her rare genius attracted the attention of Mr. Caldwell, and by his aid, in connection with Mrs. Clark, she was able to enter school at Bristol, Rhode Island, and begin the studies of the higher branches. After due preparation here, Miss Jackson went to Oberlin College, where she soon took rank with the most industrious and progressive students. To enable her to assist in paying her increased expenses, she taught music in families in the village, and thereby aided others while she was helping herself. Her intellectual aspirations and moral endowments gained the undivided respect and sympathy of her Oberlin teachers.

Graduating with honors, Miss Jackson at once took a position as teacher in the high school for colored youths in Philadelphia, where she is at present the principal. Her ability in governing an institution of learning has given her more than a local fame. She believes in progress, and is still the student. She has written some good articles for the press, which evince culture of no mean order. As a writer, she is a cogent reasoner, a deep thinker, taking hold of live issues, and dealing with them in a masterly manner.

Miss Jackson has appeared on the platform, and with telling effect. In her addresses, which are always written, she is more fluent than eloquent, more solid than brilliant, more inclined to labored arguments than to rounded periods and polished sentences, and yet no period or sentence lacks finish. Wit, humor, pathos,[Pg 510] irony,—flow from her lips as freely as water from an unfailing fountain.

Looking back at her struggles for education and the high position she has attained as a teacher and a lady of letters, Miss Jackson is altogether one of the most remarkable women of our time.

In person, she is of medium size; in complexion, a mulatto; features, well-defined, with an intelligent cast of countenance. The organ of benevolence is prominently developed, as are the organs of causality, comparison, ideality, and sublimity. This accounts for the elegance of her diction, the dazzle of her rhetoric, and the native grace of her fascinating powers. Irreproachable in her reputation, with her rare gifts and moral aspirations, Miss Jackson cannot fail to be of untold benefit to her race.


Mr. Ransier is, in every respect, a self-made man. Born in Charleston, South Carolina, and, although his parents were free, they had to contend with poverty on the one hand and slavery on the other, and the son’s opportunities for education were poor. It is said that he never had any regular schooling. Yet he so far advanced in a common business education that at the age of sixteen years he was engaged in shipping cotton, rice, and other produce for some of the leading commercial houses in Charleston. Throughout all his business relations, Mr. Ransier gained the respect and confidence of those with whom he had dealings.

[Pg 511]

Immediately after the war, he contributed much towards the first Republican Convention held in his State, 1866, and was chosen by it to convey a memorial from that body to the Congress of the United States, setting forth the grievances of the loyal people, and asking the protection and aid of the government in their behalf. He remained in Washington nearly one month, as a member of what was known as the “Outside Congress,” which was composed of the leading colored men from all parts of the country. He was chairman of the executive committee of that body.

He was a member of the constitutional convention, and presidential elector on the Grant and Colfax ticket in 1868. He conducted that campaign, as chairman of the Republican State Executive Committee, with great judgment and ability. He was auditor of Charleston County, and resigned it on accepting the nomination as a candidate for lieutenant-governor. Being elected by a large majority to the latter position, he became, ex-officio, presiding officer of the senate, and, as such, was very popular among the members, because of his just rulings and courteous manners.

He is known to be favorable to general amnesty, and somewhat conservative upon many questions of public policy, but no one has ever assailed his private reputation. He may be regarded as one of the most reliable and influential men in the South.

Mr. Ransier is a mulatto, under forty years of age, of good address, energetic, and at times enthusiastic, full of activity, genial, good-natured, genteel in his personal appearance, and has all the bearing of a well-bred gentleman. He has been elected to a seat in Congress, where he will no doubt ably represent his[Pg 512] race, and prove a valuable addition to the cause of Republicanism. As a speaker, Mr. Ransier stands well, being a good debater, always using refined language and—what is better than all,—good sense in his arguments.


To be a good debater is one of the noblest gifts of God to a public speaker. There are thousands of men in and out of the pulpit, who can deliver sermons and addresses, original or selected, and do it in the most approved style of oratory, and yet cannot debate a simple question with a child. This may seem extravagant to those who have not been behind the curtain with public men. A proficient and reliable debater must have brains, a well-stored mind, with ability to draw upon the resources at will; then the gift of gab, a temper entirely under his control, and must possess a common degree of politeness. Give such a man a fair cause, and you have a first-class debater. We listened to the ablest men in and out of the British Parliament twenty years ago, when Brougham, Derby, Thompson, Disraeli, Cobden, and a host of English orators, were in their prime, and we sat with delight in the gallery of the French Assembly when the opposition was led by Lamartine. We spent twenty-five years with the abolitionists of our own country, and in whose meetings more eloquence was heard than with any other body of men and women that ever appeared upon the world’s platform. And after all, we have come to the[Pg 513] conclusion that the most logical, ready, reliable, and eloquent debater we have ever heard is a black man, and that black man, the gentleman whose name heads this sketch.

Isaiah C. Wears is a resident of Philadelphia, but a native of Baltimore, Maryland, and is about fifty years of age. For more than a quarter of a century he has been a leading man in his city, and especially in the organization and support of literary societies. The “Platonian Institute,” “Garrisonian Institute,” “The Philadelphia Library Company,” and some smaller associations, owe their existence to the energy, untiring zeal, and good judgment of Mr. Wears. Fidelity to the freedom and elevation of his own race kept him always on the alert, watching for the enemy. The Colonization Society found in him a bitter and relentless foe; and the negro, an able and eloquent advocate.

He has long stood at the head of “The Banneker Institute,” one of the finest and most useful associations in our country, and where we have listened to as good speeches as ever were made in the halls of Congress. Mr. Wears is not confined in his labors to the literary and the political, but is one of the foremost men in the church, and, had he felt himself called upon to preach, he would now be an ornament to the pulpit.

In person, he is small, of neat figure, pure in his African origin, intelligent countenance, and an eye that looks right through you. Mr. Wears has a good education, is gentlemanly in appearance, well read, with a character unimpeachable, and is a citizen honored and respected by all.

[Pg 514]


Josiah T. Walls was born at Winchester, Virginia, December 30, 1842; received a common-school education; is a planter; was elected a member of the State Constitutional Convention in 1868; was elected a member of the House of Representatives of the State Legislature in 1868; after serving one year, was elected to the State Senate for four years in 1869, and was elected to the Forty-second Congress as a Republican, from the State of Florida.

In stature, Mr. Walls is slim and thin; in complexion, a mulatto; close, curly hair; genteel in dress; polite in manners; and well esteemed by those who know him best.

He sometimes reads his speeches, which makes him appear dull; but, in reality, he is a man of force and character, and has done a good work in his adopted State.

Mr. Walls is deeply interested in agriculture, and takes pride in inculcating his well-informed views in the freedmen, whose welfare he has at heart. As a farmer, he ranks amongst the foremost in his locality, and his stock is improved far above that of his neighbors.


