Showing posts with label The Bible. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Bible. Show all posts

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Emory Upton to Maria Upton, April 12, 1857

WEST POINT, April 12,1857.

MY DEAR SISTER: . . . In your last letter you asked if I sincerely believed in a God.  I can say yes.  I also believe in the religion inculcated by the ministers of God. . . . Few men now disbelieve religion, and those are mostly ignorant men.  Voltaire, the greatest modern infidel, shrank from death; and why?  Because of his unbelief.  He was afraid to enter eternity.  I hope that you will never desert the good cause you have espoused, and that you will do much good in your life.  As for myself, I take the Bible as the standard of morality, and try to read two chapters in it daily.

SOURCE: Peter Smith Michie, The Life and Letters of Emory Upton, p. 13

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Anti-Slavery Meeting in Andover, published August 8, 1835

MR. EDITOR — I regret that the former account I was sent of your labors of our excellent brothers Thompson and Phelps, was so meager a statement of their untiring efforts among us.  Circumstances, however, obliged me to compress into a small space, what was worthy of being given at much greater length; and for the benefit of those who have not the privilege of listening to the discussion of a question of so much importance to every American citizen as that of slavery, a fuller sketch of the remaining meetings shall be given.  As my remarks will be confined for the most part to the speeches of Mr. Thompson, it must not be supposed that I can give anything like an adequate idea of the cogency of his arguments or of the power of his eloquence.  To eulogize him as an orator would be idle.  It would be like daubing paint upon a finished portrait, which would only soil it instead of adding to its beauty. Those who would form any just conception of Mr. Thompson as a public speaker and a christian philanthropist, must both see and hear him, and those who have once listened to him, are well aware that even an analysis of a speech of his , so closely joined in all its parts, so replete with profound thought, and so profusely embellished with rhetorical flowers of every hue and ever ordour, cannot be embodied in a single brief paragraph.  I shall therefore not attempt to give his own expressions, but merely a general description of his discourse.

On Sunday evening, July 12th, Mr. Thompson addressed a crowded audience, from Ezekiel xxviii. 14, 15, 16 – “Thou art the anointed the cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so : thou wast upon the holy mountain of God: thou hast walked up and down in the midst of these stones of fire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee. By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.”

Mr. Thompson remarked that though this was a passage of inimitable beauty, it was one of tremendous and awful import. While it drew the picture of the wealth and grandeur of ancient Tyre, it contained the prediction of its downfall. Mr. Thompson then proceeded to portray in matchless colors the prosperity and glory of the renowned city, whose “builders had perfected her beauty, whose borders were in the midst of the sea, whose mariners were the men of Sidon, and who was a merchant to the people of many islands.” Her fir trees were brought from Hermon, her oaks from Bashan, her cedars from Lebanon, her blue and purple and fine linen from Egypt, her wheat and oil and honey from Judea, her spices and gold and precious stones from Arabia, her silver from Tarsus, her emeralds and coral and agate from Syria, her warriors from Persia, and her slaves from Greece. Her palaces were radiant with jewels, and many kings were filled with the multitude of the riches of her merchandise. But iniquity was found in her. She had kept back the hire of the laborer by fraud. By the multitude of her riches she was filled with violence. She made merchandise of the bodies and souls of men, therefore she should be cast down. Many nations should come up against her and destroy her walls and break down her towers. All this had been literally fulfilled.

Mr. Thompson then applied his subject to America. Your country, said he, is peculiarly an anointed cherub. Heaven smiled upon the self-denying enterprise of your praying, pilgrim fathers, and in two centuries a great nation has risen into being — a nation whose territories stretches from the Canadas to the Gulf of Mexico, and from the Atlantic to the Rocky Mountains — a nation whose prowess by land and by sea is unsurpassed by any people that have a name — a nation whose markets are filled with the luxuries of every clime, and whose merchandise is diffused over the world. The keels of your vessels cut all waters. Your ships lie along the docks of every port of Europe, and are anchored under the walls of China. The deer and the buffalo fall before the aim of your hunters, and the eagle is stricken down from his eyry. Your hardy tars visit the ice-bound coasts of the North, and transfix the monsters of the polar seas. Your coasts are thronged with populous and extended cities, and in the interior may be seen the spires of your churches towering above the beautiful villages that surround them. Above every other nation under heaven, yours is distinguished for its christian enterprise. You can give the Bible to every family within the limits of your own territory, and pledge it to the world. Your missionaries are in all quarters of the globe, and your seventeen thousand clergy are preaching salvation, in the midst of your own population. Other nations of Christendom behold with complacency the good effected by your charitable societies, and would be proud to emulate you. No nation has ever been so peculiarly blessed. You are placed upon the holy mountain of God, and walk up and down in the midst of the stones of fire, but you have sinned. Ye make merchandise of the bodies and souls of men. Ye have torn the African from his quiet home, and subjected him to interminable, bondage in a land of strangers. Violence is in the midst of you, and the oppressor walks abroad unpunished. One-sixth part of your whole population are doomed to perpetual slavery. The cotton tree blooms, and the cane field wanes, because the black man tills the soil. The sails of your vessels whiten the ocean, their holds filled with sugar, and their decks burdened with cotton, because the black man smarts under the driver's lash, while the scorching rays of a tropical sun fall blistering upon his skin. He labors and faints, and another riots on the fruits of his unrequited toils. He is bought and sold as the brute, and has nothing that he can call his own. Is he a husband? the next hour may separate him forever from the object of his affections. Is he a father? the child of his hopes may the next moment be torn from his bleeding bosom, and carried he knows not whither, but at best, to a state of servitude more intolerable than death. He looks back upon the past, and remembers his many stripes and tears. He looks forward, and no gleam of hope breaks in upon his sorrow-stricken bosom. Despair rankles in his heart and withers all his energies, and he longs to find rest in the grave. But his dark mind is uninformed of his immortal nature, and when he dies he dies without the consolations of religion, for in christian America there is no Bible for the slave. Your country being thus guilty, it behoves every citizen of your republic to consider lest the fate of Tyre be yours.

Mr. Thompson closed by expressing his determination to labor in behalf of those in bonds, till the last tear was wiped from the eye of the slave, and the last fetter broken from his heel; and then, continued he, then let a western breeze bear me back to the land of my birth, or let me find a spot to lay my bones in the midst of a grateful people, and a people FREE indeed.

Never did the writer of this article listen to such eloquence; and never before did he witness an audience hanging with such profound attention upon the lips of a speaker. But those who take the trouble to read this article, must not suppose that what I have here stated is given in Mr. Thompson's own words. Perhaps I may have made use of some of his expressions, but my object has been to give a general view of this surpassingly excellent address of our beloved brother.

On Monday evening, Mr. Thompson gave a lecture on St. Domingo. It being preliminary to subsequent lectures, it was mostly statistics from the time of the discovery of the island, down to the year 1789. Mr. Thompson remarked that he had a two-fold object in view in giving an account of St. Domingo. First, to show the capacity of the African race for governing themselves; and, second, to show that immediate emancipation was safe, as illustrated by its effects on that island. St. Domingo, he said, was remarkable for being the place where Columbus was betrayed — for its being the first of the West India Islands to which negro slaves were carried from the coast of Africa — for the cruel treatment of the first settlers in the Island to the aborigines — for the triumph of the liberated slaves over the French, and those of the islanders who joined them — for being the birth place of the noble minded, the gifted, the honored, but afterwards, betrayed Toussaint L’Ouverture, who was born a slave, and a great part of his life labored as a slave, yet as soon as his chains were broken off, he rose at once to a man — to a general to a commander-in-chief, and finally to the Governor of a prosperous and happy Republic.

At the close of the exercises, Mr. Thompson informed the audience, that on the next evening they would be addressed by Wm. Lloyd Garrison, Editor of the Liberator, — the much despised and villified Wm. Lloyd Garrison was to address the citizens of Andover on the subject of slavery.

