Providence Anti-Slavery Society.

The report and proceedings of the first annual meeting of the Providence Anti-slavery Society. With a brief exposition of the principles and purposes of the abolitionists online

. (page 1 of 1)
Online LibraryProvidence Anti-Slavery SocietyThe report and proceedings of the first annual meeting of the Providence Anti-slavery Society. With a brief exposition of the principles and purposes of the abolitionists → online text (page 1 of 1)
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Brief Exposition of tlie Principles and
Purposes of the Abolitionists.




rinsT •f.T.lTVIl/ RErOUT



The Providence Anti- Slavery Society was
organized on the 7th of June last. It was then de-
termined that the annual meetings should be held on
the second Friday of November. That time has
arrived; and although only five months have elapsed
since our formation, many events have transpired to
encourage us greatly in the work we then began.
We associated that we might co-operate together,
and with others, in the use of all Christian means
for the Abolition of Slavery in our land. The glad
tidings have since reached us, that, by the persever-
ing use of such means, the philanthropists of Great
Britain have at leiiffth achieved the overthrow of the
same abomination, so long upheld by that govern-
ment. And we rejoice this day in being able to
report that hundreds in our country have espoused
the same righteous cause, since the date of our As-
sociation. Within the past five months, an Anti-
Slavery Society has been formed in Andovcr, Mass.;
another by the Young Men in Boston ; a third in
Portland, Maine ; a fourth in New Haven ; a fifth
in Plainfield, Conn.; a sixth at Hudson, in the
Western Reserve, Ohio; <i. seventh in Paint Valley,
Ohio; an eighth in New York City, and a 7i//i//i in
Pittsburgh, Penn. We have moreover every reason
to believe that a National Anti-Slavery Society will
be instituted ere lone:- Numerous excellent tracts

and larger works, on Slavery, have been issued dur-
ing the brief term of which we have been speaking;
and every where throughout our country the news-
papers and other periodicals have ventured to broach
this hitherto interdicted subject. Well may these
things animate usf They do indeed strengthen our
hands and encourage our hearts to go on and labor
more abundantly in the cause we have espoused.

Are there any here who would damp our ardor by
reminding us that every where the project, in which
we have engaged, is opposed — the very name we
bear cast out as evil, and our sentiments denounced
as fanatical, incendiary and treasonable? Let them
tell us, if they can, what great moral reformation was
ever undertaken, which did not arouse opposition,
violent in proportion to the inveteracy of the wick-
edness to be overborne, and the determination with
which its strong holds were assailed ! It is indeed
the best proof we can have, that the proper means to
reform a public vice have been devised, when those
who are implicated in that vice are disturbed. How
patient and uncomplaining were the votaries and
abettors of Intemperance, under the discourses which
were from time to time delivered from the pulpit,
and the essays which occasionally appeared in our
periodicals, upon the sin of drunkenness in the ab-
stract. But when the Temperance Association was
formed, then was heard the voice of angry opposi-
tion — and why ? Because, forsooth, that Association
struck at the root of the vice, and the blow was felt
through all its branches.

When Clarkson and Wilberforce commenced
their labors for the suppression of the Slave Trade,
they were reviled and execrated. The life even of
Clarkson was repeatedly threatened, and several
times in imminent peril, from the malice of his foes,
who were the men engaged directly or indirectly in
the atrocious traffic he had determined to suppress.

We might adduce several other striking illustra-
tions, but we need mention only the signal example
in the history of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though
now he is ackno^^ledged by all to have been the Suil
of Righteousness, the Anointed of God, the Savior
of the world, } et was he despised and rejected of
men, and persecuted even unto death, because he
preached the truth, exposed wickedness wherever it
existed, and labored to redeem men from all their

Let it not then be thought that the opposition
which is shown to our project, and the opprobrious
epithets that are so liberally bestowed upon those
who are engaged in it, are any evidence that the
Anti-Slavery cause is unworthy of the patronage of
the wisest and best. No. All history shows that
the opposite inference ought rather to be drawn.

