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Chapter 3: the Proclamation.—1863.

Garrison is applauded as part of the occasion at the celebration, on January 1, in Boston, of the issue of the President's irrevocable edict of emancipation. He urges as the next duty the immediate abolition of slavery in the Border States, to which Lincoln lends no encouragement. He makes known through the Liberator the invaluable endeavors of George Thompson and his fellow-garrisonian abolitionists in great Britain to fix popular sentiment on the side of the North, and welcomes an approaching third visit from his old friend and coadjutor. He joins in the notable celebration at Philadelphia of the thirtieth anniversary of the American Anti-slavery Society. His oldest son volunteers for the war as officer in a Massachusetts colored regiment.

Special preparations had been made in Boston to celebrate the promised edict of freedom on the first of January. The impressive watch-meetings held in the colored churches on New Year's eve were followed by meetings in Tremont Temple extending through the day and evening, and a grand jubilee concert in Music Hall was announced for the afternoon. It was confidently expected that the President's Proclamation would reach the city by noon, but as the day wore on without tidings of its issue, fears arose lest it might not, after all, be forthcoming, and the celebrations proceeded under a shadow of doubt and unrest. The Music Hall concert had been hastily but admirably arranged, and audience and musicians seemed alike animated by the occasion. Nothing could have been more uplifting than the fine orchestral and choral rendering of Mendelssohn's Hymn of Praise, Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, and Handel's Hallelujah Chorus, alternated with the reading, by Ralph Waldo Emerson, of his ‘Boston Hymn,’ written for the occasion, and the singing of Dr. O. W. Holmes's ‘Army Hymn’;1 but the painful uncertainty about the President's action marred the otherwise perfect enjoyment of the great audience until a gentleman announced from the floor that the Proclamation [70] had been issued and was coming over the wires. The storm of applause which followed, and relieved the pent-up feelings of the listeners, culminated in nine rousing cheers for Abraham Lincoln, followed by three more for Mr. Garrison, who occupied a seat in the gallery, and the concert then proceeded to its triumphant finish.

Surpassing even this scene was that at the evening meeting at Tremont Temple, to which a copy of the Proclamation was unexpectedly brought, just prior to adjournment, and read with thrilling effect by Charles W. Slack. As he concluded amid a wild outburst of cheering, Frederick Douglass stepped forward and led the multitude in singing, ‘Blow ye the trumpet, blow!’ with the chorus, never more fitting than then, ‘The year of jubilee has come!’ Mr. Garrison unhappily missed this, as he had gone to Medford with Mr. Phillips, Mr. Emerson, and other friends to witness the unveiling of a marble bust of John Brown, at the residence of George L. Stearns; but in the Liberator of the following day (which was held back from the press that it might contain the Proclamation), he uttered his ‘Glory, Hallelujah!’ 2 and hailed the ‘great historic event, sublime in its magnitude, momentous and beneficent in its far-reaching consequences, and eminently just and right alike to the oppressor and the oppressed.’3 From that hour a dishonorable compromise became impossible. The Government was irrevocably committed to the emancipation policy, [71] and pledged to make it effectual over all the territory covered by the Proclamation. The abolitionists had now to urge Congress and the President to complete the work and extirpate slavery by abolishing it in the Border States. This duty was set forth in the resolutions relative to the Proclamation which were adopted by the Executive4 Committee of the American Anti-Slavery Society, and in those5 passed by the Massachusetts Society at its January6 meeting, all of which were drafted by Garrison.7 His speech8 at the same meeting was full of joy and hope. ‘Thirty years ago,’ he said, ‘it was midnight with the anti-slavery9 cause; now it is the bright noon of day, with the sun shining in his meridian splendor. Thirty years ago we were in the arctic regions, surrounded by icebergs; to-day10 we are in the tropics, with the flowers blooming and the birds singing around us. I say this simply as a matter of contrast and comparison.’11

From England came cheering reports of the revolution in public sentiment caused there by the Proclamation.

F. W. Chesson to W. L. Garrison.

London, January 9, 1863.
12 I send you a copy of the Saturday Review, which contains an article on the Emancipation Society's address to the clergy. Do not, however, mistake this, or any similar, ebullition for an expression of the real opinion of the English people on the [72] slavery question, or on the issues between the North and the South. The great meetings which have been held in London and various parts of the country, during the last six weeks, to express sympathy with the anti-slavery policy of the American Government, indicate what is the true state of public feeling on this side of the Atlantic. We have endured the misrepresentations of certain organs of our press too long, and we have now determined to endure them no longer. But always remember that, from the beginning, the best of our journals have remained true to the anti-slavery cause; that the Star, Daily News,13 Westminster Review, Spectator, Nonconformist, British Standard, Dial, Birmingham Post,14 Manchester Examiner, Newcastle Chronicle, Caledonian Mercury, Belfast Whig,15 and a host of other representatives of the fourth estate, have never departed from the pure faith. The working classes also have proved to be sound to the core, whenever their opinion has been tested. Witness the noble demonstration of Manchester operatives the other day, when three thousand of these noble sons of labor (many of whom were actual sufferers from the cotton famine) adopted by acclamation an address to President Lincoln, sympathizing with his Proclamation. A friend of mine who was present on the occasion tells me that the heartiness and enthusiasm of the workingmen were something glorious; that he heard them say to one another that they would rather remain unemployed for twenty years than get cotton from the South at the expense of the slave. Mr. Thompson has been in other parts of Lancashire16 lately, and the meetings he has addressed have been attended with the same results. Our experience in London has been equally satisfactory. It would have done you good if you had heard Baptist Noel's speech, or attended the great meeting of the working classes which we held on the 31st of December— the eve of freedom. Newman Hall's speech on this occasion was one of the best I ever listened to. He stated, in the fairest [73] manner, every conceivable argument which had been urged in favor of the Slave Confederacy, or against the policy of the Federal Government, and then replied to them seriatim, demolishing every sophistry and gibbeting every falsehood, until the slavocracy had really not a rag left wherewith to conceal the revolting defects of their odious cause.

