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MASSACHUSETTS ANTI-SLAVERY SOCIETY,
FIFTH ANNUAL MEETING.
HELD AT BOSTON, JAN. 25, 1837, IN THE Loft of the stABLE ATTACHED TO THE MARLBORO' Hotel.
THE meeting was opened by an appropriate prayer, by Rev. Mr. Fitch of Boston; the President, JOSEPH SOUTHWICK, Esq. of Boston, in the Chair.
The Report of the Board of Managers was called for; when Mr. Garrison, the Corresponding Secretary, rose and apologized for not having been able to submit the Report to the Board, for want of time to prepare it in season; and therefore he aloue was responsible for the sentiments it contained.
Before proceeding to the reading of the Report, he also remarked, that there might be some fears, on the part of the audience, in regard to the security of the Loft; but he assured them that the floor was well propped; and he felt gratified with the consciousness that Abolition to-day, as on every day, stands upon a stable foundation. (Applause.)
Mr. Garrison then read the Report, which was listened to with profound attention, and received with much applause.
Rev. Moses Thacher moved that the Report be accepted, and printed under the direction and supervision of the Board.
Rev. Mr. MAY said, this Report contained just what was needed in the present emergency. A delusion extensively prevails, on the subject discussed in that document. It is said we cannot touch slavery in the District of Columbia. Sir, we can touch it; and this Report, which so ably maintains the true ground, on this subject, ought to go forth throughout our whole country, with the sanction of this Society.
Mr. THACHER said, he was fully prepared to aaopt the motion of Mr. May; and he hoped the Board would take special care that Senators and Members of Congress be supplied with copies of it. It is the very thing we need. It shows us what we A
are, and what we must be; and that no man, having put on his armor, can put it off till the victory is won. Sir, the great struggle is yet to come. This is evident from the fact that we meet here. Do' gentlemen of property and standing' think they can stop the progress of free discussion? I trust that Abolition will this day receive a new impetus. Let this Report be published to the extent of the means of the Society; and if there are not means, means must be raised. Let it be sent through the South, that the despot may learn that the thing is certain, and the interpretation sure. Rev. Mr. BRONSON, of Boston, also sustained the motion in a brief, but very energetic and eloquent manner.
Rev. Mr. GROSVENOR said, I rejoice that, at this crisis, this Report is to go out. It is just what we need. I hope it will be a Report that will sound through the State, and reverberate upon the distant hills and mountains! I know from what mind it has emanated. Sir, while laboring in this cause in the country, I have found the need of just such a document as this. The grand obstacle is not opposition, but apathy and error in regard to the real ground of danger. This is more to be dreaded than opposition. The impression prevails extensively in the country, that we are in no danger from the influence of Southern slavery. It cannot be,' say the yeomanry who inhabit the hills of New England, that the liberties of the North are in danger.' That Report is adapted, in every part, to show that they are mistaken. We are just now at the point to which every nation comes before it goes to ruin. Here is our danger. The Report shows it. Congress has trampled upon the right of petition. Shall we here be told that we must not speak aught against those in authority? Then why speak at all? Surely, if we may not call in question the doings of those who make and administer our laws, we are already slaves. I rejoice to know that it is the rising spirit of the country that is to redeem this city. The country are for us. Witness the vote of the General Court, granting us their hall. Shall we not increase the tide, till it rises still higher, till it pours down and covers the highest spires in this city? Sir, it is not the first time that I have been in a barn. When I go back and tell the yeomanry of the country that I have discussed the principles of liberty and the rights of man in a barn, in Boston, they will reply, That is nothing new to us; we have often discussed the same subject in our barns. We understand it.' The motion for the acceptance, printing, and extensive circulation of the Report, was carried unanimously; and it was resolved to take up a collection, during the session of the Society, by subscriptions and donations, for the publication of the Report, and other purposes. In speaking upon this subject, Mr. Garrison remarked that the first meeting of the Ohio Anti-Slavery Society was held in a barn; and one man said if the meeting had been held in the church, he could have afforded to give only five dollars; but now he was rich enough to give fifty dollars.
Rev. MOSES THACHER asked leave to make a communication to the society now, because he must leave the city before the afternoon session. He had recently received a letter from a lady, who had recently been held as property. Yes, I'll call her a lady now-she is in the British dominions, in Halifax-she is a lady there, though she be called a slave here. I have had the pleasure of seeing her, and a more delicate and conscientious lady I have seldom seen. In the letter of which I speak, she requests me to return her thanks to the citizens of Boston, for the advice, counsel, and assistance they had given her, in gaining her freedom. She is now where she can walk abroad, without fear-she has escaped her pursuers-bloodhounds! I feel that a large portion of these thanks are due to those heroic ladies, who were able to maintain unbroken ranks, and secure a judicious retreat for their sister, in the hour
of peril. A flush of shame comes over my cheeks, that there is not a spot in these United States where a fugitive from bondage and degradation can be safe-that such a person, guilty of no crime, must flee for protection to the dominions of a power with whom our fathers, but a little while ago, contended for liberty of speech and of the press.
