previous next

5% of the text is displayed below. If you wish to view the entire text, please click here


Chapter 3: the Clerical appeal.—1837.

The Massachusetts Anti-slavery Society ensures the financial support of the Liberator, without touching the editor's independence. An orthodox Pastoral letter against the lecturing of the Grimkes, as women, in Massachusetts, is followed by a disingenuous Clerical Appeal against the conduct of the Liberator as respects the clergy. This is redoubled on the manifestation of Perfectionist doctrines by Garrison, under the influence of J. H. Noyes. The New York A. S. Managers rebuke him privately, and refuse to condemn the Appeal in their organ. Garrison maintains himself in Massachusetts, but the nucleus of a New organization is formed under Clerical auspices. The murder of Lovejoy intervenes.

Henry Benson followed his father to the grave1 in less than a month, in the first half of his twentythird year; so young, and yet already a veteran in the cause. ‘At the age of sixteen his mind had the maturity2 of manhood.’ He was only nineteen when he threw3 himself ardently into the defence of Prudence Crandall against her persecutors. He took a leading part in organizing the Providence Anti-Slavery Society and in revolutionizing the public sentiment of Rhode Island. He was the last abolitionist to bid good-bye to George Thompson, whose travelling associate and secretary he had been. His services to the Liberator, as its editor4 testified, contributed largely to its permanent support. Elected in July, 1835, Secretary and General Agent of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society, he proved the most valuable business man who had ever filled that post. ‘The adjoining room witnessed his incessant toil,’ said5 Mr. May, at the first meeting of the Society after its loss;6 ‘there he labored with an assiduity which spared not himself—and there, I hesitate not to say, he sacrificed his life. We saw his health failing—we remonstrated— but he saw the cause suffering for just such labors as his—he went on—he lingered a little while——and died.’ The speaker could not proceed for his emotion. ‘Nearly all present were in tears.’

At this meeting, not unfittingly, the perennial subject7 of the financial condition of the Liberator was brought [122] up. Another crisis had arisen with the new year, and it was scarcely less urgent (so vast had become the antislavery literature of the day) to enlarge the paper than to maintain it, and it was still far from being selfsup-porting. Mr. Garrison wrote from Boston on February 4, 1837, to Anna Benson:

‘About three hours were occupied in discussing the merits8 of the Liberator and its editor. The Sabbath question was also taken up. I dare not tell you, dear Anna, what fine things were said about me. To my surprise, notwithstanding that “ delicate” subject, the Sabbath, was alluded to in connexion with my review of Dr. Beecher's speech, there was but one feeling manifested toward me, and that of the most enthusiastic kind. What was peculiarly pleasing was to find men of various sects joining in one common panegyric. Among the speakers were Rev. Mr. Norris, Methodist; Isaac 9 Winslow, Friend; Rev. Mr. Hall, Congregationalist; Rev. Mr. St. Clair, Unitarian, etc., etc.10 Bro. May poured out his soul as usual, and said that the same ball which laid Garrison low, would carry him down also. Stanton spoke nobly and generously. Well, does bro. George ask what was done as well as said? Something that will delight him! It was unanimously voted, that the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society should henceforth assume the responsibility of printing and editing11 the Liberator, and that the abolitionism of the Commonwealth should be pledged to sustain it.12 The paper, however, is not to be the organ of our Society, nor is anybody to control my pen. This arrangement will relieve friend Knapp and myself of a heavy burden, which has long [123] crushed us to the earth. It is probable that we shall soon enlarge the paper.’13

Mr. May's tribute drove his friend from the room, and14 called for remarks in modest abnegation on his return. Further—

One word as to the Liberator. I have no desire that it15 should be supported any longer than it is regarded as a useful instrument in the anti-slavery cause. I ask no man to approve of every sentiment contained in its columns, or to patronize it, except on the ground of its advocacy of the rights of plundered millions. It is neither my aim nor expectation to please every individual subscriber to the Liberator, in every particular: such a coincidence, while men differ so widely in their tastes and notions on various subjects, is utterly impracticable. It must suffice that free discussion is its motto, and that those who are opposed to me in sentiment are always invited to occupy its pages.

