Ebenezer Davies.

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During his recent sojourn in the United States, the Author did not
conceive the intention of writing a book on the subject. All he
contemplated was the publication of a few letters in a London Journal
on which he had been accustomed to rely for intelligence from Europe
when residing in Berbice. So much he was disposed to attempt for
several reasons.

Having entered the States by their most Southern port - that of New
Orleans, and finding himself at once in the midst of Slavery, he had
opportunities of observing that system not often enjoyed by a British
"Abolitionist." As the Pastor, also, of a large congregation, of whom a
great number were but a few years ago held in cruel bondage, he would
naturally look upon the treatment of the same race in America with
keener eyes and feelings more acute than if he had not stood in that

Identified, too, with those persons who represent the principles of the
old Puritans and Nonconformists in England, he would survey the growth
and spread of those principles in their new soil and climate with a
more than common interest. New England, especially, on whose sods the
foot-prints of the Pilgrims had been impressed, and on whose rocks
their early altars had been reared, would be to him hallowed ground.

Travelling, leisurely, as he did, at his own expense, northward from
New Orleans to Boston, and westward as far as Utica, - making a tour of
more than four thousand miles, sometimes known and sometimes unknown,
just as inclination prompted, - representing no public body, bound to no
party, a "Deputation sent by himself," - he was completely free and
independent in thought and action, and enjoyed advantages for
observation which do not often meet.

It was natural that he should wish to tell his friends in Great
Britain, and in the West Indies, what he had seen and heard. To
denounce what is evil and to commend what is good is at all times
gratifying; in doing which, he sought to describe the men and the
manners of America just as they appeared to him.

Several letters, containing the narrative of a few days spent in New
Orleans, appeared in the _Patriot_. Their favourable reception by the
readers of that journal led to the preparation of the present volume,
in which the letters referred to, having undergone a careful revision,
re-appear, followed by nearly thirty others descriptive of the Author's

Our Transatlantic friends are morbidly sensitive as to the strictures
of strangers. They hate the whole tribe of Travellers and Tourists,
Roamers and Ramblers, Peepers and Proclaimers, and affect to ridicule
the idea of men who merely pass through the country, presuming to give
opinions on things which it is alleged so cursory a view cannot qualify
them fully to understand. Our cousins have, doubtless, had occasional
provocations from the detested race in question; but their feeling on
this point amounts to a national weakness. It is always worth knowing
how we appear to the eyes of others, and what impression the first
sight of us is apt to produce; and this knowledge none can communicate
but the stranger, the tourist, the passer-by. What faults and failings
soever we may have in England, and their "name is legion," by all means
let them be unsparingly exposed by every foreign tourist that treads
upon our soil. Let us be satirized, ridiculed, laughed at, caricatured,
anything, so that we may be shamed out of all that is absurd and
vicious in our habits and customs. In the present instance our Western
kinsmen are described by one, if they will believe his own testimony,
of the most candid and truthful of travellers, - one who has viewed them
and all their institutions, except _one_, with the most friendly eye,
and who deeply regrets that so much of what is lovely and of good
report should be marred and blotted by so much of what is disgraceful
to a great and enlightened people.

As to the performance in a literary point of view, the Author will say
nothing. The public will form their own judgment. If they like it, they
will read; if not, the most seductive preface would not tempt them.


LONDON, _January_ 1, 1849.



Occasion of Visit to the United States - First Impressions of the
Mississippi - Magnitude of that River - Impediment at its Entrance - The
New Harbour - The "Great" and "Fat" Valley - High Pressure Steam-Tug
Frolics - Slave-Auction Facetiae


American Oysters - Becalmed in the Mississippi - Anchor raised - Ship
ashore - Taken off by a Steam Tug - Slave-Sale Advertisements - Runaway
Negroes - Return of Fever - Terrific Storm - Frightful Position - Ashore at
New Orleans - A Ship-Chandler's Store - American Wheels - A
Joltification - The St. Charles's Hotel


New Orleans - The Story of Pauline - Adieu to the St Charles's - Description
of that Establishment - First Sight of Slaves for Sale - Texts for Southern
Divines - Perilous Picture


A Sabbath in New Orleans - The First Presbyterian Church - Expectoration - A
Negro Pew - The Sermon


First Religious Service in America (continued) - A Collection "taken
up" - Rush out - Evening Service - Sketch of the Sermon - Profanation of
the Sabbath - The Monthly Concert for Prayer


"Jack Jones" - A Public Meeting for Ireland - Henry Clay - Other
Speakers - American Feeling in reference to the Irish Famine - A


