Prejudice Against Color.
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AN AUTHENTIC NARRATIVE,
SHOWING HOW EASILY THE NATION GOT
INTO AN UPROAR.
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BY WILLIAM G. ALLEN,
A REFUGEE FROM AMERICAN DESPOTISM.
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LONDON: W. AND F. G. CASH, 5, BISHOPSGATE-STREET-WITHOUT. EDINBURGH: JOHN MENZIES. DUBLIN: JAMES MC. GLASHAN AND J. B. GILPIN
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Extract of a letter from Hon. Gerrit Smith, of New York, Member of Congress, to Joseph Sturge, Esq., of Birmingham, England. (By permission of Mr. Sturge.)
"Peterboro', New York, March 23rd, 1853.
"I take great pleasure in introducing to you my much esteemed friend, Professor Wm. G. Allen. I know him well, and know him to be a man of great mental and moral worth. I trust, in his visit to England, he will be both useful and happy.
"Very truly, your friend and brother, "GERRIT SMITH."
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"Commending Professor Allen to the friends of the colored American citizens who are denied their rights in their own country, and wishing him every success in the object before him,
"I am, respectfully, "Birmingham, 6mo., 28d., 1853. "JOSEPH STURGE."
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"Clapham, August 25th, 1853.
"My dear Sir:—
"Your determination to spend some time in Great Britain, and to employ yourself, as opportunities occur, in giving lectures and delivering addresses upon American topics, including the social position of the free colored population—for which your education and personal experience eminently fit you—has given me sincere pleasure. I trust you will meet with ample encouragement from the friends of Abolition throughout the United Kingdom, to whose sympathy and kindness I would earnestly recommend you, and still more your heroic and most estimable lady.
"Believe me, most truly yours, "Professor W. G. Allen "GEORGE THOMPSON."
CHAPTER I.—Introduction 41
III.—Nobility and Servility 48
IV.—The Mob 54
V.—Dark Days 63
VI.—Brightening up,—Grand Result 79
A Short Personal Narrative by William G Allen 95
Many persons having suggested that it would greatly subserve the Anti-slavery Cause in this country, to present to the public a concise narrative of my recent narrow escape from death, at the hands of an armed mob in America, a mob armed with tar, feathers, poles, and an empty barrel spiked with shingle nails, together with the reasons which induced that mob, I propose to give it. I cannot promise however, to write such a book as ought to be written to illustrate fully the bitterness, malignity, and cruelty, of American prejudice against color, and to show its terrible power in grinding into the dust of social and political bondage, the hundreds of thousands of so-called free men and women of color of the North. This bondage is, in many of its aspects, far more dreadful than that of the bona fide Southern Slavery, since its victims—many of them having emerged out of, and some of them never having been into, the darkness of personal slavery—have acquired a development of mind, heart, and character, not at all inferior to the foremost of their oppressors.
The book that ought to be written, I ought not to attempt; but if no one precedes me, I shall consider myself bound by necessity, and making the attempt, lay on, with all the strength I can possibly summon, to American Caste and skin-deep Democracy.
The mob occurred on Sabbath (!) evening, January the 30th, 1853, in the village of Phillipsville, near Fulton, Oswego County, New York. The cause,—the intention, on my part, of marrying a white young lady of Fulton,—at least so the public surmised.
I am a quadroon, that is, I am of one-fourth African blood, and three-fourths Anglo-Saxon. I graduated at Oneida Institute, in Whitesboro', New York, in 1844; subsequently studied Law with Ellis Gray Loring, Esq., of Boston, Massachusetts; and was thence called to the Professorship of the Greek and German languages, and of Rhetoric and Belles-Lettres of New York Central College, situated in Mc. Grawville, Cortland County,—the only College in America that has ever called a colored man to a Professorship, and one of the very few that receive colored and white students on terms of perfect equality, if, indeed, they receive colored students at all.
In April, 1851, I was invited to Fulton, to deliver a course of Lectures. I gladly accepted the invitation, and none the less that Fulton had always maintained a high reputation for its love of impartial freedom, and that its citizens were highly respected for their professed devotion to the teachings of Christianity.
I am glad to say, that on this occasion I was well received, and at the close of my first lecture was invited to spend the evening at the house of the Rev. Lyndon King. This gentleman having long been known as a devoted abolitionist,—a fervid preacher of the doctrine, that character is above color,—and as one of the ablest advocates of the social, political, and religious rights of the colored man, I, of course, had a pleasant visit with the family; and, remaining with them several days, conceived a deep interest in one of the Elder's daughters,—Miss Mary E. King, who was then preparing to enter the College in Mc. Grawville. I accompanied Miss King to Mc. Grawville, where she remained in college, a year and a half.
Boarding in tenements quite opposite each other, we frequently met in other than college halls, and as freely conversed,—Miss K. being of full age, and legally, as well as intellectually and morally, competent to discuss the subjects in which, it is generally supposed, young men and women feel an absorbing interest.
It is of no consequence what we said; and if it were, the reader, judging in the light of the results, will perhaps as correctly imagine that, as I can possibly describe it. I pass on at once, therefore, simply stating that at the close of the year and a half, my interest in the young lady had become fully reciprocated, and we occupied a relation to each other much more significant than that of teacher and pupil.
Miss King returned to her father's house in October, 1852. I visited the family in December following. Then and there we discussed the subject of marriage more fully between ourselves; and deeming it a duty obligatory upon us, by an intelligent regard for our future happiness, to survey, before consummating an engagement even, the whole field of difficulties, embarrassments, trials, insults and persecutions, which we should have to enter on account of our diversity of complexion, and to satisfy ourselves fully as to our ability to endure what we might expect to encounter; we concluded to separate unengaged, and, in due season, each to write to the other what might be the results of more mature deliberation. This may seem unromantic to the reader; nevertheless, it was prudent on our part.
After remaining in Fulton a week, I left for Boston. Several letters then passed between us, and in January last, our engagement was fixed. I will not speak of myself, but on the part of Miss King, this was certainly a bold step. It displayed a moral heroism which no one can comprehend who has not been in America, and who does not understand the diabolical workings of prejudice against color. Whatever a man may be in his own person,—though he should have the eloquence, talents, and character of Paul and Apollos, and the Angel Gabriel combined,—though he should be as wealthy as Croesus,—and though, in personal appearance, he should be as fair as the fairest Anglo-Saxon, yet, if he have but one drop of the blood of the African flowing in his veins, no white young lady can ally herself to him in matrimony, without bringing upon her the anathemas of the community, with scarcely an exception, and rendering herself an almost total outcast, not only from the society in which she formerly moved, but from society in general.
Such is American Caste,—the most cruel under the sun. And such it is, notwithstanding the claims set up by the American people, that they are Heaven's Vicegerents, to teach to men, and to nations as well, the legitimate ideas of Christian Democracy.
To digress a moment. This Caste-spirit of America sometimes illustrates itself in rather ridiculous ways.
A beautiful young lady—a friend of mine—attended, about two years since, one of the most aristocratic Schools of one of the most aristocratic Villages of New York. She was warmly welcomed in the highest circles, and so amiable in temper was she, as well as agreeable in mind and person, that she soon became not only a favorite, but the favorite of the circle in which she moved. The young gentlemen of the village were especially interested in her, and what matrimonial offer might eventually have been made her, it is not for me to say. At the close of the second term, however, she left the school and the village; and then, for the first time, the fact became known (previously known only to her own room-mate) that she was slightly of African blood. Reader,—the consternation and horror which succeeded this "new development," are, without exaggeration, perfectly indescribable. The people drew long breaths, as though they had escaped from the fangs of a boa constrictor; the old ladies charged their daughters, that should Miss —— be seen in that village again, by no means to permit themselves to be seen in the street with her; and many other charges were delivered by said mothers, equally absurd, and equally foolish. And yet this same young lady, according to their own previous showing, was not only one of the most beautiful in person and manners who had ever graced their circle, but was also of fine education; and in complexion as white as the whitest in the village. Truly, this, our human nature, is extremely strange and vastly inconsistent!
Confessedly, as a class, the quadroon women of New Orleans are the most beautiful in America. Their personal attractions are not only irresistible, but they have, in general, the best blood of America in their veins. They are mostly white in complexion, and are, many of them, highly educated and accomplished; and yet, by the law of Louisiana, no man may marry a quadroon woman, unless he can prove that he, too, has African blood in his veins. A law involving a greater outrage on propriety, a more blasphemous trifling with the heart's affections, and evincing a more contemptible tyranny, those who will look at the matter from the beginning to the end, will agree with me, could not possibly have been enacted.