There must not, there cannot be a spirit of competition between the Liberator and the publications of the American Society. But it will be seen at once that the Liberator, if left to depend upon its subscription-list alone, cannot maintain its ground whilst the Emancipator, for instance, sustained by the funds of the Parent Society, is issued on a much larger sheet, and afforded on the same terms. I do not wish the Liberator to be the organ either of this or any other Society, nor any body of men to be responsible for every sentiment it may promulgate; and I am quite sure that I shall not permit any persons to control my pen, or establish a censorship over my writings.

As the Sabbath question has been alluded to, allow me to say, that it has not been the object of the Liberator to maintain my peculiar views on that subject. I have inserted in its columns many articles advocating, either directly or indirectly, the generally received opinions respecting the Sabbath; but none of my numerous subscribers among Friends has in consequence discontinued his subscription. In reviewing Dr. Beecher's speech, it was my object not only to convict him of gross inconsistency, but to enforce the truth that we are to be wholly consecrated to God at all times—to maintain a perpetual [124] Sabbath—to observe every day as holy unto the Lord. It was no Jacobinism that I wished to advocate. But the leading, allabsorbing object of the Liberator shall continue to be, as it has been hitherto, the overthrow of American slavery—not to conflict with any religious sect or political party.

Before this seemingly happy settlement of the Liberator's continuance—this unlucky makeshift, as the event proved—and amid the depression caused in the Benson circle by their two-fold bereavement,16 Mr. Garrison sat down to compose the fifth annual report of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society. Not a trace of despondency was to be found in the opening sentence: ‘The17 tone which the Managers . . . would assume . . . is one of joyful hope to the manacled slaves—of sincere congratulation to the friends of human liberty, universally—of ardent gratitude to God.’ Yet these words were read in the loft of a stable, the only place obtainable by the Society for its meeting:

Let the winds carry the tale to the four quarters of the18 earth—in Boston, in the year of our Lord, 1837, in the sixtyfirst year of American independence, not a single meetinghouse, not a hall of any magnitude, can be obtained on any terms,—not even for money at an exorbitant price!—in which abolitionists may plead the cause of the trampled slave! But, it is believed, there is not a single pulpit in this city19 to which a slaveholding preacher cannot find ready access, even for the avowed purpose of vindicating the soul-destroying system of slavery as a divine institution, from the Holy Scriptures! Nor is there, we presume, a public hall which cannot be occupied by jugglers, mountebanks, ballad-singers, rope-dancers, religious impostors, etc., etc., as they shall wish to hire.20


The loft in question was that of the stable attached to the Marlboroa Hotel, and had been put at the Society's disposal by Willard Sears, the owner of the property. Before beginning his reading, Mr. Garrison said:21 ‘There might be some fears on the part of the audience in regard to the security of the loft; but he assured them that the floor was well propped, and he felt gratified with the consciousness that Abolition, to-day as on every day, stands upon a stable foundation.’ But something better was in store for the outcasts from the churches—a marvellous sign of the spread of antislavery sentiment since the Boston mob. An application to the Legislature for the use of the hall of the House of Representatives, for an evening session, was granted without debate, though not without a nearly successful attempt to revoke the concession. ‘When22 Boston votes,’ said Stanton in the hall itself, ‘the Anti-Slavery Society goes into A stable. When the State votes, it goes into the State House.’ Mr. Garrison thus wrote, to Anna Benson, of these extraordinary occurrences:

