Chapter 13: the Bible Convention.—1853.Garrison revisits the West, and attends a large number of conventions; in particular, that at Hartford, Conn., to discuss the authority of the Scriptures, called by Andrew Jackson Davis, and mobbed by divinity students. His reputation among sectarians on both sides of the Atlantic suffers a still further decline. Friendly correspondence as to his heresy with Harriet Beecher Stowe.
From among a dozen conventions which make the year 1853 memorable in Mr. Garrison's career, we choose for a caption the one that most affected his popular reputation. Theologically, his progress had been (from the orthodox point of view) steadily downward. The Chardon-Street Convention of 1840-41 had shown him1 willing to discuss the sanctity of the Sabbath, the Ministry, and the Church. The Anti-Sabbath Convention of2 1848 marked the change from inquiry to open opposition to Sabbatarianism. The Hartford Bible Convention gave public notice of his abandonment of the common view of the inspiration of the Scriptures in which he had been bred. This, though not the lowest possible stage of descent—for an Anti-Bible Convention or Society was conceivable—was practically to touch bottom, and left nothing to be desired by his clerical detractors. The first quarter of the year had been spent in and about Boston, but by the middle of April Mr. Garrison began his labors in the more distant fields. An antislavery convention had been called in Cincinnati for April 19, 1853, by the women of that city, and he was invited to attend. The scene was new to him, and he3 could visit on the way the friends in Cleveland to whom he had owed his life in 1847. On the day appointed he stood on the banks of the Ohio, and beheld for the first time the slave-cursed soil of Kentucky. For him the stream was perilously narrow, yet words of welcome and of fellowship had been sped across it from an exholder,