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The second annual report of the Massachusetts abolition society: together with the proceedings of the second annual meeting, held at Tremont chapel, May 25, 1841 (Volume 1) online

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Online LibraryMassachusetts abolition old catalogThe second annual report of the Massachusetts abolition society: together with the proceedings of the second annual meeting, held at Tremont chapel, May 25, 1841 (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 7)
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In presenting, their Second Annual Report, the Executive
Committee of the Massachusetts Abolition Society desire de-
voutly to acknowledge the continued favor of the Most High
in their efforts for the enslaved. The past has been a year of
trial and of seemingly great reverses to the anti-slavery cause
in this country ; but really a year of mercy and of progress.
In no previous year, it is believed, has more been done to
disencumber the cause of influences and obstacles that justly
hindered its progress, and at the same time, to settle the a6o-
lition mind in respect to the great principles and methods of
action both in church and state, whose adoption and vigor-
ous prosecution promise most for the speedy and peaceful
deliverance of the slave. In no previous year has the diffu-
sion, in the general mind, of anti-slavery principles and feel-
ings been more rapid or extensive. The conviction was
never so extensive or so deep, as at this moment, that slavery
cannot much longer live in this land. Indeed, the commit-
mitte greatly err, if the conviction is not quite prevalent both
at the north and the south, and daily becoming more so, that
the time is very near, when, in some way, and by some
means, a final blow is to be struck at the whole system. A
multitude of causes — the providence of God — the progress of
events in the commercial and political world — are conspiring
with the efforts of the friends of humanity to beget and ex-
tend and deepen this conviction, and to hasten the result.
The days of American slavery are numbered.


From the report of the treasurer, at the last anniversary,
it appeared that the society owed, in notes and bills payable,
most of which had not then arrived at maturity, the sum of
$1553 57. Besides this, it was stated that several hundred
dollars were due agents, which, it was then supposed, the
agents had pledges from friends of the cause in their several



4 ^^>

fields, sufficient when collected, to pay. In this state of
things, had the committee been governed solely by a refer-
ence to pecuniary considerations, they would at once have
dismissed their agents, and turned their first and sole atten-
tion to the removal of the debt. The state of the cause, par-
ticularly the tide of political influence that was just then setting
in upon it, and threatening to sweep away all practical regard
for the slave, in the use of the elective franchise, with other
considerations, seemed to the committee to require that this
should not be done. They did, however, commence at once
such a curtailment of their operations as they thought the
interests of the cause allowed. In doing so, they dismissed
a part of their agents. Others whose term of service expired,
they did not re-appoint. In so doing, however, it was found
that the pledges referred to, did not cover the amount due
them. The same was found to be true in respect to others
who were continued in the field. In this way the committee
found their debt to be increased to nearly ^3000. During
the year, therefore, the committee have had to sustain the
paper of the society, which has at no time sustained itself,
and which, in consequence of the political whirlwind reducing
its number of subscribers, has been a heavier burden upon
the treasury, than ever before ; to sustain several agents in
the field, and to do what could be done toward the reduction
of the debt.

The receipts for the year, in loans, donations, and receipts
for the paper, have been $9,959 70; the expenditures $9914.

The service performed by the several agents, amounts in
all to 7 1-2 years. The debt of the society, it will be seen,
has not been diminished, but rather increased. The com-
mittee are not disheartened at this, nor should their friends
be. Other benevolent institutions have been, and still are, in
the same condition. At the same time, the committee feel
that the time has come when this debt should be swept off,
and the society set free from embarrassment. They knovir
there is ability among their friends to do it ; they trust there
will be a readiness to do it. h beginning has been made.
Already we have a subscription of $1900, on condition that
the sum of $4000 be raised within two months.


Deserves a notice in this place. This society was formed
April 10, 1840. It has steadily increased in numbers and
interest, and has enrolled between two and three hundred

It has raised during the past year about $1400, chiefly
through the instrumentality of fairs held in different towns in
the state. $800 of this sum was raised by the fair held in
Boston. The society are unanimous in the opinion that the
method of raising funds by the instrumentality of fairs is one
of great importance, and one in which more can be realized
to the treasury of the parent society, than any that has been
adopted by the Anti-Slavery women.

