Chapter 1: the Boston mob (second stage).—1835.
A highly “respectable” mob, excited against George Thompson
, vents itself on Garrison
at a meeting of the Boston Female Anti
-slavery Society on October 21. Mayor Lyman
rescues him, and shelters him in the City Hall, whence he is formally committed to jail as a rioter, narrowly escaping the clutches of the mob on the way. The next day he leaves the City
returns to England
's partnership with Knapp
It was now time for Mr. Garrison
to descend into that seething mari magno
which, from the tranquil haven of Friendship's Valley, he had calmly regarded for a full month.
, in company with his wife, on September 24, 1835, he spent the following day in Providence
, and reached Boston
at noon on the 26th.
He found there this greeting from David Lee Child
, written at New York on the 23d:
Be of good cheer.
The Devil comes not out without much1 tearing and rending and foaming at the mouth. With all my confidence in my abolition brothers and sisters, you are the only one on whom I entirely rely for pine-and-faggot virtue—not that I trust others less, but that I trust you more.
The Southerners are mad past all precedent.
The famous spouter, Governor Hamilton, is here, supposed for the countenancing and organizing of kidnappers and assassins.
This is hardly credible, yet it is believed.
The report now goes that $100,000 is the prize for Arthur Tappan's head, and that two vessels are in the offing to receive him.
Catch a fish before you cook it,
Said the learned Mother Glass.
On October 2, Mr. Garrison
writes to G. W. Benson
I have not got regulated yet, since my return from 2 rusticating in the country, and I already begin to sigh for the quietude and (selfish ease will out) irresponsibleness of Friendship's Valley. . . . Boston is beginning to sink into apathy.
The reaction has come rapidly, but we are trying to get the3 steam up again.
We have held two public meetings, which were well attended, and all went off quietly.
And still the South
awaited the sign that the North
— that Boston
—would not put her off with empty words.
The ‘vagabond’ Thompson
, as the Boston Transcript4
called him—the ‘wandering insurrectionist’—first began after the Faneuil Hall meeting to experience the deadly hostility invoked against him there.
From his peaceful labors in the ‘Old Colony’ and its vicinity, at5
the close of 1834, he had passed in January to Andover
, where he had the ear of the theological and academical students; to Concord, Mass.
; to various parts of Essex County
, where the meeting-houses of Methodists, Baptists, Unitarians and Friends were opened to him. In the intervals of these excursions he spoke frequently in Boston
In February, accompanied by the Rev. Amos A. Phelps
and by Henry Benson
, he visited southern New Hampshire
and Portland, Maine
, still enjoying the hospitality of the churches and promoting new antislavery organizations.
Thence he proceeded in the same month to New York, where he spoke for the first time since his arrival in America
, in the Rev. Dr. Lansing
's church, without molestation or disorder of any kind; in March, to Philadelphia
, giving an address in the Reformed Presbyterian Church, after an introduction by David Paul Brown
Repairing to Boston
for lectures and debates in the Anti-Slavery Rooms
, he returned to New York in company with Mr. Garrison
In April he was again in Boston
, using the only church open to him (the Methodist Church in Bennett Street) for a Fast-Day and other discourses, and a third time in New York, forming en route
a female anti-slavery society in the
Providence Pine-Street Baptist Church; and then, once more with Messrs. Phelps
for companions, he journeyed to Albany
, where his success warranted a long sojourn.
In the second week in May we find him attending the anniversary meetings of the American Anti-Slavery Society in New York, which were held in6
perfect security despite a placard intended to renew the scenes of October, 1833; in the last week, participating in the New England
Anti-Slavery Convention in Boston
, and, at the very close, holding in Julien Hall a debate7
on the subject of colonization.
His June campaign was made in the already well-worked field of Essex County
, and thither he was recalled in July by the presence of Gurley
Nowhere had the interest and excitement produced by Mr. Thompson
's eloquence been more intense, or the struggle severer, than on this occasion.
But, though backed by Amos A. Phelps
, he could not prevail against the alliance of Gurley
with Professor Stuart
to maintain the settled hostility of this theological centre.
The quiet temper of the public mind was destroyed as in an instant by the Charleston
bonfire and its imitations at the North
—the town meetings in Boston
, New8 York
and elsewhere, all concentrating their indignation and malice on the ‘imported travelling incendiary.’
At a convention in Lynn
on August 5, a stone meant for Mr. Thompson
was thrown through the window and struck a lady in the audience.
The next evening he lectured again, and was mobbed by three hundred disturbers, from whom he only escaped by accepting9
the escort of ladies.10
Unable to remain in New York, whither on the 12th he accompanied Mr. and Mrs. D. L. Child
despite the remonstrances of his friends, his first test of the New England
temper after the signal had been given from Faneuil Hall proved how much it had
changed for the worse towards himself.
The attack on him at Concord (N. H.)
, on September 4, followed close upon the mobbing of Mr. May
at Haverhill, Mass.
; on September 17, the Brighton-Street
gallows was set up before his late residence in Boston
; on September 27, an11
extraordinary onslaught was made on him in the rural village of Abington, Mass.
At this time, too, a stupid or wilful perversion, by an Andover student from the South
, named Kaufman
, of Mr. Thompson
's remarks in a private discussion on slavery, added fuel to the flames of his persecution.
He was accused of having said that the slave masters ought12
to have their throats cut, and that the slaves should be taught so. What he was arguing was, that if it was ever right to rise forcibly against oppressors, the slaves had that right—a commonplace of anti-slavery doctrine, now become one of the axioms of the civilized world.
Finally, a trumped — up affidavit before some American consul pretended that Thompson
had, for felony, come13
near being transported to Botany Bay
So the uproar went on. Subscriptions to a fund for procuring the heads of Garrison
were invited to be made at a bookstore (!) in Norfolk, Va.
Money rewards for the same object were offered from all parts of the South
Northern tradesmen were threatened with14
loss of Southern patronage, or with destruction of their Southern branch establishments, if they were known to be friendly to the abolitionists—if they did not come out against them—if abolitionists were permitted to hold meetings or publish papers in the town where the merchant did business.
This chord was as effectively touched in the case of Boston
as of any commercial city, and ‘A Calm Appeal’ of the Richmond Enquirer
‘to put down forever these wanton fanatics,’ had the maddening influence which was calculated for it. This article, highly15
prophetic in its picture of a future civil war between the States, following Southern secession in defence of
warned the North
against the slightest interference with that institution; urged total noninter-course, social or commercial, with the incendiaries; and inquired—
Why, above all, does not Massachusetts, with whom Virginia17 sympathized so keenly in the days of the Boston Port Bill, drive that audacious foreigner from her bosom who is so grossly abusing the rights of hospitality, to throw our country into confusion?