The Emancipation Society includes, as you will have seen, some of the best men in the country, without distinction of sect or party. The name of John Stuart Mill—one of the greatest in England—stands at the head of the list. We are now arranging for a demonstration in Exeter Hall, to take place on the 29th inst. Our friends in Manchester and Birmingham are organizing branch societies in those important towns; and applications for meetings and deputations are pouring in from all quarters.

Our friend Mr. Webb, who is doing such good service in the17 Advocate, and in other ways more private but not less useful, tells me that Professor Cairnes's admirable work18 is about to pass into another edition. As a proof of how extensively it is read, I may say that I have made two unsuccessful attempts to obtain it from Mudie's circulating library (the greatest in the world), where there is a large number of copies. The answer on both occasions was, that every copy was in the hands of subscribers.

Mrs. Stowe's eloquent and beautiful address to the women of England is exciting great interest, and cannot fail to do much good. It was published by Sampson Low & Co. on19 Wednesday, in the form of a small volume; and it has since been reprinted entire in the columns of the Morning Star and the Daily News —a remarkable tribute to the popularity of Mrs. Stowe in this country, as well as a proof of the earnest interest which these journals take in the good work. It could not have appeared at a more favorable moment, for on Tuesday last the20 Times, with a maniacal folly, which is often linked with malignity, published an article pleading Biblical sanction for [74] slavery, and actually suggesting that it was perhaps a religious duty on the part of the slave to refuse his freedom, even if it were offered to him! Nothing could be more calculated to stir up the religious sentiment of the country against the cause of which the Times has made itself the principal champion. This is another example of the manner in which the devil sometimes overreaches himself.

George Thompson to W. L. Garrison.

London, Feb. 5, 1863.
21 Since I last addressed you, I have attended meetings in the following places, viz.: Sheffield, Heywood, Dumfries, Kilmarnock, Greenock, Dumbarton, Paisley, Glasgow, Stirling, Perth, Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Galashiels, Gloucester, Cheltenham, Bristol, Bath, Stroud, Kingswood, and London. The mention of some of these towns will bring old scenes to your22 remembrance, when we were companions and fellow-laborers— as, thank God, we still are. . . .

Since I left Scotland, on the 22d ultimo, my meetings have been all on the American question—and such meetings! They have reminded me of those I was wont to hold in 1831, '32, and '33—densely crowded, sublimely enthusiastic, and all but unanimous. The opposition has been of the most insignificant and23 contemptible kind. Before this reaches you, you will have seen the report of the meetings above and below, and in the open air around, Exeter Hall. I was the same evening engaged in holding a meeting at Stroud, which did not conclude till midnight. Three nights ago, I held a meeting near my own residence. Thousands were excluded for want of room. These outsiders were addressed by competent persons, and the cheers raised by the multitude found their way into the meeting I was addressing, and increased the excitement of my audience. I shall rest till the 10th, and then recommence my labors, which are in great demand.

This Anti-Slavery movement is assuming gigantic proportions, and, if wisely and energetically conducted, as I trust it will be, will have a powerful, and at the same time beneficial, influence upon the counsels of your public men. It will be of vital importance in this country. It will read a salutary lesson to our public men. It will mould the decisions of our Government. It will neutralize the poison diffused by our journals. It will enlighten and stir up our ministers of religion. It will create [75] the anti-slavery sentiment of the new generation. It will impregnate with the true fire the masses of our people. In a word, it will put England in her old and proper position.

The arrival of the President's Proclamation, of the 1st of January, gave me a degree of satisfaction and joy which words cannot express. It confirmed the hopes and fulfilled the predictions in which I had indulged. In spite of all prognostications and appearances to the contrary, I had cherished a confident belief that Mr. Lincoln would execute the decree of Sept. 22. Nevertheless, the suspense was painful. My anxiety is now at an end as respects the fiat of emancipation, and I am waiting to see its fruits, which I trust will be abundant and peaceful.

On New Year's day, I addressed a crowded assembly of unemployed operatives in the town of Heywood, near Manchester, and spoke to them for two hours about the Slaveholders' Rebellion. They were united and vociferous in the expression of their willingness to suffer all the hardships consequent upon a want of cotton, if thereby the liberty of the victims of Southern despotism might be promoted. All honor to the half million of our working population in Lancashire, Cheshire, and elsewhere, who are bearing with heroic fortitude the grievous privations which your war has entailed upon them! The four millions of slaves in America have no sincerer friends than these lean, pale faced, idle people, who are reconciled to their meagre fare and desolate homes by the thought that their trials are working out the deliverance of the oppressed children of your country. Their sublime resignation, their self-forgetfulness, their observance of law, their whole-souled love of the cause of human freedom, their quick and clear perception of the merits of the question between the North and the South, their superiority to the sophisms of those who would delude them, and their appreciation of the labor question involved in the ‘irrepressible conflict,’ are extorting the admiration of all classes of the community, and are reading the nation a valuable lesson.

Friday, Feb. 6th.
24 I have found constant occupation for William Andrew Jackson [Jefferson Davis's late coachman]. He has been very usefully employed in Manchester, Sheffield, and other places. Last week, he accompanied me in my tour in the west of England, and this week he is engaged in South Wales. Next week he will be in Derbyshire, and will then proceed to Lancashire. I am happy to say, the impression everywhere produced by his [76] addresses has been a favorable one. I shall be able to obtain for him as much work as he can do for some time to come.

The London Emancipation Society is growing in numbers and in power. On the 18th, I shall speak as its representative in St. James's Hall, Piccadilly, one of our finest West-End buildings. To-night I am going to hear Mr. Spurgeon lecture on the subject of slavery amongst Jews, Pagans, and Christians.

George Thompson to W. L. Garrison.