James D. Sampson, of North Carolina, the father of the subject of this notice, by his wealth and enterprise as a house carpenter, gave the Sampson family[Pg 515] distinction in that State many years ago. They were free people, of Scottish and African lineage, who valued education highly, and boasted somewhat of their revolutionary ancestry. He educated his children at Northern schools, and (by special legislation) before the war, was allowed certain privileges for his family. It was a question, however, with the authorities, after he had erected several fine buildings, whether he should be allowed to live in the one intended for his family, although the street in the neighborhood of his property took his name.

John, Benjamin, and Joseph were inclined to literary professions. Benjamin, probably the best scholar, graduated at Oberlin College; was professor of the classics at the Avery Institute, in Pennsylvania, and is now filling a similar position with credit, at Wilberforce, Ohio. John P. Sampson, the most active in public life, was born in Wilmington, North Carolina, 1838. At an early age, he was sent to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he acquired a common-school education; then among the first colored youth entering the white schools of Boston, he graduated from Comer’s College through a course in book-keeping, navigation, and civil engineering, but began life as a teacher in the public schools of New York, until inspired by a speech from William Watkins, when he gave up the school, and engaged to canvass New York under Horace Greeley and James M’Cune Smith, in behalf of Negro Suffrage, continuing for several years in the lecturing field through the West.

He published the “Colored Citizen” several years at Cincinnati, the only colored war-policy paper published during the war, and was aided by the Christian[Pg 516] Commission, which circulated thousands among the colored soldiers. The paper was generally quoted as the soldiers’ organ. At the same time, he edited through the mail a paper published by a company of colored men in Louisville, Kentucky. He studied theology at the Western Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania, and was ordained elder over a prosperous congregation in Alleghany, Pennsylvania; was principal of the Phonetic Academy, at Bowling Green, Kentucky, assisted by Professor Murray and other able teachers. He accepted an engagement in the work of reconstruction; was commissioned by General Howard to look after schools in the Third District of North Carolina; elected treasurer and assessor of Wilmington; nominated for the Legislature, and soon became a prominent candidate for Congress; and might have succeeded, were it not for some perversion of his father’s connection with the purchase of slaves before the war, in order to assist them in obtaining their freedom.

Becoming interested in the profession of the law, he gave up his prospects in the South, stood a clerical examination at Washington, was appointed to a clerkship in the Treasury, read law at the National Law University, graduated, and was admitted to practice in the District Supreme Court. He soon became prominent in district politics, published a spirited campaign paper, was engaged by the general committee to speak in the Republican canvass of 1872, and has since been commissioned by Governor Cook as one of the justices for the district, in connection with his present position at the Treasury.

Mr. Sampson is an able writer, an eloquent and [Pg 517]interesting speaker, polished and gentlemanly in his manners, and highly respected. In person, he is tall and slim, with a genteel figure, well-balanced head, bright eye, and a countenance beaming with intelligence.


Mr. Turner is a man of large size, full chest, and broad shoulders, flat nose, curly hair, and has the appearance of having experienced plantation life.

He was born in Halifax County, North Carolina, March 17, 1825; was raised as a slave, and received no early education, because the laws of that State made it criminal to educate slaves; removed to Alabama in 1830, and, by clandestine study, obtained a fair education; is now a dealer in general merchandise; was elected tax collector of Dallas County, in 1867, and councilman of the city of Selma, in 1869; and was elected to the Forty-second Congress as a Republican from the State of Alabama. Mr. Turner, though always in his seat during the sitting of the House, is very quiet; is seldom seen conversing; votes, but never speaks; has a reputation for good sense and political business sagacity. He has the unbounded confidence of his constituents, and is looked up to as a leader amongst his people.


Struggling upward from the colored man’s starting-point in the South, and at last reaching a seat in the[Pg 518] United States Senate, Mr. Pinchback has placed himself in the front rank of the race which his color represents. His position as Lieutenant-Governor of the State of Louisiana, at a time when true courage, manly vigor, great prudence, and good judgment were needed, showed him to be in possession of some of the best qualities of a statesman.

The wily Warmoth found more than his match in his attempts to make a tool of the colored man. Becoming acting Governor of the State, he surprised even his most intimate friends in the ability he exhibited.

For the victory over Warmoth, and the great benefit that will accrue from it to the State, the people of Louisiana owe much to Acting-Governor Pinchback. Had he accepted the tendered bribe of Warmoth, and acted as his accomplice, the outrages upon the treasury of the State, the installation of persons as State officials against the expressed wish of the people, would have been carried out without any means of redress being left in the hands of the people. By the patriotic action of Governor Pinchback, the calamities that would have followed the continuance of the power of Warmoth were averted, and a greater feeling of security at once sprang up amongst the masses.

The colored population of Louisiana have reason to be proud that one of their race was so conspicuously instrumental in seizing the opportunity for opening the way to rid the State of that power which had retarded its progress.

The statesmanlike conduct of Oscar J. Dunn and Mr. Pinchback reflects great credit upon the intelligence of the colored citizens of that commonwealth.

Mr. Pinchback is a man of energy, eloquent in[Pg 519] speech, gentlemanly in manners, kind and hospitable, and is said to be a man of wealth.


Mr. Lynch was born in the city of Baltimore, Maryland, about the year 1840. His father, who followed a mercantile pursuit, was a freedman, and his mother had been a slave, but had her liberty purchased by her husband. While quite young, James was employed in caring for his father’s interests, and there are those living who remember him as a remarkably smart and fine appearing lad, driving the delivery team which hauled goods to his father’s patrons in the city. As soon as old enough, he was sent to Hanover, New Hampshire, to enter Kimball University, from which institution, in due time, he graduated with usual honors.

After completing his education, Mr. Lynch went to Indiana, where he was a preacher of the Gospel for some years. He then went to Galena, Illinois, where he married. We next hear of him in Philadelphia, pursuing the honorable calling of editor of the “Recorder,” a popular Methodist publication. He was known everywhere as an eloquent speaker and able and fluent writer, and he moved in as good society as perhaps any of his compeers enjoyed.

In the year 1867, Mr. Lynch removed to the State of Mississippi, and filled the pulpit in one of the Methodist churches in Jackson. He there became editor of a religious journal.

Lynch’s articles were always carefully prepared,[Pg 520] thoughtful, argumentative, and convincing, and undoubtedly performed a good work wherever read.

He first became politically prominent in Mississippi in what is denominated as the “Dent-Alcorn” campaign of 1869, when he was nominated for the office of Secretary of State by the Republicans, made the canvass with the best speakers in the State, and was duly elected and qualified, and up to the time of his decease had ably and efficiently filled all the requirements of that important and responsible position.

Mr. Lynch was of a brown, or coffee color, a little below the medium size, good features, gentlemanly and kind-hearted, a genial companion, and well beloved by all who knew him. He died on the 18th of December, 1872.


The subject of this sketch is a native of the State of New Jersey, and was born in Burlington County, on the 7th of October, 1821. He was brought up on a farm owned by his father and mother, Levin and Charity Still. The immediate neighborhood of his birth-place afforded but little advantage for the education of the poorer class of whites, much less for colored children, who had to meet the negro-hating prejudice of those times; yet William’s thirst for knowledge and love of books created in his favor a good impression with the teacher of the common school, which obtained for the lad a quarter’s schooling, and some additional aid on rainy days.