It is outrageous enough for Tappan and for Garrison to be throwing firebrands into the South—but for that impertinent intruder, Thompson, to mingle in our institutions; for that foreigner, who has nothing American about him, in name, interest or principle —the outrage exceeds all the bounds of patience.
The Boston Commercial Gazette
promptly caught up18
the proposal of non-intercourse with abolitionists.
Still more promptly, the Boston Centinel
declared that 19 Thompson
would never be allowed to address another meeting in this country.
The Boston abolitionists had behaved during this trying season with circumspection.
After the Faneuil Hall demonstration, Mayor Lyman
had, in a courteous if not20
friendly manner, privately counselled them to discontinue their meetings while the public mind was so heated, at the same time assuring them that he would protect them in their rights if they chose to exercise them.
They in fact held only their constitutionally stated meetings, and it was one of these which fell due on Wednesday, October 14, the anniversary of the formation of the Boston Female Anti
Congress (formerly Julien
was the place selected, and public notice was given in the papers and from several pulpits, including Dr. Channing
's, in which the Rev. Henry Ware, Jr.
, happened to officiate.21
‘Ladies generally’ were invited
to attend, and ladies only; and an address was promised from George Thompson
The Commercial Gazette
of Monday affected great 22
indignation at this simple announcement, wondering ‘that Thompson
should dare to browbeat public opinion in this23
Remarking on his habit of protecting himself with petticoats, it urged his being taught that a female24
surrounding would no longer shield him from the consequences of his ‘reckless and wicked conduct.’
Faneuil Hall meetings will be of no use ‘if Thompson
, and their vile associates in this city are to be permitted to hold their meetings in the broad face of day, and to continue their denunciations against the planters of the South
They must be put down if we would preserve our consistency.’
Why does Thompson
persist in ‘driving [our citizens] to acts of lawless violence?’
Predicting trouble on Wednesday, the Gazette
added: ‘This resistance will not come from a rabble
, but from men of property and standing, who have a large interest at stake in this community, and who are determined, let the consequences be what they may, to put a stop to the impudent, bullying conduct of the foreign vagrant, Thompson
, and his associates in mischief.’
warned ladies to keep away from the tumult, and threatened that if Thompson
appeared he should be lynched.
Such a menace naturally alarmed the proprietor and the lessee of Congress Hall, and, explicitly adopting the Gazette's
view of the respectable character of the mob, they required heavy bonds against possible damages in25
case of a riot.
As this hall was the only one procurable, the Society gave notice on the appointed day that the meeting would be postponed.
, however, on the morning of the 14th, aggravated the criminality of26
by a fresh incitement to violence, under pretence of diverting indignation from the ‘scoundrel’ and ‘vagabond’ Thompson
to ‘our own citizens who associate with him.’
‘He is paid for his services, and is
only fulfilling his part of a contract. . . The poor devil must live.’27
This prepared the disorderly to place credence in false announcements, posted at Congress Hall and elsewhere, to the effect that the ladies were actually in session, and Thompson
speaking, at Ritchie Hall.
By a coincidence the Ladies
' Moral Reform Society was assembled there, 28
and the crowd of ‘patriotic citizens’ misled thither persisted in identifying it with the obnoxious organization; besieging the doors and stairway and demanding Thompson
, till dispersed by the arrival of the Mayor
, however, treated the affair as a successful attempt to suppress Thompson
, and reported (from its inner consciousness) that on the Mayor
's complaint he had been bound over to keep the peace, ‘though the “citizens generally” would like to use him up
in some other way’; and (on the same authority) that rioters had followed him to Abington
(October 15) in order to prevent his speaking there again.
This hint was not taken, and Mr. Thompson
was undisturbed by local or imported ruffianism.
The next advertisement of the meeting postponed from Congress Hall named as the appointed time Wednesday afternoon, October 21, at 3 o'clock, and the place the hall adjoining the Anti-Slavery Office
at 46 Washington Street. ‘Several addresses’ were promised, but
no names were mentioned.
's presence was not ‘deemed to be essential or expedient, either by29
himself or the Society.
He therefore left the city on Tuesday, that there might be no pretext for causing an interruption of the meeting on the ensuing day.’
On the morning of Wednesday Mr. Garrison
attended Henry Benson
to the cars for Providence
, placing in his hands a letter addressed to George Benson
, of which the following extracts were a part:
My health has been extremely good since I left Brooklyn,30 for which, as well as for other mercies, continual gratitude is due to God.
My mind is in a peaceful and happy frame; for faith, and hope, and love make it their abode.
I desire to cease wholly from man, and to rely upon nothing but the promises of Him who cannot lie. . . .
The spirit of the Lord is now striving mightily with this nation, and the nation is striving as mightily to quench it; and in doing so, it is revealing to the eyes of an astonished world an amount of depravity and heathenism that makes the name of our Christianity a reproach.
Nevertheless, let the worst appear; let not our sin be covered up; let the number of the rebels, and the extent of the rebellion, fully appear; let all that is dangerous, or hypocritical, or unjust among us be proclaimed upon the house-tops; and then the genuine disciples of Christ will be able skilfully and understandingly to carry on the war. A larger number than Gideon had is left to us, and the same omnipotent arm is ready to be bared in our defence.
On parting from his brother-in-law, Mr. Garrison
proceeded to the Anti-Slavery Office
, and in the course of the forenoon was visited by a deputy-marshal from the31 Mayor
's office, to inquire whether Mr. Thompson
address the meeting, or was in town.
had the day before been petitioned by the occupants of stores in the neighborhood of 46 Washington Street to prevent the meeting, for fear of damage in case of a disturbance.
The air was full of gathering violence, which the Mayor
hoped to be able to draw off harmless33
by the simple announcement to the mob that Thompson
was beyond their reach.
Or, if such was not the fact, he wished to be prepared against an outbreak.
, at first resenting the inquiry, finally assured34
the deputy that Mr. Thompson
was absent, and the Mayor
‘took, therefore, no other precaution than to have a small number of police officers assembled for the afternoon.’
, on his part, went to his home in Brighton Street, for an early dinner, at which a colored friend from Pittsburgh
, Mr. John B. Vashon
was his guest.
If their talk turned upon the probability of disorder, the following anonymous warning addressed to the editor of the Liberator
, and written in a bold hand, threw some light upon the question.
The date of its reception cannot now be determined:
In the meantime, about noon, this placard suddenly appeared upon the streets:37
The genesis of this murderous incentive is now, by the autographic confession of its author, traceable to the office and the editor of the Commercial Gazette
. In a letter to a former apprentice, James L. Homer
thus describes the circumstances under which the placard was got out—a relation which shows how natural it was for Mr. Garrison
to be made (in Mr. Thompson
's language) ‘the vicarious victim of that wrath which has been kindled by the “foreign emissary” ’:
The Gazette had been for a long time in the habit of38 abusing the abolitionists, and especially their organ and its leader and director.