London, February 27, 1863 [Feb. 26].
25 I can only send you a very imperfect acknowledgment of your letter of the 10th instant, which reached me at the house of a friend, near Manchester, on the 24th. A portion of that letter was read at the great meeting held in the Free Trade Hall, on the evening of the same day, to present an address of welcome to the captain of the Griswold.26 I was at the same hour attending another immense gathering in the town of Huddersfield. I read parts of the same letter at a meeting last evening in London, at which an Address was presented to me by27 some kind and partial friends. The papers I send with this28 will give you some account of these proceedings.

It would be impossible to give you a list of all the meetings which have recently been held, for the purpose of expressing sympathy with the anti-slavery movement in the United States, and commendation of the abolition policy of the Government and Congress. My own strength has been taxed to the utmost, and has been seriously impaired by the effort I have made to meet the demands made upon me for my presence in all parts of the country. Calls to the same effect continue to pour in upon me; but, though the spirit is willing, the flesh is weak, and were I never so strong, I should be unable to accept half the invitations which are sent me.

The men who a few months ago were so bold and blatant in the advocacy of the cause of the Southern rebels, are now silent. Though some of them are in Parliament, they have thus far been mute, and we hear nothing of motions in favor of recognition, or proposals for mediation. We have now an organization which will enable us to furnish an antidote to [77] any pro-slavery poison that may be diffused through the press or the legislature; and there are men in the House of Commons who are now so thoroughly conversant with the merits of the question, that any misrepresentation of facts would be met at once with an ample and overwhelming refutation. . . .

I read with deep interest your speech at the Annual Meeting of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society, and have made good use of it. It came to hand very seasonably, and might have been made for the purpose of disabusing the minds of the people here.

Mr. Garrison was strongly urged by Gerrit Smith and29 other friends to visit England during the spring and add his efforts to those of George Thompson and the London and Manchester Societies, but he was unable to do so, and tried in turn to persuade Mr. Smith and Mr. Phillips to go together. The latter was at first disposed to consider it, but finally gave up the project, in spite of many entreaties. Subsequently, Henry Ward Beecher converted an ordinary tour in Great Britain into one in behalf of the Union cause, and held that brilliant series of meetings in which he did such effective service, and found how much the labors of the Garrisonian abolitionists had done towards familiarizing the minds of the English people with the anti-slavery question in America, and enlisting and strengthening that sympathy with the North which was so essential to the success of the Government.30

But to return to this side of the water, and to the American Anti-Slavery Society: [78]

W. L. Garrison to his wife.

New York, May 14, 1863.
31 Our anti-slavery company was never so small before, with reference to Anniversary week. It consisted of Edmund Quincy,32 John T. Sargent, and myself—Phillips having preceded us in the night train, in order to be fresh for his Cooper Institute speech Monday evening. At Worcester, Mr. May and his33 mother joined us, and these were all the recognized34 abolitionists in that long and crowded train. What then?

It must be now that the kingdom's coming,
And the year of jubilo

and our distinctive movement is nearly swallowed up in the great revolution in Northern sentiment which has been going on against slavery and slavedom since the bombardment of Sumter. Usually, the number of clergymen has been large and conspicuous, going on to attend their several anniversary meetings; but, this time, I did not see a single one in all the crowd! . . .

Phillips's meeting at the Institute, Monday evening, was a35 splendid one, and he acquitted himself in a way to gather fresh laurels for his brow. His speech was reported in full in the36 Tribune of Tuesday morning. At the conclusion of it, I was loudly called for, but held back. Then calls were made for Horace Greeley, who came forward and made a few remarks in his queer-toned voice and a very awkward manner. The cries were renewed for me, and I said a few words, the applause being general and very marked. When I first entered the hall, and was conducted to a seat on the platform by the side of Mayor Opdyke, the audience broke out in repeated bursts of37 applause. What a change in popular sentiment and feeling from the old mobocratic, pro-slavery times! And, remember, this was a meeting called by the Sixteenth Republican Ward Association! . . .

Our opening session at Dr. Cheever's Church was attended38 by a thronged house, and in all respects a great success. As the Tribune of yesterday contained a very full report of the proceedings, you can judge of the spirit of the occasion by a perusal of it. Our evening meeting at the Cooper Institute was also an excellent one—Theodore Tilton making the opening speech (a very good one), and Phillips following in one of his finest efforts—Henry B. Stanton concluding the meeting [79] in an impromptu, racy, and eloquent speech, after the olden time.

Our business meetings were interesting, though small. There was a general expression of sentiment, that the Society must not be dissolved until slavery is extinct.

As usual, Mr. Garrison presented a full budget of39 resolutions at the New York meeting, again urging the war-powers of the President over slavery in the border States, rejoicing in the vast progress already attained, and hoping that the Society might, at its approaching thirtieth anniversary in Philadelphia, be able to ‘celebrate the utter extinction of the rebellion, the liberation of every bondman, the prevalence of universal peace.’

Two weeks later, the opening session of the New40 England Convention was adjourned to witness the triumphant march through Boston of the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Regiment, the first regiment of colored troops sent from any Northern State. During the spring months, while it was being recruited and drilled at Readville, near Boston, Mr. Garrison and Mr. Phillips had repeatedly visited the camp, and witnessed the transformation which a United States uniform and military discipline wrought, within a few short weeks, in the humble, timid, poorly-clad colored men arriving from all parts of the North in response to the call of Governor Andrew, who enlisted the aid, as recruiting officers, of Frederick Douglass, William Wells Brown, and Charles Lenox Remond.