The only points, upon which rational and moral
men can consistently require to be satisfied, are,y?/"5^,
whether the principles of the Anti-Slavery Societies
are correct and accordant with the Christian religion.
Secondly, whether the means they propose to use are
lawful, worthy and judicious. Every one, whom we
call upon to unite with us to abolish Slavery, may
very properly demand of us to satisfy them that we
are not laboring to disseminate erroneous sentiments,
and unnecessarily stirring up strife. What then, let
it now be explicitly stated, are our sentiments ?

We believe, and would do all in our power to con-
vince others, that " God hath made of one blood all
nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the
earth." The numerous physical, intellectual and mo-
ral diversities, which are found to subsist in the hu-
man race, we believe to be incidental, not originally
inherent. We do not and cannot know what was
the complexion, or the stature, or the precise form, of
the first parents of mankind ; and therefore we can-
not know which of all their descendants have depart-


ed most, and which least, from a resemblance to

We believe, and would disseminate as widely as
J)ossible the belief, that " God is no respecter of per-
sons, but that in every nation he that feareth him and
Worketh righteousness, is accepted with him." We
cannot persuade ourselves that anything else is of
so much value in the sight of God, or that anything
(clse should be so highly valued among men as right-
eousness. Incalculable mischief is done to the cause
of human happiness, no less than to human virtue, by
the undue estimation which is so generally placed
upon the possession of wealth, of beauty, of elegant
accomplishments, and upon the color of the skin.

We believe, and would do all in our power to per-
suade our countrymen to believe, that " all men are
created free and equal, and are endowed by their Creator
with certain inalienab/e rights, among which are life,
liberty and the pursuit of happiness." This momen-
tous doctrine is indeed very solemnly announced in
our Declaration of Independence ; and our nation
vaunts itself as the champion of this doctrine ; yet
there is not a nation in the world that has so grossly
violated the rights of man as we have done, and are
doing this moment ! More than two millions of our
fellow beings, more than one sixth of the inhabitants
of this land, are held in the most abject bondage!

We believe, yes, w^e peremptorily declare, and
shall resolutely maintain that no man can have a right
of property in human creatures. No individual or
community can have a good title to the liberty of
men, excepting only where liberty has been forfeited
to society by crime. This follows as an unavoida-
ble inference, if the previous doctrine be true. If
one is self-evident, the other is equally so.

We therefore do not think it enough to call Slav-
ery in the United States a national evil — we denounce
it as an atrocious national sin — a sin for which we

can ot'fev less excuse than any people on earth — a sin
which is bringing upon us the contempt of the world,
the high displeasure of Heaven, and, if it be persist-
ed in, must ere long cause our ruin.

We believe that men cannot leave off sinning too
soon — that it cannot be dangerous to cease from do-
ing evil at any moment.

We insist that the colored inhabitants of our land
have as good a right to the privileges and immunities
of American citizens, as any other class of our inhab-
itants. Those who were born here, i. e. a large pro-
portion of the colored people, are Americans by birth.
They are no more Africans, than we are Europeans.
The United States is their home, as much as ours.
It is heinous wickedness, it is cruel persecution, in
us so to treat them as to make them wish to flee
from their country. And to insist, that their removal
from the land of their birth should be the condition
of their emancipation from Slavery, is an outrageous
violation of our most sacred civil as well as religious
prmciples. All the colored people who possess the
qualifications which are demanded of others, ought
to be admitted forthwith to the enjoyment of the
same privileges, and the exercise of the same prero-
gatives as others. x\nd all of them who do not pos-
sess such qualifications, ought to have every facility
afforded for attaining them as soon as possible. They
ought not to be held as property, and treated as
brutes a moment longer. All laws derogatory to
them as rational and moral beings, ought to be repeal-
ed. They should no longer be left at the mercy of
their petty tyrants — liable to be bought and sold like
cattle — denied the protection of public justice — with-
held from the lights of knowledge and of religion.
They should be in subjection only to the civil arm —
and that arm ought to hold over them and their white
brethren the equal scale of justice. The life and lib-
erty of colorecl men should lie as sacred as our own ;


and they ought to be fitted as soon as they may be
to exercise and enjoy all the prerogatives of freemen.
These changes in their condition surely cannot be
effected too soon. Let therefore such measures only
be adopted, as will tend directly to produce them.
Let us not temporize about the highest interests —
the inalienable rijihts of more than two millions of
the inhabitants of our land ! !