Tuesday evening arrived, and with it arrived Wm. Lloyd Garrison, Editor of the Liberator. The house was crowded by many, who, we doubt not, came from mere curiosity, to see the man who had been held up to the world as the “enemy of all righteousness — the “disturber of the public peace — the “libeller of his country” — the “outlawed fanatic”—the reckless incendiary, who was propagating his seditious sentiments from one end of the land to the other, and yet in this free country, suffered to live notwithstanding.

After prayer and singing, brother Garrison arose, and said, he stood before them as the one who had been represented to the public as the propagator of discord, and the enemy of his country — that almost every opprobrious epithet had been attached to his name; but since one term of reproval had been spared him — since his enemies had never called him a slaveholder, he would forgive them all the rest, and thank them for their magnanimity. He spoke for some time on the supercilious inquiry so often iterated and reiterated by our opponents; Why don't you go to the South? He remarked, that the very individuals who made this inquiry, and were denouncing us as fanatics, well knew that death would be the lot of him who should broach such sentiments at the South, and should the advocates of abolition throw away their lives by recklessly throwing themselves into the hands of those who were thirsting for their blood, then indeed, might these haughty querists smile over their mangled bodies, and with justice pronounce them fanatics. He touched upon several other important points which I must pass over in silence. His manner was mild, his address dignified and dispassionate, and many who never saw him before, and whose opinions, or rather prejudices were formed from the false reports of his enemies, and confirmed by not reading his paper, were compelled, in spite of themselves, to form an idea entirely the reverse of what they had previously entertained of him. His address did much towards removing the prejudice that many had against him, and proved an excellent catholicon to the stomachs of those who are much given to squeamishness, whenever they hear the name of Garrison mentioned.

On Wednesday evening, Mr. Thompson was to have continued his remarks on St. Domingo, but a heavy rain prevented most of the audience from coming together, and by the request of those present, the address was deferred until the next evening, and the time spent in familiar conversation. An interesting discussion took place, and lasted about an hour and a half. Many important questions were canvassed, to the entire satisfaction, we believe, of all who listened to them.

On Thursday evening, Mr. Thompson resumed his account of St. Domingo. Commencing with the year 1790, he showed that the beginning of what are termed “the horrid scenes of St. Domingo,” was in consequence of a decree passed by the National Convention, granting to the free people of color the enjoyment of the same political privileges as the whites, and again in 1791, another decree was passed, couched in still stronger language, declaring that all the free people of color in the French islands were entitled to all the privileges of citizenship. When this decree reached Cape Francais, it excited the whites to great hostility against the free people of color. The parties were arrayed in arms against each other, and blood and conflagration followed. The Convention, in order to prevent the threatening evils, immediately rescinded the decree. By this act, the free blacks were again deprived of their rights, which so enraged them, that they commenced fresh hostilities upon the whites, and the Convention was obliged to re-enact the former decree, giving to them the same rights as white citizens. A civil war continued to rage in the island until 1793, when, in order to extinguish it, and at the same time repel the British, who were then hovering round the coasts, it was suggested that the slaves should be armed in defence of the island. Accordingly in 1793, proclamation was made, promising “to give freedom to all the slaves who would range themselves under the banners of the Republic.” This scheme produced the desired effect. The English were driven from the Island, the civil commotions were suppressed, and peace and order were restored. After this, the liberated slaves were industrious and happy, and continued to work on the same plantations as before, and this state of things continued until 1802, when Buonaparte sent out a military force to restore slavery in the Island. Having enjoyed the blessings of freedom for nine years, the blacks resolved to die rather than again be subjected to bondage. They rose in the strength of free men, and with Toussaint L’Ouverture at their head they encountered their enemies. Many of them, however, were taken by the French, and miserably perished. Some were burnt to death, some were nailed to the masts of ships, some were sown up in sacks, poignarded, and then thrown into the sea as food for sharks, some were confined in the holds of vessels, and suffocated with the fumes of brimstone, and many were torn in pieces by the blood hounds, which the French employed to harass and hunt them in the forests and fastnesses of the mountains. At length the scene changed. The putrifying carcases of the unburied slain poisoned the atmosphere, and produced sickness in the French army. In this state of helplessness they were besieged by the black army, their provisions were cut off, a famine raged among them so that they were compelled at last to subsist upon the flesh of the blood hounds, that they had exported from Cuba as auxiliaries in conquering the islanders. The French army being nearly exterminated, a miserable remnant put to sea, and left the Island to the quiet possession of their conquerors. Mr. Thompson concluded with the following summary: First, the revolution in St. Domingo originated between the whites and the free people of color, previous to any act of emancipation. Second, the slaves after their emancipation remained peaceful, contented, industrious, and happy, until Buonaparte made the attempt to restore slavery in the Island. Third, the history of St. Domingo proves the capacity of the black man for the enjoyment of liberty, his ability of self-government, and improvement, and the safety of immediate emancipation. Friday evening, Mr. Thompson closed his account of St. Domingo, by giving a brief statement of its present condition. He showed by documents published in the West Indies, that its population was rapidly multiplying, its exports annually increasing, and the inhabitants of the Island improving much faster than could be reasonably expected.

After the address, opportunity was given for any individuals to propose questions. A gentleman slaveholder commenced. He made several unimportant inquiries, and along with them, abused Mr. Thompson, by calling him a foreign incendiary. Mr. Thompson answered in his usual christian calmness and dignity, not rendering reviling for reviling. The discusion continued to a late hour, and when it closed the audience gave evidence of being well satisfied with the answers given, and some who attended that evening for the first time, subscribed their names to the Constitution. Thus closed Mr. Thompson's labors with us for the present, and he left town on Saturday, July 18th. Mr. Phelps remained and addressed us on Sabbath evening, but the small space left to me, will not admit of my giving any account of it. As to the good accomplished by the labors of Messrs. Thompson and Phelps, some further account may be given hereafter. At present, I will only say, that upwards of 200 have joined the Anti-Slavery Society since they came among us.

Yours, in behalf of the A. S. Society at Andover,

R. REED, Cor. Secretary.

SOURCES: Isaac Knapp, Publisher, Letters and Addresses by G. Thompson [on American Negro Slavery] During His Mission in the United States, From Oct. 1st, 1834, to Nov. 27, 1835, p. 77-83; “Anti-Slavery Meetings at Andover,” The Liberator, Boston, Massachusetts, Saturday, August 8, 1835, p. 1.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Servants, In What Sense A Possession.

Servants of this sort were expected to remain for life, or at least unto the year of general release, and their children were considered in the same condition with themselves. That they were a subordinate, dependent class of the community, is obvious. But that they were held by masters as an inheritance or possession for their children, does not prove them to have been a property possession. They were a possession not as things but servants.The terms inheritance, and possession, when applied in the scriptures to persons, are not to be taken in their primary sense as applied to things but in a secondary or topical sense, which is to be determined by the connection. — Take this sentence in Ezek. 44: 28, as an example of both words, in both senses. The Lord says in reference to the sin-offering which should be used for the benefit of the priests, “It shall be unto them for an inheritance; I am their inheritance and ye shall give them no possession in Israel; I am their possession. The terms inheritance and possession here when applied to the sacrifice, denote that it was literally the property of the priests; but the same words when applied to the Almighty certainly have a very different meaning. The Hebrew people generally, are spoken of as the inheritance of the Lord; but they were so not as things, but as rational creatures, capable of knowing and doing his will: and by covenant obligations bound to serve him. So the foreign servants who are spoken of as an inheritance and a possession forever, were so in a limited and secondary sense, which must be determined, not by the expressions themselves when used in reference to other objects, but by the established laws and usages of the country, in respect to persons in their condition. These laws and usages, we have seen treated them not as things, but men having unalienable rights, and immortal souls, as well as their masters.
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Continued from: Reverend Silas McKeen to Thomas C. Stuart, August 20, 1839

SOURCE: Cyrus P. Grosvenor, Slavery vs. The Bible: A Correspondence Between the General Conference of Maine, and the Presbytery of Tombecbee, Mississippi, p. 55-6

Monday, July 22, 2019

George Thompson: At the New England Anti-Slavery Convention, published June 6, 1835

Mr. Thompson rose, and delivered his valedictory, in accordance with the resolution which he offered, — in substance, giving thanks to God for his blessings on the Convention, and for the auspicious signs of the times. He discoursed most feelingly and happily on the joyful, yet solemn circumstances in which he had been placed during its session, and presumed he expressed the minds of all his beloved associates. He dwelt on the striking evidences of harmony and love so richly enjoyed, — the moral strength and character of the members, — their entire unanimity of feeling and action of the great principles of abolition, and upon every other point of christian and philanthropic action: though composed of numerous sects often discordant and jarring in their interests and localities, they would not probably suspect, till they returned to their homes, that they had been among sectarians.

