Africo-Americans in the New York House of Refuge Visits with Mayor Marcy to New York's "African" Schools Visit with Wm Lloyd Garrison in NY on his way to England Albino Girl at "African" School
"Indiscriminate" mixing of convicts on Blackwell's Island Aristocracy of the Skin (long - source of working title) Beginning of Investigation of Africo-Americans and colonization Rev. Peter Williams (son of slave; black Episcopal Minister) Callous Proposals in American Quarterly Review and Niles. Cruelty and Consequences of Such a Policy (Removal of females for population control) Prejudices and Real Motives of the Colonization Society In England, a sable complexion is a passport ...
Singsing and Dr. Lieber's prejudices Among juvenile offenders at the Refuge were 12 colored boys... Mexican and US prejudices against "low" occupations Servant - euphemism for slave; other linguistic peculiarities Prevalence of domestic service among blacks; mixed consequences Black servants convenient scapegoats Hint ... that they eat pease with a knife, and they are highly enraged:tell them that their conduct to the "niggers" is inhuman and unmanly,and they laugh in your face. Peter Williams again; reports and lies from Liberia A more thorough humbug never existed The patience of these people ... Whose feelings would not revolt?
Weathersfield Penitentiary (near Hartford); reasons for high percentage of blacks in prison Racial abuse in Hartford - increased by Colonization efforts
Greater equality of blacks in the countryside Lecture on the subject of slavery in Boston Blacks' inability to get tavern license Prejudice oblivious to its own effects. Colonizationist Meeting in Boston Impudence of proclaiming Africa the home of the Africo-Americans Boston black unable to sell or use pew at Park St. Church (in 1830). Joshua Easton's similar inability to claim a pew Walsh's Appeal denies racism 'African' schools in Boston This 'spiteful vulgar distinction' -- petty ways in which blacks are singled out Reports of 'frightful mortality' from Liberia 'African' colonists as the New Pilgrims Colonizationists tried to censor Garrison Flourishing of antislavery since 1831 attributed to Garrison State of Georgia puts price on Garrison's head Garrison's slander conviction in Baltimore Arbitrary whip-lashing of blacks by a driver in the south - Bostonian scorned for protesting Visit to David and Lydia M. Child; her writings Conversation with Mr Levington - the black Baltimorian minister Mr Levington's school; insults in course of his travels Bostonian abolitionist accustoms his children to sleeping with black children Prejudice unjustified -- selflessness during cholera epidemic Irish among the worst persecuters; interracial marriage and laws on it Phillis Wheatley's copy of Paradise Lost Harrison Grey Otis' tepid defense of blacks Mrs. Paul (black teacher) not allowed to travel by stage Miss Paul's brother not allowed in grammer school; other insults on the road 'Confusion to New England' (toast in the south) Foolish fear that racial mixture causes "degeneration" Fear of ridicule while 'inviting its shafts' Fear of a growing black population -- taken to extreme
Having left England in company with two of his countrymen, one of whom (Mr. William Crawford) had been sent out by our Government to inspect the prisons of the United States, the Author was induced to remain after their return; and, finding the journal he had kept, contained what he thought might essentially serve the cause of humanity, he determined to sacrifice his reluctance to appear in print, and give a full and faithful picture of the cruelties he had witnessed.
If too much space should appear to be taken up by the same subject, it should be remembered that slavery, as it exists in America, comes home to our "business" as well as to our "bosoms"; and appeals no less to English pockets than to English sympathies; for the slave trade, which has cost us so much blood and treasure, springs naturally from the compulsory system of the new world, and must follow its fate. We have paid upwards of ten millions sterling between the years 1825 and 1834 (inclusive) for the suppression of that traffic, and have aggravated its horrors in proportion to our activity and expenditure. Our ships of war have forced an open commerce into the hands of the smuggler; and our bounties for captured negroes have called into action the worst passions, and the most cruel devices. Let the moral influence of England be substituted in America for her cannon on the Atlantic; and the black man will gain by our philanthropy what he now loses by our money. Commerce and civilization will spread their healing wings over Africa; and Christianity will follow in their train. It may be added, that we have a closer and a deeper interest in the question of American slavery; for, if the Southern portion of the Union should endeavor to prevent its discussion, and resist or separate from the other, a civil or a servile war would ensue, and the interruption of its staple cultivation would cut off from our cotton factories the chief sources of their prosperity, before a supply could be obtained from our Eastern settlements, or from other quarters of the globe.
The Author would observe that, in deviating from the usual mode of spelling some words, he had no desire to set up a new standard, where it would more become him to conform to what exists. He has quoted frequently from American writers, and he has adopted their orthography, because he wished to preserve uniformity.
The title " Journal" has been retained, though not strictly in accordance with the order of dates.
Eight or ten schools were visited during the course of the day; and
at each of them, when the examination was over, an address was made to
the children by the governor, one of the aldermen, or some other person.
This ceremony was omitted at the African schools, as they are called. In one of these I was struck, on our entrance, by the appearance of two boys, who had no signs of the Pariah caste about them. They were both of fair complexion with light, silky hair. I immediately pointed them out to one of the visitors, who was standing by me, and he looked as if he was shocked at the sacrilegious inter-mixture. Questions were eagerly put, and whispers passed mysteriously from one to another; when, at last, it was agreed that further inquiries should be made into the matter, and the incipient contamination be arrested, by removing the objects of their solicitude from the black sheep among whom they had been so improperly placed. The first AfricoAmerican free school was established at New York in 1787, by the Manumission Society of the State. In 1790 the girls were taught needlework by a female engaged for that purpose. In 1808 the school was incorporated, and the next year the Lancasterian system was introduced into it. There was not an instance, according to C. C. Andrews, who has published an account of the schools for colored children, of any pupil, instructed in this institution, having been, down to the year 1830, "convicted of crime in any of the courts of justice."
The Trustees of the Manumission Society, under whose care the "African" schools are placed by the commissioners of the schoolfund --(some of them are Quakers), --have made a distinction between the white and black teachers, that is consistent neither with justice nor good policy. They give higher salaries to the former than to the latter, without reference to the qualifications of the master or the number of the scholars. A man of color, of the name of Hughes, receives but 500 dollars a year: while a white man, whose name it would be invidious to mention, as he is acknowledged to be inferior to the other in every respect, has 600, for performing the same duties in a school of the same class.
A writer in Niles's Register states, that there are nearly a million and a half of children in the United States destitute of the school instruction they require. Add to this amount the slaves and a great many of the free blacks, and the waste of human intellect is frightful indeed!
Having visited the schools, we proceeded to the City Orphan Asylum, a wellconducted establishment, containing about 140 objects of charity; boys and girls. The guardian had been, for twenty years, at the head of an "African" school. He assured me that he could not discover any difference of intellect in blacks and whites: --he thought that, with similar advantages, the former would be fully equal to the latter. This testimony is not to be hastily rejected, derived, as it is, from a man highly respected, of much experience in the tuition of both races, competent to form a sound opinion, and coming to a conclusion directly opposed to all that he had been taught and all he still hears.
About this time I received a visit from a man who had already made some noise in the country, and is destined, if he live, to fill a niche in its history. The person of whom I speak, is William Lloyd Garrison --the Apostle and Martyr of Emancipation. I had expressed a wish to see him, to the steward of the vessel which took me out; and the latter, communicated what I said to him, as he was taking his passage by the same ship for Liverpool. He was going on a mission from the New England Anti-slavery Society, with the view of undeceiving the British abolitionists, whom Elliott Cresson, an advocate of the American Colonization Society, had misled with regard to the objects and motives of the latter institution. As I was fully aware of the deception that had been practiced both by the principal and the agent, I was anxious to learn how the impression it had made was to be removed, and was highly gratified that a measure had been adopted, the ultimate effects of which would involve the destinies of millions not only in America, but in Africa; and, I may add, of the whole globe, --for freedom is the parent of civilization, and civilization of commerce. Upon the solution of this important question depends the continuance or the dissolution of the union; and every one who visits the States that compose it, must feel interested in all that bears upon it, whether the aspect in which he views it, be moral or political. Efforts had been made to detain Garrison by a legal process, through the medium, fictitious or real, of an action for libel. Like all pioneers in the cause of reform, he had employed weapons of a rough kind, more suited to the nature of the work and the paucity of coadjutors than agreeable to the taste of his opponents and the delicacy of his friends. His private character, however, was unimpeachable; and those who differed most widely from him in opinion, could not have found in his manners that severity which those, who most agreed with him, lamented in his writings.
As soon as he had sailed, a cross fire of abuse was opened by the morning and evening papers upon him and all connected with him, --"the fanatic" Garrison, and his "crazy" coadjutors reechoed through the columns of the journals, which were thus, by exciting discussion, giving activity to the cause they were trying to smother. The merits of the question might be inferred from the manner in which it was urged; and the result might safely be predicted from the demeanor of the disputants. Those who would have us think a feeble advocate must have a bad cause, should take care lest we think a violent advocate cannot have a good one. Fanaticism*
... At one of the "African" schools was an Albiness. She had the features and crisped hair peculiar to the negro race; but her skin and eyes were of a light color; and her hair had the appearance of wool both in whiteness and consistency. Her sight was very weak, and I was told her intellect was defective.
There were thirteen public schools (there are probably more now) in
New York; ... and about six "African" schools.
The inspectors reported to the Legislature in 1833, that "the convicts were confined in one room, or on different galleries, but within the same general inclosure. No attempt had ever been made to establish a system of discipline among them; --the old, the young," (and to cap the climax of iniquity,) "all colors and conditions were indiscriminately mixed together."
Sailors, whose complexion is not of the orthodox color, however meritorious their conduct, or reduced their circumstances, find no "Snug Harbour" here.