It was, at times, particularly severe upon the Female Anti-Slavery Society, of which Mrs. Chapman, a very intelligent, respectable, and energetic lady, was one of the maina pillars.
Indeed, I may say that she was a head and shoulders taller and stronger than any one of her associates in that Society.
They had announced their annual meeting for the choice of officers, etc., on the afternoon of a certain day, at the Anti-Slavery Rooms, on Washington Street, near Cornhill.
There was much feeling, and much indignation expressed, in private, among business men, in relation to the proposed meeting—the men thinking that women ought to be engaged in some better business than that of stirring up strife between the South and the North on this matter of slavery; that they ought to be at home, attending to their domestic concerns, instead of sowing the seeds of political discord in the Anti-Slavery Rooms.
Many of “our first men” decided that the meeting should not be held, let the consequences be what they might!
On the morning of the day of the meeting, I was waited upon by a “committee of two” —Messrs. Isaac Stevens, now dead, and Isaac Means (who married old Tobias Lord's daughter), both merchants on Central Wharf39—who requested me to write, print, and cause to be distributed an inflammatory handbill in relation to the meeting--“something that would wake up the populace”—and they would pay the expense.
I complied, most cheerfully, as I considered it, at the moment, as merely a “business transaction,” and not dreaming that so light a flame would, in a few hours, produce so threatening a conflagration
in the breasts of the multitude!
I wrote the handbill, as “fast as a horse could trot,” at the long desk in the counting-room, while the gentlemen looked over my shoulderst Having finished it and read it to the committee, they pronounced it “just the thing,” and left, ordering 500 copies of it. The handbill was short, was soon put in type,40 and by one o'clock the copies had all been distributed—in the insurance offices, the reading-rooms, all along State Street, in the hotels, bar-rooms, etc.; and about one-third of the whole lot was scattered among mechanics at the North End, who were mightily taken with it, as the mob subsequently gave abundant proof. . . . Tom Withington and several of the younger apprentices41 distributed the handbills.
The effect they produced you may remember.
By three or four o'clock in the afternoon both sides of State Street, near the Old State House;42 Washington Street, from Joy's Building to Court Street; the bottom of the latter street up to the Court House, etc., were densely packed with an excited mob, who were determined that the meeting should not be held. There were present from six to ten thousand men,43 including “many gentlemen of property and influence,” an expression I used the next day in the Gazette in an editorial describing the mob.
Such was the situation when Mr. Garrison
arrived upon the scene, and his account of the sequel will now be given,44
with such aids and checks as the best evidence permits.
He had consented to address the meeting: 45
As the meeting was to commence at 3 o'clock P. M., I went to the hall about twenty minutes before that time.46 Perhaps a
hundred individuals had already gathered around the street door and opposite the building, and their number was rapidly augmenting.
On ascending into the hall,47 I found about fifteen or twenty ladies assembled,48 sitting with cheerful countenances, and a crowd of noisy intruders (mostly young men) gazing upon them, through whom I urged my way with considerable difficulty.
“That's Garrison,” was the exclamation of some of49 these creatures, as I quietly took my seat.
Perceiving that they had no intention of retiring, I went to them and calmly said— “Gentlemen, perhaps you are not aware that this is a meeting of the Boston Female Anti-Slavery Society, called and intended exclusively for ladies, and those only who have been invited to address them.
Understanding this fact, you will not be so rude or indecorous as to thrust your presence upon this meeting.
If, gentlemen,” I pleasantly continued, “any of you are ladies—in disguise—why, only apprise me of the fact, give me your names, and I will introduce you to the rest of your sex, and you can take seats among them accordingly.”
I then sat down, and, for a few moments, their conduct was more orderly.
However, the stairway and upper door of the hall were soon densely filled with a brazen-faced crew, whose behavior grew more and more indecent and outrageous.50
Perceiving that it would be impracticable for me, or any other person, to address the ladies; and believing, as I was the only male abolitionist in the hall, that my presence would serve as a pretext for the mob to annoy the meeting, I held a short colloquy with the excellent President of the Society, telling her that I would withdraw, unless she particularly desired me to stay.
It was her earnest wish that I would retire, as well for51 my own safety as for the peace of the meeting.
She assured me that the Society would resolutely but calmly proceed to the transaction of its business, and leave the issue with God.
I left the hall accordingly, and would have left the building52 if the staircase had not been crowded to excess.
This being impracticable, I retired into the Anti-Slavery Office, (which is separated from the hall by a board partition), accompanied by my friend Mr. Charles C. Burleigh.53 It was deemed prudent to lock the door, to prevent the mob from rushing in and destroying our publications.54
In the meantime, the crowd in the street had augmented from a hundred to thousands.
The cry was for “Thompson!
Thompson!” —but the Mayor had now arrived, and, addressing55 the rioters, he assured them that Mr. Thompson was not in the city, and besought them to disperse.56 As well might he have attempted to propitiate a troop of ravenous wolves.
None went away—but the tumult continued momentarily to increase.
It was apparent, therefore, that the hostility of the throng was not concentrated upon Mr. Thompson, but that it was as deadly against the Society and the Anti-Slavery cause.57 This fact is
worthy of special note—for it incontestably proves that the object of the “respectable and influential” rioters was to put down the cause of emancipation, and that Mr. Thompson furnished merely a pretext for five thousand “gentlemen” to mob thirty Christian women! . . .
Notwithstanding the presence and frantic behavior of the rioters in the hall, the meeting of the Society was regularly called to order by the President.
She then read a select and an exceedingly appropriate portion of Scripture, and offered up a fervent prayer to God for direction and succor, and the forgiveness of enemies and revilers.
It was an awful, sublime and soul-thrilling scene—enough, one would suppose, to melt adamantine hearts, and make even fiends of darkness stagger and retreat.
Indeed, the clear, untremulous tone of voice of that Christian heroine in prayer occasionally awed the ruffians into silence, and was distinctly heard58 even in the midst of their hisses, threats, and curses—for they could not long silently endure the agony of conviction, and their conduct became furious.
They now attempted to break down the partition, and partially succeeded—but the little band of females still maintained their ground unshrinkingly, and continued to transact their business.
An assault was now made upon the door of the office, the lower panel of which was instantly dashed to pieces.
Stooping down, and glaring upon me as I sat at the desk,59 writing an account of the riot to a distant friend, the ruffians cried out— “There he is!
Out with the scoundrel!” &c., &c. Turning to Mr. Burleigh, I said— “You may as well open the door, and let them come in and do their worst.”
