Free Produce Among the Quakers

THE war, which affected all interests, building up, creating, and tearing down, involved in the overthrow of slavery the humble interest of one man who had the least possible complicity with the system, who had no fellow in his disaster, and yet must have watched the approach of emancipation with something of the feelings of those who manufactured osnaburgs and cowhides for the Southern market. But the rebellion had been suppressed for two years, and four years had elapsed since the Proclamation, when George Taylor, in the spring of 1867, put up the shutters for the last time on his free-produce store in Philadelphia, and went back to the paternal farm, his occupation gone. Already customers of a dozen years, grudging the extra price he charged for indulging a harmless sentiment, had said they no longer felt bound to patronize him ; and our Orthodox Friend would reply, “Ah, all of slavery’s not gone yet.” That plea served him while it might, — as it has served those devoted Abolitionists who would not disband their society when there were no more slaves, but a nation of Abolitionists. Had he owned their logic, he would have continued at his post so long as any product of human industry was tainted with injustice, hardship, suffering, or oppression. But he took a narrow view of the meaning of “ free-produce,” and when he could not decently pretend to be singular, he took down his sign, and joined the unbroken ranks of free laborers and cultivators. He could at least congratulate himself that he had shown no unseemly haste to abandon his principles, and that he had never omitted an

opportunity, in antislavery meetings, to declare the importance of his mode of warfare against the common enemy. And when this speaker had exposed the proslavery character of the Constitution, and that speaker had recited the latest instance of plantation cruelty, and a third had called for renewed energy in rousing the nation to a consciousness of its sinfulness and its peril, Friend Taylor was wont to ask with solicitude, “ Cannot something be done, cannot something be done, to make people buy free-labor sugar ?”

It was not a new question to the people of Philadelphia. In August, 1827, in his Genius of Universal Emancipation, Lundy had announced, “with pleasure,”that a Rhode Island manufacturer had adopted the system of working cotton produced by free labor, and that the muslins made from such cotton could be had by the bale of James Mott & Co., in Philadelphia; and the editor earnestly recommended the encouragement of this enterprise. The same Lundy, in the course of the following year, called a meeting in the Quaker City to consider the subject of encouraging free-labor products,— the first of the kind, it is believed, ever held in America ; and it was about this time that Baldwin and Thompson opened the store which George Taylor was to close. They were succeeded by Lydia White, and she by Joel Fisher, from York; after him came Taylor. Lundy was also the first to urge the formation of societies to give consistency to the movement ; but the Free Produce Society of Philadelphia was not formed before 1837, having for its organ the Non-Slaveholder, of which Samuel Rhoads and Abraham L. Pennock, both Friends, and able and most estimable men, were the editors.

The free-produce doctrines were never adopted by the Abolitionists as a body. At a time when — as now, in the transition period of our government— all questions, and social questions particularly, were discussed, and men sought to square their conduct daily as if for the millennium ; when the diet, the dress, the mode of wearing the beard, the theories of medicine, the rights of property, the equality of the sexes, the true nature of marriage, the plenaryinspiration of the Scriptures, were seriously laid to men’s consciences, — the scruple of using slave-products could not fail to arise and to prevail with many. In the Abolitionist of March, 1833, is printed an address from W. J. Snelling before the New England Antislavery Society, in which this passage occurs : —

“ Do we not offer the South a market for the produce of the toil of her slaves? Could the system of slavery subsist for another year, nay, for a single day, were that market closed? Every one who buys a pound of Southern sugar or a yard of Southern cotton virtually approves and sanctions an hour or more of slave-labor.”

And it was out of homage to this sentiment that the committee who conducted the paper reprinted these lines (by “ Margaret ”) from the Genius of Universal Emancipation : —

“ ‘ No, no, pretty sugarplums ! Stay where you are !
Though my grandmother sent you to me from so
far ;
You look very nice, you would taste very sweet,
And I love you right well, — yet not one will I eat.
“ ' For the poor slaves have labored, far down in the
To make you so sweet and so nice for my mouth ;
But I want no slaves toiling for me in the sun,
Driven on with the whip, till the long day is done.’

“ Thus said little Fanny,”etc.