The Treasurer (Henry G. Chapman, Esq.) gave an abstract of the Report of the receipts and expenditures of the Society, during the past year. The receipts had been upwards of $3700, of which all but $89 had been expended under the direction of the Board of Managers.
FRANCIS JACKSON, Esq. in the Chair-prayer by Rev. Timothy Merritt, late co-editor of the Methodist Christian Advocate and Journal.
Rev. Mr. Grosvenor offered the following resolution:
Resolved, That immediate emancipation being required by God, is a duty, and is safe.
Mr. GROSVENOR said, It is almost an insult to the understandings of this audience, to ask them to listen to evidence of the truth contained in the resolution. Yet, as it is never amiss to refresh recollection, let me refer them to a passage or two of the Bible; for that blessed book is the corner-stone of the edifice we are building. I would mention the 22d chap. of Jeremiah. I shall read but a few of the first verses, hoping that every person here will read the whole when he goes home. It contains important principles-those which we are inculcating those which in candor he will be constrained to adopt. Thus saith the Lord: go down to the house of the king of Judah, and speak there this word. And say: Hear the word of the Lord, O King of Judah, that sitteth upon the throne of David, thou and thy servants, and thy people, that enter in by these gates.' God here sends a message to a government—' thou, thy servants, and thy people.' And this but developes the principles of his own moral government, and as he is the same yesterday, to-day, and forever, we may safely infer that he does so now, and that the principles of the divine government apply to us. To us, then, this message comes. Let us hear it: Thus saith the Lord, execute ye judgment and righteousness, and deliver the spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor; and do no wrong, do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless and the widow, neither shed innocent blood in this place.' Here is our authority for Abolition. Here, on this single passage would I stand, and feel secure while the bible stands. But I am surrounded by all scripture-for when has God spoken in a different manner? When has He said to a government,' do unrighteousness?' All scripture is in unison with this.
Mr. G. proceeded at some length, to show that this doctrine was applicable to our government and people at the present time.
For if ye do this thing in-
Now as to its being safe. Read a verse or two more. deed, then '-what-O, ‘you will have your throats cut'! God? Will they be scared by their own fears when God assures them of safety? Is not His opinion better than that of a worm of the dust? O, I tremble for that man who talks thus. What is he? Is he a friend of God-a Christian? NO. He forfeits that character, and I will not acknowledge him as a brother. I am bound to be plain. Then,' what? shall enter in by the gates of this house, kings, sitting upon the throne of David, riding in chariots, and on horses, he, and his servants, and his people.'-Prosperity shall attend thee, then shall thy light break forth' (Is. lviii.
8: in reference to obeying God) as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily; and thy righteousness shall go before thee: the glory of the Lord shall be thy rereward,'-read 2 or 3 more verses for yourselves. LIGHT SHALL BREAK FORTH. Ah! that is what is dreaded. But who dreads the light of the morning? He who under cover of darkness has been plundering his neighbor's goods. He who has been prowling for prey-he dreads to have the light shine lest his wicked works be reproved. Thy health shall spring forth.' The nation is sick-and how it would hurt it to get well,-all at once! Why, what is to be dreaded in this? What infatuation! O, do let me lie here a little longer,-I am sick, true-but it is so pleasant to be waited on; to have the attendance of physicians and the sympathies of friends-don't cure me too quick.' Yes, our nation is diseased. Sir, I have been accused of treason. A good Baptist brother minister, in this city, not long since, a D. D. by the way,* said, Why, sir, your movements and designs are treasonable. You are operating to subvert our government.' I thought my good brother was mistaken, certainly. I thought I was weaving a crown for my country's glory. Unworthy am I, indeed, but imagination and ardor go beyond ability; I would fain wreath my country with a crown more illustrious than she has ever yet worn. I would make it of four different materials, Light,'-' health,'-'righteousness,'-and the glory of the Lord.' Out of these four would I weave a crown, and could I approach my country's person, I would put it on her head. Would I blush then for my country, before admiring Europe ?-would I hang my head in shame any longer before weeping and bleeding Africa? Would they would my country-would my God say, I was a traitor? I believe not. Do not be afraid. When God has pledged his word, we ought to trust him. If he has promised prosperity and honor to the nation that will execute righteousness and do no wrong, but deliver the oppressed, there let us leave the matter, and trust God that all things shall work together for good.