But he, with great presence of mind, went out, locked the door, put the key in his pocket, and by his admirable firmness succeeded in keeping the office safe.60
Two or three constables having cleared the hall and staircase of the mob,61 the Mayor came in and ordered the ladies to desist, assuring them that he could not any longer guarantee protection62 if they did not take immediate advantage of the opportunity to retire from the building.
Accordingly they adjourned, to meet at the house of one of their number [Mrs. Chapman's, at 11 West Street],63 for the completion of their
business; but as they passed through the crowd they were greeted with taunts, hisses and cheers of mobocratic triumph, from “gentlemen of property and standing from all parts of the city.”
Even their absence did not diminish the throng.
Thompson was not there—the ladies were not there—but “ Garrison is there!”
was the cry. “Garrison!
Garrison! We must have Garrison!
Out with him!
These and numberless other exclamations arose from the multitude.
For a moment, their attention was diverted from me to the Anti-Slavery sign [‘ Anti-Slavery Rooms’], and they vociferously demanded its possession.
It is painful to state that the Mayor promptly complied with their demand!
So agitated and alarmed had he become that, in very weakness of spirit, he ordered the sign to be hurled to the ground,65 and it was instantly
broken into a thousand fragments by the infuriated populace.
O, lamentable departure from duty—O, shameful outrage upon private property—by one who had sworn, not to destroy but to protect property—not to pander to the lawless desires of a mob, however “wealthy and respectable,” but to preserve the public peace.
The act was wholly unjustifiable.
The Mayor might have as lawfully surrendered me to the tender mercies of the mob, or ordered the building itself to be torn down, in order to propitiate them, as to remove that sign.
Perhaps—nay, probably —he was actuated by kind intentions; probably he hoped that he should thereby satisfy the ravenous appetites of these human cormorants, and persuade them to retire; probably he trusted thus to extricate me from danger.
But the sequel proved that he only gave a fresh stimulus to popular fury: and if he could have saved my life, or the whole city from destruction, by that single act, still he ought not to have obeyed the mandate of the mob—no indeed!
He committed a public outrage in the presence of the lawless and disobedient, and thus strangely expected to procure obedience to and a respect for the law!
He behaved disorderly before rebels that he might restore order among them!
Mr. Henry Williams and Mr. John L. Dimmock also deserve severe reprehension for their forwardness in taking down the sign.
The offence, under such circumstances, was very heinous.
The value of the article destroyed was of no consequence; but the principle involved in its surrender and sacrifice is one upon which civil government, private property and individual liberty depend.66
The sign being demolished, the cry for “Garrison!”
was renewed, more loudly than ever.
It was now apparent that the multitude would not disperse until I had left the building; and as egress out of the front door was impossible, the Mayor and his assistants, as well as some of my friends, earnestly besought me to effect my escape in the rear of the building.67 At this juncture, an abolition brother whose mind had not been previously settled on the peace question, in his anguish and alarm for my safety, and in view of the helplessness of the civil authority, said— “I must henceforth repudiate the principle of non-resistance.
When the civil arm is powerless, my own rights are trodden in the dust, and the lives of my friends are put in imminent peril by ruffians, I will hereafter prepare to defend myself and them at all hazards.”
Putting my hand upon his shoulder, I said, “ Hold, my dear brother!
You know not what spirit you are of. This is the trial of our faith, and the test of our endurance.
Of what value or utility are the principles of peace and forgiveness, if we may repudiate them in the hour of peril and suffering?
Do you wish to become like one of those violent and bloodthirsty men who are seeking my life?
Shall we give blow for blow, and array sword against sword?
God forbid! I will perish sooner than raise my hand against any man, even in self-defence, and let none of my friends resort to violence for my protection.
If my life be taken, the cause of emancipation will not suffer.
God reigns—his throne is undisturbed by this storm—he will make the wrath of man to praise him, and the remainder he will restrain—his omnipotence will at length be victorious.”
Preceded by my faithful and beloved friend Mr. J——R——69 C——, I dropped from a back window on to a shed, and narrowly escaped falling headlong to the ground.
We entered into a carpenter's shop, through which we attempted to get into Wilson's Lane, but found our retreat cut off by the mob. They raised a shout as soon as we came in sight, but the workmen70 promptly closed the door of the shop, kept them at bay for a time, and thus kindly afforded me an opportunity to find some other passage.
I told Mr. C. it would be futile to attempt to escape—I would go out to the mob, and let them deal with me as they might elect; but he thought it was my duty to avoid them as long as possible.
We then went up stairs, and, finding a vacancy in one corner of the room, I got into it, and he and a young lad piled up some boards in front of me to shield me from observation.
In a few minutes several ruffians broke into the chamber, who seized Mr. C. in a rough manner, and led him out to the view of the mob, saying, “This is not Garrison, but Garrison's and Thompson's friend, and he says he knows where Garrison is, but won't tell.”
Then a shout of exultation was raised by the mob, and what became of him I do not know; though, as I was immediately discovered, I presume he escaped without material injury.
On seeing me, three or four of the rioters, uttering a yell, furiously dragged me to the window,71 with the intention of hurling me from that height to the ground; but one of them relented and said— “Don't let us kill him outright.”
So they drew me back, and coiled a rope about my body—probably to drag me through the streets.72 I bowed to the mob, and, requesting
them to wait patiently until I could descend, went down upon a ladder that was raised for that purpose.
I fortunately extricated myself from the rope, and was seized by two or three powerful men, to whose firmness, policy and muscular energy I am probably indebted for my preservation.73 They led me along bareheaded, (for I had lost my hat), through a mighty crowd, ever and anon shouting, “He shan't be hurt!
You shan't hurt him!
Don't hurt him!
He is an American,” &c., &c. This seemed to excite sympathy among many in the crowd, and they reiterated the cry, “He shan't be hurt!”
I was thus conducted through Wilson's Lane into State Street, in the rear of the City Hall, over the ground that was stained with the blood of the first martyrs in the cause of Liberty and Independence, by the memorable massacre of 1770—and upon which was proudly unfurled, only a few years since, with joyous acclamations, the beautiful banner presented to the gallant Poles by the young men of Boston!
What a scandalous and revolting contrast!
My offence was in pleading for Liberty—liberty for my enslaved countrymen, colored though they be—liberty of speech and of the press for all!
And upon that “consecrated spot” I was made an
object of derision and scorn, and my body was denuded of a large portion of its covering, in the presence of thousands of my fellow-citizens!
O, base degeneracy from their parentstock!74
Orders were now given to carry me to the Mayor's office in the City Hall.
As we approached the south door, the Mayor
A, Anti-slavery Office, Washington St. B, City Hall (old Statehouse). enlarged from Smith's Map of Boston, 1835.|
attempted to protect me by his presence; but as he was unassisted by any show of authority or force, he was quickly thrust aside—and now came a tremendous rush on the part of the mob to prevent my entering the Hall.
