Edward Mathews.

The autobiography of the Rev. E. Mathews : the Father Dickson, of Mrs. Stowe's Dred; also a description of the influence of the slave-party over the American presidents, and the rise and progress of the anti-slavery reform; with a preface by Handel Cossham, Esq online

. (page 1 of 30)
Online LibraryEdward MathewsThe autobiography of the Rev. E. Mathews : the Father Dickson, of Mrs. Stowe's Dred; also a description of the influence of the slave-party over the American presidents, and the rise and progress of the anti-slavery reform; with a preface by Handel Cossham, Esq → online text (page 1 of 30)
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Bequest of

Frederic Bancroft



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London :—HouLSTON AND Weight. Bristol :— Thomas

Mathews. New York, United States ;— -The Ameeicaw

Baptist Feee Mission Society; Offices, 37,

Paek Row.




Thomas Mathews, ], Museum Atenue
Park Stkeet, Bristol.



THE following pages are from the pen of an earnest
worker in the cause of human progress, civilization,
and religion. The Eev. Edward Mathews passed
several years of his life in the United States during
the time that the pro-slavery party of that country
were in power, and when it was dangerous both to
person and property to advocate practically the
doctrine on which the American constitution is based,
namely, — " That all men are born free and equal,
and are entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of
happiness.'^ Thanks, however, to the Providence of
Grod, and the efforts of that truly heroic and noble
band of men and women, who, after years of toil,
misrepresentation, and discouragement, have at last
succeeded in freeing the G-reat Western Eepublic
from the foul curse of Slavery, and removing the
great obstacle to the progress and prosperity of the
country ; the day of darkness has passed, I trust
for ever, in America, and henceforward, I hope and
believe, she will continue to advance in material and
moral greatness-

It is twelve months ago to-day since I left the
shores of America, and as the outline of Boston
harbour faded from my view, I could not but breathe
a prayer that the country I was leaving — (where in
connection with Sir Morton Peto and others with
whom I had been privileged to visit many of the


most interesting spots in the States, and where I
had also received so many proofs of hospitality and
kindness) — and the mother country, to which I was
then sailing, might always cherish for each other
feelings of generosity and respect, and that no " root
of bitterness" might ever arise' to trouble them.

I confess I am one of those who think that during
the late war we did the people of the Northern
States great injustice and wrong in the way in
which we, to a large extent, misrepresented alpiost
everything they said and did, — and in the stupid and
unreasoning sympathy we showed for the Southern
rebels ; who were not only traitors to a Grovernment
whose worst crime was that it had been too friendly
to their " Peculiar Institution," but they were also
guilty of the greatest crime that ever stained the
character of any party — namely, the desire to over-
throw all representative and constitutional Govern-
ment, to subvert a free press, a free platform, a free
pulpit, and a free school, and establish on the ruins
of these glorious institutions, the most inhuman and
accursed system that was ever set up in opposition
to the will of G-od, and the true interests of man.

The result, had they succeeded, would have been
neither more nor less than the entire degradation of
that middle and trading class that in every country,
has always been the best defenders of liberty and
the truest advocates of justice.

There are, no doubt, many great problems yet to
be solved before the political and social relations of
the coloured race will be fully and finally settled in


the States, and placed on a satisfactory basis ; but I
have faith in the good sense, the patriotism, and the
religious character of the American people, I believe
they are resolved to settle at once and for ever this
great question of the relation of the two races ; and
that in doing so they will prove the possibility, and
the advantage of doing justice to a weak and de-
pendant race, and show to all the world that in this,
as in everything else — " Honesty is the best and
soundest policy."

I also beg to congratulate the American people,
and in fact the friends of humanity and freedom on
both sides of the Atlantic, on the evident failure of
President Johnson in his unwise attempt to bully
the American people into the admission of the
Southern States to the Union without some satis-
factory and constitutional guarantee as to the relation
in which the coloured race are to stand for the future.
It is for the interest of North and South that this
relation should now be definitely and clearly under-
stood — so that the Stars and Stripes shall hereafter
equally protect the men of all races and colours.

To our disgrace be it spoken, that when we
abolished slavery in the West Indies, _we left an
Anti-slavery policy to be worked out by the Pro-
slavery party: — and hence we now hear of the
"failure of emancipation," and have lately had to
blush for our country through the atrocities per-
mitted by that weak and worthless representative of
the British Government in Jamaica — Governor Eyre
—who has, however, fortunately been recalled and


disgraced, and wlio will I hope, like Jefferson Davis,
be shortly placed at the bar of his country, — tried —
and then condemned to perpetual banishment.

