Chapter 17: the disunion Convention.—1857.The Massachusetts Anti-slavery Society celebrates its twenty-fifth anniversary. Garrison takes part in a disunion Convention held at Worcester under the auspices of T. W. Higginson and other residents of that city. Another and more representative Convention at Cleveland is projected, but is abandoned in view of the financial panic. The Dred Scott decision of the U. S. Supreme Court intervenes.
The opening number of the twenty-seventh volume of1 the Liberator contained two notices, significant in themselves, but more particularly from their juxtaposition. The one appointed a festival at Faneuil Hall on January 2, 1857, to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the founding of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society in2 Belknap-Street Church; the other, a State Disunion Convention to be held at Worcester, Mass., on January 15. Two only of the twelve founders of the anti-slavery organization were visible at the festival—Mr. Garrison, who (with Edmund Quincy's aid) presided, and Oliver Johnson among the speakers. Two, if not four, were numbered with the dead, as Joshua Coffin recorded in a3 letter to the festival. Arnold Buffum regretfully offered4 his old age and his infirmities and distance from the scene as an excuse for non-attendance. Moses Thacher wrote that he had in his possession the original draft of the5 Address which he was commissioned to prepare for the6 new-born Society. Samuel J. May, as he had been compelled in 1831 to leave Boston before the agreement to7 form a society was reached, so now was drawn homeward8 from the same city on the very eve of the festival. His cousin, Samuel E. Sewall, who, like himself, participated9 in the first counsels from which the Society sprung, and whose importance to the anti-slavery agitation in its10 infancy could hardly be overestimated, took his place upon the platform as one of the vice-presidents of the festival.