But what if we do not as God commands us? Read the next verse. But if ye will not hear these words, I swear by myself, saith the Lord, that this house shall become a desolation.' What an awful oath!-what a sanction !-what a curse!
A fact which I remember from Livy has made a deep impression upon my mind.In one of the wars between Rome and Carthage, in which Gracchus commanded the Roman army, and Hanno the Carthagenian; Gracchus on a certain day saw that a battle with Hanno, the next day, was inevitable. He did not evade the necessitybut how should he prepare his army? It was a crisis in the war. That battle would decide whether Rome should continue to be free. He had in his army many volunteer slaves. He called these together and addressed them, 'To-morrow we meet Hanno. Whosoever shall bring the head of an enemy, shall be a free man.' A short address -what was the effect? Lead us forth,' was the acclamation, Now '-they could not wait. He put them off, told them to prepare their arms. At the signal in the morning, they were ready-they marched forth, and, says Livy,' these volunteer slaves fought like tigers.' But word was brought to Gracchus that the battle waned on his part. Why? Every man has in his left hand the head of an enemy.' Gracchus exclaimed, throw down your heads and continue the battle, and TO-DAY gives you liberty,'-instantly they obeyed, and inspired with courage more than human, pursued and butchered the enemy till Gracchus called them off. He called them together next morning and-what did he say? O, I shall have my throat cut, if I let them all
Mr. G. next day explained that the minister referred to did not now reside in Boston, but in New-York.
loose'? No. He did not so degrade and level human nature. Kindness melts the heart. He, in the rashness of a modern abolitionist, said, 'Romans! ye are all freemen.' Now for the comment. What was the influence on the slaves? They rent the sky with shouts, and stretched forth their hands to the gods, and prayed for blessings upon the Roman people.' (Applause.)
AMOS DRESSER now gave an account of the outrage inflicted on him in Nashville, Tenn. His narrative excited much feeling; especially, his being befriended by the 'stranger' and his wife. Many an eye glistened with emotion when he prayed heaven to reward her kindness,' who was willing to share the risk of harboring him in their house. The narrative was substantially the same as has been extensively printed in the newspapers, and need not be here repeated.
Rev. Mr. MAY. Fellow citizens! Can you believe it? You must believe it; for both friends have declared it and enemies have boasted of it. It has been done -in our country, and let every body hear it. Let it go forth and sound upon every ear, till every heart is fixed and every man resolve to resist such high-handed encroachinents upon the rights of freemen. You have heard Dresser. Is he alone? You are all exposed to just such treatment. There are 10,000 citizens of Massachusetts who would this day be lynched should they lisp their feelings or their opinions south of Mason & Dixon's line. Why, haven't you heard it? $5000 have been offered for that man (pointing to Mr. Garrison,) by the State of Georgia—and $10,000 (anonymously) for another who once ministered at the altar in this city, (Phelps.) I have received threatening letters from the South, surcharged with imprecations of vengeance, and telling me to persist in speaking and writing against slavery at the peril of my head. And why all this wrath? Why? WHY? They do not tell us -except that we speak for liberty: that here in New England-the cradle of our country's infancy-so near Plymouth rock where Freedom first put foot on our country's shores-here in Boston where first freedom breathed her resistance to oppression -we dare to feel and think and speak and act as our fathers did. If you have hearts you must feel, if you have heads you must perceive that the foundations of our institutions are being ruined, that liberty's temple totters, and that causes are at work which will, unresisted, effect its overthrow.
We are told to go to the slave states to speak against slavery. I say, we would go if you will insure that we shall be heard before we are lynched. There are many who would be martyrs if they could but once proclaim the truth in the ears of slaveholders. But there is no chance of this. Judge Lynch issues his mandate, and every suspected abolitionist is seized and condemned untried, unheard. But why go to the South? Have we not prejudice and persecution and proscription enough to encounter here at the North? Are things made right here yet? How is it in New England? -in our own Massachusetts? Are outrages regarded as they ought to be? NO. Are citizens protected as they ought to be? NO. When we petitioned our legislature, were we heard? NO. (No! No! No! responded other voices.) Even our Governor, in his message meanly insinuated—that is, said, it was the opinion of many good men, that the abolitionists were abusing the liberty of speech, and ought to be restrained. Had he come out, like a man, and shown his face before election, he might have secured to himself the privilege of retiring to the dignified station of a private citizen.' (General Applause.) I do not say this as a political partizan. But I do say that such equivocal sentiments in high places ought to receive rebuke. We placed him there, and instead of insinuating that we were abusing a heaven-born right, he ought to have been the first to throw security around it. And I ask you