Colonel Fuller, of the "New York Mirror," writing from New Orleans, gives some melancholy descriptions—and some amusing ones too—of the operations of this most barbarous law.
One I especially remember. A planter, it seems, had fallen deeply in love with a charming quadroon girl. He desired to marry her; but the law forbade. What was he to do? To tarnish her honour was out of the question; he had too much himself to seek to tarnish hers. Here was a dilemma. But he was not to be foiled. What true heart will be, if there be any virtue in expedients?
"——In love, His thoughts came down like a rushing stream."
At last he got it. A capital thought, which could have crept out of no one's brain, save that of a most desperate lover. He hit upon the expedient of extracting a little African blood from the veins of one of his slaves, and injecting it into his own. The deed done, the letter of the law was answered. He made proposals, was accepted, and they were married,—he being willing to risk his caste in obedience to a love higher and holier than any conventionalism which men have ever contrived to establish.
O, Cupid, thou art a singular God! and a most amazing philosopher! Thou goest shooting about with thy electrically charged arrows, bringing to one common level human hearts, however diverse in clime, caste, or color.
Let not the reader suppose, however, that the white people of America are in the habit of exercising such honor towards the people of color, as is here ascribed to this planter. Far from it. The laws of the Southern States, on the one hand, (I allude not now to any particular law of Louisiana, but to the laws of the Slave States in general), have deliberately, and in cold blood, withheld their protection from every woman within their borders, in whose veins may flow but half a drop of African blood; while the prejudice against color of the Northern States, on the other hand, is so cruel and contemptuous of the rights and feelings of colored people, that no white man would lose his caste in debauching the best educated, most accomplished, virtuous and wealthy colored woman in the community, but would be mobbed from Maine to Delaware, should he with that same woman attempt honorable marriage. Henry Ward Beecher, (brother of Mrs. Stowe) in reference to prejudice against color, has truly said of the Northern people—and the truth in this case in startling and melancholy—that, "with them it is less sinful to break the whole decalogue towards the colored people, than to keep a single commandment in their favour."
But to return to the narrative. Miss King, previously to the consummation of our engagement, consulted her father, who at once gave his consent. Her sister not only consented, but, thanks to her kind heart, warmly approved the match. Her brothers, of whom there were many, were bitterly opposed. Mrs. King—a step-mother only—was not only also bitterly opposed, but inveterately so. Bright fancies and love-bewildering conceptions were what, in her estimation, we ought not to be allowed to indulge.
In passing, it is proper to say, that this lady, though not lacking a certain benevolence,—especially that sort which can pity the fugitive, give him food and raiment, or permit him at her table even,—is, nevertheless, extremely aristocratic of heart and patronizing of temper. This statement is made upon quite a familiar acquaintance with Mrs. King, and out of no asperity of feeling. I cherish none, but only pity for those who nurture a prejudice, which, while it convicts them of the most ridiculous vanity, at the same time shrivels their own hearts and narrows their own souls.
Mrs. King was at first mild in her opposition, but finally resorted to such violence of speech and act, as to indicate a state of feeling really deplorable, and a spirit diametrically opposed to all the teachings of the Christian religion—a religion which she loudly professed, and which assures us that "God is no respecter of persons."
I judge not mortal man or woman, but leave Mrs. King, and all those who thought it no harm because of my complexion, to abuse the most sacred feelings of my heart, to their conscience and their God.
NOBILITY AND SERVILITY.
The reader will doubtless and also correctly imagine that situated as Miss King has now been shown to be, she could not have experienced many very pleasant hours either of night or day,—pleasant so far as the sympathy of her numerous relatives and friends could serve to make them such. Fortunately, however she was not of that class whose happiness depends upon the smiles or the approbation of others earned at any cost—but upon a steady obedience to what in her inmost soul, she regarded as demanded by the laws of rectitude and justice.
That a young lady could break away without a struggle from the counsellors, friends and companions of her youth, is not to be expected. Miss King had her struggles; and the letter written to me by her on the consummation of our engagement evinced their character, and also her grandeur and nobility of soul:—
"I have endeavoured to solve, honorably, conscientiously and judiciously, the greatest problem of human life; and God and the holy angels have assisted me in thus solving. Friends may forsake me, and the world prove false, but the sweet assurance that I have your most devoted love, and that that love will strengthen and increase in proportion as the regard of others may diminish, is the only return I ask."
What vows I uttered in the secret chambers of my heart as I read the above and similar passages of that letter, let the reader imagine who may be disposed to credit me with the least aptitude of appreciating whatsoever in human nature is grand and noble, or in the human spirit, which is lovely, and true, and beautiful, and of good report.
Throughout the letter there was also a tone of gentle sadness—not that of regret for the course in contemplation,—but that which holily lingers around a loving heart, which, while it gives itself away, may not even lightly inflict the slightest pang upon other hearts to which it has long been bound by dearly-cherished ties.
But family opposition was not the only opposition which Miss King expected to, or did indeed encounter. Whoever sought to marry yet, and did the deed unblessed or uncursed of public praise or wrath? And aside from extraordinary circumstances, it is so pleasant to dip one's finger into a pie matrimonial.
The following paragraph of a letter written to me by Miss King a few days after I left her in December, amused me much,—it may possibly amuse the reader:—
"Professor,—You would smile if you only knew what an excitement your visit here caused among the good people of Fulton. Some would have it that we were married, and others said if we were not already married, they were sure that we would be; for they knew that you would not have spent a whole week with us if there had been no love existing between you and myself. Some of the villagers came to see me the day after you left, and begged of me, if I were determined to marry you, to do so at once, and not to keep the public in so much suspense."
Friend, have you ever heard or read of anything which came nearer to clapping the climax of the ridiculous than this most singular appeal couched in the last clause of this quotation, to the benevolence of Miss King? Certainly, if anything could have come nearer, it would have been the act of a certain lady who, having heard during this selfsame visit that we were to be married on the morrow, actually had her sleigh drawn up to the door, and would have driven off to the Elder's to "stop the wedding" had not her husband remonstrated. It is true, this lady opposed the marriage, not on the ground of an immorality, but of its inexpediency considering the existent state of American sentiment; but then it is curious to think of what amazing powers she must have imagined herself possessed.
Public opposition however, soon began to assume a more decided form. Neighbours far and near, began to visit the house of Elder King, and to adopt such remonstrance and expostulation as, in their view the state of the case demanded. Some thought our marriage would be dreadful, a most inconceivably horrid outrage. Some declared it would be vulgar, and had rather see every child of theirs dead and buried, than take the course which, they were shocked to find, Miss King seemed bent to do. Some sillier than all the rest, avowed that should the marriage be permitted to take place, it would be a sin against Almighty God; and it may be, they thought it would call down thunder-bolts from the chamber of heaven's wrath, to smite us from the earth.
"There is no peace," saith my God, "to the wicked."—And surely, clearer exemplifications of this saying of Holy Writ were never had, than in the brain-teasings, mind-torturings and heart-rackings of these precious people, out of deference to our welfare. May they be mercifully remembered and gloriously rewarded.
It is proper to introduce to the reader at this point, our cherished friends,—Mr. and Mrs. Porter,—and to say at once, that words are not expressive enough to describe the gratitude we owe them, nor in what remembrance we hold them in the deepest depths of our hearts. They stood by us throughout that season of intended bloody persecution, turning neither to the right nor the left, nor counting their own interests or lives as aught in comparison to the friendship they bore us, or to their love of the principles of truth, justice and humanity. Amid the raging billows, they stood as a rock to which to cling.
We had known these friends for months, nay, for years. They had also been students in Mc. Grawville, but had subsequently married, and at the time of my December visit to Fulton were teachers of a School in Phillipsville,—where, it may be proper here to say, was located the depot of the Fulton trains of cars.
Not only belonging to that class of persons, (rare in America, even among those who claim to be Abolitionists and Christians), persons who do not profess to believe merely, but really do believe in the doctrine of the "unity, equality, and brotherhood of the human race;" and who are willing to accord to others the exercise of rights which they claim for themselves; but, having also great purity of heart and purpose, Mr. and Mrs. Porter did not, as they could not, sympathise with those whose ideas of marriage, as evinced in their conversation respecting Miss King and myself, never ascended beyond the region of the material into that of the high, the holy and the spiritual. Of all the families of Fulton and Phillipsville, this was the only one which publicly spoke approval of our course. So that, therefore it will be expected, that while those true hearts were friendly to us, they were equally with ourselves targets at which our enemies might shoot.
