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[Footnote 22: _Washington's Writings_, II, p. 134.]

[Footnote 23: Brissot de Warville, _New Travels_, II, pp. 33-34.]

[Footnote 24: Harris, _Slavery in Illinois_, chaps. iii, iv, and v;
Dunn, _Indiana_, pp. 218-260; Hinsdale, _Old Northwest_, pp.
351-358.]

[Footnote 25: This code provided that all male Negroes under fifteen,
years of age either owned or acquired must remain in servitude until they
reached the age of thirty-five and female slaves until thirty-two. The
male children of such persons held to service could be bound out for
thirty years and the female children for twenty-eight. Slaves brought into
the territory had to comply with contracts for terms of service when their
master registered them within thirty days from the time he brought them
into the territory. Indentured black servants were not exactly sold, but
the law permitted the transfer from one owner to another when the slave
acquiesced in the transfer before a notary, but it was often done without
regard to the slave. They were even bequeathed and sold as personal
property at auction. Notices for sale were frequent. There were rewards
for runaway slaves. Negroes whose terms had almost expired were kidnapped
and sold to New Orleans. The legislature imposed a penalty for such, but
it was not generally enforced. They were taxable property valued according
to the length of service. Negroes served as laborers on farms, house
servants, and in salt mines, the latter being an excuse for holding them
as slaves. Persons of color could purchase servants of their own race. The
law provided that the Justice of the County could on complaint from the
master order that a lazy servant be whipped. In this frontier section,
therefore, where men often took the law in their own hands, slaves were
often punished and abused just as they were in the Southern States. The
law dealing with fugitives was somewhat harsh. When apprehended, fugitives
had to serve two days extra for each day they lost from their master's
service. The harboring of a runaway slave was punishable by a fine of one
day for each the slave might be concealed. Consistently too with the
provision of the laws in most slave States, slaves could retain all goods
or money lawfully acquired during their servitude provided their master
gave his consent. Upon the demonstration of proof to the county court that
they had served their term they could obtain from that tribunal
certificates of freedom. See _The Laws of Indiana_.]

[Footnote 26: Masters had to provide adequate food, and clothing and good
lodging for the slave, but the penalty for failing to comply with this law
was not clear and even if so, it happened that many masters never observed
it. There was also an effort to prevent cruelty to slaves, but it was
difficult to establish the guilt of masters when the slave could not bear
witness against his owner and it was not likely that the neighbor equally
guilty or indifferent to the complaints of the blacks would take their
petitions to court.

Under this system a large number of slaves were brought into the Territory
especially after 1807. There were 135 in 1800. This increase came from
Kentucky and Tennessee. As those brought were largely boys and girls with
a long period of service, this form of slavery was assured for some years.
The children of these blacks were often registered for thirty-five instead
of thirty years of service on the ground that they were not born in
Illinois. No one thought of persecuting a master for holding servants
unlawfully and Negroes themselves could be easily deceived. Very few
settlers brought their slaves there to free them. There were only 749 in
1820. If one considers the proportion of this to the number brought there
for manumission this seems hardly true. It is better to say that during
these first two decades of the nineteenth century some settlers came for
both purposes, some to hold slaves, some, as Edward Coles, to free them.
It was not only practiced in the southern part along the Mississippi and
Ohio but as far north in Illinois as Sangamon County, were found servants
known as "yellow boys" and "colored girls." - See the _Laws of
Illinois_.]



CHAPTER II

A TRANSPLANTATION TO THE NORTH


Just after the settlement of the question of holding the western posts by
the British and the adjustment of the trouble arising from their capture
of slaves during our second war with England, there started a movement of
the blacks to this frontier territory. But, as there were few towns or
cities in the Northwest during the first decades of the new republic, the
flight of the Negro into that territory was like that of a fugitive taking
his chances in the wilderness. Having lost their pioneering spirit in
passing through the ordeal of slavery, not many of the bondmen took flight
in that direction and few free Negroes ventured to seek their fortunes in
those wilds during the period of the frontier conditions, especially when
the country had not then undergone a thorough reaction against the Negro.

