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Chapter 10: the Rynders Mob.—1850.

The New York Herald incites popular violence against the anniversary meeting of the American Anti-slavery Society in that city. Garrison presides, and speaks with the utmost composure in the midst of a mob led by a local bully, with the connivance of the city authorities. Second visit of George Thompson to America.

‘We talk of the South and the North being parties to this question, and of the Slave Power being identified with the South. Do you remember how many slaveholders there are?’ This question, put by John G. Palfrey at the Free Soil Convention held in Faneuil Hall1 on February 27, 1850, he answered by computing from the latest ‘census’ of Kentucky that, out of some 5,000,000 whites in the South, only 100,000, including women and minors, held slaves. Judge Jay, reckoning2 from the same basis, but applying it to the census of 1840, arrived at the sum of 117,000, which, if we were3 to enlarge it by 70,000, would still exceed by less than one-half the population of Boston in this year of4 compromise, reaction, and violence.5 For the sake of the moneyed interests and social and political supremacy of this oligarchy, the whole country was plunging headlong into a frightful abyss of idolatry of the Union, and utter repudiation of the claims of humanity in the person of the enslaved—and especially of the fleeing, hunted, and imploring—negro.

1 Lib. 20.38.

2 Wm. Jay.

3 Lib. 20.34.

4 Lib. 20.183.

5 We have sought in vain to discover the common data upon which Palfrey and Jay relied. There has never been a Kentucky State census, nor is any document known to the Auditor's Department which gives any clue to the number of slaveholders. Slaveholders were never enumerated in a United States census; but the Southerner, De Bow, who superintended that of 1850, estimated the total number at 347,525, or, excluding the hirers of slaves, 186,551. This would make an average holding of 17, whereas the Kentucky average reported to Palfrey and Jay was 22, and seemed too low to apply to the South at large, as the size of gangs increased going Gulfward (Lib. 20: 38). In a speech delivered in 1844, Cassius Clay said, ‘31,495 only [of the then population of Kentucky] the Auditor's books show to be slaveholders’ (Ms. June 11, 1888, C. M. Clay to Gen. Fayette Hewitt, Auditor of Kentucky; and see Greeley's “Life of C. M. Clay” ). De Bow's estimate for the same State, in 1850, hirers included, was 38,385. Clay, again, in a letter to the National Republican Convention at Pittsburg of Feb. 22, 1856 (Lib. 26.41), put the Southern slaveholders at 300,000, but De Bow's larger estimate was generally current—350,000 (Josiah Quincy, June 5, 1856, “Library of American literature,” 4.308; Wm. H. Herndon, 1856, Lib. 26.70; Theodore Parker, 1856, Lib. 26.81; Harriet Martineau, 1857, Lib. 27: 173); 400,000 (W. L. G., 1857, Lib. 27: 72; Owen Lovejoy, April 5, 1860, Lib. 30: 62).

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