The Slave-Auction (continued) - "A Fine Young Woman" - A Man and his
Wife - Jim, the Blacksmith - A Family - A Ploughboy - Cornelia - Another
Jim - Tom, the House Boy - Edmund - Tom, and "his reserved rights" - A
Carriage Driver - Margaret and her Child


St. Louis Exchange - Inspection of Human Chattels - Artizan
Slaves - Scenes and Proceedings of the Auction - Sale of the Men


Sale of Women - Second Sabbath in New Orleans - Cricket in front of the
Presbyterian "Church" - The Baptist "Church" - A Peep at an American
Sabbath School - Proceedings in "Church" - A Sermon on "The New
Birth" - Nut-cracking during Sermon - "Close Communion"


Interview with a Baptist Minister - Conversation with a Young Man in the
Baptist Church - The Presbyterian Church, and Dr. Scott again - A Peep at
the House of Representatives of Louisiana - Contrast between the French
and the Americans in the Treatment of their Slaves - Dinner Table in New
Orleans - American Manners


Farewell to New Orleans - Revolting Bargain - "The Anglo Saxon"
Steam-boat - Moderate Fare - Steam Navigation of the Mississippi
- Steam-boat and Railway Literature - Parting View of the
"Crescent City" - Slave Advertisements - Baton Rouge - A Sugar
Estate - Fellow-Passengers - The Ladies' Cabin - A Baptist Minister - A
Reverend Slave-holder


Voyage up the Mississippi (continued) - "Patriarchal" Establishments - The
Red River - Elder Wright - Lynch Law administered by a Preacher - Natchez
- Story of Mary Brown - The Flat Boats of the Mississippi


Voyage up the Mississippi (continued) - Grand Gulph and Big Black
River - Snags - "I belong to myself, Sir" - Vicksburg and Lynch Law - A Man
Overboard - "Drove of Horses, Mules, and Niggers" - Character of
Fellow-Passengers - The Sabbath - Disobedience to Conscience


Voyage up the Mississippi (continued) - The Arkansas - Treatment of the
Indians - M de Tocqueville - "Napoleon" and Lynch Law - Memphis, and its
Advertisements - A Scene witnessed there - The Ohio - Nashville, and Amos


Voyage up the Ohio (continued) - Illinois - Evansville - Owensborough
- Indiana - New Albany - Louisville, and its Cruel Histories - The Grave of
President Harrison - Arrival in Cincinnati - First Impressions - The
Congregational Minister - A Welsh Service


Stay at Cincinnati (continued) - Close of the Welsh Service - The
Governor of Ohio and his Relatives - The "Black Laws" - Governor Bebb's
Hostility to them - Dr. Weed and American Versatility - Private
Lodgings - Introduction to Dr. Beecher and others - A Peep at a
Democratic Meeting


Stay at Cincinnati (continued) - The Democratic Meeting - A Visit to Lane
Seminary - "Public Declamation" - Poem on War - Essay on Education


Visit to Lane Seminary (continued) - Dr. Beecher and his Gun - The
College Library - Dr. Stowe and his Hebrew Class - History of Lane
Seminary - Qualifications for Admission - The Curriculum - Manual
Labour - Expenses of Education - Results - Equality of Professors and


A Sabbath at Cincinnati - The Second Presbyterian Church - Mutilation of
a Popular Hymn - The Rushing Habit - A wrong "Guess" - A German
Sunday-School - Visit to a Church of Coloured People - Engagement at the
Welsh "Church" - Monthly Concert - The Medical College of Ohio - Tea at
the House of a Coloured Minister


Stay at Cincinnati (continued) - The New Roman Catholic Cathedral - The
Rev. C.B. Boynton and Congregationalism - "The Herald of a New
Era" - American Nationality


Stay at Cincinnati (continued) - The Orphan Asylum - A Coloured Man and a
White Fop treated as each deserved - A Trip across to Covington - Mr.
Gilmore and the School for Coloured Children - "The Fugitive Slave to
the Christian" - Sabbath - Mr. Boynton - Dr. Beecher - Lane Seminary
- Departure from Cincinnati


Cincinnati - Its History and Progress - Its Trade and Commerce - Its
Periodical Press - Its Church Accommodation - Its Future Prospects
- Steaming up the Ohio - Contrast between Freedom and Slavery - An
Indian Mound - Splendid Scenery - Coal Hills


Arrival at Pittsburg - Its Trade and Prospects - Temperance-Newspapers
- Trip up the Monongahela to Brownsville - Staging by Night across the
Alleghany Mountains - Arrival at Cumberland - The Railway Carriages of