I have introduced Mr. and Mrs. Porter at this point, because, at this point, their services to us commenced. But for these faithful friends, Miss King would not have known whither to have fled when she found as she did, her own home becoming any other than a desirable habitation, owing to the growing opposition and bitter revilings of her step-mother, and the impertinent intermeddlings of others.
Thus far the opposition which Miss King had experienced, though disagreeable, had not become too much for the "utmost limit of human patience." Soon, however, a crisis occurred, in the arrival in Fulton, of the Rev. John B. King. This gentleman's visit was unexpected, and it is due to him to say, that he did not come on any errand connected with this subject; for until he arrived in Fulton, he did not know of the correspondence which had existed between his sister and myself. Though unexpected, his visit as already intimated, was fraught with results, which in their immediate influence, were extremely sad and woeful.
Mr. King was a Reform preacher, and had even come from Washington, District of Columbia, where he had been residing for the last two years, to collect money to build a church which should exclude from membership those who held their fellow-men in bondage, and who would not admit the doctrines of the human brotherhood. Just the man to assist us, one would have thought. But it is easy to preach and to talk. Who cannot do that? It is easier still to feel—this is humanity's instinct—for the wrongs and outrages inflicted upon our kind. But to plant one's feet rough-shod upon the neck and heels of a corrupt and controlling public sentiment, to cherish living faith in God, and, above all to crush the demon in one's own soul,—ah! this it is which only the great can do, who, only of men, can help the world onward up to heaven.
Mr. King had scarcely entered the house, and been told the story of our engagement, when he manifested the most unworthy and unchristian opposition. Unworthy and unchristian, since he frankly averred, that had I the remaining fourth Anglo-Saxon blood, he would be proud of me as a brother. He was bitter, not as wormwood only, but as wormwood and gall combined. He would not tolerate me as a visitor at his house, in company with his sister, unless I came in the capacity of driver or servant. A precious brother this, and a most glorious Christian teacher.
I have said that the arrival of this gentleman marked a crisis in the history of our troubles; and it did so in the fact that by the powerful influence which he exerted over his father, adverse to our marriage, and by the aid, strength and comfort which he gave to his step-mother; the Elder was at last brought to a reconsideration of his views, and to abandon the ground which he had hitherto maintained with so much heroism and valour.
I shall say no hard things of Elder King; now that the storm is over, I prefer to leave him to his own reflections, and especially to this one, which may be embodied in the following question,—What is the true relation which a Christian Reformer sustains to public opinion?
Had the Elder, supposing it to have been possible, assumed towards us a position more adverse than the one he did in this singular and unexpected change, the results could not, for the time being at least, have been sadder or more disastrous. How it affected the feelings of his daughter, the reader can well imagine, who will remember, that upon her father she had hitherto relied as upon a pillar of strength, and especially as her rock of refuge from the storms which beat upon her from without. Stricken thus, a weak spirit would have given up in despair; but not so with this heroic and noble-minded lady, upon whom misfortune seemed to have no other effect than to increase her faith in God.
Elder King now, not as hitherto out of his deference to the feelings of his wife, but of his own accord, averred that I should on no consideration whatever, be permitted to enter his house, to hold a conference with his daughter, providing said conference was to be promotive of our marriage. Miss King was compelled, therefore, to make an arrangement with Mr. Porter, by which our interviews should be held in his house when I should arrive, as I was expected to do so in a few days, from Boston. Strange to say, however, and paradoxical as it may seem, on the day on which I was expected to arrive in Fulton, the Elder himself took his daughter from Fulton to Phillipsville to meet me. I reached Phillipsville, on Saturday afternoon, January 29th, and, of course, was not advised of this altered state of things, until my arrival there—the Elder's change having taken place within a very few days previous.
The method which Elder King took to evince his hostility—his exclusion of me from his house—was extremely injudicious; and I have no doubt that he, himself, now sincerely regrets it. It excited to action the mob spirit which had all along existed in the hearts of the people, and was only awaiting the pretext which the Elder gave—the placing of me before the community, as a marauder upon the peace of his family. The mob, also, gave to the matter what the King family, evidently afterwards, greatly deplored—extraordinary notoriety. Elder King would certainly have displayed more worldly sagacity, to say nothing of Christian propriety, to have admitted me into his house as usual, where we could, all together, have reasoned the matter; and if prejudices could not have been conciliated, the Elder, at all events, by his previous acquaintance with my character, had every reason to suppose that I should have conducted myself as became a gentleman and a Christian. But so it is,—prejudice thus bewilders the faculties, and defeats the objects which it aims most to accomplish.
Hardly unlooked for by myself was this mob, especially after I had learned of the direction which "the subject" had taken in the family of Mr. King.
On Sabbath afternoon, January 30th, while Mr. and Mrs. Porter, Mrs. Porter's sister, Miss King, and myself, were enjoying ourselves in social conversation, a gentleman from the village of Fulton called at the residence of Mr. Porter, to give an account of events as they were transpiring in the village. This gentleman was decidedly opposed to "amalgamation," expressed the utmost surprise that Mr. Porter should for a moment suppose that God ever designed the inter-marriage of white and colored persons,—but he was, nevertheless, a man of friendly disposition,—and as a friend he came to Mr. Porter. We were to be mobbed,—so this gentleman informed us. He advised escape on the part of Mr. Porter and myself, otherwise the house would be demolished! All Fulton, since Saturday night, he informed us, had been in arms. Crowds of men could be seen in the streets, at every point, discussing the subject of our marriage, and with feelings of the most extraordinary excitement; and similar discussions, he added, had been held during the live-long night preceding, in all the grog shops and taverns of the village.
All sorts of oaths had been uttered, and execrations vented. Tar, feathers, poles, and an empty barrel spiked with shingle nails had been prepared for my especial benefit; and, so far as I was concerned, it must be escape or death. Mr. Porter was to be mobbed, he said, for offering me entertainment, and for being supposed friendly to our union. This friend did not understand the whole plan of the onslaught, but he gave sufficient information to justify us in surmising that no harm was intended to be inflicted upon Miss King, or any lady of the house.
Knowing the brutal character of prejudice against color, and knowing also that I was supposed to be about to commit the unpardonable sin, I confess, that though surprised to learn that the mob intended murder, yet I was not surprised to learn many of the details which this friend so kindly gave us.
Mr. Porter suggested that after supper, he and I should retire to a neighbour's house, he supposing that if the mob should be foiled in their attempt to get us into their hands, they would, after all, pass away, and thus the matter blow quietly over. The suggestion, however, was not carried into effect; for we had scarcely finished tea ere they (the mob) were down upon us like wild beasts out of a den.
We first observed some twenty men turning a corner in the direction of the house; then about thirty or forty more, and soon the streets were filled with men—some four or five hundred. In the rear of this multitude there was driven a sleigh in which, we rightly conjectured, Miss King was to be taken home.
From the statements of the leader of the mob—statements afterwards given to the public—it seems that a Committee, composed of members of the mob, and constituted by the mob, suggested before reaching the house that if we were still unmarried there should be no violence done, as they intended to carry off the lady. A portion of this Committee also made it their duty to gain access to the apartment where our company were sitting, and to inform us of the intentions of the assembled multitude below, while the remainder of the Committee endeavoured by speeches and reasoning to quiet the mob spirit, which soon after the assembling, began to reach its climax.
This Committee was composed of some of the most "respectable" men of Fulton—lawyers, merchants, and others of like position. The reader will doubtless think it strange that such men should be members of a mob; and so it would be, if prejudice against color were not the saddest of all comments upon the meanness of human depravity. In this, more than in anything else did the malignant character of this American feeling evince itself—that to drive me off or kill me, if need be, the "respectable" and the base were commingled, like—
"Kindred elements into one."
Men who, under other circumstances, would have been regarded as beneath contempt, the vulgar minded and vulgar hearted—with these, even Christians (so called) did not hesitate to affiliate themselves in order to crush a man who was guilty of no crime save that, having a colored skin, he was supposed to be about to marry a lady a few shades lighter than himself. O, the length and breadth, the height and depth, the cruelty and the irony of a prejudice which can so belittle human nature.