The society intend holding a large sale toward the close of
the present year, and the efforts of the members are now
turned to this department of anti-slavery labor. It is hoped
the friends of the cause throughout the State will remember
this sale, and the importance of giving of their abundance to
aid in furnishing the means of extending anti-slavery princi-
ples throughout the land.

The society is greatly indebted to the women of G. Britain
for their liberal donations to the fair held last season, and also
for renewed tokens of their remembrance at the coming sale.

An extensive correspondence has been opened with British
women which will no doubt result in great benefit to the
cause of human freedom.

A splendid liberty banner has been prepared, according to
a vote of the society, and present to the town, (Berkley) in the
tenth Congressional District, which cast the largest propor-
tionate number of votes for the liiberty Party candidate for


The Committee have long felt that a full and accurate his-
tory should be given to the public, of the origin and pro-
gress of the unhappy division among the friends of the
slave in this country, and of the causes that led to it. The
developments of the past year have increased their convic-
tion of its importance, and encouraged them to believe, that
the abolition mind in this country and abroad is prepared to
receive and credit all the facts in the case — those espe-
cially, which, as they implicate personal character, have
hitherto, from personal friendship and a regard to the cause,
been withheld from the public generally, but which, though
not the grounds of the secession, are yet important, as throw-
ing light upon and giving meaning to those that were the
grounds of it. The committee feel that such a history of the
case is due to themselves, to those who, having been provi-
dentially prominent in making the secession, have been the


apecial objects of assault and abuse by those from whom we
have separated, to the friends of the slave generally, and to
posterity. Such a history is the more important, also, from
the many partial and erroneous representations of the facts
which have been given to the public by our former associates
and friends. Such a history, the committee directed their
secretary, some months since, to prepare. Various causes
prevented his doing it then, and entering soon after on an-
other field of labor, he has been unable to do it since. As
the best substitute which the circumstances now allow, he
has grouped together a few of the facts of the kind re-
ferred to. To these the Committee invite your special at-
tention, and with the exposition of the case which these
furnish, the Committee hope to be able to close this unwel-
come, yet, as they believe, necessary controversy.

The Board of Managers of the Massachusetts A. S. So-
ciety, in their last Annual Report, say : —

*' The position assumed by that (the Abolition) Society is one of un-
mitigated hostility to ours. By its managers, its official, organ
and AGENTS, it has left untried no device to prejudice the public inind,
and especially the religious portion of the community, against the State
Anti-Slavery Society, and ourselves as its official representatives. All
this has been done with such a wanton disregard of truth, such a wide
departure from the ground of anti-slavery union and fellowship, such
palpable intent to gratify personal and sectarian feclingt, that it is in
the highest degree painful to contemplate such adevelopemeut of moral

These are grave charges. They are made officially, by
the State society and its official representatives. They have
been repeatedly made before, by those whose influence con-
trols and gives tone to that society. They aver that the se-
cession had its origin in feelings o( personal and sectarian
hostility. Nothing can be more untrue. It is not known
that any of those, who have been prominent in the secession,
have ever had the least personal difference with the indivi-
dual, (Mr. Garrison,) out of hostility to whom it has been so
often alleged the secession arose. It is believed that to this
hour they are all on terms of perfect personal friendship and
good will to that indiviaual, and that when they meet him,
as they occasionally do, they meet as friends, with no per-
sonal animosities whatever toward each other. At all events,
this is true of the secretary of this society, whose alleged
personal hostility has been the subject of frequent and exten-
sive remark. Such personal hostility has never existed.
Equally unfounded is the charge of sectarianism, as the se-

quel will show. The charge that the " managers, official
organ and agents," of this society have conducted the con-
troversy with " a wanton disregard of truth," is a polite way of
saying that we are all liars. This committee will not retort
the charge. Yet, when such a charge is gravely and offi-
cially preferred, when it has received the sanction, not only
of the general meeting, but of the cooler and deliberate re-
flections of such men as Edmund Quincy, Francis Jackson
and Ellis Gray Loring, and, with such sanction, has been put
on record to go down to posterity, it is surely time to make
known all the facts, whatever may be the results to personal
character in return.