The migration of the Negroes, however, received an impetus early in the
nineteenth century. This came from the Quakers, who by the middle of the
eighteenth century had taken the position that all members of their sect
should free their slaves.[1] The Quakers of North Carolina and Virginia
had as early as 1740 taken up the serious question of humanely treating
their Negroes. The North Carolina Quakers advised Friends to emancipate
their slaves, later prohibited traffic in them, forbade their members from
even hiring the blacks out in 1780 and by 1818 had exterminated the
institution among their communicants.[2] After healing themselves of the
sin, they had before the close of the eighteenth century militantly
addressed themselves to the task of abolishing slavery and the slave trade
throughout the world. Differing in their scheme from that of most
anti-slavery leaders, they were advocating the establishment of the
freedmen in society as good citizens and to that end had provided for the
religious and mental instruction of their slaves prior to emancipating
them.[3]

Despite the fact that the Quakers were not free to extend their operations
throughout the colonies, they did much to enable the Negroes to reach free
soil. As the Quakers believed in the freedom of the will, human
brotherhood, and equality before God, they did not, like the Puritans,
find difficulties in solving the problem of elevating the Negroes. Whereas
certain Puritans were afraid that conversion might lead to the destruction
of caste and the incorporation of undesirable persons into the "Body
Politick," the Quakers proceeded on the principle that all men are
brethren and, being equal before God, should be considered equal before
the law. On account of unduly emphasizing the relation of man to God, the
Puritans "atrophied their social humanitarian instinct" and developed into
a race of self-conscious saints. Believing in human nature and laying
stress upon the relation between man and man, the Quakers became the
friends of all humanity.[4]

In 1693 George Keith, a leading Quaker of his day, came forward as a
promoter of the religious training of the slaves as a preparation for
emancipation. William Penn advocated the emancipation of slaves, that they
might have every opportunity for improvement. In 1695 the Quakers while
protesting against the slave trade denounced also the policy of neglecting
their moral and spiritual welfare.[5] The growing interest of this sect in
the Negroes was shown later by the development in 1713 of a definite
scheme for freeing and returning them to Africa after having been educated
and trained to serve as missionaries on that continent.

When the manumission of the slaves was checked by the reaction against
that class and it became more of a problem to establish them in a hostile
environment, certain Quakers of North Carolina and Virginia adopted the
scheme of settling them in Northern States.[6] At first, they sent such
freedmen to Pennsylvania. But for various reasons this did not prove to be
the best asylum. In the first place, Pennsylvania bordered on the slave
States, Maryland and Virginia, from which agents came to kidnap free
Negroes. Furthermore, too many Negroes were already rushing to that
commonwealth as the Negroes' heaven and there was the chance that the
Negroes might be settled elsewhere in the North, where they might have
better economic opportunities.[7] A committee of forty was accordingly
appointed by North Carolina Quakers in 1822 to examine the laws of other
free States with a view to determining what section would be most suitable
for colonizing these blacks. This committee recommended in its report that
the blacks be colonized in Ohio, Indiana and Illinois.

The yearly meeting, therefore, ordered the removal of such Negroes as fast
as they were willing or as might be consistent with the profession of
their sect, and instructed the agents effecting the removal to draw on the
treasury for any sum not exceeding two hundred dollars to defray expenses.
An increasing number reached these States every year but, owing to the
inducements offered by the American Colonization Society, some of them
went to Liberia. When Liberia, however, developed into every thing but a
haven of rest, the number sent to the settlements in the Northwest greatly
increased.

