WILLIAM LLOYD GARRISON
BY ARCHIBALD H. GRIMKE, M.A.
Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data
Grimke, Archibald Henry, 1849-1930.
William Lloyd Garrison, the abolitionist.
Reprint of the 1891 ed. published by Funk & Wagnalls, New York.
1. Garrison, William Lloyd, 1805-1879.
Reprinted from the edition of 1891, New York First AMS edition published in 1974
To Mrs. Anna M. Day, who has been a mother to my little girl, and a sister to me, this book is gratefully and affectionately dedicated, by
The author of this volume desires by way of preface to say just two things:—firstly, that it is his earnest hope that this record of a hero may be an aid to brave and true living in the Republic, so that the problems knocking at its door for solution may find the heads, the hands, and the hearts equal to the performance of the duties imposed by them upon the men and women of this generation. William Lloyd Garrison was brave and true. Bravery and truth were the secret of his marvelous career and achievements. May his countrymen and countrywomen imitate his example and be brave and true, not alone in emergent moments, but in everyday things as well.
So much for the author's firstly, now for his secondly, which is to acknowledge his large indebtedness in the preparation of this book to that storehouse of anti-slavery material, the story of the life of William Lloyd Garrison by his children. Out of its garnered riches he has filled his sack.
HYDE PARK, MASS., May 10, 1891.
The Father of the Man 11
The Man Hears a Voice: Samuel, Samuel! 38
The Man Begins his Ministry 69
The Hour and the Man 92
The Day of Small Things 110
The Heavy World is Moved 118
Master Strokes 133
Agitation and Repression 170
Between the Acts 192
Mischief Let Loose 208
Flotsam and Jetsam 233
The Barometer Continues to Fall 242
Brotherly Love Fails, and Ideas Abound 263
Random Shots 292
The Pioneer Makes a New and Startling Departure 306
As in a Looking Glass 319
The Turning of a Long Lane 335
Face to Face 356
The Death-Grapple 370
The Last 385
WILLIAM LLOYD GARRISON.
THE FATHER OF THE MAN.
William Lloyd Garrison was born in Newburyport, Massachusetts, December 10, 1805. Forty years before, Daniel Palmer, his great-grandfather, emigrated from Massachusetts and settled with three sons and a daughter on the St. John River, in Nova Scotia. The daughter's name was Mary, and it was she who was to be the future grandmother of our hero. One of the neighbors of Daniel Palmer was Joseph Garrison, who was probably an Englishman. He was certainly a bachelor. The Acadian solitude of five hundred acres and Mary Palmer's charms proved too much for the susceptible heart of Joseph Garrison. He wooed and won her, and on his thirtieth birthday she became his wife. The bride herself was but twenty-three, a woman of resources and of presence of mind, as she needed to be in that primitive settlement. Children and cares came apace to the young wife, and we may be sure confined her more and more closely to her house. But in the midst of a fast-increasing family and of multiplying cares a day's outing did occasionally come to the busy housewife, when she would go down the river to spend it at her father's farm. Once, ten years after her marriage, she had a narrow escape on one of those rare days. She had started in a boat with her youngest child, Abijah, and a lad who worked in her household. It was spring and the St. John was not yet clear of ice. Higher up the river the ice broke that morning and came floating down with the current. The boat in which Mary Garrison and her baby rode was overtaken by the fragments and wrecked. The mother with her child sought refuge on a piece of ice and was driven shoreward. Wrapping Abijah in all the clothes she could spare she threw him ashore. She and the lad followed by the aid of an overhanging willow bough. The baby was unharmed, for she had thrown him into a snow-bank. But the perils of the river gave place to the perils of the woods. In them Mary Garrison wandered with her infant, who was no less a personage than the father of William Lloyd Garrison, until at length she found the hut of a friendly Indian, who took her in and "entertained her with his best words and deeds, and the next morning conducted her safely to her father's."
The Palmers were a hardy, liberty-loving race of farmers, and Joseph Garrison was a man of unusual force and independence of character. The life which these early settlers lived was a life lived partly on the land and partly on the river. They were equally at home with scythe or oar. Amid such terraqueous conditions it was natural enough that the children should develop a passion for the sea. Like ducks many of them took to the water and became sailors. Abijah was a sailor. The amphibious habits of boyhood gave to his manhood a restless, roving character. Like the element which he loved he was in constant motion. He was a man of gifts both of mind and body. There was besides a strain of romance and adventure in his blood. By nature and his seafaring life he probably craved strong excitement. This craving was in part appeased no doubt by travel and drink. He took to the sea and he took to the cup. But he was more than a creature of appetites, he was a man of sentiment. Being a man of sentiment what should he do but fall in love. The woman who inspired his love was no ordinary woman, but a genuine Acadian beauty. She was a splendid specimen of womankind. Tall she was, graceful and admirably proportioned. Never before had Abijah in all his wanderings seen a creature of such charms of person. Her face matched the attractions of her form and her mind matched the beauty of her face. She possessed a nature almost Puritanic in its abhorrence of sin, and in the strength of its moral convictions. She feared to do wrong more than she feared any man. With this supremacy of the moral sense there went along singular firmness of purpose and independence of character. When a mere slip of a girl she was called upon to choose between regard for her religious convictions and regard for her family. It happened in this wise. Fanny Lloyd's parents were Episcopalians, who were inclined to view with contempt fellow-Christians of the Baptist persuasion. To have a child of theirs identify herself with this despised sect was one of those crosses which they could not and would not bear. But Fanny had in a fit of girlish frolic entered one of the meetings of these low-caste Christians. What she heard changed the current of her life. She knew thenceforth that God was no respecter of persons, and that the crucified Nazarene looked not upon the splendor of ceremonies but upon the thoughts of the heart of His disciples. Here in a barn, amid vulgar folk, and uncouth, dim surroundings, He had appeared, He, her Lord and Master. He had touched her with that white unspeakable appeal. The laughter died upon the fair girlish face and prayer issued from the beautiful lips. If vulgar folk, the despised Baptists, were good enough for the Christ, were they not good enough for her? Among them she had felt His consecrating touch and among them she determined to devote herself to Him. Her parents commanded and threatened but Fanny Lloyd was bent on obeying the heavenly voice of duty rather than father and mother. They had threatened that if she allowed herself to be baptised they would turn her out of doors. Fanny was baptised and her parents made good the threat. Their home was no longer her home. She had the courage of her conviction—ability to suffer for a belief.
Such was the woman who subsequently became the wife of Abijah Garrison, and the mother of one of the greatest moral heroes of the century. Abijah followed the sea, and she for several years with an increasing family followed Abijah. First from one place and then another she glided after him in her early married life. He loved her and his little ones but the love of travel and change was strong within him. He was ever restless and changeful. During one of his roving fits he emigrated with his family from Nova Scotia to the United States. It was in the spring of 1805 that he and they landed in Newburyport. The following December his wife presented him with a boy, whom they called William Lloyd Garrison. Three years afterward Abijah deserted his wife and children. Of the causes which led to this act nothing is now known. Soon after his arrival in Newburyport he had found employment. He made several voyages as sailing-master in 1805-8 from that port. He was apparently during these years successful after the manner of his craft. But he was not a man to remain long in one place. What was the immediate occasion of his strange behavior we can only conjecture. Possibly an increasing love for liquor had led to domestic differences, which his pleasure-loving nature would not brook. Certain it was that he was not like his wife. He was not a man in whom the moral sense was uppermost. He was governed by impulse and she by fixed moral and religious principles. He drank and she abhorred the habit. She tried first moral suasion to induce him to abandon the habit, and once, in a moment of wifely and motherly indignation, she broke up one of his drinking parties in her house by trying the efficacy of a little physical suasion. She turned the company out of doors and smashed the bottles of liquor. This was not the kind of woman whom Abijah cared to live with as a wife. He was not the sort of man whom the most romantic love could attach to the apron-strings of any woman. And in the matter of his cup he probably saw that this was what he would be obliged to do as the condition of domestic peace. The condition he rejected and, rejecting it, rejected and cast-off his wife and family and the legal and moral responsibilities of husband and father.