Journey by Railroad from Cumberland to Baltimore - A Tedious Stoppage - A
Sabbath in Baltimore - Fruitless Inquiry - A Presbyterian Church and Dr.
Plummer - Richmond and its Resolutions - Dr. Plummer's Pro-slavery
Manifesto - The Methodist Episcopal Church


A Sabbath at Baltimore (continued) - A Coloured Congregation - The
Thought of seeing Washington abandoned - Departure from Baltimore
- Coloured Ladies in the Luggage-Van - American Railways - Chesapeak
Bay - Susquehannah - State of Delaware, and Abolition of Slavery
- Philadelphia - Albert Barnes - Stephen Girard's Extraordinary Will


Departure from Philadelphia - A Communicative Yankee - Trenton - The
Mansion of Joseph Bonaparte - Scenes of Brainerd's Labours One Hundred
Years ago - First Impressions of New York - 150, Nassau-street - Private
Lodgings - Literary Society - American Lodging houses - A Lecture on
Astronomy - The "Negro Pew" in Dr. Patton's Church


A Presbyterian Church in New York, and its Pastor - The Abbotts and
their Institution - Union Theological Seminary - Dr. Skinner's
Church - New York University - A threatening "Necessity" - Prejudice
against Colour - A Fact connected with Mr. - - 's Church - Another Fact
in Pennsylvania - State of Public Opinion in New York - An Interview with
Dr. Spring - A Missionary Meeting in Dr. Adams's Church


A Visit to Mount Vernon - Dr. Robinson - Welsh Deputation - Queen Anne and
New York - The Sabbath - Preaching at Dr. L - - 's - Afternoon Service at
Mr. C - - 's - Tea at Dr. L - - 's - Evening Service at Mr. - - 's


The Rev. Theodore Sedgwick Wright - His Testimony against Caste - His
Funeral - Drs Cox and Patton - The Service in the House - The
Procession - The Church - The Funeral Oration - Mrs. Wright


Trip to New Haven - Captain Stone and his Tender Feeling - Arrival in New
Haven. - A Call from Dr. Bacon and the Rev. Mr. Dutton - Newspapers - The
Centre Church and Standing Order - The North Church and Jonathan
Edwards, junior


The Spot on which Whitfield preached - Judge Daggett - Governor
Yale - Yale College - The Libraries - Elliot's Indian Bible - Geological
Museum - Dr. Goodrich - Education and Expenses at Yale College - The
Graves of the Regicides


A Fast-Day - Political Sermons - A Church of Coloured People - The
Sabbath - Morning Service - Afternoon ditto and Dr. Hawes - Prayers at
College Chapel - United Service in North Church - The Cemetery - The
"Fathers" - Professor Gibbs - Annual Election - Statistics - Arrival at
Hartford - Mr. Hosmer - Chief Justice - Deaf and Dumb - Charter Oak


The "Retreat" - Introductions to the Insane - Piety and Profanity -
Service in the Fourth Church - Memorials of the Pilgrims - Dr. Bushnell
and his Opinions - The Mother Church and its Burying-Ground - The New
Cemetery - Prejudice against Colour - Mrs. Sigourney - Departure from
Hartford - Worcester and Elihu Burritt - Boston - The Rev. Seth Bliss - The
Cradle of Liberty - Mr. Garrison - Bunker's Hill


Boston (continued) - The Old South - Unitarianism, and Connection between
Church and State - A Welsh Service in an "Upper Room" - Laura Bridgman
and the Wedding Ring - Oliver Caswell - Departure from Boston - John Todd
and his Family - His Congregationalism - Albany and the Delevan
House - Journey to Utica - Remsen and the Welsh People - Dogs made to
churn, and Horses to saw Wood


A Peep at the House of Representatives in Albany - "The Chan is but a
Man," &c. - Sailing down the Hudson - Dr. Spring - His Morning
Sermon - Afternoon Service - Gough the great Lecturer - The Tract House
and Steam-presses - May-day in New York - Staten Island - Immigrants - A
hurried Glance


The May Meetings - Dr. Bushnell's Striking Sermon - Two Anti-Slavery
Meetings - A Black Demosthenes - Foreign Evangelical Society - A New Thing
in the New World - The Home-Missionary Society - Progress and Prospects
of the West - Church of Rome - Departure from New York - What the Author
thinks of the Americans


What the Author thinks of the Americans (continued) - Slavery
- Responsibility of the North - District of Columbia - Preponderance
of the Slave Power - Extermination of the Indians - President Taylor
and his Blood-hounds


Occasion of Visit to the United States - First Impressions of the
Mississippi - Magnitude of that River - Impediment at its Entrance - The
New Harbour - The "Great" and "Fat" Valley - High-Pressure Steam-Tug
Frolics - Slave-Auction Facetiae.