Though I had heard much, before I left England, about the aristocracy of the skin, which so disgracefully distinguishes the new from the old world, I was not prepared to find that America had borrowed from Asia her degrading system of castes, and that the western world was divided into Brahmins and Pariahs. That a people, not otherwise inferior to the rest of mankind in justice, religion, or kind-heartedness, should condemn nearly one-fifth of their fellow citizens, without pity, without remorse, and without a trial, to contempt and obloquy, for no reason but that of the strongest, and no crime but that of color, is one of those anomalies, which the history of every age and country --to the shame of human nature --exhibits, but which the history of no age and of no country exhibits in more preposterous contradiction to the spirit of the times, the advancement of intelligence, and the spread of Christianity. Alarmed at the increasing numbers of this insulted race, and foreseeing, with the instinctive acuteness of cruelty, in their advancing intelligence, a demand for social rights and the efforts of commercial competition, the favored majority were straining every nerve to drive them out of the country by contumelious treatment or deceptious promises. Emigration was offered, as the better part of that alternative which alone remained to national injustice --of expatriating them, as likely to become dangerous or troublesome, or of admitting them to the same privileges with the native-born or naturalized whites. They were told that they were to be sent to their native country, as if that alone were not our native country where we were born; where the remains of those nearest and dearest to us rest; and where every inanimate object bears upon it the indelible impress of our earliest associations and fondest affections. Interested in the fortunes of a people to whom no nation owes a heavier debt, for its crimes and its cruelties, than our own, and who seem destined by the mysterious orderings of Providence, to enjoy and impart the blessings of civilization in the land of their servitude, I determined to investigate their present condition, and ascertain how far they were likely to accept the proffered bounty of the Colonization Society. With this view I called, at the suggestion of a person to whom he was well known, upon the Rev. Peter Williams --a minister of the Protestant Episcopalian church, into which he was ordained by Bishop Hobart. His father, who had been a slave, kept a tobacconists shop after his emancipation, and had, as his first servant, the son of his former master --a double reverse of fortune, that illustrates the doctrine of compensation in a very striking manner.
I found Mr. Williams a very intelligent man, of pleasing and gentlemanly manners, and was much gratified with the information he gave me relative to the situation and prospects of a people, who, like the Jews, have escaped from bondage, to suffer from calumny. It was his opinion that they were chiefly petty offences, for which the blacks, who are found in such numbers in the prisons and penitentiaries, have been committed, --offences that are often overlooked in the whites, who have to contend neither against the prejudice which disposes to conviction, nor against the difficulty of obtaining evidence to character. The prejudice against them was less prevalent, he thought, in the rural districts than in the cities and towns; and stronger among the wealthy than the less fortunate portions of society. This opinion was verified by subsequent observation, and I discovered, contrary to what might have been reasonably expected, that the feeling, however suppressed or disguised, was more bitter in the women than in the men --in the clergy than in the laity --and in the north than in the south. The father of Mr. Williams performed, while a slave, an action so noble and disinterested, that it ought to be recorded. During the revolutionary war, he rescued the Rev. Mr. Chapman --a Presbyterian minister of New Jersey --from the enemy, who were in search of him as one of the most active promoters of the rebellion. An English officer, who suspected that he knew the place of Chapman's retreat, threatened his life, and then offered him his purse, to betray him. But neither the menace nor the gold had any influence upon his resolution; he resisted both, to preserve a man who had no claim upon his benevolence but the danger he was in. The son is worthy of the parent, and is respected by all in spite of his lineage. White clergymen, and even bishops, are sometimes seen in his pulpit,--not but what they resume, on quitting the colored congregation, the sandals they had left at the door, or are not again "conformed" to the world because they have been thus "transformed" by Christian charity. The teachers of the same religion ought not surely to be considered as unfit associates for one another; nor should he, who has given to another authority to preach the gospel, refuse to secure him against insult by the proper employment of that influence which his high calling gives him over his own flock. It is no answer to these remarks to assert that the prejudices of the country are too strong and too widely diffused to be combated by individual efforts, and that foreigners have no right to interfere. If the existence of a custom is to be its justification, and every nation is to be permitted to do what seems right in its own eyes, infanticide in China and self-immolation in Hindostan are natural and lawful; every vice, however odious, and every crime, however hideous, are to be tolerated in those communities that commit them; and no principles, by which human actions and sentiments are to be regulated, can ever be discovered.
The brutal indifference to human virtue and happiness that accompanies this antipathy is inconceivable. There was an article in the American Quarterly Review, about this time, on the subject of the Colonization Society. It abounded in that sort of hypothetical reasoning, gratuitous assumption, and arbitrary analogies which generally characterise the advocacy of a bad cause. The vulgar fallacy of contrasting theory with experience was thrust forward; as if the same facts could be valuable when separated, and worthless in conjunction; or the principle which is found in all, of less consequence than the accessaries with which each is casually connected. But the badness of the logic is lost in the atrocity of a suggestion, which involves so much inhumanity in the expedient recommended, and so much demoralization in the results, that we are at a loss to decide which most deserves our reprobation--the writer of such an article, or the people to whom it is addressed. "If Congress," says the Reviewer, "had, from 1790, been empowered to make a very moderate annual appropriation for the purchase of the female infants of slaves, and taken no other measures, slavery would be (would have been) now little more than a name, and, twenty years hence, all but extinct." This measure has several times been urged upon the planters by Niles, in his Register. "We calculated,"--such are his words so late as Sept. 1834,--"we calculated, some years ago, that the removal annually of twelve or thirteen thousand young colored females from the United States, would check the progress of the whole colored population; and suppose that, if slavery is ever abolished in this country, unless by acts of lawful violence, it must be brought about by gradual, and moderate, and kind removals of young females --from which no great inconvenience to either party would result. Steadinesss in the policy suggested would, in a few years, very materially reduce the comparative number of the colored population."This was said on the occasion of our sending out young women to Australia. Niles must have known, or ought to have known, why they were sent. The object was not, as he would have it be believed, to check population at home. He would not, perhaps, regret to see the same vices which called for this importation into New Holland, resulting from the projected exportation from North America. The more degraded the one race, the greater relative importance of the other --in their own eyes. It is from Spanish barbarity that this scheme appears to have been borrowed. "It was the policy of sugar-planters ," says Abbott, in his Letters on Cuba, "to purchase males alone; and they were not allowed wives off of the estate; therefore they were wholly denied a privilege, even more eagerly coveted by blacks than whites, and were condemned to monkish celibacy --or that which was very much worse. A policy so barbarous has been abandoned by most but it is retained by some, and even by coffee-planters; where the labor is comparatively light, either excluding females from the estate, or locking up the sexes in separate buildings." Population is discouraged in Cuba, because it is cheaper to buy than to rear slaves, on the same principle that a farmer purchases, instead of breeding, his horses. The ordinary profits of stock can only be made by conforming to the system which competition introduces and self-defence is obliged to adopt. If man, by becoming property, could, by any possibility, be secured against the contingencies to which property is exposed, he would no longer be a slave.
In 1820 there were, on the island, but five female blacks to nine males of the same race; while the proportion among the sexes in the white population was as seven to eight. Between 1811 and 1825, according to a statistical account published at the Havana in 1829 by a Commission appointed by the local government, 185,000 blacks had been imported from Africa; yet there were no more than 286,942 in the year 1827, while in 1817 there had been 225,268. Some deduction must be made from the destruction thus implied, on account of the contraband trade carried on between the island and the Slave States of the continent. Still the black or mixed races added to their numbers more rapidly than the other, from 1775 to 1827. The whites had increased 224 per cent. during that period, the free colored population 246, and the slaves 547.
To return to the Review, a more extended notice of which may be excused as the able advocate of an association, which owes its origin to a combination of circumstances so little understood in Europe, that no one would believe it possible for a whole nation to invoke the aid and admiration of Humanity for a work of consummate duplicity and wickedness. The writer in question is, however, consistent: --he approves of teaching religion to the slaves by oral communication alone, and speaks with complacency of the law recently enacted in Georgia, that no colored person shall engage in preaching or exhortation or as a class reader. The black, it is said, is naturally inferior to the white: what if the former had been the sculptor? Admitting the truth of this position, what right does the distinction give to the latter? --It was his pride that suggested the hypothesis; and his avarice that connected the premises with the conclusion. The logic is worthy of the morality. He who is accustomed to see or to infer benevolent design in everything around him, will not doubt that the diversities of form and complexion, which distinguish the various tribes of men, have the accommodation of the species for their object, as they have the divine goodness for their Author. He would laugh at the folly, if he were not indignant at the impiety, which would make an assumed superiority of mind a reason for employing the physical powers of the victim for its own purposes; and would readily acknowledge, that, if authority were to change hands, the justification of its exercise might, by parity of reasoning, be founded on the same distinction --since the African would claim a property in European intellect on the plea of a more perfect bodily organization. How can it be said, with any semblance of truth, that the free blacks quit the country without constraint or coercion, since their residence in all the States is made the source of unceasing annoyance to them; and, in some of them, is no longer tolerated? "The laws of Maryland,"*
"The Society maintains that no slave ought to receive his liberty, except on condition of being excluded, not merely from the State, which sets him loose, but from the whole country;" i.e. punishment is to fall, not upon the perpetrators, but the victims of this "moral evil"; misfortune and crime are to meet with the same fate; and the justice of the white man is to make even Liberty a curse. We are told, in every publication that issues from this Society, in every speech that is addressed by its advocates to an applauding public, that these unfortunate beings are to be expatriated, because they are "an ignorant, indolent, and depraved population." Yet a clergyman in Virginia, while offering to emancipate seventeen of these "degraded" creatures, declared in a letter written by him in 1828, that they were "as desirable a parcel for their integrity and industry as any man owned," and the Reviewer himself says- "no capital crime has been committed (in Liberia) since its commencement; and very few (be believes) of any description." The same men, we are called upon to believe, are rogues in America and honest men in Africa; depravity becomes virtue by crossing the Atlantic; and the rubbish and refuse of the mother country prove a boon and a blessing to her colony. The parent and child are not more completely separated by the waters of the Atlantic than by the natural sympathy of the one with every thing that bears the human form, and the superstitious repugnance which the other has imbibed, from early infancy, against one fifth of those who were born on the same soil with himself. What right has any one to say, "homo sum," who cannot add --"nihil humani a me alienum puto"? He cannot "know himself a man," till he has been taught "what others are to feel."
England, a sable complexion is a passport, almost everywhere, to kindness
and, liberality. In that part of America, which "claims kindred" with her
sons, it is viewed with aversion or repelled with scorn. The studied separation
in the first periods of life;--the universal antipathy during all that
succeed; --the rigorous exclusion from the courtesies and accomplishments,
of social life; --and, above all, the risk of losing caste attached to
any deviation from what despotic custom has marked with her inexorable
a barrier to a more liberal and humane intercourse, which none but the
most generous or the most vile among the whites can break through.
Second Visit to Singsing --Prison Discipline.-Strike for Wages. --Second Visit to House of Refuge. --Servants, --Domestic Manners - National Character, Machinery-Fourth of July. --Corporation Dinner. --Episcopal Minister of Africo-American Church --Liberia. --Protest of Colored People against Expatriation.- -New Jersey.--Canal.
the 19th of June, I went with the King's Commissioner, who had just
returned from a fatiguing journey to the west, to Singsing penitentiary.