At the formation of this society, its Executive Committee
were " instructed to prepare and issue at an early day an
address to the public, setting forth our objects and reasons
for separate action." In that address, the " causes of divi-
sion " were declared to be the introduction into our cause
of what is technically called the " Woman's Rights question,"
the departure of the old society from the "original doctrines
and measures" of the anti-slavery associations on "the sub-
ject of political action," and a serious " defect in regard to
the composition of its business meetings." The defect in
question practically destroyed the representative character of
the society, and, as experience proved, enabled Lynn and
Boston to legislate for the State. It was by taking advan-
tage of this, that the action of the society, on the two
topics named, was controlled, and the society carried over
from the ground of simple and original Abolition, to that of
a Woman's Rights and Non-government one. Lynn and
Boston sent their scores of delegates, so called, to the meet-
ings of the society, while towns more remote, with an equal
proportionate amount of abolitionists, could send but tw(rt)r
three. Such was the fact at the meeting at which the revo-
lution in question was effected. Lynn had a delegation of
120 present. Boston had a greater number. Of those from
Boston, eighty were appointed by a meeting of seven mem-
bers of a new city society, that had been formed with special
reference to the then approaching meeting of the State so-
ciety. This was in fact the appointment of nearly the whole
membership of the society, as delegates.

And what is worse, not less than twenty or thirty of these
were induced to join the city society, merely that they might


be appointed as delegates to vote at the state meeting. And
so prominent an individual qs the Treasurer of the State
society, was a prominent actor in this shameful proceeding!
Yet each of the so called delegates, from Boston and Lynn,
claimed and exercised an equal voice with those from remote
parts of the State, in deciding the action of the State society.
Nor was there any thing, in the constitution of the society,
to forbid it. To remedy this defect, to bring the cause
back to its original ground, that so it might be presented
to the public on its merits, unincumbered by the extraneous
and sectarian questions with which, in the action of the old
society, it had been identified, were the avowed reasons for
the formation of the new society — these, connected with the
hopelessness of effecting any reform in the old society, were
the avowed " causes of the division." They were its tru€
and real causes.


In presenting them to the public as such, your committee
have hitherto rested their defence of the case upon these simple
facts. From a regard to former friendships and the general
cause, they have been anxious, as far as possible, to spare the
personal character of leading individuals from whom we have
separated. It was enough, that in the action of the old so-
ciety, the anti-slavery cause was, as a matter of fact, turned
aside from its original character, and identified with other
matters, and that the determination to turn it aside thus, from
whatever motives, was, as a fact, deliberate and settled.
These two facts the committee have ever regarded as ample
justification of the separation. On their presentation as
facts, have they hitherto rested their defence in the case.
They believe, however, that the time has now come, and that
the circumstances of the case are now such, as to require
them to go behind these facts, and give the public some of
the evidences, which have for some time satisfied them of the
existence of a deliberate and well-tnatured design, on the part
of those who have controlled the action of the former society,
to make the anti-slavery organizations subservient to the pro-
motion of their personal and sectarian views on the subjects of
Wojnen's Rights, so called. Civil Government, the Church,
the Ministry and the Sabbath.