Robert G. Shaw, the youthful colonel of the regiment, was the son of Mr. Garrison's warm friends, Mr.Shaw and Mrs. Francis G. Shaw, of Staten Island, and among the subordinate officers were several young men of antislavery birth and training, who frequently visited his house and were intimate with his children.41 His heart [80] was deeply stirred as he contemplated the perils to which these high-souled youths were soon to expose themselves in encountering an enemy who had threatened enslavement to the black soldiers, and death to their white officers, if captured in battle,42 and whose bitterness would be intensified by the sight of their Massachusetts flag. He had not, however, anticipated the test that was soon to be brought home to himself. When it became evident that enough recruits would be obtained to form a second colored regiment, to be known as the Fifty-fifth Massachusetts, a commission as second lieutenant in it was offered to his eldest son, and the latter, who had not imbibed his father's non-resistance views, and had longed to enter the army after the adoption of the emancipation policy, eagerly embraced this opportunity of serving the cause of liberty in the way of all others that he would have chosen. The father did not shrink from the test.

W. L. Garrison to George T. Garrison.

Boston, June 11, 1863.
43 Though I could have wished that you had been able understandingly and truly to adopt those principles of peace which are so sacred and divine to my own soul, yet you will bear me witness that I have not laid a straw in your way to prevent your acting up to your own highest convictions of duty; for nothing would be gained, but much lost, to have you violate these. Still, I tenderly hope that you will once more seriously review the whole matter before making the irrevocable decision. . . .

In making up a final judgment, I wish you to look all the peculiar trials and perils in the face that you, in common with all others connected with the colored regiment, will have to encounter. Personally, as my son, you will incur some risks at [81] the hands of the rebels that others will not, if it is known that you are my son. My impression is, that upon the colored regiments the Government means to rely to do the most desperate fighting and occupy the post of imminent danger. Your chance of being broken down by sickness, wounded, maimed, or killed, in the course of such a prolonged campaign, is indeed very great. True, this is not a consideration to weigh heavily against the love of liberty and the promptings of duty; but it makes me tremble in regard to the effect that may be produced upon the health and happiness of your mother, should any serious, especially a fatal, accident befall you. Her affection for you is intense, her anxiety beyond expression. . . .

It was a proud day for the great War Governor of44 Massachusetts when, in the presence of Garrison and Phillips, he delivered the State and national colors for the regiment into the hands of Colonel Shaw, at the45 Readville camp, and nobly declared that his personal honor was identified with theirs, and that he should “stand or fall, as a man and a magistrate, with the rise or fall in history of the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Regiment.” Lib. 33.83. Prouder yet was it when he reviewed, on Boston Common, the dusky troops whom he had mustered and equipped in the face of bitter prejudice and contempt, on the one hand, and timid doubtings on the other, and saw them march through Boston streets, receiving enthusiastic greetings along the entire route, and displaying as soldierly discipline and bearing as any regiment that Massachusetts had sent to the war. As they marched down State Street, singing the John Brown song, Mr. Garrison stood, by chance, on the corner of Wilson's Lane, the spot over which he had been dragged by the mob of 1835, and there, with emotion too deep for words, he watched the solid ranks go by, the fair-haired officer at their head who was never to return.

Editorially, two weeks subsequently, Mr. Garrison commented on the gratifying manner in which the emancipated slaves were vindicating the hopes of their friends and refuting the calumnious predictions so often made concerning them: [82]

Of the multitudinous disparaging allegations that have been brought against the slave population by the enemies of impartial freedom, not one has been verified by the events of the war. Instead of not desiring their freedom, they have invariably shown the greatest eagerness to obtain it wherever our army has gone; and great has been their lamentation when, for any cause, they could not be admitted within the lines. Instead of using their freedom injuriously to themselves or others, they have behaved with marked propriety, and evinced no disposition to commit any outrage, however slight. Instead of wishing to indulge in idleness or vagrancy, they have exhibited the utmost readiness to work even for a very inadequate remuneration, and they are fast learning the lessons of thrift.46 Instead of being a burden upon society or the Government, they more than pay their way when there is anything like a fair chance. Instead of indicating no wish to be taught, they manifest the strongest desire for rudimental instruction, and a remarkable aptitude to learn. Instead of being wild or intractable, none are so docile and obedient. Instead of showing a cowardly spirit when the heroic element is appealed to, they display as soldiers a courage for attack, and a disregard of danger and death, unsurpassed in the annals of warfare. Lib. 33.94.

The steady progress of emancipation, and rapid enlistment of colored soldiers, increased the bitterness and virulence of the ‘Copperhead’ (i. e., pro-Southern) press and party. In March, there were barbarous anti-negro riots at47 Detroit, resulting in loss of life and the burning of forty48 or fifty houses. In July, the exultations over Gettysburg and Vicksburg were not yet spent when the country was shocked by the anti-draft riots in New York, during which49 negroes and soldiers alike were shot down, hung to lampposts, beaten, and thrown into the river, and hunted like wild beasts, and the Colored Orphan Asylum was burned to the ground. The Irish mob likewise sacked the Colored Sailors' Home, and the residence of those staunch abolitionists, Mr.Gibbons and Mrs. James S. Gibbons. There was an [83] attempt at a similar outbreak in Boston, and Mr. Garrison and his family deemed it prudent to leave their house in Dix Place for a day or two.50 Happily the riot was crushed in its incipiency by the prompt action of the authorities; but when the Fifty-fifth Regiment departed for the South, the following week, a dress parade on the Common was abandoned, and the troops marched across the city with loaded muskets, ready for a possible attack in the Irish quarter of the ‘North End,’ where they embarked on a steamer for North Carolina.

W. L. Garrison to George T. Garrison.

Boston, August 6, 1863.
51 We have all been made very glad, to-day, by the receipt of your pencilled note, dated Hatteras Inlet, July 31st, announcing your safe arrival at Newbern, though a little surprised at52 your sudden removal with Wild's Brigade, probably to Morris53 Island. . . .