The colored boy’s companions were all white, [Pg 521]nevertheless his good behavior, earnest zeal, and rapid advancement gained him the friendship of both teacher and scholars, and did much to break down the prejudice against the colored race in that vicinity.

By assiduous study and outside aid he became proficient in reading, writing, and arithmetic, and, as age advanced, paid considerable attention to the classics.

The harsh prejudice of race which William Still was called upon to meet in his business intercourse with the whites, early made him deeply interested in the cause of freedom, then being advocated by the Abolitionists, and he became a subscriber to one of their weekly journals. At this time he was the only colored man in the town that took such a paper, and it was hard work, with his small wages, to meet its subscription and postage demands.

Seeing the bad effects of the use of intoxicating liquors in the community, Mr. Still early adopted the principles of temperance, to which he tenaciously clings to the present day.

Well-grounded in moral, religious, and temperance views, William Still, at the age of twenty-three years, went to the city of Philadelphia to reside.

Although the temptations of the great Babel were laid before him, his early convictions kept him from yielding.

The long connection of William Still with the anti-slavery office in Philadelphia, his intimate relationship with the Pennsylvania Abolitionists, a body of men and women of whom too much cannot be said in their praise, and the deep interest he felt in the fleeing bondmen passing through that city to Canada, has[Pg 522] brought him very prominently before the American people.

Mr. Still is well educated, has good talents, and has cultivated them. He is an interesting and forcible writer, and some of the stories of escaped slaves, which he has recently put forth in his valuable work, “The Underground Railroad,” point him out as one of the best benefactors of his race. After the beginning of the war of the slaveholders had made it certain that slavery would be abolished, and the close of the anti-slavery office in Philadelphia, Mr. Still went into the coal trade, by which he has become independent.

Upright and honest in all his dealings, a faithful friend, blameless in his family relations, an affectionate husband and father, we have always taken pride in putting forth William Still as a model man.

The subject of this sketch is of medium size, unadulterated in race, prominent and regular features, always a smile upon his countenance, affable, humorous, neat in his person, gentlemanly in his deportment, and interesting in his conversation. With all classes of good men and women who know him, both colored and white, no man stands higher, or is regarded with more confidence, than William Still.


As an acute thinker, an eloquent and splendid speaker, possessing rare intellectual gifts, fine education with large culture, a moral nature full of sympathy and benevolence for all mankind, Peter H. Clark[Pg 523] justly stands in the foremost rank of the noted men of his race. Although not an old man, Mr. Clark has, for the past quarter of a century, taken a prominent part in all of the great conventions called to consider the condition, and the best means for the moral, social, and political elevation of the colored population of the United States. Mr. Clark was associated with Frederick Douglass in the editorial management of the “North Star” twenty years ago, and his articles were always fresh, vigorous, and telling.

In the various political contests in the State of Ohio for the last ten years, he has taken a foremost position, and his appearance at public meetings in Hamilton County has done much towards annihilating the prejudice so rampant in that section.

His argumentative speeches, scholastic attainments, and gentlemanly bearing, have been of untold benefit to his race throughout Ohio.

During the Rebellion, when the colored citizens of Cincinnati were sorely and cruelly abused, Peter H. Clark stepped forward as their representative man, and nobly did he do his duty.

The history of “The Black Brigade,” written at that time, did him great credit, and was of immense value to the black man.

Mr. Clark is a resident of Cincinnati, and is the principal of the Gaines High School in that city. To him, probably more than to any other man, are the colored people there indebted for the inculcation of the creditable desire for education and advancement true of them.

He is somewhat below the middle size, thin, sharp features, bright eye, rather of a dyspeptic appearance,[Pg 524] hospitable and kind, upright and gentlemanly in all the relations of life, with a host of admirers wherever he is known. No man has been truer to his oppressed people than Peter H. Clark, and none are more deserving of their unlimited confidence than he.

To the pen of Mr. Clark we are indebted for the sketch of John I. Gaines, in this work.


Mrs. Harper is a native of Maryland, and was born in Baltimore, in 1825, of free parents. What she was deprived of in her younger days in an educational point of view, she made up in after years, and is now considered one of the most scholarly and well-read women of the day. Her poetic genius was early developed, and some of her poems, together with a few prose articles, with the title of “Forest Leaves,” were published, and attracted considerable attention, even before she became known to the public through her able platform orations.

An article on “Christianity,” by Mrs. Harper, will stand a comparison with any paper of the kind in the English language.

Feeling deeply the injury inflicted upon her race, she labored most effectually by both pen and speech for the overthrow of slavery, and for ten years before the commencement of the Rebellion, the press throughout the free states recorded her efforts as amongst the ablest made in the country.

[Pg 525]

Few of our American poets have written verses more pointed against existing evils, than Frances Ellen Harper. Her eloquent poem, “To the Union Savers of Cleveland,” on the return of a fugitive slave to her master at the South, will always be read with a feeling of indignation against the people of the North who could suffer such things to be done.

“The Slave Mother” will stand alongside of Whittier’s best poems on the “Peculiar Institution.” The poems on “The Proclamation,” and the “Fifteenth Amendment,” will be read by her race with delight in after ages.

All of Mrs. Harper’s writings are characterized by chaste language, much thought, and a soul-stirring ring that are refreshing to the reader.

As a speaker, she ranks deservedly high; her arguments are forcible, her appeals pathetic, her logic fervent, her imagination fervid, and her delivery original and easy. Mrs. Harper is dignified both in public and in private, yet witty and sociable. She is the ablest colored lady who has ever appeared in public in our country, and is an honor to the race she represents.

In person, Mrs. Harper is tall, and of neat figure; mulatto in color, bright eyes, smiling countenance, and intelligent in conversation.


Mr. Butler is a native of Halifax, Nova Scotia, and came to the States in 1853. Three years later, he[Pg 526] was ordained by Rev. William H. Bishop, and began as a preacher of the Zion M. E. Church. He is now pastor of St. Mark’s Church, New York. For the past three or four years, Mr. Butler has taken an active part in the politics of the Empire State, and was sent as a delegate to the National Republican Convention that nominated General Grant for his second term, and in which assembly he exercised considerable influence with the colored delegates from the South.

Mr. Butler is a man of good education, well read, of retentive memory, able in debate, quick to take advantage of an opponent, an eloquent, extemporaneous speaker, and popular with the masses.

He is considered “headstrong” by the older preachers of “Zion,” and came out from that connection a few years since, and has built up the church over which he now presides. He has great energy and force of character, and will generally be found in the front rank, rather than as a follower. In stature, Mr. Butler is below the medium, of neat figure, genteel in appearance, of mixed blood, sharp, bright eyes, pleasing countenance, easy in manners, and interesting in conversation. He is about thirty years of age. In all emergencies, he has been considered true to his race, and may be regarded as a representative man.