The annual meeting of our State Society was held last23 week in this city, and of course I was altogether too much engrossed with its concerns to indulge in correspondence. Bro. George, having been present at the first meeting in the24 stable-loft, has no doubt given you all the particulars; and such as he has not been able to detail, by his subsequent absence, you will find recorded at length in the last and in this25 week's Liberator. It will hardly be necessary to occupy this sheet on that subject. Suffice it to say, that we had five public meetings, four of them crowded to excess, without any disturbance, and that, in genuine abolition spirit and brotherly kindness, they exceeded all that have hitherto been held in Boston. You can form but a faint idea of the life and glow which pervaded them all, by reading the speeches as reported in to-day's Liberator. One needed to be present to realize all that26 transpired. The utmost kindness and cordiality were extended to me by all present, and every speaker was more or less profuse in his encomiums upon myself and the Liberator. Whenever my name was alluded to, a round of applause was sure to [126] follow27—which clearly demonstrated, not so much that any merit belongs to me, as that the meeting was deeply and thoroughly saturated with “Garrisonism.” Indeed, there was a great deal too much said in my praise. If I did not know that I have nailed my natural vanity and love of human praise to the cross of Christ, such things would be likely to puff me up. But, “God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of Christ, by whom I am crucified unto the world, and the world unto me.” It cannot but cheer my heart to know that I have secured the approbation and love of the best people in the land, because it has naturally followed my advocacy of a righteous though unpopular cause;28 but mere human applause is in itself no evidence of personal worth.

At the State House, our meeting was thronged to excess. One of our daily papers estimates that not less than five thousand persons went away, being unable to obtain admittance! It was expected that our enemies would rally strongly on that occasion; but, as a test of the character and feelings of the audience, I will merely state that when Ellis Gray Loring, in the course of his speech, bestowed a strong panegyric upon my name,29 a burst of applause followed from every part of the house. When [127] it died away, a few hisses were heard in one of the galleries. These elicited another tremendous round of applause. Again a hiss was heard, and then followed another and still more powerful manifestation of enthusiastic approbation of my labors in the anti-slavery cause. I mention this fact to show how vain have been the attempts of my enemies to make me odious even among my abolition brethren.

As every one present must have felt, the mere meeting at the State House was a personal triumph for Mr. Garrison, which eulogy and applause might emphasize, but which no amount of hissing could diminish. Nor had it yet reached its climax. A week before, the