Bitter days now followed and Fanny Garrison became acquainted with grief and want. She had the mouths of three children to fill—the youngest an infant at her breast. The battle of this broken-hearted woman for their daily bread was as heroic as it was pathetic. She still lived in the little house on School street where Lloyd was born. The owner, Martha Farnham, proved herself a friend indeed to the poor harassed soul. Now she kept the wolf from the door by going out as a monthly nurse—"Aunt Farnham" looking after the little ones in her absence. She was put to all her possibles during those anxious years of struggle and want. Even Lloyd, wee bit of a boy, was pressed into the service. She would make molasses candies and send him upon the streets to sell them. But with all her industry and resource what could she do with three children weighing her down in the fierce struggle for existence, rendered tenfold fiercer after the industrial crisis preceding and following the War of 1812. Then it was that she was forced to supplement her scant earnings with refuse food from the table of "a certain mansion on State street." It was Lloyd who went for this food, and it was he who had to run the gauntlet of mischievous and inquisitive children whom he met and who longed for a peep into his tin pail. But the future apostle of non-resistance was intensely resistant, we may be sure, on such occasions. For, as his children have said in the story of his life: "Lloyd was a thorough boy, fond of games and of all boyish sport. Barefooted, he trundled his hoop all over Newburyport; he swam in the Merrimac in summer, and skated on it in winter; he was good at sculling a boat; he played at bat and ball and snowball, and sometimes led the 'Southend boys' against the Northenders in the numerous conflicts between the youngsters of the two sections; he was expert with marbles. Once, with a playmate, he swam across the river to 'Great Rock,' a distance of three-fourths of a mile and effected his return against the tide; and once, in winter, he nearly lost his life by breaking through the ice on the river and reached the shore only after a desperate struggle, the ice yielding as often as he attempted to climb upon its surface. It was favorite pastime of the boys of that day to swim from one wharf to another adjacent, where vessels from the West Indies discharged their freight of molasses, and there to indulge in stolen sweetness, extracted by a smooth stick inserted through the bung-hole. When detected and chased, they would plunge into the water and escape to the wharf on which they had left their clothes." Such was the little man with a boy's irrepressible passion for frolic and fun. His passion for music was hardly less pronounced, and this he inherited from his mother, and exercised to his heart's content in the choir of the Baptist Church. These were the bright lines and spots in his strenuous young life. He played and sang the gathering brood of cares out of his own and his mother's heart. He needed to play and he needed to sing to charm away from his spirit the vulture of poverty. That evil bird hovered ever over his childhood. It was able to do many hard things to him, break up his home, sunder him from his mother, force him at a tender age to earn his bread, still there was another bird in the boy's heart, which sang out of it the shadow and into it the sunshine. Whatever was his lot there sang the bird within his breast, and there shone the sun over his head and into his soul. The boy had unconsciously drawn around him a circle of sunbeams, and how could the vulture of poverty strike him with its wings or stab him with its beak. When he was about eight he was parted from his mother, she going to Lynn, and he, wee mite of a man, remaining in Newburyport. It was during the War of 1812, and pinching times, when Fanny Garrison was at her wit's end to keep the wolf from devouring her three little ones and herself into the bargain. With what tearing of the heart-strings she left Lloyd and his little sister Elizabeth behind we can now only imagine. She had no choice, poor soul, for unless she toiled they would starve. So with James, her eldest son, she went forth into the world to better theirs and her own condition. Lloyd went to live in Deacon Ezekiel Bartlett's family. They were good to the little fellow, but they, too, were poor. The Deacon, among other things, sawed wood for a living, and Lloyd hardly turned eight years, followed him in his peregrinations from house to house doing with his tiny hands what he could to help the kind old man. Soon Fanny Lloyd's health, which had supported her as a magic staff in all those bitter years since Abijah's desertion of wife and children, began in the battle for bread in Lynn, to fail her. And so, in her weakness, and with a great fear in her heart for her babies, when she was gone from them into the dark unknown forever, she bethought her of making them as fast as possible self-supporting. And what better way was there than to have the boys learn some trade. James she had already apprenticed to learn the mystery of shoemaking. And for Lloyd she now sent and apprenticed him, too, to the same trade. Oh! but it was hard for the little man, the heavy lapstone and all this thumping and pounding to make a shoe. Oh! how the stiff waxen threads cut into his soft fingers, how all his body ached with the constrained position and the rough work of shoemaking. But one day the little nine-year-old, who was "not much bigger than a last," was able to produce a real shoe. Then it was probably that a dawning consciousness of power awoke within the child's mind. He himself by patience and industry had created a something where before was nothing. The eye of the boy got for the first time a glimpse of the man, who was still afar off, shadowy in the dim approaches of the hereafter. But the work proved altogether beyond the strength of the boy. The shoemaker's bench was not his place, and the making of shoes for his kind was not the mission for which he was sent into the world. And now again poverty, the great scene-shifter, steps upon the stage, and Fanny Lloyd and her two boys are in Baltimore on that never-ending quest for bread. She had gone to work in a shoe factory established by an enterprising Yankee in that city. The work lasted but a few months, when the proprietor failed and the factory was closed. In a strange city mother and children were left without employment. In her anxiety and distress a new trouble, the greatest and most poignant since Abijah's desertion, wrung her with a supreme grief. James, the light and pride of her life, had run away from his master and gone to sea. Lloyd, poor little homesick Lloyd, was the only consolation left the broken heart. And he did not want to live in Baltimore, and longed to return to Newburyport. So, mindful of her child's happiness, and all unmindful of her own, she sent him from her to Newburyport, which he loved inexpressibly. He was now in his eleventh year. Very happy he was to see once more the streets and landmarks of the old town—the river, and the old house where he was born, and the church next door and the school-house across the way and the dear friends whom he loved and who loved him. He went again to live with the Bartletts, doing with his might all that he could to earn his daily bread, and to repay the kindness of the dear old deacon and his family. It was at this time that he received his last scrap of schooling. He was, as we have seen, but eleven, but precious little of that brief and tender time had he been able to spend in a school-house. He had gone to the primary school, where, as his children tell us, he did not show himself "an apt scholar, being slow in mastering the alphabet, and surpassed even by his little sister Elizabeth." During his stay with Deacon Bartlett the first time, he was sent three months to the grammar-school, and now on his return to this good friend, a few more weeks were added to his scant school term. They proved the last of his school-days, and the boy went forth from the little brick building on the Mall to finish his education in the great workaday world, under those stern old masters, poverty and experience. By and by Lloyd was a second time apprenticed to learn a trade. It was to a cabinetmaker in Haverhill, Mass. He made good progress in the craft, but his young heart still turned to Newburyport and yearned for the friends left there. He bore up against the homesickness as best he could, and when he could bear it no longer, resolved to run away from the making of toy bureaus, to be once more with the Bartletts. He had partly executed this resolution, being several miles on the road to his old home, when his master, the cabinetmaker, caught up to him and returned him to Haverhill. But when he heard the little fellow's story of homesickness and yearning for loved places and faces, he was not angry with him, but did presently release him from his apprenticeship. And so the boy to his great joy found himself again in Newburyport and with the good old wood-sawyer. Poverty and experience were teaching the child what he never could have learned in a grammar-school, a certain acquaintance with himself and the world around him. There was growing within his breast a self-care and a self-reliance. It was the autumn of 1818, when, so to speak, the boy's primary education in the school of experience terminated, and he entered on the second stage of his training under the same rough tutelage. At the age of thirteen he entered the office of the Newburyport Herald to learn to set types. At last his boy's hands had found work which his boy's heart did joy to have done. He soon mastered the compositor's art, became a remarkably rapid composer. As he set up the thoughts of others, he was not slow in discovering thoughts of his own demanding utterance. The printer's apprentice felt the stirrings of a new life. A passion for self-improvement took possession of him. He began to read the English classics, study American history, follow the currents of party politics. No longer could it be said of him that he was not an apt pupil. He was indeed singularly apt. His intelligence quickened marvelously. The maturing process was sudden and swift. Almost before one knows it the boy in years has become a man in judgment and character. This precipitate development of the intellectual life in him, produced naturally enough an appreciable enlargement of the ego. The young eagle had abruptly awakened to the knowledge that he possessed wings; and wings were for use—to soar with. Ambition, the desire to mount aloft, touched and fired the boy's mind. As he read, studied, and observed, while his hands were busy with his work, there was a constant fluttering going on in the eyrie of his thoughts. By an instinct analogous to that which sends a duck to the water, the boy took to the discussion of public questions. It was as if an innate force was directing him toward his mission—the reformation of great public wrongs. At sixteen he made his first contribution to the press. It was a discussion of a quasi-social subject, the relation of the sexes in society. He was at the impressionable age, when the rosy god of love is at his tricks. He was also at a stage of development, when boys are least attractive, when they are disagreeably virile, full of their own importance and the superiority of their sex. In the "Breach of the Marriage Promise," by "An Old Bachelor," these signs of adolescence are by no means wanting, they are, on the contrary, distinctly present and palpable. But there were other signs besides these, signs that the youth had had his eyes wide open to certain difficulties which beset the matrimonial state and to the conventional steps which lead to it, and that he had thought quite soberly, if not altogether wisely upon them. The writer was verdant, to be sure, and self-conscious, and partial in his view of the relations of the sexes, but there was withal a serious purpose in the writing. He meant to expose and correct what he conceived to be reprehensible conduct on the part of the gentler sex, bad feminine manners. Just now he sees the man's side of the shield, a few years later he will see the woman's side also. He ungallantly concludes "to lead the 'single life,' and not," as he puts it, "trouble myself about the ladies." A most sapient conclusion, considering that this veteran misogynist was but sixteen years old. During the year following the publication of this article, he plied his pen with no little industry—producing in all fifteen articles on a variety of topics, such as "South American Affairs," "State Politics," "A Glance at Europe," etc., all of which are interesting now chiefly as showing the range of his growing intelligence, and as the earliest steps by which he acquired his later mastery of the pen and powerful style of composition. In a letter addressed to his mother about this time, the boy is full of Lloyd, undisguisedly proud of Lloyd, believes in Lloyd. "When I peruse them over" (i.e. those fifteen communications to the press), "I feel absolutely astonished," he naively confesses, "at the different subjects which I have discussed, and the style in which they are written. Indeed it is altogether a matter of surprise that I have met with such signal success, seeing I do not understand one single rule of grammar, and having a very inferior education." The printer's lad was plainly not lacking in the bump of approbativeness, or the quality of self-assertiveness. The quick mother instinct of Fanny Garrison took alarm at the tone of her boy's letter. Possibly there was something in Lloyd's florid sentences, in his facility of expression, which reminded her of Abijah. He, too, poor fellow, had had gifts in the use of the pen, and what had he done, what had he come to? Had he not forsaken wife and children by first forsaking the path of holiness? So she pricks the boy's bubble, and points him to the one thing needful—God in the soul. But in her closing words she betrays what we all along suspected, her own secret pleasure in her son's success, when she asks, "Will you be so kind as to bring on your pieces that you have written for me to see?" Ah! was she not every inch a mother, and how Lloyd did love her. But she was no longer what she had been. And no wonder, for few women have been called to endure such heavy burdens, fight so hopelessly the battle for bread, all the while her heart was breaking with grief. Disease had made terrible inroads upon her once strong and beautiful person. Not the shadow of the strength and beauty of her young womanhood remained. She was far away from her early home and friends, far away from her darling boy, in Baltimore. James, her pride, was at sea, Elizabeth, a sweet little maiden of twelve, had left her to take that last voyage beyond another sea, and Abijah, without one word of farewell, with the silence of long years unbroken, he, too, also! had hoisted sail and was gone forever. And now in her loneliness and sorrow, knowing that she, too, must shortly follow, a great yearning rose up in her poor wounded heart to see once more her child, the comfort and stay of her bitter life. And as she had written to him her wish and longing, the boy went to her, saw the striking change, saw that the broken spirit of the saintly woman was day by day nearing the margin of the dark hereafter, into whose healing waters it would bathe and be whole again. The unspeakable experience of mother and son, during this last meeting is not for you and me, reader, to look into. Soon after Lloyd's return to Newburyport a cancerous tumor developed on her shoulder, from the effects of which she died September 3, 1823, at the age of forty-five. More than a decade after her death her son wrote: "She has been dead almost eleven years; but my grief at her loss is as fresh and poignant now as it was at that period;" and he breaks out in praise of her personal charms in the following original lines:
"She was the masterpiece of womankind— In shape and height majestically fine; Her cheeks the lily and the rose combined; Her lips—more opulently red than wine; Her raven locks hung tastefully entwined; Her aspect fair as Nature could design; And then her eyes! so eloquently bright! An eagle would recoil before her light."