Mr. Chester is a native of Pennsylvania, and is by profession, a lawyer. He spent some years in Liberia, returned home, and took an honorable part in the[Pg 527] war of the Rebellion. He has travelled extensively in Europe, making a good impression wherever he appeared. In 1867, Hon. C. M. Clay, Minister to Russia, in a correspondence with the State Department at Washington, said of Mr. Chester’s visit to St. Petersburg:—

Sir:—Captain T. Morris Chester, late of the United States Volunteer Army, being in St. Petersburg, coming well recommended by distinguished citizens of the United States, and being also well educated, and of good address, I called upon the minister of foreign affairs, and told him that I would not apply in the usual way, by note, to have Captain Chester, a colored American citizen, presented to his Imperial Majesty, as there was no precedent, and I did not know how his Imperial Majesty would be disposed to act; but I desired that he would approach his Imperial Majesty in an informal way, and ascertain his wishes in this regard. The assistant minister of foreign affairs, Mr. De Westmann, acquiesced in the proposal, and, in a few days, wrote me that the Emperor had given orders to have Captain Chester’s name put upon the list of persons for the first presentation.

“To-day being the occasion of a grand review of the imperial guard, the Emperor sent an invitation to Captain Chester to assist in the review, which he did, riding around with his Imperial Majesty’s staff, and taking lunch at the winter palace with the staff officers and a portion of the Imperial family, who accompanied the Emperor at the lunch.

“I have made these facts known to you, as I regard the affair of some importance. We have four millions[Pg 528] of colored citizens; they are with us, and of us, for good as well as evil.

“I think that it is the duty of all good citizens to try and elevate the African race in America, and inspire them with all possible self-respect, and prepare them for that ultimate influence which they must sooner or later have, upon the political and economical interests of the United States. These are the views which have influenced my action in this case, which, not partisan in their character, I should hope would be satisfactory to all patriotic Americans.”

Mr. Chester is of pure African origin, a splendid looking man, with manners highly cultivated.


Joseph J. Clinton is a native of Philadelphia, born October 3, 1823, possesses a good, common-school education, studied at the Alleghany Institute, but did not graduate. He was apprenticed to Francis Chew, a hair-worker, and learned that trade. At the age of fifteen, he experienced religion, joined the Zion Methodist denomination, and became an ardent advocate of the cause of Christ. He began as a lay preacher, at the early age of seventeen. At eighteen, he went into business for himself in the hair work, yet continued dispensing the Gospel to those who would hear.

In 1843, Bishop Clinton was ordained an elder, and in 1856, was made bishop. During the civil war, he spent almost his entire time at the South. As chaplain of the First United States Colored Regiment, Colonel Holman, Mr. Clinton did a good work[Pg 529] amongst his race. He did not confine himself to mere camp duties, but performed a mission work which had its influence amongst the slaves, far and wide. Seeing that the spread of the Gospel was of greater importance than remaining with a regiment, Bishop Clinton gave himself entirely up to gospel missionary work. He organized ten conferences, ordained and licensed seven hundred ministers, admitted two hundred thousand members in the denomination, brought one hundred thousand children into the Sabbath School, and travelled in all of the Southern States. In 1869, he visited California, and organized a conference in San Francisco.

In person, Bishop Clinton is stout, fleshy, and well-proportioned. He has a full face, which indicates the best of health and happy contentment; countenance mild, benignant and thoughtful, with an expression of integrity, denoting his inability to do a mean thing. The bishop is a good declaimer, and the outbursting and overwhelming effusions of his natural eloquence, the striking originality of his conceptions, the irresistible power of his captivating voice, the vivid and copious display of illustration, thrill and charm the hearer. He is justly popular with the public, as well as with his own denomination. He presides in the conferences with great dignity and impartiality, deciding questions according to Cushing and justice, and without fear or favor. Bishop Clinton resides in the city of Philadelphia, surrounded by a loving family and a host of admiring friends.

[Pg 530]


Dr. Tanner is the editor of the “Christian Recorder,” the organ of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (Bethel). He is a mulatto of medium size, modest and genteel, social and pleasant in conversation, and has a classical education. Tanner’s “Apology for African Methodism,” is the ablest written work yet produced upon that subject. In it, he employs facts and statistics, but they have the varied beauty of the rainbow, and the golden glow of the sunlight, when viewed through the prism of his rich imagination. There are but few men who can excel him in description; indeed, he wields a masterly pen in that department of literature, every idea being full of thought. As editor of “The Recorder,” he has written many witty, pithy, and brilliant sentiments. There is a tinge of opulent fancy running through his editorials which always refreshes one. As a speaker, Dr. Tanner ranks well, being fluent, ready, easy in his manner, and reliable in his statements.

The wide reputation of his journal, outside of his own denomination, is probably the best test of his ability as a newspaper conductor. He has done much to build up Methodism among our people, and to inculcate the feeling for a better educated ministry, which is everywhere needed. Dr. Tanner’s efforts towards the elevation of his race have been of lasting good, and, as he is still a young man, we look forward to his accomplishing more in the large field before him. As a citizen of Philadelphia, he is enterprising, energetic, and works for the public good. He is highly respected[Pg 531] by all classes, and justly holds the position of a representative man, whose title was gained by merit, and not by favor.


Singleton T. Jones is a native of Pennsylvania, and is about fifty years of age. He is tall, and of a fine figure, pleasing countenance, bright eye, and unadulterated in race and color. He commenced travelling as a preacher of the Zion Methodist denomination in the year 1847, and was ordained a bishop in 1868. He is a man of surpassing power and eloquence. His sermons are brilliant with unmeasured poetry, and abound in wit, invective, glowing rhetoric, and logic.

The bishop often surprises his attentive listeners with his historical knowledge. When in the pulpit, he throws light on the subject by the coruscations of his wit, drives home a truth by solid argument, and clinches it by a quotation from Scripture, and a thrilling and pointed appeal which moves his audience like a shock from an electric battery. No one sleeps under the preaching of Bishop Jones, for he has long been considered the most eloquent man in his denomination. His character is without a blemish, and he is blest with a large circle of friends, and the happiest family relations.


Born a slave at the South, and escaping to the free states some thirty years ago, Jermin W. Loguen[Pg 532] passed through the fiery ordeal that awaited every fugitive lecturer or preacher in those days. He was among the earliest of those to take stock in the underground railroad, and most nobly did he do his work. For more than twenty years Bishop Loguen labored in season and out of season, in western New York, as an efficient conductor on the road, helping the fugitive on his way to Canada. As a lecturer, his varied experience, eloquent and effective speeches, did much to change public opinion in behalf of liberty.

As a preacher, he was very popular with the Zion Methodist denomination, with whom he acted. His education was limited, yet he used good language, both in his sermons and addresses. He was made a bishop some time about 1868, and discharged his duties with credit to himself, and satisfaction to his people.

But Bishop Loguen will be remembered longer for his humanitarian work. If to have been true and faithful to the cause of his people in the day of their sorrow and destitution, when friends were few, and enemies were many; if to have been eyes to the blind, legs to the lame, bread to the hungry, and shelter to the outcast of our afflicted and hunted people when it was the fashion in America to hunt men; if to have devoted a whole life to works of humanity and justice, entitles a man to the respect and esteem of his fellow-men, and especially, of the class benefited, Jermin W. Loguen has well earned such respect and esteem.