You may readily suppose that I was very much disappointed in not being able to see you, and give you my parting blessing and a farewell grasp of the hand, when your regiment marched through Boston. Multitudes, with myself, were greatly disappointed that the regiment did not parade on the Common, where we all expected to take our farewell leave. I followed you, however, all the way down to the vessel, hoping to speak to you; but I found myself on the wrong side, and the throng was so great and the marching so continuous that I could not press my way through. After you were all on board, I went with a number of friends to the next wharf below, where we waited more than an hour, hoping to see you off and give you the parting salute. But the rain poured heavily down, and we were all compelled to beat a retreat—keenly regretting that we could not, even from a distance, shout farewell.

Not a day has passed that we have not had you in our liveliest [84] remembrance. I miss you by my side at the table, and at the printing-office, and cannot get reconciled to the separation. Yet I have nothing but praise to give you that you have been faithful to your highest convictions, and, taking your life in your hands, are willing to lay it down, even like the brave Col. Shaw and his associates, if need be, in the cause of freedom,54 and for the suppression of slavery and the rebellion. True, I could have wished you could ascend to what I believe a higher plane of moral heroism and a nobler method of self-sacrifice; but as you are true to yourself, I am glad of your fidelity, and proud of your willingness to run any risk in a cause that is undeniably just and good. I have no fear that you will be found wanting at any time in the trial-hour, or in the discharge of your official duties. . . .

We shall wait for intelligence, from day to day, with the keenest interest—trusting it may be your good fortune to enter that hot-bed of nullification and treason, Charleston, with your colored associates, victorious over all opposition. The fall of that city will give more satisfaction to the entire North than that of any other place, not excepting Richmond itself. I have my doubts whether it will be accomplished for some time. Doubtless the conflict will be long and sanguinary, but in the sequel the city must surrender. . . .

Your mother's thoughts are all about you. God bless you, my boy!

Matters assumed a brighter aspect as the fall advanced. The American Anti-Slavery Society multiplied its agents and meetings, and a petition to Congress for55 emancipation, circulated by the Women's Loyal National League, received one hundred thousand signatures.56 Mr. Garrison, who had spent the month of August at Plymouth, Mass., lectured frequently during the autumn, chiefly in cities and towns within easy reach of Boston. The fall elections resulted triumphantly for the Republicans, thus strengthening the Administration in its emancipation policy; and now two of the Border States were moving to abolish slavery within their own limits, and to bring themselves into the ranks of the free States. Both in Missouri and in Maryland a strong party had sprung up [85] advocating immediate and unconditional emancipation, and in the preliminary movements to that end which were among the issues of the November election, it found itself in the ascendancy in both States. In Tennessee and57 Arkansas, also, prominent slaveholders, perceiving that slavery was crumbling from mere attrition between the opposing armies on their soil, advocated immediate emancipation as the most sensible method of disposing of the vexed question and bringing matters to a settled basis, and they deemed it folly to talk of compensation. The Missouri emancipationists complained bitterly, however,58 that they received no encouragement or support from Mr. Lincoln, who deprecated haste and still argued in59 favor of gradualism, and they felt the weight of the Administration against their radical measures. The reluctance of the President to press upon the Border States the immediate abolition of slavery which he had decreed for the rebellious States, and his readiness to allow a small60 fraction of the (white) voting population in the latter to form new State governments and legislate for the freedmen, will be, and have been already in large measure, forgotten, while the brief address which he gave at61 Gettysburg, between his interview with the Missourians and his transmission to Congress of the Amnesty Message,62 will live as long as his name and fame. [86]

“Of those who were slaves at the beginning of the rebellion,” Raymond's History of Lincoln's Administration, p. 427. recorded Mr. Lincoln in his December message, ‘full one hundred thousand are now in the United States military service, about half of which number actually bear arms in the ranks—thus giving the double advantage of taking so much labor from the insurgent cause, and supplying the places which otherwise must be filled with so many white men. So far as tested, it is difficult to say they are not as good soldiers as any. No servile insurrection or tendency to violence or cruelty has marked the measures of emancipation and arming the blacks.’

The editor of the Liberator had never expected to have war correspondence a feature of his paper, but he printed the letters which now came to him from the63 officers and soldiers of colored regiments, with infinitely more pleasure than he inserted the communications of two or three non-resistant friends who deemed it more64 than ever the time for them to bear their testimony. To the latter he yielded space now and then, with his usual fairness and generosity, but he steadily declined to be dragged into any extended discussion of the peace and non-resistance doctrine, for reasons which he had65 already fully set forth.

Pursuant to adjournment from its annual meeting in May, the American Anti-Slavery Society met in Philadelphia on the 3d and 4th of December, to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of its formation, to rejoice over the emancipation, by the fiat of the American Government, of three million three hundred thousand slaves, and, in the words of the official invitation which Mr. Garrison, as President of the Society, extended to various friends of the cause, ‘not only to revive the remembrance of the long thirty years warfare with the terrible forces of Slavery, and to acknowledge the hand of a wonderworking Providence in guiding the way of the little Anti-Slavery army through great moral darkness and many perils, . . . but also to renew, in the name of humanity, of conscience, and of pure and undefiled [87] religion, the demand for the entire and speedy extinction of slavery in every part of our country.’ Concert Hall, the largest assembly-room in the city, was scarcely adequate for the throng of members and friends who gathered in joyful confidence that the end of their anti-slavery labors was near at hand; and in dramatic contrast to the conditions under which the Convention of 1833 had met, a slave-auction block now served as the speakers' stand, the national colors were festooned upon the walls, and a squad of colored soldiers from a neighboring camp (which bore the peaceful name of William Penn) occupied seats on the platform at the opening session. Of the forty-five survivors of the original founders of the Society, eleven66 were present; and the racy and delightful reminiscences of the first Convention which were given by Samuel J. May, J. M. McKim, and Lucretia Mott, with an account of the women's anti-slavery societies by Mary Grew, filled what was left of the first day's sessions after the great audience had listened to Mr. Garrison's welcoming address, to letters from absent friends, and to the reading, by Dr. William H. Furness, of the Declaration of Sentiments.