Dr. Leiber, a naturalized German, who was there at the same time, seemed
much surprised that the black convicts should make good mechanics. In any
other part of the world, I should have been equally surprised at the Doctor's
remark --but he had been some years in America, and probably knew no more
of these people than what the whites had told him; assertions that foreigners
are too apt to believe without further inquiry. The agent, however, who
is a better judge, told me that they evinced as much industry and intelligence
as the other convicts, and more docility.
juvenile offenders at the Refuge were twelve colored boys; another
building was about to be erected, or that occupied by the girls, on the
completion of new arrangements, was to be appropriated for their use. At
present both classes were compelled to work together, to the great horror
of the white young gentlemen, who were not contented that the strictest
barrier should be placed between them and the objects of their scorn on
every practicable occasion, whether marching in military order to or from
morning and evening service, partaking of meals, or engaged in any way
that admitted of separation. No small share of the disgrace and degradation
connected with a forced residence within the walls, seemed to result from
the necessity of this hated association. Comment upon such folly and wickedness
is needless -- one instance of the baneful influence thus exercised over
the tender minds of youth, will suffice. In the annual report for 1827,
it is stated, that a boy, who had been put out as an apprentice by the
Society, had absconded, being "unwilling to eat with the blacks, while
the laborers sat at the table with his master."
Bullock, when travelling in Mexico, observed that the English nation was little esteemed there. The people of that country, accustomed to see convicts and persons of bad character employed in their factories, imagined that our "operatives" were of the same class; and, as we are a manufacturing nation, they looked upon us as an inferior race. A similar association of ideas seems to have brought domestic service into disrepute with the North Americans. Most of the servants are free blacks in the Eastern and middle states; and as they labor from no fault of their own, under the most unfavorable imputations, it is natural enough that great unwillingness should be felt to engage in an occupation which carries a certain degree, of stigma with it. Hence it will be found, that the servants in New York are generally Irish or Germans, if not colored persons. This, added to the high rate of wages in other employments, and the facility of settling in life, will account for the general complaint of the difficulty which is felt in getting servants who will stay --a complaint by no means reasonable, since part of the evil is created by the very persons who complain, and the remainder is counterbalanced by the prosperous condition in which such a state of things places the great body of the community. That the blacks are as good servants as the whites, is evident from the advertisements that appear continually in the papers for colored cooks, colored coachman, colored footmen, &c.
Slaves are called servantsby the same sort of euphemism that softens a lie into a fib. This is the reason, --and not from any notions of republican equality, that a man, who works for another calls, himself a "help," and his employer his "boss."*
Jess. "Votre tres humble serviteur, Monsieur! I understand Colonel Manly, the Yankee officer, has the honor of your services."It is a mistake to suppose that the colored people are servants because they are degraded. It is true that many of them are servants, and too true that all of them are degraded in public opinion: but the former is no more a punishment than the latter a crime. The fact is, they are generally to be found in menial employments, because there are few, and hardly any, other open to them. No doubt such occupations are distasteful to the narrow-minded whites; but they are of great benefit to the others, who are really elevated by what is intended to lower them. As they come into closer contact with the more refined classes of society, and are obliged to pay more attention to external appearance, they acquire a better manner, and are more neatly dressed than the whites of the same rank. Hence it is, that to an unprejudiced eye a manifest superiority, in favor of this despised race, is found among what are called the lower classes. It is rarely that an Englishman, converses much with these people. Let him make the experiment, and he will acknowledge the truth of these observations.
Jon. "Sir ?"
Jess. "I say, Sir, I understand that Colonel Manly has the honor of having you for a servant."
Jon. "Servant! Sir. Do you take me for a neger? --I am Colonel Manly's waiter."
servants are very convenient scapegoats for scape-graces. At a house
where I lodged in New York, one of the master's numerous sons, (he had
a family of eleven children,) had amused himself with tying a piece of
wood by a string to a cat's tail. I saw the culprit making the best of
his way up stairs, on hearing the parental objurgation increasing in loudness
as the speaker approached. It was agreed, however, by all present, that
the black boy had done it. I see clearly that the collusion was not confined
to the youngsters. The accused, when I cross-questioned him afterwards,
assured me that it was not he who had committed the offence; and that he
was frequently blamed or punished, though equally innocent. His word would
never be taken against of a white boy. The helot's denial of the truth
must leave a salutary impression in its favor among these young Spartans!
was often reminded that allowance should be made for a new country that
has not yet acquired the graces and elegances of older communities; but
never did I hear any thing like regret expressed (except by the abolitionists,
who are stigmatised as unworthy citizens for lamenting it,) that European
morality was not as much aimed at as European fashions. It was amusing
to see the same persons tremblingly alive to any imputation of wanting
that nice polish, which is supposed to distinguish the best society in
England, yet totally insensible to the charge of as vile a narrow-mindedness
as ever disgraced the lowest. The "Patricians" will readily listen to you
when you describe the usages of our fashionables: but, if you state that
a man's complexion is no bar to admittance anywhere, your remark is received
with a sneer of indifference or a smile of scornful incredulity. To be
quizzed and caracatured for vulgarity, is intolerable to the same people,
who seem not to know, or not to care, that you despise
them for their prejudices. Hint
to them that they eat pease with a knife, and they are highly enraged:
tell them that their conduct to the "niggers" is inhuman and unmanly, and
they laugh in your face. They look to Europe for "mint and cummin,"
and leave her "the weightier matters of the law." Purity of language is
more valued than generosity of sentiment or nobleness of behavior. --To
speak with more grammatical accuracy than an Englishman, is matter of general
boasting; but to be his inferior in the kind and benevolent feelings he
exhibits to every member of the human family, neither excites reflection
nor inspires shame.
While the daily and weekly papers, the magazines and reviews, were insulting the colored people and chaunting the praises of Liberia, I called again upon Mr. P. Williams, in search of information about this extraordinary settlement. He had just received a letter, which he read to me, from one of the colonists, formerly a member of his church, and had, not long before, had some conversation with one of the emigrants about to return to Africa. The account given by both of the colony was anything but favorable; the former had lost his wife and one child, and had another in a dangerous state of illness; the latter owned that not one convert to Christianity had been made among the native tribes. The climate, it seems, is very unhealthy, and particularly fatal to those who go to that country from the Northern States of the Union. The Governor exercises the despotic power, with which he is entrusted. in such a manner as to produce a general feeling, of discontent and division among his subjects; many of whom are in a very destitute and deplorable condition. Such was the purport of what had been communicated to Mr. Williams. Both his informants expressed themselves in terms of great caution and circumspection; the one, lest his letter should be intercepted; the other, under an excusable apprehension lest any thing he might say against the colony should be recorded against him on his return. Upon the whole, the board of managers were now placed in an awkward dilemma; if they were acquainted with these facts, they had been guilty of the grossest deception in concealing them; if they were ignorant of their existence, they were not fit to be entrusted with the management of an institution, to the care of which the lives and fortunes of thousands were entrusted. Not contented, however, with thus suppressing what it was their duty to make known, they had pompously announced to the "reading public" that the Lieutenant-Governor and the High Sheriff of Liberia had arrived at New York; that they had left the people of that prosperous colony "contented and happy"; and that they were on their way to Washington, "to confer with the Board of Managers on the propriety of allowing the colonists to choose all their officers, and to make such alterations in their constitution as are considered necessary." This wish for change in a "contented and happy" people reminds one of the Italian, who was well and wanted to be better: Liberia may borrow his epitaph.
Of all the "wonderful wonders that the world ever wondered at," this African colonization-scheme is certainly the most astonishing. A more thorough humbug never existed. It is fortunate that many of those, who would most suffer by becoming its dupes, detected its malignant designs from the commencement of its operations; and the planters of the south will not much longer be permitted to gull the philanthropists of the north. "This society," (says the Convention of the free people of color, in their address to their brethren of the United States, 1833,) "has most grossly vilified our character as a people: it has taken much pains to make us abhorrent to the public, and then pleads the necessity of sending us into banishment. A greater outrage could not be committed against an unoffending people; and the hypocrisy, that has marked its movements, deserves our universal censure. We have been cajoled into measures by the most false representations of the advantages to be derived from our emigration to Africa. No argument has been adduced other than that based on prejudice; --and that prejudice founded on our difference of color. If shades of difference in complexion are to operate to make men the sport of powerful caprice, the colonists, may again compelled to migrate to the land of their fathers in America." Appended to this address is a report from the committee on African colonization. It commences thus: "The committee, consisting of one delegate from each State, for the purpose of reporting the views and sentiments of the people of color in their respective States, relative to the principles and operations of the American Colonization Society, respectfully beg leave to report, that all the people of the States they represent (eight in number) feel themselves aggrieved by its very existence, and speak their sentiments of disapprobation in language not to be misunderstood. The only exception to the rule is of those who are receiving an education, or preparing themselves for some profession, at the expense of the society."
Every friend of humanity will rejoice to hear that this proscribed race have shewn that they are undeserving of ill-treatment, by resolving to submit to it no longer, and, in the words of one of their bitterest enemies, are "disposed to assert the prerogatives of human nature, without distinction of rank or Color." American Quarterly Review, Sept. 1828.
The patience of these people, under a series of provocations and injuries, compared with which our Catholic disabilities and our Jewish disqualifications were mere trifles, is above all praise. What, indeed, must be the rancorous hostility --the contemptuous suspicion, --the scorn and hatred that are universally felt against those, who, though differing in complexion from us, are equally formed in God's own image, when a minister of the gospel of love and humility could dare to express himself before a crowded congregation in such terms as the following! "No station of honor or authority is accessible. These disabilities are the result of complexion; and, till the Ethiopian can change his skin, they admit of no remedy. Who would employ a black to minister at the bed of sickness? Who would entrust to him the maintenance of his rights, and the protection of his interests in a court of justice? --or what congregation would consent to receive him as a herald of salvation, whose lips should announce to them the will of heaven, and whose bands should break to them the bread of life? Whose feelings would not revolt, not only at seeing an individual of this class seated in the chair of state, presiding in our courts of Justice, or occupying the hall of legislation, but even at seeing him elevated to the lowest and most trivial office in the community? In all these respects the blacks, if not by the provisions of our constitution and laws, at least by public sentiment and feeling, and by sentiment and feeling too, which if groundless and reprehensible, admit of no correction are a proscribed and hopeless race. But not only are none of the fields of generous enterprise and honorable ambition open to them, they are made to see and feel their debasement in all the every-day intercourse of life. No matter what their characters may be, however amiable and excellent their spirit, and however blameless and exemplary their conduct, they are treated as an inferior and despised portion of the species. No one, unless himself sunk so low as to be an outcast from those of his own colur, ever associates with them on terms of equality." Extract from a sermon preached by Professor Hough, before the Vermont Colonization Society.