In person, he was of large frame, of mixed blood, strong, manly voice, fine countenance, genteel in his manners, and interesting in conversation. He died in 1871.

[Pg 533]


“The National Monitor” is a wide-awake journal, edited by Rufus L. Perry, a live man, in every sense of the term. As corresponding secretary of “The Consolidated American Educational Association,” Mr. Perry has been of great benefit to the cause of education at the South amongst the freedmen who so much need such efforts. His society is mainly engaged in sending into the field approved missionary preachers and teachers; organizing schools and missions on a self-sustaining basis, in the more interior portions of the South; looking up, and having on hand, qualified colored teachers, to send out as they may be called for.

The association is under the auspices of the Baptist denomination, and the “National Monitor,” of which Mr. Perry is editor, may be termed an organ of that sect. The columns of the paper show well the versatile character of the gentleman whose brain furnishes the mental food for its readers, and the cause of its wide-spread popularity.

Mr. Perry is a self-made man, well educated, possessing splendid natural abilities, an able and eloquent speaker, popular with other religious bodies as well as his own, and makes himself generally useful wherever he may happen to be. He is devotedly attached to his race, and never leaves a stone unturned to better their moral, social, religious, and political condition.

As a resident of Brooklyn, New York, his influence is felt in building up and maintaining the character of the colored people. Mr. Perry is considered one of the most efficient of the Baptist clergymen of the “City of Churches.”

[Pg 534]


A native of Loudon County, Virginia, born in Leesburg, in 1815, of free parents, Leonard A. Grimes was subjected to all the disabilities that his race had to endure in the South, except being a bound slave. While yet a boy, young Grimes went to Washington, where he was employed in a butcher’s shop, and afterwards in an apothecary’s establishment. He subsequently hired himself out to a slaveholder, whose confidence he soon gained. Accompanying his employer in some of his travels in the remote South, he had an opportunity of seeing the different phases of slave life; and its cruelty created in his mind an early hatred to the institution, which lasted him during his long and eventful career.

On his return to Washington, the subject of this sketch began to take an interest in the underground railroad, and to him many escaped slaves were indebted for their freedom. A free colored man with a slave wife and seven children appealed to Mr. Grimes to aid them to escape, for the wife and children were to be carried to the far South. Through the kindness of this good man the family succeeded in reaching Canada, where they were free. Search was made for the family, suspicion fell upon Grimes as the author of their escape, he was tried, found guilty, and sent to the state prison at Richmond for two years.

At the expiration of his imprisonment, Mr. Grimes returned to Washington, and soon removed to New Bedford, Massachusetts, where he resided two years, and then came to Boston. A small Baptist congregation was worshipping in a hall at this time, and they called[Pg 535] Mr. Grimes to be their pastor. In this new field of labor he soon began to show the great executive ability which was to be a blessing to his race in Boston. The Twelfth Baptist Church, of which he was the head for a quarter of a century, and the congregation, consisting of some of the better class of the colored citizens of the metropolis, is a monument that no one need be ashamed of. Mr. Grimes was an ardent anti-slavery man, when many of his clerical brethren were on the other side of the question.

Mr. Grimes was a man of great amiability of character, with always a cheering word and a smile for those with whom he came in contact. As a preacher, he was a man of power, though he was not an easy speaker. He was a mulatto of fine appearance, good manners, dignified, and courteous. No man was more beloved by his friends or respected by the community. At his funeral, which occurred in March, 1873, more than fifty carriages were among the long cortege that followed his remains. It is not often that a man leaves the world with fewer enemies or more substantial friends than Leonard A. Grimes.


John Sella Martin is a native of the State of North Carolina, and was born at Charlotte, in 1832. He was the slave of his master, who sold him while he was yet a child. Part of his life was passed in Georgia and Louisiana, from the latter of which States he escaped in 1856. Mr. Martin resided some time at Chicago,[Pg 536] studied for the ministry at Detroit, and was first settled over a church at Buffalo. He came to Boston in 1859, and was introduced to the public at Tremont Temple, by Rev. Mr. Kalloch, for whom he preached several weeks, during that gentleman’s vacation. The impression which Mr. Martin made while at the Temple was very favorable; and after supplying a pulpit for some time at Lawrence, he was settled over the Joy Street Baptist Church in Boston. He has since preached in New York and Washington, but is now engaged in politics, having renounced the ministry three or four years since.

Mr. Martin has visited England three times, and is well informed upon matters pertaining to that country, as well as this. He is an easy speaker, fluent and ready, and gives the impression of a man well informed on the subject upon which he talks. He was, for a time, editor of the “National Era,” and then corresponding editor of the same paper. However, he lacks stability of purpose. In his newspaper articles, Mr. Martin evinces considerable literary ability. In person, he is of mixed blood, gentlemanly in his appearance, and refined in his manners.


For eight or ten years previous to the breaking out of the Rebellion, all who frequented anti-slavery conventions, lectures, picnics, and fairs, could not fail to have seen a black woman of medium size, upper front teeth gone, smiling countenance, attired in coarse, but neat apparel, with an old-fashioned reticule,[Pg 537] or bag, suspended by her side, and who, on taking her seat, would at once drop off into a sound sleep. This woman was Harriet Tubman, better known as “Moses.”

She first came to Boston in 1854, and was soon a welcome visitor to the homes of the leading Abolitionists, who were always attentive listeners to her strange and eventful stories. Her plantation life, where she was born a slave at the South, was cruelly interesting. Her back and shoulders, marked with the biting lash, told how inhuman was the institution from which she had fled. A blow upon the head had caused partial deafness, and inflicted an injury which made her fall asleep the moment she was seated. Moses had no education, yet the most refined person would listen for hours while she related the intensely interesting incidents of her life, told in the simplest manner, but always seasoned with good sense.

During her sojourn in Boston, Moses made several visits to the South, and it was these that gave her the cognomen of “Moses.” Men from Canada, who had made their escape years before, and whose families were still in the prison-house of slavery, would seek out Moses, and get her to go and bring their dear ones away. How strange! This woman,—one of the most ordinary looking of her race; unlettered; no idea of geography; asleep half of the time,—would penetrate the interior slave states, hide in the woods during the day, feed on the bondsman’s homely fare at night, bring off whole families of slaves, and pilot them to Canada, after running the gauntlet of the most difficult parts of the Southern country. No fugitive was ever captured who had Moses for a leader.

[Pg 538]

While in Canada, in 1860, we met several whom this woman had brought from the land of bondage, and they all believed that she had supernatural power. Of one man we inquired, “Were you not afraid of being caught?”

“O, no,” said he, “Moses is got de charm.”

“What do you mean?” we asked.

He replied, “De whites can’t catch Moses, kase you see she’s born wid de charm. De Lord has given Moses de power.”

Yes, and the woman herself felt that she had the charm, and this feeling, no doubt, nerved her up, gave her courage, and made all who followed her feel safe in her hands.