The ill health of my wife, occasioned by long residence amid the sultry
swamps of Guiana, compelled me a few months ago to accompany her on a
visit to the United States of America. Having taken our passage in a
ship to New Orleans, we found ourselves in fifteen days on the
far-famed Mississippi, - the "father of waters." On gazing around, our
first feeling was one of awe, to find ourselves actually ascending that
majestic stream, that great artery of the greatest valley in the world,
leading into the very heart of a continent. The weather was very cold;
the trees on the river's bank were leafless; and the aspect of nature
on every hand told it was winter. What a change! But a fortnight before
we were panting under an almost vertical sun. We found the Mississippi
much narrower than we had anticipated. In some places it is only about
half a mile wide; while below New Orleans it never, I should say,
exceeds a mile in width. This is remarkable, since not less than
fifty-seven large navigable rivers contribute to swell its waters. It
is, however, very deep, and, even at the distance of 500 miles above
New Orleans, is navigated by vessels of 300 tons; nay, at 1,364 miles
from its mouth, it attains an average depth of fifteen feet. In its
course, it waters 2,500 miles of country. Among the rivers that pour
themselves into this immense stream are - the Missouri, which has first
traversed a space of 2,000 miles; the Arkansas, 1,300 miles; the Red
River, 1,000 miles; and the Ohio, 700 miles.

Unfortunately, at the entrance of this noble river, there is a bar
called the Balize, so shallow as hitherto to have seriously interfered
with the navigation of large and deeply-laden vessels. Even for the
cotton trade, a particular construction of ship has been found needful,
with a flatter bottom than usual, in order to pass easily over this
bar, any effort to remove which the rapidity of the stream would render
fruitless. This circumstance, with the want of harbour at the mouth of
the Mississippi, has hitherto operated greatly against the trade with
New Orleans, which is 110 miles up the river. Recently, however, a
magnificent harbour has been discovered between Cat Island and Isle
Apitre, within Lake Borgne, and only ten miles from the coast of the
mainland. This new harbour, easily accessible from the sea, at all
times contains a depth of water varying from thirty to fifty feet, and
is so protected on all sides that vessels may ride with the greatest
safety in the worst weather. From this harbour to Bayou on the mainland
the distance is only twelve miles, and from Bayou to New Orleans
forty-six miles, - making altogether only fifty-eight miles from Cat
Island Harbour to New Orleans; whereas, by the difficult and dangerous
route of the Mississippi, the distance is 110 miles. The importance and
value of such a harbour it is difficult to over-estimate. Its
beneficial effect on the future destiny of the great valley will be

I have said the "great valley," and well it deserves the appellation.
It contains as many square miles, with more tillable ground than the
whole continent of Europe. It measures about 1,341,649 square miles,
and is therefore six times larger than France. And this valley is as
rich as it is extensive. It is the "fat" valley. Never did human eye
behold a finer soil, or more luxuriant productions. The treasures
beneath the surface are as precious as those above. The lead and copper
mines are among the best in the world. Iron and coal also abound.
Building materials, of beauty and strength, adapted to form cottages
for the poor or palaces for the rich, are not wanting. Nature has here
furnished in lavish profusion everything necessary for converting the
wilderness into smiling fields, studded with populous cities.

But we are not yet within the great valley. We are only at its
entrance, sailing up the "father of waters," against the stream, at the
rate of four or five miles an hour. It is usual for sailing-vessels to
be towed by steam-tugs to their destination; but, having a fair breeze,
and no tug at hand, we were indebted to our sails alone. The motion was
exceedingly pleasant, after the tossings we had had in the Gulf of
Mexico. The vessel glided smoothly along, and new objects presented
themselves continually on either hand.

My enjoyment of the scenery, however, was soon marred by an attack of
fever and ague, which sent me below. While I was down, several
steam-tugs towing vessels down the river met us. Their unearthly groans
filled me with terror. Their noise was not that of puff - puff
- puff - puff, like all the other steamers that I had ever
heard, but something composed of a groan, a grunt, and a
growl - deep-drawn, as from the very caverns of Vulcan, and that at
awfully-solemn intervals, - grunt - grunt - grunt - grunt! This
peculiarity, I was told, arose from their "high-pressure" engines. The
sound, thus explained, brought to my recollection all the dreadful
stories of boiler explosions with which the very name of the
Mississippi had become associated in my mind. But (thought I) they have
surely learned wisdom from experience, and are become more skilful or
more cautious than they used to be!