The influence of this superb woman was a lasting power for truth and righteousness in the son's stormy life. For a whole year after her death, the grief of the printer's lad over his loss, seemed to have checked the activity of his pen. For during that period nothing of his appeared in the Herald. But after the sharp edge of his sorrow had worn off, his pen became active again in the discussion of public men and public questions. It was a period of bitter personal and political feuds and animosities. The ancient Federal party was in articulo mortis. The death-bed of a great political organization proves oftentimes the graveyard of lifelong friendships. For it is a scene of crimination and recrimination. And so it happened that the partisans of John Adams, and the partisans of John Adams's old Secretary of State, Timothy Pickering, were in 1824 doing a thriving business in this particular line. Into this funereal performance our printer's apprentice entered with pick and spade. He had thus early a penchant for controversy, a soldier's scent for battle. If there was any fighting going on he proceeded directly to have a hand in it. And it cannot be denied that that hand was beginning to deal some manly and sturdy blows, whose resound was heard quite distinctly beyond the limits of his birthplace. His communications appeared now, not only in the Herald, but in the Salem Gazette as well. Now it was the Adams-Pickering controversy, now the discussion of General Jackson as a presidential candidate, now the state of the country in respect of parties, now the merits of "American Writers," which afforded his 'prentice hand the requisite practice in the use of the pen. He had already acquired a perfect knowledge of typesetting and the mechanical makeup of a newspaper. During his apprenticeship he took his first lesson in the art of thinking on his feet in the presence of an audience. The audience to be sure were the members of a debating club, which he had organized. He was very ambitious and was doubtless looking forward to a political career. He saw the value of extempore speech to the man with a future, and he wisely determined to possess himself of its advantage. He little dreamt, however, to what great use he was to devote it in later years. There were other points worth noting at this time, and which seemed to prophecy for him a future of distinction. He possessed a most attractive personality. His energy and geniality, his keen sense of humor, his social and bouyant disposition, even his positive and opinionated temper, were sources of popular strength to him. People were strongly drawn to him. His friends were devoted to him. He had that quality, which we vaguely term magnetic, the quality of attaching others to us, and maintaining over them the ascendency of our character and ideas.
In the midst of all this progress along so many lines, the days of his apprenticeship in the Herald office came to an end. He was just twenty. With true Yankee enterprise and pluck, he proceeded to do for himself what for seven years he had helped to do for another—publish a newspaper. And with a brave heart the boy makes his launch on the uncertain sea of local journalism and becomes editor and publisher of a real, wide-awake sheet, which he calls the Free Press. The paper was independent in politics and proved worthy of its name during the six months that Garrison sat in the managerial chair. Here is the tone which the initial number of the paper holds to the public: "As to the political course of the Free Press, it shall be, in the widest sense of the term, independent. The publisher does not mean by this, to rank amongst those who are of everybody's and of nobody's opinion; ... nor one of whom the old French proverb says: Il ne soit sur quel pied danser. [He knows not on which leg to dance.] Its principles shall be open, magnanimous and free. It shall be subservient to no party or body of men; and neither the craven fear of loss, nor the threats of the disappointed, nor the influence of power, shall ever awe one single opinion into silence. Honest and fair discussion it will court; and its columns will be open to all temperate and intelligent communications emanating from whatever political source. In fine we will say with Cicero: 'Reason shall prevail with him more than popular opinion.' They who like this avowal may extend their encouragement; and if any feel dissatisfied with it, they must act accordingly. The publisher cannot condescend to solicit their support." This was admirable enough in its way, but it was poor journalism some will say. And without doubt when judged by the common commercial standard it was poor journalism. In this view it is a remarkable production, but in another aspect it is still more remarkable in that it took with absolute accuracy the measure of the man. As a mental likeness it is simply perfect. At no time during his later life did the picture cease to be an exact moral representation of his character. It seems quite unnecessary, therefore, to record that he proceeded immediately to demonstrate that it was no high sounding and insincere declaration. For in the second number, he mentions with that singular serenity, which ever distinguished him on such occasions, the discontinuance of the paper on account of matter contained in the first issue, by ten indignant subscribers. "Nevertheless," he adds, "our happiness at the loss of such subscribers is not a whit abated. We beg no man's patronage, and shall ever erase with the same cheerfulness that we insert the name of any individual.... Personal or political offence we shall studiously avoid—truth never." Here was plainly a wholly new species of the genus homo in the editorial seat. What, expect to make a newspaper pay and not beg for patronage? Why the very idea was enough to make newspaperdom go to pieces with laughter. Begging for patronage, howling for subscribers, cringing, crawling, changing color like the chameleon, howling for Barabbas or bellowing against Jesus, all these things must your newspaper do to prosper. On them verily hang the whole law and all the profits of modern journalism. This is what the devil of competition was doing in that world when William Lloyd Garrison entered it. It took him up into an exceedingly high mountain, we may be certain, and offered him wealth, position, and power, if he would do what all others were doing. And he would not. He went on editing and publishing his paper for six months regardful only of what his reason approved—regardless always of the disapproval of others. Not once did he palter with his convictions or juggle with his self-respect for the sake of pelf or applause. His human horizon was contracted, to be sure. It could hardly be otherwise in one so young. His world was his country, and patriotism imposed limits upon his affections. "Our country, our whole country, and nothing but our country," was the ardent motto of the Free Press. The love of family comes, in the order of growth, before the love of country; and the love of country precedes the love of all mankind. "First the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear," is the great law of love in the soul as of corn in the soil. Besides this contraction of the affections, there was also manifest in his first journalistic venture a deficiency in the organ of vision, a failure to see into things and their relations. What he saw he reported faithfully, suppressing nothing, adding nothing. But the objects which passed across the disk of his editoral intelligence were confined almost entirely to the surface of things, to the superficies of national life. He had not the ken at twenty to penetrate beneath the happenings of current politics. Of the existence of slavery as a supreme reality, we do not think that he then had the faintest suspicion. No shadow of its tremendous influence as a political power seemed to have arrested for a brief instant his attention. He could copy into his paper this atrocious sentiment which Edward Everett delivered in Congress, without the slightest comment or allusion. "Sir, I am no soldier. My habits and education are very unmilitary, but there is no cause in which I would sooner buckle a knapsack on my back, and put a musket on my shoulder than that of putting down a servile insurrection at the South." The reason is plain enough. Slavery was a terra incognito to him then, a book of which he had not learned the ABC. Mr. Everett's language made no impression on him, because he had not the key to interpret its significance. What he saw, that he set down for his readers, without fear or favor. He had not seen slavery, knew nothing of the evil. Acquaintance with the deeper things of life, individual or national, comes only with increasing years, they are hardly for him who has not yet reached his majority. Slavery was the very deepest thing in the life of the nation sixty-four years ago. And if Garrison did not then so understand it, neither did his contemporaries, the wisest and greatest of them so understand it. The subject of all others which attracted his attention, and kept his editorial pen busy, was the claim of Massachusetts for indemnity from the general government, for certain disbursements made by her for the defence of her sea-coast during the war of 1812. This matter, which forms but a mere dust point in the perspective of history, his ardent young mind mistook for a principal object, erected into a permanent question in the politics of the times. But the expenditure of enormous energies upon things of secondary and of even tertiary importance, to the neglect of others of prime and lasting interest, is supremely human. He was errant where all men go astray. But the schoolmaster of the nation was abroad, and was training this young man for the work he was born to do. These six months were, therefore, not wasted, for in the university of experience he did ever prove himself an apt scholar. One lesson he had learned, which he never needed to relearn. Just what that lesson was, he tells in his valedictory to the subscribers of the Free Press, as follows: "This is a time-serving age; and he who attempts to walk uprightly