The absence of Wendell Phillips and Edmund Quincy was greatly regretted. Others unable to attend, who sent letters which were read or printed, were John G. Whittier, David Thurston, Simeon S. Jocelyn, and Joshua Coffin, of the Signers of the Declaration; Arthur Tappan, Samuel Fessenden, John Rankin, Theodore and Angelina Weld, and Sarah Grimke, of the early supporters of the movement; and Joshua R. Giddings, Charles Sumner, Owen Lovejoy, B. Gratz Brown (then leading the emancipation movement in Missouri), and John Jay (subsequently Minister to Austria),67 of the political allies of the cause. [88] Although more than twenty years had elapsed since the cessation of personal relations between them, consequent on the division of 1840, Mr. Garrison could not refrain from sending a cordial letter of invitation to Arthur Tappan, in which he renewed his expressions of gratitude for the latter's early support and kindness, and his admiration for all he had done in the slave's cause. Mr. Tappan responded in the same spirit:

Arthur Tappan to W. L. Garrison.

New Haven, Nov. 17, 1863.
68 dear Sir: Few events could give me so much pleasure as the receipt of your note of the 12th inst. During the years that have intervened since we last met, I have often recalled the time when we were united in working for the slave, and regretted that any occurrence should have estranged us from each other. I shall be glad to attend the meeting at Philadelphia, but my advanced age (78th year) and growing infirmities may prevent.

I am truly your friend,

John G. Whittier to W. L. Garrison.

Amesbury, 24th 11th mo., 1863.
69 my dear friend: I have received thy kind letter with the accompanying circular, inviting me to attend the commemoration of the Thirtieth Anniversary of the formation of the American Anti-Slavery Society, at Philadelphia. It is with the deepest regret that I am compelled, by the feeble state of my health, to give up all hope of meeting thee and my other old and dear friends on an occasion of so much interest. How much it costs me to acquiesce in the hard necessity, thy own feelings will tell thee better than any words of mine. [89]

I look back over thirty years, and call to mind all the circumstances of my journey to Philadelphia, in company with thyself and the excellent Dr. Thurston of Maine, even then, as we thought, an old man, but still living, and true as ever to the good cause. I recall the early gray morning when, with Samuel J. May, our colleague on the Committee to prepare a Declaration of Sentiments for the Convention, I climbed to the small ‘upper chamber’ of a colored friend to hear thee read the first draft of a paper which will live as long as our national history. I see the members of the Convention, solemnized by the responsibility, rise one by one, and solemnly affix their names to that stern pledge of fidelity to freedom. Of the signers, many have passed away from earth, a few have faltered and turned back, but I believe the majority still live to rejoice over the great triumph of truth and justice, and to devote what remains of time and strength to the cause to which they consecrated their youth and manhood thirty years ago.

For, while we may well thank God and congratulate one another on the prospect of the speedy emancipation of the slaves of the United States, we must not for a moment forget that, from this hour, new and mighty responsibilities devolve upon us to aid, direct, and educate these millions, left free, indeed, but bewildered, ignorant, naked, and foodless in the wild chaos of civil war. We have to undo the accumulated wrongs of two centuries; to remake the manhood that slavery has well-nigh unmade; to see to it that the long-oppressed colored man has a fair field for development and improvement; and to tread under our feet the last vestige of that hateful prejudice which has been the strongest external support of Southern slavery. We must lift ourselves at once to the true Christian altitude where all distinctions of black and white are overlooked in the heartfelt recognition of the brotherhood of man.

I must not close this letter without confessing that I cannot be sufficiently thankful to the Divine Providence which, in a great measure through thy instrumentality, turned me so early away from what Roger Williams calls ‘the world's great trinity, pleasure, profit, and honor,’ to take side with the poor and oppressed. I am not insensible to literary reputation. I love, perhaps too well, the praise and good — will of my fellow-men; but I set a higher value on my name as appended to the Anti-Slavery Declaration of 1833 than on the title-page of any book. Looking over a life marked by many errors and shortcomings, [90] I rejoice that I have been able to maintain the pledge of that signature; and that, in the long intervening years,

My voice, though not the loudest, has been heard
Wherever Freedom raised her cry of pain.

Let me, through thee, extend a warm greeting to the friends, whether of our own or the new generation, who may assemble on the occasion of commemoration. There is work yet to be done which will task the best efforts of us all. For thyself, I need not say that the love and esteem of early boyhood have lost nothing by the test of time; and

I am, very cordially, thy friend,

The notable speeches of the second day's sessions were by Henry Ward Beecher, just returned from his English70 triumphs, Senator Wilson of Massachusetts, whom the71 Convention greeted with especial warmth for his part in abolishing slavery in the District of Columbia, and Frederick Douglass, who gave a graphic account of his recent interview with Mr. Lincoln, and paid an eloquent tribute to the President, who had won his entire respect and confidence. Mr. Beecher, who had not been wont to speak at the meetings of the Garrisonian abolitionists, said, in his brief remarks:

I am thankful for the privilege of looking on so many noble72 and revered faces, and so many young and enthusiastic persons, united together by so sacred a bond as that which unites you. I feel, not that I agree with you in everything, but that I am heart and soul with you in the main end. Toward that end we may take different paths, very likely, but when we come together at the end, we shall all be there. It is the end that crowns the beginning, rather than the beginning the end. I therefore feel that I am honored in being permitted to stand before you this morning, to utter these few words of sympathy and of greeting. Your cause is dear to you—just as dear to me. Your names, honored among yourselves, will never lack some wreaths, if I may be permitted to pluck any to place upon them. I thank God that he called you into existence. An uncanonical Church you are, a Church without ordination, but, in my judgment, a Church of the very best and most apostolic kind, held together by the cohesion of a rule of faith, and an interior principle. [91] Your ordinances are few and simple, but mighty through God. Your officers are not exactly elected. Whoever has the gifts, and the inspiration behind those gifts, he is your teacher and your leader. That is the truest form of the Church. I stand here in the midst of a part of God's great spiritual, earthly Church, happy to be in your midst; asking the privilege to call myself a brother only, asking the privilege of calling you that are advanced in years fathers and mothers, and asking the privilege also to work according to the light that is given me, and, where I differ from you, of having still your confidence that I mean right. I will never work against you, as I never have. I will work with you as far as you will let me; and we shall all be supervised by a higher Love and a diviner Wisdom, and, where mistakes are made, they will, after all, work together for the good cause. We shall meet, if not again on earth, in that land where no struggles are needed, where we shall rejoice and give thanks to Him who called, and guided, and crowned us with victory.