While I was engaged with these reflections, our captain came down, and
handed me a couple of New Orleans papers, which he had just received
from the pilot. Here was a treat; and, feeling a little better, I began
with eagerness to open one of them out. It was the _New Orleans Bee_ of
January 23; and, _horresco referens_, the first thing that caught my
eye was the following paragraph: -

"STEAM-BOAT EXPLOSION. - LOSS OF LIFE. - Captain Haviland, of the
steam-ship 'Galveston,' from Galveston, reports that the tow-boat
'Phoenix,' Captain Crowell, burst her boilers when near the head of the
South-west Pass [which we had but just passed], killing and wounding
about twenty-five in number, seven of whom belonged to the boat, the
_balance_ to a barque she had alongside; carrying away the foremast of
the barque close to her deck, and her mainmast above her cross-trees,
together with all her fore-rigging, bulwarks, and injuring her hull
considerably. The ship 'Manchester,' which she had also alongside, was
seriously injured, having her bulwarks carried away, her longboat
destroyed," &c.

Such was the paragraph, with not a syllable of note or comment on cause
or consequences. It was evidently an every-day occurrence. What
recklessness was here indicated! and how comforting to a sick and
nervous man, now near the very spot of the occurrence, and in a vessel
about to be placed in the same pleasant relation to one of those
grunting monsters as the unfortunate "barque" had but three days before
occupied, with the trifling "balance" of eighteen of her crew "killed
and wounded!"

The fever having left me, I ventured on deck. At this moment one of
these infernal machines came in sight, towing down three large ships.
Instead of having them behind, as on the Thames and Mersey, she (like
the "Phoenix") had one on either side, closely lashed to herself, and
the other only behind. This terrific monster seemed to be carrying them
away arm-in-arm, like two prisoners, to destruction. At all events, it
was a position of familiarity and friendship with the "Sprite of Steam"
of which I did not at all like the idea; and yet we ourselves were
by-and-by to be placed in its perilous embrace!

The dreaded monster gone by, I resumed the perusal of my New Orleans
papers. Now (thought I) I am in a slave country! I wonder whether these
papers will give any indication of the fact. In a little while my eye,
surveying the _Bee_ of January 21, caught sight of an advertisement
signed "N. St. Martin, Sheriff, Parish of St. Charles," and containing
a list of 112 human beings offered for sale! The miserable catalogue
was full of instruction. In drawing it up the humane sheriff became
quite facetious, telling the public that "Frank, 35 years old, American
negro, [was] _good for everything_;" while "Stephen, 46 years old,
[was] _fit for nothing at all_;" that "Salinette, 60 years old,
hospital-nurse, [was] _a good subject, subject to rheumatisms_;" and
that "Peter, American negro-man, 38 years old, [was] _a good cook,
having had two fits of madness_." I will back this against the Dublin
_Hue and Cry_.


American Oysters - Becalmed in the Mississippi - Anchor raised - Ship
ashore - Taken off by a Steam-Tug - Slave-Sale Advertisements - Runaway
Negroes - Return of Fever - Terrific Storm - Frightful Position - Ashore at
New Orleans - A Ship-Chandler's Store - American Wheels - A
Joltification - The St. Charles's Hotel.

The evening closed upon us, sailing pleasantly up the Mississippi.
Having a beautiful moonlight night, we kept on our way. About seven
o'clock we overtook a small fishing-boat laden with oysters. In
consideration of our allowing them - not the oysters, but the
boatmen - to fasten a rope to our vessel, to help them on, they gave us
a generous and refreshing supply. But such oysters! In neither size nor
shape did they resemble those of the Old World. As to size, they were
gigantic, - as to shape, not unlike the human foot. They abound not far
from the mouth of the river, and many men obtain a livelihood by
carrying them up to the New Orleans market. The mode of cooking adopted
in this instance was that of putting them on the fire till the shells
opened. To our taste, they were not in flavour to be compared to the
London oysters; but we did not venture to tell our American captain so.
We had yet, however, to taste the deliciously-cooked oysters of the
northern cities.

About 10 p.m., the breeze having in a great measure died away, our
captain thought it imprudent to attempt to "go a-head" further that
night, and the anchor was cast. We were now fifty miles above the
entrance of the river.

Early next day the anchor was raised, the sails were unfurled, and we
again moved along. About 8 a.m., through the narrowness of the river,

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Online LibraryEbenezer DaviesAmerican Scenes, and Christian Slavery A Recent Tour of Four Thousand Miles in the United States → online text (page 1 of 20)