or speak honestly, cannot rationally calculate upon speedy wealth or preferment." A sad lesson, to be sure, for one so young to learn so thoroughly. Perhaps some reader will say that this was cynical, the result of disappointment. But it was not cynical, neither was it the result of disappointment. It was unvarnished truth, and more's the pity, but truth it was none the less. It was one of those hard facts, which he of all men, needed to know at the threshold of his experience with the world. Such a revelation proves disastrous to the many who go down to do business in that world. Ordinary and weak and neutral moral constitutions are wrecked on this reef set in the human sea. Like a true mariner he had written it boldly on his chart. There at such and such a point in the voyage for the golden fleece, were the rocks and the soul-devouring dragons of the way. Therefore, oh! my soul, beware. What, indeed, would this argonaut of the press take in exchange for his soul? Certainly not speedy wealth nor preferment. Ah! he could not praise where he ought to reprobate; could not reprobate where praise should be the meed. He had no money and little learning, but he had a conscience and he knew that he must be true to that conscience, come to him either weal or woe. Want renders most men vulnerable, but to it, he appeared, at this early age, absolutely invulnerable. Should he and that almost omnipotent inquisitor, public opinion, ever in the future come into collision upon any principle of action, a keen student of human nature might forsee that the young recusant could never be starved into silence or conformity to popular standards. And with this stern, sad lesson treasured up in his heart, Garrison graduated from another room in the school-house of experience. All the discoveries of the young journalist were not of this grim character. He made another discovery altogether different, a real gem of its kind. The drag-net of a newspaper catches all sorts of poets and poetry, good, bad, and indifferent—oftener the bad and indifferent, rarely the good. The drag-net of the Free Press was no exception to this rule; but, one day, it fetched up from the depths of the hard commonplaces of our New England town life a genuine pearl. We will let Mr. Garrison tell the story in his own way:
"Going up-stairs to my office, one day, I observed a letter lying near the door, to my address; which, on opening, I found to contain an original piece of poetry for my paper, the Free Press. The ink was very pale, the handwriting very small; and, having at that time a horror of newspaper original poetry—which has rather increased than diminished with the lapse of time—my first impulse was to tear it in pieces, without reading it; the chances of rejection, after its perusal, being as ninety-nine to one; ... but summoning resolution to read it, I was equally surprised and gratified to find it above mediocrity, and so gave it a place in my journal.... As I was anxious to find out the writer, my post-rider, one day, divulged the secret, stating that he had dropped the letter in the manner described, and that it was written by a Quaker lad, named Whittier, who was daily at work on the shoemaker's bench, with hammer and lapstone, at East Haverhill. Jumping into a vehicle, I lost no time in driving to see the youthful rustic bard, who came into the room with shrinking diffidence, almost unable to speak, and blushing like a maiden. Giving him some words of encouragement, I addressed myself more particularly to his parents, and urged them with great earnestness to grant him every possible facility for the development of his remarkable genius."
Garrison had not only found a true poet, but a true friend as well, in the Quaker lad, John Greenleaf Whittier. The friendship which sprang up between the two was to last during the lifetime of the former. Neither of them in those days of small things could have possibly by any flight of the imagination foreseen how their two lives, moving in parallel lines, would run deep their shining furrows through one of the greatest chapters of human history. But I am anticipating, and that is a vice of which no good storyteller ought to be guilty. So, then, let me incontinently return from this excursion and pursue the even tenor of my tale.
Garrison had stepped down from his elevated position as the publisher and editor of the Free Press. He was without work, and, being penniless, it behooved him to find some means of support. With the instinct of the bright New England boy, he determined to seek his fortunes in Boston. If his honesty and independence put him at a disadvantage, as publisher and editor, in the struggle for existence, he had still his trade as a compositor to fall back upon As a journeyman printer he would earn his bread, and preserve the integrity of an upright spirit. And so without a murmur, and with cheerfulness and persistency, he hunted for weeks on the streets of Boston for a chance to set types. This hunting for a job in a strange city was discouraging enough. Twice before had he visited the place, which was to be his future home. Once when on his way to Baltimore to see his mother, and once afterward when on a sort of pleasure tramp with three companions. But the slight knowledge which he was able to obtain of the town and its inhabitants under these circumstances did not now help him, when from office to office he went in quest of something to do. After many failures and renewed searchings, he found what he was after, an opportunity to practice his trade. Business was dull, which kept our journeyman printer on the wing; first at one and then at another printing office we find him setting types for a living during the year 1827. The winning of bread was no easy matter; but he was not ashamed to work, neither was he afraid of hard work. During this year, he found time to take a hand in a little practical politics. There was in July, 1827, a caucus of the Federal party to nominate a successor to Daniel Webster in the House of Representatives. Young Garrison attended this caucus, and made havoc of its cut and dried programme, by moving the nomination of Harrison Gray Otis, instead of the candidate, a Mr. Benjamin Gorham, agreed upon by the leaders. Harrison Gray Otis was one of Garrison's early and particular idols. He was, perhaps, the one Massachusetts politician whom the young Federalist had placed on a pedestal. And so on this occasion he went into the caucus with a written speech in his hat, eulogistic of his favorite. He had meant to have the speech at his tongue's end, and to get it off as if on the spur of the moment. But the speech stayed where it was put, in the speaker's hat, and failed to materialize where and when it was wanted on the speaker's tongue. As the mountain would not go to Mahomet, Mahomet like a sensible prophet went to the mountain. Our orator in imitation of this illustrious example, bowed to the inevitable and went to his mountain. Pulling his extempore remarks out of his hat, he delivered himself of them to such effect as to create quite an Otis sentiment in the meeting. This performance was, of course, a shocking offence in the eyes of those, whose plans it had disturbed. With one particular old fogy he got into something of a newspaper controversy in consequence. The "consummate assurance" of one so young fairly knocked the breath out of this Mr. Eminent Respectability; it was absolutely revolting to all his "ideas of propriety, to see a stranger, a man who never paid a tax in our city, and perhaps no where else, to possess the impudence to take the lead and nominate a candidate for the electors of Boston!" The "young gentleman of six months standing," was not a whit abashed or awed by the commotion which he had produced. That was simply a case of cause and effect. But he seemed in turn astonished at his opponent's evident ignorance of William Lloyd Garrison. "It is true," he replied, with the proud dignity of conscious power, "it is true that my acquaintance in this city is limited. I have sought none. Let me assure him, however, that if my life be spared, my name shall one day be known to the world—at least to such extent that common inquiry shall be unnecessary. This, I know will be deemed excessive vanity—but time shall prove it prophetic." To the charge of youth he makes this stinging rejoinder, which evinces the progress he was making in the tournament of language: "The little, paltry sneers at my youth by your correspondent have long since become pointless. It is the privileged abuse of old age—the hackneyed allegation of a thousand centuries—the damning crime to which all men have been subjected. I leave it to metaphysicians to determine the precise moment when wisdom and experience leap into existence, when, for the first time, the mind distinguishes truth from error, selfishness from patriotism, and passion from reason. It is sufficient for me that I am understood." This was Garrison's first experience with "gentlemen of property and standing" in Boston. It was not his last, as future chapters will abundantly show.
THE MAN HEARS A VOICE: SAMUEL, SAMUEL!
There is a moment in the life of every serious soul, when things, which were before unseen and unheard in the world around him become visible and audible. This startling moment comes to some sooner, to others later, but to all, who are not totally given up to the service of self, at sometime surely. From that moment a change passes over such an one, for more and more he hears mysterious voices, and clearer and more clear he sees apparitional forms floating up from the depths above which he kneels. Whence come they, what mean they? He leans over the abyss, and lo! the sounds to which he hearkens are the voices of human weeping and the forms at which he gazes are the apparitions of human woe; they beckon to him, and the voices beseech him in multitudinous accent and heart-break: "Come over, come down, oh! friend and brother, and help us." Then he straightway puts away the things and the thoughts of the past and girding himself with the things, and the thoughts of the divine OUGHT and the almighty MUST, he goes over and down to the rescue.