But to the Committee again. This Committee declared themselves to us to be a self-constituted body. But whether self-constituted or otherwise, it matters not, since they were to all intents and purposes members of the mob—if not in deed, still in spirit and in heart. They meant no more than to save the honor of their village by preventing, if possible, bloodshed and death. They were not men of better principles than the rabble—they were only men of better breeding. I do them no injustice. The tenor of their discourse to us at the house of Mr. Porter, the spirit of an article published by one of their number a few days after in the "Oswego Daily Times," and the statements of the mob-leader, clearly satisfy me that had we been married, they (the Committee) deeming that our marriage would have been a greater disgrace to their village than even bloodshed or death, would have left us to our fate—Miss King to be carried off, or perchance grossly insulted, and myself left, as the spiked barrel especially evinced, to torture and to death. That this Committee saved my life, I have no doubt; and I have publicly thanked them for the act. So I would be grateful even to the man who took deadly aim at me with his revolver, and only missed his mark.
Previous to the death which I was to suffer in the spiked barrel, I was to undergo various torturings and mutilations of person, aside from the tarring and feathering—some of these mutilations too shocking to be named in the pages of this book.
Mr. Porter, as I have already said, was also to be mobbed; but, as we afterwards ascertained, only to be coated with tar and feathers and ridden on a rail.
The leader of the mob subsequently averred that so decided was the feeling in Fulton, that in addition to the hundreds who, in person, made the onslaught, there were hundreds more in waiting in the village, who, it was understood between the two companies, were ready to join the onslaughting party at but a moment's warning. Indeed, Mrs. Allen now assures me that on her way home that evening, conducted by a portion of the Committee, she twice met crowds of men still coming on to join the multitudes already congregated at Mr. Porter's. One of the Committee, fearing that if all Fulton should get together, excited as the people were, there would be bloodshed in spite of all that could be said or done, entreated one of these crowds to go back. But, heeding him not; on the villains went, some of them uttering oaths and imprecations, some of them hurrahing, and many of them proceeding with great solemnity of step—these last doubtless being church-members; for the mob was not only on Sabbath evening, but it is a notorious fact which came out early afterwards, that the churches on that evening were, every one of them, quite deserted.
Reader, the life of a colored man in America, save as a slave, is regarded as far less sacred than that of a dog. There is no exaggeration in this statement—I am not writing of exceptions. It is true there are white people in America who, while the colored man will keep in what they call "his place," will treat him with a show of respect even. But even this kind of people have their offset in the multitudes and majorities—the populace at large who would go out of their way to inflict the most demon-like outrages upon those whose skins are not colored like their own!
I have before me at this moment recent American papers which contain accounts of the throttling of respectably-dressed colored men and women for venturing no further even than into the cabins of ferry boats plying between opposite cities; of colored ladies made to get out of the cars in which they had found seats—in cars in which the vilest loafer, provided his skin be white might sit unmolested; of respectable clergymen having their clothes torn from their backs, because they presumed to ask in a quiet manner that they might have berths in the cabins of steamers on which they were travelling, and not be compelled to lodge on deck; and lastly, of a colored man who was not long since picked up and thrown over-board from a steam boat, on one of the Western rivers, because of some affray with a white man—while all the bye-standers stood looking on, regarding the drowning of the man with less consideration than they would have done the drowning of a brute.
Knowing all these things, and knowing also the peculiarity of the circumstances which surrounded me on that Sabbath evening, the reader will not be surprised, that when I saw the dense multitude surrounding the house of Mr. Porter, I at once came to the conclusion that I should not be permitted to live an hour longer. I was not frightened—was never calmer—prepared for the worst, disposed of my watch and such other articles of value as I had about my person.
Mr. Porter was below stairs at the time the mob approached. Soon he came running up, introducing the Committee to whom reference has already been made. They at once addressed us. I do not remember their words,—the purport of the whole, however, was that death was intended for me, provided we had been married; and as it was, I could only escape it, by Miss King consenting to go with them, and by myself consenting to leave the village; and further, that there must be no delay by either party.
One of the Committee, in order to assure me of the terrible danger by which I was surrounded, drew back the window curtains and bade me look out. I did not do so, however, since it was not necessary that I should look out in order to feel fully convinced that there were men below, who had determined to degrade themselves below the level of the brutes that perish. Such cursings, such imprecations, such cries of "nigger," "bring him out," "d——n him," "kill him," "down with the house," were never heard before, I hardly think, even in America.
Of course, to have attempted to resist this armed mob of hundreds of men would have been preposterous. It would have been, so far as I was concerned, at least, to have committed myself to instant death. Compelled, therefore, to make the best of our unfortunate situation, Miss King consented to go with the Committee, and I to leave the village—she, however, taking care to assure me in a whisper, that she would meet me on the following day in Syracuse. The lady was now conducted by the Committee through the mob to the sleigh. Not a word was spoken by a single ruffian in the crowd. All were silent until the driver put whip to his horse, when a general shout was sent up, as of complete and perfect triumph.
Having reached her father's house, one of the Committee addressed a speech to her, hoped that for the sake of her family, and the community, Miss King would relinquish all partiality for Professor Allen, advised her also to go around among the ladies of the village, and consult with them, and assured her that he would be glad to see her at his house; and at any time when she felt disposed to come, he would send a sleigh to bring her.
Nothing remarkable about this speech. But the tone in which it was delivered!—that cannot be put upon paper. The speaker evidently thought the young lady would receive it all as a mark of gracious favor, and as assuring her that though she had been "hand and glove" with a coloured man, he would nevertheless condescend to overlook it. He was dealing with the wrong woman, however; and he received such a reply to his harangue as only a virtuous indignation could have prompted.
The reader must also be informed that a double-sleigh load of able-bodied men followed close behind the one in which Miss King was taken home. What this movement meant, I am not able very satisfactorily to conjecture. I venture the opinion, however, that the good folks supposed their victim would jump out of the sleigh in which she was riding, if a good opportunity should offer, and run back to the Professor; and so this last load, no doubt, was put on as the rear-guard of the posse.
Now for myself. Miss King having left, and the mob having been informed that I was about to leave, they were somewhat quieted, but were far from being appeased. That portion of the Committee that remained with me, thought there was danger yet; and so, indeed, there was, judging hideous noises, bitter curses and ruffianly demonstrations, to be any proper criterion. They still cried, "bring him out" and "kill him." The Committee thought the safety of the house required that I should be removed at once; so I having gotten together my hat, valise and other effects, they took me under their protection and conducted me to the village hotel.
While I was being conducted out of the door, all manner of speech was hurled at me—a bountiful supply of that sort of dialectics which America can beat all the world at handling. However, the main desire of the mob at this point seemed to have been to get a sight of me; so they arraigned themselves in a double file, while I was conducted through the centre thereof, somewhat after the fashion of a military hero—a committee man at each side, one in front and another behind. Having passed completely through the file, the scoundrels then closed in upon me; some of them kicking me, some striking me in the side, once on the head, some pulling at my clothes and bruising my hat, and all of them hooting and hallooing after a manner similar to that which they practised when they first surrounded the house of Mr. Porter.
At length we reached the hotel—a quarter of a mile distant. The Committee were about to conduct me into the front parlour, when one fellow patriotically cried out, "God d——n it, don't carry that nigger into the front door." A true Yankee that! I have a penny laid up for that fellow, if I should ever chance to meet him.
I was conducted into the back parlour of the hotel, as being the most secure. Still the mob were not appeased, and besides, their numbers had increased. They hung around the house. Some of them opened the windows half-way and tried to clamber through them into the parlour where I was; and at last they way-laid the outer doors.
The sort of curses they indulged in meanwhile, I need not describe again. They were essentially the same as they had hitherto vented, save that one or two of them growing a little humorous, cried out occasionally "a speech from Professor Allen"—putting a peculiar emphasis on the professor.
The Committee busied themselves in furnishing two sleighs in which I was to be conveyed away, and also in appeasing the more ruffianly part of the multitude with cigars and such other articles as they choose to call for at the bar of the hotel. One of the sleighs was stationed at the back door of the hotel, and the other about two miles from Fulton. The plan was that I should get into the former and be driven to the latter, in which I was to be taken post haste to Syracuse—a distance of about twenty-five miles. The mob, however, suspected some of the details of the plan, and consequently every time I appeared at the back door, they made a rush at me seeking to wreak their vengeance. I escaped their violence, however, by stepping adroitly out of the way. And, as the tavern keeper had assured them that if they attempted violence upon me while I was under his roof, they would do it at their peril, many of them left, and I, at last, succeeded in reaching the sleigh at the back door and was driven off in safety. The mob unable to overtake me, still shouted a last imprecation.
For this said Sleigh ride, I paid Six dollars, about L1. 4s.; so I was robbed, if not murdered.