As this discourse was published at their request, it is
to be supposed that they agree with him in his declaration, that this "proscribed"
people are "a degraded unenlightened, unprincipled, and abandoned
and that they are "equally
noxious in themselves,
and a nuisance to the public." The arrogance of this language is
lost in its impiety; the preacher has insulted his Maker in insulting the
work of his hands. Whatever he may assert to the contrary, the diabolical
prejudice which he thus, to the disgrace of his religion and his country,
encourages and endeavours to justify, does
admit of correction;
and will be corrected, if there be justice in Heaven or shame on earth;
if there be such a thing as public opinion in Europe or public conscience
in America. A fire has been kindled in the hearts of the good and the generous
that will never be extinguished till the wickedness, which feeds it is
The proportion of free blacks among the convicts is about twenty or twentyfive per cent., while they form but three per cent. upon the whole population of the State. This difference may be accounted for by the greater degree of temptation to which they are exposed *,
and the little encouragement they receive to good conduct. To be excluded, directly or virtually, from many employments, (for the whites will not work with them) and to be despised in all, affords but sorry inducements to honesty and self-correction. What attachment can they have to virtue, when it affords them no protection, and meets with no reward? How can those, who are disposed to crime, retain their honesty, when they see the honest treated like criminals? How singular is the policy of this country! On one hand it prepares men for the penitentiary, while on the other it is laboring at the diminution of crime, and the reformation of offenders. But what shall we say of its justice, which thus forces its subjects into by-paths, and then punishes them for the deviation? Crime, of course, increases, as the motives to good conduct are removed, and the means of an honest livelihood refused. The same principle may be seen in the manufacturing districts of France and England - where the criminal calendar is found to swell with the pressure of commercial distress, and diminish with its removal. It is a trick of very long standing to refuse straw to the brickmakers, and then exclaim against them --ye are idle. ye are idle! Among the blacks was a native of St. Domingo, and formerly one of Napoleon's Mamelukes. He had been condemned, about three months before, for adultery with a woman, who, he declared, had deceived him by concealing her marriage. Adultery is considered in the State of Connecticut a civil offence, and is punished by imprisonment.
*By the report of the inspectors of the Massachusett's State Prison, in 1832, three-fourths of the colored convicts confined there could not write; while out of sixty-eight white prisoners, thirteen only were equally uneducated; whereas to preserve the same proportion between crime and ignorance, the number should have been fifty-one. The latter, therefore, had not so good an excuse for their guilt.
Of the different trades here pursued, some of the contractors (shoemakers, for instance) require a certain quantity of work from those under them. If it is completed within the time, the rest of the week belongs to them; when they are paid for extra labor, and the money is delivered to the warden, who makes it over to them when the term of their confinement has expired --or, if they wish it, transmits it to their families. A colored man had just informed the chaplain, from whom I had this account, that he had finished his week on the preceding Tuesday. One observation the chaplain made struck me as singular; he said, that the generality of convicts were, in point of intellect, below mediocrity. There is a passage in the African Repository for January 1834, that ought to have some weight with the haughty Caucasians, in modifying the unfavorable inference they are so fond of drawing from the disproportion numbers of the colored race, who are found in the prisons and penitentiaries. It is of the more value as it comes, according to the Editor, from the Rev. R. J. Breckenridge of Baltimore, who, by his speeches and exertions in aid of the colonization society, has long been doing his utmost to drive them out of the country. -- "It is true," he says, "that the proportion of convictions of free persons of color is greater than that of white people. But this is to be taken with great allowance, as evidence of criminality. For their temptations are, usually, manifold greater and more pressing: their offences are more narrowly looked after; and therefore a greater proportion are detected, and of those detected a greater proportion are convicted, by reason of their possessing less public sympathy, smaller opportunities of escaping, and less means of blinding, seducing, or bribing justice. In addition to all this, the very code of offences in the slave-states is more stern as to them than to the whites; and the very principles of evidence are altered by statute so as to bear most rigorously against them. Or, if we contrast them with the slaves, we have no means of founding a judgement; for the very nature of offences and punishments is different in the different classes. We have known a slave hanged for what a white man would hardly have been prosecuted for; and we have known free blacks put into the penitentiary for several years for evidence that was illegal by statute against a white man; and for offences, for which a gentle-tempered master would have rebuked his slave, and a hot-tempered one have caned him. We admit the general corruption of free blacks; but we deny that it is greater than that of the slaves; and we affirm that is is judged of by false methods, and is in a high degree exaggerated. We once thought differently; but we have seen reason to change our opinion." *
To the other causes here alluded to, should be added the suspicion, which, when any crime that excites general attention has been committed, attaches itself, through public opinion, to those whom public opinion has already condemned to vice and ignominy; and the strong inducement in white criminals to shelter themselves by false accusations, or cunning inveiglement, of these helpless and friendless people. There was, at the very time we were there, an old black in this penitentiary, nearly a hundred years of age. He had been confined within its walls a long time, under a charge, which was supported, as was well known in the prison, by evidence of a nature anything but conclusive of his guilt. There seemed, indeed, to be little or no doubt of his innocence.
* I have given the above passage in full length, because it affords an unanswerable argument against slavery; for if it were possible for any one, possessed of common sense, to believe that slaves could be happy, he never can maintain that the free blacks can be so under such a system, or be ever secure against injustice and oppression.
A man of color, who happened to be in the garden, shewed me the grounds, while my "guide, Philosopher, and friend" remained in the gig. Upon my asking the man, how his brethren were treated in the town, he replied that they were insulted and annoyed in a very shameful manner. Frequent broils and fights were the consequence; and the bitter feeling of animosity, that existed against them, had much increased since the Colonization Society had become more active.
Journey to Northampton. --Farmers. --Custom in the distribution of Property by Will. --Law of Descents in case of Intestacy, --Manners. --Prices of Provisions --Mount Holyoke. --Stage, Driver, and Passengers to Boston. --Lecture on Slavery. --African Repository's friendship for the Black Man. --Meeting of Colonization Society. --Death of Dr. Spurzheim. --Africo-Americans excluded from Seats in Church. --Cruelty to a Brazilian and his Wife. --Antiquity of Estates in New England. --Character of White Servants. --Improvement in the Black portion of the Population. --"Liberator" and Abolitionists. --Five thousand Dollars offered by Georgia for Garrison's Arrest. --Squib upon the fair of Boston at Boston Fair. --Mrs. Child. --Black Man preaching in "White" pulpit. --Whites not allowed to marry any but the true "Caucasians." --Lunatic Asylum --Cambridge. --Stage "tabu" for Colored Women. --Boston Pere la Chaise. --Body-snatchers.Nahant. --Young Ladies independent. --Episcopal Church. --Young Gentleman's solicitude for his distant descendants. --Treatment of Africo-American Mechanics.
Free blacks are occasionally employed by the farmers; and sometimes even sit down to the same table with the whites. This confirms what I was told in New York, and shews that their services are more wanted in the country than in the towns. When the carpenters struck work at New York, some of the blacks got work from the masters --an additional reason for jealousy to the mechanics. The abuse that is heaped upon the whole race proves that it is rising in the world. The worst are treated with contempt; while the better portion are spoken of with a degree of bitterness, that indicates a disposition to be more angry with their virtues than their vices. It is insufferably disgusting to hear them sneered at as dandy waiters and insolent puppies by men whose ancestors were perhaps transported convicts. Illiberal as this remark may be thought, it is surely a very mild recrimination to treat your forefathers' crimes as a misfortune in you, who treat my forefathers' misfortunes as a crime in me*.
I took my leave of him, and went in search of my English friends. Having with some difficulty found them, we went together in the evening to hear a public lecture on the subject of slavery. The question was clearly stated and ably discussed, as far as the principle, on which the system is founded, is involved. The remainder of the discourse was deferred to the next and a subsequent meeting. The orator's manner was rather more declamatory, and accompanied with more gesticulation than we are accustomed to in England. The matter, however, was excellent; the arrangement and the reasoning clear and conclusive; and the spirit that breathed throughout such as evinced an earnest conviction and a steady purpose. The audience was profoundly attentive, and both numerous and respectable enough to justify the hope of a more speedy settlement of this difficult question than the enemies and pretended friends of freedom are willing to admit. The business of the evening commenced and ended with a prayer from the lecturer, (a minister of the Congregationalists,) and a hymn from a school of colored children, who were stationed in the gallery under the care of their mistress. There were several of the same race present; all of them decent in their dress and decorous in their behavior. Some of them appeared to be in easy circumstances. There are fewer of them in Boston than in New York; but they are not better treated. One of them complained to me that he had experienced great difficulty in obtaining an employment in which he could get his bread decently and respectably: with the exception of one or two employed as printers, one blacksmith, and one shoemaker there are no colored mechanics in the city.
* "The descendants of pedlars talking about rank! and those of exported paupers, or felons perhaps, gathering to themselves respect, because of the virtues of their ancestors."
-Nile's Register, 1831.
a license for keeping a house of refreshment is refused, under some
frivolous or vexatious pretence; though the same can easily be procured
by a white man of an inferior condition and with less wealth. The insults
heaped upon these unoffending kind-hearted creatures are of such a nature
as would not be credited in England or in any other part of Europe. "Free
blacks," says the African Repository, are a greater nuisance than
even slaves themselves." "There is not a State in the Union not at
this moment groaning under the evil of this class of persons --a curse
and a contagion wherever they reside." This publication is the organ of
the Colonization Society --a professed friend of this people, that offers
them benefits and insults with the same hand; when their acceptance of
them would be the strongest proof, that the former were thrown away, and
the latter fairly merited. Well may its opponents say that it will rivet
the chains of the slave; since its success, as well as its origin, is connected
with that abject state, in which the planter keeps the manumitted black,
whose condition it is his policy to assimilate as much as possible to that
of bondage --as an excuse for the continuance of the one, and to render
the other less desirable. The breeder of slaves for sale has an interest
against the increase of his "cattle" beyond what will give a profitable
return. The buyer has an interest directly the reverse. Hence the Colonization
Society, which holds out the hope of sending the surplus numbers to Liberia,
finds a zealous friend in Virginia, and a determined foe in Louisiana.