The quarterly meeting succeeded in sending to the West 133 Negroes,
including 23 free blacks and slaves given up because they were connected
by marriage with those to be transplanted.[8] The Negro colonists seemed
to prefer Indiana.[9] They went in three companies and with suitable young
Friends to whom were executed powers of attorney to manumit, set free,
settle and bind them out.[10] Thirteen carts and wagons were bought for
these three companies; $1,250 was furnished for their traveling expenses
and clothing, the whole cost amounting to $2,490. It was planned to send
forty or fifty to Long Island and twenty to the interior of Pennsylvania,
but they failed to prosper and reports concerning them stamped them as
destitute and deplorably ignorant. Those who went to Ohio and Indiana,
however, did well.[11]

Later we receive another interesting account of this exodus. David White
led a company of fifty-three into the West, thirty-eight of whom belonged
to Friends, five to a member who had ordered that they be taken West at
his expense. Six of these slaves belonged to Samuel Lawrence, a Negro
slaveholder, who had purchased himself and family. White pathetically
reports the case of four of the women who had married slave husbands and
had twenty children for the possession of whom the Friends had to stand a
lawsuit in the courts. The women had decided to leave their husbands
behind but the thought of separation so tormented them that they made an
effort to secure their liberty. Upon appealing to their masters for terms
the owners, somewhat moved by compassion, sold them for one half of their
value. White then went West and left four in Chillicothe, twenty-three in
Leesburg and twenty-six in Wayne County, Indiana, without encountering any
material difficulty.[12]

Others had thought of this plan but the Quakers actually carried it out on
a small scale. Here we see again not only their desire to have the Negroes
emancipated but the vital interest of the Quakers in success of the
blacks, for members of this sect not only liberated their slaves but sold
out their own holdings in the South and moved with these freedmen into the
North. Quakers who then lived in free States offered fugitives material
assistance by open and clandestine methods.[13] The most prominent leader
developed by the movement was Levi Coffin, whose daring deeds in behalf of
the fugitives made him the reputed President of the Underground Railroad.
Most of the Quaker settlements of Negroes with which he was connected were
made in what is now Hamilton, Howard, Wayne, Randolph, Vigo, Gibson,
Grant, Rush, and Tipton Counties, Indiana, and Darke County, Ohio.

The promotion of this movement by the Quakers was well on its way by 1815
and was not materially checked until the fifties when the operations of
the drastic fugitive slave law interfered, and even then the movement had
gained such momentum and the execution of that mischievous measure had
produced in the North so much reaction like that expressed in the personal
liberty laws, that it could not be stopped. The Negroes found homes in
Western New York, Western Pennsylvania and throughout the Northwest
Territory. The Negro population of York, Harrisburg and Philadelphia
rapidly increased. A settlement of Negroes developed at Sandy Lake in
Northwestern Pennsylvania[14] and there was another near Berlin Cross
Roads in Ohio.[15] A group of Negroes migrating to this same State found
homes in the Van Buren Township of Shelby County.[16] A more significant
settlement in the State was made by Samuel Gist, an Englishman possessing
extensive plantations in Hanover, Amherst, and Henrico Counties, Virginia.
He provided in his will that his slaves should be freed and sent to the
North. He further provided that the revenue from his plantation the last
year of his life be applied in building schoolhouses and churches for
their accommodation, and "that all money coming to him in Virginia be set
aside for the employment of ministers and teachers to instruct them." In
1818, Wickham, the executor of his estate, purchased land and established
these Negroes in what was called the Upper and Lower Camps of Brown
County.[17]

Augustus Wattles, a Quaker from Connecticut, made a settlement in Mercer
County, Ohio, early in the nineteenth century. In the winter of 1833-4, he
providentially became acquainted with the colored people of Cincinnati,
finding there about "4,000 totally ignorant of every thing calculated to
make good citizens." As most of them had been slaves, excluded from every
avenue of moral and mental improvement, he established for them a school
which he maintained for two years. He then proposed to these Negroes to go
into the country and purchase land to remove them "from those
contaminating influences which had so long crushed them in our cities and
villages."[18] They consented on the condition that he would accompany
them and teach school. He travelled through Canada, Michigan and Indiana,
looking for a suitable location, and finally selected for settlement a
place in Mercer County, Ohio. In 1835, he made the first purchase of land
there for this purpose and before 1838 Negroes had bought there about
30,000 acres, at the earnest appeal of this benefactor, who had travelled
into almost every neighborhood of the blacks in the State, and laid before
them the benefits of a permanent home for themselves and of education for
their children.[19]