A Memorial to Congress asking for a Constitutional amendment to prohibit slavery forever within the limits of the United States was adopted.73 Mr. Garrison having announced that George Thompson was soon to revisit the United States, a resolution of ‘fraternal welcome and warm congratulation’ in advance, and of recognition of his patriotic services in support of the American Government, was also adopted; and then Mr. Garrison, with characteristic thoughtfulness, recalled the name and labors of Benjamin Lundy, ‘that honor may be given to whom honor is due, to one whose memory ought to be preserved to the latest generation as the distinguished pioneer in this great struggle.’ ‘If,’ he said, ‘I have in74 any way, however humble, done anything toward calling attention to the question of slavery, or bringing about the glorious prospect of a complete jubilee in our country at no distant day, I feel that I owe everything in this matter, instrumentally, and under God, to Benjamin [92] Lundy.’ His concluding words were full of cheer, and hope, and rejoicing over the blessings to accrue to the South through emancipation.

So ended the last decade meeting of the American Anti-Slavery Society. Happy would it have been if the Society had felt warranted in making that its final gathering, and in disbanding then and there; for fate decreed that it should never again meet in such oneness of spirit.75

1 The verse in Mr. Emerson's poem which won loudest applause was that on compensation:

Pay ransom to the owner,
     And fill the bag to the brim.
Who is the owner? The slave is owner,
     And ever was. Pay him!

2 Lib. 33.3.


Freedom's first champion in our fettered land!
Nor politician nor base citizen
Could gibbet thee, nor silence, nor withstand.
Thy trenchant and emancipating pen
The patriot Lincoln snatched with steady hand,
Writing his name and thine on parchment white,
Midst war's resistless and ensanguined flood;
Then held that proclamation high in sight
Before his fratricidal countrymen,—
‘Freedom henceforth throughout the land for all,’ —
And sealed the instrument with his own blood,
Bowing his mighty strength for slavery's fall;
Whilst thou, staunch friend of largest liberty,
Survived,—its ruin and our peace to see.—

A. B. Alcott to W. L. G.

4 Jan. 13.

5 Lib. 33.10.

6 Jan. 29.

7 Congress was also urged, in one of the resolutions, to establish a Freedmen's Bureau, ‘for the special purpose of guarding the rights and interests of the liberated bondmen, providing them with land and labor, and giving them a fair chance to develop their faculties and powers through the necessary educational instrumentalities’ (Lib. 33: 22). See, also, Report of the Freedmen's Inquiry Commission (Robert Dale Owen, James McKay, and Dr. Samuel G. Howe), appointed by Secretary Stanton, on ‘Negroes as Refugees, as Military Laborers, and as Soldiers’ (Lib. 33: 130).

8 Lib. 33.22.

9 Lib. 33.22.

10 Cf. ante, 1.188.

11 Mr. Phillips, who followed Mr. Garrison, was less jubilant in tone, though not less positive as to Mr. Lincoln's purpose to stand by the Proclamation, and of the ultimate destruction of slavery; but he had just returned from Washington, where he and other Bostonians had vainly urged the President to dismiss Seward from the Cabinet as an obstructive, and his view of the immediate future was somewhat despondent (Lib. 33: 19, 26).

12 Ms. and Lib. 33.19.

13 The chief proprietor of the Morning Star was Samuel Lucas, a brother-inlaw of John Bright; its editors, Justin McCarthy and F. W. Chesson. The Daily News was edited by Thomas Walker, with the powerful aid of Harriet Martineau, who wrote scores of editorials on the American question.

14 The Birmingham Post published an instructive series of letters on the American question from the pen of Mr. Samuel A. Goddard, an American gentleman long resident in that city, and a brother of Mrs. Mary May. They were subsequently collected in a volume (London, 1870).

15 The Belfast Whig was the most influential journal in the north of Ireland. Its editor, Mr. Frank Harrison Hill, afterwards succeeded Thomas Walker as editor of the Daily News.

16 George Thompson.

17 Richard D. Webb.

18 “The Slave Power: Its Character, Career, and Probable Designs: Being an Attempt to Explain the Real Issues Involved in the American Contest. By J. E. Cairnes, M. A., Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Economy in Queen's College, Galway, and late Whately Professor of Political Economy in the University of Dublin.” This work was printed at Dublin by Richard D. Webb, whose full and accurate knowledge of American slavery and anti-slavery enabled him greatly to aid Prof. Cairnes in the preparation of his work.

19 Jan. 7, 1863.

20 Jan. 6, 1863.

21 Ms. and Lib. 33.34.

22 Ante, 2.396, 397, 399; 3.172, 176.

23 Lib. 33.33, 34.

24 Feb. 6, 1863.

25 Ms. and Lib. 33.46.

26 The George Griswold, a vessel sent from New York to Liverpool laden with food for the suffering Lancashire operatives—the contribution of New York merchants.