It is not difficult to remember, among the gifts which British, friends of the cause sent over to antislavery fairs— among the yellow card-boxes for antislavery pennies, and inkstands and teacups stamped with “Am I not a man and a brother ? ” — a brown-stone bowl, of which the cover was early broken in a certain family, and whose rim bore the delusive legend,—EAST INDIA SUGAR, NOT MADE BY SLAVES. Alas! they had forgotten to send the sugar to make good the profession, and we ate from the pretty bowl whatever Cuban or Louisianian sweetness a large household and a moderate purse could compremise upon; for that was one of the compromises which Abolitionists had often to make in spite of themselves. And we ate sugar-plums when we could get them, and bought cotton cloths the day after Mr. Snelling’s address, and made them into pocket-handkerchiefs printed with antislavery mottoes or “Margaret’s” verses. For we lived not in Pennsylvania, but where people say shall once in a while instead of will always, and eat codfish instead of terrapin, and chicken as rarely as they call it chick'n, and grow squashes, and associate wooden shutters with country groceries. Yet we did our share of employing colored dentists because they were colored, and colored painters and carpenters for the same reason, though sometimes against the grain. The Quakers not alone, but distinctively, cherished the sacred flame of free produce.

Penn, we all know, was a slaveholder in his province in 1685, having followed the fashion of his Virginia neighbors without much thought of the matter, except to make the yoke easy. In a will dated 1701 he liberated his slaves ; but still for three quarters of a century the Friends forbore to make slaveholding a disciplinable offence, and it was long after 1776 that those of Great Britain went to the half-breeds of Brazil for cotton which freemen had tilled and of which Pernambuco is now the busy mart.

Clarkson, in his History of the Abolition of the Slave-Trade, names 1791 as the year in which the feelings of the English people in regard to the existence of this evil “ which was so far removed from their sight, began to be insupportable.” The entire passage is worth reproducing here, for the sake of comparing the free-produce movement in the two countries. “ Many of them,” he continues, “resolve to abstain from the use of West India produce. In this state of things a pamphlet, written by William Bell Crafton of Tewksbury, and called ‘ A Sketch of the Evidence, with a Recommendation on the Subject to the serious Attention of People in general,’ made its appearance ; and another followed it written by William Fox of London, ‘ On the Propriety of abstaining from West India Sugar and Rum.’ These pamphlets took the same ground They inculcated abstinence from these articles as a moral duty; they inculcated it as a peaceful and constitutional measure; and they laid before the reader a truth which was sufficiently obvious, that, if each would abstain, the people would have a complete remedy for this enormous evil in their own power.” In an extended tour which Clarkson made, “ there was no town,” he remarks, “through which I passed, in which there was not some one individual who had left off the use of sugar. In the smaller towns there were from ten to fifty by estimation, and in the larger from two to five hundred, who made this sacrifice to virtue. These were of all ranks and parties. Rich and poor, Churchmen and dissenters, had adopted the measure. Even grocers had left off trading in the article in some places. In gentlemen’s families, where the master had set the example, the servants had often voluntarily followed it ; and even children who were capable of understanding the history of the sufferings of the Africans, excluded with the most virtuous resolution the sweets to which they had been accustomed from their lips. By the best computation I was able to make from notes taken down in my journey, no fewer than three hundred thousand persons had abandoned the use of sugar.”

Penn was still lingering under his fatal paralysis when Anthony Benezet, born across the Channel in Picardy, was brought to London by his Huguenot parents fleeing their confiscated estates. Embracing the Friends’ doctrine in 1727, he again accompanied his parents when they emigrated to Pennsylvania in 1731. Dissatisfied with a mercantile life, and having sought contentment in vain as a cooper, he turned school-teacher, holding ideas of instruction to which Rousseau and Pestalozzi afterwards gave a definite shape and a reforming vitality. It was in 1750 that he began to be struck with the enormities of the slave-trade, and to lift up his voice against it, and to begin a career of antislavery activity which has been seldom surpassed. He established an evening school for colored girls, wrote in Franklin’s almanacs and in the newspapers, published innumerable tracts and solid works on the slave-trade, and corresponded with crowned heads and eminent philanthropists in all parts of Europe. Especially did he labor for the conversion of Friends. As a Frenchman, Benezet had received and comforted the exiled Acadians who had drifted to Philadelphia ; not less as a Frenchman at yearly meeting on one occasion did he carry the day against those who would have temporized with slavery. At the critical juncture, says one account, he “left his seat, which was in an obscure part of the house, and presented himself, weeping, at an elevated door, in the presence of the whole congregation, whom he addressed in the words of the Psalmist, ‘ Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands unto God.’ ” Veritable coup de théâtre ! In 1775 he was free to turn his attention to outside organization, and, in company with Dr. Rush, James Pemberton, and others, he founded the Society for the Relief of Free Negroes unlawfully held in Bondage, and was instrumental in rescuing a body of negroes who had been kidnapped from New Jersey, and were being taken South through Philadelphia. The law enacted in 1780 for gradual abolition in Pennsylvania was due in great measure to his zealous initiative.