When the war broke out, instinct called Moses into active service, and she at once left for the South. Long before Butler’s “Contraband of War” doctrine was recognized by the government, Moses was hanging upon the outskirts of the Union army, and doing good service for those of her race who sought protection in our lines. When the Negro put on the “blue,” Moses was in her glory, and travelled from camp to camp, being always treated in the most respectful manner. These black men would have died for this woman, for they believed that she had a charmed life.

It is said that General Burnside, on one occasion, sent Moses into the enemy’s camp, and that she returned in due time, with most valuable information. During the last year of the Rebellion, she had in her possession a paper, the presentation of which always gained for her a prompt passage through any part of the Union lines.

Moses followed Sherman in his march “From Atlanta[Pg 539] to the Sea,” and witnessed the attack on Petersburg. The great deference shown her by the Union officers, who never failed to tip their caps when meeting her, and the strange stories told of her pioneer adventures, and the substantial aid given by her to her own race, has left with them a lasting impression that Moses still holds “the charm.”


Mary Ann Shadd Carey is a native of Delaware, and has resided for several years in Canada. She is tall and slim, with a fine head, which she carries in a peculiar manner. She has good features, intellectual countenance, bright, sharp eyes, that look right through you. She holds a legitimate place with the strong-minded women of the country.

Mrs. Carey received a far better education than usually fell to the lot of the free colored people of her native State, and which she greatly improved. She early took a lively interest in all measures tending to the elevation of her race, and has, at various times, filled the honorable positions of school teacher, school superintendent, newspaper publisher and editor, lecturer, and travelling agent. As a speaker, she ranks deservedly high; as a debater, she is quick to take advantage of the weak points of her opponent, forcible in her illustrations, biting in her sarcasm, and withering in her rebukes.

Mrs. Carey is resolute and determined, and you might as well attempt to remove a stone wall with your little finger, as to check her in what she [Pg 540]conceives to be right and her duty. Although she has mingled much in the society of men, attended many conventions composed almost exclusively of males, and trodden paths where women usually shrink to go, no one ever hinted aught against her reputation, and she stands with a record without blot or blemish. Had she been a man, she would probably have been with John Brown at Harper’s Ferry.

When the government determined to put colored men in the field to aid in suppressing the Rebellion, Mrs. Carey raised recruits at the West, and brought them on to Boston, with as much skill, tact, and order as any of the recruiting officers under the government. Her men were always considered the best lot brought to head-quarters. Indeed, the examining surgeon never failed to speak of Mrs. Carey’s recruits as faultless. This proves the truth of the old adage, that “It takes a woman to pick out a good man.” Few persons have done more real service for the moral, social, and political elevation of the colored race than Mrs. Carey. She is a widow, and still in the full-orbed womanhood of life, working on, feeling, as she says, “It is better to wear out, than to rust out.”


One of the most damaging influences that the institution of slavery had on the colored population of the country, was to instill in the mind of its victim the belief that he could never rise above the position of a servant. The highest aspiration of most colored men,[Pg 541] thirty years ago, was to be a gentleman’s body servant, a steward of a steam-boat, head-waiter at a first-class hotel, a boss barber, or a boot-black with good patronage, and four or five boys under him to do the work. Even at this day, although slavery has been abolished ten years, its spirit still clings to the colored man, and, more especially, at the North. To wait at parties, attend weddings and dinners, and above all, to be a caterer, seems to be the highest aim of our Northern young men, when, to be a good mechanic, would be far more honorable, and have greater tendency towards the elevation of the race. A few exceptions to what I have penned above are to be found occasionally, and one of these is the gentleman whose name heads this sketch.

George L. Ruffin was born in Richmond, Virginia, of free parents, and of course had limited educational opportunities. He came to Boston some twenty years ago, and followed the calling of a hairdresser up to about five years since, when he began the study of the law with Honorable Harvey Jewell. In due time, he was admitted to the bar, and is now in the enjoyment of a good practice in his profession. One of the most praiseworthy acts connected with Mr. Ruffin’s elevation, is that he studied law while he was at his barber’s chair, and dependent upon it for a living.

As a member of the Massachusetts Legislature, Mr. Ruffin exhibited scholarly attainments in his speeches that placed him at once amongst the foremost men of that body. As a speaker, he is interesting, for his addresses show that he gives his subjects a thorough canvassing before he delivers them. Mr. Ruffin is a good[Pg 542] student, and is destined, we think, to rise still higher in his profession.

He takes a deep interest in the elevation and welfare of his race, is prominent in all public meetings, has a happy faculty in discharging the duties of presiding officer, or chairman of a committee, and writes resolutions that are readable, as well as to the purpose for which they are intended. Mr. Ruffin is highly respected in the community, and has done much in his dealings with prominent citizens to lift upward the standard of the colored man. He is of mixed blood, short, stout, with a rather pleasing cast of countenance, and features good to look upon. In speaking to our young men, we have often mentioned the career of Mr. Ruffin as worthy of imitation.


Richard T. Greener is a graduate of Harvard University, which, under ordinary circumstances, is considered a passport to future usefulness and preferment. Soon after leaving college, he was invited to become a teacher in the institute for colored youth, at Philadelphia. Here his labors were highly appreciated, and many regrets were manifested on his leaving to take charge of another institution of learning at Washington, where he now resides.

Mr. Greener takes a deep interest in everything tending towards the development of the genius of the race, and has written some very readable articles on education for the “New National Era.” His writings[Pg 543] exhibit considerable research, a mind well stored from English literature, and show that he is a man of industry and progress. Long before leaving college, Mr. Greener gave evidence of possessing talents for the platform, and recent speeches and addresses place him in the advanced ground in the art of oratory.

Mr. Greener is a mulatto, and, in personal appearance, is of medium size, good figure, well-balanced head, intellectual face, interesting conversationalist, and eager for distinction. Mr. Greener is not more than twenty-eight or thirty years of age, and has before him a brilliant future. He is a good representative of our rising young men, and is well calculated to inspire the youth of the country with noble feelings for self-elevation. His motto is “the young men to the front.” But he should remember that while the young men may take a legitimate place at the front, the old men must not be asked to take a back seat. The race cannot afford, yet a while, to dispense with the services of the “Old Guard.”


The senior editor of the “New National Era” is the eldest son of Frederick Douglass, and inherits a large share of the father’s abilities. He was born in Massachusetts, has a liberal education, is a practical printer, received excellent training in the office of “The North Star,” at Rochester, New York, and is well calculated to conduct a newspaper. Mr. Douglass distinguished himself at the attack on Fort Wagner,[Pg 544] where the lamented Colonel Robert G. Shaw fell. His being the first to ascend the defences surrounding the fort, and his exclamation of “Come, boys, we’ll fight for God and Governor Andrew,” was at the time commented upon by the press of Europe as well as of our own country.