Such are our principles. Is there one of them
which any rational man, especially if he be a Christ-
ian, will venture to controvert ?

We now proceed to the inquiry of those, who de-
mand of us by what means we propose to accomplish
our purposes? We answer, by means precisely like
those which have been employed with so much effect
towards the subversion of Intemperance. We propose
to circulate Tracts urging upon the consciences of
our fellow-citizens the heinous wickedness of Slave-
ry — exposing the perpetual injustice, and the occa-
sional cruelties which are tolerated and enforced by
the laws of our land — exhibiting also without a veil
the loathsome vices which are prevalent wherever
the Institution of Slavery is upheld.

We intend, so soon as we may be able, to send out
living agents to cry aloud and spare not, to lift up their
voices like trumpets, and show this people their great
transgressions, and the fearful calamities which im-
pend over them.

Respecting Slavery in the District of Columbia,
and other portions of our territory, which are under
the immediate government of Congress, we mean to
petition Congress, and reiterate our petitions year
after year, until at least the place where our national
legislators convene, is purified. We shall labor, in
co-operation with others, so to correct public opinion,
and arouse public feeling in New England, that she
will utter herself in the cause of the oppressed, as it
would become her to do ; and instruct her Repre-


sentatives in Compress on all occasions to announce
her sentiments, and urge her wishes in opposition to

Thus it will be seen that we rely wholly on moral
power — the power of tJie truth. "Who is there that
will dare say this is not a proper, legitimate, Christ-
ian-like, republican mode of proceeding? Is not this
the mode provided in the very Constitution of the
United States, by which we are to correct the evils,
that may exist under the government, of which that
Constitution is the basis; or even to amend the de-
fects of that instrument itself? Is not the freedom of
speech and of the press secured to us in that charter
of our liberties? Is it not acknowledged by all, who
understand the genius of a republican government,
that the right of thinking for ourselves, and of speak-
ing, writing and printing our opinions, is fundamen-
tal? Without this, the evils, which are incident to this
form of society, cannot be corrected; no — nor our
freedom long preserved.

The Anti-Slavery Societies wish for no other means
than these. We have hitherto used only these ; nor
can we ever have need to resort to any other.

Our numbers, in this Providence Society, are com-
paratively, few; but we have not therefore been idle
nor timid in our appropriate sphere of duty. Assured
of the justice of our cause, we have labored in it as
we were able. Our first public meeting was held on
the 4th of July, when an Address was delivered in
the afternoon in this city, by Rev. Thomas ^Vil-
liams, and repeated in the evening of the same dav,
at Pawtucket. The audiences assembled at both
places were highly respectable ; and a collection of
about twenty dollars was taken in aid of our funds.

The next quarterly meeting of the Society was

held on the 13th of September, when a public address

was delivered by Rev. Samuel J. May, of Brooklyn.

We have purchased and distributed one hundred


copies of Stuart's " West India Question," a pam-
phlet published in England, showing in the most con-
clusive manner, the duty, safety and good economy
of the Immediate Emancipation of Slaves. Also,
one hundred copies of " Prejudice Vincible," a letter
from James Cropper of Liverpool to the venerable
Clarkson, showing that the prejudices against our
colored brethren may be and ought to be overcome.
Also, one hundred and sixty-eight copies of Rankin's
Letters, exposing some of the abominations of Slav-
ery in our own country. Besides these, we have
distributed several hundreds of other tracts, which
have been given us by benevolent individuals ; and
we have lately ordered four hundred copies of J. G.
Whittier's excellent pamphlet entitled " Justice and

Such, friends and fellow-citizens, is our Report
In conclusion, we beg of you to examine thoroughly
the Tracts we have issued — and, scrutinize, as close-
ly as you may, every sentiment contained in them.
We shrink not from the investigation of our opinions.
If they are erroneous, let it be made to appear as
soon as possible.