Benezet died in 1784. He had adopted conscientiously the Quaker severity of attire, which had come in since Ellwood and Penn, but was concerned only, so far as we know, for the outward style, — little, if at all, for the history of the material as produced by free labor or by slave. Towards the close of his life, at the sacrifice of his strength, he relinquished animal food, from a feeling of mercy for the brute creation, though he probably thought none the worse of George Fox for having worn a suit of leather. It remained for another Friend — whose life was contained within the limits of Benezet’s, and who was one of three belonging to the same society and natives of the same State,1 that distinguished themselves in opposition to slavery — to feel and avow his repugnance to the use of slave-grown products, and to avoid them as he was able. John Woolman was born in 1720. The testimony of the Monthly Meeting of Friends in Burlington (1st 8th month, 1773) says of him that he was “ for many years deeply exercised on account of the poor enslaved Africans, whose cause, as he sometimes mentioned, lay almost continually upon him,” and “ particularly careful as to himself not to countenance slavery even by the use of those conveniences of life which were furnished by their labor.” In his Diary, which can never be read without profit by any generation, Woolman has left a circumstantial record of his rise to the high moral plane in which the maturity of his life was spent.

“ Through weakness,” as he says, when twenty-three years of age, he wrote a bill of sale of a negro woman for his employer, who sold her to an elderly Friend ; but he said, in the presence of both purchaser and seller, that he “ believed slave-keeping to be a practice inconsistent with the Christian religion.” Twelve years later (presumably in consequence of Benezet’s agitation) he was so much strengthened in this belief that he would not write a will, disposing of slaves, for an “ancient man of good esteem in the neighborhood ” ; and when, still later, the same testator applied to him to write a fresh will, Woolman again declined unless the slaves were set free, which was done accordingly. On another occasion he wrote part of a will, rather than afflict the person desiring it, who was very ill; but declined pay for his services, or to finish out the document except a negro mentioned therein were set free ; and this too was done. In 1746, making a tour in South Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina, he remarks : “ When I ate, drank, and lodged free-cost with people who lived in ease on the hard labor of their slaves, I felt uneasy.” Where, however, the master did his portion of the work, and lived frugally, neither overtasking his slaves, nor providing ill for them, he was less disturbed in mind. But he discerned on this trip, with great spiritual clearness for his time, the real nature of slavery: “I saw in these Southern provinces so many vices and corruptions, increased by this trade and this way of life, that it appeared to me as dark gloominess hanging over the land ; and though now,” he adds, prophetically, “many willingly run into it, yet in future the consequences will be grievous to posterity. I express it as it hath appeared to me, not at once, nor twice, but as a matter fixed on my mind.” He experienced similar premonitions in June, 1763, when among the Indians in the Blue Ridge and Great Lehigh wilderness (whither Benezet followed in 1776): “Here I was led into a close, laborious inquiry whether I, as an individual, kept clear from all things which tended to stir up or were connected with wars, either in this land or Africa; .... and I felt in that which is immutable that the seeds of great calamity and desolation are sown and growing fast on this continent.” (A hundred years pass, and slavery has been abolished by proclamation ; but the doubtful scale has still to be turned at Gettysburg.) The passage is interesting as connecting the free-produce movement among the Quakers immediately with their peace doctrines, rather than with their general philanthropy.