I will now describe the leader of the mob—Henry C. Hibbard. I will do it in short. This man is a clumsy-fisted, double jointed, burly-headed personage, about six feet in height, with a countenance commingling in expression the utmost ferocity and cunning. Hibbard is not a fool—but a knave. He is essentially a low bred man, and vulgar to the heart's core.
Some idea of the calibre of the man may be had in the fact that in his published Article in defense of the mob, he makes use of such expressions as "g'hals," "g'halhood" and the like.
He has great perseverance of character as is evinced in the fact that though I was several days behind the time at which I was expected to arrive in Fulton, he or his deputies never failed to be daily at the Cars so as to watch my arrival, and thus be in season with the onslaught.
This man set himself up, and was indeed so received by the Elder and Mrs. King as their friend, counsellor, and adviser. A confirmation this, of what I have already said about the commingling of the "respectable" and the base. His mobocratic movements, however, it is but just to say, were unknown to the Elder and his wife until after the onslaught had been made. Mrs. King however did not deprecate the mob until its history had become somewhat unpopular, by reason of many of the "respectable" men becoming ashamed at last that they had been found in such company as Hibbard's. And even the Elder himself, though he deprecated the mob, still characterized it as the "just indignation of the public."
Hibbard, I have already said, published a written defence of the mob. The article was headed "The Mary Rescue."—and a most remarkable document it was—remarkable, however, only for its intense vulgarity, its absurd contradictions, and its ridiculous attempts at piety and poetry.
Me, he describes as the "Professor of Charms" and "Charming Professor," once—the "tawney charmer."
Hibbard's article is not by me; and, if it were, its defilement is such that I could not be tempted to give it at length. Laughable and lamentable as the article is in the main, I still thank Hibbard for some portions of it, and especially for that one which substantiates the charge which I have brought against the "respectable men of Fulton." Thus ends the mob.
Reader, I am now to describe the events of the two weeks which followed the Fulton onslaught; and I can assure you that language has yet to be invented in which to write in its fullness what, when the children of certain parents shall look back fifty years hence, they will regard as the darkest deeds recorded in the history of their ancestors.
Diabolical as was the mob, yet the shameful and outrageous persecution to which Miss King was subjected during those memorable weeks, at the hands of her relatives and the Fulton Community, sinks it (the mob) into utter significance. How the human beings who so outraged an inoffensive young lady can dare call themselves christians, is to me a mystery which I, at least, shall never be able wholly to explain.
I have already said that Miss King assured me on parting on Sabbath evening that she would meet me in Syracuse on the morrow. Accordingly I awaited at the depot, on Monday afternoon, the arrival of the Fulton train of cars. But she did not appear, and, for the first time, the thought occurred to me that the Fulton people were determined to leave nothing undone by which to fill out their measure of meanness.
On Tuesday morning next, February 1st, the following article appeared in the "Syracuse Star"—one of the organs of the Fillmore Administration. It needs no comment of mine to instruct the reader as to the character of the paper which could publish such complete diabolism:—
"A gentleman from Fulton informs us that that village was the theatre of quite an exciting time, to say the least, on Sunday evening last. The story is as follows:—Rev. Mr. King, Pastor of a regular Wesleyan Methodist, Abolition, Amalgamation Church at Fulton, has an interesting and quite pretty daughter, whom, for some three or four years past, he has kept at School at that pink of a 'nigger' Institution, called the Mc. Grawville College, located South of us, in Cortland County. While there, it seems that a certain genuine negro connected with the Institution, called Professor Allen, (Professor Allen! bah!!) and herself became enamoured of each other, and thereupon entered into the requisite stipulation and agreements to constitute what is known to those interested in such matters, as an 'engagement' to be married. A little time since, the damsel went home to her Amalgamation-preaching parents, and made known the arrangements whereby their lovely daughter expected soon to be folded in the hymenean arms of anti-alabaster Sambo. The parents remonstrated and begged, and got the brothers and sisters to interpose, but all to no effect. The blooming damsel was determined to partake of the 'bed and board,' and inhale the rich odours, refreshing perfumes, and reviving fragrance which Mc. Grawville College teaching had pictured to her in life-like eloquence; and more than this, she would not remain in membership with the denomination that preaches but declines to practice, and sent in her resignation in due form of law. Whereupon, down from Mc. Grawville comes the blushing Allen, all decked in wedding garb, and on Sunday morn he half woke from ponderous sleep, and thought he heard playing on the air such sweet music,—
'"As are those dulcet sounds in break of day, That creep into the dreaming bridegroom's ear, And summons him to marriage!"'
"But evening came, and as the anxious couple could not have the nuptial rites celebrated under the Rev. father's roof, they withdrew to Phillips' tavern, on the West side of the river, and made preparations for the ceremonies. In the meantime the affair got whispered about the town, and the incensed populace to some five hundred strong made ready to 'disturb the meeting.' Several of the prominent citizens, fearing lest a serious row should follow, repaired to the marriage-home, and while some kept the riot down by speeches and persuasions, others gained admittance to the colors. Allen, on being asked if he was married, replied 'no,' but that he would be in a few minutes. He was remonstrated with, and told the consequences that would ensue—that he would be mobbed, and must leave town immediately. He responded that he knew what he was about, was a free man, in a free country, and should do as he pleased. By this time the outsiders could be held still no longer, and the window curtains being drawn, our hero 'saw and trembled,' and cried for mercy. The damsel didn't faint, but at once consented to go home, and was hurried into a sleigh and driven off, while Sambo under disguise and surrounded by Abolitionists, was hustled out of the crowd over to the Fulton house. The multitude soon followed, eager and raving to grab the 'nigger,' but after a little, he was got away from the house, by some sly comer, and hurried off to Syracuse in a sleigh, at the top of two-horse speed. Thus the black cloud avoided the whirlwind, and thus ended 'Another Rescue.'"
This article, abominable as it is, was copied either in whole or in part by nearly every pro-slavery organ throughout America in a few days after the mob—with glorifications at what they supposed to be my defeat; and some of the papers copied the article with regrets that I had not been killed outright. And, indeed, this same "Syracuse Star" in a few days after the publication of the above article did what it could to inflame the populace of Syracuse to inflict upon me violence and death.
Nor were the pro-slaveryites the only persons who gloated with delight over the Article published by the "Star." Hundreds, and I think I am within the bounds of truth, when I say that thousands of men and women calling themselves Abolitionists and Christians, were especially rejoiced at my "defeat;" and expressed themselves to that effect, though using more guarded language than those who made no pretensions to a love of truth, justice, and humanity.
The article abounds in falsehood, though to serve its purpose it is certainly adroitly written. We had not intended to be married on the evening of the mob, so that not only is the speech which the Editor puts in my mouth false, but so also is his statement that we repaired to Phillips' Tavern to have the nuptial rites celebrated. The story of my seeing, and trembling and crying for mercy, is also equally false.
It is also worthy of note that every paper which copied the article, varied the details, in order to suit its specific locality. Some of the versions of the affair were extremely amusing.
One of the papers described the mob as having taken place at Syracuse, and the onslaught as having been made upon us while the ceremony was about being performed, whereat Miss King fled in one direction, and I in another.
One Editor in furnishing his readers with the details thought it necessary to a completion of the picture to describe my personal appearance. He had never seen me—but no matter for that. He had seen the "Star's" report, and what that did not give him, his imagination could supply. So he at it; and the next morning I appeared in print as "a stout, lusty, fellow, six feet and three inches tall, and as black as a pot of charcoal." Reader, you would laugh to see me after such a description—of my height, at least.
The telegraphic wires were also put in demand, and in less than forty-eight hours after the occurrence of the mob, the terrific news had spread throughout the country that a "Colored man had attempted to marry a White woman!" And incredible as it may seem to Britons, this "horrid marriage" was for weeks, not only discoursed of in the papers but was the staple of conversation and debate in the grog shops, in the parlors, at the corners of the streets, and wherever men and women are accustomed to assemble; and during this time also my life was in danger whenever I ventured in the streets. The reader will get some idea of the state of things when I assure him that about a week after the mob, I had occasion to call at the Globe Hotel, Syracuse; and had not been in the house more than ten minutes before the landlord came to me and requested me to retire, as he feared the destruction of his house—the multitude having seen me enter, he said, and were now assembling about the building. I walked quietly out in company with a gentleman in a counter direction to the mob, and so escaped their wrath.