This settlement was further increased in 1858 by the manumitted slaves of
John Harper of North Carolina.[20] John Randolph of Roanoke endeavored to
establish his slaves as freemen in this county but the Germans who had
settled in that community a little ahead of them started such a
disturbance that Randolph's executor could not carry out his plan,
although he had purchased a large tract of land there.[21] It was
necessary to send these freemen to Miami County. Theodoric H. Gregg of
Dinwiddie County, Virginia, liberated his slaves in 1854 and sent them to
Ohio.[22] Nearer to the Civil War, when public opinion was proscribing the
uplift of Negroes in Kentucky, Noah Spears secured near Xenia, Greene
County, Ohio, a small parcel of land for sixteen of his former bondsmen in
1856.[23] Other freedmen found their way to this community in later years
and it became so prosperous that it was selected as the site of
Wilberforce University.

This transplantation extended into Michigan. With the help of persons
philanthropically inclined there sprang up a flourishing group of Negroes
in Detroit. Early in the nineteenth century they began to acquire property
and to provide for the education of their children. Their record was such
as to merit the encomiums of their fellow white citizens. In later years
this group in Detroit was increased by the operation of laws hostile to
free Negroes in the South in that life for this class not only became
intolerable but necessitated their expatriation. Because of the Virginia
drastic laws and especially that of 1838 prohibiting the return to that
State of such Negro students as had been accustomed to go North to attend
school, after they were denied this privilege at home, the father of
Richard DeBaptiste and Marie Louis More, the mother of Fannie M. Richards,
led a colony of free Negroes from Fredericksburg to Detroit.[24] And for
about similar reasons the father of Robert A. Pelham conducted others from
Petersburg, Virginia, in 1859.[25] One Saunders, a planter of Cabell
County, West Virginia, liberated his slaves some years later and furnished
them homes among the Negroes settled in Cass County, Michigan, about
ninety miles east of Chicago, and ninety-five miles west of Detroit.

This settlement had become attractive to fugitive slaves and freedmen
because the Quakers settled there welcomed them on their way to freedom
and in some cases encouraged them to remain among them. When the increase
of fugitives was rendered impossible during the fifties when the Fugitive
Slave Law was being enforced, there was still a steady growth due to the
manumission of slaves by sympathetic and benevolent masters in the
South.[26] Most of these Negroes settled in Calvin Township, in that
county, so that of the 1,376 residing there in 1860, 795 were established
in this district, there being only 580 whites dispersed among them. The
Negro settlers did not then obtain control of the government but they
early purchased land to the extent of several thousand acres and developed
into successful small farmers. Being a little more prosperous than the
average Negro community in the North, the Cass County settlement not only
attracted Negroes fleeing from hardships in the South but also those who
had for some years unsuccessfully endeavored to establish themselves in
other communities on free soil.[27]

These settlements were duplicated a little farther west in Illinois.
Edward Coles, a Virginian, who in 1818 emigrated to Illinois, of which he
later served as Governor and as liberator from slavery, settled his slaves
in that commonwealth. He brought them to Edwardsville, where they
constituted a community known as "Coles' Negroes."[28] There was another
community of Negroes in Illinois in what is now called Brooklyn situated
north of East St. Louis. This town was a center of some consequence in the
thirties. It became a station of the Underground Railroad on the route to
Alton and to Canada. As all of the Negroes who emerged from the South did
not go farther into the North, the black population of the town gradually
grew despite the fact that slave hunters captured and reenslaved many of
the Negroes who settled there.[29]

These settlements together with favorable communities of sympathetic
whites promoted the migration of the free Negroes and fugitives from the
South by serving as centers offering assistance to those fleeing to the
free States and to Canada. The fugitives usually found friends in
Philadelphia, Columbia, Pittsburgh, Elmira, Rochester, Buffalo,
Gallipolis, Portsmouth, Akron, Cincinnati, and Detroit. They passed on the
way to freedom through Columbia, Philadelphia, Elizabethtown and by way of
sea to New York and Boston, from which they proceeded to permanent
settlements in the North.[30]