“ Until this year,” writes John, of 1756, “I continued to retail goods, besides following my trade as a taylor; about which time I grew uneasy on account of my business growing too cumbersome.” He had begun, it appears, with selling trimmings for garments, then cloths and linens, and so was in a fair way to do a large business. “ But I felt a stop in my mind,” he says ; and, heeding it, he returned more to “tayloring,” with no apprentice, and looked also after his apple-trees. We cannot say positively that he made from these the famous Jersey cider, but the inference will serve to connect the mention of them with that which follows in the context. He had noticed, as one of his storekeeping experiences, the ‘‘great inconveniences ” which some people were led into by the “ too liberal use of spirituous liquors,” with which he associated “ the custom of wearing too costly apparel.”

We should ask pardon here for a seeming digression, if our object were not to exhibit the sensitive conscience of Woolman, and to compare it with that of others of whom in this rambling sketch we are obliged to speak. In the autumn of 1769 he had a strong desire to visit the West Indies; but so many scruples stood in his way that he had to unbosom himself to the owner of the ship on which he purposed taking passage for Barbadoes. In this letter we find another allusion to his storekeeping, which had grown less agreeable to him to think of the farther he got away from it. “ I once,” he writes to the ship-owner, “some years ago, retailed rum, sugar, and molasses, the fruits of the labor of slaves ; but then had not much concern about them, save only that the rum might be used in moderation,2 nor was this concern so weightily attended to as I now believe it ought to have been; but of late years, being further informed 3 respecting the oppressions too generally exercised in these islands,” &c., he wanted to apply the “ small gain ” he “got by this branch of trade to promoting righteousness on earth.” He was to promote righteousness, i. e. pursue his function of preacher, by going to Barbadoes, paying his way, and living on a lowly subsistence. But the doubt arose, whether he could take passage on a vessel engaged in the West India trade, for which he was yearning to do penance. “To trade freely with oppressors, and, without laboring to dissuade from such unkind treatment, seek for gain by such traffic, tends, I believe, to make them more easy respecting their conduct.” But, on the other hand, “ the number of those who decline the West India produce on account of the hard usage of the slaves who raise it appears small, even amongst people truly pious ; and the labors in Christian love, on that subject, of those who do, not very extensive.” And “were the trade from this continent to the West Indies to be quite stopped at once, I believe many there would suffer for want of bread.” Moreover, a small trade with the West Indies might be right if ourselves and their inhabitants generally dwelt “ in pure righteousness ” ; but then the passage-money would “ for good reasons,” i. c. owing to the diminished freight, be higher than now. So having dismissed the thought of “ trying to hire a vessel to go under ballast,” believing “that the labors in gospel love, yet bestowed in the cause of universal righteousness, are not arrived to that height,” Woolman proposed to protest against a “great trade and small passage-money,” and in favor of less trading, by paying more than common for his passage.

The argument is a little intricate, but it is worth following to what we must call its preposterous end. It is a most curious instance of a morbidly sensitive conscience directing to an act the only result of which could have been to extend the trade in slave products by adding to the capital of a trader. The letter probably had its effect upon the members of his own denomination, to whom he therein submitted the proposition that “ the trading in, or frequent use of, any produce known to be raised by the labors of those who are under such lamentable oppression, hath appeared to be a subject which may yet more require the serious consideration of the humble followers of Christ, the Prince of Peace.” After all, he did nothing more in the matter, being shortly attacked with pleurisy. For Woolman was a saint with a traditional body. One reason for his taking a seavoyage is implied in his entry for the 12th 3d month of the same year : “ Having for some years past dieted myself on account of a lump gathering on my nose, under this diet I grew weak in body, and not of ability to travel by land as heretofore.” During the attack of pleurisy in the winter of 1769-70, he considered himself sufficiently “ weaned from the pleasant things of life ” to die acceptably ; yet if God wanted him for further service, he desired to live. “ I may with thankfulness say that in this case I felt resignedness wrought in me, and had no inclination to send for a doctor; believing that if it was the Lord’s will, through outward means, to raise me up, some sympathizing friends would be sent to minister to me ; which were ” — he continues, we must not say with Quaker slyness — “ which were accordingly.” Meanwhile his feet grew cold, and death seemed near, yet he would not for some time ask the nurse to warm them ; but the desire for life and further service set in strongly upon him, and “ I requested my nurse to apply warmth to my feet, and I revived ; and the next night, feeling a weighty exercise of spirit, and having a solid friend sitting up with me, I requested him to write what I said,” — an empty manifesto.