Such an epochal first moment came to William Lloyd Garrison in the streets of Boston. Amid the hard struggle for bread he heard the abysmal voices, saw the gaunt forms of misery. He was a constant witness of the ravages of the demon of drink—saw how strong men succumbed, and weak ones turned to brutes in its clutch. And were they not his brothers, the strong men and the weak ones alike? And how could he, their keeper, see them desperately beset and not fly to their help? Ah! he could not and did not walk by on the other side, but, stripling though he was, rushed to do battle with the giant vice, which was slaying the souls and the bodies of his fellow citizens. Rum during the three first decades of the present century was, like death, no respecter of persons, entering with equal freedom the homes of the rich, and the hovels of the poor. It was in universal demand by all classes and conditions of men. No occasion was esteemed too sacred for its presence and use. It was an honored guest at a wedding, a christening, or a funeral. The minister whose hands were laid in baptismal blessing on babes, or raised in the holy sacrament of love over brides, lifted also the glass; and the selfsame lips which had spoken the last words over the dead, drank and made merry presently afterward among the decanters on the side-board. It mattered not for what the building was intended—whether for church, school, or parsonage, rum was the grand master of ceremonies, the indispensable celebrant at the various stages of its completion. The party who dug the parson out after a snow-storm, verily got their reward, a sort of prelibation of the visionary sweets of that land, flowing not, according to the Jewish notion, with milk and honey, but according to the revised version of Yankeedom, with milk and rum. Rum was, forsooth, a very decent devil, if judged by the exalted character of the company it kept. It stood high on the rungs of the social ladder and pulled and pushed men from it by thousands to wretchedness and ruin. So flagrant and universal was the drinking customs of Boston then that dealers offered on the commons during holidays, without let or hindrance, the drunkard's glass to the crowds thronging by extemporized booths and bars. Shocking as was the excesses of this period "nothing comparatively was heard on the subject of intemperance—it was seldom a theme for the essayist—the newspapers scarcely acknowledged its existence, excepting occasionally in connection with some catastrophes or crimes—the Christian and patriot, while they perceived its ravages, formed no plans for its overthrow—and it did not occur to any that a paper devoted mainly to its suppression, might be made a direct and successful engine in the great work of reform. Private expostulations and individual confessions were indeed sometimes made; but no systematic efforts were adopted to give precision to the views or a bias to the sentiments of the people." Such was the state of public morals and the state of public sentiment up to the year 1826, when there occurred a change. This change was brought about chiefly through the instrumentality of a Baptist city missionary, the Rev. William Collier. His labors among the poor of Boston had doubtless revealed to him the bestial character of intemperance, and the necessity of doing something to check and put an end to the havoc it was working. With this design he established the National Philanthropist in Boston, March 4, 1826. The editor was one of Garrison's earliest acquaintances in the city. Garrison went after awhile to board with him, and still later entered the office of the Philanthropist as a type-setter. The printer of the paper, Nathaniel H. White and young Garrison, occupied the same room at Mr. Collier's. And so almost before our hero was aware, he had launched his bark upon the sea of the temperance reform. Presently, when the founder of the paper retired, it seemed the most natural thing in the world, that the young journeyman printer, with his editorial experience and ability, should succeed him as editor. His room-mate, White, bought the Philanthropist, and in April 1828, formally installed Garrison into its editorship. Into this new work he carried all his moral earnestness and enthusiasm of purpose. The paper grew under his hand in size, typographical appearance, and in editorial force and capacity. It was a wide-awake sentinel on the wall of society; and week after week its columns bristled and flashed with apposite facts, telling arguments, shrewd suggestions, cogent appeals to the community to destroy the accursed thing. No better education could he have had as the preparation for his life work. He began to understand then the strength of deep-seated public evils, to acquaint himself with the methods and instruments with which to attack them. The Philanthropist was a sort of forerunner, so far as the training in intelligent and effective agitation was concerned, of the Genius of Universal Emancipation and of the Liberator. One cannot read his sketch of the progress made by the temperance reform, from which I have already quoted, and published by him in the Philanthropist in April, 1828, without being struck by the strong similitude of the temperance to the anti-slavery movement in their beginnings. "When this paper was first proposed," the young temperance editor records, "it met with a repulsion which would have utterly discouraged a less zealous and persevering man than our predecessor. The moralist looked on doubtfully—the whole community esteemed the enterprise desperate. Mountains of prejudice, overtopping the Alps, were to be beaten down to a level—strong interest, connected by a thousand links, severed—new habits formed; Every house, and almost every individual, in a greater or less degree, reclaimed. Derision and contumely were busy in crushing this sublime project in its birth—coldness and apathy encompassed it on every side—but our predecessor, nevertheless, went boldly forward with a giant's strength and more than a giant's heart—conscious of difficulties and perils, though not disheartened, armed with the weapons of truth—full of meekness, yet certain of a splendid victory—and relying on the promises of God for the issue." What an inestimable object-lesson to Garrison was the example of this good man going forth singlehanded to do battle with one of the greatest evils of the age! It was not numerical strength, but the faith of one earnest soul that is able in the world of ideas and human passions to remove mountains out of the way of the onward march of mankind. This truth, we may be sure, sunk many fathoms deep into the mind of the young moralist. And no wonder. For the results of two years agitation and seed sowing were of the most astonishing character. "The change which has taken place in public sentiment," he continues, "is indeed remarkable ... incorporated as intemperance was, and still is, into our very existence as a people.... A regenerating spirit is everywhere seen; a strong impulse to action has been given, which, beginning in the breasts of a few individuals, and then affecting villages, and cities, and finally whole States, has rolled onward triumphantly through the remotest sections of the republic. As union and example are the levers adopted to remove this gigantic vice, temperance societies have been rapidly multiplied, many on the principle of entire abstinence, and others making it a duty to abstain from encouraging the distillation and consumption of spirituous liquors. Expressions of the deep abhorrence and sympathy which are felt in regard to the awful prevalence of drunkenness are constantly emanating from legislative bodies down to various religious conventions, medical associations, grand juries, etc., etc. But nothing has more clearly evinced the strength of this excitement than the general interest taken in this subject by the conductors of the press. From Maine to the Mississippi, and as far as printing has penetrated—even among the Cherokee Indians—but one sentiment seems to pervade the public papers, viz., the necessity of strenuous exertion for the suppression of intemperance." Such a demonstration of the tremendous power of a single righteous soul for good, we may be sure, exerted upon Garrison lasting influences. What a revelation it was also of the transcendent part which the press was capable of playing in the revolution of popular sentiment upon moral questions; and of the supreme service of organization as a factor in reformatory movements. The seeds sowed were faith in the convictions of one man against the opinions, the prejudices, and the practices of the multitude; and knowledge of and skill in the use of the instruments by which the individual conscience may be made to correct and renovate the moral sense of a nation. But there was another seed corn dropped at this time in his mind, and that is the immense utility of woman in the work of regenerating society. She it is who feels even more than man the effects of social vices and sins, and to her the moral reformer should strenuously appeal for aid. And this, with the instinct of genius, Garrison did in the temperance reform, nearly seventy years ago. His editorials in the Philanthropist in the year 1828 on "Female Influence" may be said to be the courier avant of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union of to-day, as they were certainly the precursors of the female anti-slavery societies of a few years later.
But now, without his knowing it, a stranger from a distant city entered Boston with a message, which was to change the whole purpose of the young editor's life. It was Benjamin Lundy, the indefatigable friend of the Southern slave, the man who carried within his breast the whole menagerie of Southern slavery. He was fresh from the city which held the dust of Fanny Garrison, who had once written to her boy in Newburyport, how the good God had cared for her in the person of a colored woman. Yes, she had written: "The ladies are all kind to me, and I have a colored woman that waits on me, that is so kind no one can tell how kind she is; and although a slave to man, yet a free-born soul, by the grace of God. Her name is Henny, and should I never see you again, and you should come where she is, remember her, for your poor mother's sake." And now, without his dreaming of it, this devoted Samaritan in black, who, perhaps, had long ago joined her dear friend in the grave, was coming to that very boy, now grown to manhood, to claim for her race what the mother had asked for her, the kind slave-woman. Not one of all those little ones of the nation but who had a home in the many-mansioned heart of Lundy. He had been an eye and ear witness of the barbarism of slavery. "My heart," he sobbed, "was deeply grieved at the gross abomination; I heard the wail of the captive; I felt his pang of distress, and the iron entered my soul." With apostolic faith and zeal he had for a decade been striving to free the captive, and to tie up his bruised spirit. Sadly, but with a great love, he had gone about the country on his self-imposed task. To do this work he had given up the business of a saddler, in which he had prospered, had sacrificed his possessions, and renounced the ease that comes with wealth; had courted unheard-of hardships, and wedded himself for better and worse to poverty and unremitting endeavor. Nothing did he esteem too dear to relinquish for the slave. Neither wife nor children did he withhold. Neither the summer's heat nor the winter's cold was able to daunt him or turn him from his object. Though diminutive and delicate of body, no distance or difficulty of travel was ever able to deter him from doing what his humanity had bidden him do. From place to place, through nineteen States, he had traveled, sowing as he went the seeds of his holy purpose, and watering them with his life's blood. Not Livingstone nor Stanley on the dark continent exceeded in sheer physical exertion and endurance the labors of this wonderful man. He belongs in the category of great explorers, only the irresistible passion and purpose, which pushed him forward, had humanity, not geography, as their goal. Where, in the lives of either Stanley or Livingstone do we find a record of more astonishing activity and achievement than what is contained in these sentences, written by Garrison of Lundy, in the winter of 1828? "Within a few months he has traveled about twenty-four hundred miles, of which upwards of nineteen hundred were performed on foot! during which time he has held nearly fifty public meetings. Rivers and mountains vanish in his path; midnight finds him wending his solitary way over an unfrequented road; the sun is anticipated in his rising. Never was moral sublimity of character better illustrated." Such was the marvelous man, whose visit to Boston, in the month of March, of the year 1828, dates the beginning of a new epoch in the history of America. The event of that year was not the "Bill of Abominations," great as was the national excitement which it produced; nor was it yet the then impending political struggle between Jackson and Adams, but the unnoticed meeting of Lundy and Garrison. Great historic movements are born not in the whirlwinds, the earthquakes, and the pomps of human splendor and power, but in the agonies and enthusiasms of grand, heroic spirits. Up to this time Garrison had had, as the religious revivalist would say, no "realizing sense" of the enormity of slave-holding. Occasionally an utterance had dropped from his pen which indicated that his heart was right on the subject, but which evinced no more than the ordinary opposition to its existence, nor any profound convictions as to his own or the nation's duty in regard to its extinction. His first reference to the question appeared in connection with a notice made by him in the Free Press of a spirited poem, entitled "Africa," in which the authoress sings of:
"The wild and mingling groans of writhing millions, Calling for vengeance on my guilty land."