For a moment, the conflict was dubious—but my sturdy supporters carried me safely up to the Mayor's room.75
Whatever those newspapers which were instrumental in stirring up the mob may report, throughout the whole of this trying scene I felt perfectly calm, nay, very happy.
to me that it was indeed a blessed privilege thus to suffer in the cause of Christ.
Death did not present one repulsive feature.
The promises of God sustained my soul, so that it was not only divested of fear, but ready to sing aloud for joy.
Having had my clothes [it was a bran-new suit] rent asunder, one individual kindly lent me a pair of pantaloons— another, a coat76—a third, a stock—a fourth, a cap as a substitute for my lost hat. After a consultation of fifteen or twenty minutes, the Mayor and his advisers came to the singular conclusion, that the building would be endangered by my continuing in it,77 and that the preservation of my life depended upon committing me to jail, ostensibly as a disturber of the peace!!78 A hack was got in readiness at the door79 to receive
me—and, supported by Sheriff Parkman and Ebenezer Bailey, Esq.80 (the Mayor leading the way), I succeeded in getting into it without much difficulty, as I was not readily identified in my new garb.
Now came a scene that baffles the power of description.
As the ocean, lashed into fury by the spirit of the storm,
City Hall, from the west end (Post-office). the door with the flight of steps is that by which Mr. Garrison was taken in. From Smith's Map of Boston, 1835.|
seeks to whelm the adventurous bark beneath its mountain waves—so did the mob, enraged by a series of disappointments, rush like a whirlwind upon the frail vehicle in which I sat, and endeavor to drag me out of it. Escape seemed a physical impossibility.
They clung to the wheels—dashed open the doors—seized hold of the horses—and tried to upset the carriage.81 They were, however, vigorously repulsed by the police—a constable sprang in by my side—the doors were closed—and the driver, lustily using his whip upon the bodies of his horses and the heads of the rioters, happily made an opening through the crowd, and drove at a tremendous speed for Leverett Street. But many of the rioters followed even with superior swiftness, and repeatedly attempted to arrest the progress of the horses.82 To reach the jail by a direct course
was found impracticable; and after going in a circuitous direction,83 and encountering many “hair-breadth 'scapes,” 84we drove up to this new and last refuge of liberty and life, when another bold attempt was made to seize me by the mob—but in vain.85 In a few moments I was locked up in a cell, safe from my persecutors, accompanied by two delightful associates, a good conscience and a cheerful mind.
In the course of the evening, several of my friends86 came to my grated window to sympathise and rejoice with me, with whom I held a pleasant conversation until the hour of retirement, when I threw myself upon my prison bed, and slept tranquilly during the night.87 In the
morning I awoke quite refreshed, and, after eating an excellent breakfast furnished by the kindness of my keeper, I inscribed upon the walls of my cell the following items:
From the City Hall, State St., to the City jail, Leverett St. From Smith's Map of Boston, 1835.|
Wm. Lloyd Garrison was put into this cell on Wednesday afternoon, Oct. 21, 1835, to save him from the violence of a “respectable and influential” mob, who sought to destroy him for preaching the abominable and dangerous doctrine, that “all men are created equal,” and that all oppression is odious in the sight of God. “ Hail, Columbia!”
Cheers for the Autocrat of Russia and the Sultan of Turkey!
Reader, let this inscription remain till the last slave in this despotic land be loosed from his fetters.88
In the course of the forenoon, after passing through the mockery of an examination, for form's sake, before Judge Whitman,89 I was released from prison; but at the earnest solici-
tation of the city authorities, in order to tranquillize the public mind, I deemed it proper to leave the city for a few days, and accordingly took my departure, accompanied by Mrs. Garrison.90
My thanks are due to Sheriff Parkman for various acts of politeness and kindness; as also to Sheriff Sumner,91 Mr. Coolidge, Mr. Andrews, and several other gentlemen.
I have been thus minute in describing the rise, progress and termination of this disgraceful riot, in order to prevent (or rather to correct) false representations and exaggerated reports respecting it and myself.
It is proper to subjoin a few reflections.
1. The outrage was perpetrated in Boston—the Cradle of Liberty—the city of Hancock and Adams—the headquarters
of refinement, literature, intelligence, and religion!
No comments can add to the infamy of this fact.
2. It was perpetrated in the open daylight of heaven, and was therefore most unblushing and daring in its features.
3. It was against the friends of human freedom—the liberty of speech—the right of association—and in support of the vilest slavery that ever cursed the world.
4. It was dastardly beyond precedent, as it was an assault of thousands upon a small body of helpless females.
Charleston and New Orleans have never acted so brutally.
5. It was planned and executed, not by the rabble, or the workingmen, but by “gentlemen of property and standing from all parts of the city”—and now [October 25] that time has been afforded for reflection, it is still either openly justified or coldly disapproved by the “higher classes,” and exultation among them is general throughout the city. . . .
7. It is evidently winked at by the city authorities.
No efforts have been made to arrest the leading rioters.
The Mayor has made no public appeal to the citizens to preserve order; nor has he given any assurance that the right of free discussion shall be enjoyed without molestation; nor did he array any military force92 against the mob, or attempt to disperse them except by useless persuasion; on the contrary, he complied with their wishes in tearing down the anti-slavery sign.
He was chairman, too, of the pro-slavery meeting in Faneuil Hall, at which Washington was cheered for being a slave-Holder! . . .
When peace within the bosom reigns,
And conscience gives th' approving voice;
Though bound the human form in chains,
Yet can the soul aloud rejoice.
'Tis true, my footsteps are confined—
I cannot range beyond this cell;—
But what can circumscribe my mind?
To chain the winds attempt as well!
Confine me as a prisoner—but bind me not as a slave.
Punish me as a criminal—but hold me not as a chattel.
Torture me as a man—but drive me not like a beast.
Doubt my sanity—but acknowledge my immortality.
The conduct of Mayor Lyman
on this occasion has now been honestly set forth.
It was promptly arraigned in the Liberator
by the Rev. Henry C. Wright
defended by Samuel E. Sewall
(‘An Abolitionist’) and95
It was reconsidered at great96
length, and again condemned, by Mr. Garrison
, who 97
reluctantly entered into the discussion—‘lest the charge should be made that my ignominious treatment disqualified me from being an impartial reviewer.’
A generation later it was reviewed in a lecture delivered by Wendell Phillips
, in November, 1869, out of which grew a newspaper controversy, and was thereupon summed up in a brochure (freely cited above) by the son98
and namesake of Mayor Lyman
, with the result, so far as Mr. Garrison
was concerned, of finding him guilty of ingratitude and of a dishonorable change of feeling towards a benefactor.