We intreat those of you who are thoroughly con-
vinced of the correctness of our views and senti-
ments, to come without delay and unite with us to
deliver more than two millions of our countrymen
from Slavery and degradation; and redeem our be-
loved country from her greatest iniquity.

P R O C E E tH jv G S




Holden at Mechanics' Hall, in Providence, on the^^. ,

of November, 1S33. " ^^y

The meeting was called to order by the Presidei
at half past six o'clock.

The proceedings of the last meeting were read by
the Secretary.

The Executive Committee then presented their
Annual Report which was read and unanimously

The following Resolution was presented by Rev.
Thomas Williams, to wit :

Resolved, That the immediate and unconditional
Abolition of Slavery throughout the United States is
imperiously demanded, not less for the national safety,
than by the dictates of Republicanism and Philan-

The meeting was addressed by Rev. Mr. Williams,
after which the Resolution was seconded and sup-
ported by Rev. George Bourne, of New York city,
and unanimously passed.

The following Resolution was presented by Mr.

Charles C. Burleigh, of Brooklyn, Conn, to wit:

Resolred, That the pretence of the Colonization
Society to be in intention and effect an Ami-Slavery
Society, is false and unfounded.

Mr. Burleigh addressed the meeting at gome


length, in support of -'lis Resolution, uliicli was sec-
onded and passed »vith one dissenting voice.

The follov""S Resolution was offered by Mr.

Bourne, t^ ^''^'

Resolv^'^ y/irt/! the improvement of the condition of

fj rol' "^'^ P^^P^^ ^'^ ^he United States is a debt of

, dugnitude, vjhich is owing by us to that class of

^erican citizens, the full and prompt payment of

Jiich is enforced by all the claims of justice and the

Christian religion.

On the passage of this Resolution, Rev. Mr. Bourne
addressed the meeting in an energetic and able man-
ner, and the Resolution passed unanimously.

The following gentlemen were then elected Offi-
cers of the Society, to wit:

Mr. jo si ah CADY.

Rev. ray potter.




Mr. gilbert RICHMOND.


Mk. henry E. BENSON.




'['he rneetini: w;is tlien ndjourufd.



We the undersigned, believe that a difference in
the human complexion forms no just exception to
the principle which assumes that " all men are cre-
ated equal, and are endowed by their Creator with
certain unalienable rights." Hence, we believe, that
every slave is entitled to imm.ediate emancipation
from bondage ; and that the people of color are enti-
tled to the same natural and political privileges with
other persons.

And since our colored brethren and sisters, with
few exceptions, are in no condition to assert their
own rights, we believe it to be the solemn duty of
those who are in the full enjoyment of these sacred
privileges, to advocate their cause by all peaceful
and lawful measures. Other means than these we
disclaim, and will give no countenance to violence or
insurrection. With such vie^^ s and intentions, we
agree to form ourselves into a Society, under the
following Constitution.

Article 1. The Society shall be called the Pro-
vidence Anti-Slavery Society.

Art. 2. The objects of the Society shall be to en-
deavor by all means sanctioned by law, humanity and
religion, to effect the immediate Abolition of Slavery
in the United States — to improve the character of the
free people of color — to inform and correct public
opinion in relation to their situation and rights — and
to obtain for them equal civil and political privileges
with the white iuhal)itants of the land.


Art. 3. Any person by signing the Constitution,
and paying the Treasurer twenty-five dollars as a life
subscription, or one dollar annually, shall be a mem-
ber of the Society.