The retributive hand of Providence may be traced in the proceedings of
this Association. It has united the friends of the black man, and sown
dissension among his enemies; it has converted the indignation, that its
attempt to deceive had excited, into zeal for the cause of its victims;
it has attracted the attention of Europe to matters which, for a long time,might
have escaped or eluded observation: and, finally, it has produced a reaction
in the public mind that will not rest contented with the exposure of its
trust, and I believe, that there are many of those, who entertain contemptuous
opinions of their darker brethren, quite unconscious of their injustice
and absurdity. They see the prisons and penitentiaries crowded with them,
and are not aware that they are driven into them by their "poverty" and
not their "will." They forget, or know not, that they have often to struggle
with temptations and obstacles, that the ordinary share of human
fortitude and forbearance cannot resist or remove. They are as little acquainted
with them, as our peers with our scavengers or our fine ladies with their
scullions. If, as servants, they are honest and civil, they look upon them
as exceptions, that serve to prove the general character, and bright spots,
that shew the darkness and deformity of the general mass. At the anti-slavery
meeting there were three or four hundred persons present; chiefly from
that class of society, that constitutes its foundation and
strength, and by which all great national changes are commenced or consummated.
next night I attended a meeting of the rival society. According to
the advertisement, it was to take place at eight o'clock in the evening;
but, after half an hour and more had elapsed, not more than thirty people
had assembled, and some of them from curiosity alone; as a man behind me
asked me what was the object of the meeting. After a good deal of mysterious
whispering and preparation, Mr. Gurley, the secretary of the Colonization
Society rose: "oculos paulum tellure remotos sustulit;" and explained,
in a very embarrassed and hesitating manner the purpose for which they
had been called together. A crisis, he said, had arrived in the affairs
of the institution; the calls on its bounty far exceeded the funds at its
disposal; and, unless "the elements of public opinion with regard to the
colored people," which were now so strong, were embodied in a more effective
form, the colony must retrograde or be abandoned, "comparatively speaking."
He complained that the subject had produced "an unfortunate excitement";
that he had devoted the best years of his life to the cause; and most pathetically
observed that sooner than "go over to the doctrines of the ultra-abolitionists",
he would be contented to lay his head beneath the ruins of an enterprise
so important and benevolent. Having expressed a hope that Boston would
support her character, by opening her heart and her purse-strings to the
impoverished friends of Africa and her children, he sat down, "qualis
ab incepto," confused and dejected. He was followed, after a short
pause, by the chairman-if chairman he might be called, who sat on one of
the cross benches: and a similar appeal, in the same tone and manner was
made to the assembly. Another and a longer pause now ensued, when a third
speaker, with somewhat more self-possession, took the floor, and entered
more fully into the question. All I could gather from his speech was, that
the opposition, which had sprung up against them, was unintelligible in
its motives and weak in its influence; that he and his co-adjutors were
the real friends of the blacks, bond and free; that many of the latter
were anxiously waiting for emigration to "the land of their fathers;" that
they were men of excellent character and conduct; and, that if "the extreme
want of means" were not speedily supplied, the society must pause in its
operations, --and the opportunity of relieving the Southern States from
their apprehensions would be lost for ever. It was now getting late, and,
as the chairman observed, for the second or third time, no specific proposition
had been made, when a middle aged man, who had the organ of self-esteem
"pretty considerably" developed, left his seat, and rushed at once into
a stream of impassioned eloquence, more suited to the warmth of his feelings
than the rules of oratory. He was fortunately, (for I was beginning to
get impatient,) unable to sustain himself at the elevation to which he
had mounted so rapidly, and was, therefore, compelled to descend to humble
prose and offer a resolution, which, after some little debate, was ultimately
adopted unanimously. Its purport was that a committee of thirteen should
be formed, to collect subscriptions to the amount of 5,000 dollars in Boston
and its vicinity. Some one suggested that the subscriptions should be annual,
as that mode of obtaining money would be as easy as the other. As this
was the only thing I had heard in which I could most cordially concur,
I took my departure; fully satisfied that the bubble would soon burst,
and that the "American Colonization Society" had received a blow which
would ultimately carry it into the limbo of vanity*.
The impudence of these pseudo-philanthropists, in asserting that Africa is the home of the Africo-American, is most astonishing; well known as the fact is, that this part of the population, in spite of the great destruction of life in the sugar-grounds of Louisiana and the rice-fields of South Carolina, increases more rapidly than the whites: that, though but one-fifth of the nation, there are four times as many of them, who live beyond the age of 100, as there are of the "pale-faced" race; i.e. for every white above 100 years of age, there would be, were their numbers equal, 20 blacks; and that, consequently the soil and climate of their native country are more congenial to them than to those of European descent. When the Spartan slaves became troublesome by their numbers, they were hunted down, and knocked on the head, like wild beasts. The American helots are goaded by prejudice and proscription into "voluntary" exile, and are shipped off by their Christian brethren for a distant shore to struggle with a tropical sun, a barbarous people, and a pestilential climate. All this is done that the increase of the black population may be kept down to that exact point, which shall quiet the fears, and secure the profits, of the slaveowner; while the New Englander lends his aid to this cruel policy, and talks about abolishing slavery, with the, same self-complacent inconsistency with which the philanthropist sweetens his tea with free-labor sugar, while he lulls his cares with the fumes of slave-grown tobacco. Men will bear much and long before they make up their minds to quit their native land forever, and seek an unhealthy settlement among the most ignorant and uncivilized tribes. To say that these people are "willing" emigrants to Africa, is to acknowledge, that they are driven by injustice and cruelty from America.
* Among these orators, so eager to expel "a degraded and inferior race" from the land of their birth, was one, who is said to be the author of a work entitled, "America, or a general survey," &c. The following is a passage from it: "It would seem, from even a slight examination, that the blacks (whether of the African or Asiatic race) have not only a fair right to be considered as naturally equal to men of any other color, but are even not without some plausible pretensions to a claim of superiority." Again: "if any race have a right, on the fair and honorable ground of talents displayed and benefits conferred, it is precisely this very one, which we take upon us, in the pride of a temporary superiority, to stamp with the brand of essential degradation."
The modest motto of this work is:
"O matre pulchra filia pulchrior!"
[daughter more beautiful than her beautiful mother - Horace Ode 16]
It is amusing to see how personal vanity assumes the garb of patriotism; and, while it thinks it is merely paying a just tribute to national glory, is seeking its own gratification. Even the smile which this weakness elicits, proceeds from the same feeling.
(([tribute to Spurzheim] "Professor Follen of Cambridge, in his interesting tribute to the memory of his countryman, ..."))
How far the aristocracy of the skin is carried in this pious city, may be seen by a curious document that was put into my hands by an abolitionist. A free black, some few years ago, came into possession of a pew in one of the churches here. It was the only thing he could obtain from a man who was unable, or unwilling, to pay a legal claim he had upon him. Having furnished it, he offered it for sale. Not finding a purchaser at the price he demanded, --and, few would be likely to give the full value for what no one imagined the owner would dare to make use of; --he determined to occupy it himself; --whether he was unconscious of the offence he was about to give, or thought he might as well speculate upon the white man's pride, as, it would seem, the white man had speculated upon his submissiveness. The sensation produced by his unexpected appearance among the favored children of Nature in the very sanctum sanctorum of their distinctions, can be described by those only who witnessed it. The next Sunday, he took his wife and children with him. --It should be observed that the colored people are not admitted to places of worship, except to small pews or boxes set apart expressly for them, and so placed that they can hear without offending the fastidious delicacy of the congregation. --At Albany, there is one where a curtain is placed in front to conceal the occupants, when there are any; for those for whom they are destined, seldom enter them, and speak of them with the contempt they deserve, as "martin-holes " and "human menageries." It was now high time that notice should be taken of this contumacious spirit; and the intruder received the two following notes.
"IF you have any pew-furniture in pew No. 38, Park Street Meeting-house, you will remove it this afternoon.
"GEORGE ODIORNE, for the Committee. March 6, 1830."
With the above was a copy of a note, written the day before to this Agent of the Committee, in, these words.
PEW No. 38 in Park Street Church is let to Mr. Andrew Ellison.
The other letter was addressed to "Mr. Frederick Brinsley, colored man, Elm Street;" the contents are as follow.
"Boston, March 6, 1830.
"MR. FREDERICK BRINSLEY.
"THE Prudential committee of Park Street Church, notify you not to occupy any pew on the lower floor of Park Street Meeting-house on any Sabbath, or on any other day, during the time of Divine worship, after this date-and, if you go there, with such intent, you will hazard the consequences. The pews in the upper galleries are at your service.
GEORGE ODIORNE, for the Committee."
Mr. Brinsley, on going again, found a constable at the
pew-door. No further attempt was made to assert the rights of property
against such a formidable combination; and we may seek in vain for the
consequences, which Mr. Odiorne with official brevity, says, would
have been hazarded by another visit to the house of God. The offender is
now removed from this scene of persecution and mortification, to a place
"where the wicked cease from troubling and the weary are at rest."
A similar circumstance occurred some years ago, when the question was tried in a court of justice, and decided in favor of the plaintiff --a colored man of the name of Joshua Easton. He had sued for damages against certain persons, who had ejected him from his pew, or rather had rendered it useless to him. Having purchased seats in a Baptist church, recently erected in the town of Randolph, in the State of Massachusetts, he found, on going thither one Sunday with his family, that the seats had been removed. They, accordingly, sat down as well as they could on the flooring. The next Sunday, nothing but the ground being left for their accommodation, the party were obliged to stand up during the service. The enemy, finding that these repeated inconveniences were unavailing, covered the place with pitch and tar. He was satisfied with the victory he had obtained, and shewed his superiority to this petty vulgar malice by not insisting on his right. He never entered the church again.