He commended the verses "to all those who wish to cherish female genius, and whose best feelings are enlisted in the cause of the poor oppressed sons of Africa." He was evidently impressed, but the impression belonged to the ordinary, transitory sort. His next recorded utterance on the subject was also in the Free Press. It was made in relation with some just and admirable strictures on the regulation Fourth of July oration, with its "ceaseless apostrophes to liberty, and fierce denunciations of tyranny." Such a tone was false and mischievous—the occasion was for other and graver matter. "There is one theme," he declares, "which should be dwelt upon, till our whole country is free from the curse—it is slavery." The emphasis and energy of the rebuke and exhortation lifts this second allusion to slavery, quite outside of merely ordinary occurrences. It was not an ordinary personal occurrence for it served to reveal in its lightning-like flash the glow and glare of a conscience taking fire. The fire slumbered until a few weeks before Lundy entered Boston, when there were again the glow and glare of a moral sense in the first stages of ignition on the enormity of slave institutions. The act of South Carolina in making it illegal to teach a colored person to read and write struck this spark from his pen: "There is something unspeakably pitiable and alarming," he writes in the Philanthropist, "in the state of that society where it is deemed necessary, for self-preservation, to seal up the mind and debase the intellect of man to brutal incapacity.... Truly the alternatives of oppression are terrible. But this state of things cannot always last, nor ignorance alone shield us from destruction." His interest in the question was clearly growing. But it was still in the gristle of sentiment waiting to be transmuted into the bone and muscle of a definite and determined purpose, when first he met Lundy. This meeting of the two men, was to Garrison what the fourth call of God was to Samuel, the Hebrew lad, who afterward became a prophet. As the three previous calls of God and the conversations with Eli had prepared the Jewish boy to receive and understand the next summons of Jehovah, so had Garrison's former experience and education made him ready for the divine message when uttered in his ears by Lundy. All the sense of truth and the passion for righteousness of the young man replied to the voice, "Here am I." The hardening process of growth became immediately manifest in him. Whereas before there was sentimental opposition to slavery, there began then an opposition, active and practical. When Lundy convened many of the ministers of the city to expose to them the barbarism of slavery, Garrison sat in the room, and as Lundy himself records, "expressed his approbation of my doctrines." The young reformer must needs stand up and make public profession of his new faith and of his agreement with the anti-slavery principles of the older. But it was altogether different with the assembled ministers. Lundy, as was his wont on such occasions, desired and urged the formation of an anti-slavery society, but these sons of Eli of that generation were not willing to offend their slave-holding brethren in the South. Eyes they had, but they refused to see; ears, which they stopped to the cry of the slave breaking in anguish and appeal from the lips of this modern man of God. Garrison, eleven years later, after the lips, which were eloquent then with their great sorrow, were speechless in the grave, told the story of that ministers' meeting. And here is the story:
"He (Lundy) might as well have urged the stones in the streets to cry out in behalf of the perishing captives. Oh, the moral cowardice, the chilling apathy, the criminal unbelief, the cruel skepticism, that were revealed on that memorable occasion! My soul was on fire then, as it is now, in view of such a development. Every soul in the room was heartily opposed to slavery, but, it would terribly alarm and enrage the South to know that an anti-slavery society existed in Boston. But it would do harm rather than good openly to agitate the subject. But perhaps a select committee might be formed, to be called by some name that would neither give offence, nor excite suspicion as to its real design! One or two only were for bold and decisive action; but as they had neither station nor influence, and did not rank among the wise and prudent, their opinion did not weigh very heavily, and the project was finally abandoned. Poor Lundy! that meeting was a damper to his feelings." There is no doubt that Garrison was one of the very few present, who "were for bold and decisive action" against the iniquity. The grief and disappointment of his brave friend touched his heart with a brother's affection and pity. The worldly wisdom and lukewarmness of the clergy kindled a righteous indignation within his freedom-loving soul. This was his first bitter lesson from the clergy. There were, alas, many and bitterer experiences to follow, but of them he little recked at the time. As this nineteenth-century prophet mused upon the horrible thing the fires of a life purpose burned within him. And oftener thenceforth we catch glimpses of the glow and glare of a soul bursting into flame. The editorials in the Philanthropist, which swiftly followed Lundy's visit, began to throw off more heat as the revolving wheels of an electrical machine throw off sparks. The evil that there was in the world, under which, wherever he turned, he saw his brother man staggering and bleeding, was no longer what it had been, a vague and shadowy apparition, but rather a terrible and tremendous reality against which he must go forth to fight the fight of a lifetime. And so he girded him with his life purpose and flung his moral earnestness against the triple-headed curse of intemperance, slavery, and war. A mighty human love had begun to flow inward and over him. And as the tide steadily rose it swallowed and drowned all the egoism of self and race in the altruism of an all-embracing humanity. When an apprentice in the office of the Newburyport Herald, and writing on the subject of South American affairs he grew hot over the wrongs suffered by American vessels at Valparaiso and Lima. He was for finishing "with cannon what cannot be done in a conciliatory and equitable manner, where justice demands such proceedings." This was at seventeen when he was a boy with the thoughts of a boy. Six years later he is a man who has looked upon the sorrows of men. His old boy-world is far behind him, and the ever-present sufferings of his kind are in front of him. War now is no longer glorious, for it adds immeasurably to the sum of human misery. War ought to be abolished with intemperance and slavery. And this duty he began to utter in the ears of his country. "The brightest traits in the American character will derive their luster, not from the laurels picked from the field of blood, not from the magnitude of our navy and the success of our arms," he proclaimed, "but from our exertions to banish war from the earth, to stay the ravages of intemperance among all that is beautiful and fair, to unfetter those who have been enthralled by chains, which we have forged, and to spread the light of knowledge and religious liberty, wherever darkness and superstition reign.... The struggle is full of sublimity, the conquest embraces the world." Lundy himself did not fully appreciate the immense gain, which his cause had made in the conversion of Garrison into an active friend of the slave. Not at once certainly. Later he knew. The discovery of a kindred spirit in Boston exerted probably no little influence in turning for the second time his indefatigable feet toward that city. He made it a second visit in July, 1828, where again he met Garrison. His experience with the ministers did not deter him from repeating the horrible tale wherever he could get together an audience. This time he secured his first public hearing in Boston. It was in the Federal Street Baptist Church. He spoke not only on the subject of slavery itself, the growth of anti-slavery societies, but on a new phase of the general subject, viz., the futility of the Colonization Society as an abolition instrument. Garrison was present, and treasured up in his heart the words of his friend. He did not forget how Lundy had pressed upon his hearers the importance of petitioning Congress for the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia, as we shall see further on. But poor Lundy was unfortunate with the ministers. He got this time not the cold shoulder alone but a clerical slap in the face as well. He had just sat down when the pastor of the church, Rev. Howard Malcolm, uprose in wrath and inveighed against any intermeddling of the North with slavery, and brought the meeting with a high hand to a close. This incident was the first collision with the church of the forlorn hope of the Abolition movement. Trained as Garrison was in the orthodox creed and sound in that creed almost to bigotry, this behavior of a standard-bearer of the church, together with the apathy displayed by the clergy on a former occasion, caused probably the first "little rift within the lute" of his creed, "that by and by will make the music mute, and, ever widening, slowly silence all." For in religion as in love, "Unfaith in aught is want of faith in all." The Rev. Howard Malcolm's arbitrary proceeding had prevented the organization of an anti-slavery committee. But this was affected at a second meeting of the friends of the slave. Garrison was one of the twenty gentlemen who were appointed such a committee. His zeal and energy far exceeded the zeal and energy of the remaining nineteen. He did not need the earnest exhortation of Lundy to impress upon his memory the importance of "activity and steady perseverance." He perceived almost at once that everything depended on them. And so he had formed plans for a vigorous campaign against the existence of slavery in the District of Columbia. But before he was ready to set out along the line of work, which he had laid down for Massachusetts, the scene of his labors shifted to Bennington, Vermont. Before he left Boston, Lundy had recognized him as "a valuable coadjutor." The relationship between the two men was becoming beautifully close. The more Lundy saw of Garrison, the more he must have seemed to him a man after his own heart. And so no wonder that he was solicitous of fastening him to his cause with hooks of steel. The older had written the younger reformer a letter almost paternal in tone—he must do thus and thus, he must not be disappointed if he finds the heavy end of the burthen borne by himself, while those associated with him do little to keep the wheels moving, he must remember that "a few will have the labor to perform and the honor to share." Then there creeps into his words a grain of doubt, a vague fear lest his young ally should take his hands from the plough and go the way of all men, and here are the words which Paul might have written to Timothy: "I hope you will persevere in your work, steadily, but not make too large calculations on what may be accomplished in a particularly stated time. You have now girded on a holy warfare. Lay not down your weapons until honorable terms are obtained. The God of hosts is on your side. Steadiness and faithfulness will most assuredly overcome every obstacle." The older apostle had yet to learn that the younger always did what he undertook in the field of morals and philanthropy.