The pious Woolman was never ill but he must endeavor to guess for what he was punished ; and it would seem as if, when a “ concern ” fastened upon him, his mind worked over it till his health gave way. “ The use of hats and garments dyed with a dye hurtful to them, and wearing more clothes in summer than are useful, grew more uneasy to me, believing them to be customs which have not their foundation in pure reason.” Thereupon, May 31, 1761, he was taken down with fever, and conformity to customs was revealed to him as the cause of his affliction. He “lay in abasement and brokenness of spirit,” and presently felt, “as in an instant, an inward healing in his [my] nature.” “Though I was thus settled in mind in relation to hurtful dyes, I felt easy [the thrifty Friend !] to wear my garments heretofore made ; and so continued about nine months.” Then he got him a hat “ the natural color of the furr,” which “savored of singularity,” as he was still wearing his dyed stuffs ; and as those “who knew not on what motives I wore it carried shy of me, I felt,” he says, “ my way for a time shut up in the exercise of the ministry.”

The time came when Woolman was to make a voyage to England, —a long voyage, from which he never returned. His beloved friend, Samuel Emler, Jr., had taken passage in the cabin of the ship “ Mary and Elizabeth,” “and I, feeling a draft in my mind toward the steerage of the same ship, went first and opened to Samuel the feeling I had concerning it.” Samuel wept for joy, though John’s “prospect was towards the steerage.”

“ I told the owner that, on the outside of that part of the ship where the cabin was, I observed sundry sorts of carved work and imagery, and that in the cabin I observed some superfluity of workmanship of several sorts ; and that, according to the ways of men’s reckoning, the sum of money to be paid for a passage in that apartment hath some relation to the expense in furnishing it to please the minds of such who give way to conformity to this world ; and that in this case, as in other cases, the moneys received from the passengers are calculated to answer every expense relating to their passage, and, amongst the rest, of those superfluities ; and that in this case I felt a scruple with regard to paying my money to defray such expenses.”

So he cast his lot among the seamen, and only stayed in the cabin, as he is careful to state, about seventeen hours, during a particularly heavy storm (May 8, 1772), having been frequently invited, and believing the poor wet mariners needed all the room of the steerage. He suffered not a little by his choice of a berth, and could have crowed with the dunghill fowls, which, he had observed, had been dumb since they left the Delaware, when the shores of England hove in sight.

Woolman did not share the scruples of Benezet about the eating of meat. At Nantucket, in 1760, he remarks without comment, “ I understood that the whales, being much hunted, and sometimes wounded and not killed, grew more shy and difficult to come at.” But when he and a friend were riding on a hot day “a day’s journey eastward from Boston,” they dismissed their guide, who was “ a heavy man,” “ believing the journey would have been hard to him and his horse,”— as it unquestionably would have been, had they gone due east from Boston. In England, Woolman learned that the stagecoach horses were overdriven, and often killed or else made blind, and that the postboys often froze in winter ; therefore he cautioned Friends at Philadelphia and at London yearly meetings “not to send any letters to him [me] on any common occasion by post.” The self-denial of this counsel may be judged from the fact that he was thus cut off from news of his family. In effect, no protracted correspondence would have been possible. In September, Woolman took the small-pox, and was to offer his last testimony against slave labor upon his death-bed. He would not send for a physician, but when a young apothecary had happened in, “he said he found a freedom to confer with him and the other friends about him ; and if anything should be proposed as to medicine, that did not come through defiled channels or oppressive hands, he should be willing to consider and take it, so far as he found freedom.” It is doubtful, though, whether a treatment in accordance with “ pure reason ” could have availed against his feeble constitution.