While I was at Boston, a cause was about to be tried in a court of justice for a breach of contract. The complainant, a Brazilian, had been a major in the service of his native country, from which he was driven by political dissensions. He endeavored to obtain employment at Haiti; and, subsequently at the Caraccas whence, distrusting the sincerity of Bolivar, he came to the United States; this being his second visit. He was driven from a boardinghouse, where he had been admitted on his arrival, to a miserable lodging, which he left for a private house; and was keeping a store when the circumstances, that gave rise to the litigation, occurred. In the month of November preceding, he was going upon business to Nantucket, and had reached New Bedford, where he took places in the steam-boat for his wife and himself. The boat was to start at ten next day: --at six, he sent his horse and gig on board; when, from the negligence of the captain of the vessel, the poor animal was precipitated into the water, and would have been lost, had not the owner exerted himself to save it; no one, for some time, offering any assistance. When, at last, the animal had been rescued, he was compelled to pay twenty dollars for the trouble it had given. At noon, the vessel left the place; --a heavy rain came on; and his wife descended with an infant at her breast, into the cabin; where she was stopped, and informed, that she must not enter, because she was a negro. There were, at the time, but two women, of the lowest description, in the room. It was in vain that her husband remonstrated against the injustice of refusing him an accommodation, for which he had agreed to pay the same as the other passengers. The captain, was inexorable and insulting; and, though two Americans, who were present, interceded in his behalf, and handed Mrs. Mundrucu down a second time, she was obliged to return on deck, and expose her health (for she was very unwell at the time) and the life of her child,to the inclemency of the weather, which was such, in addition to a thick fog, that the steam-boat returned to New Bedford. The next day the Brazilian party were refused admittance into the boat; and their luggage, together with the horse and gig, were left on shore. These particulars I received from the man himself and from his wife --a very good-looking respectable mulatto. From one of his counsel, Mr. Child, a man whom to know is to esteem, I had some anecdotes --and he told me he knew many others of the same kind, --that shewed how undeserving he was of such treatment. When first he commenced business in the city, he became acquainted with a Polish refugee, whose "necessities" were "yet greater" than his own. He assisted him to the utmost of his power, and gave him a new suit of clothes out of his store. Though fully sensible how inexcusable is the cruelty with which prejudice, unequalled by any thing in his own country, has stamped the black man as an inferior being, yet he would never consent to take Mr. Child's arm, while walking with him in the street; lest such an instance of uncommon liberality should bring reproach or odium on his kind-hearted friend.
the risk of being tedious, I will mention another trait of generosity
in this man. He had, not long before, retained the same counsel in an action
he was about to bring against the editor of a newspaper for a libel; when,
having received an anonymous letter, advising him to apply for some money
owed to him by a person about to fail, and finding, or suspecting, that
his libeller and his correspondent were one and the same, he declared that
he would proceed no further against him. It must be very galling to a man
who is fit for any society anywhere, --for such I found him, --to be insulted
by, the lowest blackguard, for no other reason than that nature
gave him a brown complexion, and his own industry has given him a good
coat to his back. While relating his story to me, he expressed himself
with great propriety upon the subject, and exhibited a degree of
forbearance, that added not a little to the interest attached to his situation.
The Court of Common Pleas, in which this cause was tried, gave Judgement
in favor of the plaintiff, with 125 dollars damages; but, on appeal to
the Supreme Court, the decision was set aside. It would be difficult to
reconcile these proceedings with the Twelfth Article of the Treaty of Peace,
made on the 18th of March, 1829, (to be in force for twelve years,) between
the United States and the Brazils. By that article, both the contracting
parties promise and engage formally to give their special protection to
the persons and property of the citizens and subjects of each other,of
all occupations, who may be in their territories, subject to the jurisdiction
of the one or the other, transient or dwelling therein, leaving open and
free to them the tribunals of justice for their judicial intercourse on
the same terms which are usual and customary with the natives and citizens
or subjects of the country in which they may be; for which they may employ,
in defence of their rights, such advocates," &c. Whether applicable
to this case or not, this Article would have been openly violated, had
Major Mundrucu gone to Charleston in South Carolina; as he would have been
imprisoned immediately by a law of that State, directed against the introduction
of colored persons. When last I saw Mundrucu, he was about to quit the
country on his return to his native land, having been recalled and reinstated,
not only as regarded his rank, but the arrears of pay due to him. I pointed
out the above Article to him; and he said he would bring it under the notice
of his government. He had appealed from the State courts to the Federal
court; but the matter would probably be dropped, as his residence in North
America was shortly to cease.
all I had seen and heard during my residence in the country, I was
not a little surprised to find in Walsh's "Appeal", an assertion so unfounded
that even those, whose character it is employed to defend in the eyes of
the world, must blush for it. "Nothing," he says, "can be more false than
the representations of English travellers, concerning the treatment of
free blacks by whites in the middle and eastern States. It is not true
that they are 'excluded from the places of public worship, frequented by
the whites': --that 'the most degraded white will not walk or eat with
a negro': or that they are 'practically slaves'. Their situation as hired
domestics, mechanics, or general laborers, is the same, in all respects,
as that of the whites of the same description: they are fed and paid as
well; equally exempt from personal violence, and free to change their occupation
and their employer. They approach us as familiarly as persons of the correspondent
class in England approach their superiors in rank and wealth; and, in general,
betray much less servility in their tone and carriage." -P. 397.*
* Who would expect in any publication calling itself "Christian" such an unblushing falsehood as the following? --"There are here, thank God! no castes. We have no classes event which are confined to the trade, business, or condition of their parents. We start, all of us, on equal terms as to rights and objects. The highest prizes of society are open to universal competition --and, though in the nature of things, some must fail, the unsuccessful candidate is known only in the result.No man admits beforehand that he or his children should be put out of the race. There is no impassable bar to fortune, fame, rank or honors." Christian Examiner, March 1830.
There are public schools for the blacks at Boston, as well as at New York; and they are in the same manner denominated "African"; though the children who attend them, are no more African, than the American children are English; the English Norman; or the Norman Scandinavian. So far, and so low is this spiteful vulgar distinction carried, that, in the Boston Directory, the names of those, whom it is intended to mortify, are placed by themselves at the end of the book; --in Philadelphia they are marked with an asterisk. Great and manifest improvement is going on among this portion of the population. They have formed themselves into a Lyceum, or school of mutual instruction, at one of the meetings of which I was present at eight in the evening. It was held in one of their chapels. Mr. Isaac Coffin, --a staunch and zealous friend of the cause, --with whom I went, delivered a lecture to them on the elementary principles of arithmetic. There were several women among the auditors. They were all very attentive; and answered, with much propriety, the various questions that incidentally arose during the lecture. The business of the evening commenced with an extempore prayer from one of the men. His language was good, and his pronunciation distinct and correct. The sentiments were appropriate to the place and the occasion; and the devout manner of all assembled was very impressive and interesting. In the course of the evening, some conversation took place relative to Liberia, the last accounts from which had been very discouraging; the mortality among those recently arrived at the colony having been frightfully great. The feeling against this inhuman and preposterous scheme of emigration was unanimous, and most deep-rooted. Yet, in the very next day's Boston Patriot an address from the committee, formed at the meeting I had a short time before attended, was published, with the object of procuring funds for the Colonization Society, and declaring that "there were numerous respectable persons of color making application for assistance to emigrate." At the head of the signatures to this document stood that of A. H. Everett. The committee modestly asked for 10,000 dollars in aid of their undertaking; and concluded their "begging letter" by drawing a sort of parallel between the original founders of New England, and those whom they are doing their utmost to drive out of it. "This appeal," they said, "is, made in behalf of an afflicted people, seeking, as our fathers once sought, an asylum on a distant and uncivilized shore where they may secure for themselves, and their posterity, through all time, blessings like those we so highly prize." These people forget that they are themselves the persecutors; and that the only heresy the black "pilgrims" have committed is that of the skin. They forget that nonconformity to an established creed was then a crime everywhere; and that non-conformity to an established complexion is a crime nowhere --but among themselves. The "honest chronicler," predestined to Spring from the bosom of Liberia, would do well to borrow Mr. Everett's motto, and expatiating on the matchless merits of his beloved mother-land exclaim: O matre pulchra filia pulchrior!
That this Society have an instinctive dread of discussion is plain from the conduct of many of its members. When The Liberator first made its appearance at Boston, in January 1831, they were willing to support the paper, on condition that it would not offer any opposition to their proceedings; and would submit to the revision of a censorial committee. These terms were rejected by its conductors; and Garrison and his intrepid coadjutor, Knapp, with whom it had originated, continued the publication with a zeal and perseverance that no opposition could daunt, and no discouragement could relax. They had not a dollar in their exchequer, and were often put to great shifts in their efforts to obtain printing paper. They worked, night and day, to procure funds, and keep their little bark afloat. I know, from the best authority, that they deprived themselves of every thing but mere necessaries, and had little beyond bread and water to subsist on.
The result has rewarded their labors. The child of their creation --the Anti-slavery Society, --which came into existence in 1831, has grown with astonishing rapidity. From twelve that gave it being, it numbered, when I was first at Boston, above 2000 members; and auxiliaries were springing up on every side. Its expenditure has usually exceeded its means; as other channels have received the contributions of those who have engaged in the same cause*.
The legislature of Georgia, indignant at the attack made upon its legitimate rights by a northern journal, and aware that the State of Massachusetts would not protect its citizens from any indignity or outrage that hostility to the established system might bring upon them, passed a resolution, that would, if its spirit had been acted up to, have most effectually stopped the editor's mouth. His friends were, indeed, for a long time alarmed for his safety, under an apprehension that he would share the fate of Morgan**,
* When I landed at New York, there was, I believe, but one Anti-Slavery Society in the United States-the one alluded to. I do not speak of the old manumission societies --they have other objects, and employ other means. When I left New York for England, there were at least 150; and their numbers were increasing.
for daring to interfere with a matter much more likely to excite angry and resentful feelings than any connected with masonry.
** Morgan was the name of a man whose imprudence in exposing the secrets of the Masons, is believed to have cost him his life. He was carried off from the State of New York, a few years before, by some members of that society, and never was seen or heard of again.
The State-paper alluded to throws some light on the real condition of that liberty which is supposed to flourish in the favored soil of the western world. it is as follows:--
In Senate, Nov. 30, 1831.
"RESOLVED, by the Senate and House of Representatives of the State of Georgia, in General Assembly met, that the sum of five thousand dollars be, and the same is hereby appropriated, to be paid to any person or persons, who shall arrest, bring to trial, and prosecute to conviction, under the laws of this State, the editor and publisher of a certain paper called the Liberator, published in the town of Boston and State of Massachusetts; or who shall West, &c., any other person or persons who shall utter, publish, or circulate, 'within the limits of this State, said paper called the Liberator, or any other paper, circular, pamphlet, letter or address of a seditious character," &c. [Then follows the authorization of the Governor to draw on the Treasurer for the said sum of 5000 dollars, and to publish the resolutions in the journals.]
Read and agreed to,
THOS. STOCKS, PRESIDENT."
After the attestations of the clerk, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, comes the signature of the Governor, Wilson Lumpkin*.
This bull, it is well known, was thundered at Garrison; who, in the early part of the preceding year, had been sentenced in Baltimore, to a fine of fifty dollars, with costs of prosecution, for "a gross and malicious libel," published in his Genius of Universal Emancipation, against Francis Todd and Nicholas Brown, owner and captain of a vessel, fitted out at Newburyport in Massachusetts for New Orleans. It had been their intention to take in a cargo of slaves at Baltimore for the latter city; and it was for stigmatising these citizens of a "free State," where slavery is said to be held in abhorrence, as "enemies of their own species," "highway robbers and murderers," that the guilt of "calling a spade a spade" was punished by imprisonment in the common jail of Baltimore; --the fine affixed to the crime being beyond the means of the criminal. He was subsequently released by the generosity of Mr. Arthur Tappan, of New York, --the firm and munificent friend of the black man. It was proved, on the trial, that eighty-eight slaves (not seventy-five, as Garrison had stated) were taken in between Baltimore and Annapolis, in Maryland; a new clearance having been obtained at the latter place.