He enlarged upon the immutability of the principles upon which they stood, the unflinching resolution with which they were sustained, nothing daunted by the terrors of public opinion, — yea, working in the might and under the banner of Omnipotence, to change its more than Ethiopean hue, and drawing over its energies to the aid of humanity and religion.

He held up slaveholding in all its aspects as a sin,— God-dishonoring, soul-destroying sin; which must be immediately and forever abandoned,—that immediate emancipation was the only system combining vitality and energy, — while all others were as changeable as the chameleon, and no one could find their principles.

He spoke of the holy influence which God had thrown around them during their meetings, felt himself on holy ground, and hoped that all would profit by the unspeakable privileges of this solemn convocation. He rejoiced to find responsive chords in the hearts of the noble company of fathers and brethren with whom he had been permitted to take sweet counsel, and co-operate with them in behalf of the oppressed, down-trodden Slave.

He truly thanked God for this auspicious era,—that his warmest expectations had been more than realized, and he felt conscious that he expressed the inmost feelings of his beloved associates who had been favored with this interesting season. He hoped they would all carry home those holy emotions which the spirit of God had so bountifully awakened in their hearts, and never lose sight of the lofty and thrilling claims of humanity and justice, nor cease to strive for the weal, or feel for the woes of man. He emphasised on the importance and worth of prayer, the spirit of which was manifest in the Convention, and felt assured he who had prayed most, had the most whole-souled benevolence, and loved the slave with greater ardor.

He trusted there would be no leaders in the cause, for God was their leader — He who went about doing good, their pattern: — the Bible, the chart of their principles, the ground work of their hopes: Faith and Prayer, the moral lever by which the superstructure of despotism will be overthrown, and the image of God disenthralled from the fetters of physical and mental bondage. The Day Spring from on high hath visited the moral world, bespeaking the opening dawn; soon to usher in the brightness of perfect day. The light hath touched the mountain tops, the sun looks out upon, the dispersing gloom; soon will it have reached its meridian radiance, and pour upon the long-benighted, — brightening, transformed world, the full blaze of Millennial glory.

SOURCE: Isaac Knapp, Publisher, Letters and Addresses by G. Thompson [on American Negro Slavery] During His Mission in the United States, From Oct. 1st, 1834, to Nov. 27, 1835, p. 75-6; The Liberator, Boston Massachusetts, Saturday, June 6, 1835, 1835, p. 2

Monday, July 8, 2019

Jewish Legalized Servitude.

Your next main argument is substantially this: — The Jewish nation held slaves, whose condition and treatment were regulated by laws given them by divine authority, and therefore American slave-holding is sanctioned by the Bible. In proof of the facts in the case you refer to a few passages, which we allow are sufficient to test the principle which you maintain, and we oppose. — We will first look at the passages themselves, and then examine the argument founded on them. “The Lord himself.” you say, “directed Moses and Aaron how slaves were to be treated with respect to the passover;” and you quote Exodus 12:43, 44. “And the Lord said unto Moses and Aaron, This is the ordinance of the passover: there shall no stranger eat thereof: but every man's servant that is bought for money, when thou hast circumcised him, then shall he eat thereof.” Slaves were allowed religious privileges which were not granted to strangers nor to hired servants; Exodus, 12:45. “A foreigner and a hired servant shall not eat thereof.” “It was no sin for a priest,” you continue, “to purchase a slave with his money, and the slave thus purchased was entitled to peculiar privileges.” Lev. 22: 10, 11. “There shall no stranger eat of the holy thing, a sojourner of the priest or a hired servant shall not eat of the holy thing. But if the priest buy any soul with his money he shall eat of it, and he that is born in his house, they shall eat of his meat.” You add, “The Bible warrants the purchase of slaves as an inheritance for children forever:” and, bring for proof, Lev. 25:46, “And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a possession, they shall be your bond-men forever; but over your brethren the children of Israel, ye shall not rule one over another with rigor.”

Now against your continual substitution of the term slaves for servants we earnestly protest, on grounds which have been already stated. You seem to have forgotten that the original word has any other meaning. Was Paul a slave of Jesus Christ? Are all the people of God his slaves? What is it to be a slave in your sense of the expression? The law of South Carolina answers, “Slaves shall be deemed, held, taken, reputed, and adjudged in law, to be chattels personal, in the hands of their owners, and possessors and their executors, administrators and assignees, to ALL INTENTS, CONSTRUCTIONS, AND PURPOSES WHATSOEVER.” And Judge Stroud in his sketch of the laws relating to slavery, says, “The cardinal principle that the slave is not to be ranked among sentient beings, but among things, obtains as undoubted law in all these states.” —  Such is slavery among you. But that the Hebrew laws ever authorized any such slave-holding, we utterly deny. They do throughout recognize servants of every order as intelligent beings, who though in a state of servitude, had personal rights; and secured to them comfortable support, protection from personal abuse, and, on receiving circumcision, unqualified admission to all the religious privileges enjoyed by the Hebrew people, generally. This sort of servitude, we maintain, was radically and most evidently a very different thing from slavery in your sense of the term. Why then should you persist in calling it slavery without once intimating that the term, in this application, is to be taken in any limited sense? It will not be strange if you should, within a few years, amuse yourselves by giving to our northern apprentices and hired help the same appellation. You have indeed already intimated, that you deem the epithet not inappropriate

While the passages to which you refer, say nothing at all of slavery in your sense of the expression, and of course give it no countenance, they do, we freely admit, contemplate the fact, that not only the Jewish people, but priests would buy servants for money; and secure important religious privileges to those who should be thus purchased. — That what is said of the exclusion of hired servants from the Passover has respect to those of foreign extraction only, and is predicated on the supposition that such had not been circumcised is evident from the exegetical remark which follows in the same connection, “No uncircumcised person shall eat thereof; one law shall be to the home-born and to the stranger that sojourneth with you.” It is possible that the hired Hebrew servants, as well as the foreign servants, of the same condition, might have been excluded from eating of the holy things in the families of the priests, in as much as such eating was a family, not a national, privilege; and the mere circumstance of being hired for perhaps a few months or days, did not so incorporate them with the family as to give them a right with the children and permanent domestics to the peculiar privileges of members. The act that the bought servants, in regard to the partaking of the holy things, were to be put by the priests on a level with their own children, while all hired servants and even distinguished visitors in the family, were to be strictly prohibited, shows, in some measure, how exceedingly different the condition of such persons was, from that of the slaves among you.