A more impressive death-bed, though not more true to conviction, was that of the Long Island schismatic, Elias Hicks. As he lay shivering, a few hours before his decease, a comfortable was thrown over him, and he, after feeling of it, made a strong effort to push it away. Too weak to succeed in the first attempt, he made another, with a renewed show of abhorrence. And when his friends asked, “ Is it because it is made of cotton?” he nodded; whereupon a woollen blanket was substituted, and he died satisfied and with composure (February 27, 1830). As Benezet had stimulated by his writings Sharp and Wilberforce and Clarkson to their antislavery zeal, and had confirmed Woolman in his original aversion to human servitude, so both Benezet and Woolman must have done much to shape the sentiments and belief of Elias Hicks, born later than they, in 1748. Preaching in the Free States, he exhorted all the people to abstain from slave produce. “ These views,” says Mrs. Child, in her Life of Isaac T. Hopper, “were in accordance with the earliest and strongest testimonies of the Society of Friends.” We have seen, however, that the facts do not warrant so unqualified a statement. So little, indeed, were they respected as traditional that they formed a corpus delicti against the religious doctrines of Hicks; and a sermon preached by him against slaveproduce in 1819 precipitated that open hostility which has left an unhealed and unhealable wound in the bosom of the Friends’ Society, and gave rise to scandalous quarrels, in which the Orthodox sought to exclude the Hicksites from the meeting, and even from the burying-ground. Two anecdotes of Elias Hicks we cannot, as faithful chroniclers, omit in this place. Among his own followers he was always received and entertained with a sort of veneration, yet, being at the house of one of them in Southern Pennsylvania, he was proffered sugar in his tea.

“Is it free-labor sugar?” he inquired.

“ Elias,” said the son of the matron, “ why don’t thee do as Paul advised,— ‘eat, asking no question for conscience’ sake’? ”

“ Paul was only a man,” answered the unwary Hicks.

“ Well, is thee anything more ? ”

When Charles Collins was keeping a free-produce store in New York, the story goes that Elias one day brought him, with great satisfaction, his pamphlet denouncing the use of slave products. Collins, who was an ardent disciple, but something of a wag, cautiously received the document, not with his hand, but with a pair of tongs, and immediately thrust it into the open fire. “ Friend Hicks,” he said, roguishly, “ I can’t defile my store with slavery-cursed paper ” ; and, in fact, his own stock was made of linen rags. The preacher found himself much in the condition of the Pope, when he used the press to circulate his encyclicals against general enlightenment and modern civilization, of which the press is the main element.

More practical than any of the foregoing was Benjamin Lundy, who was born in 1789, in New Jersey. Both his parents, their ancestors, and most of their connections, were members of the Society of Friends, and were derived from England and Wales. His greatgrandfather settled at Buckingham, Berks County, Pennsylvania. They had connections also in North Carolina, and Lundy formed in a certain town of that State an antislavery society, with a militia captain for president and a Friend for secretary. We shall not pretend to follow him in his early migrations, full as they were of romance and earnest purpose. At Mount Pleasant, Ohio, in 1821, he established the Genius of Universal Emancipation, which he afterwards had printed at Steubenville, twenty miles off. “ I went,” he says, “ to and from that place on foot, carrying my papers, when printed, on my back.”. He fought slavery “on that line” for eight months, and abandoned it only to take an advanced position in the South. From Tennessee Lundy removed his paper to Baltimore, in 1824, and there, opening a free-produce store, he worked with a journeyman on his paper by day, and wrote nights and Sundays for it. In 1825 he took eleven slaves from North Carolina to Hayti as freemen ; afterwards, through his advice, a Virginian settled eighty-eight slaves there ; North Carolina Friends were persuaded to send one hundred and nineteen slaves ; and in 1829 he himself made a second visit to the island in company with twelve slaves from Maryland. His object was to build up in Hayti a freenegro State to rival the cotton-growing South, and to make her labor system unprofitable. Between his first and his last trip he visited Boston, and there got eight clergymen, of various sects, together. "Such an occurrence,it was said, was seldom if ever before known in that town.” It was during this visit (1828) that he chanced upon William Lloyd Garrison, in the house at which he put up. Going Lynnward, our “moderate Quaker,” as he described himself, found sectarianism a great stumbling-block to his progress among Friends. At Albany he was moved to declare that “ philanthropists are the slowest creatures breathing. They think forty times before they act.” His great journeys in Canada (winter of 1830-31) and Texas and Mexico (summer of 1831-32; 1833-35), performed almost entirely on foot, — for Lundy was an indefatigable pedestrian,—were solely with a view to extend on the main, on the then borders of the United States, a cordon of free-labor colonies composed of blacks, after the Haytien example. It was a fair dream; and Lundy actually obtained of the governor of Tamaulipas a grant of one hundred and thirty-eight thousand acres of land, on condition of his introducing two hundred and fifty settlers with their families. Returning to the North, he began to invite persons to join his colony, and among those who at first consented to go were David Lee and Lydia Maria Child. Many colored persons applied to be admitted,—some of them slaves who were promised their freedom. The first shipment was fixed for February, 1836; but meanwhile the Texas conspiracy had burst into violence, and the friends of the negro in the United States were compelled to ward off, while it was yet possible, the accession of more slave territory and war with Mexico. In the midst of this desperate controversy, Lundy lost, in the burning by a mob of Pennsylvania Hall (May, 1838), his papers, books, clothes, and everything of value except his journal in Mexico, — “a total sacrifice on the altar of Universal Emancipation.”