But to return to the narrative. On Tuesday afternoon (two days after the mob) I awaited again at the Syracuse depot, the arrival of the Fulton train of cars; supposing it possible that I might meet Miss King. She did not make her appearance, and there was now not a doubt left on my mind as to the character of what was going on in Fulton. Just as I was on the point of turning away from the depot, a gentleman came up behind me, tapped me on the shoulder, and bade me get out of the way as quickly as possible; for the Fulton mobocrats, he informed me, had sent up word by telegraph to certain persons in Syracuse to mob me, if I should be seen about the car house. This gentleman also added that some of these persons were about the car house, wishing to have me pointed out.
It seems, the Committee that visited us on the evening of the mob, had overheard Miss King assure me that she would meet me on the following day in Syracuse; and they, or others of our keepers, had not only determined that no such meeting should be held, but that the mobbing should be repeated if I attempted again to see her.
Just as I was about to enter my lodging house on my return from the depot, whom should I espy but my friend Porter turning the corner and approaching me. Of course I was glad to see him; and our conversation, at once, turned upon Fulton and the events of the two preceeding days. He informed me, much to my surprise, for I had hardly supposed that tyranny would have gone so far, that on the night following the mob, the people of the village had risen up en masse, and in solemn meeting dismissed him from his school. Glorious America! Land of the Free!
Mr. Porter had committed no crime—nothing was charged against him, save that he had entertained us, and was known to be favorable to our union, or rather unfavorable to any interference in a matter which was of sacred right our own.
Mr. P. gave me no information with regard to Miss King, except that she was at home, and that in consequence of the extraordinary excitement she would probably be unable to get out of Fulton for several days to come.
He returned to Fulton the next morning, and three or four days after, I received from him the following letter. It is significant:—
"Gilberts' Mills, February 4th, 1853.
"Professor Allen,— "Dear Friend:—
"I write you under very extraordinary circumstances. I have been obliged to leave the vicinity of Fulton, for a while at least. I am now stopping at A. Gilbert's. How long I shall stay here, I cannot tell.
"Mary (Miss King) I have not seen or heard from, for two days. All communications between her and Julia, (her sister—who was favorable to our union) and our family has been broken off—strictly prohibited; and Hibbard's house, on the hill, is the watch tower to guard Elder King's house against such dangerous invaders as ourselves.
"When I came from Syracuse that morning, Hibbard was at the depot on the watch. In the afternoon I went up to the Elder's, and was met on the door-step and told not to deliver any messages or letters to Mary. Of course, I had none with me to deliver, and so I told Elder King. But I saw Mary in the presence of the family and Hibbard, and Mrs. Case and Mrs. Sherman, and such like—for Elder King's folks have a great many such sympathisers now.
"I wanted to say some things to her not in the presence of these strangers—so to speak—in the family; but she told me that she was permitted to say no word to any one but in the presence of such companions as were appointed for her. I went away sad, for Mrs. King is trying to torment her soul out of her, by constant upbraidings and railings.
"Yesterday morning Sarah (Mrs. Porter) started to go up to see her, not having seen her since the affair of the mob; but a cutter from Phillipsville whipped by her, and when she had got near the house, the cutter came back bringing Elder King, who told her that they thought it advisable to request her not to go to his house—that, in a word, they were determined to prevent all communication between our family and Mary. Sarah came back. In the meantime, a man came to see me—Mr. Case—to tell me that I must not go to Elder King's—that I could not go there without getting hurt. In fact, I had been that morning to Fulton early, to see the Editor of 'The Patriot;' while I was going through the street, a lot of rowdies gathered together and yelled after me. The explanation is easy. When I came from Syracuse, the story went that I was plotting to get Mary off. And I can hardly forgive Elder King for putting the sanction upon this falsity, by excluding us from his house. That act of Elder King gave the multitude full swing. They have now full liberty to mob me; and last night I came very near getting into their hands. About sunset they came over headed by Hibbard, and while stopping at the tavern on the way—this side of the bridge—a man whipped up to Watson's on horseback, and gave me the wink. George Gilbert was at our room, (a lucky chance) and so I got under the buffalo, and Sarah sat on the seat, and so we rode down straight by them, and thus foiled them again. To-day I went back—packed up, and put my trunks in a neighbor's house, and then came down here with Sarah and Libbie. Thus it is. Mary—God help her—is in prison,—that is, she is guarded. Elder King has consented to just such arrangements as Mrs. King and Hibbard and some of the heartless, officious aristocrats of the village saw fit to propose. It cannot be helped. Mary will doubtless be used well, corporally—but oh, the torment of being confined with such despicable companions. I trust she will be brave; though I did hear yesterday morning that she was somewhat indisposed and was abed. Her eyes are inflamed.
"I left the vicinity not altogether out of personal fear, but because I knew that my presence kept up the excitement. Allen, it is impossible for you to conceive what a convulsion this village of Fulton has been thrown into. A regular siege and cannonading could hardly have raised a greater muss.
"Write to me soon. Enclose to G. Gilbert on the outside wrapper. I dared not send from Phillipsville yesterday.
"Keep cool; and do not blame Elder King more than you can help, for I expect he is forced into some things. How much he is to be forgiven on account of the dilemma into which he has got himself, let time decide. I do not wish to make his case worse.
"Yours in friendship, "JOHN C. PORTER."
[The italics and parentheses of the above letter are mine. I shall add no comment.]
* * * * *
On Saturday afternoon, Feb. 5th,—still in Syracuse,—I received a visit from Wm. S. King, Esq. This gentleman is also a brother of Miss King. His visit seemed to have about it at the outset somewhat of a stealthy character, and I confess I did not receive him with any great degree of cordiality. He came on an errand, he said. His sister desired to have an interview with me, and to that end she would meet me at the house of a friend about four miles from the village of Fulton. The journey to this friend's—hers of four miles and mine of twenty or more—he assured me must be conducted with the greatest possible secrecy; for should the Fulton people hear of it, the most disastrous results would follow. His sister was very ill, he said—was suffering intense anguish of mind—had been confined to her chamber with bodily ailings—had an eye also in a dreadful condition, the sight of which was in danger of being lost—still, her anxiety to see me was so great that she had entreated to be taken even in this condition to the place aforesaid mentioned.
I understood this brother at once. I was not to be trapped. I had read human nature (so I think the result will justify me in saying) to a much better purpose than he. I declined holding the interview at the time, on account, as I urged, of his sister's feeble health and excited state of mind—but would have no objection, I added, to such an interview some two or three weeks to come. He then urged me to write, assuring me that he would take the letter willingly. This also, I refused to do. So at last he left me with the understanding that upon the recovery of his sister's health, we should have an "interview."
Mr. King returned immediately to Fulton, and on the Monday following, I received by post a letter from Miss King. It was not in her own hand-writing—she was too ill to write, but it was dictated to her sister. Just as I expected, Miss King had found it necessary considering the influences against her, and that her relatives and the community would have left no means untried, however illegal or disgraceful to thwart her in her designs,—nay, would have sworn her into a lunatic asylum rather than to have permitted her to marry me—to consent that our engagement should be broken. This letter was to announce the fact, while at the same time, it gave as the reason—deference to the feelings of father and brothers.
Of course, I did not reply to the letter. As the "Star" says—I knew what I was about.
On Tuesday morning, February 8th, I published in the "Syracuse Standard" the following card:—
"TO THE PUBLIC.—FROM PROFESSOR ALLEN."
"So much has been said and written on the subject of the late affair at Fulton, that the Public by this time must have had nearly quantum sufficit; yet I deem it not improper on my own behalf to add a remark or two. I shall not undertake to describe in detail, the murderous outrage intended to be inflicted on a quiet and unoffending man—that is not of much consequence now.
"I wish now simply to show the public, that those who made the onslaught upon me on Sabbath evening, a week ago, acted no less like a pack of fools than a pack of devils; and this can be shown almost in a single word, by stating that the whole story of my intention of being married on the evening in question, or that I went to Fulton intending to consummate an affair of the kind at any period of my recent visit there, is a fabrication from the beginning to the end. The wretch who 'fixed up' just such a story as he thought would inflame the rabble to take my life, will yet, I trust, meet with deserved scorn and contempt from a community who, whatever may be their prejudice against my color, have, nevertheless, a high sense of what belongs to their own honor and dignity, and to the character and reputation of their village.
"I make this statement with regard to this matter of marriage, not because I regard myself as amenable to the public to state to them whom or when I shall marry, but that since so much has been said upon the subject, I am quite willing they should know the truth as it is. They are tyrants, and very little-hearted, and exceedingly muddy-headed ones at that, who will presume to take a matter of this kind out of the hands of the parties to whom it specifically belongs, and who are acting law-abidingly and honorably in the premises.