Mr. Douglass is an active, energetic man, deeply alive to every interest of his race, uncompromising in his adherence to principle, and is a valuable citizen in any community. He has held several important positions in Washington, where his influence is great. He is a good writer, well informed, and interesting in conversation. In asserting his rights against the proscriptive combinations of the printers of Washington, Mr. Douglass was more than a match for his would-be superiors. As a citizen, he is highly respected, and is regarded as one of the leading men of the district. He is of medium size, a little darker in complexion than the father, has a manly walk, gentlemanly in his manners, intellectual countenance, and reliable in his business dealings. His paper, the “New National Era,” is well conducted, and should receive the patronage of our people throughout the country.


Mr. Cain is well known as a Methodist preacher of some note, having been a leading man in that denomination for many years. During the Rebellion he took up his residence in South Carolina, where his good judgment, industry, and executive ability gave him[Pg 545] considerable influence with his race. In the Constitutional and Reconstruction Conventions Mr. Cain took an active part, and in the State Legislature, gave unmistakable evidence of a knowledge of state affairs. He has been called to fill several positions of honor and trust, and discharged his duties with signal ability.

The moral, social, religious, and political elevation of his people has long claimed a large share of Mr. Cain’s time and attention.

As an editor, he exhibited much literary tact and talent in conducting his paper, urging in its columns education, character, and wealth, as a basis for man’s elevation. In 1872, he was elected to Congress, representing the city of Charleston. As a politician, Mr. Cain stands high in his State, being considered one of their ablest stump-speakers, and stump-speaking is regarded at the South as the best quality of an orator. Mr. Cain is nearly pure in blood, rather under the medium size, bright eye, intelligent countenance, strong, loud voice, energetic in his actions, throwing some dramatic fervor into his elocutionary powers, and may be termed an enthusiastic speaker. Gentlemanly in his manners, blameless in his family relations, staunch in his friendship, honest in his dealings with his fellow-men, Mr. Cain may be regarded as a representative man, and an able one, too.


In no state in the Union have the colored people had greater obstacles thrown in the way of their moral,[Pg 546] social, and political elevation, than in Pennsylvania. Surrounded by a population made up of the odd ends of all countries, the German element predominating, with a large sprinkling of poor whites from the Southern States, holding prejudice against the race, the blacks of Pennsylvania have had a hard struggle. Fortunately, however, for them, there were scattered over the State a few representative men, who, by their industry, honesty, and moral courage did much to raise the character and standard of the colored man.

Foremost among these was Stephen Smith, who, while a young man began life as a lumberman in Columbia, where, for twenty-five years, he was one of the principal dealers in that business. By upright and patient labor, Mr. Smith amassed a fortune, removed to the city of Philadelphia, where he has since resided, and where he has long been one of the pillars of society.

For many years, the subject of this sketch has been an acceptable preacher in the Methodist denomination, to which sect he has given liberally of his vast means. Several years ago, Mr. Smith built a church at his own expense, and gave it to his people. More recently, he has erected and endowed an asylum for the poor of his race.

Mr. Smith is a mulatto, of medium size, strongly built, fascinating countenance, yet plain looking, with indelibly marked features. He is now in the sunset of life, and his head is thickly sprinkled with gray hairs. Although he is in the autumn of his years, he is still vigorous, attending to his own business, preaching occasionally, and looking after the interest of “our people.”

[Pg 547]

Always interested in the elevation of man, few have done more for his race than Stephen Smith. He is highly respected, and has the entire confidence of the people of his own city, as well as all who enjoy his acquaintance.


Thirty years ago, the underground railroad was in full operation, and many daring attempts were made by Northern men to aid slaves in their escape to a land of freedom. In some instances, both the fugitives and their friends were captured, taken back, tortured, and imprisoned. The death of the Rev. Charles T. Torrey, in the Maryland Penitentiary, for helping away a family of slaves; the branding of Jonathan Walker for the same offence; the capture of Captain Daniel Drayton for bringing off a number of bondmen in his vessel, the “Pearl;” and the long and cruel imprisonment of the Rev. Calvin Fairbanks, are historical facts well known to the old Abolitionists.

The subject of this sketch was born in Lexington, Kentucky, where he spent his early days in slavery. Lewis Hayden and his family made their escape from the State of Kentucky in the year 1846; by the assistance of the Rev. Calvin Fairbanks and Miss Delia A. Webster. Both of the above persons suffered cruelly, for their kindness to the fugitives. Miss Webster, after several months’ imprisonment, was liberated, but Mr. Fairbanks remained in the State Prison at Frankfort, Kentucky, more than ten years, during which time everything was done by officials of the prison to make his confinement as painful as possible.

[Pg 548]

To the great credit of Mr. Hayden, he labored faithfully to secure the release of his friend, and was, we believe, the means of shortening his sufferings.

With his family, Mr. Hayden took up his residence in Boston, where he has since remained, and where he now enjoys the respect and confidence of a large circle of friends.

Daring the reign of terror, caused by the attempt to enforce the Fugitive Slave Law, in the return of escaped bondmen, Mr. Hayden became conspicuous as one of the most faithful friends of his race, daring everything for freedom, never shrinking from any duty, and never counting the cost.

For the past dozen years, he has held a situation at the State House, and, last winter, served in the Legislature, where his speeches and his votes were given for reform.

While he does not attempt to be an orator, Mr. Hayden is, nevertheless, a very effective speaker. He is a man of common size, with little or no Anglo-Saxon blood, genteel in his manners, intelligent in conversation, and correct in all the relations of life.


To be able to tell a story, and tell it well, is a gift, and not an acquirement; a gift that one may well be proud of. The gentleman whose name heads this sketch, left his sunny home in the Island of Jamaica, last autumn, and paid a flying visit to our country. We had heard of Mr. Murray as the able editor of the leading[Pg 549] newspaper in Kingston, and, therefore, he was not an entire stranger to us.

But his great powers as a lecturer, we were ignorant of. With a number of friends, we went one evening to listen to a lecture on “Life among the Lowly in Jamaica.” The speaker for the occasion was Henry G. Murray, who soon began his subject. He was a man of fine personal appearance, a little inclined to corpulency, large, electric eyes, smiling countenance beaming with intelligence, and wearing the air of a well-bred gentleman.

He commenced in a calm, cool, moderate manner, and did not depart from it during the evening. Mr. Murray’s style is true to nature, and the stories which he gave with matchless skill, convulsed every one with laughter. He evinced talent for both tragic and comic representation, rarely combined. His ludicrous stories, graphically told, kept every face on a grin from the commencement to the end. For pathos, genius, inimitable humor, and pungent wit, we have never seen his equal. He possesses the true vivida vis of eloquence. Mr. Murray is a man of learning, accomplishment, and taste, and will be warmly welcomed whenever he visits us again.


Bishop Talbot is a native of Massachusetts, and was born in the town of Stoughton. He received a good, common-school education at West Bridgewater, went to the West, and studied theology, and began to preach,[Pg 550] at the age of twenty-five years. Returning East, he preached in Boston for two years, where he made many friends. He was ordained a bishop of the A. M. E. Zion Church, about nine years ago, and now resides in Washington, D. C.

Bishop Talbot is about fifty-five years of age, of common size and stature, a dark mulatto, fine head, and thoughtful face, with but little of the negro cast of countenance. He is a good student, well read, and better informed than the clergy generally.