's allowances for Mayor Lyman
, in the narrative just given, show that he did not impute to him motives
inconsistent with a desire to preserve the peace and to save a citizen's life.
He could not deny that (in the last instance) the Mayor had
saved his life;99
but then, he had thrice imperilled it—first, by lending his official weight to a mobocratic demonstration in Faneuil Hall; next, by counselling him to leave the anti-slavery building while besieged in front and rear by an eager mob; and then by taking him through the same mob, become still more desperate, a long distance to the city jail.
Both the Mayor
son belittle the mob in view of its trifling damages to person and property, but insist on its fury as a ground of gratitude on Mr. Garrison
's part, and of excuse for the Mayor
's inability to meet it squarely, and his consequent resort to strategy, ending in the bouffe
performance of committing the victim instead of the rioters.
The Boston of that day was, like many other American cities, proving that its municipal organization had not kept pace with the growth of population and with the increase of the dangerous elements of society; and there can be no doubt, as Mr. Theodore Lyman, Jr.
shows, that the police force was miserably inadequate for an emergency like a riot.
On the other hand, the city was still small enough to make the Mayor
a wellknown figure, his office possessed much greater dignity, and his presence inspired much greater awe, than it does to-day.
This, while it makes his part in removing the anti-slavery sign (accepting his own version of it) an indefensible encouragement to the mob, would also, it must be said, justly qualify any present estimate of his personal bravery.
Comparison has pertinently been made with Mayor Eliot
's quelling of the ferocious Broad-Street
riot of June 11, 1837, between two fire-engine102
companies and the Irish, when missiles were flying, and personal intervention meant taking risks which Mayor Lyman
had neither to encounter nor to fear.
As to calling out the military, the Mayor
perhaps had no statute authority to do so;103
and if he had, the militia was in the streets—a part of the mob—the thing to be put down.104
Possibly the marines from the Charlestown Navy-Yard
could have been got to guard the City Hall in defence of Federal property—the Post-office
—as later they were available for escorting fugitive slaves southward past the same building; but this was before the days of telegraphs, and the consent of a pro-slavery Administration might have been necessary.
It must, however, be remembered, that Mayor Lyman
had every reason to expect, and ample warning to prepare for, a disturbance,105
and that the handbill did not rouse him to
a proper sense of the situation.
In this respect he did not do what he must have done had his own ‘class’ been in similar peril;106
and he refused to the end, seeing his own class about him, to believe or pronounce it a107
mob. He knew, indeed,—and it is no figure of speech to say so,—that he was in the midst of the adjourned Faneuil Hall meeting, and he ought to have been presiding over it, instead of ‘calling it to order.’
There is no pretence that he lost for a moment his sympathy with the pro-slavery animus of the mob, or that he had any loftier distress of mind than, ex officio
, municipal disorder occasioned.
He did no more for Mr. Garrison
than he might have done for a murderer in danger of being lynched on the way to prison.
The outrage on the right of free meeting and of free speech affected him so little that, as Mr. Garrison
charged, he took no steps to bring the notorious instigators and ringleaders to trial, or proclaim his sense of the disgrace that had befallen the city.108
His subsequent inaction, in short, naturally extinguished what dubious claim he had on Mr. Garrison
's gratitude; and the more the editor of the Liberator
reflected upon the Mayor
's behavior, the graver seemed that officer's responsibility for an outbreak in which the personal adventure was inconsiderable in comparison with the public rights that were trodden under foot.
may have been sincere, in offering, at the foot of the staircase in the City Hall, to lay down his life in maintenance of law and order.
But the occasion and the opportunity for such a sacrifice were presented at an earlier stage of the trouble.
To the mob's cry for Thompson
, instead of answering in a feeble voice, ‘He is not here,’ the Mayor
should have thundered, ‘And if he were
here, he should remain and speak, as is his right.’
A dead body as the cost of that proclamation would have been worth many exculpatory volumes.
The despised sign whose destruction he estimated in dollars and cents instead of in principles, was also a fit pretext for a magistrate's dying at his post.
Finally, if the case had not, by these laches, grown too desperate, Mr. Garrison
's right to remain in the building and be protected there furnished still another.
But Mayor Lyman
seems to have been profuse in declarations which, to use Mr. Garrison
's words, in the sequel proved ‘mere 109
Law offices in abundance overlooked the scene of the mob; the legislators, in special session at the State House
, —John G. Whittier
among them,—hastened down to become spectators.
Law was everywhere, but justice was fallen in the streets.
Here and there a not hostile face was visible, like George B. Emerson
's, whom Mrs. Chapman
called to witness as she passed him in the throng.
, commencing practice in his native city, and not versed, perhaps, in the riot statutes, wondered why his regiment was not called out. Henry I. Bowditch
, who had only heard of Garrison
, felt his gorge rise at the spectacle, and, meeting an alderman,111
vented his indignation at the ‘worse than contemptible
mob that was going on,’ and offered his services as a volunteer to shoot the rioters down.
‘I found my city official quite cool
, and he intimated that, though it was the112
duty of the Mayor
to put down the riot, the city government did not very much disapprove of the mob
to put down such agitators as Garrison
and those like him.’113
The editor of the New England Galaxy
overheard a justice of the peace remark: ‘I hope they will catch him [Garrison] and tar-and-feather him; and though I would not assist, I can tell them five dollars are ready for the man that will do it.’
The ‘respectable’ press of Boston
had but one voice on Thursday concerning the occurrences of the previous day.114
(Webster Whig) charged the 115
abolitionists with the disturbance, while coyly repelling the imputation of having itself been mainly instrumental in getting it up—an ‘Atlas
The Mercantile Journal
called for the prevention of anti-slavery meetings ‘by the strong arm of the law,’ seeing that they were ‘but116
the signal for the assemblage of a mob’; and would have Garrison
arrested as ‘disturbers of the peace and manufacturers of brawls and riots,’ and made ‘to give security in a large amount for their future good behavior.’
the city on the absence from the mob ‘of what is called the rabble
—the vicious dregs of society who,
in other populous cities, give terrific features to popular and excited assemblages.’
thought it a most shamefully good mob. The Daily Advertiser 118
‘regarded the assemblage not so much as a riot
, as the119 prevention of a riot
. . . . We consider the whole transaction as the triumph of the law
over lawless violence, and the love of order over an attempt to produce riot and confusion.’120
The religious press, except the New England Spectator
and Zion's Herald
(Methodist), was in accord with the secular.
The Christian Watchman
) pronounced the abolitionists equally 121
culpable with the mob. Tracy
's Recorder (Congregationalist) said it was Mr. Garrison
's ‘settled policy to provoke122
mobs as much as he can,’ and so ‘identify his cause with the cause of civil liberty,’ to the distress of worthy citizens thus forced to choose between him and the mob. The Christian Register
) saw no adequate 123
excuse for a mob in the meeting of ‘a few black
ladies, in an hour of romance or revery,’ but rebuked them and their male associates for courting persecution.