But the scene had shifted from Boston to Bennington, and with the young reformer goes also his plan of campaign for anti-slavery work. The committee of twenty, now nineteen since his departure, slumbered and slept in the land of benevolent intentions, a practical illustration of Lundy's pungent saying, that "philanthropists are the slowest creatures breathing. They think forty times before they act." The committee never acted, but its one member in Vermont did act, and that promptly and powerfully as shall shortly appear. Garrison had gone to Bennington to edit the Journal of the Times in the interest of the reelection of John Quincy Adams to the Presidency. For this object he was engaged as editor of the paper. What he was engaged to do he performed faithfully and ably, but along with his fulfillment of his contract with the friends of Mr. Adams, he carried the one which he had made with humanity likewise. In his salutatory he outlined his intentions in this regard thus: "We have three objects in view, which we shall pursue through life, whether in this place or elsewhere—namely, the suppression of intemperance and its associate vices, the gradual emancipation of every slave in the republic, and the perpetuity of national peace. In discussing these topics what is wanting in vigor shall be made up in zeal." From the issue of that first number if the friends of Adams had no cause to complain of the character of his zeal and vigor in their service, neither had the friends of humanity. What he had proposed doing in Massachusetts as a member of the anti-slavery committee of twenty, he performed with remarkable energy and success in Vermont. It was to obtain signatures not by the hundred to a petition for the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia, but by the thousands, and that from all parts of the State. He sent copies of the petition to every postmaster in Vermont with the request that he obtain signatures in his neighborhood. Through his exertions a public meeting of citizens of Bennington was held and indorsed the petition. The plan for polling the anti-slavery sentiment of the State worked admirably. The result was a monster petition with 2,352 names appended. This he forwarded to the seat of Government. It was a powerful prayer, but as to its effect, Garrison had no delusions. He possessed even then singularly clear ideas as to how the South would receive such petitions, and of the course which it would pursue to discourage their presentation. He was no less clear as to how the friends of freedom ought to carry themselves under the circumstances. In the Journal of the Times of November, 1828, he thus expressed himself: "It requires no spirit of prophecy to predict that it (the petition) will create great opposition. An attempt will be made to frighten Northern 'dough-faces' as in case of the Missouri question. There will be an abundance of furious declamation, menace, and taunt. Are we, therefore, to approach the subject timidly—with half a heart—as if we were treading on forbidden ground? No, indeed, but earnestly, fearlessly, as becomes men, who are determined to clear their country and themselves from the guilt of oppressing God's free and lawful creatures." About the same time he began to make his assaults on the personal representatives of the slave-power in Congress, cauterizing in the first instance three Northern "dough-faces," who had voted against some resolutions, looking to the abolition of the slave-trade and slavery itself in the District of Columbia. So while the South thus early was seeking to frighten the North from the agitation of the slavery question in Congress, Garrison was unconsciously preparing a countercheck by making it dangerous for a Northern man to practice Southern principles in the National Legislature. He did not mince his words, but called a spade a spade, and sin, sin. He perceived at once that if he would kill the sin of slave-holding, he could not spare the sinner. And so he spoke the names of the delinquents from the housetop of the Journal of the Times, stamping upon their brows the scarlet letter of their crime against liberty. He had said in the October before: "It is time that a voice of remonstrance went forth from the North, that should peal in the ears of every slaveholder like a roar of thunder.... For ourselves, we are resolved to agitate this subject to the utmost; nothing but death shall prevent us from denouncing a crime which has no parallel in human depravity; we shall take high ground. The alarm must be perpetual." A voice of remonstrance, with thunder growl accompaniment, was rising higher and clearer from the pen of the young editor. His tone of earnestness was deepening to the stern bass of the moral reformer, and the storm breath of enthusiasm was blowing to a blaze the glowing coals of his humanity. The wail of the fleeing fugitive from the house of bondage sounded no longer far away and unreal in his ears, but thrilled now right under the windows of his soul. The masonic excitement and the commotion created by the abduction of Morgan he caught up and shook before the eyes of his countrymen as an object lesson of the million-times greater wrong daily done the slaves. "All this fearful commotion," he pealed, "has arisen from the abduction of one man. More than two millions of unhappy beings are groaning out their lives in bondage, and scarcely a pulse quickens, or a heart leaps, or a tongue pleads in their behalf. 'Tis a trifling affair, which concerns nobody. Oh! for the spirit that rages, to break every fetter of oppression!" Such a spirit was fast taking possession of the writer.
Of this Lundy was well informed. He had not lost sight of his young coadjutor, but had watched his course with great hope and growing confidence. In him he found what he had discovered in no one else, anti-slavery activity and perseverance. He had often found men who protested loudly their benevolence for the negro, but who made not the slightest exertion afterward to carry out their good wishes. "They will pen a paragraph, perhaps an article, or so—and then—the subject is exhausted!" It was not so with his young friend, the Bennington editor. He saw that "argument and useful exertion on the subject of African emancipation can never be exhausted until the system of slavery itself be totally annihilated." He was faithful among the faithless found by Lundy. To reassure his doubting leader, Garrison took upon himself publicly a vow of perpetual consecration to the slave. "Before God and our country," he declares, "we give our pledge that the liberation of the enslaved Africans shall always be uppermost in our pursuits. The people of New England are interested in this matter, and they must be aroused from their lethargy as by a trumpet-call. They shall not quietly slumber while we have the management of a press, or strength to hold a pen." The question of slavery had at length obtained the ascendency over all other questions in his regard. And when Lundy perceived this he set out from Baltimore to Bennington to invite Garrison to join hands with him in his emancipation movement at Baltimore. He performed the long journey on foot, with staff in hand in true apostolic fashion. The two men of God met among the mountains of Vermont, and when the elder returned from the heights the younger had resolved to follow him to the vales where men needed his help, the utmost which he could give them. He agreed to join his friend in Baltimore and there edit with him his little paper with the grand name (The Genius of Universal Emancipation), devoted to preaching the gospel of the gradual abolishment of American slavery. Garrison was to take the position of managing editor, and Lundy to look after the subscription list. The younger to be resident, the elder itinerant partner in the publication of the paper. Garrison closed his relations with the Journal of the Times, March 27, 1829, and delivered his valedictory to its readers. This valedictory strikes with stern hammer-stroke the subject of his thoughts. "Hereafter," it reads, "the editorial charge of this paper will devolve on another person. I am invited to occupy a broader field, and to engage in a higher enterprise; that field embraces the whole country—that enterprise is in behalf of the slave population."
"To my apprehension, the subject of slavery involves interests of greater moment to our welfare as a republic, and demands a more prudent and minute investigation than any other which has come before the American people since the Revolutionary struggle—than all others which now occupy their attention. No body of men on the face of the earth deserve their charities, and prayers, and united assistance so much as the slaves of this country; and yet they are almost entirely neglected. It is true many a cheek burns with shame in view of our national inconsistency, and many a heart bleeds for the miserable African. It is true examples of disinterested benevolence and individual sacrifices are numerous, particularly in the Southern States; but no systematic, vigorous, and successful measures have been made to overthrow this fabric of oppression. I trust in God that I may be the humble instrument of breaking at least one chain, and restoring one captive to liberty; it will amply repay a life of severe toil." The causes of temperance and peace came in also for an earnest parting word, but they had clearly declined to a place of secondary importance in the writer's regard. To be more exact, they had not really declined, but the slavery question had risen in his mind above both. They were great questions, but it was the question—had become his cause.
Lundy, after his visit to Garrison at Bennington, started on a trip to Hayti with twelve emancipated slaves, whom he had undertaken to colonize there. Garrison awaited in Boston the return of his partner to Baltimore. The former, meanwhile, was out of employment, and sorely in need of money. Never had he been favored with a surplusage of the root of all evil. He was deficient in the money-getting and money-saving instinct. Such was plainly not his vocation, and so it happened that wherever he turned, he and poverty walked arm in arm, and the interrogatory, "wherewithal shall I be fed and clothed on the morrow?" was never satisfactorily answered until the morrow arrived. This led him at times into no little embarrassment and difficulty. But since he was always willing to work at the case, and to send his "pride on a pilgrimage to Mecca," the embarrassment was not protracted, nor did the difficulty prove insuperable.