The passage in Lev. 25: 46, shows that persons procured by purchase for permanent servitude must not be Hebrews, but be obtained from the surrounding nations, or families of Gentile extraction residing in Palestine. These nations and families should be to them a constant scource of supply. Stress has been laid on the terms bondmen and bondmaids as expressive of the lowest degree of servitude, or absolute slavery. But you will see, by looking into your Hebrew Bible, that the simple terms usually translated man servants and maid servants, without any qualifying adjunct corresponding with bond, are here employed. The fact that they were bought with money, determines not that their bodies and souls were by the purchase converted into things, and held as property; but only that they, by money paid down to themselves, to their parents, or others who claimed the right of disposing of them, had been procured to occupy the condition, and perform the services, and enjoy the privileges which were prescribed to persons thus situated by the Hebrew laws. It is remarkable that while servants of this order might be procured only from the Gentiles, Gentile families residing in Canaan were permitted by law, to buy, with their own consent, poor Hebrews, to be their servants, from the time of purchase to the year of jubilee; unless previously redeemed by themselves or friends. Lev. 25: 47–54. From this we may infer that the Hebrews had at least no power to compel the Gentiles resident among them to sell either themselves or their children. That it was on the part of the latter altogether a voluntary transaction.
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Continued from: Reverend Silas McKeen to Thomas C. Stuart, August 20, 1839

SOURCE: Cyrus P. Grosvenor, Slavery vs. The Bible: A Correspondence Between the General Conference of Maine, and the Presbytery of Tombecbee, Mississippi, p. 48-54

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

George Thompson Speech at New York, At the Meeting of the American Anti-Slavery Society, published May 23, 1835

[From the rapid and impassioned style of Mr. T’s delivery, it becomes difficult, indeed impossible to give a very close report of all he said.  We attempt only a sketch touching on the leading points, and giving enough of his language to enable the reader to form some idea of his very fervid mode of address.  He was heard with profound attention by all, but with very different feelings by different portions of his auditory, as they abundantly manifested on more occasions than one.]

He commenced his address by declaring that the feelings of his heart were too deep for utterance. When he thought where he stood, of the topic on which he was called to speak, upon the mighty interests which were involved — upon his own responsibility to God-upon the destinies of thousands which might hinge upon the results of the present meeting — and when he reflected upon the ignorance, the wickedness, and the mighty prejudices he had to encounter; on the two and a half million of clients, whose cause was committed to his feeble advocacy, with all their rights, eternal and irreversible, he trembled, and felt almost disposed to retire. And when, in addition to all, he remembered that there were at this moment, in this land, in perfect health, in full vigor of mind and body, countrymen of his own, once pledged to the very lips in behalf of this cause, and with an authority which must command a wide and powerful influence, who had yet left it to the care of youth and ignorance, he felt scarce able to proceed, and almost willing to leave another blank in the history of this day's proceedings.

He had said that he had prejudices to overcome; and they met him with this rebuff — “you are a foreigner.” I am, said Mr. T. I plead guilty to the charge: where is the sentence? Yet I am not a foreigner. I am no foreigner to the language of this country. I am not a foreigner to the religion of this country. I am not a foreigner to the God of this country. Nor to her interests — nor to her religious and political institutions. Yet I was not born here. Will those who urge this objection tell me how I could help it? If my crime is the having been born in another country, have I not made the best reparation in my power, by removing away from it, and coming as soon as I could to where 1 should have been born? (Much laughter.) I have come over the waves of the mighty deep, to look upon your land and to visit you. Has not one God made us all? Who shall dare to split the human family asunder? who shall presume to cut the link which binds all its members to mutual amity? I am no foreigner to your hopes or your fears, and I stand where there is no discriminating hue but the color of the soul. I am not a foreigner, I am a man: and nothing which affects human nature is foreign to me, (I speak the language of a slave.)

“But what have you known about our country? How have you been prepared to unravel the perplexities of our policy and of our party interests? How did you get an intimate acquaintance with our customs, our manners, our habits of thought and of action, and all the peculiarities of our national condition and character, the moment you set your foot upon our shores?” And is it necessary I should know all this before I can be able or fit to enunciate the truths of the Bible! to declare the mind and will of God as he has revealed it in his word

“But you do not care about us or our welfare.” Then why did I leave my own country to visit yours? It was not certainly to better my circumstances: for they have not been bettered. I never did, and I never will, better them by advocating this cause. I may enlarge my heart by it: I may make an infinite number of friends among the wretched by it: but I never can or will fill my purse by it. “But you are a foreigner — and have no right to speak here.” I dismiss this — I am weary of it. I have an interest in America, and in all that pertains to her. And let my right hand forget its cunning, and let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I am ever capable of maligning her, or sowing the seeds of animosity among her inhabitants. He might truly say, though in the words of another,

I love thee, witness heaven above,
That I this land, — this people love;
Nor love thee less, when I do tell
Of crimes that in thy bosom dwell.
There is oppression in thy hand—
A sin, corrupting all the land; —
There is within thy gates a pest—
Gold—and a Babylonish vest.
Repent thee, then, and swiftly bring
Forth from the camp th’ accursed thing;
Consign it to remorseless fire—
Watch, till the latest spark expire;
Then strew its ashes on the wind,
Nor leave an atom wreck behind!

Yet while he said this, he would also add, if possible, with still stronger emphasis, Let my right hand forget her cunning, and let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I desert the cause of American abjects — or cease to plead, so long as the clanking of chains shall be heard in the very porch of the temple, and beneath the walls of your capitol. If any shall still say, I have no right to speak, I will agree to quit the assembly, on condition that that objecter will furnish to me a plea which shall avail in the day of judgment, when my Maker shall ask me why I did not do, in America, that which all the feelings of my heart, and all the dictates of my judgment, and all the principles too, of God's own gospel, so powerfully prompted me to do? If the great Judge shall say to me “When human misery claimed you, why did you not plead the cause of suffering humanity?’ will any one give me an excuse that will avail as a reply to such a question? Is there any such excuse? [Here he paused.] Shall it be because the misery for which I should have pleaded was across the water? If this is the principle, then cease your splendid embassies of mercy to China and Hindoostan: abandon the glorious missionary cause: and let us read in your papers and periodicals no more of those eloquent and high toned predictions about the speedy conversion of the world.

“But you are a monarchist, you were born the subject of a king, and we are republicans.” Yes, and because I loved the latter best, I left the dominions of a monarch, and came to the shores of a free Republic. I gave up the tinsel and the trappings of a king, for the plain coat and the simple manners of your President. But granting me to be a monarchist, will that do as an excuse before the King of kings, the Lord of lords?

“But, we quarrelled once. You taxed us, and we would not be taxed: and now we will have nothing more to do with you.” Indeed; and may our artizans construct your machinery, and our Irishmen feed your furnaces, and dig your canals; may our advocates come to your bar, and our ministers to your pulpits, and shall all, all be made welcome but the advocate of the Slave? Should I be welcome to you all, if I had but renounced the cause of humanity?

“But the newspapers abuse you — they are all against you; and therefore you had better go back to where you came from.” Yes: if I fear the newspapers. But supposing I care nothing about the newspapers, and am heartily willing that every shaft that can fly from all the presses of the land shall be launched against me, is it a good reason then? Leave me, I pray you, to take care of the newspapers, and the newspapers to take care of me: I am entirely easy on that score.

But now as to the question before us. The gentleman from Kentucky, [Mr. Birney,] has gone very fully into its civil and political bearings: that aspect of it I shall not touch: I have nothing to do with it. I shall treat it on religious ground exclusively; on principles which cannot be impugned, and by arguments which cannot be refuted. I ask the abolition of slavery from among you, not because it dooms its victims to hard labor, nor because it compels them to a crouching servility, and deprives them of the exercise of civil rights: though all these are true. No: I ask for the illumination of the minds of immortal beings of our species; I seek to deliver woman from the lash, and from all that pollutes and that degrades her; I plead for the ordinances of religion; for the diffusion of knowledge; for the sanctification of marriage; for the participation of the gospel. And If you ask my authority, I answer there it is (pointing to the Bible) and let him that refutes me, refute me from that volume.

The resolution I offer has respect to the moral and spiritual condition of your colored population, and I do say that while one sixth of your entire population are left to perish without the word of God, or the ministry of the gospel, that your splendid missionary operations abroad, justly expose you before the whole world, to the charge of inconsistency. Your boast is, that your missionaries have gone into all the world; that you are consulting with the other christian nations for the illumination of the whole earth; and you have your missionary stations in all climes visited by the sun, from the frosts of Lapland to the sunny isles of Greece, and the scorching plains of Hindoostan; amidst the Christless literature of Persia, and the revolting vices of Constantinople. God grant that they may multiply a thousand fold — and continue to spread, till not a spot shall be left on the surface of our ruined world, where the ensign of the cross shall not have been set up. But will you, at the same time, refuse this gospel to one sixth of your own home-born population? And will you not hear me, when I ask that that word of life, which you are sending to the nations of New Holland and all the islands of the farthest sea, may be given to your slaves? When I plead for two millions and a half of human beings in the midst of your own land, left nearly, if not wholly, destitute of the blessings of God's truth? What spiritual wants have the heathen which the poor slaves have not? And what obligation binds you to the one, which does not equally bind you to the other? You own your responsibility to the heathen of other parts of the world, why not the heathen of this continent? And if to the heathen of one portion of the continent, why not to the no less heathen in another portion of it?