For these reasons, I hail with pleasure, every book
that will tend to beget in England and America a
sense of the obligations under which we lie, and the
duty we owe to the coloured race, and that will also
tend to beget kindly feeling between the two countries.

I believe the following work from the pen of Mr.
Mathews, whom I have long known and highly
esteemed, will help to promote both these results,
and I therefore venture most cordially to recommend
it to the attentive perusal of every lover of liberty
and right on both sides of the Atlantic.


Hill House, near Bristol,
October 11th, 1866.



Chapter I. — Introductory — the Presidents from
"Washington to Jackson ... ... ... 3

Chapter II. — Family History and Autobiography
— Voyage to America — Eesidence in New York 22

Chapter III. — Studies at Hamilton Institute —
Appointment as a Missionary to "Wisconsin
—Tour to the West 42

Chapter lY. — Labours as a Missionary — Inci-
dents of Travel— Prairie AYolves — Pro-slavery
character of the Missionary Society — Eesig-
nation of office as a Missionary — Labours
for slave-emancipation ... ... ... 56

Chapter Y. — Proposal to become a Lecturing


Agent of the Illinois State Anti-slayerj
Society — Journey to Sheboygan — Lost in
the woods — Eeflections on the slave's con-
dition — Decision to become Agent of the
Anti-slavery Society — Discovery of a new
trail — A farm — Dangerpassed — Appointment
as Agent ... ... 76

Chapter YI. — Survey of the field ... ... 91

Chapter YII. — Anti-slavery Labours in East-
ern Wisconsin — Incidents of Travel. ... 102

Chapter VIII. — Anti-slavery Labours in Xorth-
ern, and Western Wisconsin — Incidents of
Travel — Opposition ... Hi

Chapter IX. — Anti-slavery Labours in Western
Wisconsin — Public Discussion — Mobs —A
Lynch-law Meeting . . . ... ... ... 134

Chapter X. — Anti -slavery Labours in Western
Wisconsin — A mob — Labours in Eastern
Wisconsin ... ... ... ... ... 148

Chapter XL — Labours for the emancipation of
two slaves illegally sent into bondage by the
Hev. James Mitchell — Opposition — One of
the slaves obtains [freedom — Mr. Mitchell
goes farther South ... 165

Chapter XII. — Anti-slavery Labours in East-
ern Wisconsin — Efforts to enlist Ministers
and Eeligious Bodies in the Anti-slavery
Eeform — Visit to the Great North- Western
Liberty Convention ... 203


Chapter XIII. — Appointment as a Lecturing
Agent of tlie "Wisconsin Territorial Anti-
Slavery Society — Labours in Southern Wis-
consin — Incidents of Travel — Cure for the
Ague — The relations of the Baptist Denomi-
nation to Slavery — Formation of a Baptist
Anti- slavery Missionary Society 228

Chapter XIV. — Review of the Influence of the
Slave-party over the Federal Government
during the above Labours ... 268

Chapter XV. — An Anti-slavery Lecturing Tour
to New York — Appointment as a Lecturing
Agent of the American Baptist Free Mission
Society — Labours in New England and New
York — Collection of materials for a History
of the Influence of the Slave-party over the
Baptist Denomination — Publication of the
Work 286

Chapter XVI. — Anti-slavery Labours com-
menced in Virginia — Danger of Imprison-
ment — Incidents of Travel ... 332

Chapter XVII. — Anti-slavery Labours in Vir-
ginia — Public Discussion — Evils of slavery,
Objections to emancipation — Nat Turner's
insurrection — Case of Bishop Andrew ... 345

Chapter XVIII. — Anti-slavery Labours in Vir-
ginia — Preaching to slaveholders — Argu-
ments with them — Visit to an Anti-slavery
College in Indiana — Eating with coloured
passengers on the steam-boat — A Handbill


circulated against Caste — Treatment of

coloured passengers

Chapter XIX. — Eetum to New York — Anti-
slaverj Labours — Visit to Kentucky — Argu-
ments with slaveholders

Chapter XX. — Anti-slavery Labours in Ken-
tucky — Arrested by Lynchers — Bound and
Blindfolded — The Ordeal — Thrown ten times
into the water — Promise to leave Kentucky
— Eeturnto the Free States — Appointed to
Labour in England — Voyage to England —
Summary of Labours — Conclusion.