Art. 4. There shall be a President, Vice-Presi-
dent, Treasurer, Corresponding Secretary, Recording
Secretary and five Counsellors, who shall perform all
the duties usually incident to the respective offices.
They shall be annually chosen by ballot at the regu-
lar meeting of the Society in November. These ten
officers shall together constitute an Executive Com-
mittee, authorized to fill vacancies in their own num-
ber, five of whom shall form a quorum, to carry into
effect the resolutions of the Society and manage its
funds, subject in all cases to the control and direction
of the Society.

Art. 5. There shall be in each year a regular
meeting of the Society on the second Friday of every
month from September to April inclusive, and on the
fourth day of July; special meetings may be called
by the officers when they shall judge it necessary,
or on application to them from seven members in
writing. Thirteen members shall constitute a quo-
rum to transact business.

Art. 6. The Constitution may be altered, with
the exception of the second article, at any regular
meeting of the Society, by a vote of two thirds of
the members present, or a majority of all the mem-
bers, such alteration having been proposed at the
preceding regular meeting.

The attention of the British public having been drawn to the Ame-
rican Colonization Society, by a recent visit iiom one ot its aj^cnts,
several distinguished statesmen and philanthropists availed of the
occasion to make the following expression of their opinion of its


We the undersigned, having observed with regret that the " Aine-
rican Colonization Society^' appears to be gaining some adherents in
this country, are desirous to express our opinions respecting it.

Our motive and excuse for thus coming forward are the claims
which the Society has put forth to Anti- Slavery support. These
opinions are, in our opinion, wholly groundless, and we feel bound
to affirm, that our deliberate judgment and conviction are, that the
professions made by the Colonization Society of promoting the abo-
lition of Slavery, are altogether delusive.

As far as the mere Colony of Liberia is concerned, it has no doubt
advantages of other trading establishments. In this sense, it is ben-
eficial both to America and to Africa, and we cordially wish it well.
We never required of that country to assist us in Sierra Leone ; we
are heavily burdened by our own connection with Slavery ; and we
do maintain that we ought not to be called on to contribute to the
ex»-onses of a Colony, which, though no doubt comprising some ad-
vantages, was formed chiefly to indulge the prejudices of American
Slave-holders, and which is regarded with aversion by the colored
population ot the United States.

With regard to the extinction of the Slave Trade, we apprehend
that Liberia, however good the intentions of its supporters, will be
able to do little or nothing towards it, except on the limited extent of
its own territories. The only effectual death blow to that accursed
traffic, will be the destruction of slavery throughout the world. To
the destruction of slavery throughout the world, we are compelled to
say that we believe the Colonization Society to be an obstruction.

Our objections to it are, therefore, briefly these : — While we be-
lieve its pretexts to be delusive, we are convinced that its real efTects
are ot the most dangerous nature. It takes its root from a cruel pre-
judice and alienation in the whites oi America against the colored
people, slave or tree. This being its source, the effects are what
might be expected; that it fosters and increases the spirit of caste, al-
ready so unhappily predominant : that it widens the breach between
the two races — exposes the colored people to great practical persecu-


tion, in order [o force them to emigrate; and finally is calculated to
swallow up and divert that feeling wiiicli America as a Christian and
free country, cannot but entertain, that slavery is alike incompatible
with the law of God, and with the well being of man, whether of Iho
enslaver or the enslaved.

On these grounils, therefore, and while we acknowledge the Colony
of Liberia, or any other colony on the coast of Africa, to be in itself
a good thing, we must be understood utterly to repudiate the princi-
ples of the American Colonization Society. That Society is, in our
estimation, not deserving of the countenance of the British public.

Wm. Wilberforce, Suffield,


Zackary Macauly, Thos. Fowell Buxton, M P

Wm. Evens, M. P. James Cropper,

Samuel Gurnev, William Allen,

George Stephen, Daniel O'Connell, M, P.
Londiin, July, 1833,






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Online LibraryProvidence Anti-Slavery SocietyThe report and proceedings of the first annual meeting of the Providence Anti-slavery Society. With a brief exposition of the principles and purposes of the abolitionists → online text (page 1 of 1)