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Massachusetts (Massachusetts, United States) (19)
New England (United States) (15)
Alton (Illinois, United States) (13)
Worcester (Massachusetts, United States) (9)
United States (United States) (9)
Pennsylvania (Pennsylvania, United States) (3)
Milford (New Jersey, United States) (3)
Vermont (Vermont, United States) (2)
Lynn (Massachusetts, United States) (2)
Illinois (Illinois, United States) (2)
Hartford (Connecticut, United States) (2)
France (France) (2)
Europe (2)
Dorchester, Mass. (Massachusetts, United States) (2)
Connecticut (Connecticut, United States) (2)
Brookline (Massachusetts, United States) (2)
Weymouth (Massachusetts, United States) (1)
West Indies (1)
Venice (Ohio, United States) (1)
Utica (New York, United States) (1)
Springfield (Massachusetts, United States) (1)
South Carolina (South Carolina, United States) (1)
Shelby (Tennessee, United States) (1)
Seabrook (New Hampshire, United States) (1)
Scotland (United Kingdom) (1)
Sandwich, Mass. (Massachusetts, United States) (1)
Rhode Island (Rhode Island, United States) (1)
Quincy, Ill. (Illinois, United States) (1)
Quaker (West Virginia, United States) (1)
Providence, R. I. (Rhode Island, United States) (1)
Ohio (Ohio, United States) (1)
Norfolk (Connecticut, United States) (1)
New Jersey (New Jersey, United States) (1)
Nazareth, Pennsylvania (Pennsylvania, United States) (1)
Mount Benedict (Massachusetts, United States) (1)
Missouri (Missouri, United States) (1)
Middletown (Connecticut, United States) (1)
Mexico, Mo. (Missouri, United States) (1)
Groton (Massachusetts, United States) (1)
Essex County (Massachusetts, United States) (1)
East India (1)
Dover, N. H. (New Hampshire, United States) (1)
Denmark (Denmark) (1)
Darlington (United Kingdom) (1)
Danvers (Massachusetts, United States) (1)
Charlestown, Mass. (Massachusetts, United States) (1)
Charleston (South Carolina, United States) (1)
Carolina City (North Carolina, United States) (1)
Brooklyn, Conn. (Connecticut, United States) (1)
Brookfield, Mass. (Massachusetts, United States) (1)
Broadway (Virginia, United States) (1)
Brattleboro (Vermont, United States) (1)
Amesbury (Massachusetts, United States) (1)
Acton, Mass. (Massachusetts, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Lib (159)
William Lloyd Garrison (54)
W. L. Garrison (48)
Jesus Christ (23)
Elijah P. Lovejoy (22)
Charles Fitch (21)
Joseph H. Towne (14)
William Ellery Channing (13)
Edmund Quincy (12)
Elizur Wright (11)
Henry C. Wright (10)
Wendell Phillips (10)
George W. Benson (10)
John Humphrey Noyes (9)
John Quincy Adams (9)
John G. Whittier (8)
Henry B. Stanton (7)
William Goodell (7)
Amos A. Phelps (6)
Oliver Johnson (6)
Levi Woodbury (5)
Benjamin Lundy (5)
Ellis Gray Loring (5)
John Gulliver (5)
J. T. Woodbury (4)
Theodore D. Weld (4)
Lewis Tappan (4)
Amos Augustus Phelps (4)
Christ Jesus (4)
Francis Jackson (4)
James G. Birney (4)
Lyman Beecher (4)
James T. Austin (4)
James Trask Woodbury (3)
James T. Woodbury (3)
Elipha White (3)
A. S. Soc (3)
Samuel Philbrick (3)
Boston Oct (3)
Nov (3)
Isaac Knapp (3)
John E. Fuller (3)
Anna Benson (3)
Leonard Bacon (3)
Isaac Winslow (2)
Unitarian (2)
George Thompson (2)
Tanner (2)
H. B. Stanton (2)
Peleg Sprague (2)
Gerrit Smith (2)
Nathaniel Peabody Rogers (2)
Josiah Quincy (2)
John Phillips (2)
Thomas Paul (2)
Harrison Gray Otis (2)
Samuel Norris (2)
Cyrus Moses (2)
Samuel Joseph May (2)
S. J. May (2)
Elijah Parish Lovejoy (2)
John M. Krum (2)
Abner Kneeland (2)
Abby Kelley (2)
Jan (2)
Robert Bernard Hall (2)
Sarah M. Grimke (2)
Sarah Grimke (2)
Charles Fox (2)
Edward Coles (2)
Francis Cogswell (2)
Henry Grafton Chapman (2)
Charles C. Burleigh (2)
George Bourne (2)
George Washington Blagden (2)
J. G. Birney (2)
Henry Benson (2)
Catherine Beecher (2)
J. Q. Adams (2)
Brother Young (1)