The resolution has reference to the diffusion of the Bible: and here I am invulnerable. You have offered to give, within twenty years, a copy of the Scriptures to every family of the world; you are now translating the sacred volume into all the languages of the earth, and scattering its healing leaves wherever men are found; and may I not say a word for the more than two millions at your door? Men whom you will not allow so much as to look into that book? Whom you forbid to be taught to read it, under pain of death? Why shall not these have the lamp of life? Are these no portion of the families of the south, whom you are pledged to supply? Is it any wonder there should be darkness in your land, that there should be spiritual leanness in your churches, that there should be Popery among you, when you thus debar men of the Bible? Is it not a fact, that while you have said you will give a Bible to every family in the world, not one of the families of slaveholders in the Southern States is to be found included in the benefaction? Of all the four hundred and sixty thousand families of your slaves, show me one that is included in your purpose or your plan. There is not one. If it would be wicked to blot out the sun from the heavens; if it would be wicked to deprive the earth of its circumambient air, or to dry up its streams of water, is it less wicked to withhold the word of God from men? to shut them out from the means of saving knowledge? to annihilate the cross? to take away the corner stone of human hope? to legislate away from your fellow-beings the will of God as recorded in his own word.

In view of the retributions of the judgment, I plead for these men, disinherited of their birthright. And once for all, I say, that every enterprise to enlighten, convert, and bless the world, must be branded with the charge of base hypocrisy, while millions at home are formally and by law deprived of the gospel of life, of the very letter of the Bible. And what has been the result Christianity has been dethroned; she is gone: there is no weeping mercy to bless the land of the slave; it is banished forever, as far as human laws can effect it. Brethren, I know not how you feel, nor can I tell you how I feel, when I behold you urging, by every powerful argument, the conversion of the world, while such a state of things is at your door; when I see you all tenderness for men you never saw; and yet seeming destitute of all pity for those you see every day.

Suppose, now, that in China the efforts of your missionaries should make one of the dark heathen a convert to the peaceful doctrine of the cross. What would be the duty of such a convert? Learning that there was a country where millions of his fellow sinners were yet destitute of the treasure that had enriched him for eternity, would he not leave the loved parents of his childhood, and the place of his father's sepulchres, and tracing his way across the waters, would he not come to bestow the boon upon men in America? Would he not come here to enlighten our darkness? And would he not be acting reasonably? according to the principles and commands of the very Bible you gave him?

And now I ask, what is the christianity of the South ! Is it not a chain-forging christianity? a whip-platting christianity? a marriage denouncing, or, at best, a marriage discouraging christianity. Is it not, above all, a Bible withholding christianity? You know that the evidence is incontestible. I anticipate the objection. “We cannot do otherwise. It is true, there are in South Carolina not twelve slaveholders who instruct their slaves; but we can't help it; there is an impassible wall; we can't throw the Bible over it; and if we attempt to make our way through, there stands the gibbet on the other side. It is not to be helped.” Why? “SLAVERY is there.” Then away with slavery. “Ay, but how ! Do you want the slave to cut his master's throat?” By no means. God forbid. I would not have him hurt one hair of his head, even if it would secure him freedom for life. “How then are we to get rid of it? By carrying them home?” Home? where? Where is their home? Where, but where they were born? I say, let them live on the soil where they first saw the light and breathed the air. Here, here, in the midst of you, let justice be done. “What! release all our slaves? turn them loose? spread a lawless band of paupers, vagrants, and lawless depredators upon the country?” Not at all. We have no such thought. All we ask is, that the control of masters over their slaves may be subjected to supervision, and to legal responsibility. Cannot this be done? Surely it can. There is even now enough of energy in the land to annihilate the whole evil; but all we ask is permission to publish truth, and to set forth the claims of the great and eternal principles of justice and equal rights; and then let them work out their own results. Let the social principle operate. Leave man to work upon man, and church upon church, and one body of people upon another, until the slave States themselves shall voluntarily loose the bonds and break every yoke. All this is legitimate and fair proceeding. It is common sense. It is sound philosophy. Against this course slavery cannot stand long. How was it abolished in England? By the fiat of the legislature, you will say. True: but was there no preaching of the truth beforehand? Was there no waking up of the public mind? no appeals no investigations? no rousing of public feelings, and concentration of the public energy Had there been nothing of this, the glorious act would never have passed the Parliament; and the British dependencies would still have mourned under the shade of this moral Bohon Upas.

It was well said by one of the gentlemen who preceded me, that there is a conscience at the South; and that there is the word of God at the South; and they have fears and hopes like our own: and in penning the appeals of reason and religion we cannot be laboring in vain. I will therefore say, that the hope of this cause is in the churches of God. There are church members enough of themselves to decide the destinies of slavery, and I charge upon the 17,000 ministers in this land, that they do keep this evil within our country; that they do not remember them that are in bonds as bound with them; that they fatten on the plunder of God's poor, and enrich themselves by the price of their souls. Were these all to do their duty, this monster, which has so long been brooding over our land, would soon take his flight to the nethermost hell, where he was begotten. How can these refuse to hear me? They are bound to hear; Unitarians, Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists, Episcopalians, be their name or their sect's name what it may, are bound to hear — for a minister is the messenger of the Lord of Hosts: and if they shall withhold their aid when God calls for it, the Lord will make them contemptible in the eyes of all the people.

Finally: this Anti-Slavery Society is not opposing one evil only; it is setting its face against all the vices of the land. What friend of religion ought to revile it? Surely the minister of Christ least of all; for it is opening his path before him; and that over a high wall that he dare not pass. Can the friend of education be against us? A society that seeks to pour the light of science over minds long benighted: a society that aims to make the beast a man: and the man an angel? Ought the friend of the Bible to oppose it? Surely not. , Nor can any of these various interests of benevolence thrive until slavery is first removed out of the way.

Mr. T. in closing, observed that he had risen to-day under peculiar feelings. Two of his countrymen had been deputed to visit this country, one of them a member of the Committee of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, who had been appointed with the express object of extinguishing slavery throughout the world, and belonging to a christian denomination which had actually memorialized all their sister churches in this land on the subject. My heart leaped when I learned they were to be here: especially that one of them whose name stood before the blank which is to be left in the record of this day's proceedings. Where is he now? He is in this city: why is he not here? The reason I shall leave for himself to explain. Sir, said Mr. T., in this very fact I behold a new proof of the power of the omnipotence of slavery: by its torpedo power a man has been struck dumb, who was eloquent in England on the side of its open opposers. What! is it come to this? Shall he or shall I advocate the cause of emancipation, of immediate emancipation, only because we are Englishmen? Perish the thought ! before I can entertain such an idea I must be recreant to all the principles of the Bible, to all the claims of truth, of honor, of humanity. No sir: if man is not the same in every latitude; if he would advocate a cause with eloquence and ardor in Exeter Hall, in the midst of admiring thousands, but because he is in America can close his lips and desert the cause he once espoused, I denounce, I abjure him. Let him carry his philanthropy home again; there let him display it in the loftiest or the tenderest strains; but never let him step his foot abroad, until he is prepared to show to the world that he is the friend of his kind.

The following resolution was offered by Mr. Thompson, and adopted by the Society.

Resolved, That the practice of suffering a sixth portion of the population of this Christian land to perish, destitute of the volume of Revelation, and the ministry of the Gospel, is inconsistent with the profession of zeal for the conversion of the world.