The Congregational societies of Boston invited him in June to deliver before them a Fourth of July address in the interest of the Colonization Society. The exercises took place in Park Street Church. Ten days before this event he was called upon to pay a bill of four dollars for failure to appear at the May muster. Refusing to do so, he was thereupon summoned to come into the Police Court on the glorious Fourth to show cause why he ought not to pay the amercement. He was in a quandary. He did not owe the money, but as he could not be in two places at the same time, and, inasmuch as he wanted very much to deliver his address before the Congregational Societies, and did not at all long to make the acquaintance of his honor, the Police Court Judge, he determined to pay the fine. But, alack and alas! he had "not a farthing" with which to discharge him from his embarrassment. Fortunately, if he wanted money he did not want friends. And one of these, Jacob Horton, of Newburyport, who had married his "old friend and playmate, Harriet Farnham," came to his rescue with the requisite amount.
On the day and place appointed Garrison appeared before the Congregational Societies with an address, to the like of which, it is safe to say, they had never before listened. It was the Fourth of July, but the orator was in no holiday humor. There was not, in a single sentence of the oration the slightest endeavor to be playful with his audience. It was rather an eruption of human suffering, and of the humanity of one man to man. What the Boston clergy saw that afternoon, in the pulpit of Park Street Church, was the vision of a soul on fire. Garrison burned and blazed as the sun that July afternoon burned and blazed in the city's streets. None without escaped the scorching rays of the latter, none within was able to shun the fervid heat of the former. Those of my readers who have watched the effects of the summer's sun on a track of sandy land and have noted how, about midday, the heat seems to rise in sparkling particles and exhalations out of the hot, surcharged surface, can form some notion of the moral fervor and passion of this Fourth of July address, delivered more than sixty years ago, in Boston. Through all the pores of it, over all the length and breadth of it, there went up bright, burning particles from the sunlit sympathy and humanity of the young reformer.
In beginning, he animadverted, among other things, on the spread of intemperance, of political corruption, on the profligacy of the press, and, amid them all, the self-complacency and boastfulness of the national spirit, as if it bore a charmed life.
"But," he continued, "there is another evil which, if we had to contend against nothing else, should make us quake for the issue. It is a gangrene preying upon our vitals—an earthquake rumbling under our feet—a mine accumulating material for a national catastrophe. It should make this a day of fasting and prayer, not of boisterous merriment and idle pageantry—a day of great lamentation, not of congratulatory joy. It should spike every cannon, and haul down every banner. Our garb should be sack-cloth—our heads bowed in the dust—our supplications for the pardon and assistance of Heaven.
"Sirs, I am not come to tell you that slavery is a curse, debasing in its effects, cruel in its operations, fatal in its continuance. The day and the occasion require no such revelation. I do not claim the discovery as my own, that 'all men are born equal,' and that among their inalienable rights are 'life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.' Were I addressing any other than a free and Christian assembly, the enforcement of this truth might be pertinent. Neither do I intend to analyze the horrors of slavery for your inspection, nor to freeze your blood with authentic recitals of savage cruelty. Nor will time allow me to explore even a furlong of that immense wilderness of suffering which remains unsubdued in our land. I take it for granted that the existence of these evils is acknowledged, if not rightly understood. My object is to define and enforce our duty, as Christians and philanthropists."
This was, by way of exordium, the powerful skirmish line of the address. Assuming the existence of the evil, he advanced boldly to his theme, viz., the duty of abolishing it. To this end he laid down four propositions, as a skillful general plants his cannon on the heights overlooking and commanding his enemies' works. The first, broadly stated, asserted the kinship of the slave to the free population of the republic. They were men; they were natives of the country; they were in dire need. They were ignorant, degraded, morally and socially. They were the heathen at home, whose claims far outranked those in foreign lands; they were higher than those of the "Turks or Chinese, for they have the privileges of instruction; higher than the Pagans, for they are not dwellers in a Gospel land; higher than our red men of the forest, for we do not bind them with gyves, nor treat them as chattels."
Then he turned hotly upon the Church, exclaiming: "What has Christianity done by direct effort for our slave population? Comparatively nothing. She has explored the isles of the ocean for objects of commiseration; but, amazing stupidity! she can gaze without emotion on a multitude of miserable beings at home, large enough to constitute a nation of freemen, whom tyranny has heathenized by law. In her public services they are seldom remembered, and in her private donations they are forgotten. From one end of the country to the other her charitable societies form golden links of benevolence, and scatter their contributions like rain drops over a parched heath; but they bring no sustenance to the perishing slave. The blood of souls is upon her garments, yet she heeds not the stain. The clanking of the prisoner's chains strike upon her ear, but they cannot penetrate her heart."
Then, with holy wrath upon the nation, thus:
"Every Fourth of July our Declaration of Independence is produced, with a sublime indignation, to set forth the tyranny of the mother country, and to challenge the admiration of the world. But what a pitiful detail of grievances does this document present, in comparison with the wrongs which our slaves endure? In the one case it is hardly the plucking of a hair from the head; in the other, it is the crushing of a live body on the wheel—the stings of the wasp contrasted with the tortures of the Inquisition. Before God I must say that such a glaring contradiction as exists between our creed and practice the annals of six thousand years cannot parallel. In view of it I am ashamed of my country. I am sick of our unmeaning declamation in praise of liberty and equality; of our hypocritical cant about the inalienable rights of man. I would not for my right hand stand up before a European assembly, and exult that I am an American citizen, and denounce the usurpations of a kingly government as wicked and unjust; or, should I make the attempt, the recollection of my country's barbarity and despotism would blister my lips, and cover my cheeks with burning blushes of shame."
Passing to his second proposition, which affirmed the right of the free States to be in at the death of slavery, he pointed out that slavery was not sectional but national in its influence. If the consequences of slave-holding did not flow beyond the limits of the slave section, the right would still exist, on the principle that what affected injuriously one part must ultimately hurt the whole body politic. But it was not true that slavery concerned only the States where it existed—the parts where it did not exist were involved by their constitutional liability to be called on for aid in case of a slave insurrection, as they were in the slave representation clause of the national compact, through which the North was deprived of its "just influence in the councils of the nation." And, furthermore, the right of the free States to agitate the question inhered in the principle of majority rule—the white population of the free States being almost double that of the slave States, "and the voice of this overwhelming majority should be potential." He repelled in strong language the wrongfulness of allowing the South to multiply the votes of those freemen by the master's right to count three for every five slaves, "because it is absurd and anti-republican to suffer property to be represented as men, and vice versa, because it gives the South an unjust ascendancy over other portions of territory, and a power which may be perverted on every occasion."
He looked without shrinking upon the possibility of disunion even then.
"Now I say that, on the broad system of equal rights," he declared, "this inequality should no longer be tolerated. If it cannot be speedily put down—not by force but by fair persuasion—if we are always to remain shackled by unjust, constitutional provisions, when the emergency that imposed them has long since passed away; if we must share in the guilt and danger of destroying the bodies and souls of men as the price of our Union; if the slave States will haughtily spurn our assistance, and refuse to consult the general welfare, then the fault is not ours if a separation eventually takes place."
Considering that he was in his twenty-fourth year, and that the Abolition movement had then no actual existence, the orator evinced surprising prescience in his forecast of the future, and of the strife and hostility which the agitation was destined to engender.
"But the plea is prevalent," he said, "that any interference by the free States, however benevolent or cautious it might be, would only irritate and inflame the jealousies of the South, and retard the cause of emancipation. If any man believes that slavery can be abolished without a struggle with the worst passions of human nature, quietly, harmoniously, he cherishes a delusion. It can never be done, unless the age of miracles returns. No; we must expect a collision, full of sharp asperities and bitterness. We shall have to contend with the insolence, and pride, and selfishness of many a heartless being.
"Sirs, the prejudices of the North are stronger than those of the South; they bristle like so many bayonets around the slaves; they forge and rivet the chains of the nation. Conquer them and the victory is won. The enemies of emancipation take courage from our criminal timidity.... We are ... afraid of our own shadows, who have been driven back to the wall again and again; who stand trembling under their whips; who turn pale, retreat, and surrender at a talismanic threat to dissolve the Union...." But the difficulties did not daunt him, nor the dangers cow him. He did not doubt, but was assured, that truth was mighty and would prevail. "Moral influence when in vigorous exercise," he said, "is irresistible. It has an immortal essence. It can no more be trod out of existence by the iron foot of time, or by the ponderous march of iniquity, than matter can be annihilated. It may disappear for a time; but it lives in some shape or other, in some place or other, and will rise with renovated strength. Let us then be up and doing. In the simple and stirring language of the stout-hearted Lundy, all the friends of the cause must go to work, keep to work, hold on, and never give up." The closing paragraph is this powerful peroration: "I will say, finally, that I despair of the republic while slavery exists therein. If I look up to God for success, no smile of mercy or forgiveness dispels the gloom of futurity; if to our own resources, they are daily diminishing; if to all history our destruction is not only possible but almost certain. Why should we slumber at this momentous crisis? If our hearts were dead to every thought of humanity; if it were lawful to oppress, where power is ample; still, if we had any regard for our safety and happiness, we should strive to crush the vampire which is feeding upon our life-blood. All the selfishness of our nature cries aloud for a better security. Our own vices are too strong for us, and keep us in perpetual alarm; how, in addition to these, shall we be able to contend successfully with millions of armed and desperate men, as we must, eventually, if slavery do not cease?" Exit the apprentice, enter the master. The period of preparation is ended, the time of action begun. The address was the fiery cry of the young prophet ere he plunged into the unsubdued wilderness of American slavery.