"Here then is the story. Read it. A band of several hundred armed men—armed, as I have been told, with an empty barrel spiked with shingle nails, tar, feathers and a pole, came down upon a certain house in Phillipsville, opposite Fulton, on Sabbath evening, a week ago, to kill or drive out a single individual, conducting himself in a quiet, peaceable manner, and that individual, too, in physical stature, one of the smallest of men,—and in physical strength, proportionably inferior! If this is not cowardice as well as villainy—and both of them double-refined—then, I ask, what is cowardice, or what is villainy? The malignity of the whole matter also is set in a clearer light, when it is remembered that this same individual has never injured one of his assailants, nor has it been charged upon him that in his life-time he has ever inflicted the slightest wrong upon mortal man, but who has striven to maintain an upright character through life, and to fight his way for long years through scorn and contempt, to an honorable position among men. Truly, this is a precious country! However, it is some consolation to know that 'God is just, and that his justice cannot sleep for ever.'
"A gentleman of Fulton writes an article on this subject, to the 'Oswego Daily Times,' of February the 3rd. The spirit of this gentleman's article dishonors his heart. So filled is he with a prejudice which an eminent Christian of this country has rightly characterized, as a 'blasphemy against God,' and a 'quarrel with Jehovah,' that he will not even deign to call me by name, to say nothing of the title which has been legitimately accorded me, but designates me as a 'colored man, &c.' The object of this writer in thus refusing to accord to me so cheap and common a courtesy is apparent, and as contemptible as apparent. Let him have the glory of it,—I pity him. Had I been a white man, he would not have so violated what he is such a stickler for—'the laws and usages of society.'
"In another place in his article, he describes me as the 'negro.' This is preposterous and ridiculous. Were I a negro, I should regard it as no dishonor, since men are not responsible for their physical peculiarities, and since they are neither better nor worse on account of them. It happens in this case, however, that so far from being a negro, three-fourths of the blood which flows in my veins is as good Anglo-Saxon as that which flows in the veins of this writer in the 'Times,'—better, I will not say, of course.
"Something also is said in this article from Fulton about the 'course we' (the young lady and myself) 'were pursuing.' Now, as the several hundred armed men strong who came down upon me on Sunday night, and some newspaper Editors, and this gentleman in particular, and the public very nearly in general, have taken the matter of judging what this 'course we were pursuing' was, out of our own hands, I propose to leave it still further with them. They can guess at it, and fight it out to their heart's content.
"Something also is said by this gentleman about 'wholesome advice being given me'—but I did not hear it, that's all. Besides, I never take advice from those who can not tell the difference between a man and his skin.
"One gentleman—a true man—came to me, and expressed his deep sympathy for me, and his sorrow that I had been so wrongfully treated and shamefully outraged, and entreated me to regard with pity, and not with anger, the murderous wretches outside. This is the speech that I remember, and remember it to thank the friend for his manifestation of kind and generous emotions.
"This Fulton 'Committee man' also says that 'the colored man asked if he was to be left to be torn to pieces.' Beyond a doubt, I asked that question. It was certainly, under the circumstances, the most natural question in the world; for I had really begun to think that the fellows outside had the genuine teeth and tail.
"I close this Article. To the Committee who so kindly lent me their protection on that memorable night, I offer my thanks and lasting gratitude.
"To the poor wretches who sought to take my life, I extend my pity and forgiveness.
"As to myself—having in my veins, though but in a slight degree, the blood of a despised, crushed, and persecuted people, I ask no favors of the people of this country, and get none save from those whose Christianity is not hypocrisy, and who are willing to 'do unto others as they would that others should do unto them'—and who regard all human beings who are equal in character as equal to one another.
"Respectfully "WILLIAM G. ALLEN"
Simultaneously with the above card, there appeared in the "Syracuse Journal," the following Article. It is from the pen of Wm. S. King—the brother aforesaid mentioned. It is in spirit a most dastardly performance, more so, considering that the gentleman really did know the circumstances, than anything which had hitherto been sent to the press. As a history of the "affair," it is almost a falsity throughout—and especially is it so in that part of it which describes Miss King as repulsing me with her abhorrence of the idea of amalgamation. I do not propose, however, to be hard on Mr. King. His untruthful and cowardly spirit has been sufficiently rebuked by the marriage which took place in less than two months after the publication of his article:—
"THE FULTON RESCUE CASE."
"Since the occurrence of the circumstances which induced the mob and consequent excitement at Fulton, on the 30th of last month, we have made considerable effort to procure a full and precise statement of the facts in the case. This we have finally succeeded in doing from a gentleman of standing, who is well acquainted with all the circumstances. They are as follows:—
"For some years past, Miss King has been attending the School at Mc. Grawville, known as the 'New York Central College,' in which Allen, the colored Professor alluded to, is one of the teachers.
"During that time, Allen became deeply interested in the lady, and proposed marriage to her. This she at once rejected, declaring that the thought of such a connection was repulsive to her.
"For some time after this, the Professor said no more upon the subject; but in the course of a year or so, again proposed marriage, and was again rejected.
"Thus matters stood until some time since, when Miss King left the School, and returned to her home in Fulton. Shortly after, Allen went to that place and called on her, and, after a short interview, again, for the third time, proposed marriage. She again rejected him, and told him that such was her firm and fixed decision. Her manner towards him, however, during all this period, had been kind and friendly, but she had always expressed her abhorrence of the idea of 'amalgamation.'
"By this time Madam Gossip had set the rumor afloat, that Allen and Miss K. were engaged to be married. Such a report was, of course calculated to produce a great excitement wherever it went.
"Allen, however, was not to be baffled by his former ill success, and was determined, if possible, to make the report good. He, therefore, a few days after his last rejection, wrote to a gentleman residing in Phillipsville, opposite Fulton—who had formerly been a student in Mc. Grawville—that he intended making him a visit. As all the parties had been friends and acquaintances at School, Miss K. was invited to be present for the purpose of having a friendly visit. She accordingly called upon them on Saturday afternoon, and at their earnest solicitations consented to spend the Sabbath with them.
"In the meantime, it was whispered about that the Professor and Miss K. were there for the purpose of being married. This, the people of Fulton determined at once, should not be done in that town. They, therefore, assembled several hundred strong, and appointed a Committee to wait upon the party, which they accordingly did, and informed the Professor that he must leave town, and the young lady that she must go home, to which request they both acceded without hesitation.
"The above is, as we have been informed, a full and true statement of the affair which has created such an excitement throughout the country."
* * * * *
The reader will see that the article appears as an editorial—another evidence that it is "conscience that doth make cowards of us all."
Should Mr. King ever see this little book, and wonder how I found him out, I will simply inform him that I chanced to be in the neighborhood of the Journal Office, when he went in with his piece; and further, I have the guarantee of the Editor.
I now subjoin an extract of a note which I received from Miss King, on the afternoon of February the 12th:—
"Fulton, Friday Morning, Feb. 11th.
"Professor Allen,— "Dearest and best-loved Friend:—
"I am much better this morning; and if I could only see you for a few hours, I am sure I should be quite well again. I have been trying to persuade father to let me go to Syracuse this morning and see you, but he thinks my health is not in a state to admit of it now, but has promised me faithfully that I may meet you at Loguens, on Tuesday of next week.
* * * * *
"Professor—When I saw that article in the 'Syracuse Journal,' holding you up in such a ridiculous light, and laboring to make such false impressions upon the mind of the public, my soul was on fire with indignation.
* * * * *
"I need not tell you again that I love you, for you know that I do; yes, and I always shall until life's troubled waters cease their flow.
"All communications that I receive from, or send to, you, are read by father; for I am a prisoner, yes, a prisoner; and when you write to me—if you should before I see you—you must say nothing but what you are willing to have seen. I shall manage to send this note without having it seen by any one.
* * * * *
"When I see you, I will tell you how much I have suffered since I saw you last, and how much I still suffer.
* * * * *
"Ever yours, "Mary."
[The italicising of the above is my own.]
* * * * *
This little note was the only communication which I had received from Fulton, containing any account of the doings of the King family, since the letter written to me by Miss King, announcing that our engagement must be broken. Though short, it was satisfactory. It assured me that Miss King,—though she could be persecuted—could not be crushed.
About the same time that I received the above note from Miss King, I also received the following from Rev. Timothy Stowe, of Peterboro', New York. How much I valued this friendly epistle coming, as it did, from one of the most devoted Christians in America, it is not possible for me to say:—
"Peterboro', February 8th, 1853.
