“When he ceased speaking, the time had expired for which the Tabernacle was engaged, and we had to adjourn.
Never,” 50th Anniversary of a Pastorate, p. 34.
continues Dr. Furness
was there a grander triumph of intelligence, of mind, over brute force.
Two colored men, whose claim to be considered human was denied, had, by mere force of intellect, overwhelmed their maligners with confusion.
As the audience was thinning out, I went down on the floor to see some friends there.
Rynders came by. I could not help saying to him: “ How shall we thank you for what you have done for us to-day?”
“Well,” said he, “I do not like to hear my country abused, but that last thing that you said, that's the truth.”
That last thing was, I believe, a simple assertion of the right of the people to think and speak freely.
The magnitude of the victory won by the abolitionists can be understood only in view of the absolute non-interference of the city authorities on behalf of free speech and personal and civic rights.
Both Isaac T. Hopper
and Sydney H. Gay
had called upon the Chief of Police1
(George W. Matsell
) in advance of the meeting, to ask for protection against the disturbance which he as well as they knew to be inevitable, albeit he professed the contrary.
Not a policeman was visible at the Tabernacle,2
though a captain was present, to whom, when the rush on to the platform occurred, Mr. Gay
appealed; but he refused to interpose so long as the mob abstained from bodily injury.
It was, he said in Rynders
's hearing, a ‘free meeting’; and Mr. Gay
had only menaces for his pains.
towards the close of the meeting, after two hours of violent3 interruption and great confusion, and during the speech of Mr. Douglass, when that gifted man had effectually put to shame his assailants by his wit and eloquence, Mr. Matsell did say to me, in a whisper, that he would remove Rynders4 whenever I demanded it, in case he proceeded to commit any further violence.
My reply was, that I hoped we should be able to conclude the proceedings without rendering such a step necessary.
But I regarded the offer of assistance under such circumstances as little better than a mockery, and made only to save appearances.