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Chapter 7: first Western tour.—1847.

A too laborious lecture engagement with Frederick Douglass begins in midsummer in Pennsylvania, and ends, at Cleveland, Ohio, with Garrison's prostration with fever, at the im-minent peril of his life.

Early in 1847, Mr. Garrison was solicited by the1 abolitionists of Ohio to visit their section of the country; and in the Liberator of March 19 he gave notice that he would spend the month of August in that State.2 This decision led to numerous invitations from friends in3 Central New York, as well as in Pennsylvania, along the two lines of Western travel. The programme, as finally made up, chose the Southern route for the outward trip, and the Northern for the homeward.4

The intervening months were spent in the usual manner —in editorial drudgery, in occasional lecturing, in attendance at the three great anniversaries in Boston and New York. Opposition to the Mexican War, and reiterated5 appeals for a peaceable dissolution of the Union, were the regular anti-slavery work of the year, to which was added support of the Wilmot Proviso, or the attempt in Congress6 to ensure freedom to the territory certain to be acquired, by force or purchase, of Mexico. In Massachusetts, little was needed to maintain the Legislature in its attitude of7 aversion to the war, or to procure its endorsement of the Proviso; but to disunion it of course turned a cold8 shoulder.

As usual, too, Mr. Garrison's lecture topics embraced religion and peace as well as abolition; and in the philanthropic anniversary month we have a glimpse of him amid kindred spirits. The Rev. Samuel May, Jr.,9 writes to Mary Carpenter from Boston, May 29, 1847: [188]

We had an exceedingly interesting meeting yesterday10 afternoon and evening, at the house of Rev. Theodore Parker, in this city. He styled it, in his notes of invitation, a “ Council of Reformers,” and the object was to discuss the general principles of Reform, and the best means of promoting it. Let me give you the names of some of those present—Ralph Waldo Emerson, Amos B. Alcott, William Henry Channing, James F. Clarke, William Lloyd Garrison, Wendell Phillips, Edmund Quincy, Mrs. M. W. Chapman, Mrs. Follen, James and Lucretia Mott and daughter of Philadelphia, Caleb Stetson, John L. Russell, Francis Jackson, Charles Sumner, Samuel G. Howe, E. H. Chapin, Joshua P. Blanchard, Samuel E. Coues of Portsmouth, Elizur Wright, Jr., Walter Channing. I have not yet given all the names. It was a matter of deep interest even to see this collection of the men alive of our neighborhood and day. From 4 to 10 P. M., with a short interval for tea, a most spirited conversation was held on all the great Reform subjects of the day. I am more than ever convinced that the Anti-Slavery Reform carries all others with it, and that its triumph will be theirs.

Mr. Garrison set out from Boston on the 2d of August, 1847. With the utmost disinterestedness, Edmund Quincy11 had again assumed the charge of conducting the Liberator in his absence, neither of them foreseeing how long a time would elapse before the editor could resume his chair. [189] Nor, happily, could Mrs. Garrison realize that her husband, whose health latterly had been far from good, was taking12 leave of her at a risk surpassing that of the voyage to England the year before. The progress of his tour, in which he was to have the companionship of Frederick Douglass, can best be show n from his letters to her:

W. L. Garrison to his Wife.

Philadelphia, Aug. 3, 1847.
13 A year ago, this day, I arrived in London, and was,14 therefore, at a distance of three thousand miles from you. Now I am in Philadelphia, some three hundred miles away. So far as separation is concerned, it is the same whether we are hundreds or thousands of miles apart; but then, as a matter of speedy return, it is a matter of very great consequence as to what the relative distance may be. I could be with you in less than twenty-four hours, if necessary—that is comforting. . . .

Our trip from Norwich to New York was as serene and quiet15 as possible, where we arrived at 5 o'clock. At 9 o'clock, I16 crossed the ferry and took the cars for Philadelphia—arriving at 2 o'clock, J. M. McKim being at the wharf to escort me to the dear home of our beloved friends, James and Lucretia Mott, who gave me a warm reception, of course.

August 7.
17 Our three-days' meeting at Norristown closed last evening, and a famous time we have had of it. Every day, two or three18 hundred of our friends from Philadelphia came up in the cars, and the meetings were uniformly crowded by an array of men and women who, for thorough-going anti-slavery spirit and solidity of character, are not surpassed by any in the world. Douglass arrived on the second day, and was justly the ‘lion’19 of the occasion, though a considerable number participated in20 the discussions; our friend Lucretia Mott speaking with excellent propriety and effect. Thomas Earle was present to annoy us, as usual. Our meetings were not molested in any manner, excepting one evening when Douglass and I held a meeting after dark, when a few panes of glass were broken by some rowdy boys while D. was speaking. It was a grand meeting, nevertheless, and the house crowded with a noble auditory to the end. The meetings will have a powerful effect in the prosecution [190] of our cause for the coming year. It was worth a trip from Boston to Norristown merely to look at those who assembled on the occasion. I regret that I have as yet found no time to write a sketch of this anniversary for the Liberator. As Sydney H. Gay was present, both the Standard and Pennsylvania Free-21 man must be referred to for an account of it, prior to any that I shall be able to make of it.

This morning, we leave in the cars for Harrisburg, which, though the capital of the State, is very much under the influence of Slavery. I do not anticipate a quiet meeting, but we shall bear our testimony boldly, nevertheless.

W. L. Garrison to his Wife.

Harrisburg, Aug. 9, 1847.
22 On Saturday morning, Douglass and I bade farewell to our kind friends in Philadelphia, and took the cars for this place,23 . . . a distance of 106 miles. Before we started, an incident occurred which evinced something of that venomous pro-slavery spirit which pervades the public sentiment in proportion as you approach the borders of the slave States. There is no distinction made at Philadelphia in the cars on account of complexion, though colored persons usually sit near the doors. Douglass took a seat in one of the back cars before I arrived; and, while quietly looking out at the window, was suddenly accosted in a slave-driving tone, and ordered to ‘get out of that seat,’ by a man who had a lady with him, and who might have claimed the right to eject any other passenger for his accommodation with as much propriety.

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