As a speaker, he is sound, clear, thorough, and though not brilliant, is a very interesting preacher. His dignified, calm utterance has great power. He is much admired in the pulpit, and never lacks hearers.

The absence of fire and brimstone in his sermons gives the bishop a gentlemanly air in the pulpit that strongly contrasts with his brethren of the cloth. He is a good presiding officer, and rules according to Cushing. Living a blameless life, having an unblemished reputation, and taking a deep interest in everything pertaining to the moral, social, and political condition of the race, Bishop Talbot is highly respected by all.


Dr. Purvis is a son of Robert Purvis, the well-known philanthropist, and co-worker with William Lloyd Garrison, Wendell Phillips, and Lucretia Mott. When a boy, “Burleigh” often met us at the steamer or the cars, a number of miles away, took us to the homestead at Bybery, listened to our lecture in the[Pg 551] “old hall,” and then returned us to the train or boat the next morning, and always did it cheerfully, and with a smile.

The subject of our sketch was born in Philadelphia, in 1841, received a collegiate education, graduating A. M.; studied at the Cleveland Medical College, where, in 1864, he received the degree of M. D. He entered the army as acting-assistant surgeon during the summer of the same year.

Dr. Purvis now resides at Washington, and holds the honorable position of Professor of Materia Medica and Jurisprudence in Howard University. The doctor takes a lively interest in the education and elevation of his race, and exercises considerable influence in the affairs of the District.

He inherits much of his father’s enthusiasm and oratorical powers, and has spoken eloquently and successfully in public meetings and conventions.

By close attention to his profession, Dr. Purvis has taken a high rank as a physician. In complexion, he stands about half-way between the Anglo-Saxon and the negro, probably throwing in a little mite of Indian. Like his father, the doctor is of fine personal appearance, dignified and gentlemanly in his manners, and respected by every one.


That spicy and spirited weekly, “The Progressive American,” is edited by the gentleman whose name heads this sketch. By his native genius, untiring [Pg 552]industry, and scholarly attainments, he has created and kept alive a newspaper that is a welcome guest in New York, and the country around. As an editor, Mr. Freeman has been eminently successful, and his journal now ranks amongst the very best of our papers. His editorials exhibit more than ordinary tact and talent, and are always on the side of right, morality, and the elevation of man. He has long taken a leading part in state affairs, and has held prominent places in conventions and public meetings.

As a speaker, he is interesting, and knows what he talks about.

His speeches consist of strong arguments and spirited appeals. Personally, Mr. Freeman is sociable and affable in his manners, and hearty and pleasant in his address. In complexion, he is of a brown skin, with well-defined features, intellectual forehead, slim and straight, with a walk something akin to the Indian. He is gentlemanly, upright, and correct in his intercourse with mankind, and highly respected as a man of advanced ideas.


The subject of this sketch is a grandson of the late Rev. Thomas Paul, whose eloquence as a preacher is vividly remembered by Bostonians of forty years ago, as one of the most entertaining of divines. Born in Boston, Elijah W. Smith is well known as one of her most respected citizens. He is by trade a printer, which he learned in the office of “The Liberator,”[Pg 553] with Wm. Lloyd Garrison, who always speaks of “Elijah” with the utmost respect. No one can read Mr. Smith’s poems without a regret that he has written so little, and yet he has given us more poetry than any other colored American. Few living poets understand, better than he, the elements of true poetry.

The evenness of his numbers, the polish of his diction, the rich melody of his musically-embodied thoughts, and the variety of his information, show that Nature has not been sparing in showering her gifts upon him.

In his poetry Mr. Smith seeks to make mankind, and things around him, in harmony with a better state of moral existence.

His contributions to literature will ever tend to delight and instruct the lovers of liberty and pure and refined society. Most of his articles have appeared in “The Boston Daily Traveller,” and “The Saturday Evening Express.” The longest poem contains thirty verses.

“Keep off the Grass,” and “Welcome to Spring,” shows the author’s leaning towards Nature. “Crushed At Sedan,” “Vive La France,” and “A Plea for the Recognition of Cuba,” are the promptings of a sympathetic heart. “Peter and Joseph’s Trip to Vermont” is full of humor, and shows that our author is at home in comic poetry. Mr. Smith’s finer feelings find vent in those beautiful poems the “Winter Song of the Poor,” and “Merry Christmas,” either of which is enough to give a writer everlasting fame.

The Republican Party owes our author a debt of gratitude for the lyrics he has contributed to its aid in[Pg 554] this section. The following lines are from the beautiful and soul-stirring poem entitled “Freedom’s Jubilee,” read at a Ratification Meeting of the Fifteenth Amendment:

“Glory to God! for the struggle is ended,
Glory to God! for the victory won,
Honor to those who the Right have defended,
Through the long years since the conflict begun.
“O, may the prayers of those ready to perish
Guard them from harm like a girdle of fire!
Deep in our hearts their good deeds we will cherish,
And to deserve them we’ll ever aspire.
“God! at Thine altar, in thanksgiving bending,
Grant that our eyes Thy great goodness may see;
O, may Thy light, while the temple’s veil rending,
Show, through its portals, the path of the Free.”

“Our Lost Leader,” written on the death of Charles Sumner, is one of Mr. Smith’s best productions. “The Boston Daily Traveller” says: “This is a beautiful poem written by Elijah W. Smith, who is a true poet, and who has produced some of the best poetry called forth by the death of Mr. Sumner.”

We can only give the last verse:

“Give us the faith to kneel around
Our Country’s shrine, and swear
To keep alive the sacred flame
That Sumner kindled there!”

The “Song of The Liberators” has in it the snap and fire that shows the author’s sound appreciation of the workers for liberty. We give a few of those spirited verses, and regret that want of space prevents our placing the entire poem before the reader:

[Pg 555]

“The battle-cry is sounding
From every hill and vale,
From rock to rock resounding,
Now shall the tyrants quail.
No more with chain and fetter,
No more with prison cell,
Shall despots punish heroes
In the land they love so well.
“And thou, O Isle of Beauty,
Thy plaintive cry is heard;
Throughout our wide dominions,
The souls of men are stirred;
And rising in their manhood,
They shout from sea to sea,
‘Destruction to the tyrants!
Fair Cuba shall be free!’”

In person Mr. Smith is short, and inclined to be stout, with complexion of a light brown.

His head is large and well developed; the expression of his features are mild and good, his eyes are lively, and the turn of his face is graceful and full of sensibility, and delicately susceptible of every impression.

Still on the sunny side of fifty, and being of studious habits and an impassioned lover of Nature, we may yet look for valuable contributions from his versatile pen.

We hope, ere long, to see his poems given to the reading public in a collected form, for we are sure that they would be a prized accession to the current literature of the day, besides the valuable work they would do for the elevation of his own race.

Mr. Smith has written more than sixty poems, one of which will be found in the fore-part of this volume.


[54] “An Apology for Methodism.” B. T. Tanner, p. 388.

[55] Tanner’s “Apology,” p. 415.

My Southern Home


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