The Presidents.

Dates of their Administrations.



Washington and Jefferson


John Adams and John Quincy Adams

... 11

Madison and Monroe ...

... 16

Jackson and Van Buren

... 94

Harrison ...

... 268

Tyler and Polk

... 269

Taylor and Fillmore

... 381

Pierce and Buchanan

... 430

Lincoln and Johnson

... 434


NEW TOBK, IT. S. A., MAY 1, 1866.

"We have received the first sheets of an Auto-
biography of Brother Edward Mathews, the original
Father Dickson of ' Dred.' It will be a very inter-
esting work. The first chapter discusses the American
Constitution ; compares Washington and Jefferson ;
the Adamses, father and son ; Madison and Monroe ;
and traces the aggressions of the slave-party and the
motives of their course, with that clear and close
discrimination which characterises every thing that
proceeds from Brother Mathews's pen.

jFEOM the ''AMEBIC an BA^TI^T^
AUGUST 21, 1866.

"We have received the closing sheets of this memoir,
ending with page 444<. The work has been constantly
growing in interest since the first chapters. The
whole is admirably written and shows a perfect
insight into the characters and policy of the men
who precipitated us into our civil war. We copy on
our first page an extract from one of the early chap-
ters. Brother Mathews intends to print an edition


for this country, and it will probably be published
under the auspices of the Free Mission Society.
"We are sure that all Tree Missionists will want the
work, especially those who with him bore the burden
and heat of the day, when to be an abolitionist was
to be a social outcast. Brother Mathews thus sharply
draws the distinction between Lincoln and Andrew
Johnson. " Lincoln tried by every means that his
sense of duty permitted to save the country from
war; Johnson has pursued a course calculated to
awaken the war feeling. Lincoln was anxious to do
his duty ; Johnson is anxious to stand well with the
ruling classes of the south. Lincoln had right im-
pulses but in shaping his policy yielded to his cabinet.
Johnson has southern impulses, which direct his
policy and that of his cabinet. Lincoln's great diffi-
culty was slavery ; Johnson's great difficulty is equal
rights for all."

We shall be happy to receive subscriptions for the
work, and wiU, as soon as practicable state the price
at which it can be furnished.


— October 1, 1856.
The Oegan or the Bbitish and Foreign Anti-

Slayeby Society.
" In her delineations of the ministerial body, Mrs.
Stowe has produced pictures which will be easily
recognized. The temporizing do-nothing policy of
the Northern divines, and the open criminality of
those of the South, in their participation and ad-
vocacy of the peculiar institution are properly and
unsparingly laid bare. In Father Dickson we have
an Abolitionist minister-martyr. Unfortunately, the
vile deeds of Tom Gordon and his reckless drunken
associates, find frequent parallels in the States. The
Bev.. E. Mathews, now in England, and whose case is
recorded in the Key to Uncle TorrCs Cabin can bear
personal testimony to the unsparing severity of
Jiynch-law in Kentucky. We presume, from this
reference to his case, that he stands for the original
of Father Dickaon."


The American constitution— principles— compromises. Th<»,
Presidents from 1789 to 1828. Washington and Jefferson com-
pared—their official acts pro-slavery and anti-slavery— su-
premacy of slavery— their anti-slavery sympathies— retribution
follows slavery. The two Adams', father and son, compared —
their official acts pro-slavery and anti-slavery — payment claimed
of England for refugee slaves at the close of each war — anti,
slavery influence of both father and son — aid of the latter to
the anti-slavery reformers. — supremacy of slavery, Madison
and Monroe compared— the slave-party dictates the embargo
and non-intercourse acts— the war with England — and the
Missouri compromise — anti-slavery sympathies of each Presi-
dent — supremacy of slavery.

Ameeican institutions and their influence in forming
the American character, have recently become pro-
minent subjects of thought and discussion in England.
This is owing, in great part, to the American war.
Before the commencement of the war a discussion
had been carried on between the slaveholders and the
abolitionists for a period of thirty years. This con-
flict of principles preceded the conflict of armies ;
and a knowledge of the principles involved in the dis-
cussion is not only essential to an understanding of
the origin of the w^ar ; but also to a correct appre-
ciation of the influence of American institutions in
forming the American national character.