SOURCE: Isaac Knapp, Publisher, Letters and Addresses by G. Thompson [on American Negro Slavery] During His Mission in the United States, From Oct. 1st, 1834, to Nov. 27, 1835, p. 66-74; The Liberator, Boston Massachusetts, Saturday, May 23, 1835, p. 2-3

Thursday, June 13, 2019

What Will You Infer?

f you should still believe that the patriarchs did hold their fellow men as slaves, in the ordinary sense of the term, which we allow to be possible, but from the evidences before us deem altogether improbable; what inference will you draw? That their example warrants others, warrants you to do the same? Try the same mode of reasoning with reference to some other less doubtful cases of patriarchal example. Abraham, through groundless fears that he might be slain on account of his wife, repeatedly said, and taught her to affirm, that she was his sister; in consequence of which, her chastity was put in the utmost peril in the courts of heathen kings who had become enamored of her beauty; and who, on learning the facts in the case, administered to the patriarch sharp reproof for his deceitful dealing with them. Isaac in similar circumstances pursued a like course of deception with regard to his wife, Rebecca. Abraham at the request of Sarah his wife, received Hager, her maid, in her place; that the wife might have children by her, when she had no prospect of bearing any herself. In after years when Sarah had a son of her own, Abraham, at her own importunity, sent Hagar away, scantily provided, to wander with her and his own son Ishmael, as unprotected and solitary out-casts, in the wilderness of Beersheba. Jacob, by arrant falsehood and fraud, deceived his aged father, and obtained his elder brother's birth right. He also had two wives, and two concubines, at the same time; with whom he lived on terms of the greatest freedom “without,” so far as we are informed, the least remorse of conscience, or. . . “from God.

Will you from these facts infer that men in this Christian country and enlightened age, have a right to treat their female domestics, as Abraham treated Hagar? That they are by Scripture authorized to use deceit and fraud, whenever they may judge it for their worldly interest to do so? That they | by the Bible warranted to practice polygamy and concubinage, to any extent they may deem conducive to their highest gratification? They have patriarchal precedents for all these things; and why may they not plead and follow them? If you insist, as you will, that they have now no right to do any of these things; the example of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, notwithstanding; what becomes of your argument built on their example in defence of slavery?  — provided they practised it; which we do not admit. The fact is, the patriarchs were in the main very good men, but owing to the darkness of the times in which they lived, and their own frailty, did some things which were very wrong, and should be followed by us only so far as their conduct agrees with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
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Continued from: Reverend Silas McKeen to Thomas C. Stuart, August 20, 1839

SOURCE: Cyrus P. Grosvenor, Slavery vs. The Bible: A Correspondence Between the General Conference of Maine, and the Presbytery of Tombecbee, Mississippi, p. 45-8

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Abraham's Servants.


In the case of Abraham, the language used in scripture is decisive of the fact that he had servants bought with money of the stranger. But with what mutual understanding they were bought, or what their condition in his family was, we are not particularly informed. The terms employed would not be inapplicable, we suppose, to the purchase of slaves in the sense you maintain ; as there is no word in the Hebrew peculiarly significant of one in that condition. But a possibility, and a certainty, that such was the nature of the purchase, are two things entirely distinct. The mere purchase of persons, as we have seen in the case of Hebrew wives, is no proof that those who were thus purchased were considered as property, or held as slaves. The language used in regard to Abraham's servants does not necessarily imply any more than that he, by paying down money, procured these persons to remain with and serve him, permanently. That their servitude was not constrained, but voluntary, and as really for their advantage as his own, is made highly probable by the consideration that no force whatever was required to retain them. They married; they were, with their children, incorporated into his great family; and all the males were, in the same way with himself and his own sons, dedicated to the service of his and their covenant God. Unprotected by any government on earth, he, with his wife, and immense herds and flocks, was safe under the guardianship of those brave and faithful men while surrounded by heathen tribes and removing from place to place.— They promptly followed him in arms, when his kinsman Lot had been plundered and led captive by hostile kings, and, by a decisive engagement, delivered him out of their hands. One of them was commissioned to contract, at his own discretion, with a damsel to become the wife of his young master, Isaac; while the parties were wholly unacquainted with each other; and, in case Abraham had died childless, was to have been his heir. They were Abraham's people, they looked up to him, not as their oppressor, but common friend; and were, evidently, not only voluntary, but happy in his service. We see not then with what propriety the example of Abraham can be so confidently quoted in defence of the American slave system. The contrast between the condition of his servants, and that of your Southern slaves, is not only manifest but immense.
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Continued from: Reverend Silas McKeen to Thomas C. Stuart, August 20, 1839

SOURCE: Cyrus P. Grosvenor, Slavery vs. The Bible: A Correspondence Between the General Conference of Maine, and the Presbytery of Tombecbee, Mississippi, p. 43-5

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Various Senses of the Term Servants.

The terms evedh, in the Old Testament, and doulos in the New, clearly synonymous, and we believe, invariably translated servant or bondman, are evidently used with great latitude of meaning, and freedom of application. The fundamental signification seems to be, One who is in some respects subject to the will of, and acts for another. Hence the phrase, servant of the King, is an honorable title, denoting a courtier, or other high officer. The King of Syria, in his letter to the King of Israel, styles Naaman his servant, although he was a great man with his master, and chief commander of his army. A servant of God in scripture language, is one devoted to his service; especially one distinguished for piety and holiness, as was the case with Moses, Joshua, David and Paul. In the New Testament, the epithet servant of God, and of the Lord Jesus Christ is a title of honor commonly given to the teachers of the christian religion, and particularly to the apostles themselves. In some few instances, the epithet, servant of God, is given to men whom, though not willingly obedient to him, he uses as instruments in accomplishing his purposes. The king of Babylon is thus denominated.

The term servants, is however very generally applied to persons of humble condition, who, either with or without their consent, were subject to other individuals as their masters; and occupied in menial employments. Among those were several classes. Some were hired servants. These, however, were not designated by a qualifying term joined with the ordinary word for servants, but by an entirely different name. One hired to do sevice for another during a set time and for a stipulated price, the Hebrews denominated sakir, and the Greeks misthios: Names significant of their peculiar condition as hired. Persons of Hebrew origin were liable under the Levitical law to be reduced to servitude on account of failure to pay, either ordinary debts or sums in which they had been amerced for crimes committed. Not only the insolvent debtor himself, but his family with him, were liable to be seized and sold by the creditor, in order that by their services the money due might be obtained. On this custom is founded that parable of our Lord which says of the delinquent, who owed ten thousand talents and had nothing to pay, that his creditor “commanded him to be sold, and his wife and children, and payment to be made.” This kind of servitude, however, might not continue at the longest over six years. Deut. 15: 12. Servants of a still lower order were obtained both by conquest and by purchase from among the neighboring nations. These were to serve, not merely for six years; but for life, or at least unto the year of jubilee: and their children inherited the condition of their parents. The mere fact that they were purchased, does not prove that they were held as articles to be used only for the benefit of the owner, and to be sold again at his pleasure; any more than the fact that they were in the habit of purchasing wives, proves the same thing in regard to them. Boaz says, “So Ruth, the Moabitess, the wife,” that is widow, “of Mahlon, have I purchased to be my wife.” The prophet Hosea remarks respecting his wife, “So I bought her to me for fifteen pieces of silver, and for a homer of barley, and an half homer of barley.” Jacob bought his wives, Rachel and Leah; and for want of money paid for them in labor at the rate of seven years apiece. Their wives were in a sense, their money. Are we to infer that they were in the common sense of the term property, merchantable in the market? They were purchased of their fathers not as merchandize but as wives; to perform the duties and enjoy all the rights and privileges of that condition. So heathen servants were bought either of former masters, or of their parents, or, for any thing that appears, of themselves, to occupy the place, and perform the duties of their peculiar station; their duties and rights being prescribed and established, under the Levitical dispensation, by very merciful laws. That they were held as chattels, like beasts of the field, subject to be sold from one to another for purposes of gain, as slaves are among you, we can find no sufficient evidence in the Bible. The conquerers of the Hebrews ‘cast lots for the people, they gave a boy for a harlot, and sold a girl for wine, that they might drink,’ but were accursed of God for so doing.

