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Chapter 7: master strokes.

“Help came but slowly” to the reformer. With a single instrument he had stirred the nation, as no other man had done, on the slavery question. He had thrown the South into widespread excitement, and thawed the apathy of the North into widespread attention. He had won an almost instant hearing for his cause. But he knew that this was not enough. Effective as he had shown the weapon of the press to be, it alone was unequal to the conduct of prolonged agitation. And prolonged agitation Garrison clearly apprehended was to be the price of abolition. Back of him and the Liberator he needed an organized force, coadjutors like Aaron and Hur to hold up his arms during the mighty conflict on which he had now entered with the slave interests of the country. Those interests were organized, and because they were organized they were powerful. The sentiment of freedom he determined to organize and to render it thereby invincible. To organized wrong he designed to oppose organized right, confident that organized right would prevail in the end. He had knowledge of the utility of temperance societies in advancing the cause of sobriety among the people. He had learned from Lundy how much he had relied upon the union of men as anti-slavery helps. Garrison determined to summon to his side the powerful [134] agency of an anti-slavery society devoted to immediate and unconditional emancipation. He had already made converts; he had already a small following. At Julien Hall, on the occasion of his first lecture on the subject of slavery, he had secured three remarkable men to the movement, viz., Rev. Samuel J. May, then a young Unitarian minister, Samuel E. Sewall, a young member of the Bar, and A. Bronson Alcott, a sage even in his early manhood. They had all promised him aid and comfort in the great task which he had undertaken. A little later two others, quite as remarkable as those first three were drawn to the reformer's side, and abetted him in the treason to iniquity, which he was prosecuting through the columns of the Liberator with unrivaled zeal and devotion. These disciples were Ellis Grey Loring and David Lee Child. They were a goodly company, were these five conspirators, men of intellect and conscience, of high family and social connections, of brilliant attainments and splendid promises for the future. To this number must be added a sixth, Oliver Johnson, who was at the time editing The Christian Soldier, disciple of Garrison then, and ever after his devoted friend. The early promises of this noble half dozen friends of the slave were more than fulfilled in after years. Often to the dingy room “under the eaves” in Merchants' Hall they climbed to carry aid and comfort to “one poor, unlearned young man,” and to sit at his feet in this cradle-room of the new movement. It was there in communion with the young master that suggestions looking to the formation of an anti-slavery society, were doubtless first thrown out. [135]

The place was dark, unfurnitured and mean;
Yet there the freedom of a race began.

It was not all clear sailing for the editor of the Liberator even with such choice spirits. They did not always carry aid and comfort to him, but differences of opinions sometimes as well. He did not sugar-coat enough the bitter truth which he was telling to the nation. Some of them would have preferred The Safety Lamp to the Liberator as a title less likely to offend the prejudices of many good people. Some again objected to the pictorial heading of the paper as an altogether unwise proceeding, and positively mischievous. He had the same experience when the formation of an Abolition society was under consideration. He was confronted with this benevolent aversion to giving offence by calling things by their right names. But much as he desired to have his friends and followers organized for associated action, where a principle was at stake he was with them as with slavery itself absolutely inflexible and uncompromising. He was for organizing on the principle of immediate emancipation. A few deemed that ground too radical and revolutionary, and were for ranging themselves under the banner of Gradualism, thinking to draw to their ranks a class of people, who would be repelled by Immediatism. But Garrison was unyielding, refused to budge an inch to conciliate friend or foe — not even such stanch supporters as were Sewall and Loring, who supplied him again and again with money needed to continue the publication of the Liberator. No, he was right and they were wrong, and they, not he, ought accordingly to yield. The contention between the leader and his [136] disciples was not what was expedient, but what was right. It was on the part of the leader the assertion of a vital principle, and on this ground he was pledged against retreat. The mountain could not go to Mahomet, therefore Mahomet must needs go to the mountain. Garrison could not abandon his position, wherefore in due time Loring, Child, and Sewall surrendered theirs. Finely has Lowell expressed this righteous stubborness, and steadfastness to principle in three stanzas of his poem entitled, “The day of small things,” and which have such an obvious lesson for our own times that I shall venture to quote them in this place:

The day of small things

Who is it will not dare himself to trust?
     Who is it hath not strength to stand alone?
Who is it thwarts and bilks the inward must?
     He and his works, like sand from earth are blown.

Men of a thousand shifts and wiles look here!
     See one straightforward conscience put in pawn
To win a world! See the obedient sphere
     By bravery's simple gravitation drawn!

Shall we not heed the lesson taught of old,
     And by the Present's lips repeated still,
In our own single manhood to be bold,
     Fortressed in conscience and impregnable will?

The history of the making of this first society is an interesting story. There were four meetings in all before it was found possible to complete the work of its organization. These meetings extended over a space of nearly three months, so obstinate were a minority against committing the proposed society to the principle of immediate emancipation. The [137] very name which was to be given to the association provoked debate and disagreement. Some were for christening it “Philo-African,” while Garrison would no such milk-and-water title, but one which expressed distinctly and graphically the real character of the organization, viz., “New England Anti-slavery Society.” He would sail under no false or neutral colors, but beneath the red flag of open and determined hostility to slavery. It should be a sign which no one could possibly mistake. The first meeting was held at the office of Samuel E. Sewall, November 13, 1831. At the third meeting, convened New Year's evening of 1832, which was the first anniversary of the publication of the Liberator, the work of organization was finished, with a single important exception, viz., the adoption of the preamble to the constitution. The character of the preamble would fix the character of the society. Therefore that which was properly first was made to come last. The fourth meeting took place on the night of January 6th in the African Baptist Church on what was then Belknap but now known as Joy street. The young leader and fourteen of his followers met that evening in the school-room for colored children, situated under the auditorium of the church. They could hardly have fallen upon a more obscure or despised place for the consummation of their enterprise in the city of Boston than was this selfsame negro church and school-room. The weather added an ever memorable night to the opprobrium of the spot. A fierce northeaster accompanied with “snow, rain, and hail in equal proportions” was roaring and careering through the city's streets. To an eye-witness, Oliver Johnson, “it almost seemed [138] as if Nature was frowning upon the new effort to abolish slavery; but,” he added, “the spirits of the little company rose superior to all external circumstances.”

If there was strife of the elements without, neither was there sweet accord within among brethren. “The spirits of the little company” may have risen superior to the weather, but they did not rise superior to the preamble, with the principle of immediatism incorporated in it. Eleven stood by the leader and made it the chief of the corner of the new society, while three, Messrs. Loring, Sewall, and Child, refused to sign the Constitution and parted sorrowfully from the small band of the New England Anti-Slavery Society. But the separation was only temporary, for each returned to the side of the reformer, and proved his loyalty and valor in the trying years which followed.

The preamble which was the bone of so much contention declared that: “We, the undersigned, hold that every person, of full age and sane mind, has a right to immediate freedom from personal bondage of whatsoever kind, unless imposed by the sentence of the law for the commission of some crime. We hold that man cannot, consistently with reason, religion, and the eternal and immutable principles of justice, be the property of man. We hold that whoever retains his fellow-man in bondage is guilty of a grievous wrong. We hold that a mere difference of complexion is no reason why any man should be deprived of any of his natural rights, or subjected to any political disability. While we advance these opinions as the principles on which we intend to act, [139] we declare that we will not operate on the existing relations of society by other than peaceful and lawful means, and that we will give no countenance to violence or insurrection.”

Twelve, the apostolic number, affixed to the preamble and constitution their names, and thus formed the first Garrisonian Society for the abolition of slavery in the United States. The names of these apostolic men it is well to keep in mind. They are William Lloyd Garrison, Oliver Johnson, Robert B. Hall, Arnold Buffum, William J. Snelling, John E. Fuller, Moses Thatcher, Joshua Coffin, Stillman B. Newcomb, Benjamin C. Bacon, Isaac Knapp, and Henry K. Stockton. The band of reformers, their work done, had risen to pass out of the low, rude room into the dark night. The storm was still raging. They themselves had perchance been sobered by the experiences of the evening. They had gone in fifteen, they were returning twelve. And, after all, what had they accomplished? What could they a mere handful do to abolish slavery entrenched as it was in Church and State? It is possible that some such dim discouragement, some such vague misgiving of the futility of the evening's labor, was in the hearts of those wearied men, and that their leader divined as much, for the spirit of prophecy fell upon Garrison just as they “were stepping out into the storm and darkness.” “We have met to-night,” he said, “in this obscure school-house; our numbers are few and our influence limited; but, mark my prediction, Faneuil Hall shall erelong echo with the principles we have set forth. We shall shake the nation by their mighty power.” Then the little band dispersed “into [140] the storm and darkness,” carrying with them these words charged with hope and courage.

The fruitful seed of organized agitation Garrison had securely planted in soil fertile and ready for its reception. Its growth constitutes one of the marvels of reforms. Within a few brief years it multiplied into hundreds and thousands of societies throughout the free States. But its beginnings were small and humble enough. “The objects of the society” were according to the second article of the constitution, “to endeavor by all means sanctioned by law, humanity, and religion, to effect the abolition of slavery in the United States, to improve the character and condition of the free people of color, to inform and correct public opinion in relation to their situation and rights, and to obtain for them equal civil and political rights and privileges with the whites.” The means which were immediately adopted by the society for the accomplishment of these objects were mainly three, than which none others could have been more effective. These were petitioning Congress on the subject of slavery. The publication and circulation of anti-slavery addresses and tracts, and the employment of anti-slavery agents, “in obtaining or communicating intelligence, in the publication and distribution of tracts, books, or papers, or in the execution of any measure which may be adopted to promote the objects of the society.” Such was the simple but unequaled machinery which the New England Anti-Slavery Society relied upon for success in the war, which it had declared against American slavery. The executive power of the body, and the operation of its machinery were lodged in a board of managers [141] of which Garrison's was the leading, originating mind. The society started out bravely in the use of its means by memorializing Congress for the abolition of slavery, “in the District of Columbia and in the Territories of the United States under their jurisdiction,” and by preparing and distributing an address in maintenance of the doctrine of immediate emancipation. The board of managers set the machinery in motion as far and as fast as the extremely limited pecuniary ability of the society would permit. The membership was not from the rich classes. It was Oliver Johnson who wittily remarked that not more than one or two of the original twelve, “could have put a hundred dollars into the treasury without bankrupting themselves.” The remark was true, and was quite as applicable to any dozen of the new-comers as to the original twelve. The society was never deficient in zeal, bnt it was certainly sadly wanting in money. And money was even to such men and to such a movement an important factor in revolutionizing public opinion.

The Liberator was made the official organ of the society, and in this way was added to its other weapons that of the press. This was a capital arrangement, for by it both the paper and the society were placed under the direction of the same masterly guidance. There was still one arrow left in the moral quiver of the organization to reach the conscience of the people, and that was the appointment of an agent to spread the doctrines of the new propaganda of freedom. In August the board of managers, metaphorically speaking, shot this arrow by making Garrison the agent of the society to lecture on the subiect [142] of slavery “for a period not exeeeding three months.” This was the first drop from a cloud then no bigger than a hand, but which was to grow and spread until, covering the North, was, at the end of a few short years, to flood the land with anti-slavery agents and lecturers.

Our anti-slavery agent visited portions of Massachusetts, Maine, and Rhode Island, preaching the Abolition gospel in divers places, and to many peoplenotably at such centers of population as Worcester, Providence, Bangor, and Portland, making at the latter city a signal conversion to his cause in the person of General Samuel Fessenden, distinguished then as a lawyer, and later as the father of William Pitt Fessenden. The anti-slavery schoolmaster was abroad, and was beginning to turn New England and the North into one resounding schoolhouse, where he sat behind the desk and the nation occupied the forms.

So effective was the agitation prosecuted by the society during the first year of its existence that it was no empty declaration or boast of the Abolitionist, the new monthly periodical of the society, that “probably, through its instrumentality, more public addresses on the subject of slavery, and appeals in behalf of the contemned free people of color, have been made in New England, during the past year (1832) than were elicited for forty years prior to its organization.”

The introduction of the principle of association into the slavery agitation, and the conversion of it into an organized movement was an achievement of the first importance. To Garrison, more than to any [143] man, or to all others put together, belongs the authorship of this immense initiative. He it was, who, having “announced the principle, arranged the method” of the Abolition movement. The marshaling of the anti-slavery sentiment of New England under a common standard, in a common cause, was a master stroke of moral generalship. This master stroke the leader followed up promptly with a second stroke not less masterly. That second stroke was his “Thoughts on African Colonization,” published in the summer succeeding the formation of the New England Anti-Slavery Society.

Garrison's championship of the cause of the slave had started with strong faith in the efficacy and disinterestedness of the colonization scheme as an instrument of emancipation. It commanded, therefore, his early support. In his Park Street Church address he evinced himself in earnest sympathy with the friends of colonization. But after his arrival in Baltimore a change began to exhibit itself in this regard. He began to qualify his confidence in its utility; began to discern in it influences calculated to retard general emancipation. As these doubts and misgivings arose within him he expressed them frankly in the Genius. Lundy had been suspicious of the pro-slavery purposes or interests of the enterprise for many years. He could not reconcile himself to the significant or, at least, singular fact of so many slaveholders being in the membership and the offices of the association. Then, in addition to this lack of confidence on the part of Lundy in the scheme, Garrison became acquainted, for the first time, with the objects of the society's philanthropy — the class of free people of [144] color. He found that these people were not at all well affected to the society; that they had no appreciation of its benevolent intentions in respect to themselves. He found, on the contrary, that they were positively embittered toward it and toward its designs for their removal from the country as toward their worst enemy. This circumstance was undoubtedly a poser to their young friend. How could he reconcile this deep-seated and widespread disbelief in the purity of the motives of the Colonization Society, with the simple integrity and humanity of the enterprise itself? Later, his acquaintance with such representatives of the free people of color in Philadelphia as James Forten and his son-in-law, Robert Purvis, served but to confirm those first impressions which he received in Baltimore from the Watkinses and the Greeners. It was the same experience in New York and New Haven, in Boston and Providence. He learned that from the very beginning, in the year 1817, that the free people of color in Richmond and Philadelphia had, by an instinctive knowledge of threatened wrong and danger, met and resolved against the society and its sinister designs upon themselves. These people did not wish to leave the country; they did not wish to be sent to Liberia; but the society, bent on doing them good against their will, did want them to leave the country, did want to send them to Liberia.

And why did the society desire to remove the free people of color out of the country? Was it from moives of real philanthropy? The colored people were the first to detect its spurious humanity, the first to see through the artful disguises employed to impose upon [145] the conscience of the republic. Their removal, they intuitively divined, was proposed not to do their race a benefit, but rather to do a service to the owners of slaves. These objects of the society's pseudophilanthropy had the sagacity to perceive that, practically, their expatriation tended to strengthen the chains of their brethren then in slavery; for if the South could get rid of its free colored population, its slave property would thereby acquire additional security, and, of consequence, increased market value. Like cause, like effect. If the operation of the colonization scheme was decidedly in the interest of the masters, it was the part of wisdom to conclude as the free colored people did actually conclude that the underlying motive, the hidden purpose of the society was also in the interest of the masters.

Garrison did not reach his conclusions as to the pro-slavery character and tendency of the society abruptly. The scales fell away gradually from his eyes. He was not completely undeceived until he had examined the reports of the society and found in them the most redundant evidence of its insincerity and guilt. It was out of its own mouth that he condemned it. When he saw the society in its true character, he saw what he must do. It was a wolf in sheep's skin running at large among the good shepherd's flock, and inflicting infinite hurt upon his poor sheep. He no longer wondered at the horror which the colonization scheme inspired among the free people of color. They were right. The society was their dangerous and determined enemy; it was the bulwark of the slave-holding classes. With the instinct of a great purpose he resolved to carry this [146] powerful bulwark of slavery by assault. To the attack he returned week after week in the Liberator. during a year and a half. Then he hurled himself upon it with all his guns, facts, arguments, denunciations, blowing away and burning up every shred of false covering from the doctrines, principles, and purposes of the society, revealing it to mankind in its base and monstrous character.

The society's one motive “to get rid of the free people of color,” was outrageous enough, but this was not its only sin. There was another phase to the mischief it was working, which lifted it to the rank of a great sinner. It was not only harmful in its principles and purposes. “It imperatively and effectually seals up the lips,” so Garrison accused it, “of a vast number of influential and pious men, who, for fear of giving offence to those slaveholders with whom they associate, and thereby leading to a dissolution of the compact, dare not expose the flagrant enormities of the system of slavery, nor denounce the crime of holding human beings in bondage. They dare not lead to the onset against the forces of tyranny; and if they shrink from the conflict, how shall the victory be won? I do not mean to aver that in their sermons, or addresses, or private conversations, they never allude to the subject of slavery; for they do so frequently, or at least every Fourth of July. But my complaint is that they content themselves with representing slavery as an evil — a misfortune — a calamity which has been entailed upon us by former genera-tions,--and not as an individual crime, embracing in its folds, robbery, cruelty, oppression, and piracy. They do not identify the criminal; they make no direct, [147] pungent, earnest appeal to the consciences of menstealers.” This was a damning bill, but it was true in every particular; and the evidence which Garrison adduced to establish his charges was overwhelming and irrefragable.

Nearly fifty years afterward, Elizur Wright described the baleful influence of the society upon the humanity and philanthropy of the nation. “The humanity and philanthropy,” he said, “which could not otherwise be disposed of, was ingeniously seduced into an African Colonization Society, whereby all slaves who had grown seditious and troublesome to their masters could be transplanted on the pestiferous African coast. That this wretched and seemingly transparent humbug could have deluded anybody, must now seem past belief; but I must with shame confess the fact that I for one was deluded by it. And that fact would put me in doubt of my own sanity at the time if I did not know that high statesmen, presidents of colleges, able editors, and that most undoubted of firm philanthropists, Gerrit Smith, shared the same delusion. Bible and missionary societies fellowshipped that mean and scurvy device of the kidnapper, in their holy work. It was spoken of as the most glorious of Christian enterprises, had a monthly magazine devoted to itself, and taxed about every pulpit in the land for an annual sermon in its favor.”

Such was the Colonization Society, and its entrenched strength in the piety and philanthropy of the country at the moment when Garrison published his “Thoughts.” It did not seem possible that a single arm however powerful, was able to start its roots; [148] but, directly upon the launching of this bolt, the roots of the Bohun Upas, as Garrison graphically designated the society, were seen to have started, and the enterprise appeared blasted as by fire. The deluded intellect and conscience of the free States saw in the fierce light, which the pamphlet of the reformer threw upon the colonization scheme how shamefully imposed upon they had been. They had believed the society “the most glorious of Christian enterprises,” and, lo! it stood revealed to them a “scurvy device of the kidnapper.” The effect was extraordinary. The book was seized and its contents devoured by some of the finest minds of the North. Here is an example of the interest which it excited and the converts which it made: “Last Monday evening was our Law Club meeting, and I had the great satisfaction of hearing Judge Mellen, our Chief-Justice, say he had read your ‘ Thoughts,’ was a thorough convert to your views, and was ready to do all in his power to promote them. Mr. Longfellow [father of Henry W. Longfellow] was present also, and with equal warmth and clearness expressed himself also in favor of your views. This is getting the two first men in the State for talents and influence in benevolent effort. I have no doubt they will head the list of those who will subscribe to form here an anti-slavery society. Mr. Greenleaf [Simon] also, will cordially come in, and I need not say he is one of the first [men] in the State, for his character is known.” This quotation is made from a letter of General Samuel Fessenden, of Portland, Me., to Mr. Garrison, dated December 14. 1832. Among the remarkable minds which the “Thoughts” disillusioned in respect [149] of the character and tendency of the Colonization Society were Theodore D. Weld, Elizur Wright, and Beriah Green, N. P. Rogers, William Goodell, Joshua Leavitt, Amos A. Phelps, Lewis Tappan, and James Miller McKim.

Garrison's assertion that “the overthrow of the Colonization Society was the overthrow of slavery itself,” was, from the standpoint of a student of history, an exaggerated one. We know now that the claim was not founded on fact, that while they did stand together they did not fall together. But the position was, nevertheless, the strongest possible one for the anti-slavery movement to occupy at the time. In the disposition of the pro-slavery forces on the field of the opening conflict in 1832, the colonization scheme commanded the important approaches to the citadel of the peculiar institution. It cut off the passes to public opinion, and to the religious and benevolent influences of the land. To reach these it was necessary in the first place to dislodge the society from its coign of vantage, its strategical point in the agitation. And this is precisely what “The thoughts on African Colonization” did. It dislodged the society from its powerful place in the moral sentiment of the North. The capture of this position was like the capture of a drawbridge, and the precipitation of the assaulting column directly upon the the walls of a beseiged castle. Within the pamphlet was contained the whole tremendous enginery of demolition. The anti-slavery agent and lecturer thenceforth set it up wherever he spoke.

To him it was not only the catapult, it furnished the missile-like facts and arguments for [150] breaching the walls of this pro-slavery stronghold as well.

The effect of the publication of “The thoughts” in this country was extraordinary, but the result of their circulation in England was hardly less so. It produced there as here a revolution in public sentiment upon the subject. The philanthropy and piety of Great Britain had generally prior to the unmasking of the society, looked upon it as an instrument of Emancipation, and had accordingly given it their powerful countenance, and not a little material support. But from the moment that the pamphlet reached England a decided change in this regard became manifest. The society made fruitless attempts to break the force of the blow dealt it by Garrison in the United States. But wherever its emissaries traveled “The thoughts” confronted and confounded them. So that Mr. Garrison was warranted in saying that “all that sophistry or misrepresentation could effect to overthrow its integrity has been attempted in vain. The work, as a whole, stands irrefutable.” The attempts made to maintain its hold upon the British public were characterized by duplicity and misrepresentation beyond anything practiced in America. The work of deceiving the philanthropy of Great Britain was conducted by the emissary of the society, Elliott Cresson, a man perfectly fitted to perform his part with remarkable thoroughness and industry. Three thousand miles away from America, and practically secure from contradiction, he went about making outrageous statements as to the antislavery character and purpose of the colonization enterprise. As there was no one in England sufficiently [151] acquainted with the operations and designs of the society, he was enabled to falsify facts, to conceal the real principles of the scheme with astonishing audacity and activity. He approached Wilberforce, and duped Clarkson into a belief in the antislavery aim of the society.

Unmasked in America, the time had come when the interests of the Abolition movement on this side of the Atlantic required that it should be stripped of its disguises on the other side also. No better instrument could be selected for this purpose than the man who had torn the mask from its features in the United States. And so in March, 1833, the Board of Managers of the New England Anti-Slavery Society notified the public of the appointment of “William Lloyd Garrison as their agent, and that he would proceed to England as soon as the necessary arrangements can be made, for the purpose of procuring funds to aid in the establishment of the proposed Manual labor school for colored youth, and of disseminating in that country the truth in relation to American slavery, and to its ally, the American Colonization Society.” The managers offered in justification of their step the fact that “Elliott Cresson is now in England as an agent for the Colonization Society, and that he has procured funds to a considerable amount by representing that the object of the society is ‘ to assist in the emancipation of all the slaves now in the United States.’ It is important that the philanthropists of that country should be undeceived, and that the real principles and designs of the Colonization Society should be there made known.” [152]

In pursuance of this mission Garrison sailed from New York, May 2, 1833. Twenty days later he landed in Liverpool. His arrival was opportune, for all England was watching the closing scene in the drama of West India Emancipation. He was an eye-witness of the crowning triumph of the English Abolitionists, viz., the breaking by Act of Parliament of the fetters of eight hundred thousand slaves. He was in time to greet his great spiritual kinsman, William Wilberforce, and to undeceive him in respect of the Colonization Society, before death claimed his body, and to follow him to his last resting-place by the side of Pitt and Fox, in Westminster Abbey.

A highly interesting incident of this visit is best told in Mr. Garrison's own words. He said:

On arriving in London I received a polite invitation by letter from Mr. Buxton to take breakfast with him. Presenting myself at the appointed time, when my name was announced, instead of coming forward promptly to take me by the hand, he scrutinized me from head to foot, and then inquired, “ Have I the pleasure of addressing Mr. Garrison, of Boston, in the United States?” “ Yes, sir,” I replied, “ I am he; and I am here in accordance with your invitation.” Lifting up his hands he exclaimed, “ Why, my dear sir, I thought you were a black man! And I have consequently invited this company of ladies and gentlemen to be present to welcome Mr. Garrison, the black advocate of emancipation, from the United States of America.” I have often said that that is the only compliment I have ever had paid to me that I care to remember or to tell of! For Mr. Buxton had somehow or other supposed that no white American [153] could plead for those in bondage as I had done, and therefore I must be black!

Garrison promptly threw down his challenge to Elliott Cresson, offering to prove him an impostor and the Colonization Society “corrupt in its principles, proscriptive in its measures, and the worst enemy of the free colored and slave population of the United States.” From the first it was apparent that Cresson did not mean to encounter the author of the “Thoughts” in public debate. Even a mouse when cornered will show fight, but there was no manly fight in Cresson. Garrison sent him a letter containing seven grave charges against his society, and dared him to a refutation of them in a joint discussion. This challenge was presented four times before the agent of colonization could be pursuaded to accept it. Garrison was bent on a joint public discussion between himself and Mr. Cresson. But Mr. Cresson was bent on avoiding his opponent. He skulked under one pretext or another from vindicating the colonization scheme from the seven-headed indictment preferred against it by the agent of the New England Anti-Slavery Society. As Cresson could not be driven into a joint discussion with him there was nothing left to Garrison but to go on without him. His arraignment and exposure of the society in public and private was thorough and overwhelming. He was indefatigable in the prosecution of this part of his mission. And his labor was not in vain. For in less than three months after his reaching England he had rendered the Colonization Society as odious there as his “Thoughts” had made it in America. The great body of the anti-slavery [154] sentiment in Great-Britain promptly condemned the spirit and object of the American Colonization Society. Such leaders as Buxton and Cropper “termed its objects diabolical;” while Zachary Macaulay, father of the historian, did not doubt that “the unchristian prejudice of color (which alone has given brith to the Colonizatian Society, though varnished over with other more plausible pretences, and veiled under a profession of a Christian regard for the temporal and spiritual interests of the negro which is belied by the whole course of its reasonings and the spirit of its measures) is so detestable in itself that I think it ought not to be tolerated, but, on the contrary, ought to be denounced and opposed by all humane, and especially by all pious persons in this country.”

The protest against the Colonization Society “signed by Wilberforce and eleven of the most distinguished Abolitionists in Great Britain,” including Buxton, Macaulay, Cropper, and Daniel O'Connell, showed how thoroughly Garrison had accomplished his mission. The protest declares, thanks to the teachings of the agent of the New England Anti-Slavery Society, that the colonization scheme “takes its roots from a cruel prejudice and alienation in the whites of America against the colored people, slave or free. This being its source the effects are what might be expected; that it fosters and increases the spirit of caste, already so unhappily predominant; that it widens the breach between the two racesexposes the colored people to great practical persecution, in order to force them to emigrate; and, finally, is calculated to swallow up and divert that feeling [155] which America, as a Christian and free country, cannot but entertain, that slavery is alike incompatible with the law of God and with the well-being of man, whether the enslaver or the enslaved.” The solemn conclusion of the illustrious signers of this mighty protest was that: “That society is, in our estimation, not deserving of the countenance of the British public.” This powerful instrument fell, as Garrison wrote at the time, “like a thunderbolt upon the society.” The damage inflicted upon it was immense, irreparable. The name of Thomas Clarkson was conspicuous by its absence from the protest. He could not be induced to take positive ground against the society. Garrison had visited him for this purpose. But the venerable philanthropist, who was then blind, had taken position on neutral ground, and conld not, after an interview of four hours, be induced to abandon it. But, fortunately, potent as the name of Clarkson would have been in opposition to the society, it was not indispensable to its overthrow in Great Britain. Garrison had won to his side “all the staunch anti-slavery spirits,” while Cresson was able to retain only “a few titled, wealthy, high-pretending individuals.”

The success of the mission was signal, its service to the movement against slavery in America manifold. Garrison writing from London to the board of managers, summarized the results produced by it as follows:

  • 1st, awakening a general interest among the friends of emancipation in this country, and securing their efficient cooperation with us in the abolition of slavery in the United States;
  • 2d, dispelling the mists with which the agent of the American [156] Colonization Society has blinded the eyes of benevolent men in relation to the design and tendency of the society;
  • 3d, enlisting able and eloquent advocates to plead our cause;
  • 4th, inducing editors of periodicals and able writers to give us the weight of their influence;
  • 5th, exciting a spirit of emulation in the redemption of our slave population among the numerous female anti-slavery societies;
  • 6th, procuring a large collection of anti-slavery documents, tracts, pamphlets, and volumes, which will furnish us with an inexhaustible supply of ammunition.

These were indeed some of the grand results of laborious weeks. His mission was ended. He was profoundly grateful to the good God for its success. The great movement which he had started against oppression in his own country was awaiting his aggressive leadership. He did not tarry abroad, therefore, but set sail from London August 18, 1833, for New York, where he landed six weeks later.

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