It was a long time before those who have been active in
the separation could believe in the existence of any such

design on the part of individuals with whom they had been
so intimately associated, and to whom they had been accus-
tomed to look, as counsellors and leaders in their efforts for
the enslaved. When such a design, indeed, was charged
on them, particularly upon Mr. Garrison, as it sometimes
was, it was indignantly disclaimed.* Such was the fact at
the time of Mr. Garrison's first assault upon the Sabbath, and
at the subsequent period of the Clerical Appeal. In the con-
clusion of the Sabbath discussion in 1836, Mr. Garrison
said : —

" Once for all, we beg our readers to be assured that we have not for
one moment cherished the purpose either of being diverted from the
special advocacy of the one great cause which we liave so long espoused,
or of making the Liberator the arena of a controversy uhich docs not
belong to its character or its object. Our Sabbatical animadversions
upon Dr. Beecher's speech were purely incidental, and quite subordi-
nate to the main design of our review, * * We take our leave of the
Sabbatical controversy, so far as the columns of the Liberator are concern-
ed, merely remarking again that we shall not suffer ourself or our paper to
be diverted from the steadfast and zealous advocacy of the anti-slavery
cause. * * As the Liberator is patronized by persons of almost every
religious persuasion, and chiefly because it is an anti-slavery paper, it is
obvious that it does not properly come within our province to attack the
peculiar tenets or ecclesiasticalarrangementsof any sect. We shall stu-
diously aim not to do so."

And subsequently, in Jan., 1837, when it was proposed to
have the State society assume the pecuniary support of the
paper, Mr. Garrison referred to the same discussion in a sim-
ilar manner, and added : —

*' The leading, all-absorbing object of the Liberator shall continue to
be, as it has been hitherto, the overthrow of American slavery — not to
conjiict with any religious sect or political party."


In the full belief of the sincerity of these disclaimers, we
were ready to defend him and others of kindred views, as
members of the anti-slavery society. Our plea was, that the
anti-slavery society, as such, had nothing to do with, and
was not to be held responsible for the private opinions of its
members on any subjects other than that of the abolition of

* In Mr. Garrison's phrenological development, as given by Mr. Fow-
ler and published in the Liberator, is the following: —

*' He generally keeps his plans and feelings to himself, and carries his
plans into execution without divulging them. * * He has more fore-
thought than he manifests. He has great literary ingenuity, and is full
of new schemes and projects. He shows a great deal of tact as a writer
and reasoner. He seldom or never coramite himself."


slavery. And, giving Mr. Garrison the full benefit of this
plea, the secretary of this society, then editor of the Emanci-
pator, (Aug. 18, 1836,) said :—

'* We trust that we love the Sabbath, and dissent from Mr Garrison's
views on the subject as much as any one — but what then ? Nay, what
if he were throughout a thorough Quaker? Must 1 therefore abjure his
eentiineiils on the suliject of abolition, or temperance, or any oiher sim-
ilar question, and refuse to co-operate with and sustain Iiinj in their pro-
mulgation ? Nonsense."

And in so saying, the editor did but express his own and
this committee's present as well as former views in the case.
With tile private religious or other opinions of its members,
the anti-slavery society, as such, and we as members of it,
have nothing to do. It is only when these opinions are
thrust upon the anti-slavery platform, as part and parcel of
abolition, and the attempt is made to model the action of the
anti-slavery societies in accordance with them, that we have
any right to complain, and the community a right to hold us
responsible for them. Nor was it until this was actually
done, and conclusive evidence was furnished that it would be
persisted in, that remonstrance and resistance, finally issuing
in separation, began.


The Clerical Appeal controversy commenced in August,
1837. In the progress of that discussion it became manifest
that Mr. Garrison's heart was set upon other reforms more
generic in their character, and, in his view, more important,
than the anti-slavery reform. He used frequently to remark
that nothing thorough and effiectual could be effected for
temperance or abolition, until we had had some more radical
and generic reform. At this period he gave iip all hope of
the abolition of slavery by moral and peaceful means. In the
New England (convention, June 2, 1837, he said " he was
led to fear that all efforts to avert the pending calamity" of
the annexation of Texas to the Union " would prove abortive,
and that our national destruction was sealed." (Lib., vol. 7.,
p. 110.