‘As the friends of peace, they ought not to defy public opinion, however wrong.’
It was not otherwise with the most eminent professors and teachers of religion.
, en route from Salem
, had ‘passed through the mob some time after it had begun to assemble.’
fellow-passengers, connecting the well-dressed crowd with the adjacent Post-office, naturally ‘supposed it was a busy foreignpost day.’
the truth reached her:
President Wayland [of Brown University] agreed with me125 at the time about the iniquitous and fatal character of the outrage;
but called on me, after a trip to Boston, to relieve my anxiety by the assurance that it was all right,—the mob having been entirely composed of gentlemen!126 Professor Henry Ware, who did and said better things afterwards, told me that the plain truth was, the citizens did not choose to let such a man as Garrison live among them,—admitting that Garrison's127 opinions on slavery were the only charge against him. Lawyers on that occasion defended a breach of the laws; ladies were sure that the gentlemen of Boston would do nothing improper; merchants thought the abolitionists were served quite right,—they were so troublesome to established routine; the clergy thought the subject so 'low that people of taste should not be compelled to hear anything about it; and even Judge128 Story, when I asked him whether there was not a public prosecutor who might prosecute for the assault on Garrison, if the abolitionists did not, replied that he had given his advice (which had been formally asked) against any notice whatever being taken of the outrage,—the feeling being so strong against the discussion of slavery, and the rioters being so respectable in the city.
These things I myself heard and saw, or I would not ask anybody to believe what I could hardly credit myself.
For the second time in the space of three months the editor of the Liberator
was exiled from the city of his adoption, and driven from a home which would be his no more.
The sequel will appear in the following extracts from private letters:
In the afternoon of the day appointed for this meeting, November 18, Mr. Garrison
took the cars for Providence
to rejoin his wife at Brooklyn
On the day following Thanksgiving he wrote to G. W. Benson
A letter from friend Burleigh, at the Anti-Slavery Rooms,186 informs me that letters had just been received from Henry and Thompson.
Both arrived safely, and had good passages . . .187 What a mighty void is created by the return of G. T.! It is188 like the loss of a general to an army, whose presence gave inspiration and courage to the humblest soldier.
Who now shall go forth to argue our cause in public with subtle sophists and insolent scoffers?
It is true, we have the lion-hearted, invincible Weld, at the West, and our strong and indefatigable189 brother Stanton in Rhode Island; but the withdrawal of190 Thompson seems like the loss of many agents. . . .
By the way—looking at the thing in its true light, this custom of appointing one day in the year to be specially thankful for the good gifts of God is an absurdity, tending, I think, to keep up the notion that it is not very material whether we are particularly thankful, or not, during the remainder of the year.
The appointment, too, of a thanksgiving by a civil officer is strictly a union of Church and State.
I am growing more and more hostile to outward forms and ceremonies and observances, as a religious duty, and trust I am more and more appreciating the nature and enjoying the privileges of that liberty wherewith the obedient soul is made free.
How can a people fast or be thankful at the bidding or request of any man or body of men?
‘Gerrit Smith has at last waived all his scruples and joined our ranks.
No doubt you have seen his letter in the Emancipator. You perceive he boggles a little at some of us and our measures, but never mind—he will soon be as rampant as any of us. We must remember that he has been our antagonist, and that he constituted one of the main pillars of the Colonization Society.191 Whether he has wholly swung clear of that Society does not appear; indeed, he does not allude to it. But as he declared in his speech at Peterboroa, that he could go with us even in our most odious sentiments, and as he has now connected himself with a Society which aims to destroy his long-cherished scheme, he must be strangely inconsistent if he can still support the Colonization Society.
He certainly deserves much credit for the Christian manliness and magnanimity which he manifests in joining our ranks at this perilous crisis.
So much for the mob at Utica!’
Ellis Gray Loring204 to W. L. Garrison, at Brooklyn.
‘He has gone!’
wrote Mr. Garrison
in the Liberator
of George Thompson
‘The paragon of modern eloquence—the benefactor of two nations— the universal philanthropist—the servant of God, and the friend of all mankind—is no longer in our midst.
He has gone!
But not to cease from his labors in the cause of mercy.
He has a mighty work to perform in England
. . . . It is by the pressure of public sentiment abroad, as well as at home, that the bloody system is to be tumbled into ruins.’
Only the lapse of years, in fact, could disclose the full import of that American mission which Mr. Garrison
had instigated, and which, even had it ended here, must have been pronounced successful.212
The moral and material alliance with England
, already ensured by his own visit to that country, was now, however, to be indissolubly cemented by Mr. Thompson
's expulsion from the United States
In a parting letter to Henry C. Wright
, dated St. John, N. B.
, November 25, 1835, the fugitive laid down the programme to be faithfully carried out in his native land:
In leaving America I consulted usefulness, not safety. 213 Understand me. I believe my life was sought.
I believe many were prepared to take it—many more prepared to rejoice over the deed; and I left your country under the conviction that I
could not go abroad without the almost certain prospect of death.
But still, had there been reason to believe that by staying and falling on your soil, I should thereby have done the will of God, and the best thing to advance the cause, I trust I should not have hesitated to remain and be offered up. The finger of Providence seemed to point to Great Britain as a scene of labor not to be neglected for the problematical good which a longer continuance in the U. S. might effect.
There was a field wide, open, secure, rich, waving already, white unto the harvest —the public in the fittest possible state to receive the information I had collected, and the appeals I was qualified to found upon that evidence.
After viewing the matter deliberately, and I trust prayerfully, I came to the decision that the path of duty lay across the waters; and then, through the length and breadth of the kingdom, publishing everywhere the wrongs of the American slave, and calling upon man, woman and child to join in one united and overwhelming remonstrance against the unmatched wickedness of American slavery.
On this side, meantime, Mr. Thompson
was leaving behind him an imposing number of anti-slavery societies almost called into being by his eloquence,214
an increased zeal among those already existing, and the reputation (teste Peleg Sprague
) of having given ‘their greatest215
prevalence and intensity’ to the anti-slavery doctrines he had been invited to propagate.216
Nowhere was the impression made by his year's labors more profound than at the South
From them Jefferson Davis
‘public agitation’ for abolition, and the deliberate attempt to dissolve the Union
; and the author of a notable secession work218
likewise declares Thompson
to have been ‘the controlling spirit of this effort to array North and South on geographical lines,’ and renews the charge that he went about ‘repeating in conversation that “every slaveholder should have his throat cut.”