H. C. Wright (1)
Fanny Wright (1)
John Windt (1)
Washburne (1)
Amasa Walker (1)
De la Valliere (1)
Seth J. Thomas (1)
Alvan Stewart (1)
Clair.Alanson St. Clair (1)
Abigail Southwick (1)
William Slade (1)
Samuel E. Sewall (1)
Willard Sears (1)
Orange Scott (1)
David Sanford (1)
Saint Clair (1)
Marius R. Robinson (1)
John Rankin (1)
William S. Porter (1)
Jonas Perkins (1)
Joseph Pease (1)
Elizabeth Pease (1)
Patton (1)
Theodore Parker (1)
Mary S. Parker (1)
Mary Parker (1)
Robert Dale Owen (1)
Robert Owen (1)
Hezekiah Niles (1)
Mary Newhall (1)
Napoleon (1)
Orson S. Murray (1)
Morse (1)
Moliere (1)
James Miller McKim (1)
Harriet Martineau (1)
York A. S. Managers (1)
Theodore Lyman (1)
Martin Luther (1)
Nathan Lord (1)
Joshua Leavitt (1)
House (1)
James L. Homer (1)
George S. Hillard (1)
Joel Hawes (1)
— Hancock (1)
B. F. Hallett (1)
R. B. Hall (1)
Angelina Grimkeas (1)
E. Grimke (1)
Angelina E. Grimke (1)
Angelina Grimke (1)
Grant (1)
Amos Gilbert (1)
Octavius Brooks Frothingham (1)
La Fontaine (1)
Charles Follen (1)
Richard Fletcher (1)
Wilbur Fisk (1)
Charles G. Finney (1)
Edward Everett (1)
Alexander H. Everett (1)
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1)
Laus Deo (1)
Dennison (1)
Dec (1)
Dea (1)
Edward M. Davis (1)
Darusmont (1)
Asa Cummings (1)
Elliott Cresson (1)
P. Crandall (1)
William M. Cornell (1)
Thomas Clarkson (1)
Christian (1)
Maria Weston Chapman (1)
Henry G. Chapman (1)
Cassius (1)
John Carver (1)
Calhoun (1)
Horace Bushnell (1)
Edmund Burke (1)
Brutus (1)
John Brown (1)
Gamaliel Bradford (1)
George Bond (1)
George W. Blagden (1)
G. W. Blagden (1)
Beaumarchais (1)
Aug (1)
Santa Anna (1)
John Alden (1)
Southside Adams (1)
Nehemiah Adams (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
1837 AD (26)
June (4)
June 12th, 1879 AD (3)
June 14th, 1837 AD (3)
1836 AD (3)
1835 AD (3)
1838 AD (2)
October 20th, 1837 AD (2)
September 1st, 1837 AD (2)
1834 AD (2)
1832 AD (2)
1831 AD (2)
1825 AD (2)
November (2)
October, 1883 AD (1)
May, 1883 AD (1)
1854 AD (1)
December 14th, 1852 AD (1)
1844 AD (1)
1843 AD (1)
1842 AD (1)
December 2nd, 1841 AD (1)
1841 AD (1)
November 25th, 1839 AD (1)
May 30th, 1839 AD (1)
December, 1838 AD (1)
December 21st, 1837 AD (1)
November 27th, 1837 AD (1)
November 23rd, 1837 AD (1)
November 19th, 1837 AD (1)
November 13th, 1837 AD (1)
November 6th, 1837 AD (1)
October 26th, 1837 AD (1)
October 23rd, 1837 AD (1)
October 10th, 1837 AD (1)
September 23rd, 1837 AD (1)
September 21st, 1837 AD (1)
September 16th, 1837 AD (1)
August 27th, 1837 AD (1)
August 12th, 1837 AD (1)
July 26th, 1837 AD (1)
June 27th, 1837 AD (1)
April 16th, 1837 AD (1)
April 3rd, 1837 AD (1)
March 22nd, 1837 AD (1)
March 8th, 1837 AD (1)
March 4th, 1837 AD (1)
February 24th, 1837 AD (1)
February 23rd, 1837 AD (1)
February 4th, 1837 AD (1)
January 27th, 1837 AD (1)
January 23rd, 1837 AD (1)
January 19th, 1837 AD (1)
January, 1837 AD (1)
July 11th, 1836 AD (1)
June 6th, 1836 AD (1)
June, 1836 AD (1)
May 12th, 1836 AD (1)
October, 1835 AD (1)
July, 1835 AD (1)
August 20th, 1834 AD (1)
February, 1834 AD (1)
June 19th, 1833 AD (1)
1833 AD (1)
1830 AD (1)
1827 AD (1)
1820 AD (1)
1816 AD (1)
September 6th, 1795 AD (1)
1789 AD (1)
1783 AD (1)
1774 AD (1)
December 9th (1)
December 8th (1)
December (1)
November 6th (1)
October 20th (1)
October 10th (1)
September 27th (1)
September 15th (1)
September 1st (1)
September (1)
August 29th (1)
August 28th (1)
August 27th (1)
August 25th (1)
August 17th (1)
August 14th (1)
August 11th (1)
August 3rd (1)
August 2nd (1)
July 28th (1)
July 19th (1)
July 8th (1)
July 4th (1)
July (1)
June 23rd (1)
June 17th (1)
June 14th (1)
June 2nd (1)
May (1)
April 5th (1)
April (1)
March 30th (1)
March 28th (1)
March 21st (1)
March 20th (1)
January 1st (1)
27th (1)
1st (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: