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Chapter 4: editorial Experiments.—1826-1828.

At the close of his apprenticeship, Garrison establishes in Newburyport the free Press, and brings Whittier to light. XVII

Although his own political sympathies and affiliations were with the Federalists and their successors, the Federal Republicans, it was Mr. Allen's effort so to conduct the Herald as to secure the good — will and patronage of all parties in the community, and the paper was classed as ‘independent,’ which signified in those days neutrality and a willingness to admit communications from both parties to its columns. So far was this from satisfying the Democrats of Newburyport and vicinity, however, that they tried, in 1824, to establish a newspaper of their own, under the title of the Northern Chronicler. The venture was unsuccessful, and the paper was sold, in June, 1825, to Isaac Knapp, 3rd, who changed its name to the Essex Courant and published it as a ‘neutral’ paper until the following spring, the last issue being dated March 16, 1826. The next week the paper underwent another change and appeared, on March 22, under the title of the Free Press, and with the name of Wm. L. Garrison as publisher in place of his friend Mr. Knapp, whose retirement on account of ill-health was announced in the final number of the Courant. Thus, within three months from the termination of his long apprenticeship in the Herald office, Garrison found himself the editor and publisher of a newspaper in his native town, and entered upon his new career full of confidence in his own abilities, and of hope that success would reward his effort to establish a bold and independent [60] journal. The venture was not made wholly on his own responsibility, Mr. Allen proving his faith in his favorite apprentice by advancing the money requisite for the purchase of the paper and its equipment; but this was done quietly and without the knowledge of others than the parties concerned. Mr. Garrison, who left Mr. Allen's home when his apprenticeship ended, and returned to Mrs. Farnham's, always gratefully remembered the kind friendship and encouragement of his old master, and declared that ‘a better father, a better1 master, a worthier citizen, or a man of more integrity, benevolence, and steadfastness of character’ did not, to his belief, exist.

The Free Press was a four-page sheet, measuring 11 3/8 x 17 1/2 inches to the printed page, and with five columns on a page; the subscription price was $2.00 a year.2 The very first number showed a marked improvement in typographical taste and arrangement over its predecessor the Courant, and indicated that the new editor had clearly-defined ideas as to the appropriate matter and make — up of a good newspaper. The first page was usually devoted to selected miscellany; the second to the proceedings of Congress and the State Legislature, foreign and domestic news, and the editorial department; while the third and fourth pages contained sundry items and paragraphs, the ship news, poetry column, advertisements, etc. The motto displayed under the title of the paper—‘Our Country, Our Whole Country, and Nothing but Our Country’—was somewhat different from that which the editor adopted for the Liberator, five years later. But he was now full of patriotism in its narrower sense, and the leading article in the initial number of the Free Press, occupying nearly two columns of the first page, was an impassioned argument and demand for the settlement by Congress of the ‘Massachusetts Claim,’ namely, for indemnification on account of the [61] sums advanced by that State for the defence of her own coast during the war of 1812. The claims of other (especially Southern) States had been promptly allowed and paid, while Massachusetts was compelled to plead and sue for hers year after year. The indignant young editor pursued the subject through several numbers of his paper, giving much space to the official correspondence and to the debates in Congress concerning the matter. Plus apud nos vera ratio valeat quam vulgi opinio was the quotation from Cicero which he prefixed to his articles, and the same declaration was embodied in his Salutatory to his patrons, which is here given in full:

It would seem uncourteous in the publisher, at this time,3 not to make a few remarks upon the course which he has marked out for himself. Youthful in years and experience, he has not the vanity to claim what belongs to riper age, or to presume that he is fitly qualified for the present task. But if an earnest desire to improve both the matter and the appearance of the paper; if a determination to pursue his favorite avocation with vigor and zeal; can claim a share of public indulgence and support, he trusts that his efforts will not be altogether vain.

As to the political course of the Free Press, it shall be, in the widest extent of the term, independent. The publisher does not mean, by this, to rank one amongst those who are of everybody's and of nobody's opinion; who forge their own fetters and cannot move beyond the length of their chains;—nor one, of whom the old French proverb says, “Il ne sait sur quel pied danser.” [He knows not on which leg to dance.] Its principles shall be open, magnanimous, and free. It shall be subservient to no party or body of men: and neither the craven fear of loss, nor the threats of the disappointed, nor the influence of power, shall ever awe one single opinion into silence. Honest and fair discussion it will court; and its columns will be open to all temperate and intelligent communications, emanating from whatever political source. In fine, he will say with Cicero: “Reason shall prevail with him more than popular opinion.” They who like this avowal may extend their encouragement; and if any feel dissatisfied with it, they must act accordingly. The publisher cannot condescend to solicit their support.


The keynote of his whole editorial career, which he struck thus clearly and unfalteringly at the very outset, was followed by a frank confession of the slender patronage which the paper was then receiving, and a hint that even the long-established and eminently respectable Herald had no very generous support:

‘We are free to acknowledge,’ the next paragraph read,4 ‘that our subscription-list is by no means bulky; and although infinitely better than Falstaff's ragged followers, yet unbecomingly stinted, considering the magnitude of the town. Perhaps in the whole United States an instance cannot be found, where, in a population of 7000, two papers are so feebly supported as in Newburyport. [Our brother of the Herald will perceive that we speak under the rosei.e., two words for ourselves, and one for him.] We will not pretend to unravel the cause, but if every little flourishing village can kindly cherish two newspapers, why may not a large commercial town afford the same encouragement?’

In the second number, the editor announced that his remarks on the Massachusetts Claim the preceeding week had brought him orders from ten indignant subscribers for the discontinuance of their papers, and he assured them that he erased their names from the list with the same pleasure which he felt in inserting more than an equal number in their place. They were doubtless Democrats (or ‘republicans,’ as they were then called) who had taken offence at his criticisms on Governors Eustis5 and Lincoln for their unsatisfactory conduct of the State's case against the National Government; and more followed their example a week or two later. ‘Neverthless, we repeat,’ said the editor, ‘our happiness at the loss of such subscribers is not a whit abated. We beg no man's patronage, and shall ever erase with the same cheerfulness that we insert the name of any individual. . . . Personal or political offence we shall studiously try to avoid—truth, never.’

The year 1826 was noteworthy as completing the first fifty years of the nation's independence; and the remarkable coincidence of the death of the two ex-Presidents [63] and signers of the Declaration, Adams and Jefferson, on the anniversary day, made a profound impression upon the country. The Free Press, like other papers, devoted much space to particulars of the event, biographical sketches, anecdotes and reminiscences of the deceased statesmen, and copious extracts from the eulogies pronounced by Webster, Cushing, and Peleg Sprague; but the editor, while paying tribute to the abilities, virtues, and public services of the two men, refrained from indiscriminate eulogy, and even took his late master to task for virtually canonizing, in the columns of the Herald, the man (Jefferson) whom he had formerly abhorred and denounced as the ‘Great Lama of Infidelity,’ to which charge of inconsistency Mr. Allen felt obliged to make a long reply in self-defence. Commenting on the labored panegyrics—some of them ‘disgusting, irreverent, and puerile, and all of them inflated and reprehensible,’ the Free Press said:

‘God has not gifted us with eloquence,—we therefore cannot eulogize: we have neither flattery, nor falsehood, nor hypocrisy, to bedaub the grave of either of these men. We love honesty too well to sacrifice it lightly, and must candidly confess that merely old age does not with us, as with many others, alter the deeds of manhood, or gild the errors of prejudice. From Mr. Jefferson's political sentiments we have ever differed; but his proud talents could not but command our admiration. Mr. Adams, perhaps, was the greater statesman —Mr. Jefferson, the better philosopher. The former had more caution—the latter more stability. The former was fickle to his friends—the latter firm and unchanging in his attachment. The former ruined his party by his weakness—the latter built up his own by his colossal strength. . . . Both doubtless were friends to their country—both erred—and both helped to advance the national character. . . . Let us be sparing of our panegyrics, recollecting that indiscriminate praise of the dead is often more injurious than the coarsest obloquy.’

The struggle for independence then going on in Greece excited wide interest and sympathy in the United States,6 and the reports from Dr. Howe and other Americans who [64] had gone to Greece either as spectators or participants in the conflict were eagerly printed. The Free Press copied from the New Hampshire Gazette a series of seventeen articles entitled ‘Views of Greece,’ by a Mr. Estwick Evans, who gave, it must be confessed, a rather dull and prosy account of his experiences in that country, with reflections on some of the Americans who had gone thither to proffer their aid, and who were popularly but erroneously supposed to be rendering valiant service in the cause of the struggling Greeks. These naturally elicited rejoinders in their defence, and sharp attacks on Mr. Evans, by the friends of the absent patriots, and in the ensuing discussion the Free Press sustained Evans, though differing from him on questions of home polities.

All of Mr. Garrison's editorials in the Free Press were set up by him at the case, without having first been written out on paper; and the ability to think with clearness and precision which he thus acquired was of great value to him then and in subsequent years. Indeed, a large part of the manual work on the paper was done by him, a boy being his only assistant. He discussed a variety of matters editorially, but they were chiefly of a political character, and his attention had not yet been directed to questions of reform. He copied, without editorial comment or reprobation, in his second number,7 that portion of Edward Everett's speech in Congress wherein the Massachusetts clergyman declared, that there was no cause in which he would sooner buckle a knapsack to his back, and put a musket to his shoulder, than the suppression of a servile insurrection at the South, and quoted the New Testament (‘Slaves, obey your Masters!’) in defence and justification of slavery. A few weeks later, however, he commended to his readers8 a poem on ‘Africa,’ just published and for sale at the local bookstores, and quoted a few passages from it in which the inconsistency and wickendness of tolerating slavery in the American republic were denounced in impassioned phrase. ‘We have perused [it] with heartfelt [65] satisfaction,’ the editor said, ‘and would recommend it to all those who wish to cherish female genius, and whose best feelings are enlisted in the cause of the poor oppressed sons of Africa. It is the production of a young lady of fine talents, whose circumstances are far from being affluent, but whose pen should never be idle while it continues to glow with sentiments like the following.’ It is interesting to observe that this first indication of Mr. Garrison's giving any thought to the slavery question was elicited by the writing of a woman, and a single extract will show how well calculated it was to make an impression on his mind and conscience:

Is it a dream?
Or do I hear a voice of dreadful import,
The wild and mingling groans of writhing millions,
Calling for vengeance on my guilty land?
Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes
A fount of tears!—Columbia! in thy bosom
Can slavery dwell?—Then is thy fame a lie!
Can Oppression lift his hideous, gorgon head
Beneath the eye of freedom?—Oh my country!
This deep anathema—this direst evil,
“Like a foul blot on thy dishonored brow,”
Mars all thy beauty; and thy far-famed glory
Is but a gilded toy, for fools to play with!
For in the mock'ry of thy boasted freedom
Thou smil'st, with deadly joy, on human woe!
Thy soul is nourished with tears and blood, Columbia!
O let the deepest blush of honest shame
Crimson thy cheek! for vile Oppression walks
Within thy borders!—rears his brazen front
'Neath thy unchiding eye!

The next editorial reference to the subject is found at the conclusion of an article on the approaching ‘Fourth of July,’ in which, after reviewing the wonderful progress, material and intellectual, of the nation, during its first fifty years, and rehearsing the causes for gratitude and thanksgiving, Mr. Garrison adds:

‘Thus much for the favorable side of the picture. But are9 there no dark shades to be seen? Is there nothing to fear for our [66] future safety? While, on the one hand, imaginary evils may be called up, on the other, we cannot be too Argus-eyed to detect real ones. Upon this point we conceive that our 4th of July Orators generally fail. Their orations should be composed, not merely of rhapsodies upon the deeds of our fathers —of a tame repetition of the wrongs which they suffered, of ceaseless apostrophes to liberty, and fierce denunciations of tyranny—but they should also abound with wholesome political axioms and reflections—the rock should be pointed out upon which other nations have split—the pruning-knife should lop off every excrescence of vanity—and our follies and virtues should be skilfully held up in equal light. There is one theme which should be dwelt upon, till our whole country is free from the curse—it is slavery.’

These slight allusions to the theme which afterwards engrossed his life are all that can be detected in the editorial columns of the Free Press during Mr. Garrison's conduct of it. The most important episode of his editorial career in Newburyport remains to be described.

With the exception of the first number, in which Percival's poem on ‘New England’ was given the place of honor, each issue of the Free Press contained one or more of Mrs. Hemans's poems; and without these it is doubtful if the editor would have attempted to give a column of poetry every week. Very few original poems were sent to him that were worth printing, but in the twelfth number of his paper there appeared some verses entitled ‘The Exile's Departure,’ of which the first will suffice to show the measure and quality:

Fond scenes, which delighted my youthful existence,10
     With feelings of sorrow I bid ye adieu—
A lasting adieu! for now, dim in the distance,
     The shores of Hibernia recede from my view.
Farewell to the cliffs, tempest-beaten and grey.
     Which guard the lov'd shores of my own native land;
Farewell to the village and sail-shadow'd bay,
     The forest-crown'd hill and the water-wash'd strand.

They were signed ‘W., Haverhill, June 1, 1826,’ and a note on the preceding page indicated that the editor had received them with unusual satisfaction: [67]

If “W.,” at Haverhill, will continue to favor us with pieces, beautiful as the one inserted in our poetical department of to-day, we shall esteem it a favor.

The manner in which this came to him, and his immediate search for the author, are best described in Mr. Garrison's own words:

Going upstairs to my office, one day, I observed a letter11 lying near the door, to my address; which, on opening, I found to contain an original piece of poetry for my paper, the Free Press. The ink was very pale, the handwriting very small; and, having at that time a horror of newspaper “original poetry,” —which has rather increased than diminished with the lapse of time,—my first impulse was to tear it in pieces, without reading it; the chances of rejection, after its perusal, being as ninety-nine to one; . . . but, summoning resolution to read it, I was equally surprised and gratified to find it above mediocrity, and so gave it a place in my journal. . . . As I was anxious to find out the writer, my post-rider one day divulged the secret—stating that he had dropped the letter in the manner described, and that it was written by a Quaker lad, named Whittier, who was daily at work on the shoemaker's bench, with hammer and lapstone, at East Haverhill. Jumping into a vehicle, I lost no time in driving to see the youthful rustic bard, who came into the room with shrinking diffidence, almost unable to speak, and blushing like a maiden. Giving him some words of encouragement, I addressed myself more particularly to his parents, and urged them with great earnestness to grant him every possible facility for the development of his remarkable genius.

We continue the narrative from an editorial article in the National Philanthropist, still in Mr. Garrison's own12 words:

‘Almost as soon as he could write, he [Whittier] gave evidence of the precocity and strength of his poetical genius, and when unable to procure paper and ink, a piece of chalk or charcoal was substituted. He indulged his propensity for rhyming with so much secrecy, (as his father informed us,) that it was only by removing some rubbish in the garret, where he had concealed his manuscripts, that the discovery was made. This bent of his mind was discouraged by his parents: they were in indigent circumstances, and unable to give him a suitable [68] education, and they did not wish to inspire him with hopes which might never be fulfilled. . . . We endeavored to speak cheeringly of the prospects of their son; we dwelt upon the impolicy of warring against nature, of striving to quench the first kindlings of a flame which might burn like a star in our literary horizon—and we spoke too of fame— “Sir,” replied his father, with an emotion which went home to our bosom like an electric shock, “poetry will not give him bread.” What could we say? The fate of Chatterton, Otway, and the whole catalogue of those who had perished by neglect, rushed upon our memory, and—we were silent.’

The mischief was done, however, and the youthful poet (whose eldest sister had sent ‘The Exile's Departure’ to the Free Press office without his knowledge), having now seen his own verses in print, and received warm encouragement from the editor, contributed thereafter to almost every number of the paper so long as Mr. Garrison retained control of it. Two weeks after the publication of Whittier's first poem, a second, in blank verse, entitled ‘The Deity,’ appeared, with an editorial13 paragraph declaring that his poetry bore the stamp of true poetic genius, which, if carefully cultivated, would rank him among the bards of his country. Other pieces followed, on such themes as ‘The Vale of the Merrimack,’ ‘The Death of Alexander,’ ‘The Voice of Time,’ ‘The Burial of the Princess Charlotte of Wales,’ ‘To the Memory of William Penn,’ ‘The Shipwreck,’ ‘Paulowna,’ ‘Memory,’ ‘Benevolence,’ etc., but they are so little above mediocrity that it is not easy to see wherein Mr. Garrison so instantly discovered the stamp of genius and the presage of future distinction as a poet; and Mr. Whittier has never deemed them worth including in his collected poems.

The copy of the Free Press containing his first poem was flung to the boy Whittier by the carrier or postrider, one day, while he was helping his uncle Moses repair a stone wall by the roadside; and, stopping for a moment to open and glance at it, he was so dazed and bewildered by seeing his lines in print, that he stared at [69] them without the ability to read, until his uncle had finally to recall him to his senses and his work. Again and again, however, he would steal a glance at the paper to assure himself that he had not been mistaken. Subsequently, when Mr. Garrison (accompanied by a friend) sought out his new contributor, the boy was again at work in the field, barefooted, and clad only in shirt, pantaloons, and straw hat; and on being summoned to the house by his sister, he slipped in at the back door in order to put on his shoes and coat before presenting himself shyly and awkwardly to the visitors, whose errand was as yet unknown to him. Before Mr. Garrison had spoken more than a few encouraging words to him, the father appeared on the scene, anxious to learn the motive of this unusual call. ‘Is this Friend Whittier?’ was the inquiry. ‘Yes,’ he responded. ‘We want to see you about your son.’ ‘Why, what has the boy been doing?’ he asked anxiously, and was visibly relieved to learn that the visit was one of friendly interest, merely.

To the young Quaker lad, then in his nineteenth year, it was a most important event, determining his career, for the encouragement he now received from Mr. Garrison, aided by the latter's impressive appeal to his parents, gave him his first resolution to get a good education. By sewing slippers at the shoemaker's bench, he earned enough to pay for his tuition at the Haverhill Academy the following spring. The next winter he taught school, and was thus enabled to pay for another six months instruction at the Academy. His subsequent introducttion to an editorial career continuing several years, and giving him valuable experience if not much pecuniary profit, was also brought about by Mr. Garrison, as will be hereafter related, and thus began a life-long and unbroken friendship.

The Free Press of September 14, 1826, completed the sixth month of the paper's existence, and the editor, in mentioning the fact, stated that the encouragement received had equalled his expectations. ‘He was well [70] aware,’ he added, referring to the inception of the paper, ‘of the difficulty of satisfactorily conducting a weekly journal—of infusing into its columns a lively and continued interest—and of presenting a full and accurate view of passing events; but he was not discouraged. Independent of political feelings, he has the vanity to believe that his selections have generally given satisfaction, and that the paper has proved an equivalent for its price.’ In another column, however, he advertised that, ‘influenced by considerations of importance only to himself, and wishing to alter his present line of business,’ he offered his establishment, with its attending privileges, at a reasonable price, if purchase be made immediately; and the following week he announced the sale and transfer of the paper to Mr. John H. Harris. This gentleman, who was encouraged to come from another town and embark in the enterprise, hoped, by reversing the polities of the paper once more, to recover the support of the Republican subscribers whom Mr. Garrison had lost. An immediate change of front took place, and instead of the Hon. John Varnum, whom Mr. Garrison had urged, in his last number, for election to Congress from that district, the Free Press now ardently advocated the claims of Caleb Cushing, his opponent. But this attempt to galvanize and keep the paper alive utterly failed, and at the end of three months its publication ceased. Mr. Garrison's valedictory, on surrendering the paper, was as follows:

The establishment of a free press in Newburyport—one14 open to all parties and bound down to none—was an event which could not fail to offend and to surprise. This is a timeserving age; and he who attempts to walk uprightly or speak honestly, cannot rationally calculate upon speedy wealth or preferment. Men had rather be flattered than reproved— compliments are palatable, but plain, homely truths cannot be digested. The Editor who lashes public follies and vices, who strips deception of its borrowed garb, and aims his shafts at corruption, may be accused of arrogance and unchastened zeal —of hatred, and malice, and envy—of an unforgiving, uncharitable, [71] intemperate spirit—but he will hardly be praised for his labors. If the tone of the Free Press has sometimes given offence by its frankness, that frankness has also secured it many friends: if the lash has been occasionally misapplied, it has more frequently scourged the intended victims: if many have discontinued, more have filled their places. The present transfer has been made, not because any high expectations have not been realized, but for other inducements.

As the Massachusetts Claim was the first object of the subscriber's attention, so also shall it be the last. The swift approach of the next session of Congress brings this claim, in all its aggravated neglect, to memory, and demands a solemn consideration. The insults which have been so repeatedly heaped upon this State, are enough to stir the spirit of every man who scorns to be a slave. It is not the paltry sum of $800,000, nor that the Commonwealth is reduced to beggary, that causes this emotion: but it is the long, deliberate, intentional injustice exercised towards a State whose services are based on the same foundation as those of sister States. The claims of Georgia, Maryland, Virginia, etc., have been promptly liquidated, while poor Massachusetts, in spite of her confession, recantation, and pardon,—in spite of her sacrifices and toils,—has her just dues withheld, and gets nothing! When the rights of a State are disregarded, it is time for the people to lay aside political distinctions, and unitedly to demand redress. This is a question of right—and it must be heard. If another session of Congress prove indifferent to this matter, a note of remonstrance may hereafter be made that “will reach every log-house beyond the mountains.” There is a point beyond which forbearance cannot pass, and submission would be criminal.

The retirement of Mr. Garrison from the Free Press elicited an expression of regret from the Boston Courier (then edited by Joseph T. Buckingham) that he had been compelled to relinquish a paper which he had conducted with so much ‘talent, judgment and good sense;’ a compliment much appreciated by the recipient, who found it rather trying to his pride to descend from a position which had given him some degree of dignity and influence, and to resume work as journeyman printer. He remained only three months longer in Newburyport; [72] long enough, however, to become enrolled as a member of the local Artillery Company,15 and to take part in the political campaign of that fall, the chief feature of which was the exciting contest between Mr. Varnum and Mr. 16 Cushing. In addition to writing articles in the Herald and in Salem and Haverhill papers, he ventured to speak in a public meeting of Mr. Cushing's adherents in Newburyport, delivering a seathing rebuke of their candidate which excited great wrath. His opposition to the man whom he had once ardently admired, and to whose friendly encouragement he owned himself indebted, was based partly on the ground that the latter was seeking to defeat the regularly nominated Federal candidate, but more particularly on a certain questionable proceeding which he was accused of having resorted to, for the purpose of exalting himself over his competitor, and which led to his own overwhelming defeat.

Mr. Garrison's first visit to Boston, when on his way to Baltimore, has been described in the preceding chapter. His second journey to that city was made during the summer of 1826, while he was conducting the Free Press, and was even more unsatisfactory than the first. Unable to afford the expense of the stage fares both ways, he and his friend Isaac Knapp, with two other companions, started on foot, one intensely hot afternoon, and reached Salem (twenty-four miles distant) that night. A pair of tight boots made the walk a most painful one to Garrison, and so fatiguing was it to the others that he and Knapp were left to continue the journey alone, the next day, their friends preferring to take the stage. The pedestrians spent a whole day in walking the remaining fourteen miles to Boston, and the tight boots caused such badly blistered feet that, after a night of torture at the inn where they stayed, a retreat to Newburyport by stage the next day, without [73] any attempt at sight-seeing, was resolved upon. Garrison's feet were lame and sore for months in consequence of this adventure.

In the following December, having settled the affairs17of the Free Press so far as his connection with it extended, Mr. Garrison left Newburyport and went to Boston to seek employment. Without means, and almost without an acquaintance in the city, he took refuge at first with a printer named Bennett, who had some18 time previously printed a translation of Cicero's Orations in Mr. Allen's office, and who was now printing the Massachusetts Weekly Journal, of which David Lee Child19 was the editor. Bennett kept a boarding-house in Scott Court, leading from Union Street, and kindly allowed his young friend to remain with him until he could obtain work and the means to pay his board,—no easy matter at first, for business was dull and many were out of employment. Mr. Garrison went from office to office, day after day, and week after week, seeking a situation; but nearly a month passed before he succeeded in obtaining a foothold in the office of Lilley & Waite. During the year 1827 he worked in several offices, among them a stereotype foundery on Salem Street, Deacon Samuel Greele's (or Baker & Greele's) type foundery on Congress Street, John H. Eastburn's book and job office, also on Congress Street, and the office of the Massachusetts Weekly Journal, above mentioned.

Though compelled to work hard for a livelihood, his interest in politics was unabated, and when a caucus of the Federal party was convened in July, at the Exchange20 Coffee House, to nominate a Representative to Congress to succeed Mr. Webster, who had just been promoted to the Senate, he attended it. The ‘slate’ had already been [74] arranged by the leaders for the nomination of Benjamin Gorham, a highly respectable lawyer; but Mr. Garrison, who had lost none of his admiration for Harrison Gray Otis, and none of his chagrin and vexation over the latter's defeat by Governor Eustis, four years before, felt21 that the time had now come for the vindication of the great Federal leader, and that he should be chosen to the seat vacated by Mr. Webster. He accordingly wrote a carefully studied speech advocating his nomination, which he attempted to commit to memory, and then going to the caucus he seized an early opportunity to mount a bench and speak, as if extemporaneously. His memory or his confidence soon failed him, and he broke down; but the encouraging applause of his hearers evinced the interest and sympathy which his first words had excited, and, pulling his manuscript from his hat, he proceeded to read his speech to its conclusion. A strong sentiment in favor of Mr. Otis was at once developed, only one speaker undertaking to oppose him, from dissatisfaction with Mr. Otis's position on the question of the Tariff, or, as it was then styled, the ‘American System.’ The leaders felt that they could not ignore the manifest disposition to nominate him, and the caucus was accordingly adjourned for three days to allow time for consultation and an interview with Mr. Otis, who absolutely declined the overture, and the original programme was then harmoniously carried our.

A brief newspaper controversy ensued between Mr. Garrison and his opponent (who signed himself ‘S.’) in the columns of the Courier, the former taking the 22 initiative in a sharp rebuke of the latter for introducing ‘local interests and sectional prejudices’ to ‘a political assembly of high-minded, intelligent Federalists,’ by threatening to withhold his vote from the nominee of the caucus if he should not reflect his views on the Tariff. In this communication, which bore the thinly disguised signature of ‘G—n,’ Mr. Garrison undertook to explain his own views on the vexed question which was beginning [75] to divide parties and create lasting dissensions. While captivated by the protection theory and the plausible arguments in favor of the ‘American System,’ he sympathized also with the fears of the commercial classes that a high tariff would seriously cripple their interests, and so he rather vaguely expressed himself as strongly ‘in favor of commerce and against an exorbitant tariff’—an ‘equilibrium’ which he admitted the difficulty of maintaining. ‘The great desideratum, therefore,’ he concluded, ‘is to find that medium in national policy which shall whiten every ocean with our canvas, and erect a manufactory by every favorable stream.’

In a brief rejoinder to this letter, his antagonist ‘S.’ showed that he had not yet recovered from the shock caused him by the audacious interference of the young man at the caucus:

Under the head of “Representative election,” I observed a23 communication in your paper of yesterday, to which I will make a few brief and final remarks, and then leave it to Mr. G——n's own conscience to say whether he can or cannot speak or write himself into notice, as I conceive this to be the young gentleman's object.

After the organization of a primary meeting of Federalists, on the evening of the 9th inst., Mr. G——n first arose and addressed the electors with much verbosity, until his ideas became exhausted, when he had recourse to his hat, which appeared to be well filled with copious notes, from which he drew liberally, to make (for aught I know) his maiden speech. An inquiry went round the room to know who the speaker was; with some difficulty I found out his name; but he shortly after discovered himself, by saying he had resided in this metropolis six months—six whole months. He proceeded on, and with extreme modesty took the liberty to designate a candidate for member of Congress, to take the place of Mr. Webster. It is very true that the gentleman he named stands high in the estimation of the public, and were not his opinions on the tariff not made up, I should be very happy to see him in the councils of our nation. I objected to him on that ground alone: was it so extraordinary that I should candidly object, as that he (Mr. G——n) should, with consummate assurance, take upon himself to make the first nomination to the respectable electors [76] then present, contrary to all usage and custom at primary caucuses? It has ever been the invariable rule at such meetings, never to make a nomination till a vote has been passed to that effect, and the nomination called for. If the young gentleman of six months standing had possessed more information on the subject, he would have known that politics had less weight with a great number of gentlemen who assembled, than the tariff and anti-tariff question, and that there were present gentlemen on both sides, pledged to their own measures. I can assure the gentleman that his enmity or favor, his good or bad opinion of me, is not a matter of the smallest consequence; and permit me to observe further, that it is revolting to my ideas of propriety, to see a stranger, a man who never paid a tax in our city, and perhaps nowhere else, to possess the impudence to take the lead and nominate a candidate for the electros of Boston.


The Courier of the following day contained a prompt answer to this communication, from which the following extracts are worth subjoining, both for the conscious power betrayed in the first paragraph, and for the expressions of admiration for Harrison Gray Otis:

I sympathize with the gentleman in the difficulty which he24 found to learn my cognomination. It is true that my acquaintance in this city is limited—I have sought for none. Let me assure him, however, that if my life be spared, my name shall one day be known to the world,—at least to such extent that common inquiry shall be unnecessary. This, I know, will be deemed excessive vanity—but time shall prove it prophetic.

It gives me pain, sir, to accuse your correspondent of wilful misrepresentation; but his assertion is too broad to pass unrefuted. I did not take upon myself to make the first nomination to the respectable electors' of Boston. Again and again I disclaimed any intention of biassing their predilections. The eulogy upon Mr. Otis may have been gratuitous, and out of place; this is not for me to determine, though I am half inclined to coincide with the gentleman; but to the latest hour of my life, I shall rejoice that I was permitted publicly to express my sentiments in favor of a man who has my strongest affections, in unison with those of the whole Federal party. So far from believing, however, (for obvious reasons,) that this distinguished [77] individual would be put in nomination, I went to the meeting with an expectation of no such result. Yet, sir, this belief did injustice to the wishes of a large majority of the electors present— they wanted Mr. Otis,—no other man could have been nominated. Disguise his feelings as he may, it was the strong evidence of this fact—it was the emphatic voice of a whole assembly, and not my feeble echo,—that alarmed the selfishness and roused the hostility of your querulous correspondent. . . .

The little, paltry sneers at my youth, by your correspondent, have long since become pointless. It is the privileged abuse of old age—the hackneyed allegation of a thousand centuries—the damning crime to which all men have been subjected. I leave it to metaphysicians to determine the precise moment when wisdom and experience leap into existence,— when, for the first time, the mind distinguishes truth from error, selfishness from patriotism, and passion from reason. It is sufficient for me that I am understood. . . .

If, sir, the gentleman will call on me in person, I will satisfy him that I have ‘paid taxes’ elsewhere, if not for a few months' residence in this city. I admire his industry in searching the books of the Treasurer—it speaks well for his patriotism; and, to relieve him from further inquiries, I promise to become a legal voter with all commendable haste.

The hours which should be devoted to labor, Mr. Editor, allow me little time to indulge in newspaper essays. Poverty and misfortune are hard masters, and cannot be bribed by the magic of words. However, I am willing to sacrifice one meal,25 at least, in order that justice may be done to the “tariff and anti-tariff question,” which your correspondent has submitted to my consideration. It shall be done some time previous to the election. I do not pretend to much information on this subject; but, to my perception, there appears but one great interest to be involved, one straightforward liberal policy to be pursued, one cause to be maintained, one generous desire to be gratified.


The promised article on the tariff followed a few days26 later, and was a defence of the policy which was expected to make the republic independent of Great Britain and other nations, and able, by the development of its resources and industries, to supply all its own wants.

Although at first appalled by the size and apparent intricacy of the city, and confused by its turmoil, Mr. [78] Garrison became much attached to Boston, and greatly enjoyed the advantages and opportunities which city life afforded him. While remaining firm in the Baptist faith, he yet delighted to listen to the preaching of Lyman Beecher, in Hanover-Street Church, to William Ellery Channing, in Federal Street, and to John Pierpont, in Hollis Street; and though he grieved that the two last-named divines were so unsound in their theological views, and wandered so far from the true faith, he had unbounded admiration for their intellectual ability, and profound respect for their personal character. Occasionally, too, he would go to Dr. Malcolm's church, for the sake of seeing the lovely face of Miss Emily Marshall, whose fame as the belle of Boston at that day was national, and whose goodness of heart and simple, unaffected ways were universally admitted and praised. Many young men were led to worship at Dr. Malcolm's by the same attraction, and it was a matter of daily occurrence for them to promenade up and down Franklin Street, where her parents lived, in the hope of getting a glimpse of her, even at her window.27

The public holidays also presented new scenes of interest and enjoyment to the young printer, and when, a few years later, he was incarcerated in Baltimore jail, he employed some of his leisure hours in recounting in verse his recollections of ‘training days’ on Boston [79] Common. His love for the city itself is betrayed in the last of the three verses quoted below:

I always like a Boston carnival—28
     And nothing better than “election week” ;
It comes to all a happy annual—
     ('Tis not too late, in June, its scenes to seek;)
Schools are vacated—crowded is the mall
     With roguish boys, who Latin learn and Greek;
Senate and House are there—per diem pay
     Three dollars. Who on such terms would not play?

Light infantry parade, and that artillery
     Whose cognomen is “honorable and Ancient” ;
The ladies form a beautiful auxiliary,
     Fairer than summer flowers, and quite as transient;
And so they'd flock in crowds around a pillory—
     Most strange to tell! without a voice dissentient:
These creatures have a boundless curiosity,
     And are as noted for their fine verbosity.

I went to see the show in '27–
     To be precise, about four years ago;
(I think if our first parents had been driven
     From Paradise to Boston, their deep woe
Had lost its keenness—no place under heaven,
     For worth or loveliness, had pleased them so;
Particularly if they had resided
     In that fine house for David Sears29 provided.)

After staying awhile with Bennett, Mr. Garrison changed his abode and went to board with the Rev. William Colier, a Baptist city missionary, who lived at No. 30 Federal Street (on the east side), near Milk. To Mr. Collier belongs the credit of having established the first paper in the world devoted mainly to the temperance cause, and advocating total abstinence from the use of intoxicating liquors. On the 4th of March, 1826, the same month in which Mr. Garrison began his editorial career on the Free Press, the first number of the [80] National Philanthropist, ‘devoted to the suppression of intemperance and its kindred vices, and to the promotion of industry, education, and morality,’ was issued by Mr. Collier. Its motto was a new and startling one, —‘Moderate Drinking is the Downhill Road to Intemperance and Drunkenness,’—and it had, at the outset, the indorsement of the ‘Massachusetts Society for the Suppression of Intemperance,’ the first State temperance society formed in America. The temperance movement, however, was then in its infancy, and the paper, like all reformatory journals, had a meagre support. Its printer, Nathaniel H. White, also boarded at Mr. Collier's, and shared Mr. Garrison's room, and after a time the latter went into the office of the Philanthropist to set type. The paper (a four-page sheet, with four columns to the page) was then published at No. 11, Merchants' Hall, on the northeast corner of Congress and Water Streets. The post-office occupied the lower story of the building.

On the 4th of January, 1828, the editorship of the paper was intrusted to Mr. Garrison, but his name did not appear in connection with it until three months later, when Mr. Collier sold the paper to White, who formally announced the change and placed the names of himself and Garrison at the head of the paper, as proprietor and editor respectively. The number of columns was increased from sixteen to twenty in January, and the size of the page was still further enlarged in April, while an immediate improvement in the make — up and appearance of the sheet was perceptible from the day when the new editor assumed control. Still more marked were the new vigor infused into the paper, the bold and aggressive tone of its editorials, and the practical methods suggested and urged for the furtherance of the temperance cause. Its friends were reminded that they ought to acquaint the public, through the Philanthropist, with the meetings held and the work done in their localities, and an earnest appeal was made for their cooperation in [81] promptly reporting such in its columns. Voters were urged to scrutinize the moral character of candidates for office, and the necessity for concerted action on the part of temperance men in polities was emphasized. The custom of ‘company-treating,’ as the furnishing of liquor to the militia on training days was called, was then universal, and scenes of drunkenness and debauchery were naturally the result. The Philanthropist vigorously assailed it, and the editor wrote an ‘Address to the Privates of Militia and Independent Companies,’ to be read aloud to such as were willing to consider the subject. Until that year, licensed vendors of intoxicating drinks were permitted to sell them freely at booths and tables on Boston Common, on public holidays; and the order of the Mayor and Aldermen prohibiting it appeared in the Philanthropist, as did also a portion of an admirable and courageous address by the Rev. John Pierpont on the evils of the militia system, and the uselessness and inefficiency of military musters. Mr. Garrison listened with delight to this address, delivered before the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company, which had incautiously invited Mr. Pierpont to preach the annual sermon for that year.

The universal use of intoxicating liquors on almost every occasion where men assembled together, sixty years ago, can be faintly indicated now by the statement that, aside from the constantly proffered social glass, a house was hardly ever erected, or a ship built, without rum being furnished to the neighbors who came to help raise the frame or lay the keel; and it was even served to the men who worked on the roads in country towns. So established was this custom, that every departure from it, in consequence of an awakened and reformed public sentiment, was deemed worthy of special note and rejoicing by the Philanthropist, which urged employers to dismiss intemperate men from their service and take only those whose sobriety could be relied upon. The editor also pointed out the criminality of professed [82] Christians who participated in the liquor traffic, though he was hardly prepared at first to indorse a suggestion that total abstinence be made ‘a covenant engagement by the churches.’ Almost every number recorded the formation of some new temperance society, and in the fourth month of his editorship Mr. Garrison gave, in a prospectus of the third volume, a resume of the progress made and the work accomplished since the establishment of the paper:

Two years have elapsed since the Philanthropist was 30 established for the purpose of checking a vice which had become predominant over every other in our country—horrible in its nature, alarming in its extent, and threatening the stability of our best institutions. Prior to that period, nothing comparatively was heard on the subject of intemperance—it was seldom a theme for the essayist—the newspapers scarcely acknowledged its existence, excepting occasionally in connection with some catastrophes or crimes—the Christian and patriot, while they perceived its ravages, formed no plans for its overthrow—and it did not occur to any that a paper, devoted mainly to its suppression, might be made a direct and successful engine in the great work of reform. Private expostulation and individual confession were indeed sometimes made; but no systematic efforts were adopted to give precision to the views or a bias to the sentiments of the people.

When this paper was first proposed, it met with a repulsion which would have utterly discouraged a less zealous and persevering man than our predecessor.—The moralist looked on doubtfully—the whole community esteemed the enterprise desperate. Mountains of prejudice, overtopping the Alps, were to be beaten down to a level—strong interests, connected by a thousand links, severed—new habits formed— every house, every family, and almost every individual, in a greater or less degree, reclaimed. Division and contumely were busy in crushing this sublime project in its birth— coldness and apathy encompassed it on every side—but our predecessor nevertheless went boldly forward with a giant's strength and more than a giant's heart—conscious of difficulties and perils, though not disheartened—armed with the weapons of truth—full of meekness, yet certain of a splendid victory—and relying on the promises of God for the issue. By extraordinary efforts, and under appalling disadvantages, [83] the first number was presented to the public; and since that time it has gradually expanded in size, and increased in circulation, till doubt, and prejudice, and ridicule, have been swept away.

Nor is this all. The change which has taken place in public sentiment is indeed remarkable—almost without a parallel in the history of moral exertions—incorporated as intemperance was, and still is, into our very existence as a people. . . . A regenerating spirit is everywhere seen; a strong impulse to action has been given, which, beginning in the breasts of a few individuals, and then affecting villages, and cities, and finally whole States, has rolled onward triumphantly through the remotest sections of the republic. As union and example are the levers adapted to remove this gigantic vice, Temperance Societies have been rapidly multiplied, many on the principle of entire abstinence, and others making it a duty to abstain from encouraging the distillation and consumption of spirituous liquors. Expressions of the deep abhorrence and sympathy which are felt in regard to the awful prevalence of drunkenness are constantly emanating from legislative bodies down to various religious conventions, medical associations, grand juries, &c., &c.—But nothing has more clearly evinced the strength of this excitement than the general interest taken in this subject by the conductors of the press. From Maine to the Mississippi, and as far as printing has penetrated—even among the Cherokee Indians—but one sentiment seems to pervade the public papers—viz.: the necessity of strenuous exertion for the suppression of intemperance. A diversity of opinion may exist as to the best mode of operation, but all agree in the extent and virulence of the disease. This is a mere synopsis of the result of two years exertion—and what hopes does it not raise, what pledge not give, of the ultimate triumph of good principles?

Notwithstanding this record of successful effort, the paper had a hard struggle for existence and was never self-supporting. The repeated enlargements and improvements were made in the hope of securing a larger constituency; the editor received very small remuneration; and to escape one burdensome expense, correspondents were warned that their communications would not be taken from the post-office unless the postage thereon [84] was prepaid. Temperance was by no means the only subject to which the Philanthropist gave consideration, but such question as lotteries, imprisonment for debt, peace, and the ‘desecration of the Sabbath’ by the transportation of mails and of passengers on that day, were constantly discussed in its columns. The last theme especially engaged the attention of the editor, whose orthodox training led him to regard ‘Sabbath mails’ with severe reprobation. Infidelity also came in for his frequent denunciation, and he commented approvingly on the communication of a correspondent who thought that ‘the surest method to suppress intemperance and its kindred vices’ was to ‘suppress infidelity and irreligion.’ When a gathering of professed Infidels took place in New York, language almost failed to express his amazement and horror:

‘It is impossible,’ he said, ‘to estimate the depravity and31 wickedness of those who, at the present day, reject the gospel of Jesus Christ, when the proofs of its divine origin have been accumulating for eighteen centuries till the mass of evidence exceeds computation—when its blessed influence is penetrating the lands where thick darkness dwells, conquering the prejudices, and customs, and opinions of the people—and when it has acquired a grandeur of aspect, a breadth of expansion, a vividness of glory, and an increase of moral strength, which stamps upon it the impress of Divinity in such legible characters that to doubt is impiety—to reject, the madness of folly.’

A few weeks later, however, he was compelled, in referring to the Peace question, to admit that a profession of Christianity did not make men perfect or consistent, and to lament as astonishing and unaccountable the indifference so generally manifested by Christians to the subject of war. ‘They have been guilty,’ he declared, ‘of a neglect which no discouragement, no excuse, no inadequacy can justify.’ Why is it, he asked, that ‘by far the larger portion of the 32 professed followers of the Lamb have maintained a careless, passive neutrality? . . . . There are, in fact, few [85] reasoning Christians; the majority of them are swayed more by the usages of the world than by any definite perception of what constitutes duty—so far, we mean, as relates to the subjugation of vices which are incorporated, as it were, into the existence of society; else why is it that intemperance, and slavery, and war, have not ere this in a measure been driven from our land? Is there not Christian influence enough here, if properly concentrated, to accomplish these things? Skepticism itself cannot be at a loss to answer this question.’

It was of course important that the Philanthropist, as a journal of temperance and reform, should keep aloof from party politics, and Mr. Garrison endeavored to bear this constantly in mind; but that it cost him, with his ardent interest in political questions, some effort to do so, was apparent from an occasional paragraph or editorial defending Henry Clay against attacks made upon him, or urging voters to support Governor Lincoln for reelection, or commending the new ‘American System’; and one correspondent even took him to task for publishing an extract from Mr. Webster's speech on internal improvements. The Philanthropist, like the Free Press, reported the State and Congressional legislation, and gave a summary of foreign and domestic news. For a time, also, the suicides, fires, crimes, and disasters attributable to intemperance were effectively grouped each week.

In the fifth month of his editorship Mr. Garrison published a series of three editorials on ‘Female Influence,’ in which he expressed his surprise that more effort had not been made to enlist the active support and cooperation of women in promoting the temperance cause. The power of their influence and example was pointed out, the extent to which they and their children suffered as the innocent victims of the terrible scourge of intemperance was eloquently pictured, and their duty to do everything in their power to banish the intoxicating cup from their tables and homes enforced. Finally, the formation [86] of women's temperance societies was urged; and Mr. Garrison, confessing his ignorance whether any were then in existence, promised to send the Philanthropist regularly and gratuitously to each society of not less than twelve members that had already been or might thereafter be formed. This offer developed the fact that such societies already existed in three Massachusetts towns, and led to the formation of others, the suggestion meeting with a speedy response. The incident is worth noting as showing the young reformer's early appreciation of the value of women's aid in any moral enterprise, and his quick instinct in enlisting them in the support of whatever cause he espoused.

In April, 1828, he invited subscriptions to a volume of poems by Whittier, which it was proposed to publish at Haverhill in order to raise money for the education of the Quaker lad, but the project was subsequently abandoned. The poet was now writing under the name of ‘Adrian,’ and his productions appeared in the Haverhill Gazette, with the editor of which he boarded while attending the winter term of the Academy. Speaking of his verses and of the youth of the writer, Mr. Garrison said:

‘There is nothing feeble or puerile, however, in his num-33 bers; he does not deal in ornament, or betray what Junius calls the “melancholy madness of poetry” ; but his verse combines purity of sentiment with finish of execution. Notwithstanding the numberless difficulties which surround his path, the ardor of his disposition remains undiminished; and considering the slender advantages he has enjoyed, his case is indeed remarkable and full of interest.’

In the second number of the Philanthropist edited by him Mr. Garrison commented on the passage, by the House of Assembly of South Carolina, of a bill to prohibit the instruction of people of color in reading and writing:

‘There is,’ he declared, ‘something unspeakably pitiable34 and alarming in the state of that society where it is deemed [87] necessary, for self-preservation, to seal up the mind and debase the intellect of man to brutal incapacity. We shall not now consider the policy of this resolve, but it illustrates the terrors of slavery in a manner as eloquent and affecting as imagination can conceive. . . . Truly, the alternatives of oppression are terrible. But this state of things cannot always last, nor ignorance alone shield us from destruction.’

The awakening interest in the subject of slavery here manifested was soon to be strengthened and confirmed. Two months later there came to Boston a young man,35 not yet forty, who had already devoted thirteen years to preaching the gospel of liberty, and had solemnly dedicated his life to the cause of the slave, and whose great and lasting glory it will be that he was the first American so to do. He was a Quaker, and his name was Benjamin Lundy. A native of New Jersey, where he was born (at Handwich, Sussex County) on the 4th of January, 1789, he went, at the age of nineteen, to reside in Wheeling, Virginia, and there learned the saddler's trade, serving an apprenticeship, and subsequently working for several months as a journeyman.

Wheeling was then a great thoroughfare for the wretches who were engaged in transporting slaves from Virginia to the Southern markets, and during his four years residence there Lundy was a constant witness of the horrors and cruelties of the traffic, as the ‘coffles’ of chained victims were driven through the streets. ‘My36 heart,’ he said, ‘was deeply grieved at the gross abomination; I heard the wail of the captive; I felt his pang of distress; and the iron entered my soul.’

Afterwards marrying and settling at St. Clairsville, Ohio, a few miles west of Wheeling, Lundy prosecuted his trade with much success, and soon accumulated a snug property. He organized an anti-slavery association, called the ‘Union Humane Society,’ which, 37 beginning with only five or six members, rapidly grew to nearly five hundred. He also wrote an appeal to the philanthropists of the United States, urging the formation, [88] wherever possible, of anti-slavery societies with a uniform title and constitution, which should cooperate with one another through correspondence and a general convention. Gradually the subject took such possession of him that he resolved to dispose of his business and join Charles Osborn, a Friend who had established at Mount Pleasant, in the same State, a journal entitled the Philanthropist, to which Lundy sent anti-slavery articles, at first selected, and afterwards written by himself. To consummate this arrangement, he made two trips to St. Louis with his stock-in-trade, and was compelled to dispose of it there at a ruinous sacrifice, owing to the great depression in business throughout the country. This disturbed him less than the plot, then in38 process of accomplishment, to force Missouri into the Union as a slave State; and into the discussion of that question, which was agitating the whole country, he threw himself with ardor, writing articles on the evils of slavery for the Missouri and Illinois papers. When, after an absence of nearly two years, and a pecuniary loss of thousands of dollars, he returned home on foot, in the winter season (a distance, by the route he had to39 travel, of seven hundred miles), he found that Osborn had disposed of his paper.

Meanwhile (in 1820) a small octavo monthly newspaper called the Emancipator had been established at Jonesborough, Tennessee, by Elihu Embree, also a Friend, to whom must be accorded the honor of publishing the first periodical in America of which the one avowed object was opposition to slavery. When Lundy heard of it he deemed it unnecessary to attempt anything of the kind himself; but, on his way home from St. Louis, news of Embree's death reached him, and he then resolved to establish a new journal at Mount Pleasant. In July, 1821, the first number of the Genius of Universal Emancipation was issued. It was begun without a dollar of capital, and with only six subscribers, and for a time40 Lundy walked a distance of twenty miles, each month, [89] to Steubenville, to get the paper printed, and returned with the edition on his back.

Early in the following year the Genius was removed to41 Greenville, Tennessee, through the urgency of Elihu Embree's friends, and printed on the press of the late Emancipator. The untiring editor travelled half of the eight hundred miles thither on foot, his family following him a few months later. He remained there till 1824, learning the printer's trade, so as to do his own work, and publishing the only anti-slavery journal in the country.42

It was a small monthly of sixteen pages, shabbily printed, but it was full of vigor and earnestness, and it gradually obtained a considerable circulation. A trip to Philadelphia (distant six hundred miles) in the winter of 1823-4, for the purpose of attending the biennial meeting of the ‘American Convention for the Abolition of Slavery,’43 was made by him on horseback, and at his own expense. [90]

It led to his deciding to remove the Genius to the Atlantic seaboard, and this was done in October, 1824, when he established himself at Baltimore, after making the journey from Tennessee on foot, with knapsack on back. His course took him through southwestern Virginia into North Carolina; and at Deep Creek, in the latter State, he delivered his first public address on the subject of slavery, in a grove near the Friends' Meeting House, and inspired the formation of an anti-slavery society. Before he left the State he had addressed fifteen or twenty meetings at different places, and formed a dozen or more societies, one of them at Raleigh, the capital. These were chiefly among the Friends, but one embraced some of the members of a militia company who had assembled for a muster, and its captain became the president of the society, while a Friend was chosen secretary. Entering Virginia, and traversing the middle section of the State, Lundy continued the good work without molestation, his Quaker brethren giving him their ready sympathy, while the community at large took no alarm.

Nor did the establishment of the Genius at Baltimore cause any excitement, for, in his initial article, the editor declared ‘the end and aim’ of the paper to be ‘the gradual, though total, abolition of slavery in the United States,’ and he devoted the larger portion of several numbers to the advocacy and furtherance of a scheme for colonizing the emancipated slaves in Hayti, using some of the very arguments employed by the American Colonization Society, which stood in high favor throughout [91] the South.44 In the interests of this scheme he visited Hayti in 1825, and returned after several months to find his beloved wife dead, after giving birth to twins, his home desolate, and his surviving children scattered. These he collected and placed in the care of friends, and then renewed his vow to devote his energies to the cause of the slaves until the nation was aroused in their behalf. Resuming his task, he enlarged the Genius, and converted it into a weekly paper. William Swain, ‘a very capable, intelligent, and philanthropic young man,’ one45 of his North Carolina converts, became his assistant, and to him Lundy could intrust the paper while he made occasional journeys to hold meetings, obtain subscribers, and stimulate the formation of anti-slavery societies. It was not until 1828, however (a year after he had been brutally assaulted and almost killed in the streets of46 Baltimore by Austin Woolfolk, a notorious slave-trader), that he made his way northward on one of these missions, beginning at Philadelphia, and holding there the first meeting ever held in this country for encouraging the use of free-labor products. In New York he became slightly acquainted with Arthur Tappan, a merchant47 already distinguished for his munificent philanthropy, and in Providence he met William Goodell, who was then48 publishing a paper called the Investigator. ‘I endeavored49 to arouse him,’ records Lundy, ‘but he was at that time slow of speech on my subject’—a slowness for which he afterwards amply atoned.50 [92]

Arrived in Boston, Lundy went to Mr. Collier's boarding-house, where he became acquainted with Mr. Garrison, and found in him a ready and enthusiastic51convert, who was willing to give not merely words of sympathy and approval, but energetic and active support. Garrison had seen the Genius, and so known of Lundy, whom he had imagined ‘a Hercules in shape and size’; and his disappointment was great, at first, when he beheld a diminutive and slender person,—the last man, by his appearance, that he would have selected as a reformer.52

‘Instead of being able to withstand the tide of public53 opinion,’ he wrote, a few months later, in describing Lundy,

it would at first seem doubtful whether he could sustain a temporary conflict with the winds of heaven. And yet he has explored nineteen of the twenty-four States—from the Green Mountains of Vermont to the banks of the Mississippi—multiplied anti-slavery societies in every quarter, put every petition in motion relative to the extinction of slavery in the District of Columbia, everywhere awakened the slumbering sympathies of the people, and begun a work, the completion of which will be the salvation of his country. His heart is of a gigantic size. Every inch of him is alive with power. He combines the meekness of Howard with the boldness of Luther. No reformer was ever more devoted, zealous, persevering, or sanguine. He has fought single-handed against a host, without missing a blow, or faltering a moment; but his forces are rapidly gathering, and he will yet free our land.

‘It should be mentioned, too, that he has sacrificed several thousand dollars in this holy cause, accumulated by unceasing [93] industry. Yet he makes no public appeals, but goes forward in the quietude and resoluteness of his spirit, husbanding his little resources from town to town, and from State to State. “I would not,” he said to us some months since, “I would not exchange circumstances with any person on earth, if I must thereby relinquish the cause in which I am enlisted.” . . . Within a few months he has travelled about twenty-four hundred miles, of which upwards of sixteen hundred were performed on foot!—during which time he has held nearly fifty public meetings.54 Rivers and mountains vanish in his path; midnight finds him wending his solitary way over an unfrequented road; the sun is anticipated in his rising. Never was moral sublimity of character better illustrated.’

Lundy lost no time, after his arrival in Boston, in convening as many clergymen of different sects as he could persuade to come and listen to him at Mr. Collier's house, but the names of the eight who are said to have attended55 the meeting (March 17, 1828), and given their cordial approval, in writing, of his plans and paper, are not recorded. ‘William L. Garrison, who sat in the room, also expressed his approbation of my doctrines,’ wrote Lundy. The clerical gentlemen, however, were unwilling to initiate any active movement, or to take part in the formation of an anti-slavery committee or society such as Lundy urged them to organize; and all that he could obtain from them was their signatures to a paper recommending the Genius to the patronage of the public. In his obituary tribute to Lundy, eleven years later, Mr. Garrison gave his recollections of this meeting, and of the failure of Lundy's arguments and appeals to move his hearers:

‘He might as well have urged the stones in the streets to56 cry out in behalf of the perishing captives. O the moral cowardice, [94] the chilling apathy, the criminal unbelief, the cruel skepticism, that were revealed on that memorable occasion! My soul was on fire then, as it is now, in view of such a development. Every soul in the room was heartily opposed to slavery, but—it would terribly alarm and enrage the South to know that an anti-slavery society existed in Boston! But—it would do harm rather than good, openly to agitate the subject! But—we had nothing to do with the question, and the less we meddled with it, the better! But—perhaps a select committee might be formed, to be called by some name that would neither give offense, nor excite suspicion as to its real design! One or two only were for bold and decisive action; but, as they had neither station nor influence, and did not rank among the wise and prudent, their opinions did not weigh very heavily, and the project was abandoned. Poor Lundy! that meeting was a damper to his feelings; but he was not a man to be utterly cast down, come what might. No one, at the outset, had bid him “God-speed” in his merciful endeavors to deliver his enslaved countrymen; and he was inflexible to persevere even unto the end, though unassisted by any of those whose countenance he had a right to expect.’

The Philanthropist of that week bore ample evidence57 of the quickening influence of Lundy's visit upon its editor, who heartily commended the Genius of Universal Emancipation and its conductor to the citizens of Boston, and paid a warm tribute to Lundy and to the work which he had already accomplished. A long editorial in the same number, on the ‘Progress of Public Opinion against Intemperance, Slavery and War,’ was clearly due to the inspiration of Lundy's visit (so far, at least, as the portion relating to slavery was concerned); and as it contains the first indication of Mr. Garrison's growing purpose to devote his life to philanthropy and reform, it possesses an especial interest, and may be said to mark the turning-point in his career. Add to this that he was then but twenty-two years of age, and that he wrote after the disheartening meeting at Mr. Collier's, and one cannot but be struck by the vigor, courage, and prophetic confidence of the writer. In this article the number of ‘anti-intemperance societies’ then existing was estimated [95] as rather less than one hundred, and of anti-slavery societies as upwards of one hundred and thirty,—most of them in slave States and of Lundy's formation, among the Quakers. Allusion was made to the colonization of one thousand colored people in Liberia, and the emigration of seven or eight thousand more to Hayti within four years, and to the fact that influential citizens in the District of Columbia, and in many other places, were then signing petitions to Congress for the abolition of slavery in the District. ‘If this important principle be recognized by that body,’ said the editor, ‘it will be a bright omen of the future emancipation of the whole country.’ The formation of peace societies was also noted with satisfaction by him.

‘The brightest traits in the American character,’ he declared,

will derive their lustre, not from the laurels picked from the field of blood, not from the magnitude of our navy and the success of our arms, but from our exertions to banish war from the earth, to stay the ravages of intemperance among all that is beautiful and fair, to unfetter those who have been enthralled by chains which we have forged, and to spread the light of knowledge and religious liberty wherever darkness and superstition reign. Upon this foundation we may build a temple which time cannot crumble, and whose fame shall fill the earth. Obstacles may rise up in our path like mountains, but they will disappear before the unconquerable spirit of reform like the shadows of night in the morning blaze. . . . We ought to exult that the ‘signs of the times’ are so auspicious. Let the desponding take courage—the fainting gather strength—the listless be inspirited; for though the victory be not won, we shall not lose it if we persevere. The struggle is full of sublimity—the conquest embraces the world.

Lundy was sufficiently encouraged by this visit to the North to undertake another pilgrimage thither soon after his return to Baltimore, and, beginning on the first of May, 1828, he devoted six months to visiting New England and New York State. He met with varying success, and that his patience was sorely tested at times is evident from the declaration in his journal (on reaching [96] Albany), that ‘philanthropists are the slowest 58 creatures breathing. They think forty times before they act.’ It was not until the end of July that he again reached Boston, after holding meetings in Newburyport, Andover, Salem, and Lynn. Meanwhile Mr. Garrison had resigned the editorship of the Philanthropist, and the number for July 4 contained his brief valedictory. The same day found him in Newburyport once more, where he read the Declaration of Independence at a celebration of the national anniversary, held under the auspices of the Artillery Company, and also contributed a spirited ode for the occasion:

Ode for the celebration of the Fourth of July, at Newburyport, Mass., 1828.59

Once more, in the face of the wondering world,
We come to re-echo our proud declaration,
That the standard of freedom our fathers unfurled
Shall ever in triumph wave over our nation;
That tyranny's chain
Ne'er shall bind us again,
But our rights we'll assert, and as boldly maintain:
'Twere as easy to quench the full blaze of the sun
As shackle a people whose hearts are but one!

Though the heat of collision may sometimes inflame,
And a threat of disunion be held in terrorem;
Though the South may revile, and the East loud declaim,
The North and the West talk of conflicts before 'em;
Yet the Fourth of July
Will forever supply
A seven-fold cord to our national tie:—
The plots of division, though artfully done,
Will fail on a people whose hearts are but one!

Our march must keep pace with the march of the mind,
Progressing in grandeur for ever and ever;
Our deeds and example are laws to mankind,
And Onward to Glory!60 shall be our endeavor: [97]
A voice shall go forth
O'er the empires of earth,
Like a trumpet, redeeming the world at a birth!
For the reign of free thoughts and free acts has begun,
And joy to that people whose hearts are but one!

A prayer and a tear for the suffering brave,—
For Greece in this day of her terrible anguish!
May the Turkish oppressor be hurled in the grave,
And Freedom for aid cease in sorrow to languish!
May the arm of our God
Interpose with its rod,
And punish the shedders of innocent blood;
Then peace, hope, and love, like a river shall run,
And dwell with a people whose hearts are but one!

And now, while our cannon ring out to the skies
Their eloquent peals in the accents of thunder,
In clouds let the incense of gratitude rise
To Him who alone burst our shackles asunder;
Let our loftiest lays
Be filled with his praise,—
The fire of devotion burst forth in a blaze:
For oh! it becomes, when our trials are done,
A people whose hands, hearts, and feelings are one!

Lundy held his first public meeting in Boston on the evening of August 7, 1828, in the vestry of the Federal-Street Baptist Church, and a report of the meeting, with a synopsis of his address, was given by Mr. Garrison in a letter to the Courier, under the familiar initials61 ‘A. O. B.’ From this we learn that Lundy described to his hearers the work already accomplished in the formation of anti-slavery societies, and pointed out the impossibility of ever abolishing slavery through the agency of the Colonization Society, since the increase of the slave population in a single year was greater than the diminution which that society could effect in half a century. While the Society was warmly commended, emphasis was laid on the fact that the anti-slavery societies did not propose to buy slaves for the sake of [98] emancipating and transporting them to other countries, and so to open a new market to slave-dealers, but to generate a moral agitation which should never rest until the shackles of the oppressed were broken ‘by the will, not by the wealth, of the people.’ Finally, the speaker urged the circulation of petitions to Congress for the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia.

The meeting was brought to an abrupt and unexpected termination by the pastor of the church (Rev. Howard Malcolm), who arose at the conclusion of62 Lundy's remarks and passionately denounced the agitation of the question of slavery in New England, declaring that it was too delicate to be meddled with by the people of the Northern States; that they had nothing whatever to do with it; that slavery was coming to an end, perhaps quite as fast as was desirable,—namely, by one slave State selling its slaves to another further South, and thus gradually relieving itself; and after discoursing in this vein, he summarily dismissed the meeting without affording any opportunity for reply. His conduct excited much indignation, and it was only by holding a subsequent meeting that an anti-slavery committee was formed, consisting of twenty members, of whom Mr. Garrison was one. With characteristic ardor he at once proposed to circulate petitions for the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia in every town in the Commonwealth, but before he could personally set them in motion, he was called to another field of action; and although his fellow-members of the committee were ‘high-minded, spirited and philanthropic men,’ they do63 not seem to have pushed the matter with much vigor after the stimulus of his personal presence and effort was withdrawn. A single petition from Boston, cautiously and almost apologetically worded, appears to have been the sole result of their labors. Garrison communicated the progress made before he left Boston to Lundy, who wrote in reply: [99]

I am now strengthened in the hope, that I shall not only64 find a valuable coadjutor in the person of my friend Garrison, but that the “ice is broken” in the hitherto frozen—no, no, not frozen—cool regions of the North. (Ask pardon for the metaphor—but, really, you have all been “cool,” on the subject of slavery, too long.) I should have been pleased to learn that you had fairly and formally organized a society; but you have the substance, and I heartily rejoice. Your “committee” will form a nucleus, around which the elements of a society will congregate; and in process of time you will, if you remain active—mark that—imperceptibly, as it were, fall into as regular a plan of organization as can be desired. When you have the substance, it is useless to contend for, or even too earnestly desire, the shadow. But, I repeat—for it is important that it be indelibly impressed on the memory—that everything depends on activity and steady perseverance. And you will also find, that the burthen will mostly fall on the shoulders of a few. A few will have the labor to perform, and the honor to share. . . .

I hope you will persevere in your work, steadily, but not make too large calculations on what may be accomplished in a particularly stated time. You have now girded on a holy warfare. Lay not down your weapons until honorable terms are obtained. The God of hosts is on your side. Steadiness and faithfulness will, most assuredly, overcome every obstacle.

During the month of August, 1828, Mr. Garrison had had a controversy with John Neal of Portland, then editing a newspaper called the Yankee, in that city. He had frequently, in the Philanthropist, ridiculed Neal's egotistical and bombastic style of writing, and an assertion of Neal's that his retirement from that journal was compulsory, because of his attacks on himself, aroused all the hot blood in the young man's veins, and caused him to send a wrathful epistle of denial, which was printed in the Yankee. After refuting the assertion,65 he demanded a retraction,—‘that the public mind may be disabused of the untruth, that I was ejected from office. It is important to me that this correction be made. My reputation, trifling as it is, is worth something; if I [100] lose it, I lose the means whereby I obtain my daily bread.’

The proprietor of the Philanthropist promptly 66 corroborated his statement that his retirement from it was wholly voluntary, and expressed surprise that he should have deemed ‘the unfounded and dastardly charge’ worth noticing, when made by such a man as Neal. The latter's comments on his letter, however, so exasperated Mr. Garrison that he wrote a second, of which this is the concluding paragraph:

‘You declare that you never heard of my name before—67 that we are entire strangers to each other. But you knew, it appears, my age and origin long ago. (Vide the Yankee of Feby. 27 and March 12.) I have only to repeat without vanity, what I declared publicly to another opponent—a political one— (and I think he will never forget me,) that, if my life be spared, my name shall one day be known so extensively as to render private enquiry unnecessary; and known, too, in a praiseworthy manner. I speak in the spirit of prophecy, not of vainglory,—with a strong pulse, a flashing eye, and a glow of the heart. The task may be yours to write my biography.’

1 Journal of the Times, Mar. 13, 1829.

2 The office of the paper, at first at No. 24 State St., was subsequently removed to No. 2 South Row, Market Square.

3 Free Press, Mar. 22, 1826.

4 Free Press, Mar. 22, 1826.

5 Wm. Eustis, Levi Lincoln.

6 Sam. G. Howe.

7 Free Press, Mar. 29, 1826.

8 Ibid., May 18, 1826.

9 Free Press, June 29, 1826.

10 Free Press, June 8, 1826.

11 Ms., Lecture on Whittier.

12 April 11, 1828.

13 Underwood's Life of Whittier, p. 396.

14 Free Press, Sept. 21, 1826.

15 In the records of the Company the year of his enrolment is given as 1827; an error due, doubtless, to the fact that the original books were lost a year or two later, and the old rolls subsequently made up from the memory of the remaining members.

16 J. Varnum, C. Cushing.

17 1826.

18 Thomas H. Bennett.

19 A graduate of Harvard College, in the class of 1817; an able lawyer and an active politician, when induced to undertake the publication of the Journal as a Whig paper. After the failure of that enterprise, he did not long continue in practice at the bar. He was a forcible and prolific writer, and a man of undaunted courage. Mr. Child was married in 1828 to Miss Lydia Maria Francis. (See “Letters of L. Maria Child,” p. VIII. Boston, 1883.)

20 1827.

21 Wm. Eustis.

22 July 12, 1827.

23 Boston Courier, July 13, 1827.

24 Boston Courier, July 14, 1827.

25 Cf. ante, p. 23.

26 Boston Courier, July 23, 1827.

27 ‘There are a few old people still living who will justify me in saying that centuries are likely to come and go before society will again gaze, spell-bound, upon a woman so richly endowed with beauty as was Miss Emily Marshall. I well know the peril which lies in superlatives,—they were made for the use of very young persons; but in speaking of this gracious lady, even the cooling influences of more than half a century do not enable me to avoid them. She was simply perfect in face and figure, and perfectly charming in manners. . . . And this perfect personation of loveliness was beloved by women no less than she was admired by men. . . She stood before us a reversion to that faultless type of structure which artists have imagined in the past, and that ideal loveliness of feminine disposition which poets have placed in the mythical golden age’ (Josiah Quincy, of the Class of 1821. Harvard College, in “Figures of the past.” pp. 334-337). Miss Marshall married a son of Harrison Gray Otis (Muzzey's Reminiscences and memorials. pp. 39-41).

28 Lib. 1.92.

29 The granite ‘swell-front’ on Beacon Street, now (1885) occupied by the Somerset Club.

30 Nat. Philanthropist, April 25, 1828.

31 Nat. Philanthropist, April 18, 1828.

32 Ibid., June 13, 1828.

33 Nat. Phil., April 11, 1828.

34 Ibid., Jan. 11, 1828.

35 Mar., 1828.

36 Life of Lundy, p. 15.

37 Ibid., p. 16.

38 Autumn of 1819.

39 1820-21.

40 Life of Lundy, p. 20.

41 1822.

42 He also published, at the same time, a weekly newspaper, the Greenville Economist and Statesman, and an agricultural monthly.

43 The first Convention of the Abolition Societies of the United States was held in Philadelphia, in January, 1794, under the immediate auspices of the ‘Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery, the Relief of Free Negroes unlawfully held in Bondage, and Improving the Condition of the African Race,’ and the New York Society for Promoting the Manumission of Slaves, the two parent anti-slavery societies formed in the United States. The former, which was founded in April, 1775, five days before the Lexington and Concord fights, counted among its presidents Benjamin Franklin and Dr. Benjamin Rush, both signers of the Declaration of Independence; and the first president of the New York Society (organized in 1785) was John Jay, subsequently Chief-Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Other State societies were formed in Delaware (1788), Maryland (1789), Rhode Island and Connecticut (1790). Virginia (1791), New Jersey (1792), all of which, with some local societies in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Delaware, were represented in the Convention of 1794. Annual sessions of the ‘American Convention’ were held, with more or less regularity, for several years; afterwards it met biennially till 1825, then annually till 1829, when it suspended operations for nine years, holding its final meeting in 1838. The State societies devoted their efforts to gradual emancipation in their own States, the education and moral improvement of the free people of color, and their protection and rescue from kidnapping and reenslavement. The Pennsylvania Society was especially active and vigilant in this last work, but early in the present century, and especially after the Missouri Compromise of 1820, a paralysis fell on the anti-slavery sentiment of the country, and the societies gradually dwindled until most of them disappeared; the new societies formed during the decade from 1830 to 1840, on the basis of immediate and unconditional emancipation, absorbing the ablest and most energetic surviving members of the old organizations. See “An Historical Memoir of the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery.” etc., by Edward Needles (Philadelphia, 1848), and “Anti-slavery opinions before the year 1800,” by William F. Poole (Cincinnati, 1873).

44 And yet, only a few months previous, Lundy had expressed some distrust of the Colonization Society because Clay, Randolph, and other prominent slaveholders were active in its councils.

45 Life of Lundy, p. 25.

46 Ibid., pp. 206-209.

47 Ibid., p. 25.

48 Ibid., p. 25.

49 Ibid., p. 25.

50 William Goodell (born in Coventry, N. Y., Oct. 25, 1792, died in Janesville, Wisconsin, Feb. 14, 1878) was a lineal descendant of Robert Goodell, one of the earliest settlers of Danvers, Massachusetts (1634). Disappointed in his hope of a collegiate education, he early entered business life at Providence, R. I., and subsequently, at the age of 24, made a long voyage to the East Indies, China, and Europe, as supercargo. After his return he was merchant and book-keeper successively at Providence, Alexandria, Va., and New York, until, in 1827, he established the Investigator at Providence, ‘devoted to moral and political discussion, and reformation in general, including temperance and anti-slavery.’ He had denounced the Missouri Compromise at the time of its adoption, and was earnestly opposed to slavery, but at the period of Lundy's visit the temperance question was the more absorbing one with him. His subsequent labors in the anti-slavery cause will be frequently alluded to in these pages. He was the author of several works, the most important of which were “Views of American Constitutional law” (1844), “The democracy of Christianity” (1851), “Slavery and Anti-slavery” (1852), and “The American slave Code” (1853). He was an able writer and close reasoner, though diffuse in style. In his religious views he was rigidly Clavinistic. (See “Memorial of William Goodell,” Chicago, 1879.)

51 Life of Lundy, p. 25.

52 Clarkson, when asked, in his old age, if Wilberforce was not diminutive in person, replied, with kindling eye, ‘Yes, but think of the magnitude of his theme! the majesty of his cause! (Lib., 10.193.)’

53 Journal of the Times, Dec. 12, 1828.

54 ‘He was not a good public speaker. His voice was too feeble, his utterance too rapid, to interest or inform an audience; yet he never spoke wholly in vain. In private life, his habits were social and communicative, but his infirmity of deafness rendered it difficult to engage with him in protracted conversation. How, with that infirmity upon him, he could think of travelling all over the country, exploring Canada and Texas, and making voyages to Hayti, in the prosecution of his godlike work, is indeed matter of astonishment. But it shows, in bold relief, what the spirit of philanthropy can dare and conquer’ (W. L. G. in Lib., Sept. 20, 1839).

55 Life of Lundy, p. 25; Nat. Philanthropist, March 21, 1828.

56 Lib. 9.151.

57 Mar. 21, 1828.

58 Life of Lundy, p. 28.

59 Nat. Philanthropist, July 11, 1828.

60 The motto of the Artillery Company.

61 Aug. 11; Nat. Philanthropist, Aug. 15.

62 A. O. B. in Boston Courier, Aug. 12, 1828; Lib. 4.43.

63 Jour. of the Times, Oct. 10, 1828.

64 Jour. of the Times, Oct. 10, 1828.

65 August 13, 1828.

66 Nat. Philanthropist, Aug. 22, 1828.

67 Portland Yankee, August 20, 1828; Neal's Wandering Recollections of a Busy Life, p. 401; cf. ante, p. 76.

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