In the West, the migration of the blacks was further facilitated by the
peculiar geographic condition in that the Appalachian highland, extending
like a peninsula into the South, had a natural endowment which produced a
class of white citizens hostile to the institution of slavery. These
mountaineers coming later to the colonies had to go to the hills and
mountains because the first comers from Europe had taken up the land near
the sea. Being of the German and Scotch-Irish Presbyterian stock, they had
ideals differing widely from those of the seaboard slaveholders.[31] The
mountaineers believed in "civil liberty in fee simple, and an open road to
civil honors, secured to the poorest and feeblest members of society." The
eastern element had for their ideal a government of interests for the
people. They believed in liberty but that of kings, lords, and commons,
not of all the people.[32]

Settled along the Appalachian highland, these new stocks continued to
differ from those dwelling near the sea, especially on the slavery
question.[33] The natural endowment of the mountainous section made
slavery there unprofitable and the mountaineers bore it grievously that
they were attached to commonwealths dominated by the radical pro-slavery
element of the South, who sacrificed all other interests to safeguard
those of the peculiar institution. There developed a number of clashes in
all of the legislatures and constitutional conventions of the Southern
States along the Atlantic, but in every case the defenders of the
interests of slavery won. When, therefore, slaves with the assistance of
anti-slavery mountaineers began to escape to the free States, they had
little difficulty in making their way through the Appalachian region,
where the love of freedom had so set the people against slavery that
although some of them yielded to the inevitable sin, they never made any
systematic effort to protect it.[34]

The development of the movement in these mountains was more than
interesting. During the first quarter of the nineteenth century there were
many ardent anti-slavery leaders in the mountains. These were not
particularly interested in the Negro but were determined to keep that soil
for freedom that the settlers might there realize the ideals for which
they had left their homes in Europe. When the industrial revolution with
the attendant rise of the plantation cotton culture made abolition in the
South improbable, some of them became colonizationists, hoping to destroy
the institution through deportation, which would remove the objection of
certain masters who would free their slaves provided they were not left in
the States to become a public charge.[35] Some of this sentiment continued
in the mountains even until the Civil War. The highlanders, therefore,
found themselves involved in a continuous embroglio because they were not
moved by reactionary influences which were unifying the South for its bold
effort to make slavery a national institution.[36] The other members of
the mountaineer anti-slavery group became attached to the Underground
Railroad system, endeavoring by secret methods to place on free soil a
sufficiently large number of fugitives to show a decided diminution in the
South.[37] John Brown, who communicated with the South through these
mountains, thought that his work would be a success, if he could change
the situation in one county in each of these States.

The lines along which these Underground Railroad operators moved connected
naturally with the Quaker settlements established in free States and the
favorable sections in the Appalachian region. Many of these workers were
Quakers who had already established settlements of slaves on estates which
they had purchased in the Northwest Territory. Among these were John
Rankin, James Gilliland, Jesse Lockehart, Robert Dobbins, Samuel Crothers,
Hugh L. Fullerton, and William Dickey. Thus they connected the heart of
the South with the avenues to freedom in the North.[38] There were routes
extending from this section into Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Pennsylvania.
Over the Ohio and Kentucky route culminating chiefly in Cleveland,
Sandusky and Detroit, however, more fugitives made their way to freedom
than through any other avenue,[39] partly too because they found the
limestone caves very helpful for hiding by day. These operations extended
even through Tennessee into northern Georgia and Alabama. Dillingham,
Josiah Henson and Harriet Tubman used these routes to deliver many a Negro
from slavery.

The opportunity thus offered to help the oppressed brought forward a class
of anti-slavery men, who went beyond the limit of merely expressing their
horror of the evil. They believed that something should be done "to
deliver the poor that cry and to direct the wanderer in the right
way."[40] Translating into action what had long been restricted to
academic discussion, these philanthropic workers ushered in a new era in
the uplift of the blacks, making abolition more of a reality. The


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Online LibraryCarter Godwin WoodsonA Century of Negro Migration → online text (page 2 of 14)