27 Feb. 25.

28 Lib. 33.46, 160.

29 Ms. Feb. 16.

30 ‘During my visit to England, it was my privilege to address, in various places, very large audiences, and I never made mention of the names of any of those whom you most revere and love, without calling down the wildest demonstrations of popular enthusiasm. I never mentioned the name of Mr. Phillips, or Mr. Garrison, that it did not call forth a storm of approbation. It pleased me to know that those who were least favored in our own country were so well known in England. . . . It is true that a man is not without honor save in his own country; and I felt that I had never had before me, in an audience here, such an appreciation of the names of our early and faithful laborers in this cause as there was in that remote country, among comparative strangers’ (Speech of H. W. Beecher at Third Decade Meeting, Philadelphia, Dec. 4, 1863; Lib. 34: 5).

31 Ms.

32 May 11.

33 S. May, Jr.

34 Mary May.

35 May 11.

36 ‘The State of the Country.’

37 George Opdyke.

38 May 12.

39 Lib. 33.78.

40 May 28.

41 The ‘original abolitionists’ did not lack representatives in the army and navy forces for the suppression of slavery and the rebellion. Among those whose sons, grandsons, or sons-in-law were thus enrolled could be named Arthur and Lewis Tappan, Mr. Garrison, James G. Birney, William Jay, Gerrit Smith, Joshua Leavitt, Abraham L. Cox, John Rankin of Ohio, Samuel Fessenden, Francis G. Shaw, Samuel May, Jr., Henry I. Bowditch, James Forten, Robert Purvis, Frederick Douglass, S. S. Jocelyn, Charles Follen, William H. Burleigh, Amasa Walker, and others. Henry Wilson, Joshua R. Giddings, William Slade, and Henry Ward Beecher contributed in like manner to the struggle (Lib. 35: 139).

42 See Jeff. Davis's message and the bill passed by the Confederate Congress on the subject (Greeley's “American Conflict,” 2: 523, 524).

43 Ms.

44 John A. Andrew.

45 May 18.

46 For an interesting statement, by Edward S. Philbrick, of the rapid development of tastes and wants for household comforts and more abundant and varied articles of food, among the freed people of the Sea Islands of South Carolina, see Lib. 33: 130.

47 Mar. 6.

48 Lib. 33.43.

49 July 13-16, 1863.

50 ‘To-day, there are symptoms that a riot is brewing in this city, and, should it break out with violence, it would naturally seek to vent its fury upon such as Phillips and myself, and upon our dwellings. The whole North is volcanic. . . . My heart bleeds to think of the poor, unoffending colored people of New York, outraged, plundered, murdered by the demons in human shape who now hold mastery over New York. “How long, O Lord, how long?” ’ (Ms. July 14, 1863, W. L. G. to Oliver Johnson.)

51 Ms.

52 N. C.

53 Gen. E. A. Wild.

54 Robert G. Shaw.

55 Lib. 33.170.

56 Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony were the organizers and untiring workers in this movement ( “Hist. Woman suffrage,” 2: 50-89).

57 Lib. 33.197, 198.

58 Lib. 33.181, 198.

59 Raymond's History of Lincoln's Administration, p. 401.

60 Lib. 33.202.

61 Nov. 19.

62 In his anxiety to disintegrate the rebel Confederacy politically, and to reestablish loyal State governments, Mr. Lincoln proposed, in this message, to allow one-tenth of the voters of 1860 (excepting the prominent leaders of the rebellion, and certain other classes) to organize such new governments, provided they took the oath of allegiance to the Constitution, and to the proclamations and Congressional acts relating to slavery, ‘so long and so far as not repealed, modified, or held void by Congress, or by decision of the Supreme Court.’ Legislation by such States for the freedmen must recognize and declare their permanent freedom, and provide for their education, but yet might make ‘temporary arrangement’ for their tutelage. ‘While it allows those who have been in bloody rebellion to vote, it disfranchises the whole body of loyal freedmen!’ wrote Mr. Garrison of it. ‘It opens the way for duplicity and perfidy to any extent, and virtually nullifies the confiscation act of Congress, a measure next in importance to the abolition of slavery. Mr. Lincoln's magnanimity is weakness, and his method of disposing of those who have been emancipated by his proclamation that of giving the sheep over to the guardianship of wolves. This must not be tolerated’ (Lib. 33: 202).

63 Lib. 33.24, 38, 83, 114, 115, 135, 146, 175, 187, 190, 200.

64 Lib. 33.112, 116, 124.

65 Ante, p. 26.

66 Namely, Isaac Winslow, Orson S. Murray, W. L. Garrison, Samuel J. May, Robert Purvis, Bartholomew Fussell, Enoch Mack, J. Miller McKim, Thomas Whitson, James Mott, and James McCrummell.

67 Mr. Jay wrote: ‘Whatever errors of opinion or of action there may have been on the part of individuals or societies at a recent date, the political principles declared at Philadelphia have stood the test of time and trial, and have received the emphatic endorsement of the American people; and the Anti-Slavery movement in the United States, with few exceptions that more plainly show the rule, has been marked by statesmanlike characteristics, now crowned with success, and by a love of country that no delay, injustice, or disappointment could impair or disturb’ (Lib. 34: 9).

68 Ms. and Lib. 33.202.

69 Ms. and Lib. 33.202.

70 Ante, p. 77.

71 Henry Wilson.

72 Lib. 34.5.

73 The resolution introducing this Memorial was suggested and written by Charles Sumner, as he was on his way to Washington, the evening before the Convention (Dec. 2), and given to Henry C. Wright, whom he met on the Sound steamer to New York (Ms. H. C. Wright).

74 Lib. 34.17.

75 A full report of the proceedings of the Third Decade Meeting was published in the Liberator and Standard, and subsequently issued in a handsome pamphlet by the Society, with an Appendix, and a Catalogue (prepared by Rev. Samuel May, Jr.) of Anti-Slavery Publications in America, from 1750 to 1863. The fiftieth anniversary of the Society was celebrated by a meeting in Philadelphia, Dec. 4, 1883. Only three of the original signers then survived—Robert Purvis, who presided; Elizur Wright, who spoke; and John G. Whittier, who sent a letter for the occasion.

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