* Equal attention was paid during the session to connubial rights and the rights of property: twenty-one acts of divorce having been passed by the legislature. In 1829, there were twenty-seven. In Missouri, another slave state, there were forty-nine divorces a year or two back-pretty well for a population of whites under 115,000, in 1830! An act of this kind, among others, was granted in Mississippi, in 1830, because the petitioners could not live happily together- "the happiness of the people "--.as the preamble declared- "being the ultimate end and object of all governments,"
southerners will not allow any one from the other states to interfere
with what they consider within their own exclusive jurisdiction. A Bostonian
travelling not long ago in one of the slave states with his wife, met a
negro in a cart. The poor fellow, overcome by the intense heat of the day,
was leaning forward, as if half asleep, when the driver, as he passed him,
struck him with his whip across the face with such violence that one of
his eyes was either torn from the socket or so much injured as to bleed
most profusely. The New Englanders were indignant at this wanton barbarity;
and the husband a very humane, but a very highspirited man --expostulated
rather warmly with the brute; when he was damn'd for a Yankee, and told
to mind his own affairs, and not interfere with people who had a right
to do what they liked with
the niggers. The well-meant appeal operated
like Don Quixote's intercession in favor of the boy whom his master was
flogging. The driver, during the rest of the journey, lashed at every man
of color he could reach with his whip.
On my return from Brooklyne, I spent the remainder of the day at Mr. Child's, whose lady's writings are well known in England, where they are much admired. She had just completed a little work on slavery, --a book that had not only given offence to some of her aristocratical friends, but was likely to affect her interests (if, where there is so much principle, there can be any pecuniary interests felt) as an author. Hints had been given to her, that her devotion to an unpopular cause would alienate some of her friends --I should say acquaintances --from her. These considerations would not, however, have the slightest effect in altering the course of conduct prescribed to her by a sense of duty, as she was as little likely to abandon any object from the fear of censure, as to pursue it from the love of praise. Pierpont, --whose First-Class Book had been discontinued in the schools at the South, because it contained "Webster's Remarks on the Slave Trade," and Cowper's beautiful verses on Slavery, --very considerately asked her whether she did not expect to be treated in the same way as himself for a similar want of prudence.
American literature may be characterised, in general, as timid or mercenary, or both, in the silence it observes, or the defence it takes up on this topic. We, who breathe the air of liberty and liberality in England, and can openly express our abhorrence of the system, careless of the ridicule and resentment of its advocates, can form but a very inadequate conception of the moral intrepidity and strength of mind it requires to stem the torrent of prejudice, to brave the sneers and sarcasms of the worldly, to face the cold looks of our intimate friends, --to be branded as fanatics and firebrands, --to be openly accused of a wish to loosen the bonds of our country's union, and to risk, in the defence of rights withheld or denied, all the annoyances and petty persecutions that self-interest, and envy, and malice, and the consciousness of a mean subserviency to the vilest customs can suggest, to "the great vulgar and the small." All these, and more, will, I doubt not, be nobly and cheerfully borne by a woman, who has done honor to her sex, by being the first and the foremost to dedicate her time and her talents to the honorable task of rescuing it from the disgrace of having so long viewed with apathy and silence the unutterable brutalities by which their helpless and harmless sisters have been tortured and degraded in the slave-states of North America.
The next Sunday there was so great a crowd at Christchurch, to which I went in the evening, that I had some difficulty in getting a seat. A well dressed man, in one of the pews, observing my embarassment very civilly gave up his place to me, and insisted upon standing in the aisle. The cause of this assemblage was the unusual appearance of a black man in the pulpit. His object in preaching was to procure funds for assisting him to liquidate a debt of 1100 dollars, with which the church he officiated in at Baltimore was encumbered. He had received episcopal ordination, and had been regularly appointed to a colored congregation in that City. The service was well performed; and the sermon, which was sensible, impressive, and well delivered, was listened to with much attention. Yet, though thus permitted to address a white audience, and treated with respect by the proper officers of the church, he was shamefully insulted on his return home. I was behind him and the clergyman of the church where he had preached, both of them in gowns, as is the custom with the Episcopal clergy, when half a dozen young men, whose dress denoted something like respectability, thinking a colored man in canonicals a fit object of ridicule for a Sabbath evening in the orderly city of Boston, burst out into a loud laugh as he passed, and stopping to enjoy the amusement at their leisure, cracked their jokes upon him in the most pointed and offensive manner. I could not restrain the indignation I felt; and turning towards them, I enquired what he had done to offend them, that he should be so insulted. They made no reply-but sneaked off, and shewed they had still some shame left. There were two other persons with me; but they said nothing, hoping that a transaction so discreditable to the manners of the place would have escaped observation.
The next day I had an opportunity of conversing with the stranger, who proved to be a very shrewd and intelligent man. He put into my hands the testimonial, or letter of recommendation, with which he had been furnished on leaving Baltimore to seek assistance in the Middle and Eastern States. It was signed by the ministers of three Episcopalian --churches and a domestic missionary in Baltimore, and stated that his object in soliciting aid was highly useful and praiseworthy. "It may be well to add," they said, "that Mr. Levington serves the parish of which he is rector gratuitously; receiving his whole support from his school; and that the payment of the small debt still due for the building occupied by his church and school, will leave him, without embarrassment to prosecute the important interest to which he is devoted." They spoke of him as "a prudent pious man, of reputable intelligence and sound judgement."
Scanty as his resources were from his school, they were rendered less productive than they might have been, by the unjust and unconstitutional law of the State, prohibiting the introduction of colored persons from without. In consequence of this iniquitous enactment, he had lost several pupils that were offered to him. For one of them, --the daughter of a respectable man at Albany, who, as well as his wife, had been educated by him, --he would have had 100 dollars a-year; but he was compelled to decline receiving her into his house. He related some several instances of insult and indignity to which his color was constantly exposing him. One of them had occurred a few months previously. He was travelling by the De Witt Clinton steam-boat from New York to Albany; and, though the weather was extremely cold, and he had paid the same fare as the rest of the passengers, the captain refused him any accommodations below, and he had to pass the whole night on deck, with nothing to lie upon but the bare boards. To use his own expression, "A dog would have had more care taken of him."
Among those noble-minded men, who are struggling against the influence of this baneful prejudice, there is one at Boston, so determined to rise superior to it, and yet so distrustful of the spirit required to combat it successfully, that he accustoms his children, when very young, to sleep in the same bed with those of the proscribed race, that the first ideas received in infancy may be in favor of kindness towards those whom they will in after life see ill-treated, and that they may escape that detestable superstition he still finds lurking in his own bosom.
After all the inquiries and personal observations I could make among all classes, and in every spot I visited, I could find nothing that could afford the slightest justification of the odium. and contempt thrown upon these unfortunate people. When the cholera was raging at Boston, not an instance occurred of any one among them deserting a friend or a relative: many volunteered their services, and took care of the white patients who had been abandoned by their timid families. I cannot recall to my mind any one instance, in which they spoke of what they had done, or others had neglected to do, on that melancholy occasion.
One would have been led to expect that the Irish, who have quitted their native country to escape persecution, would have felt some sympathy for its victims in the land of their adoption. But, to the shame of that nation, the reverse is the case. Nearly all of them, who have resided there any length of time, are more bitter and severe against the blacks than the native whites themselves. It seems as if the disease were more virulent when taken by inoculation than in the natural way. One of these unworthy countrymen of O'Connell was travelling, on horseback, in Vermont, when he requested a woman, who was standing at the door of a house, to send some one to take care of his horse. She told him she would send her husband. In a few minutes, a black man came out, to the great astonishment of the stranger. "Pray," said he to the wife, "has your family met with any misfortune that you should so far disgrace it as to make such a degrading alliance?" Yes was her reply. "My poor sister met with a misfortune that brought irreparable disgrace upon us: --she married an Irish man!" Such marriages are permitted in the State of Vermont*;
* By the laws of Maryland, the child of a white woman by a negro or mulatto, is to be put out to service till the age of twenty-one; and the mother to forfeit 10l. to the State, and to be publicly whipped by thirty-nine stripes on her bare back, well laid on, at the common whipping-post ; besides standing in the pillory for two hours. The father, in addition to the whipping, to have one ear nailed to the pillory. White men connected with negresses, to be fined 20l., and to receive twenty-one lashes at the common whipping-post. These statutes are, I believe, still in existence; but it is doubtful if they are ever enforced --certainly not the last. In some of the slave states, it is a capital offence in a colored man to cohabit with a white woman. A man was hanged not long ago for this crime at New Orleans. The partner of his guilt-his master's daughter --endeavored to save his life, by avowing that she alone was to blame. She died shortly after his execution. He was a remarkably handsome Quadroon. Marriage, as a bar to the infliction of these penalties, is out of the question.
not so in that of which the religious city of Boston is the metropolis.
The following law may not be at present enforced, but it was in existence so late as 1831, when a Bill "containing an amendment, authorizing the marriage of blacks with whites, which passed to a third reading in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, was finally rejected by that body." Niles's Register. The 7th section of an Act, passed June 22, 1786, enacts, "that no person, authorised (by the Act of which it is a part) to marry, shall join in marriage any white person with any negro, Indian, or mulatto, on penalty of the sum of 50l., (about 38l. sterling,) two third parts thereof to the use of the county wherein such offence shall be committed, and the residue to the prosecutor, to be recovered by the treasurer of the same county, &c.; and all such marriages shall be absolutely null and void." It is not many years ago that the penalty for this enormous offence was enforced; and a clergyman was fined for lending the sanction of religion to an union, which, without it, would have incurred neither punishment nor censure.