To impart information on so interesting and prac-
tical an inquiry I enter upon this work, premising
that I resided for nineteen years in the United States ;
advocated publicly emancipation for eleven years ;
and learned by experience the tender mercies
of Lynch-law as dispensed by the slave-party in

I became a resident in the United States during
the presidency of Andrew Jackson. In my labours
as an anti-slavery advocate I found, in common with
all my co-workers, that the pro-slavery policy of the
American Presidents had placed formidable obstacles
in the way of emancipation. The policy was founded
in the compromises of the constitution ; and the
Anti-slavery struggle can only be fully understood by
a clear view of this policy and these compromises. I
propose, therefore, to explain the one and to describe
the other in this introductory chapter.

Among the slaveholders who were members of the
Convention that framed the constitution of the United
States in 1787, were some who regarded Slavery as
the highest question, if not the highest good ; and,
unhappily, they obtained from that Convention four
concessions in favour of slavery. This was the
greatest victory they achieved, being the groundwork
of all the rest. These concessions, usually termed
the compromises of the constitution, were the follow-
ing: — first, that slaves escaping from one state to
another should be returned to their masters ; second,
that in the representative population every five slaves
should be counted as three free white people, though
no slave was to vote ; third, that if the slaves rose to


obtain their liberty the military forces of the United
States were to be engaged in subjugating them ; and
fourth, that the slave-trade between Africa and
America was not to be suppressed for twenty years.
So that, although the constitution of the United
States was established to secure justice and the bles-
sings of liberty, these being its professed princijDles,
they were ignored by the compromises just recorded,
and, as the result — four millions of persons groaned
in chattel- slavery under a constitution framed to
jiecure justice and the blessings of liberty.

In proceeding to trace the influence of the coui-
})romises on the policy of the Presidents the following
table will be useful for reference : —

George Washington was President from 1789 to 1797

John Adams „ „ „ 1797 to 1801

Thomas Jefferson „ „ „ 1801 to 1809

James Madison „ „ „ 1809 to 1817

James Monroe „ „ „ 1817 to 1825

John Quincy Adams „ „ „ 1825 to 1829

Andrew Jackson „ „ „ 1829 to 1837

Martin Van Buren „ „ „ 1837 to 1841
William Henry Harrison)

John Tyler S "

James K. Polk „ „ „ 1845 to 1849

Zachary Taylor „ „ 1849 to July 9, 1850

Millard Fillmore „ „ July 9, 1850 to 1853

Pranklin Pierce „ „ 1853 to 1857

James Buchanan „ „ „ 1857 to 18G1

Abraham Lincoln „ „ „ 1861 to 1865

Andrew Johnson „ „ „ 1865 to

1841 to 1845


Eespecting the Presidents, their policy may, perhaps,
be best shown by comparisons and contrasts, of Wash-
ington with Jefferson ; John Adams with John
Quincy Adams ; Madison with Monroe ; and so of
the other Presidents to Andrew Johnson. Com-
mencing with Geosge Washington and Thomas
Jeffekson — both of these sanctioned the extension of
slavery to the territories of the United States, or the
unsettled land — the common property of all the
states, which was held in trust by the Federal govern-
ment. Washington admitted to the Union the slave-
states of Kentucky and Tennessee, and the free state
of Vermont; Jefferson admitted to the Union the
free state of Ohio, but no slave state, because none

Washington signed the law establishing slavery in
the District of Columbia, which made the city of
Washington the chief slave-mart of the United
States ; he signed the law which excluded from
citizenship coloured foreigners ; and the law which
excluded coloured citizens from training in the militia.

The latter precedent, probably, induced President
Lincoln to refuse the aid of 100,000 coloured men
for the army during the former part of the civil war.

Washington made no effort to exclude slavery from
the territories ; Jefferson proposed a law to exclude
slavery from almost the whole of them— which
eventually resulted in making five free states north-
west of the Ohio river.