It is an honorable history,— this of the free-produce movement in America, — and embraces leaders who would have shed lustre upon any reform. To those who were always taking an observation of their consciences, the doctrine embodied in the extract from Mr. Snelling’s address seemed simple, logical, irresistible. If an error, it was “upon the right side,” and those who sincerely held to it were neither to be reproached nor despised. Not one of them, however, — not Elias Hicks himself, as we have seen, — was ever consistent ; and if they flattered themselves that they could escape using the technical fruits of slave labor, they never could escape dependence on oppression in some form or other. They were sentimentalists trying to subtract themselves from mundane necessities; and the value of this part of their lives was not in the eschewing of certain fabrics and grains, but in the conspicuousness of their testimony against slavery, and its undoubtedly powerful influence in opening the understandings of others to the inhumanity of that barbarism. What is called the common-sense, as well as the indifference and convenience, of the generality of men was opposed to their plan of overcoming an evil so gigantic as slavery, as it was also opposed to the Quaker modes of suppressing frivolity and vanity in dress, and of correcting a false deference between men who were all equal in the sight of God. The Abolitionists proper, we repeat, although always stigmatized as impracticable, never mounted this hobby as if the battle-horse of victory. They did acknowledge the justice of John Woolman’s scruples against trading freely with oppressors, “without laboring to dissuade ” them from their crime ; and they claimed for themselves, almost in the name of the slaves, the right above all others to wear the product of their blood and travail. If it be said that the Abolitionists might have used this excuse in voting under a proslavery Constitution, instead of idly assailing it from without, it may be replied that there was no necessity for them to swear to support an instrument which they abhorred ; that they despaired, and, as events have proved, justly, of reconciling under the Constitution irrepressible antagonisms, and that they sought by a political divorce to clear the North of complicity with the villainy of the South. And, in order to be free from suspicion of ambitious motives, they had to withdraw themselves from all share in the government, to decline all offices, and to endure to be called fanatics, because they were content to be independent critics. It may be said that commonsense people left them aside to join the Republican party. War, having cut short a peaceful experiment, the common-sense of the Abolitionists cannot be tested by their success in proselyting ; but it is fully vindicated by the wrathful acknowledgment of the South, that they were aiming at the vitals of slavery, as aiming not from within, but through and over the Constitution and the Union. The attempt, thirty years ago, to educate the people into a greater regard for justice and human brotherhood than for the national charter, traditions, and unity, was bold, perhaps preposterous ; but it any one had undertaken then to prepare the North to resist the encroachments of slavery by force of arms ! ....

  1. John Woolman, born at Northampton, Burlington County, New Jersey; Isaac T. Hopper, born in Deptford Township, near Woodbury, Gloucester County, New Jersey ; and Benjamin Lundy, born at Handwich, Sussex County, New Jersey, — all, we may add, belonging to the last century in point of birth.
  2. * Was it about this time, or later, that in Northboro’, Massachusetts, three groceries consumed regularly per month a hogshead of rum each ?
  3. † “ By Anthony Benezet’s Caution [and Warning] to Great Britain and her Colonies relative to enslaved Negroes in the British Dominions, 1767.”