But, more than in all this, the significance of Mr. Thompson
's experience is to be found in the demonstration which it afforded of Southern control over Northern liberties.
None too soon it was discovered that this execrated Englishman's right to enjoy the immunities guaranteed, under the laws, to every inhabitant of the Union
, could not be denied without involving the suppression of native freedom of speech, and the imperilling of every American's life who refused to be dumb on the subject of slavery.
's vicarious suffering for his foreign colleague proved that the assault of slavery was directed not against individuals or against nationalities, but against rights the most lawful, the most sacred, the most indispensable.
The liberties of the race at the North
(at the South
, after the ransacking of the mails with the connivance of the Federal Administration
, they were completely extinguished) were now put upon the defensive in the persons of the despised abolitionists.
The struggle for the next decade, whatever its phases, was to turn upon the right to speak and to publish.
It was the necessary prelude to any attack upon slavery in its own domain, and had been foreseen by Mr. Garrison
when he answered for himself the mocking question, ‘Why don't you go South?’
(after having been there), and went and set up his standard under the shadow of Bunker Hill
It was precipitated, as it deserved to be, by Mr. Thompson
's coming to America
; and the debt of gratitude the North
owed him for his instrumentality in arousing it to a sense of its own servitude,219
will only seem greater as time goes on.
We return to Mr. Garrison
's correspondence:220 221
Amos A. Phelps to W. L. Garrison, at Brooklyn.
W. L. Garrison to Henry E. Benson, at Boston.
W. L. Garrison to Thomas Shipley, at Philadelphia.
W. L. Garrison to S. J. May, at Boston.
W. L. Garrison to his Wife, at Brooklyn.
W. L. Garrison to his Wife, at Brooklyn.
's account of this interview is more circumstantial.
In her “Retrospect of Western Travel,” 265
after saying that, ‘having heard every species of abuse of Garrison
,’ she ought in fairness to see him, she continues:
I was staying at the house of a clergyman266 in Boston, when a note was brought in which told me that Mr. Garrison was in town, and would meet me at any hour, at any friend's house, the next day. My host arrived at a knowledge of the contents of the note quite against my will, and kindly insisted that Mr. Garrison should call on me at home.
At ten o'clock he came, accompanied by his introducer.
His aspect put to flight in an267 instant what prejudices his slanderers had raised in me. I was wholly taken by surprise.
It was a countenance glowing with
health, and wholly expressive of purity, animation, and gentleness.
I did not now wonder at the citizen who, seeing a print of Garrison at a shop window without a name to it, went in and268 bought it, and framed it as the most saintlike of countenances.
The end of the story is, that when the citizen found whose portrait he had been hanging up in his parlor, he took the print out of the frame and huddled it away.
Garrison has a good deal of a Quaker air; and his speech is deliberate like a Quaker's, but gentle as a woman's. The only thing that I did not like was his excessive agitation when he came in, and his thanks to me for desiring to meet one so odious' as himself.
I was, however, as I told him, nearly as odious as himself at that time; so it was fit that we should be acquainted.
On mentioning afterward to his introducer my impression of something like a want of manliness in Garrison's agitation, he replied that I could not know what it was to be an object of insult and hatred to the whole of society for a series of years; that Garrison could bear what he met with from street to street, and from town to town; but that a kind look and shake of the hand from a stranger unmanned him for the moment.
How little did the great man know our feelings towards him on our meeting; how we, who had done next to nothing, were looking up to him who is achieving the work of an age, and, as a stimulus, that of a nation!269
His conversation was more about peace principles than the great subject.
It was of the most practical cast.
Every conversation I had with him confirmed my opinion that sagacity is the most striking attribute of his conversation.
It has none of the severity, the harshness, the bad taste of his writing; it is as gladsome as his countenance, and as gentle as his voice.
Through the whole of his deportment breathes the evidence of a heart at ease; and this it is, I think, more than all his distinct claims, which attaches his personal friends to him with an almost idolatrous affection.
's narrative has already slipt away from the first meeting and first impressions, but it is as well to dispose here of what follows, or most of it:
I do not pretend to like or to approve the tone of Garrison's270 printed censures.
I could not use such language myself towards
any class of offenders, nor can I sympathize in its use by others.
But it is only fair to mention that Garrison adopts it warily; and that I am persuaded that he is elevated above passion, and has no unrighteous anger to vent in harsh expressions.
He considers his task to be the exposure of fallacy, the denunciation of hypocrisy, and the rebuke of selfish timidity.
He is looked upon by those who defend him in this particular as holding the branding-iron; and it seems true enough that no one branded by Garrison ever recovers it. He gives his reasons for his severity with a calmness, meekness, and softness which contrast strongly with the subject of the discourse, and which convince the objector that there is principle at the bottom of the practice. . . .
He never speaks of himself or his persecutions unless compelled, and his child will never learn at home what a distinguished father he has. He will know him as the tenderest of parents before he becomes aware that he is a great hero.
I found myself growing into a forgetfulness of the deliverer of a race in the friend of the fireside.
One day, in Michigan, two friends (who happened to be abolitionists) and I were taking a drive with the Governor of the State, who was talking of some recent commotion on the slavery question.
“What is Garrison like ” said he. “Ask Miss M.,” said one smiling friend: “Ask Miss M.,” said the other.
I was asked accordingly; and my answer was, that I thought Garrison the most bewitching personage I had met in the United States.
The impression cannot but be strengthened by his being made such a bugbear as he is; but the testimony of his personal friends, the closest watchers of his life, may safely be appealed to as to the charms of his domestic manners.
Garrison gayly promised me that he would come over whenever his work is done in the United States, that we may keep jubilee in London.
I believe it would be safe to promise him a hundred thousand welcomes as warm as mine.
This engagement was punctually fulfilled on both sides.
Meantime, nothing could have seemed more utopian.
A full year before,—when as yet there was no Southern271
panic over incendiary matter in the mails, no Charleston
bonfire, no ‘well done!’
from the Postmaster-General
, no slave-drivers' demand on the North
, no truckling Faneuil Hall meeting, no State-Street mob,—Mr. Garrison
still fancying himself a year older than he really272
was, had composed this birthday sonnet:
Ye angels, and the spirits of the just!273
Crown'd as ye are, and thron'd in royal state!
In full seraphic strains congratulate,
Upon his waning years, a child of dust,
Who, as he fades, doth firmer find his trust
In God—and holds the world at a mean rate,
But upon heaven puts a high estimate!
This fills his soul with joy—that, with disgust.
The thirtieth round of my brief pilgrimage
To-day is ended—'tis perchance the last
I shall complete upon this earthly stage;
For toils increase, and perils thicken fast,
And mighty is the warfare that I wage:—
Yet 'tis my foes, not I, that stand aghast!