"Dear Brother Allen:—
"I see by the papers, that you have been shamefully mobbed at Fulton. I write to let you know that there are some in the world who will not join the multitude who are trying to overwhelm you with prejudice.
* * * * *
"Now do not be cast down. You, I trust, are not the man to cower at such a moment. Do not be afraid to stand up your whole length in defence of your own rights.
"Come and visit us without delay. Consider my house your home while here.
"Brother Smith sends you his love. Brother Remington wishes me to say that you have his confidence, and that he is your friend.
"Yours with kindest regards, "TIMOTHY STOWE."
BRIGHTENING UP.—GRAND RESULT.
According to the intimation in the note received from Miss King dated Feb. 11th, she met me—not however as she expected on Tuesday—but, on Wednesday of next week in Syracuse: and at the house of a friend whose memory we hold in the highest reverence.
The interview, as the parents and relatives of Miss King understood it, was to be held to the intent that Miss King might then and there in person, and by "word" more effectually than she could possibly do by writing, absolve herself from all engagement, obligation or intention whatsoever to marry me—now, hereafter, or evermore. This was their construction of the matter, and it was in the light of this construction that they essayed to grant the request—the granting of which Miss King made the condition on which she proposed to yield up her sacred right.
That the King family—determined as they were, law or no law, justice or no justice, Christianity or no Christianity; in short, at all events and all hazards, to prevent our union—should have granted this interview to Miss King convicts them of as great imbecility and folly as was their persecution of their victim. But so it is, the innocent shall not only not be cut down, but they who practice unrighteousness shall themselves be overtaken.
But to the interview. I should be glad to describe my feelings on first meeting Miss King after she had passed through that fiery furnace of affliction. But I desist. The "engagement," I have already said, displayed a moral heroism which no one can comprehend who has not been in America, but the passage through was more than sublime.
She related to me the events of the two preceding weeks as she had known them to transpire in her own family, and as she had heard of them as transpiring in the village. I cannot write the details. It chills my blood to think of them. The various letters published in this narrative will suffice to give the reader some idea of things as they were; while the hundreds of things which cannot be written and which, because of their littleness are the more faithful exponents of meanness, must be left to the reader to imagine as best he can. I say as best he can, since no Englishman can imagine the thing precisely as it was.
She was reviled, upbraided, ridiculed, tormented; and by some, efforts were made to bribe her into the selling of her conscience. What the vilest and most vulgar prejudices could suggest were hurled at both our devoted heads. Letters were not permitted to be received or sent without their being first inspected by the parents. And finally she was imprisoned after the manner set forth in the letter of Mr. Porter. So rigid was the surveillance that her sister was also put under the same "regimen," because her sympathies were with the persecuted and not the persecutors.
When we met, therefore, we were not long in determining what was our duty. And now, Reader, what would you have done? Just what we did—no doubt. Made up your mind to have sacrificed nothing upon the altar of a vulgar prejudice. Such was the nature of the demand—would it not have been base to have yielded?
We concluded that now, more than ever, we would obey our heart's convictions, though all the world should oppose us; that, come what would, we would stand by each other, looking to Heaven to bless us, and not to man, for either smiles or favor.
We were resolved, but there was a difficulty yet. Determined to exercise our God-given rights, we were still overpowered by the physical force of the whole community. An open declaration by either party of our resolve would have been not less than consummate madness. To exercise our rights, therefore, not as we would but as we could, was the only hope left us.
We resolved to marry and flee the Country. Miss King returned to Fulton; after remaining there a week or ten days she went to Pennsylvania ostensibly to teach in a school. We corresponded by means of a third person; and my arrangements being made, we met in New York City, on March 30th, according to appointment; were married immediately and left for Boston. In Boston, we remained ten days, keeping as quiet as possible, in the family of a beloved friend, and on the 9th of April, took passage for Liverpool.
Since our arrival in this Country, we have received several American papers. The following Article is from one of the Western New York papers, which is but a specimen of the articles published by all the pro-slavery papers throughout the land on the announcement of the marriage, shows that the flight to England completed the victory. To have remained to be killed would have been fun to be relished. But public sentiment abroad—ah, that is another thing, and not so pleasant to be thought of:—
"PROF. ALLEN IS MARRIED"
"MARRIED.—In New York city, March 30th, by Rev. Thomas Henson, Professor WILLIAM G. ALLEN, of Mc. Grawville, N. Y., and Miss MARY E. KING, of Fulton, N. Y., daughter of Rev. Lyndon King, of Fulton.
"We expected as much. We were liberally abused for our discountenance of this marriage, and charged with wilfully falsifying facts, because we insisted that this affair was in contemplation, and would yet go off. Prof. Allen denied it, and others thought that they had the most positive assurance from his statements that the amalgamation wedding was a fiction. But now, after he and his white brethren have liberally impugned our motives, charged falsehood upon us, and made solemn asseverations designed to make the public believe that no such thing was in contemplation, in two brief months, the thing is consummated, with all the formality of a religious observance, and this unholy amalgamation is perpetrated before high Heaven and asserted among men.
"Prof. ALLEN and his fair bride are now in Europe. It is well they should emigrate, to show admiring foreigners the beauties of American abolitionism. Let them attend the receptions of the Duchess of Sutherland, the soirees of English agitators, and the orgies of Exeter Hall. Let GEO. THOMPSON introduce them as the first fruits of his philanthropic labors in America. Let them travel among the starveling English operatives, who would gladly accept slavery if assured of a peck of corn each week; let them wander among European serfs, whose life, labor, and virtue are the sport of despots, compared to whom the crudest slave driver is an angel—and there proclaim their 'holy alliance.' If the victims of English and Continental tyranny do not turn their backs, disgusted with the foul connection, their degradation must be infinitely greater than we had supposed."
* * * * *
But to return to the story: Soon after the "interview" between Miss King and myself, I received the following note from Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe—the renowned Authoress of "Uncle Tom's Cabin." A "divine-hearted woman," this, as Horace Mann hath rightly called her, and more precious than rubies to me is her kind and Christian epistle:—
Andover, Massachusetts, February 21st, 1853.
"Professor Allen,— "Dear Sir:—
"I have just read with indignation and sorrow your letter in the Liberator (copied from the Syracuse Standard). I had hoped that the day for such outrages had gone by. I trust that you will be enabled to preserve a patient and forgiving spirit under this exhibition of vulgar and unchristian prejudice. Its day is short.
"Please accept the accompanying volume as a mark of friendly remembrance from,—
"H. B. STOWE."
* * * * *
Just before Miss K. left Fulton for Pennsylvania, she received the following letter from the Rev. Timothy Stowe—the gentleman to whom reference has already been made. He is not related to Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe, but is nevertheless of royal race:—
"Peterboro', New York, March 1st, 1853.
"Miss Mary E. King,— "Dear Friend:—
"You will not be offended that I should address you by this title, though I never saw you, to my recollection, until last July at Mc. Grawville; I then felt an interest in your welfare—an interest which has been deepened by your recent insults and trials. I am not one of those who can censure you for your attachment and engagement to Professor Allen. He is a man—a noble man—a whole man; a man, in fine, of whom no woman need be ashamed. I am aware, you are aware, that the world will severely condemn you; so it did Luther, when he married a nun; it was then thought to be as great an outrage on decency, for a minister to marry a nun, as it now is for a white young lady to marry a colored gentleman. You have this consolation, that God does not look upon the countenance—the color of men; that in his eye, black and white are the same; and consequently, to marry a colored person of intelligence and worth is no immorality, and in his eye, no impropriety. It is probably the design of Providence in this case, to call the attention of the public to the fresh consideration of what is implied in the great doctrine of human brotherhood. Is it true or not, that a colored man has all the rights of a white man? Is this a question still mooted among Abolitionists? If so, then we may as well settle it now as at any other time, and though the controversy may be, and must be a very painful one to your feelings, yet, the result will be a better understanding of the great principles of our common nature and brotherhood. Professor Allen is with me in my study, and has detailed to me the whole of this outrage against yourself and him, and has also made me acquainted with your relations to each other. I extend to you my sympathy, I proffer to you my friendship. You have not fallen in my estimation, nor in the estimation of Mr. Smith and others in this place. Lay not this matter to heart, be not cast down; put your trust in God, and he will bring you out of this crucible seven times purified. He in mercy designs to promote your spiritual growth and consolation. Keep the Saviour in your heart. My good wife sympathises with you. We would be glad to see you at our humble home, either before or after your marriage. We would try to comfort you; we would bear your burdens, and so 'fulfil the law of Christ.'