Now since the term servants is used with such latitude of meaning, what proof does the mere fact, that the patriarchs had servants, afford, that they were slaveholders, in the received sense of that term? Has not many a gentleman in England, in the British West Indies, and in the free States of this Union, servants — some expecting to remain for life, some hired for a short season only, and some occupying important stations, as farmers, manufacturers, and stewards of their households, to whom they, without fear, commit their most valued treasures? Are these men on this account to be denominated slave holders? With indignation they would repel the charge. That either Isaac or Jacob ever bought, sold, or held, a human being as a slave, you have furnished no certain evidence; nor have we been able to find any.
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Continued from: Reverend Silas McKeen to Thomas C. Stuart, August 20, 1839

SOURCE: Cyrus P. Grosvenor, Slavery vs. The Bible: A Correspondence Between the General Conference of Maine, and the Presbytery of Tombecbee, Mississippi, p. 37-42

Monday, April 8, 2019

George G. Thompson: Would the Slaves of this Country Be Justified in Resorting to Physical Violence To Obtain Their Freedom, April 18, 1835

Mr. Thompson addressed the meeting, and spoke at very considerable length, but we are only able to furnish a few of his remarks.

He differed altogether from a gentleman who had gone before him, who considered the question ill-judged and ill-timed. He (Mr. T.) regarded it as both necessary and opportune. The principles of abolitionists were only partially understood. They were also frequently willfully and wickedly misrepresented. Doctrines the most dangerous, designs the most bloody, were constantly imputed to them. What was more common, than to see it published to the world, that abolitionists were seeking to incite the slaves to rebellion and murder? It was due to themselves and to the world, to speak boldly out upon the question now before the meeting. Christians should be told what were the real sentiments of abolitionists, that they may decide whether, as Christians, they could join them. Slaveholders should know what abolitionists thought and meant, that they might judge of the probable tendency of their doctrines upon their welfare and existence. The Slaves should, if possible, know what their friends at a distance meant, and what they would have them do to hasten the consummation of the present struggle.

If any human being in the universe of God would be justified in resorting to physical violence to free himself from unjust restraints, that human being was the American Slave. If the infliction of unmerited and unnumbered wrongs could justify the shedding of blood, the slave would be justified in resisting to blood. If the political principles of any nation could justify a resort to violence in a struggle against oppression, they were the principles of this nation, which teach that resistance to oppression is obedience to the law of nature and God. He regarded the slavery of this land, and all christian lands, as “the execrable sum of all human villanies” — the grave of life and loveliness — the foe of God and man — the auxiliary of hell — the machinery of damnation. Such were his deliberate convictions respecting slavery. Yet with these convictions, if he could make himself heard from the bay of Boston to the frontiers of Mexico, he would call upon every slave to commit his cause to God, and abide the issue of a peaceful and moral warfare in his behalf. He believed in the existence, omniscience, omnipotence and providence of God. He believed that every thing that was good might be much better accomplished without blood than with it. He repudiated the sentiment of the Scottish bard—

“We will drain our dearest veins,
But we will be free.
Lay the proud oppressor low,
Tyrants fall in every foe,
Liberty’s in every blow,
Let us do or die.

He would say to the enslaved, “Hurt not a hair of your master's head. It is not consistent with the will of your God, that you should do evil that good may come. In that book in which your God and Saviour has revealed his will, it is written — Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven. Avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath.”

He (Mr. T.) would, however, remind the master of the awful import of the following words — Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith THE LORD.”

To the slave he would continue — “Therefore, if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Mr. Thompson also quoted Eph. vi. 5; Col. iii. 22; Titus ii. 9; 1. Peter ii. 18–23. In proportion, however, as he enjoined upon the slave patience, submission and forgiveness of injuries, he would enjoin upon the master the abandonment of his wickedness. He would tell him plainly the nature of his great transgression — the sin of robbing God's poor, — withholding the hire of the laborer, — trafficking in the immortal creatures of God. He did not like the fashionable, but nevertheless despicable practice of preaching obedience to slaves, without preaching repentance to masters. He (Mr. T.) would preach forgiveness and the rendering of good for evil to the slaves of the plantation; but before he quitted the property, he would, if it were possible, thunder forth the threatenings of God's word into the ears of the master. This was the only consistent course of conduct. In proportion as we taught submission to the slave, we should enjoin repentance and restitution upon the master. Nay, more, said Mr. Thompson, if we teach submission to the slave, we are bound to exert our own peaceful energies for his deliverance.

Shall we say to the slave, “Avenge not yourself,” and be silent ourselves in respect to his wrongs?

Shall we say, “Honor and obey your masters,” and ourselves neglect to warn and reprove those masters?

Shall we denounce “carnal weapons,” which are the only ones the slaves can use, and neglect to employ our moral and spiritual weapons in their behalf?

Shall we tell them to beat their “swords into ploughshares, and their ‘spears into pruning-hooks,” and neglect to give them the “sword of the spirit, which is the word Of God.”

Let us be consistent. The principles of peace, and the forgiveness of injuries, are quite compatible with a bold, heroic and uncompromising hostility to sin, and a war of extermination with every principle, part and practice of American slavery. I hope no drop of blood will stain our banner of triumph and liberty. I hope no wail of the widow or the orphan will mingle with the shouts of our Jubilee. I trust ours will be a battle which the ‘Prince of Peace’ can direct, and ours a victory which angels can applaud.

SOURCES: Isaac Knapp, Publisher, Letters and Addresses by G. Thompson [on American Negro Slavery] During His Mission in the United States, From Oct. 1st, 1834, to Nov. 27, 1835, p. 58-60; “Debate on the Peace Question,” The Liberator, Boston, Massachusetts, Saturday, April 18, 1835.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

George G. Thompson: Fast Day, April 9, 1835

In these days of slavish servility and malignant prejudices, we are presented occasionally with some beautiful specimens of christian obedience and courage. One of these is seen in the opening of the North Bennett-street Methodist meeting-house, in Boston, to the advocates for the honor of God, the salvation of our country, and the freedom of enslaved millions in our midst. As the pen of the historian, in after years, shall trace the rise, progress and glorious triumph of the abolition cause, he will delight to record and posterity will delight to read, the fact that when all other pulpits were dumb, all other churches closed, on the subject of slavery, in Boston, the boasted “CRADLE OF LIBERTY,” — there was one pulpit that would speak out, one church that would throw open its doors in behalf of the down trodden victims of American tyranny, and that was the pulpit and the church above alluded to. The primitive spirit of Methodism is beginning to revive with all its holy zeal and courage, and it will not falter until the Methodist churches are purged from the pollution of slavery, and the last slave in the land stands forth a redeemed and regenerated being.

On Fast Day morning, 9th inst. Mr. Thompson gave a very powerful discourse from the pulpit of the Bennett street meeting-house. The house was thronged to excess at an early hour; and although the crowded auditory had to wait for the appearance of Mr. Thompson, an hour beyond the time appointed for the meeting, (he having had the erroneous impression that the services commenced at 11, instead of 10 o'clock,) yet their attention was rivetted to the end. It is difficult to report Mr. T’s address. We can only present the following skeleton of his lecture.

Mr. Thompson took for his text the 28th chapter of Isaiah, exclusive of the two last verses. He stated that he had made choice of the chapter just read, because of its full, significant, and emphatic bearing upon that grave and interesting topic, to which it was expected he would that day draw the attention of his hearers. The text contained all that was necessary to illustrate the importance of attention to the subject of slavery, and explain the duties connected with that subject. It pointed out the consequences flowing from a faithful discharge of those duties, and moreover, directed us to the means by which we were to bring others to a sense of their sins, and the discharge of their obligations. Thus was the subject in its length and its breadth, brought before us. Founding our remarks upon the word of God, and carefully drawing our directions thence, we should be kept from falling into error, touching our faith and practice.