On the 4th of July of the same year, in a public address
at Providence, (Lib , vol. 7, p. 123,) he said he "stood forth
in the spirit of prophecy, to proclaim in the ears of the peo-
ple that our doom as a nation is sealed ; that the day of our
probation has ended, and we are not saved. * * Nor form of
government, nor representative body, nor written parchment,
nor social compact, nor physical preparation, can give us


perpetuity, or hide us from the wrath of the Lamb. The
downfall of the republic seems inevitable. * * If fiistory be
not wholly fabulous — if revelation be not a forgery — if God
be not faitliless in the execution of his threateniiigs — the
doom is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure. The
overthrow of the American confederacy is in the womb
of events. * * The corruptions of the church, so called,
are obviously more deep and incurable than those of the
state; and, therefore, the church, in spite of every precau-
tion and safeguard, is first to be dashed to pieces. ' Coming
events cast their shadows before.' * * The political dismem-
ber inent of our Union is ultimately to follow J'

On the 11th of August following, in reply to an invitation
to attend a Peace Convention in Vermont, Mr. Garrison
(Lib., vol. 7, p. 140) wrote the Rev. O. S. Murray as follows.
" In giving my attention to the degradation and misery of
two millions of American bondmen, I do not forget mankind.
My mind is busy in the investigation of many subjects,
which, in their full elucidation and practical bearings, are
destined to shake the nations. The subject of peace" (by
which he meant ** non-resistance," so called) " is among
them, and is peculiarly dear to me. * * I hope to be more
deeply engaged in it by and by than I am at present, and
unless they alter their present course, the first thing I shall
do will be to serve our peace societies as I have done the
colonization societies."

On the 2d of October Mr. Garrison was at Worcester, in
attendance upon the Massachusetts Young Men's A. S. Con-
vention. At noon, at tlie house of Mr. Earl, Messrs. Stan-
ton, Green and others being present, the conversation turned
upon the merits of Thompsonianism. Mr. Garrison avowed
himself a believer in the theory, and added, with much em-
phasis, "Jaw, medicine and divinity are the three great im-
postures of the day." On the 13th of the same month (Lib.,
vol. 7., pp. 166, 167) he published a letter dated, '' Newark,
N. J., March 22d, 1837," and which had therefore been on
hand some six months before its publication was ventured
upon! In the letter, the writer said, — "The present gov-
ernments stand in the way of God's kingdom, just as Coloni-
zation once stood in the way of Abolition. They occupy the
ground without effecting the object. * * By the foregoing
considerations, I am authorized not only to hope for the
overthrow of the natiotjs, but to stand in readiness actively
to assist in the execution of God's purposes. And I am not
forbidden to do so by any past order " (referring to the Bible)


" to be subject to earthly governments." * * " jfy /^^pg ^^
the Millennium begins where Dr. Beechci-'s expires, viz., at
clares, "God, by his spirit, has moved me to nominate Jesus
Christ for the Presidency, not only of the United States, but
of the world." He also says, referring to a lormer interview
with Mr. Garrison, " You said your mind was heaving on
certain momentous subjects, and you only waited to put anti-
slavery in the sunshine before you turned your mind toward
those subjects." Mr. Garrison, in an accompanying editorial,
called this, "The solemn and powerful letter from Newark,"
and said, it "is in accordance with our views and feelings."
These extracts make obvious what was well known to the
intimate and careful observers of Mr. Garrison, at this pe-
riod, but what was not generally noticed or duly weighed by
abolitionists as a body. It was at this period, that James
Boyle of Ohio, in his famous letter, endorsed by Mr. Garri-
son, said, " I have observed of late, that you have become
satisfied that moral influence will never abolish slavery in
this country." Mr. Garrison had given up all hope for the
slave from such means ;* his mind was laboring and his heart

* And yet, when in October, 1839, it became necessary to issue a
•'Liberator extra," for the purpose of warning "the anti-slavery elec-
tors of Massachusetts," against lending any countenance to the " Inde-
pent Anti-slavery nomination," then this same iVIr. Garrison was fore-
most and loudest in the outcry for " moral action," in distinction from
political, as the sure and only hope for the slave. In the " address " of

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Online LibraryMassachusetts abolition old catalogThe second annual report of the Massachusetts abolition society: together with the proceedings of the second annual meeting, held at Tremont chapel, May 25, 1841 (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 7)