Mayor of Boston (H. G. Otis) writing, in 1831, to an eminent counsellor
of the state of S. Carolina, said, "The number of free people of color
among us has not yet become inconvenient. They are as yet, a quiet, inoffensive,
and in many respects, a useful race. Many of them are worthy and well-principled
persons. . . . . But it is not to be disguised, that a repugnance to intimate
social relations with them is insurmountable. Our laws forbid the intermarriage
of whites with people of color, and every consideration recommends our
endeavoring to prevent a disturbance of the mutual understanding which
regulates our intercourse." Thus it appears, it is neither "lawful" nor
"expedient," in the land of the pilgrim fathers, for a white to marry a
quiet, inoffensive, useful, worthy, and well principled person! By the
revised statutes of Illinois (1829), whites marrying negroes or mulattoes,
are to be whipped, fined, and imprisoned; and the marriage to be ipso
facto null and void. Illinois is called a free State: she decreed at
the same time, that "any person who shall disturb the peace and good order
of society by labor or amusement on the first day of the week, &c.,
shall be fined-not exceeding five dollars." What broad phylacteries these
pious people must have!
book interested me a good deal; it was a Foulis edition, in folio, of Paradise
Lost; and was presented by Brook Watson, sometime Lord Mayor of London,
to Phillis Wheatley in July, 1733. Phillis was an African, who had been
stolen from her native country at an early age; and having received some
instruction from the persons into whose hands she fell, had evinced very
considerable talents for poetry, of which she published a small poem --a
little production that was honored with the praises of Jefferson, and has
very lately made its reappearance in a new form, and with a biographical
memoir of its author. There is a copy in the library. In the preface, it
is stated, that she had received but eighteen months' education in reading,
when she could read, with great propriety and clearness, certain parts
of the New Testament "to the astonishment of the beholders." This expression
marks, emphatically, the low estimation in which the African intellect
was held at that time. She was in London whence the donation is dated,
when she was presented with Milton's poem. She, returned to Boston, where
she died in great distress having married very unfortunately. After her
death, her books were sold to pay her husband's debts; and her copy of
the Paradise Lost was presented to Harvard College, in March 1824,
by Dudley Pickman, of Salem, in Massachusetts. The donor doubtless expected
that the learned pundits of Cambridge would shew this wonderful production
"as we shew an ape" in Europe.
Having heard from my English friends, who had now quitted Boston, that there was a very interesting school in the town for colored children++, under the care of a young woman of the name of Paul, whose management of the pupils they had been highly pleased with; I called at her mother's and was informed that her daughter was is the country. Some circumstances connected with her journey had given Mrs. Paul great uneasiness.
She was going to visit some friends at Exeter, fifty miles from Boston, and had been unable to procure a seat in the stage, as the driver, though her place had been taken the night before, refused to carry her, except on the outside, a seat so seldom occupied by women, that no respectable female would venture to sit there, at the risk of being laughed at or insulted. She declined, therefore, to subject herself to such humiliation, and proceeded to Exeter with her brother, in a gig. Her fare by the coach would have been two dollars and a quarter; while the hire of the gig was seven. Add to this the loss of two days' work to her brother, a lad of twenty years of age, and a repetition of the expense on her return home; and it will be seen how "hard it is to climb" under the double load of industrious poverty and a dark complexion. The journey from, and back to, Boston, cost her and her brother twenty-seven dollars; whereas the whole amount by the stage would have been but four and a half. The proprietors of the stage quoted the Park Street Chapel case, in vindication of their conduct. This Young person's father was a clergyman, well known in England, where he met, during his stay there about twenty years back, those attentions and regards which were due to his exemplary character. Her uncle is married to an English woman, and is, or was, in the native country of his wife. He is not inferior in any respect to his brother. Yet this young woman, who is possessed of an accomplished mind, and exempt from all reproach, cannot visit her distant friends without subjecting herself to ruinous expense or intolerable indignities. Her mother was much affected while relating the story to me, and contrasted the reception of the parent in England, with the refusal of common civility to the daughter at home. Since this occurrence, she has met with still worse treatment. The house, in which this family reside, is situated in a bad neighbourhood, and Miss Paul was in treaty for a better, with the view of removing her establishment to another quarter, when she was informed, that the inhabitants of the street, in which she was about to settle, had resolved to eject her or pull the building down, if she persisted in her determination. Not the slightest objection was offered to her character.
++ Dr. Spurzheim, after he had examined the heads of these children, on a visit he paid to the school, was heard to say "I see no difference;" alluding, doubtless, to the supposed inferiority of cerebral development.
Her brother --a very respectable and clever lad was entered at the grammar-school at Boston: but the opposition to his admission was such, that, though very desirous of studying the dead languages, as a preparation to a higher employment than that he was engaged in, he was induced, by the advice of the Mayor, to withdraw. Some time after this, a mulatto from Nassau, in New Providence, a member of the legislature, who was travelling in the United States, told me he had been much distressed by the insults he had met with. He could not comprehend the reason. On taking his place from Boston to Providence, the book-keeper, who had registered his name, tore it out in his presence, because he declined riding outside. At another office, the driver agreed to take him up at his lodgings. After waiting in vain for him, he had no resource but to hire a private carriage, which cost him 17 dollars. The fare by the stage is not more than two or three.
The ladies had not long been returned from a visit to the South, and represented that part of the Union as undisguisedly hostile towards the other. "Confusion to New England", was a toast given one day in a convivial party, in presence of a lady from the North. --They had a white servant with them; and, as he was the only man of his color who waited at table, the rest being slaves, much surprise and displeasure were felt, at the house where they boarded in Richmond, at the unusual spectacle of a freeman among the helots. One person present exclaimed, in a transport of fury against what these self created nobles consider an infringement of man's dignity, --"It makes my blood boil in my veins to see a white man standing behind a chair."
One circumstance, mentioned by these ladies, as having particularly struck them in England, --and indeed I have often heard the remark by others, seems to afford a key to a very curious passage in the American Quarterly Review (1827). As it affords a fine specimen of the mock-heroic, I will give it at full length; premising that the connecting link between the ladies at Nahant and the writer in Philadelphia, is the notion entertained among the uneducated classes in the old country, that the inhabitants of the new are all black or dark-colored.
"The chief part of our countrymen conscientiously believe that a mixture of the two races would deteriorate both our physical and intellectual character. Of this hypothesis we give no opinion. It, however, does not want arguments both of reason and authority to support it; but, whether it be true or false, so long as it prevails among our citizens, they will view with aversion and dread what must subject all of their country and, race to a lasting physical debasement*.
Nor can they be expected to be indifferent to the future jeers and scoffs of the unmixed European race on either side of the Atlantic; who, with the ever-ready disposition of mankind, to claim a merit from any peculiarity of their own, would twit them with the ignominy of their descent."
* Here, as far at least as regards the physical character, the Reviewer assumes as true the very hypothesis upon which he had just before said he would give no opinion.
It is unnecessary to point out the extreme absurdity of declaring hostility to the spirit of ridicule; at the moment of inviting its shafts by the display, in all its malignity and sensitiveness, of the "ever-ready disposition" which gives it its existence and amusement. If the feelings here described be really national, it would be difficult to say which was most disgraceful: --the imputation of such a silly taste for jeering, or the dread of becoming its victim. To escape the embarrassment of this contingency, the Reviewer recommends that nearly one-fifth of the whole population should be expatriated:
What a dilemma for a great nation! To tremble at the idea both of insurrection and of amalgamation; and to shrink equally from the resentment and from the love of the African race!
O tortes, pejoraque passi!-cras ingens iterabimus aequor
Having passed the evening at Mr. Child's, and expressing a wish to see how that portion of the citizens really live, who are condemned to hopeless degradation, he conducted me to the house of a man, with whom he was well acquainted. The owner was ill in bed, and his wife at a religious meeting. On my requesting his boy, who had opened the door, to allow us to look over the house, we were shewn into a sitting-room on the ground-floor, well furnished and in good order. Over the fireplace stood a French clock in a glass case with several neat ornaments: the whole bespeaking the residence of an industrious respectable family. We then went up stairs to visit the invalid. The bedroom corresponded to the one below: --the bedstead of handsome mahogany, and the rest of the furniture such as one might expect to find in an English tradesman's house. We had a good deal of conversation with the sick man, whose language and manner were singularly correct and becoming. He told us he had caught a chill by sleeping, as he had always done, at his store, which was situated in a damp unhealthy part of the town. He had been induced to remain there, during the night, instead of returning home, from an apprehension, that, if a fire should break out in the building, his sons, whom he must have left there, to take care of his goods, would in all probability, be accused of an attempt to burn down the premises. For a similar reason, though his dwelling-house, which he had built himself, had cost him upwards of 1500 dollars, exclusive of the furniture, he had insured it for 1200 only; lest, in case of fire, accidents from which are very frequent in all the large cities, he should meet with some difficulty in recovering the amount of his loss from the insurers. Upon my companion asking him how one of his friends, whom he named, was getting on, --"very badly," was his reply; "he can get but little employment, as the whites will not work with him." The poor fellow was a carpenter. This is a fair specimen of the encouragement given to Africo-American industry!
A committee of the House of Representatives of Massachusetts recommended, in 1821, that some law should be passed against the introduction of free blacks from the south; whence they were likely to be driven by harsh laws. Georgia, it was stated, had taxed every free negro twenty dollars annually. Among other things in this report was an apprehension that these people would, if admitted into the State, "substitute themselves in many labors and occupations, which, in the end, it would be more advantageous to have performed by the whites and native population of the State," --a very remarkable testimony to the industry and enterprise of this class from those who represent them as incorrigibly idle and vicious. If they are so, why dread their competition? If they are not so, why deprive the community of their services? When I took this man by the hand and sat by his bed-side, I could not comprehend how any one that professes the religion of kindness and humility can think himself degraded if he take a chair in a sick negro's house on a Sabbath evening. That dignity must be thin-skinned indeed, which may be rubbed off by contact with any human being. As one proof, among thousands I could adduce, of the extent to which this vile feeling is carried, I may mention what I witnessed at Nahant. I had said, in the hearing of several persons, that a time would come when all colors would be blended in one by an intermixture of the different races, and the human species exhibit, at its termination, as at its commencement, but one complexion. "If things continue in this country," I added, "as they are now, the blacks will out-number the whites: and they must associate together, or the latter will be driven out." "If I thought your prediction would ever be verified," exclaimed a man who called himself an Englishman, "I would rather see my children, dearly as I love them, perish before my eyes, than bear the idea that their posterity, however remote, should one day sit down to table with a colored man"; a very silly, as well as a very malignant speech by the by; for he who uttered it was, by anticipation, condemning his descendants for the very thing he was doing himself --acting in conformity with public opinion*.
* "I am inclined to suspect that our European vanity leads us astray, in supposing that our own is the primitive complexion; which I should rather suppose was that of the Indian, half-way between the two extremes, and, perhaps, the more agreeable to the eye and instinct of the majority of the human race. A colder climate, and a constant use of clothes may have blanched the skin as effectually as a burning sun and nakedness may have tanned it; and I am encouraged in this hypothesis by observing that of animals, the natural colours are generally dusky and uniform; while whiteness and a variety of tint almost invariably follow domestication, shelter from the elements, and a mixed and unnatural diet." Bishop Heber's Narrative of a Journey, &c. In another passage of his work, the Bishop observes, "that the deep bronze tint is more naturally agreeable to the human eye than the fair skins of Europe; since we are not displeased with it even in the first instance, while it is well known that to them," (the colored races,) "a fair complexion gives the idea of ill health, or of that sort of deformity, which, in our eyes, belongs to an Albino."