To whom was this chapter addressed?

The chapter was manifestly addressed, not to the profane, ungodly, and openly irreligious, but to those who professed to serve God — persons scrupulously attentive to the externals of piety. “Declare unto MY PEOPLE their TRANSGREssions — unto the House of JAcoB their sINs.” — unto those who seek me daily, who delight to know my ways, who ask of me the ordinances of justice, who take delight in approaching to God, who fast often, who afflict their souls, who bow down their heads as bulrushes, who spread sackcloth and ashes under them. Shew unto these their transgressions and their sins.

What were the sins of this people?

1. In the day of their fast they found pleasure. It was not a day of inward mortification — of penitent prostration of soul — but of pharisaical and self-complacent attention to outward forms and ceremonies, the observance of which obtained for them amongst men the reputation of superior sanctity.

2. On that day they exacted all their labors. While appearing to serve God, they were robbing the poor — multiplying tasks — growing rich by the labor of their slaves at home.

3. They fasted for strife, and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness. Their fasts were too frequently mere political observances — for political ends. To promote the ends of war — animosity — sectarianism — controversy and strife. In a word, these outwardly holy and sanctimonious Jews were HYPocRITEs, SLAVEHoLDERS, OPPRESSoRs, wARLIKE PoliticiaNs, neglectors of the great MoRAL and social duties.

What were this people to do?

1. Loose the bands of wickedness. Dissolve every unrighteous connection. Have no fellowship with sin or sinners, &c.

2. Undo the heavy burdens. Remove every unjust restriction, taxation and disability, &c.

3. Let the oppressed go free. Set at liberty all held in slavery. All innocent captives, &c.

4. Break every yoke. Release from servitude all held by unjust contracts. Abandon compulsory labor.

5. Feed the hungry.

6. Succor the friendless and homeless.

7. Put away pride and prejudice.

8. Refrain from injurious speech.

What effects were to follow!

1. Joy, peace, light, comfort. “Then shall thy light break forth as the morning. What could be more beautiful than the figure here employed? Light-morning light-reviving light-increasing light — strengthening light — welcome light. Light after darkness. Joy after sorrow. The light of morning to the languishing patient The light of morning to the tempest-tost mariner ! The light of the morning to the sleepless captive.

2. Restoration. “Thine health shall spring forth speedily. Bishop Lowth hath rendered the passage, ‘Thy wounds shall speedily be healed over.’ And Dr. Clarke, ‘the scar of thy wounds shall be speedily removed.’”

3. Reputation. “Thy righteousness shall go before thee.” Thy justice shall be made manifest. Thy integrity shall appear to men. The world shall admire thy righteous conduct.

4. Defence. “The glory of the Lord shall be thy rereward [sic].” Or according to Lowth's translation — “The glory of Jehovah shall bring up thy rear.”

5. The spirit of prayer — and the answer of prayer. “Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, “Here I am” — or, “Lo, I am here.”

6. Brightness and light where all had been obscurity and darkness. “Then shall thy light rise in the obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noon day.”

7. Divine direction. “The Lord shall guide thee continually.” By his Word, his Spirit, his Providence.

8. Fertility, culture, beauty, order, freshness, fragrance. “Thou shalt be like a watered garden.”

9. Health, purity, perpetuity, abundance. “Like a spring of water whose waters fail not.”

10. The reparation of national dilapidations. “They that be of thee shall BUILD THE olD wAsTE PLACEs. Thou shalt RAIsE UP THE FounDATIONs of MANY GENERATIONs. Thou shalt be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of paths to dwell in. Or, according to Lowth, “And they that spring from thee shall build the ancient ruins. The foundations of old times they shall raise up. And thou shalt be called, the repairer, of the broken mounds — the restorer of paths to be frequented by inhabitants.’

Thus, all the desolations of war and wickedness shall be repaired.

Here are promised to a just and obedient people — Light, Health, Glory, Reputation, Defence, Direction, the Spirit of Prayer, the Answer to Prayer, Restoration, Fertility, Beauty and Perpetuity.

To give the subject a present and practical bearing, he should consider generally the nature and advantages of national penitence.

I. The scriptural manifestations of a genuine national repentance.

True penitence did not consist in profession, outward prostration, dejection of countenance, bodily austerities, grievous penances, abounding ordinances, or splendid benevolent enterprises. All these might exist with Slavery, Oppression, Uncharitableness, Persecution, Proscription, and Prejudice. True repentance was a living, active principle, producing righteousness in the life-the abandonment of every wicked way. God detested external humiliations and sacrifices when they were unaccompanied by poverty of soul and practical piety.

Did this nation give forth those proofs of penitence which the scriptures required? Was there not slavery, oppression, the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and the speaking of vanity, abroad over the whole nation — and amongst professing christians, too, notwithstanding the schools, colleges, churches, Missionary Societies, Bible Societies, and other institutions that had been multiplied without number? Were the fasts of this people such as God had chosen Look at the slave regions of the land How black the gloom! How death-like the stillness! How deep the guilt! How awful the curse resting upon them! Look over the entire face of the country. The general and state governments utterly paralyzed. The churches thoroughly corrupted. The people in guilty indifference. The ministers of religion almost universally dumb — or openly and wickedly vindicating oppression. Mr. Thompson then went on to specify at length the acts necessary to prove the genuine penitence of the nation.

Individuals should emancipate their slaves. The general Government should be forced by the voice of the people to purge the District of Columbia. The States should legislate in accordance with the principles of the constitution and the requirements of the text.

The churches ought to act. Let the churches preach emancipation — warn slaveholders — put them under church discipline — bear with them for a time, and if fruit be not borne, put them out of the church, which they defile by their soul-trafficking pursuits.

II. The distinguished and abounding blessings secured to a truly penitent and obedient nation.

Under this division, Mr. Thompson dwelt largely upon the safety and advantages of immediate emancipation, and illustrated those portions of the text which speak of the blessings consequent upon the adoption of a righteous, merciful and truly obedient course of conduct.

1. The spread of knowledge.

2. The dissemination of the scriptures.

3. The acquisition of national character.

4 Restoration of fertility to a now almost exhausted soil.

5. Augmentation of the wants of the population, and the consequent increased demand for the manufactures of the country.

6. A pouring out the spirit of prayer.

7. A blessing upon the various enterprises to advance the kingdom of Christ at home and abroad.

These, and a multitude of blessings of an infinitely various character, would be the portion of this nation, if the commands of God's word were obeyed, and the oppressed set free.

III. The imperative duty of such as desire to advance the blessedness and prosperity of their country in church and state, by bringing the people to true repentance.

Cry aloud, spare not, &c.”

These words implied the adoption of all proper means of exhibiting, clearly and universally, the transgressions of the people. These means should be open, bold, unsparing, effectual. The drowsiness, deafness, indifference, avarice, and blindness of the people required a fearless and unsparing denunciation of sin.

Not only was it our duty to show the folly, inexpediency, unprofitableness, and impolicy of slavery, but the transgression and the SIN of slavery.

Much fault was in the present day found with the measures of certain Abolitionists, because their measures were strong, bold, and unsparing. Let it be remembered, that crying aloud was God's method — God's command.

Finally — God's promises were invariably connected with obedience to certain commands, having reference either to the outward conduct or the dispositions of the heart. In the case in question, if the duties prescribed were not performed, instead of the blessings promised, their opposites would be our lot. Instead of light, there would be darkness. Instead of reputation, dishonor and infamy. Instead of light and comfort, horror and shame, Instead of moral and physical fertility, all would be barrenness. Instead of advancement, decay. Instead of strength, weakness. Instead of guidance, perplexity. Instead of salvation, dishonor and destruction.

SOURCES: Isaac Knapp, Publisher, Letters and Addresses by G. Thompson [on American Negro Slavery] During His Mission in the United States, From Oct. 1st, 1834, to Nov. 27, 1835, p. 52-7; “Fast Day,” The Liberator, Boston, Massachusetts, Saturday, April 18, 1835, p. 3