Washington as a member of the Virginia legis-
lature made no effort to abolish slavery in that state ;
Jefferson, when a member of that body, proposed


such a law, but it was rejected by the Virginia
legislature. In the messages of Washington to Con-
gress, the only reference to slavery is a complaint
against the British government for not paying for
the slaves, who by taking refuge under her flag in the
war of 1776, obtained their liberty. In the messages
of Jefferson to Congress, the only reference to slavery
^*3 a congratulation that the time had arrived when
the compromises of the constitution no longer pre-
vented a law from be^ng passed to suppress the slave-
trade between Africa and America,

A law was passed during Washington's adminis-
tration prohibiting Americans from conveying slaves
from one foreign port to another ; but a better law
for the same object was enacted during Jefferson's
administration. Under Washington the home or
inter-state slave-trade was practised but not legalized ;
under Jefferson it was both practised and legalized.
Under the former the African slave-trade was con-
tinued ; under the latter it was prohibited ; and pre-
ceding its prohibition a law was signed by Jefferson
forbidding the carrying of African slaves to any
one of the United States that had, by its laws,
prohibited their introduction. Washington signed a
fugitive slare law in 1793, which was the parent of
the fugitive slave law of 1850 ; and in its chief
characteristics equally infamous vrith its offspring,
Washington made an unsuccessful attempt to regain
one of his escaping slaves — a woman. Jefferson,
though making no effort to repeal the fugitive slave
law, approved of the flight of some of his slaves.
Washington, however, did not stand in the twofold


relation of master and father to any of his slaves.
Jefferson sustained this two-fold relation and one of his
own slave daughters was publicly sold in New Orleans.

"Washington by his will emancipated his slaves. It
is a disputed point whether Jeiferson did so. "Wash-
ington was not susceptible of French influence ;
Jefferson, through his sceptical views, was greatly so,
and hence signed the embargo law. This gratified
the slave-party because it destroyed New England's
commerce ; and gratified Bonaparte because it injured
Old England's interests, and thus led to the second
war between England and America in 1812. "Wash-
ington subdued an insurrection led by Shan, arising
from the tax on whisky; Jefierson prevented the
success of a formidable conspiracy to invade Mexico,
extend slavery, and break up the Union, organized by
Aaron Burr. (This conspiracy repeated itself in the
acquisition of Texas, and was successful in extending
slavery. It thenceforth secretly gathered force and
in 1860 displayed its power in the secession and the
Southern Confederacy.)

In the Congress of 1774, "Washington gave a
pledge, as did every other member,'! to promote the
abolition of the African slave-trade. In the Congress
of 1776, in the Declaration of Independence, Jeffer-
son proposed to commit the Eevolutionary movement
not only to a separation from England, but also to
the abolition of the slave-trade and slavery. A para-
graph to this eftect in the Declaration of Inde-
pendence was stricken out by the slave-party. "Wash-
ington purchased for the government no slave
territory ; Jefierson purchased of Bonaparte the.


Louisiana Territory of which were formed three slave
states ; thus paving the way for the annexation of
Texas, and the war with Mexico. His object, probably,
was to benefit the nation by the acquisition of the
land— not to strengthen the slave system. Had
Washington resisted the slave party he would pos-
sibly have lost South Carolina and Georgia — but
would have made an anti-slavery nation. In making
the attempt he would have had fewer difficulties than
Jefterson, had he tried to do so. The slave victims
were not so numerous ; the slave party not so well
organized ; while the anti-slavery sentiment was
stronger and more general than when Jefferson came
into power ; Jefferson, therefore, would have had to
contend with a slave-party made vigorous by the
continued concessions of his two predecessors, Wash-
ington and Adams.

Washington, as the first President, strengthened
the slave-party by the pro-slavery precedents he estab-
lished; and which were followed by each succeed-
ing President to the time of Lincoln. Jefferson
strengthened the slave-party by the land he acquired
and the democratic party he organized and led,
(The federalists desired a strong central government
and feared lest too much power should be held by
the government of each state ; the democrats desired
that each state should have a strong government and
feared lest too much power should be held by the
federal government.) The sanction given by Wash-
ington to slavery told more against the anti-slavery
reform than that given by Jefferson ; because he was
held in such estimation for his abilities as a general,


his dignity as a statesman, and his wisdom as a ruler.
Many an audience in America has been infuriated
against an anti-slavery lecturer who denounced slave-
holding as man- stealing by the response, by a pro-

Online LibraryEdward MathewsThe autobiography of the Rev. E. Mathews : the Father Dickson, of Mrs. Stowe's Dred; also a description of the influence of the slave-party over the American presidents, and the rise and progress of the anti-slavery reform; with a preface by Handel Cossham, Esq → online text (page 1 of 30)